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Dealing With a Prophecy - Harry's Way

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Dealing with a Prophecy – Harry’s way.

 

Harry James Potter, Golden Boy, the Boy-Who-Lived, the Man-Who-Defeated, the Saviour of the Wizarding World… sat wondering what the Hell had gone wrong…

He’d made that potion before, a dozen times, maybe even a hundred times… so what had happened to cause… this?!

He was 25 today… or at least... it had been his 25th birthday. Now he was sitting in a place he’d not though about for almost seven years.

The cupboard under the stairs.

And to make matters worse? Given the size of the cupboard and the fact that his hands barely reached from the door to the opposite wall? He assumed that Hermione’s theory wasn’t a theory anymore... Pity he hadn’t listened when she’d began lecturing about it. He thought he remembered something about mixing Castor Bean seeds and Wolfwort and Blue Moonflower, but he’d kind of tuned out.

So, either this was a potion induced nightmare-like episode or the quick wordless-wandless tempus-et-locus charm he’d thrown up was right. 12.11am, July 31st, 1985, #4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey, UK.

He didn’t know which was worse.

That this was a potion induced waking-nightmare or he was five years old again?

There were pros and cons to both ideas and he forced himself to think about this properly. If it were a potion-induced state, it would be unlikely that he could change anything, it would also be unlikely that he would be aware of it being anything other than real. But the alternative? If his charm was right and Hermione’s theory of accidental time travel was right, he was five years old and back in the cupboard under the stairs.

Now came the next thought, should he change things? Could he change things? He remembered Hermione saying that ‘awful things happen to wizards who meddle with time, Harry’, all the way back in 3rd year. Was this any different?

Eventually Harry calmed enough to think clearly, he sighed and shook his head. ‘Stupid git.’ He thought to himself. ‘Occlumency. Use your occlumency and access the memory of Hermione’s lecture from last month.’ He smacked himself on the forehead.

In the dark of the cupboard the wizard closed his eyes and focused. The form of Hogwarts bled into being around him, this was his mindscape. Now all he had to do was make his way up to the equivalent of the library, where he kept all of Hermione’s lectures and try to remember what he’d filed it under.

Time travel or Lycanthropy research?‘Hmm… well, the time travel section was a lot smaller than the lycanthropy section, best try that first.’ He thought to himself. ‘Ah, there it is.’ He pulled the relevant memory out and pinned it on the viewing board.

“… Harry? Are you listening to me?” Hermione’s voice emerged from the memory, sounding smaller than he knew it was. “Mixing Wolfwort and castor beans is bad, Harry, both of them are deadly to dogs, to canines of all sorts. But, Harry, they’re also two of the main ingredients of the potion used to soak sand for time turners.”

“I get that, Hermione, but they’re the only things that work when it comes to weakening the werewolf part of-”

“But you’re putting Blue Moonflowers with them! That three of the five ingredients for the time potion.” The woman screeched.

“And?”

“You have to keep them apart, Harry. Accidental time travel is bad, Harry. Worse than using a time-turner.”

“So he’ll go back in time a little, what’s the big deal?” Ron’s voice joined his and Hermione’s.

“It’s not like a time turner, Ron. There’s no way of gauging when he end up. He could end up in the past or the future. The big issue is that if he goes back in time, he’ll end up in his own body.”

“Well of course he would, who else’s body could he use?” Ron asked.

“No, Ron, you don't understand. He won’t take this body, he’ll have to use the one from then. If he goes back to when he was fourteen, he’ll take over his 14 year old body, if he goes back to two years old, he’ll be in his two year old body. If he goes forward, he’ll end up in his older body. Not his 24 year old body.”

"What happens to this body?" Ron aske, beginning to get worried.

"Gone. It won't exist after the point that he's gone back to, unless he goes forward in time and in that case, no one knows. There's not enough  research done on accidental time travel to know for certain." Hermione answered.

“So what would happen if he went back further than his own birth?” George asked, warily.

“He’ll take over the body of an ancestor that’s the closest in age to what he was when the accident happens. Same with going forward. He’ll take over a descendant’s body.”

“What happens to the body’s owner, the original one, I mean?” Bill was a little distracted, by the baby in his arms.

“Gone. Accidental time travel is permanent. He’ll be stuck in that body until he-it dies! It’s not like a time-turner, there won’t be two of him. It’s like 24 year old Harry will be put into 14 year old Harry’s body and 14 year old Harry will be deleted, erased or copied over. Gone.”

“Whoa, mate. Maybe you better rethink the Blue Moonflowers.” Ron’s voice was decidedly worried.

And that was where the memory ended... Dammit.

Harry had obviously not taken Hermione seriously. He was beginning to regret that. Another hour passed before Harry finished studying his memories. Thank Merlin that, inside his mindscape, time was what his mind wanted it to be. It might have taken an hour, in his mind, to finish his mental search, but outside, in the living world, only a minute or two will have passed.

Hermione said there were nearly 160 cases of accidental time travel and only one of them had been reversible, but that particular witch had aged a 100 years for every day she was had been the past. The odds of him getting out of this? With his damnable luck?

Zero to none…

So… he had to assume that he was staying here and plan accordingly. ‘Now this is where it gets complicated’, he thought. ‘According to Hermione, I'm not changing the past, because this is now my present, my permanent present, for me there is only the future I create, now. Like everyone else that takes a breath this second, my choices will affect my future. The question is, what do I want that future to be?’ What was he going to do in the long run?

He was stuck here. Five year old Harry was gone and 25 year old Harry was stuck in a five year old body. Now, he could fix that, but…

He needed a potions lab. If he intended to change his age with an aging potion and that meant he needed help, but not just any help, he needed a potions master. And wouldn’t you know it, but he only knew of three capable of making a permanent aging potion and… well, one of them was a 25 year old stuck in the body of a 5 year old, the second was a celebrity-collecting influence-seeker and the third was a sarcastic git, that was pretending to be a Death-Eater.

‘Yeah, good one, Harry. Great choices.’

Then there was the fact that Dumbledore really wanted Harry to be a weapon for the Light, in the war against Voldemort. And not to forget old snake-face, himself.

Nothing was going to get done if he stayed with the Dursley's, but getting away from them wasn’t going to be easy. Sure he was able to do some wandless and wordless magic, but he knew that Dumbledore had wards around the place, he really hoped that his tempus-et-locus and lumos charms from earlier didn’t use enough magic to register on whatever wards Dumbledore had used or that the wards assumed it was an accidental magic outburst.

“Right, then.” He muttered. “First thing is to work out what wards are actually here.” Harry stood up, his tiny battered body aching. Gods, he hated being a punching bag for Vernon. A gentle push and the cupboard door opened and he was suddenly glad that Petunia hadn’t started to lock it until after he’d started school, which was roughly a month away.

Standing in the hallway, Harry debated with himself. Going to the front of the property would give him the most information, but would also be the most noticeable, if anyone was around. Going out through the kitchen meant using the back door, which was right under Petunia and Vernon's room. He sighed. The possibility that Dumbledore had someone on sentry duty, outweighed the threat of Vernon's fists.

Back door it was.

In the utility room, it suddenly occurred to Harry that there was a can of spray lubricant on the shelf beside the door. His stool, the one that he stood on when he washed the dishes, sat in the kitchen under the table, it was quickly, and quietly, pulled into the utility room and pushed against the washing machine. A deep breath and he began to climb, a few seconds and the can was in his hands, it took a bit of fiddling but he worked out how to hold himself against the shelves and spray the upper hinge of the door. Then it was the climb back down, lowering the can before each stage of climbing, just so he could squirt the bottom hinge and open the door silently. Finally he stood in the open doorway.

He crept out the door, taking great care to stay in the shadows, before sliding around the side of the house and over to the fence. Hiding in the bushes, he made his way to the rear of the property and out through the gate to the lane. Up the lane to the other side of #6 and Harry tucked himself into the gap between #6’s fence and #8’s new shed.

Muttering quietly, he studied the wards as he sat in the shadows.

“Well, finally… some good news.” There were only blood protection and accidental magic detection wards, nothing else yet. And neither of those registered anything outside the wards, giving him breathing space to transfer the blood-based ward from Harry to Dudley, if he stood on the far side of the lane. Thanks to Bill, Kingsley, Robards and Auror training, Harry knew how to move wards and how transfer them from one item or person to a second. He laid a ten minute pause on the wards and retraced his steps back to the house. A quick silencing charm tossed into Dudley's room and Harry entered, a numbing hex on Dudley's hand followed by sectumsempra and Harry let Dudley's blood drip into the glass phial he’d conjured.

Back at the boundary of the wards, Harry began to chant. He sent up a prayer that no one was around to hear him, because he was unable to use a silencing charm to shield his voice. And a five year old kid chanting in Latin, was not your usual viewing at half-past midnight on a Wednesday morning.

A minute passed. Two minutes passed. Three minutes passed. Harry was beginning to get worried, the wards were resisting the transfer. Four minutes passed. Finally, some progress. Five minutes passed. Six minutes passed. Harry wondered whether he had enough voice, or magic, to complete the transfer, when suddenly there was a snap, almost loud enough to be heard, and the wards reached out and accepted Dudley's blood from the phial, replacing it with the blood that Dumbledore had used to set the wards initially. Now all he had to do was to remove all traces of his magical signature and he was done.

Ten minutes later, Harry slumped and sucked in breath after breath, that was hard work on top of transferring the wards to Dudley. He pulled himself to his feet and made the exhausting journey back into the house, but forced himself to stop in the kitchen and retrieve a key to the back door from Petunia’s keyring, before closing himself back in the cupboard. Seconds later he re-opened the door and emerged, he crept up the stairs and into Vernon and Petunia’s room, on a bedside dresser lay Vernon's money stuffed wallet. Money that Harry knew came from his parent’s vault, money that was supposed to go towards his care. Money they had no right to keep. Back down the stairs, and into the cupboard. A few minutes spent on his occlumency and he flopped down on the pathetic excuse for a mattress, that was all he was allowed.

Morning came and as usual, Harry laid out the makings of breakfast, his Slytherin tendencies coming out as he snuck two slices of bacon, an egg, a slice of toast and, amazingly, a full glass of milk. He stood and followed Vernon out the garage and watched as the big man opened his car and got in, waited patiently as Vernon backed the car out onto Privet Drive and then stepped across the blood-wards towards the car, raising a glamour as he took the first step after the wards. Vernon turned to frown at Harry who was wearing the glamour of a young man in his early 20’s, dressed in smart-causal clothing.

“Obliviate” Harry smirked as he spoke, Merlin it was good to see that glazed look on Vernon's face. “Harry Potter does not exist. To your knowledge, Petunia has no nephew and the only time you met, saw or spoke to Petunia’s sister, Lily, was at your wedding.” Harry watched as Vernon's frown cleared.

“You right there, young man?” The man asked.

“Yes, just waiting for my ride.” Harry replied.

Vernon nodded and drove off, his mind already on work, Harry Potter completely removed from his memories. Harry let the glamour fall, knowing that Vernon wouldn’t look back.

Moments later, Petunia and Dudley emerged from the house.

“School shopping for my precious Duddikins.” Petunia simpered.

Harry again waited until the car was outside the blood-wards and stepped closer.

“Well, hurry up, get in.” Petunia snapped at her nephew.

“Obliviate.” Harry sighed. He waited for the slackness and dazed look to appear on both his aunt and cousin, raising his glamour again. “Harry Potter does not exist. You hare not aware of having a nephew and the last time you met, saw or spoke to your sister, Lily, was at your wedding.” He turned to Dudley. “You did not know you had an aunt or cousin.”

Petunia pulled the car door closed and barely spared a glance a the sandy haired young man ambling towards Honeysuckle Crescent. A glance in the mirrors, showed the man looking at his watch, maybe his car-share was late? She kept going and let him fall from her mind, it was time to get Dudley's things for his first day at school. Oh, how she would miss having her darling boy, all to herself.

Harry watched as Petunia’s dark green sedan vanished around the bend, into Honeysuckle Crescent towards Beech Street. When the car was gone, he turned and retraced his steps, slipping around the side of the house and into the back yard. He unlocked the back door and let himself into through utility room, heading for the kitchen. He sat down at the table and sighed, there was no going back, now.

After two minutes he rose to his feet and entered the hallway. He opened the cupboard door and studied the space as objectively as he could. A few shelves and a pad on the floor, was all there was to show that this was where a child had lived. He opened the shopping bag he had brought from the kitchen, loading anything that spoke of Harry Potter into it. He rolled up the pad and dragged it out after him, pulling it through the kitchen, through the utility room and across the yard, thanking the powers that be that Mr #6 was a bus driver and left for work at 4am and that Mr & Mrs #2 were on holidays. If Vernon hadn’t commented on their absence, Harry might have tried to drag the pad over the fence into #6, instead of through the gate, to get past the magic detection wards and for a weakened five year old body, unable to use magic because of those wards? That would have been a major undertaking and wasted a lot of time and energy. Once outside the wards, he had no qualms in vanishing the things the Dursley's had reluctantly given him. He wouldn't need them, soon.

By ten past nine, there was no evidence that Harry Potter had ever existed in #4 Privet Drive. The hardest piece to find was the letter that Dumbledore had left with Harry, on the doorstep, tucked into his blanket. It, along with a few magical photos of a beaming Lily, James and Harry, were also taken from where they’d been shoved to the back of a drawer. Petunia didn't deserve to keep anything from Lily, not even a photograph.

Harry left Privet drive without a backward glance, walking up the back lane towards the underpass to the sports fields, a shopping bag transfigured into a business-like satchel slung over his glamoured shoulder, the few things in it were charmed to look like business papers. Harry was planning to apparate from the underpass to the Leaky Cauldron, but the sight of an owl floating overhead, caused him to rethink his plans. Muggle transport might be the safest way to go, just yet. Thankfully, he had taken more than enough cash from Vernon's wallet for the bus to Guildford and the train from there into London and eventually, to Charing Cross Road and the Leaky Cauldron… the only access to Diagon Alley open to the public. Getting the assistance of Gringotts, made more sense than just diving in head first and hoping for the best. Particularly when it came to setting up a new identity.

Emerging from the tube station at Leicester Square, shortly after 11am, Harry made his way down Charing Cross Road, keeping an eye out for Aurors, he couldn’t afford someone like Mad-eye to see through his glamour. Spotting the dark blue door and frame that was the entrance to the pub, he paused and made it look like he was checking his watch, but in reality he was checking for onlookers. Even using the charm that he and Hermione had developed last year, a charm designed to be used in muggle-public without breaking the Statute of Secrecy, none was found. Reassured, he crossed the road and entered the pub, nodding to Tom, as he made his way to the entrance to Diagon Alley.

Tapping the appropriate bricks with his magic, Harry waited for the bricks to retract and the wall to open. A deep breath and crossed fingers that his glamour would be safe until he get to Gringotts and Harry was striding down the, thankfully, quiet Alley. He sighed in relief as he passed between the bank’s doors.

Safe… For now.

He felt the eyes of almost every goblin in the room, on him, but none stopped him as he approached the head teller at the far end of the room.

“Wizard.” The goblin grunted, not looking up.

“Greeting teller goblin of Gringotts. May your blades and your quill be ever sharp.” Harry replied formally, thankful that Ragnok and Blordak had accepted his apologies after the dragon incident and taught him some goblin courtesies.

The goblin lifted his head and studied the wizard in front of him. It was a most peculiar sight. He saw what other wizards or muggles would see, a young man in his early 20’s, sandy hair, light skin and hazel eyes. But he also saw beneath the glamour. A small child, maybe three years old, messy black hair, bright green eyes, and most damning of all, a lightening bolt shaped scar on his forehead.

Harry Potter.

But how? How could Harry Potter know goblin courtesies? How could a child place the type of self-induced glamours Ricbert saw? And perhaps the thing he wanted to know most of all, why was Harry Potter, who turned five today, the size of a three year old?

“Greetings wizard. May your wand remain true. How may Gringotts assist you today?” Ricbert really wanted to know.

“I would speak with an account manager, someone who is capable of using legilimency on a wizard.” Harry replied.

“Legilimency?”

“Yes.” Was all Harry said.

The goblin blinked a few times and nodded to himself.

“Very well. Blordak!” A young goblin appeared. “Take the wizard to Bogrod’s office.” Ricbert directed.

“Sir, yes, sir.” Blordak saluted. He turned to Harry, his eyes opening wide as he saw through the glamour. He blinked a few times before he regained control of his composure. “This way please.” He gestured and Harry nodded.

The two made their way through the corridors of the bank until they reached an office labelled ‘Bogrod’.

“Please wait here, sir.” Blordak requested. He disappeared into the office, only to reappear some minutes later. “This way, sir.” He lead the way into Bogrod’s office before bowing and leaving.

“Greetings wizard.” Bogrod said.

“Greetings Bogrod of Gringotts.” Harry replied, very pleased to see his own account manager.

“How may Gringotts assist you today?” Bogrod asked.

“I need the services of a goblin, of rank preferably, that can use legilimency on a wizard.”

“Might I inquire as to why?”

“Accidental Time Travel.” Harry informed the goblin, bluntly.

“Accidental Time Travel?” The goblin’s eyes widened.

“Yes. My name is Harry Potter, today is my birthday, but… as far as am concerned, today is my 25th birthday. Currently I am a Potions Master, a guest lecturer at Hogwarts and an Auror, assistant to Gawain Robards, Head Auror. As to how this happened? I’m not certain. I was working on a potion, two associates and myself created a cure for lycanthropy. It-”

“Lycanthropy?” Bogrod interrupted.

“Yes, and yes, it does work. It’s passed testing by St Mungo’s. But…”

“But…?”

“But it uses Castor Bean seeds, Wolfwort hairs and Blue Moonflower nectar.”

Bogrod’s eyes bulged.

“But… but…” The goblin spluttered.

“They’re three of the five ingredients in the Time-Turner potion. I know that… now. I didn’t when we started, but reviewing my memories using occlumency, I found where I’d been informed.” Harry sighed.

“And this is what you want Gringotts to help you with?” Bogrod wasn’t clear on what help was needed.

“No. What I want… is someone to apply legilimency to me and view my memories. I need assistance, but I am undecided on the direction. Do I take a permanent re-aging potion to reach the age I am currently, in my mind that is? Or? Do I provide my memories and hope and pray that the adults get it right, while I stay as a child and live the life I was denied?”

“Ah…” Bogrod said quietly. “Well, we can certainly get the legilimency part of your request started. After that? We shall see. I may recommend bringing in experts or specialists.”

“Yeah, well... we need a decent Curse-breaker, as well, as I am an unwilling Horcruxe and want it removed.”

Bogrod blinked. A Horcruxe. A Potions Master. A guest lecturer at Hogwarts. And an Auror. No, this child definitely wasn’t a child, even if his body was.

“I see. Let’s start at the beginning shall we?”

“Agreed, Bogrod. I’m ready when you are.” Harry sat back in the chair, drawing his legs up under him.

“Very well. Legilimens.” Bogrod said and fell forward into Harry’s mind.

The viaduct courtyard of Hogwarts formed around him, a young man standing in front of him. Black messy hair and green eyes that had seen too much death and destruction.

“Mr Potter?”

“Harry, please.” The man corrected. “Let’s head through to the Great Hall. I’ve set up a viewing for you, a brief retelling of life according to Harry Potter.” He lead the way across the courtyard towards the Chamber of Reception and the Great Hall.

“As you wish. Am I permitted to ask questions?”

“Of course, the more questions you ask, the better your understanding of my current situation.” Harry replied.

“Thank you.” Bogrod said as they climbed the few steps to the Great Hall’s Chamber of Reception.

Entering the Hall was bizarre feeling for the goblin, yes, he’d been to Hogwarts before, many times, but this Hogwarts was slightly different. The Chamber of Reception was still two levels high, it still had windows, but there were massive panels of glass instead of the many smaller panes. And below them were jewels and names set into the brickwork.

“Harry? May I inquire? This is different to Hogwarts as it stands today. Can you tell me about those differences and why they are here?”

“Sure. This is how the Hogwarts looked after May 1998. The Battle of Hogwarts, students against an army of Death-Eaters. Me against Voldemort.”

“But… He’s dead. Defeated. Vanquished.”

“Defeated, yes. Vanquished, yes. Dead, no.”

“What?!”

“Not dead. He has a number of Horcruxes, in 1985 there were six of them. A book. A cup. A diadem. A ring. A locket. And me. With just one of those remaining intact, he’s basically immortal. But, just at the present, he’s a wraith haunting a forest… in Albania, I believe. He did create a seventh, but not until 1995, so I don't have to worry about that one.”

“Oh, gods above.”

“Yeah. Here we are, have a seat Bogrod, get comfortable, we going to be here for a bit.”

“That could be an issue.”

“Nah, not really, time is only passing in here. This is my mind and I need you to see, so I’ve changed the time factors, an hour in here is a minute in your office.” Harry explained.

“I see.” He didn't, but he had to say something.

“When you’re ready, just pour the liquid from this jug into the bowl and sit back, the liquid will rise and form a flat, vertical surface which the images will be displayed on.” Harry gestured and a large jug and a long shallow bowl appeared on the table.

Bogrod took a moment to look around the alter version of the Great Hall, seeing the similarities made the differences stand out all the more. The goblin sighed and stood on the bench to grasp the clear jug firmly, he tipped it, trying not to spill the golden liquid it held. It flowed gently into the shallow bowl and when Bogrod stood the jug upright, it was empty. He sat back and watched the liquid move, it flowed upwards and colours bled, split, merged, swirled and images focused and settled.

Bogrod watched the images, listened to the voices and decided this was above his ranking and authority. He turned from the images, well before he figured they were complete.

“Harry? I need to get Ragnok, the Director, in on this, this is so far above my authority that it’s almost ludicrous.”

“Can Ragnok use a Legilimens charm, or will I have to teach him?” Was all Harry asked.

“No, he’s quite accomplished at wielding wizarding magic.” Bogrod answered.

“Alright, let’s get back to your office.” Harry lead Bogrod back to the courtyard and Hogwarts faded to black.

“Open your eyes, Bogrod.” Harry’s voice belied his amusement.

Bogrod opened his and blinked a few times, as he brought himself back Gringotts. He climbed to his feet and headed for the door.

“Give me a few minutes, Harry, while I speak to Ragnok.” The goblin didn’t wait for Harry to reply.

Bogrod re-entered the room, some ten minutes later with another goblin on his heels. The second goblin wore a suit of armour, the leather panels adorned with strips of metal with a sword at his belt.

“Sire, I present Mr Henry Potter, accidental time traveller. Mr Potter, this is Ragnok the 2nd, current Director of Gringotts of London.”

“Mr Potter.” The director nodded.

“Director Ragnok, may your blade be ever true and your ledgers always balance.” Harry climbed to his feet and bowed low, hands held away from his body, palms towards the goblins, to show his lack of animosity.

Ragnok’s brows rose, he hadn’t expected a wizard to understand the niceties of goblin courtesies, but he decided to concentrate on the situation at hand, they could visit the source of the wizard’s knowledge later.

“Greetings Mr Potter, may your wand never fail you.”

Harry smirked. “Well…” he started, “seeing as I am here a number of years before I'm due to collect it, I doubt that it can.”

Ragnok smiled and nodded.

“Too true, Mr Potter. Bogrod tells me that you require assistance and that he insists that I am to be involved.”

“He did say it was above his authority.”

“Indeed. My time is valuable, I can give you ten minutes to explain, before I will need to leave.” Ragnok informed the wizard.

“I only need five for you to cancel the rest of your day’s appointments, Director.” The wizard let his glamours drop, let the face of a five year old child show.

“You seem certain of that, Mr Potter.”

“I am.”

“We shall see. Legilimens.” Ragnok gave no warning before he burst into Harry's mind.

Hogwarts formed in front of him, it’s stones and windows clear, but subtly wrong in the goblin’s mind.

“This way, Director.” A young man faded into being near the steps of a vestibule off the Great Hall. “This is the Chamber of Reception, it was build over the summer of 1972, prior to that, all of this had been a courtyard open to the elements. If it was raining, students got soaked and quite a number became ill, as a result. So the chamber was built.” The young man, whom Ragnok assumed was the owner of this mindscape, lead the way into the Great Hall and gestured to the sole table. “Have a seat, Director.”

The director sat in one of the two seats at the small square table, that held a clear glass jug, filled with a golden liquid and a long shallow bowl. Once he was seated, the wizard lifted the jug and poured it’s contents into the bowl. The liquid rippled and began to run… upwards, trickling and oozing until a large square surface was above the bowl. Then colours appeared, blending, bleeding into each other, splitting and swirling. Images began to form.

“Life according to Henry James Potter.” The wizard stated.

Images, blurred and indistinct began to form, they flicked from one to another quickly, not staying for long. First faces, a woman with deep red hair, a man with black hair and light blue eyes. Then darkness, screams, a woman’s begging ‘not Harry, please, not Harry’. A flash of bright green light. A man in black sitting on the floor holding the lifeless woman, sobbing. Cold and darkness, another woman’s scream. A large man yelling. The large man hitting a child, tossing him into a cupboard. The child standing at a sink, sweeping with a broom, sorting dirty clothes, the child is smaller than the one in Bogrod’s office.

The yelling and hitting continue, the child grows, another child is there, large like the man, he taunts the smaller child, teases, hits, kicks and sometimes bites the smaller boy. As they grow older other children join the larger boy in his treatment of the small boy. A letter addressed to Mr H Potter, The Cupboard under the Stairs, #4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, SURREY. The fat man tears it in half and burns it. More letters, a room is filled with flying letters. An island and a shack, a great thumping and the door smashes. A giant fills the room.

Diagon Alley, witches and wizards everywhere, Gringotts, the giant has the boy’s key. Ollivander’s and wands, a dark coloured wand and a golden-red glow. A snowy white owl. A blonde boy. More yelling from the large man. A train station, the Hogwarts’ express. A red haired boy with a rat. A bushy haired girl. The giant again, boats and Hogwarts at night.

‘You could be great you know… Slytherin will help you on your way to greatness…’ a strange voice came from the sorting hat.

“…not Slytherin… not Slytherin… not Slytherin…” the boy chants.

‘… better be GRYFFINDOR!’ the hat yelled.

Classes, simple classes, no yelling adults, the boy is happy. Then an argument between the redhead boy and the bushy haired girl, followed by a troll. Months pass and there's a mirror, a three headed dog, a huge chess set and a professor. The mirror, again, and a stone, the professor yells and the boy reacts, his hands touch the professor and the professor burns. Blackness.

A strange elf bouncing on a bed, a cake flying through the air, more yelling and a door being locked. A flying car and three redheaded boys. A blonde boy conjuring a snake. Writing on walls. Students frozen, petrified. A professor snatching a wand. A tall black haired boy, arrogant and rude. Letters written with fire in the air, the letters move and ‘Tom Marvolo Riddle’ becomes ‘I am Lord Voldemort’. A basilisk chasing the boy. A phoenix, a redheaded girl. Flying and darkness, again.

 A fat woman getting fatter and floating above a garden. A large black dog, dementors, a quidditch match and more dementors, a patronus pushing a dementor into a trunk. A werewolf, a rat that changes into a man. Dozens of dementors. A patronus stag. Blackness.

A carriage pulled by flying horses, a ship emerging from the depth of the Black Lake. A goblet full of fire. The boy being chased by a dragon, as he flies around Hogwarts. Diving into the lake, the redhead boy tied by a leg. A maze, a giant spider, a sphinx and a riddle. A cup that is a portkey. A graveyard, a knife, bleeding and a monster emerges from a melted cauldron. A duel and boy and the monster are bathed in golden light. Blackness.

A woman in pink, rules, detentions, a quill that writes in blood and visions. A snake attacking a man. The man in black forcing his mind into the boy’s, trying desperately to show the boy how to protect his mind, while making it seem like he was attacking the boy. Secret classes with students learning to duel, the boy teaching them. Another vision. A man being killed. Flying horses and the ministry. A duel and the monster arrives, it’s in the boy’s head now, trying to kill him. It fails and is forced to duel the headmaster. Blackness.

The headmaster, a chair that turns into a small fat man. A pensieve of memories, the headmaster’s hand is black. An argument in a bathroom with a blond boy. A cave and a locket. A tower and the headmaster is killed, he falls. The boy duels the man in black. Light fades to black.

A wedding, a patronus, a warning. A busy street, a coffee shop, a duel in the coffee shop. A dark house, another elf, a small man admits to stealing a locket. Polyjuice potion, entering the ministry, stealing the locket, running. A tent, an argument.  A patronus, a pond,  a sword and a redhead boy. Being chased, a manor where the blonde boy lies for the smaller boy. An elf and a cottage by the sea. Gringotts, a vault, a dragon and the foyer of Gringotts is left in rubble. Night and a dark town, Hogwarts and students. A battle, a forest and a curse. The boy is in a white place and talks to the dead headmaster. Back in the forest, again, a woman lies for him. A duel, just the boy and the monster, now. A sword swings at a snake, while the boy faces the monster. Their magic meets and clashes, fights, the monster’s wand flies from his hand, towards the boy. The monster breaks apart, becomes ashes. The monster is dead.

Rebuilding Hogwarts, things change slightly, windows where there none before. Towers made wider, large dormitories made into small personal rooms. Funerals. For a redhead, the man in black, a werewolf and many so many others.

Times passes, the boy joins the Auror’s office, gives lectures at Hogwarts and spends all his free time working in a potions lab. Years pass. The potion is finished. St Mungo’s tests it and labels it a success.

Then… the boy wakes in almost pitch black darkness, he moves, bumps into a wall, freezes. Whispers ‘lumos’ and has to shove his hand into his mouth to avoid screaming. He’s in a cupboard, the same one as when he’d lived with the fat man. He goes through the kitchen, out the back door, creeps around the garden and into a lane. He sits between a fence and a shed. Wards around the house become visible, the boy sighs in relief. Back in the house, he goes upstairs, blood falls from the other boy’s hand into a phial. Back downstairs and outside again, the boy begins to chant. Minutes pass and the blood vanishes from the phial, only to be replaced by darker, older blood. The boy slumps to the ground.

Back in the house, again, the boy pockets a key, climbs stairs and enters a room, lifts a wallet and removes money, before heading back down the stairs. Morning comes, out the front of the house, there is a car, the fat man gets in and starts it. The boy dons a glamour as he speaks. ‘Obliviate’, he says ‘Harry Potter does not exist. To your knowledge, Petunia has no nephew and the only time you met, saw or spoke to Petunia’s sister, Lily was at your wedding.’ The man drives away without looking back. Minutes later the same thing happens to the man’s wife and son.

The boy re-enters the house, using the key he’d pocketed, he removes every trace of his existence from the building. He walks up the lane, catches a bus and then a train to the city. Enters the Leaky Cauldron, glamour still in place. Gringotts is in front of him.

The images fade and the liquid trickles back into the shallow bowl.

“You said I would cancel my day’s appointments, Mr Potter. You were right.” Ragnok slumped on his seat. “My Gods, you were right. What do you plan to do this knowledge?”

“I’m undecided, Director. I current can see only two options, available to me. One. Take a permanent aging potion to get to the age I am, in my mind. Two. Stay this age, let the adults around me deal with Voldemort and his followers. Live the life I was denied with people of my choice to care for me, but I have to say that is looking more and more unsavoury as time passes.”

Ragnok studied the man in front of him, from his brilliant green eyes to his scar-ridden arms.

“There are another two options that I can add to those, Mr Potter.”

“Harry, please, Director.”

“Harry? Very well, you may call me Ragnok.”

“Thank you, Ragnok. What are your options?”

“They’re both variants on those already stated. An aging potion with blood adoptions from enough people to create a totally new identity. Or stay the age you are with the multi-blood adoption and a new identity.”

Harry blinked he hadn’t thought of a multi-blood adoption. That was very definitely worth considering. Especially as Dumbledore wouldn’t know until ’91 that Harry wasn’t still with the Dursley's, unless he went and checked or checked the Book of Births. And Harry couldn’t remember him ever coming to Surrey.

“I… I’m going to have to think a little more. I didn’t even consider multi-blood adoptions.” Harry grumbled.

“Why don’t we head back to Gringotts and discuss the matter with Bogrod. We’ve a lot to do in a limited amount of time, Harry.” Ragnok offered.

Harry sighed. “We do.” The pair stood and left the Hall, back in the courtyard, Harry let his mindscape fall dark and opened his eyes to Bogrod’s office.

 

Lumos= Lighting charm

Tempus-et-locus= time and location charm

Chapter Text

“Open you eyes, Ragnok.” Amusement warmed Harry’s voice.

Ragnok’s eyes flicked open at the sound of a child’s voice. He’d spent, what as for him, the last few hours watching Harry Potter grow into an adult and this child version was a little disconcerting.

“Harry?” He asked, eyeing the small child.

“Yeah.” The child’s nose scrunched in distaste.

“Ah. So where would you like us to start? A new identity or dealing with the Horcruxes?”

“Um… I think I need a little more input, Ragnok, a little more information and some ongoing assistance. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and suggest we get a couple more wizards in.”

“Who did you have in mind?”

“Minerva McGonagall, definitely. After that… maybe Severus Snape?”

“Tell me what you know of both of them, Harry.”

“Minerva Isobel McGonagall. Born 1935, educated at Hogwarts, was a prefect and quidditch chaser for Gryffindor. Worked for the DMLE until ’56 when she took over the Transfiguration post at Hogwarts. Made Head of House for Gryffindor sometime after ‘59. Married late in life, her husband died, not long after they married, killed in a greenhouse accident during term, I think someone said. Accompanied Dumbledore when he left me on the Dursley's doorstep late at night on the 1st of November ’81, argued with him over the decision, but was overruled. Fiercely protective of her Lions and later of all the students of Hogwarts. Was made headmistress in ’98, after the Battle of Hogwarts, still there when I turned 25.”

Goblins heads were nodding in understanding.

“And Snape?”

“Severus Tobias Snape. Born January ’60. Grew up in Cokeworth, good friends with Lily Evans until an incident in their 5th year. Attended Hogwarts from ’71-78, sorted into Slytherin. At odds with James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew, also known as the Marauders. Was almost attacked by Lupin, in his werewolf form, after having been tipped off on how to follow Lupin, by Black, was subsequently rescued by Potter. Dumbledore swore Snape to secrecy in regards to Lupin’s condition. Black was not chastised in any way for the incident that almost killed him, further increasing his dislike of the Marauders. Associates with Rosier, Wilkes, Malfoy and Regulus Black. Joined Voldemort’s Death-Eaters in ‘79. Overheard a prophecy in ’80 and told Voldemort. Later discovered it meant Lily Evans, now-Potter, and her family. Begged Voldemort to spare her, Voldemort agreed, but Snape doubted his sincerity. Went to Dumbledore and begged him to protect Lily and her family. Dumbledore agreed, but did nothing more than to Fidelius charm their house. Was on the scene within seconds of Voldemort’s attack, had decided that his feud with Potter was less important than Lily’s survival and was there to tell the Potters that Pettigrew had betrayed their location and that Voldemort was going to target them. He was too late. He sat on the floor of the nursery holding Lily’s dead body until he heard the arrival of Sirius Black. Is a spy for Dumbledore against Voldemort’s Death-Eaters, due to a vow Dumbledore guilted him into giving, a vow to protect Lily’s son, me. Completed his Potions Mastery in mid ’85, took up the post of potions master at Hogwarts, for the start of the ’85-86 school year. In ’87 became Head of House for Slytherin, remained that until June ’97 and the staged death of Dumbledore. Clarifying… Dumbledore did die at the wand of Snape, but... at Dumbledore’s request, Dumbledore was cursed by one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes and was dying, he used this knowledge to have Snape’s position, in Voldemort’s army, secured. The following school year, Voldemort controlled the ministry and had Snape placed as headmaster with Alecto and Amycus Carrow to assist in controlling the students. Snape did what he could to minimise the Carrows’ damage to the students, but was only minimally successful. During the Battle of Hogwarts Voldemort had his snake, his 7th Horcruxe made in ‘95, attack Snape, leaving him to die. I was with him when he died, he gave me his memories and begged me to take them to a pensieve, which I did. Dumbledore had set me up to die and Snape was his unfortunate messenger. I managed, with the assistance of his memories to get Snape’s name cleared and his portrait placed in the headmaster’s office. It took me four years to get him a posthumous Order of Merlin award.”

“You know far more about Snape than you do about McGonagall. Why is that?” Ragnok asked.

“I was never given the opportunity to enter McGonagall’s mind. Snape knew he was dying and gave me everything he could, anything that could help me defeat Voldemort. Plus I had the dubious honour of having him try and teach me occlumency. It wasn’t until after his death that his private journals were found and many more details came to light. Including his reasoning behind the way he treated me and a number of pensieve memories that were forwarded to the Wizengamot.”

Before Harry could continue, his small body rioted against him, his stomach growled and cramped in hunger.

“We can pause, here. Bogrod, request both McGonagall and Snape’s immediate presence and send for a meal, light soup, bread and some fruit. And send Tumrok in.” He turned back to Harry. “Food’s coming, Harry, won’t be long. Now, your memory said there’s a Horcruxe here in the bank. Where?”

“Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault, back left corner, high up in a small niche. It’s a cup, small-ish, gold with a badger running through wheat stalks. Two handles, it’s about six inches tall. It belonged to Helga Hufflepuff, we think.”

“Good.” Ragnok hummed. “I’ll have Tumrok fetch it, then once you’ve eaten, we’ll get the soul-shards removed from both that and you.”

The pair sat quietly, discussing the Potter Estate, until Bogrod returned with a trolley of food and a new goblin, each mentally listing things that they felt important. Ragnok directed the new goblin, Harry assumed him to be Tumrok, to retrieve the Horcruxe cup from the Lestrange vault.

“I thought, director it might be wise to bring more than needed, Mr Potter’s current body is small and weakened by damage. If he plans on undergoing cleansing and aging rituals, he’ll need to be in better health than he is right now.” Bogrod said on entering the office, again.

“Hmm… that is true.” Ragnok mused.

“I’d also recommend a healer’s assessment, who knows what sort of damage you might actually have, Harry.” Bogrod suggested.

“Again, a sound idea. Harry? What are your thoughts on that?” Ragnok agreed.

“I dislike healers, but I also see the need for a full health assessment.” Harry sighed.

For the next 30 minutes, nothing was discussed as the three ate. Harry was sticking to soups and some fruit, he wasn’t going to risk overeating and being sick as a result. He nibbled on a piece of cheese as the two goblins enjoyed the repast. Just as Ragnok was wiping his lips, there was a tapping at the office door.

“Come.” The Director spoke just loud enough to be heard in the hallway.

Blordak entered and bowed to Ragnok. “Sir, Minerva McGonagall and Severus Snape have arrived as per your request.”

“Thank you, Blordak, show them in, please.” Ragnok replied.

“Yes, sir. One minute, please.” Blordak left the office and returned less than a minute later, with a witch and a wizard following him. “Director, Manager, sir.” He nodded to each person as he spoke. “I present Professor Minerva McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress and Severus Snape, Potioneer’s Apprentice. Madam, sir, Manager Bogrod is seated on the far end of the desk, Mr Henry Potter is opposite him and there are seats for you opposite Ragnok, Director of Gringotts.” Blordak lead the two newcomers to their seats.

“Potter?” Snape sneered.

“Indeed, Mr Snape. Harry, how would you like to start this?” Ragnok smirked.

“Severus Snape, I know you are an accomplished Occlumens and also Legilimens.” Harry stated, calmly.

“I am.”

“Good. Professor? How good is your legilimency?” Harry asked McGonagall.

“Reasonable.”

“Good. I have something that both of you should see, but it’s far easier to show you in my mindscape than in a pensieve. Mr Snape, you first. Legilimens me, please.”

“No. It’s illegal to use legilimency on a child.” McGonagall cut in.

“I am aware. I am also aware that while technically, I am five years old, I am not a child.” Harry replied.

“What? How?” McGonagall asked.

“Snape? Please?”

Severus Snape studied the child seated beside McGonagall, he was a lot smaller than expected for a five year old and fresh bruises were visible on his arms and even one on his face.

Legilimens.” Snape snapped.

McGonagall groaned at the word. If word of Snape's actions got out, his future was over.

One minute passed. Two minutes passed. Three minutes passed. Four minutes passed. As the clock tick over to Five minutes, Severus Snape opened his eyes. Horror and anger were written all over his face.

“Professor McGonagall?” He said, his voice sharp and ragged.

“Mr Snape?”

“Do it. This is no child, for all that he’s trapped in a child’s body. Do it!” He snarled.

McGonagall’s jaw fell loose, getting a Slytherin of Snape’s reputation to react as he did, was almost impossible. Whatever he’d seen had affected him, greatly. Minerva sighed and once she had eye contact with the child, she spoke.

Legilimens.” She whispered, reluctantly.

She was gasping as she opened her eyes, minutes later, anger twisting her face.

“I’ll turn him into a frog, a maggot, a…”

“Easy there, professor.” Harry grinned. “Why don’t we just ruin him, instead?”

“Ruin him?” Snape asked.

“How?” McGonagall frowned.

“He’s a control OCD. Take away that control?”

“OCD?” McGonagall asked.

“Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.” Snape explained. “It’s a muggle term. A general definition is that someone has thoughts, feelings or sensations that cause them to act or behave in a particular manner, some to try to engage others in their behaviours and to alter their environment to cater to those thoughts, feelings or sensations. It is considerably more involved and cases vary widely.”

“And you believe Albus has this… disorder?” McGonagall inquired.

“I do.” Harry nodded. “I spoke with you, Filius Flitwick, Poppy Pomfrey, Pomona Sprout, Griselda Marchbanks, Horace Slughorn and Aberforth Dumbledore. Between us, we determined that Albus Dumbledore had to suffer from something like OCD, with control issues. Aberforth believes that it may started with their sister Ariana, her magic was fractured after being attacked by a group of muggle boys. Madam Marchbanks added that his failure to recognise that his lover, Gellert Grindelwald, was only using him for ideas, information and practice, would have exacerbated the matter. And Horace feels that Tom Riddle turning to Dark magic could have caused Dumbledore to snap and become obsessed with keeping control of his world, the Wizarding world. The ‘need to control’ comes from Ariana and while he wouldn’t rationalise it this way, we believe that Dumbledore likely felt, that if he’d been able to control the Wizarding world, muggles would not have seen Ariana as a joke or a toy and so would not have attacked her, causing her magical core to fracture. Again, if he’d controlled the Wizarding world, Grindewald wouldn’t have felt the need use Dumbledore, instead he would have shared his power, his control, willingly and this is where the phrase ‘For the Greater Good’, comes from. It is engraved above the entrance to Nurmengard Prison where Grindelwald stayed until Tom killed him in 1998. As for Tom? If Dumbledore had control, Tom would have had his magic bound and been left to live as a muggle, as would all wizards or witches who show Dark leanings.”

“But why? Dark isn't evil.” Snape didn’t really understand.

“Mostly because he see’s Dark as uncontrollable. Ariana was Dark-inclined, as were Grindewald and Riddle. In his mind it makes sense. If he can’t convert them to Light, he’d prefer to bind their magic and leave them to live as muggles.”

“Oh my. How do we stop him? He’s headmaster of Hogwarts, there’s literally hundreds of children under his control.” McGonagall was horrified.

“Well, the good news is, in ’85 he’s only headmaster. In ’88 he becomes Chief Warlock for the Wizengamot and in ’89, he’s offered the position of Supreme Mugwump. These three positions give him almost total control of the world’s entire wizarding population.”

“Oh, Merlin.” Snape whispered.

“So, what are your plans?” McGonagall wanted to know.

“The very first thing we need to do is to remove the threat of Voldemort, permanently. Then I’d suggest, pushing Dumbledore into saying something about Voldemort being dead and how he’ll return. Get a few people, maybe the chairman of the Board of Governors, the Minister for Magic and the Head Healer from St Mungo’s, in a position to overhear him, get them to doubt his mental stability. Use that to get him remanded into care, maybe have his magic bound, I'm not certain, but surely the healers of St Mungo's will have an idea of treatment.”

“Is that possible?”

“I have memories, that show him putting a child, deliberately, into a life-threatening position, and not just once, but multiple times. With my information, surely we can approach the people involved and get pensieve memories?”

“You?” McGonagall asked.

“Me, Sirius Black, Tom Riddle, Remus Lupin, Regulus Black, Cedric Diggory, Fleur Delacour, Viktor Krumm, Hermione Granger, Ronald Weasley, Neville Longbottom, Draco Malfoy, Rubeus Hagrid, Myrtle Warren, Severus Snape, Andromeda Black, Theodore Tonks, Bartemius Crouch Jnr, Ginevra Weasley, the entire school on more than one occasion and two school Houses on another.” Harry recited the list of names, bluntly and dispassionately.

“What?!” McGonagall screeched.

“When? How?” Snape demanded.

“The Black brothers, Tom, Neville, Draco, Severus, Bartemius and myself were returned to violent or abusive homes, time and time again, even after requesting, begging not to be. Cedric, Fleur, Viktor and myself were entered into the Tri-wizard Tournament in ’94… as you are aware, the tournament was discontinued before 1800, due to the death toll connected to it. Ronald, Draco and myself were sent into the Forbidden Forest, at night, in our first year, searching for something that was killing unicorns, with only one adult to accompany us. Hagrid still has the remains of his wand, it’s broken and is unstable, but he was still permitted to keep it. Andromeda and Theodore were encouraged to elope, defying both families, causing Lord Black to cast Andromeda from the family, but luckily he did not remove the family magics as her parents wanted. Myrtle and the school were in danger because Dumbledore let the wards lapse, allowing a basilisk to gain access to the castle itself, twice, once in ’43, Myrtle died as a result and again in the ’92-93 school year, four students, one ghost and Filch’s cat, Mrs Norris were petrified, before the cause was found. Dumbledore stored a number of dangerous items in the school, including but not limited to, the philosopher’s stone, the mirror of Erised, a fully-grown Devil's snare, a life-size battle-chess set and a Cerberus. Ginevra was possessed by a Horcruxe-diary that she was tricked into taking, by Lucius Malfoy. Hufflepuff and Slytherin Houses were directed by Dumbledore to return to their common rooms when he was alerted, by a Voldemort-possessed professor, of a troll in the dungeons. As you aware, both Houses’ common rooms are accessed via the dungeons. Dumbledore allowed a half-giant with less than three years formal education, to be a professor. Hagrid had no understanding, that what was safe for him was still dangerous for students, injuries were a common occurrence in his Care of Magical Creatures classes. And last but not least, Sirius Black is in Azkaban for betraying my parents, murdering 12 muggles and Peter Pettigrew. However… He is innocent of these crimes, Pettigrew was the secret keeper, which Dumbledore was aware of, as he’d cast the Fidelius charm, also Pettigrew is still very much alive, living as a pet rat with the Weasley family. Sirius has received no trial and Dumbledore will make no effort, ever, to see that he gets one.” Harry told them.

Both McGonagall and Snape just gaped at him.

“So, as you can see there is a history of neglect, of risking lives and failure to protect. Not to mention the out and out favouritism, he shows to Gryffindor. I think we can use that, don’t you?”  Harry’s wicked grin looked decidedly out of place on a child’s face.

McGonagall and Snape shared a long speaking look, before Snape sighed and nodded.

“Mr Potter, I will assist you in acquiring the Horcruxes, while Professor McGonagall speaks to Minister Bagnold, Healer Strout and Lord Longbottm.” Snape was not exactly pleased to be working with James Potter’s child.

“Not until Mr Potter has been seen by our healers, Mr Snape.” Ragnok cut in.

“And I want that aging potion or ritual. I’m still not sure it’s the best option, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to risk Dumbledore getting a hold of me again.” Harry added.

“Hmm…” Bogrod hummed.

“Something to say, Bogrod?” Ragnok asked.

“I… think so. Sir? Do you recall Metrina Costas?”

“I think… Yes…? Oh. Well. Yes, that might work. Yes, indeed.” Ragnok started as confused but surprise, then consideration and finally amusement crossed his face.

“What?” Harry asked, reaching for a peach.

“You might want to leave that for a bit.” Ragnok nodded to the peach. “Bogrod reminded me of a witch that wanted to leave the Wizarding world and live as a muggle, mostly due to familial abuse. Metrina Costas was the name she choose to use.”

“And?” Harry twitched his head at Ragnok, quizzically.

“She designed a dummy body, that was completely and utterly hers, to leave behind, so that she would be declared dead. She came to us, to Gringotts, to have it made, it used blood, bone, muscle, sweat, tears, hair and nails from the donor. These are added to a golem, giving the golem the magical signature and blood identity of the donor. Once the golem is suffused with these, the life-supporting magic is cut off and the golem dies, but still retains the magical signature and blood identity of the donor. Any test that wizarding healers can do, only confirms that identity.”

“Right…” Harry said. “And?”

“And used in conjunction with one of the options I suggested earlier…?” Ragnok smirked.

“The multi-blood adoption?” Harry nodded in thought. “Can you do it? How soon can you do it?”

“We have the notes relating to the Costas transaction and can refer to them. But before any of that, you must be seen by a healer and have an identity test. With your permission, Bogrod will get started on preparations for the golem and the transfer. Now, what of the Potter Estate?”

“Does Dumbledore have any idea what’s actually entailed in the estate?”

“No, Mr Potter, he doesn’t. He came asking for details, but as he’d had the wills sealed, we were able to deny him, on grounds that he had no proof of authority on the Estate. He may have a vague idea, from speaking with your parents, but will know very little for certain.”

“Good. Once the identity test is done, let’s see about moving what I want to keep, away from the Estate, prior to my ‘death’. Don’t you agree?”

“I do. I’ll get the requirements for the identity test and request a healer, while Bogrod see’s to the golem and preparation for the rituals that may be needed. Yes?”

“Thank you Ragnok.” Harry nodded.

“I’ll follow you and Master Bogrod, if I may, Director? I need to go and speak to a few people, if we’re going to remove Albus from Hogwarts.We'll need people to be prepared to consider our information.” McGonagall commented.

“Certainly. Mr Snape?”

“I’ll stay with Potter, I have a few questions for him.”

“Of course. Shan’t be long.” Ragnok nodded to the two wizards and gestured to McGonagall and Bogrod to follow him and left the office.

“Snape?”

“Your plans are… not what I’d expect from a Gryffindor, Potter.”

“Nope. More Slytherin, aren’t they?”

“Very.”

“Quite probably why the Sorting Hat wanted me in Slytherin.”

“Quite probably. How will you destroy the Horcruxes? Do you know?”

“Yep.” Harry popped the ‘P’. “Once the goblins transfer them from their original containers, there are three options. Basilisk venom, Fiendfyre or the Killing Curse.”

“The Killing Curse?”

“Yes.”

“Have you ever used it?” Snape was not sure how to ask if Harry had killed anyone.

“Once. In my Auror duties… A muggle victim of Death-Eaters, she was dying and the healers could do nothing, muggles don’t respond to most potions or healing charms.” Harry whispered. “She was only a baby, a little girl less than a year old.”

“Oh, Merlin.” Snape whispered.

“She was suffering, Snape, and the healers demanded she be given mercy.” Harry’s five year old body struggled to cope with the influx of emotions.

“What did you mean by ‘Multi-Blood Adoption’? It’s not a term I’ve heard before.” Snape decided to change the subject and lighten the atmosphere in the office.

“Ah. Ragnok suggested it, actually. What it is... well, it's a little like a full Blood Adoption, but with blood from multiple donors all mixed together, to the point that the adoptive blood overrides my birth blood, at least as far as Identity Testing is concerned, I should still register for access Potter wards, though. It’s also called a ‘Masking Adoption’ and there are usually a number of full Blood Adoptions immediately after it, the first two register as being the natural parents of the adopted person. I did think about a repudiation, but to do that I would have to claim Head of House and that would alert Dumbledore. So, I crossed it off my list of possible options.”

“Understandable.”

“The longer we keep him in the dark, the better.” Both men nodded.

“I most definitely agree with that. The Horcruxes? Do you know which you’ll be using to destroy them?”

“Hmm.. I’m thinking… more than likely fiendfyre. Transfer the Horcruxes from their current, historically valuable containers, to some made from timber or paper. Place the Horcruxes under a containment shield before casting… let it run itself out of fuel and oxygen before dousing it.”

Snape nodded. “That might work. Will you do them all at once or one at a time?”

“No idea, yet. I’ll talk to Ragnok, Gringotts knows more about Horcruxes than I do.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised at Gringotts’ knowledge about anything.” Snape nodded his agreement.

Ragnok entered the office, a tray of parchment and other paraphernalia in his hands.

“Alright, Harry, let’s get the identity tests out of the way before the healer turns up. I need you to prick a finger and let seven drops of blood fall into each phial, please.” Ragnok handed over a silver knife and placed two crystal phials on the desk, one containing a light lime green liquid and the other was so pale, it was almost clear.

“Mr Potter? May I assist you?” Snape reached towards the knife without actually touching it.

“Please.” A small hand was held up. “I don’t think these hands are capable of wielding that knife.” Harry grimaced.

Snape held the knife securely and gestured for Harry’s hand, taking it he pressed the tip of the blade into the soft pad of Harry’s finger and held it over each phial, as blood dripped from the small finger.

“Thanks.” Harry said when it was done. A wandless ‘sana’ and the small cut closed seamlessly.

“It should only take a few minutes, Harry. The identity test will only show who you and your parents are. The inheritance test will tell us of any titles, vaults or estates you stand to inherit. See, here’s the identity test is already complete.”

He handed the parchment to Harry.

 

HENRY JAMES POTTER-BLACK (31 July 1980 – )

Mother – Lillian Jasmine Evans (30 Jan 1960 – 31 Oct 1981)

Father – James Fleamont potter (27 Mar 1960 – 31 Oct 1981)

Father (Blood Adopted – 4 November 1980) – Sirius Orion Black (3 November 1959 – )

 

“The inheritance test could take as long as an hour to complete.”

“Great. So, now what?”

“Now the healer checks you over. It’s quick and painless, thank goodness.” Ragnok answered as a tiny she-goblin marched into the office.

“My patient, Ragnok?”

“That would the younger wizard, Tinrilla.”

“Will I need to add my assessment to a file?”

“No, we will be dealing with the entire situation, today.” Ragnok replied.

“Very well. I’ll need you to swallow one mouthful of this potion, please, but only one mouthful, understand? After it’s absorbed into your body, the other half will write on this parchment and give me a list of your current injuries, charms, hexes, curses and bindings. As well as any damage left by previous ones.” The little female goblin spoke bluntly.

“Yes, ma’am.” Harry agreed.

He reached out and took the small bottle, lifting it to his lips. It liquid felt like it was fizzing as moved through his system, frothing and almost tickling as it went.

“Tell me when the bubbling sensation stops, young master.”

It took a few minutes before Harry nodded to Tinrilla. The little she-goblin then placed the parchment in a shallow tray and poured the remains of the potion onto the parchment. They watched as the potion was absorbed by the parchment and then slowly words began to appear.

“What would you like me to do with this, now, Director?” The goblin healer asked.

“Just leave it there, please, Tinrilla. We’ll be dealing with a number of issues a little later, Bogrod is seeing to preparations as we speak.” Ragnok informed her.

“As you wish, Director.” She placed the results on the desk, bowed and left the room.

“Ah, the Inheritance Test is finished. Lady Magic must like you, Harry, this usually takes a while. Let’s see what we have to work with, shall we?” Ragnok picked up the test parchment as he spoke and laid it out where the three of them could see and read it.

 

HENRY JAMES POTTER-BLACK (31 July 1980 – )

Mother – Lillian Jasmine Evans (30 Jan 1960 – 31 Oct 1981)

Father – James Fleamont potter (27 Mar 1960 – 31 Oct 1981)

Father (Blood Adopted – 4 November 1980) – Sirius Orion Black (3 November 1959 – )

TITLES –

Potter (Birth – father)

Black – heir-dependent (Blood Adoption – Father)

Peverell (Birth – father)

Slytherin (Conquest – T M Riddle)

Gryffindor (Magic – Valour, Courage, Sacrifice)

Braxton (bequest)

Harrington (bequest)

Winterbourne (bequest)

VAULTS –

241 – Gryffindor. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, artefacts, portraits, jewellery, land and buildings

244 – Slytherin. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, artefacts, portraits, jewellery, land and buildings

592 – Peverell. ʛalleons, books, artefacts, jewellery, land and buildings

625 – Potter. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, artefacts, portraits, jewellery, land and buildings

687 – Potter - Trust. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, letters

1979 – Assigned Multi-Bequest vault. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, artefacts, portraits, jewellery, land, buildings

BEQUESTS

Abbey - ʛ1000

Abraham - ʛ1000

Acton - ʛ500

Adams - ʛ5000

Appleton – ʛ10000

Barclay - ʛ100

Beckwith - ʛ47192, δ 1458, κ 6107, 4019 books, 712 artefacts, 37 portraits, 1 house, 7921 pieces jewellery

 

The list went on for another two full pages.

“Well… that’s pretty much what I remember. Not all of it, of course. A lot of people added me to their estates after I began to attend Hogwarts. And even more after the Battle of Hogwarts.” Harry sighed.

Snape blinked at the disheartened reaction to being left hundreds of thousands of ʛalleons.

“Heir-dependent? I'm not familiar with the term. What does it signify?”

“It's term used for the Heir's heir. It means that Sirius is still Heir Black and as I'm his Godson, until he has children of his own, I'm his heir.”

“What do you plan to do with all this?” He asked.

“Ragnok? If I claim some of the titles, now… not all of them, but some. How does that effect things?”

“This is an inheritance test, Harry, we have three types of Identification Tests, Identity, Inheritance and Proprietary. This test tells us what you stand to inherit, not what you have already claimed. No wizard can request a proprietary test, not even on themselves. Only Gringotts, can offer a proprietary test.”

“If I claim some of these, then do the aging and the adoptions, I still keep these? Because I’ve already claimed them?”

“Yes. Anything you don’t claim will remain un-claimable, as Harry Potter will no longer exist.” Ragnok replied.

“Right, right. Okay… I’ll leave Potter and Black titles and claim the others. As for the bequests? I may consolidate all the purely financial ones. And… How many left houses?”

“Not including those blood-inherited? Four. Beckwith, Braxton, Harrington and Winterbourne.” The answer was promptly given.

“Right. I’ll… um, I’ll leave the Beckwith estate unclaimed, maybe? That should give me a solid enough financial base to be going on with.”

“Indeed, Mr Potter. Are you not claiming your trust vault?” Snape asked.

“Nope. Don’t want Dumbledore, who by-the-way declared himself my guardian illegally, to be alerted that the vault has been accessed.”

“But the letters?”

“I know what they say, I’ve committed them to my memory library. I don’t need to risk Dumbledore, just to re-read them.”

Severus looked thoughtful, but eventually nodded.

“But what if there are letters for other people?” Ragnok asked.

Harry grinned and shook his head. “You forget, Ragnok. I’ve been through the vaults before, I know who the letters are to. Me, Sirius, Alice Longbottom and Amelia Bones. And once my golem is declared dead… those letters, along with the rest of my inheritance, will be parcelled out as per my parents' Wills. Regardless of whether or not Dumbledore has sealed them, without an heir, the last living descendants’ Wills are activated, automatically, it’s the law and nothing Dumbledore does, can change that. And I remember what my parents wanted. Cash and houses for Sirius and Remus, not Pettigrew – they already knew he was a Voldy-follower. Cash for the Longbottom’s, Severus, Benjy Fenwick, Emmeline Vance and the Prewitt Twins, or if they died, there were other criteria involved. All the Marauder’s stuff for Sirius and Remus, of course. Nothing, nothing at all, was left to Dumbledore, if they died while under the Fidelius charm.”

Ragnok and Snape all looked confused at that information.

“Not Dumbledore? Why not?” Ragnok asked, frowning.

“They didn’t trust him. He was the one to cast the Fidelius Charm and they all knew that Pettigrew was a Death-Eater, Dumbledore stated that he would transfer the Secret from Pettigrew to Sirius, but as of the morning of the attack, when their latest Wills were filed, they knew that the transfer hadn’t happened.”

“How? How would they know?” Ragnok questioned.

“James and Sirius had completed their training as Aurors, Ragnok. Fidelius Charms and their side effects, were a part of that training. When a Fidelius Charmed Secret is transferred from one person to another, the new Secret-Keeper has to confirm the Secret with those already in the know. Dumbledore stated that he would transfer the Secret to Sirius, but as they still knew about the place, they knew the Secret hadn’t been transferred.”

Snape frowned. “Dumbledore knew Pettigrew was Dark and didn’t transfer the Secret? Is that what you’re saying?” His voice was calm, quiet and lethally angry.

“Yes.” Harry replied.

“Dieser Dreck nuckelnde, schleimige, seelenlose... Schnecke!” Severus snarled viciously.

“Pretty much.” Harry agreed, his lips twisted in disgust.

“Potter… Harry. I will work with you to bring him down, someone like that cannot be left in control of children.” Snape corrected himself, before offering his assistance.

“Thank you… May I call you Severus?”

“Do. What is first?” He nodded.

“First? Gringotts are going to make that golem, get it ready to go. Take the samples needed for the golem to ‘live’. Then we’ll get blood donations from enough people that a new identity is legally and magically created for me. Me, not the golem, because as I understand it, the golem is what I was at the time the samples were taken, not what I will become after it was made, it doesn’t change with me, unless I give it new blood. Then the aging ritual, I’ve had enough of being five years old. Screw that.” Harry said.

“That’s all well and good, Harry, but before any of that happens, you have to decide what you’re claiming and we have to get the blood donations and decide who’s going to be listed as your parents.” Ragnok cut in, just as Bogrod entered the office, again.

“And you’ll also have to decide what to do about your education, are we to have you listed as home schooled? Or educated overseas? If overseas, where and will you need an accent?” Bogrod added as he sat down, beside Ragnok.

Harry hummed in thought for a few minutes. “Right. Ah… Ragnok…? Can I claim only part of a specific bequest?”

“I… I’m not sure I understand?”

“I want to claim every book, wand and piece of jewellery. But not necessarily all of the gold. Have to leave some for after not-Harry's 'death', many people would know of others, possibly even family members, that left bequests.”

“Ah… That is true. We… we could smudge the details a little.” Ragnok gave a Machiavellian smirk.

Harry frowned in consideration and tilted his head. “In what way?”

“Instead of claiming everything, you can claim part of everything. For example, 50% of all gold left to you from all bequests. All wands, all jewellery, all books, all houses left as part of those bequests. Then claim the titles you want. That would leave every bequest still on file, just a smaller amount, should anyone investigate. And as you are the legitimate heir, we of Gringotts would have no hesitation in facilitating your requests.”

By the time Ragnok had finished, he was faced with a grinning child, a wizard shaking his head in amusement and a goblin ready to thump his head against the table.

“You, Ragnok are… I can see why you are the head of Gringotts’ London branch. You have an evil mind, I do hope you never turn it on me.” Harry’s grin was firmly fixed in place. “Alright, let’s do this.”

“Let’s.” Ragnok pulled out a quill that glittered with magic.

“From all non-blood bequests, I want 80% of the finances, the books, and the jewellery, with copies of all the remaining books. All the wands and all the properties. From the blood bequests, I want all the wands. A copy of all the books. 50% of the Potter jewellery, specifically all pieces that belonged to Lily Jasmine Potter nee Evans, James Potter’s invisibility cloak and the Maruader’s map. That you’ll find in Caretaker Filch’s confiscated items collection, at Hogwarts. From the Black Estate I want only two things, the house-elf Kreacher and the locket, Kreacher knows which locket I mean, tell him to bring it with him and anything else he wants to keep. Anything I’ve forgotten? Severus? Ragnok? Bogrod? Any suggestions?”

Ragnok tipped his head from one side to the other, as he thought. “ʛalleons, wands, books, jewellery, property and personal items? The only thing I might suggest is… your parents’ portraits. They had them done less than a week before their deaths and are stored here.”

“Yeah.” Harry’s voice trembled slightly. “That’d be good. Anything else?”

The three other beings exchanged glances and each shook their heads.

“Alright. Do it, Ragnok. Set three new vaults, one for the majority of the ʛalleons, a second for the books, wands and jewellery. The third will be my ‘spending’ vault, keep the balance at 10,000 ʛalleons, I want it linked to a payment signet-ring and to a money pouch, preferably something that requires my magical signature to open.” Harry rattled off his list of requirements.

“And which titles?” Ragnok held the quill ready to write.

“I’m rethinking the need for the titles I chose earlier. I’m thinking, just Harrington, Peverell, Gryffindor and Slytherin. And everything attached to those titles. Any more and I’m going to be too bogged down to do anything other than be Lord Whatever-by-however-many-times.” Harry muttered.

“Agreed, Harry.” Severus nodded.

“Education?”

“Home-schooled. OWLs on record, can you get details in and misfiled? But only once the aging and adoption is done. I’ll give you the details of my scores. And possibly an appointment for me to do my NEWTs at the ministry.” Harry answered Bogrod’s question.

“Very good, Harry. And the donors for the blood adoptions? Do you have any requirements?” Ragnok made a note and looked up.

“Not really. Do you have a protocol for acquiring it?”

“We do, actually. We will randomly select people in another country, this time Canada, until we get 21 people willing to donate a sample, we explain to them that the intended recipient is a victim of abuse and neglect. And that the contract we use ensures that the recipient cannot claim any part of the donor’s family estate in any way.”

“Why 21?” Severus asked.

“Once there are 21 minor blood adoptions, our testing will register no birth parents, then there are a series of full Blood Adoptions and only the last four register on our tests, the first two registering as the 'birth' parents and the second pair as 'adopted' parents.”

“Ah, I thought I had it about right, good. Go for it. You have at it, finding donors.” Harry replied.

“Director? Do you need a set number of male and female donors? For the donors or for the final listed parents?” Severus put forward.

“No, just as long as we have the requisite number and a final four, one of which should be male and another female, of course. They will be listed as the new parents.”

“Harry? Might I suggest asking Professor McGonagall to be one of the final four? She has no family and I know that there are times this causes her distress.” Severus explained his suggestion.

“That…? I’d kinda like that. She was… I kinda saw her as family anyway, Thanks Severus.” Harry smiled softly at the other man.

“At the very least, consult her, she may know of a few people willing to donate to the cause.” Severus offered. “Not telling them anymore than you would have for any other donor, of course.”

“Of course. Harry? Would you like me to see to that?” Ragnok asked.

“I'd prefer Severus ask the Professor, please, Ragnok. Bogrod? Where are you at with the golem?” Harry turned to the second goblin.

“Ready to start when you are, Harry. The chamber is ready and the appropriate sized golem blank is waiting, along with all the required supplies for the dedicating, healing and aging rituals.”

“Alright. Severus? You were one of the few people in my life that was completely honest with me, you never lied, not to me, anyway. Would you… would you donate as a final four?”

“I’d be honoured, Harry, but I was thinking, that maybe I could ask my mother to donate, that would make us siblings. But the decision is yours.”

“Siblings, huh?” Harry looked at Severus. “You know that wherever they are, James and Lily are going to be screaming at us, for completely different reasons.”

“Too bad.” Severus smirked.

Harry snorted. “Yeah, too bad, brother.” The two shared a soft smile. “Will you stay with me while they harvest the stuff for the golem?”

“If I’m allowed, yes, of course.”

“Unfortunately, gentlemen, I’m going to have to say ‘no’, to that.” Ragnok interrupted, sombrely. “Harry will be in a sterile ritual room for the procedure and he will be unconscious for a few hours afterwards. I suggest that Mr Snape use this time to speak with his mother and get her consent. We will provide the contract and the phial she will need to fill.”

Harry and Severus looked at each other and sighed. “He’s probably right, Harry. I can get that done and be back before you wake.” Severus sighed again.

“Yeah, alright. I’ll see you soon. Bogrod? Let’s do this, I’m getting hungry again.” Harry muttered. “I’ll be glad to be older again.” Harry stood and waited for Bogrod to lead him from the room.

“Director? Might I ask? The aging ritual? Does that automatically age Harry to what he was when he accidentally travelled, or can he select an age?” Severus inquired.

“Ah. The ritual ages him by a selected number of days, how many has yet to be decided. Why do you ask?”

“If he’s to be my brother, I would like it if we were close in age.” Severus replied.

“He did say it was his 25th birthday, today, and I understand that you were also 25 earlier this year. Correct?”

“Yes, Director.”

“Is that close enough? We can make it, that you share the same, registered, date of birth. If you were to gain a blood sample from your father… we are able to, to all intents and purposes, make the pair of you twins. That would require a full Blood Adoption from both of your parents and if they did, I’d suggest making Harry younger than you, by a few hours or even the next day. But the two of you can hash that out after the golem is up and going.”

“We can. So, things are going according schedule, then?” Severus had a lot to think about.

“Indeed. Harry’s stated his intent to claim and we’ll have that completed before he enters the ritual room. The golem is ready, as soon as the samples are taken, they’ll be processed into the golem. After that is the aging ritual and the adoptions. Then the finalising of the legal paperwork. We’ve retrieved a Horcruxe and are simply waiting on completing Harry’s business, before it is destroyed. From there, it’s out of Gringotts’ hands, both the destruction of the Horcruxes and the confinement of Dumbledore. We will, however, provide whatever assistance we can, when we are asked, Mr Snape.”

“Thank you, Director. I’d like two of the donor contracts, please. I will try to get my parents to give blood willingly for a full Blood Adoption, but failing that, I will endeavour to get donor samples. I am fairly confident that mother will consent to either, it’s father that could be an... issue.”

“I think Harry will be content with whichever way it goes, your offer enough to satisfy him. Like magic, it’s all about intent.” Ragnok pushed two pieces of parchment across the desk. “Now, Harry’s not likely to regain consciousness in less than five hours. That gives you time to approach your parents and Minerva McGonagall, before he wakes.” Ragnok stood and waited while Severus tucked the parchments away and rose to his feet.

 

Diese Dreck nuckelnde, schleimige, seelenlose... Schnecke! = That scum sucking, slimy, soulless slug!

Chapter Text

As Harry followed Bogrod through the darkened corridors of Gringotts, something occurred to the small wizard.

“Bogrod?”

“Yes, Harry?”

“With the bequest titles? Is there a way I can claim one and pass it over to someone else?”

“Ah… I’m not sure. Do you want me to check before we remove the first sample? I can do that while you’re being prepared. That will enable you to claim a title if necessary, before the samples are taken.”

“Hmm. Please ask, if you would? I’d like to give my new brother the Winterbourne title and it's associated bequest, if possible. If it can be done, please take this as my intent to claim the title. If it can’t… well consider this just an inquiry.” Harry shrugged.

“I’ll do what I can, Harry. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to tell you, either way, before the sample are collected.”

“Please, Bogrod.” Harry nodded to the goblin and continued on his way into the bowels of the bank.

 

Minerva McGonagall was not a happy witch, right now. She sat waiting, to all appearances, quite patiently, but appearances could be very deceptive.

“Professor McGonagall? Minister Bagnold will see you, now.” An unknown assistance said, gesturing for Minerva to follow him.

They crossed through an outer office and through a more private inner office, only to stop in front of a plan door. The assistant tapped politely on the door and waited until a voice came from inside.

“Come.” It said.

The assistant opened the door and bowed slightly.

“Madam Minister, Professor Minerva McGonagall , ma’am.”

“Thank you, Weatherby. You may go. I shan’t need you again, today.” The assistant nodded and turned, he stepped out and away from Minerva and left the office. “Please, Professor, come in. Have a seat, how can I help Hogwarts today?”

“I’m not here on behalf of Hogwarts, Millicent.” Minerva’s voice was hard and sharp.

Millicent Bagnold blinked at the well-banked anger in the professor’s voice.

“What have I done to deserve that tone, Professor McGonagall?” She asked, feeling like she was back in detention again.

“Sirius Black.” Minerva snapped.

“The murderer?”

“The man who was not given a trial.” Minerva corrected.

“What?!” Millicent gasped. “He was!… Wasn’t he?” Wasn't he?

“I have spent the last hour in the archives, searching for anything, anything at all, relating to Sirius Black. Do you know what I found?” The transfiguration professor was almost hissing as she spoke, shades of her Animagus form making itself known.

“No…?” Was the hesitant answer.

“I found five documents, Millicent, five. OWLs, NEWTs, Graduation, Apparition licence and Auror acceptance.”

“Uh…”

“That’s It!” Minerva screeched. “Nothing else.”

“What else should there be?” Millicent knew she was missing something but, what?

“Where is the report on his arrest? Where are the charges laid? Where are the transcripts of his trial? Where are the sentencing records? Where are the transfer orders to sent him to Azkaban?” Minerva demanded. “Care to answer?”

Millicent’s eyes blinked steadily for a few seconds, shock stopping her from reacting in any other way.

“They’re not in his file?” Her voice was a little plaintive.

“No.”

“Um… Maybe they’re misfiled.” She really hoped so.

“I though that, too, at least at first. So, I asked the curator, ‘which summoning charm I could use in the archives?’ After he told me, I summoned everything relating to Sirius Black. I got one additional document, his birth notice. That’s it. That’s all. Just six!” Minerva watched as Millicent frowned. “Who was in charge that day? Who had to sign off on the arrest and transfer?”

Millicent swiped her mousey-blonde hair away from her face. “Bart was. He assured me that all the steps would be taken. That he would see to it all. I’d just been given notice that my mother and sister’s bodies were found in the rubble of Wigtown. He said he’d deal with it. Oh, Professor, what did he do?” Millicent was whispering by the time she finished.

“Millicent… Bartemius… he… Sirius’ mother was Walburga Black.” Minerva sighed. “It was Walburga that caught Bartemius out after curfew with Alison Mincher. It was her testimony that forced Lord Crouch to declare Bartemius and Alison were betrothed. Otherwise the scandal would have destroyed House Crouch, the heir caught naked, dallying with an underage witch? Remember? Bartemius was never happy about having Alison as his wife, but Lord Crouch had little alternative. Bartemius always swore he’d get back at her. Locking her son up? I doubt Bartemius has any idea that Walburga would probable want to thank him, if she knew he was responsible.”

“Oh gods, oh gods, what am I going to do? How can I fix this? Professor? Please? Please, you have to help me, please. We have to help him. He-”

“Millicent! Stop. Now.” Minerva snapped, using her Head of Gryffindor voice. “We can’t do anything just yet. We need more information.” She sighed. “In a month, the new school year resumes. There'll be things happening between now and then that need to happen. Let them. Once term starts, if it hasn't already been dealt with, send Bartemius to MACUSA, follow up on Scamander’s request to have the Isle of Drear declared a Quintaped Breeding ground. Dumbledore will be too busy to interfere in a closed session of the Wizengamot, don’t call him as a witness, he’s immune to veritaserum and he’s definitely not got Black’s best interests at heart.”

“What? How can you be certain?”

“Dumbledore was the one to cast the Fidelius charm for the Potter’s, so he knew who the Secret Keeper was and he knows it’s not Black. I’ll send what information I can gather, to you personally... at home that is, Millicent.” Minerva stood and left the room, she paused in the doorway and looked over her shoulder at the Minister. “Oh and Dumbledore sealed the Potter Wills, without Wizengamot approval.”

Millicent could only gape as Minerva left, not realising the professor hadn't told the Minister what had caused her to go looking for Black's trial records.

 

Severus stood outside the quintessentially Spanish house. The square cut of the building was broken by the sweeping arches framing an outdoor seating area. He sighed, but gathered his courage, the knowledge that if this went well, he would have a brother. A brother. That was enough for him to gather up whatever bit of Gryffindor courage that Lily or Harry could share.

He stepped forward and lifted his hand to the knocker, itself in the shape of a hanging hand holding a ball. He rapped it against the strike-plate. Once. Twice. Three times. And waited.

It seemed to take ages, but Severus knew it could only have been a minute at most, before he heard footsteps. A few more seconds and the door cracked open to reveal a woman with midnight black hair and pale brown eyes.

She blinked at the wizard standing in front of her door. “Severus?” She whispered.

“Mother.” His voice was calm, but only by sheer willpower.

“Severus? What are you doing here?”

“I wish to speak to you… and him.”

“Oh, that’s not a good idea. He won’t like that.”

“I am aware, mother, which is why I am not asking. Open the door.” He ordered.

She whimpered, but did as he said.

“Eileen? Who is it?” Tobias Snape’s voice was sharp, but weak.

“Me… father.” Severus sneered, as he walked into a light-filled room.

“Severus? What are you doing here, boy? You’re not welcome, here.” The older man spluttered.

“I am aware… however, I don’t particularly care. I am here for a reason. You want me gone, give me what I came for and you’ll never see me again. Deny me… and I’ll be here every day of the week, for the rest of your life.” Severus used Harry’s memories of his time in Potions class as a base for his behaviour in dealing with Tobias.

The man was weak, little more than a skeleton covered in skin, age, over-work, drink and poor nutrition had destroyed his body and he wasn’t all that far from death, but that didn’t change Severus’ memories of being on the receiving end of the man’s violence. He wasn’t going to let that stop him, though.

“Wh-what do you w-want?” The old man asked.

“Blood.” Severus stated bluntly.

“What?” Tobias gasped.

“I want your blood. I have been given a chance and I plan to take it.” He put the two phials and two pieces of parchemnt on the table. “You signature on this parchment and enough of your blood to fill a phial. Father… you may not understand, but mother should. The blood will be used to give me something you deliberately denied both mother and I. A family. It will be used in a Blood Adoption. It means nothing to you, Father, and will not affect you in any way. Mother, you know what it means, but it will also have little effect on you. Other than this one act, you need have no further contact with either myself or the person being adopted. You’ll never have to see me again.” Severus made sure not to say whether the adoption was for a brother or a sister, he didn't trust Tobias to not try and twist his desire for the the adoption, to demean him.

Both Eileen and Tobias caught their breaths, but for very different reasons.

“A Blood Adoption?” Eileen whispered.

“Never?” Tobias whispered.

“Give me a single, full, phial of your blood, for a Blood Adoption, sign the form and I will give you what you want, father, me gone from your life, for good.”

“Take it and go.” Tobias sneered, pulling a sheet of parchment to him and signing it with a trembling hand.

“Very well, father. Place your hand over the edge of your chair’s armrest.”

Severus stepped closer and drew a dagger. When Tobias’ hand was in a suitable place, Severus sliced the dagger across the pad of Tobias’ index finger and watched as blood slowly filled the phial and Tobias, in his frail condition, lost consciousness. Once the phial was full, he turned to his mother and spoke.

“He would not appreciate my healing him, mother, fetch a bandage, please.”

Eileen wordlessly left the room and returned with a muggle first aid kit and handed it over. Severus withdrew a dressing and a bandage and with little fuss, applied them to Tobias’ hand. He stood and held out the dagger to Eileen.

“Your turn, mother. Sign the form. Fill the phial.”

Eileen’s hand trembled as she held a pen and scrawled her name on the appropriate line. Then she picked up the dagger and laying it against her thumb, pressed it deep and stood watching as the blood flowed. When the phial was full, she let the dagger go and pressed a dressing to the cut, deftly tying a bandage around the digit.

“He is dying, mother, you know this.”

“He is.” She whispered.

“Make him no promises. When he is gone, your life will be your own. If you wish to meet your new family, a letter sent by owl or through Gringotts will reach me, no matter where I am. There is a Gringotts, here in Valencia, in Callejón de la illusion, on Carrer del Pare Ferris, in the North-West Quarter.” He handed her a key, a Gringotts key on a chain. “Put that around your neck, mother. It’s charmed, so that only the person who puts it on may remove it. No one, but those sharing your blood will ever know it is there. It’s not a large vault, by any means, but enough to support you for a while. You cannot access it until he is dead, however.”

“Severus…” She handed the key back.

“Mother?”

“Look after your new family, my son. You deserve far better than Tobias or I have ever given you. I will not take your key, I will not live past Tobias’ death. My life is tied to his, Severus, the vows we gave when we married, saw to that. Go see your grandfather, he tried to contact you when you were at Hogwarts, but Tobias told him you had no desire to know the person who’d disowned your mother. Father… he disowned me, but not you. Take your brother or sister and go see him. Please?”

The visit was obviously at an end when Eileen took Severus by the arm and lead him to the front door.

“You have what you came for, Severus, take it and rejoice in your family. Do no mourn Tobias or I. Our fate was sealed the day we wed, I may not love him, but he was still a better choice of husband than the one my mother wanted for me. Alecto Lestrange, was the younger brother to the Lestrange Heir, Rubastian, and he made Tobias look like a gentle man, Severus. Tobias may not be a good man, but he was the better choice at the time. I regret only your suffering at his hands and I’m sorry I wasn’t brave enough or strong enough to stop him.” A tear trickled down Eileen’s thin cheek. “Go, Severus. Go to your family, take them to your grandfather.” She gave him a gentle push out the door.

Severus sighed. “Goodbye, mother. Thank you for today. Have Gringotts let me know when you… we will bring you home, mother.”

He turned walked away, not once looking back… but a single tear fell from his eye.

 

Reaching Gringotts – London at the same time as Professor McGonagall, Severus again decided to let that small bit of Gryffindor show through, but of course the Slytherin side plotted and planned, in regards to timing. Sitting in the healers’ recovery room, he waited nervously for Harry’s arrival.

“Mr Snape? You seem uncomfortable. Is something wrong?” Minerva McGonagall asked.

“No, not wrong… it’s just…” He decided to grasp the broom by the twigs. “Ragnok asked Harry to choose people he would like as the final four adopters, they will be the only ones to be listed on his Gringotts tests.”

“Well, that’s…” She trailed off as he kept speaking.

“Initially, he asked if I would donate towards the adoptions. I-”

“Oh, my… Lily would be so pleased.” 

“I, however, offered a different option.”

“Oh?”

“I asked if, instead of myself being a donor… what would he say… to my requesting that both my parents provide blood for full Blood Adoptions?”

“Oh, my. What did he say?”

“He called me ‘brother’ and smiled.” Severus smiled in reflection.

“Oh, my.” She said for the third time in as many minutes.

“I also suggested and he happily agreed… that we ask you to be one of his final four adoptive parents.”

Her mouth opened and closed but now sound emerged.

Severus waited and waited and waited, but after almost two minutes, the transfiguration Professor still wasn’t able to muster together the resources to speak, so Severus spoke for her.

“Just nod, if you agree to be one of Harry’s adoptive parents. Shake your head if you are not prepared to do so.”

Severus gave a small smirk, as McGonagall’s head almost bounced up and down in agreement, she moved it that quickly.

“I thought that might be the case.” He turned to the healers. “Could someone provide a phial for Professor McGonagall? She’s agreed to be one of the final four adopters in a multi-blood adoption.”

A young male goblin approached with a tray holding with two frames with a multitude of phials in them. One frame held three rows of seven phials and the other frame would hold two rows of four, but Severus noted that one row in the smaller frame was empty of phials and the other row held empty phials, ready for use.

“Sir? If it is in regards the young man still in the ritual room, Director Ragnok has provided the 21 masking samples. We have empty phials available for the final four adoptive parents, if needed.”

“We only need two.” Severus held up the two phials from his parents. “These two are for full Blood Adoptions, they are to be the first, after the masking donors. We intend that, with my parents' full consent, he will become my brother.”

“Very good sir.” The young goblin very carefully took the two full phials and offered over an empty one.

“Professor McGonagall?”

Severus offered the dagger he always carried and held out the unstoppered phial for her. McGonagall, still seeming to not be able to speak, took the dagger and cut through the middle of the pad of her left thumb. Her blood ran freely into the phial and as it was filling, she withdrew her wand from an undetectably extended pocket in a cuff on her left wrist. Once the phial was full, Severus capped it and handed it to the goblin, who added it to the two from Severus’ parents, while McGonagall tapped her thumb with her wand to heal the small wound.

“So we still need one adoptive parent… any ideas? Preferably, someone we can trust.” Severus asked.

McGonagall leapt to her feet.

“I have it!” She gasped. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.” And dashed away, her robes billowing and fluttering behind her.

“Was it something I said, sir?” The young goblin asked, blinking quickly.

“No, healer, I think it was something said. Or at least, it’s partially in reaction to something I said.” Severus gave a small smile to reassure the goblin.

“Ah… Thank you, sir. Healer Tinrilla has informed us that the young man in the ritual room, will be returning here, within the next hour, sir. The delay something to do with damage from previous injuries, she said.”

“He is well?” Severus asked concern evident in his face and voice.

“He is, Mr Snape.” Tinrilla said as she marched through the double-width doors. “But his body was severely weakened. Both by the harvesting of the samples needed and from prior injuries. I’ve spent the last two hours working to repair that damage. As of now, he’s as healthy as I can make him, in such a short amount of time. The golem is working, as it was intended. Ragnok and Bogrod are of the opinion that we should keep the golem safe for the moment, using that time to establish the young man’s new identity before we cut the golem loose. As of this point in time, the golem is Harry Potter and it’s donor is currently nameless.” She turned as both golem and child were floated in, both wearing patient robes and covered with light sheets. “Ah, here they are now.”

Severus looked from one to the other a few times. “Which is which, healer Tinrilla?” He couldn’t tell them apart.

“The donor is to the left and the new Mr Potter, to the right. Mr Potter will not wake before he 'dies'. Now, Mr Snape. Ragnok informs me that we are to complete more transactions for the golem’s donor, a multi-blood adoption and an aging ritual. Am I correct?”

“Yes, ma’am. And full Blood Adoptions, too.”

“How old is he to be?”

“I’m uncertain, yet, ma’am. I need to speak to him, to clarify what he wishes his new date of birth to be, Director Ragnok suggested that there is the possibility of having us declared twins. Plus we are still waiting on one of the final four of his adopters. We have three, at least two of which are for full Blood Adoptions.”

Tinrilla’s brows rose. “Good, he will have family. Good.”

“Yes, ma’am, he’s agreed to be my brother.” Severus smiled at the thought of family that wanted him.

“He was asked?” Severus nodded. “Even better.” The goblin smiled.

Some minutes later, the golem’s donor began to stir. His hands scrabbled around, frantically looking for his glasses.

“Easy there, young sir.” Tinrilla began.

“Glasses…” The child’s voice whispered, his voice ragged.

“Open your eyes, young sir, glasses are not necessary.” Those brilliant green eyes snapped open. “Very good, now, while you may sit up, I do not want you to leave this bed. Food will be along in a minute, I want you to eat, please. If we are to do an aging ritual, a complete multi-blood masking adoption and a number of full Blood Adoptions, you’ll need your strength.” She patted the child on the shin, gently and strode away calling for staff to clean the ritual room and prepare it again.

“Sev…?” A voice croaked.

“I’m here, little brother.” He whispered.

“…’idja… geddit?” The words were slurred.

“Yes, I did. My parents both provided enough blood for a full Blood Adoption willingly, knowing it’s purpose.”

“Goo’… Da P’fessor…?”

“Yes, she provided blood, too… and… I think she has plans for the fourth adopter. When I asked if she knew of someone, she was up and heading out, saying ‘I have it!’ She has yet to return.”

“Oh…”

“But it has only been five minutes. Give her time. If she’s not back, inside the hour, then we may have a concern.”

“…kay…”

“Tinrilla was asking how old you want to be after the aging ritual… Har- brother, Ragnok said they can make you any age, they can even make you and I, twins… if you wanted. Whatever you-”

“Es!” Came the very quick reply.

“I’d say that was a definite, then.” Bogrod grinned as he joined Severus and the former-Harry. “Also, young sir? You asked me a question and if the answer was positive, you would have had me act on the matter. I can say now that Ragnok agreed and Gringotts have acted and Lady Magic has accepted, using your question and statement as authority. Once we have done the multi-blood adoptions, the full Blood Adoptions and the aging ritual, we will need to redo the identification tests. All of them, for both yourself and Mr Snape.”

“…kay…”

Former-Harry’s head rocked on his shoulders, forcing Severus to sit beside him on the bed and support him. An elderly goblin entered pushing a trolley, plates covered by cloches on it’s upper surface.

“Sir? Healer Tinrilla insists that young sir eats. He still has much in front of him today.”

“Thank you, sir.” Severus nodded to the goblin.

Ragnok was the next to join them, McGonagall hurrying to catch him.

“Director? I have a phial of blood for the adoptions and the written consent, signed with a blood quill, but… the phial has been under a stasis charm for some months, now. Would it still be viable?”

“A stasis? Why a stasis, why not fresh?” Ragnok asked, frowning.

“Ah… the donor was… killed… earlier this year.” She hesitated, the pain still fresh.

“Killed?”

“Venomous Tentacular bite to the wrist. He… he was… gone, within seconds.” She whispered.

“Who was he?”

“My husband, Elphinstone Urquart. There should be a confirmation in a file attached to what was our joint vault.” She answered.

“Very well. Bogrod? Check for the confirmation, if it matches the document the Professor has, good. I would also have Tinrilla test a small sample. If it passes, then by all means, it can be used.” Ragnok ordered.

Bogrod left in a hurry and a goblin-healer took the phial and headed for a workstation near the wall. Within seconds, Tinrilla had joined her, pulling a pipette and a piece of parchment from a set of drawers.

“…P’fessor…?” Former-Harry asked, between mouthfuls of a hearty stew.

“Harry… Elphinstone and I never had children, we talked many times about adopting, but hadn’t got around to it, when he died in February. We’d only been married two years.” Severus saw sorrow written in every line of the witch’s body.

“You would Blood Adopt Ha-Harry?” Severus stumbled over the name, not sure if he should still be calling him that.

“Actually… I…” She paused and the rest came quickly. “I’d like to Blood Adopt both of you.” Her voice was quiet, but sure.

Severus and the child who would become his brother exchanged startled looks, before both turned to McGonagall and nodded.

“Yes, please.” They said as one.

“Thank you.” Tears shone in the witch’s eyes, but didn’t fall.

“Good.” Tinrilla left the workstation and joined those gathered around the bed. “I’ve tested a sample from the phial under stasis. It will be fine for a Blood Adoption, but the stasis is degrading. If it’s not used in the next six hours, it will be unviable.” She warned.

McGonagall’s breath caught. So close to loosing a part of her beloved Stone, forever. Thank Merlin there was still time.

“I suggest we get this cauldron on to boil, Director.” The head healer added. “Given that there are to be four full Blood Adoptions, in addition to the masking adoptions, the aging ritual will have to come first. Unfortunately, young sir’s body is not strong enough at five years old to survive all the blood adoptions you've planned. The masking ones? Sure, but not them and full Blood ones. The sooner the aging is done, the sooner we can do the adoptions. Have we got a final age, yet?”

“Kinda…” Harry’s voice was rough and cracked. “Sev… said… twins… I want… that…” He struggled to get the words out.

“Explanations? Someone?” Tinrilla demanded.

“Ah, if I may?” Severus offered. “Director Ragnok mentioned that, if I were able to get both my parents to offer blood and consents for full Blood Adoptions, then there is a possibility of making Harry and I, for all intents and purposes, twins.”

“Ah. We’d need a small sample of your blood and his, after the adoption, to create a stronger sibling link, only a few drops, though. Are you prepared to for that?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Severus answered for both of them, after Harry nodded.

“And your date and time of birth?”

“The 9th of January, 1960. Between 5am and 6am.” He turned to Harry. “You?”

“Two… minutes… to… midnight… 31st… July… 1980…” Came the answer, although Harry’s voice was a lot clearer, it was still rough.

“Alright. I can work with that. Which of you is to be the elder?” The healer tilted her head as she began to run the numbers in her mind.

“That would be me, healer Tinrilla.” Severus stated.

“Two hours between you? How does that sound?”

“That sounds fine to me. Harry?” Severus replied and Harry just nodded.

“Right, let me work through this… Today is 31stJuly, 1985, if we say the current time is 4pm…? You,” she waved at Severus, “… are… approximately of course… 9335 days, 10 hours and, let’s say 30 minutes, old. Whereas you, young man,” she pointed a bony finger at Harry, “are a miserly 1826 days, 16 hours and two whole minutes.” The two wizards and the witch just looked at her. “So… the difference between the two of you is… let me see… 7509 days, 18 and a half hours, roughly, of course.”

“Of course.” Ragnok agreed. “Without to the minute timing, I suggest we round that up to 20 hours. A nice little gap, yes?”

“Hmm…” The healer hummed. “I’d go 20 and a half or 21, just to be safe, Director.”

“7509 days, 21 hours? Is that about right, Harry?” Ragnok asked and Harry nodded.

“That’s good. You, sir, may carry the patient into the ritual room, this time.” Tinrilla said to Severus. “While you can’t stay in the room with him, there is a viewing window and a waiting area. Thankfully, it’s a relatively fast process, ten day per second. Just a fraction over 12 and a half minutes.”

“12 minutes?” Severus spluttered. “12 whole minutes of physical restructuring? In one session?”

McGonagall’s eyes popped and her brows rose, sharply.

“Whass dat mean?” Harry asked.

Severus and McGonagall exchanged wild-eyed looks, neither knowing how to answer.

“The aging ritual… it rewrites your body, from the inside out, speeding the process up, dramatically. An aging potion speeds the process to one second for one hour to be aged. The goblin ritual speeds it to one second for ten days. It’s a huge ask, Harry.”

“We can always do the masking adoptions first and then work on aging potions, but the full Blood Adoptions will have to wait and bluntly, sirs, that last sample will have degraded too much to use, if we do that. Remembering, for the aging to be permanent and not regress, the ritual will have to happen at some point. The potions for the masking adoptions will take roughly two hours and the full Blood Adoptions another 20 minutes.” Tinrilla offered.

“That might be-” Severus started.

“No.” Harry cut him off. Everyone turned to look at the child sitting beside Severus. “No. Let’s ged it over wit. I can do’it. Juss… Sev? Tinrilla? Can I have a pepper-up pot’n, fer after? B’fore de ‘dopt’ons?” Harry's rough voice was improving steadily, but even so, the words were still fractured and broken.

Tinrilla and Severus sighed, the patient had spoken. He’d been given the relevant information and had made a decision based around that information and now the healers were required to treat him accordingly. The only way they could refuse, would be if the selected treatment would put the patient at risk of loosing their life. And while Severus wasn’t happy and Harry would be exhausted, it wasn’t really life-threatening.

“Very Well, young sir. Someone bring him, please don’t let him walk, he’ll need the energy for the ritual. Bledak! I want two protein potions and another bowl of stew ready. Move!” Tinrilla orders a young goblin, who takes one look at her expression and takes off running.

Severus sighed and picked up Harry slinging him up onto his shoulders. He carried the small body out into the hall and down the corridor to a door a few yards away. Following Tinrilla, Severus entered the room and gently deposited Harry on the round platform, where he was pointed. With a squeeze of a small hand, he left the boy who would soon be his brother and joined the witch who would soon be their mother.

Standing beside McGonagall, Severus watched anxiously as Tinrilla made minute alterations to a potion before giving to the boy, they all watched as he drank the shimmering gold liquid. At Tinrilla’s wave, eight goblins entered the room, each carrying a long gold-tipped black wooden staff and stood on the points of a star carved into the floor and embossed in gold, that like the liquid, shimmered in the bright blue-white light of the bluebell flame-lit torches.

Tinrilla glanced at the watchers and flicked a silencing shield around the small body on the round platform. The goblins began to rap their staffs on the floor, in unison, slowly building from a light rapping to a solid and heavy pounding. A full minute after the rapping reached the pounding stage, chants began, first the goblin at North, then the goblin at south-west point, then East, North-west, South, North-east, West and lastly South-east.

Ten seconds after the last goblin added their voice to the choir, Harry’s body began to tremble and change. First his eyes opened wide, then his hands spread, his body arched and it began to grow. The slow smooth change powered through the small frame, elongating the arms and legs, muscles stretched and bones lengthened. Through it all, Harry never uttered a sound, even beyond the silencing shield, Severus knew Harry was silent, suffering without a sound. Two minutes into the treatment and his body went lax, Tinrilla darted forward and spun a crystal over his face, before stepping back and nodding. Six minutes in and the chanting went up a level. Eight minutes and the changes to Harry’s body slowed down, now it wasn’t so much growing as developing, bulk appeared, his shoulders getting broader, muscles becoming defined. Ten minutes and Harry’s changes had slowed to the point where Severus had to focus hard to see them.

13 minutes after the chanting started, the eight goblins fell silent. On the low platform, Harry lay trying to breathe again, his chest heaving as he waited for Tinrilla to assess him. The healer eased her way forward, experience making her cautious.

“…’t’s ‘kay… T’nr’lla. ‘m na movin’ ‘til ya say.” Harry whispered, his throat felt like it was made of sandpaper or gravel.

“Good, lad.” The healer muttered as she waved her crystal over his face, then down across his body, his legs, out to his arms and back up to his face. She tucked the crystal away and waved to Severus and McGonagall to join them. Severus sat on the platform beside Harry and gently lifted him into a sitting position, while McGonagall held a cup of water to Harry’s lips.

“Good, good. But we still need to deal with that Horcruxe, young sir.” Tinrilla reminded him.

Another swallow of water and Harry spoke. “Not yet,” he whispered, his voice not as bad as before the ritual. “It has to be there until I get all the others, with it I can feel them, when I get close enough.”

“But-”

“No.” Harry was adamant. “A week, Tinrilla, that’s all I need. A few days to re-adjust to this body and two days to recover the Horcruxes. Then you can attack it.” Harry looked weak and tired, but his voice was strong and firm.

Tinrilla studied him, she looked to Ragnok, who was also studying the wizard.

“Are you sure, Harry?” He asked.

“Yes, Ragnok.”

“Harry?” Severus asked.

“Sev?”

“Are you absolutely certain that you can do this within the week?” There was not doubt in Severus’ voice, just concern.

“Yes, Sev. After the adoptions are done, I’ll need to reassess my core, that will take the better part of a day. Once that’s done I can spend time in my mindscape, as much as I need, to get used to whatever level of magic I will have. I really only need a few hours to fetch the Horcruxes, but two are in more difficult locations, they could potentially take longer.”

“Ah, I forgot about your mindscape. Tinrilla? He’ll be fine.” Ragnok stated.

“Alright.” The healer sighed. “But I want you to drink a protein potion and eat a bowl of stew before we do the multi-blood adoptions. Let’s go back to the infirmary, I’d much rather you be there for the adoption process.” She shifted her attention to Severus. “It would be better for him to walk, this time. And a walk around the room between each set of adoptions, is recommended.”

“Each set?” Harry asked.

“Yes, we do the multi-blood, or masking, adoptions in sets, seven sets of three. Each set should take two-to-three minutes for your body to process the incoming blood and it’s information. Between sets, we recommend at least ten minutes of recovery time. Then the final four are done individually. Being full Blood Adoptions, they are more… involved. But the good news is that, as they are done individually, they take less time to process and the recovery between each is also less.”

“That’s good. Gimme a hand up, Sev. Please?” Harry held out an arm.

“Here.” Severus grasped one arm while McGonagall grasped the other and between them they levered the wobbly legged man to his feet. Severus lifted the arm he held and slug it over his shoulder, his arm around a slender, almost too slender, waist.

“Come on, Harry. You can do this.” McGonagall encouraged.

Harry smiled at the witch.

“Course I can, Professor.”

“Harry… in a couple of hours, I’ll be your… your mother. I’ve no intention of replacing Lily or your mother, Severus. But-”

“Can we call you Máthair, please?” Harry turned his big green eyes on her, begging.

“I… you… you want to?”

“Yes.” Both Harry and Severus answered.

“Lily was my mother, yes. But I don’t really remember her, oh, I’ve got one or two memories, mostly dementor-induced, but that’s it. Aunt Petunia was never interested in mothering me, Mrs Weasley tried, but she was trying too hard. You were the only other real maternal example I had.” Harry continued.

“It is the same for me, my mother… wasn’t a positive role model. I, too, would call you Máthair.” Severus added, gently manhandling Harry out the door and into the corridor.

Minerva McGonagall smiled a soft smile at the two young men as she studied them. While Severus may be the taller of the two, it was clear to her that Harry would be the stronger, the fiercer, the one to protect his brother from all comers. She snorted at the thought of Sirius Black trying to prank Severus and coming face to face with Harry. The son of a Marauder, protecting an enemy of a Marauder, from a Marauder. She’d pay money to see that.

Back in the infirmary, Severus lead Harry around the room before letting him sit on the same bed he’d used earlier. The elderly goblin was back with more stew and another protein potion and he watched on in amusement as Severus proceeded to gently bully Harry into eating and drinking them.

“Right… Here were are. The first of the masking adoptions. Drink it and lay down, immediately. Understand?” Tinrilla held out a crystal goblet full of dark blue, almost purple liquid.

Harry turned on the bed until he was half laying, half sitting, before taking the goblet and quickly draining it. He took a couple of deep breaths and lay down, his fingers clutching Severus’ and Minerva McGonagall’s. Two breaths later, he exhaled sharply as the potion began to make itself felt in his body. Like the aging ritual, the only sound was that of Harry’s breathing, slightly fast, but even and unlaboured.

At the end of the first set of adoptions, Severus bullied Harry to his feet and dragged him around the room and even out into the hallway, before letting him sit back on the bed and encouraging him to drink some juice. This set the precedent for the next 6 goblets that Tinrilla handed Harry. Increased breathing, up and walking, a goblet of juice.

Then it was a goblet of bright azure blue that Tinrilla held out.

“The first of the full Blood Adoptions, that of Eileen Marigold Snape nee Prince.” Was all she said.

Harry grinned at Severus and swallowed the blue potion, quickly. The potion worked quickly, too. His hair became deeper, a more chocolaty-black than the slightly brown tinge it currently had, his skin gained a silkier look, paler cream than the light golden tones of earlier. His body lengthened and his shoulders broadened to match Severus’. Then it was up on his feet and follow Severus around the room and out to the hall again, before another goblet of juice and a small bowl of stew.

Barely had he finished that and there was another bright blue potion for him.

“Full Blood Adoption of Tobias Anthony Snape.” Tinrilla informed them.

The only a few changes this time, Harry’s hands and his hair, his fingers were longer and finer, with broad palms. His hair lost that shagginess, messy locks falling softer and straighter.

Another walk, another juice and a slice of cheese and he was sitting on the bed again.

“This is a little different, young sir. This potion is a linking potion, specifically for siblings in Blood Adoptions, but a little stronger as you wanted to be twins, so there’s one for each of you. These are considerably less aggressive than an Adoption potion, mostly because the information is all there, but the connection just hasn’t been linked together. It should only take a minute or so, for the reactions to be complete, but I’d still like you to have a few minutes recovery afterwards.” The goblin healer said.

“You’re the healer.” Harry’s voice was deeper, stronger, richer now. “We’ll follow your instructions, where possible.”

“Thank you, young sir.” She held out her hands to Harry and Severus, a goblet in each one.

The two men took a goblet each, turned to each other and tapped the goblets together gently.

Salute.” Severus raised his goblet to his lips, but paused, waiting for Harry.

Slàinte.” Harry replied, lifting his own goblet.

The two smiled and began to drink at the same time. A minute later and the two both started twitching, then suddenly both men grabbed their heads and began to giggle like they were being tickled, a few moments of wide eyed looks, a few blushes and then beaming grins graced both faces.

“Wow.” Harry said.

“Yeah.” Severus echoed.

“That is the…”

“…weirdest thing…”

“…I’ve ever…”

“…experienced.”

The pair alternated speaking.

“I though the twins did it for the heck of it.” Harry said to Severus. “But it’s so… natural.”

“Yes, it is.” Severus replied.

The two began to laugh, snickering as thoughts flowed between them.

“That’s enough you two. You both have two Blood Adoptions left to do.” McGonagall shook her head. And she though it was bad having James and Sirius in the same dorm? These two being able to share thoughts between them? It was going to send her grey faster than the thought of what would have happened if Sirius had of raised Harry in stead of going to Azkaban.

“Yes, Máthair.” The pair tried to give her an innocent look, but it didn’t really work.

“Here.” Tinrilla put a stop to the fun, by holding out another pair bright blue-filled goblets. “Elphinstone Oakley Urquart. One each.”

Harry took it quickly swallowed it down, laying back, confident in the touch of his brother in his mind. While Severus was a little slower, but not that much. The changes that Urquart’s blood brought with it were so minor as to be negligible. Hair becoming stronger and skin tone showing a dusting of gold. Both men waited for the flushed feeling to fade before they climbed to their feet and together staggered around the room, reeling from pillar to pillar, looking for all the world like a pair of drunkards. By the time they’d circled the room twice, their legs almost under control, falling onto the beds again, they watched fascinatedly as their legs and feet twitched in time with their pulse, which was, weirdly enough, completely in sync with each other.

“Minerva Isobel McGonagall.” Tinrilla held two more goblets. “Last ones, lads. Drink up.”

Again the brothers shared a smile and drank the blue liquid. Laying down, they waited. Fingers lengthened and the shape of their arms became more defined. But what amused both men was the change to their hair. It was now streaked through with their Máthair's pale ginger colouring, it contrasted dramatically against the black from their other parents.

“Well, that’s an interesting look, my boys.” Minerva was a little choked up at the sight.

Harry glanced at Severus.

“We…” He said.

“… like it…” Severus added.

“…Máthair.” Harry finished.

Minerva laughed at them. “You pair.” She shook her head in resignation.

 

 

Máthair = mother (Scottish Gaelic)

Slàinte = cheers (Scottish Gaelic)

Chapter Text

Bogrod and Tinrilla shared amused looks.

“You’re going to have your hands full with them, Professor.” Bogrod warned.

“I’m beginning to see that.” Minerva sighed, but she was secretly pleased, it was a good problem to have.

“Well, they’re all yours, now.” Tinrilla added. “Get them out of here.”

“Back to my office, if you please, gentleman, Professor. We need to re-do some Identity Tests.” Bogrod reminded them.

“Certainly, Bogrod.” Severus levered himself to his feet and tottered over to his brother who using the frame of the bed to balance himself against. “Here.” He held out an arm and with a grin, Harry reached out for him.

Together the two men shuffled their way out of the infirmary and into the corridor, they followed Bogrod on a winding and very slow trip through the halls of Gringotts. Minerva walked behind them, beside Ragnok, neither attempting to do anything but snicker at the two stumbling men.

Wobbling in through Bogrod’s office door wasn’t easy, but somehow Harry and Severus managed to do it. Sitting themselves down in a pair of seats, they made sure to leave one for their Máthair, Minerva.

“Right, gentlemen. Identity Tests… we’re going to do all three of the Identification Tests... for both of you. I want to ensure that everything is the way we intended. And we need to know your names, particularly if we are going to have OWL and NEWTs results filed for you, Harry. We also need to alter Mr Snape’s records and add anything that may have been hidden or denied him. Add to this, anything new that Lady Magic may have gifted to him.” Ragnok informed them, while Bogrod laid out the phials of green liquid.

One phial contained a rich grassy green, one a light lime green and the third was so pale, it was almost clear and each phial sat on a separate piece of parchment in a separate tray. Ragnok handed over the silver knife, laying it down on a soft suede cushion in front of the parchments.

“Seven drops of blood into each phial, please.” Bogrod requested.

Harry leant forward and picked up the dagger, he held it steady as Severus pushed his finger against the blade. Blood dripped freely into three of phials in front of them. Harry waited while the blade purified itself and then, he too, pressed a finger against the sharp edge. Silently he counted. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. He moved his hand over the second phial. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Move. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. He pressed his thumb against the slice on the pad of his finger, it wouldn’t take long to seal.

“Harry, my balach milis, let me heal your cut, mhac.” Minerva McGonagall’s Scottish brogue was strong.

Harry grinned. “Thanks, Máthair.” He held out his hand and she ran her wand down the cut, leaving unblemished skin behind.

“Severus? Is your magic stable or would you like me to heal you?”

“Yes, please, Máthair.” Severus held his hand out, slightly hesitantly, but their Máthair only smiled and touched her wand to the wound.

“Here we are, Harry’s Identity test results.” Bogrod flicked his fingers and the parchment rose into the air for all to read.

 

HENRICK OAKLEY SNAPE-URQUART (9 January 1960 – )

Mother – Eileen Marigold Prince (1 March 1929 – )

Father – Tobias Anthony Snape (28 June 1926 – )

Mother (Blood Adopted – 31 July 1985) – Minerva Isobel McGonagall (4 October 1935 – )

Father (Blood Adopted – 31 July 1985) Elphinstone Oakley Urquart (12 May 1927 – 16 February 1985)

 

 “Nice, I get to keep Harry, but get new names for the rest of it.” Harry grinned. “What about you, Sev?”

 

SEVERUS ELPHINSTONE SNAPE-URQUART (9 January 1960 – )

Mother – Eileen Marigold Prince (1 March 1929 – )

Father – Tobias Anthony Snape (28 June 1926 – )

Mother (Blood Adopted – 31 July 1985) – Minerva Isobel McGonagall (4 October 1935 – )

Father  (Blood Adopted – 31 July 1985) Elphinstone Oakley Urquart (12 May 1927– 16 February 1985)

 

“We both got new names.” Severus whispered. “Elphinstone, huh? Máthair? Are you alright with us having his name?”

“Of course, I am, you are our mhic, our sons. I’m pleased Lady Magic gave each of you, one of Stone’s names.” Minerva bopped Severus on the arm. “Foolish boys.”

“Ragnok? Should we be having tests done on the golem, too?” Severus asked.

“Hmm…” That might not be a bad idea. Bogrod? Would you see to getting enough blood from the golem for Identity and Inheritance tests, please?”

“Yes, sir. Give me five minutes.” Bogrod darted from the office.

“Right, next is Inheritance Tests. Please remember Harry, Severus, Inheritance Tests only show what you stand to Inherit, not what you have already claimed.”

“Good to know.” Harry nodded in thought.

 

HENRICK OAKLEY SNAPE-URQUART (9 January 1960 – )

Mother – Eileen Marigold Prince (1 March 1929 – )

Father – Tobias Anthony Snape (28 June 1926 – )

Mother (Blood Adopted – 31 July 1985) – Minerva Isobel McGonagall (4 October 1935 -)

Father (Blood Adopted – 31 July 1985) Elphinstone Oakley Urquart (12 May 1927– 16 February 1985)

TITLES –

McGonagall – Heir (Blood Adoption - Mother)

VAULTS –

743 – Trust – Urquart.  ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, letters.

BEQUESTS

Urquart - ʛ60000, δ5000, κ5000, 2021 books, 402 artefacts, 37 portraits, 1 house, 1 farms, 1 commercial buildings, 7921 pieces jewellery.

 

“Wow. Máthair?” Harry asked.

“I… I had no idea. Stone must have set this up when we first started talking about adopting. Severus? What does yours say?”

 

SEVERUS ELPHINSTONE SNAPE-URQUART (9 January 1960 – )

Mother – Eileen Marigold Prince (1 March 1929 – )

Father – Tobias Anthony Snape (28 June 1926 – )

Mother (Blood Adopted – 31 July 1985) – Minerva Isobel McGonagall (4 October 1935 -)

Father (Blood Adopted – 31 July 1985) Elphinstone Oakley Urquart (12 May 1927– 16 February 1985)

TITLES –

Prince – Heir (Blood - Mother)

Urquart (Blood Adoption - Father)

Winterbourne (Bequest)

VAULTS –

499 – Trust - Prince.  ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, letters.

737 - Winterbourne. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, letters, artefacts, portraits, jewellery, letters, land and buildings .

741 – Urquart. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, artefacts, portraits, jewellery.

742 – Trust - Urquart.  ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, letters.

BEQUESTS

Urquart - ʛ20000, δ5000, κ5000, 2021 books, 402 artefacts, 33 portraits, 1 house, 3721 pieces jewellery.

Winterbourne - ʛ10000, δ1000, κ1000, 5492 books, 201 artefacts, 67 portraits, 1 house, 978 pieces jewellery, 1 house, 2 farms, 2 commercial buildings.

 

“It’s almost exactly the same.” He lifted the scroll for her to see. “But I’m the Prince Heir, I didn’t know that.” He frowned.

“And Lord Winterbourne.” Harry smirked.

“Like I don’t know where that came from, little brother. I saw that on your earlier Inheritance test.” Severus swatted at Harry’s arm.

“Too late, now, brother. It’s all yours.”

“Brat.” Severus sighed, affection clear in his face and voice.

Harry just smirked.

“Alright, you two, enough. Don’t traumatise Ragnok too badly.” Minerva chided with a smile.

“They’re just boys and we have to expect boys to be brats.” Ragnok chuckled. “Ah, here’s Bogrod. You have blood samples for identity and inheritance tests?”

“Yes and no, sir. Tinrilla would only permit me enough for one test, sir. Knowing that one was to be an Inheritance Test and that it will tell us everything we need to know, I added the golem’s blood to the appropriate potion, sir, with Tinrilla supervising.” Bogrod placing the phial on the desk.

“Well, what are you waiting for? Pour it on the parchment.” Ragnok directed.

Bogrod laid a sheet of parchment in a tray and poured parchment over it and set it aside. Before retrieving the last two parchments that Harry and Severus had used their blood-potion on.

“Now, while we wait for that to take effect, let’s look at the Proprietary tests.” Ragnok grinned.

“Harry first, please, Director.” Minerva requested. “His seem to be the most… complex.”

“Everything about Harry is more complex.” Severus muttered.

 

HENRICK OAKLEY SNAPE-URQUART (9 January 1960 – )

Mother – Eileen Marigold Prince (1 March 1929 – )

Father – Tobias Anthony Snape (28 June 1926 – )

Mother (Blood Adopted – 31 July 1985) – Minerva Isobel McGonagall (4 October 1935 -)

Father (Blood Adopted – 31 July 1985) Elphinstone Oakley Urquart (12 May 1927– 16 February 1985)

TITLES –

Peverell

Slytherin

Gryffindor

Harrington

VAULTS –

241 – Gryffindor. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, artefacts, portraits, jewellery, land and buildings

244 – Slytherin. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, artefacts, portraits, jewellery, land and buildings

592 – Peverell. ʛalleons, books artefacts, jewellery, land and buildings

2091 – Assigned Multi-Bequest vault. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, artefacts, portraits, jewellery, land and buildings

 

“Well, that seems fairly straight forward... for a change.” Harry mused.

“Severus, now, please.” Minerva asked.

 

SEVERUS ELPHINSTONE SNAPE-URQUART (9 January 1960 – )

Mother – Eileen Marigold Prince (1 March 1929 – )

Father – Tobias Anthony Snape (28 June 1926 – )

Mother (Blood Adopted – 31 July 1985) – Minerva Isobel McGonagall (4 October 1935 -)

Father (Blood Adopted – 31 July 1985) Elphinstone Oakley Urquart (12 May 1927– 16 February 1985)

TITLES –

-

VAULTS –

1091 – Snape. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, potion ingredients, potion equipment, artefacts, jewellery, land and building

2121 – Snape. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, letters

 

“Two vaults?” Harry asked.

“Yes. I set the second one up a few years ago, I though my mother might new a new start, after father died.”

“That was is very generous of you, Severus.” Minerva smiled proudly.

“And unnecessary, it appears. I did offer it to her, but she refused. She informed me, that when they married, she tied her life to his, to avoid an arranged marriage that would have been even more disastrous than the one she is in. I shudder to imagine it, but she did mention the Lestrange’s, so it is possible, I suppose.”

“Oh, Severus.” Minerva whispered.

Harry just reached out and took his brother’s hand, offering what comfort he could. “We have a mother, Sev. She wants us, she chose us, Sev. Eileen and Tobias, they don’t deserve us, either of us. We deserve parents who want us, Sev. Stone and Minerva, they talked about and planned for our future, Sev. They are our true parents.” Harry tried explain how he felt.

“They are.” Severus agreed quietly.

“So…” Harry chirped brightly, “Are the golem’s test results ready, yet? Can we see them?”

“Harry!” Both Severus and Minerva scolded him.

“What…? I just want to make sure I didn’t forget anything.”

Ragnok lifted the golem’s test clear of the tray. “Let’s see, shall we?”

 

HENRY JAMES POTTER-BLACK (31 July 1980 – )

Mother – Lillian Jasmine Evans (30 Jan 1960 – 31 Oct 1981)

Father – James Fleamont potter (27 Mar 1960 – 31 Oct 1981)

Father (Blood Adopted – 4 November 1980) – Sirius Orion Black (3 November 1959 – )

TITLES –

Potter (birth – father)

Black – heir-dependent (Blood adoption – Father)

Braxton (bequest)

VAULTS –

625 – Potter. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, artefacts, portraits, jewellery,

687 – Trust – Potter. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, letters

912 – Trust – Black. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, letters

1979 – Assigned Multi-Bequest vault. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, artefacts, portraits, jewellery

BEQUESTS

Abbey - ʛ200

Abraham - ʛ200

Acton - ʛ100

Adams - ʛ1000

Appleton – ʛ2000

Barclay - ʛ20

Beckwith - ʛ9438, δ291, κ1221, 803 books, 691 artefacts, 37 portraits, 1584 pieces jewellery

 

The list of bequests continued for the same length as before, but with far smaller numbers, of ʛalleons, of sickles, of knuts, of books and of artefacts.

“Well?” Severus was a little concerned, what if they’d missed something? Was there anything they could do?

“That looks good. I think that we can just leave that be.”

There were sighs from both wizards and goblins.

“So, what now?” Minerva asked.

“Well… now we just need to finalise some paperwork. Let’s start with the titles. Harry? Here are the Lordship Rings for Peverell, Slytherin, Gryffindor and Harrington. Severus? The Rings for Urquart and Winterbourne are yours. Remember that Lordship Rings respond to the Lord's magic, you can make them visible or not, as you want and no one but you can remove them. Please place them on your right hand, any finger is fine.”

Ragnok placed two small trays on the desk. One in front of Harry and the other in front of Severus.  Both men took up the rings and put them on, one at a time, pausing between each one, to allow the Ring’s magic to meld with theirs. Harry placed the ring for House Harrington on his right forefinger, the Rings for Gryffindor and Slytherin went on his right ring finger and the two merged together, before fading from sight. The Peverell went on his right pinkie and it, too, faded from sight. Severus placed the Urquart Ring on his Right forefinger and the Winterbourne Ring on his right ring finger.

“Then there’s the Heir Rings, they go on the left hand, please. Harry, you are the heir to House McGonagall. This Ring.” He passed Harry another ring box. “Severus, you are heir to House Prince. I can give you the Heir Ring, but only if you agree to meet with Lord Prince within the next 24 hours.”

“Uh… I might wait then.” Severus held up his hand to halt any disagreement. “I won’t leave Harry while he’s vulnerable.” While he was speaking Harry placed the Heir Ring on his left forefinger. “And until he’s re-adjusted to this body and acquired a wand, he is vulnerable.”

“If it can wait until Friday? I’ll be coming back then, to go through the wands, I’m hoping that there’s one there that will work with me, otherwise I’ll need to have one made. I’m not going to risk Ollivander’s until the golem is ‘dead’. Fingers crossed, I’ll find what I need.”

“Ah… that’s a valid enough reason, that I doubt that Lord Prince will be displeased with waiting, in that case. Would you like me to notify him?”

Severus glanced at Harry. “We would. Would you ask him, if he’d like to meet us for lunch on either Saturday or Monday? The Witch’s Brew? Or the Watched Pot? Whichever he would prefer.” Severus answered for both he and his brother. “By all means, tell him about the adoptions and my brother.”

“Certainly, Severus.” Ragnok acknowledged. “Next are the vaults. Harry you have vaults 241, 244, 592, 743 and 2091. Severus, vaults 499, 737, 741,742, 1091 and 1121 are yours. I’d advise keeping the appropriate vaults attached to their titles for the present. Harry that leaves 743 and 2091. Severus, 499, 742 1091 and 1121 are yours. What would you like to do with them?”

“I rather like Harry’s idea of three vaults. One as the primary financial vault, one for books, wands and jewellery… and portraits, too. And the third as a ‘spending’ vault.” Severus replied.

“I also said that I wanted the ‘spending’ vault linked to a payment signet-ring and a money pouch.” Harry added.

“Ah, yes, I recall that you wanted something that requires your magical signature to open it? Is that still what you’re thinking?” Bogrod asked.

“Yes, please.” Harry nodded.

“For me as well, please.” Severus added. “If you consolidate 1091 and 1221 together, can I pass the other, now empty vault, over to Harry?”

“Certainly. Just let me make a few notes.” Bogrod pulled a scroll and started writing. After a minute or two he looked up. “Right. Harry? 241 is Gryffindor, 244 is Slytherin, 592 is Peverell, 743 is your primary financial vault, 1121 is your ‘spending’ vault and 2091 is the artefact vault. Severus? 737 is Winterbourne, 741 is Urquart, 499 is your primary financial vault, 742 is your ‘spending’ vault and 1091 is the artefact vault. That’s the titles and the vaults, done. Harry? You wanted a few things from the Potter and Black estates. Can you clarify that for me?”

“Sure. I want half the jewellery, particularly Lily Potter’s, James’ invisibility cloak and the Marauder’s Map from the Potters.”

“Right…” Bogrod noted that down. “Do you know where the last two are likely to be?”

“Yep.” The ‘P’ popped. “The cloak, will quite likely be in the headmaster’s office at Hogwarts. He gave it to me, my first Christmas at Hogwarts, said that James left it in his care.”

“Hmm… We might have to do a recall on it, then.” Ragnok commented.

“Might by the safest option.” Bogrod agreed. “And the… Marauder’s Map?”

“Oh that, you’ll find that in the confiscated stuff in Filch’s office, again, at Hogwarts. It looks like a plain piece of parchment, folded up, no writing at all. Until you tap it with a wand or magic and say ‘I solemnly swear I am up to no good’. Then writing will appear, if you don't say it right, it will insult you. It’s a map of Hogwarts and it tells where every person in the castle is at that exact moment.”

That’s how Potter and Black always seemed to find us, when Lily and I were studying or talking?” Severus gasped.

“Yep. James, Sirius and Remus made it, Pettigrew was the one to come up with the idea, though.” Harry grimaced as he said Pettigrew's name.

“Hmf…” Like Harry, Severus didn’t think highly of the rat Animagus.

“And the Black estate?”

“Oh, just the two things. Kreacher-” there was a pop and the wizened old house-elf appeared.

“Kreacher was summoned, he was. What does the nasty, dirty mudblood want with Kreacher?”

“My son are not mudbloods, you foul little thing. They-”

“Máthair. Stop, please. He’s only saying what he’s been taught.” Harry waved to catch Minerva’s attention, then turned to Kreacher. “I have a task to do, Kreacher, a task that Regulus started. Will you help me?”

“A task? From Master Regulus? What task?” The elf asked, pulling at his batlike ears.

“I have to destroy the Dark Lord’s treasures.”

“Master Regulus’ locket? The wizard is talking of Master Regulus’ locket?” His ugly old face lit up, like a child’s on Christmas morning.

“Yes, Kreacher. My task is to destroy them, to destroy the evil within locket and other items like it.”

There was a pop and Kreacher vanished, a second pop about thirty seconds later and the elf was back. A large silver and gold locket hung from his hand, the face was a slice of yellow sapphire and it shielded a platinum sheet that was etched in obscure ancient runes and decorated with a ‘S’ shaped snake laid in brilliant green emeralds.

“Master Regulus’ locket, wizard. You wants to destroy it?” Kreacher's face showed only hope.

“I do, Kreacher. There are six of them and over the weekend I will be fetching them all. I know a way to transfer the evil that it holds, to a frailer container, which I will destroy with fiendfyre. The locket itself is valuable, I would prefer not to destroy it, but if I must, I will. Without hesitation.”

“Then Kreacher is giving it to you. You is Master, now. What is Kreacher to call Master?” The elf’s relief and happiness at handing over the locket to Harry was an almost palatable thing.

“Henrick, you may call me Henrick. Now, Kreacher, I want you to present yourself as befits the Head elf of Houses Harrington, Peverell, Gryffindor and Slytherin.” Harry watched as Kreacher’s face went slack with shock. “I want you wearing clothes, Kreacher, clothes I will provide. They are not yours, they are a loan, so they remain in the possession of the Houses. You will be clean and presentable at all times, you will represent not one, but four Ancient and Noble Houses. For now, return to House Black and pack what possessions you would bring with you, I will grant you leave to bring anything you wish, regardless of what it is. In an hour or so I shall be leaving here with my brother and our mother, once we know where we plan to stay for the next few nights, I will come to Grimmauld Place and fetch you, please be ready.”

“Yes, Master Henrick.” The elf bowed repeatedly.

“Off you go, now.”

“Yes, Master Henrick.” There was a pop and Kreacher vanished.

“Harry? I understand Kreacher is… was the Black family house elf, what if someone recognising him?” Severus asked.

“So, what? I will simply tell the truth, or part of it, Gringotts informed me that I inherited Kreacher as part of an estate bequest. I don’t have to say that I refused the rest of the Black bequest, do I?” Harry grinned. “And really? Is it anyone business but mine?”

“No, it’s not, but you know that some may ask.”

“Maybe, but I’m very good at not answering questions I don’t want to.” The grin became a smirk.

“Brat.” But Severus was smiling as he said it.

“Do you think it wise to go to the Black house?” Minerva asked.

“Maybe not, but I need a word with Walburga’s portrait, it’s time she was reminded that she is only a portrait and what damage can be done to them. Call it payback.”

“For what?” Severus asked.

“For the abuse she ladled out to both her sons. For the treatment of Kreacher. For poisoning her husband. For ensuring that her brother was disowned for leaving Sirius money. For trying to get her own son, Sirius, disowned, just because he wouldn’t stand for the abuse, any longer. For trying to get her niece, Andromeda, disowned for marrying a muggle, Ted Tonks. And that’s the only some of the things that are relevant to today’s date. I remember many more things, but as of right now, a lot of them haven’t happened yet and I am going to see that they don’t happen. Ragnok? Remind me when we finish, to ask about Arcturus Black.” Harry went off on a sudden tangent for a moment. “That’s it for the Potter and Black estates. Oh, no, it’s not. Someone mentioned James and Lily’s portraits. I want them. I’ve no idea what to do with them, but they’re mine.”

“It might be a good idea to tell them. They did die for you, it would be cruel to let them think that they died for nothing.” Severus said.

“That and you want to see James scream because his son is now your brother.” Harry added.

“That, too.” Severus smirked.

“And you call me a brat?”

“Yes!” Came as a fast answer.

“Alright, boys, enough.” Minerva chided gently. “We’ve done the titles, the vaults and the personal items. What else is left?”

“Just the tidying up. OWLs, NEWTs and various licences.” Ragnok replied. “Bogrod? Why don’t you go get the payment signet-rings and the money pouches, while I finish up here?”

“Yes, sir.” Bogrod stood and with a nod to the wizards and Minerva, he left.

“Harry? OWLs and NEWTs. I spoke to our contact in the Magical Education office. She is more than happy to substitute records for our occasional… special clients, such as yourself.” Ragnok continued from where he left off. “There is a charm that will allow you to transfer a memory of your results to a scroll, then Philledia will copy that to the specially treated parchment that the Wizarding Examinations Authority use to record your results and will give you a second copy, of each, for your folio. She doesn’t need to know what your name was, only the name you want to use, now. Also, she will provide you an Apparition licence.”

“Ah… Animagus, too?”

“Animagus?”

“Yeah… or at least, I was an Animagus. I wonder if I still can? Or if it changed. Oh… what about my patronus? Would that change, Máthair?” Harry asked, worried about it being connected with the Potters, but also worried that he might loose that same connection.

“I… I’m not sure, Harry, but we can find out after you get a wand. Leave the Animagus licence for later. Let’s get the paperwork done and get home for a meal.” Minerva said.

“Yes, Máthair. The charm? Is that visus emin? Or memoria typis? I can never keep those two straight.”

“No, Harry. Visus emin is for recording what you see. Memoria typis records a memory. Neither of them record a written document from either memory or what you see. The charm needed is scripta typis, which will print any writing you focus on.” Minerva corrected him. “Focus on the memory of your OWLs results, see them clearly in your mind. Can you see it? Clearly?” Harry nodded, but didn’t speak. “Good, keep it clear in your mind. Now, here take my wand, tap the parchment twice and on the second tap, tap and hold say it clearly. ‘Scripta typis’ and then wait until it’s the way you want, before lifting the wand from the page. If you want to change something, think about it before you lift the wand, it should happen easily enough.” As she spoke McGonagall handed Harry her wand and tapped her finger on the parchment.

Harry took a deep breath and in his mind he saw his OWLs results certificate. A tap of the wand, a second tap and the wand-tip stayed on the scroll, as he spoke. Slowly writing began to appear.

 

ORDINARY WIZARDING LEVEL RESULTS

Pass Grades

Outstanding (O), Exceeds Expectations (E), Acceptable (A)

Fail Grades

Poor (P), Dreadful (D), Troll (T)

HENRY JAMES POTTER-BLACK Has Achieved

Astronomy                                  A

Care of Magical Creatures           E

Charms                                       E

Defence Against the Dark Arts    O

Divination                                   P

Herbology                                   E

History of Magic                         D

Potions                                       E

Transfiguration                           E

7 OWLs Granted.

 

"Now change the name, change it to your… new name, your name, now." Minerva said.

Harry concentrated and the details changed slightly.

 

ORDINARY WIZARDING LEVEL RESULTS

Pass Grades

Outstanding (O), Exceeds Expectations (E), Acceptable (A)

Fail Grades

Poor (P), Dreadful (D), Troll (T)

HENRICK OAKLEY SNAPE-URQUART Has Achieved

 

Astronomy                                  A

Care of Magical Creatures           E

Charms                                       E

Defence Against the Dark Arts    O

Herbology                                   E

History of Magic                         A

Potions                                       E

Study of Ancient Runes               E

Transfiguration                          O

9 OWLs Granted

 

Minerva saw the change and wondered about it. “Harry? You changed Divination, History and Transfiguration. Why?”

“If I didn’t there’d be too much of a difference between my OWLs and my NEWTs, at least in Transfiguration and History. Once Voldy was gone, I actually had time to study and with no one trying to kill me, I found I was quite capable of focusing on my studies and exams.” On the second piece of parchment writing began to form.

 

NASTY EXHAUSTING WIZARDING TEST

Pass Grades

Outstanding (O), Exceeds Expectations (E), Acceptable (A)

Fail Grades

Poor (P), Dreadful (D), Troll (T)

HENRICK OAKLEY SNAPE-URQUART Has Achieved

Ancient Runes                             E

Care of Magical Creatures           E

Charms                                       O

Defence Against the Dark Arts    O

Herbology                                   E

History of Magic                          E

Potions                                       O

Transfiguration                           O

8 OWLs Granted

 

“Harry?” Minerva cocked an eyebrow in question.

“No, no changes, here. Like I said, after Voldy, I found it much easier to study, in fact I was frequently asked to assist in DADA and Transfiguration classes. After Hogwarts, I decided to go into the Auror corps, but I spent a lot of time studying potions. My godson, Remus’ son, Teddy, he inherited Remus’ Lycanthropy. I spent most of my free time researching a cure, initially I was only looking for a better version of Wolfsbane, but eventually I figured that working on a cure was going to be just as easy… or hard, depending on your point of view.”

“A cure for Lycanthropy?” Severus gasped.

“Yeah. Took me a few years, but I got there in the end. Teddy was declared cured when I was 23. Just over a year ago. St Mungo’s tested the potion and approved it, every month they ask me to brew up a dozen treatments, as I refused to give up the formula. It’s mine, patented and all. Guess I’ll get to do that all over again.”

“That would get you a Mastery, Harry.”

“Oh, I’ve got that, Potions and DADA, both. Auror corps were ecstatic when I said, I wanted my Mastery in DADA, they haven’t had a DADA Master for over 50 years. Finished that before I was 21. Not so wrapt in me doing my Potions Mastery, but I was still the flavour of the month, so they bit the bludger and gave me some time towards it.”

“Oh my.” Minerva whispered. “Two Masteries?”

“Yep.” Harry frowned a little. “Sev? How far are you off finishing yours?”

“Oh, I’m finished. I received my notice this morning.” He smirked. “Potions and DADA, just like my little brother.”

“Cool. Ragnok? Any chance your contact can get my Masteries misfiled, too?” Harry asked.

“I’m uncertain. But if we can’t, then I’m sure we can get you booked in for your testing?” The director replied.

“That might work better, actually. Nah, if we can get my accreditation filed, great, if not book me in for Monday week for testing, for both DADA and Potions. I’ll be ready by then. Easy.”

“Easy, he says. Two Masteries. Easy?” Severus just shook his head.

“Now, now, brother.” Harry grinned. “If you had to re-do your Mastery exams, you wouldn’t find it all that difficult, would you? Really?”

Severus huffed a sigh. “No, I suppose not.”

Bogrod tapped the door and entered, he placed a tray with eight rings and three money pouches on it. All the rings were different.

“Please excuse my forwardness, but it occurred to me, once I’d left here, that should have been family signet-rings, not Head of House rings, but family signet rings, for Houses Peverell, Gryffindor, Slytherin, Harrington, Winterbourne, Urquart, McGonagall and Prince. So I quickly checked and sure enough, there were. I can have them linked to any vault within seconds. Professor? I wasn’t certain if you wanted the same as your sons, so I brought an extra pouch, just in case.”

“Well thought, Bogrod. I hadn’t considered that either.” Ragnok commented.

Both Harry and Severus looked at the rings, neither of them spoke, but a conversation was still had. Harry reached out and picked up the Urquart ring, while Severus picked up the McGonagall ring, both men nodded and as one slid the rings onto their left pinkie finger.

“Bogrod? Can any ring be used as a linked payment-ring?” McGonagall asked.

“I was uncertain, so spoke to accounts, yes any signet ring can be linked to a vault and used as a payment-ring, but it must not have any charms attached other than a re-sizing charm, otherwise the linking won’t fuse properly.”

“Hmm… in that case…” Minerva pulled a delicate chain out from inside the neckline of her robes and slid it over her head. She undid the chain and placed a ring on the desk, before putting the chain back over her head and tucking it under her blouse’s neckline. “This is a Ross family signet, when it was given to me at 17, my mother removed all the charms, bar the re-sizing charm. I would like this linked to vault 602, please. And Severus? Please hand me the green and black silk pouch with the silver fittings.”

“Yes, Máthair.” Severus replied and passed the pouch across to her. “Harry? Black and gold or black and silver?”

“Would you mind if I had the black and silver, Sev?”

“No, not at all.”

“Thanks. So… what do we do to add our magical signature?”

“A drop of blood on the clasp and saying the vault number is all that is needed. Blood will link it to you and to the vault.”

“Cool.” Harry reached out and picked up the dagger he’d used earlier for the identity tests and press the tip against his finger, he let one drop fall onto the clasp. “Vault 1121.” His voice was strong and clear.

Severus took the dagger and let his blood fall. “Vault 742.”

Minerva took the dagger next. “Vault 602.” She said.

“Well, Professor, gentlemen, if you give me 5 minutes to get Philledia to copy your results, issue Harry’s Apparition licence and accept receipt of the changes to Severus’ name, I think we’re about done.” Bogrod stood and picked up the tray with the remaining rings and the two copies of Harry’s exam results. “I’ll take these and get them returned to the appropriate vaults, too.” He paused. “And Harry’s Masteries? I’ll ask, I’m not sure whether it can be done, but I’ll certainly ask.” Another nod and he was gone.

“Other than Harry’s papers is there anything else left to do?” Ragnok asked.

Thoughtful looks crossed three faces but it was only Harry that spoke.

“I don’t think so, Ragnok. But I wanted to ask about Arcturus Black.”

“What would you like to know, being aware that privacy may be an issue?” Ragnok replied, hesitant to say no to the young wizard, but…

“Is he still alive? All I know is that he died sometime before Sirius escaped Azkaban.”

“Ah, no, he’s still very much alive. Living members of the Black family are Arcturus, Pollux, Cassiopeia, Cedrella Weasley, Cygnus II, Sirius III, Bellatrix, Andromeda and Narcissa. Cedrella and Andromeda are currently disinherited, but not disowned or banished from the family.”

“Oh… oh, that’s good. Is Sirius still heir? I know he’s in Azkaban, but has he been removed as heir?”

“Not as yet, but I think that now that Walburga is deceased, that may change.”’

“Right, in that case, you need to ask Arcturus to delay making a formal request. I know Sirius is innocent and I know how to prove it, but I can’t do that until Dumbledore is no longer an issue. Either incarcerated or Harry Potter is dead. And neither of those can happen until the Horcruxes are dealt with and I need to be in full control of my magic for that to happen. So… ask Arcturus to wait, tell him there is a possibility that Sirius is innocent and that plans are in progress towards securing the truth.” He grinned. “I’m sure you can convince him that Gringotts and it’s allies are the ones investigating and not the DMLE.”

Ragnok grinned. “I think I agree with the Sorting Hat. You, sir, are not a Gryffindor.”

“Well… I tried doing that the first time around. Lots of deaths, particularly those that were avoidable, can change a man’s mind. I need to out-think Dumbledore and the only way I’m going to do that, is if I embrace my Slytherin side. I will never be Evil, but I know my core was Grey tending to Dark. If Dumbledore had known that his saviour was Dark orientated? I wouldn’t have survived to reach the Dursley's. Or there would have been a ‘tragic’ accident somewhere and I’d have been killed.”

“Very true, very true. I will have Lord Black informed of the ‘investigation’ into his heir’s situation. And I’ll see that one of the curse-breaking rooms is available for you from Sunday onwards.” Ragnok added.

“Thanks.” Harry didn’t get to say anything more, as Bogrod returned.

“Here we are, sir.” He handed a folio to Ragnok, who opened it and flicked through the parchments inside.

“Thank you, Bogrod.” Ragnok turned to the folio. “Right, let’s see. Identification test. Vaccinations.” Ragnok looked up. “You are up to date on your vaccinations, aren’t you?”

“Yes, Ragnok, Tinrilla insisted.”

“Good. Home-schooling notice. OWLs. NEWTs. Apparition licence. Oh, nice. DADA apprentice acceptance with Benjamin Fenwick. Harry, Fenwick  was a member of Dumbledore’s Order of the Phoenix, he was killed alongside the Prewett twins just a week before the Potters, he was secretive and protective of his apprentices, so it's unlikely that anyone would expect to know who they were. According to certification by Gideon Prewett, which was two months after you’d left Fenwick and a month after you started your potions apprenticeship with Thomas Mowblock and a week before Gideon's death, you passed your DADA Mastery assessment without issue. Apprentice acceptance from Mowblock.” He looked up at Harry. “Thomas Mowblock was a Gringotts employee for few decades and was a well respected Potions Master, his apprentices were highly trained and due to Mowblock's disability, he was rarely in public, so again, it's unlikely anyone will question it. He died, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on the point of view, just a few days ago. Bogrod, please have a selection of interaction memories, both of Mowblock and Fenwick, made ready for pensieve viewing for Harry. I understand it’s not going to be a lot but, he will need something.” He looked back to the folio. “Ah, Potions Mastery completed. Assessment by Gringotts’ potion Master Tinwit, just last month. And lastly, confirmation of two Blood Adoptions, done today and change of name. Well done, Bogrod.” He flicked past a page and then back again. “Application for Animagus licence, details pending completion. Good, good.” He turned to Harry, again. “That’s everything, I think.”

“Sir? I’ve have the alterations for Severus Snape-Urquart’s folio.” He passed over a pair of certificates. “If you’ll add that to your folio, please? It confirms the two Blood Adoptions were undertaken and completed here, today and notes a change of name for yourself. And a copy of the notice of your Mastery in Potions, is there, too.”

“Thank you Bogrod.” Severus withdrew his folio from a pocket and enlarged, he took the two parchments and added them, before shrinking the folio again and tucking it away.

“I thank Gringotts for the work done and the work yet to be done. I and my family leave, knowing that our finances and secrets are in safe hands.” Harry bowed deeply to Ragnok and Bogrod.

“They are indeed, Master Snape-Urquart. I shall leave Bogrod to escort you out, there is a floo-fireplace in the inner waiting room, you may use that. Bogrod will show you the way. I look forward to meeting with you again.” Ragnok stood, bowed and left the room.

“Well, Harry, we’re all done. Where will you be staying? With you brother or your mother?” Bogrod asked, leading them from the office and back towards the more public areas of the bank.

“They will both be staying with me, at least until Harry had destroyed the Horcruxes, after that? We shall see.” Minerva replied.

“Very well, Professor. Here we are.” He lead them into a large brightly lit waiting area, a couple of wizards still patiently waiting to speak to a manager. “Lady’s first. If you’ll state the name clearly, please.” He held out an elaborate bowl full of floo-powder.

“Thank you Manager Bogord.” Minerva took a hand full of powder and stepped into the fireplace. “Altnam broc Taigh.” She stated and flung the floo-powder at the flames at her feet.

A flash of green flames rose and engulfed her and when they died down, she was gone.

“Messrs. Snape-Urquart?” Bogrod asked, knowing that the other wizards in the room would be listening.

“Thank you, Manager Bogrod.” Harry stepped forward, he took a handful of powder and stepped into the fireplace. He repeated Minerva’s words and everything went green.

 

 

Máthair = mother (Scottish Gaelic)

visus emin’ = sight written

memoria typis = memory printed

scripta typis – writing printed

balach milis = sweet boy

my mhac = my son

mo mhic = my sons

ar mic = our sons

Chapter Text

He stepped forward as the flames began to drop and emerged into a small reception room.

“Come on, Harry, out of the way, Severus will only be a few seconds behind you.” Minerva said, reaching for His arm.

“Yes, Máthair.” He stumbled out of the way, his legs still wobbly.

A few seconds later the floo flashed with flames and Severus joined them.

“Harry, Máthair.” Severus was much more graceful in his arrival.

“Sev.” Harry held out a hand.

Severus reached out his own and grasped Harry’s fingers. The two men drew each other closer. “Brother.” Severus whispered.

“Brother.” Harry replied.

“Come on, you two, let’s go sit down.” Minerva lead them to a comfortable lounge room. “Have a seat. Telli will call us as soon as our meal is ready, in the mean time we have things to discuss. Severus? Albus is going to call on you, he wants you to teach potions. If it weren’t for the curse on the DADA position, Harry, I’d be encouraging you to take that.”

“Oh, I know how to get rid of that. I did that a few years ago. It’s in the doorframe, there’s a holding rune two inches from the lintel, but not on the inside or outside, it’s on the frame facing the door, itself.” Harry’s voice was distracted, he was much more focused on looking at the room they were in.

“What?” All Minerva could do was blink.

“How did you break it?” Severus asked.

“All I needed to do was remove the rune. No rune, no curse.”

“Are you sure?” Minerva asked.

“Yep. Did it four years ago? Five? Hmm… not sure, which. But I did it a few months before I completed my DADA Mastery. Máthair? You hired Dean Thomas, a Gryffindor and Battle of Hogwarts veteran to be the DADA professor and caused a record number of howlers by offering his boyfriend, Seamus Finnegan, the Muggle studies post.”

“Excuse me? I did what?! Minerva gasped.

“You hired Dean Thomas and his boyfriend Seamus.” Harry repeated.

“That’s what I thought you said. What I want to know is… why am I… hiring anyone?”

“Because you’re headmistress?” Harry asked, like ‘didn’t she know that?’

“Since when?”

“Ah… the Battle of Hogwarts, 2nd of May, 1998.” Harry answered.

“Oh.” Was all she could say.

“Harry?” Severus asked.

“Yeah, Sev?”

“How are you going to get the Horcruxes? Do you really know where they are?”

“Yep. Diary? Malfoy Manor. Ring. Gaunt’s shack. Locket. At Gringotts now. Cup. Also at Gringotts. Diadem. That’s in the Room of Requirement at Hogwarts. And me!” He finished brightly.

“The room of requirement? Are you sure that’s at Hogwarts? I’ve never heard of it.” Minerva thought before answering.

“Yeah. It’s up on the 7th floor. Opposite the tapestry of the dancing trolls.”

“But… there’s nothing there. It’s a bare space.”

“No, it just looks like it. I used the Room to study, to teach DADA and as a place to escape from the other students, when it got too much.” Harry assured her.

“I see. So, you’d have no trouble in getting the diadem, then?” Severus clarified.

“Can’t see why not.”

“Alright, assuming that, what about the diary and the ring?”

“Um… I’ve been thinking about the diary, it’s in Malfoy manor. I doubt Lucius is likely to invite me there, so getting the diary is going to involve getting assistance.”

“You are not sending your brother in there, Henrick Snape-Urquart!” Minerva squawked.

“No! Never. I was thinking of asking Kreacher. Narcissa is a daughter of House Black, so-”

“But Kreacher is not a Black Family elf anymore.” Severus said.

“No, he's not, but Narcissa doesn’t know that, now does she? And until Lucius is told and adjusts the wards, Kreacher should be able to get in and out without an issue.”

“Hmm… It’s possible, I suppose.” Severus agreed.

“And the ring?”

“The Gaunt shack just outside Little Hangleton, it’s guarded by snakes and unless you can speak parseltongue, they’ll attack.”

“Oh, great. Where are you going to find a parselmouth? Voldemort’s the only parselmouth in decades.” Severus muttered.

“Nah, it’s not as rare as you’d think. I inherited from James, his father… what’s his name again? Flaremont? Fleamont? Anyway, James’ father was a parselmouth and so am I. It comes from our Peverell blood.”

“You’re a… a parselmouth?” Severus gasped.

Fleamont was a parselmouth?” Minerva gasped.

“Yes, to both.”

Severus visibly shook himself. “Alright, Kreacher gets the diary, you get the ring, Máthair gets us in to get the diadem. Then what?”

“Back to Gringotts. Transfer the Horcruxes from the current items to something a little frailer. Destroy them. I’m thinking that as I plan to use fiendfyre, transferring them to timber or paper items would be best. They’d burn easier that way.”

“And then?” Minerva asked.

“Then Dumbledore.” Harry said. “I can’t leave him where he is. No. He needs to be removed. There’s too many children at risk.”

“Agreed.” Minerva nodded.

“Yes.” Severus added.

“I spoke to Millicent about Sirius. I told her that I’d get more information sent to her when it came available.”

“That’s fine. When we’re ready for Sirius, I’ll fetch Pettigrew, or more likely I’ll get Kreacher to fetch him. Undecided, yet. Depends on a lot of things and we’re not there yet.”

“And then Harry Potter?”

“Yes, or maybe Harry then Dumbledore, then Sirius. The plans are there for each of them, it’s just the order of action that’s a little vague at this stage. But one thing is certain, I’m going to spend tonight and part of tomorrow getting to grips with my altered core and once I got a handle on that, I’ll visit Gringotts, go through the wands. Then it’s Horcruxe hunting time.” Harry laid out his plans for them.

A small elf popped into the room, coming to a stop in front of Minerva and did a little curtsey.

“Miss Minnie? Dinner is being ready.” The little elf told her mistress.

“Thank you, Telli.” Minerva stood. “Oh, Telli? These two men are now my sons, I Blood Adopted them today. This is Severus and this is Harry. If they call for you or Dalli, you have permission to answer.”

“Yes, Miss Minnie.” Telli replied.

“This way, boys.” Minerva lead them to a cosy dining room, with an old table pushed against one wall. “Have a seat and let’s eat.”

“Oh, Severus. I almost forgot. When I get a wand, after I sort my core out, remind me and I’ll get rid of that rubbish on your arm.”

“Rubbish?”

“Voldy’s mark.” Harry filled goblets with juice from a jug.

“The Darkmark?” Severus’ eyes widened. “Get rid of it…? You can remove it?”

“Really?” Minerva breathed.

“Yeah. The DMLE and the Auror corps did a study on the Mark a few years ago. Malfoy is… well Lucius’ not quite innocent, but he’s definitely not a true Voldy supporter, not like Bellatrix, anyway. So, the Mark was studied, there were a heap of hypotheses floating around, but when the curse-breakers got involved, it was discovered that the Mark actually has a runic base, there’s two sets of runes, one under the skull and the second set of runes under the snake. It took the idiots in the DMLE months to realise that Voldy had laid the spells in parseltongue, then there was the argument of ‘there aren’t any other parselmouths, so the DMLE can’t remove the Marks’. Of course, Ron, Neville, Dean and Draco, put paid to that by reminding the DMLE that I’m a parselmouth. Then the next argument was about whether or not I was strong enough to break Voldy’s runes. Draco just snorted at them, pulled his sleeve up and told me to ‘have at it’. Kingsley was not impressed. But it worked.”

“Draco? Who else took the Mark? Who else did you free?”

“I was only asked to remove seven marks before I arrived here. Draco, Lucien Bole, Cassius Warrington, Adrien Pucey, Millicent Baulstode, Theodore Nott and Felix Blunt.”

“Not Lucius?” Severus wanted to know.

“No, he said it was part of his penance. I did offer.” Harry accepted the plate that Minerva gave him and took bites between comments.

“That sounds like Lucius.”

“Those I removed, swore under double doses of veritaserum that they took the mark unwillingly and were prepared to wear core suppressors, if I couldn’t remove it. They just wanted to live in peace. Eventually the Wizengamot asked me to remove their Marks and all seven wore the suppressors for the length of their community service.”

“Which was how long?” Minerva asked.

“Draco got one year, Bole got five years, as did Warrington and Pucey. Millicent and Theo worked on the repairs to Hogwarts for two years, while Blunt was only required to do two years, but was still there when I turned 25, he took over from Filch. It wasn’t until just a few months ago that Hermione realised he wasn’t being paid for it, that caused you to throw a tantrum at a Board of Governors meeting. They knew and couldn’t care less.”

“They what?!”

“They didn’t care that he wasn’t being paid. Oh, don’t get worked up. It forced the Wizengamot to dismiss 10 of the 13 members. I think the only ones left, were Augusta Longbottom and Waverly Selwyn? Lucius had already voluntarily stepped down in favour of Andromeda Tonks.”

“Well, that’s something, at least.” Minerva huffed.

“Yeah, repairs were finished, finally, and this coming year would have been the first with your new curriculum. Classes were halved in size with extra teachers and two teachers sharing Head of House duties. You hired a teacher’s assistant for each subject, a fully licenced healer and a second medi-witch, a second librarian, a pair of multi-subject tutors, an administration assistant to see to paperwork and a school liaison to deal with parents and guardians.”

Severus snickered at the look of stunned shock on the witch’s face.

“Alright…” Harry smothered his own amusement. “Sev? Have you been to Regulus’ place?”

“Ah… once. Why?”

“I haven’t got enough of an understanding of the changes to my core, yet. I won’t risk apparating until I do. So…”

“So, you need someone to apparate you to the Black house to fetch Kreacher and whatever he’s bringing?”

“Yep, that’s about it.”

“Oh, if you’re bringing Kreacher, I need to have a chat with Telli and Dalli. Bringing a new elf into an established house… that can cause issues, Harry.”

“Máthair, you can tell Telli and Dalli that Kreacher won’t be taking any of their duties, that he’ll be working for Sev and I. For the next few years, Kreacher will be seeing to the repair and restoration of the Gryffindor, Slytherin, Peverell and Harrington Estates. If Sev and I decide to teach at Hogwarts, Kreacher will tend us there, but while we’re in class, he’ll be working on the Estates.”

“Hmm… that might actually… Do you think Kreacher would like some help? Telli and Dalli  complain bitterly about the lack of work for them, here.”

“I can’t see why not, as long as they understand that Kreacher is Head elf for the Estates.”

“For the chance to do some work? I don’t think they’ll care, who’s Head elf.”

“Fair enough. Talk to them and when we get back the six of us can hash out the details.” Harry pushed his plate away and wiped his mouth on a napkin.

“Now? You’re going now?”

“I’d like to get it over with, Máthair.”

“But dessert hasn’t been served, yet.” Minerva protested.

“Keep it for when we get back. I’ll be ready for it by then.” Harry advised. “We all will.”

“Humf.”

“Máthair… I like desserts, but I need to let what I’ve already eaten settle before I’ll have room for anything more. Tinrilla warned me that my stomach is pretty much the same size as it was before the aging ritual. Tiny. That’s why I didn’t eat as much as you and Sev, I can’t, not yet.”

“Oh… I didn’t think about that. Alright. You two go to the Black house and I’ll speak to Telli and Dalli.”

 

Landing on the step of 12 Grimmauld Place, left Harry exposed to the wind, reminding him that he really need to get some decent robes, that his transfigured clothes would only last another day or two, before the transfiguration started to break down the fabric. Blast it, something else to add to the list of things to do.

Harry sighed.

“Are you sure about this, Harry?” Sev asked.

“Nope, but… I need to do it.” Harry replied before calling. “Kreacher?”

A pop beside them. “Master Henrick called Kreacher. What can Kreacher do for Master Henrick?”

“Open the door and let us in, please, Kreacher?”

“Yes, Master Henrick.” Another pop and Kreacher vanished. A few seconds pasted and the door opened.

“Thank you, Kreacher. Now, why don’t you take Severus to wherever you’ve put the things you want to bring, while I have a word with Walburga’s portrait?”

“Yes, Master Henrick. Mister Severus, please be following Kreacher.” The elf turned and lead the way to he stairs.

Severus pressed a hand to Harry’s shoulder as he passed his brother. Harry turned to the row or portraits hanging on the entrance walls. He waited until Sev and Kreacher were out of sight before flicking his fingers and opening the curtains on each portrait.

“Who?”

“What?”

“Who dares?”

Voices came from many paintings, speaking over each other.

“Walburga Black?” Harry’s voice was calm and polite. But something in it silenced the nearer paintings and quickly that silence spread to the entire hall.

“I am Walburga Black, mistress of this House. Who are you and how dare you enter without my permission?” The voice was sharp and nasally.

“Walburga Black?” Harry stopped in front of the portrait. 

The handsome face with it’s elaborate hairstyle, curls and ringlets artfully laid over sleek bare shoulders. The warm style of painting did nothing to hide the cold arrogance of the woman.

“I am. Who are you?”

“I am nobody.” He wasn't telling her his name, she wasn't worth it.

“Then I shan’t speak to you. Be gone.” She turned her nose up and tilted her head away.

“Oh, no, Walburga. You are going to listen to me.”

“Why should I?” She sneered.

“Apples may be good for our health, but apple seeds are poisonous.” Harry stated, clearly.

The portrait’s eyes widened and her mouth formed a perfect ‘O’, she was the picture of a beautiful woman caught by surprise. “Feeding them to you husband? That broke your marriage contract, Walbruga.”

“How dare you?!” She screeched.

“Did you know there is a spell that can force a painting to tell the truth. A little like veritaserum.”

She fell silent.

“I though that might get your attention. Really, Walburga, you’ve not been very good at upholding the Black Family Motto, have you? Muggle lovers, half-blood lovers, poisoning your husband, trying to disown your eldest son, Imperius-ing your youngest son and forcing him into following a murderous Half-blood. Oh, didn’t you know… Voldemort was born Tom Marvolo Riddle. The son of a muggle… Conceived with the use of amortentia, at that.”

“No?!” She screamed.

“Yes. Don’t believe me, sent Phineas to Hogwarts, tell him to ask Peeves or the Bloody Baron. Go on, do it. Headmaster Black? Would you care to do the honours?”

“Not really.” Came an elderly man’s voice from another painting.

“Do it, anyway.” Harry’s voice suddenly became hard and cold, commanding.

“Yes, sir.” The man’s voice agreed, very quickly.

“Now, while we wait. Let me continue with your list of misdeeds, Walburga. What else did you do? Oh, yes. You had your own brother disowned, just for leaving your son, the one you’d tried to disown, some money. Tut tut, Walburga, tut tut.” He paused between each, partially to let the other portraits absorb what he said and partially to buy time, until Headmaster Black returned. “What else? Oh, your niece, Andromeda? You tried to get her disowned, too. For marrying a muggle, wasn’t it? Thankfully, Arcturus actually used his brain and while he may have disinherited them from the Family, he didn’t disown any of them.” Another pause. “Because there are only two males that can take the mantle of Lord Black. Sirius, who sits, waiting ever so patiently for Dumbledore to rescue him from Azkaban, pity he’s right where Dumbledore wants him to be. And Narcissa’s son, Draco. Now, Draco has been raised as a good Pure-blood Lord should be, but he’s also been taught that nothing is better than a Malfoy, certainly not a Black. He will use the Black fortune, just to increase the standing of the Malfoy’s.” 

“Ahem. Excuse me?” It was the old man, again.

“Yes, Headmaster?”

“I spoke to the Baron. He confirmed that Voldemort is Riddle. He started at Hogwarts in 1938 and left in 1945. It was he that opened the Chamber of Secrets and let a basilisk into the school. It killed a girl and petrified Alphard in 1943. The same day he graduated, he approached Headmaster Dippet and demanded, demanded not asked, the DADA position be given to him. Dippet refused. Riddle left vowing to destroy the school. Five years later he returned, Dumbledore was headmaster and he wouldn’t even give Riddle an interview. Dippet’s portrait confirmed that Riddle was a half-blood, although... given that his mother was a squib, should that be a muggleborn?” Phineas mused.

“And you thought he was upholding the Pure-blood traditions? He created Horcruxes.” Many of the paintings gasped. “Not one or even two. No, Riddle deliberately created six of them.” The were undignified screams of horror and a few darkly muttered curses. “He defiled two heirlooms of the founders, a cup belonging to Hufflepuff and a locket of Slytherin’s. He murdered his own father, grandfather and uncles, on both sides of the family, just because they didn’t want him.” The muttering grew louder. “But the thing that makes him a monster? He will happily kill children. Babies.” Harry was met with complete silence.

“Babies?” Walburga whispered in shock.

“Babies. You know he killed the Potters? Well, they were just the bonus. He went there with the intent to kill their child. Their 15 month old baby son. He told both James and Lily that if they stood aside, he would let them live. He told them he was only there for the child. He told them that he was only there to kill a baby.” Harry’s voice was hard, cold and disgusted. “And you? Walburga, you wanted your sons to follow him. You wanted your husband to follow him?” He sneered. “Disgusting.”

A number of paintings agreed with him.

“Sirius is innocent and that will be proven shortly. He will be returning here, quite probably with the werewolf. You will never speak against him, ever. If you hold your tongue, Walburga, in one year, I will retrieve Regulus’ body and see that a portrait of him is done.”

“He’s dead, isn’t he?” Walburga whispered.

“Yes. He found out about Voldemort and went to retrieve Slytherin’s locket from where Voldemort had placed it. It was in an enchanted vessel full of poisonous liquid that had to be drank before the locket could be removed. Regulus drank it, removed the locket and entrusted it to Kreacher.”

“Kreacher?!”

“An elf?”

“An elf, trusted with a Horcruxe?”

The paintings gasped and whispered.

“Kreacher was, above all else, loyal to Regulus. He did your bidding, but Regulus was his Master… And now I am.”

“But… but how?”

“That is something I cannot say.” Harry made it sound like he didn’t have an answer. “He is now the Head elf for Houses Harrington and Peverell.” He conveniently left off Gryffindor and Slytherin.

“Harrington?” Walburga asked.

“Peverell?” Phineas asked.

“Yes.” Harry agreed. “This morning I was told, by Gringotts, that I was eligible to claim Head of House for both of them.” Again, the truth, just not all of the truth.

“And Kreacher?” Walburga asked.

“Mine. I would not be able to call him, nor give him orders if he were not. He calls me Master.”

“And you’re going to take him away?”

“I am. If, and only if, he wants it, will I release him back into the care of House Black, but not until I am certain he will be returning to a beneficial situation.”

“Understandable.” Phineas commented.

“But he’s a Black Family elf!” Walburga ranted.

“Then you should have looked after him!” Harry yelled back at her.

There was a flurry of denials, Walburga just bit her lip.

“It doesn’t matter, now. He’s mine.”

The sound of footsteps rattled up the stairs and within seconds Severus appeared.

“Harry?” He asked. “Everything alright? I-we heard you yelling?”

“Yes. Sorry, didn’t mean to alarm you, Sev.” Harry grinned at his brother.

“Severus Snape?” Phineas asked. Severus shared a look with Harry and grinned.

“Severus Snape-Urquart.” They corrected.

“Snape-Urquart?”

“Yes.” Was all Severus said.

“Hmm… Well, Albus Dumbledore is looking for you, he wants you to join his staff, as Potions Master.”

“So Máthair said.”

“Máthair?” Walburga asked, confused at the unknown word.

“Scottish for mother, Walburga.” Phineas offered.

“Ah, thank you, Phineas.”

“So, why would your mother be telling you about Hogwarts?” Phineas asked.

“Because she teaches there, of course.” Severus was enjoying the confusion on the painting's face.

“Teaches? But…? But what?”

“Transfiguration.” Severus was enjoying this.

“But… but, Minerva McGonagall teaches Transfiguration.” Phineas spluttered.

“Yes. Máthair.” Harry agreed.

“Your… your mother is Minerva McGonagall?”

“Ah… yes.” Both wizards answered, together.

“Oh.” Was all Phineas said.

“And speaking of our Máthair, she is expecting us for dessert, remember, Harry?”

“Our?” Phineas asked.

“Hmm.” Harry turned his attention to Severus. “Sev, is Kreacher ready? His things packed?”

“Yes, he had everything on the kitchen table, I was able to shrink most of it, all but a cabinet of elf heads. I’m not sure what you want me to do about it.”

“Those elves are Black elves, they should stay here.” Walburga screeched.

“I tend to agree, but… I do believe that Kreacher should be allowed to keep his parents’ remains.” Harry countered.

“Humph. I suppose so.” Walburga allowed.

“If, however, the House of Black is disposing of the remains of the other elves, at any time in the future, Kreacher can claim them.”

“Agreed.” Walburga and Phineas both said.

“Good. Now, Walburga, I want you to remember one thing, when it comes to agreeing or disagreeing with living people.”

“What?” The painting replied sullenly.

“Muggles have a product called ‘paint stripper’, it attacks the components within the paint and breaks them apart, leaving only a gooey, sticky mess. Painting, plus paint stripper, equals an empty frame.”

The eyes of a number of painting inhabitants widened and many jaws fell, quite a few whimpered.

“Think twice before you verbally attack someone, you never know who they are or what they’ll do.” Harry warned. “Something else to think about. Sirius. You’re under the impression that he turned his back on his family. Yes?”

“He did! He-”

“Not quite.” Harry cut in. “Unfortunately, for you and for Sirius, Dumbledore controls Hogwarts and he had plans for a number children.”

“What?!” Phineas screamed. “How dare-”

“Stop!” Harry held up a hand. “I have proof.”

“What?” Phineas gasped.

“Proof. I want you to think about this. Sirius, scion of House Black. James Potter, heir of House Potter. Remus Lupin, son of Lyall Lupin. What do these three men have in common?”

“They’re all traitors to their Families.” Walburga answered.

“No. They are all Dark-inclined. Fleamont Potter was a Master Potioneer, but he was also an advocate for returning Dark Arts to Hogwarts. Lyall Lupin was a renowned expert on Dark Creatures. Sirius, as you are aware, was unhappy in this house, but that is as much his fault as yours. You made no effort to  find out why and he made no effort to talk to you. Then we have Dumbledore. Headmaster of Hogwarts. A wizard who loathes the fact that he cannot control Dark magic.”

“What?”

“Look at his sister, Ariana. She was Dark-inclined. She was also unstable, magically. Then there was Grindelwald. His lover. He-”

“His what?!” Came from a number of paintings.

“His lover. Gellert was Dark and Dumbledore knew it, he tried his best to control Gellert, but failed, forcing Dumbledore to duel him. Then there’s Riddle, another Dark wizard that Dumbledore couldn’t control and he did try. But when manipulation failed, Dumbledore declared Riddle was evil and so Dark became connected with evil. Then Sirius, James and Remus entered Hogwarts, three brilliant minds with Dark-inclined cores. No, none of them stood a chance against Dumbledore and his machinations. With access to the largest range of spells, curses and potions in the country, Dumbledore was prepared to use any means necessary to control them.”

“How do you know this?” Headmaster Black whispered.

“Severus is my brother. You think we don’t know what happened at Hogwarts, while he was there?” Harry asked. “We know about the students being drugged with potions to make them more compliant. We know about students being returned, year after year, to abusive homes. We know about the life threatening creatures. We know about the wards.”

“What?! What creatures? What about the wards?” Phineas, demanded.

“There’s a basilisk under the school. Dumbledore has done nothing towards removing it. The groundskeeper is a part-giant, now he’s harmless enough, but the creatures he likes to surround himself with, aren’t. Acromantula, Cerberus and he wants a dragon, believes that he can train it as a pet.”

“And the wards?” So far nothing this man had said was untrue, but Phineas hadn’t put it all together.

“The wards? The wards should have told Dumbledore of Myrtle’s death, instead she was left, laying dead, in the girl’s bathroom for a full day, before someone, anyone, thought to look for her. And the basilisk? The wards shouldn’t have let the basilisk anywhere near the school. The curse on the DADA position? The wards should have stopped that before it took effect. There’s a life-size Battle-Chess set. Any ideas where it’s kept?”

Phineas shuddered. “The third floor, near the Transfiguration classroom.” He whispered.

“That’s right. Máthair has been trying to get rid of it for years, but Dumbledore won’t let it be removed. Why?”

“I don’t know.”

“No, neither does Máthair. And yet… this is Dumbledore. He gives no reasons for anything. Does he?”

“No…” Phineas was horrified.

“No.” Harry confirmed. “I’m sure there’s more, things that we haven’t noticed, yet. Things that are so obvious, that we just don’t see them for what they are.”

“I…” Phineas trailed off, before starting again. “I’ll speak to the other portraits and see what they’ve noticed. If I can’t reach you or Mr Snape-Urquart, I’ll let Professor McGonagall know.”

“Thank you, Headmaster, that would be much appreciated.” Harry gave a little bow and this prompted Severus into doing the same. “We shall leave you, now, Ladies, Gentlemen, Headmaster. I bid you good day.” Harry made his way to the kitchen. It was time to head home to Máthair.

 

Even with Severus apparating them, Harry’s exhaustion was visible for Minerva to see.

“Severus? Down the hall, second door on the right. Put him to bed, please. Then, if you would? I think you and I have things we should discuss.”

“Indeed, Máthair.” Severus nodded and while it took some doing, he managed to bully and coax Harry into the room Máthair pointed out. He plopped the younger man down on the bed, removed his shoes, belt and outer clothes, leaving Harry in his underwear. There was no sound as Harry snuggled down under the fluffy wool eiderdown quilt. He was already asleep.

Back out in the lounge room, Severus sat a little nervously, it was the first time he’d been alone with the woman who was now his mother.

“Telli has tea for Miss Minnie and Mister Severus.” The little elf placed a tray with tea and biscuits.

“I know it’s not a proper dessert, but I think it will do us for the moment, don’t you, Severus?” Minerva asked.

“I do… Máthair.” He hesitated slightly before adding the last word.

“Severus, you are my son, now. I Blood Adopted you, you and Harry both. I knew what I was doing and I did it willingly. Don’t hesitate to call me Máthair, or anything else you prefer. Harry chose Máthair, if you want to call me something else, do so.” Minerva said bluntly.

“No thank you, Máthair is fine.” Severus gave her a small smile.

“Good. Now... Dumbledore has asked me to attend a staff meeting, tomorrow. I said ‘no’. I told him I was following up on a possible teacher for the DADA position. He agreed to wait until Tuesday for the staff meeting and will send out notices in the morning. If my lead pans out, I’m to bring the possible teacher with me. My lead being Harry, of course.”

“Yes, Máthair.”

“He did say he was going to floo to your place tomorrow to speak to you about the Potions position. I… said you wouldn’t be there. He asked why and how I knew. I said your brother was ill and you would be staying with him. Albus tried to tell me you didn’t have a brother, but I told him you did and that I’d known the pair of you, outside Hogwarts for quite some time. I did not say anything about Stone and I Adopting you. We can burst his bubble at the meeting.” Her smile was just a little vicious.

Severus smiled, properly this time.

“Oh, Máthair.” He chuckled.

“He put my sons in danger. He deserves it.” She uttered primly, her lips pursed. “But that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about.”

“No?”

“No. I want to talk about Harry. I’m worried, Severus. I’m worried that Albus might figure out that Harry is Harry… Potter that is. We’ll talk to him in the morning, but I think… I think Harry Potter needs to die first. Before we do anything more.”

“Yes and no.” Severus replied.

“What?”

“Yes and no. Yes. He needs to die before we get too far in, but… No. Not just yet. Let’s get the Horcruxes dealt with. Then have the staff meeting, have Dumbledore meet our Harry, then have Potter die. After Harry and I have signed our staff contracts. Also… I think we need to bring in a couple of others. I may not like them, but Black and Lupin are both professionals in their field. Harry has a cure for Lycanthropy, so Lupin won’t be a risk anymore. Black is an Auror. And a Marauder, both of them are. They see things differently to others. If Harry can convince them to work with us…?”

“Gryffindors and Slytherins working together was something that not even Albus ever dreamt of. It would give the devil nightmares… Good idea.” Minerva shuddered.

“I’ll talk to Harry in the morning, Máthair.”

 

Chapter Text

Morning saw Harry sitting cross legged on the floor in front of the kitchen fireplace. His face was still and calm, a mask of blankness. Every so often a finger or hand would twitch, but in the hour that Severus and Minerva watched, his legs or toes moved only once or twice each. Eventually Harry’s stomach forced him back into the world outside his mind. His eyes opened slowly, lashes fluttering, before those brilliant green eyes cleared.

A tiny part of Severus’ mind was glad that Harry had kept Lily’s eyes, but he had yet to realise that, when he and Harry had taken the sibling-bonding potion, he had gained those green eyes, himself. While Minerva was pleased to see both men’s eyes were green, she was a little disappointed that they weren’t the same gold flecked-green as Stone Urquart’s had been.

“Sev? Máthair?” Harry voice was tired, but clear, the roughness of the day before, gone.

“Yes, brother, we’re here.”

“Good.” He sighed. “I’m getting there with my core, it’s slow-.” He started, only to break off when his stomach rumbled, again. “Hmf… I… Alright, breakfast first. Then… can someone help me? I need a comprehensive structural diagnostic scan on my core. There’s a couple of spots that I’m finding hard to map. Máthair, did Stone have any creature blood?” Harry asked, climbing to his feet.

“No, Harry, he didn’t. Neither did I.”

“Hmm… Sev?”

“No, Harry, as far as I’m aware, there’s none in the Prince or Rowbuckle lines, either.” Severus answered.

“Rowbuckle?” Harry asked.

“My maternal grandmother was Silvia Rowbuckle. They were Pure-bloods, of little wealth or social importance, but Silvia was extremely proficient in Alchemy, which is what caught my grandfather’s eye, according to mother.” Severus explained.

“Ah, alright. I wonder where it comes from, then.” Harry mused.

“Hmm… It… it might not be creature related Harry.” Minerva said.

“What do you mean?” He asked, as he stretched up towards the ceiling.

“Well, accidental time travel… it can… Of the hundred or so cases studied, more than 90 of them, were found to have altered cores. Something to do with Wild Magic the Unspeakables think.”

“Wild Magic?” He'd been touched by Wild Magic?

“Yes, Wild Magic is very different to the magic that we can access through our cores. The magic we can access is a weaker, softer, more malleable form of magic. Wild Magic, is strong, harsh and almost completely uncontrollable.”

“Almost?” Severus asked.

“Almost. For Wild Magic, it’s all about lack of control, acceptance, immersion. Like… water in a way. The more you try to control it the more uncontrollable it becomes, but if you accept it, float along with it, go where it takes you… like you have to in accidental time travel… then frequently Wild Magic touches you and those touches leave behind traces. Those few that fought accidental time travel, that fought to get back to when they came from? They had no traces of Wild Magic.” She waved to Telli and the little elf began to place plates of food on the table.

“Ah…” Harry grimaced. “I knew instantly that with my damnable luck, the chances of me being the 2nd of the 159 instances of accidental time travel that got to go back where they  came from, were absolutely zero.”

“Second?”

“159?”

“Yes. By June 2005, the Unspeakables had documented 158 cases of accidental time travel, I make 159.” Harry explained. “Eloise Mintumble was the only person to get back to her own time. She travelled almost 500 years into the past and was gone for five days. But… she aged those five centuries and died within minutes of her return. I think the odds of me staying here are pretty good. Don’t you?” Harry pulled out a seat beside Severus and sat down, smiling as Kreacher appeared at his elbow with empty plates, which he set before the three humans.

Severus and Minerva exchanged glances and nodded.

“Yes, brother mine, I think they are.” Severus agreed.

“Thank you, Kreacher.” Harry said. “And please pass my thanks to Telli and Dalli, too.”

“Yes, Master Henrick.” The old elf replied.

“Harry? I spoke with Telli and Dalli last night. Initially neither were pleased with Kreacher’s arrival, but I explained that he is your elf and as such will not be taking either, their places or their tasks. I also explained that he will be working on the restoration of a number of old estates that you’d inherited and both Telli and Dalli have requested, that during school terms, they be allowed to assist Kreacher in his tasks. I said only, that I would broach the subject with you.”

“Oh… Well, I have no objection, but… Kreacher?”

“Master?”

“Did you hear what Máthair said?”

“Yes, Master.”

“And what are your thoughts on the matter?”

The elf’s eyes popped wide, he hadn’t been consulted on a task for years, not since Master Regulus.

“Master is generous in asking. Kreacher is thinking that if Master wants a House fit to live in, then Kreacher is going to be needing assistance. More elfies. If Master Henrick’s Máthair’s Telli and Dalli will help, then it will be getting done much faster. Kreacher is hearing them say, there is not being much for them to do here, that they is worried that Kreacher will be taking their work. Kreacher will not. They is used to caring for Master’s Máthair and Kreacher is used to caring for a House. Is not being the same thing.” The elf whispered.

Harry smiled. “No, it is not. Very well. As of tomorrow, I want you, and Telli and Dalli, too. I want you to go to each of the estates that I’ve claimed, I know that you have access to them, I want you to assess each of them. Take your time and do a complete assessment. From the ward-stones out. If each one takes a week, then it takes a week, time is not important, the depth and thoroughness is. I want a report, preferably written, on each estate, listing the number and types of buildings, the damage to them, the repairs needed and an estimate of materials needed for that repair and the time it will take. I want all items, in each estate, placed in one location, separate them into similar groups, but a completely separate grouping for any cursed, bewitched or charmed items, excluding paintings.”

“Yes, Master Henrick, Kreacher will be getting right to it.”

“No. I have a different task for you, a task that I hope you can complete, today.”

“Yes, Master.” Kreacher’s face had began to droop when told ‘no’, but lifted immediately when Harry mentioned a different task.

“You are no longer a Black Family elf, but few members of the Black Family will know this. I want you to got to the home of Narcissa Black, now Malfoy. In the possession of her husband Lucius, there is another of the Dark Lord’s treasures.”

“Like Master Regulus’ locket?” Kreacher asked.

“Yes, like the locket. I want you to find it and retrieve it. But… you must not be seen, by anyone, understand?”

“Yes, Master.”

“The treasure is a book, about this big.” Harry folded his napkin in a rectangular shape. “It’s got a dark brown, almost black, leather cover, no writing on the cover at all, but it does have dirty brass cornice protectors. If you’re not sure, the inside cover should have ‘TM Riddle’, written in black ink. It will feel like the locket, dirty and Dark.”

“Kreacher will be getting it for Master Henrick. When will Kreacher be doing this?”

“Today. After breakfast… and I want you to eat, too, Kreacher. You cannot do your job, if you are weak from hunger.”

Kreacher’s eyes glistened with tears that didn’t fall. “Yes, Master. Kreacher will be doing that as soon as Master Henrick is eating.” The elf was adamant.

Minerva and Severus chuckled at the disgruntled expression on Harry’s face.

“Alright, stop ganging up on me, I’ll eat.” Harry saw the look of doubt Kreacher gave him. “I will.” He reached for a slice of toast and placed it on his plate, a spoon of eggs was followed by mushrooms and tomatoes. He cut a portion and forked it into his mouth, chewed and swallowed. “See?” He muttered. “Eating.”

More chuckles filled the room.

 

An hour later, breakfast was finished and the three humans settled in the living room. Each had a sup of tea at their side and a fresh pot was on a small table in front of Minerva.

“Right, then. Who’s going to do the scan for me? Máthair? Sev?” Harry looked from one to the other.

“I… I’ve never cast a core scan, Harry. Best let Máthair do it.” Severus hesitated to admit it.

Harry reached out an grabbed Severus’ hand. “It’s okay, Sev. I’ve done things that you haven’t. You’ve done things that I haven’t. Máthair’s done things that neither you or I have done. And we’ve probably done stuff that she hasn’t. It’s not that complicated of a spell, but it is an obscure one.”

Severus sighed. “I just… having a brother is still so new, that… I want to do more for you.”

“I feel the same way, Severus, about the pair of you.” Minerva agreed. “However, I do know the spell and I have cast it before, but that’s only because I worked for the DMLE and we all had to be able to do emergency scans and basic healing spells.”

“Then, will you scan both of us, Máthair? I think the Blood Adoptions yesterday changed something, but I’m not sure, it could just be the sibling link.” Severus replied.

“But you’re not sure?” Harry asked.

“No, I’m not.” Severus didn’t seem to know whether to hope it was or that it wasn’t.

“I can. Stay still, if you can, the scan will take a full minute to do and it will feel… odd, like apparating but without moving.” She waited while the men got a little more comfortable and pulled her wand from her sleeve. “Magia media figura fama, ocular.” Her wand moved in intricate sweeps and sharp jabbing motions.

Harry felt a pulling sensation, right behind his navel, just like the moments before apparition, but it was different, the pull was there, but it was pulling within him, not through him, he wasn’t sure how else it could be explained. Plus, of course, an apparition pull only lasted a few seconds and then you were somewhere else, while this went on and on. The seconds dragging and seeming like hours.

Finally the pull eased and Minerva watched as the visual part of the scan began to appear in front of each man. It was then that Kreacher stopped beside his master, no longer a snivelling, simpering tortured wreck. Now he stood tall, or as tall as an elf could, in a clean tunic styled top with a small bag hanging from a belt at his waist. A pair of crests on his chest, matching the two Lordship Rings that Harry allowed to be visible, sat side by side, Peverell stitched in white and Harrington in light blue, both standing out in sharp contrast to the deep forest green of the tunic.

“Master Henrick?”

“Yes, Kreacher?”

“Is Master Henrick ready for Kreacher to be starting his task?”

“Yes, Kreacher. You can start, now. Just remember that I want no one, wizard, witch, elf or painting to know that you are there. The book should feel… much the same as the locket.”

“Yes, Master. Kreacher will be returning as soon as Kreacher has the book.” The elf  replied earnestly.

“Alright, off you go, then.” As Harry spoke, the elf bowed and then vanished without a sound.

“So… is the ‘pop’ sound normal or is it just to let wizards know an elf appeared or disappeared?” Minerva asked distractedly, her eyes studying the results of the scans.

Both men looked at her, blankly.

“Never-mind.” She shook her head. “Do you see this?” She pointed. “Here, Harry, this is Wild Magic. Look at how it’s blending into your inherent magic, give it a few more hours and you won’t be able to tell it apart.”

Severus leant forward and his eyes flicked from Harry’s scan to his own. His eyes widened and his jaw fell.

“What in the…?” He whispered.

“Sev?” Harry turned to his brother.

“Look.” He pointed at what had caught his attention.

“Máthair?” Harry asked.

“I don’t know. I’ve never seen anything like this, before.” She frowned. “It looks… it looks…”

“It looks like the Wild Magic from my core is spreading to Sev’s. Is that what you see, too, Máthair? Sev?”

“It is.” Severus replied. “I have no idea how or why.”

“Why? And how? Are much the same, I think.” Minerva answered.

“Máthair?” Both men asked.

“It’s Wild Magic. It has to be. The Wild Magic in Harry’s core can feel Harry’s want, need, intent to have you as a brother… a twin, no less. And so, it’s doing exactly that. It’s making your cores the same, well, almost the same. It doesn’t understand ‘twin’, all Wild Magic understands is ‘intent’. Harry’s ‘intent’ and yours, too, Severus, is to have family, so the Wild Magic is making that happen. It’s going beyond what can be achieved with a Blood Adoption. I believe that… it’s making the two of you true twins, true siblings.”

“So… what does that mean?” Harry asked.

“I think… and understand that what I think, has no way of being proven. I think that because of the Wild Magic touching Harry during his accidental time travel and him accepting your offer of becoming his sibling, both of you are getting the changes from Harry’s masking adoptions. And that you both are going to have to get used to an altered core. Look.” She pointed with two hands, one at Harry’s scan and one at Sev’s. “Here, see? On Harry’s scan this section is shrinking, but on Severus’ it’s growing, but here? Both sections are the same size. And here, the shapes are… while they aren’t the same, they are complimentary. The colours, they’re in the same basic tones, different shades maybe, but the same family.” She paused. “I think if you wait another few hours, the changes will be complete and then the two of you can work together on re-adjusting your understanding of your core and regaining control of your magic.”

“Oookaaay.” Harry drew the word out for quite a few seconds. “If we wait and do another scan in, say, two hours, we can compare Sev’s scan with mine. Once their balanced, we can do one of two things, Sev.”

“Yes?”

“We can either, both go into one person’s mindscape and practice until we are happy with our control.”

“Or?”

“Or I can show you how to access your core once you’re in your mindscape and then you can go play on your own. Up to you.”

“Play?”

“That’s what it amounts to, pretty much. Start at the beginning and work your way through every spell, jinx, hex, curse or incantation, that you know. It’s time consuming and can be a little irritating until things start to move smoothly, then it’s just fun.” Harry explained.

“Pity that legilimency can only be used on one person by a second person, we could really use Máthair’s teaching skills for this.” Severus commented.

“Oh!” Harry sat up quickly. “We can. There is a way. ‘Mione created a spell, oh where was it? Um… Forest of Dean? No, no, it was Shell Cottage, she was worried about Bill and Fleur eavesdropping on our plans. Not that it really mattered, but she was sharing my paranoia by then.”

“What?” Severus frowned. “What are you talking about?”

“Ah… Yeah, long story, mate. Let’s get back to the multi-person legilimency thing. Legilimens Suscipiat. That’s the wording. Unlike the usual legilimency spell, this one uses a wand motion, too.” Harry pointed his wrist like he was holding a wand. He moved in the shape of a half circle, starting at the bottom, when he reached the apex, he tilted his hand as if to point a wand straight up and flicked it back to the starting position. “Like this.” He said. “Now, only the first person needs to do this and they are usually the weaker at legilimency, because once this spell is in place, they are stuck in the receiving mind until it kicks them out. The second person just uses the usual spell and it works the same as usual. The difference is that when the second person enters the mind, the first one is there as well.”

“So, Máthair could join us, in your mind and teach us?”

“Yeah.” Harry answered.

Minerva tilted her head. “What about more than two Legilimens?”

“Uh… not sure what you mean?” Harry quirked an eyebrow.

“Severus made an interesting suggestion last night and I’m inclined to agree with him.”

Harry looked from Minerva to Severus and back. “Right…? Why does that worry me?”

“It should. He suggested that we get a little... help.” She smirked.

“Oh god.” Harry groaned. “I’ve seen that expression before. That’s what you looked like when… Oh god, who?” Alarm wrote itself on Harry’s face.

“Lupin and Black.” Severus answered.

Harry couldn’t react, all he could do was blink. Severus Snape had suggested getting a pair of Marauders involved in their plans? Marauders? Really?

“Si… Re… What?!” He screeched.

“Lupin and Black. But that’s not all, Harry. Dumbledore wants me to teach potions.” He sneered slightly. “I’m not really that keen, but if it get’s rid of him? I’m prepared to do worse.”

“Like working with Sirius Black?”

“Like working with Sirius Black.” Severus agreed, reluctantly.

“Hmm… What is it about teaching that doesn’t appeal to you, Sev?”

“Dunderheads, useless dunderheads that don’t want to learn. But it’s not just teaching, Harry. Dumbledore wants me as his spy in the Dark Lord’s camp and don’t want anything to do with them.”

Harry began to blink rapidly, expressions crossing his face and disappearing before they could be identified.

“Dumbledore thinks there’s a curse on the DADA position, right? That’s why he’s not offering you the post?” When both Severus and Minerva nodded, Harry kept going. “What if I eliminate the curse, but we don’t tell him that, we tell him there’s a way around it, by hiring the two of us to teach two subjects between us, I take the lower years for potions, while you get the upper years, then the reverse for DADA, you lower and me upper? Would that make it easier for you?”

“For me? Yes. But what about you?”

“Well… that’s the thing, Sev. I like teaching the littlies potions, but I get sooo frustrated with them in DADA. You’re the opposite. So between us… we like teaching the juniors, me in potions and you in DADA. And we like teaching the seniors, me in DADA and you in potions. Now, if we can sell Dumbledore on it bypassing the curse, because it’s not one person and the curse is targeted towards ‘the person…’, whereas we will be ‘the person-S…’? If we can do that, we’re set.”

“And what of Albus wanting Severus to spy for him?” Minerva asked.

“That’s not going to work. Because the first I’m going to do, after I get a wand, is get that foul thing off Sev’s arm. No Darkmark, no spy. You can’t go into an enemy camp if you can’t prove you belong there and Voldy’s paranoid, all his people were marked, so he’d know them and so they’d know each other. No mark, you’re not his. Right?”

“Right.” Severus blinked. “That’s right, he would randomly check our arms and if we were meeting somewhere new, or bringing in a new recruit, we had to have our left arm bare. Just so there could be no mistake. I’d forgotten.”

“I hadn’t.” Harry muttered.

“How? How did you know?”

“Something else you’ve forgotten, Sev. I have a piece of Voldy in my head, well in my scar. For years, before I killed him, I had visions of what he was doing. Of the hell he was putting his people through.”

“Oh gods, Harry…” Minerva whispered. “And it’s still there?”

“For the moment, yes. But… he doesn’t have a body yet and now I know how to keep him out of my mind. Well, I know how, but that’s not quite what I’ve done with him.”

“What?” Severus frowned. "What did you do?"

“He is in my mind, but I’ve locked him in as a portrait. Which I’ve hung on the wall, in a toilet in the dungeons.” Harry smirked.

Both Severus and Minerva looked at him so stunned, that he began to chuckle.

“You locked Voldemort, or a piece of his soul, in a portrait?” Minerva began.

“Which you hung in the dungeons?” Severus added.

“In a toilet, in the dungeons.” Harry corrected.

The two just shook their heads.

“Only you, Harry, only you.” Minerva muttered.

“God, I hope so.” Harry grinned. “I wouldn’t wish this on anyone else, ever.”

Severus blinked a few time and shook himself. “Alright. So that’s the potions and DADA positions, taken care of. The Darkmark and spying, sorted. Back to Lupin and Black.”

“Why them, Sev?” Harry asked. “They made you life a living hell at Hogwarts, why choose to involve them?”

“Three reasons, Harry. One. If they can make my life hell, what can the five of us do to Dumbledore? Two. Black is your godfather and while Harry Potter will soon be dead, that doesn’t change the fact that Lily wanted him in your life, him and Lupin, both. Third. I heard what you told Headmaster Black. Both Lupin and Black were as much victims of Dumbledore’s actions as I was of theirs. They deserve a chance to retaliate.”

Minerva’s grin was broad. “And between the five of us and Harry Potter dying, Albus will be in hell!

“That’s the other thing, Harry. We think that Harry Potter should ‘die’ and soon. But I… I’m not sure how to do it.”

“That’s the easy bit, Sev. It can happen any time. Tinrilla explained, all I have to do is go in and give the order. The goblins will ‘cut’ the link between me and him, my magic is all that’s keeping him ‘alive’, if you can call it that.”

“Your magic? How will that effect your core now?” Minerva asked.

“It doesn’t. The link is between him and what my core was, not what my core is now. The link is weak, it requires less to fuel the golem than it does to hide my Lordship Rings.”

“Oh. So, the goblins cut the link and… then what?”

“Then they’ll put his body somewhere to be found. Now remember, he is exactly what I was at the time. Exactly. Every cut, every bruise, every broken bone. And when the link is cut, the body will die, exactly as would have, exactly like he was alive, like a real boy.”

“And that means, what?” Severus asked.

“It means, Severus, that the golem’s body will show the same reactions as any other wizard’s body shows when it dies. Bruises will stain the body more visibly, the eyes will become opaque, blood will pool in the parts of the body that are closer to the ground and depending on the position of the body that could be any part we want. And decomposition will begin.” Minerva answered.

“Ah, I see. Thank you, Máthair.”

“Do you have a choice for… where you intent to… leave him?” Minerva asked.

“I do, Máthair. London, still. There’s an access point to St Mungo’s in an abandoned muggle department store-front, right? Well, there’s a staff access point in Fraction Alley, too. There’s little apothecary across the way from the entrance that has a sunken doorway. I thought that might be a good place. I want something that is close to St Mungo’s, close enough that he’ll be taken right there. His condition, scar and size will contrast with each other, that means that his identity will in doubt, so an identity test will be done. No doubt, then.”

“I know the one you mean, it’s frequented by families predominately. And if we get the goblins to put him there without being seen, the first customer will almost trip over him…” Severus started.

“…ensuring that a commotion will be made.” Harry finished the sentence.

“And if we get that done while we are in the staff meeting…?”

“…Dumbledore can’t go running off and doing a cover up…” 

“…because it will be in St Mungo’s records…” Severus continued.

“…which are sealed by magic.

“Oh gods, Sirius and Remus are going to have a panic attack listening to you two.” Minerva groaned. “They’re going to love you or hate you. Oh, hell…” Minerva groaned.

Harry and Severus gave her identical grins. “Yep.” Harry chirped.

“So… Remus and Sirius?” She asked.

“Yes.” Severus said. “I think we should bring them in on this. I understand that neither of them will like working with me, but when they know what Dumbledore’s done, I think… I hope… for the chance at revenge…?”

“Don’t worry about whether or not they’ll like working with you, Sev, I’ll convince them both. I know them, I know what’s important to them. Let’s get a message to Remus. His input in this could be handy. Then we work on our cores… Oh! That’s why you asked about the multi-person legilimency spell.” Harry  gasped. “If we can get Remus and Sirius to use it, I can show them exactly what Dumbledore did and what happened as a result. And we can use that to access my mindscape and do any planning we need to.”

“Exactly, Harry.” Minerva smiled proudly.

“So, a letter to Lupin?” Severus started.

“Then re-scan our cores.”  Harry continued.

“Work on our cores.” Severus added.

“Meet with Remus?” Harry asked.

“Go to Gringotts, to discuss ‘death’ of Potter.”

“Check vaults for wands.”

“Get you some decent clothes, Harry.”

“Go Horcruxe hunting.”

“Back to Gringotts…”

“…for transferal and…”

“…destruction.”

“The staff meeting.”

“Sign contracts, while…”

“…at the same time…”

“…Potter is being declared dead…”

“…and Dumbledore can’t do…”

“…a thing about it.” Severus finished.

Minerva’s eyes were wide. “That is the eeriest thing I have ever seen.”

“I’d get used to it, Máthair. The Weasley twins are coming to Hogwarts in a few years and that's exactly how they sound, too.

“Weasley twins?” Minerva’ brows rose.

“Yeah, Fred and George. Um… Bill’s the eldest, then Charlie, Percy, the twins, Ron and Ginny’s the youngest.”

“Come September, William will be going into his fourth year and Charles will be starting his second, they’re two of my Gryffindors.” Minerva said.

“They all will be. All seven of the them, but the twins are going to give you the hardest time. They’re pranksters almost on a level with the marauders.”

Minerva shuddered. “I don’t want to know about it.” She whispered.

“Question?” Severus asked. “Who gets to write to Lupin and what do we say?”

“Ah… That had better be me. And I was thinking about keeping it really simple. Something like… ‘Moony. I need you. Prongslet.’… and a set of apparition co-ordinates.”

“Mooney? Prongslet? What…?”

“Mooney, that’s Remus’ nickname, because of the werewolf thing. Prongs was James. P-”

“Why?” Minerva asked.

“Um… James, Sirius and Pettigrew became Animagi to keep Remus company on full moon nights. James was a stag, called Prongs. Sirius was a large black dog, known as Padfoot. And Pettigrew was, as his nature showed, a rat, Wormtail.”

“They did what?! Minerva squawked.

“And you? You did say you were an Animagus.” Severus asked.

“I was… I was an owl. A giant snowy owl.”

“A giant snowy owl? What do you mean by ‘giant’, Harry?” Minerva frowned.

“An average snowy owl is… roughly two foot long with a yard and a half of wingspan, right?”

“About that, yes.” She answered.

“I was about a yard long and almost 3 in wingspan.”

“Oh, my.” Minerva whispered. “So big?”

“Yeah, don’t know what caused it, no one ever figured it out. I’m a little worried about whether I kept it. Sev? Did you ever do it?”

“I did. My DADA master insisted. It was… not a pleasant three months.”

“Three months? But it only takes one month.” Minerva argued.

“Unless something goes wrong and that’s what happened. I got sick. Please remember that my father was a muggle. Well, I contracted muggle influenza a week before the end of the first month. And then halfway through the second month, was… when the Potters were attacked. My master was ready to call it quits, but I wanted one more go. And I succeeded.”

“What are you?” Harry grinned.

“A leopard.”

“Ooh, nice. I hope you keep it and I get something like it, too.”

“Well we can soon find out, Harry. Write your letter to Remus and then I’ll re-do your scans.” Minerva pointed to a door in the corner. “You’ll find parchment and ink in the study.”

“Thanks, Máthair.” Harry grinned, heading for the door. A minute later his voice rang out. “Máthair? I need you. I need the co-ordinates for here.”

“Coming, Harry.” She stood and followed his voice.

“You know he’s going to wonder what the hell is going on, when he gets a letter from Prongslet that has Máthair’s handwriting on it.” Severus laughed, following them both.

“You think he’ll know my writing?” Minerva questioned.

“Of course, he will, Máthair. It was a large part of our world for seven years and he was in your House, I’d go so far as to say, it dominated his world, I’m sure he saw it every single day that he was at Hogwarts.”

“Hmm… quite likely.” She conceded. “Dalli?” When the little elf appeared in the door, she waved the letter. “Do you remember Remus Lupin?”

“Yes, Miss Minnie. Dalli remembers the wolfy.” The elf nodded his head energetically.

“Good. Would you take this to him? Tell him if he can be packed and ready to go within 5 minutes, you will wait and bring him, otherwise he may apparate to the co-ordinates listed.”

“Yes, Miss Minnie.” The elf took the letter and left the room, vanished as he walked through the door.

“Well, lads, let’s get a cuppa and we’ll re-do your scans.” Minerva turned to the kitchen ready to call Telli, when there was a ‘pop’ sound and Kreacher appeared.

“Master, Master, help please, Master!” He yelled, in his arms a bloody beaten mass, almost unrecognisable as an elf, but Harry had a sinking feeling that he knew who it was.

 

 

Legilimens suscipiat = Legilimens retain

Magia media figura fama ocular= magic centre shape report visual 

Chapter Text

Harry and Severus leapt across the room with the swift reflexes of DADA Masters. Gently they lowered the bloody elf to the floor, while Kreacher stood tears of fear running down his face. Harry conjured a cloth and wiped it tenderly across the injured elf’s face.

Dobby.

It was Dobby. A rage grew in Harry’s chest.

“What happened, Kreacher?” He ground out, unaware of his magic causing a breeze to blow through his hair.

“Kreacher got the book, Master. Kreacher was about to leave when he heard a cry. Kreacher saw this elfy being beaten. Kreacher waited until the wizards looked away and snatched the elfy, Kreacher is bringing the elfy to Master Henrick. Can Master be helping the elfy?”

“Who did this, Kreacher? Can you show me their faces?”

“Kreacher can be telling Master Henrick. Kreacher was hearing Miss Cissa’s husband telling the wizard called Alecto, that he didn’t want his elf damaged. The wizard Alecto laughed and kept going, Master. He used Cruciosectumsempradolorius and cicatrix, Master.” The old elf pulled a small book from the pouch at his waist, Harry took it and dropped it on the side table, more concerned about the bloodied elf.

“Alecto Carrow, Harry, it has to be, he’s the only Alecto that would have access to Malfoy Manor.”

“What was Malfoy doing during this, Kreacher?”

“Mister Lucius was standing, Master, he watched and winced, but did nothing to stop wizard Alecto.”

“Thank you, Kreacher. Go to the kitchen and ask Telli for some old cloths, soft ones, please. Máthair? We’re going to take over your bathroom. Sev, bring him.”

In the bathroom, Harry ran the tub with warm water, just slightly warmer than body temperature. He gestured and Severus lowered Dobby into the water. He knelt beside the tub and using a scooped hand he ran water over Dobby’s body, blood staining the water pink.

“Scan him, please, Máthair? We need to know the extent of his injuries.” Harry forced his anger down, it would do no good right now.

Minerva said nothing, but waved her wand over the little body. Lights appeared and colours showed the depth of each injury.

“Not as bad as I’d feared, but still worse than I’d hoped.” Harry muttered. “Right. First things first. Dobby? Dobby, wake up. Come on, Dobby!” Harry called.

“Wha…? Who… is… callin’… Dobby?” The elf’s voice was cracked and broken, just like Harry’s had been the night before.

“Dobby, I can help you. The Malfoy’s are your owners, you are bound to them. Do you want me to break that binding? I can. I can free you from them.”

“Dobby… will… be… a… free… elf…?”

“Dobby will be a free elf.” Harry agreed.

“Yes… Dobby… wants… to… die… free…” The elf began to sob, a noisy rattling sound.

“You’re not going to die, Dobby. Not today. Now, please be quiet, for a moment. Máthair? May I borrow your wand?” Minerva handed over her wand, still not saying a word.

Harry hefted the fir wand, he could feel the core, it was a reptile of some sort, large and shiny. His felt green and gold, but also flames. That sounded a bit like… a dragon, a Romanian Longhorn, perhaps? Máthair’s core was a Longhorn? ‘Later, Harry.’ He told himself. He stood, then sat on the edge of the tub and began the extremely delicate process of transferring a bond. The really hard bit with this particular transfer was that he was transferring the bond to the one being bound.

The chants began softly, almost silently. Harry let them build as they would, he needed the strength. Then between one heartbeat and the next, Harry felt his core snap into place, the link between him and his brother, shining like a beacon in his core. He heard Severus take a sharp breath, he felt it, too. That made this easier, he held out a hand to Severus and felt fingers grasp his. While it was only his voice chanting, Harry found he had access to both his and Severus’ magic. He pointed Máthair’s wand at Dobby and said the final few words, pushing his magic at the ownership bond. Unsurprisingly the bond snapping back towards Dobby with a crack, like rock a shattering, was audible to the now six beings in the bathroom.

“Master?” Kreacher was worried about the elfy. “Is the elfy…?”

“Just a moment, Kreacher.” Harry said. He turned the wand to Dobby’s slashed up body. “Vulnera sanentur, Vulnera sanentur, Vulnera sanentur.” The words were whispered, song-like.

The others watched as one by one, the cuts littering the small body sealed themselves closed. They watched as the elf’s breathing eased and his eyes fluttered open.

“Wha…?” His voice was still a little raspy.

“Rest Dobby. You are healed. You are free. Telli and Kreacher will tend you. Later, I would speak with you, I would offer you a job, with payment and clothes. But that’s later, right now, you need food and rest.” Harry grinned. “And a proper bath.” He stood and held the wand out to Minerva. “Thank you, Máthair. Kreacher? Telli? Please look after him. Don’t let him push himself, he’ll be sore and stiff for a few days. Keep him quiet and make him rest. I’ll speak with him before the week is out.” He gestured from Severus and Minerva to the door.

Back in the living room, they found a very confused and slightly worried looking Remus Lupin.

“Professor? Snape? What…? I got a message… from… it said…”

“How’s you legilimency, Remus?” Harry asked, picking up the book and putting it in the Gringotts pouch at his waist, he’d figured out that one side of the pouch was connected to his vault and the other had a simple expansion charm on it and the book was dropped into the first side.

“Not ba… who are you?” Remus didn’t know the young man who looked so like Snape.

“How is your legilimency, Remus?” Harry said again, slower and clearer, this time.

“Not bad. Who are you?” Remus frowned as he asked the question a second time.

“Easier to show you. Sev? Legilimens suscipiat, please. Máthair, you too and Remus? Just use the usual legilimency spell.”

“What?” Remus frowned.

Legilimens suscipiat.” Severus looked into his brother’s eyes, said the spell and waved his wand in the motions that Harry had shown them earlier. He found himself in Harry’s mindscape again, the viaduct courtyard around him.

Legilimens suscipiat.” Minerva met Harry’s eyes and within a heartbeat she stood beside Severus. “I guess we wait then?”

Remus looked on as first Severus and then McGonagall spoke and their faces went blank. He heaved a deep breath, before forcing himself to meet the man’s eyes.

Legilimens.” He whispered.

The room faded around him and a familiar courtyard faded into being around him. He looked around, even more confused, he could see familiar buildings, but there were glaring differences.

“Oi, Remus. This way.” Remus turned around, half expecting to see James, the voice sounded so much like his old friend. But all he saw were Snape, McGonagall and the unknown man, standing on the steps to the Chamber of Reception. A Chamber that didn’t… look… quite… right…

“Who are you?” Remus asked a third time, as he entered the Great Hall.

Harry directed him to a seat at what would have been the Ravenclaw table. He poured a golden liquid from a jug into a shallow bowl and as the liquid began to trickle upwards, he spoke.

“I was born Henry James Potter, Mooney.” Was all the man said.

“Harry?!” Remus squawked.

 “Yeah, Moony. Just watch. It’ll tell you everything you need to know. Then I’ll answer questions. Okay?” Harry – Harry – pointed at the liquid as it formed a screen.

A face appeared. Oh gods, it was Lily. Remus caught his breath, but the image moved, it became a familiar messy haired man in glasses, then a sleek aristocratic face surrounded by dark chocolate hair, then it was his own face leaning over Lily's shoulder. The imaged moved, changed and short scenes began to scroll. One after another, after another. Remus watched as the baby he wistfully remembered, became a boy. He watched the boy’s sorting, watched as he grew through his Hogwarts years. Watched him graduate and join the Aurors, watched him sit for his Mastery in DADA and then again for Potions. Watched as he mixed potions, watched as he woke in darkness. He heard the gasp, the whispered lumos, the tempus-et-locus, followed by the muttered curses. He saw the once-again tiny child standing on the edge of a lane chanting in Latin. He saw the child raise a glamour and catch a bus, then a train, emerging in a city. Then there was a very familiar blue door. The entrance to Diagon Alley. He saw the glamoured child sigh in relief as he entered Gringotts.

He watched as the child spoke to the goblins, as the goblins called in Remus’ Transfiguration professor and the man who had borne the brunt of the Marauder’s pranks, he watched as both the witch and the wizard entered the child’s mind and watched the child’s memories. He watched as the child and Snape spoke. As the child, the man, the witch and the goblins made plans. He saw the child suffer through what must have been the most excruciating pain as the goblins healers literally summoned parts of the child’s body and placed them inside a golem. He watched as the goblin healer worked feverishly over the child, giving him potions, singing chants, casting spells and constantly scanning his body, checking for hidden weaknesses.

He saw Snape hold the child upright, saw more conversations, heard of plans for adoptions. Then he watched as Snape and McGonagall fretted as the child went through yet another ritual, another potion and more chants. This time the child grew, dramatically fast and became a man. More potions, adoptions and Blood Adoptions, finally the child was the man he saw sitting adjacent to him.

“Right…” Remus sighed. “What the hell do I do now?”

“Now, you listen to me, Remus, while I tell you a few things that can’t be shown. You have to understand… What is the one constant in all our lives?”

“I… I’m not following…”

“Dumbledore, Remus. He-” Harry went on to explain all the things he’d told Headmaster Black, Snape and McGonagall. Gave him all the information he had.

“Why… that… I’ll… how dare he…!” The wolf inside Remus growled in anger, cubs should be protected, at all costs.

“Yeah that seems to be the usual reaction, Remus. So, now comes the important questions.” Harry stood and moved to the opposite side of the table, to stand between Snape McGonagall.

“Oh god… what?” Remus asked, wincing even before Harry could ask.

“You understand that I was Harry Potter?”

“Yes…”

“You understand that I’m not, anymore?”

“Yes.”

“You understand that Severus’ parents both provided blood for a full Blood Adoption?”

“Yes.”

“You understand that makes he and I brothers?”

“Yes.”

“And that Severus and I took a sibling linking potion?”

“Yes…?”

“That Professor McGonagall and her late husband also provided blood for full Blood Adoptions? For both Severus and myself?”

“Yes.”

“You understand that come Tuesday morning, Harry Potter will be found dead outside St Mungo’s?”

“Yes.”

“You understand that Dumbledore is not really the gentle grandfatherly figure, he portrays?”

“Yes.”

“That he has a diagnosable medical condition?”

“Yes.”

“That because of that condition, he’s put hundreds, maybe thousands of children’s lives at risk, deliberately?”

“Yes.”

“You understand that our plan is to remove Dumbledore as headmaster, to have him declared unfit, to have him admitted to the Janus Thickery Ward?”

“Yes.”

“That we’re going to be basically having him declared mentally unstable?”

“Yes.”

“Alright. So… the big question is… Will you work with us? Can you work alongside Severus? To save the lives of hundreds, thousands, of children, can you put aside your difference?”

Remus looked at Harry. The baby he’d held in his arms, that he’d cuddled after a sleepless full moon, that baby was gone. In his place was a grown man, a warrior, that was prepared to do whatever it took to do the right thing, to save lives of children he didn't know.

“What about Sirius?” He asked.

“After lunch, Sev and I need to got back to Gringotts, you’re welcome to join us. We’re going to go through the wands there, I’m hoping one there chooses me, if not, I’m going to have to get one made. I can’t risk going to Ollivander’s, Garrick’s an agnoscisier, he’ll know me instantly.”

“Ah…?” What did that have to do with Sirius?

“Once we have wands, preferably two or three each, I’ll get Kreacher to fetch Pettigrew, while we fetch Sirius.”

“But… He’s in Azkaban.”

“Yes, he is. But I know something that’s going to help.”

“What?” Came from both Remus and Severus.

“You saw in my memories that I inherited James’ cloak? Well, I also inherited the Gaunt ring, which contains the Resurrection Stone.”

“Uh…?”

“Deathly Hallows? The Three Brothers that cheat Death?”

“The fairy tale?”

“Sorry guys, that’s no fairy tale. Remus, invisibility cloaks only last a few years, but you know damn well what James’ grandfather told him, that the cloak was given to him, by his grandfather, which makes it at least 100 plus years old, probably more. Add to that, nothing can detect it. How often did you guys, slip through Hogwarts wards wearing it?”

“Um…”

“Exactly. But the one that is the most famous of all is-”

“The elder wand…” Severus whispered.

“The elder wand.” Harry agreed. “I am the only person, at any point in history, to possess all three Hallows, which makes me-”

“The Master of Death.” Minerva gasped.

“Yeah. So, as far as Azkaban is concerned? am the Master of Death. That means, that all the creatures that answer to Death, answer to me. Including…?”

“… dementors!” Severus crowed.

“Yep.” Harry popped the ‘p’. “Including dementors. If I tell them to ‘get out of the bloody way’, they will get out of the bloody way, or I will end them.”

“How do you kill a dementor?” Remus tilted his head in confusion.

You don’t. I, however…? With the elder wand I can remove the cohesiveness that holds them together, basically disintegrating them.”

“But you don’t have the elder wand… do you?”

“No, but… I can get it, easily. Gringotts are doing a recall on the cloak. Using that to get through the wards of Hogwarts, I’ll go in the middle of the night and just summon it to me.”

“Hogwarts? Why Hogwarts?”

“Oh… Dumbledore’s got it at the moment.”

“Dumbledo… How did he… Harry, he’ll have it warded against summoning.” McGonagall said.

“Doesn’t matter. I am it’s master, nothing can stop it from returning to me, when I call it. But don’t stress, Máthair, I don’t plan on keeping it, that would put Dumbledore on alert.”

“Hmm…” Severus hummed in thought. “Then why not do that with the ring, summon it?”

“Because it’s only the stone, that I’m the master of. Not the ring itself. The ring is a Gaunt Family heirloom, it’s protected by wards, wards that I need to speak to in parseltongue, to break. The stone might want to return to me, but the ring won’t because of the wards and as the stone is secured to the ring...?”

“It goes nowhere.” Remus sighed.

“Yep.” Harry sighed. “It goes nowhere.”

“Blast.” Minerva muttered. “So, what comes next?”

“Well, let’s go back to the house, get those scans done. Then I’d suggest lunch and Gringotts. Then-”

“Then you need clothes, Harry.” Severus cut in. “If we plan to take teaching positions at Hogwarts, we have to dress appropriately. But even so… You need clothes, Harry, you can’t keep transfiguring… rags!”

“Sheets, actually.” Harry replied.

“What?”

“Sheets. I took a set of sheets and pillowslips, from Petunia’s house and used them as my base for transfiguring my clothes.”

“You are not walking around in sheets, Henrick Snape-Urquart!” Minerva ranted.

“I hadn’t planned on it, Máthair. Honestly… I’m not that stupid.” Harry muttered.

“That’s enough!” Remus’ tone was sharp and showed just a little of the werewolf within. “You need a wand, Harry, a permanent wand, before anything else.”

“Yes, Lupin, he does. Then clothes. After that we can make our plans for tonight.” Severus agreed.

“Agreed.” Remus nodded.

“So, you’ll work with us?” Harry asked.

“I… I can’t let other children have their magic twisted like we did.” Remus turned to Severus. “I’m… I’m sorry. I know that doesn’t change what we did, but I’m sorry.”

“I’m beginning to see that it wasn’t really you or Potter or even Black, but that you were Dumbledore’s bludger. You acted how he’d conditioned you to act. You were as innocent as I was.” Severus replied slowly, it had just occurred to him that Dumbledore was responsible for making the Marauders target him.

A tear ran down Remus’ cheek. “Thank you, Snape.” He whispered.

“Snape-Urquart, now. But maybe we can tweak Dumbledore’s beard a little more.” Harry added, a cheeky grin settling on his face.

“How?” Both Severus and Remus asked.

“Let Dumbledore think we’ve known each other for some time. Remus, have you seen Sev at all, since Hogwarts?”

“Yes, a few times. His Potions master is the major supplier of Wolfsbane potion to St Mungo’s.” Remus answered.

“And I’ve had tea with Remus a few times, too. Usually Banchory or Montrose.” Minerva added.

“We met in Aberdeen, once, too.” Remus continued.

“Oh, yes, I remember, that lovely little bookshop.” Minerva smiled.

“Run by a part veela.” Remus smirked.

“Oh, really? I’ll have to remember that next time I’m in Aberdeen.” Minerva mused.

“Back on track, please.” Harry dragged the conversation back to Dumbledore and their plans. “You’ve all seen each other at different times, yes? Yes. And you all knew me before James and Lily died, yes? Yes. So, let’s use that. Let Dumbledore think that we get together on a regular basis.”

“Hmm… It would irritate him.” Severus commented.

“It would and the more irritated he is, the more likely he is to slip about Harry Potter or Voldemort. We just have to see that one of these ‘slips’ happens in front of the right people.” Minerva stated. “I’ve already told Millicent Bagnold that he sealed the Potter Wills without Wizengamot consent. Once the golem is identified as Harry Potter…? Who knows what she may do.”

“Add to that, the state of the wards at Hogwarts.” Harry added.

“What do you mean?”

“The wards are pathetic. Barely enough to keep the muggles away. He’s been responsible for the wards since he was appointed deputy in the 1920’s, no one seems to know exactly why Dippet gave the position to him, over other more experienced professors. There’s a chance, not a strong one, but still a chance, that Dippet was… pressured. Regardless, Dumbledore’s been responsible for the wards ever since, that and visiting the muggleborns. I know and can prove that he dissuaded a few, encouraged them to stay in the muggle world, I know of four that he bound their cores and told their families that Hogwarts was mistaken. Then there was one that he bound her core without telling the family at all, they were incredibly lucky that their neighbour was a squib and helped the family get it sorted out. The thing that all of these… rejects, let’s call them… the thing they all had in common? They were all Dark-inclined. Only one was Grey and his father was a convicted murderer. See where I’m going?”

“Dumbledore chose who attended Hogwarts?” Minerva whispered.

“Yes and to a degree, he’s still doing it.”

“How do you know?” Remus asked.

“He’s still the one that issues the staff with the tasks of visiting the muggleborns, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some that got ‘forgotten’. Add to that the withdrawals that he’s been making from Harry Potter’s Trust vault. Transfers to the Weasley family, the Dursley's and the Grainger’s.”

“Who?” Minerva only knew the first family, but the other names were vaguely familiar.

“The Weasley’s. Molly was the one to see that I got onto the platform for the Hogwarts Express. The youngest son, Ron, was the first friend I’ve had. After the war, after the Battle of Hogwarts, Molly wanted me to marry her daughter Ginny. She was absolutely disgusted when I told her that would never happen, that I looked on Ginny as a slightly annoying little sister, that she reminded me too much of my mother and that she was far too much her mother’s daughter, for me to ever really trust her. After all Molly had been putting potions in my food for years and had been paid by Dumbledore, from my own vault, to do so. She was arrested and charged with attempted Line Theft, she got 5 years in Azkaban for it. Ginny was equally horrified, she saw me as her portkey to riches and was particularly violent in her objections.”

“Oh god.” Remus whimpered.

“Yeah, that didn’t go down well. But of course, Ginny was so angry, she didn’t think about where we were when she retaliated. Attacking the ‘Saviour’ in the middle of the Ministry of Magic’s Atrium? In front of the press, a dozen Aurors and all 24 of the surviving members of the DA? Not smart. They stood back and let me deal with her until she decided to throw a Killing Curse at me. I stepped sideways and she was hit by no less than 32 curses or hexes. She was charged with attempted murder, but because she was underage, being still 16 for another month, she was sentenced to have her magic bound and released into the care of Muriel, still ranting that I was a traitor and I should be grateful that her mother was giving me potions to make me love Ginny, like she’d done to Arthur.”

“Who? Muriel? Who’s she?” Severus asked.

“Why Muriel?” Minerva wanted to know.

“Muriel was Molly’s Great-Aunt. Ginny was given into her care because Arthur refused to keep her. He asked his uncle, William, the Head of House Weasley, to cut Molly and Ginny from the Weasley Family.”

“Ah.” Severus replied.

“Yeah, Arthur treated me like a son, he’s a good man, too good for the likes of Molly Prewett. She’d been drugging Arthur since their third year at Hogwarts, she stopped after Percy was born, by then the damage was done and Arthur's condition was permanent.”

“Bloody hell.” Remus groaned.

“Yeah.”

“But you said, Ron was your friend?”

“Yeah, best mate, actually. Molly and Ginny were the only ones to benefit from being paid. None of the boys ever saw a knut of it. Ron, George, Bill and Arthur stood by me, right until I woke up in that bloody cupboard again.”

“Ron, George, Bill and Arthur? What about Charles and Percival? And the other twin, what was his name?”

“Charlie was in Romania and I think I met him maybe twice. He was never convinced of Molly or Ginny’s guilt, in the end he cut himself off from the family, in support of them. Percy felt obligated to defend his mother and when William issued the ultimatum, cut Molly and Ginny or be cut from the Weasley Family? Percy stated that he wouldn't do it, he wouldn't choose either parent. In the end, Percy cut himself from both the Weasley and Prewett Families and requested to join his wife's Family. Fred… Fred died at Hogwarts. He was laughing at Percy’s resignation from the Ministry, Percy was duelling Thicknesse, he yelled he was resigning at the same time that he threw a binding jinx at Thicknesse’s clothes. George later said it was the only joke Percy had ever said in public.”

“Oh, Harry.” Severus sighed.

“What about that friendship, Harry? You sure you want to give it up?”

“It’s already gone, Remus. Ron’s here, yes, but our friendship was forged in battle. The Ron that’s here? He won’t see the same sort of battle at my side, neither him nor Hermione Grainger.”

“Grainger?” Minerva asked, she’d heard Dumbledore muttering the surname before the end of the last school year.

“Hermione. Her parents are dentists, Dumbledore’s been paying them to let Hermione have private lessons, to buy her books, to encourage her academic interests. She found out just before 7th year. She decided that the only way to protect her parents from Voldy and his Death-Eaters was to get them out of the country. She used a liquid, and thus not illegal, version of the Imperius curse to get them to shut down their bank accounts, their business, sell their house and move to Australia, then she obliviated all traces of her from their minds. It was during this preparation, that she found the deposits from Gringotts and when she asked her parents, being under the influence of the potion, they told her everything and gave her all the letters from Dumbledore. She made them pay it all back, before she obliviated them.”

“And she stayed your friend?”

“Yeah. Right to the end, both she and Ron were prepared to die alongside me.”

“True friends.” Remus nodded.

“Yeah, I don’t think either of them ever forgave their family members that turned on me. Hermione didn’t, I know that for sure. Kingsley became Minister and asked Hermione, just a few weeks ago, if she wanted them to find her parents. Hermione bluntly told him that if the Ministry did find them, she would hex them to Hades and back, before obliviating them into infancy.”

“Ookaayy. Sounds like Lily, not someone you ever want angry at you.” Remus grimaced.

“Not ever.” Severus agreed, causing Remus to look at him in consideration. “What? Lily might have hexed James, Sirius and you a few times, but I was the one that heard what she wanted to do to you lot. Pulling out toenails and castrating were among the lesser threats.”

Remus swallowed. “Right. So… avoid angering Miss Grainger, then.” He told himself.

“If you do get her mad at you…? Give her a rare book or offer to teach her a new spell. That usually works.” Harry grinned. “If it doesn’t…? It’s too late. Every man for himself and you’re on your own.”

“Ah… I shall endeavour to remember that, Harry. Thank you.” Severus said.

“Any other friends we should be… aware of?”

“Some. Neville Longbottom, Máthair, you’ll need to remind Lady Augusta Longbottom, that the wand chooses the wizard. She can’t give Neville his father’s wand and expect it to work for him, particularly as Frank is still alive. Luna Lovegood, is a Seer, a true Seer, not that half-assed fakery that Trelawney is trying to pull. Oliver Wood is so focused on Quidditch that he’ll put his team-mates at risk, his favourite saying is ‘win or die trying’ and the sad thing is, he means it. He’s not nasty or mean, but he’s just so focused, that he’ll do whatever it takes. Fred and George Weasley, Marauder-wannabe’s, not quite to the same standard, but there are only two of them, after all. Bill Weasley, curse-breaker extraordinaire, ends up on the receiving end of Greyback’s claws, not turned, but scarred, likes his meat a little rarer than before.” Harry paused.

“That’s it?” Minerva had thought, hoped there’d be more.

“Nah, there’s plenty more. Dean Thomas, he-”

“The Dean Thomas that you said was hired as DADA Professor?” Minerva asked.

“Yep. Dean’s a good all-rounder, better at DADA, though. Stood toe-to-toe with one of the LeStrange brothers, while Kingsley took down the other one. NEWT O’s in DADA and Transfiguration, second only to me in DADA. He figured out he was gay in 6th year, dropped Ginny, who he’d been dating for nearly a year, hooked up with Seamus Finnegan. Seamus is a pyromaniac and a damn good one and a muggle raised half-blood, when you offered Dean the DADA post, you gave Seamus the Muggle studies one.”

“I take most of these are Gryffindors, then.” Severus commented.

“Most, but not all. Goyle and Crabbe, you might need to reassess them, I think Dumbledore fudged their invite, they’re as dumb as two planks, we called them Malfoy’s ‘bookends’. Draco? Yeah, Draco’s been raised mostly by his father, he’ll be arrogant, rude and thinks he’s entitled to rule the school. Damn good seeker though. Gets a brain of his own in 6th year, but only because Voldy gives him an unachievable task, to kill Dumbledore, but Draco doesn’t really try all that hard. Oh, Tonks… Nymphadora? Is that it? She’s in Charlie’s year, she’s a metamorphmagus, but clumsy as they come, she will grow out of it... eventually. Cedric Diggory, same year as the twins, goes into Hufflepuff, excellent seeker, all-round good guy he is, Voldy ordered his death in ’94 during the Triwizard tournament. Quirinus Quirrell, bad guy, goes off to ‘gain first-hand experience’, sometime in the late 80's, but it’s a front, all he wants is to find Voldy, he’s got a heap of different reasons, but when he returns? Voldy’s a passenger on the back of his head.”

“He’s what?” Remus frowned, he didn’t understand the reference.

“1st year, the professor in the room with the mirror, Remus? The one that burnt to death, just from my touching his face? That’s Quirrell. Possessed by Voldy, willingly possessed by Voldy.” Harry reminded.

“Oh, that one. Right. So...?”

Remus was answered by Harry’s stomach rumbling. Severus grinned and poked at his brother.

“Shall we go feed the beast in you belly, brother mine? Or should we let it out to terrorize Dumbledore?”

Harry stuck his tongue out at Severus and turned to Remus.

“Are you with us?”

Remus tilted his head to one side. “What would you do if I said ‘no’?” He asked, curiuosly.

The smile he got from Harry made the werewolf inside shudder in fear. “You wouldn’t remember a thing, Remus.”

“I’m with you.”

“Be certain, Remus, be very certain. Because I plan on making you take an Marauders Vow on the matter.” Harry's voice was hard, strong.

Remus nodded, already thinking.

“Let’s have lunch, Remus can think over lunch and depending on what he decides, we can plan our afternoon from there. Yes?” Minerva stood and pointed to the Great Hall’s doors. “Let’s go, everyone out, now. Harry, brònach? How do we get out of your mindscape?”

“Come on and I’ll show you.” Out the door, through the Chamber of Reception and down the steps into the courtyard.

“Now what, Harry?” Remus asked.

“Look into my eyes, Remus.” Harry answered. Remus raised an eyebrow but did as he was asked. “Relinquo…” Harry breathed and Remus faded from sight. “Sev? Máthair?” Harry quickly did the same to both of them, before squaring his shoulders, taking a deep breath and leaving his mindscape.

The living room formed around him, letting him see Remus still standing in front of the fireplace, right where he’d been when Harry walked into the room. Severus and Máthair off to one side, near the sofa.

All of them had their eyes closed, a common reaction in interactive legilimency.

“Open your eyes.” Harry chuckled.

 

 

Legilimens suscipiat = Legilimens retain

Agnoscisier = recogniser

Brònach = dear

Relinquo = release

Chapter Text

Remus was quiet throughout lunch, he answered questions put to him in a calm and thoughtful manner, but it was clear that his attention was focused within his own mind. Harry wondered what was running through that mind, but he knew the best way to get Remus to speak was to wait, eventually the werewolf would tell them.

Harry knew that time had come when Remus sat back in his seat and nursed a cup of tea.

“Say it, Remus. Whatever is running through your mind, just say it.” Harry muttered.

“It’s Sirius… I… no matter how much I want him out of there, I can’t see a way around it. He has to stay in Azkaban, he-”

“What?! No! All three humans at the table responded the same way.

“Wait!” Remus held up a hand and waited until they’d sat back down. “If we break him out, now, it’s going to hamper his case, an innocent man doesn’t break himself out of prison, not if he wants the Wizengamot to see him as innocent. No, Sirius stays. But what if…” he trailed off.

“What if…?” Severus asked.

“What if Lord Black asked the goblins to get him a copy of Sirius’ trial transcripts, they could say it was to prove that Sirius was unsuitable as heir. But of course, we know there are no transcripts to be found. Once the Wizengamot find that...?” Remus trailed off, suggestively.

Harry and Severus shared a look, their new sibling link letting thoughts and images pass between them. They both started to laugh.

“What now?” Minerva groaned.

“What?” Remus asked. “Am I missing something?”

“These two are now twins, Remus. By Blood Adoption, sibling adoption and by… Wild Magic.” Minerva huffed.

Remus just blinked, he knew Wild Magic was unpredictable, but to make two people, twins…?

“Really?” He asked.

“Yeah.” Harry smirked. “So… we had a thought.”

“Oh gods. What?” Minerva wasn’t sure she wanted to know.

“Máthair has already spoken to Minister Bagnold about Sirius.” Harry started.

“If we had Lord Black ask the Wizengamot to prove Sirius…” Severus continued.

“…unsuitable, stating that the goblins are insisting on reviewing his trial…”

“…before they'll remove Sirius as heir…”

“…because according to Lady Magic, Sirius is still Heir Black.” Harry smirked.

“Ragnok can insist on a second trial under veritaserum…”

“…provided by Gringotts…”

“…which we all know is over-strength, and have the potion verified…”

“…by St Mungo’s. This will also cast a doubt on Dumbledore…”

“…as under veritaserum, Sirius will state that…”

“…Dumbledore was the Fidelius caster and therefore …”

“…knew Sirius was innocent of betraying the Potter’s.” Severus finished.

Remus’ eyes widened in surprise, partially at the idea and partially at the delivery.

Minerva sighed. “They do that, now. Not all the time, but enough that you’re going to have to get used to it.”

“…right…” Remus whispered.

“Also…” Severus started a new thought. “When Sirius… Harry, when did I start to think of him as 'Sirius' and not 'Black'?” Severus cut himself off.

“Upstairs when our cores synced, I’d say.” Harry replied.

“Huh…” Severus shook himself. “Later… Back to Sirius. When he is released? He’s going to need to see a mind healer. Four years in Azkaban… that going to take a toll, Harry.”

“Yeah, I was thinking about that, too.” Remus put in. “Can we use occlumency and Harry’s mindscape-time-twisting thing and show Sirius how to put his mind back together?”

“Maybe… Maybe Harry can show Sirius how to-” Minerva began, only to be cut of by Harry.

“No... and yes. I can show Sirius how to twist time in his mindscape, but let the mind healers work with him, let them show him how to repair his mind, then after a bit I pull him into my mindscape and show him my history.”

“And get a Marauder Vow from him, to not go straight to Dumbledore.” Remus added.

“I think… if we can get everything in place, we can get this to happen …” Harry looked at Severus.

“…on Tuesday?” Severus gasped.

“But the Potter-golem?” Minerva asked.

“Harry’s thinking we overload Dumbledore with everything happening all at once. He won’t know which way to turn.” Severus explained.

“I’m not following.” Remus frowned.

“Tuesday is a staff meeting, Dumbledore wants me to teach potions…” Severus said.

“…and Máthair is taking me along as a possible DADA teacher.” Harry added.

“Harry is going to remove the curse on the DADA position…”

“…but we’re not going to tell Dumbledore, it’s gone…”

“…instead we’re going to suggest that we can circumvent it…”

“…by sharing the two positions between us.” Harry stated.

“And at the same time as that meeting?” Minerva put in. “We’re going to have the goblins place the ‘dead’ body of ‘Harry Potter’, in Fraction Alley, just outside the staff entrance to St Mungo’s.”

“Won’t they call Dumbledore straight away?” Remus asked.

“No. You didn’t see Harry yesterday, Remus. It was supposed to be his fifth birthday, right?” Severus replied.

“Yeesss…?”

“Well, he was the size of a three year old, maybe smaller. Add to that the injuries he-”

“Injuries?” Remus’ voice was overly calm, instantly alarming the others.

“Injuries, Remus. Dumbledore put Harry with Petunia and her husband, for reasons unknown. But Vernon Dursley is a bully, aggressive and violent. Harry had a number of broken bones, cuts, burns and a massive amount of bruising, in addition to the enforced starvation. Now, the golem's body will show all of that. That also means that, even though the body has the appropriate scar, which would indicate Harry Potter, the injuries and size would say otherwise. All of this means that they will have to do an identity test.” Minerva explained in a soothing tone.

“And how does that stop them from calling Dumbledore immediately?” Remus growled.

“Initially the healers are going to have to create a file for the body, then once identity is confirmed, they have to ask Family Services for the contact details for next of kin or guardian. Even by the time I was 20, Family Services, still didn’t have a file in my name.” Harry answered.

“So…?”

“So, the Aurors will be called in. They will go to Gringotts along, with Family Services, to confirm the body’s identity and find out who should be the child's guardian. Guess what they’re going to find?”

“Do I really want to know?”

“They’re going to find that Dumbledore sealed the Potter Wills and has been authorizing payments from Harry Potter’s Trust vault, all without Wizengamot approval, for years.” Harry replied.

“Making four times in one day that Dumbledore will be proven as either, ignoring or breaking our laws, or taking them into his own hands.” Remus began to smirk.

“Just that alone, is enough to get him removed as Headmaster.” Minerva said.

“But we can have a case presented, that shows multiple instances where he’s made erroneous judgments, showing failure to act in the best interests of the school and it’s students and request that St Mungo’s assess him mentally.” Severus added.

“Hmm… Sounds like we’re going to have a very busy weekend, then.” Remus muttered.

“We need as much proof as we can get in the next few days, we have to give this to Ragnok before Tuesday.” Severus stated.

“What direction are we going? I can provide details on the state of Hogwarts’ wards. Between us, we can name possibly 20 students, who’s lives have been put at risk by Dumbledore directly. Then there’s the ‘rejects’ that he turned away from Hogwarts, that’s at least another five. Sealing the Potter’s Wills without authorization. Leaving Sirius in Azkaban, knowing he hadn’t had a trial and was innocent of, at least of some, of the charges. Storing dangerous items within the school with no extra security around them. Encouraging students to elope, knowing that one already had a marriage contract pending. Allowing a student, who’d had his wand snapped, to keep the remains and turning a blind eye when he used the unstable pieces.” Harry ticked off each item on his fingers. “Anything I missed?”

“Failing to notify the Aurors and DMLE when student was killed. Not providing suitable staff.” Minerva added. “There’s no way that Binn’s is suitable for teaching, he’s a ghost for heaven’s sake. Trelawney? She’s a fraud. And Filch? Don’t get me started on that man. He detests the students.”

“Maybe, but you have to admit that he’s a damn good caretaker.” Harry replied. “And… he stayed, Máthair. When the big Battle happened, Filch lead the younger students through the room of requirement to the Hog’s Head and then he came back. A squib. He came back to fight, he has no magic, but that didn’t stop him. His beloved cat, Mrs Norris? She was killed by Dolohov, but Filch took his head off with an over-powered musket-gun that Seamus conjured up for him. He might not like the students, but some of that is the students and some of it is Dumbledore, again. He pits the students against Filch, by seeing that the worst detentions are with the man. Personally, I wonder if he’s one of Dumbledore’s attempts to manipulate who get into the school.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m sure I’ve seen Filch do accidental magic. He can’t do wandless or wordless, but I’m sure I’ve seen him throw up shields, accidentally, when Fred and George’s pranks got out of hand. I wonde-”

Yes! I have, too.” Severus cut I excitedly. “When Lucius and Rodolphus set off a colour-bomb in the hall outside the Gryffindor common room, there was a large patch of wall, where he’d been standing, that wasn’t affected at all. We all assumed that Dumbledore or Flitwick had shielded him and the two ‘Puffs that reported the bomb.”

“Me, too. I remember when one of the ‘Claws and Angel Cole got into a duel, it quickly turned into an out-and-out catfight, Filch was the one to shield two little ‘Claws. Remember? He was the one that was crouched over them, his back to the room and none of them had so much as a scratch, but everyone else in the room was covered, in either scratches or splinters.” Remus’ eyes widened as he remembered more.

“So… either Filch is a very strong squib, a very weak wizard, he’s under compulsions, potions or his core has been bound.” Minerva hypothesised.

“Any of which would put someone out of sorts. If he’s a strong squib or a weak wizard, he’s likely frustrated at his inability to control it. If he under compulsions, his magic would be fighting, constantly, leaving him unbalanced. If it’s potions, when one begins to wear off, before he takes the next? He’ll have surges and spikes. If his core has been bound long-term, that would leave him feeling... angry... a lot... Oh, god, his core…” Severus ran through each possibility and their symptoms.

“It has to be… and only Dumbledore would have the gall and the strength to do that.” Minerva whispered.

“Give me an hour with Filch and I can fix it and show him how to control it. No one, including Dumbledore will ever know.” Harry offered.

“That doesn’t really help us, Harry.” Minerva pursed her lips.

“No, it doesn’t help us, but we can’t use Filch against Dumbledore, because there is not a shred of proof. Filch is completely unaware of it. Or… he can’t speak about it, either way, he’s of no use when it come to our case against Dumbledore, but... he could be a useful ally. If I break the binding or the compulsion and give him a way to control his magic afterwards?”

“He’ll be happy... and it’ll be because of you.” Remus answered slowly.

“Exactly.” Harry nodded.

“Hmm… Harry? Remus and I can talk to Ragnok about that, this afternoon, while you and Severus go through the wands.” Minerva suggested.

“Yes, with the changes to my core from the adoptions and the bleed-over from the Wild Magic that touched Harry? I’m not sure that the wand I have, now, is the right wand, anymore.” Severus agreed.

“Then clothes?” Harry plucked at his shirt. “The fabric here is breaking down, it won’t last another day.”

“How long will it take to choose a wand?” Remus asked.

“It’s not a case of me choosing a wand, Remus, but more of the wand choosing me. And as I would prefer two wands, they have to be able to work together, as well. If I don’t have to fetch Sirius tonight, then I’ll leave the elder wand with Dumbledore.”

“But it’s so powerful. It could be dangerous to leave with him.” Severus argued.

“No, Sev. Not once I’ve been in the same room as it. It will recognise me as it’s master and reject Dumbledore, it will not work for him again, ever, in any way.” Harry corrected.

Severus sighed in relief, the idea of a wand that powerful was not pleasant. Idea of Dumbledore having access to it, was even less pleasant.

“Good.” Remus sighed. He turned to Minerva. “Will it be an issue me staying here? Full moon was last night.”

“No, Remus, not at all. Harry and Severus are both Animagi, as am I, if we need to, we can spend a night, or two, in our other forms.” Minerva replied.

“Not necessary. Remember the potion I was working on, right before I was sent back? That was a cure for lycanthropy.” He watched Remus’ jaw fall in complete shock. “That’s right, a cure. A complete cure and I know I works, it was tested through St Mungo’s for nearly a year before they signed off on it.”

“Do… do you… Do you remember the formula?” Remus whispered.

“Of course. For all that it’s very complicated, the actual prep and brewing time is quite short. As long as I have all the ingredients and a suitable potions lab, I can whip it up inside an hour.”

Severus blinked. “So quickly?”

“Yeah, quick, but apparently not as easy as I’d thought. I’m going to have to do it in stages. I won’t risk bringing Wolfwort, Castor Bean seeds and Blue Moonflowers together again.” Two of the three frowned in confusion. “They’re three of the main ingredients used in the potion that soaks the sand for time-turners.” Eyes widened in alarm.

“And you’re mixing them together?” Remus gasped.

“It’s not the mixing that’s the concern, Remus, it’s more the handling.” Severus explained. “It’s the residues left behind, mixing those together, that’s the issue. If Harry crushes the Castor Bean seeds and gets the juice on his hands and then goes on to slice the wolfwort? That won’t cause a problem, but if he then get’s the Moonflower essence, as well? That’s a problem.”

“Yeah, so I’m thinking… If we go to Diagon Alley and get the ingredients, today. I will handle one, Sev a second, Minerva the other, while Remus, you handle the other ingredients, the ones that aren’t lethal to you. Or dangerous when in contact with each other. Then each of us can process one ingredient, I’ll have a shower and use a decontamination charm, before I do the final brewing, which can happen any time. Problem solved.” Harry stated.

“That would work.” Severus hummed, in thought.

“It would.” Remus agreed.

“Alright. Let’s go to Gringotts and get you boys some wands.” Minerva stood and began to herd the wizards towards the floo-fireplace.

All three men exchanged looks and quickly began to move, they had seen her switch to her Head-of-Gryffindor mode and none of them wanted Professor McGonagall annoyed with them, particularly as they were staying in her home.

 

Emerging from the floo-fireplace in Gringotts waiting area, Harry quickly approached the goblin on reception duty and asked for a message to be sent to Bogrod, to request an audience, to further their discussion from the day before, he then sat and waited for his brother, mother and honorary uncle.

Wasn’t that a trip? Right now, he was physically older than Remus and James and only two months younger than Sirius. He was distracted from dwelling on the thought by the arrival of the two wizards and Minerva.

“Just waiting on Bogrod, Máthair. The reception goblin sent him a message, just a few moments ago.” Harry explained, gesturing for her to take a seat.

“I’m here, Masters Snape-Urquart. Professor McGonagall... and you’ve brought company. Good day, sir.” The account manager said as he hurried through the waiting room door. “I hadn’t expected to see you until tomorrow. You only just caught me, I was almost finished for the day. Come through and we’ll sort you out.” The goblin bustled them out the door and through the corridors to his office.

“Have a seat, Professor, gentlemen. How can I help you today?” Bogrod was completely focused on them, looking from one to another.

“Bogrod this is Remus Lupin. One of James Potter’s best mates. He and Máthair are going to bring you up to date with our plans and explain where we are going to need Gringotts assistance and how, while Sev and I go through the wands in our vaults. Then we need to go shopping.” Harry screwed his nose up on the last word, his fingers picking at his sleeve.

“Is it something Gringotts can purchase on your behalf?” Bogrod asked.

“Harry? Would it be worth having the goblins collect the potion ingredients? Or do you want to inspect them for yourself?”

“No, I need to inspect them, particularly the wolfwort and the Blue Moonflower. I need specific parts of them and in a suitable condition.” Harry replied.

“Would it be something Tinrilla would have on hand?” Bogrod asked.

“Possible, but unlikely. Wolfwort, with stem furs, Blue Moonflower nectar with pollen extract and raw Castor Bean seeds.” Harry answered.

“Hmm… I doubt it, but I can send a message and ask her to meet with you, I know she will want to do a quick medical on you both. Would you like to go to your vaults or would you prefer to have all the wands brought up into a viewing room?”

Harry and Severus exchanged a long silent conversation.

“It might be better to have the wands brought up. A viewing room with tables? On onee side the wands from Harry’s vaults and the other side, those from my vaults?” Severus asked.

“And if you would? Please include wands from the McGonagall and Urquart vaults, too.” Minerva added.

“Certainly, Professor.” Bogrod replied, reaching for a parchment and making a note, before touching a crystal to the parchment. “Gentlemen, if you head down to the infirmary, I have requested a room prepared for wand viewing, it will be ready by the time Tinrilla releases you.” Bogrod gestured to the door.

“Of course, Bogrod. If we’re not back by the time you finish with Remus and Máthair, you know where to find us.” Harry nodded, he and Severus stood and bowed to the goblin, nodded to Remus and Minerva and left the room.

“Alright Professor… What have those two come up with now?” The goblin wanted to know.

“Filius Flitwick is your cousin, isn’t he?” When the goblin nodded, she continued. “Has he told you much of his time as a teacher at Hogwarts?”

“Yes, he has, he frequently regaled our family gatherings with tales. Why?”

“Ah, good. Remus Lupin is one of four pranksters known as the Marauders, the others being James Potter, Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew.” Minerva stated, bluntly.

Bogrod’s eyebrows rose. “Ah…?” He looked at Remus and flicked a glance towards the door.

“Yes, exactly.” She sighed. “But Harry is the son of Remus’ best friend. Knowing what Dumbledore intended the boy’s future to be? Remus has decided that he will join us in our... interference. It is the four of us, together, that have decided on the relevant steps that will need to happen, to achieve our objective.”

“Indeed? Well, I hope your… steps will allow you to reach your ultimate goal.”

“Oh, I’m sure they will. A marauder, a son of a marauder, a victim of a marauder and the teacher of a marauder, all working together? It will happen, one way or another, Master Bogrod.” Remus smirked as he answered the goblin.

“Alright…? What are you planning?” Bogrod looked from witch to wizard and back again.

“Remus?” Minerva gestured.

“Of course, Professor.” He nodded. “First we want as much as possible to happen at a certain time… between 9.45am and 10am on Tuesday morning.”

“That’s very… precise.”

“It needs to be. Dumbledore is calling a staff meeting Tuesday morning at 10am. He has requested Severus to attend, with intent to have him sign on as the new Potions Professor. Minerva has told Dumbledore that she will be bringing an applicant for the DADA position, Harry. Harry plans to remove the curse on the DADA post, but he and Severus will not to tell Dumbledore of this, instead they will convince him that hiring the two of them to share both positions will circumvent the curse. And according to Harry, it would.”

“Right…? And?”

“And at the same time, Harry wants the Potter-golem to be deposited outside the door of the apothecary, right opposite the staff entrance to St Mungo’s. The weather’s been good and school’s only a few weeks away, students will be having their boosters and getting their pre-school-term vaccinations, as well as picking up potions prescribed by St Mungo’s. So, there should be people in and out all day, right?”

“Yes…?”

“Harry wants Gringotts to deposit the body, under invisibility enchantments of course, in the alcove right in front of the apothecary’s door. That way, his discovery is assured and he’ll be taken straight to St Mungo’s, immediately.” Remus continued.

“And because of his size and his injuries, not corroborating with his scar, St Mungo's will be forced to do an identity test.” Minerva added.

“Which, once they know who he is, Family Services are going to be involved. As will the Aurors. Now, our Harry informs us that even at 25, there was no Family Services file in his name. That means, they’ll find nothing, no file, no information, nothing. This will force the Aurors and Family Services to come here, to Gringotts, to find out who should have custody of Harry Potter.” Remus explained.

“And?” Bogrod wasn’t sure where they were going with this.

“And Gringotts will tell them… You don’t know, Dumbledore sealed James and Lily Potter’s Wills. Raise the question of who has authority over the Potter Trust vault, as Dumbledore has been authorising transfers from the vault since the death of the Potter’s.”

“Oh…” Bogrod saw where they were going, now. Discrediting Dumbledore by using the truth.

“At the same time, Lord Black will be in the Wizengamot requesting the Wizengamot provide proof of Sirius’ unsuitability as his heir, because Gringotts records show that Lady Magic still considers him, Heir Black. Then if they bluster around, you demand a second trial and declare that Gringotts will provide the veritaserum, verified by St Mungo's, of course. Make sure to ask Sirius, who the Fidelius caster was. We know it was Dumbledore, this places him in a position of knowing that Sirius wasn’t the one to betray the Potter’s.” Minerva went on.

“Which will make, in just two events, four times that Dumbledore either broke, ignored or disregarded our laws or, as Harry said, took them into his own hands.” Remus concluded.

“Four times?”

“One, he knew Sirius wasn’t the Secret Keeper and was innocent of at least one crime, that of the betrayal of the Potter's, and kept that from the authorities. Two. He sealed the Potter’s Wills without authority from the Wizengamot. Three, he kidnapped a magical child and ignored the parents’ Wills and placed the child where he wanted, without contacting Family Services. Four, he’s been using the Potter Trust vault as his, paying people, again without authority.” Remus explained.

“The big scandal is going to be... when Dumbledore says he placed Harry Potter with his maternal aunt… two things are going to happen. One, she’s a muggle, he placed a magical child with muggles, deliberately. Two, when Aurors investigate, they’re going to find no evidence of the child ever having been with them. At that point, I will state that Dumbledore left the child... wrapped only in a light blanket... on the doorstep... late at night... in November... With no attempt to hand the child directly to the aunt and no wards to stop the child from simply standing up and walking away, or to stop an animal from taking the child. Nothing to stop a muggle from walking up the path, picking the boy up and just walking away.” Minerva snarled.

“Oh yes, Dumbledore won’t know what hit him… and the best part? It’s all true.” Remus smiled.

Bogrod shuddered, he was suddenly very glad that these four hadn’t turned their attentions against Gringotts, he wasn’t entirely certain that Gringotts would survive the encounter.

“I see. Is that all, all that you have planned?”

“No, we’ve a list of Dumbledore’s failings. A long list. We’re still hashing out exactly which ones we’ll use. But we will see that Gringotts has that list before the weekend is out. We'd like Gringotts to raise the issue of Dumbledore’s failings and possible mental deficiency on Tuesday, something along the lines of, Dumbledore’s actions against Heir Black and Heir Potter give more credence, to the already lengthy list of discrepancies that Gringotts have unearthed.” Remus answered.

“Hmm… I have an appointment with Lord Black tomorrow at 8.30am. If you can get me that list before then, I may be able to convince him that Dumbledore’s actions against his Heir are only proof of what's been found… and show him some of the things on your list. Best not to show our ledger until we’re ready.” Bogrod warned.

Minerva and Remus exchanged looks. “Where do we send it and how?” The witch asked.

 

Down two floors and half a mile of corridors away, Harry and Severus stood just outside the door of a large room, bare but for a number of tables.

“Masters Snape-Urquart, I presume?” An elderly goblin in a neat suit caught their attention.

“We are.” Severus replied, as he and Harry both bowed slightly.

“Very good, sirs. This way, please." The goblin lead them into the room and paused, gesturing. "The chest on each table contains the wands from one family vault. To the left we have, Potter, Black, Peverell, Gryffindor and Harrington. To the right? Slytherin, McGonagall, Urquart, Prince and Winterbourne.” He gestured in first one direction, then the other. “When you handle each wand, please hold it in your dominant hand. These are mature wands and it may take them some time to decide if they like you. If the wand rejects you, you should know within a few seconds, but it can take a wand up to a minute or more, to assess you and your core, if it is considering choosing you.” The goblin explained.

He handed over a dagger.

“You’ll need to place a drop of blood onto the chest to prove that you have the right to it’s contents, but once open, I’d recommend that both of you try all the wands available. After you’ve held each wand, that does not reject you instantly, for two minutes place it in the appropriate tray, velvet lined for possibilities, silk lined for those rejecting you. I then suggest that you swap sides and test the wands from your brother’s vaults. This provides a greater chance of a wand choosing you.”

Harry and Severus nodded. “Thank you, sir.” Harry spoke for them both.

“You are welcome, sirs, it’s not often wizards or witches come to us to try for a wand. These wands are old, they're mature and in most cases, quite powerful. Nothing like the newly crafted wands sold to children just starting their education. No, these wands have experience. If one chooses you, you may find your magic easier to manipulate, that certain fields of study become easier to understand.”

“Do you have any suggestions, for how we approach the wands?” Harry asked, he found the entire subject of wand-lore fascinating.

“Be open-minded, sirs. A wand first used by a Dark wizard or witch may choose you for a completely different reason than your core-leanings. A wand inclined to Dark magics may see you desire to protect and even if you aren’t Dark-inclined, it may choose you because of your convictions. Just as, if you are Dark-inclined, a wand suited to Light magics may choose you for your thirst for knowledge, ignoring your inclinations. And if you have a wand with you, I’d recommend placing it on a table, out of the way, it may interfere with the assessments.”

Harry wore a thoughtful face as Severus thanked the goblin.

“Again, sirs, you are welcome. I will remain outside until you are finished. Then, I will examine the connection between you and each wand possibility. I can provide you with details of each wand, what the wood favours and what the core is best suited to. Afterwards, I shall repack the wands and return them to the relevant vaults.” The goblin bowed and left the room, taking a seat outside the door and pulling out a whetstone and a small, badly notched dagger. He planned to sit here in the quiet, away from the noisy environment of the forges and sharpen the little dagger he’d found in the tunnels under muggle London.

Severus and Harry looked at each other. “Alright… Let’s start with Potter first.” Severus said. “Technically you are a Potter… or were.” Severus withdrew his black yew wand and placed it on the table beside the chest bearing the Prince coat of arms, before re-joining Harry.

“Okay.” Harry held out a hand and Severus held out the dagger. A drop of ruby red blood fell on the chest and the lid popped open. “Well, at least there’s still enough Potter blood to be recognised by Potter wards.”

One by one, Harry pulled out the wands. Walnut, beech, aspen, acacia, holly, ivy, larch, fir, oak, rowan, ebony. One by one, the wands from the Potter vault were discarded. Harry then turned to Severus.

“Your turn, brother.” Harry waved him towards the silk-lined tray.

“Thank you, brother.” Severus replied, slightly sarcastically.

He began working his way through the Potter wands. Like Harry, Severus handled each one with respect, but also like Harry, one by one, he replaced them back in the tray, finally sighing, before stepping away.

“Black next?” Harry asked, to be answered by Severus’ nod.

Another drop of blood and the chest creaked open. Harry began to retrieve wands from it’s depths. Ebony, black walnut, poplar and so on, until… Sparks and lightening flickered from a black wand of unknown wood.

“Alright! That’s one. Let’s see how many more there are.” Harry grinned. If no other wands chose him, he would still be armed. Severus just smiled.

47 wands later and Harry still had only the one possibility and Severus still had none. After the Black wands, they moved on to the Peverell and then the Harrington wands. Something was telling Harry to leave the Slytherin and Gryffindor chests until the very end. By that time, Harry had seven possible wands, one from Black, two from Peverell, one from Harrington, one from Urquart and two from Winterbourne. While Severus had six, one each from Black, Harrington, McGonagall, Urquart, Winterbourne and Prince.

“Right, just Gryffindor and Slytherin left.” Harry sighed. It had taken them nearly an hour to sort through the various chests of wands.

“Just the two chests left, Harry.” Severus reassured the other wizard.

“Just…” Harry’s response was a little snarky, but he still held out a hand for Severus.

The Gryffindor chest opened and Harry’s breath caught. He could feel the wands in it, one of them was reaching out to him. One by one, he pulled them out, placing them gently on the tray. Even though he was fairly certain it was a black wand that was calling him, he left it for last and like he’d thought it was the only wand in the Gryffindor chest to connect with him.

Severus reluctantly began handling the Gryffindor wands, if it hadn’t been for the goblin reminding him to keep an open mind, he quite likely would have not touched them. Which would have been a shame as two wands showered him in sparks and a third made his hands prickle.

Each was put aside, carefully and with respect, as they still had the Slytherin chest to go. Once open, Harry flicked through it fairly quickly, one wand after another remaining quiet in his hands. The last wand to come out was a plain black wood, with a tight grain and no ornamentation, but the moment Harry’s hand touched it, it lit up like fireworks.

Sparks, lightening and bluebell flames covered Harry’s hands and forearms. When he held the wand in front of his face, a breeze ruffled his hair, blue flames flicked at the tips, before a sheet of blue fire settled around his shoulders.

Severus’ eye bulged. “I’m going to guess that this wand has chosen you.”

“I would say so, Sev.”

Severus snorted in response, but only shook his head. He hesitated for a few moments, before his fingers picked up the first wand. 23 wands later he was also showered in sparks and blue flames, the wand almost humming his hand.

“Well, that's new.” Minerva said from the doorway. “I wasn’t expecting that.”

Harry and Severus exchanged glances and began to laugh.

“What’s so amusing, gentlemen?” She asked.

“It’s not the first wand to bathe one of us in flames.” Severus replied in a bland tone.

“Severus?” Minerva frowned in concern.

Severus just looked at Harry, who sighed but picked up the plain black wand, it again burst into sparks and flames.

“Ah.” Minerva grimaced. “It likes you then.”

“It seems they like us both.” Harry muttered. “Show offs.” The wand in his hand dimmed and let the flames die down.

“I do hope they’re not going to do that every time you pick them up?” Minerva chided. “It’s a little disconcerting.”

“You think? Seeing everything tinged in blue is a little disconcerting.” Harry snarked back. The flames and sparks ceased, but the wand continued to hum in his hand.

The elderly goblin entered the room and approached Harry and Severus. “Sirs?” He asked. “Am I to assume that you have handled each wand?”

“Yes, master goblin. These last two, lit us up in blue flames.” As Severus spoke, the flames which had subsided, rose again.

“So I see. I’ll not touch your wands, but would you be so kind as to hold them out? I will endeavour to identify them.”

Harry held the plain black wand out and the goblin sidled up, so that it was near his head. He tilted an ear towards it and then turned to face it and his nose delicately sniffed.

“This wand comes from the Slytherin vault. Blackthorn and… hmm… snf snf… Basilisk Heartstring, very rare. Sensitive to parseltongue, strong in defensive magics and protection. This wand has very definitely chosen you, sir. Place it in your non-dominant hand and pick up each of the possibilities, please.” The goblin said.

Harry tilted his head and began to work his way back to the beginning, he started with the Gryffindor wand.

“No, not that one. The blackthorn doesn’t like it. Try another.”

And so it went. The blackthorn wouldn’t accept either of the Winterbourne wands, nor the Urquart or Harrington and barely tolerated the Peverell wand. It did however flare brightly when Harry picked up Black wand, sending blue flames dancing down the other wand, the other wand responded with golden flames that merged with the blue and gave off a bizarre blue/gold/green light.

“Yes, this one!” The goblin laughed. “Ebony and thunderbird feather, a rare match, indeed. Ebony is particularly suited to combative magics, but to be paired with a thunderbird feather is highly unusual. Thunderbird feather wands have a reputation for early detection of danger and in rare cases, can cast curses or shields in response, without their witch or wizard’s input. You will find pairing these two wands together will amplify the defensive magics of the blackthorn and the combative capabilities of the ebony. Ironically enough, Basilisk and thunderbird pair quite well. Shields cast in parseltongue are considerably stronger than those in Latin and thunderbirds are the only bird able to understand both languages.”

Harry blinked and shook his head to clear the humming from the still communing wands.

“Right… thank you.” Harry bowed and stepped back to stand with Minerva and Remus. “Your turn, Sev.”

“Yes, it appears so.” Severus gave a small bow and held out the Slytherin wand.

“Hmm… Black walnut and… ooh, horned serpent. Very nice, sir, very nice. Black walnut favours the wizard with good instincts and that are true to themselves. Horned serpent, like the Basilisk is well suited to parselmouths and will warn it’s chosen wizard of imminent danger. Now, try the other wands, if you please, sir.”

Severus started with the Black wand and worked his way through the Harrington, McGonagall, Urquart, Winterbourne and Prince wands without success. The Gryffindor wand that prickled his hands was tolerated by the Slytherin wand, the first Gryffindor wand that sparked earlier, was still now, but the other Gryffindor wand sent off it’s sparks again, only this time the Slytherin wand responded.

Where for Harry the two wands sent out different coloured flames that touched and at points, blended, for Severus the two wands released their individual flames and sparks that danced on and through each other, the blue flames glittering with brilliant pink and purple sparks.

“Ohh, yes.” The old goblin smiled. “Pine… No. No, not pine. Black pine. Most unusual, most unusual. And Occamy feather.” The goblin whispered the name of the core in almost awe. “Quite the mix. Pine for creativity and adaptability. Occamy for defence and shielding. Add that to the black walnut and horned serpent and you’ve got a pair of wands that will be well suited to a wizard that specialises in defence as well as charms or potions.”

“How apt, Severus.” Minerva smiled.

“I think we’re well suited Máthair.” Harry smiled.

“If only we can get them to settle down while we’re in public.” Severus muttered.

All four wands flared bright and then dropped the flames and sparks, completely. But the connection was still there, just as strong, humming just under the skin.

“Well, it seems that they understand you. Very nice. All we need to do now is to get you some decent wand holsters.” Remus commented, blinking.

“After clothes, Remus. I can feel these breaking down. I want some decent clothes.” Harry was adamant.

“Yes, definitely.” Severus agreed.

“So… are you finished here? Is there anything else we need to do in Gringotts?” Remus asked.

Harry and Severus turned to the elderly goblin and thanked him for his time and expertise. Both men pressed a ʛalleon into his hand.

“Thank you, sirs, thank you.” The goblin stammered.

“Would you add my previous wand to those stored in the Prince Vaults, please?” Severus asked.

“Certainly, sir. It’s on the table with the other Prince wands?”

“It is, master Goblin.” Severus replied.

“Then I shall see to it, sir.” The goblin bowed and gently herded them out of the room.

“Right, then.” Said Minerva in her Professor McGonagall voice. “Clothes, holsters and ingredients? Yes?”

“Yes, Professor.” All three men responded automatically, before laughing at the witches reaction.

Harry fell into step with Severus, the two men, standing tall and striding through the corridors of Gringotts, completely unaware of the image they presented. Tall, dark hair with ginger streaks, brilliant green eyes, broad shoulders and cheeky smiles barely hidden. Behind them Remus and Minerva saw the reactions of the few witches and wizards they passed.

“We better get them signed up as professors quick smart or we’re going to have to deal with dragon load of contract inquiries.” Remus told Minerva quietly.

“No… no, not yet. I just got them, I’m not ready for them to marry and leave.” Minerva objected.

“And I am?” Remus responded.

“Hurry up, Máthair, Remus. Don’t get left behind.” Harry’s voice cut into their hushed conversation.

“We’re coming, we’re coming, hold your hippogriffs, Harry.”

Remus tossed a grin at Minerva and loped ahead to throw an arm over each man’s shoulders. Severus tensed for a few moments, but decided that Remus was harmless enough and Harry trusted him, so he snorted and kept on walking. Quickly Minerva joined them, reaching out and placing her hand the crook of Severus’ elbow.

“Madam Malkin’s?” She asked.

“Nah, I want something a bit better than school-wear, Máthair. Gladrags to start with and then maybe Twilfitt and Tattings.” Harry countered.

“Gladrags it is, my lads.” She let the brogue fill her voice.

 

Chapter Text

Remus, Severus and Minerva left Luximbell’s Specialty Robes shop, very glad it was the last stop for the day. Who would have guessed that Harry was a clothing... enthusiast? He’d charmed the three witches in Gladrags into measuring he, Severus and Remus, then he’s sent the other two wizards to sit with Minerva and proceeded to go through Gladrags entire product array. He started at underwear and worked his way out, first on Remus, then Severus and lastly himself. He’d allowed each wizard some input, but it was obvious that the sales attendant looked to Harry, before accepting anything either Remus or Severus said.

After purchasing an entire new wardrobe for the three of them, he somehow, and Severus couldn’t figure out how, convinced the attendants to customise their clothes while they waited. Then the blighter had the gall to drag them back into the Alley and down to Twilfitt and Tattings and did much the same there, for dressier and formal robes. After that it was into Mystic Alley, to the Silver Sickle for the potion ingredients Harry wanted. Severus was appalled that he hadn’t known of the shop’s existence. The tiny shop-front was deceptive, as the interior was a fascinating place, three floors of potions ingredients, all held in the conditions most beneficial to each item.

It was the stunningly beautiful witch there, that reminded Harry, that Luximbell’s was just next door and if he planned on using the ingredients he’d just bought, it might be a good idea to get some potion-resistant robes. Once in the specialty robe store, Harry quickly decided that combat and duelling robes would be needed for practical demonstrations at Hogwarts and that potions robes would present the right image for their potions classes. It was also in Luximbell’s that Remus found a selection of wand holsters.

The werewolf bullied both Harry and Severus into buying a pair of plain leather holsters for their potions classes, a pair of duelling cuff-holsters for DADA classes and, what annoyed Harry most, two pair of black metal dress holsters, one trimmed in silver and the second in gold.

But now they were finished, each of them had a multitude of shrunken bags in their robe pockets. Each wizard wore a new set of everyday robes and Minerva was amused to see that Harry and Severus both wore robes in a matching, deep forest green, lightweight and cool enough to be worn at midday in the heat of the summer. Remus, too, wore new robes, deep caramel coloured and like the others, they were lightweight linen, lined with silk.

Minerva shook her head at the disgruntled looks Severus and Remus were throwing at Harry.

“Alright!” Harry chirped brightly. “All done.”

“About bloody time, brat.” Severus grumped.

“I agree.” Muttered Remus.

“Boys.” Minerva chided.

“Who’s for some ice-cream?” Harry asked.

“No.” Severus and Remus both answered.

“I’ve got some of Florean’s Caramel and Cookie Crunch and I think… there’s some Raspberry Ripple, too.” Minerva offered.

“And I’ve two tubs of Swiss Chocolate.” Severus sighed.

“Don’t look at me, I’ve been living in shared accommodation for the last few months.” Remus muttered.

“Hey, still better than me, mate.” Harry grinned a little manically. “You know where I’ve been.”

The other three all nodded. That was very true.

“We are going home, lads. I’ve had enough. I want a cuppa and a-” Minerva started, only to be cut off.

“I should probably get a trunk, Máthair.” Harry mused.

“Not today, me bucko. We are going home.” Minerva stated, flatly. “Now, Harry. We have information to put to parchment and details to finalise. Remember?”

Harry sighed. “I can’t forget, Máthair, it rides me all the time. But with four of the six in our hands, getting the other two is quick and easy.”

“Easy for you, maybe.” Minerva corrected.

“And don’t expect to go on your own, brother.” Severus warned.

“But-”

“But nothing, Prongslet.” Remus added.

“You’re not going without us.” Severus continued.

“We don’t expect to go in with you, but we will be there.” Remus finished.

“Yes, Remus.” Harry sighed.

“Boys.” Minerva shook her head and continued to the outgoing apparition point.

 

Back in Minerva’s living room, the three wizards and the witch sat sipping their tea and munching their way through a large bowl of ice-cream with sugared waffle-cone pieces. In front of Minerva was a large pile of parchment, each page bore the witch’s writing, some pages were almost filled while others only had a few lines. In front of Harry sat a single sheet of parchment, with many rows of writing in his horrid chicken-scratch, all but three had been crossed out.

Severus studied Harry’s list and did his best to decipher the nearly illegible marks.

“I hope, brother, that you will either be using a dicta-quill... or leaving the writing of student reports, to me?” He sighed.

“Nah.” Harry took a quill in hand and began to write ‘I must not tell lies’, in a beautiful flowing script. “I can write properly when I need to, I just think that for something that’s going to be burnt in a few minutes, it’s not worth the effort.”

Severus snorted in reply. “Hmf.”

“So… What do we have left?” Remus asked, craning his neck to try and read Harry’s notes.

“Andromeda Black and Theodore Tonks. And their elopement. Dumbledore encouraged their elopement, even though he knew there was a betrothal contract, for Andromeda, due to be signed the next day. He made no effort to discuss the matter with Lord Black, nor did he advise Theodore Tonks to so. And as Lord Black had attended the school to ask Dumbledore’s opinion of Augustus Rookwood, Dumbledore knew that Lord Black was looking for something, anything, that would allow him to reject the Rookwood contract.” Harry replied.

“I’m sure Lord Black will be able to add more to that.” Severus added.

“Ragnok can ask for more details, tomorrow.” Minerva nodded, quickly writing down the details. “Next?”

“Hagrid. Firstly, his expulsion. There has been no investigation into the matter, at all. Another student accused him and the Ministry held a trial, but there was no investigation. If the matter had been investigated, by even a squib, the question of how a Acromantula could have killed a student without leaving a mark and petrified a second student, would have been raised. Acromantula are in the arachnid family, arachnid’s bite and inject their victims with toxic poisons that liquefy the victim’s internal organs, allowing them to ‘drink’ the victim’s fluids.”

“Huh. I didn’t know Myrtle was unmarked.” Minerva mused, her quill flying across the parchment.

“She was killed by the Basilisk, Máthair, of course there was no signs of injury.” Harry reproached. “Even by the time I killed the Basilisk, no one had thought to ask her how she’d died. Sad.” Harry reflected on the memory of Myrtle telling him that all she remembered were a pair of great big yellow eyes.

“Oh dear.” Minerva whispered, hurriedly flipping pages to find the sheet designated to Myrtle and her death. Once found, Minerva added the new details to the notes already there.

“It’s alright, Máthair, I can deal with the Basilisk… preferably without her being released from the stasis that she's under.” Harry quickly added the clarifier when Minerva frowned. “No one will be at risk, this time, not even me.”

“You’d better not be.” Severus muttered.

“Is that all in regards to Hagrid? Wasn’t there something else?” Remus asked.

“His wand, oak and unicorn hair. The Ministry snapped it when Hagrid was expelled in '43. The problem is, that the Ministry trusted Dumbledore and Dippet to destroy the pieces, but instead, Dumbledore gave them back to Hagrid. After the war Hagrid told me that, back in '49, he paid Wizarding Umberella makers Ribton and Splosh to make an umbrella large enough for him, using the pieces of his wand as the handle and the ferrule. I’ve seen him use it, to light a fire, to give my cousin, Dudley, a pig’s tail, to clear a path in the snow and cut down trees for Christmas.”

Minerva could only shake her head in horror, that an untrained wizard was allowed to use a snapped and unstable wand.

“I… I… I don’t know… I can’t say… it’s not…” She didn’t know what to say.

“It’s alright, Máthair, if we do this right, there should be eventually be an investigation and that should clear Hagrid’s name, then we can get the board to revoke his expulsion and at the very least, Hagrid will have some options.” Severus attempted to comfort his Máthair.

“Sev’s right, Máthair.” Harry agreed. “We can work towards that, once we have the Wizengamot, the board and St Mungo's dealing with Dumbledore.”

Minerva sighed, but nodded, they could think about Hagrid later, right now they had to focus on Dumbledore. She began to list Harry’s information under Hagrid’s name, quickly filling in what details they had, these could be confirmed by the goblins and the Wizengamot.

“And the last thing on your list, cub?” Remus asked.

“Unsuitable teachers. Hogwarts is labelled the finest school in the world, that’s what our students are told, yes?” Everyone nodded. “It’s not. It’s not even in the top 10, anymore.” Minerva’s jaw fell. “In Europe there are five schools, Hogwarts, Durmstrang, Beauxbatons, Scholi Iliou Tuo Apollo and the Russian Imperial College. Currently the ICW has Hogwarts, right at the bottom of those five. There’s a total of 18 schools world-wide, in 1984 Hogwarts is ranked 16th. 16th... 16 out of 18! When Dumbledore started it was first, worldwide, when he became headmaster it was third. By 1950 it as fifth, by 1960 it was eighth, by 1970 it was down to tenth. Our graduates rarely leave Britain, those that do, fall into two categories, one, menial labour or two, highly sponsored academics. More than 90% of Muggleborns and muggle-raised return to the muggle world, the British Wizarding world has little for them to benefit from and as long as they don’t break the Statute of Secrecy, they can keep their wands and continue to use magic.”

“16th?” Minerva whispered.

“…out of 18?” Remus added.

“… so low?” Severus mourned.

“Yeah. That’s what Dumbledore has done to the place that has dominated all our lives. He’s turned it into little more than a joke. Certificates from Hogwarts aren’t worth the parchment they’re written on. Not outside Britain, anyway.”

Minerva couldn’t react, couldn’t speak, couldn’t write. Couldn’t think.

“Can we change that? Harry? Can we?” Severus pleaded. “I know that’s not as important as Dumbledore, but please, please, tell me we can change that?”

“Of course we can, Sev. Máthair took over in 1998, just in time to start planning for the 1998-1999 school year, right? By the end of the 2004-2005 school year Hogwarts was once again the top school in Europe. Not the world, but in Europe. I’m not sure what we ranked worldwide, but in know it was in the top ten, again. Getting rid of Dumbledore is only the first step, after that is returning classes. And… you know what…? That can wait. Dumbledore comes first.”

Minerva shook herself and quickly wrote down Harry’s assessment of Hogwarts’ standing as well as details regarding Binns and Trelawney. A ghost that teaches only one lecture, class after class and an alcoholic fraud? They were the sort of teachers that caused Hogwarts’ current international standing.

“Alright.” She sighed. “That should be enough for Bogrod to get started with. He mentioned, having the goblins looking into each case, as though they are separate files. He mentioned that, doing this, he or Ragnok can ‘inadvertently’ find that the common denominator in all cases is Dumbledore. Particularly, as not all of them are in direct relation to Hogwarts.”

“How do we get them to Ragnok, Máthair?” Severus asked.

Minerva pulled out a match box sized wooden writing chest from a pocket, tapped it with her wand and restored it to it’s original size. She lifted the lid and paused, she replaced the pile of parchment back on the table and tapped it as she whispered a word in Latin. A second pile of blank parchment began to change, writing appearing and after a minute, Minerva picked up the first pile of parchment and placed it inside the chest. When the lid was closed, she tapped a sigil on the lid and they watched as it flashed first red then green. A few seconds later, the green faded and the sigil returned to look like carved wood.

“Hmf… It looks like Bogrod was waiting for us. He’s opened the other chest, already.” She huffed.

“Good. Only one last thing to do today and I can try and get some sleep.” Harry grumbled.

“Try?” Remus asked.

“Try.” Harry replied, bluntly.

“Why ‘try’?” Severus turned to Harry, his brows pulling down.

“Sev…” Harry sighed, not sure that the man would understand, but at the very least he deserved to know what was running through Harry’s mind. “From my point of view... 40-odd hours ago, I was getting ready to celebrate my 25th birthday with my two best friends and a few others that I considered family, now I’m 20 years into my own past, I’ve been through a seriously nasty tissue retrieval, an equally nasty healing ritual, a painful aging ritual, taken a nice even dozen blood potions, had to readjust to a modified core and had to tell three people, two of which have been dead for over seven years, that a man they trust is deliberately endangering children and has been for decades. Add to this, what is still in front of me. I have to remove a Darkmark, collect a Horcruxe from a bunch of snakes, have lunch with a man I’ve never met, but who is now my grandfather, with a man that, to me, was dead 40-odd hours ago, but is now my twin brother. I have an interview for a job I turned down six years ago, with a man that has been dead for almost a decade, a man that kidnapped me from my murdered parents’ house, before their bodies were even cold and placed me with abusive relatives. A man that manipulated me into life threatening situations, year after year, after year. I also have to find a hidden room in a castle full of secrets, to get another Horcruxe. I have to get it out of the castle, undetected, get to Gringotts with said Horcruxe, still undetected. I have to go through yet another painful ritual to remove a Horcruxe from my head. I then have to transfer five Horcruxes from their containers to other, more fragile, receptacles. I have to destroy all six Horcruxes and most of this, will happen between now and 9 am on Tuesday.” Harry sighed, again. “I have to face the thought that I will never seen my friends, the people I called family again. Technically they are here, alive, but they are not mine anymore and they never will be. They will never have to see the same things, never have to do the same things, never have to go through the same torture, that we saw and went through together.” Harry dropped his head into his hands.

“Don’t get me wrong, you three are some of the most important people in my life… lives… whatever. There are only a handful of people that I consider worth risking my life for and you three are very definitely on that list. You three, Sirius, Hermione, Ron, Luna, Neville and George. You lot and them, I wouldn’t even think twice, but everybody else? Maybe, depends on the situation.”

“I think I speak for all three of us, Harry, when I say I think we would all much rather you not put yourself in harm’s way for us.” Remus whispered.

“And that’s why. That’s why I’d do it.” Harry grinned tiredly. “Because you don’t ask me to, you don’t expect me to and you really don’t want me to. Pretty much everyone else falls into one of those three categories. Either that, or they’re the ones trying to kill me.”

“Oh…” Remus didn’t know quite what to say to that.

Severus cast his mind wildly for something to lighten the atmosphere, or to at least distract them from Harry’s slightly morbid thoughts. “So… I can fetch a phial of Dreamless Sleep… if you want…?”

Harry’s head came up and he gave Severus a small smile, barely more than a twitch of the lips. “Nah… Dumbledore had me dosed with it too often, while I was at Hogwarts, it doesn’t do much for me now. I… You…” Harry heaved a deep breath. “What works better is having someone there, not necessarily sharing my bed, but just there. In the same room, I mean. It doesn’t happen often, now. I’ve learned how to pretty much shut my mind down, but the last two days…? Yeah. I’m not surprised my mind won’t settle. It’s just reaction, by Monday, it will have passed and I won’t have as much trouble turning my brain off to go to sleep. But, right now…?” He trailed off.

“There’s been so much upheaval in such a short period of time, you can’t wind down, properly?” Minerva asked the question, rhetorically.

“Yeah…” Harry sighed again.

“Well, at least it’s an easy fix.” Severus grimaced.

“How so?” The witch asked.

“We move a couple of beds from other rooms, into Harry’s and Remus and I sleep there, for a few nights, just until Harry’s back in control.” He explained.

Harry and Severus looked at the bewildered looks on the other two faces and began to chuckle.

“Wizards.” Harry smirked.

“They don’t do logic very well, do they?” Severus added.

“Nope.” Harry stood and stretched tall, before slumping and shaking his arms around for a few seconds. “Alright, Sev, time for your arm. Let’s get that rubbish off of it. Máthair? Do you have a ritual room or a training room, here?”

“No. No, I don’t. This was my paternal grandfather’s house, my father’s side of the family were muggle, Harry, it was left to me when Seanair died.”

“Seanair?” Remus asked.

“Grandfather in Gaelic, Remus.” Harry answered, absently, his mind running through alternatives. “Uh… what about large, open space outside? Oh, neighbours? Any close by?”

“The nearest neighbours are some two or three mile away. Why?”

“Oh, that’s fine. Removing a Darkmark is… gruesome. Bloody. Messy. And quite painful, according to Draco. But it’s also very visible, if anyone happens to be watching.”

“Ah.” Minerva replied.

“So, what happens?” Remus asked. “What do we need?”

“Well… me and Sev, of course. Some healing potions, some blood replenishing potions, maybe skele-grow. Don’t suppose anyone’s got any phoenix tears on hand?”

“I highly doubt it.” Minerva pursed her lips.

“I have a potion that Master Tattersmoke recommended I make for my Mastery.” Severus said. “It’s dittany, a phoenix tear, murtlap and tansy. I designed it as an aid for healers to use on patients that have internal injuries. There’s only one tear per gallon, will that be enough, do you think?”

Harry hummed in thought before answering. “It should be. With the dittany and… is there any sage in there?”

“Yes, Harry. Sage and Clover as the base.”

“Sage and clover based? Then it should be fine. We’ll need dressings, warm water, a wound cleansing potion and for afterwards, a pain suppressant, the blood replenishing potion, skele-grow and your potion, Sev. That should about do it.”

“If you head out that door,” Minerva pointed to a set of French doors onto a balcony, “I’ll have Telli fetch the potions and dressings.”

“Thanks, Máthair. Sev? You wanna fetch that potion? Remus and I’ll look for a space.” Harry offered.

“Down through the garden, out the gate and to the left, there’s a path that leads down to the creek. There’s a few flat spots that might work. But you pick what you need, Harry.” Minerva directed.

“Brilliant. Remus! Come on, let’s go.” Harry bounced on his toes, a stark contrast to just a few minutes ago and looking like he needed to sleep for a week.

Remus just shook his head and followed the raven-headed wizard out the door. “What exactly are we looking for… as far as a suitable space is concerned? Harry? Harry? Harry?!” Remus leapt off the balcony and ran after the rapidly disappearing Harry. “Bloody hell, Harry! Wait up! Harry!”

“Yeah, Remus?” Harry spun on his heel and without loosing his stride was beside the werewolf.

“What sort of space do we need?” He asked again.

Harry threw him a grin and pointed. “That looks pretty good. I need a space about 20 feet across and fairly flat. You and Máthair will have to wait outside that 20 feet. Otherwise the backlash of the runes shattering will hit you. And apparently it hits hard.”

“Great, great. Just what I need.” Remus was still sore from the full moon, two nights earlier.

“Hey, it’s simple, Remus, stay outside the blast-zone.”

“Yeah, but-”

“No.” Harry’s voice was hard and cold. “No, buts, Remus. Stay… outside… the…  blast-zone.” It wasn't a recommendation, it was a command.

“Yes, Harry.” Remus replied, before he had a chance to objection or even think about objecting. “Um… Harry?”

“Yes, Remus.” Harry sighed, he had a fair idea what Remus was going to ask.

“Why does Mooney… the werewolf part of me, that is… why is he… me… he, why is he afraid of you?”

Harry huffed, he knew it. “He can sense the Deathly Hallows, or rather he can sense that they’ve touched me and just their touch leaves traces. Add to that, Wild Magic leaving it’s mark. But probably the thing that’s going to affect Mooney the most is… I’m a warrior, Remus, a blooded, hardened warrior. My first kill was at 11, you saw that, the professor that was Voldy’s vessel. My second was a Basilisk, I was 12, Remus. I killed a Basilisk at 12. At 14, I competed against adults, still students, but they were adults all the same, I killed a number of XXX, XXXX and XXXXX beasts, in that competition and outflew a dragon. At 15, I began to teach other students DADA and was forced to duel against maybe a dozen Death-Eaters, not to mention the taint that a Black-Quill leaves on your core. Mooney can sense that I’ve faced creatures far more dangerous than a single werewolf and not only did I live, but in most cases, I killed the creature. Until he knows that I consider him pack, he’ll be… at best, wary and at worst, afraid of me. Once he knows I consider him a member of my pack, he’ll be fine. But he’ll always see me as the strongest, the leader of his pack.”

“Oh… okay.” Remus went quiet, trying to wrap his wizard’s mind around this man being dangerous, as a man, a wizard, he just couldn’t see it. Even if the werewolf part of him did. “Um… Harry? How’s that going to work with your Lycanthropy potion?”

“Easy, Remus, it turns the curse from a werewolf to a true wolf, Mooney’s werewolf part, the moon-related part, will weaken and the natural wolf part will strengthen, the result is the werewolf becomes a natural wolf, that you can access using the same techniques as any other wizard would use to access their Animagus form.” Harry replied.

“I’ll be an Animagus?” Remus voice was filled with awe.

“Yep.” Harry answered.

Remus didn’t know how to react to that, he stood there blinking, as Harry cleared rocks and debris from his chosen area, marking it out with a row of pale stones.

“Harry! Remus!” Máthair’s voice reached them.

“Over here, Minerva.” Remus called back.

“Oh, there you are.” The witch said as she around the edge of a foothill. “I’ve got most of what you wanted, Harry, and Severus has gone to fetch that potion of his.” She paused as she looked around. “Oh, this is nice. Do you think we could put a set of standing stones, here? Or should we set it up as a picnic area? We get quite a few hikers through here, mostly in spring and autumn.”

“What about this time of year, Máthair?” Harry’s head rose sharply.

“Not as much as you’d think, being that it’s the middle of summer. We rarely have campers out here, maybe one or two sets a year, but more towards the beginning of summer.” She answered.

“So what are the chances of hikers or campers being in the area, tonight?” Remus asked.

“I have no idea.” Minerva said.

“It’s fine, I’ll scan for people, muggle or magical, before I start. I’m not going to risk having anyone see me explode Sev’s arm.” Harry told them.

“No, no, you wouldn’t would you? You’ll do everything you can, to protect your people.” Remus stated.

“I will.”

“Harry? Máthair? Remus? Where in Merlin’s name did you-? Oh! There you are.” Severus sighed in relief, his fear of loosing Harry and Minerva fading instantly, on seeing them.

“Yep, we’re here, Sev.” Harry reached out a hand and patted his brother’s arm as he continued arranging stones to his liking. “Alright, I’m just about ready, here. Máthair? You and Remus have to wait outside the stones. The backlash of the runes breaking down is… bad.”

Remus pulled out his wand and transfigured a log into a bench. “Is this far enough, Harry?”

“Yes, that’s grand, Remus. You two stay there, please? No matter what you think is happening, stay there.”

“We will.” Remus assured Harry, offering a hand to Minerva and crossing the clearing to the bench. A flick of his wand conjured a pair of cushions and a blanket. “We shall wait in comfort, Harry.” He bowed to Minerva, a touch over-dramatically. “Your seat, Professor.” He said grandly.

“Why thank you, Remus.” Minerva responded in the same manner.

Harry and Severus exchanged speaking glances and shook their heads in resignation.

“Family.” They both sighed.

Harry stepped into the circle and stood in the centre of the stones. “Sev, over here, please.” When he joined Harry, he stood where Harry directed. “Right, this is nasty, Sev, really nasty. There’s two sets of runes. One set is the link to Voldy, it lets him call you, lets him heat the mark, it tells you that you’ve been summoned and directs you next apparition. The second set is solely a protection for the first set. It’s the snake, it’s there to stop anyone from removing or altering the mark, which is why he set it using parseltongue. As it stands, if anyone did try, it would attack, but that means that it attacks you.” Harry explained. “What I’ll do is, speak to the snake, Voldy was convinced he was the only parseltongue in the world, so he only bound the snake to recognise and obey a parselmouth. He didn’t lock it to his magical signature, which would have seriously ballsed us up. Once the snake is under my control, I will get it to close it's mouth... Then I have to literally blast it’s head off. That’s the bad bit. Once done, I’ll have 15 seconds to wipe out it’s runes, before the runes will reset and the design will revert back to what Voldy set, once a complete snake again, it can attack. We don't want that.”

“Oh, wonderful.” Severus commented sarcastically.

“It takes less than five seconds, usually, to remove the first set of runes, once the snake's mouth is shut, that is. Then the linking runes are completely unprotected. Lifting the runes there, is simple, just done in parseltongue instead of Latin. But as each rune fractures, it literally explodes off of your arm, by the time I'm finsihed, your arm will be pretty mangled.”

“What are the chances of permanent damage from blasting the snake’s head off?” Minerva asked, from her seat beside Remus.

“Felix lost some movement in his thumb and forefinger, but none of the others had any complications. If the mark were anywhere else but the inner forearm, then maybe, but the location of the snake’s head is pretty much in the perfect position for removal. It will be bloody and messy and very painful, but with healing potions, skele-grow and the like, there shouldn’t be any lasting damage.” Harry turned from Minerva and Remus to Severus. “But it’s your arm, Sev, you call. I can remove it, or I can just block it.”

“No, I want it gone. I should never have taken it. If it weren’t for Dumbledore’s manipulations, I would not have felt the need to.” Severus heaved a deep breath. “Get rid if it, please, Harry?”

Harry wiped his thumb under Severus’ eye, wiping away a lone tear.

“Don’t cry, brother. We’ll get rid of it. You owe neither of them anything.” Harry smiled. “Ready?”

“Ready.” Severus gave Harry a wobbly smile.

Harry pulled out the Slytherin blackthorn wand and flicked it in each of the four compass directions, before nodding and beginning to speak to the wand in parseltongue. He told it of a man who had devoted his life to protecting a child not his own, who risked his life many times over, to bring information to a man who manipulated him, time and time again. He told of a man who only wanted to belong, he told of a man who offered family and acceptance. The wand hummed and vibrated slightly, warming in his hands. Finally Harry told of his intention to free this man, who was now his brother, to free him from two men who tortured and debased him. The wand flared and buzzed, a harsh almost grating sound emanating from it.

Harry touched the wand to Severus’ arm and began to coax the snake to close it’s mouth, to accept him in place of it’s creator. The snake hissed it’s displeasure, writhing on Severus’ arm, but Voldemort had tied it’s obedience to parseltongue and eventually the snake was forced, by the runes that made up it’s very existence, to cede control to the man that spoke to it in the language of it’s creation. No sooner was the mouth closed and Harry muttered a quick ‘bombarda’ and the snake was missing a head.

Severus sucked in a harsh breath as the pain of Harry’s charm mangled the flesh of his inner arm, blood burst and ran freely. His teeth clenched and he held still only because of the calm in his brother’s eyes. Two breaths and he nodded to Harry to continue.

Harry’s hissing changed, becoming harder, more sharp, more defined. Severus was able to pick out clearly defined sounds, almost individual words. Then the pain increased and the there was a sharp jerk within his arm, it pulled and twisted, trying to get away from Harry’s words, but Severus and Harry held firm and with a spray of blood, the first set of runes gave way. Harry took a deep breath and began to hiss again. He turned the wand, tracing the outline of the skull, of the eyes, of the nose and teeth.

Hissing, blood and a wand that traced a skull. It became Severus' entire world. Seconds, that seemed like hours, passed and just like Harry warned, there was another burst of blood, it splattered up onto his face, but the rune structure fractured. The concussive force rocked Severus and Harry. Neither of them let go of the other and so both managed to stay on their feet. The individual runes breaking caused smaller, but no less bloody blasts. By the time the blast had stopped, Severus was trembling and beginning to shake, the only thing keeping him upright now, was Harry’s hands.

“Máthair, Remus? All done here. I need you. Sev’s going into shock.”

Remus and Minerva were up and headed to them, before Harry had finished their names. The next few minutes were frantic, cleaning the wound, pouring potions over the wound and into Severus’ mouth, then it was time to heal the arm. The three worked together, Minerva pouring the dittany and phoenix tear potion onto the wound with Harry repeating the healing chants in parseltongue, while Remus held Severus’ arm, turning it where Harry or Minerva pointed. Finally they finished, Minerva and Harry eased Severus’ arm from Remus grasp and gently guided him to the bench. They sat him down and Harry draped his robes over Severus’ shoulders, to keep him warm and slow down the progression of shock.

As he stabilised, Minerva handed him more potions, first was the blood replenishing potion, then a pain potion and lastly a small dose of skele-grow, just in case. After some minutes, Harry hauled him to his feet and began the slow journey back to the house.

“Harry? What about the mess? There’s a lot of blood here.” Remus’s nose twitched, it was only two days after the full moon, after all, and his sense of smell was heightened as a result.

Harry stopped and turned, pointing his wand at the area, where he and Severus had stood. Aguamenti!” His high powered water-making charm flooded the area, diluting the blood and washing most of it into a small gully, a minute and the gully ran clear. “Finite.” Harry lifted his wand and the water spout of water disappeared, like it had never been there. He turned back to Severus and they once more began the walk to the house.

Chapter Text

Friday morning dawned bright and warm, the sun climbing above the horizon well before 6am. Harry rolled over in his bed, stretching his arms out to the side and unexpectedly coming into contact with warm flesh. On both sides. He turned his head from one side to the other and smothered a snicker. To his left, in a bed jammed tight against the wall, lay a very deeply asleep Remus Lupin. To his left, was his brother, half awake and frowning at him in confusion.

“Har-aaa-ry?” Severus yawned.

“Mornin’, Sev.” Harry grinned.

“Oh, gods, he’s a morning person.” Severus groaned, throwing an arm over his face.

“Nope, not really. I’m just glad it wasn’t all a dream. For a moment there, I thought it might have been.” Harry chirped.

“No dream, little brother.” Severus grumbled, pulling a pillow over his head.

“Good.” Harry flung back the covers and swung himself to his feet. He crossed to the pile of bags, dumped near the door and began the hit and miss task of shuffling through them, looking for clean clothes for the day. “How’s the arm this morning?”

“Arm?”

“Arm. You know. After the removal?” Harry pulled out pants and trousers, still combing through bags.

“Oh.” Severus sat up quickly, as memories of the night before returned. He lifted his left arm and studied it, he moved it at the shoulder, the elbow and the wrist. Then it was the turn of his hand, each finger was moved, twisted and turned, each finger was tried and it’s strength tested.

“Hmm…” He hummed. “The fingers… there seems to be some weakness. Will you look at them, Harry?” Severus held out his hand towards Harry.

Harry turned a frown on his face, he reached for the cuff-holster still strapped to his forearm and pulled out his blackthorn wand. He gave the wand a little shake to wake it up and tapped it against Severus’ arm, then lifted it and hissed a few words in parseltongue. The wand extruded a mist of pale smoke-like substance that showed the different layers of bone, nerve, muscle and skin, of Severus’ arm, hand and wrist. The mist slowly changed colours, it bled red from the elbow forward, all but one spot, that turned a murky blue/purple/red. The colours showed Harry exactly where the nerves were blocked and after another hissed word or two, a series of shapes appeared, sinuous and curved, shapes Severus had never seen before.

Harry studied the shapes and grunted unhappily, before sighing. “Well, one nerve cluster is affected. The choices are, leave it or repair it. Repairing it means we’re going to have to vanish that nerve cluster and regrow it. That’s painful and frustrating, you’ll have to have your hand immobilised for… about six hours, given the size of the cluster. There is an upside, though.”

“And that is…?”

“I can teach you how to alter the speed of time in your mindscape, Sev. In both directions. Faster and slower. Six hours out here could be as little as six minutes in your mindscape. Although… I’d recommend a break in the middle, just a few minutes, for a bathroom break. You don’t want a bladder infection, as well.”

Severus blinked, he’d not given Harry’s mindscape time twisting ability a thought, but now that it had been mentioned…? Oh, yes, he was definitely going to take advantage of that.

“If you decide not to repair it, I doubt it will affect you greatly, but you will be aware of it. According to the scan I just did, you have a 38% decrease in nerve function in your pinkie, an 11% decrease in your ring finger, 8% in your middle finger and 3% in your index. Noticeable, but not significantly impairing your use.” Harry stroked his fingers down each of Severus’ as he detailed the damage. “It’s your choice, brother.”

“No, Harry, there’s no real choice, we have Dumbledore in front of us, we must all be at our best. I’ll wait until this evening, though, to do the strip and regrowth. I will have to brew the appropriate potion for the nerve regrowth, you know it’s shelf-life is only a matter of hours.”

Harry nodded and turned back to the bags of new clothes. “Fair enough. I’m gonna grab a shower, I suggest you follow me pretty closely, Remus will probably use up a loch’s worth of hot water. His muscles get really tight for the first few days after the full moon and that was Wednesday night.” Harry left the room, heading in the direction of the guest bathroom.

 

An hour later, Harry sat on the patio enjoying a cup of tea after having finished his breakfast. He, Severus and Minerva watched a still stiff and sore Remus join them, fresh from his very long, very hot shower.

“Morning Remus, good shower?” Harry grinned.

“H’morn’n, ‘Arry.” Remus mumbled in reply. “Yeah, nice.” He sat down and proceeded to demolish the remains of the laid out breakfast, before sitting back and sighing in pleasure. “Right, then. I’m ready to face the day.” He swatted at Harry as the other wizard laughed. “Shaddup. What’s the plan for the day? What’re we doing?”

Minerva raised and eyebrow as she looked at Harry and Severus.

“Uh… I kinda thought we’d look at brewing the lycanthropy potion for you, Remus.” Harry stated, like wasn’t it obvious? “It has to sit for at least 4 hours after bottling, before you can take it, though, so I thought, maybe, after lunch we could go fetch the Gaunt Ring? What do you think? Máthair? Sev? Anyone else got things they want to do?”

“Perhaps…” Severus began.

“Perhaps…?” Harry asked. “Perhaps… what?”

“Perhaps we should be waiting to hear from Gringotts, before we make too many plans. Bogrod is meeting with Lord Black this morning, after all.” He hesitated for a moment. “Plus, if we are going to be teaching and living at Hogwarts, there are a few things I wish to retrieve from Spinner’s End, to take with me.”

“Of course, Sev. We can see to that.” Harry agreed.

Telli appeared holding the Gringotts chest with the sigil brightly lit in red.

“Miss Minnie? The goblinsy’s boxy is glowing and making noisy’s.” The elf placed the chest carefully on the table in front of Minerva and stepped back. “Telli and the elfies thought it might by important, so Telli is bringing it to Miss Minnie.” The elf wrung her fingers together in doubt. “Did Telli do the right thing?”

Minerva smiled. “You did, Telli. Tell the other elves that it was the right thing. I’m pleased you brought it out. I think we could do with some more tea, would you make another pot and bring it out, please?”

“Yes, Miss Minnie.” Telli beamed and disappeared, soundlessly.

“So the ‘pop’ is for wizards, after all.” Minerva mused.

“What?” Remus asked.

“Unimportant, Remus, unimportant. Shall we see what Gringotts has for us today?”

As she spoke, Minerva pulled her wand from her sleeve, reminding Harry that he had a gift for their Máthair in his room, in one of the bags, somewhere. She tapped the sigil and waited while it flashed from red to green and the lid popped open. A single sheet of paper sat inside the chest, it had only two lines of writing on it.

Unexpected development.

Urgent you all attend Ragnok’s office, immediately.

“Oh dear.” Minerva sighed.

Harry and Severus swore, fluently and creatively in Gaelic, Latin and, surprisingly, in parseltongue.

“Oh gods, what now?” Remus muttered.

“Well, gentlemen. I suggest we get dressed and go find out what’s got the goblins in a tizz.” She stood and without saying anything else, headed inside.

The three men sighed and followed after her, they caught the witch as she was explaining to the elves that she and the wizards had been called to Gringotts urgently and they wouldn’t be wanting that pot of tea, any longer. The three men paused for a moment, but kept going when Minerva waved them on. They each went to the bedroom they’d been assigned but, in the case of Remus, hadn’t slept in, yet.

Five minutes later all four stood in front of the massive stone inglenook fireplace and with a nod from Minerva, Harry reached for the floo-powder.

“Gringott’s Inner Waiting Room.” He spoke loudly and clearly, as he flung the handful of powder at his feet.

A flash of green and he stepped from the elaborate marble floo-fireplace into a simple but elegant and expensive sitting room. As the green faded from his sight, he saw young Blordak waiting, almost impatiently, for them.

“Master Snape-Urquart, are the others coming? Ragnok has a message for Master Severus Snape-Urquart and yourself, from Lord Prince.” It was a sign of how upset the goblins were, if they were discarding their traditional greetings.

“They are, Blordak, they are moments behind me.” Harry had barely said the goblin’s name when Remus appeared in the flames, he was closely followed by Minerva and lastly Severus.

The goblin sighed in relief. “Thank goodness.” He said. “This way, please.” He hurried from the room, his pace could, almost, be called a trot. The three wizards and one witch exchanged concerned glances and hurried after him.

A minute of not-quite-running and they stood outside Ragnok’s office, breathing quickly. To emphasize the urgency of the situation, Blordak didn’t ask them to wait, he just threw the door open and entered the room.

“Mister Remus Lupin, Professor Minerva McGonagall and Masters Henrick and Severus Snape-Urquart.” He stated clearly.

There was a gasp and a child’s voice erupted.

“Harry James Potter! What the bloody hell did you do?! Why, why in the name of Circe’s saggy tits, am I only 6 years old, again?!” The child screamed violently, as she threw, wandlessly, hex after hex at Harry.

Harry instinctively threw up a shield around himself and those with him. Then the voice registered.

“Mione?!” Three strides and he was across the room, the girl-child was grabbed and hauled into his arms. He held her tight and buried his face in her neck. “Mione!” He sobbed.

“Oh, Harry!” She exclaimed, throwing her arms around the man that held her. “You did you do?

“Castor Bean seeds, Wolfwort and Blue Moonflowers.” Severus was the one to answer.

The girl looked over Harry’s shoulder at the other three, her eyes widening in surprise.

“Harry? Harry? Harry?!” She lifted a hand and smacked him on the shoulder, just hard enough to get his attention, she leaned back and crossed her arms. “Explanation, please.” Her voice was calm and blank, a complete turn-around to the hysteria of moments earlier.

Harry blinked and carefully placed her on the ground. “Wild Magic, Hermione. Yes, I was working with Castor Beans, Wolfwort and Blue Moonflowers, but according to the core scans that Máthair di-”

“Máthair?” The girl asked, still calm and blank-faced.

“Professor McGonagall.” Harry answered quickly. “The scan showed that Wild Magic had entered my core and was mixing with my inherent magic. It’s changed me, Mione…” He hesitated but continued. “By the time Máthair did the scan, I’d already had a golem made to take the place of Harry Potter, I’d been through an aging ritual and a masking blood adoption, four full Blood Adoptions and a sibling adoption. I’m-”

“I’m assuming that as Blordak introduced you two, by established names and Snape by an only slightly altered name, that you are Henrick Snape-Urquart?” She cut him off, pointing first to Remus, then Minerva, Severus and lastly Harry.

He quickly pulled out the folio that he’d been given two nights earlier and handed it to the girl child. She opened it and flicked through it quickly, before looking up.

“You are not doing this alone. I don’t care how many people are supporting you now, I’m the one that lived through this with you, you better get plans in place, to get this done for me, too.” Her voice was still calm, but it was also as firm as bedrock.

“Yes, Mione.” Harry turned to Ragnok. “Please?” Was all he said.

“Are there to be more… travellers?” Ragnok asked.

Harry and Hermione looked at each other and blinked.

“Ron?” They both asked and shrugged, before Harry turned back to Blordak. “Can you send a message to the Weasley’s? Say… ‘The blipping mad seeker requires his chess-master at the place where the cup was kept. ASAP.’ If Ron’s with us, he’ll know what we mean and where to come.”

Blordak nodded and quietly left the room

“Nice one, Harry.” She turned to the others. “So, do you know who I am?”

“Given Harry’s reactions, I would say you are Hermione Granger. Am I correct?” Severus asked.

“Yes, I am. You are now Harry’s brother, yes?”

“Twin brother, thanks to Blood Adoptions, sibling adoptions and Wild Magic.”

Hermione tilted her head and studied them.

“So, what’s the plan?”

“Discredit Dumbledore, kill off Harry Potter, retrieve Sirius from Azkaban, get him cleared in the Wizengamot, meet with our new grandfather, sign on as professors at Hogwarts, give Remus the lycanthropy potion.” Harry answered quickly.

“Not necessarily in that order.” Remus added. “A number of things are going to happen at the same time.”

“Like…?”

“Signing on at Hogwarts, killing Harry Potter and Lord Black fronting the Wizengamot regarding Sirius being Heir Black.” Remus found it difficult not to react to the child’s demands for information.

“Dumbledore?” She asked.

Minerva gestured to a thick sheath of paper. “We’ve noted down what we felt would have the most impact on the Wizengamot and the public, once it becomes known. Gringotts are going to present it before the Wizengamot, when asked about Sirius.”

“Horcruxes?” Was next demand.

“Just the ring and the diadem still to get. Planned to fetch the ring today, while the lycanthropy potion was cooling. Tuesday we are to attend a staff meeting at Hogwarts and Máthair will give us a ‘tour’ afterwards, we’ll do a quick stop on the 7th floor during that. Immediately after the meeting, come back here, healer Tinrilla will remove this one,” Harry raised a hand and touched his forehead, “and I’ll transfer the Horcruxes from their current vessels to either paper or timber ones, then I’ll use fiendfyre and burn the bloody things out of existence.”

“And the wraith?”

“A quick trip to Albania, a containment field and some more fiendfyre.” Harry smirked.

“I’m here now. What are you going to do with me?” Hermione tilted her head.

Harry turned to Severus and a rapid, silent conversation was had, Severus’ brows rose, fell and eventually he sighed and nodded.

“Ragnok, will Gringotts take the fact that my parents gave blood for full Blood Adoptions two days ago, as permission for another full adoption?” Severus asked.

Everyone frowned at him.

“Yeeesss… given that there is little to inherit directly from either parent and that you are currently the eldest child and so would inherit from Lord Prince. I will acknowledge that permission is given, on the condition that Miss Hermione is also younger than you.” Ragnok answered slowly, his thoughts running so much faster than his mouth. “And you are very much in luck. After you left, Bogrod returned a number of Signet rings to different vaults and noted in the appropriate ledger that one had been removed from the Urquart vault. In doing so he found that Elphinstone Urquart left a number of phials of blood, specifically labelled, ‘for blood adoption’. Again, they were under stasis charms, but these charms are in perfect condition and most definitely not deteriorating.”

Remus looked at Harry. “What’s running through your head, Prongslet?”

“Harry’s thinking that instead of twins, we become triplets. It’s rare to split triplets, it would account for my unhappy youth at Hogwarts, it would encourage Dumbledore to hire all three of us and would stop him from even considering that our Harry could be Harry Potter.” Severus answered.

“It would mean that Hermione would have to have a golem made and-” Harry started.

“No, I don’t. My family… there’s no extended family and my parents were loners, add to that we’d just moved house, a few days ago.” She sighed. “This morning, I decided that, if this was accidental time travel, I was going to take advantage of it. I obliviated them and removed all memory of me from them and all traces of me from the house. I wasn’t going to have Dumbledore use me to further his plans for Harry. Then I thought, why not go one step further? I planned to come to Gringotts and get a new identity, a permanent aging potion and set myself up as Lily Potter’s other sister, the one that Petunia never spoke of. I was going to go to Privet Drv and convince Petunia and Vernon to give me custody. Then... I thought I about taking Harry out of the country… But I had no idea how to get around Dumbledore.” Hermione sighed again.

“That’s because your first reaction is to follow the rules. And mine isn’t.” Harry grinned. “I’m not the son of a Marauder for nothing, Mione.”

The expression on the girl’s face was a cross between exasperation and pride. “No, you’re not. So please… do enlighten me.”

“Alright. Like Sev said, we become triplets. Once you do the masking and Blood adoptions, Hermione Granger will cease to exist and if we go all the way with Snape, Prince, Urquart and McGonagall blood, you'll definitely get a new name. You and me would have been home-schooled, so we’d need Gringotts to get qualifications misfiled for you. Ah… What Masteries have you got, again?”

“DADA of course, Charms, Runes, Muggle-studies, History of Magic and Magical Theory.” She answered.

“What?!” Came the reply from Severus, Remus and Minerva, while Blordak just blinked and Ragnok looked amused.

“She’s an over-achiever.” Harry sighed.

“I am not! I just… I like to read.” Hermione pouted.

“Over… achiever…” Harry agreed.

“Dumbledore mentioned that he was hoping to sign young Quirinus Quirrell as the Muggle studies professor.” Minerva began to offer information. “We are currently without either a runes professor or a magical theory professor.” She paused. “We might be able to talk him into letting Binns go, particularly if it meant signing on a set of triplets. Twins are rare in the magical world, triplets even rarer. It would also account for keeping two of you hidden, there are many people that would have tried to exploit that, Dumbledore and Voldemort included.”

Hermione laughed, humourlessly. “Quirrell’s useless without Voldy on the back of his head and he’s terrified of his own shadow.” She hummed. “I’ll take any of them, if we can get rid of the old meddler.”

Remus laughed. “Welcome to the New Marauders, Miss Hermione.” He bowed.

“Thank you… Remus.” She wasn’t quite sure of what to call him. Or any of them.

“Is everyone in agreement? Seeing Tinrilla about an aging ritual? Then another masking adoption and finally the full Blood Adoptions?” Ragnok asked. “Professor McGonagall, your late husband left authorisation for up to five full Blood Adoptions, with your approval. Do we have your consent? And will you donate for another full Blood Adoption?”

“I certainly will, Director.” Minerva answered. “I need someone to help me keep these three in line.”

“And don’t forget Sirius.” Severus muttered.

Hermione smirked. “Control Harry and you control both Remus and Sirius.”

“And can you control Harry?” Minerva asked, amused.

“As much as anyone can control Harry, yes.” The girl-child answered.

Ragnok ignored the side conversation and continued to speak with Harry. “I’ll notify Tinrilla to set up for another one, possibly two, aging rituals and adoptions. It will take an hour or two to get blood for the masking adoptions. How long will it take until you know if your ‘chess-master’ gets your message?” As he spoke he made notes and sent them via the interoffice network.

“If Ron did travel back, it should only take him a few minutes to get here. It might be a wise idea to let the tellers know that another child may be entering Gringotts under glamours.” Harry frowned for a moment. “But… I arrived Wednesday and Hermione only got here today… it’s possible that Ron may still turn up, but isn’t here, yet. It could be a couple of days.” Harry frowned in thought. “Let’s assume that if Ron hasn’t appeared in Gringotts by midnight Monday night, that he’s not going to.”

“Ah, in that case, I’ll have Tinrilla set up for Miss Hermione and be warned that Master Ron may yet need her services.” Ragnok mused as he made a few notes. “I’ll need Miss Hermione’s  OWL and NEWT results… after we have her new identity set up.” He paused as a message pod slid onto his desk, he opened the pod and read the note. “Ah, good. Tinrilla has ordered a ritual room ready for an aging ritual and had begun to ready the potions for both masking and Blood Adoptions. All she needs is the donor blood. Oh…” He trailed off.

“Oh…?” Harry asked.

“She notes that she placed the blood donated by Eileen and Tobias Snape under a stasis and it’s been stored in our Blood Storage until under your and your brother’s names. The same with the… oh my… she made up the donation from Elphinstone Urquart into multiple Adoption potions and placed each of them under a modified stasis, but recommends that each be tested before being used. So it seems that the only blood needed today, may be that of your mother, Minerva.” Ragnok replied.

“Handy. How long will it take for the ritual room to be ready?”

“I would say… by the time you get to the healer’s wing and get Miss Hermione assessed, it should be ready.” Ragnok offered.

“Good. Do you need anything else from us, right now?” Harry asked.

“Just to let you know that Lord Prince is requesting to meet you all, he’s asked Gringotts to host that meeting, he would prefer Monday. He felt that a private meeting here, might be easier than an awkward public one.” Ragnok answered.

“Alright. We can do that, lunch or early afternoon, please. Oh… you might want to inform him about Hermione joining the family, too.” Harry grinned.

“I’ll do that and I’ll get started on the paperwork. Do you know if Miss Hermione has any inheritances coming to her?”

“Not a clue, she’s muggleborn so probably not, but once the adoptions are done, an identity test will show for certain, won’t it?” Harry shrugged.

“Hmm… Yes, an identity test is necessary. But, as you say, that can happen after the adoptions.” Ragnok nodded.

“Alright, shall I get this lot out of your office?”

“Please do. Bogrod’s attending to Lord Black and you’ve given me a fair whack of paperwork to see to. Not to mention acquiring donors for Miss Hermione’s masking adoption.” The goblin grinned.

Harry bowed formally and turned back to the others, who were now watching his conversation.

“What’s up?” Hermione asked.

“We’re heading down to the healer’s wing. Tinrilla will do a health assessment before you have an aging ritual. Then there's adoptions.”

“Okay.” Hermione got her feet, but Harry, grinning wildly, picked her up and tossed her half over his shoulder. “What…? Put me down, Harry.”

“No.” He said as he left the office.

“Harry… bloody…Pot-”

“Stop.” Harry’s voice again held that hard, commanding edge. “Tinrilla wouldn’t let me walk down there, so you’re not either. The aging ritual is bad, Mione, painful. Very painful. It’s 12 plus minutes of excruciating pain, far worse than Bellatrix’s cruciatus.” He went on, slidding the little girl back into his arms and holding her on his hip.

“Oh…” Her voice was small. “And there’s no painkillers that work with it. Do… do you think I can do this, Harry?” Her fingers clutched at his robes.

“I know you can, Mione. It might knock you out, but you can do it.” Harry assured her. “Just think… when it’s done, there’s only a few potions and you’ll have family, a real family. Two brothers and a mother.”

Severus caught up to Harry. “Hermione? Are you... familiar with Harry’s mindscape?” He wasn’t sure how to ask if she knew how to do Harry’s time-twisting and wasn’t going name the subject for fear the girl was unaware of it.

“Yes, Pro- Mr Sna… What do I call you?” She asked over Harry shoulder.

“Severus or, as Harry often calls me, Sev.” Severus replied.

“Okay… Sev. I prefer Sev. And yes, Harry taught Ron and I, both.” Like Severus she wasn’t going to say it out loud.

“Yep.” Harry grinned. “So once the potions are done, Máthair will do a core scan and I’ll walk you through the adjustment process, then we’ll get the wands from our vaults up and see if any of them choose you.” He snickered for a second. “Sev got a Slytherin wand, sure, but his second wand… it’s a Gryffindor.” He continued to chuckle quietly.

“It is? Really?” Hermione’s face lit up. “I wonder what caused that?”

“Quite probably the fact that I took the chance of getting Harry as my brother, when it appeared. It terrified me.” He said as they entered the healer’s wing. “But for the chance to have a family that wanted to be my family… For that I was prepared to be brave, to jump in like a Gryffindor.” He didn’t quite sneer the name.

“Fair enough.” Hermione acknowledged, nodding.

“So… who do we have here?” A new voice cut in.

“Hello, Tinrilla. This is Hermione. She’s like me.”

“Like you? Physically or…?” The goblin trailed off.

“She's an accidental traveller.”

The goblin heaved a sigh. Hermione wasn’t sure wether it was of relief or resignation.

“What does she need?”

“Ah… I thought Ragnok told you?”

“His message left a lot to be desired and where possible I prefer to speak directly with my patient and their family.”

“Harry’s my family.” Hermione stated bluntly. Then she paused. “And maybe Severus, Remus and Professor McGonagall. I think…” She frowned in thought.

“Alright, little Miss. What are we doing with you?” The goblin asked.

“Aging. A masking adoption and then Blood Adoptions.” Hermione replied.

“We’re going to be triplets.” Severus added.

The goblin’s eyes widened.

“Triplets? Well, that’s a new one, that is.” She spluttered. “Triplets.” She heaved a deep breath. “Right. Date and time of birth?” She pointed at Severus and then Hermione.

“9th of January 1960. Between 5 and 6 am.” Severus stated.

“19th of September 1979. Between 1.30 and 2pm.”

Tinrilla hummed in thought. “Right, you.” She pointed Severus. “How many hours did we put between you and this one?” She jerked a thumb in Harry’s direction.

“Two and half hours, Healer Tinrilla.” Severus answered.

“So, we need another two hours. I’m going to say… 7193 days, 8 hours and 15 minutes. No. 7193 days, 8 hours, even should be fine. No need to fiddle with part-hours.”

“Wait.” Harry said. “Hermione’s always been like my older sister. Can we still do that? I know she can’t be older than Sev, but what about being between us? I want my big sis back.”

Tinrilla tilted her head in thought. “I can… do that…” She said slowly. “It would take… We did two and a half hours between you pair? So I need to rearrange the numbers a little… hmm… 7193 days and… 9 hours should put her right between you two.”

She turned back to her work station and began to pull phials towards her. It took her only a few minutes to complete the potion that would alter Hermione’s age. “I’m ready when you are, little Miss.” She said to Hermione, handing the girl a robe.

Hermione looked at Harry, then at Severus, Remus and Minerva. She took a deep breath and nodded. “I’m ready.” She said, slipping behind a curtain to change out of her clothes.

“Down the hall, gentlemen. You know where to go.” The little goblin held the phial securely in her hands, as she lead Remus and Minerva from the Healer’s wing to the ritual room.

 

The next 2 hours were among the hardest Harry had faced since the Battle of Hogwarts. Watching Hermione, twist and scream as the aging ritual forced 20 years of growth through her body, in a little over half that many minutes, was something that ripped Harry apart. If he hadn’t had Severus and Remus to keep him calm, he quite probably would have collapsed in tears. He was also extremely glad, for Hermione’s sake, that the robe the healer’s gave her, stretched with her body as she aged, when she finally stood as the Hermione he remembered, the robe just barely covered her dignity.

Harry studied Hermione after the Adoptions, her hair had darkened to the deep chocolaty-black that came from the Prince blood, but it fell in soft gentle waves, thanks to the Snape blood. Like Harry and Severus, she had a few streaks of Minerva’s ginger that framed her face. She was now tall and willowy, slender but not skinny, her height almost matching that of her new brothers'.

With a sigh Harry transfigured a bunch of handkerchiefs into appropriate robes and underwear. Taking into account Hermione’s lack of taste in clothing and her new colouring, the robes were a simple, deep emerald green, lined with a pale sage green. Close fit trousers, a tunic blouse and a over-robe cut to show off her long legs, graced the now green eyed witch.

“Now what?” She asked, her voice rough and a little hoarse.

“Now Máthair will do a scan of your core and we’ll use your mindscape to get a grip on your core. Then a wand from the vaults and clothes, Hermione.”

“But, can’t you just-”

“No. I am not going clothes shopping for you, without you. Not again. You’re going to have to suffer through it, just like Sev and Remus did, yesterday.”

“Oh, but-”

“Hermione. You are 25 years old. You have six, repeat six Masteries. You can suffer through a few hours of shopping.”

“Half an hour.” She replied.

“Two.” He countered.

“One.”

Harry sighed. “One. No complaints, no objections. You get measured, pick you underwear and I’ll pick your outer-wear and robes. Deal?”

“I pick my shoes.”

“I pick you a wand holster and you wear it.” Harry crossed his arms.

Hermione huffed a sigh. “Deal.” The two shook hands.

“You realise, I’m going to hold you to that?” Harry informed her.

“If you can find me a holster, that meets the requirements you know I want? I’ll wear it.” She answered.

“Actually… it’s not me that’ll find it. Remus already has. We went to Luximbell’s yesterday and they had some great holsters. I saw a few that immediately reminded me of you. So, guess where we will be going?” He grinned. “But first? Máthair? Will you scan Hermione’s core?” Harry asked Minerva.

Hermione nervously turned to Minerva and gave her a small smile.

“Of course I will.” Minerva smiled back. She waved her wand and whispered the incantation.

After a minute a wobbly image began to appear. It wasn’t quite round and it wasn’t quite not. It’s colours bled and blended, swirling and twisting around each other.

“Nice.” Harry smiled.

“Nice?” Hermione asked.

“It looks like ours.” Severus added.

“Ours?”

“Oh, excuse me?” Tinrilla appeared at Severus’ side. “I almost forgot. The sibling adoption potion. I need blood from the three of you, for that. I’m so sorry.” She whispered.

“It’s alright, Tinrilla. You remembered before we left, so all's fine.” Harry held out a hand and watched as the healer sliced his finger and dripped blood into a goblet.

Sev added his blood to a second goblet and Hermione added hers to another pair of goblets. The three exchanged looks and took a deep breath, before drinking the potions. A few seconds passed and suddenly there were red faces. Bright red, then pale and finally brilliant smiles emerged. Harry caught his breath, Hermione's eyes had changed. They had gone from her rich golden-brown to the bright emerald green that Harry had been born with, they were flecked with her natural gold, whereas Severus’ were flecked with the deep brown and Harry’s were now flecked with both Hermione’s old gold and Severus’ brown. Three sets of eyes met and the giggles started.

“Oh..” Severus started.

“…my…” Harry added.

“…goodness.” Hermione said.

“That is…”

“…really, the most…”

“…unusual feeling.” Hermione concluded.

“It can be fun, though.” Harry grinned.

“Dumbledore has no idea what’s about to hit him.” Minerva grinned viciously.

“Neither does Sirius.” Remus smirked.

“Oh, just wait.” Harry added. “I’ve got James and Lily’s portraits.” He finished in a sing-song voice.

Remus blinked a few times and began to snicker. “I wanna watch you tell ‘em who you are now.”

Everyone laughed at that.

“Alright, enough of that. I want a wand. Harry? How do I do this?” Hermione nodded to the image of her core.

“Focus on the image. Remember it. Now, look at me.” When she met his eyes he spoke again. “Legilimens.” He whispered.

Severus and Remus exchanged looks and sighed. “I hope this doesn’t take them too long.” Remus fretted. “Neither of them even sat down.”

Severus tilted his head, his eyes distant. “I can.. hear them… almost. I can feel them. Hermione is… frustrated and pleased and angry and proud and… Harry is just amused.” He crossed the room, collected a chair and brought it back for Minerva. “Have a seat, Máthair. We’ve no idea how long they’ll be.”

“Thank you, Severus.” The older witch sat and watched the two living statues.

A little more than five minutes passed, with goblins coming and going, before Harry sighed, he blinked a few times and stretched his neck. A faint crack was heard.

“Ouch.” He muttered.

“Hmm…” Hermione stretched her arms above her head, the rising of her arms causing her sleeves to fall away from her arms, showing long sleek limbs.

Harry turned to Severus. “Any news on the wands?”

“Yes, Harry. Same room as before.” Severus replied.

“Mione? Shall we get you a wand, sister dearest?” Harry emphasised the last word.

“Don’t you start that rubbish, brother darling.” She sneered the last two words, causing Harry to wince.

Severus just shook his head. “Come on, you two.” He stood and began to walk away.

 

Another 20 minutes passed before Hermione held out a wand for the goblin to study.

“Mahogany and… Dragon Heartstring from… the Urquart vault, I believe. Mahogany is excellent for protection and practicality. Dragon Heartstring bonds well with a new owner, but they do like to be a little flamboyant at times.” The little goblin said. “And a second wand, Miss?”

“I like the feel of this one, best.” Hermione said. “The two together, feel… warm…”

“Hmm… Rowan, from the Black vault. Best suited to defensive charms and duelling, not so good for the Dark Arts, thankfully. And a… thunderbird tail feather. As I told your… brother, is it? As I told the gentlemen, yesterday, Thunderbird feather wands have a reputation for early detection of danger and in some cases, can respond without the witch or wizard’s input.”

“Really?” Hermione’s brows rose. “Given what we face, that could be beneficial, but I hope it never comes to that.”

“As do we, sister.” Severus agreed.

Hermione smiled the two wizards and the witch that were nodding their agreement of the other wizard’s words.

“Thank you.” She said, before sighing. “So, clothes, huh?”

“Not yet, Mione. First we have to get your new identity in place. That means Identity Testing, OWL and NEWTs in place, then we have to work out your Masteries. Let’s head back to Ragnok’s office and see what he’s come up with. Yeah?”

“Then clothes?” Hermione screwed up her nose.

“Then clothes.” Harry agreed.

“I hate clothes shopping.”

“I know, Mione. I’ll keep it as short as I can, you know that.” Harry nodded.

“Yeah, I know.” She sighed. “Let’s get started before I change my mind.”

“Too late for that, you agreed.” Harry smirked and dodged the colour-changing hex she threw in his direction, letting it impact harmlessly, and visibly, on the wall behind him.

Remus quirked an eyebrow at Minerva. “Arguments between these three are going to be fun to watch.”

“Just don’t forget to put up a shield first, or you could end up the one hexed yellow .” She replied.

“Hmm…” He frowned in thought. “Might still be worth it.”

Minerva’s laughter answered him.

Chapter Text

Hermione studied the parchment in front of her, her eyes wide and startled.

 

HERMIONE ISOBEL SNAPE-URQUART (9 January 1960 – )

Mother – Eileen Marigold Prince (1 March 1929 – )

Father – Tobias Anthony Snape (28 June 1926 – )

Mother (Blood Adopted – 31 July 1985) – Minerva Isobel McGonagall (4 October 1935 -)

Father (Blood Adopted – 31 July 1985) Elphinstone Oakley Urquart (12 May 1927– 16 February 1985)

TITLES –

Enthwaite – Heir (blood – maternal lineage)

Ravenclaw (Magic – Diligence, Wisdom, Analysis)

VAULTS –

242 – Ravenclaw. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, artefacts, portraits, jewellery

607 – Enthwaite. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, artefacts, portraits, jewellery, land and buildings

697 – Trust – Enthwaite. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, jewellery, letters

251 – Trust – Ravenclaw. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, jewellery, letters

BEQUESTS

Enthwaite – ʛ100000, δ 10000, κ 5000,  1325 books, 231 artefacts, 12 portraits, 1 house, 341 pieces jewellery, 1 house, 1 farm, 1 commercial property

Ravenclaw - ʛ5000, δ 1000, κ 1000, 47302 books, 106 artefacts, 5 portraits, 1 house, 213 pieces jewellery

 

“Um… Somebody want to explain this? The Enthwaite title, I can understand… maybe. But the Ravenclaw title? And the adoption dates? Someone? Anyone?”

“The adoption dates are the simplest, that was the date consent was given, the potion created and the donor’s blood added. As for the other? It appears that Lady Magic likes you. Harry got both Gryffindor and Slytherin’s titles and now, you have Ravenclaw's. As for the Enthwaite title, the current holder is 91 years old. Lady Mariella Enthwaite provided blood for your masking adoption. If you like we can complete a family tree for you?”

Hermione thought about that. “No… That won’t be necessary, I did a genealogy class when I was 9. My mother’s grandmother was Lucinda Rose Enthwaite, who married William Anthony Gordon in February, 1932.” Something tugged at her memory. “Mariella Griselda Enthwaite is the older sister of Lucinda.” No, that wasn’t it, was it? No, it was something else that hung on the edge of her mind, something she couldn’t quite remember. Eh, she’d focus on that later.

“Ah, that answers a lot. Having Enthwaite blood even before the masking adoption, would have boosted the potency of their donation and ensured that the Heir-ship stayed attached to your blood. The Enthwaite family also have an interesting history. One generation, they have powerful wizards, the next mediocre, the third and fourth are little more than squibs. Then the cycle repeats, unless they marry a half-blood or squib and then, depending on the generation, their children remain at that level. There are only two Enthwaite witches alive, currently, neither have married or have children and the current Lady Enthwaite is not the… brightest of witches, she’s quite competent in her field, but by no means a prodigy. It might be worthwhile, to notify her of your claim to the title, I do think that she will be pleased to meet with you.”

“Later. After things settle down.” Hermione conceded.

“Of course, Miss Snape-Urquart. Now, I need to know, will you be claiming both Enthwaite Heir-ship and the Ravenclaw title?” At Hermione’s nod, he continued. “Very good. Both your brothers set up their vaults one for each title, one for artefacts, one for primary finances and the last as a spending vault, this they linked a coin pouch and a signet ring to. The ring is locked to your magical signature and the pouch must be blooded and locked to a vault. Would you like the same?” Hermione nodded again. “Very good, I’ll have someone check for the signet rings in your Enthwaite vault and other family vaults, set up a new vault for spending and bring up the Heir and Head of House Rings, as well as a link-pouch, perhaps something to match those of your brothers’? That leaves us with only your schooling and Masteries. As a Charms Mistress, I would assume that you are aware of the script copying charm? Good, please copy your OWLs and NEWTs to these pages, don’t forget to change the name to match you current identity.” Ragnok made a few notes on a parchment and slid it into a message pod and sent it on it’s way. “Changing your name on all of your official documents is something that Gringotts does, automatically, after a Blood Adoption, changing it now, will save a few minutes of altering it later.”

Hermione retrieved a wand from where she’d jammed it into her sleeve and muttered the Latin words needed, she tapped her wand against each page and held it there until the writing settled.

 

ORDINARY WIZARDING LEVEL RESULTS

Pass Grades

Outstanding (O), Exceeds Expectations (E), Acceptable (A)

Fail Grades

Poor (P), Dreadful (D), Troll (T)

HERMIONE ISOBEL SNAPE-URQUART Has Achieved

Ancient Runes                               O

Arithmancy                                   O

Astronomy                                    E

Care of Magical Creatures             E

Charms                                         O

Defence Against the Dark Arts      O

Herbology                                     E

History of Magic                            O

Muggle Studies                             O

Potions                                         O

Transfiguration                             O

11 OWLs Granted

 

NASTY EXHAUSTING WIZARDING TEST

Pass Grades

Outstanding (O), Exceeds Expectations (E), Acceptable (A)

Fail Grades

Poor (P), Dreadful (D), Troll (T)

HERMIONE ISOBEL SNAPE-URQUART Has Achieved

Ancient Runes                               O

Arithmancy                                   O

Care of Magical Creatures             E

Charms                                         O

Defence Against the Dark Arts      O

Herbology                                     E

Magical Theory                             O

Muggle Studies                             O

Potions                                         O

Transfiguration                             O

10 OWLs Granted

 

“I think Harry was right, you are an over achiever.” Minerva smiled as she read the list of results.

Hermione snorted, but said nothing.

“Very good. I have notices Apprenticeship for Ancient Runes and History of Magic. As well as notices of Mastery examinations for Ancient Runes Charms, DADA, History of Magic, Magical Theory and Potions. Over the course of the day, we will gather together appropriate pensieve memories of the two Mistresses that your documents state you sat your apprenticeships under, along with those that tested you for your Masteries. Harry will be able to share some, Benjamin Fenwick is listed as his master and as your examiner in DADA. For potions, both of you were tested by Gringotts Potion Master Tinwit. All will be well labelled and there’s no need to return them, we have a way of copying pensieve memories.”

There was a tapping at the door and it opened without delay to admit Bogrod. He blinked when he saw the group.

“Oh, good. I don’t need to send you a message.” He said in relief, before he frowned in thought. “I’m unaware of the young lady, would someone provide introductions? And is the lady aware of our current business?”

Harry laughed, but let Severus do the introduction. “Bogrod, this is Hermione Snape-Urquart. Once upon a time she was Harry Potter’s surrogate sister, now she rounds out the Snape-Urquart triplets.”

“Tripl-” He gaped. “When did that happen?!” He’d only been gone for a few hours, for Merlin’s sake!

“The young lady arrived perhaps 15 minutes after you left, Bogrod.” Ragnok answered. “And yes, she is well aware of our current business. Hence the triplets. Harry speculates that, because he had considered Hermione a sister for a number of years and was missing his sister, that Wild Magic has brought her to his side.”

“And Gringotts has provided the necessary potions and paperwork to ensure that she is now his sister, in all ways.” Minerva added.

“Ah.” Bogrod replied.

“It also provides extra camouflage, Dumbledore would never expect two time travellers, even if he suspected one. Having the two of them, together? No, Dumbledore wouldn’t be expecting that.” Remus joined the conversation.

“In almost 160 cases of Accidental Time Travel, the Department of Mysteries and the Unspeakables have found no cases of multiple travellers to the one point in time, or travellers that were known to each other.” Hermione explained, after seeing the look of confusion on Bogrod’s face.

“I see. Additional security is always good to have.” Bogrod replied. “I was asking, as my meeting with Lord Black has provided another, possible, instance against Dumbledore.”

“Another?” Harry asked.

“Yes. Apparently Lord Black and his Heir visited Hogwarts a few weeks prior to Sirius starting in 1971. Whilst in the headmaster’s office Sirius was left unattended for a few minutes and he placed the sorting hat on his head, when his father and Dumbledore retuned, Sirius was pale and quiet. Some years later, when the Potter’s went into hiding, there was a rumour that Sirius was marked by the Dark Lord, when Lord Black asked point-blank, Sirius replied by telling him that the sorting hat had told him that he was destined for Slytherin, this scared the boy to the point that he retreated from everything that House Black stood for. The thought of going into Slytherin and having to deal with his violent cousin, Bellatrix, terrified him. But of course, come sorting and Sirius went into Gryffindor. In less than four weeks the sorting hat declared Sirius no longer best suited for Slytherin. Suspicious, yes? Lord Black wants to have the sorting Hat tested by the Unspeakables when the case against Dumbledore is brought before the Wizengamot, he suspects that Dumbledore may extended his manipulations to the Founder’s Voice of Hogwarts.”

Harry and Hermione looked at each other for a few seconds. “That’s how you and I ended up in Gryffindor. Ron… might not have been better suited anywhere else, but you and me? Slytherin to the bone, you are. Humph.” Hermione snorted. “I’m so Ravenclaw I ended up with the title, no way I should have gone to Gryffindor.”

Harry just nodded.

“Lord Black would also like to meet you,-” Bogrod held up a hand. “Wait! I simply told him that there were a few people that were researching this and that it was they that brought the matter to Gringotts and requested us to take it the rest of the way.”

There were six sighs in response.

“Well, that’s a relief. Maybe after Dumbledore is dealt with, but certainly not before. It’s enough that we will be meeting with Lord Prince on Monday. Lord Black can wait until Sirius is out of Azkaban and Dumbledore is in St Mungo's.” Harry muttered.

“Certainly, Harry. Now, Lord Black is more than happy to front the Wizengamot on Tuesday’s session. He has suggested that he use the premise that, he came to us intending to remove Sirius legally and we informed him that Lady Magic still considers Sirius to be Heir and that we raised the subject of Dumbledore’s involvement. He would then add that we are investigating more than 50 cases against Dumbledore involving more than 20 individuals and 2 institutes. Cases of failure to act, failure to notify, improper actions, illegal actions, endangerment of lives, etc.” Bogrod told them. "This is flexible, of course, depending on the attitudes of the Wizengamot members.”

“50?!” Hermione squawked. “Bloody hell. I didn’t think it was that bad.”

“It is. And it only gets worse from here. He has to be stopped, Mione. How many died During the Battle? How many before it? Do we even know?” Harry whispered.

“Oh, Harry.” Hermione put her arms around Harry and petted his hair. “I know. Or… I know a minimum count, but it could as high as twice the documented loss, given how many were muggles and muggleborns.”

“Tell me, Mione.” Harry’s voice was hard, that commanding tone back.

“During the Battle itself, there were 112 bodies accounted for, within Hogwarts’ grounds, not including marked Death-Eaters. During the War, there’s 602 accounted for, but there’s at least another 200-odd missing. Many of them were muggleborns with muggle families and like me, some of them would have sent their families to possible safety overseas. There were also over 2500 muggles killed, between when he came back and the Battle, on the 2nd of May 1998. The ministry estimates that for the, almost, four years that Voldy was back, over 4000 humans and roughly 1000 non-humans died.” Hermione spoke in a blunt impersonal voice, that of a lecturer reciting details from a book that bears no importance.

It was a voice that equalled Harry’s commanding voice, in it’s contrast. It served as a brutal reminder that these two had been through something horrific, something that changed their lives and almost a decade later, still dominated their minds. The blank look on Hermione’s face told of pain and sadness.

That sadness forced Severus and Remus, both to act. Without a word between them, the two wizards stood and wrapped their arms around the other two. Severus had never felt the need to offer comfort, as he did now and Remus just wanted to drive the sadness away from the pair.

“We are not going to let that happen.” Ragnok’s voice was just as hard and as commanding as Harry’s. “Not even if we have to take action and call Dumbledore before our own courts. Believe me, Gringotts will not let this go. The Goblin Horde will see the children of the future protected.” He stated formally.

Harry nodded. “House Peverell extends it’s gratitude. As does House Harrington. House Gryffindor and House Slytherin will support the Horde.” He spoke just as formally.

“House Winterbourne would relay it’s thanks to Gringotts and it’s goblins.” Severus said, bowing to Ragnok.

“The House of Ravenclaw supports the Horde.” Hermione curtsied, remembering at the last second, where to place her hands to show her desire for peace.

“House McGonagall, also thanks Gringotts.” Minerva did her best to copy Hermione’s curtsy.

“There is no House of Lupin, but the Family Lupin stands with Houses Peverell, Harrington, Winterbourne and McGonagall.” Remus bowed as formally as he knew how.

“We of Gringotts are honoured to have your recognition and support.” Ragnok bowed back.

A tapping at the door broke the sobriety of the moment.

“Come.” Ragnok ordered and the door opened to admit Blordak. The young goblin was carrying a tray, on which there were two silk pouches, one black with sliver and gold fittings and the second was green with silver and gold fittings. Also on the tray were a number of ring boxes, five in total.

“Sire. I bear the Ravenclaw Ring and the Enthwaite Heir’s Ring. In addition, I also carry signets of Houses Enthwaite, Ravenclaw, Prince, Urquart and McGonagall.” The young goblin bowed laid the tray on the table in front of Ragnok.

“Thank you, Blordak. Would you ask Philledia to pop in? We have another misfiling to do. Home-schooling, OWLs, NEWTs, Apparition licence, two apprenticeship acceptances and multiple Masteries examinations. We’ll need vaccination records from Tinrilla, confirmation of Blood Adoption and name alteration. And a suitable folio for Miss Snape-Urquart, too, please?” Ragnok requested.

“Yes, sire.” Blordak bowed and left.

“Miss Hermione? The Ravenclaw Ring goes on your right hand, the Lordship or Head of House Rings respond to the wearer’s magic and only the wearer can remove them. Also they appear or not, as per the wearer’s intent. The Heir Ring goes on your left hand and they respond to the wearer’s magic and to that of the Head of House.” Bogrod explained as he handed over the ring boxes. “All Lordship, Head of House and Heir Rings resize to fit the wearer.”

Hermione hummed in thought as she placed the Ravenclaw Ring on her right pinkie and watched as it shrunk to fit and then faded from sight.

“I’ll leave it hidden for the present, there’s no need to alert Dumbledore.” She smirked, as she slid the Enthwaite Heir Ring onto her left forefinger, it shimmered and shrunk to fit, but stayed visible.

“Of course not. Now, as Blordak said, these are signets of Houses Enthwaite, Ravenclaw, Prince, Urquart and McGonagall. You have the right to wear any of them, which you choose is your choice. Once you’ve chosen, simply place it on your left pinkie. I’ll have it linked to your spending vault before you can leave the bank. As for the pouch, choose the one you like, place a single drop of blood on the clasp and state the vault number it is to be linked to.” Bogrod continued.

“I’ve had vault 1122 set up as your spending vault, Miss Hermione.” Ragnok added.

“Thank you, Ragnok, Bogrod.” Hermione picked up the black pouch with silver and gold fittings, she tapped her wand against her fingertip and waited until there was a glistening bead of blood almost ready to fall. Lifting the pouch with her other hand she placed the clasp under the bead and watched as it smeared the metal. “Vault 1122.” She said clearly. The blood seemed to be absorbed into the clasp and within a few seconds there was no trace of it. Then she reached out and picked up signet bearing the Prince Family crest, that she slid onto her left pinkie and watched as it, too, resized to fit her slender finger.

“Very good. It may be best for you to do your shopping and come back for Miss Hermione’s folio, it will take Philledia a few minutes to transfer the details to the official parchments. If the subject is raised, before you get back, inform whomever of the Blood Adoption and that Gringotts have your folio, as we are currently altering your records, accordingly.” Ragnok suggested.

“Thank you, Ragnok.” Hermione smiled.

“Not at all, Miss Hermione. I look forward to watching the next few weeks excitement. Harry, I’ve spoken with Tinrilla and she is inquiring if there is any specific position you wish the golem’s body to be placed into, prior to cutting it loose?” Ragnok turned from Hermione to Harry.

“Most of the bruises and injuries were to my back, but… I want the impression that he’s been curled into a small space, so whatever she needs to do to get that result.” Harry replied.

“We shall see to it. Between 10 am and 10.15 am, yes?”

“Yes, please.”

“Very well. Ladies, gentlemen, enjoy your shopping, Blordak will assist you on your return. I bid you good day.” Ragnok stood, bowed and left the room.

“Is there anything else, other than Miss Hermione’s folio?” Bogrod asked.

“No, Bogrod. Until we fetch the other Horcruxes or Ron gets here, that’s it.” Harry said.

“Fair enough, if you’ll drop back in, after you’ve finished your shopping, Miss Hermione’s folio will be ready and waiting with Blordak.” Bogrod bowed and gestured to the door. “I’ll get started on the paperwork, immediately.”

There were a round of thanks from the magical humans, as they too stood and with bows left Bogrod’s office. As a group they made their way through the bank, ignoring the speculative glances and outright curious looks thrown their way.

This group, right now, were only interested in each other. As the day before, Remus walked at Minerva’s side, with the now-trio in front of them.

“If we thought people looked at two of them…? What in Merlin’s name is it going to be like, with three of them?” The werewolf whispered to the witch.

“I have… no idea and I don’t want to know. They’re mine and I’m not giving them up without a fight!” Minerva began with a whine and ended on a snarl.

“So… Gladrags first.” Harry said firmly.

“But Harry…” Hermione whined. “Can’t I ju-”

“No.” Harry’s voice was quiet, calm and polite, but it stopped Hermione mid-word.

“Yes, Harry.” She spoke contritely, she knew she’d pushed him as far as she could, she also felt his rising irritation through the sibling link, she was close to angering him.

Harry had a number of levels of anger, starting at the bottom with the least dangerous, irritation. Irritation tended to come out as a cold voice, sometimes as snarks, snarls, glares and on the odd occasion, with a growl. Then there was annoyance, that got most people hexed or jinxed. Anger? That caused jinxes, hexes, maybe a low-level curse or two, but it also brought out the marauder and that tended to be very visible. Mad was curses and hexes, mid to high level, pranks that verged on being dangerous, but missed it by a hair’s breadth and were laid in parseltongue, to ensure they stayed visible. Rage? Seeing Harry in a rage was frightening and Hermione thanked her lucky stars, individually and by name, that it didn’t happen often. She tilted her head in thought, as they walked, funny but it wasn’t Voldy that brought out Harry’s rage the first time, oh no, that honour was left to Dumbledore. She snorted in recollection, at the scene of destruction Harry had left the Headmaster’s office in after the Battle, the only thing still standing was the pensieve, that was surrounded by a dust covered, physical shield of magic, but the rest of the office resembled the viaduct courtyard, there wasn’t a single item recognisable as timber, let alone furniture. All because Dumbledore admitted to Harry, what he’d done and that if he was given the same information, he’d do it again.

An angry Harry was a very dangerous and very unpredictable Harry. Not something that Hermione wanted loose in Diagon Alley.

She sighed as Harry held the shop door open and glanced in her direction. Yes, she sighed, but she didn’t hesitate to enter the store.

“Welcome to-… Masters Snape-Urquart? Welcome back, how can Gladrags help you today?” The witch paused and frowned. “I thought we went through the entire men’s catalogue yesterday?”

“We did, Mrs Thimbling. Unfortunately, our sister wasn’t able to join us yesterday and as we weren’t sure when she could, we didn’t say anything about returning. Thankfully, she here now and I’ve managed to blackmail her in spending a small amount of time shopping with us.”

“Ah… one of those is she?”

“Hates fashion and clothes shopping, with a passion.” Harry replied, cheerfully. “I’ve been the one doing her shopping for the last decade. Can we get her measured and fitted? I’ve only managed to get an hour out of her and we’ll need to visit Twilfit and Tattings for formal robes and Luximbell’s for potions and duelling robes. So, if we can get a copy of her measurements, she won't have to go through this again... at least not for a year or two.”

“Of course, Master Snape-Urquart. This way Miss Snape-Urquart.” Mrs Thimbling held out a hand to Hermione and guided her into a partitioned off dressing area. “Strip down to your underwear and we’ll get it over with, dear.”

“Hermione, please, Mrs Thimbling.” Hermione had been well educated on the appropriate behaviour for a lady of standing after the Battle, thanks to Narcissa Malfoy and Astoria Greengrass.

“Thank you, Hermione. I’ll do what I can to make this as quick and as painless as possible.” The older lady smiled.

“I would appreciate that. Harry and I made a deal, earlier, I get to choose my underwear and shoes, he chooses the rest and I only have to do this for an hour, anything else he’ll order from a catalogue.”

“Well, my dear, given what he picked out yesterday, for himself, your brother and for Mr Lupin, I doubt you’ll have any cause for concern.”

“Oh, no. Harry’s got impeccable taste, I’ll never worry about that. It’s just… Never mind. Would you help me choose some suitable underwear? I don’t really want to ask Harry, but I know he’s going to whinge, if I don’t have some really nice stuff, as well as the practical and training wear.” Hermione stood still as the charmed tape-measure slid around her, from her waist, to her ankle to her neck and everywhere in between.

“Of course, dear, that’s what I’m here for.” Mrs Thimbling tapped her wand against a poster on the back of the partition, one of a witch standing her underwear, the poster enlarged and covered the entire partition. “Now, shall we start? What about something like this?” The image that expanded was a young-ish witch wearing a foundation garment that covered her from neck to halfway down her thighs.

No! Gods, no. That’s… Urgh. That’s something my grandmother would wear. No, I want the Wizarding version of modern muggle underwear, please?”  Hermione nearly screamed at the image, it quickly shrunk back to postcard size.

“Sorry, have to ask. Some of our clients prefer the… more traditional styles. And what your brothers chose yesterday was…”

“Practical, Mrs Thimbling. Harry would have choose practical things. Yes, for he and Sev, that may look a little more traditional, but comfort and practicality come first, then he’ll look to design and cut. I don’t doubt that anything he chooses for me will look fabulous, but I’ll have a full range of movement and, if need be, I’ll be able to fight in it, without being restricted.”

“Fight?” Mr Thimbling asked, slightly alarmed.

“All three of us have our DADA Mastery, Mrs Thimbling, Harry insisted. He said that no woman should be unable to defend herself, she shouldn’t have to do so, but she should be able to.”

“Oh, that’s…” Mrs Thimbling was charmed at the thought.

“That’s Harry.” Hermione smiled.

“All right. What about these?” The older witch tapped another image.

“Oh my.” Hermione blushed. “I don’t think that’s quite… appropriate.” She struggled with finding a word to describe the risqué outfit.

“Hmm…” Mrs Thimbling tapped the image and swapped it for another.

“Oh, yes, that’s more like it.” Still a little more old-fashioned than she liked but much better. “What else?”

Mrs Thimbling tapped and circled her wand around a number of images and they enlarged as a group.

“Hmm…” Hermione hummed and began to point to various images. “That one, bra only. That one, in sets. That one brief only. That set, that set, that set and that set. Colours?” She asked and Mrs Thimbling tapped a rainbow-like bubble on Hermione’s chosen designs. “Plum, pale pink, emerald green, teal green, pale blue, black, bone and that green trimmed in silver. For all of them.”

“Very good choices, Hermione.” Mrs Thimbling smiled.

“Great, now I need sports wear…”

 

Out in the main shop area, Harry and Minerva were debating the choices of colours that Harry had picked.

“No, not red. Plums, greens, dark blues, yes, but not red.” Harry said for the fourth time.

“Why not?” Minerva finally snarled.

Harry didn’t answer, he just conjured an image of Hermione and held the red robe against it.

“Oh…” Was all Minerva could say.

“Exactly.” He swapped the red for a deep blue, then a forest green, an emerald green, a plum, silver, black and even a gold robe. “Now you understand? Red is not going to work with Hermione’s colouring.

Minerva sighed. “Yes, Harry. But… why this cut?”

“Movement. Yes, it shows off her legs and arms, but it also gives her full movement. This robe won’t restrict her if she has to fight and the moment she stops, she looks beautiful. Win-win, I say.”

“Huh.” That was something that Minerva had never considered before, if she had to fight, she fought, if she had to look good, she looked good, but looking good while she fought? She’d never thought about that before. “Harry, will you choose a couple of robes for me?” She hesitated but still asked.

“Of course, Máthair.” Harry flicked through the poster catalogue again, tapped a few different images as he went. “There, that will give you an idea, we can get a take-home catalogue and go through it more later, I still want to get Hermione through, Twilfit and Tattings as well as Luximbell’s, yet.”

“We must be running out of time, Harry.”

“It’s ticking, yes, but if Mrs Thimbling gives us a copy of Hermione’s measurements, we don’t have to go through the whole thing again, just hand over her measurements and choose a few items, I should be able to be done in maybe ten minutes in each store. If we ask, I’m sure that Mrs Thimbling will customise Hermione’s clothes while we go to the other stores and we can always have the outfits from them delivered, via post box. Oh… Máthair? Do you have a post box?”

“Yes, Harry. Box 1442.” Minerva answered.

“Great, problem solved.” Harry grinned.

“We should get some trunks, too.” Remus said. “If you’re going to Hogwarts, you’re going to need to transport your stuff.”

“Hmm…” Harry bit his bottom lip in thought. “I wonder…”

“Oh, my…” Severus’ eyes popped and Harry's laugh echoed in his brother's mind.

“What?” Remus grimaced.

“Do Wiseacres sell multi-compartment trunks?”

“No, but TerrorTours have just opened a luggage and travel accessory store, Traveller’s Trunks. They might. What are you looking for?”

“I want a multi-compartment trunk, minimum of four compartments, I’d prefer them to be linked, compartment to compartment and linkable, trunk to trunk. They must be blood lockable, have expansion capabilities, shrinking charms, feather-light charms and be weather proof.”

Remus and Minerva blinked at Harry a few times.

“And you think you can get all that in one trunk?” Severus asked.

“If not, I’ll have to start from scratch and build my own or come up with something else.” In response to the blank stares, he added. “Done it before, I can do it again. But it’s easier to work with a partially established product.”

“Huh.” Minerva huffed. Just the thought of the runic bases needed to lay that sort of spell-work was enough to give her a headache.

“We can only look.” Remus said.

“Look at what?” Hermione asked as she emerged from the dressing area.

“Harry wants some multi-compartment trunks.” Severus smiled at his new sister.

“Oh, yes please. Linked ones?”

“Of course. I have plans.” Harry smirked.

“How many do we need?” Minerva asked.

“Better have a few, if I have to alter them.” Harry answered.

“There you are, dearies.” Mrs Thimbling joined them. “I’m assuming you want these ready as soon as we can do them?”

“Oh, yes, please, Mrs Thimbling.” Harry smiled. “We’ll drop back on our way out, anything that’s done, we’ll take with us. The rest, could you send via post box?”

“Of course, Master Snape-Urquart, of course. Now, Hermione’s paid via signet-impression, if we encounter any additional costs, I’ll include an invoice sent via post box.” She paused, with the parchment list of Hermione and Harry’s choices in her hand. “What box number am I sending to? And under whose name?”

“Minerva McGonagall, Owl Post Box 1442.” Minerva replied.

“Would you also include self-updating catalogues, both men’s and ladies?” Harry asked. “I can pretty much guarantee that we will have forgotten something.”

“Most certainly.” Mrs Thimbling smiled. “You’d best get to the rest of your shopping and I’ll have what I can finished for when you return. Have a pleasant afternoon.”

Harry and Severus both bowed to Mr Thimbling, while Hermione gave her a pretty curtsey, Minerva and Remus hastily following suit as the three siblings headed back into the Alley. As the two followed and watched the triplets, Remus spoke to Minerva.

“You know… I never expected to get an education in social etiquette from Prongs’ son.” Minerva smothered her laughter, but Remus wasn’t finished. “I wonder how Sirius is going to react that?” That was too much and the witch’s laughter broke through her well-renowned control.

“Oh gods, oh gods.” She put one hand over her mouth and the other wrapped around her ribs. “You utter bastard, Remus, you would say something like that, here.” She continued to smother her laughter while they waited at Twilfit and Tattings, then while they were in Luximbell’s, Remus added to her mirth, again.

“Then again, I wonder how Prongs is going to react?”

Tears hung on the edge of her eyes, but Minerva held onto her control by the slimmest of margins, as she watched Harry browbeat Hermione into trying a pair of the weirdest looking wand holsters the older witch had ever seen.

“Harry, what am I supposed to do with these?” The young witch asked.

Harry heaved a sigh. “You wear them, Hermione. Look, like this.” He placed the cuff on his wrist and secured it, then slid his wand into the tiny expansion pocket, the wand disappearing more and more, until just the handle was visible over the back of his wrist.

“Oh…” She said, her eyes lighting up. “Oh I like that.”

“I thought you might, there’s two different sorts, leather and metal. Sev and I have leather ones. They’re the same sort as the Aurors and dueller’s use.” He placed a few different styles on the counter beside her. “You can’t have jewelled, though. Trimmed in silver or gold, yes, jewels, no. Metal ones are, as you can see, a series of interlinking plates, they still can’t be jewelled. If you like, we can get some plain ones, I have an idea for using tiny gems chips, pressed into softened gold or silver as the runes are laid, that may let me set the same type of gem in and around the runes.” He frowned. “Depends on if I can get the metal-to-gem depth-ratio right, it’ll vary from gem to gem and metal to metal.” He sighed. "If I-”

“Later, Harry.” Hermione requested, but watched without comment as Severus picked through the selection.

A half dozen silver and a half dozen gold holsters were dropped on the counter, along with a pair of plain leather holsters.

“We’re here, now, Hermione.” Severus corrected. “Picking them up now, saves having to do another trip at a later point. We can store them, until Harry wants to experiment on them.”

“I suppose so.” She sighed. “What else is there? I’m beginning to run out of pepper-up.”

“Just the trunks.” Harry replied. “Would you like to go back to Gringotts and wait? I’m sure Remus and Sev will keep you company, if you like?”

Hermione studied Harry carefully for a moment. “That would be good, Harry. Sev, Remus? If you don’t mind, of course?” The last thing she needed right now, was Harry to decide to play matchmaker, he was just too damn good at it.

“Not at all, Hermione.” Remus replied.

Severus said nothing but extended an arm for Hermione to link hers through.

“Thank you, Sev.” She smiled softly.

“Máthair? Can I interest you in a jaunt through the luggage shops?” Harry’s cheeky grin made his eyes gleam.

“I think you just might, Harry, but we do have a limited amount of time left. It’s ten til four and Wiseacre’s shuts at 4pm and TerrorTours at 4.30pm. I have no idea about their luggage shop.”

“Well, shall we find out?” He bowed extravagantly and offered his arm to the witch.

 

It took the two a bare minute to walk the length of the Alley and enter Wiseacre’s. They were met by the elderly wizard himself, Bromley Wiseacre.

“Ah, Miss McGonagall, to what do I owe the… pleasure?” That it was anything but a pleasure, was clear from the tone of the old man’s voice and his body language.

Professor McGonagall was telling me that you, sir, could possibly carry the style of trunk that I desire… but I now hesitate to bother…” Harry hadn't been a senior Auror for nothing, he knew how to read people and he knew how to get what he wanted from them, this… man would bluster, but he would fold easily enough.

“Sir?” The old wizard spluttered.

“I require two trunks, both the same. Five or more compartments. One compartment is to be an accommodation unit, that offers access to the other compartments and both trunks must be able to be linked together with floo access.” Harry’s voice was firm and just a little bored.

“Sir? I’m… I’m sorry, sir, but that type of trunk doesn’t exist. But I can-”

“Then I require a trunk with a single accommodation unit and a second trunk with an infinite expansion compartment, single or multiple is unimportant. It seems that I will once again have to make my own. Blast Seamus for not controlling his pyromaniac tendencies.” The last sentences were muttered just loud enough for Wiseacre to hear.

“I have… I have accommodation trunks, sir, fine ones. One, two and three bedroom units. Or if you prefer, we have a multi-configuration trunk. It allows for the owner to create a number of rooms, all opening off of a central corridor, up to five rooms. There’s also a multi-configuration trunk, that opens into a large central room, it allows up to a dozen rooms.” The old man rattled off quickly, not wanting a sale to walk out the door.

“Show me.” Was all Harry said.

“Of course, sir. This way, sir.” Wiseacre lead the way to a darkened corner. “This trunk is the five room, multi-configuration trunk, sir. And this one is the larger version.”

“What other features do they have?”

“Features, sir? No other features, sir. Both are blank slates, waiting to be drawn on.”

“No features? Not blood security? No expansion capabilities? No shrinking charms? Not feather-light? Not weather proof?”

“…no, sir…” Wiseacre’s voice trailed off.

Harry huffed. “Well, that’s hardly useful. Hmm… Maybe… I… No. Neither of them are quite suitable, but if I can’t find something closer, I’ll be back in the morning. Thank you for your time.” Harry nodded politely, but turned and escorted Minerva from the shop.

“Well, that was a bust.” He said, once they were out of earshot. “TerrorTours? Or… what was the trunk shop in Nocturn Alley? The one that sold tents as well trunks?”

“Oh, you mean Expedition and Extras?” Minerva asked in reply.

“I think so. I’m inclined to go straight there, they certainly had the largest selection when Padfoot was camping.”

“Then we shall try there, first. It’s only a few minutes past four, now, we can always head back to TerrorTours if we need to.” The witch added.

Harry nodded and headed for the dingy Alley, patting Minerva’s hand absently, before twitching his wrist to loosen his wand in it’s holster. Just in case.

But there was no need. Harry had no idea the image he presented. He wasn’t exceptionally tall, just under the 6” mark, but it was the way he held himself, that caused most denizens of the less desirable Alley to keep their distance. Harry moved not with the arrogance of a pureblood or the hesitation of a half-blood. No, Harry moved with the simple surety of a wizard in his own home, no hesitation, no arrogance, no fear. He owned the space around him and it showed.

He held the bright red door to the tent and trunk shop open for Minerva and stepped in on her heals. His eyes flicking around the well lit space and until they found the trunk section.

“Good afternoon, sir, madam. May I assist you?” The tired young witch asked.

“I want multi-compartment trunks, minimum of four compartments, one to be an accommodation unit. I’d prefer linked, compartment to compartment and trunk to trunk. They must have blood security, have expansion capabilities, shrinking charms, feather-light charms and be weather proof.”

The witch blinked. “I’m not sure we can do all that, sir, not in one trunk. Some of it, certainly, but not all. Multi-compartment, yes, but not with an accommodation unit.”

“What can you match?”

“The accommodation trunks, linked trunk to trunk. One, three and six bedroom. Mu-”

“Six?”

“Single person, small and large, sir. We do have the ability to order an even larger version.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. What else?”

“Single compartment, linked trunk to trunk. Multi-compartment, linked trunk to trunk. Plus all our trunks have blood security, multiple person, multiple blood identifiers. The non-accommodation trunks all have expansion capabilities. Only the accommodation and single compartment trunks have weatherproof charms. All our trunks come in a range of colours and styles with feather-light and shrinking charms. All have the additional feature of not being able to be moved once a person is inside them and they also have a return to a blood-bonded owner if stolen, they will return to the last person whose blood was added to the security symbol and that used the correct password.”

“Hmm… that could work.” Harry twisted his lips in thought. “Alright. I want to be able to increase the outer size of the trunk so that I can turn it on it’s end and use it as a door.”

“Yes, sir. We have a number of vertical styles.”

“Can your single compartment trunks link to a accommodation trunk?”

“Yes, sir?” The witch couldn’t see where the handsome wizard was going with this.

“Can a number of trunks link to one accommodation trunk?”

“Ah… No, sir, a maximum of two.”

“And the maximum for a single compartment trunk?”

“I’m uncertain, sir, we stopped trying once we’d reached a dozen.”

Harry squinted and hummed, completely unaware that the young witch was studying him closely, and liking what she saw, very much.

“Very well. Ten single compartment trunks, two multi-compartment… How many compartments per trunk?”

“We have two, three, seven, ten, twelve and twenty, sir.”

“And the larger accommodation sizes?”

“We can order ten, fifteen and twenty room trunks.” This was interesting, she still had no real idea what this was about, but the more questions he asked the longer he was here and the longer she could look at him. And the better the chances of a significant sale.

“Can we add more trunks to the link to a single compartment at a later date or does it have to happen at purchase point?”

“Oh, no, sir. With each trunk there is a feature that allows a blood-bonded owner to add trunks at any point.”

“Good, good.” Harry tilted his head in thought and Minerva watched in amusement as the witch watched Harry’s hair fall across his eyes. A huff and he blew it away, causing the witch to glance away from his face. “Alright I want ten single compartment trunks, two multi-compartment, order in a fifteen room trunk… The multi-compartment? Can I set what use they are, later or does that have to happen, now?”

“No, sir. Some of the trunks have a optional selection, where the owner can choose what each compartment will be. With each trunk comes a selection sheet, on the inside of the lid, where you can make your selection.”

“Can I increase the size of a compartment and if so, what is the maximum?”

“Yes, you can. Maximum is 1000 yards in any one direction.”

“1000 yards? Nice. Ten single compartment, two ten compartment, order in a fifteen room unit and I’ll also have a tent. Just a standard family tent, six rooms will be fine.”

“Of course, sir. Will you be returning for your order?” She smiled as sweetly as she could. “Or will we be sending it by owl or post box?” The smile fell.

“I’ll take what you have in stock, today. The accommodation trunk can be send via post box.” Harry was beginning to get restless, he needed to get back to Sev and Hermione.

“Of course, sir.” Just her luck. “Any particular colours and styles?”

Harry’s jaw clenched in frustration. “Black dragon-hide with brass trim, vertical opening. Metal fittings on the inside.”

“Certainly, sir. One moment and I’ll get started on your order.”

The witch moved over to a trunk that stood upright against the wall, she opened it and vanished into it’s depths, only to emerge a few minutes later carrying a tray with shrunken trunks.

“Here we are. Ten single compartments, as you can see, they have the appropriate labels, when the trunks are enlarged the tags will remain the size they are, currently. Two ten compartment trunks and a six room tent.” She pushed a clipboard towards Harry. “If you’ll fill in the pertinent details, sir, we can order the accommodation trunk today and have it delivered by post box on Monday.”

Harry smiled. “Excellent.” He picked up the quill and began writing, while the sales-witch parcelled up his purchase, transferring the details of each trunk to an invoice as she went. “Would you also include an updating catalogue, too, please?”

“Certainly, sir.”

“May I ask a question?” Minerva asked.

“Of course, madam.” The younger witch thought she knew the older witch but wasn’t sure where from.

“The accommodation trunk? How many bathrooms?”

“Oh… I’m sorry, I forgot to clarify that. The one and three bedroom trunks have two bathrooms, the six has three. The special orders have the option to nominate the number required.”

“What do you think, Máthair? Fifteen or…?” Harry asked.

“No, Harry. I think we should have one per bedroom and two from the living areas.” Minerva corrected.

“A large kitchen, a separate dining room and a large central living room?” Harry was ticking boxes on the order form as he went.

“A library and an office, as well please.” Minerva added.

“And a large pantry, I think.” Harry concluded. “That should be enough. If not we can always order a second one at a later date.”

The sale-witch blinked, did this man have any idea how expensive a fifteen bedroom accommodation trunk was going to be, with the things he’d added to it?

“Sir? Might I recommend erring on the side of caution? Accommodation trunks are quite expensive, it will be unlikely that you’d find a buyer for such a large trunk, on the second-hand market.”

Harry looked at the young witch and she froze under his hard stare.

“Not an issue at this point in time, Miss.” His voice was cold. “If I decide it’s unsuitable or not large enough, I know exactly where it’s going. Please process the order and allow me to pay for it so that I may return to my family.”

“Yes, sir.” She squeaked. She quickly totalled the cost of the accommodation trunk and added it to his invoice. “Sir? The total cost of thirteen trunks and one tent is ʛ16,250, including delivery of a special order.” ʛ16,000, you could buy a small cottage for less than twice that.

“Huh. Right, I’ll pay for the accommodation trunk by signet-impression and I’ll sign a payment slip for the rest.” Harry kicked himself, he should have told Bogrod that he’d need a larger amount in his spending vault. Dammit.

“No, love. I’ll pay for the rest.” Minerva offered.

“Máthair…”

“Harry.” She was firm. “I will pay for the rest. I can pretty much guarantee that Severus, Remus and Hermione will want to reimburse you.”

Harry sighed. “Yeah, they will.”

“Never mind, love, I won’t tell them how much it really cost.” Minerva knew Harry wanted to protect his new family.

“Thanks, Máthair.” Harry grinned at his mother, turning back to the sales-witch. “We’re going to split it up, sorry.”

“Not at all, sir, just give me a moment and I’ll separate the order from the purchases.” She tapped her wand against the order and moved it to a new invoice. “There we are, all ready for payment.” She moved the invoice for the trunks over in front of Minerva and left the order invoice in front of Harry.

Mother and son pressed their signet rings to the payment section of each invoice and waited until the Gringotts symbol appeared.

“All done, sir, madam.” The young witch handed over a small bag containing the dozen shrunken trunks and tent. “The order will be complete by midday on Monday and will be forwarded to you by Owl Post Box, to box number…” she paused while double-checking the box number. “Box number 1442.”

“Thank you, Miss.” Harry gave the woman a small bow.

“You’re very welcome, sir.” She attempted a curtsey in reply. “You have a good afternoon, sir, madam.” She was very happy with her sales for the day. 23 trunks, 3 tents and 4 orders.

“And you, Miss.” Harry held the door open and gestured for Minerva to lead the way. Once outside the shop, he tucked the bag into a pocket on the inside of his robe and offered Minerva his arm. “Shall we re-join our family, Máthair?”

“We shall.”

Chapter Text

“Master Henrick?” The wizened old elf appeared in front of Harry.

“Yes, Kreacher?”

“Lord Black is calling Kreacher. Should Kreacher be answering?”

“Lord Black?”

“Yes, Master.”

“He’s calling you? By name?”

“Yes, Master.”

“Right. Bring me parchment quill and ink, please, Kreacher.” Harry sighed.

 

Two minutes and some 500 plus miles from Minerva’s patio, an old man frowned at the gathering of elves in front of him, he might not know any of these elves personally, but he knew that one hadn’t answered his call. Then a wizened old elf wearing a deep green tunic pushed his way from the door to stand beside the desk.

“Kreacher is to give this to Lord Black.” He held out a single piece of parchment.

“You didn’t answer when I called, elf. Be careful I don’t give you clothes.” The old man snarled.

The elf spoke again.

“Kreacher’s Master is telling Kreacher to give this to Lord Black.”

“Do not speak unless-”

“Kreacher’s Master Henrick said to give this to Lord Black.” The elf said for the third time.

This time the old man actually heard the words the elf said and not what he expected the elf to say.

“Master Henrick?” The old man asked and the elf nodded in reply. “Who is your Master Henrick?”

“Kreacher is to give this to Lord Black.” Said the elf, shaking the parchment in front of the man.

“Can you say nothing else!” The man snarled, only to blink in surprise when the elf shook his head. “You can’t?” The elf shook his head again. “Will the note explain more?” The elf nodded. “Very well, put it on the desk.” The placed the parchment on the desk and vanished, his job was done. “Damned elf.” The man muttered. “Let’s see what this ‘Master Henrick’ has to say.” He picked up the parchment and read the message.

To Arcturus Sirius Black,

Lord of House Black

Our elf informs us that you have called him to your presence, he has been permitted to attend, only to deliver this message. It is pointless to ask anything else of the elf, he has been told not to say anything more than that he is to give this to you.

I am his Master, now. Gringotts informed me of this, on Wednesday afternoon and I claimed the elf immediately, I am well aware of how this particular elf has been treated by the House of Black and let me say that I am ashamed of your House in this regards.

Let me also say that it is because of myself, my brother and our sister, that Gringotts has approached you, regarding your Heir. I am well aware of his history with your Family, however, I am also well aware that Sirius Orion Black was only one of a number of children targeted by a mentally ill man. Once free of this man, your Heir will return your House to greater heights than it has ever known.

My family and I will make arrangements to meet with you, after Sirius is granted his freedom and is being treated by St Mungo's. Under no circumstances is Dumbledore to be trusted in Sirius’ presence, regardless of who is with him. The man means him no good will and shall be dealt with shortly.

Henrick,

Lord of House Harrington.

Well, that was unexpected. Lord Black thought to himself, smirking. I wonder what Lord Harrington has in mind for Hogwarts’ Headmaster. I suspect nothing good.

 

“Kreacher? How is Dobby?” Harry called quietly.

“Master, Dobby elfie is getting better, but he is being a long way from being well.” The elf answered.

“In what way?”

“Dobby was nearly dead, Master Henrick, for an elfie to be that hurt is bad, really, really bad. And ‘cause he’s a free elfie and has no Family Bond to draw magic from, it’s being much longer before he is getting better. Telli says it will be another four days, at least, before Dobby is being on his feet and another week or more before he is being ready to go back to work.”

“Alright, in that case, I need to change my plans for him. I need to speak to him, can you bring him to me? Keep him in his bed, though.” Harry requested.

“Yes, Master Henrick.” The old elf scampered through the patio door and into the house. A few minutes later, the three elves, Kreacher, Telli and Dalli, reappeared carrying a bundle of blankets in a large shallow basket.

“We is bringing Dobby to Master Henrick.” Telli and Dalli spoke as one.

“Thank you, Telli, Dalli, Kreacher. Please wait, I shan’t keep Dobby here for too long.” Harry said, filling four small glass with milk, then charming them warm.

“Yes, Master Henrick.” All three replied.

“Good. Here you are, sit down quietly and have some warm milk.” Harry knew that elves started their day with warm milk, just like wizards started theirs with tea.

“Thank you, Master Henrick.” Kreacher whispered. “Master is good to his elfies.”

“I would like to think so, Kreacher.” He turned from Kreacher and the two female elves, to face the bundle of blankets. “Dobby? The night before last I broke the bond between you and House Malfoy. You are a free elf.”

The battered little elf face emerged from the blankets and smiled as much as was possible with the injuries he had and nodded.

“I would like you to work for me.” Harry smiled as the elf nodded almost frantically. “I will give you two choices, Dobby. One. Bind yourself to my Family. Two. A written contract, that declares that you work for me, only for as long as I treat you with respect and provide you with food, accommodation and care.” Harry anticipated that Dobby would go for the second option, particularly after the treatment he received at the hands of the Malfoy’s. “I do not expect, nor do I want, an answer now. Once Telli and Dalli say you are well enough to stand on your own feet without assistance, then I will want an answer. But so that you are aware, your first task for me and my family, will be to take notes for Kreacher, Telli and Dalli as they assess the damage to a number of Family estates.”

The elf nodded, his little face scrunched slightly in thought.

“Now, Kreacher, Telli and Dalli will take you, and your bed, out into the garden. Until you are well, I want you to spend a few hours, spread out over the course of the day, outside. You need fresh air and warm sunlight to help your recovery. If there is anything else you need, or want, please tell Kreacher and he will inform me. If it is something you need, I will see that you have it, immediately. If it is a want, it depends on the item.”

“Please, Master ‘Enrick? Can Dobby be having a pet? Dobby has seen other elfies visiting his last House and some had petses.” The little elf’s voice was still rough and broken.

“A pet?” Harry blinked a few times. “What sort of pet?”

“Dobby would like a puffskein, please, Master ‘Enrick.”

 “A puffskein? Any particular colour?”

“Ah… Harry? Puffskein’s only come in one colour.” Minerva couldn’t help but enter the conversation.

“They do… but, they also take really well to colour changing charms and mostly, they breed true after being charmed.” Harry smirked. “I saw a rainbow striped one, once, the stripes moved going from it’s face to it’s tail. Fred and George tried to breed a green and blue striped one with a red and orange one. They were all chocolaty coloured, all but one.”

“They bred them?” Minerva asked. “Did they have a licence?”

“I would assume so, as they specialised in breeding pygmy puffs. A pyg-puff is about half the size of a standard puffskein, most are smaller than an apple, though.”

“And they bred them? Deliberately?”

“Oh, yes. George used to say that they had trouble breeding them fast enough to keep up with the demand. They started off just breeding pyg-puffs in pink and purple, but it didn’t take long before they began to experiment. But that doesn’t answer my question. Dobby? What colour would you like?”

Dobby just looked at him, with big wide eyes. He’d never been offered a choice before, not in anything.

“Kreacher, Telli, Dalli? Would you like a puffskein for a pet, too?” Harry offered the other elves.

“I think that would be a lovely idea, Harry.” Minerva beamed at him. “And if we get four females or four males, we won’t have to worry about them breeding… unless you want to breed your friends… pyg-puffs, was it?”

“No, Máthair. I’ll leave that for the Ruffians. George was still active in the joke and prank stuff, but without Fred, his heart just wasn’t in it. He spent more time breeding puffs than he did in the shop. He was working on a puff that had wings like a snitch, but while he could transfigure them to have wings, they didn’t breed true. When I saw him last, he said he’d had a breakthrough and thought the next litter would be right.”

“Oh, my.” Minerva whispered.

“Yeah…” Harry muttered.

“So puffs for the elves, huh?” Remus asked. “I never though of elves having pets, before.”

“No, neither did I.” Severus added.

“Ah, well. Dobby? I’ll get you four a puff each, when we go to Diagon alley next, I’m not sure wether that will be this afternoon, tomorrow or Monday, though.” Harry offered. "You can decide on colours later. Alright?"

“Yes, Master ‘Enrick.” The little elf croaked.

“Good. Kreacher, Telli, Dalli? You three see to Dobby, find a nice warm spot, out in the  garden, but make sure he doesn’t get too much sun.”

“Yes, Master Henrick.” The three elves bobbed bows and picked up Dobby’s bed and shuffled off the patio and down a cobbled path.

“Remus? Your potion has to sit for at least four hours before you can drink it. I’d recommend leaving it until dinner time.” Harry suggested.

“You’re the expert on the potion, cub, I’ll do as you say.” The werewolf said. “But you’re going to have to teach me how to shift like an Animagus. Sirius and James never explained and Wormtail never told anyone anything.”

“Will do, but it will take 18 hours for the potion to work it’s way through your system. So, not until late tomorrow or Monday.” Harry warned.

“Did you figure out whether yours changed or not?” Severus asked.

“Nooo…” Harry drew the word out. “It slipped my mind. If mine has changed, quite probably so has Hermione’s and maybe yours, too, Sev. We can sort that out once the potion has done it’s work and Remus is ready to learn to shift.”

“Fair enough.” Minerva nodded. “So… today is the Gaunt ring?”

“Yes. Then that only leaves the diadem, which we’ll get on Tuesday.”

“Harry…?” Hermione’s voice joined the conversation for the first time.

“Yeah, Mione?”

“I’ve been thinking… about Ron…”

“Yeesss…” Harry stretched the word out, why did he think he was not going to like this?

“You’re an Accidental Time Traveller, right?”

“Yes and so are you.” Harry couldn’t get bead on Hermione’s thoughts, in just a few hours she’d worked out how to keep Harry and Severus out of anything but her ‘public’ thoughts. Clever girl.

“And you’ve been touched by Wild Magic? It changed your core?”

“Yes?”

“It also changed Sev’s, after he offered to be your brother and the two of you did the Blood Adoptions?”

“Yes.”

“It made the two of you twins.” This wasn’t a question.

“It did.”

“Then it brought me here? Because you saw me as your sister and missed that sister?”

“As far as we can work out, yes.”

“And it changed my core to match yours and Sev’s.”

“Yes.”

“Hmm…”

“What’s going through your head, Mione?”

“You’re the centre of this? Your desire for a family? Wild Magic is changing things to match what you want, because you accepted it?”

“We think so. Why?”

“If that is the case, then... Ron won’t join us.”

“What?” Harry frowned. “What make you so sure?”

“Simple, Harry… You saw me as a sister, but you never saw Ron as a brother. A best mate, a pain in the butt, a good friend, sure. But you always saw Ron as a part of his family. His family. Not yours. Based on that, we’re on our own. No Ron, no Neville, no Luna, no Ginny, no George, no Fred. Just us. They are friends, close friends, almost as close as family, yes, but still friends. You never saw any of them as family, they had their own families.”

Harry sat and looked at Hermione, her words running through his mind. He tried to pick her theory apart, but there was nothing to pick apart. It was true, he loved them all, but they weren’t what he thought of when someone asked about his family.

“Damn.” He said. “We could use his input.”

“Yeah…” Hermione sighed.

“Well… we’ll just have to do the best we can, Mione. Oh, and remind me to let Bogrod know, we don't expect Ron to join us and the reason why.”

“We will.” Severus agreed.

“Anything else? Anyone? No? I really want to get the Ring sorted. Can we go now?” Harry begged.

“Yes, Harry.” Came from Severus, Hermione and Remus, while Minerva just nodded.

“Does everyone know where Little Hangleton is?” Harry asked and the others just nodded in reply. “Any ideas on a cover story?”

“A cover story?” Minerva asked.

“Yeah, in case we see anyone that knows any of you. I mean, you’re a professor at Hogwarts, pretty much anyone under 40 knows you, Máthair. Someone’s sure to ask why we’re in that area.”

“Huh… you know, I never gave that a thought.” Minerva muttered.

“I grew up in Upper Liddington.” Remus said. “The walking trails around the Hangleton, Little Hangleton, Liddington, Upper Liddington and Lower Liddington area, go in and around the edges of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. We could always say I wanted to check on my parents’ old place and we decided to make a day of it.”

“That would work.” Hermione offered. “Harry and I often went on hiking trips.”

“It would, indeed.” Minerva smiled. “Shall we get changed, maybe transfigure some appropriate gear? We can fetch the Ring and continue on to Hangleton or Upper Liddington for a late lunch?”

Harry exchanged glances with, first Hermione, then Severus and finally Remus, before he nodded. “We can do that. Meet back here in 15 minutes?”

With nods all round, the three wizards and two witches made their way back inside and headed for their individual rooms. Harry sighed as he looked at his clothes, there was nothing that was really all that suitable for a muggle environment and certainly nothing that would suit summer hiking. He sighed and reached for the large bag that held nothing but handkerchiefs. He’d have to transfigure something for now and remember to go out into muggle London or Edinburgh for muggle acceptable wear.

‘That will just have to wait. Today the Ring, tomorrow I’ll get the trunk situation sorted and teach Remus to how to access his Animagus form… and find out if I still have the same one. I have my doubts, though. Wild Magic has changed my core, so I doubt that my Animagus form has been left alone…’ Harry’s mind raced. He sighed as he transfigured handkerchiefs into suitable clothes.

 

An hour and a half later, Harry and his new family made their way up a quiet road out of Little Hangleton towards Great Hangleton. Just a few minutes of casual strolling brought them to the Gaunt shack.

And a shack it was. The frame was visible in places where boards had fallen from the walls and missing shingles left holes in the roofline. Vines and weeds grew up around the path and the building itself.

“This? This is the home of the last descendant of Salazar Slytherin?” Minerva screwed up her nose.

“Unfortunately, yes. I mean, it was never Tom Riddle’s home, but it was his mother’s and her family’s. He never lived here, of course, but…” Harry trailed off and sighed.

“How do we do this?” Severus asked.

We don’t. I do.” Harry stated. “But I’m thinking that I might try and circumvent Voldy’s traps.”

“How?” Hermione asked.

“Well, he’s a parseltongue and so am I. I’m wondering whether I can conjure a snake and use it to get past any traps.”

“Hmm… It’s worth a try, Harry.” Severus mused quietly.

Sserp-” Harry began to hiss in the parseltongue equivalent of Latin.

“Stop.” Hermione cut him off.

Harry said nothing but turned to look at his new sister, one eyebrow raised in query.

“Harry… think, dammit! You’re an Auror, for Merlin’s sake! If you were on duty, what would you do?” She frowned at him.

Harry’s eyes widened in surprise. “Oh, gods.” He whispered. “I forgot.”

“I thought you might have… Now, stop being an idiot and start thinking! She snapped, smacking him upside the head.

“Yes, Mione.” Harry sighed. Oculus fuga. Et revertetur quid mihi videatur.” He chanted in Latin.

A shimmer in the air was all the warning the watchers got, before a large eyeball, reminiscent of Mad-eye Moody, appeared. It floated in front of Harry for a few seconds and when the young wizard waved his wand in the direction of the shack, it eye floated towards the ramshackle building. It bobbed and dipped, like a leaf on the breeze, no apparent regulation or symmetry in it’s movements.

What… in Merlin’s name is that?” Severus gasped.

“That, dear brother, is another of my inventions, it’s a surveillance recorder. The Auror department call it our ‘Eye in the Sky’, mostly because the first time we used it, we were trying to determine how many children a kidnapper had taken and were being held in a tower. One of the toddlers saw it and called the other kids, they couldn’t work out what it was, so they called it an ‘Eye in the Sky’ and it stuck.” Harry explained. “Bloody Kingsley and Ron thought it was a great name and refused to call it anything else. Gits.”

Hermione snorted, while Remus smothered his laughter, but Minerva just shook her head.

“So how long will it take and how will we know if there’s any magical traps?” Remus asked.

“It should only take a few minutes. It’ll go into each room in the shack, and I’m going to assume that there’s only a few… it will do a scan from the door for any physical traps, before scanning for life signs. Then after having completed the visual and life-sign scans, the Eye switches modes and does the same for signs of magical traps, curses, hexes and the like. Horcruxes show up bright as lumos on that scan. So do conjured animals or objects.” Harry answered, bending down and picking up a small rock.

“Are you going to offer this Eye to the Auror corps, here?” Minerva asked.

“Ehhh…. Not sure. Certainly not yet. If I do, then I want a reputation behind me, first. Mad-eye might love it, but Bones is head of the DMLE right now and she’s too new to the position to make major changes.”

“Ah… maybe in a few years, then.” The older witch commented.

“Maybe.” Harry conceded. “I’ll think about sort of stuff later, right now? Horcruxes, Dumbledore and Sirius are pretty much all I want to worry about.”

“Fair enough.” Minerva granted.

The five waited patiently for the Eye to work it’s way through the shack and as it emerged, all held their breathes to see what it showed. The Eye floated to a halt in front of Harry and at his quiet “ostende mihi” an image began to form, blurred at the edges, but brilliantly clear in the centre. It showed first the door and then as it worked it’s way through the shack, it showed places that glittered and sparkled, and beside those places words were visible.

“Okay, so it’s doing a combined display, that means there’s no deliberate physical traps. These areas are areas where magic still remains.” Harry said as he pointed to the sparkly areas. “Here is where a curse hit the wall and here, this door showed repeated use of a locking charm. Ah.. here we go. See the metallic red glow? That’s what a Horcruxe or a soul container shows up as.”

“A soul container?” Remus asked. “What’s the difference between a Horcruxe and a soul container?”

“A lot. A Horcruxe requires a murder to split off a portion of the initial soul-base, but a soul container holds the entire soul, it’s rarely used as the physical body becomes little more than a golem. Mostly healers use it to spare a patient from masses of pain caused by severe injury, but every so often, we’ll have some idiot that doesn’t know the difference between a Horcruxe and a soul container and they’ll shut up either their own soul or their intended victim’s. Even had one stupid git that didn’t understand that a soul container wasn’t a soul and body container. He kidnapped a pair of beautiful little girls and made a pair of soul containers for them, worst thing ever. He’d intended to keep the girls in a stasis-like state, but screwed up, when he realised that the girls’ bodies weren’t in stasis, he freaked out and dropped their bodies and the soul containers off in Diagon Alley for the Aurors to find. Between us and the healers, it took only a few minutes to realise what the idiot had done and free the girls, but the twat had kept twin souls apart for days and both girls where damaged as a result. The healers doubt they’ll ever recover.”

“Oh, heavens.” Severus whispered. “Do… will… can we stop that?”

“Yep. It was the story about Voldy that brought Horcruxes and soul containers to the attention of the modern world, without that, there’s only a few scholars that are aware of them and given what’s involved in making them? Not likely that they’ll try. The girls, though, I’m going to have to set something in place, in regards to them. They’re both witches, halfblood, but their mother died in childbirth and their father is a drunk. In their case, I’m going to pull a Voldy, or what Voldy started out to be, and remove both girls at birth and leave something transfigured to look like dead babies, in their place.”

“Yes.” Hermione stated, bluntly. “Yes, definitely. I’ll help.”

“Same here.” Severus stated.

“Alright, Hermione? Put that on a to-do list, please.” Harry requested. “I’m going to go and grab the ring. One of you can come to the door, but no further please. There aren’t any traps, but the floor’s not exactly stable. There’s two snakes in the chimney breast, unfortunately the Eye can’t tell through the brickwork if they’re natural or conjured. So, I’m going to cast a containment shield around them, be ready, cause if one is a magically conjured or summoned snake, the shield won’t stop them, whoever comes with me will have to conjure up some sort of barrier to block it.”

“I’ll wait here.” Minerva replied. “I don’t need to watch, I’ll just fret.”

Severus, Hermione and Remus looked at each other. “Hermione, you’ve a Charms Mastery as well as one in DADA.” Remus said reluctantly. “It’s probably be best if you went with Harry.”

“Yes.” Severus agreed, just as reluctantly. “You’ve also more experience, working or training with him than we do, just yet.”

“I do.” Hermione agreed. “But we’re going to change that, tomorrow. Time spent in our mindscapes will fix that.”

“It will.” They both smiled.

Hermione turned back to Harry and pulled both wands from their holders. “Ready, little brother. Let’s do this.” She grinned, brandishing her wands like batons in front of her.

Harry snorted, but he only pulled one wand out. “Follow me, step exactly where I step, but stop when I tell you to.” He directed.

Making their way through the shack, carefully stepping over rotten or missing floorboards, Harry and Hermione took their time to reach what they figured was the main living area. A bare brick chimney breast filled one wall, the bricks themselves beginning to crumble and fall. Harry raised a hand to stop Hermione before crossing, not to the chimney, but to a door into a small kitchen, he crouched down and using his wand, he pried up the sill-board and still without touching anything with his hands, levitated the small, dark green leather-covered box out of it’s resting place. He opened the coin pouch at his waist and directed the box into it, still without touching it. Once the pouch closed, Harry pulled the rock he’d picked up earlier from his pocket and transfigured it into replica box and carefully lowered it into the original hole. A wave of his wand and the board was settling back into place.

Then it was a case of retracing their steps and avoiding the traps, all over again. Hermione found it easier to edge her way out backwards, sliding her feet from spot to spot. While Harry pivoted on one foot and it was he that guided Hermione’s feet as they left the room. In the hallway, Harry remained on alert, relaxing now would be premature and could still have fatal consequences. He wasn’t going to have that, Hermione would never forgive him.

He sighed in relief as he took the first step on the hard cobbles that made up the path to the road. Nothing was said as he kept walking, out through the gate and left down the lane. Reaching a T-intersection, Harry ignored both the road to the left, which lead to Great Hangleton and the road to the right, which lead to Lower Liddington and instead continued straight ahead and onto a bridle path towards Liddington. Once a few minutes passed he began to relax and when a small clearing let the sun shine down on them, Harry came to a halt and sat himself down on a log.

“I’m assuming you have it, then?” Severus asked.

“I do.” Harry replied.

“But you never opened the box.” Hermione argued.

“I don’t need to, Mione, I can feel it. It’s a larger piece than what’s in my head, I would guess that it’s either the first or second he made. Dumbledore once said, he thought the order of making was ring, diary, diadem, locket, cup, me and then Nagini. But it doesn’t add up, right.” Harry explained. “I spoke with the Unspeakables and we came up with a different schedule of creation. The diary and the ring, we couldn’t get a clear determination on which was make first. We all agreed that the locket was third, the cup fourth and the diadem came fifth. When each of then were made is still slightly fuzzy, we were only able to narrow it down on some of them. The ring and the diary, we believe to have been made in 1943, but which came first? No idea. The other three, we can only say somewhere between 1946 and 1980.”

“That’s a big gap, Harry.” Minerva blinked as she answered.

“I know, but nothing we did or found could narrow it down further. We believe one was made using the death of Hepzibah Smith in March 1959, but we couldn’t agree on which one.”

“Does it really matter, now?” Remus asked, puzzled.

 “No, not really. It won’t affect what we’ll be doing to them, either.” Harry answered.

“Then don’t worry about it. Now… what do we do, now?” Severus assured Harry.

“Upper Liddington is about a thirty minute walk away. What say we go there for lunch and then apparate home?” Remus offered.

“That sounds good, but I want to stop in Diagon Alley if possible. I did tell Dobby and the elves that I’d get them a puffskein each.” Harry reminded the others.

“You did.” Minerva agreed. “And maybe drop off the two Horcruxes already collected.”

“Yes, Harry, there’s not telling if Hogwarts’ wards will detect a Horcruxe coming into the grounds, now.” Hermione added.

“Merlin, I hope not, otherwise I’m screwed, Mione. I’m still a Horcruxe, remember?” Harry groaned.

“Oh, dear.” Hermione whispered. “I’d forgotten.”

“And I can’t get it removed until we’ve found the diadem, either.” Harry added.

“Blast.” Hermione groaned.

“C-can… can we b-block it? With a c-containment charm? J-just long enough to go through the wards? Once you’re inside, will it matter?” Severus asked, worry for his brother making him stutter a little.

“It shouldn’t.” Minerva frowned in thought. “Dumbledore doesn’t usually boost the wards until the week before students return, so they’re almost at a low, right now. A containment charm just over the scar could work. I’d suggest talking to Gringotts and their experts, before we try anything like that, though.”

The five began to walk up the path again, two different conversations happening at the same time, Hermione and Severus discussing the various charms that might be suitable, while Harry and Remus talked about the trunks and what Harry planned to do with them. Minerva tried her best to follow both conversations, but found Hermione and Severus’ to be just a little too involved.

“So, a containment charm?” Severus asked.

“Yes, Sev. I just don’t know which one to use.” Hermione fretted.

“The Tenens Charm?”

“That was my first thought, but it’s only a holding charm.” The young witch said.

“True.” Severus agreed.

“Then I though of Duris murus, but…” She trailed off.

“It’s very rigid.” Her brother sighed.

“Yes, it is.” Hermione sighed, too.

“What about Obice Inter?” Severus offered.

“That’s better, but I’m concerned about the physical connection to Harry’s bloodstream.” She was worried about it being so close to Harry’s brain, too.

“Ugh.”

“So, then I thought about intus fuisse clipeum…”

“But that does much the same thing. The shield is on the inside, how will that effect him physically?” Severus muttered.

“I don’t know, Sev.”

“So what if we were to try a combination of segregareclipeumcaesuspraesidio and claudebant? We could…” Minerva let their conversation fade and focused more on Harry and Remus’.

 “What’s with the trunks, Harry?” Remus asked.

“I’m going to set them up as a… unit, a complex, just for us. Each of us will have a trunk as an access point, they will be linked to a single compartment trunk that is in turn linked to the accommodation trunk, and also to the multi-compartment trunks.” Harry explained.

“Okay... and why?”

“I’ve seen what the staff accommodation is like at Hogwarts, it’s not great. Not bad, but not great. With the trunks, we’ll have a large multi-room… let’s call it a house, even it’s really only a series of rooms made to resemble a house. So you have a trunk with an extended space that opens vertically, right? Place it against a wall and it’s the equivalent of a door into the trunk. Now, this is where it gets practical. Your trunk is linked to a main, or central trunk, same as mine, Hermione’s, Sev’s and Máthair’s are.”

“Right. And?” Remus asked, again.

“You step from your trunk to the central trunk. It will appear to be a large room with a number of doors. Doors that lead to my trunk or Hermione’s or to the ‘house’… or to the multi compartment trunks. The two multi-compartment trunks each have ten compartments, right? So, we’ll set one up as a potions lab, large enough that Sev, Mione and I can each have separate space. Another compartment can be for a duelling arena. Another for a greenhouse, another for an exercise gym, another specifically for a charms workshop, another a library… You see where I’m going?” Harry grinned.

“So, you plan on living in the trunks when not in classes?” The werewolf asked.

“Yep.” Harry popped the ‘P’.

“But what about being available for students?” Remus frowned.

“Oh, I’m going to get Hermione to remake her office-alert system, again.”

“Office-alert system?” Remus asked the question before Minerva could.

“Yeah. In the DADA rooms, she’ll set an alert on the stairs that lead to the office, that will sound an alert in the ‘house’, the central trunk and inside each area of the multi-compartment trunks. That will give me enough time to get from wherever I am to the office before they get there or, if I can’t, then I can send a message alerting the student, or whoever, that I’ll be there as soon as I can.” Came the answer.

“Why not just use the staff accommodation, instead? Why go to the bother of linking a heap of trunks together?”

“Mostly? Privacy, Remus. While he’s Headmaster of Hogwarts, Dumbledore can force all the portraits to report back to him on student and staff behaviour and actions.”

“Oh, gods.” Minerva whispered, she’d never known.

“Yeah, but the best thing about the linked trunks, is distance. You can be in New York, Sirius in Paris, Sev in japan, Mione in Australia, Máthair at Hogwarts and me in London and the trunks will let us be together for meals or use the potions lab or the gym. Once you reach a location, there’s no need to fuss with things like portkeys or floos, if you want to come home for a cuppa and a chat.” Harry continued.

“I’ve never had a trunk that linked with a second trunk. How does is work? How do we go from one to another?” Remus tilted his head in puzzlement.

“After I’ve linked them, when you step into your trunk, you’ll be met with a bare space, you can do whatever you want with it, dress it up or leave it plain, up to you. But there will be a door for each trunk linked to yours. That door will look like a normal door, right?” Harry asked.

“Right?” Remus and Minerva both answered.

“But when you open it, it’s a cross between a floo and a normal door. What I mean is, the doorframe itself is deep, about a foot deep. When you go through the door, you’ll go through a process the same as you do when floo-ing, but you don’t need to use floo-powder, as the link makes the floo-doorframe always active and because there is only one address per floo-doorframe, you don’t need to state a destination, either.” The youngest wizard explained.

“So, why aren’t these in use more? It sounds like good way for kids to travel home for weekends or holidays.” Remus suggested.

“I think… it’s partially laziness, partially pure-blood mania and well… wizards aren’t really the most adaptable lot, you know and they do tend to resent changes.” Harry hesitantly answered.

“What? Why do you say that?” Minerva asked, she didn’t think that was quite right.

“Take the trunks as an example. Sure a wizard came up with the idea of an expanded space, but it was a muggleborn that added the extra compartments. The Wizarding Tent? A wizard, yes. But the trunk accommodation? That was another muggleborn. As was the idea of linking trunks.”

“Really?” Remus blinked in surprise.

“Yeah, that’s why very few pure-bloods have them and why no one ever thought of using something like it for students. Another idea? The story of the three brothers may have mentioned an invisibility cloak, but it was another muggleborn that made the first knock-off cloak. Brooms have been around for centuries, but it was, you guessed it, a muggleborn that added cushioning charms, so guys didn’t crush the family jewels against the handle and another that added the footrests. You’ve seen Mad-eye’s broom, yeah?” Harry asked.

“Yeah?” Remus wasn’t sure he wanted to know why Harry was asking.

“Well, him and Ted Tonks built that. And Ted is…?” Harry trailed off.

“A muggleborn?” Minerva and Remus answered resignedly.

“Precisely.” Harry smirked.

“Stop tormenting them, Harry.” Hermione called from behind them. “I’m hungry. Can we hurry up a little?”

“It’s another fifteen minutes, Mione. You’ll either have to wait or… we can apparate to Diagon Alley and eat there. The Leaky, the Watched Pot or the Witch’s Brew. Your choice.” Remus recited the available options.

“Damn. I was looking forward to lunch in the Liddington Pub, but the Aging ritual has messed my body up. I don’t think I can manage the walk there and the wait while our lunch is cooked.” The young witch moaned.

“I know what you mean, Mione. I vote for Diagon and the Watched Pot.” Harry added.

The others exchanged looks and nods. “The Watched Pot, it is.” Minerva stated.

Grins were shared and Harry, Sev and Hermione grasped hands and, as one, apparated away. Minerva and Remus snorted and they, too, apparate back to London.

 

Chapter Text

Sunday dawned, wet and windy, not a typical summer’s day in Scotland. The wind howled around the window panes and rattled the doors. Minerva was once again asking herself why she kept the drafty old place, but right now? She had no answers.

Just after lunch, it became too much for Harry. “Alright, enough. Máthair, I’m sorry, but I’ve had enough of the cold.” He stalked out of the drawing room.

He returned a few minutes later with a small bag. Out of this bag he pulled a trunk, he placed it on the floor near the door and turned it on one end. Next, he enlarged it, until it stood nearly seven foot in height, opening the trunk, he disappeared into it’s expanded space, his steps echoing hollowly. Silence. Nothing was heard for a few minutes, then the hollow sound of his feet could be heard.

“Oi, you lot. In here.” Harry called.

Hermione and Severus were on their feet and heading for the trunk before Remus and Minerva could do more than register what had been said. They exchanged glances, sighed, shook their heads and followed the siblings.

Inside the trunk was a large bare space, the walls of which were a soft cream, matching up with the interior of the trunk’s lid. The space was roughly rectangular, about 20x10 feet across and about 10 high. On one short wall there were two doors, both had picture frames beside them, one a blank room almost the same as the one they were in, while the second picture was a room with a pair of doors and Harry could been seen waving his wand and duplicating a trunk.

Hermione squealed and ran through the door under the picture of Harry, Sev right behind her.

“Oh, Harry.” She cried, wrapping her arms around herself. “Hurry up, please?” She begged. “I’m cold.”

“Just a sec, Mione.”

Harry picked up the trunk he’d been copying and shrunk it down. He reached into the bag and pulled out trunks until he got one with a red tag. He placed it on the floor and with a wave and an ‘augere, the trunk expanded until Harry said ‘prohibere. The trunk was pushed hard against the wall and Harry’s hand went back into the bag until he got another trunk with another red tag. It went beside the other red-tagged-trunk and was pushed against the wall.

“One of these is primarily for training, study and potions. The other, I’m going to set up a few physical fitness areas. But later, once the house-trunk arrives. For now? We’re going to have to use the tent. Good news is, that there’s no weather to affect it here.” He pulled a tiny shrunken roll of fabric from the bag and with another wave of his wand, it unrolled and began to enlarge.

The tent was much the same size, on the outside, as the one Harry, Hermione and Ron had used on their Horcruxe hunt. But inside the differences were clear. A large central room was draped in canvas, with doorframes studding the walls. Three on the right, plus a large opening that lead to a kitchen, on the left there were five doors, two of which were clearly bathrooms, as the floors were tiled. At the far end of the tent was an elevated area set up as a dining space, a huge timber outdoor-style table running lengthwise across the space.

In the centre of the main room a wood stove sat, waiting to be used and around it were a number of comfy looking armchairs, a pair of loveseats and a large three-seater sofa.

“I’ve set this central trunk up with ventilation charms, so we can use the fire, if you like?” Harry asked holding the tent flap open for the others.

“Oh, yes, please.” Hermione beamed and ducked her head to enter.

She immediately pulled a wand out and whisked open the stove, already reaching for a log beside it.

“Very nice, Harry.” Remus nodded, impressed.

“Eh, it’ll do until the house-trunk arrives. Then I’ll set it up in the central room, then we’ll have something a little more private what than Dumbles offers.”

“That sounds good.” Minerva muttered. “I never knew the old codger was such a sticky-beak.”

“I’m not sure he always was. Like I said on Wednesday, he’s sick, mentally sick. And I think that it’s only since Voldy went dark that Dumbles started to show clear signs of OCD. But that doesn’t matter, now, what matters is that no more children suffer under his control.” Harry said.

“Indeed.” Severus agreed.

“So… when can I start on learning to be an Animagus?” Remus bounced slightly in his seat.

“Ah… Well, we can start on the theory now, if you like?” Harry asked in reply.

“Yes, please.” Remus smiled.

“Right, well, the first thing you need to know is how the transformation happens. When someone wants to learn to be an Animagus now, there’s this whole long complicated process, right?”

Severus, Minerva and Remus all nodded.

“Wrong.” He stated bluntly.

“What?” Minerva asked.

“Look. You used what you thought to be the original method? A mandrake leaf, a full moon, a potion and an electrical storm, yes? It’s attributed to Oliveiro Sandros in 1272? That one?”

“Yes.” She answered.

“It’s not the original, not the real one anyway. The real method was developed in 1247, 25 years earlier, by Oliveiro’s grandmother, Melusia Paiva. The method commonly used now, is a bastardised version, created by Oliveiro, who was allergic to the Mandrake Root used in the original potion. Oliveiro altered the recipe and method to get the same results. But he wasn’t a very popular wizard in his area and so to gain popularity, he made out that because his method was more complex it was, therefore, the safer method and eventually it became the only method used.” Harry explained.

“Another grandchild of Melusia’s, a squib called Kiania, fled Portugal and took with her Melusia’s journals. They were handed down through the generations, forgotten. Until Melusia’s last descendant died in the lead-up to the Battle of Hogwarts. He, like many others left everything to Harry after the Battle.” Hermione added.

“So when Hermione, Ron, George, Nev, Luna and I went through the Gringotts’ vaults- Oh and remind me to tell you about Gringotts, too. Anyway we went through the vaults, we consolidated all of them, I kept some of the books, but most went to Hogwarts, all but the handwritten ones. The wands, I made available to Mr Ollivander, his shop had been destroyed by Death-Eaters and so, there was a concern that many first year’s would be without a wand.” Harry continued.

“Harry asked everyone, every old family… To check their vaults, to bring all their old wands, their family’s wands to Hogwarts. Every wand of every person that was killed, whether they were Light or not, was brought to Hogwarts. Ollivander checked them out and matched them up to witches and wizards. Everyone that had had their wand confiscated or snapped, got a wand from the collection and the remainder went with Ollivander to restock his shop.” Hermione went on. The way they spoke, it was now clear that she and Harry were using a form of mental Twin-Communication.

“We, Hermione and I, that is, found Melusia’s journal, going through the vaults left to me and after reading it, we decided to try her method.” Harry took up where she left off.

“It’s quite simple, really. A potion, which opens the connection between you and your Animagus form, then a second potion which transfigures you into that form for a short length of time and finally, a charm that links that form to your mind and your magic. After that, all you have to do, to change into your Animagus form, is mentally repeat the charm and, of course, will yourself to change.” The young witch continued.

“That’s it.” Harry finished.

“Well…” Said Minerva. “I wasn’t expecting it to be quite that simple, but I also didn’t expect that Remus would have to go through the entire month, after all, he’s quite familiar with changing his form already.”

“True, but there’s a hell of a difference between changing because you want to and changing because a curse is forcing you to.” Harry grinned.

“I imagine there is.” The older witch conceded.

“But… when can I start?” Remus whined slightly.

“Wait here.” Harry smirked and left the tent.

In the few minutes he was gone, Hermione and Severus realised that Remus was as hyperactive as a toddler on a sugar high, especially when he wanted something.

“Here we go.” Harry said as he re-entered the tent. “I brought enough for all five of us. Máthair, I know you already have your Animagus form and have been transforming into it for years, but you’ll find that it’s easier and less painful after the potions. Or… you did after we brought them to you and Poppy to check. Mione, Sev and I will take the potions, too.”

“Why?” Minerva asked. “You’re already Animagi and you’ve already done this.”

“True, but if Wild Magic has changed my Animagus form, then starting from scratch is the best option. Otherwise, when I try and shift I may be trying to shift into an animal that isn’t mine, anymore.”

“Ah, fair enough.”

“Take one of each.” Harry held out the phial holder to Remus, Severus and then Hermione. He placed the holder on the coffee table, leaving the last two sets of phials until he and Máthair were ready for them. “Remus, before you take them, I want you to remember that it will only transfigure you for a few minutes. Blue potion first, then after twenty seconds, take the silver potion. You’ll keep your mind, when you shift with them, but your first non-potion shift will bring out a lot more of the natural instincts of your Animagus. When it’s time for your first self-propelled shift, we’ll use one of the trunks, expanded to maximum size.”

“Uh, how big is that?” Severus asked.

“The witch at Expedition and Extras said they expand up to 1000 yards in any direction.” Harry replied.

“Huh…” Severus huffed in surprise. “1000 yards?”

“Yep. Once we’ve all done the potion-induced shift, I’ll expand a trunk. I was thinking, maximum in two directions but half that in height. I can’t see us needing anything more than that, can you?” Harry asked Hermione.

“Nooo…” Hermione drawled. “That should be more than big enough for anything we need. Should even give you enough height to go flying.”

Harry just grinned.

“Can I take it, now?” Remus asked, literally bouncing in his seat.

“Go for it.” Harry nodded. “I’ll do the charm over you, Mione, Sev and Máthair, before I take mine. Once you’re back in your human form, Mione, I’ll get you to recast the charm over me, please.”

“Of course, Harry.” Hermione smiled as Remus lifted a phial holding a shimmering blue liquid, labelled ‘1st’.

Remus took a deep breath and unstoppered the phial, a quick smile to Harry and the phial was lifted to his lips. He counted to twenty before lifting the second phial and swallowing the faintly glowing silver liquid, the taste of sage and violets burning his tongue. Seconds passed and Remus twitched. First an eye, then a hand, then his legs began to move. He stood and fell to the floor, to his hand and knees, his fingers stretching and contracting in spasms.

A burst of silver/blue light surrounded Remus for a heartbeat, then… When the light faded, a massive silvery grey wolf stood in front of the stove. Pale silver paws and legs below a grey body with the tips of his coat showing almost white, Remus made an impressive wolf. Maybe it was the werewolf heritage, or maybe it was just an Animagus trait, but he was huge, standing over four foot at the shoulder.

“Wow, Remus, you’re huge.” Harry gasped.

“Male Animagi do tend to be larger than we females.” Minerva sniffed.

“I dare say that’s something to do with visual aggression and attracting a mate.” Hermione mused.

“Probably.” Minerva agreed. “Who’s next?”

“I’ll go next.” Hermione said as she lifted the blue phial in her hand.

A thirty seconds later and a large bundle of black fur crouched low, in front of her chair. With a shake and a huff, Hermione clambered to her feet in her new form. A ripple of fur and a full body shudder, caused Hermione to stagger from side to side, her head shaking in an effort to clear the ringing in her ears.

“Well…” Severus blinked in surprise.

“Nice, Mione.” Harry grinned, dropping to his knees to hold out a hand for his sister to scent.

Her delicate nostrils flared as the scent of security, that of honey and allspice, filled her nose. She bumped her head against his hand and without a hesitation, Harry ran his hand over her ears and down the back of her neck. He stood and stepped over in front of Remus and offered the ex-werewolf, now natural wolf, his hand. Remus snuffed at the hand and sneezed, before his tongue fell from the side of his muzzle in the canine version of a grin. He leapt forward and knocked the wizard from his feet and proceeded to sit on the man and bathe his face with a long, wet, raspy tongue.

“Eww, gross, Remus. Gerroff!” Harry screwed his face up, while Minerva and Severus laughed. “Alright, already. Let me up, Remus, I can’t cast the linking charm sitting down. I have to be able to circle you, as I cast.” With a huffed sigh, the wolf lifted his plate-sized paws from Harry’s chest and sat beside the coffee table. “Thanks, Mooney.” Harry climbed to his feet and pulled out his Slytherin Blackthorn and Basilisk wand, circling the wolf he began to cast, making sure that his wand was held high above the wolf, pointing as close to straight down as possible. To link ut vestri interiorem formam. Ad mutare ut vult. Ut numquam ex te. Facti sunt ut ea pars tibi in perpetuum. Haec, ut profectus tuus in magica.” His voice was calm, but it echoed slightly, a hollow sound to it showing the power he was putting behind the charm.

The blue/silver glow started again, shimmering in the air around Remus. When it faded, his shape was still the same, but his colouring had changed slightly, now instead of a pale grey/white, the tips of his silky coat were a nearly metallic silver, the under layers a deeper grey, an almost pewter tone to them. The wolf stood and shook himself, seeming to leave a cloud of metallic dust in the air that slowly faded, leaving the wolf with a goofy grin.

“All done. Remus, you’ve only got a minute or two left before the potion wears of. Let me do Mione, then Sev and Máthair can shift.” Harry  moved around the circle of seats until he reached where Hermione was leaning on Severus, letting him scratch her ears. Harry lifted his wand high and repeated the chant, this time the shimmer was silver and green, the colour of new silver and the green of the triplets’ eyes. It clung to her fur, giving a metallic shadow as the light hit her, a few shakes and it faded. Her coat now a glossy black where the light hit and a matte black in the shadows, perfect for the creature she was.

“So?” Harry grinned. “Who’s next?”

Minerva and Severus exchanged glances.

“Severus and then myself, Harry.” Minerva answered as Severus lifted the first phial to his mouth.

Thirty seconds later, a second bundle of black fur crouched beside the wolf, shaking it’s head and leaning against the smaller form of his sister.

“Well, that answers that, doesn’t it?” Harry asked Minerva. “I’m guessing that my owl is gone and I’m going to match them.”

“I think that will be so. Yes.” The witch replied.

“Oh, well, at least I can still fly on a broom. Sev? Heads up, brother, I’m about to start, you’ll need to moved away from ‘Mione, enough for me to pass between the two of you.” The black form of this brother huffed and turned to face Harry, shuffling sideways until there was a bare foot of room between the two black shapes. “Great, gimme a sec…” Harry began the cast for the third time, ensuring that he put an equal amount of power behind the charm, as he had for Remus and Hermione. “Máthair? Your tur-” Harry cut himself off as the ex-werewolf’s form bled back into that of a man, causing him to loose his balance and lean into Harry, who wasn’t expecting the weight and the two men fell to the floor tangling their legs and arms.

The sight caused Hermione and Severus in their shifted forms to laugh, a coughing, chuffing sound, but clearly an amused sound. It was echoed by the peels of Minerva’s laughter. Harry and Remus looked at each other and the hilarity of their positions had Harry leaning half against Remus and half against Severus and making no effort to stop himself from joining his family. Remus, was wide-eyed and slightly stunned,  he was tangled in Harry’s legs and his head rested on the flank of Hermione’s shifted form, unable to decide whether he should be insulted, offended or amused. But eventually the sense of ridiculousness, that he shared with James and Sirius, took hold and his booming laugh filling the tent.

“Oh gods, oh gods.” It took seconds for Hermione to resume her human form, she lay on the floor, Remus’ head resting in the small of her back, her legs stretching out and tucking under Severus’ black form. “Harry… you bastard, my ribs hurt.” She moaned her arms clutching her sides.

“Yeah, yeah, payback’s a bitch.” Harry wasn’t in much better shape, his hands resting one on his ribs and the other on the middle of his stomach.

“I’ll get you for this, Pott-… Sna-… Urqua-… Harry!” Hermione cut herself off each time she started to say a surname, before snarling Harry’s name.

“Like I said, payback’s a bitch, this makes us even for the Seamus/Dean incident… the one last week, Mione.” Harry sent back, along with a mild stinging hex.

Hermione huffed. “Huh… yeah, fair enough.” She hauled herself to her feet, unceremoniously dumping Remus on the floor and tipping Severus off his feet. “Your turn, brother dearest… you and… Máthair?” Hermione hesitated fractionally before calling Minerva mother.

“Right.” Harry didn’t bother standing, he just reached up onto the coffee table and closed his hand around a phial. He swapped the sliver phial to his left hand and reached up for another phial, his hand open, waiting patiently for someone to place a blue phial in it. Then it was a simple case of swallow, count and swallow again. Like Hermione and Severus, Harry was surrounded by a silver and green glow, tinges of silver remained after Harry’s human shape faded to his Animagus form.

“Well, he was right. He thought he’d match you pair and he does.” Minerva said. “My turn, I suppose.” And with that the older witch lifted the remaining two phials and swallowed them down. A familiar tabby cat shook out her fur and stretched out her back, arching and flicking her tail. She sat quietly and waited for Harry to approach and allowed him to delicately sniff at her fur.

Hermione waited until Harry faced her before beginning her casting. She had watched Harry carefully as he’d cast the charm over Remus and Severus and felt how much power he’d used when he’d cast the charm over herself and she was extremely careful to push, what felt like, the same amount of power into her wand and through that, into the charm. A shimmery cloud of silver and green around Harry and Minerva, licking at their fur and pooling at their feet.

Harry waited until the light faded and leapt up onto a sofa, stretching himself out and letting his tail hang over the arm, flicking back and forth, hitting Remus on the leg each time. Three minutes passed and at last Harry and Minerva regained their human forms.

“Well, we were right, Sev. We thought Wild Magic may have changed my Animagus form and it did, mine and Hermione’s. We’ll have to get a camera, I need to know how close we match.” Harry pondered.

“Other than size, there’s little difference. Hermione is slightly smaller, but that’s about it. Your coats match, but your eyes are the same as your human eyes.” Minerva offered.

“That’s cool.” Harry grinned as he spoke.

“It is.” Hermione agreed.

“So… when can I do my first non-potion shift?” Remus asked. “Do I have to wait for a certain amount of time, before I can?” He sat forward on the edge of the sofa, his eyes flicking back and forth between Harry and Hermione.

“No, there’s no set amount of time you need to wait. But I haven’t set up a trunk, yet. And you’ll want something to eat first.” Harry tilted his head in thought. “The potion-controlled shift uses a crap-load more energy than a normal shift.”

A rumble was heard, it came from Severus’ stomach and was echoed by Remus’.

“See.” Harry smirked. “You’ll want a double portion for dinner, tonight, and probably for breakfast as well.” He warned. “Let’s eat and then after dinner I’ll get a trunk expanded, for us to play in and tomorrow we’ll work on setting it up as a wilderness space, somewhere our animals will feel comfortable. The space is big enough, some soil, some trees, rocks, maybe a stream. Mione? How do we put a stream in a trunk space?”

“Gardening charms, Harry, remember? Neville showed us his rainforest hothouse.” Came the answer, just as Harry knew it would. Hermione always knew what Harry needed.

“Do you know which ones? Can you place them? A stream would be great in winter. If we could put a solar-type lighting source, we could spend time in here over winter. We could set up compartments like different climate zones, grow our own plants for potions, you know.” Harry babbled excitedly. “A beach, a meadow, a forest, woods. Something for all of us.”

“That sounds fabulous, Harry. I’m sure Sirius will want to spend some time as Padfoot.” Remus replied wistfully. “We always spent the full moons together.”

“Now, you can spend whatever time you want with him, without either of you being forced into another form.” Severus offered encouragingly.

Remus said nothing, but he did give Severus a small smile.

At the same time, Kreacher popped into the tent. “Master Henrick, sir?” The old elf held the Gringotts chest in his arms. “The Goblinsy’s boxy is making noisy’s. Telli said that Kreacher should be bringing it to Master Henrick.” As he spoke he placed the chest on the coffee table between them.

“Thank you, Kreacher.” Harry said. “And thank Telli, too please.”

“Yes, Master Henrick.” The elf dipped his head and vanished.

“Alright, let’s see what’s got Gringotts messaging us on a Sunday evening.”

With that Harry drew his wand from it’s cuff and tapped the chest’s sigil. Inside the chest lay three pieces of parchment. One was a simple message, but the others were a formal notice from the bank and a letter sealed with the Prince seal.

The message was short.

Heir Prince, Master Prince & Mistress Prince,

Lord Prince unable to meet you Monday.

See enclosed notices.

Ragnok.

“Oh, dear.” Minerva said. “What now?”

Severus sighed. “I think I know what this is.” He whispered.

“Severus?” Harry asked, worry strong in his voice.

Severus didn’t answer, thought. He reached into the chest and pulled out the two remaining parchments, laying them in front of himself. He sighed again and lifted the Prince letter. He broke the seal and opened the letter. A second, smaller note fell from the heavy velum, Severus laid the smaller note aside and read the formal letter.

To Severus Elphinstone Snape-Urquart, the Heir of House Prince.

To Master Henrick Oakley Snape-Urquart, Son of House Prince.

To Mistress Hermione Isobel Snape-Urquart, Daughter of House Prince.

It is with sorrow that I inform you of the passing of your mother, Eileen Marigold Snape. Eileen’s last wishes were to be returned to the House of Prince and to be interred in the Family crypt. As Head of House Prince, I see no reason not to grant either of her wishes.

Eileen is a Daughter of House Prince and will be laid to rest with her Family. A service is to be held for her, at 11 am on Wednesday morning, in the Chapel of Saint Christopher in Appleby, followed immediately by her interment in the Prince Family Crypt in the Appleby Cemetery.

After the service and interment, I request your presence at the reading of her will and to join me for luncheon. In addition to this, I request that Severus approach Gringotts and lay claim to the Heir’s Ring. I would have our Family united to farewell your mother.

Nathaniel Ellery Prince

Lord of House Prince

Severus’ hand trembled as he handed the parchment to Harry and picked up the smaller note.

Severus, Hermione and Henrick,

I beg that you attend Eileen's service and that you will speak with me afterwards. There is so much I want to tell you, but I don’t know where to start.

Eileen was returned as a daughter of House Prince, the same year Severus finished Hogwarts and while I know that I should have formally notified you, I feared that contacting you would drive you even further away.

Please give me a chance.

Your grandfather,

Nathaniel Prince.

Severus passed this to Harry and opened the Gringotts notice. His eyes flicked over the short sentences, it said much as he expected. Eileen was dead and as per her instructions to Gringotts (and Lord Prince’s consent), she was to be interred in the Prince Family crypt in Appleby on Wednesday and that a Gringotts representative would attend Lord Prince’s presence afterwards for the reading of Eileen's Will. This, too, was passed to Harry.

As the parchment left his hand, Hermione’s fingers clasped his, with Harry mirroring her in his other side. He drew a shaky breath and felt Minerva’s hand rest on his shoulder, but it startled (and gratified) him to feel a second, heavier, hand on his shoulder and to look up and see that the hand belonged to a concerned Remus.

“Harry, see to the trunk. As soon as we’ve eaten we’ll use it and shift. Severus needs to be reminded that he’s not alone anymore. He has a brother and a sister, now.” Remus paused. “A family that chose to be your family. Harry and Hermione, literally share a part of your mind, Severus. You’ll never be alone again.”

 

Two hours later, Minerva took the first of many photographs of the triplets and Remus. The poor wolf was badly outmatched by the siblings. The shadows in the trunk let the three panthers seem to disappear and reappear at will. It was a steep learning curve for the new Animagus, but he threw himself into the experience with the same gusto that he and his fellow marauders exhibited when engaged in prank wars with Severus.

The up side to the rambunctious play was that Severus was physically exhausted and his mind was unable to keep him awake to dwell on his mother's fate.

 

Monday saw messages being sent back and forth between the bank and the New Marauders. Between messages, the siblings spent time creating a wonderland in a trunk.

Immediately after breakfast, Harry brought out the trunk and the four younger people spent hours moving soil and rocks into the trunk. Harry and Severus stood outside and directed a constant stream of dirt, rocks, boulders and top-soil into the trunk, while inside Hermione and Remus directed the incoming material into various parts of the now-huge space. A break for morning tea and a few more messages and they were back at it, the only real drawback was that they had to move from place to place, to gather their materials. They weren’t prepared to take too much from any one place, as it might draw unwanted attention. From muggles or magicals.

Another break for lunch, some more messages and they were ready to introduce some plants to the mix. Forests all over Scotland lost trees, a few here and a few there. A half mile by a half mile, was a large space to fill. Over lunch the quartet had decided that they would have a small-ish rise in one corner, with a stream running from the rise to a small-ish pond in the opposite corner. On the far side of the stream the space would be filled with trees, starting will small stunted brush, transitioning all the way up to fully grown specimens.

Pine was there, of course, but so was spruce, larch, hazel, chestnut, birch, oak and rowan. Grasses, sedges, gorse and heather, covered the ground on the near side of the stream, a few spaces were left bare of flora and either paved with rocks or pebbles. One such site was right beside the stream, just below the point where the spring came to the surface and another was down by the pond.

Afternoon tea, more messages and the long awaited accommodation trunk arrived in the owl post box. Then it was a joint effort, all five joined together to create a solar simulacrum. Without light, their little forest would die and die quickly, something none of them wanted. A long spell, a fluorescent potion, a permanently conjured chain and a pair of fancy rotational charms and they had a miniature sun that crossed from one side of the space to the other. It started in one corner and ran along a wall, before the rotation charm kicked in and turned it to face the wall, where the second charm kicked in and caused it to retrace it’s path to the first corner. Only to begin the action all over again.

By dinner time, all five were exhausted, hungry and dirty. But the smiles were not longer forced. Harry spent a few minutes setting up the accommodation trunk and each person chose a room. As expected the triplets’ rooms were bunched together, Hermione opposite Harry and Severus. Minerva and Remus taking rooms, one on each side of the young witch’s.

All five of them took a watered down version of Dreamless Sleep that night, Harry included. Hermione chided Harry and reminded him that while his mind could remember Dumbledore’s overly generous hand in dispensing that particular potion, his body had never suffered through the various cocktails that his mind remembered.

Dreamless Sleep and an early-ish night. Tuesday promised to be a busy day.

Chapter Text

Harry and Co.

Diagon Alley and St Mungo’s.

The Wizengamot.

 

Hermione stood in front of Harry and Severus, her fingers tweaking and twitching fabric until it sat exactly where she felt it should. She stepped back, looked them up and down, noting the matching amused grins.

“Alright…” She sighed. “That’s as good as you’re going to get. How long before we have to leave?”

“Five minutes less than you asked last time.” Harry replied.

“Which means any second now.” Severus added.

Minerva entered the sitting room. “Good, you’re all here… Oh, don’t you boys look smart? Hermione, you look lovely, dear.”

“Thank you, Máthair.” All three spoke as one, turning to face the older witch.

“Oh my… Harry? Your scar? What happened?”

“Mione and Sev had an idea. Instead of just blocking it, why not move it, too? I’ve always hated my lightning bolt scar, but that’s only because of how I got it and what it means to everyone but me. So Sev suggested that instead of just blocking it, we move it, as well. Mione spent an hour, really early this morning, moving it. It’s now just above my hairline.”

“How…? I mean… How?” Minerva spluttered.

“Mione cut around it and turned it, so it’s now going up into my hair and not down onto my face.”

“I’m sure there was more to it than that.”

“There was, it’s only attached by the slimmest pieces of skin and there’s a parseltongue stasis on it, too. Just to be sure. Tinrilla, or whoever does the final removal only has to snip two small tags of skin.” Hermione added.

“And if Hogwarts’ wards should detect it?”

“According to Gringotts’ curse-breakers it won’t, not under the type of stasis we used.” Severus answered.

“Ah… good. Well, time to leave. Are you ready?”

“Yes, Máthair.” Again the three spoke as one.

“Very well, I shall go first, then Harry, Hermione and Severus? I want you last, Dumbledore will be expecting you and if I introduce your siblings first, he’ll be off balance. He doesn’t deal with the unexpected all that well.”

“Yes, Máthair.” The three said, all innocent faces and sweet smiles.

Minerva snorted in disbelief and flung a handful of floo-powder into the fireplace. “Hogwarts’ Headmaster’s Office.” Her direction was clear and followed quickly by the day’s password. “Staff meeting day.”

When the flames cleared, Harry took a deep breath and reached for the powder.

“We can do this, Harry.” Hermione said.

“We will do this.” Severus corrected.

“We will.” Harry agreed and stepped into the fire-place. “Hogwarts’ Headmaster’s Office… Staff meeting day.” He repeated Minerva’s words and was surrounded by green fire.

Harry stepped from the fireplace into the lower area of the Headmaster’s office, he was greeted by a long forgotten voice.

“Ah Severus, my boy. So glad you could join us.” Albus Dumbledore began only to be cut off.

“Oh, I’m not Sev.” Harry denied. “He should be along in a moment.”

“Wha…? Pardon?” The headmaster stammered in shock at being corrected.

The fireplace flared green and Harry held out a hand to Hermione as the flames fell.

“Thank you, brother.” Her hand clasped his lightly until she was clear of the fireplace and both turned back to the fireplace and waited. In only a handful of seconds the flames rose again and Severus joined them.

“Brother.” Hands reached for his and drew him from the flames.

“Severus?” Albus asked, confused.

“Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, may I present my children? Severus Snape-Urquart, Hermione Snape-Urquart and Henrick Snape-Urquart.” Minerva  beamed with pride.

“Your… your children? Minerva? Your children?” The questions came in a number of different voices, with Dumbledore’s the last and clearest.

“Yes, Albus. My children. Stone and I discussed adoption many times, you know this. The only children we agreed on were the Snape children.”

“But Severus is an only child.”

“Hardly.”

“But- but… There’s three of them…” Albus muttered.

“Well of course there are, they’re triplets, Albus.”

“But… only Severus came to Hogwarts.” Albus Dumbledore couldn’t work it out.

“Yes, he was in Slytherin.”

“But… but the other two?”

“Home-schooled, Albus.”

“But… Why? Hogwarts is the premiere school in Europe.”

“It was, but that still wouldn’t have made it safe for triplets.”

“But… but…”

“Albus. You know as well as I that He-Who-Must-No-Be-Named recruited here, that his followers subverted our students.”

“But- but…”

“The triplets are mind-linked, Albus. They had to be kept safe. They were sent in three different directions, Severus came here, to Hogwarts, Hermione was schooled as a Muggleborn from England and Harry went backwards and forwards between the muggle world and the Wizarding world, here and in England.”

“Mind-linked?” Albus’ brows rose in shock.

“Of course, Albus.” Minerva answered.

Poppy Pomfrey was the first of the current staff to step forward and greet the new arrivals. “Mind-linked? That would explain Mr Snape’s demeanour during his time here.”

“What? Why?” Albus demanded.

“Mind-linked siblings suffer a depression-like state when separated, Albus, it must have been a dreadful time for all three of them.”

“For Harry and Severus, especially.” Hermione sighed. “We might be able to touch our minds, but not being able to see or touch each other, physically, was… hard. And of course, there was no one to tell us that what we were experiencing was normal, so that made it worse. We did what we could to comfort each other, but…”

“Let’s not forget James, Sirius and Remus” Harry trailed added.

“I’m sure Mr Potter and Mr Black meant no harm.” Dumbledore offered.

“Oh no, we know they didn’t, but at least their ‘pranks’ kept Sev from becoming even moodier. They tried hard to get him to smile, but they never quite got there.” Harry continued.

“They tried…?”

“Well, yes. They were worried. James and Sirius were related… Mione? What was the connection, again?” Severus asked.

“James’ grandmother Dorea, was Sirius’ mother’s aunt, Sev.” Hermione answered.

“And James’ mother, Euphemia is our mother’s cousin.” Harry added and it was true, Euphemia was Eileen’s cousin on their mother’s side, not that it was well known, especially with Eileen running off with a muggle and being disowned. It wasn’t the sort of thing discussed in polite company.

“So the animosity between Severus and James?” Professor Flitwick asked.

“Oh, that was fairly real, at least as far as Lily was concerned. The rest was mostly to relieve the boredom, I think.” Minerva replied.

“Yes, as soon as school was out and we were off the train, things settled back down and our prank wars went away.” Severus added.

“Mostly…” Harry smirked. “You did turn Remus’ hair silver and green, this morning.”

“He deserved it, the blasted wolf transfigured a candle to look like my wand and put it in my wand holster.” Severus muttered.

“True.” Harry laughed gently. “I think the fact that you knocked him in the stream last night, might have had something to do with that, don’t you?”

Severus’ face lit up. “I have no idea what you mean, Harry. If the wolf didn’t want to go for a swim he shouldn’t have been wearing swim-shorts.”

Hermione and Minerva just shook their heads in amusement, both at the bickering between Severus and Harry and at the expression on Dumbledore’s face.

“Alright, lads, that’s enough. We’re here for a reason.” Minerva’s voice stopped the light-hearted squabble.

“Yes, Máthair.” Both young wizards said.

Minerva sighed. “Albus, you said last week, that Horace is retiring and that you want Severus to take on the post of Potions Master? Correct?”

“Ah…” Dumbledore dragged his mind away from the possibilities that mind-linked triplets gave him and back onto the subject at hand. “Indeed, I do. Horace has been wanting to retire for a few years now, but I managed to get him to wait until there was a suitably trained replacement. It was Horace that suggested Severus undertake his Mastery and referred him to Master Tattersmoke.” Albus lead the way to a group of armchairs and sofas, he gestured and waited for the others to sit before taking the seat at the head of the group. “I also need someone to take on Head of House duties, too. Now, I know you’re young, but that simply means that you will be able to relate to the students and understand and empathise with them.”

“Headmaster? Harry, Hermione and I have discussed the matter in depth with Máthair and while I am prepared to take a contract with Hogwarts-”

“Wonderful, I’ll just get-”

“Headmaster!” Harry cut Dumbledore off. “Please wait a moment. Máthair said there were a number of positions vacant right now. Potions, yes. But also Muggle studies, Ancient Runes and Magical Theory. And of course, DADA.”

“Yes…?”

“Well, we were tossing the subject around and we believe that we may have a way around the… curse… on the DADA position.”

Albus’ brows rose sharply. “Really?”

“Yes. We believe that the ‘curse’ is specifically directed at the person who teaches DADA at Hogwarts, are we correct?” Hermione asked.

“Yes…”

“Well, in that case…” Hermione continued.

“… we have a most…” Severus added.

“… unusual solution to…” Harry joined the conversation.

“… the matter. Simply…” Back to Hermione.

“… hire two of us…” Now to Harry.

“… to cover the post.” From Severus.

“If the curse is…” Hermione again.

“… directed at one person,…” Severus.

“… we give it two people.” Harry.

“That would bypass…” Severus.

“… the initial condition…” Hermione.

“… of the curse and render…” Harry.

“… it inactive.” And Severus to finish.

Eyes popped, all the professors looked from one to another, to the third, it was like watching a three-way duel. Totally disconcerting for all spectators.

“Ah…” Albus’ mind reeled.

“Albus. You have a choice. Severus won’t sign on without Harry and Hermione. Hermione won’t sign on without Severus and Harry. Harry won’t sign on without Severus and Hermione. You can either hire all three or none at all.” Minerva cut to the bones of the matter.

“Ah…” Albus was still reeling.

“Miss Snape?”

“Snape-Urquart, Filius.” Minerva corrected.

“My apologies. Miss Snape-Urquart? Messers Snape-Urquart? What are your qualifications, if I may ask?” The diminutive professor asked.

The triplets looked at each other and a silent conversation was had.

“Severus has his Masteries in DADA and Potions, he completed the second, just last week. Harry has the same and in the same order, but he was assessed last month by Gringotts’ Master Tinwit. And I have DADA, Charms, Runes, Muggle-studies, History of Magic and Magical Theory.” Hermione answered for the three of them.

“DADA, charms, runes… and… and…” Professor Sprout stammered.

“Six? You have six Masteries?” Professor Flitwick gasped.

“She’s an over achiever.” Harry offered.

“Harry! I am not, I just like to know how things are done.” Hermione chided.

“Like I said… Over… Achiever…” Harry started and Severus joined him for the last two words, making it clear this was an old argument.

“I’m not…” She whined.

“Boys. Enough.” Minerva chided.

Both men answered. “Yes, Máthair.” And were silent.

While the professors spluttered and whispered among themselves, Dumbledore began to think. Could these three be right? Could it be that simple, to get around the ‘curse’?

“Severus, I would prefer you to take on the potions position, as opposed to DADA.” He began.

“Actually Harry and I thought…” Severus started.

“… that we might take on both, just…” Harry continued.

“… split them between us. Harry…” Severus went on

“… prefers to work with younger students…” Hermione cut in.

“… in potions, while I find it incredibly frustrating.” Severus said bluntly.

“And Sev prefers to work with those…” Hermione began.

“… that want to learn, particularly…” Harry.

“… in potions, but older DADA students…” Severus explained.

“… tend to grate on his nerves, with…” Hermione grimaced, slightly. To ‘grate’ was an understatement.

“… their desire to ‘practice’ in every class.” Harry grinned.

“But that’s Harry’s specialty,…” Hermione said.

“… designing challenges for those…” And Severus added.

“… that think they know all the spells.” Hermione

“His challenges show them…” Severus.

“… how little they know and…” Harry.

“… how much they still have to learn.” Severus finished dramatically.

“For those that don’t speak trilaterally, what Sev, Mione and Harry mean is… Harry would teach the junior years for potions, while Sev would take the juniors for DADA. Then Harry would have the seniors for DADA and Sev, for potions.” Minerva explained.

There were a few nodding heads and some humming.

“That just might work.” Professor Flitwick commented. “It would mean a little shuffling of the current schedule, though. Nothing drastic, but it would keep you pair very busy. Depending on how we work it out, you may get two free periods each week.”

“We’d prefer to give that time to…” Harry started.

“… the 7th years, if you don’t mind. If they…” Severus continued.

“… haven’t had a consistent…” Harry went on.

“… teacher, they may …” Hermione nodded.

“…need it, especially with…” Harry emphasised.

“… NEWTs looming.” Severus finished.

The diminutive professor shuddered, looking from one raven-headed person to another, before turning to Minerva.

“How… How do you stand this?” He asked. “It’s like a… a… I don’t know what.” He stumbled to a halt.

“Ah… The best way is to think of each of them as a part of a whole. If you’ve only one with you, then it’s not an issue, but if there’s two or all of them together? Just assume that they are three parts of one whole with three mouths. Disregard who says what and listen to the whole. I don’t really have an issue until they start ending a sentence the others haven’t said out loud. That’s annoying.” The last sentence was directed at Harry and Severus in particular.

“I’ll do my best, but I’m not sure how successful I’ll be.” Flitwick muttered.

“Miss Snape… Urquart…?” Dumbledore hesitated as he said the surname.

“Yes, Headmaster?” Hermione was calm and polite.

“If Severus and… Harry(?) were to join the Hogwarts’ staff, which post would interest you? If I heard right, you have a number of Masteries?”

“Oh, yes. Well, I think we can rule out DADA and Charms. And Máthair said you felt you had someone for Muggle Studies?” Hermione answered.

“Indeed, I’ve asked Quirinus Quirrell to take over from Professor Templar.” Dumbledore replied. “He isn’t able to join us today, family matters, I’m afraid. But he will be moving into the castle later this week.”

“That leaves Runes and Magical Theory.” Hermione hummed in thought, not commenting on the Quirrell subject.

“Hmm… I do have a young woman interested in the Runes position, She’s sitting her Mastery assessments later this week, but Magical Theory, however…?” Dumbledore trailed off, before adding. “Magical Theory is currently taught by Professor Townsend, but his health is failing and unfortunately more of his classes are being cancelled than held.”

“And while the upper years can undertake self-study on the matter, the younger students don’t know enough to get started.” Madame Pince warned.

“Yes…” Hermione hummed. “That’s very true. What of elective students for Theory? Are there many?”

“Not that many, but enough to warrant a class. I believe there are only four students in 3rd year, eight in each 4th and 5th years, six in 6th year and five in 7th year. Are you prepared to work with such small groups?” Albus said. “If necessary we may be able to shuffle they around to have joint classes.”

“No, leave them separate, please. Small classes aren’t an issue, it just gives a more personalised teaching experience and for the older years, it’s a good preparation for working with a Master.”

“Very true, very true. Well then, Miss Snape-Urquart, I would need to see your credentials, of course, but I believe if they are sufficient… and I doubt Minerva would bring anyone unacceptable… then I would welcome you as Hogwarts’ Magical Theory Professor.” Dumbledore said, a little pompously.

“Thank you, Headmaster.” Hermione replied, holding her amusement in check.

“Severus, dear boy, will you and your brother take the potions and DADA positions?”

“We will.” Severus answered.

“But we do feel…” Harry added.

“… it necessary that…”

“… a new contract…”

“… be written.” Severus ended.

“Might I ask why?” Flitwick asked.

“The existing contract is for…” Harry started to reply,

“… the DADA position, for…” Severus went on.

“… one person, but…” Hermione joined in.

“… we’re making it into…” And back to Severus.

“… two positions, juniors…” to Harry.

“… and seniors and having…” To Hermione.

“… two professors.” And Severus to finish. “Hence a new contract.”

Flitwick and Pomfrey both ‘aahh-ed’ in understanding.

“I see.” Dumbledore nodded. “Yes, that would be a good idea.” He stood and climbed the steps to the dais where a massive timber desk sat. “If you would be so good as to start on the employment packages, fill in details where needed, I’ll get a start on that contract, hmm? Would you prefer a joint contract or two individual ones?”

“Joint please, Headmaster, otherwise the ‘curse’ may be able to target both of us.” Harry answered.

“And we would prefer to avoid that.” Severus added.

Dumbledore blinked, that hadn’t occurred to him. “Yes, yes, that is a point. Very well, I’ll scribble something down and then you can make suggestions.”

“Thank you, Headmaster.” Harry and Severus spoke together.

Flitwick shuddered slightly, he doubted he would ever get used to the way the triplets spoke.

For the next few minutes, the scratching of quills was the dominant sound, occasional comments were heard, but paperwork was the more important subject. Dumbledore brought over his contract draft and handed it to Severus, who handed it to Hermione without even looking at it, who proceeded to rewrite the whole thing and hand it back to Dumbledore. He read the new draft and a smile replaced the frown he’d worn, when he’d seen Hermione scratch out most of his draft. Hermione’s new draft had both positions connected and both men listed as taking the combined positions. Then there were the options for extra tuition for gifted students and restrictions on when detentions would happen and what they could be.

With Dumbledore and Hermione’s agreement, Professor Vector, the Arithmancy professor, elegantly rewrote the amended contract and witnesses the signing of it and the Magical Theory contract.

“Lovely!” Dumbledore beamed. “Now all that’s needed is to sort out accommodation for you all.”

“Accommodation isn’t all that important, Headmaster.” Hermione commented.

The night before, Remus had suggested letting Dumbledore know that they would be using their trunk ‘house’, otherwise there was a chance that he might accuse them of abandoning their students. Plus the triplet mind-link issue would give them reason to have extraneous accommodation that only a few, specifically invited, people could access. It took Remus and Hermione more than an hour to convince Harry that if it was worded just right, Dumbledore would not only allow it but actually approve of it.

“I’m sorry Miss Snape-Urquart, why do you say that?” Dumbledore frowned.

“It’s just… well, we never managed well apart, so early on we come up with a solution. Linked trunks.” Hermione replied matter-of-factly.

“Linked trunks? What?” The old wizard blinked in confusion.

“We linked our trunks to an accommodation trunk, Headmaster. That way we could have a few minutes together each day and at least once a week, we got to sleep in the same room.” She sighed. “It was so hard, Headmaster. We’d been together for so long and then suddenly we were apart. We slept badly, nightmares were almost nightly. We were always tried, our studies suffered and we were on the verge of breaking… When Harry came up with an idea. He had a trunk that linked to another trunk, a central trunk. And from that central trunk, we could access a number of trunks, trunks he’d set up as study areas. A potions lab, a greenhouse, a garden, a runes chamber, a space just for transfiguration, a duelling arena and an accommodation trunk. Like a Wizarding tent, but in a trunk.”

“It saved our sanity, Headmaster.” Harry went on. “It meant that we could leave a single linked trunk at our Master’s and step into it and be together.”

“We included Remus after James and Lily died and Sirius… went to Azkaban. He needed a safe place to shift on full moons.” Severus added. “And then when we finished our Masteries and we finally got permission from Lord Prince for Máthair and Stone to Blood Adopt us, we gave Máthair a trunk, too.”

“I’m not sure tha-” Dumbledore began, only to be cut off by Harry.

“Oh no, they’re secure, only someone blood-linked to the central trunk can enter any of the trunks. If we left one in, say… Diagon Alley… and someone took it home? They could open it, but not enter it, nor can they reset the security protocols, not while any of the blood-linked are still alive. We could invite them in, but… they can only enter or leave through the same trunk. They can’t access any other trunks in other places.”

“Ah…” The headmaster sighed in uderstanding.

“At this point in time, there are only five people that are blood-linked and have access to all trunks.” Severus added. “Hermione, Harry, myself, Remus and Máthair.”

“Remus Lupin?” Dumbledore mused.

“Yes, we made an expanded trunk into a forest that he uses when he shifts, once inside he can’t leave until he’s human again, Hermione set that as part of the security protocols when we gave him a trunk.” Harry clarified.

“A secure space to spend his full moons.” Dumbledore smiled, as he nodded.

“Much better than a shack on a hill.” Severus agreed.

“Severus? Why did you and young Sirius fall out? The incident regarding the whomping willow?” Dumbledore asked, delicately.

“Ah… That’s complicated. Sirius felt that I was trying to get between James and Lily. I mean, technically I had more in common with Lily than James did, but even I knew that Lily saw me as a brother, not a lover. But Sirius was blind to those sorts of subtleties and so, he took action. He never meant for me to be hurt, that wasn’t what it was about.” Severus explained.

“He wanted to get Sev into a position, that James could ‘rescue’ him from.” Harry added. “Exactly what happened. But of course Sev was so mad that Sirius put all of them at risk for no reason, he retaliated. The hexes and jinxes went to the next level.”

“Why do you think Sirius and James were so good as Aurors? With Sev hitting them with low-level curses, jinxes and hexes, they were well accustomed to what was needed, in dealing with Dark Idiots.” Hermione grinned.

“They excelled in their training, Remus once said that James was dumbfounded that Moody offered them both apprenticeships, James took him up on it, but Sirius went into the Hit-wizard program, instead.” Sev smirked.

“I understand that you called Lily a…an inappropriate… name…?”

“Yes, that was a mistake.” Severus sighed. “I was feeling particularly alone that week, Harry and Hermione were… unavailable and all week James, Sirius and Remus had been nagging me to show them my latest hex, but it wasn’t safe, yet, and I kept saying ‘no’. They didn’t like that, so got Lily involved and that was just one step too far. I snapped and said something I regret to this day. But once said, I couldn’t un-say it.” Severus sighed again. “James was angry with me, so was Remus and Sirius. We’d only been back on speaking terms for a few weeks when… they…” Severus hung his head.

Hermione and Harry sat beside their brother, Harry with an arm around his shoulders and Hermione held his hand.

“But you saw them, Sev. You made your peace with James and Lily. I know it’s little comfort, but at least you had that chance.”

Severus leant against Harry. “Yes, brother.”

“So…” Madame Pomfrey broke the strained atmosphere. “You’ll be using your ‘trunks’, then? But what about office hours and students that wish to speak with you?”

“I’ll be setting up a motion-sensor charm for each office. When a student knocks on, or opens an office door, the charm kicks in, it will alert whoever’s supposed to be in the office, that they are needed and it only takes a few seconds to walk from the trunk ‘house’ through the central trunk and out. If they’re going to be more than a minute, an audio message is sent to the office, to tell the student to wait, that someone’s on the way.” Hermione explained.

“It does mean that when there are no students about, a professor doesn’t have to wait in a cold or drafty office, Headmaster.” Flitwick commented.

“Máthair mentioned that putting another protocol in place to ensure that students can’t enter a trunk even with an invitation.” Harry said.

“I have been thinking about that, Harry, and I think it need to be altered.” Minerva corrected.

“Máthair?” Harry asked.

“Well, I don’t think that students should be allowed in, no. But, what about when you are ready to take on apprentices? You’ll want to show a prospective apprentice the facilities you, and they, will be using.” Minerva explained.

“What about…?” Professor Vectra joined the conversation. “What if a student could be invited, but only if Minerva and a second, non blood-linked, professor was present? Would that cover any propriety issues? I’d be happy to join you. If, of course, the Headmaster permits.”

“Yes, that would suffice. If Professor Snape-Urquart… hmm… What are we to call you three? Students would be dreadfully confused if we were to call all three of you, Professor Snape-Urquart.” Dumbledore muttered.

Harry, Hermione and Severus exchanged glances, a silent conversation going back and forth. The other professors could see it, there was clearly a conversation, but it was completely silent, not even a grunt or hum to be heard. After a few minutes all three nodded, in sync of course.

“We agree that calling us all Professor Snape-Urquart is not going to work. But how to differentiate between us? At first we thought, maybe Sev could be Professor Prince, as he’s Heir Prince, he has an appointment to collect the Ring this afternoon. That would just leave Harry and I. Harry is also Lord Harrington and I am Heir Enthwaite, so we could use those titles. But we felt that we’re a bit too young and that it’s a bit too stuffy for school. So, with your permission, Headmaster, we would like the students to call us Professor Severus, Professor Hermione and Professor Henrick. Formal enough, given our ages, to create enough of a divide between us and the students. But still casual enough that the students feel they can relate to us well enough to talk to us, not only, about their school issues, but also about any personal issues they may have.” Hermione spoke for the three of them.

Before the Headmaster could respond, the floo-fireplace flared and a voice emerged.

“Headmaster Dumbledore? Your presence is required. The Wizengamothave questions that you may be able to help answer. Please come through.” The voice left, but the flames stayed green, waiting for Dumbledore to enter.

“You’d best deal with that, Albus.” Minerva said. “I can give the triplets a tour and show them their quarters.” The witch assured the old wizard.

“That would be quite helpful, Minerva. Thank you.” Dumbledore turned the triplets. “And thank you, I look forward to working with you all.” He stood and straightened his robes, before stepping into the flames.

“Shall we have a walk around? Sev can show you some of his favourite spots.” Minerva offered.

 

 

Meanwhile in London, a plump redheaded woman was hurrying from Diagon Alley into Fraction Alley. Margaret ‘Molly’ Ethel Weasley nee Prewett was in a hurry. Her eldest son, Bill was minding the younger boys, while Ginny was with the Lovegood family. And heaven knew Fred and George could get into trouble without a second’s warning. Having five children at home was tiring, but she managed, she always managed. With Bill and Charlie both at Hogwarts, she had a little more time to give the others, now. But it did mean that errands happened whenever Ron and Ginny went down for a nap. With Bill watching them, Charlie got the exhausting task of occupying the twins. Or like today, when the boys were all out in the garden de-gnoming a space for a new vegetable plot.

Sometimes she wondered whether she should have taken Muriel’s advice and fostered one or two of them out? But… she was reluctant to let go of her children.

The last errand of the morning was to collect the dragon-pox boosters for Bill and Charlie, from Ladle and Vine, the apothecary in Fraction Alley. Molly darted into the store, pleased that there were only two other people in the shop and that only one seemed to be requiring the shopkeeper’s attention. She quietly browsed the herbs, inhaling the scent of those freshly cut. As the lady in front of her left the counter, Molly approached, her prescription at the ready. She heard the door open, then there was a pause and a scream.

Molly spun around in fright. The lady served before her stood in the doorway, screaming. Molly and the shopkeeper both darted across the store, the shopkeeper pulling the lady back inside and passing her to Molly. He then re-opened the door, he and Molly caught their breath at the sight.

A small body, battered, bruised and bloody, lay on the doormat. Molly and the shopkeeper exchanged glances and Molly gently pushed the customer deeper into the shop.

“If you’ll see to that, I’ll call the Auror’s.” Molly nodding the direction of the door.

“Please.” Was all the shopkeeper said.

Molly bustled the customer to the counter and left her with the other customer and hurried her way around the counter to the small floo-fireplace that the apothecary used for urgent deliveries. It took her two minutes to call the Aurors and St Mungo's, both assured her, they would send someone immediately.

By the time she stood upright again, footsteps could be heard running in the shop’s direction. Molly desperately wanted to know what had happened, but both customers were close to shock and she didn’t dare leave them.

An Auror approached and spoke to them for a few moments, but left saying that healers would bring them Calming Draughts in a few minutes, then someone would take their statements. Molly’s mind ran in circles, darting from one thought to another.

While the healers dealt with the customers, a young black man wearing a trainee Auror’s uniform approached Molly.

“Ma’am?” He said. “I’ve been instructed to take statements. Are you able to give me yours now?”

“Yes, yes, I can. But...? Can you tell me anything about the child?” Molly asked as she answered.

“All I know is that the child has been taken to St Mungo's, Ma’am.” The young man replied.

“Oh, thank heavens.” Molly sighed.

“Yes, Ma’am. Firstly, can I get your name and address?”

“Molly Weasley, The Burrow, Ottery St Catchpole, Devon.” Molly answered.

“Thank you, Mrs Weasley. Now, about what happened? Can you tell me about your morning?”

“Nothing unusual at home, I sent my boys to de-gnome the garden and took my daughter to the neighbours, while I came to run a few errands.”

“Where did you arrive?”

“I floo-ed to the Cauldron.”

“The Leaky Cauldron, ma'am?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Where did you go from there?” The young Auror asked, as a dicta-quill took notes for him.

“The first place I went was the second-hand bookshop, Abernathy’s. My eldest son is starting his 4th year at Hogwarts this year and I thought I’d see if they had any of the textbooks he’ll need.

“A wise move, why pay new prices if you can get good quality, second-hand?”

“Yes, exactly. So I picked up his Runes and Arithmancy books, then headed for the Ladle and Vine. With two boys heading to Hogwarts, I wanted to get their Dragon-pox boosters.”

“Again, a wise idea. What happened next?”

“I browsed the herbs while the shop assistant tended a customer, when he finished with her, I made my way to the counter. Then I heard her scream. I turned and saw her just standing in the doorway, screaming. The assistant and I rushed over, he pulled her back and pushed her in my direction, I went to bring her back into the shop, as he opened the door again. I saw a child. It was covered in dirt and blood, but I could see bruises and at least two cuts. I brought the customer back inside and said I’d call the Aurors, if he’d check on the child. I sat the customer down at the counter and asked another customer to stay with her while I called the Aurors. I floo called you and then did the same to St Mungo's. I went back to the customers and sat with them until you all arrived.”

“Good, good. I’m sure that was a comfort for them. Now, going back a little. Think about this before answering, ma'am. When you first caught sight of the apothecary’s shopfront? Did anything seem out of place to you? Any shadows? Boxes? Bundles on the ground?”

Molly thought deeply for a moment. “There was a box. It wasn’t big, not big enough for child to hide in.” She thought a bit more. “Maybe big enough for a quaffle…” She trailed off.

“Right. Was there anything in the doorway? Leaning against the base of the window, perhaps?”

“No, no, nothing like that. I remember thinking, the shop sells pots of herbs and there was enough room under the window for a display stand. Something that would allow plants like sunflowers and sunstars to get natural light.”

“So there was nothing in front of or beside the door?”

“No, I didn’t see anything there.” Molly assured him.

“Good, good. You said your boys were home alone? How old are they?”

“Bill will be 15 soon, Charlie’s 12, Percy’s 9, the twins are 7 and Ron’s 5. Why?”

“My superiors may need to speak to you again and I’m not sure whether they will want you to stay on site. And I’m certain this has been an awful shock, the healer’s may not want you alone. Perhaps… Perhaps I can get someone to contact your husband and get off work for the day?”

“Oh, would you? That would be…” Molly started to tremble, the falling adrenalin beginning to leave her shaky.

“You sit down here, Mrs Weasley and I’ll speak to my team leader.” The young Auror guided her to a seat and headed for the knot or Aurors.

 

In St Mungo's, the healers where frantic. The child brought in from Fraction Alley was barely breathing and they had no idea who he was. Diagnostic scans showed his organs had shut down, that he was starved, beaten, whipped and severely dehydrated. Given his condition and where he was found, Head Healer Malcolm Strout had decided to take the case himself and now he was regretting it.

A damp cloth was used to wipe the worst of the muck from the small body, as dirt and filth were removed, scars, cuts and bruises were left behind. A scar high on the right hand side of the boy’s forehead caused Mal to blanch.

“Oh god, please no.” He whispered.

Two minutes later, he sent a request to speak to the Aurors that attended the scene. It was too late, the boy let out a rattling breath and was still.

“Please not be him. Please not be him…” Mal chanted.

A tap at the isolation room door drew his attention. He nodded and waved the door open.

“Healer Malcolm Strout?” A young man wearing the deep red cloak of the Auror’s uniform entered the room, closely followed by a tall heavily scarred man, also wearing Auror red.

Mal nodded first to Alastor Moody and then turned back to the younger man.“I am. You name, please?” 

“This is trainee Auror Shacklebolt.” The older wizard spoke for him.

“Moody? He with you for the whole case?” Mal asked.

“Yes, Mal.”

“Good. Well, we have what could be a very bad problem.”

“Mal?” Moody asked.

Mal said nothing, he just moved to stand beside the body on the table and lifted the dank and matted hair to reveal a single scar.

“Oh god…” Moody grimaced.

But the younger Auror frowned. “Sir?” He asked.

“What?” Moody snapped, he didn’t like dealing with trainees, they asked the stupidest questions.

“Sir, Harry Potter’s supposed to be five years old. There’s no way that child is five years old, he’s too small.” Shacklebolt answered.

Both moody and Mal jolted. Their eyes both swung to the child and began a complete medical and physiological assessment. The answers didn’t match, no matter how they laid it out, they didn’t match. If this child was Harry Potter, then there were bigger problems than the fact he was dead. If he wasn’t, then who the hell was stupid enough to mark a child with that famous scar, beat him and then kill him?

“We need an identity test.” Moody finally ground out.

“And we need to keep this quiet, at least until we know who he is and who is supposed to be responsible for him.” Shacklebolt added.

Moody studied the young black man. ‘This kid might be worth training, properly.’ He thought. ‘We’ll see how he does for the rest of the case.’

“True enough.” Moody agreed, before turning to Mal. “Take enough blood for both Identity and Inheritance Tests, Mal. We’ll need to get the goblins in for them.” He grimaced. “I hate working with goblins.” He muttered.

“Sir?” Shacklebolt raised a finger.

“What?”

“We don’t know who this child is. Right?”

“Right.” Moody grunted. ‘Stupid question, kid.’ He thought. ‘Maybe he’s not as clued in as he appears.’

“If we were to ask the goblins to do the tests, we could say there is the possibility that he’s been kept alive and beaten because of who he is, or who he appears to be and so that his guardians could have access to any vaults.”

‘Or… maybe not so stupid, after all.’ It hadn’t even occurred to Moody to get the goblins on side by appealing to their hatred of theft.

“And if they disagree?” Moody answered.

“We don’t know who he is, so we have no idea how many vaults his guardians may be able to access, if any. But if he is Harry Potter…?” Shacklebolt trailed off.

“If he is, we’re in deep trouble.” Moody sighed.

“Depends on who his guardian is and what level of access they have.” The trainee corrected. “But even a trust vault…?”

“Floo the goblins, get someone over here and alert Family Services that we may be in for information. If we can get it from the goblins, that’d be better.” Moody directed.

“Yes, sir.” Shacklebolt nodded and nearly ran from the room.

“Enthusiastic.” Mal snorted.

“Yeah.” Moody agreed. “But at least he can think. That’s more than most trainees can do.”

“Isn’t that the truth?” Mal grunted.

“So… give me a run down, Mal.”

“You really want it, Al?” The healer asked.

“No, but give it to me, anyway.”

“Right…” Mal paused in thought. “Start with… He’s extremely malnourished, at a guess, I’d say starvation for at least a year, maybe more. Given the condition of his organs, likely more. Actual injuries? Broken left arm, radius and ulna. Left hand, all five of the metacarpal bones broken, pinkie and ring fingers, middle and distal phalanges broken along with the proximal phalange for the pinkie. Still on the left, clavicle and scapula fractured but not snapped. Two hairline skull fractures. One rib fractured, two broken and evidence of at least four prior breaks. Left foot, at least half the bones are broken, breaks that haven't healed properly. I doubt this kid was ever able to walk, or if he did, it was with a decided limp.”

“Gods.” Moody whispered.

“Yeah.” Mal nodded. “12 cuts, 34 contusions, two ruptured organs, spleen and kidney. Bleeding on the brain and severely anaemic.”

“Any good news? At all?”

“He hasn’t been raped? If you call that good?” Mal offered, tentatively.

“It’s something, at least.” Moody sighed.

A tapping at the door and Shacklebolt opened the door, gesturing for the goblin to precede him.

“Sirs? This is Manager Bogrod. Manager? May I introduce Senior Auror Alastor Moody and Head Healer Malcolm Strout.” Shacklebolt indicated to each as he said their names.

“Auror, Healer.” The goblin nodded in acknowledgement.

“Manager.” Both men replied.

“This is the… being to be tested?” Bogrod asked.

“It is, sir.” Shacklebolt answered.

“It’s already dead.”

“He is, but without an identity, we can’t progress any further in our case and you can’t know if someone is using his vaults.”

The goblin studied the young man, finally he snorted. “Very well.” He drew a scroll of parchment from a pouch at his waist, along with a phial of lime green liquid. “You said Identity and Inheritance Tests?” At the answering nod, he continued. “You do know that an Inheritance Test is simply a more detailed version of the Identity Test, don’t you?”

“Yes, sir, but we will need certified copies of the Inheritance Test for Family Services and the Wizengamot. And we weren’t sure if what you would require to start an investigation into his vaults.”

Moody nodded to himself. ‘ This one can think.’

“Well thought, Trainee.” The goblin offered. “But not necessary. My memory of this will be enough to begin with. If anything turns up, that may change.” He turned to the healer. “I suggest keeping a phial of the child’s blood for verification purposes. As Head Healer, you can order a phial to be stored in the family's vault. We can access it only in your, or your successor’s presence.”

Moody nodded when Mal looked at him in askance. “Yeah, that’s a common occurrence for Ancient and Noble Families. They have to have some way of verifying their dead. In fact, in most large Family vaults, you’ll find a specially designed stasis cabinet just for blood samples. It’s been years since an Ancient and Noble Family had a death contested, but it does happen. Usually with the more… messy deaths. The Potters were clean and as young Harry was alive and the only living Family member, there was no need for contest.”

“Right.” Mal looked to the goblin. “How many drops do you need, again? Three or seven?”

“Seven, please, healer.” Bogrod held out the phial and watched as Mal sliced the child’s hand and collected the dull red liquid in a large phial, before using a dropper to add seven drops to the green liquid in the goblin’s phial. Bogrod then replaced the stopper and gave the phial a shake, once the liquid inside turned a murky blue, he laid the parchment down in a large flat tray and poured the mixture over it.

“It shouldn’t take very long. I doubt more than a few minutes.” The goblin answered in reply to the unspoken question from all three men.

“Thank you, Manager. If you don’t mind, gentlemen, I need to process the body, before I drop him into stasis. Everything must be documented.” Mal warned.

“Of course, Healer Strout.” Shacklebolt stepped towards the door and sat on the bench beside it.

Moody and Mal exchanged glances and the Auror nodded. With a glance at the goblin, Moody stomped his way over and slumped down beside the young black man.

“Shacklebolt?”

“Sir?”

“From now on you work with me. Not just this case, but until I say otherwise, get it?”

Shacklebolt frowned. “What about the director? Isn’t she the one that determines partnering?”

“Normally, yes. But she knows I hate working with brain-dead trainees, so if I say I want you with me, I get you with me. I’ll take your training in hand, by the time I finish with you, you’ll be good enough to take on, if not the directorship, then at least, her assistant.”

“Oh.”

“But fair warning, lad. I’ll work you hard and I’ll expect you to put in 100%. I won’t expect you to succeed at everything, but if you don’t try, I’ll drop you back in with the other brain-deads. Alright?”

Shacklebolt thought and thought, but he couldn’t see how he could loose out in this deal. He wanted to learn, to train, to be the best he could be. To have a senior Auror of Moody’s calibre offer to take him on was unexpected, but if he was prepared to put the work in, it could be very rewarding.

“You get the director to sign off on it and I’m in.” He said, nodding his head.

“Right.” Moody said nothing more for a few minutes, until the goblin lifted the parchment from the tray and frowned.

“Looks like we’re up.” Moody grunted. “Take point.”

“Yes, sir.” Shacklebolt stood and after a deep breath he crossed to join the goblin and the healer.

“Good, the Test is complete. It raises questions.” The goblin handed the test to the young Auror.

Shacklebolt held the test where the three humans could all read it, easily.

 

HENRY JAMES POTTER-BLACK (31 July 1980 – 06 August 1985)

Mother – Lillian Jasmine Evans (30 Jan 1960 – 31 Oct 1981)

Father – James Fleamont potter (27 Mar 1960 – 31 Oct 1981)

Father (Blood Adopted – 4 November 1980)– Sirius Orion Black (3 November 1959 – )

TITLES –

Potter (birth – father)

Black – heir (Blood adoption – father)

Braxton (bequest)

VAULTS –

625 – Potter. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, artefacts, portraits, jewellery, property

687 – Trust. – Potter. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, letters

912 – Trust – Black. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, letters

1979 – Assigned Multi-Bequest vault. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, artefacts, portraits, jewellery, property

BEQUESTS

Abbey - ʛ200

Abraham - ʛ200

Acton - ʛ100

Adams - ʛ1000

Appleton – ʛ2000

Barclay - ʛ20

Beckwith - ʛ9438, δ291, κ1221, 803 books, 691 artefacts, 37 portraits, 1584 pieces jewellery…

And so it went on for a few more pages.

“Ah, crap.” Moody groaned.

Shacklebolt sighed. “This is gonna be bad, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is.” The healer answered.

“Right. Manager Bogrod? Would you please make three copies and certify them? I’ll need the original for St Mungo's, a copy for Family Services, one for the DMLE and the third for the Wizengamot.” Shacklebolt held his dismay and anger in check. They needed to know how this could happen before they went on a rampage.

“Certainly, young Auror.” Bogrod drew three blank scrolls from his pouch and with a swipe of a crystal, all three matched the one that Shacklebolt held. Each had the Gringotts watermark shimmering over the ink, indicating a certified document.

“Thank you, Manager.” The young Auror turned to Moody. “Anything I forgot, that I need to do?” He asked.

“Not so far.” He turned to the healer. “Mal? You got this? Finish up, drop him in stasis and lock him down. My approval only. Don’t trust anyone, got it?” The healer nodded and Moody turned back to the trainee. “You’re point and I’m backup, try not to screw up, kid.”

“Family Services, first. Yes?”

“Yeah.”

 

 

In the Wizengamot Chamber  Chief Warlock Thomas Marchbanks thumped the Wizengamot gavel on the rostrum.

“I open the floor for new business.” He spoke clearly and with authority.

For a few seconds there was silence, then…

“I would make a request of the Wizengamot.” A voice came from the rear seats.

As it did, a man stood, he was older, but his back was unbowed, he stood straight and gave an impression of a height greater than his stature suggested. He wore dark green and grey, a morning suit under formal robes.

His appearance was met with whispers.

“L-Lord Black?” Marchbanks stammered.

“Indeed.” Lord Arcturus Sirius Black eased his way through the rows of seats, until he reached the open floor in front of Marchbanks.

Marchbanks glanced around the room and saw no objections. “I cede the floor to Lord Black.” He acknowledged and sat in the chair behind the Chief Warlock’s desk.

The room was deathly silent, it had been almost a decade since Lord Black had last attended the Wizengamot in person, he preferred to have his solicitors represent his House.

“Thank you, Chief Warlock.” He nodded. He turned to face the gathering of people that represented the Wizengamot. “I thought my request simple, but it is becoming anything but. Allow me to provide a little context?” When the Chief Warlock nodded, Black continued. “The death of my niece Walburga, last month, reminded me that, in my Will, her son Sirius Orion Black is named as Heir to my Lordship. As we all know, Sirius was sent to Azkaban for the betrayal of the Potters and the murder of Peter Pettigrew and 12 muggles. It prompted me to update my Will. I sat with my solicitor and wrote up what I believed to be in the best interests of my House. From there I went to Gringotts to have the document certified.” He paused. “You can understand my confusion, I’m sure, when the certification refused to take.”

A burst of whispers rose in response to his comment.

“After a number of interruptions and failed attempts, Ragnok, the Director himself, finally appeared. When his attempt at certification also failed, he and his Managers determined that the only major change I’d made between the new Will and the one already on file and certified, was the removal of Sirius as Heir. They expressed the opinion that Lady Magic may consider him, still Heir. Ragnok informed me that the only way they could circumvent Lady Magic, was to present a record of his conviction for murder. I, of course, commented that they should already have this on file. Ragnok and his Managers denied ever having received any such documents and suggested a trip to the public archives.”

More whispers. The goblins never lied, they may not tell the complete truth, but they never lied. If they said they never received Sirius Black’s conviction, then they never received it.

“I spent the weekend going over all my documents regarding Sirius, but like the goblins, I found no notice of his conviction. As Lord of his House, I most certainly should have received such a notice. I determined to visit the Public Archives, as soon as they opened on Monday. I needed a resolution. Master Archivist Blakely was extremely helpful, but I left there with more questions and no answers.”

“Might I ask, what you found, Lord Black?” Adelbert Rosier asked.

Black sighed. “I found little, Lord Rosier. Six documents. That is the sum total of Sirius Black as far as the Public Archives are concerned.”

Silence reigned.

“Six documents? Please enlighten the Wizengamot of these documents.” The Chief Warlock requested.

“I found his birth notice, OWLs, NEWTs, Apparition licence, Hogwarts' Graduation and Auror academy acceptance.”

“Excuse me?” Marchbanks asked. “You found what?”

“His birth notice, OWLs, NEWTs, Apparition licence, Hogwarts' Graduation and Auror academy acceptance.”

“Nothing else?”

“Nothing else.” Black replied.

“But… but…”

“Nothing.” Black sighed again. “Master Blakely suggested coming to the Wizengamot and asking for access to the Wizengamot’s Court Archives.” He paused. “So… here I am. Asking permission.”

Marchbanks stared at Black for a few seconds. “Ladies and gentlemen of the Wizengamot? One of our own is before us, asking for access to our Court Archives. Do we grant him that access?” He asked formally. “Who will speak on his behalf?”

Rosier spoke. “I will speak for him. I would bid the Wizengamot grant him permission. However… I would also request that the records are brought here, to the Wizengamot Chamber, today. To allow someone, anyone, unlimited access to such records is folly and invites subterfuge. Have the records brought here, so that the Wizengamot may witness the search. Then, all here may bear witness that our peer’s conduct is beyond reproach and that the answers he receives are valid.”

There were many heads nodding and many voices agreeing.

Marchbanks nodded. “All in favour of Lord Black’s request?” Wands were lit. “Against?” Not a light to be seen. “Very well, I shall call upon the Archivist.” Marchbanks went to a small door off to the side of the main chamber, he knocked gently and when the door opened, he bowed. “Master Archivist, the Wizengamot requests your presence.”

A tiny man, not much taller than a goblin emerged, bent almost in half with age, he leant heavily on a stick. He tottered across the room to the Chief Warlock’s desk and waited quietly.

“Master Archivist, we require the Court Ledgers for November and December 1981.” Marchbanks asked.

The little man nodded and without out a word, tottered back the way he’d came. The door remained open behind him, but no one saw him once he’d crossed the threshold. Two minutes later, he emerged again, a trolley being pushed in front of him. On it rested two ledgers.

“I request projection orbs, if you please, Chief Warlock. If all here are to bear witness, they must be able to see and read what is written.” Lord Rosier stated.

“Agreed.” Lord Black said. “I support Rosier’s request.”

“Granted.” Marchbanks replied and pulled a small round glass ball from a drawer. With a flick of his wand the orb rose to float above the desk. A second flick and a beam of light emanated from the orb, lighting up a portion of the desk, a second beam of light and an image of the desk now graced the wall behind the Chief Warlock’s desk.

“Master Archivist, we require information in regards Sirius Orion Black. What entries can you show us?”

The Archivist tapped a book and it floated from the trolley to the desk, to come to a rest in the orb’s light, a corresponding image showing on the wall. The Archivist opened the book and a finger at the top of the pages tapped the date, 1st November 1981. He began to run a finger down the six names in the first column, none of the were Sirius Orion Black. He turned the page and again tapped the date, 2nd November 1981 and went down the list of names.

Sirius Orion Black was the fifth name present and the Archivist tapped his finger against the details.

Name: Sirius Orion Black, age 21

Summary: Warrant of Arrest.

Issuing Officer: Bartemius Crouch Snr.

Charge: Murder.

Arresting officers: Alastor Moody, Robert Hemple

Action: Remanded to Holding cells.

“Finally.” Black sighed. “May we have a copy of this?” A wand tap from the archivist and a piece of parchment appeared. “Chief Warlock may I request a second orb? I’d like this extract to remain visible, while the Archivist searches further.”

In response Marchbanks produced a second orb and with it a second patch of desk lit up and the newly conjured extract was placed under the second orb.

“Please continue, Master Archivist.” Marchbanks directed.

For the next few minutes the Archivist flicked through the pages of the November ledger, but no more entries regarding Sirius Black were found. The December ledger provided nothing more.

“Master Archivist, this is most unusual. May we have all the ledgers for 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985, please? Answers must be found.” Marchbanks was beginning to get a sinking feeling.

The Archivist nodded and after placing both books back on the trolley, he pushed it back through his door. Again, the Wizengamot waited and again, thankfully, it was only a minute or two and the trolley appeared. The first ledger floated to the desk and was opened. It took the tiny man almost an hour to go through all 36 ledgers for 1982, 1983 and 1984. A further ten minutes saw the seven ledgers for the current year, 1985, checked.

The results were staggering and left the Wizengamot in shock.

Nothing. That was what they found. Nothing.

“Master Archivist?” Marchbanks sighed, there were only two ways Black could have been sent to Azkaban without going through the Wizengamot Court. An Unnamed trial or he was sent there illegally. “We request contact with the Unnamed and access to their records.”

Marchbanks' words brought sudden silence to the chamber. The Unnamed were unknown, every one of them shared the same face, every one of them was dangerous and every one of them answered only to the Queen.

The Archivist nodded and after gathering up his ledgers, pushed his trolley back through his door. The door remained open but nothing was seen for minutes. Then another trolley emerged. Upon it were five boxes, each seamless surface, highly polished and reflective. But the man that pushed the trolley wasn’t the tiny Archivist, this man was tall and wore the single face of the Unnamed, while on his chest there lay a curious design.

Two crossed wands superimposed over a ball of exploding firework-type sparks. The symbol of the Master of the Unnamed.

“Master Rumour.” Marchbanks gasped.

“Chief Warlock.” The man’s voice was light and soft, but everyone present knew what an Unnamed was capable of.

“Master Rumour, we of the Wizengamot request the assistance of the Unnamed. Wizengamot Court Ledgers show no record of action taken against Sirius Orion Black, an accused murderer, who currently resides in Azkaban. We ask would if you have record of his trial and what sentence was handed down?” Marchbanks stated.

Rumour nodded and turned to the chamber. “Each of these boxes are the records for an entire year. A simple wand tap-and-hold, on a box and recititation of the accused’s name. If we have a record regarding that person, parchment will form on the top of the box and may be removed for your records. If nothing appears, no record bearing that person’s name is found. As an example… every box bears the record of the first person to undergo an Unnamed Trial and be executed as a result, Mr Pericles James Stampson. We use this as an example to indicate the functionality of each box.” He paused. “A warning should be given. A record bears the names of many people, the accused, any victims, the arresting officers and the authorising officer, to name but a few. If your accused is named anywhere on a record, that record will appear. Do you still wish to continue?”

Marchbanks looked at Lord Black, the man sighed but nodded.

“Yes, please, Master Rumour.” The Chief Warlock replied.

“Very well.” Master Rumour walked around the trolley, so that it stood between him and the room, everyone present would be able to see his actions. “Pericles James Stampson.” Master Rumour drew a long thin wand from his sleeve and tapped it on the first box. A single sheet of parchment appeared and Rumour slid it from the box and under the projection orb for all to see.

Name: Pericles James Stampson, age 32

Summary: Conviction

Charge: Assault, Torture, Murder.

Arresting officers: John T. Heading, Lucas J. Meade

Action: Execution.

“The accused’s name, please?”

“Sirius Orion Black.” Marchbanks answered.

“Sirius Orion Black. “ He said clearly.

At first there was nothing, then a parchment faded into being, it slid from the top of the box and was closely followed by a second. And a third. And a fourth. Parchment kept coming, page, after page, after page. When the parchments stopped appearing, Rumour moved to the second box and tapped it, saying the name ‘Sirius Orion Black’, again. Again parchment began to emerge. Again, Rumour waited until it stopped, before moving to the next box and repeating his actions, then the next. The fourth box released just the one sheet of parchment and Rumour was able to move to the last box. The last box, the one for the current year, released no parchment.

“Chief Warlock? I request the Wizengamot’s permission to remain. It is my understanding that Sirius Black was tried by the Wizengamot, not the Unnamed. I would know which is correct.” Rumour said.

Marchbanks looked around the room and every person whose eyes he met, nodded.

“Very Well, Master Rumour, you may remain. Clerk of the Court? A seat for Master Rumour, please.” Marchbanks directed and a young witch hurried over with a chair that she placed beside the Chief Warlock’s desk.

“Thank you, miss.” Rumour said.

“You’re welcome, Master Rumour.” The witch replied.

Marchbanks gathered each parchment that had come from the Unnamed’s Record boxes and bundled them together. He removed the record of Mr Stampson and placed it in front of Rumour. He then pulled a sheet of parchment from the pile collected and laid it under the projection orb.

Name: Paul Michael Robb, age 31

Summary: Conviction

Charge: Kidnapping, Torture, Murder.

Arresting officers: James F. Potter, Sirius O. Black

Action: Execution.

“Not what we are seeking.” Marchbanks commented and removed the sheet, it join that of Mr Stampson and another took it’s place.

Name: William Harold Butler

Summary: Conviction

Charge: Assault, Torture, Murder, Cruiatus Curse.

Arresting officers: James F. Potter, Sirius O. Black

Action: Execution.

“Again, not what we seek.” The sheet was removed and another laid down.

Name: Matthew Anthony Paige, age 44

Summary: Conviction

Charge: Kidnapping, Assault, Murder.

Arresting officers: Franklin R. Longbottom, Sirius O. Black

Action: Execution.

One by one, sheets were laid under the projection orb and read. One by one, they were discarded. Until only one remained.

Name: Benjamin Bruce Bates, age 27

Summary: Conviction

Charge: Kidnapping, Torture, Murder, Cruiatus Curse, Imperius Curse, Killing Curse.

Arresting officers: Sirius O. Black, Benjamin S. Fenwick

Action: Execution.

There was silence.

“It seems we have a problem.” Marchbanks stated. He checked the original Arrest Warrant and noted the issuing officer and the arresting officers. “I want Crouch Snr, Moody and Hemple brought here, immediately. Do not inform them of why.” He ordered the clerk.

“Yes, sir.” The clerk left the chamber. She left behind a riotous cacophony of noise.

“With no documentation to verify whether or not my Heir, Sirius Black, was granted a trial, let alone earned a verdict of guilty, he should be granted a retrial. I want him removed from Azkaban, immediately.” Lord Black demanded. “If he is guilty, I will personally return him to Azkaban, but if he is innocent…? He’s been there for almost four years, he will require healers and quite probably a mind-healer, too.”

“If it pleases the Wizengamot, I will retrieve Heir Black. No guard will refuse a member of the Unnamed.” Rumour offered.

Marchbanks looked around the room, many people called out ‘aye’ or ‘yes’, those that didn’t, just nodded, not able to speak for the shock.

“That would be much appreciated, Master Rumour.” Marchbanks quickly found the appropriate documents and filled them in. “Authorisation for his removal, Master Rumour.” The parchment was held out to the Unnamed.

Master Rumour took the sheet and left through the Archivist’s door.

“It appears, Lord Black that you were correct. A request that is anything but simple.” The Chief Warlock sighed. “We will have an answer before the day is done.” He paused as a tapping at the chamber door was heard. “Lord Black, I would suggest taking a seat, if we are to retry your Heir, I must insist on discretion. We will not alert the witnesses until all three and Black are present.”

“As you wish, Chief Warlock.” Lord Black made his way back to the seat he’d vacated and made himself as comfortable as was possible in the circumstances.

In the absence of the clerk of the court, the Chief Warlock was the only person permitted to open the main chamber doors. Upon opening them, he saw the clerk with two men, one of which was Barty Crouch.

“I called for Hemple and Moody in addition to Crouch.” Marchbanks stated.

“Yes, sir. Auror Moody is on duty, sir. Madame Bones will have him sent down as soon as he returns to the office, she did however say that it could be a while, they are investigating the beating murder of a child.”

Marchbanks winced. “Thank you. I would have you remain here, waiting for Moody, alert us the moment he arrives. Gentlemen, enter.” Marchbanks gestured to the chamber.

“Good morning, Thomas. Why have I been summoned?” Crouch asked, in a demanding manner.

“You have been summoned to what will be an emergency session of the Wizengamot for a retrial for a man whose first trial documentation is suspected of being tampered with. Be seated. The Accused is being retrieved.” He closed the chamber doors and heard the locking mechanism click into place.

As he returned to his seat, the door to the Archivist’s office opened and Master Rumour re-entered, holding the arm of a skinny, dirty man.

“Sirius Black!” Bartemius Crouch gasped,  knowing his day had gone from good to bad, to far worse.

Chapter Text

Alastor Moody stomped through the halls of the Ministry, he was not a happy man and anyone that saw him, knew it. The last hour had started out a wild snidget hunt, trying to find more information on the last few years of Harry Potter’s life. A visit to Wizarding Family Services yielded no information at all. Nothing. No file, anywhere. Moody and Shacklebolt were joined in their search, by the WFS Assessment Officer, Julianne Moorcroft. From WFS, they headed for Gringotts and a meeting with Manager Bogrod.

That meeting yielded a crap-ton of information. None of it good. Moody, Shacklebolt, Moorcroft and Bogrod reached the grand doors of the Wizengamot chamber, all surprised to see them closed.

“The Wizengamot is in emergency session.” The Clerk of the court stated, from her position in front of the doors.

“Madame, I guarantee this will take precedence. We have a dead child and proof of abuse, theft and fraud. All committed by a ranking member of our society.” Miss Moorcroft said.

“I’m sorry, ma'am, sirs. I-”

“Open the bloody doors, Sarah.” Moody ordered.

“Moody? Oh, thank heavens. I have orders to let you in, but nothing-”

“Sarah… Harry Potter is dead. Open… The… Bloody… Doors…” Moody's voice was hard, cold and quiet. A deadly combination.

The clerk’s jaw fell and without a word, she opened the doors. Moody, Shacklebolt, Moorcroft and the goblin entered, quickly followed by Sarah.

“What is the meaning of this? We are in emergency-” Marchbanks began.

“Harry Potter is dead.” Moody stated, silencing the entire room.

“Wh-what?” Sirius Black stuttered, his heart shattering, leaving him numb.

“Harry Potter is dead. Beaten and dumped in Fraction Alley. We’ve spent all morning running around trying to get information and what we found is… Potter’s death is the least of our concerns.” Shacklebolt took over.

“Who are you?” Marchbanks asked.

“Trainee Auror Kingsley Shacklebolt. Senior Auror Moody directed me to take the lead on this case.” Shacklebolt replied.

“Moody? You let a trainee take lead?”

“I did. I’m keeping this one. Gonna train him, myself. So far, he’s not made a mistake or taken any action, that I wouldn’t have. Everything he’s found, I’ll vouch for.”

“Ah.” Marchbanks grunted. “We’ve an issue here, too. The Public Archives, the Wizengamot Archives and the Unnamed have no record of Sirius Black ever having received a trial. Lord Black has demanded, and we the Wizengamot agree, that Black be given an emergency trial.”

“That’s gonna be quicker and easier than our issue, best get that done first.” Moody grunted.

“Chief Warlock? May I request that Black, Crouch, Moody and Hemple, all provide statements under veritaserum?” Master Rumour asked.

“It’s one way to shorten a trial.” Moody grunted. “Do it in front of the entire Wizengamot and there can be no contest.”

Marchbanks nodded. “That is a standard action in emergency sessions. Master Rumour? As an unbiased agency, may we request that the Unnamed provide the veritaserum and it’s administration?”

“As we desire to see this resolved one way or another? Yes, the Unnamed agree to your request.” Master Rumour drew a small phial from a sleeve. “This phial is sealed, the seal is that of the Wizengamot’s Potions Master, Phillip Grady. Master goblin? Would you be so kind as to verify this seal and it’s author?”

The phial was placed on the Chief Warlock’s desk and the goblin carefully sidled over, his hands kept in sight at all times. The goblin picked up the phial, keeping it in sight of the watching Wizengamot. He studied the seal and it’s signature before putting it gently back on the desk.

“The phial is sealed. The signature is that of Potions Master Grady.” He said stepping back.

Rumour picked the phial up and broke the seal. “The seal is broken and it’s contents ready for use.”

“Bartemius Crouch. Approach the witness chair.” Marchbanks pointed at a seat in the middle of the chamber floor.

“I object.” Crouch started. “I have no-”

“Crouch, you were Director of the DMLE for long enough to know that during an emergency session, veritaserum is used on all participants and that no one may refuse the will of the Wizengamot. Approach the chair.” Marchbanks said.

“I don’t-” Crouch tried again.

“Now, Crouch.” Marchbanks ordered.

“No. I-”

“Master Rumour, would you be so kind as to act as bailiff, please?” Marchbanks sighed.

“Certainly.”

Rumour stood and the gentle aura that had surrounded him, dropped away. He exuded menace as he, quite literally, stalked Crouch across the room. Crouch might have been a competent wizard, but Rumour was Master of the Unnamed, it took him less than three minutes to force Crouch into the seat and veritaserum into his mouth.

“Your name?” Marchbanks asked.

“Bartemius Edward Crouch, senior.” Crouch’s voice was bland, dull and almost lifeless.

“Your date of birth?”

“12th January, 1949.”

“Were you the issuing officer for the warrant of arrest for Sirius Orion Black?”

“Yes.”

“To your knowledge, did Black receive a trial?”

“No.”

“Do you know why not?”

“Yes.”

“Why not?” Marchbanks rolled his eyes and reminded himself that he had to actually ask the questions he needed answered.

“I had him sent to Azkaban, straight from the holding cells.” Crouch’s admission caused whispers.

“Why?” Marchbanks asked.

“Revenge.” Those watching frowned confusion.

“Revenge for what?”

“His mother is the reason I was forced to marry Alison Mincher. She was a useless whore, who produced a useless wastrel of a son. If Walburga Black hadn’t caught me with her, I wouldn’t have been forced to marry her. I swore to get back at Black. Putting her son in Azkaban was easy.” The whispers became mutters.

“So you are responsible for placing an Heir to an Ancient and Noble House in Azkaban with no evidence or trial?” Marchbanks asked, astonished at the man’s gall.

“Yes.”

“Was he even questioned?”

“No.” A roar of objections met the single word.

“Master Rumour, secure this witness.” Marchbanks directed.

“Wait.” Shacklebolt said. “I’d like to ask a question of him.”

“What question?”

“What other illegal actions has he taken?”

There was a murmur of confusion from the Wizengamot.

“Why would you ask this?” Master Rumour wanted to know.

“If he placed a man in that hell-hole… for no other reason than revenge? What else has he done?” Shacklebolt asked.

“Point.” Master Rumour acknowledge.

“Very well.” Marchbanks stated. “Crouch? What other illegal actions have you taken?”

“I poisoned Alison. Took her to Azkaban, to see her son before her death, forced them both to take polyjuice potion and swapped them. She died there three days later. The son came with me. I rejected Arthur Weasley’s request for a transfer to the Muggle-Worthy Excuse committee without notifying the committee. I transferred Dolores Umbridge out of the DMLE without request. Cancelled leave for…” The man kept going repeating offense after offense.

“Stop.” Marchbanks said after nearly five minutes of Crouch’s litany.

“Where is you son, now?”

“He is no son of mine.” Crouch disagreed.

“Where is your wife’s son?”

“The whore’s son is in the basement of my house, under Imperius. My house-elf is watching him.”

“We’re going to have to see to that.” Moody growled.

“Agreed.” Marchbanks nodded. “Any more questions for Crouch or can we question Black?”

Moody and Shacklebolt exchanged glances and the younger man nodded.

“Nope, we’re good.” The older Auror answered.

“Master Rumour would you move Crouch aside, he will be remanded to a holding cell, to await a formal trial. Sirius Black approach-”

Before Marchbanks could finish the order, Black was standing beside the chair, waiting for Crouch to be removed, albeit on wobbly legs. The instant the seat was vacant, Black was in it, his mouth open waiting for Master Rumour to administer veritaserum. Once the drops were placed on his tongue, he swallowed and shuddered.

“Your name?”

“Sirius Orion Black.” He answered, like Crouch, his voice was dull and monotone.

“Date of birth?”

“3rd November, 1959.”

“Right then, let’s keep this short and simple, shall we?” Marchbanks asked the court and was met by nods. “Black did you betray the Potters to Voldemort?”

“No.”

“Did you kill Peter Pettigrew?”

“No.”

“Did you kill 12 muggles, the day you were arrested for Pettigrew’s murder?”

“No.”

“If you didn’t betray the Potters, who did?”

“Peter.”

“Why do you think that?”

“He was the Secret Keeper.” A roar of protest filled the court.

“Pettigrew? Not you?”

“Peter. Not me.”

“Why not you?”

“Lily wanted me, but James felt that I was too obvious, he suggested telling people it was me, but actually having Peter be Keeper.”

“Who knew of this?”

“James, Lily, Peter, me and Albus Dumbledore.”

Sudden silence.

“Albus Dumbledore?”

“Yes.”

“Why was he told?”

“He was the one to cast the Fidelius Charm.”

“Even though it’s illegal for the Charm to be cast by anyone other than an Auror?”

“Yes.”

“You and James Potter were Aurors, why didn’t one of you cast the charm?”

“I was still recovering from a mild bout of dragon pox. I was on magical restrictions at the time. Dumbledore somehow convinced James that it would better for Dumbledore to cast the charm than for James to do it.”

“Excuse me?” Shacklebolt spoke up. “Could the clerk of the court please take a note of that? It will tie in with our current case.”

“Certain, trainee.” Marchbanks nodded and Sarah quickly pulled a scroll and quill towards her.

“Thank you, Chief Warlock.” Shacklebolt said.

“If you didn’t kill Pettigrew, why was his body not found?” Marchbanks asked Black.

“He cut off his finger and changed into his Animagus form and escaped down a sewer.” Black answered, causing a rush of alarm to sweep the chamber.

“He’s an Animagus?”

“Yes.”

“What is he?”

“A common grey rat.”

Marchbanks snorted resignedly. “Great. That’s going to be easy to find.” There was a ripple of anger rising in the Wizengamot. “Ladies and gentlemen of the Wizengamot. We have heard two statements today. Do we wish to hear more?”

There was silence.

“Are we ready to hand down a verdict, in regards to Sirius Orion Black and the accusations of betrayal and murder?”

“Aye.” Was the resounding answer.

“Very well. On the count of Betrayal… For a guilty verdict, please light your wand, now.” The was nothing. Not a light to be seen. “Thank you. “For an innocent verdict, please light your wand, now.” The chamber was suddenly lit like midday. “Thank you. On the count of Murder… For a guilty verdict, please light your wand, now.” Nothing. “Thank you. For an innocent verdict, please light your wand, now.” Again the room was brightly lit. “Ladies and gentlemen of the Wizengamot, we are about to hand down a verdict. Does anyone here wish to change their mind?” Silence. “Good. Sirius Orion Black… on the charge of Betrayal… we find you innocent. On the charge of murder, we find you innocent.”

Sirius heaved a sigh. “What now?” He asked, after recieving the antidote.

“We ask your patience, an urgent matter has arisen and must be dealt with. We will have food and drink brought for you, while we attend to the matter brought before us. Clerk of the court? The Wizengamot will require a statement to be released to the press for Heir Black. We will discuss reparations before he leaves.”

“Chief Warlock? You might want to hold off on that for a few minutes. The information we bring you is… vile… and may be connected.” Shacklebolt interrupted gently.

“Please explain.” Marchbanks demanded.

“Yes, sir. At 9.48 am, a floo-call was received from the apothecary, ‘The Ladle and Vine’, in Fraction Alley. A child was found on the doormat of the store, he was dirty, bloody and unconscious. He was taken to St Mungo's for treatment and upon examination of the boy, a scar was found. And while his body had many scars, one caused alarm. A lightning bolt shaped scar high on the right hand side of the boy’s forehead.” Shacklebolt paused, while a whisper of dismay flew through the Wizengamot. “At first glance, it was assumed that the boy was Harry Potter, but other factors raised doubts. His other injuries, yes… but mostly his size. This boy was roughly the size of a three year old, a small three year old, but Harry Potter is five years old. It was at this point that the boy stopped breathing. The healer continued to assess him, only to find that his injuries were extensive and should have been fatal weeks ago, he determined that it was only the boy's magic that was keeping him alive and a child’s core is immature and weak, not able to sustain him for very long. I’ll not repeat the entire list right now, but a broad summary includes… starvation, broken bones, damaged organs, cuts and a multitude of bruises.”

There were mutters and whispers from the Wizengamot members, as Shacklebolt shuffled through the papers brought into the chamber. A single page was placed on the Chief Warlock’s desk.

“It was at that point that I suggested the involvement of Gringotts to determine the child’s identity. Manager Bogrod attended and using blood retrieved from the body by St Mungo's Head Healer Malcolm Strout, an Inheritance Test was done.” Shacklebolt placed a second page on the desk, this time under the projection orb. An image of the page was projected onto the wall.

HENRY JAMES POTTER-BLACK (31 July 1980 – 06 August 1985)

Mother – Lillian Jasmine Evans (30 Jan 1960 – 31 Oct 1981)

Father – James Fleamont potter (27 Mar 1960 – 31 Oct 1981)

Father (Blood Adopted – 4 November 1980)– Sirius Orion Black (3 November 1959 – )

TITLES –

Potter (birth – father)

Black – heir-dependent (Blood adoption – father)

Braxton (bequest)

VAULTS –

625 – Potter. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, artefacts, portraits, jewellery, property

687 – Trust. – Potter. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, letters

912 – Trust – Black. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, letters

1979 – Assigned Multi-Bequest vault. ʛalleons, sickles, knuts, books, artefacts, portraits, jewellery, property

BEQUESTS

Abbey - ʛ200

Abraham - ʛ200

Acton - ʛ100

Adams - ʛ1000

Appleton – ʛ2000

Barclay - ʛ20

Beckwith - ʛ9438, δ291, κ1221, 803 books, 691 artefacts, 37 portraits, 1584 pieces jewellery…

There was silence as the page was read by the Wizengamot members.

“As you can see, the Inheritance Test is certified by Gringotts. The boy was Harry Potter.” There were groans and the odd whimper heard. “This raised many questions. For the average person on the street, the first question might have been… ‘who did this?’… but for the Auror department and the healers the first question was… ‘who was the person responsible for him, who allowed this to happen?’. The boy did disappear after that night in Godric’s Hollow, after all. So, where was he? And who was responsible for him?”

It was clear the Wizengamot hadn’t thought of this, but now that they had, they wanted an answer.

“Upon request, Manager Bogrod created certified copies of the Inheritance Test and Auror Moody and myself headed for Wizarding Family Services. We arrived there at, approximately, 10.15am and met with Assessment Officer, Julianne Moorcroft. It took Miss Moorcroft less than five minutes to determine that there was no file for Harry Potter, anywhere within their office. At that point, a discussion was held and we made our way Gringotts, Miss Moorcroft joining us. At Gringotts, we requested information on Potter’s guardian.” Shacklebolt paused for a few seconds. “Chief Warlock, ladies and gentlemen of the Wizengamot, what we were told was unpleasant. Albus Dumbledore had sealed the wills, he stated that as executor of them, he needed no approval of the Wizengamot. And while that is not correct, as executor, he is able to decide when the Wills are to be read, within a certain timeframe. Then, Manager Bogrod asked if the DMLE was going to freeze the Potter vaults, as there were a number of regular, semi-permanent transactions, that Dumbledore had authorised to come out of Potter’s trust vault.”

A veritable roar of objections and accusations flew around the chamber. The Potters were an Ancient and Noble House and such treatment was unheard of and completely unacceptable.

“Manager Bogrod retrieved the Wills, but without the authority of the Wizengamot, is unable to unseal them, or allow them to leave the presence of Gringotts. However… as he is a ranking Manager within Gringotts and is also the Potter accounts manager, his presence counts as that of Gringotts. The Wills for Lord and Lady Potter are in Manager Bogrod’s possession and right this moment, are here in the Wizengamot.”

Marchbanks looked around the Wizengamot, angry faces were all he saw.

“We, the members of the Wizengamot, authorise the Wills of Lord James and Lady Lily Potter to be unsealed, immediately, and read before us.” Marchbanks stated formally.

“Thank you, Chief Warlock. While Manager Bogrod breaks the seals of both Wills, there is another, related matter.” Shacklebolt began.

“What now?” Lord Rosier groaned.

“While we were waiting for a clerk to fetch the Potter Wills, Manager Bogrod informed us of an investigation that Gringotts were undertaking, but because of the death of Harry Potter, he felt the need to make us, the Aurors and DMLE that is, aware of their findings.” Shacklebolt answered.

“And their findings?” Marchbanks just knew, that what was about to be said was going to be bad, very bad.

“Gringotts have sufficient evidence to press charges against Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.” Gasps came from a number of directions.

“Charge-S? As in more than one?” Marchbanks asked.

“At this point in time, Gringotts believe they have enough evidence to prosecute 48 charges against Dumbledore, in a Wizarding court of law.” Silence reigned.

48?!” A number of people screamed, other cried, some just gasped.

“Yes.” Shacklebolt sighed.

“Wh-what types of charges?” Rosier whimpered.

“They range from… child endangerment, failure to notify the DMLE of a student death, failure to report abuse, returning students to abusive environments, binding immature cores, theft, embezzlement, breaking a magical contract and kidnapping. Plus a number of charges of failure to uphold a contract in regards to Hogwarts.”

“Hogwarts?” A lady in a blue robe asked.

“Yes, ma'am. Five charges of storing dangerous items without appropriate security measures and one of allowing the wards to fall to unsafe levels, plus another of providing inadequate teachers.”

“In addition to these, I now believe that we can add at least another four charges. Sealing a Will illegally, removing a child from a building without parental consent, placing illegal blood-tied wards around a muggle home and placing a child against parental instructions.” Bogrod added, after quickly reading the Potters’ Wills.

“Manager Bogrod? Why do you say that?” Marchbanks asked.

Instead of answering verbally, Bogrod laid the Potter Wills on the desk, under the projection orb and pointed to a specific clause.

  1. Child custody
    • Child custody falls to surviving spouse
      • If no surviving spouse then custody granted in order of preference
        • Padfoot
        • Frank and Ali
        • Amy
        • Andy and Ted
        • Pan and Xen
        • Amos and Celestene Diggory
      • Under no circumstances is child to live with Lily’s magic hating muggle sister, Petunia Dursley nee Evans. Ever.

“Excuse me?” The lady in blue asked. “These here? Can we have some clarification on these?” Pointing at a number of names.

“Me.” Sirius Black said. “I’m Padfoot and Amy is Miss Amelia Bones.” His voice was so soft it was almost non-existant. All he wanted to do was cry, the loss of his friends was painful, but the thought of his godson, alive and well had provided a semblance of solace. To know that he’d been abused and beaten, it made a part of the Grimm Animagus shrivel up and fall silent.

“Are you sure?” She asked. “Not that I doubt you, but…”

“If I may?” Bogrod moved the parchment and pointed at a different clause.

  1. Name abbreviations and Variations
    • Lord Potter = James = Husband = Prongs
    • Lady Potter = Lily = Wife = Madame Feathers
    • Heir Potter = Henry James = Harry = child = Prongslet = Cub = Pup
    • Padfoot = Sirius Orion Black
    • Mooney = Remus John Lupin
    • Wormtail = Peter Matthew Pettigrew
    • Frank and Ali = Franklin and Alice Longbottom
    • Amy = Amelia Jane Bones
    • Pan and Xen = Pandora and Xenophilius Lovegood
    • Andi and Ted = Andromeda and Theodore Tonks
    • Headmaster = Albus Dumbledore

“Ah. Thank you Manager Bogrod that is much clearer. I offer my apologies, Heir Black.” The witch said.

“No offense taken, ma'am. I’m not sure I am Heir Black, though.” Sirius whispered back.

“You are.” Lord Black stood and made his way to Sirius’ side.

“Grandfather?” Sirius asked in his rough whisper, his eyes widening.

“Yes, Sirius, you are Heir Black and once the healers have assessed you, I would have you take the Heir Ring.” The older man, stood beside Sirius and laid a gentle hand on his shoulder. “For now? Come sit with me, I’m in back, you can eat there.”

“Thank you, Grandfather.” Sirius stood and with Lord Black’s assistance, made his way to the back of the chamber and a pair of empty seats. A small table sat beside one, bearing a bowl of soup and a plate of sliced bread.

While Sirius ate and his grandfather chatted, the Wizengamot members muttered darkly amongst themselves.

Finally Lord Longbottom stood. “Chief Warlock? We would have Albus Dumbledore called. This cannot be allowed to continue, he is risking our children, our very future.”

Another woman called. “Agreed.”

A middle-aged wizard jumped to his feet. “There must be a reason behind this. Why would he do this to children? We need answers.”

“Chief Warlock? If I may?” Miss Moorcroft stepped forward.

“Miss Moorcroft, is it not? You have something to add to the conversation?” Marchbanks asked.

“Possibly, sir. Working with WFS, I am frequently obliged to work hand in glove with the muggle equivalent of WFS, their Family Support Services. Recently, I was asked to complete a home assessment on a young child, in conjunction with the muggle services. There were questions regarding the mental stability of the child.”

“Muggles. Always knew they were unbalanced.” Someone muttered.

“In actual fact, sir, this is the first unstable muggle, I’ve come across in 16 years of working with them. But in this case, it was the mother that was unstable. The reason I raise this is simple, there are eerie similarities between some of the charges against Dumbledore and some of the mother’s actions. This woman was diagnosed with a mental illness that resulted from an injury received more than 30 years ago. The muggles call it OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I would recommend Headmaster Dumbledore being assessed by mind healers, if he has OCD, then he is, to a degree, unable to control his actions and could very well be a danger to himself. If he doesn’t, then he’s fully aware of risking lives and must be stopped.”

“How do we determine if he has this… COD?” Longbottom asked.

“OCD, sir. And the easiest way is for one of the mind-healers from St Mungo's to assess him. as I understand it, they administer a potion that inhibits the patient’s mental capacity to object and use Legilimency on them. The potion stops the patient from being able to focus mentally and the healer has full access to their mind. They are then able to assess the behaviour and actions of the patient, along with the reasoning and thought processes involved.” Miss Moorcroft answered.

Marchbanks looked around the room, everyone that met his eyes, nodded, however there were a few people that refused to look at him.

“Do we need to vote on having Dumbledore assessed for this… or any other… mental illness?” No one spoke up. “Very well, I am going to assume that this is an unanimous decision.” Marchbanks turned to Miss Moorcroft. “If you would be so kind as to call the healers, contact whomever you believe to be the most suitable for this assessment.”

“Yes, sir. I suggest Head healer Strout be involved also, he is the healer in charge of Mr Potter’s case. In regards to Dumbledore? I think… Healer Ambrose Delving would be best.”

“You may use the Wizengamot Chamber’s floo.” Marchbanks pointed to a simple but large floo-fireplace, beside the door to the archives.

“Thank you, sir.” Miss Moorcroft rose and crossed the room.

“Now, Manager Bogrod? I trust that you have brought copies of Gringotts’ findings, please be aware that if Miss Moorcroft is correct and that Dumbledore does in fact suffer from a medical illness that caused his aberrant behaviour, that charges will not be able to be laid against the man?” Marchbanks asked.

“If Dumbledore is formally diagnosed with such an illness, Gringotts will accept his removal from Wizarding society, to be permanently remanded to a facility able to provide ongoing treatment, for the remains of his natural life.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“However…” The goblin grinned viciously. “We demand control of his finances, Gringotts will retrieve and sell all items currently under his ownership. We would have a number of his victims, compensated. To that end, Gringotts will take control of the Dumbledore estate and will administer it to benefit of said victims.”

“And what of Dumbledore, himself? If this is the case, his care will be costly.”

“Gringotts will control the Dumbledore estate, this includes all medical costs for all of those affected, Dumbledore and his victims.”

“And when the estate runs dry?”

“Given what he stole and the fact that many of those he stole from are dead and have no living family? We are unable to return all he stole, some certainly, but not all. Managed properly, the estate should adequately provide care for Dumbledore for the remains of his natural life and still have sufficient to bequeath to some of his victims. Both in the immediate present and in the future.”

A pair of men and a witch in crimson and white Healers’ robes stepped through the green flames of the floo.

“Chief Warlock? I present Head Healer Malcolm Strout, his wife Miriam, Head of Permanent Care and Mind-Healer Ambrose Delving.” As Miss Moorcroft introduced each person, they stepped forward and bowed slightly to Marchbanks and to the assembly.

“Gentlemen, Madam, welcome to the Wizengamot. Miss Moorcroft would you bing them up to speed? I need to get Dumbledore here, somehow.”

“Sir?” Shacklebolt stepped forward. “If details are required to get him here, might I suggest that we tell him of the charges Gringotts have, but omit who they wish to charge? Let him think it’s one of the junior schools or one of the Ministry run schools. That the Wizengamot are only consulting him on the matter. Then the healers can determine if there is a possibility of his suffering this illness or if he is just a manipulative and greedy man.”

There were a number of people nodding.

“That may just work. Thank you, trainee Shacklebolt.” Marchbanks nodded to the young man and made his way to the fireplace.

“Headmaster’s office, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.” He called, when the flames went green, he continued. “Headmaster Dumbledore? Your presence is required. The Wizengamothave questions that you may be able to help answer. Please come through.” He stepped back and waited.

 

In the Headmaster’s office, Harry heard the swoosh of the floo-fireplace rise, as Albus Dumbledore stepped into the green flames.

“Well, he’s gone. Lads, Mione? A tour?” Minerva offered.

“Yes please, Máthair.” Three voices answered as one.

Filius shuddered again, no, he was never going to get used to that, then a smile emerged. Oh, the confusion of the students, particularly the Gryffindors and the Slytherins. That would be a joy to see.

“Minerva, I’m sure you’re more than capable of escorting your children around the school, you and Severus, both. I’ll leave you to your wanders, but I hope that we might be able to get together in the next few days, I’ve two students going into 7th year that I want your opinion on, I’m considering offering a traineeship or possibly an apprenticeship, if I can get Albus’ consent.”

“Filius, come to dinner this evening. The house near Whitestone. Say 6pm? There’s a few things I’d like to discuss with you, also.” Minerva replied as the staff left the Headmaster’s office.

“Certainly, my dear, I look forward to Telli’s cooking. Severus, Harry, Hermione, I hope you enjoy your tour.” Filius nodded to the three and trotted off down the second-floor corridor.

Conscious of the painting listening to them, Minerva asked a question. “Where shall we start? The west? The East? The top? The bottom? The student areas? The staff areas?”

Harry, Hermione and Severus had one of their silent conversations and Severus answered for them.

“Let’s start at with the castle-keep, around the Quad, Máthair. And work our way down from the top. Then the DADA tower, down to the potions lab. We’ve got three weeks until classes, that’ll give us plenty of time to become familiar with the castle.”

“Yes. Yes, it will.” Minerva replied, well aware of the fact that all three had been students here and knew their way around the various buildings quite well.

“And we might invite Remus to join us another day. He, James, and Sirius knew lots of hidden passageways.” Harry grinned.

“As long as it’s agreed, no pranks on staff. You lot are fair game, but keep the rest of us out of it, please.” Minerva begged, as the four of them began to climb the stairs.

A few minutes later, they reached the 7th floor, all four of them grateful that there were no portraits up here, only a few tapestries. Mostly landscapes, all but the one of the dancing trolls.

“What’s he supposed to be teaching them? Ballet or the waltz? I could never figure it out.” Severus said as he studied the magical tapestry.

“Ballet, apparently. No wonder they called him ‘Barnabas the Barmy’, who’s stupid enough to try and train trolls?” Hermione answered.

While Severus and Hermione were speaking Harry was pacing back and forth in front of the bare wall opposite. A few paces this way, turn and back, turn again and a massive set of doors faded into being.

“Here we go.” He grinned wildly, pushing the doors open. Once the four of them were inside the doors were closed and Harry turned to Hermione. “Do you remember where it was? I remember it was about a minute’s walk into the room and then I turned right… But from there?”

“Oh, Harry…” Hermione sighed. She laid her wand flat on her hand. “Point me Ravenclaw’s diadem.”

Harry looked at her, as her wand spun and pointed in a direction, vaguely to the right.

“Oops.” Was all he said.

Minerva shook her head and Severus just snorted. Harry and Hermione’s behaviour was so typical of siblings.

“Right.” Harry chirped brightly. “Let’s go find us a Horcruxe.”

 

Chapter Text

Dumbledore stepped from green flames into the brightly lit chamber of the Wizengamot to be met by Thomas Marchbanks.

“Thomas, good morning.” He greeted jovially.

“Headmaster. Thank you for joining us.” Marchbanks’ reply was far more formal. “We have urgent need of your input.”

“Of course, Thomas. How can I help?”

“We’ve two cases brought to us today. One would be helpful to have your input on. A man in control of a number children, trusted by their parents and families, but he’s not doing right by them. Some have been abused, not by him, but by others and he’s failed to report it and even returned children to what he knew were abusive environs. He’s been keeping dangerous items with no security and even stealing from some.”

“Oh, my.” Dumbledore gasped.

“It’s been raised, that this man may have a mental illness. Miss Moorcroft here works for WFS and has some experience spotting the symptoms. Mind-Healer Delving has gone through the evidence provided by Gringotts and agrees that this man is exhibiting symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.”

“If you have healer’s involved, why ask me? They are far more likely to know for certain.” Dumbledore asked.

“Oh, they are. No, the reason we asked you here…” as Marchbanks said the word ‘here’, Master Rumour flicked a paralysis jinx at Dumbledore. “… is so that the healers may assess you, Albus Dumbledore.” Marchbanks turned to Master Rumour. “Thank you, Master Rumour. Will you assist healers Strout and Delving in administering the required treatments?”

“Certainly, Chief Warlock.”

“Master Rumour, I cannot speak for others, but I do think that we’ve enough formality in the Wizengamot, we need no more. For myself, please, call me Thomas.”

Master Rumour nodded. “Thank you… Thomas. I relinquished my name when I joined the Unnamed, now I am known only as Rumour and while my title is Master of the Unnamed, the few associates I meet with, outside of the Unnamed, simply call me ‘Rumour’ and I would have you do the same.”

Thomas smiled and gave a shallow bow. “You are most generous, thank you, Rumour.”

While the two were talking, healers Strout and Delving were placing temporary medical restraints on Dumbledore, these were thin bands of leather, carefully carved with runes that blocked a witch or wizard from accessing they magical core and rendered them mute. Before Rumour’s jinx wore off, Dumbledore was secured, unable to talk, unable to call his phoenix familiar. A few more seconds and Mal Strout poured the iridescent yellow potion into the Headmaster’s mouth. Rumour held it closed, while Mal massaged his throat until he swallowed. The two stepped back and waited.

It took nearly five minutes for the potion to work, the first signs were Dumbledore’s head listing on his shoulders, rolling from side to side as he tried to maintain his control.

“Healer Delving.” Mal stated. “I think, he’s as under as he’s going to get. You’re going to have to work for this assessment.” He warned.

“Yeah, I figured that, as soon as I heard who the accused is.” The mind-healer sighed. “Oh, well, here goes.”

He stepped over to Dumbledore and placed a hand on each side of the Headmaster’s face, forcing him to look at Delving. As soon as eye contract was made, he spoke.

Legilimens.” His voice was quiet but firm.

The two stayed like that. One minute passed. Two minutes passed. Three minutes passed. Five minutes passed. Muttering was heard from the Wizengamot members. Ten minutes passed. Twelve minutes passed. Alarmed looks were being shared, between members, between Rumour and Thomas and between Moody and Shacklebolt. Fifteen minutes passed. Just as the clock was ticking over to sixteen minutes, Delving dropped his hands and stepped back.

“That… was foul.” He stumbled to a seat and fell into it, his head in his hands.

“Ambrose?” Malcolm Strout stepped to his side.

“Gimme minute.” The mind-healer held up a finger, not raising his head.

Seconds passed and as he said, at about the minute mark, the mind-healer sat up straight.

That was the foulest mind I have ever had the misfortune to read.” He said.

“In what way?” Thomas Marchbanks asked.

“I can safely say he definitely has OCD, an extreme case with multiple control issues, too. But, he’s aware of it. He was formally diagnosed, back in the Grindelwald days, in Germany. And he’s made no effort to get treatment. My professional opinion is permanent suppression, preferably binding his core, remove his vocal capacity and physically remand him into solitary confinement.”

The members of the Wizengamot gasped.

“My personal opinion… execute him. He’s beyond help and if he ever got out, he’d be a danger to himself and to anyone he comes into contact with.”

Marchbanks groaned. “I… I…”

Shacklebolt stepped forward. “The recommendation from the DMLE is confinement. If we were to seriously consider execution, we’d have to make our case public, to do that would destroy our society, but if we were to have Albus Dumbledore removed for his health, have him sequestered in a medical facility…? Binding his magic is an extreme manoeuvre, but understandable. Why remove his voice, though?”

“He is a manipulative man, he talks his way into people’s lives, he makes them think that things are their ideas, he plants things in their minds, he has no qualms about using legilimency on anyone. Adult or child. As long as he gets the result he wants, he doesn’t care who gets caught in the crossfire. It was he that ordered Harry Potter removed from Godric’s Hollow and placed in the care of his maternal aunt. Placed… I say placed, but the poor child was left, wrapped in a single blanket, on the aunt’s doorstep. In the middle on the night, in November! Dumbledore didn’t even have the decency to alert the aunt, he left a single… that is one paragraph… note informing her of the Potters deaths. Nothing more.” Delving sighed. “His own sister died as a result of an argument between Albus, his brother Aberforth and Grindelwald. And the only one to care was Aberforth. Dumbledore’s slogan is ‘For the Greater Good’, we’ve all heard it at some point.” He heaved a few deep breaths. “The greater good in his mind is him ruling the Wizarding World, with everyone doing as he says.”

“We cannot allow this, Marchbanks.” Rosier cried out.

“No.” Longbottom agreed. “We’ve all seen the evidence, does anyone think Dumbledore can be helped?”

“No.”

“Nay.” The replies came thick and fast.

“Lock him up. Make him safe.” A tiny witch yelled. “Keep him away from the children.”

“Who’s going to take on Hogwarts? Should the Ministry appoint a Headmaster?” Another witch asked.

“May I?” Bogrod raised his voice.

“Manager Bogrod, our apologies, our sessions are not usually like this.” Thomas winced.

“This is quite quiet, at least compared to a Manager’s meeting, Chief Warlock.” The goblin grinned.

“Still…”

“I wanted to add something, that may resolve the Hogwarts issue. A lot of the evidence Gringotts provided… well most of it… was provided by one family.” He paused. “Minerva McGonagall is Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts and it was she and her children that came-”

“But Minerva has no children.” Moody cut in.

“Ah. She had no children. She and her late husband Blood Adopted the Snape triplets last month.” Bogrod informed the court.

“Last month? But Stone’s been dead for months.” Moody said.

“True, but he left detailed instructions. The two boys, Severus and Henrick wanted to finish their Potions Masteries before the Adoption, so Minerva and Stone both left updated Wills and blood for adoptions, just in case. And a good thing it was, because as you say, Stone died earlier in the year.”

“Hold on… triplets? I don’t recall Severus Snape having siblings?” Moody snapped out.

“Yes, that’s true.” Lord Rosier agreed

“Fortunately it’s not. It was decided early on that keeping them together was dangerous, for them and those around them. They are mind-linked triplets, keeping them hidden was safest for them. Severus attended at Hogwarts, Hermione and Henrick were both home-school, albeit separately. Hermione was mostly schooled in England, while Henrick floated back and forth between England and Scotland.” Bogrod replied.

“And the adoption?” Moody asked.

“Mr Urquart and Professor McGonagall instigated the process last year, but as I said the triplets wished to wait until Severus and Henrick completed their second Mastery, Potions.”

“Second Mastery?” Lord Longbottom asked.

“Between the three of them, the triplets hold Masteries in seven subjects. Severus and Henrick both have Potions and DADA Masteries, while Hermione has her Masters in DADA, Charms, Runes, Muggle-studies, History of Magic and Magical Theory.” The goblin’s words were met with spluttering sounds from a number of people.

“Six! She has six Masteries?” Lord Rosier gasped.

“Yes indeed. She’s been debating Transfiguration, but is undecided at this point.”

“How do you know all this?” Rosier asked.

“I’ve been meeting with the family for the last week, on an almost daily basis. Firstly, finalising the Adoption, then updating our cases against Dumbledore and when all is said and cast, they were the ones approaching people for information, they were the ones to visit the muggles and muggleborns. It’s they that have been acquiring the memory crystals for us.” Bogrod replied.

“Huh.” Moody grunted. “Mind-linked triplets, huh? Can understand keeping them apart, at least until You-Know-Who was out of the picture.”

“Precisely.” The goblin smirked.

“So they’re together, now?” Marchbanks asked.

“Yes, Chief Warlock. I understand Professor McGonagall escorted them to Hogwarts this morning. As you know, Hogwarts has a number of vacancies and McGonagall is hoping that her children might fill some of them.”

“So, which positions?” Lord Longbottom wanted to know, his grandson was to attend Hogwarts in a few years, so he considered that he had a vested interest in those chosen to teach there. Especially given Dumbledore’s actions.

“Miss Hermione hopes to be teaching History of Magic or Magical Theory, she would prefer Magical Theory, but is prepared to take on either position. Severus and Henrick, however… They came up with a unique way to circumvent the ‘curse’ on the DADA position. Together Severus and Henrick plan on sharing DADA and Potions. Severus will take the lower years for DADA and the seniors for Potions, while Henrick will have the juniors for Potions and the seniors for DADA.”

“And how does that get around the curse?” Longbottom asked.

“Well, they theorise that the so-called ‘curse’, is set to target the person that takes the DADA position. They will be the people that take the DADA and Potions positions. They are changing it from one person and one position to two people and joint positions.”

There was a humming of thought from a few people an a few huffs of surprise.

“An interesting hypothesis.” Marchbanks nodded.

“Yes, unfortunately we cannot be certain, until the end of this next school year, that it works. If it doesn’t, then their plan is to alternate years. The benefits of having multiple Masteries.” The goblin grinned.

“So they’re at Hogwarts, then?” Rosier clarified.

“They were meeting there, this morning. Whether or not they signed contracts, I cannot say, but that was the intent of Professor McGonagall.”

“Good. Someone at least is thinking of the students. If we may, the Board of Governors will be convened this afternoon to appoint a new Headmaster or Headmistress.” Lord Longbottom informed the chamber.

“Very well, the Wizengamot leaves Hogwarts in the Board’s capable hands.” Thomas Marchbanks sighed and squared his shoulders. “Lord Black? Are you satisfied with results of your enquiry?”

“I am, Chief Warlock. I thank the Wizengamot and the Unnamed for their assistance. I would also appreciate my thanks to be passed along to the Wizengamot’s Archivist.” Lord Black stood as he spoke. “My Heir and I are pleased with the morning’s achievements.”

“We are pleased, Lord Black, Heir Black. We shall pass along your comments.” Marchbanks nodded to the clerk of the court, who made a note on her scroll. “Trainee Auror Shacklebolt?”

“Sir?”

“Are you and Moody… and likely the DMLE… satisfied with end result of your case?”

Moody and Shacklebolt conferred for a minute or two.

“We believe so, Chief Warlock." Shacklebolt said. "The death of Harry Potter is a terrible blow to the Wizarding World and the press will need to be informed, but if Albus Dumbledore is removed to a safe environment and kept isolated, we believe that the press should be told simply that ‘the guilty party has been dealt with to the satisfaction of the Wizengamot, Gringotts and the DMLE’. And separately it can be stated that Dumbledore’s reaction lead to his requiring long-term medical treatment. Nothing more needs to be said.”

Dumbledore startled badly as the young black wizard answered. Harry Potter, dead?! What?! How?!

“And the muggle family?” Marchbanks asked.

“The concern is that, according to Healer Delving, Dumbledore left Potter on his aunt’s doorstep, but… Miss Moorcroft, Auror Moody and myself interviewed the aunt, this morning. She had no knowledge of her sister’s death or of anything regarding her sister's son, let alone that the son was left for her to raise. We will be approaching the muggle law enforcement and Family Support Services to see if we can track where the boy actually went. If possible we’d like to interview Healer Delving and get a complete statement.”

Dumbledore raised a hand and waved at the Chief warlock.

“Yes, Mr Dumbledore?”

While he could almost think clearly, his voice had yet to return, so the old wizard was forced to mouth the words of his question.

‘Harry Potter? Dead?’

“Harry Potter? Dead? That is what you asked? Yes?”

Dumbledore nodded.

“Yes, Harry Potter is dead. He was found, dumped in Fraction Alley this morning. According to the healers, he’d suffered for months, months of starvation and abuse. He had broken bones, cuts, organ damage and severe malnutrition. There was clear evidence that this had been long-term abuse, not a one-off incident.” Thomas Marchbanks’ answer was blunt and just a little harsh.

Dumbledore’s eyes widened and his jaw went slack. His shoulders slumped and he fell back in his seat in shock.

“Ladies and gentlemen of the Wizengamot, on account of the DMLE and Gringotts versus Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, we have heard the testimony of a certified and avowed Healer. We have seen the evidence provided by the goblins of Gringotts. We have heard the recommendation of St Mungo's and the DMLE. Are we ready to act?”

“Aye.”

“Yes.”

“We are.”

There were no disagreeing comments.

“Very well. We shall only process the charge of endangerment, today. But this is endangerment to self, to others and to the Wizarding World in general. For an innocent verdict, please light your wands, now.” There was not a light to be seen. “Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. For a guilty verdict-” He went no further, as the Wizengamot chamber practically glowed with wand light. “Guilty.”

Dumbledore looked stunned, he had no idea what had just happened or why.

“Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, you are hereby found guilty of endangerment in multiple directions, endangerment to self, endangerment to the Statute of Secrecy and above all endangerment to our children and our future. You are sentenced to a Third Degree Binding. You magic will be Bound. Your voice will be Bound. Your freedom will be Bound.” Thomas Marchbanks knew he spoke with the full weight of the Wizengamot behind him. “Head Healer Malcolm Strout, Mind-Healer Ambrose Delving and Healer Miriam Strout. We remand the convicted, to a Life of Binding in the care of St Mungo's. Please retrieve and remove your patient, you may use the Wizengamot’s floo.”

The three healers quickly hit Dumbledore with another paralysis jinx and levitated him to the floo-fireplace and with a blinding flash of green, Albus Dumbledore, Order of Merlin winner and self-proclaimed Leader of the Light, disappeared from Wizarding society.

“Now… Ah. Lord Black? The Wizengamot agrees with your earlier assessment, that of the likelihood of your Heir needing medical treatment. We will provide documentation of his conviction repeal and suggest you take him to St Mungo's for a full assessment, both physical and mental.” Thomas drew the appropriate documents to him and began to fill them out.

“Also… Miss Grinstein, the Wizengamot needs to make a number of press releases. One for the release of Sirius Black, one for the death of Harry Potter and one for the incarceration of Dumbledore. Does anyone have preferences on what is said?”

 

The egg-sized blue diamond caught the light and Harry’s seeker-trained eyes.

“Found it!” He yelled.

The sound of running feet came from three different directions, quickly followed by, first Hermione, then Severus and finally Minerva.

“You found it?” Minerva gasped, trying to catch her breath. “Really?”

“Yep.” Harry just grinned.

“How are we going to get it to Gringotts? Anyone that's sensitive to Dark Magic will feel it.” Hermione lectured.

“Ah, but we’re not going to take it to Gringotts.” Harry answered.

“What?! Why not?” Hermione and Minerva both asked.

“Kreacher!” Harry called.

A soft ‘pop’ and the old elf appeared.

“Master Henrick called from Kreacher. What can Kreacher being doing for Master?”

Hermione and Minerva sighed in relief, while Harry and Severus just shook their heads.

“Kreacher, would you please conjure a sealed lead box around this item?” Harry asked as he floated the diadem in front of them.

“Yes, Master.” Kreacher focused and frowned, then with a snap of his fingers the diadem was encased in a dull grey box, with no seams, the box looked more like a cube or a square ingot of freshly smelted lead.

“Thank you, Kreacher. Now, please take this and place it in the vault with the other Horcruxes. And if you would pass a message to Ragnok, we’d like an appointment, for about 2pm, please.”

“Kreacher will do as Master asks. Kreacher will take the box to the vault with the other dark treasures. Then Kreacher will speak to goblin Ragnok.” The old elf recited.

“Thank you, Kreacher. You may go.”

“Yes, Master.” Another ‘pop’ and he was gone.

Hermione, Severus and Harry had a quick mind-chat and turned to Minerva.

“Máthair? Can we go to just our classrooms and leave the rest? We want the DADA curse gone before we leave, but we also want Harry free of the last Horcruxe.” Severus said.

“Yes, I think that’s a good idea. Classrooms and then to Diagon Alley.” Minerva replied. “Shall I lead the way?” She threw a smirk at them. “Seeing as only Severus should know where we are going.”

“Please, Máthair.” Harry nodded.

“Well, this way then. We’ll head to the Turris Magnus and go down the great staircase.”

“Turris Magnus? Is that the official name for the Great Tower?” Harry asked.

“Yes, Harry. It was one of the two first parts of Hogwarts built, the other being the Great Hall. It wasn’t until a few decades later that Slytherin wanted a space away from Gryffindor, that the Viaduct towers and their keep were built.”

“And then?” Hermione was almost bouncing in excitement at getting intimate knowledge of her favourite building.

“Hmm… let’s see. The Great Hall and Turris Magnus were built together, between 1064 and 1106 then the Viaduct Towers and their keep between 1190 and 1235, the long gallery was next 1245-1289, followed by the Clock Tower,1300-1320-ish and the Quad Keep, 1330-1350-ish.” She paused. “The Quad Keep never actually had a name, not officially... on the sketches and blueprints that still remain, it was simply called ‘Hogwarts Castle Keep’. Nothing else.”

“Odd.” Hermione mused.

“Yes. Where was I? Oh, yes. Castle Keep. That was it for a century or so, I think. It wasn’t until 1450-ish that anything else was added. Then the Dark Tower and the DADA Tower were built together, along with the linking structures. Some time between 1525 and 1550 it was decided to turn Hogwarts into a live-in school and the Middle Courtyard Keep and the Greenhouses and Gardens were constructed. Portcullis Keep came next, it was started in 17-something, they started it and took it down about a dozen times, before Dexter Fortescue took over in 1772. He ordered the completion of the Portcullis Keep and the owlery, he also had the wooden linking bridges between the towers pulled down and stone ones built. The Training grounds tower building is the newest, it was finished in 1901. And outer courtyards are built and removed on a regular basis. I remember there being a lovely little courtyard, just between the Training Tower and the Portcullis Keep, when I was a student, but when I joined the staff, it was gone and no one other than myself even remembers it’s location.” She sighed. “Pity, it was quite pretty.”

As Minerva talked the family made their way down the Grand Staircase to the lower floors.

“DADA first?” Hermione asked.

“No, dear, DADA is on the 3rd floor, Magical Theory is on the 4th, remember, and Potions in over under the Viaduct Towers. Up ‘til now, Horace has only been using two rooms, one for short-term brewing and the other for long-term, but there are, or were, two per year, one for short-term and the other for longer brewing.”

“That would be very helpful.” Severus stated.

“Yep. A clear, those are Sev’s rooms and these are mine.” Harry grinned cheekily.

“I wonder…” Hermione tilted her head in thought.

“What’re you thinking Miss Mione?” Harry stopped, one foot on the stairs and the other on the 4th floor.

“I’m wondering… if we can do that with DADA, too?” Hermione asked.

The other three looked at her, that could work, but they needed to wait until Dumbledore was taken care of.

“It’s something to thing about for later. Today we’ll check out the assigned classrooms and go get some lunch.” Minerva replied.

“Yes, Máthair.” The triplets spoke as one. A figure in a painting twitched in reaction, the slight movement caught by both Severus and Harry, causing them to smirk.

The Magical Theory classroom was a simple space, three columns of desks, six rows deep. Light from the large windows was dull and muted, causing Hermione to frown.

“I am not teaching in a room as grotty as this. Máthair? Who do I call, to get the elves to clean this room, properly?” She asked.

“Ah… That would be Filch. Not the elves.”

“Hmm, that’s not going to work. Harry? Máthair? May I borrow Telli, Dalli, Dobby and Kreacher?”

“I would say yes, but I believe you should ask the Hogwarts elves first, Mione.” Harry chided.

“You don’t want to offend them, do you?” Severus added.

“No, but if this is the Caretaker’s idea of clean, he can stay out of my space.” She sniffed.

“Mipsy and Jelly share the Head elf duties, Mione. Would you like me to call them?” Minerva offered.

“Yes please, Máthair.”

“Mipsy, Jelly.” Minerva spoke slightly louder than normal but not significantly. She was answered by a pair of ‘pop’s. “Ah, Mipsy, Jelly, these are my children, Severus, Hermione and Harry. They are going to be teaching here and are not impressed with Filch’s work.”

“No, not at all.” Hermione added. “I want him barred from my spaces, here and my living quarters. I would much prefer to have a happy elf cleaning for me than a miserable man.” Both elves perked up, at her words. “Would you assign elves to clean this room and the office, properly, please? Windows cleaned, floors sanded and polished, no rugs please, not in the classroom anyway…” She trailed off in thought.

A few more instructions and the quartet were back on the stairs. As they descended, Minerva and Severus greeted a few portraits they knew, introducing them to Severus’ siblings. Emerging from the stairwell into the Serpentine Corridor, they made their way clockwise around the tower, towards rooms marked 3C and 7A.

“Here we are, 7A and 3C. Arithmancy and DADA.” Minerva pointed at a door, but kept walking for a few more steps and stopped in front of a second door.

“Máthair? Why is the DADA room 3C and the Arithmancy room 7A, when it’s right next door?” Hermione asked.

“Ah… Well, we only have supposition for this, but it makes sense, in a way. We believe that the classrooms were numbered in the order they were created within a headmaster’s tenure. Meaning that rooms 1A through 1F were numbered during Headmaster Scribbler’s time, while room 3A through 3D were numbered during Headmaster Frosnac’s time.”

“Oh, I see. So, the Muggle Studies room was numbered 14A, during Headmistress Burke’s time?” Hermione smiled.

“Exactly.” Minerva nodded.

Harry studied the doorframe quickly, making it appear that he was just checking structural integrity of the door.

“Hmm… not very clean here, either.” Harry said wiping a finger across the runes, using wandless-wordless magic to sand the set of runes from the doorframe, then letting the movement of the door waft the timber dust away, he rubbed his fingers together and sighed.

“Máthair? Can I call Mipsy and Jelly, or do I have to wait until I move in?”

“No dear, as soon as the contracts were signed, you were able to call on the castle elves.”

“Oh, good, that’s handy.” He paused for a breath. “Mipsy, Jelly?”

“P’fessy Hennyrick is wanting Mipsy and Jelly?” Jelly appeared. “Mipsy is helping P’fessy Sprouty. How’s can Hoggy elves help P’fessy Hennyrick?”

Harry shuddered. “First, please call me Harry or if you must, Professor Harry. Second? Can you add this room to those that Filch is not to touch?” Harry hummed and flicked a glance at Severus, who blinked and nodded. “In fact, please remove all Potions labs, the DADA room, our offices and all our personal quarters from Filch’s list. And do you mind if we have our personal elves care for our personal quarters, they’ll not intrude on any Hogwarts space without permission from you or Mipsy.”

“P’fessy Harry, P’fessy Sev’rus and P’fessy Hermy can have they’s elvy’s. They’s can either be working for Hoggywarts or just be’s taking cares of they’s masters and mistress.” Jelly answered.

“Initially it will be just us, a number of old and run down estates have recently be inherited and our elves will be spending a great deal of time restoring those estates.” Harry replied. “But that may change in the future, we’ll have to see.”

“Yes, P'fessy Harry.” The elf dipped a bow. “Is there anything else Jelly can be helping with?”

“No, thank you, Jelly.” Harry shook his head.

“Yes, P'fessy Harry.” There was a soft ‘pop’ and Jelly vanished.

“I think… I think we should wait until the elves are finished cleaning the classrooms and labs before we go sticking our noses in, any further.” Minerva offered.

A quick wordless exchange and the triplets all nodded.

“Yes, Máthair.” They said as one.

“Can we ask Remus to meet us for lunch in Diagon Alley?” Hermione continued.

Harry’s lips twitched, but he said nothing.

“Yes, let’s.” Severus caught whatever it was that Harry was thinking and nodded, but Hermione was oblivious to the brief side-chat between the brothers.

The four ambled their way down the staircase to the ground floor, before turning and walking through the various buildings that made up the school. Out under the Bell Tower and through the gardens, under the portcullis and down to the gate, the four chatted about the coming year. About the students to look out for and the students that needed encouragement. As they exited the gates, Harry sent a patronus to Remus, with an invite to lunch, quite pleased that his patronus was still the familiar stag. Then, one by one, the four apparated to the apparition point in Diagon Alley, to meet Remus.

“Do we want lunch first, or straight to Gringotts?” Harry asked, when the five of them stood together.

“Gringotts, please Harry.” Hermione replied. “Then the day is ours.”

“Fair enough.” He nodded.

As they made their way down the length of the Alley, Hermione walked between her brothers, the three of them completely oblivious to the stares they garnered. Just as they were about to ascend the steps outside the bank, they were stopped by an older wizard, he held out a hand in front of them.

“Remus Lupin?” He asked.

“Yes…?” Remus looked at the man, he looked a little like Sirius, the same dark wavy hair and the typical blue-grey eyes the Black’s were known for. Was this Lord Black? Remus wasn’t certain.

“Good afternoon, Mr Lupin, I am Arcturus Black.”

It was. “Good afternoon, Lord Black. What can I do for you?” Remus asked, bowed slightly.

“Mr Lupin, I have spent the morning in the Wizengamot and I am pleased to say the my grandson and Heir, Sirius, has been cleared of all charges against him. He’s currently at St Mungo's, being assessed and treated. I’m sure he would like a visitor. Good day.” Lord Black didn’t wait for a reply, he turned and the five watched as people automatically cleared a path.

“Well, I know what we’re doing later.” Harry grinned.

“Later.” Severus nodded. “Yes.”

They entered the bank and were quickly shown through to Bogrod’s office.

“Good afternoon, everyone. I hope you had as productive a morning as I did.” The goblin smirked.

“Indeed we did.” Severus replied with a matching smirk.

“What shall we deal with first?” Bogrod asked, raising his eyebrows in surprise.

“How about…” Harry started.

“…you get the ritual room…” Severus added.

“…and the curse-breakers…” Hermione joined in the triple-way comments.

“…and the healers…”

“…ready to go.” Severus finished the split-up sentence.

“And while we’re waiting for that…?” Hermione grinned. “You can tell about your morning.”

Bogrod nodded. “That… I can do. Give me two minutes to send a few messages.”

“Of course.” Harry, Hermione and Severus spoke together, while Minerva just shook her head and Remus chuckled, as the goblin left the room.

Three minutes later, each of the human had a plate of nibbles and a cup of tea. As Bogrod re-entered the room, the five humans all paused to look at him.

“Ah, good Blordak brought lunch then. Keep eating and I’ll start.” He sat himself down behind his desk. “So… I had our debt recovery team place the Potter-golem in Fraction Alley as you requested. One of our observation team stayed where they could watch events unfold. There were four witnesses, including the store-holder, Mr Adam Bertrand. Lady Olivia Montrose was the first person to notice, my report says, she opened the door seconds after the golem was deposited. Her screams alerted Mr Bertrand and Mrs Molly Weasley.” Harry and Hermione both winced when they heard Molly was involved. “Mrs Weasley brought Lady Montrose back into the store, leaving her in the care of third customer, Mr Alexander Fulton, while she contacted both the Aurors and St Mungo's. Mr Bertrand stood over golem, he checked for a pulse and attempted to render assistance, until he saw how damaged the golem was, then he simply stayed with it and kept observers at a distance.”

“Oops.” Hermione looked over at Harry.

“Yeah… don’t plan on owning up to that one.” He replied.

“Nope…” She agreed.

“The Aurors and the healers arrived within seconds of each other. Two senior Aurors, Rufus Scrimgeour and Alastor Moody were accompanied by two trainees, one unknown and the other was Kingsley Shacklebolt. Moody set Shacklebolt to get statements, while the second trainee was on crowd control. The healers are unknowns, within second of arrival, they’d portkeyed the golem away. Shacklebolt and Moody left the Alley, later it became clear they went to St Mungo's and met with Head Healer Malcolm Strout, who was in charge of the case. He obviously gave them a list of the golems injuries…” Bogrod paused. “It wasn’t until after the golem had been deposited that Tinrilla informed me that she had increased the severity of some of the golem’s injuries before placing it into stasis, last week.”

“So, there were more injuries than what I had, when I arrived here?” Harry asked.

“They were the same injuries, just more severe.” Bogrod answered.

“Oh… okay.” Harry shrugged.

“Then the morning progressed, much as any morning here in Gringotts does. Until 10.30am, when I notified that Aurors were requesting information in regards to Harry Potter. As agreed by yourself, I told them of the sealed Wills and mentioned the transfers authorised by Dumbledore. They requested that I accompany them to the Wizengamot to represent Gringotts.”

“That was helpful.” Severus acknowledged.

“It was. I still hadn’t figured out a way to ask, that appeared genuine.” Bogrod agreed.

“Did you have any trouble at the Wizengamot?” Hermione asked, worry colouring her voice.

“No, quite the opposite, in fact.”

“Really? How?” She continued asking, in the same direction.

“We entered the Wizengamot chamber to find them in Emergency session, Lord Black apparently had decided to approach the Wizengamot today, in regards to Sirius Black and his lack of trial. They’d called three witnesses besides Black, himself. Moody, his then-partner Hemple and Crouch snr. Within minutes of our arrival, Crouch confessed under veritaserum that he’d deliberately had Black moved from a holding cell to Azkaban, as a petty revenge against Black’s mother. Something to do with a statement and Crouch being forced to marry.”

“Oh, Merlin.” Minerva groaned, her head in her hands.

“Then it was Black’s turn, it took the Chief Warlock  less than 20 questions and Black was declared innocent of all charges. He was released into his grandfather, Lord Black’s care, with recommendation that he seek medical treatment.”

“That’s good. Lord Black approached me, just as we reached the bank and said that Sirius is in St Mungo's and that Lord Black was sure that Sirius would like me to visit.” Remus sighed. “I don’t know how to tell him about Harry.”

“Don’t, Remus. I will.” Harry answered. “Let’s work that out later, I want the Horcruxe gone before I think about that.”

“But-”

“Harry’s right, Remus. Sirius isn’t going to believe without proof and Harry’s the only one that can show him that proof. You can show him your memories of watching Harry’s memories, but then he can’t ask Harry something directly. Let Harry show Sirius.” Severus explained.

“Oh alright…” Remus whined, sounding a little like his new Animagus form.

“So did the Wizengamot get around to Dumbledore or do you have to go back?” Hermione asked, speaking over Severus and Remus.

“They did. Shacklebolt went through the morning’s events, from the first call, to attending St Mungo's, the WFS, coming here, right through to arriving at the Wizengamot. The Chief Warlock authorised the unsealing of Lord and Lady Potter’s Wills. While I did that, Shacklebolt informed them of your research and that Gringotts had sufficient evidence to prosecute 48 charges, in a wizarding court of law.” Bogrod smirked. “I’m sure you can understand the Wizengamot were not pleased. Then, of course, I spoke up and said we could add another four and showed the instructions left by the Potters regarding custody of their son.” The goblin poured himself a cup of tea and sipped it before continuing.

“There were a number of people calling for Dumbledore to answer the charges, until Miss Moorcroft came forward. She works for WFS and frequently has to work alongside the muggle services. It was she that brought up the possibility of Dumbledore having a mental illness. She likened it to a recent case she had, of a mother abusing her child and suggested getting a mind-healer to assess him.”

“Perfect!” Hermione beamed.

“It was. St Mungo's Head Healer Malcolm Strout, Mind-Healer Ambrose Delving and Head of Permanent Care, Healer Miriam Strout all arrived together. Miss Moorcroft briefed them on the situation while Chief Warlock Marchbanks called Dumbledore.” Bogrod went on. “Master Rumour, Healer Strout, Mind-Healer Delving and Auror Moody conferred and decided that Marchbanks would start to tell Dumbledore about the case, leaving out that it was he, they were investigating, and at a pre-arranged signal, Master Rumour would hit Dumbledore with a paralysis jinx. The healers would place suppression cuffs on him and he would be given a potion to stop him from being able to focus his mind. Then Mind-Healer Delving used legilimency on him.”

“Whoa. Wasn’t expecting that.” Harry breathed in surprise.

“Neither was Dumbledore. Delving spent over fifteen minutes in Dumbledore’s mind. He as badly shaken when he emerged and took some time to recover. He stated that Dumbledore definitely suffered from OCD with extreme control issues… But… he also stated that Dumbledore knew about the condition, he’d been diagnosed during the Grindelwald conflict, but had made no effort to seek treatment.”

“Oh, sweet heavens.” Minerva moaned.

“Yes. Dumbledore was found guilty of endangerment, on three levels. He was sentenced to Third Degree Binding and remanded to the care of St Mungo's. It was Moody and Shacklebolt that made the request on behalf of the Aurors and the DMLE. I did state that Gringotts demanded the right to administer the Dumbledore estate, including his care and reparations to his victims. Marchbanks agreed. Lord Longbottom stated that the Board of Governors would meet this afternoon, to decide on a new Head for Hogwarts. Minerva, I wouldn’t be surprised to find they offer you the position.”

“Me? But-” Minerva cut herself off. “Later.”

“So… that’s the end of Albus Dumbledore’s reign of suffering.” Bogrod stated.

“And now we can end Voldemort’s. I sent the last of the Horcruxes to the vault this morning.” Harry added.

“All that’s left is to remove the one in Harry’s scar, transfer the other Horcruxes from their current vessels and destroy them.” Severus went on.

“And take a quick trip to Albania.” Hermione reminded.

“If you don’t mind… Ragnok would like Gringotts to deal with the wraith. Call it payment for involving us.” Bogrod didn’t say who was paying, Harry and family or Voldemort. Either way, Harry was happy to let the goblins deal with it.

After all… ‘the power to vanquish the Dark Lord’ and ‘either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives...’ is one thing, but the prophecy said nothing about how Harry did it, just that he would have the power to. And he was going to be the one to destroy the Horcruxes, weigh six Horcruxes against the wraith and he was vanquishing the majority, the rest he was happy to delegate. Isn’t that what busy people did?

“That will be fine, Bogrod, but I would like a memory crystal of the event, please. Just for our viewing pleasure, you understand?”

“Of course, Harry.” Bogrod answered as a tapping was heard at the door. “Come!” He called.

Blordak opened the door and stuck his head in. “The curse-breakers and healers are ready for Master Harry, sir.”

“Ah, good. Shall we?” Bogrod stood and gestured to the door.

“Please.” Harry nodded and joined him, quickly followed by the rest of his family.

 

A stripped to the waist Harry lay on a low round altar, while Tinrilla cut into his head to remove his scar Horcruxe.

“Who did this?” She asked, pointing at the moved scar.

“I did, healer Tinrilla.” Hermione answered.

“It’s well done, Miss Hermione. Removing it is a simple thing, now.”

A pair of curse-breakers began to chant and Harry felt a tugging on his mind. Quickly falling into his mindscape he darted into his mindscape version of Hogwarts and down to the dungeons, a swipe of his wand and the painting of Voldemort was banished, leaving the Horcruxe solely in his scar with no access to Harry’s mind. Two quick snips and the flap of skin hung from Tinrilla’s tweezers.

A young healer held up a metal tray and Tinrilla laid the scarred skin and the tweezers on the tray. The tray was then carefully placed on a stand, against the wall opposite the door.

“Master Harry, just stay there for a moment, while I repair the skin damage.” Tinrilla ordered.

“Yes’m.” Harry mumbled. He felt giddy and light-headed. He hadn’t realised how much the Horcruxe had weighed his soul down, it was going to take some getting used to. This was not something that he could speed up in his mindscape, however.

“Right, Master Harry, all done. You can sit up now. Give it a minute before you start to move. Let the curse-breakers transfer the Horcruxes to the new vessels. I’d recommend waiting for a ten or fifteen minutes, just to get your bearings, before you incinerate them.”

“Yes, ma'am.”

“He will.” Severus and Hermione answered together.

“We’ll see to it.” Remus said a split second later.

The little goblin nodded and after packing up her things, trotted out the door, her assistant at her heels.

The curse-breakers stepped into the room, five of them, one for each Horcruxe being transferred, each carrying a lead cube. The first goblin came forward, he laid a cube on the alter, along with a simple block of wood. Stepping back, he flicked his fingers in an intricate pattern and a shield of shimmering light surrounded the two items. The curse-breaker took a long crystal staff from an assistant and began to chant. At first nothing happened, then slowly the lead began to melt, but not really melt, more dissolve. It continued to dissolve until a simple gold ring with a large brown stone became visible.

The goblin’s chant changed pitch, it shifted, getting deeper, stronger, harder. Suddenly a wail was heard, an angry screaming wail, like that of a banshee. Then it cut off mid wail, the block of wood glowed and the chant eased off, falling silent almost two full minutes after the goblin started. When the goblin was silent, the shimmering shield shattered like glass and exploded in a cloud of golden dust.

“The ring is safe, the Horcruxe has been removed.” The goblin grunted.

“Thank you.” Harry, Hermione, Severus and Remus all spoke together.

“Oh, gods. Don’t you start.” Minerva growled at Remus.

He just grinned. “It was an accident.” He said. “I didn’t plan to.”

“Good. Don’t.”

While they bickered, the other goblins took their places and over the next fifteen minutes, the other four Horcruxes were transferred from their valuable containers to unvarnished pieces of timber.

The last goblin finished and stepped back. “Sir, we’re ready for you.” He said. “The matter has been discussed in depth and we believe that it is best to incinerate each Horcruxe separately. The possibility of them uniting is thus, limited.”

“Thank you, Master Curse-Breakers, your knowledge and patience are greatly appreciated.”

Harry bowed to the five goblins and their assistant. He heaved a deep breath and approached the small block as it lay on the alter.

“Harry?” Hermione asked. “Are you strong enough, to control fiendfyre, after the Horcruxe removal, I mean?”

“I’m not going to control it, Mione. I’m going to set it off and cast an air-tight shield around it. Let it eat up the cube and the oxygen and burn itself out, through lack of fuel.”

Hermione blinked as she thought about that, about the various complications and found little to fault with the idea.

“That sounds… good. It should work well.” She commented.

“If, at any point, the shield looks like it may fail, then we can boost you…” Severus added. “Giving you the equivalent of a pepper-up for your core.”

“A what?” Remus asked.

“Our cores are synchronised, so sharing magical energy between us is as simple as joining hands.” Severus answered.

“Spreading the power drain over three of us instead of forcing Harry to hold it all.” Hermione added.

“Ah. Yes, I see. That might be best, to do that from the beginning then, Harry won’t be as drained, and all three of you will recover quicker, between bouts, too.” Remus nodded.

“Right. Mione on my right, Sev on my left. Be ready to grab my arms, as soon as the flames drop off my wand.” Harry ordered, rolling his sleeves up, to expose his bare forearms.

Hermione and Severus nodded and moved into position, their hands a scant inch above Harry’s wrists.

A quick glance and… “We’re ready.” They spoke together.

“Fiendfyre.” Harry said as he breathed out heavily.

The flames erupted from his wand and with a flick, they leapt across the space to the altar.

“Protego Maxima!” The three snapped as one and a thick blue shimmer spread, it surrounded the flames and forced them into a spherical ball.

The triplets tilted their heads and studied the ball, they watched the flames rise and fall, watched as the fiendfyre desperately searched for more fuel. The timber resisted for nearly a minute before the flames began to eat it. A cloud of greasy black smoke emerged from the block and all three were delighted to see the fire flare and dance as the shard of soul was eaten by the magical flames. All in all, it took ten minutes for the fire to die out, leaving a dusting of ash on the alter.

With a flick of Hermione’s wand the dust was banished and the altar pristine, again. Ready for the next Horcruxe.

An hour later and the five humans were standing, looking on as the last Horcruxe burnt. They waited patiently for the flames to fall before dismissing the shield and banishing the ashes.

“Well…” Harry said. “That’s done.”

“Yes…” Minerva replied.

Severus and Hermione sighed in relief.

“Sirius?” Remus asked.

“Yep.” The triplets answered, together.

Chapter Text

Walking into St Mungo's, Harry was nervous. This could go spectacularly badly.

Spectacularly.

If… they got it wrong.

Please, not let us get it wrong. Please. Three unrelated minds were thinking the same thing.

The welcome witch greeted them and checked what restrictions there were, regarding visitors for Sirius. Thankfully, Lord Black had Remus listed, along with consent given for whomever Remus approved of. That got them approval to visit the healer caring for Sirius and a passkey to his room in the Spell Damages Ward on the 4th floor.

A short meeting with the healer who received a guided visit to Severus’ mindscape… and they had permission to teach Sirius how to alter time in his own mindscape. After which Sirius would be re-assessed and possibly discharged, depending on how he had progressed, physically and mentally.

“How are we going to do this?” Remus asked.

The triplets had a quick and mostly silent conversation, before Severus sighed and nodded.

“Harry’s going to go in with you.” Severus sighed, again.

“But there’s a good chance that Sirius is going to take one look at him and think he’s Severus.” Hermione warned.

“So, you need to mention my name, clearly. Something like…” Harry paused and turned to Severus. “Like what?”

“He could say that the healers don’t want Sirius having too many visitor so Hermione, Máthair and I are waiting in the hallway… or the two of you could be whinging about Hermione and I, and our dislike of shopping.” Severus offered.

“Or… Remus could just tell Harry that Severus and Máthair will show Harry and I around Hogwarts.” Hermione added.

Remus nodded. “Hmm… I think… yeah… I got it. A bit of both.” A mischievous glint could be seen in the wolf-Animagus’ eyes.

Minerva shook her head. “Oh, dear gods… Sirius, Remus and you three all together.” She tilted her head in thought. “I wonder if Hogwarts will still be standing by Christmas?”

Remus grinned. “Some of it should be, but no guarantee’s.” He grabbed Harry by the armed and pulled him towards Sirius’ door. About ten yards from the door, started to speak.

“… you know better than that.” He said.

“But, Remus…” Harry caught on quickly.

As he went through the door, Remus kept talking. “Oh come on, Harry… You know Severus and Minnie will want to re-introduce the Animagus classes again.”

“Yeah, but…” Harry started, only to be cut off.

“Remus?” Sirius’ voice was rough, nothing like the smooth, refined voice that Harry remembered.

“Pads…” Remus caught his breath. Oh, how he’d missed this man. His brother in all but blood.

“Remus… why’s Snivellus here?” Sirius frowned.

“Sniv… oh, you mean Severus?” Harry put a confused look on his face.

“Aren’t you Severus?” Sirius was sure this was Snape.

“Ah, no. Sev’s my brother.” Harry stated bluntly.

“Brother…? What?” Sirius didn’t remember Snape having a brother.

“Gimme a bit and I’ll explain, ‘kay?” Harry asked. “But first, have the mind-healer’s seen you?”

“Yes, they want me to restudy my occlumency. They think that I can sort through everything and if I partition off my Azkaban memories, then I shouldn’t be affected badly. They seem to think it will take weeks for me to work my way through it all. Why?”

“We’ve just come from meeting Healer Standish, he’s the one responsible for you, right?”

“Yes…” Sirius didn’t understand where this was going or why there was a man that looked like Snape, just standing there talking to him. Where were the curses, the hexes?

“Sev, Mione and I have a… trick, a cheat, if you like. We’ve worked out a way to alter our perception of time, within our mindscapes.”

“What…?”

“Inside our mindscapes, we can twist how we see time. We can make it seem faster, so for every minute in our mindscape, an hour passes in reality. But we can also do the opposite. Slow it down. One minute out here can be an hour in our mindscape. Healer Standish agrees that we can show you how to do this and you can use it on yourself. Then you can alternate an hour on occlumency and an hour on relearning magic.” Harry explained.

“And you can show me this?” Sirius didn’t trust this man.

“I can, or if you’d prefer, Remus can. We showed him how.”

“Remus.” Sirius said, it wasn’t a question.

“Alright. To show you, you need to enter Remus’ mind, he’ll show you what we came up with. Then you go into your own mind and apply the same rune-sequence, once it’s applied, you can activate it with a password of your choice. Once to activate and a second to turn it off.”

Sirius studied the man, he could now see differences between Snape and this man.

“What’s your name, again?”

“Henrick Snape-Urquart. But call me Harry. I’m going to get enough of being called Professor Henrick, come September.”

“Why?”

“Sev, Mione and I have signed on at Hogwarts.”

Sirius’ eyes widened. “Hogwarts? What classes?”

“Sev and I are sharing DADA and Potions and Mione is taking Magical Theory.”

“Whoa, but what-”

“Sirius, stop.” Remus cut him off. “Later. Let’s get your mind back under your control, first.”

“Right.” He sulked.

“Now, because the DMLE haven’t brought your wand back yet, we’ll need to do a reverse legilimency spell. Okay?” Remus asked.

“Yep.” Sirius knew that Remus was one of the few people he knew that could cast reverse legilimency.

“Ready?” Remus asked, lifting his wand.

“Yep.” Sirius nodded.

Legilimens novi. Remus pulled Sirius into his mindscape forest.

 

Sirius looked around, it was lighter than he remembered, the trees not as closely packed as his memory though they should be.

“This way, Pads.” The brother of his heart called and as always, he followed.

A path wound it’s way through the trees, before ending in a large, paved clearing. A large central standing stone and eight smaller ones encircled the space.

“Here, see?” Remus stopped in front of a stone. “You’ll need to set up a henge and lay the runes. The difficult bit is that, you have to set it yourself, no outside assistance. Once it’s built though, then you only need to set an activating password and a deactivating password… and you’re good to go.”

“Um…” Sirius grimaced.

“Pads…” Remus whined. “Please tell me you know remember how to activate a rune-sequence?”

“Yes, of course I do. But… what’s the sequence? And… where do I put what?” Sirius had never been all that good at runes.

“First, you need to create a set of stones, Pads, eight points of the compass and a centre stone.”

“Okay, what goes where?” Sirius had conjured up a notepad and pencil and was ready to take notes.

“Okay… So, hagalazat North, then dagazat the south-west point, then ansuzat East, þurisazat North-west, jēraat South, kaunanat North-east, fehuat West, īsazat South-east and lastly algiz in the centre.” Remus answered.

“Like this?” Sirius handed Remus the notebook. “But North? South? A bit hard to have true north in a mindscape, Moony.”

Mindscape rune sequence

“Yeah, Pads, that’s it.” Remus grinned. “As long as they’re in the equivalent places, it’ll be fine. Ah? You do remember how to set verbal activation password? Right?”

Sirius tilted his head in thought.

“Remember when we pranked Madam Hooch? We set the brooms to all return to the Great Hall…” Remus smirked.

“…regardless of riders.” Sirius laughed.

“That’s the one. We etched the runes under the bristles, all that-”

“-bloody fiddling, James and P-Wormtail, hated it.” Sirius spat out Wormtail’s name.

“Prongs did. But we all took turns setting the activation password.” Remus completely left Pettigrew’s name out, he would be quite happy if he never said the traitor’s name ever again.

When I blow my whistle… and… I want a good clean game.” Sirius mimicked Madam Hooch’s voice.

“Yes!” Remus’ laughter rang out, enveloping Sirius in joy.

“As we set the key rune, which in this case is algiz, we locked the phrase to the rune. Until the phrase was spoken the rune activation was blocked.” Sirius remembered.

“Not blocked, Siri. Delayed. To block it, would have required a second rune set and we weren’t going there. A delay is just that, a delay, the activation is still complete but the result is delayed.”

“Like we did on the Ravenclaw’s juice, that made them think everything was written in hieroglyphs?”

“That’s it. We also did it to Professor Lynch.”

“The winds that blew through her classroom?” Sirius frowned in thought.

“And the crystal balls that kept rolling off their stands.” Remus added.

“Didn’t we do something similar to Kettleburn? The cages kept opening and letting the nifflers out?”

“Oh.” Remus laughed. “I’d forgotten that one. Yeah, we did.”

“So same principle?”

“Yep.”

“Cool. I can manage that.” Sirius paused. “Do the stones have to be a particular size, shape or anything?”

“No, as long as they’re in the right order, the rest is unimportant. You can have spires, boulders, obelisks, pots, headstones or pavers, whatever you like.”

“Hmm… When I’ve got it ready will you check it?”

“Look, if you need it checked, you’re better off having Harry check it. He’s the one that worked it out in the first place. Mione might have her Runes Mastery, but Harry’s still the one to come up with the ideas.”

“Like Prongs.”

“Yeah. Once you’ve got it and got some order back in your mind, ask Harry to tell you about our first meeting.” Remus said.

“Your first meeting?” Sirius asked.

“Harry will explain and show you what I mean. Give him a chance, Pads, you won’t regret it. It’s the biggest prank, ever.”

“Ever?”

Ever.” Remus nodded. “You’ll see. You’ll love it.”

“Really?”

“Really!”

“Alright. But he’s Snivellus’ brother.” Sirius screwed up his nose in an expression of disgust.

“Trust me, Pads, when Harry shows you what he’s done, you’ll thank Severus for being a part of it.”

“I’ll what?! Are you out of your mind?” Sirius gasped.

“No, I just know what’s happened.” Remus was deadly serious and it showed.

Sirius blinked and frowned. “Alright, Moony, I’ll hold judgement.”

“You won’t be sorry. Now, come on. Time to get out of my head and into your own, mutt.”

Sirius grinned and shook his head as Remus’ mindscape faded into the light and bright room of St Mungo's.

“Remember Pads, one hour on occlumency and one on something else.” Remus warned.

“Yeah, yeah, I got it.” Sirius blinked and his face went blank.

“Well…” Said Harry. “Now, all we can do is wait.”

“Yeah.” Remus sighed.

The pair sat quietly, both just revelling in the fact the chocolate hairy man was in the same room as them. Both quietly sent up their own prayers that this would work. That Sirius would be able to set the runes and that he could use the mind-healers techniques to regain what the dementors tried to take from him.

“I hope this works, Harry, otherwise it’s going to takes ages to put him back together. The Black madness can really do some damage.” Remus was the one who spoke the first, nearly 20 minutes later.

“No, Remus. Siri’s escaped the Black madness, just like his grandfather. Apparently it’s something to do with being the firstborn son.” Harry corrected.

“But what about his father, Orion? He went nuts.” Remus argued.

“He did. But that was mostly Walburga’s fault. The bitch poisoned him. After Regulus died, she lost the plot, went nuts, round the twist, bonkers. Whatever you want to call it. She blamed Sirius for driving Regulus to his death. If he’d done what she wanted it would have been he that died, not her precious Regulus. From then on, it was a case of what could she do that would hurt Sirius? I’m told she had a glorious party when he got locked up.”

“Oh, gods.”

“Yeah, she was a nasty piece of work, that one.”

“So… We’re okay, then?”

“Hopefully. My only concern is… If he doesn’t accept what’s happened to me and who I am now.” Harry’s lips quirked, at the worried look on Remus’ face. “I’m not worried that he’ll go to the press, or anything like that. More that he’ll decide he doesn’t want contact with me and cut me out of his life. You have to understand, Mooney, he was the first positive constant in my life.”

Remus began to snicker. “Pads? A constant? Oh, gods, that’s hilarious.” He slumped back onto a chair and tried to smother his laughter.

“Something funny, Mr Moony?” Sirius’ voice wasn’t quite back to being the smooth tones that Harry remembered, but it was a lot closer than it had been.

“Indeed, Mr Padfoot. But Harry’s got things you need to see, before he gets into that. How’re you doing?” Remus asked.

“Better. Much better. Healer Standish’s idea worked well. Watching my Azkaban memories, as though they were in a pensieve, that definitely worked. I also used some of what I was taught in the Auror academy. How to focus the objective part of my mind while I viewed a victim’s or witness’ memories. Then it was a case of what could I salvage and what should I leave in an evidence box.”

“So… what do you think Standish is going to do? Release you or keep you here?” Harry asked.

“Not sure, yet. If it’s based on physical condition, only? I doubt he’ll let me go. Mental condition? I feel much the same as I did prior to chasing Wormtail. I suppose it comes down to recovery, now. Physical recovery, with potions, good food and reasonable care, is likely to be only a month or two. But without that mindscape-time-twisting trick? I’d probably be here for six months, at least, more likely a year.” Sirius spoke slowly, clearly thinking about it. “But now that I’m able to think clearly, I’m gutted. Harry’s dead, Remus. Moody came into the Wizengamot to tell them, he said Harry’s been abused. Gringotts were there and they said that they had enough evidence to charge Dumbledore. Not just charge him, but charge him in a Wizarding court. What-”

“Stop. Wait. Let Harry show you what I mentioned.” Remus cut Sirius off.

“But-”

“Pads. Trust me. Please.” Remus spoke very earnestly.

Sirius looked at Remus, his mind clear and calm. That analytical, Slytherin, Hit-Wizard-based part of mind, warned him that Remus had raised the subject three times. Three times, the werewolf had said there was more happening than he knew. Three times, he’d said ‘trust me.’ Sirius sighed, this man was the only part of his chosen family left. Of course he would trust him.

“Alright. Henrick Snape-Urquart? Show me what you’ve got.” Sirius challenged.

Harry grinned, a cheeky, mischievous grin. “Come into my parlour, said the spider to the fly.” The three men laughed. “So, Sirius… Ready to come into my mindscape?”

Sirius looked at Harry. That grin, he’d seen that grin before. Where? Why was it familiar?

“Yeah, sure. Why not?” He grinned back.

Legilimens novi. Harry said, in place of an answer.

 

Around them rose the shadowed forms of buildings, buildings Sirius knew well. But the more he looked, the more confused he got. This was Hogwarts, but there were things that stood out as wrong. The Entrance Courtyard and Reception Chamber were out of proportion and he didn’t remember there being watch-towers at the Courtyard’s exit to the bridge to the main gates. But neither did he remember the windows of the Reception Chamber being large panels.

“This way, Sirius.” The voice made Sirius spin, it was so much like Prongs’ that he half expected to the stag Animagus, instead he saw Henrick Snape-Urquart standing on the steps of the Chamber.

“Coming.” He answered and hurried after him, ever so glad that his body in a mindscape was what his mind said it should be. Otherwise, he’d be lucky to even reach the steps.

Entering the Chamber made his eyes pick up on other things his mind said were wrong. Seeing names etched into the bricks under the huge windows was too much for Sirius.

“Oi, Henrick?”

“Harry.”

“Right. Harry? What's with the names? On the bricks?”

“Yeah…” Harry drew the word out. “About that…?”

“What about it?” Sirius was getting a bad feeling about this.

“Have a seat.” Harry pointed to the Gryffindor table and the lone jug and bowl.

Sirius sat and watched as Harry poured a golden liquid into the bowl, he watched as the liquid did the impossible and streamed upwards. In a matter of seconds the liquid had formed a watery sheet, about two by three foot with rounded off corners. As he watched colours bled out, forming new colours and slowly images began to appear.

Lily. That was the first recognisable face, then Prongs. More shapes, then his own face alongside Remus’. Much younger faces.

Then it began to change, short scenes flashed across the sheet. Darkness, a green light and a woman’s voice, a voice he knew to be Lily’s, screaming in fear. A baby, Prongslet, in a crib watching a man in black, crying. Snape, that was Snape crying. Another woman’s scream, not in fear, but in anger. A large man yelling, pushing the baby into a cupboard.

The baby growing into a boy, being pushed into that cupboard every day. The boy cooked, cleaned, washed, he slaved for the large man and a woman that Sirius thought might be Lily’s sister. Petal, he thought her name was Petal. A classroom with a teacher with blue hair. Running from other boys, Prongslet suddenly found himself on a roof. A zoo, a larger boy shoving Prongslet, glass from a snake enclosure vanished and the snake slithered out, hissing at Prongslet as it passed. The large man yelling and slamming him into the cupboard.

A familiar letter.

Mr H Potter

The Cupboard Under The Stairs

4 Privet Drive,

Little Whinging,

SURREY

The large man taking the letter. A room full of flying letters, Prongslet jumping about trying to catch one, before the man grabbed the boy and shoved him into the cupboard. An island, a crashing boom and a door falling in and a figure filling the space, Sirius knew the figure to be Hagrid. Then it the familiar sight of Diagon Alley and Hagrid holding a cage with a glorious Snowy owl.

Hogwarts. The Hogwarts that Sirius remembers, not the Hogwarts around him in Hen- Harry’s mindscape. Classes, a girl with bushy hair, a red headed boy, a teacher with a purple turban. A mirror showing Lily and Prongs standing beside the boy. A dog with three heads, a room full of flying keys, a massive chess set and a wall of flame. The teacher screaming at Prongslet, the boy’s hands on the teacher’s face, ashes falling, the teacher was burning.

Bars on a window. An elf and flying cake. A flying car, more red heads, lots more red heads, many boys and a girl. Sirius thought they looked a bit like Gideon and Fabian Prewett. The barrier to the express shut. The car flying above the express, just Prongslet and one redhead. Crashing into the Whomping willow. The boys running towards the castle. Students petrified. Writing on a wall. A massive chamber and an equally massive snake. A sword and Fawkes, the Headmaster’s phoenix. A fang being stabbed into a diary.

An escaped murderer. But it was Sirius’ picture that was being shown. Dementors on the express! Was that Moony?! Gods, he was old! More dementors. Patronus charms. Quidditch and more dementors, no, not dementors, that was students dressed as dementors.

Go Prongslet! A perfect patronus. Yes!

That was him, oh gods, that was Sirius. Ugh, he looked dreadful, worse than he did now. Moony and was that…? It was, it was the traitor, Wormtail. And Snape, Severus that is. Oh, and a full moon… joy. Severus standing between a transformed Moony and the children, Prongslet, the girl and the redhead. Thank you, Severus.

Oh, lords above, more dementors and was that a Hippogriff? Were they riding a Hippogriff? Escapee-Sirius was hugging Prongslet, offering a home, a family. More hugs and smiles. Smiles are good. Prongslet’s smiles are better.

A carriage drawn by flying horses, flying boat, a massive cup on fire. Small pieces of paper floating out. Two older boys, a blonde girl and Prongslet in a tent. A bag held out, a hand reaching in, drawing out a tiny dragon. Oh, no, they wouldn’t? Surely not?

Prongslet on a broom… that’s a dragon, a fully grown, Hungarian Horntail Dragon… and it’s chasing his Prongslet! Get lost dragon! Oh the Black Lake, I miss that. What in hell did you do to your feet, Prongslet? Hey, that’s the redhead boy. Trust Prongs’ kid to rescue his own hostage as well as someone else’s.

Oh… My… Gods… What did they do to the quidditch pitch?!

Was that a real spider or just an engorgio’d one? A sphinx? Look, the other boy from Hogwarts. He’s pretty. Down, Padfoot, down, stop eyeing off the pretty boys. What the…? The cup was a portkey? Who made it into a portkey? Who allowed that? Oh, Prongslet… Wormtail, you rat! Did you have to kill the pretty? Did that cauldron melt? Really melt?

Oh gods above… Voldemort. Prongslet's duelling Voldemort. That’s a prior incantato, isn’t it? Wow, haven’t seen one of those outside of a pensieve-lecture before. Good going, Prongslet grab the pretty boy and accio, Prongslet, accio the cup. Moody melting into a much younger, different man, oh, that’s polyjuice, that is. So, where’s the real Moody, then?

Back with Petal, huh? That’s… that’s… that’s dementors. Dementors in a muggle area? Who let them out? What do you mean being tried for underage magic, Prongslet was protecting himself! But… that’s the full Wizengamot. Oh, now you turn up, Dumbledore. Your timing leaves something to be desired, old man. Oh, ew, Grimmauld place.  Why are you in Grimmauld Place, Prongslet? Oh, that’s me, escapee-me. Oh, smiles, Prongslet smiles. Yes! So good.

Opening feast, huh? Who’s the pink toad? What’s with all the decrees? Why so many? Ah, Prongslet? Where are we? Where’s this room? Ooh, Professor Prongslet. You did good, Prongslet, teaching them how to cast a patronus. Are those Thestrals? Do they really look like that? Like leather over a bony old skeleton? Gross. Ah… why are we in the ministry? Malfoy? Leave Prongslet alone, you bastard. Left! Duck! Moony! Thank god, get Prongslet out of he-

Oh…

Sirius’ inner narrative ground to a halt as the memory-Sirius was hit by a curse, one cast by Bellatrix  – his own blood no less – and thrown backwards through the stone arch of the Veil.

More curses were thrown, Prongslet was chasing Bellatrix, then Voldemort was there. In the ministry, Dumbledore arrived, then ministry officials arrived. They watched as Dumbledore and Prongslet duelled against Voldemort and drove him away. People yelled, people cried. The Prophet declared Dumbledore and Prongslet vindicated, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was returned.

Back at Petal’s there’s quiet, distance. Prongslet is ignored. There’s a coffee shop beside a railway line, Dumbledore is there, they apparate away. A street, quiet and calm. A chair that turns into a man. A house, lopsided and uneven, but warm, welcoming. Then it’s back to Hogwarts. Private lessons with Dumbledore, memories in a pensieve. More lessons and drugged food. A visit to a cave and hiding in the clock tower. A blonde boy points his wand at Dumbledore, he cries in shame, but lowers his wand. Others join the boy, they taunt and jeer… and Dumbledore is hit with a green curse, he falls from the tower. A sea of students wands lit in memoriae.

A wedding, the blonde girl from the lake is the bride. A patronus message, the ministry has fallen. Prongslet, the bushy haired girl and the redheaded boy apparate away. A busy street in a busy city, a coffee shop and a duel. A memory charm, obliviate. Back to Grimmauld Place, then the ministry again. The pink toad from Hogwarts and a golden locket. A forest, an argument and the redhead leaves. A tent on the moors, a village in winter, a cemetery and a wreath of flowers. An old lady that turns into a snake, a wand snaps.

A doe patronus and a pond, Prongslet in the pond, the redhead is back, he pulls Prongslet from the pond. Prongslet has a sword in his hand. The redhead smashes the locket with the sword. Discussions are had about where to go next. A funny shaped house with a scared man. Death-Eaters and running. Dungeons in a mansion, an elf and a cottage by the sea. Gringotts, a golden cup and a dragon. Flying and falling into a lake. Hogsmeade at night, The Hog’s Head and a tunnel behind a portrait.

Hogwarts. The room full of students, hammocks hanging from pillars, the Great Hall. A duel and a window smashing, students cheering. A blank wall that fades into a door, a room, a great room, full of things. Prongslet reaching for a tiara. The blonde boy sneering, a dark haired boy casting fiendfyre. The blonde and a coffee-skinned boy climb a tower of furniture, the darkhaired boy falls from the tower and is swallowed by the flames. At the same time Prongslet, the girl and the redhead are running through corridors of stuff. Furniture, portraits, statues, trunks and so much more. Brooms are mounted and they fly. Prongslet reaches an arm out for the blonde boy, while the redhead reaches for the darker boy. A fang descends and the tiara screams.

Outside the room, students run. Some ran up the stairs, to the Headmaster’s office and the floo fireplace. Some ran down the stairs, to stand with the professors and guard their school. The girl and the redhead crouch at Prongslet’s side, Prongslet tells them that Voldemort is in the boathouse. They run, throwing curses here and hexes there, shields tossed between students and Death-Eaters while students fight, for their lives, for their school, for their freedom. Down steps, around corners, until they crouch hidden behind a door, they listen to Voldemort and Dumbledore’s spy. They hear Voldemort order his snake to kill. Then there’s silence. Prongslet darts around the door to the spy’s side, his hands reaching for the man’s neck. The spy waves his hand at the tears on his face, Prongslet catches them in a phial and watches as life leaves the man’s eyes.

The Headmaster’s office, Prongslet pour the memories in a pensieve and watches the spy being told that Prongslet is a Horcruxe and must die to kill Voldemort. The spy is not pleased, but Dumbledore is blasé, the boy means little to him. If his death will kill Voldemort then he will die.

The redhead and the girl running from Voldemort’s snake, a dark haired boy, tall and lean, swings a sword and the snake’s head vanished in a plume of greasy smoke.

Oh, for heavens sake, he’s wearing a cardigan. Rang through Sirius’ mind.

A forest and Prongslet standing tall, shades of Lily, James, Remus and… Sirius at his side. A shaft of green light and… white. Dumbledore is there, telling Prongslet how proud he is that Prongslet died to save his friends.

Bastard.

Back in the forest. Prongslet opens his eyes, a woman lies for him and arms gather him close, carry him. In the remains of the courtyard, the cardigan-wearing boy defies Voldemort and stands ready with his sword. Students and Death-eaters fight. Prongslet and Voldemort fight. People die. Remus. Dora. A red twin. A blonde girl.

And Voldemort.

Voldemort dies, his body falls to ashes.

The shattered ruins of the school are quiet. Aurors come, statements are taken, bodies are removed. Injuries are tended, but hearts are broken. And through it all, the students stand united.

Slowly the school is rebuilt, stone by stone, room by room. It takes a whole year, but Hogwarts emerges from the rubble, proud and true. In the Chamber of Reception, under the massive new windows, the stones had the name of every person who died because of Voldemort, names carved on each brick. Above them the words ‘Never In Vain, Never Forgotten’, each letter formed of brightly coloured gems. Under those five words, more words, carefully etched in a single massive block. ‘The Jewels Of Our Hearts’.

Sirius held back a sob.

Students filled the chamber, fingers were touched to names and thanks were offered. Prongslet lead the way into the rebuilt Great Hall, the girl and redhead at his sides.

The ministry, another girl ranting, she throws a green curse at Prongslet, only to be hit by dozens of curses cast by the people around him.

A cold formal woman’s voice, “Ginevra Molly Weasley, you have been found guilty by the Wizengamot of Attempted Murder and hereby sentenced to a Life of Binding. Your magic shall be bound and you will live with the knowledge of what your actions have cost you.”

Another voice, this time a man. “I, Arthur William Weasley, cast Molly Ethel Weasley and Ginevra Molly Weasley from the House of Weasley. They may return to the House of Prewett, if it shall accept them. They are no family of mine.”

A certificate, acceptance to the Auror academy. Another certificate, a Mastery in DADA. A potions lab, frantic mixing, tireless experimentation.

Another redhead, a blonde woman at his side, holds a baby, a smattering of red hair already showing. Redheaded toddlers run around a room, Christmas paper flying everywhere. Laughter fills the room and Prongslet smiles again.

Another certificate, a Mastery in Potions. A report from St Mungo's, ‘patient shows no further signs of lycanthropy, treatment deemed successful’.

A woman’s voice ranting, “… Harry? Are you listening to me? Mixing Wolfwort and castor beans is bad, Harry, both of them are deadly to dogs, to canines of all sorts. But, Harry, they’re also two of the main ingredients of the potion used to soak sand for time turners.”

“I get that, Hermione, but they’re the only things that work when it comes to weakening the werewolf part of-” a man’s voice replied.

More lab time, more St Mungo's, more patient sheets with the words, ‘patient shows no further signs of lycanthropy, treatment deemed successful’.

A potions lab, a flash of light and darkness.

Just as Sirius thought the images were finished, a child’s voice was heard. “Lumos.” And a ball of pale blue light filled a space, a small space, a cupboard under some stairs.

“Tempus-et-locus.” And words glowed. 12.03am, July 31st, 1985, 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey, UK.

“Oh, crap.” The child’s voice muttered.

He saw the tiny Prongslet standing on the edge of a lane, chanting in Latin, in the middle of the night. He saw Prongslet raise a glamour and catch a bus, then a train, emerging in a city. Then there was a very familiar blue door. The entrance to Diagon Alley. He saw the glamoured Prongslet sigh in relief as he entered Gringotts.

Sirius watched as Prongslet spoke to the goblins, as the goblins called in Professor McGonagall and a Severus Snape that looked like what Sirius thought he should look like. He watched as both the witch and the wizard entered the Prongslet’s mind and watched his memories, knowing to do so was illegal. He watched as Prongslet and Snape spoke. As the child, the man, the witch and the goblins made plans. He saw the Prongslet suffer through what must have been the most excruciating pain as the goblins healers literally summoned parts of his body and placed them inside a golem. He watched as the goblin healer worked feverishly over Prongslet, giving him potions, singing chants, casting spells and constantly scanning his body, checking for hidden weaknesses.

He saw Snape hold Prongslet upright, saw more conversations, heard of plans for adoptions. Then he watched as Snape and McGonagall fretted as he went through yet another ritual, another potion and more chants. This time the child grew, dramatically fast and became a man. More potions, adoptions and Blood Adoptions, finally the child was the man sitting cross-legged on the table.

Sirius said nothing. He sat there, thinking hard. This was Prongslet, but this was a grownup Prongslet. A Prongslet that had seen war and suffering, far worse than the first war. He was a warrior. A Prongslet that was no longer just Prongslet. He was so much more.

Sirius stood and left the Hall, Harry watching him go, wondering if it was all in vain, but as he moved to follow, Sirius stopped in the Chamber of Reception. He crouched low and ran his fingers over the bricks and their names.

“James. Lily. Fabian. Gideon. Benjy. Edgar. Marlene. Dorcas. Bertha. Lavender. Frank. Bartemius. Cedric.”

Harry took over the recital. “Boderick. Emmerline. Sarah. Albus. Charity. Alastor. Peter. Colin. Gellert. Fred. Remus. Sirius. Regulus. Dora. Severus.”

“And so many more…” Sirius whispered, tears on his cheeks.

“Yeah…” Harry sighed.

“Do…? Do you… Do you know how many?”

“We’ve a rough idea. We do know that 97 Death-Eaters and Voldemort supporters died at Hogwarts, but by public demand, their names were erased from public record, completely. No OWLs, no NEWTs, no licences, nothing. 112 students, Order members, Aurors and members of the public were killed on Hogwarts’ grounds. Outside Hogwarts, it was far worse. Over 600 bodies were located, less than 500 of them were identified. There were over 200 missing, mostly muggleborns, some we were fairly certain had left the country, but others we believe paid the ultimate price. The final Official tallies were, roughly, 950 magical humans, 4500 muggles and 1000-1500 non-human magical creatures.”

“Oh sweet Circe.” Sirius whispered.

“We had no way of being certain, but there were those that believed the death toll could have been as high as twice what was made public.” Harry laid a gently hand on Sirius’ shoulder.

“Can you stop it?”

“Yes. Voldemort is, right now, a wraith haunting a forest. All his Horcruxes are gone, destroyed today, right before we came to St Mungo's to see you.”

“What about the wraith? Will you destroy it, too?”

“Ragnok has asked that Gringotts have the… pleasure of removing Voldemort from the mortal world. As payment for involving them. I haven’t figured out whether it’s us paying them, them paying us or them paying Voldemort.”

“As long as he dies, does it matter?” Sirius frowned.

“Nope.”

“So, now what? Voldemort’s neutralised, Dumbledore’s out of the picture, you’re teaching at Hogwarts. What next?”

“Oh, I’ve still got a list.”

“A list?”

“Sure. Wanna hear it?”

“Uh… okay.”

“Right, in no particular order. Restore Hogwarts to academic glory. Gut Dumbledore by telling him Voldy is dead. Tell mum and dad’s portraits that I’m now Severus Snape’s brother. Set Remus up with my sister. Gut Dumbledore further by telling him I’m Harry Potter and not dead. Release the cure to lycanthropy through St Mungo's. ‘Cure’ the Longbottoms. Mentor or adopt the second generation of Marauders. Find myself a good guy to marry. Hand Pettigrew over to the DMLE, see him kissed for his troubles. Have lunch with Lord Black. Attend Eileen Snape’s funeral and meet with Lord Prince. Talk Mione into meeting with Lady Enthwaite. Adopt a particular pair of twin girls, in about ten years.” Harry frowned. “And I know there’s more, but… I left the list with Mione and Máthair. Oh and I think Mione has a couple of things she wants to do, too.”

Sirius’ had blinked each time Harry listed an item and counted them off on his fingers.

“And what about us-me, what about me?”

“Sirius…” Harry heaved a deep breath. “You are the most… you are the…” He trailed off, before starting afresh. “Sirius, until I took the sibling potions for Severus and Mione, you were the only person that I physically hurt, at the thought of being apart from. When you fell through the Veil, I went numb. I’d only just started to let my heart believe I was capable of love. And then you were gone. You were this strange combination of uncle, friend and mentor.”

“Uncle, friend, mentor? What about father?”

“No, I don’t know why, but no.”

“Good. Cause I look at you and I don’t see my godson. I do see my Prongslet… or rather… I see the remnants of Prongslet. A Prongslet all grown up.” Sirius quirked an eyebrow. “And grown up well.”

“Quit leering, Sirius.” Harry chided, his cheeks flushing.

“Nope.” He was answered. “But… do you remember the lycanthropy cure? Will you make it for Moony? Can I come home with you? Can I come to Hogwarts with you? Can I teach you to be an Animagus?”

Harry didn’t answer, he just transformed into his furry form, the massive black leopard stalked out of the Chamber and down the steps to the Entrance Courtyard.

“Urf!” The black Grimm barked as it chased the panther down the steps, the panther leaping high in the air as the Grimm tried to barrel over the big cat.

“Mrowwl!” Harry yowled as Sirius in Padfoot-form barked happily.

The Grim leaned down on his front legs, his chest lowered and rump high, his tail wagging almost violently. His entire body begging to play. Harry tilted his head and huffed. He sprang forward and over the Grimm, swatting at Padfoot’s tail as he went. The Grimm spun and tried it’s best to catch the panther’s tail, but all he got for his effort was a swat in the nose with a tail or a massive paw knocking his feet out from under him.

The two played, rough-housed and gambolled around the courtyard, until the panther huffed and let the Grimm knock him over. The panther lay on the uneven cobbles with a panting Grimm draped across his shoulders. A minute to catch their breathes and first Harry, then Sirius changed back into the human shapes.

“That was fun. Can we teach Moony?” Sirius beamed.

“No need. He’s a huge wolf. Like huge, huge. Like over four foot at the shoulder, huge.” Harry answered.

“Cool. Can we go see?” He paused. “What about Sn-Severus?” Sirius cut himself off before he could finish the harsh nickname that the Marauders had called Severus. He wasn't ever going to call him that, again. “And your sister? Can I meet her?”

“Oh, Merlin protect me, you’re on a adrenalin high.” Harry sighed. “Come here.” He sat on the steps and as soon as Sirius was within reach, his hand darted out and grabbed the other wizard’s arm, dragging him to the ground and forcing him to sit alongside Harry. “My sister is Hermione, in the family we call her, Mione. Fair warning, don’t piss her off. If you do, give her a new book or offer to teach her a new spell. If that doesn’t work, like I told Remus, you’re on your own. Every man for themselves.”

“Really…? Another Lily?”

“Yeah, but according to Remus, mu-Lily didn’t have a DADA Mastery and Mione does.” Harry hauled himself to a halt half way through the word ‘mum’, it wouldn't do to accidentally say it where others might hear.

DADA?! Oh, Merlin, we’re all screwed. At least Lily’s apprenticeship was only in Charms.” Sirius whined, leaning his head on Harry’s shoulder. “You’ll protect me, won’t you?” He tried the puppy-dog eyes and an innocent expression.

Harry laughed. “Not a hope in Hell, Padfoot. And for future reference? Mione has six Masteries. DADA, Charms, Runes, Muggles Studies, History of Magic and Magical Theory.”

Sirius’ eyes almost popped. “Six?! But… Six…? How…? But… What?!”

Harry fell back against the steps laughing, he’d forgotten what Sirius was like when he was happy, it wasn’t something that he'd seen often.

“Okay, enough. Remus, Mione, Sev and Máthair are waiting for us. The healers too, probably.”

Sirius suddenly looked vulnerable. “Can… can I come with you? Stay with you?”

“What about your grandfather?”

“He’s been good, but he thinks I would be better off with Remus or someone knew me, someone that can tell when I slip and call me on it.”

“What does Standish think?”

“He said that as long as I have company or something to do, then the slips should be obvious enough, for even me to see.” Sirius dipped his head.

“Like now?” Harry asked pointedly.

Sirius blinked and nodded. “Yeah.”

“I don’t have a problem with you staying with us, but you need to remember that Severus is my brother now, you prank him and I’ll prank you ten times worse.”

“Okay.” Sirius was beaming again.

“If Standish says ‘okay’, then yes, you can come with us, we’ll work out something for when school starts.”

“Okay.” Sirius was happy, he got to stay with Harry. He liked looking at Harry.

“Let’s go.” Harry ordered.

Sirius took a deep breath as Harry let go of the reversed legilimency spell. The stone buildings of Hogwarts fading around them, fading to the creamy-white of St Mungo's. Sitting on the other side of the room chatting, Sirius saw his grandfather, Healer Standish, Remus, Professor McGonagall, Severus Snape and a young woman with the same streaks of red-gold through her raven hair, just like he could see peeking through Harry and Severus’.

“Ah, they’re back with us.” Standish said.

“Yea…es.” Sirius changed ‘yeah’ to ‘yes’. Then he stood and joined the group. Pausing he frowned.

“Something wrong, Mr Black?” The healer asked.

“Just the difference between a mindscape-me and a physical-me.”

“Oh?”

“Yes, physical-me is still suffering from a few years in Azkaban, while mindscape-me feels much the same as I was, when I was first locked up. The two are very different. How long do you think it will take for me to get back to that point, physically?” Sirius was standing, but swaying slightly.

“Ah…” The healer seemed relieved. “Regaining your physical health is a relatively simple thing. The right potions, some good food, a moderate amount of exercise, don’t over do it. And top that off with people that care about you and your recovery?” A pause while he thought about it a bit more. “I would suggest getting a second opinion from healer Strout, but I think… you could be physically recovered in a month?” It wasn’t a question, more of a guesstimate. “But… if you plan on going back to work as an Auror or a Hit-Wizard, I’d be holding off, at least until the new year. Give the public confidence that you are serious, both about your health and that you are not prepared to rush their safety.”

Sirius nodded. “Fair enough. So, can I get out of here? No offence, healer, but I’m not keen on hospitals.”

“None taken. I’ll need to assess you, you do understand that?”

“Yep. Go for it.”

“I’d prefer you laying down, Mr Black.” A new voice entered the room. “My pardon.” He added as Harry and Hermione spun, wands sliding into their hands.

“Sorry.” The two time-travelling siblings sighed as they straightened.

“They’re both DADA Masters, Healer Strout.” Remus explained.

“Ah. That explains it. Now, Mr Black, Healer Standish and I are both going to assess you, as your grandfather has expressed to me, your wish to not remain in St Mungo's, any longer than you must. It will depend on how you’ve progressed, since your arrival here. I’ve read your chart and I see that you’ve had a number of potions. Nerve regenerator, hydration, protein, bone supplements and a general booster.”

“Yes, sir.” Sirius answered.

“Good. I want you to lay down, I’ll do a diagnostic scan and compare that to this morning’s scan.” Strout explained.

“Okay.” Sirius sat on the bed, before laying back down, hands at his sides.

“And afterwards, I’ll do a quick legilimency scan and compare that to this morning’s, too. Now I understand that Master Snape-Urquart and Mr Lupin showed you their technique for altering the time perception, within your mindscape?”

“Yes, Moony showed me how to set it up, but he told me that you recommended no more  than an hour at a time, working on my occlumency with another hour as breaks. Then it was just a case of what could be salvaged and what was dumped in a box and shoved on the shelf.”

“But you looked at everything?”

“I did. I put everything into a pensieve and viewed it, some things went on high-speed others at real time.”

“Why high-speed?” Standish asked, watching as Strout waved his wand over the prone man.

“Some days in Azkaban were boring. Other than getting fed once a day, there were days I saw no one and heard nothing, not even a dementor. Boring.” Sirius sing-songed the last word.

“Right. And once you’d viewed them?”

“Well, viewing them showed let me see the basic shape of them, some… specifically the ones with dementors were fragmented. Viewing in a pensieve let me splice parts from other, known, dementor days, and place them in with the fragments to get a more complete image. Then there were the memories from before Azkaban. Hogwarts, the Auror academy, Hit-wizard training, etc. Most of them required multiple viewing, before I could piece them together properly and there’re some that are still torn. I’m hoping that people who were present when certain events happened, will share their memories of those events. That will give me enough to piece them together.”

Standish nodded in thought, his patient had used an interesting collection of methods to achieve what, he could already see, was an outstanding result. The scan was going to be only a technicality.

“Well, Mr Black?” Strout stepped back from the bed. “There’s marked improvement from this morning. Bone density is increased by 2%, which is better than expected. Hydration is still bordeline, but much better. Iron and other vitamin levels are still low, but again, significantly improved. Even your nerves are responding to treatment. Pending Healer Standish’s report, I’m prepared to release you, on the condition that you continue to receive medical treatment. And we see you, here, once a week.”

“Bugger.” Sirius sighed.

“What about Hogwarts’ Medi-witch?” Harry asked. “My brother, sister and I are due to start teaching there in September, I’m sure I can get permission for Remus and Sirius to join us. That would put him under Poppy Pomfrey’s care. Would that be acceptable?”

Strout hummed, he knew that Dumbledore was no longer Headmaster and the probability of Minerva McGonagall becoming Headmistress was high. He also knew that the Snape-Urquart triplets were now hers and if one of them wanted Messer's Black and Lupin at the school?

Messer's Black and Lupin would be at the school.

Without question. And Poppy was a very competent medi-witch, with years of familiarity dealing with Black, she would have no difficulty treating him. Hopefully with the assistance of Lupin and the Snape-Urquart triplets, Pomfrey would retain the upper hand. Hopefully.

“Yes. I believe that would be acceptable, Master Snape-Urquart.” Strout nodded.

“Well, just give us a few minutes.” Standish added. “Black, look at me.” When Sirius raised his eyes to the mind-healer, Standish continued. “Legilimens.” The two men's faces went blank.

“Master Snape-Urquart?” Lord Black approached Harry.

“Lord Black.” Harry replied, bowing his head slightly.

“Listening to the goblin in the Wizengamot, am I correct in assuming that it was you… and your siblings… that are responsible for Gringotts contacting me in regards to Sirius and his… situation?”

Harry frowned slightly and studied Arcturus Black while he had a fast, silent conversation with Severus and Hermione. He wasn’t terribly pleased with the outcome, but he understood their reasoning.

“It was.”

“Might I ask how you became aware of the information you have?”

“I was present when the discussion to switch Keeper was held.” That was true, even if he had only been 12 months old.

“Then why did you not come forward sooner?” Lord Black asked, frowning.

“That’s a long and complicated tale.”

“Give me the short version, then.” Lord Black was adamant he be told.

Harry sighed. “Alright. Are you familiar with the term, ‘Masking Adoption’?” Was what came next.

Arcturus tilted his head and frowned in thought. He had heard that term before, but where?

“I… think so, but I’m not certain.”

“A Masking Adoption is also called a multi-blood adoption. Every so often, someone comes to Gringotts that needs help. They might be in a violent or abusive relationship, they might have seen something that they shouldn’t have, or they might be fleeing an arranged marriage. Lots of reasons, to want to escape your current life. But… when told the cost of escaping, many don’t have the courage, they’re too scared.” Harry began.

“And you…?”

“My family died when I was a baby. Dumbledore sent me to live with muggles, blood relatives that loathed anything magical, including me. I grew up beaten, abused and little more than a slave. Then came my Letter. I went to Hogwarts, was sorted into Gryffindor, believe it or not. And every summer, Dumbledore sent me back to an abusive house. I didn’t finish school, at the end of my 6th year, the war exploded. I was 18 when it ended. 18 when I found that Dumbledore had lied about more than just my home-life. I was the Heir to an Ancient and Noble House and Head of House for another three Houses, and I didn’t even know what an Ancient and Noble House was!”

“Oh gods.” Arcturus groaned.

“Hermione’s was a similar situation. Not abusive, well… not physically abusive, anyway. Her parents loved her, they wanted the best for her, but there were no limits to what they would do, to see that she had that best. We were both in Gryffindor, like I said. At the same time, there was a student, Heir to an Ancient and Noble House, a boy whose name is well known, now.” Harry deliberately glanced over at Sirius.

“Sirius?”

“No, but one connected to him.”

“Potter.” The name was a statement and not a question.

“Potter.” Harry nodded, not saying which Potter, let Black think he meant James Potter, not Harry Potter. “Hermione’s parents were approached by Dumbledore, he wanted a spy. He would give pay them and her access to extra classes, books and freedoms, things that no other student got. And she was to tell him what Potter was up to on any given day.”

“Why that…?!” Black snarled.

“Neither Mione or I were in the same year as James and Sirius, we were a bit younger, you understand?” Quite a bit younger. “So, like I said the war exploded in the summer after our 6th year and we were left running for our lives. We had been friends since our first year and had considered the other a sibling, since our second, so the two of us running off together, made sense. I was the brawns behind our life, while Mione was the brains. Don’t get me wrong, she’s powerful and I’m smart, but not as much as the other is. When the war ended, we were at a loss, we hadn’t finished our education, nor did we have the finances for tutors, or so we thought. It was my idea to approach Gringotts and when we did? They weren’t happy, I wasn’t happy and Hermione wasn’t happy. Gringotts called Sev in and we negotiated. The outcome was, while Gringotts set up Masking Adoptions for both of us, Sev went to his parents and got enough blood for full Blood Adoptions. We became the Snape triplets. Oh, it wasn’t that simple. There were healing rituals, aging rituals, curse-breaking rituals as well as the adoptions. Gringotts then saw to our training, I have Masteries in DADA and Potions and Mione has them in DADA, Charms, Runes, Muggle Studies, History of Magic and Magical Theory.” Every word was true, it was just that Harry had mangled his other future and his current one together, to get what he’d told Lord Black.

“…uh…” What could the man say?

“Then last week we, meaning Sev and I, completed our Potions Mastery and decided that the last step in our new lives could now happen. Being Blood Adopted by Minerva McGonagall and her late husband Elphinstone Urquart. That was when the subject of Sirius was raised and we handed Gringotts a pile of parchment…” Harry trailed off.

“... that brings us to today…” Lord Black finished for him.

“It does.”

“So, what now?” Black sighed. “With Sirius, I mean?”

“Since I was 13 years old, Sirius has been the singular most important person in my life. Everything I did at school, I compared to him… and to a degree, to his friends. Outside of school, what he taught me saved my life, many times in fact.”

“I see.” Black had a contemplative look on his face.

“Sirius asked if he could come with us, I've said ‘yes’, assuming that the healers release him.”

“You would take my Heir into your house?” The formal way Black phrased that puzzled Harry.

“I would.”

“Good. I’ll permit him to go with you, but I will be meeting with you to discuss the matter further, at a later date.”

“Alright.” There was definitely something Harry was missing, but for the life of him, he couldn’t work out what.

“I bid you, good day, Master Snape-Urquart.” Lord Black bowed to Harry and nodded to the others in the room and left.

Hermione hurried over. “Well?”

“He wants to meet with me again, something about Sirius staying with us, about Sirius being his heir.” Harry shook his head. “I’m not quite sure, it didn’t make a lot of sense.” He shook his head again. “How’s Sirius? Has Healer Standish finished with him?”

“No, they’re still in Sirius’ mindscape.” Hermione answered.

“Is that good or bad, do you think?”

“Good. The longer it takes the better. If Standish wasn’t happy, he’d have pulled out well before this.” Strout offered.

“Ah. Thank you, sir.” Hermione replied.

It took another few minutes, before Sirius and the mind-healer re-joined those waiting in the room. Standish looked over to Strout and simply nodded, the answering nod, gained a small smile.

“Well, it looks like Heir Black is fine to leave, I’ve written up a list of potions and a recommended schedule and you’re free to take him home, immediately.”

There were six answering sighs of relief.

“Thank you, Healer Strout, Healer Standish.” Minerva spoke for them all.

Chapter Text

Sirius watched the argument between Harry’s sister, Hermione, and Madam Pomfrey, at first with amusement, but as the minutes ticked over, that amusement faded and discomfort set in. His eyes flicked from person to person, Moony, Sna-Severus, Minerva, Pomfrey, Hermione and back again.

At first.

But now his eyes were firmly fixed on the ginger-streaked raven headed man sitting beside the window. His expression was calm, but his eyes were lit by fire and as Sirius watched that fire was being stoked higher and higher. Sirius began to wager with himself, exactly how long before that fire erupted.

More minutes passed.

Sirius saw a muscle in Harry’s jaw clench and knew that time had run out. The argument was about to end. Whether the arguers wanted it to, or not.

Silencio.” The voice was calm and quiet. But Sirius wasn’t sure he’d ever heard a voice that angry. How could you be calm and angry at the same time?

It took nearly a minute for Hermione and Pomfrey to work out they were silenced. Pomfrey flicked her gaze around the room, but couldn’t see who was responsible. She lifted her wand and pointed it towards her throat.

“No.” The same voice said.

Pomfrey stopped. She looked around again and again lifter her wand.

“No.”

Hermione whimpered. Severus looked at her intently, his eyes narrowed. Suddenly they opened wide and his jaw fell. What ever Hermione has shown him via their mind-link, shocked him.

Harry stood and walked to stand at Sirius’ side, all eyes on him. Sirius, Minerva, Remus, Flitwick and Pomfrey with curiosity, Severus and Mione with alarm. Alarm, that quickly spread to Remus and Sirius. Anything that alarmed Severus and wasn’t the Marauders? That was something to watch out for.

“Harry?” Minerva asked.

Hermione whimpered again, while Severus attempted to smother his.

“No. No more.” He said, he turned to Pomfrey, his eyes flashing with emerald fire. “Strout discharged Sirius into my care. My care. Not yours. Mine.” His voice was hard. And cold. “He provided a list of Potions. Are you trying to say, that you are more experienced with dementor-based afflictions than the Head of St Mungo's?”

Hermione and Severus were both whimpering now, Remus had his arms around the pair, literally holding them on their feet. Whatever was going through Harry’s mind was affecting them badly.

“No, but-”

“There are no buts. Either you do or you don’t.” There was no give, no flexibility in his voice. Sirius reached out and gently took hold of Harry’s hand, the other man glanced down at him, worry flaring in his eyes and drowning out the fire. Harry sighed and gave Sirius a small smile.

Pomfrey sighed. “No. I don’t.”

“No. Then, as Sirius’ primary carer, assigned by the Lord of his House and the healers of St Mungo's, I will be removing him from this place, immediately.” The voice was quieter, not as cutting, now.

“But-”

“No.” He shook his head. “This is not an argument you will win. I will permit you to scan him for your records, nothing further. Not today.”

“But he needs potions!” Pomfrey stated loudly.

“Madam, my brother and I are both Potions Masters, in fact we both signed contracts with Hogwarts to teach potions. Do you not think that we are capable of brewing whatever potions Heir Black requires?” Harry had had enough of this. He knew from personal experience that Pomfrey was a good, no, a great medi-witch, but this was Sirius. Harry wasn’t going to take the word of a medi-witch over that of the Head Healer, not today. Not with Sirius.

“What? Excuse me? What…?” Pomfrey had no idea what this young man was talking about. Of course, he and his brother were capable of brewing the necessary potions.

“And Máthair? She has been Head of Gryffindor for how long? Sirius was in her house for his entire schooling. Do you not think she knows him? Do you not think she knows what he will try to do?”

“Ah…?”

“And Remus? Remus has been his sworn brother since their second year. Do you really think that he will allow Sirius to stunt his recovery?”

“Ah…”

“And Severus? Severus spent seven years in Slytherin, watching Sirius, he knows every move, every look of Sirius’, what every twitch means.”

“Ah…”

“Do you really think you can watch him, care for him, better than we can?”

“No…” Pomfrey sighed.

“Then why do this? Look at him, not at his condition, at him!” Harry waved behind him, gesturing broadly to Sirius. “He doesn’t want to be here. He begged, begged to stay with me. I agreed, as did Lord Black. He stays with me.” While the words were calm and quiet, the strength behind absolute. “Do your scans, but… if you want things added to his care, they must be approved by Strout before I will even consider them. Understand?”

“I…” Pomfrey sighed, Black looked so nervous, he was clinging to Henrick Snape-Urquart’s hand. “Very well, Professor Henrick, I’ll floo-call Healer Strout and confer with him. What restrictions is Mr Black under?”

“Light exercise, don’t eat enough to be sick. No magic until Friday’s review.”

“That’s it?”

“Until Friday. Yes.”

A tapping at the hospital wing doors, interrupted the conversation.

“Come!” Pomfrey called, before turning back to Harry. “I would like to attend Mr Black’s review on Friday. Will you… and he… permit me?”

Harry looked down at Sirius laying on the hospital bed, the Heir of the House of Black looked up at him, something passed between the two men that everyone else in the room missed.

“Certainly, Madam. We will be here on Friday morning to finalise our accommodations and classrooms, so we will stay here until we need to attend St Mungo's at 4pm.”

“I’ll clear my calendar.” Pomfrey said turning to the newcomers.

 

“Good evening Madam Pomfrey, I apologise for intruding on your domain, but I’m afraid, I and the Governors need to speak with the Professors.” Lord Longbottom said, surrounded by the nine members of the Hogwarts’ Board of Governor and the few professors that were currently at the school. Kettleburn with his scars and missing limbs, Sinistra with her reserved air, Sprout with her dragon-hide gloves hanging from a pocket, Hooch with a broom balanced on her shoulder, Vector with her blood-red robes and the very nervous figure of Sybil Trelawney in her big round glasses.

“Very well. Try not to upset the patient too much.” Pomfrey nodded to Minerva and stalked into her office and closed the door behind her firmly.

“That went well.” Lord Rosier muttered.

“Madam Pomfrey just discovered that trying to push Professor Henrick around is futile. He just obliterated every reason for Mr Black to remain at Hogwarts…” and under her care. Minerva left the last four words unsaid. Strictly out of politeness, you understand?

“Ah…” What else could Lord Rosier say?

Lord Longbottom pulled himself together and hummed.

“Professor McGonagall? The Hogwarts Board of Governors met this afternoon, after attending the Wizengamot this morning… I’m uncertain as to whether or not Heir Black told you of the morning’s consequences.”

“Some, Lord Longbottom, but I doubt he was aware of all that happened.” Minerva acknowledged.

“May we sit? It’s been a most trying day.” Lord Rosier sighed.

“Of course, would you prefer here or… somewhere else?”

“Here is fine, it would be best to not delay.” Rosier replied.

The nine members of the Board sat, some on the bed alongside Sirius’ and the others on conjured chairs, while the professors all gathered around Minerva. All of them faced Sirius, who was now leaning against Harry, Remus and Harry’s siblings.

“Right, so… this morning…” Lord Longbottom sighed. “This morning was a revelation… and not a pleasant one. Harry Potter is dead. Long-term abuse, is what the DMLE and the Wizengamot have decided would be released as cause of death. Sirius Black,” a nod to Sirius, “…has been declared innocent and unjustly imprisoned. And Albus Dumbledore has been remanded into medical custody.” Many of the professors gasped, Trelawney staggered backwards and fell onto the next bed, Sprout and Vector not far behind her.

“The Prophet will have this released in the morning’s edition, with the details the Wizengamot have provided.” Lord Rosier added.

“Indeed.” Longbottom agreed. “The details are, roughly… Lord Black approached for a copy of the court transcript of Heir Black’s trial. Only to find there wasn’t one. He brought the matter to the Wizengamot and an emergency session was called so an investigation and trial could happen. Heir Black was declared innocent of all charges and reparations for an unjust imprisonment, will be discussed at a private meeting between the Chief Warlock, three members of the Wizengamot, Lord Black, Heir Black and two advisors of their choice. If Heir Black wishes more advisors then the same number of Wizengamot members must be in attendance.”

“Question?” Hermione asked.

“Yes, Miss…?”

“Hermione Snape-Urquart, sir. When is this to happen? And may St Mungo's and Gringotts representatives be independent adjudicators?”

“When, has yet to be determined. It won’t be until Heir Black has been declared fit by St Mungo's. As to your second request… I will put it to the Wizengamot at our next meeting, this coming Thursday and notify you of their response. Will that be acceptable?” Longbottom answered.

“It will be. Thank you, sir.” Hermione sat back.

“After Heir Black was released into his grandfather’s care, the matter of Harry Potter was raised, St Mungo's determined that he’d suffered long-term systematic abuse, in a variety of forms. The public will not be informed of all the details, just an outline.” Longbottom turned to Rosier to continue.

“But what will be released is bad enough. Starvation, broken bones, organ failure and possible brain damage as a result of being beaten. The investigation by the Aurors, the DMLE and WFS, has so far lead nowhere, there's no documentation for the boy, anywhere. Aurors are following up with muggle Law enforcement, to try and track the boy's history, unfortunately, we anticipate little success particularly if wizards are involved. The shock of the provided information caused a number of Wizengamot members to require healers attendance.” Rosier could taste the bile in the back of his throat, at just he memory of the detailed healer’s report that was read out after Dumbledore was removed.

“Two members were taken to St Mungo's along with Albus Dumbledore who, according to healers that attended the Wizengamot Chambers, is suffering from a mental disruption, unfortunately this disruption occurred some time ago, either during his renowned duel with Grindelwald or perhaps even earlier and has been untreated until now. As a result of this, his actions and decisions have be affected. He’s been exceptionally adept at camouflaging his actions, but the Wizengamot have over 50 separate incidences where he endangered the lives of himself and others. This has forced the Wizengamot to take extreme action. He has found to be a danger to himself and others and as a result, the healers of St Mungo's have performed a Third Degree Binding on him… Voice, Body and, Magic… he will remain in the care of St Mungo's for the remainder of his life.” Longbottom took over.

Hooch and Sinistra quickly conjured seats of their own and dropped into them, shock and horror filling them.

“Gringotts have agreed to administer his finances, reparations will occur to those injured by his actions and decisions. The public will be urged to contact Gringotts if they believe they have been damaged by Dumbledore’s actions, be that damage physical, mental or financial. However, the public will also be informed that Gringotts’ decisions are final, there will be no right of appeal.” Rosier explained.

“Effective immediately, Albus Dumbledore has been removed from the position of Headmaster.” Longbottom added.

“And there will be an investigation into his actions during the Grindelwald years and also those during the Voldemort years. There is also the possibility, no… the probability, that his Order of Merlin may be revoked.” Rosier was met with gasps from all Hogwarts' listeners.

“Revoked?” Flitwick squeaked.

“Maybe. That will depend on what is revealed during the investigation.” Rosier replied.

“But all this means that Hogwarts is in need of a Head. The Board of Governors has voted and it was an unanimous vote to offer the post to Minerva Isobel McGonagall-Urquart. Moreover, after having studied the information provided by Gringotts, the board had come to the conclusion that Dumbledore was destroying the school. With only 14 subjects counting towards exams, Dumbledore has removed over half the available subjects. When he took over from Dippet, there were more than 25 subjects that students could take as part of the their OWLs and NEWTs. Now there are 14. Granted, some of them are among another ten or so subjects that are counted as extra-curricular. But these no longer count as having sat an examinable subject and so a student can no longer sit the appropriate exam.” Madam Marchbanks was the Head of the Magical Examinations Department, had been for over fifty years and knew what she was talking about.

“Half?” Sinistra gasped.

“Yes. Where is Warding? Curse-breaking? Spell Structure? Potions covers everything now, but there used to be a Ingredient Preparation class. What about Animagus? Healing? Where did they all go?” Marchbanks answered.

“What about Wizarding Customs? Wizengamot Protocol? Wizarding Law?” Harry asked. “Are they likely to be considered?”

“Oh, yes. The Board has a long list of things to change. The first is a complete review of current staff and their abilities.” Marchbanks paused. “I want to state here, that we are no longer interested in who someone is or what pieces of paper they hold. We want to know what they can do. What their knowledge is.”

“To that end, all teachers will have to demonstrate their knowledge, in their chosen field.” Longbottom added. “I know for a fact that Templar’s classes were at least fifty years out of date. Even I know that the muggles have sent contraptions into space, don’t ask me how or why, but I know they have. And yet Templar has mentioned nothing about it, nor has he taught about any of their advances in transport, communication or medicine. For heavens sake, muggles can do organ replacements! But our children learn none of this!” The old man ranted.

“Easy, Lawrence, easy.” Rosier placed a hand on Lord Longbottom’s shoulder. “We’re going to fix it. By the time your grandson gets here, we’ll have it sorted. It might be too late for Felix, but it won’t be, for your Neville.”

Longbottom patted Rosier’s hand and nodded. “Yes, Adelbert, I know, but that doesn’t make it any better. It should never have come to this.”

“True, too true.” Rosier sighed.

“So… we come back to this… Professor McGonagall? Will you take on the responsibility of being Head of Hogwarts?” Longbottom asked.

Minerva had had a fair idea this was coming, after all, Harry had told her that she’d been Headmistress after the Battle of Hogwarts. And between Harry, Severus, Hermione, Remus and now Sirius, she was sure that she would have plenty of help, returning Hogwarts to what it should have been.

“Lord Longbottom, Lord Rosier, members of Hogwarts Board of Governors, thank you for your consideration. I would be honoured to accept. If I may? I’d like to hold off on appointing a deputy, at least until the teaching positions are finalised. This is no slight against any of my colleagues, instead, I’ve a thought about the Heads of House and deputy posts, that I want to raise, later. But the most vital matter, is ensuring that Hogwarts' students get the best teachers we can give them.”

There were a number of sighs from the governors and the professors, sighs of relief. Quite a few were also nodding their heads. One witch looked very thoughtful.

“Headmistress? This has happened with little, to no warning…” the witch spoke up, “there are less than four weeks before classes resume. I would like to offer my time, what can I do to help? With as many changes as are needed, is there any chance of Hogwarts being ready by the start of the new school year? And what about students? Their new requirements, I mean? New subjects, means new textbooks, new supplies. Are students and their families going to have enough time and money to buy these?”

“And what of the businesses that supply them? How much notice can we give them?” Another witch asked.

While this was being said, Harry, Hermione and Severus were having one of their silent chats. Sirius watched the minute twitches and muscle movements of Harry’s face, he had no idea what was running through the younger man’s mind. And he wasn’t sure he liked not knowing.

Severus’ silky voice joined the conversation.

“Perhaps…” he said, “we might do this in stages.”

“Stages?” Lord Longbottom asked.

“Stages.” Severus stated. “Assessment of current staff is essential. Agreed?”

Governors nodded and Lord Longbottom spoke. “Agreed.”

“Such assessments should be observed and documented. Agreed?” Hermione added.

“Agreed.”

Hermione conjured a notebook and quill.

“Determining what is needed for each assessment and locating the necessary experts in each field… could take an hour or more. But can we assume that, each professor must be assessed by at least five independent auditors?” Harry joined in.

“Why five?” Flitwick asked.

“One… to assess student interaction and teaching capabilities.” Harry answered.

“Two… to assess academic subject knowledge.” Hermione added.

“Three… to assess practical subject knowledge.” Severus continue.

“Four… to assess flexibility in emergencies.” Remus put in.

“Five…to assess time management and student grading.” Hermione went on.

“And how are we to asses things like teaching capabilities?” Longbottom asked. “It’s school holidays.”

“It is.” Hermione agreed.

“And we’d pretty much guarantee that some of the NEWTs students are already studying towards exams.” Harry added.

“Invite a selection of them. Two groups. An advanced group and a… let’s call it a coaching group for those that are struggling.” Severus went on.

“Because the children of this school are the future of Magical Great Britain and we need to remember that.” Sirius spoke for the first time. “None of them should be hindered from being the best that they can be.”

The governors looked from one to another, trying desperately to follow the conversation. Trying and failing. As almost one, the governors turned to Minerva, all bar one. The witch who’d offered her time, had been watching Hermione as she made notes and now spoke again.

“Alright, we… Hogwarts, that is… need a schedule.” She said, causing Hermione’s lips to twitch in amusement. “First is… staff assessments? Second… I suggest determining what subjects to return, when and how. Obviously we can’t return all subjects for this coming school year, there’s just way too much, too soon. So… what can we re-introduce and when do we do it?” She nodded as Hermione made more notes.

“If the Governors would care to send representatives tomorrow, we can get the to-do list started. Feel free to come or send notes on ideas. There’s a lot of work to be done and little time to do it in. And while I agree that staff assessments are important, we need to look further ahead. But there are some subjects that I consider essential. Wizarding Law and Wizarding Customs. We have muggleborn student that have no idea that they’re insulting others and just barely skirting breaking our laws.” Minerva stated shaking her head.

“Agreed.” Both Lords Longbottom and Rosier nodded.

“Thank you, gentlemen, ladies. It’s almost 7pm, I suggest we adjourn for the night and reconvene tomorrow. 9am in the Headmast- Headmistress’ office.” Minerva sighed. “My office.” She tilted her head in thought. “We’ll most likely be here earlier, so I’ll see that the floo is open to all whom wish to attend.”

“Ah… Máthair?” Harry grimaced.

“Yes, dear?”

“We have a funeral tomorrow.” Harry turned to the governors. “Our birth mother, Eileen Snape died this last week and Lord Prince is having a service for her tomorrow at 11am in Appleby. Followed by the reading of her Will at Prince Manor.”

“Oh blast, I forgot.” Minerva grumbled.

The triplets shared a long speaking look.

“What if we were to meet later? Say 4pm. That would give attendee’s a chance to conduct any other business they may have or to arrange alternative times for other meetings. And if our discussions run later, we’re in the perfect place for dinner.” Hermione offered.

“It would.” Minerva agreed.

“In that case, it would probably be better to open the Reception Chamber’s floo and hold all discussions in the Great Hall.” Lady Marchbanks suggested.

Hermione, Harry and Severus exchanged glances before looking to Minerva, who sighed and nodded. Sirius shared an amused look with Remus, seeing the unflappable Professor McGonagall sighing like a put-upon mother, was quite entertaining. Sirius in particular, was enjoying it.

“Thank you, Lady Marchbanks, that is a far more practical suggestion.” Minerva gave the woman a small smile.

The governor stood and gave either bows or curtsies to Minerva and her group. Parting comments were made and people began to wander out.

“I look forward to seeing just what you can do, Minerva.” Lady Marchbanks paused at the door and waited until the last governor left.

“Thank you, Griselda. There’s a lot to do.”

“There most certainly is. Heir Black? I wish to apologise. My lack of actions kept you in that foul place. I’m sorry I did nothing. I listened to the public and not my conscience.” Lady Marchbanks said. “The Wizengamot will be discussing reparations on Thursday. As you had completed both your Auror and Hit-Wizard training and had been in the field for at least six months, I am going to recommend that you receive back pay and an allowance, equivalent to that of an undercover Auror’s, for your time in Azkaban and also a failure-to-act payment, in regards your lack of trial. I do suggest you sue the pants off of Crouch. The flobberworm deserves it, he acted deliberately, he knew exactly what he was doing.” She didn’t wait to hear a response, but left quietly, gliding silently down the corridor.

The group left in the hospital ward looked at each other, expressions varying from resignation, to amusement, to disgust, to astonishment, to horror.

“Just when you though it could get any more complicated.” Severus muttered.

Hermione and Harry turned to him and began to smack about the shoulders.

“Don’t you say that…” Harry started.

“…you’ll jinx us.” Hermione added.

“Alright, alright, alright.” Severus tried batting them away, but it turned into a three-way smacking contest.

“Children!” Minerva shook her head, while Flitwick, Remus and Sirius just laughed.  The other professors relaxed at the sight of the new Headmistress chastising her children.

“Sorry, Máthair.” The three wore exaggeratedly innocent faces.

“Hmf…” She snorted, derisively. “Of course you are.”

“Minerva.” Flitwick chided.

“Never mind, Filius.” She waved at the part-goblin. “Harry, you and Severus help Sirius back to the house. Remus, would you and Hermione ask Poppy if she would care to join us?” She turned to the other professors. “I’ll see the rest of you tomorrow, please makes notes on any changes you feel would improve your subject or classroom… or the school in general. And would someone notify Mr Quirrell and Miss Babbling that they will need to be here tomorrow?” Minerva directed as she bustled the tiny professor out of the hospital.

 

“Why that…! Ooh he’s… I’ll… That… Argh!” Flitwick squawked.

Sirius, Severus and Remus watched in amusement as the little Charms Professor spluttered almost incoherently.

“That seems to be the general reaction, Filius.” Minerva sighed, they’d told him everything Dumbledore had done, including from Harry and Hermione’s other future.

Flitwick blinked in thought. “This is why the Wizengamot locked him into St Mungo's? Isn’t it? But… you couldn’t tell them all of this, surely?”

“No, we didn’t.” Hermione answered.

“We told Gringotts everything…” Harry added.

“… and they decided that they would only bring…” Severus went on.

“… charges that they knew they could prove…” Hermione added.

“… in the time available.” Severus ended.

Flitwick shuddered, but this time he was able to follow the trilateral comment.

“And what was that time?” Flitwick turned to Harry. “When did you arrive? Harry Potter died this morning, but you’ve been here… in this time… for a while. Albus wanted to hold the staff meeting Friday, but Minerva told Albus Thursday that Severus was staying with his brother, you. So, the meeting got bumped til today.”

“Wednesday, fractionally after midnight. Hermione arrived on Friday.” Harry answered.

“So Ragnok and Bogrod have only had since Wednesday to find their evidence?”

“No, only since Thursday evening.” Harry grinned.

“Thursday evening. Four and a half days.” Flitwick mused. “I wonder what they would have found if you’d had more time?”

“Oh, a crap load.” Harry smirked.

“Just because Dumbledore is in St Mungo's, don’t expect Gringotts will stop.” Hermione warned.

“Someone, sometime is likely to want to release him and Gringotts want to make sure…” Severus said.

“… when that happens, that they have enough evidence to get him locked away, again…” Harry continued.

“… for a very long time.” Hermione finished with a smirk.

“Miss Minnie? The goblinsy’s boxy is glowing agin.” Dalli walked into the room and placed the chest on an end table beside Minerva.

“Thank you Dalli.” Minerva responded and the little elf, with her pretty red and gold puffskein on her shoulder, dipped a curtsy and popped away. “Let’s see what Gringotts have for us now, shall we?” She tapped the sigil with her wand, opened the chest and retrieved a thin bundle of papers.

“Right then.” She studied the short letter from Bogrod. “A number of the members of the Wizengamot have made suggestions about new classes. There is a list of victims that will be receiving payment from Dumbledore’s estate. A reminder for Severus and Sirius that both of them have yet to collect their Heir rings and a recommendation to do that before the funeral, tomorrow. And… a request from Lord Black to meet with Harry in regards… oh.”

“Máthair?”

“Lord Black is requesting a meeting with Lord Harrington in regards Sirius being taken into his House.” Minerva looked at Harry. “What exactly did Lord Black say to you and what exactly did you say in reply?”

“Ah…?”

“I think, Henrick Snape-Urquart, I need to see the memory of that conversation. Now.” Minerva didn’t snap, but Harry still jumped.

“Yes, Máth-”

“Wait!” Hermione cut in. “Perhaps, if Harry doesn’t mind, we should all view the conversation.” She paused. “Just in case you’ve done or said something stupid.”

“Mione…” Harry groaned.

“It won’t be the first time, Harry.” She growled. “It won’t even be the second, or the third, or the fourth, or-” Severus placed a hand over her mouth.

“We get the picture, sis.” He grinned to edge of his words and action.

“Hmf…” She huffed.

“Alright…” Harry muttered. “Enough with the lectures. I have no idea what I could have said that earned Máthair’s reaction, so yeah, a little help would be good.” The others all nodded. “But Sirius is on a magic ban, so… Máthair? Have you got a pensieve?”

“I do. Wait on, while I go and get it.” Minerva left the room and returned, pushing a floating bowl in front of her. “You’re very lucky, you know. This was Stone’s retirement gift from the DMLE. It’s a projection pensieve.”

“Oh, good, then we can all watch.” Filius chirped.

Harry thought carefully about the room in St Mungo's, about watching as the healers assessed Sirius, then he focused on Lord Black. The older man glancing at him from where he stood with Remus and Harry’s family. The man’s shoulders tightening before he began to move. Harry raised his wand to his forehead and drew a slender strand of a silvery threadlike substance  from his temple. The thread clung to the tip of Harry’s wand and slowly he lowered it to the surface of the pensieve. The thread seemed to dissolve into a oily slick that spread itself across the surface, when the entire surface shimmered, Harry stepped back.

“There you are.” He nodded. “Ready, Máthair.”

“Thank you, Harry.” Her voice was much softer, now. She tapped her wand in a set order to a set group of runes and the seven watched as the room around them altered.

Superimposed over Minerva’s sitting room, the ghostly pale walls of St Mungo's appeared. On a hospital-style bed lay the faintly shimmering form of Sirius Black, being looked over be the equally shimmery forms of two healers. In a corner stood Remus, Severus, Hermione, Minerva and Lord Black, while Harry stood on the other side of the room, separated from his family by the bed and the healers.

The watchers saw Lord Black glance at Harry before walking towards him.

“Master Snape-Urquart?” The memory of Lord Black said, as he approached Harry.

“Lord Black.” Harry replied, bowing his head slightly.

“Listening to the goblin in the Wizengamot, am I correct in assuming that it was you… and your siblings… that are responsible for Gringotts contacting me in regards to Sirius and his… situation?”

Harry frowned slightly and studied Arcturus Black while he had a fast, silent conversation with Severus and Hermione. He wasn’t terribly pleased with the outcome, but he understood their reasoning.

“It was.”

“Might I ask how you became aware of the information you have?”

“I was present when the discussion to switch Keeper was held.” That was true, even if he had only been 12 months old.

“Then why did you not come forward sooner?” Lord Black asked, frowning.

“That’s a long and complicated tale.”

“Give me the short version, then.” Lord Black was adamant he be told.

Harry sighed. “Alright. Are you familiar with…”

The watchers listened as Harry told Lord Black a tale. Everything he said was true, but grouped together as it was, told a very different tale than what had actually happened.

“So, what now?” Black sighed. “With Sirius, I mean?”

“Since I was 13 years old, Sirius has been the singular most important person in my life. Everything I did at school, I compared to him… and his friends. Outside of school, what he taught me saved my life, many times in fact.”

“I see.” Black had a contemplative look on his face.

“Sirius asked if he could come with us, I said ‘yes’, assuming that the healers release him.”

“You would take my Heir into your house?” The way Black phrased that puzzled Harry.

“I would.”

“Good. I’ll permit him to go with you, but I will be meeting with you to discuss the matter further, at a later date.”

“Alright.” There was definitely something Harry was missing, but for the life of him, he couldn’t work out what.

“I bid you, good day, Master Snape-Urquart.” Lord Black bowed to Harry and nodded to the others in the room and left.

Hermione hurried over. “Well?”

The ghostly walls faded and the warm woods of the sitting room re-appeared. The seven looked at each other. Remus and Hermione began to laugh. Filius and Severus looked just as confused as Harry.

“What?” Harry asked. “What’s so funny? Mione? Remus?”

Beside Harry, Sirius sat quietly, he knew what had happened, but he had no idea how to react. There was no way he was going to be the one to tell Harry, no way. He didn’t want to lose what he had… and telling Harry might do that.

“Oh, Harry…” Minerva sighed.

“Máthair? What? What?”” Harry was getting worried now.

“Harry…” Minerva didn’t know what to tell him.

“Máthair, please?”

“Harry… you… you just agreed to enter negotiations.” Minerva answered, delicately.

“Negotiations?” Harry asked.

“Yes, dear.”

“Negotiations?” He asked again.

“Yes…”

“Negotiations for what?!” Harry yelled.

He was met with silence. Six sets of eyes looked at him.

“Negotiations… negotiations for either a marriage or a courtship.” Minerva answered.

Harry’s jaw fell and he just looked at the only positive mother-figure he’d ever had. He fell back in his seat and groaned, he hands sliding up and grasping at his hair. His fingers pulled and he muttered obscenities in as many languages as he knew. Then suddenly he sat upright, rigid.

“Sirius? I’m sorry. I’ll talk to your grandfather, he should have spoken to you, he shouldn’t have kept this from you…” Harry kept apologising and repeating that he’d talk to Lord Black.

“Hey!” Sirius smacked Harry with a pillow to get his attention. “I don’t mind.” He said. “If you don’t like it, we can talk to him. But…” Sirius took a deep breath. “Strout and Standish… they said that… Azkaban damaged me… physically. I can’t… I can’t have kids.” He hung his head before continuing. “I can’t have kids, so I’d have to adopt, anyway. That’s why grandfather’s not trying to marry me off to some pureblood Heiress. Plus, you’re a Lord, he saw your Lordship ring and Heir ring, so…” Sirius trailed off.

“And you’re okay with this?” Severus asked.

“I… I feel… I feel safe with Harry. He’s family. James was like a brother. Lily, like a sister. Harry’snot James and he’s not Lily, but is connected to them. He saw that other Sirius, the me that spent a decade in Azkaban, the me that didn’t get help, the me that saw James as much as he saw Harry. Harry saw that me as a uncle/friend/mentor. But that’s not me. I got help. I’m getting help. And… and I don’t see Harry as James, he’s not, he’s Harry and I think seeing everything he went through, helped that. I watched him grow up, watched him become who he is. In a way, I was there beside him, I saw everything, every high, every low. He showed me things that I doubt anyone else…” he paused, “… except maybe Hermione and Severus… I doubt anyone else has ever seen or knows about Harry.”

“Padfoot?” Remus asked. “What do you see when you look at Harry? Do you see your godson?”

“No. He’s Harry, he’s Hermione and Severus’ brother, he’s Lord of a House, don’t ask me which one, cause I don’t know the crests, I didn’t pay attention when Fleamont taught James. Harry’s not a child, he’s not Prongslet, but I can see Prongslet in him, a Prongslet that grew up. And cause I saw him grow up, I see him as an adult.” Sirius’ eyes sparkled mischievously. “And he grew up nice.”

Remus choked on his breath. “Padfoot!” He squawked, causing Sirius to laugh. A Sirius that was carefully not looking at Harry.

“Sirius?” Harry asked quietly. And a little formally. “Are you saying that, if I meet with Lord Black and formally complete a contract, that you would abide by that contract? That you would allow your grandfather to decide your husband?”

These two questions generated at roar of noise, Hermione and Severus were indignant that Sirius grandfather would try and force him to marry. Minerva and Filius furious that Lord Black would do this now, while Sirius was so vulnerable. Remus was leaning back against his seat laughing, Sirius Black was being married off and it didn’t appear that he was objecting.

Sirius whispered something that only Harry heard.

“Sirius Orion Black, would you do me the honour of becoming my husband?” Harry asked, silencing the room.

 

Chapter Text

The Burrow looked the same. That struck Harry hard, no idea why, but he’d expected it to look different. Lights blazed from the downstairs windows, the kitchen in particular.

Harry and Hermione crept closer, both thankful that they were Animagi, as the Burrow’s wards wouldn’t block their way in animal form. In the shadows of the twisted house, on the opposite side to the kitchen, the siblings had a silent discussion and Harry morphed back into his human-shape.

Expecto Patronum.” He whispered. A wisp of white appeared, slowly it pooled and formed the shape of a small stag. “Message to the Chess-Master. ‘The Mad Seeker moves to safe 2, Chess-Master’s move.’ End message. Wait 2 minutes and deliver.” Harry said. “Mione? You’d best get into position.”

Hermione nodded and still in her panther form, slunk away into the shadows. Two minutes later, Harry heard his patronus enter the Burrow. Well, not the patronus, per say, but the silence it caused. He also clearly heard it speak, his message falling into a silent room.

At the same time, Harry was no longer on the ground, he’d pulled a shrunken broom from a pocket, enlarged and mounted it. Now, he floated outside Percy’s room. A wordless and wandless ‘alohomora’ and the lightless window snicked open. He drifted closer and reached out a hand to snag the window sill. Easing the window open, Harry raised his wand and tapped his eyes, whispering a charm, qua noctus’  and the world went green. Instead of colours, everything was different shades of green, from bright lemon green, right down to a deep forest green that was almost black.

What it also did, was to let Harry clearly see the interior of the room. From the window’s point of view, Percy’s bed was on the left, while his cupboard and shelves were on the right. Directly under the window was his desk, already it was showing signs of Percy’s need for order. Quietly, Harry wondered, how much of that need for order, came from having the twins as brothers?

But what Harry was relieved to see, was a simple pet cage… with it’s occupant. The fat rat lay unconcernedly snoozing, unaware that his life of leisure was over. A wordless-wandless ‘muffliato’ and Harry happily threw a stunning hex at the rat. He reached in through the window, opened the cage, lifted out the rat and shoved him into a conjured box. Sealing the box, he shoved it into his pocket. He studied the room and nodded. A quiet ‘finite’ and the muffling charm was lifted. He reached back through the window and closed the door of the cage without letting the lock catch. A quick shove and the cage slid from the desk to the floor with a crash.

A sudden silence downstairs, followed by a thunder of feet, told Harry his ploy had worked. He pushed away from the window and rose higher, all the way to the top and the highest window.

He waited patiently. If Ron understood his message, he would come into the room, without turning on the lights, if not…? Harry was just far enough away to not been seen.

It took time, he could hear the whole family in Percy’s room, could hear the distress of Percy at seeing the overturned cage, crumpled from just that small fall. Minutes passed and slowly calm came back into the lopsided house. Just listening to Molly Weasley as she ordered her family around, brought a sad smile to his face. Molly loved her family, there was no doubt, but love sometimes wasn’t enough.

Take Ginny, Molly was reading the little girl a Harry Potter story, already setting in motion her girl’s obsessive infatuation with the Boy-Who-Lived. But at the same time, Fred and George were just sent to their room and told to stay quiet.

But Ron’s door hadn’t opened. Percy’s muffled sobs tore at Harry, but he couldn’t leave Pettigrew free. He’d debated with Hermione getting another rat and transfiguring it into Scabbers, but he knew that a simple detection charm would alert someone to the fact that Scabbers had been changed, somehow. Instead they planned a windfall for the family, not large, but enough to ease the pressure of seven children and replace a missing pet.

Harry’s attention was brought back to Ron’s room when the door opened and the light flicked on. A tiny Ron stood in the doorway, his garishly bright Chuddley Cannons pyjamas catching the light and making the whole room look orange.

“Night, Daddy.” He yelled over his shoulder. “Tupid Percy, ‘tupid rat prob’ly jus runneded away.”

No, that wasn’t Harry and Hermione’s Ron. That was the Ron from here and now, not there and then.

Damn. Hermione was right and Harry was going to miss his best mate.

Harry eased the broom away from the house and back to the ground, he re-shrunk the broom and tucked it in the same pocket as the boxed rat. A deep breath and a furry shadow slunk away from the house. He met up with Hermione and a rumbling purr came from his throat as he nudged her with his head. The two black leopard/panthers eased through the house wards and the bordering hedgerow and into the adjacent fields, they crept along the hedgerow until they were certain that their apparating noise wouldn’t be heard. There the two lifted their heads, letting their human forms stand them back on two legs. They reached out and clasped hands and as one twisted away.

 

Seven people looked at the stunned rat. Four with utter loathing and three with disgust.

“What do we do with him, now?” Filius asked.

“I’m thinking… Lord Longbottom.” Harry answered.

“Longbottom? Why him?” Remus asked.

“He’s honest. And if we leave a note that states that Pettigrew was hiding, as a rat, with children…?”

“Ooh, he won’t like that.” Sirius smirked, he liked Harry’s ideas.

“Exactly.” Harry grinned. “He’ll bring down the wrath of the Wizengamot on the traitor.”

“And how, brother of mine, do you plan to get him to Longbottom?” Severus frowned.

“Gringotts, of course.”

“Gringotts are neutral in Wizarding affairs.” Filius warned.

“Yes, they are. But… All I’ll be asking them to do is to forward a parcel to another wizard. If I don’t tell them what’s in the box…?”

“Deniability.” Severus smirked.

“But won’t they know anyway?” Hermione asked.

“Of course. But if I don’t say the words…?”

“Oh… they can deny being told.” Hermione replied in surprise.

“Exactly.”

Six sets of eyes studied Harry, before six grins emerged and matched his.

 

 

Bogrod opened the message box from the McGonagall-Snape-Urquart-Black-Lupin group and saw a timber box. On the box was a note, short and concise.

Please forward to Lord Lawrence Longbottom.

Bogrod tilted his head and ran a hand over the box, turning it into clear glass. Inside the box was a cage and in the cage was a rat. Surely the rat was Pettigrew, so why were they sending it to Longbottom instead of the Aurors? Then, he saw a second note, this one tied to the cage inside the box.

Lord Longbottom,

This is Peter Pettigrew, the betrayer of the Potters. He was found by a boy in November 1981, in London. He’s been the family pet ever since. There is concern having such a person in close proximity to children not old enough to protect themselves against anything he may do.

The PawPack

Ah. That answered that. Longbottom was Chairman of Hogwarts’ Board of Governors and it was he, that was the most vocal in his demands for the school. Sending him Pettigrew and saying the rat had been around children? There was no chance that he would be allowed to escape punishment.

The goblin smirked and another wave and the box was timber again. He stood and carried the box from his office, down the hall and into an office with walls lined with shelves. One the shelves were more chests, just like the one in his office. He walked alongside the shelves, running his hand along the small plaques labelling each chest.

Longbottom, L&A.

That was the one. He placed the box he carried, on a table and retrieved the chest. He tapped the sigil with a silver-tipped fingernail and opened the lid, ensuring that it was empty and clean, he carefully placed the box inside the chest and closed the lid. A tap on the sigil followed by a tap on the Gringotts logo and the sigils flared, a quick lift of the lid to check the box was now empty and he slid it back into it’s niche on the shelf.

Bogrod exited the room and returned to his office, it was time to pack up for the night, he had an early morning appointment with Lord Prince before Eileen Snape’s service.

 

 

Dawn came and with came the Daily Prophet.

 

At the Burrow, Molly Weasley read the headlines and fell into her chair, causing all seven of her children and her husband to look at her in shock. Their shock was nothing compared to hers. Harry Potter was dead, found beaten and dumped in Fraction Alley.

“Oh, sweet Merlin.” She whispered.

“Molly?” her husband Arthur asked.

“The boy yesterday? The Prophet says… the Prophet says it was Harry Potter.” Molly managed to say.

Stunned silence met her words. Then an eruption of noise. After a minute of screams and yelling, Arthur raised his wand and fired off a silencing charm.

“Molly, please explain.” His voice was firm.

“The boy yesterday, the one in Fraction Alley? The Prophet says it was Harry Potter. It says… he’s… he’s dead.”

“Continue.”

Molly quickly read the rest of the article, there was no way she was going to read it, word-for-word, not to her children.

“He was beaten and starved before being dumped and left for dead. According to the Aurors, he was taken to St Mungo's, but died minutes later. The healers said his long-term injuries should have been fatal weeks ago, it was only his magic that was keeping him alive.”

“What else?” Somehow Arthur knew there was more, the Ministry had been too busy yesterday for that to have been all that happened.

“Sirius Black was brought to the Wizengamot for an emergency trial.”

“What?” Bill gasped. “But he’s-”

“Bill.” Arthur cut him off, reminding him that breakfast rules were in place. Molly read them the paper and no one commented until she laid it down.

“Lord Black approached the Wizengamot to get a copy of Sirius Black’s trial transcripts, intending to remove Sirius as Heir Black, only to find that Sirius had been denied a trial. An emergency session was called to try him. It appears that then Head of the DMLE, Bartemius Crouch Snr, had Sirius Black transported to Azkaban directly from the holding cells. The Wizengamot and the Unnamed both confirmed that neither Court, tried and sentenced the Hit-Wizard and Heir to an Ancient and Noble House.”

More gasps, but no one spoke.

“After Black’s trial, the DMLE brought the subject of Harry Potter’s death before the Wizengamot, details are not provided, but a number of members required the attendance of healers and… Oh, my…” She gasped, going pale.

“Molly?” Arthur held out a hand to her.

“Albus Dumbledore was one who was treated by the healers. They found that he’s got a… they called it a ‘mental disruption’ and as a result, he’s in St Mungo's.”

“Well…” Arthur stammered.

“The Wizengamot say that Dumbledore has been hiding his condition for years, decades. They suspect, but cannot prove, that the original injury occurred during the Grindelwald War and that the disruption has caused him to make some decisions that were not as benevolent as they seemed.”

“What’s benef- benevel-” Percy asked.

“Benevolent means good, well meaning.” Arthur answered. Questions about unknown words were always answered, regardless of rules.

“So… they mean he made a wrong decision?”

“Yes and no. In this case they mean that some of his decisions were not just wrong, but they were not intended to be good. That he meant them to be harmful, he just disguised them well.” Arthur explained.

Percy wanted to know more, but breakfast rules were still in place.

“He’s covered his mistakes well, but the healers and the Wizengamot are concerned that, with his age and the disruption, he’s becoming a danger to himself and to others. They say it was he that placed Harry Potter in an abusive home and made no effort to see to the boy’s safety. They were forced to remand him into St Mungo's care. St Mungo's Mind-healers after assessing Dumbledore, stated that he has been aware of his condition for years and had deliberately not sought treatment and that due to the time passed, they cannot heal the condition. The DMLE, the Wizengamot and St Mungo's jointly reached the decision to bind Dumbledore. They’ve used a Third Degree Binding. Body, Voice and Magic. He’ll stay in St Mungo's for the rest of his life. His estate has been seized and will be administered by Gringotts. The Wizengamot are encouraging those that think they may have been impacted by a decision of Dumbledore’s to go to Gringotts, the goblins will make an assessment and if and applicant is found to be a victim, then they will be compensated. One claim per person only and Gringotts decision is final, there’s no right of appeal.”

“What about Hogwarts, love?” Arthur asked.

“Minerva McGonagall is now Headmistress and is launching an investigation into the school. The Board of Governors, states that five new teachers have been hired and that all teachers, new and old, will receive an assessment of ability before school resumes, it’s likely that some teachers will be asked to leave and more will need to be hired. There will be a chunk of new classes… or rather, classes that Dumbledore removed are being returned. More details in the next few days. The Board does say that Hogwarts will send out an updated book list in the next week.” Molly laid the paper down and looked at her family.

Ron, Ginny, Fred and George just sat there, they have no understanding of what had happened. Percy was quiet, as always, there was no way of telling if he actually understood or not. Charlie and Bill were quietly talking about school, Bill looked up.

“You haven’t bought our books yet, have you, mum?” The eldest son asked.

“No, dear. Not all of them. Why do you ask?”

“If there’s new classes… it might change the books we need.”

“It might, son. We’ll wait until the end of next week, before we do anything.” Arthur agreed.

“Mum?” Ginny asked.

“Yes, Ginny?” Molly replied.

“Can we sent Harry Potter an invitation to my birthday?” The four year old asked.

“Oh, dear.” Molly sighed. “Ginny…” How was she going to explain that Harry Potter was dead and would never be able to go to anyone’s birthday ever again?

 

A hundred miles north-east, a man looked in alarm at an empty shelf. He quickly closed the cupboard and climbed a ladder from the hidden room, back into his study. He dropped down into a chair and wiped his hand through his platinum blonde hair.

“It’s gone. But how? There’s been no breach of the wards, no one has entered the room. How?” He muttered, suddenly he sat up. “Narcissa? Narcissa?” He called, knowing that his wife would be in the next room, which was set up as her reading room.

“Yes, Lucius?” She answered, stopping in the doorway.

“Narcissa I need you to go to Gringotts.” He said.

“Gringotts, Lucius? Is everything alright?”

“No, my dear, it is not.” He sighed. “I was given a book to guard. By… Him.” Narcissa caught her breath. “But it’s gone.”

“Gone?” She gasped.

“Gone.” Lucius replied. “But… the wards are intact. There’s been no breach. Only family can get in and the ward register… until today… other than myself, Bellatrix was the last to access the room. I need you to check her vault. He… He gave her a cup, remember, we were with her when she placed in the vault. That little niche up on the left, beside the bowl.”

“Yes, I recall. I’ll go straight after breakfast, Lucius.” She turned and went back into reading room.

“Thank you, my dear.” Lucius sighed and picked up the daily paper, only to drop it in shock.

“Lucius?” Narcissa had heard Lucius gasp and returned to see what had alarmed him.

“Nar-Narcissa…” He stammered. “Look.” He held the Prophet where they could both read it.

“Oh my…” Narcissa whispered.

“With Dumbledore locked up, the inner circle will be making noise about finding Him.”

“Lucius…? He’s dead, isn’t He?”

“I hope so, my dear, I truly hope so. That’s why we must protect the book and cup. He said they could bring him back, that they must never be destroyed. We have to keep them away from Avery and Carrow, we can’t take the chance that one of them knows how to return him.” Lucius was adamant.

“But He’s gone.” Narcissa repeated.

“Yes, he is. But without the book or the cup, we have no leverage within the circle, we’re helpless.”

“We are not helpless, Lucius. We may not have as many resources available to us as others do, but we are not helpless.” Narcissa was firm.

“Of course not, dear.” Lucius agreed.

“Good, please remember that. If we were to suggest the re-introduction of a few classes, do you think that might slow down the circle, enough to provide time for a more detailed stratagem?”

“It might, I’ll speak with Adelbert Rosier, we are to meet for luncheon in London, farm and stable business, I’m afraid. What classes were you thinking of?”

“Wizarding Customs, definitely. Maybe Business Management? Wizengamot Protocols, perhaps?”

“Hmm… best suggest a few non-muggle friendly ones, dear, we can tell the circle, the mix is to throw the muggleborns off balance.” Lucius suggested.

“So, Domestic Magics, then?”

“Yes. And things like… Academic Magics, Art Magics, Animagus, Curse-breaking. That sort of thing.”

“Things muggleborns are interested in, but cannot use in the muggle world?” Narcissa raised an eyebrow in question.

“Exactly, dearest. The Wizarding world needs the muggleborns, without them we cannot hope to retain our society, already the Statute is cracking, students return to the muggle world and show family what they’ve learnt. It has to stop. It only takes one person, showing someone they shouldn’t and the Statute will fall. And our world with it.” Lucius ranted.

“Then we’d best see what we can do to avoid that. Hadn’t we?” Narcissa’s voice was hard.

“Yes, dear.” Lucius answered quickly.

“Good. You meet with Adelbert and I’ll go to Gringotts immediately after breakfast. I’ll be home well before your meeting. Oh, do you think I might get a chance to meet with Lord Black or Andi? I miss my sister and Sirius was my favourite cousin and always will be.”

“My dear, even I would choose Sirius over Regulus and Adelbert’s horrors. Send a message them a message if you like, I’ve no objections.”

“Oh, come now, Lucius, you know full well that Felix is quite a pleasant young man.”

“And I’ve no idea how, not with Felicia as a mother.” Lucius muttered.

“Never mind, darling, Felicia prefers to spend Adelbert’s money in Paris, over playing mother. Will you take Draco for the morning? I’ve already told the elves to do the summer airing.” Narcissa asked.

“Of course, dear. There are two new foals in the stables, a Pegasus and an Abraxan. I thought I might introduce the Abraxans before they were large enough to scare him.”

“Are you having any success breeding pony-sized Pegasus?” Narcissa asked and the two discussed farm and stable until the elves called them for breakfast.

 

Andromeda Tonks read the article in the Prophet three times before she was satisfied that she wasn’t imagining things. Then she sat at the table in the breakfast nook and thought. Her husband and daughter watched and wondered what was running through her mind? Time passed, her husband Theodore stood, brushed a kiss across her oblivious forehead and shared a look with their daughter Nymphadora.

“I’ll stay with her, dad.” Dora assured her father.

“Thanks, lovey.” Ted Tonks kissed his daughter and left for work, not certain leaving was a good thing.

Dora stumbled her way into the kitchen and made another pot of tea, who knew how long Mum was going to sit there? Carefully rolling a trolley, with a fresh pot of tea and a platter of toast, back towards the table and her mother, Dora settled back down and began to read the paper. Maybe she could see what made Mum to go quiet?

The headlines caught her eye immediately.

Oh…

That might do it. Mum had been saying Cousin Sirius was innocent for as long as Dora could remember, but no one wanted to listen to a banished witch. But now that she was proven right, maybe Lord Black would listen to Mum about Aunt Bella.

The next headline brought Dora’s musing to a halt.

HARRY POTTER DEAD.

Beaten and Dumped.

Oh, gods above. Dora read the article and shuddered. A whimper came from her throat. A whimper that caught her mother attention.

“Dora? What…?” Andi refocused on the here and now and saw that her daughter was reading the Prophet. “Dora! Put it down, sweetling. You don’t need to see that.”

“Too late, mama.” Dora cried, tears running down her face. “How can someone do that? He’d done nothing to them.”

“I don’t know, dear, I don’t know. Dumbledore should have been keeping a weather eye on him, but-”

“… but he wasn’t, mama. The paper says that Dumbledore left him there on purpose and that he’s been stealing from the Potters’ vaults.”

“What?” Andi asked.

Dora didn’t answer, she just handed the paper back to her mother and pointed to the relevant section. Andi read the rest of the article and slumped in her seat.

“Oh, gods, it worse than I thought.” She moaned.

“Maybe not, mama.” Dora disagreed. “If Dumbledore did do what they said, then locking him up is good. Look as Hogwarts, mama. There’ll be new classes and new teachers. Students are going to be interested, they’re going to talk. Some will talk only in their House but others will be more interested in learning, they’ll talk to whoever will talk with them, regardless of House. And outside Hogwarts? The goblins are neutral, you told me that. The goblins are the ones handling this. If people think they were hurt by Dumbledore, they will go to the goblins. And it won’t just be people from the darker families, will it?”

There were days that Andi was sure that her daughter was much younger than her 13 years and then there were days like this… Where she showed an understanding beyond her years... A pity it never lasted long.

“No, dear, it won’t be.”

“There’s people like you and daddy… Dumbledore encouraged you to run away together, didn’t he?”

“Yes, he did.” Where was Dora going with this?

“And it was after you ran away that Lord Black banished you?”

“Yes…?”

“Are you certain he would have refused you, if you had approached him and asked if you could marry daddy?”

Andi’s first instinct was to say ‘yes, he would have’, but now she wasn’t so sure. It was Dumbledore that encourage her and Ted to elope, it was Dumbledore that told them that Lord Black would never allowed a daughter of House Black to marry a muggle. She didn’t wait around to find out if he could have been wrong.

“I… I’m not, not now. I was so certain, back then, but now? With this coming to light? No, I’m not certain anymore.” Andi sighed.

“So… you’re going to approach Gringotts, aren’t you?” Dora asked.

“Yes, I think we just might.”

“Cool, mama.” Dora hesitated. “Mama?”

“Yes, Dora?”

“Can I send a letter?”

“To whom, sweetling?”

“Well, I’m hoping I can get Bill Weasley to give me some flying lessons, I want to get better on a broom. Last year Madam Hooch told Professor Sprout that I shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a broom, but Professor Sprout said that if I had some lessons, I might be alright.”

“Broom lessons?”

“Yes’em. Plus… maybe get him to tutor me for Runes?” Dora added.

“Runes?” Andi’s brows rose. “Really?” Dora blushed. “I didn’t think you had any interest in Ancient Runes, Dora?”

“Um… I… If there’s new classes… I thought Runes might help, give me a chance at understanding earlier.” Dora muttered.

“I’ll okay the broom lessons, for now. But until we know what the new classes are, I think trying to get ahead on them is a little pointless.”

“Oh… Okay.” Dora shrugged. “So, I can write to Bill and Charlie?”

“Charlie? Who’s Charlie?”

“Bill’s brother, mama, Charlie’s in my year and he’s on the quidditch team, it was his idea to ask Bill for lessons. He’s better on a broom than Bill, but he doesn’t think his mother would let him give lessons, so he suggested Bill.”

Andi shook her head. “Why don’t you write to Charlie and ask him to get his mother to give me a floo-call? I’ll talk to Mrs Weasley and we’ll work out which is the best way to go.” Andi paused. “Unless… you’d prefer one of the boys over the other?” She asked trying not smirk or tease.

Dora gnawed on her lip for a few seconds. “Um…” She made a pained sound. “Um… Bill’s okay, but Charlie’s… Charlie’s so good, mama. He can fly rings around everyone else at school. He’s the best.” She finished on a whisper, her cheeks pink.

“Alright, Dora. You write to Charlie and when Mrs Weasley calls, I’ll try my best to get her to let Charlie give you lessons.” Andi grinned as Dora squealed and leaped from her seat to give her mother a hug.

“Thank you, mama, thank you!”

“What do you plan to do with your new ability to fly?”

“Nothing, I just don’t want to get left out, because I keep crashing into things.” Dora muttered.

“Dora… You know the lack of co-ordination is from being a metamorphmagus, right? Didn’t I tell you how to fix that?”

“But, mama… I don’t like being tall, I’m the tallest in my year and I don’t like it.” Dora whined.

“I know, darling, I know… but changing you height dramatically in a short amount of time is going to affect your inner ear. You need to drop the changes for a couple of days…” she held up a hand as Dora protested, “… wait! Let your system settle, then make a small change each morning, let it settle for the rest of the day, before you make another small change the following day.”

“…oh…” Dora breathed.

“Now for height… you can’t do more than a half inch a day, Dora. And I suggest that you either leave your hair alone… or… set the changes at the scalp instead of changing your hair.”

“So, I could change the colour of my hair slowly and I wouldn’t get the headaches?”

“Oh, darling, you should never have headaches from morphing. If you do, it means you’re changing too many things, in too short a timeframe.”

“Oh, okay.” Dora thought about that.

As Andi watched, the garish purple of Dora’s hair faded to her natural burnished gold and her eyes lost their brilliant purple and settled as a softer blue-grey, the typical eye colour of the Black’s.

“I forgotten…” She whispered. “You have the Black eyes, darling.”

“I have what…?”

“The Black eyes. The Black Family are renowned for their blue-grey eyes. Sirius’ were the colour of polished steel, but you, my darling, you have eyes the colour of an ocean storm.” Andi smiled gently.

“Oh, mama.” Dora grimaced.

“Never-mind, darling. You write your letter, while I write to Lord Black.” Andi smiled and waved her wand, summoning parchment, ink and quills.

Dora hoped that Lord Black would welcome them back into the family, then mama wouldn't have to sneak around to see Uncle Sirius and Dora liked Uncle Sirius, he played with her in his Animagus form.

 

Augusta Longbottom sat at her son’s bedside and read him the day’s news. She kept her voice calm and even, not even her face showed the anger that she felt. Lawrence had returned home last night and told her everything. From Dumbledore’s actions, to Black’s emergency trial, to Potter’s death. He then made it very clear that Augusta’s brother Algernon was not welcome at Longbottom manor. When Augusta questioned the decision, Lawrence told her of Algie’s actions to try and prove whether or not, their grandson Neville was a squib. The poor boy had been dropped from a window in an effort to make him display accidental magic.

Like Lawrence, she wasn’t tolerating that. No one, but no one, hurt her family and got away with it. Algernon would remember that, soon enough.

For now, she would visit her son and daughter-in-law and read them the daily news.

Halfway through, Frank and Alice were both restless, moving around, hands opening and closing while their eyes darted here and there.

“They’re quite restless today, Madam Longbottom.” A healer’s aid commented.

“Yes, they are. I wonder how much of what I say, they actually hear, how much they understand?”

“I don’t know, ma'am. Healer Standish says that they hear more that we think, but likely understand less than we hope. But everyone has good days and bad days, ma'am.” The young witch replied.

“They do. I think today is not a good day for Frank and Alice.” Augusta mused, as Alice pushed yet another candy wrapped into Augusta’s hand.

 

Lord Black stared down at the parchment on his desk. What to write? Was Henrick Snape-Urquart really Henrick, Lord of House Harrington? Were they the same person? He'd sent off a request for a formal meeting and now he suddenly had the thought that maybe they weren't one-and-the-same.

He hummed in thought before penning a quick note to Gringotts. He could write up a draft ready to discuss with Sirius and Henrick. But what to include? Children? That would mean that they would have to adopt. Was that practical? More to the point, was it something they would be interested in? Perhaps it should be noted, as a subject to debate further. One thing for certain, Sirius would have to name an heir, there was no way Arcturus was letting Narcissa’s son be Lord Malfoy and Lord Black.

 

Lord Prince paced back and forth. Would his grandson be wearing the Heir ring? What is he like? And the two new siblings? He was most surprised that Gringotts notified him that Eileen and her muggle husband had given blood for Blood Adoptions and he was more surprised to be told that those Adoptions were done after multi-blood masking adoptions, making Eileen and Snape, their listed parents. What drove the two young people to the point where they would take Snape as a parent? What must their lives have been like? How old were they when they made that decision? How many people knew about it?

A clock chimed and drew his attention, he blinked at in confusion. Was that the time? He’d been pacing, lost in his wondering for almost an hour. It was now 9.30am, he had to be at the chapel by 9.45am, he needed to get a move on. Thank heavens for portkeys.

 

The chapel was small, but light and airy, beams of summer sun lighting up the stained glass windows. Jewels of colour pooled on the floor, filling the space with a rainbow of warm light. Nathaniel Prince was reminded of Eileen’s love of colour, a smile graced his face as an image of his daughter as a small child, a bout of accidental magic had left the girl’s wardrobe looking like a riot of flowers had taken over the space.

The sound of a footstep had him looking up.

The three young people stood shoulder to shoulder, their emerald green robes highlighting the streaks of pale ginger in their otherwise black hair. As they got closer, Nathaniel saw the young woman’s jaw was the same shape as Eileen's and the two men shared his broad shoulders and long legs. Thank goodness they weren’t identical, that would make life even more confusing.

The three glanced at each other, before Severus stepped forward.

“Grandfather?” He asked.

“Yes, Severus.” Nathaniel came forward and held out a hand, unsure of whether or not to ask more. “Would you introduce your siblings? Please?”

“Of course, grandfather. My sister, Hermione Isobel Snape-Urquart, Heir Enthwaite.” Hermione stepped forward and curtsied to Nathaniel.

“Grandfather.” She said formally, giving a small curtsy.

“Hermione.” His mouth opened and closed, what should he say? “Thank you for coming, granddaughter.”

“And this is Henrick Oakley Snape-Urquart, Lord Harrington, our baby brother.” Severus nudged Harry towards Nathaniel.

“Hey Grampa.” Harry refused to be formal.

“Henrick.” Nathaniel’s throat was tight.

“Harry, Grampa.” Severus corrected. “Harry and Mione.”

“And Sev.” Harry and Hermione spoke together.

Nathaniel smiled. “And your friends?”

Harry stepped back. “This is our Adopted mother, Minerva McGonagall, Headmistress of Hogwarts.”

“Headmistress McGonagall, thank you for joining us.” Nathaniel bowed.

“Thank you for allowing my attendance, Lord Prince.” Minerva curtsied in response.

“This is Remus Lupin, a close friend that attended Hogwarts.”

“Lord Prince.” Remus used everything that Padfoot and Prongs had ever taught him about Pureblood formality.

“Mr Lupin. I’m pleased that my grandchildren have such strong support.” Nathaniel’s head dipped in acknowledgement.

“And lastly, this is Sirius Black, Heir of House Black.” Severus withheld the smirk that really wanted to show. “Harry will be meeting with Lord Black in the next week to negotiate their contract.”

Nathaniel blinked in surprise. “A contract? So soon? I understand that Heir Black was only removed from Azkaban yesterday?”

“Indeed, grandfather, but Harry sees no reason to dawdle.” Severus let the smirk out.

“Sev…” Hermione chided. “Be nice.”

“I am being nice, Mione. I’m finding it quite entertaining that the Sirius Black, renowned flirt and skirt-and-pant chaser, met his match. I’m finding it even more entertaining that Harry, our Harry, who’s completely oblivious to anyone’s interest, is that match.”

“Severus, enough, please?” Minerva sighed.

“Yes, Máthair.” Severus didn’t loose the smirk, however.

“Oh…” Nathaniel sighed, cutting Eileen from the family cost him far more than just a daughter. “Should I extend my congratulations, or should I wait for the formal notice? We have yet to finalise the members of House Prince.”

The three siblings shared a long speaking look, something that confused Nathaniel, but not Remus, Sirius or Minerva. After almost a minute, the three nodded and turned back to Nathaniel.

“Whichever you prefer, grandfather.” Hermione began.

“Your note stated that you returned mother…” Severus continued.

“… to House Prince in ’78.” Harry added.

“We consider that to mean…” Hermione took up.

“…that since then, we have…” Severus went on.

“…been members of…” Harry trailed off.

“…the House of Prince.” All three said together.

Nathaniel’s eye widened in surprise.

“Yeah, they do that.” Sirius just grinned, reaching out and swatting at Harry’s arm. “Take no notice, just assume that it’s all one sentence, coming from one mouth.”

Nathaniel spluttered for a moment. “I… I shall do my best.” He said, then hesitated before asking. “How…? How do they do it?”

“The trilateral thing?” Sirius asked.

“The way they spoke.” Nathaniel wasn’t sure that he and Sirius were talking about he same thing.

“Minerva labelled it trilateral speaking. Something to do with being mind-linked, we think.” Sirius shrugged. “You get used to it.” He assured the older wizard.

“I see…” Nathaniel trailed off.

“Huh hem.” A  throat was cleared and Nathaniel turned to the elderly minister.

“Of course, Vicar. My apologies.” He turned back to Severus and his companions. “Shall we make our way inside? I did tell Vicar Hopwell, 10am and it’s past that, now.” He gestured to the chapel.

“Of course, grandfather.” Severus nodded and as one, the triplets stepped forward.

Nathaniel lead the way and the small group followed him, first Severus, Hermione and Harry, then Minerva and Sirius with Remus behind them.

 

Sitting in Nathaniel’s office some three hours later, Harry listened as Severus agreed that he needed tutoring in how to administer to an Ancient and Noble House.

“Grandpa?”

“Yes, Harry?” Nathaniel asked.

“I’m the head of House Harrington and… I think I need to know exactly what that means.”

“I would say that you do.”

“But…”

“But..?”

“But… can it wait a few months? It’s just… We’re due to start at Hogwarts in less than a month. And we promised Máthair that we’d be there to help her get the changes in place.”

“Ah…”

“So while we definitely agree that we need extra training, can we wait until we get the school settled?”

“Ah. I see. Well, I think that could work. I’ll make some notes on what we should cover and if we plan an approximate start date? As long as we stay in contact I see no reason we can’t wait until, say… November?” Nathaniel frowned. “However, Harry, Sirius? I would like to be present when you meet with Lord Black. Betrothal and marriage contracts are delicate things and I would not like to see your contract voided, due to error, omission, coercion or even worse to be broken due to someone’s actions or inactions. Let’s not have that happen. Yes?”

Sirius and Harry exchanged alarmed looks.

“Definitely!” Said Harry.

“Agreed!” Said Sirius.

“Good. So, shall we have some lunch?” Nathaniel asked.

“That sounds like a good idea, Grandpa.” Harry chirped.

Once they’d gathered at the dining table, Nathaniel looked around the table, it had been so long since there had been more than just he, eating here.

“Can… Can I ask? The adoptions? What caused Eileen and Snape to adopt you?”

“They didn’t.” The triplets all said.

“I’m sorry?”

“They didn’t. I did.” Severus corrected. “I went to mother and… father and… Basically, I blackmailed them into it, grandfather. Father was already ill, drink and tobacco have affected him for years, more and more as he got older, combine that with a poor diet and hard manual labour? He's been dying for a few years, now. When I was called to Gringotts… at first I had no intention of helping, but after viewing hours of memories, that changed. When Gringotts raised the subject of masking adoptions, it was my idea to make my parents provide blood for full Blood Adoptions. It was also I, that suggested the Máthair and her late husband also adopt the three of us.”

“Blackmail?” What?

“Indeed. I told father that if he and mother provided enough blood for Blood Adoptions, that I would agree to never go near them again, but that if he refused, and father was the only one that would, that I would be knocking on their door every single day for the rest of his miserable life.”

“Whoa…” Sirius gasped. “And I thought my parents were bad.”

“Needless to say, father agreed.” Severus smirked.

“I see. That makes more sense.” Nathaniel mused.

“Yes.” Agreed Severus. “After being offered adoption, both Harry and Hermione needed to undergo aging rituals.”

“Aging? Why?”

“They were younger than I am. Enough that without an aging ritual, the adoptions would have made them my much younger siblings. The aging rituals were very carefully crafted, grandfather, we had decided before we began that we would be triplets. We’d spent some time discussing a back history.” Severus paused.

“We were young, grandpa, but we weren’t stupid. We knew we needed a secure past.” Harry added.

“Can you tell me anything about your… real… past?” Nathaniel asked.

The three had a silent conversation, before Harry sighed and nodded.

“Grandfather, what we tell you, must remain secret, you understand?” Hermione demanded. “We were younger than Severus, Sirius, Remus and James. By a fair amount.” But she made sure not to say just how much. “I was a muggleborn, my parents loved me, they wanted the best for me, but they knew no limits as to what that best was and how to provide it. Especially, once I received my Hogwarts letter. Dumbledore approached them soon after my sorting into Gryffindor and offered money, access to books, extra lessons and permissions… if I would spy for him. Remember James Potter was also a Gryffindor. I would get preferential treatment in exchange for detailing Potter’s activities.” She didn’t say which Potter, though. “Now, before you get upset, I wasn’t told anything about this agreement. It was between the Headmaster and my parents. All I knew was that my parents would ask questions about my housemates and enough of those questions were about other people that I never guessed what was happening.”

“Whereas I? I was a halfblood.” Harry told his new grandfather. “My father was the heir to an Ancient and Noble House and my mother was a muggleborn. They were killed when I was a baby and I was sent to live with my mother’s muggle sister. Not a good thing. She hated my mother and anything magical, her husband was even worse. My life was a living hell. Getting my letter gave me a reprieve, at least during the school year, but summer holidays were… bad. I was starved and beaten and every year Dumbledore would make me return, he refused to acknowledge that it wasn’t a safe environment. At the end of our 6th year, the war exploded.”

“There was an attack at a wedding that Harry and I were at. We’d been kind of expecting it and had planned accordingly. We went on the run.” Hermione picked up. “We spent the next eight and a bit months, running, hiding in tents. Scared to contact anyone.”

“It wasn’t a pleasant time.” Harry added quietly.

“When the war ended, our lives continued, but it was hard. I studied and studied. I was terrified of being back in the same situation and not being able to protect myself.” Hermoine whispered.

“And I went into the ministry.” Harry added. “Even after the war ended and we were still expecting it to erupt again. Still ready to run at any second, trusting no one. Dumbledore did the victims no favours when he started extolling the virtues of forgiveness.”

“So when Harry suggested Gringotts? It didn’t take a lot to convince me. Asking for their help wasn’t easy, but the results are well worth it.” Hermione said.

“I see.” Nathaniel replied sadly. “And what did you decide on for a public history?”

Both Harry and Hermione beamed at him.

“We’re saying that as we are mind-linked triplets…” Harry started

 “…that’s a bi-product of the adoptions, by the way…” Hermione cut in.

“As we are mind-linked, it was decided to separate us…” Harry started again.

“… Sev, is eldest, so he went to Hogwarts.” Hermione added.

“Then Hermione was treated like a muggleborn…” Harry continued.

“…and educated at schools in England and Scotland.” Severus explained further.

“And Harry’s schooling was that of a…” Hermione said.

“… typical halfblood. Some muggle schooling and some magical.” Harry grinned.

“However, we all had private tutors.” Severus added.

“But with Voldemort-” Nathaniel shuddered when Harry said the Dark Lord’s name. “-gone, it was becoming safer for us. Publicly we agreed to be adopted by Máthair and Stone Urquart quite some time ago, but held off until Sev and I completed our second Mastery.”

“And that happened this last week.” Severus added.

“Second Mastery?”

“Yes. Sev and I both have Masteries in Potions and DADA.” Harry answered.

“Do you really? I mean.. did you before?”

“Oh, yes.” Harry grinned. “I got my DADA mastery the week before my 20th  birthday and sat for my Potions mastery two weeks ago.”

Again, they made sure to not say exactly when or how old they really were. Neither they, nor Gringotts were prepared to take that risk.

“And you, Hermione?”

“Ah, yes. I have more than the boys. Like I said, I was terrified of being in a similar position, so I spent as much of my time studying as I could. Sharing a house with Harry meant I was free to do was I pleased.”

“Your masteries?”

“Ah… DADA, Charms, Ancient Runes, Muggle Studies, History of Magic and Magical Theory.” Hermione answered, grimacing.

“DADA, Charms, Ancient… Oh my lord.” Nathaniel whispered.

“Yeah, Mione’s our over achiever.” Harry said fondly.

“Well… What comes next for the three of you?”

“Hogwarts.” The three said as one.

“We signed on yesterday.” Severus went on.

“Harry and Sev are sharing the DADA and Potions positions between them.” Hermione added.

“I’ll have the juniors for Potions and the seniors for DADA.” Harry explained.

“While I get the seniors for Potions and the juniors for DADA.” Severus continued.

“And I will be taking the Magical Theory post.” Hermione finished.

“And you gentlemen?” Nathaniel asked Sirius and Remus.

“Well, now that Dumbledore is gone, all the staff of Hogwarts will be receiving teaching assessments. And we feel it safe to assume that Binns, who is a ghost, will be dismissed. So, unofficially, Minerva has offered me the History of Magic position.” Remus offered. “While I don’t have a mastery in the subject, my OWLs and NEWTs are amongst the highest in the last forty years.”

“And you, Heir Black?”

“Sirius, please. Well, I’m going to concentrate on getting healthy. Mentally as well as physically. Long term? Not too sure, depends on my health and on Harry. But I doubt I’ll be going back to work as a Hit-Wizard, again. Minerva is going to try and bring back the Animagus class, that I could teach, even now.”

“Why do you say that?”

“I’m an Animagus. Unregistered... until yesterday, of course. That’s how I spent a far amount of my time in Azkaban. In my other form, I mean. And we learned the hard way, no teachers, no potions to show you your inner form, just trial and error on completing the shift.” Sirius shrugged.

“But in the immediate timeframe… we’ve a meeting with the Board of Governors this afternoon, to discuss teacher assessments and re-introduction of classes, their requirements and how to implement them.” Minerva added.

“I do not envy you, Headmistress.” Nathaniel shook his head.

Chapter Text

Minerva, Hermione, Harry and Severus entered the Great Hall to find that the Board of Governors were ready and waiting.

“Good afternoon.” Minerva said as she made her way to the staff table and the other professors sitting there.

A number of people greeted her by name and most either nodded or stood and bowed. Many curious looks were thrown at the three following her.

“Headmistress.” Lord Longbottom bowed as Minerva reached her seat.

“Lord Longbottom. I do hope you and the Board weren’t waiting long.” It was not a question.

“We decided to have an impromptu meeting, Headmistress. We thought we may be able to resolve a few issues before they became issues.”

“I see… and what did the Board decide on?”

“Well, firstly we unanimously voted that assessments are mandatory for all staff. Any staff member that does not wish to undertake said assessment is free to terminate their contract, with no penalties. However… any staff that agrees to the assessment and fails? Their contract will be considered broken and we will demand the harshest penalties possible.”

“Is this the order of the Board?” Professor Sinistra asked.

“It is.” Longbottom stated. “Further, we have a number of classes that we believe need to be reintroduced, immediately.”

“And some that we’d like to see in the near future.” Lord Rosier added.

“Let’s discuss classes recommended for the coming school year, first.” Professor Flitwick said.

“No, first should be the staff assessments.” Minerva corrected.

A few people nodded and others agreed verbally.

“Very well. Lady Angeline Devine, if you would?” Longbottom gestured to a witch, whom the day before had volunteered her time to assist Hogwarts.

“Thank you, Lord Longbottom.” Lady Devine unrolled a scroll of parchment and laid it out in front of herself, a quill and inkpot beside it. “Let me reiterate that all staff will undertake this assessment, the only alternative is cancellation of their contract. After much deliberation we, the Board that is, decided that this assessment had to happen independently. As such, we’re suggesting that each staff member be assessed, almost as though they were sitting their mastery of the subject they will be teaching.”

Professor Sinistra raised a hand in question. “Yesterday it was suggested that each person be assessed by five people, is that still likely to happen?”

“Yes. Two of the assessors will be Mastery assessors, one will be a teaching credentials assessor, one will be a business and time management assessor and the last will be a Hit-Wizard Field assessor.”

There were a few gasps from the gathered professors.

“Might we ask why the Hit-Wizard assessor in particular?” Silvanus Kettleburn, the CoMC professor asked.

“Quite simple really.” Lady Devine answered. “They regularly assess people on a number of things, some of which translate to what we need to know. How someone reacts in an emergency, how they interact with other people, how they document an incident, how they deal with stressful situations, how they deal with emotional people, to name but a few.”

“That sounds acceptable.” Minerva stated. “Does the Board have an estimated start time for these assessments?”

“We do, Headmistress. Mastery assessors will be here on Monday, these assessors will also provide a detailed position description, this may be used to advertise for a new teacher or for a current teacher to defend their actions, either to Hogwarts, to parents or to the Board. Any teacher that does not already have a Mastery in their given subject, may request formal a Mastery assessment. Tuesday will be for Madam Longleigh, the teaching credentials assessor from the ICW and her team. I understand that she will be bringing a team of five, she has asked us to locate a number of students that will be offered a one-day intensive workshop in a particular subject. Wednesday will be the Business and Time management assessments, again we approached the ICW and they offered help from their department, eight of them will be arriving here by 8am. Thursday and Friday will be for the remaining assessments and for any new staff that Hogwarts requires.”

“Thank you, Lady Devine. Will you be notifying students or would you like that to come from Hogwarts?”

“We believe a joint invitation would be best, to provide reassurance to parents.”

“Yes, I think so.” Minerva agreed.

“On to subjects. We’ve studied the list of current subjects and compiled a list of possible new subjects. But we felt it best to start completely afresh.”

“Continue…” Minerva replied slowly.

“Starting with the core subjects. We’d like the new core subjects to be Charms, Transfiguration, Muggle Studies, Wizarding Customs and Wizarding Law.”

“Might I ask why those?”

“We believe that they will form the basis of our children’s future. Yes, there will be other subjects for each year, but every year will have these five. As they progress the information will become more involved, more crucial.”

“If students are going to study Wizarding law, they should also be studying Muggle law.” Harry said.

“Why?” A governor seated towards the back of the group asked.

“Many of our students are muggleborn or muggle-raised. Some of the wizard-raised marry them, but when it comes to interacting with the muggle world, they’re completely at a loss. Their spouse may teach them the basics of muggle money, shopping and transportation, but rarely is law discussed. It doesn’t occur to the muggle-raised and the wizard-raised often assume that the muggles have the same laws wizards do. They don’t.” Hermione explained.

“If students learnt the basics, here at Hogwarts, many incidents that require obliviators wouldn’t happen.” Harry added.

“Not to mention, our students would have a better grounding if they decide to actually study law further.” Hermione continued. “As it is, less than one student currently enrolled at Hogwarts will go on to study law.” A few of the governors were startled at that.

“But if we’re only going to give them the basics, enough to know what applies and where, enough to know if they want to study further, then perhaps we could look at combining the two classes?” Lord Rosier asked.

Some of the governors looked at each other and nodded, while a number of the professors were doing much the same.

“Yes.” Minerva responded. “I think that might be more appropriate to a secondary education.”

“Very well.” Lady Devine made a note on her scroll. “So, we’re agreed? The five core subjects will be Charms, Transfiguration, Muggle Studies, Wizarding Customs and… And what shall we call the law class? Law is a unappealing word to young people…” Lady Devine trailed off.

“If I may…?” A voice from the rear of the room came. When people turned to look, Lucius Malfoy stood. “What if it were to be called Law and Administration? And covered not just muggle law and Wizarding law, but also a varied look at how both our governments work? Many of the youth of today will enter the ministry in the future, some will be our leaders, wouldn’t it benefit them… and us… for them to have at least some knowledge of how our government works?”

Lord Rosier nodded. “It would, indeed. I am forced to teach my sons at home and I know that many other families do the same. Combining law, legalities and government together and teaching it here, would assure parents that Hogwarts is looking to our students' distant futures, not just their immediate educations.” Nods and agreeable noises came from both governors and professors.

“Agreed.” Minerva said. “Charms, Transfiguration, Muggle Studies, Wizarding Customs and Law & Administration? Agreed?”

A show of wands and notes were made.

“Shall we go year by year?” Lady Devine asked. When all present agreed, she continued. “1st year. The five core classes, of course. Hmm… We thought a lighter study-load on the lower years, with classes that give an overview, enough that a student will know what they want to choose for electives for 4th year onwards. Anyway… 1st year. The five cores. Flying, of course and because of that, we’d like a Basic Healing course run alongside flying. CoMC, DADA, Herbology and History of Magic. Instead of Potions for 1st years, we’d prefer Ingredient Prep. Many students have no idea how to prepare their ingredients or even what ingredients cannot be used together.”

Eyes focused on Severus and Harry.

“That would take a lot of pressure off us. I don’t mind working with the juniors, but a lot of time is spent on prep work, having the class solely for that? I’ve no issues, but I would like to be able to do some brewing with them. If subjects aren’t cores, anymore, then we need to give students enough of an overview to tempt them into choosing their electives.” Harry said.

“Ah, perhaps a broader outline of what we intend?” Lord Longbottom asked.

“It might help us to plan a schedule, easier.” Minerva agreed.

“Oh… sorry, I was just leaping ahead, wasn’t I?” Lady Devine apologised. “Alright. Broadly, what we thought was to increase from seven school years to eight. Lady Marchbanks has spoken with the ICW and has suggested that we look to the ICW for our examination schedule. Having 1st year as a in depth introduction. 2nd and 3rd years as the foundation years. 4th and 5th where students choose their first lot of electives and the OWLs are sat at the end of 5th year. 6th and 7th years is more in depth with NEWTs at the end of 7th year. 8th year will be available to those that want to pick up a class they may have missed, to contribute towards an apprenticeship or as preparation for a Mastery.”

“In the case of some of the muggleborns… well some of them are orphans. We bring them here at 11 and let them go at 18. They have no home, other than Hogwarts, no income and for the most part, little job prospects, mostly due to not understanding the Wizarding culture and it’s customs.” Lord Longbottom added. “The Board plans to petition the Wizengamot to request funding for a new type of scholarship. A Life Scholarship.”

“Excuse me? A Life Scholarship? What for?” Quirrell asked, shyly.

“A Life Scholarship will enable a graduating student to live in the Wizarding world while applying for relevant employment. Most Muggle-raised students currently return to the muggle world, to their families. By the time they do, they are licenced to have and use a wand, within the limits of the Statute, of course. But the Statute had a blind spot, a spot that we’re trying to cover. Currently a student of 17 can use their wand at home, they can show their families what they’ve learnt at Hogwarts. The problem is that the Statute doesn’t cover those relatives, if a sibling gets married, the chances are that they’ll tell their spouse, but that spouse can’t tell their family. We need the muggle-raised to guard the Statute as well as the wizard-raised do.” Longbottom answered.

“And currently they don’t. Mostly because they haven’t been taught what can happen. History of Magic is taught by a ghost, for Merlin’s sake.” Lady Devine ranted.

“I can see we’re going to be working on this for quite some time.” Minerva sighed.

“No, Headmistress, not really. We’re not going to change things too dramatically. As Professor Snape-Urquart suggested yesterday, we’re going to work in stages.” Lady Devine collected herself. “Firstly testing of the staff. Secondly new classes, hiring and testing of the new staff. Thirdly, notifying the students and the businesses that supply them.”

“We’ll grant that there’s quite a lot involved in each stage, but each stage is separate and can be worked on separately.” Rosier stated.

“Alright, I’ll accept that.” Minerva nodded. “So first stage is scheduled?”

“Yes, ma'am. All we need to know is if any staff have decided to not face their assessment and leave.”

Minerva looked at the staff. “Well? Does anyone wish to break their contract?”

“Yes and no.” Silvanus Kettleburn waved to get Minerva’s attention. “I don’t want to break my contract, but I do wish to notify you that this will be my last year teaching. I want to enjoy the single limb I have left. I’d also like to suggest my replacement. Wilhelmina Grubbly-Plank has her Masters in CoMC and Warding. If Hogwarts could see their way to hiring her now, perhaps as a teaching assistant, that would be marvellous.”

“Mione, dear? Would you make a note on that?” Minerva asked.

“Of course, Máthair.” Hermione answered.

“No other takers?” Minerva addressed the staff again and was met with silence. “Thank you. I will however state this, Cuthbert Binns?”

A ghostly form floated near the staff table. “Yes, Headmistress?” A whispery voice was heard to ask.

“Cuthbert, you’ve been a credit to this school, but unfortunately the world outside these walls has moved on and you have not been able to take part in it. I would like to offer you the opportunity to retire and join the other ghosts of Hogwarts.” Minerva said.

“Yes…” The ghost replied. “I would like that.” With nothing more said the ghost turned and floated away through the nearest wall.

“It seems, Headmistress, that you are in need of a new History of Magic professor… Unless… Miss Snape-Urquart? Are you interested in transferring from Magical Theory to History?” Lady Devine asked.

“No, ma'am. I’ll stand by my original contract.” Hermione replied.

“Blast…” Lady Devine sighed.

“No, madam.” Minerva corrected. “In the past forty years, Hogwarts has had two students achieve perfect scores on their History NEWTs, plus another three who scored more than the equivalent of 98%. Those students are, firstly Jerome Hunter and Bellatrix Black-now-Lestrange. And secondly, Bartemius Crouch Jnr, Remus Lupin and the late Lily Evans-Potter.” The was a whispering from a few governors , they’d not known anyone had ever achieved perfect scores in the ghost’s subject. “As I am sure the Board are aware, Mr Hunter is now the History specialist to the ICW and Bellatrix Lestrange is serving a life sentence in Azkaban, alongside Bartemius Crouch Jnr. Lily Potter’s sacrifice is well known, so I shan’t have to elaborate on it. But Mr Lupin? Who here knows of Mr Lupin?” She paused. “Other than my Hogwarts colleagues, that is.”

Not one person responded positively.

“Well, Mr Lupin was Lily Potter’s study partner and was a close friend to James Potter and Sirius Black. Mr Lupin is the reason, I believe, that James and Sirius achieved the results they did, on both OWLs and NEWTs.”

“And you think he would be interested?” Longbottom asked. “Would you contact him? Ask him to come in and discuss the possibility?”

“Yes, I know he is. He has been a close friend to my children and at their request as been staying with us. This morning, I tentatively offered him the post, subject to the same conditions as all other teaching staff.”

“Oh, excellent.” Lady Devine sighed.

“Madam? Could you tell us which subjects are being reintroduced? And where?” Filius asked.

“Of course, sir. The core subjects will be Charms, Transfiguration, Muggle Studies, Wizarding Customs and Law & Administration. 1st through 7th years will sit these. Additional classes are… 1st years? CoMC, DADA, Flying, Healing, Herbology, History of Magic and Ingredient Prep. 2nd and 3rd years will be the same, but will also have Ancient Runes, Arithmancy and Astronomy. Please remember that 1st, 2nd and 3rd years may have more classes than you expected, but their study workload will actually be lighter than it currently is.” She placed a pair of parchments aside. “4th and 5th years will have the cores, plus Healing, History of Magic and Potions. And a number of electives.” A second pair of parchments join the others. “6th and 7th years will have the cores, plus electives. 8th year is solely chosen classes, they may choose any of the core or elective subjects.”

“And the electives? Are there many?”

“The list is quite long, in fact. Alchemy, Animagus Studies, Ancient Runes, Apparition, Arithmancy, Astronomy, Business Management, CoMC, Divination, Healing, Herbology, History of Magic, Magical Theory, Muggle Studies and Potions.” She smiled at the stunned looks on the professors’ faces. “Plus there are the usual extra-curricular study-groups that students may join if they wish. Choir, Muggle art, Muggle music, Orchestra, Ancient Studies, Ghoul Studies and Zylomancy.”

“That’s quite a list.” Professor Sinistra whispered.

“That’s just this year. Next year, we’d like to include Academic Magics, Art Magics, Curse-breaking, Magical Devices, Spell Structure, Warding and Wizengamot Protocol as outlines for 1st, 2nd and 3rd years and as electives for 4th year and up.”

“That’s going to increase the student’s workload considerably.” Minerva protested.

“Not really, Headmistress. It will take a lot of schedule twisting and a few extra staff, but what we plan is that, just for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd years, to counter the additional classes, they will study in blocks, per semester. For example, 1st semester they may study Healing and CoMC, but in 2nd semester it might be Herbology and Spell structure. Enough for a student to know if a subject interests them.”

“Yes…” Minerva hummed. “We’d probably need two teachers for each subject or at the very least a single teacher that can cover two subjects.”

“That’s what we anticipate, teachers hired specifically to teach the lower years, teachers that are proficient in more than one field.”

“That’s going to be a hard cast. Finding them, I mean.” Professor Vector warned.

“Yes, we believe it will be, that’s why for the next few years, the Board plan on hiring a number of part-time staff. We are open to suggestions, however. If you know of someone, that could teach one or more classes we are prepared to, at the very least, discuss positions with them.”

“I do.” Hermione waved her quill.

“Go on.” Lady Devine lifted her own quill ready to take notes.

“Sirius Black.” Hermione paused while people spluttered. “We all know he’s innocent of the accusations made against him. We all know that he spent years in Azkaban. We all know that he’s an Animagus. What most people don’t know is that Sirius spent most of his time in Azkaban in his Animagus form.” She glanced at Harry, who nodded. “The other thing that few people know is that Sirius and my brother Harry, are meeting with Lords Black and Prince, to negotiate a contract.” This was answered by even more spluttering. “Harry finally got the chance to ask Sirius to marry him. Sirius consented and will be joining Harry here at Hogwarts. Now for those of you who knew Sirius as a younger man, you know that a bored Sirius is a, quite frankly, dangerous Sirius. When he’s bored, pranks ensue.”

“Is he well enough to handle a class?” Longbottom asked.

“Not really. But that’s ideal, in this situation. Here, he will be under the experienced care of Madam Pomfrey, can walk a class through the theory of Animagi, until he’s given a clean bill of health by St Mungo's. The practical side of the subject is quite short and shouldn’t take any student very long. Any student with the capabilities that is.” Hermione reminded them.

“Plus, he can take the 6th and 7th years for Apparition, it’s not something the 8th years have to think about.” Severus added.

“And while these two classes are lower student numbers, there will eventually be three years studying them, so it should be enough to keep him occupied.” Harry grinned.

“And he would be more than capable of assisting or relieving a professor for Transfiguration, Charms and Astronomy.” Lady Marchbanks said. “He did, after all, score almost perfect NEWTs in all three subjects.”

Lord Longbottom, Lady Devine and Minerva exchanged speaking looks and all three nodded.

“Very well, we shall place Heir Black as professor, to be tested, for Animagus and Apparition, making certain that his assessors are aware of his current physical limitations.”

“We may to have to arrange something specific for Sirius.” Harry objected. “St Mungo's, currently have him on a magic ban, he’s to be assessed on Friday by Head Healer Strout. Until that point we won’t know when he will be allowed to do magic.”

“Ah… A note will be made and if someone will let Lady Devine know, we can make alternative arrangements.” Rosier replied.

“Does anyone else have a suggestion for staffing?” Lady Devine asked.

“I do, madam.” Lucius stood again.

“Continue.” Lady Devine pulled a clean sheet of parchment towards her.

“Actually I have a few suggestions. Firstly? Wizarding Customs? I would suggestion Andromeda Tonks nee Black.”

“Your reasoning, sir?” Professor Sprout asked.

“Quite simple. Madam Tonks was raised as a Daughter of House Black, she is the middle daughter of Cygnus and Druella and we all know how fanatical Cygnus and Walburga were about Pureblood society.”

“But she ran off with a muggleborn.” An unknown male governor objected.

“She did, Lord Fettling. Which puts her in a unique position.”

“How so?” Longbottom asked.

“She was a wizard-raised, who joined a muggleborn household. She will be able to relate to both the wizard-raised, as she was, and to the muggle-raised, because that’s how she lives now. She will also be able to phrase things in ways that both will understand.”

“Agreed, a unique position. Very well, the Board will contact Madam Tonks and offer her the opportunity. Whom else were you thinking of?” Lady Devine made notes.

“Healing. I would not like to increase madam Pomfrey’s workload, so thought maybe we could invite St Mungo's. Have some of their newly trained taking the lower years and perhaps some of those on medical leave to take the upper years.”

“Oh, that would definitely be good. Thank you, Heir Malfoy.” Lady Devine beamed.

“That is the type of thinking that will benefit House Malfoy when you become Lord, Lucius.” Rosier commented quietly. “How is your father?”

“Still with us, Adelbert. The healers believe he’s getting worse, they are preparing a petition to have him removed as Lord of House.”

“Well, for the sake of what remains of your finances, I hope it’s soon.” Longbottom added.

“As do I, sir.” Lucius sighed quietly, before speaking loud. “I’d also a thought about Business Management.”

“Yes?” Lady Devine looked up from her parchment.

“I’d wondered if the goblins might be interested?”

“Goblins?” Someone squawked. “You’d trust them with children?”

“Why not? We trust them with our gold, after all. Not everyone had children, but we all have gold. I fail to see the difference.” Lucius replied bluntly, causing a number of thoughtful mutters.

“How true, Heir Malfoy.” Minerva commented.

“Well, if they were to accept and provide goblins for classes, then we have only two positions unfilled… Alchemy and Law & Administration.” Lady Devine blinked in surprise as she checked her lists.

“Not quite, Lady Devine.” Minerva corrected. “I wish to continue teaching and as such, I request that a administration assistance is hired to deal with the paperwork involved in running our school.”

“But-”

“The alternative is having to find a new Transfiguration teacher…” Minerva smirked.

Rosier and Longbottom exchanged looks. “Finding an administration assistant is easier.” Longbottom sighed.

“It is.” Rosier agreed.

“So that still leaves us with Alchemy, Law & Admin and now, administration.” Lady Devine sighed. “Anyone?”

“Administration.” Lady Marchbanks said. “I had thought to mention Abigail Meadows for the Business Management post, but I agree with Heir Malfoy, the goblins are the most suited. Abigail has yet to complete her mastery, but I’ve been following her training and I do believe that her current mentor is hindering her. I would like Hogwarts to hire her, even if only temporarily. I believe she could be a significant asset, given a snidget’s worth of a chance.”

“That’s high praise coming from you, Griselda.” Longbottom offered.

“I believe she’s worth it.” Was the reply.

“Very well.” Minerva said. “Hogwarts will offer Miss Meadows our administration position. I suggest a trial period, to determine suitability.”

“Of course, Minerva. You won’t regret it, I assure you.” Lady Marchbanks smiled. “So, Alchemy? Are there any Alchemy students for this coming year?”

“Yes.” Minerva sighed. “Three of them, all 6th years. Felix Rosier,  Andrew Minden and Alyssa Wrenchly.”

“And who was supposed to be teaching them?” Rosier asked.

“Dumbledore was the only person on staff, who was qualified.” Minerva muttered loud enough for the governors to hear.

“That’s going to be an issue.” Rosier agreed.

“What about Flamel?” Harry asked.

“What? Who?” Rosier frowned as he spoke.

“Nicolas Flamel trained Dumbledore, he created the only known Philosopher’s Stone and worked with Dumbledore on a project in regards the uses of dragon’s blood in potions and alchemy.” Hermione explained, sharing a private smile with Harry.

“Do you think he’s be interested?” Rosier asked.

“Who know? But if he’s not, maybe he can refer us to someone that would be.” Harry shrugged.

“True enough.” Rosier nodded.

“Oh…” Lady Devine gasped.

“What?” Came from a few different people.

“Aloysius Hamilton.” Was all she said.

“Oh, of course!” Longbottom exclaimed. “Why didn’t we think of him earlier?”

“Who, may I ask, is Aloysius Hamilton?” Minerva replied sternly.

“Aloysius Hamilton was a law advisor to the Wizengamot.” Lady Devine started.

“He went into Magical Law straight out of Hogwarts and worked for Dunstone, Kettle and Atherton for ten years, before deciding to study Muggle Law.” Longbottom continued.

“Ten years of that and he said he was ‘bored’, so he took on the ministry.” Rosier added. “He was Leach’s Senior Undersecretary and stayed on for Jenkins and retired two years into Minchum’s term.”

“When did he retire?” Marchbanks asked.

“February ‘77” Longbottom and Rosier both said.

“Any objections to Mr Hamilton?” Minerva asked.

“No.”

“Nay.”

There were a number of replies.

“Alright then. That’s staff for this year. Tentatively speaking.” Minerva sighed in relief.

“On to the third stage. Notifying students, their families and the supplying businesses.” Lady Devine carefully placed a pile of parchments aside.

“Students and their families first, I think.” Minerva added.

There was still so much to plan...

 

 

That night brought a number of interesting conversations, in different households.

 

“Sirius? Can I speak with you?” Severus asked.

Sirius looked surprised. “Sure?” He shrugged. “What’s up?”

“Harry… and to a degree, Hermione, their memories have made me look at our school years differently. Objectively. It wasn’t pleasant.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean. It was a bit of a shock, yeah?”

“Yeah…” Severus sighed.

“Grandfather was furious, you know.” Sirius grinned. “At St Mungo's while I was being treated? He was steaming, I’m sure I saw smoke coming from his ears, he was so mad.”

“At you? Or Dumbledore?” Severus asked.

“Dumbledore, of course. More at the fact that he knew he had a problem and didn’t do something about it… and then he took a position where people, children, were dependent on his judgement, knowing his judgement was faulty.”

“I think that’s how most people are going to feel.”

“Yeah.” Sirius sighed. “You know grandfather told me that he wasn’t sure if the Wizengamot have done the right thing, by just binding him. Grandfather’s not sure he shouldn’t have demanded the old meddler be kissed.”

“Hermione said much the same, but Harry’s quite happy about it, he’d prefer this to the old goat being kissed.” Severus answered.

“Why?” Sirius tilted his head in response.

“He said being kissed would be over too quick. This way, Dumbledore will pay for what he’s done.” Severus said. “He’s planning something, but I’m not sure what.”

“It’s not like he can do anything, he can’t access his magic and he can’t talk, so convincing a healer to help him, ‘s not gonna wo..rk.” Sirius yawned.

“Not Dumbledore, Harry. Harry’s planning something. He sent a message to Bogrod asking him to get the details of Dumbledore’s room.”

“What’s running through that man’s head?” Sirius asked.

“I don’t know.” Severus looked at the man who was once his enemy. “If you figure it out… will you tell me?”

 

Andromeda Tonks read the letter delivered to her, by a Hogwarts owl.

“Ted?”

“Yes, dear?” Her very distracted husband replied.

“Hogwarts is changing.” Her tone caught his attention and he focused on what she’d said.

“Changing? How?” He asked.

“According to this, Hogwarts is introducing some new subjects, in total there’ll be almost 30 classes.”

“30?” Ted spluttered. “How the heck do the Board think Minerva’s going to manage that?”

“Well…” Andi re-read parts of the letter. “There are five core subjects. This year there will be sixteen electives and seven extra-curricular study groups. And another seven new subject to bring in next year.”

“Good heavens.” Ted flopped back in his seat.

“And… I’ve been offered a post…”

Ted sat forward, he knew that Andi had been knocked back and refused positions, simply because her husband was a muggleborn.

“Prof- Headmistress McGonagall… she’s offering me the Wizarding Customs post.” She frowned. “Apparently Lucius suggested me.”

“Lucius?”

“Yes.” Andi confirmed.

“Well, that letter from your sister probably has something to do with it. Are you going to open it?” Ted asked.

“I’m a little scared to, Ted.” Andi whispered.

“Alright.” Ted decided to change the subject. “What got Dora so bouncy?”

Andi laughed. “She asked me something this morning. She wants some broom lessons, she’s been left out of things because she’s not that good on a broom. She was talking about lessons with the Weasley boys.”

“Weasley?”

“Yes, dear. Initially she said Bill, but when I pushed, why Bill, she said that Charlie was the better flyer, but that he didn’t think their mother would allow him to tutor anyone. I suggested owling him and asking his mother to floo me.”

“Ah. And has she or is that still coming?” Ted asked.

“Oh, yes. Just before lunch, in fact. We decided to meet and discuss it.”

“So, is Dora-ble having lessons? And with whom?”

“Charlie with Bill supervising. Mostly because Bill has shown an interest in curse-breaking and as such the goblins suggested that he do basic first-aid and healing. But even Molly agreed that Charlie is the better of the two on a broom.”

“Should we be concerned about our... almost 13 year old daughter, spending time with 12 year and 14 year old boys?”

“Not yet. Oh, Dora’s beginning to show interest, particularly in Charlie, but neither boy is yet. Dora say Bill is focused on his school work almost to the exclusion of everything else and Charlie is focusing either on quidditch or dragons. Neither boy has shown any interest in anything else… yet.” Andi smirked.

“And you’ve given Dora the… talk?” Ted winced.

“Oh, yes. Before she started Hogwarts… and we have a little refresher chat over each holidays. No need to worry about that, dear.” Andi’s smirk grew. Ted might be a trained healer, but he still got embarrassed talking about ‘girly’ things.

“Oh, thank heavens.” He tilted his head and studied his wife. “So… are you going to take the post?” He frowned. “Will you have to live on site?”

“Yes, I think I will take it, or at least, I’ll take it until Dora’s finished there. And no, I don’t have to live in. Minerva’s got plenty of live in’s.”

“So, what’s involved in your class? And is Dora going to be taking it?”

 

 

“It’s not something we have to act on right now, Arthur.” Molly sighed. “But, this… situation with Harry Potter and Dumbledore… I want you to think about it. It could be… I need to do the best for our children, Arthur… and I think this might be.”

“Fostering them out is a big step, love.”

“I know, but… The case with Harry Potter? It’s made me think. I didn’t realise what I was doing.”

“Molly?” Arthur frowned. “What do you mean, ‘what you were doing’?”

“Bill… I’ve been pushing him towards the ministry, but I know that’s not what he wants to do. He wants to go into Curse-breaking or Warding, but I didn’t like it… still don’t, but now I see that I wasn’t doing the right thing by him, in pushing way from what he wants.”

Arthur nodded. “He’s like my mother, push him too hard and you’re likely to find he’ll push back twice as hard. It’s the Black blood, damned stubborn, the lot of them.”

“If that happened, we’d loose him, wouldn’t we?” Molly fretted.

“I think we just might.” Arthur sighed.

“And Charlie? I know he wants to work with dragons, he always has.” Molly went on.

“Now, Charlie? He takes after my Dad. Couldn’t give a knut about what anyone else thinks.” Arthur chuckled before sobering. “Percy?”

“Percy needs order.” Molly said. “I didn’t understand how much.”

“The twins?”

They are Fabian and Gideon all over again. Reckless and out for a lark.”

“Ronnie?” Arthur tilted his head.

“Ron is loud.” Molly said. “Whereas Ginny is always chasing someone.”

“Alright… So what caused all this introspection, Mollywobbles?”

“Harry Potter, Arthur.” Molly’s chin trembled. “He had no one to look out for him. We have seven children, they have us to look out for them, but having watched them all day today, I realised, we’re not doing a good job.”

“Molly?!” Arthur was dumbfounded.

“No, Arthur, think about it. Bill… Both you and I have been pushing him away from what he wants to do. Yes, he’s only going into 4th year, but we didn’t like his electives last year and we tried hard to get him to change them, didn’t we?”

Arthur sighed. “Yes, we did.”

“And Charlie? He’s only interested in quidditch and dragons, but again, we tried to push him to study... more sedate subjects, instead we should be encouraging him, but making sure that he knows that he knows what is involved in his chosen fields.”

Arthur just hummed in thought.

“Percy… oh sweet Percy. He’s a quiet lad and we’ve jammed him in beside the twins. No wonder he’s so desperate for order and rules.”

“Hmm…”

“And the twins? Like I said, they’re Fabian and Gideon all over. Loud, reckless and fearless. And they’re the only ones that can take the Prewett title, remember the title only goes to twins. But they’re smart, Arthur, so smart. If there was something that convinced them to take their studies seriously, those two would walk away with the highest of honours.”

“Huh…” Arthur grunted in surprise.

“Ronnie…? Well, I’m going to have to do a lot of work with Ronnie, he’s spoilt, has a nasty temper and is a greedy eater.”

“Really? That’s not a bad thing.” Arthur grinned, patting his own rounded stomach.

“Yes, it is, Arthur. He bullies Ginny and little Luna, takes their toys and food, every chance he gets. And it’s just because he can. I never realised how much I let him get away with, just because he’s the youngest boy and the twins were always in trouble.”

“And Ginny?” What about their beautiful girl?

“Ginny… Ginny is a little girl surrounded by big brothers. She’s quite capable of hitting Ron when he hits her or Luna. She likes quidditch, almost as much as Ron and Charlie. Of all our children, Ginny and the twins are the most powerful magically, possibly Ginny edges them out. But she’s been spoilt by all the boys.”

“She is the first girl in the Weasley family for… what, five generations?” Arthur asked.

“Six, dear. But that doesn’t mean, she can run wild. She is the only daughter of House Weasley and of House Prewett, Arthur. She needs to be educated on what that means.”

“Oh, now, love. She’s only four years old.” Arthur protested.

“Yes, she is. By the time she goes to Hogwarts, she needs to understand what she can and cannot do.” Molly held firm.

“But-”

“No, Arthur. I will not let this go. Ginevra Weasley will represent two Houses, the House of Weasley and the Ancient and Noble House of Prewett. She will not be allowed to make a mockery of them.” Molly’s voice was firm, almost hard. “And the twins need to be taught, but while Septimus and you can teach Bill what he needs to know, for when he takes the Weasley title, neither of you have the understanding of what’s involved in being the Head of House for an Ancient and Noble House.”

Arthur sighed and slumped. “No, I don’t.”

“I know it sounds dreadful, Arthur, but…”

“You think we should look at fostering the twins out?” Arthur finished for her.

“Yes, but I’ve no idea where.” She sighed.

Arthur hummed in thought. “It needs to be somewhere that their pranks aren’t an issue. Somewhere that understands twins. Somewhere that will teach them about their responsibilities.”

“But also somewhere that will love them. Somewhere that will encourage them to be their best. Somewhere that we can still see them, occasionally.” Molly added.

“And somewhere should have some type of connection with House Weasley…” Arthur muttered.

“That doesn’t leave us a lot to choose from, does it?”

“No, it doesn’t.” Arthur sighed. “Tell you what, I’ll go see Dad in the morning. He might have a suggestion or two.”

 

Chapter Text

Harry and Sirius sat at the semi-circular table, waiting patiently for Bogrod to escort Lords Black and Prince into the room. Both young wizards were nervous, who knew what the two Lords would require in a marriage contract?

Certain things were obvious. Each man would retain his title or titles. Each man would be required to nominate an heir or heirs. Each man would retain control of his own vaults. Any joint vaults would be newly created. The question was when? How long did they have to make these changes? Did they have to be in place before the vows took place? Were they to be made within so many days of the vows?

Neither man knew… and that was the reason behind their nervousness… or so they claimed.

And so far, Ragnok was of no assistance.

A quiet tapping at the door, heralded the arrival of Bogrod and the two lords.

“Director? Master Henrick? Heir Black?” Bogrod bowed slightly to each person. “May present Lord Arcturus Sirius Black, Head of House Black and Lord Nathaniel Ellery Prince, Head of House Prince.” As he introduced them each man bowed to the director.

“Gentlemen. Thank you for joining us.” Ragnok bowed his head to each man and gestured for them to be seated.

Arcturus sat beside Sirius, while Nathaniel sat beside Harry, the four of them opposite three seats, one already taken by Ragnok, one Bogrod moved to sit in and the third remained empty at this point.

“Gentlemen, I understand that we are here to negotiate a contract of betrothal between Master Henrick and Sirius Black, am I correct?” Ragnok stated.

“No, sir.” Arcturus replied. “It was my intention today to negotiate a marriage contract, I see no need to waste time on a betrothal when both parties are of age.”

“I agree.” Nathaniel nodded as he spoke.

Ragnok and Bogrod nodded.

“Very well. Is there anywhere in particular you would like to start?” Ragnok asked.

“Heirs.” Arcturus said.

“Titles.” Nathaniel said at the same time.

“Hmm…” Ragnok hummed. “Heirs would be a subcategory of Titles. So, we shall start there. Lord Black? Your thoughts on content?”

“I would prefer each party to retain their own title, if they were to attend an event that required them to represent a particular House, they would be recognised as Heir and consort or Lord and consort.” Arcturus replied. “If not representing any particular House, then both titles are to be used, the same as if they were representing both Houses.”

“Lord Prince? Your thoughts?”

“So far, I agree.” Nathaniel nodded.

“Very good. Bogrod?”

“Noted, sir. One point requiring clarification at a later time. Minor.” Bogrod replied.

“Good. Subcategory of Heirs. Lord Black?”

“I require that each have name an individual Heir for each title.”

“Lord Prince?”

“Agreed.”

“Bogrod?”

“Clarification required.” Bogrod stated. “Details will effect later categories.”

“In what manner?” Ragnok demanded an explanation.

“Number of children, sir.” Bogrod replied.

“How so?” Arcturus asked.

“Abiding by the stated Heir clause, the couple would be required to have a number of children, at a bare minimum, five.”

“Five?!”

“What?!”

“Pardon?”

Arcturus, Sirius and Nathaniel all spoke at the same time.

“How do you figure that?” Nathaniel asked.

“Well… depending on a clarification within the Title clause, the couple may be required to father up to five children.” Bogrod replied.

“Title clause? What clarification?’” Arcturus asked.

“Due to the fact that Master Henrick bears the titles of a number of Houses, clarification is needed as to whether the contract is between Master Henrick as Lord Harrington, as Lord Black first requested or is it between Master Henrick, as holder of all his titles?”

“Ah…” Ragnok grunted, as he nodded.

“All his titles?” Nathaniel asked. “I wasn’t aware of more than Lord Harrington.”

“Yes, I was under the same impression.” Arcturus stated.

“No, my Lords. Master Henrick is Heir to House McGonagall and Lord to four Houses.” Bogrod replied.

Both men blinked in shock, their mouths falling slack. Arcturus was the first to recover.

“What Houses?” He asked.

“Master Henrick?” Bogrod asked. Harry just nodded. “Thank you.” Bogrod paused as he shuffled sheets of parchment to find the page he wanted. “Master Henrick is, as I said, Heir McGonagall. He is also Lord Harrington, I believe you are all aware of this?” Three men nodded. “In addition to this, Henrick is the Head of House for three Ancient and Noble Houses that have fallen from public attention.” He smirked.

“Oh, no.” Sirius muttered. “Don’t tell me…” The goblin’s smirk was matched by Harry’s.

“Yep.” He whispered to Sirius.

“Crap.” Sirius sighed.

“Language, please, Sirius.” Arcturus chided.

“You’ll be swearing in minute, too, grandfather.” He answered, his head falling into his hands.

“Sirius?”

“Just tell them, Bogrod.” Harry’s smirk became a broad grin.

“Master Henrick is the Head of House, for Houses Peverell, Gryffindor and Slytherin.” The goblin declared.

Both Arcturus and Nathaniel choked on nothing more than air, before Arcturus proved Sirius correct and began to swear.

“How in the seven hells, are you Lord of Slytherin?” Arcturus demanded.

“… and Gryffindor?” Nathaniel spluttered.

“Birth… And magic.”

What?” Both lords demanded.

“But how? You’re the younger son.” Arcturus continued.

“Ah… yeah… about that…?” Harry grimaced.

“What now?” Arcturus snarled.

“I wasn’t born a Snape-Urquart…” Harry went on to give Arcturus the same information that Nathaniel had been given, the day before. “…and so, now we just have the staff testing to come, starting on Monday.” He finished.

“I see… No, no I don’t see. How were you able to claim these titles? Doesn’t a masking adoption, cancel out any blood inheritances?” Arcturus was confused.

“It does, but I claimed them before I underwent the masking adoptions.” Harry answered.

“But how?” Nathaniel asked.

“Right… Cadmus Peverell was the second of three brothers, Antioch, Cadmus and Ignotus Peverell. The line of Slytherin is descended from Cadmus, the line split at some point, unknown when precisely, but it split some time between 1710 and 1780. One line was a squib line descended from Thomas Archer Slytherin, son of Allemedis Kael Slytherin, the other becoming the Gaunts, the known Heirs of the line, descended from Thomas’, younger but magical, sister Eloise Calanthe. Eloise married Corvinus Ralston Gaunt and Allemedis passed the House Ring to their son, Ralston Edmund. Unfortunately, the Gaunt line fell into madness and inbreeding. The last heir was the son of Merope Hesper, a Gaunt daughter, a squib at that and a local muggle landholder, Tomas Fletcher Riddle Jnr. Merope had drugged Riddle Jnr with amortentia, after becoming infatuated with him and the pair ran off to London together. Once she was pregnant, she ceased the potion, it’s not known whether that was because she believed he would do the right thing by her or because she was unable to continue to brew it, being pregnant. Regardless, as soon as the potion wore off, Riddle abandoned her, returning to the family estate in Scotland. Merope was left alone, pregnant and unmarried, in London to fend for herself. She died minutes after giving birth to a son that she called Tom Marvolo Riddle. Tom after his father and Marvolo after hers. Tom went on to be raised in an orphanage in London, before Dumbledore found him and saw to it that he was educated at Hogwarts, where he turned to the Darker Arts. He was famously defeated after challenging the wrong family and killed. There ended the line of Eloise Slytherin. Her brother, Thomas was sent to the continent, but being his mother’s favourite, wasn’t cut from the family. He dropped the name Slytherin and took his middle name, Archer as a surname and so the line continued.” Harry explained. “My maternal grandmother was Peony Archer.”

“Tom Riddle? Famously defeated? I’ve never heard of Tom Riddle?” Arcturus frowned.

“Of course you have, he just rearranged the letters of his name, to provide himself with a name the purebloods would follow.” Harry pulled one of Bogrod’s sheets to him and wrote.

TOM MARVOLO RIDDLE

He drew a line from each letter and rewrote the letters.

I AM LORD VOLDEMORT

“Oh gods.” Both lords whispered.

“How did you find this out?” Arcturus asked after regaining his voice.

“Updating family history journal at Slytherin Castle.” Harry answered. And while that was true, he hadn’t yet had a chance to visit Slytherin Castle and was relying on memory of his other future.

“But how did the title come to you?” Nathaniel asked.

“I am the first magical child born to Thomas Archer’s line, so I would assume that, on Riddle’s death, magic went looking for a child of Slytherin blood to pass the title to.”

“You.” Nathaniel declared.

“Me.” Harry agreed.

“But the Gryffindor and Peverell titles?”

“Ah, but being of Slytherin blood means that I’m already of Peverell blood and being the only magical child...? It comes to me. Gryffindor is a little more complicated. Gryffindor is a solely magical inheritance, as Godric Gryffindor sired no children.”

“So how…?” Arcturus trailed off.

“A number of incidents. Firstly I challenged a magical creature for the life of a friend. Secondly I drew a sword from a hat. And thirdly, I used that sword in defence of another’s life.”

“A sword?” Arcturus asked.

“A hat?” Nathaniel asked.

“Godric Gryffindor’s sword and I drew it from the Sorting Hat.” Harry was enjoying the expressions on the two lords’ faces.

“And Harrington?” Sirius asked.

“No idea. It was just on my Inheritance Test.” Harry replied.

Both Lords exchanged looks and sighed.

“Right, so six titles?” Nathaniel mumbled.

“Yes, but only five can be passed on. Gryffindor’s, as I said, is a magical title. Lady magic decides that, not me.”

“Oh, right. So five.” Nathaniel repeated.

“Hell, five.” Arcturus muttered.

“Exactly.” Harry chirped brightly.

“So, do we wish to name them individual or jointly?” Ragnok asked.

Both lords were still trying to come to grips with what they’d just been told and were unable to answer.

“I suggest, that we nominate a minimum of three.” It was Sirius that spoke now. “One for Black, one for McGonagall and Harrington and a third for Slytherin and Peverell together.”

“If, however, we do adopt further children, the McGonagall, Harrington, Slytherin and Peverell titles can be split.” Harry added.

“Adopt?” Arcturus questioned.

“Of course.” Harry answered. “Sirius and myself have decided that we're greedy, fostering is all well and good, but we want some kids we don’t have to give back.”

“You’d foster, too?”

“Sure.” Sirius said. “Why not? We don’t have to have them all at once.”

“If we spread it out…?” Harry added.

“Maybe start with adopting? Maybe fostering? It really depends on finding children.” Sirius went on.

“Yeah.” Harry agreed. “We’ve decided that any child we adopt, will come from either the magical or muggle world. Magical children abandoned by their muggle families or the rare Wizarding orphan. We don’t really care.”

“But their blood-” Arcturus screwed his nose up.

“Won’t matter. We plan on doing masking adoptions for them. Healer Tinrilla says that a masking adoption followed by full Blood Adoptions, the same as Hermione and I did, will register the children as Sirius’s and mine, by blood.” Harry overrode the objection.

“They will be ours by blood. Completely ours. No other parents, only us.” Sirius added firmly.

“I see…” Nathaniel hummed. “I approve. A minimum of three children to be adopted, within the next ten years, each child being no more than ten years of age at adoption.”

Arcturus titled his head and thought for a minute before speaking.

“The House of Black is a patriarchal House. As long as one child is male and is named Heir to my House, I am also in agreement.” Arcturus announced.

“Very well. Title and Heir clauses are complete. Children?” Ragnok asked.

“Ah…?” Nathaniel questioned. “Didn’t we just cover that?”

“Yes, but no. We covered Heirs. What of any other children? What of fostered children? They’ll not inherit titles, no. But what of them?” Ragnok queried.

“Children fostered will be treated exactly the same as if they were our Blood Adopted children, at least for whatever time they are in our care.” Harry began. “Parents of said children can expect to remain some in form of contact with us, at least until the child is of age.”

“More likely, permanently, though.” Sirius added.

“True.” Harry agreed. “Once a contract has been signed, naming us custodians of a child, we will be responsible for that child. In all ways. Physically…” Harry went on.

“Emotionally.” Sirius said.

“Financially.” Harry added.

“And socially.” Sirius grinned.

Ragnok nodded. “A contract is a wise suggestion, Master Henrick.”

“You’ll not be asking parents to cover the child’s costs?” Nathaniel asked.

“No, definitely not.” Harry answered.

“While they’re with us, they are ours.” Sirius answered a bare second later.

“I see…” Nathaniel murmured.

“What type of criteria do you have for selecting a child?” Arcturus asked.

“None, really. As long as there’s a connection with the child, neither Sirius nor I, see any point in limiting our possibilities.”

“Hmm…” Arcturus frowned in thought. “Fair enough. I see nothing to object to.”

“Nor do I.” Nathaniel shook his head.

“Very good. Bogrod?” Ragnok turned to his manager.

“Alterations noted, sir. No further clarifications needed.”

“Good, good. Next gentlemen?”

“Personal finances.” Arcturus said, when Nathaniel spread a hand and gestured to him to speak.

“Both gentlemen had indicated that they wish to control their own finances, but to also have a joint vault, that is used for the care and provision of children and whatever residence they live in during the summer.” Bogrod informed those gathered.

“How will the joint vault be monitored?” Nathaniel asked.

“Heir Black suggested that each of them place an equal amount in the vault, straight from their wages at Hogwarts. The actual amount has yet to be determined as exact duties are not decided.”

“And access to the vault?”

“A singular money pouch. No withdrawals over ʛ20 without both men holding the pouch together, no withdrawals of over ʛ100 total, per month, without both men fronting the bank, no withdrawals over ʛ500. That last is subject to my discretion, but only in a genuine emergency.”

Nathaniel nodded, that made sense.

“I’d like to add a subclause to that.” Arcturus put a hand out. “When a child arrives into their care, ʛ500 is provided to establish the child and cover it’s needs.”

“Might I ask why you suggest this?” Bogrod inquired.

“Knowing that these two are putting no limits on what children they… acquire… I doubt that many of them will have much in the way of possessions. And those children that are fostered out, are usually children that parents are unable to attend to. This may mean a dearth of possessions other than clothes. Children require clothing, books, accessories, toys and depending on how long the child will be in their care, a trust vault.” Arcturus explained.

Bogrod and Ragnok shared a quiet look with Sirius and Harry, before nodding.

“Agreed.” Nathaniel said. “What of schooling and education? If Harry and Sirius are teaching at Hogwarts, how will that impact on the education of children under their care?”

“Also, how will having children, impact on them living at Hogwarts?” Arcturus added.

“The joint vault will have a subsection that is solely for our children’s education.” Harry answered. “As for children and living at Hogwarts? It’s… a… boarding… school…” Harry said the last four words extremely slowly. “A boarding school for children.” He carefully enunciated each word so there could be no mistaking what he said.

“We understand that, Harry, but at least three of these children are going to be under Hogwarts age. What effect will that have?” Nathaniel replied, patiently.

“Why should it have any?” Harry countered. “You seem to forget that the Hogwarts staff are people, too. Kettleburn’s been the CoMC professor for the last 25 years, yes? In that time he raised three children… at Hogwarts. Slughorn? He wants to retire and spend time with his wife and children, who were also raised at Hogwarts. As were Dippet’s and Binns’ children. And what about Herbert Beery and Rolanda Hooch? Aren’t they both married? With children? I remember Sev telling me that Hooch had to get a relief in for the last few quidditch games one year, Pomfrey was concerned that her pregnancy wasn’t stable, or… something…”

Nathaniel and Arcturus both sat back in thought.

“I’d forgotten that.” Arcturus muttered. “Pomfrey went to the Board to get Hooch grounded for the last… what… three(?) games?”

“Two.” Sirius answered. “She wanted three, but the relief took a bludger to the head, not five minutes in, so Hooch had to fly.” He chuckled. "That was the gentlest game of quidditch that Hogwarts has ever seen. We were terrified that she was going to get hit with something. After she took to the air, neither Gryffindor or Slytherin evenattempted to score a goal, we were too concerned with keeping bludgers away from her.”

“Who caught the snitch?” Harry asked.

“Regulus, of course. The only time I was glad of my brother’s flying skills.” Sirius shook his head in fond memory. “Pomfrey waited until Hooch landed, before taking her cap off and smacking Hooch about the head and shoulders, yelling, ‘do you want this baby or not? Then no more flying.’ It was an eye-opener, that’s for sure. Everyone thought Pomfrey was a pushover, but watching her berate Hooch? I think most of the school decided to avoid the hospital wing for the rest of the year.”

“So, you’ll be able to have children at Hogwarts? Who will care for them?” Nathaniel wanted to know.

“Initially, me.” Sirius answered. “With help from family and the family house-elves. How much help depends, on the age of the children and how many there are at any given point.”

“How will that impact on your teaching?”

“It shouldn’t. I’ll only be teaching two classes and only to 6th year and above. Animagus and apparition.” Sirius shrugged. “At most six hours a week. Hermione has offered to help and with Minerva, Remus and Severus? I don’t think we’re going to have a lack of willing minders.”

“And let’s not forget the elves and the ghosts.” Harry added. “They can keep tabs on any hiding children.”

“And the children’s education fund? How will that be established? What about trust vaults?” Arcturus asked.

“The joint vault will have a subsection for education purposes, we’ll deposit a reasonable amount into it and allow Gringotts to invest a part of it. Anything needed specifically for the education of our children will come from there. This doesn’t include books, uniforms and the like. That will come from their trust vaults. Again, a reasonable amount will be placed into a trust vault as a child enters our care.” Sirius explained.

“That amount will be split equally between our titles and their accounts. Not our personal accounts. Excluding a child named as heir to a title, in that case that title pays for them. The initial deposits, that is.” Harry added.

“I would like your children to take Business Management, it will stand them in good stead. Those that inherit titles will know how to manage an estate, whereas those that don’t may decide to go into business for themselves.” Arcturus asserted.

Both Sirius and Harry shrugged, they had not problems with that, even if a child didn’t want to take the formal classes, they would be taught anyway.

“I’d not like to make it a requirement, but certainly a recommendation. But they will be taught the basics, anyway.” Harry confessed.

“Very good.” Arcturus nodded. “I’m see no reason it shouldn’t be a recommendation, in that case.”

“Same.” Nathaniel added.

“Bogrod?” Ragnok asked.

“Noted, sir. No clarifications needed.” The second goblin answered.

“Very well. Next clause is… Estates. Gentlemen?”

Arcturus bowed his head to Nathaniel and sat back.

“I understand that some of the titles have multiple estates, I’d like each title to retain a primary estate and any additional estates to fall into a collective, that Harry and Sirius can parcel out to any additional children, either those they adopt or permanently foster. Any non-titled child can be named Heir to any non-titled estate. All estates are to be brought to a liveable condition. Where possible I would like the Heir of each estate to use it as their ‘example’ in their Business Management class, those that take it.”

Arcturus nodded. “I like that. Give a child a future, a home, a family and the means to maintain that future.” He nodded, again. “Agreed.”

“Bogrod?”

“I’ll need to know which estates are to be considered titled and which aren’t, but that can happen at any point, up until they adopt. Until that point the discussion is flexible.”

“Once the estates are in a liveable condition or we adopt, whichever comes first, we will meet and name titles and estates.” Harry conceded.

“I’d like to be involved in that discussion, please.” Arcturus requested.

“I’d like that, too.” Nathaniel agreed.

“Of course.”

“Sure.” Harry and Sirius spoke at the same time.

“Very good. Next is… employment. Both gentlemen have contracts with Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Heir Black is to teach two subjects, Animagus Studies and Apparition. Master Henrick is to teach three subjects. Ingredient Preparation, previously he was signed to teach the juniors in potions, however the Board have brought back Ingredient Prep for 1st and 2nd years. He will also teach Potions Basics to 3rd years. And finally he will take the seniors for DADA.”

“Ah…” Arcturus raised a finger. “What of the ‘curse’ on the post?”

“The curse targets the person teaching DADA, right? Well, Sev and I signed a joint contract. So, we are the people teaching DADA. Neatly sidesteps the curse and it’s primary distinction.” Harry grinned. “However, next year, Máthair has decided that Ingredient Prep will have it’s own classroom and teacher and I will be able to hand the class over to a specialist.”

Sirius nudged Harry’s shoulder. “Which will give Harry a little more free time. Time to spend with me and any ankle-biters.”

“Financially, both men are quite secure and have decided that approximately, ʛ50 from their salaries each week, will go straight to joint vault, with half to go to the subsection. Plus a initial deposit of ʛ10,000 from each man ensures that the vault will sufficiently endowed, if needed immediately.” Bogrod clarified. "This may change sightly when the Board of Governors finish assessing staff salary packages."

“Good.” Arcturus nodded. “I would like to add ʛ10,000 to be held for trust accounts. I’m going to assume that they will adopt the required three children as well as adopt or foster another two. As such, I’d like to start trust vaults, to be held in abeyance until each child arrives. ʛ2,000 per child.”

“I’ll match that.” Nathaniel slapped the table in agreement.

Bogrod made notes on a separate piece of parchment.

“Very good. Any questions?” Everyone shook their heads. “Right. Last clause. Accommodation. Thoughts, gentlemen?”

“Granted, as the family will be at Hogwarts during the school year, the only accommodation needed will be during the summer.” Nathaniel mused. “I’d like to see a non-titled estate used as the primary home.”

“May we ask why?” Arcturus questioned.

“Neutrality.” Was the reply.

“Hmm…” Ragnok hummed. “In that case… I suggest that the couple remove an estate from the collective and use it as the family primary. Short holidays or weekends can be taken at other estates, enough for the estate Heir to be familiar with the estate and to know what need to done to maintain or improve it.”

All four men nodded.

“Very good. Now, I have questions.” Ragnok stated.

“Director?” Arcturus asked.

“When is this marriage to take place? Who is to attend? When are the vaults to come into effect? Will both gentlemen be providing blood for Blood Adoptions, to be held in stasis, in case of a fatality? Who will be godparents to the children, will they be named now, or later? Will anyone have access to the above mentioned vaults? And lastly, when will the two gentlemen be providing Wills?”

Arcturus and Nathaniel shared a blinking look, while Harry and Sirius chuckled quietly.

“Gentlemen?” Ragnok asked.

“Right, sorry.” Harry smothered his amusement. “When is the marriage to take place? Ah…? Grandfather? Lord Black? Do you have a preference?” The two older men shook heir heads. “Alright, well… what about next weekend? We should have the teaching assessments done by then.”

“And we’d like to keep it quiet, you know, just family.” Sirius added.

“Máthair and Mione have suggested the Great Hall at Hogwarts with just our family and a few friends.” Harry expanded. “Hogwarts elves overheard we were negotiating and they’re anxious to do the reception afterwards. We thought for the reception, we could invite all the staff, as well.”

Arcturus and Nathaniel muttered quietly to each other for a few moments, before lifting their heads.

“Alright, next Saturday. Will you be using family Bonding Bands?” Arcturus asked.

“Yep.” Sirius popped the ‘P’. “But I don’t want the ones mother wore, they were ugly. Can I look through the other sets?”

“Certainly, Sirius.”

“Harry?” Nathaniel asked.

“No, I’m having a set made. I sent designs through to Bogrod, Tuesday night. I want symbols for all my Houses on them. I want everyone that see’s them to know that targeting Sirius will bring my wrath down on them, the wrath of five Houses. That I will leave them in ruins, if they attempt to harm my family.” Harry replied, possessively.

“Ah…” Nathaniel saw, not his grandson, but a warrior wizard. A Master of DADA, that wouldn’t hesitate when it came time to use his skills.

“Uh…” Arcturus was swiftly rethinking the possibility that Sirius was going to be the one defending their family. This wasn’t the meek and mild man Arcturus had thought his grandson was marrying, this was a wizard that would lead others into battle and lead them back out to peace.

Even Ragnok and Bogrod blinked at the change in Harry, they may have watched an outline of his life, but it was clear there was much they hadn’t seen. This was a warrior that even a goblin would walk gently around.

Only Sirius seemed unaffected by Harry’s comments. He had spend hours, or maybe days, it was hard to tell, in Harry’s Mindscape, ruffling through Harry’s memories. Watching events and learning what made this man beside him tick.

“Very-hehem… good.” Ragnok cleared his throat halfway through the comment. “Moving along. The vaults?”

“We’ve completed the paperwork, ready for everything to take effect at whatever designated point in time.” Sirius replied, unconcernedly, laying a small pile of parchment on the desk.

“We’ll also leave Wills. As soon as the marriage certificate becomes valid, the vaults become active and the Wills are to be verified.” Harry added.

“Good, good. Blood for adoptions?”

“Same. Tinrilla can draw that today. There’s authorities for Blood Adoptions there and we placed clauses in our Wills to correspond.” Harry answered.

“Godparents?”

“Unknown at this point. Each child we adopt will be matched with a godmother and a godfather. Someone we know will care for that child. But few of the children will have the same godparents. We want them to match the child.” Sirius answered.

“And… ah, access to the vaults?”

“Our personal vaults are just that, personal. Nothing to do with this contract and signatories are the same. The join vaults? In the case of my death both Severus and Hermione are to be added, however only one can access the vault in conjunction with Sirius.” Harry stated.

“In the case of my death, Remus Lupin will be added and will have access only in conjunction with Harry.” Sirius added.

“In the unlikely event that we both die, Severus, Hermione and Remus will have access in the same manner that Sirius and I would. However… the vault subsection pertaining to our children’s education will be come a separate vault and will only be accessible by all three together.” Harry finished.

The two goblins sat back and thought about this.

“What are the chances that Severus and Hermione may try to override Remus?” Nathaniel asked.

“Non-existent.” Harry shook his head.

“And the custody of your children, should something occur?” Arcturus asked.

“Will be held joint, between Severus, Hermione, Remus and Minerva McGonagall.” Sirius answered, his tone hard and almost cold.

“We’ve included a list of people, should they be unable to care for our children.” Harry added, his voice hard, like Sirius’. “We will not take the chance that the Potter disgrace could happen to our children. We have both nominated Ragnok, Director of Gringotts as executor of or Wills.”

Arcturus and Nathaniel both nodded.

“Good. Gringotts will not allow the Wizengamot to mess up, again.” Arcturus said.

“Yes, smart planning.” Nathaniel agreed. “That is, of course, assuming that the Director agrees to officiate.”

“Of course I will. I and Gringotts have spent much time and effort into Master Henrick’s future, we are not prepared to let that founder.” Ragnok turned to Bogrod. “Do you have everything you need?”

“Yes, sir. I can have a rough draft done within the hour. Assuming there are no major changes to that draft, it can be ready for signing… say… 4 pm?”

“Very good, Bogrod. Gentlemen, why don’t we have some lunch, then we can review the draft contract and assuming no alterations, we can get this signed today.”

“Sounds good. Grandfather? After lunch, can we go to the Black vault and look at Bands?” Sirius asked.

“Of course, Sirius.”

“Thank you.” Sirius beamed at the older man.

“In that case, Bogrod, may I visit the metal crafters? I’d like to see how my designs are being produced.” Harry asked.

“I can only pass your request along, Harry. Master-Crafter Linklok has taken on your commission and he’s notoriously particular about his work being viewed.”

“Ah, well. If you would ask, I’d very much appreciate it.” Harry murmured.

Chapter Text

Harry’s legs bounced in impatience. He sat beside Minerva and Remus as they waited for Sirius’ assessment to be complete. Sirius’d been through the Mastery, Teaching and Time management assessments and was now in with the Hit-Wizard.

And Harry… was quietly panicking.

Minerva looked at him. “Weren’t you going to speak to Argus?” She wanted something to distract the young man.

“Oh… I was. I forgot.” Harry smacked himself on the forehead.

“Well, go do that now.” Minerva directed.

“But Sirius…?” Harry whined.

“…Will be at least another hour yet, probably longer. Off you go.” She waved her hand at him.

Harry huffed, but dragged himself to his feet and wandered off down the hall. It took him nearly ten minutes to find the man, he was down in the dungeons, packing a trunk. Chains and ropes dropping into the trunk.

“Argus Filch?” Harry asked.

“Yeah, whatcha want?” The older man grumbled.

“I’m Harry Snape-Urquart.” Harry began.

“I know. Whatcha want?” Filch asked again.

“You know what Dumbledore’s done?”

“Yeah.”

“I was thinking about him and the lengths he’s gone to… and I wondered…”

“Wondered what?”

“If he’d… He charmed, potioned and bound people, as he felt like. I wondered whether he’d done that to staff, here at Hogwarts.”

Filch looked startled. “Did he?”

“Unfortunately, yes. Madam Pomfrey was found to have a charm that forced her to overlook the severity of injuries to Slytherins and to defer to Dumbledore before reporting anything to the DMLE. Hagrid was found to have a charm that encouraged his interest in dangerous animals.”

“That man… he deserves…” Filch spluttered.

“He does, indeed. I think there’s a chance he may have done something similar to you.” Harry offered.

“Me?” Filch poked himself in the chest. “Why?”

“Máthair said that she knew you before she entered Hogwarts.”

“Yeah? So?”

“She said you were a pleasant lad, always laughing and mucking about with your friends.”

“So?”

“She said that all changed, when your sister got her letter and you didn’t.”

“So?” Filch snarled.

“Severus, Remus and Sirius are all convinced that they’ve seen you do accidental magic, here at Hogwarts.”

“What? When?”

“A number of different times, that’s not important. What’s important is that you changed, you changed after Dumbledore visited your family home.” Harry sighed. “That means, there’s a chance, no matter how slim, of Dumbledore… interfering with you or your magic.”

Filch looked at Harry, almost afraid to hope. “How… how can… can you tell?”

“Not me. But there’s an Unnamed here, up in the hospital wing. He can.” Harry answered.

“And what happens then?”

“Well, it depends on what he finds. If it’s a potion, depending on the potion, you can be given a purging potion, or a stabilising potion. If it’s a binding, it may be able to be removed. Charms can be lifted or broken. It all depends on what he finds.” Filch sighed as Harry spoke. “But regardless, we will help you through this, you are staff, you’ve been here for decades, we’re not going to just abandon you.”

Filch looked at Harry. “You’d help me? Me? The squib caretaker that all the students hate?”

“Yes.” Harry answered. “Regardless of what the Unnamed find, I’ll help you. You’ve stayed here and cared for this place,  in spite of the students, you’ve earned it.”

“Alright, what do I do?”

“Come with me. We’ll go see the Unnamed and get him to check you over.” Harry paused. “Then we’ll sit down and make some decisions.”

Filch took a deep breath and squared his shoulders, as much as his hunched back would let him and nodded.

The two climbed stairs and eventually reached the hospital wing. Harry raised an eyebrow at Filch and nodded to the doors. The older many took another deep breath and raised his hand, tapping it gently on the timber surface.

“Come.” A man’s voice issued from the other side of the door and the door swung open without assistance.

“Master Snape-Urquart? What can I do for you, now?” The Unnamed asked.

“After Dumbledore’s actions here at Hogwarts, I wondered if perhaps you would scan Mr Filch? I am concerned that the old man may have interfered with the caretaker.” Harry answered.

“Hmm… It is possible. The more we search, the more we find. His machinations extend into the lives of many people.” The Unnamed nodded. “Mr Filch, was it?”

“Yessir.” The caretaker mumbled.

“Very well, Mr Filch, if you’d come this way?” The Unnamed lead the two men to the far end of the row of beds. “Now, if you’d lie down, here, please? Master Snape-Urquart, please sit over there.” The Unnamed pointed first to one bed then to a second. “Good, good.” He added when the two men went where he directed. “Firstly, Mr Filch, I’m going to do a scan, to see if you have any potions in your system, then another for charms and lastly a care scan to check for bindings.”

The Unnamed waved his wand over Filch and began chanting in Latin.

Haustibus uiam fecerit revelare,” was the first thing he said, closely followed by, “revelare rara nocebat.” After carefully transferring the results to parchment, the Unnamed sighed and waved his wand again, this time in a wide sweeping motion follwed quickly by a jabbing flick. Magia media figura fama ocular.” he spoke as his wand moved.

Like when Minerva had scanned Harry and Severus’ cores, an image slowly began to appear. A tight shape, something similar to a misshapen hourglass emerged. Strands of dull black looped around the shape, constantly in motion, moving from one area to another, restricting  the shape and stopping it from gaining stability.

“Can you identify the binder?” Harry asked.

“I can certainly try.” The Unnamed’s voice was hard. Magicae et truces iras tegunt ad factorem originis tuae.”  His wand touched the black strands and stroked along one.An image of Dumbledore as he cast the binding on Filch, flickered within the strands.

“He did it, he really did it.” The Unnamed whispered. “I know the goblins said he did, but… I really didn’t want to believe he was capable of such heartless cruelty. To bind a core…? An innocent person’s core? No, I didn’t want to believe it.”

“I did.” Harry said. “I knew he’d done it in the past, I know of at least three children that should have attended Hogwarts, but he didn’t approve of their core leanings and bound them.”

“Oh, gods.” The Unnamed gasped.

“Yeah…” Harry sighed. “Can Filch’s core be unbound?” Harry asked.

“It can be done. Not here, though, he’d have to got to St Mungo's. Binding or unbinding a mature core is not as simple as it sounds. Specialist healers are needed.” Was the answer.

“Fair enough. But will Filch be able to return here as caretaker?” Harry wanted to know.

“That, Master Snape-Urquart, is up to Mr Filch. He will need to be taught how to control the magic at his fingertips.” The Unnamed answered.

“Filch? It’s up to you.” Harry turned to Filch.

“But… how?” Filch stammered.

“How? How… what?” Harry tilted his head.

“How will I learn? Where? Who would teach me?” Filch was dumbfounded. He had magic. He was a wizard.

“I will.” Harry assured him. “I’ll teach you. First some occlumency, once you’ve got that, I’ll show you how to manipulate your mindscape’s impression of time and then it’s simply a case of teaching you the spells.”

“But… that’s going to take a lot of time.” Filch objected.

“No, it won’t, not really. Occlumency should only take a few hours. You only need to create a mindscape and be able to make things within that mindscape. Then I’ll show you the runes sequence, how to create it and how to activate it.” Harry explained. “Then, it should only take you a few hours.”

“And you’d help me?” Filch was amazed.

“I would. I will. So will Sirius, Severus, Remus, Hermione and Máthair. Argus, what was done to you was not your fault, we can help you repair the damage Dumbledore did. We will help you get the knowledge that you should have been given, years ago. We’ve two weeks before term starts, whether you do this now or wait until next summer, we will support you, Hogwarts will support you.” Harry stated firmly. “You are Hogwarts’ caretaker, Argus, your attitude towards students and their treatment of you, falls to Dumbledore’s manipulations.”

“Dumbledore always sent students to me for detentions. Will that stop now?” Filch asked.

“It will. I would suggest approaching Gringotts and lodging an application for compensation. And with your permission, I would recommend having the Headmistress inform the students of what Dumbledore did to you.” Harry said.

“Why? Why tell ‘em?” Filch asked.

“Deflection. It will remove you as their enemy and once they know what Dumbledore did to you, it will give them something, something that many will be able to understand. Many of Hogwarts’ students have been affected by his actions, many more have family that have been affected. To know what he did to you? No you won’t be their enemy anymore, Dumbledore will be.”

“You really think that?”

“I do. But… There will have to be changes in how you treat the students.” Harry warned. “No more threatening them with manacles or whips.”

“You teach me the spells to keep this old girl in the condition I want her in and it won’t matter what the students get up to. It won’t matter how much water and mud and dirt they bring in, I’ll be able to clean it up, so much easier.” A smile on Filch’s face was proof that Harry and his new family were doing the right thing.

“You will.” Harry agreed. “You have a think about it tonight and decide when you want to head over to St Mungo's.”

“I’ll give you a referral.” The Unnamed added. “They’ll redo the scans and work out the safest way to remove the bindings.”

“I don’ have’ta think ‘bout it. I want it done. Soon as they can do it.” Filch answered.

“Alright.” Harry agreed. “I’ll talk to Máthair… and the Board and let them know what’s happening, it’s probable that they will defer assessing you. Given your actions have been tainted by Dumbledore, it’s more than probable they will wait until you are given an all clear by St Mungo's. As soon as I know what they say, I’ll let you know. But there’s a chance that they may hire someone to work with you, not replace you, but work with you, at least until you have your core under control. You’ll have to do the assessments, but I doubt that the Board will make you do it without a controllable core.”

“That’d be good.” Filch nodded. “I’m always angry at the students during term, but over the summer, I actually miss ‘em. This old girl is my home, but when it’s only me an’ a few perf’ssors, she feels cold and empty. She needs the students an’ I need her feeling full of life.”

“Yeah… I get that.” Harry sighed.

“Alright… Master Snape-Urquart? I’d appreciate you leaving. Unless Mr Filch feels the need for you to remain?”

“Nah, I’m right. But…? Iffens I got’s questions…?” Filch started off confident but ended hesitant.

“I’ll be here, ‘til late this evening. And we’ll all be here tomorrow… Sirius and I are getting married here, late in the afternoon. He and I won’t be back until Tuesday, but Máthair, Sev, Mione and Remus will be here, Sunday and Monday. We’ve got a ton of planning to do, for the new classes. So, we’ll be around, if you’ve got questions.” Harry assured the older man.

Filch’s shoulders fell in relief. “Thank’ye, Perf’ssor.”

“Any time, Mr Filch, any time.” Harry waved and left the hospital, he was hoping that Sirius was finished being assessed.

As he left the stairs, he saw Sirius sitting beside Minerva, the two chatting away, happily.

“Well?” He asked.

Sirius just smiled.

 

Saturday was bright and clear, not a cloud in the sky. The leaves on the trees were just beginning to loose their brilliant colour in preparation for autumn. Harry stood on the flagstones that made up the surface of the astronomy tower viewing area, patiently waiting for Sirius and Remus. At his side, Severus’ fingers twitched the sleeve of his emerald formal robes, feeling for the jewellery case that held the pair of Bonding Cuffs, that Harry had designed. Off to one side, Minerva, Hermione and Filius stood, while off to the other side, Nathaniel Prince and Arcturus Black spoke quietly.

The sound of footsteps caught Harry’s attention. Seconds later, Sirius and Remus emerged from the stairs that lead up to the platform with it’s multiple archways. The setting sun caught on the surfaces of the two armillary spheres (spherical astrolabes), lighting the whole area in gold.

Harry smiled and held out a hand to Sirius. The next however long was slightly blurry to Harry, he was more focused Sirius’ smile than anything else, Severus had to nudge him, unsubtly to get him to take the Bonding Cuffs.

Even years later, Harry would clearly remember the sighs Nathaniel and Arcturus had given when the Cuffs locked around Harry and Sirius’ wrists, but for love nor money, he would never remember actually saying vows that joined he and Sirius for the rest of their lives. Neither did he remember much of the reception that the Hogwarts elves put on for them, in the Great Hall. He did remember the proud looks that Nathaniel, Arcturus and Minerva wore, proud and not a little bit smug.

The flash of doubt he’d had that morning, that he and Sirius were moving way too fast, was gone. Seeing Sirius’ smile burnt that away, never to return. He would happily spend the rest of his new life making Sirius smile, the man had been through hell, he deserved to smile. And if it was Harry that made him smile? Harry was fine with that.

 

Wednesday afternoon was quiet inside the Burrow, all seven children outside, playing goodness knows what, while Molly and Arthur sat at the kitchen table, cups of tea in front of them.

“Are you sure, Molly?” Arthur asked. “Once we let them go, getting them back won’t be easy.”

“I know, love, but… I still think… I still think it’s the best thing for them. Bill and the twins need to know more than we can teach them.”

“The twin, yes, but Billy? Dad and I can teach him.” Arthur objected.

“You can, but not while he’s at Hogwarts.” Molly replied. “Not to mention, what your dad said.”

“About what?”

“When Billy’s ready to take over as Head of House, House Weasley will have completed the required 100 years, prescribed as punishment for contract forfeiture. He can apply for the formal title of the ‘Ancient and Noble House of Weasley’ to be returned to the family.”

“Oh, yes. That would get him a seat on the Wizengamot.”

“Exactly. And if the twins claim the Prewett title, that increases Ginny and Percy’s eligibility. Not to mention Ronnie will be the twins’ heir.”

“Shouldn’t Charlie be heir?”

“No, dear. Charlie will be Billy’s heir and as Ronnie is the next youngest after the twins, he’ll be their heir… at least until they all have or adopt children of their own.” Molly explained.

“Ah… I’d forgotten that.” Arthur sighed. “But are you sure? About Sirius Black and his… what is he?”

“Husband, Henrick is his husband. And Cedrella is. Lord Black’s still a bit hesitant, but Cedrella isn’t.” Molly answered.

“No, I suppose Mum wouldn’t be. She’s always been convinced of Sirius’ innocence.” Arthur sighed.

“Oh, don’t be so…” Molly trailed off. “It’s not set in stone yet and I definitely don’t want to rush things.” Molly got to her feet and busied herself making a fresh pot of tea. “Septimus feels that Billy and the twins should have a say in it. He wants Billy to spend some time with Sirius and Henrick, outside of classes and for us to have the pair here, occasionally, to meet the twins and spend time with them. If they all get along, then we can look at the boys staying with them.”

“But…” Arthur started.

“I’m not going to let my boys go until I’m sure that it’s the right thing and that they are happy about it, Arthur.” Molly was firm. “But something needs to happen and it needs to happen soon. Sirius and Henrick are our best options.”

“Are you sure?” Arthur was whining, now.

“I am. Sirius is Heir Black. Lord Black is your mother’s cousin. Whether you like it or not, you are a member, no matter how distant, of House Black, Arthur.” Molly reminded her husband. “The Lord of a House will not knowing allow the members of his House to harm the children of his House, if he did, he’d loose the title, Lady Magic won’t stand for it. Plus both Sirius and Henrick teach at Hogwarts and we’ve always been on good terms with Minerva.”

“Didn’t she adopt Henrick and his siblings?” Arthur asked.

“She did. And that’s another reason to choose Sirius and Henrick. Henrick is a triplet, Arthur. If anyone is going to understand the bond the twins have, it’s going to be he, Severus and Hermione Snape-Urquart.” Molly grimaced. “That’s a mouthful.”

Arthur sighed. “Alright. You’ve convinced me. How are we going to do this?”

“We need to have a chat with Billy and the twins.” Molly replied.

“Not at the same time, I think.”

“No, maybe not.” Molly conceded.

“Right. I’ll get Billy. Charlie will be right with the others for a few minutes, won’t he?”

“He should be. Worst comes to worst, I’ll talk to Billy and you can join the children.” Molly grinned.

“Oh, thank you, very much.” Arthur muttered as he headed for the door.

Out the split Dutch door and through the hedgerow into the field behind the multi-story house, Arthur muttered as he walked. Spying the children, Arthur paused and studied them. Charlie was kneeling in front of an area, scrapped free of grass, a stick in his hand, Ronnie and Ginny hanging on his every word, as his stick was alternately waving in the air or scratching away in the dirt. Billy was under a tree, a book in his hands, at his side Percy had a notebook and pencil and was studiously writing notes, about who-knows-what, but the surprise was that Freddy and George were only a few feet further away and they, too, were making notes in a book, or trying to, because every so often, Luna Lovegood would reach over from her spot at Billy’s feet, and steal their pencil. Then the twins would run around the field chasing Luna, when they caught her, they tickled her and all three went back to sit with Billy, until Luna stole their pencil, again.

Arthur decided that it would be best to not distract Charlie and his lecture, so he quietly walked around the edge of the field until he was beside Billy’s chosen tree.

“Billy?” He called quietly. All five of the studiers lifted their heads, but before they could call out, Arthur pressed his finger to his lips in a call for silence. The children’s eyes lit up at the sight of the redheaded man.

“Dad?” Billy’s voice was just as quiet.

Arthur raised an eyebrow and cocked his head in Charlie’s direction and all five turned, like their heads were on the same string.

“I don’t want to disturb the lecture.” Arthur grinned, his voice still low. All five pursed their lips and nodded. “Billy, head on in, mum wants a word, son. Nothing wrong.” He hastened to add when he saw the alarm on his eldest’s face. “Just something we want to let you know about. An opportunity for you to think about. Okay?”

“Okay?” Billy still seemed nervous, but Luna reached out and patted his leg.

“It’th tho’kay, Billy.” Her lispy little voice was calm. “Dey’ll teash you tho mush.” Then she had the twins’ pencil in her hand and was up and running, her tinkling laugh trailing behind her.

“Okay…” Billy and Arthur both looked slightly boggle-eyed at the tiny blonde girl.

“You head in, I’ll keep your seat, ready for when you get back.” Arthur grinned and held out a hand to lever his lanky son to his feet.

“Right.” Billy wandered off in the direction of the house, Charlie and his students none the wiser for the changeover.

Arthur sat and leant against the tree, within seconds, Percy was leaning against his leg, his pencil once more scratching away in his notebook.

“Any idea’s what Luna meant, Perce?” Arthur asked. “And when did she get here?”

“Mrs Lovegood brought her over about half an hour ago, dad. And Luna was babbling on about Billy and the twins getting a second family. Something about more dads. She’s going to live with them and there’ll be a set twin girls and some other boys. I wasn’t paying much notice, dad. Sorry.” Percy added the apology when he realised his dad was interested.

“It’s alright, lad.” Arthur reassured his son, then mused. “I wonder if there’s seer blood in her family?”

Percy’s eyes widened. “You mean she was right?”

A’ courthe I wath wight, Perthy.” Luna said. “Wathn’t I, Mither Weathley? Bilwy an’ Fwed an’ Georgze an’ me, ith gonna live with Unca Thiri and Unca Hawwy. We’s gonna haff more thitha’th and lo’th more bruffer’th.” She chattered away.

“Yeah, more sisters.” The twins nodded vigorously.

Arthur’s eyes widened.

“Oh my.” He thought carefully for a few minutes. “Percy? Will you be alright here, by yourself? I think I had best take Luna and the twins inside.”

“Of course, dad. Will I still be able to see them, when they leave?” Percy asked, like it was already done.

“No matter what happens, Percy, no matter what is decided, Billy, Fred and George are still your brothers and always will be. Okay?”

“O’ course we will be, we’s just getting more.” Fred patted Percy’s shoulder and raced off for the house, one hand holding Luna’s and one hand holding George’s.

“See?” Arthur grinned.

“Okay.” Percy nodded and lifted his notebook again.

Arthur followed his boys and Luna back through the hedge and into the house, arriving in time to hear Luna chatter away about new sisters and brothers and getting more fathers.

“… an’ dey’th gonna teash uth thooo mush, mithus Weathley.” She finished brightly.

Molly just looked at the little girl in shock.

“Now, Molly, dear. How about a drink for the kids, while I try and explain?” Arthur held his smirk back, by the skin of his teeth and Molly bustled around getting drinks and snacks, sneaking looks of confusion at Luna. “Alright, I’ll start at the beginning. Billy? Grandpa had named you his heir, I remember telling you this when you started Hogwarts.”

“Yes, dad.” Bill nodded.

“Good. Fred, George? You two are the only twins with Prewett blood, that means that when you are 15 you can claim the Prewett title.”

“U’kay.” Fred answered for them both.

“But there’s more to it for all three of you. Billy? A long time back, Parnell Weasley was Head of the Ancient and Noble House of Weasley, he made a deal with another House and even signed a contract, but Parnell was a greedy man and he broke faith, he didn’t hold his end of the bargain. The other House complained to the Wizengamot and House Weasley was stripped of it’s Wizengamot seat and the formal title of an Ancient and Noble House.” Bill’s eyes widened in alarm, dad had done his best to teach all of them that if they gave their word they had to keep it. “But there was an allowance made. If House Weasley kept faith and their future contracts, after 100 years they could apply for the title to be returned.”

Bill sighed in relief.

“And that’s where it gets complicated, for you and the twins.” The three boys looked at their dad, Fred and George not sure what any of this meant, yet. “Grandpa and I can teach about being Head of a House, but we can’t teach what’s involved in being Head of an Ancient and Noble House.”

“Oh…” Bill said.

“So that’s why we’re looking at fostering out, just you three lads. Grandpa and grandma have spoken to Lord Black and his Heir has shown an interest in the three of you.” Arthur paused. “And if Luna’s right… not just you lads.” He added.

“So, what’s that mean, dad?” Bill needed to know.

“Billy, you’ll be 15 in a few months, you might not be able to claim the title until grandpa says,  but if you’re going to, you need to learn what’s involved… Now, before you get concerned that it might stop you from doing what you want. It won’t, or at least it doesn’t have to. You need to know, but that doesn’t mean that you have to do it all, yourself. Lord Black has named his cousin, Cassiopeia, as his seneschal and a number of other Lords have named other people as theirs. But you still need to know enough to know, if they’re doing it properly. Okay?”

“Okay…”

“Same with Fred and George.” Arthur continued.

“But not me!” Luna chirped. “Mummy ith going to go to heaven an’ thee told daddy that Unca Hawwy an’ Unca Thiri will look affer me, until it’th time for me to join mummy!”

Arthur and Molly exchanged alarmed looked and silently promised to contact Pandora Lovegood and find out exactly what was going on.

“Alright, that’s good.” It took Arthur a few moments to gather his thoughts.

“So, you think this… Uncle Harry will teach me and the twins about being a Lord?” Bill asked.

“He will!” Luna chirped.

“In a way, yes. Sirius Black and his husband Henrick Snape-Urquart-”

Unca Thiri and Unca Hawwy!” Luna was adamant.

“Sirius and Harry, then. Sirius is Heir to House Black, while Harry is Lord Harrington and Heir McGonagall. Lord Black and Lord Prince have agreed that both Sirius and Harry need to learn what involved, in being Lords of Houses and they’ve agreed that if Sirius and Harry foster you three, they will teach all of you.”

“But the twins are only seven, dad, surely they don’t need to know, yet.” Bill frowned.

“No, they don’t, I agree. But Harry part of a set of triplets, they’ll be the closest to understanding  the bond between your brothers. And Sirius? Well… Sirius and his mates were some the worst… best(?)… worst pranksters that poor Hogwarts has ever seen. Your mother an I feel that the twins need that extra understanding and we can’t provide that.” Arthur explained.

“And…” Molly hesitated. “Harry and Sirius can provide that, that and they can teach you things we can’t. They can give you the attention we can’t.” She finished on a whisper.

“We’d like you to meet Sirius and Harry and decide for yourselves. It will always be your decision, Billy.” Arthur added.

“What about Fred and George?”

“That’s going to be a little slower. We’ll start off with some visits, then sleepovers, a weekend to two, then a week, leading up to staying for the summer and permanent fostering.”

Mummy an’ daddy haff gone to talk to Unca Hawwy an’ Unca Thiri an’ I kin shtay wiz t’em, while mummy goe’th to heaven.” Luna beamed.

“What about your daddy?” Fred asked.

Mummy thed dat thee’th goin’ to Heaven and daddy’s goin’ to Pieces.”

“Oh my.” Molly whispered.

Thee thed dat daddy would come back to me, but dat it will take a long time… an’ dat I’m gonna shtay wit Unca Harry an’ Unca Thiri until den.”

Molly sighed in relief.

“And us?” Fred asked.

You’th will be my bruffer’th an’ we’ll get more bruffer’th and some thither’th, too. But dey hathn’t bin borned yet. We’th will get a bruffer next year, but de ovver bruffer’th won’ come for anoffer twee yearth. An’ our thome of our thither’th won’ get here til I’n haffway trough Hogwart’th.”

“How many sisters and brothers will we have?” Fred asked.

A’thide Ginny, Ron an’ Perthy? T’wee thither’th an’ four bruffer’th. Anica, Helaine, Talitha, Braxthen, Mariu’th, Alioth and Trithtan.”

“O’kay. So, it’ll just be us to start with?”

“Yup.” Luna nodded.

Molly exchanged more looks with Arthur, while the children kept talking.

“When do we go? Where do we go?”

“Um…” Luna appeared to be thinking. “I’ma goin’ nex’ weetend, Billy will get a woom for ‘Alloween and you two will come for Yule holidayz. An’ cause Unca Harry was raithed ath a muddleborn we will get chrithmath, too. Unca Harry, Unca Thev an’ Aunt Mione are gonna teash uth to make chrithmath decor’ations to put onna biiigg twee.”

“So, what do we tell Charlie, Percy, Ron and Ginny?” Bill asked his father.

“I’m not sure yet, if will depend on whether you decide to go with them or not.”

“Dad, I think it’s pretty clear that Mrs Lovegood… or Luna… or both of them… have Seen that we will. It’s just a case of when.” Bill grinned.

“Fair enough, but I still want to talk to the Lovegood’s and Sirius and Harry. And I want you three to spent some time with them.” Arthur warned.

“Okay, so… Luna? When do we meet Uncle Siri and Uncle Harry?” Bill interrupted Luna as she told Molly and the twins about all the things Sirius and Harry were going to do with them.

What time ith-it?” Luna asked.

“Just after two o’clock…” Molly answered.

Oh, good, we shtill got time. Mummy and Unca Harry are goin’ ta floo-call here, but no’ ‘til twee o’cwock.”

Molly and Arthur sighed. “Good. I think we should let you four go back to join the others, Mum and I can call you all in if we need to.” Arthur said.

“Okay.” Bill knew there was more to it, but he also knew that his parents needed to talk about this without them listening in. “Come one you lot, there’s a tree out in the field and I want to finish my book. Let’s go.” With that Bill picked Luna up and swung her up onto his shoulders, then grabbed Fred and George by the hand and dragged them outside, crouching down so that Luna didn’t get hit by the door on the way through.

“Well…” Molly sighed. “If we’re going to get this sorted today, Pandora and Harry will just have to come here. There’s enough time, I’ll put some scones together. We can have a spot of tea.”

Chapter Text

“Molly? Molly? Are you home?” An airy woman’s voice came from the green flames of the floo.

“Pandora? Is that you?” Molly answered, she heard something different about the other woman’s voice. “You best come through, dear, I think we need to have a chat.”

“It is, Molly. May I bring someone with me? It’s quite relevant to the subject.”

“If it’s Professor Henrick or Heir Black, then yes, you’d better.” Molly’s voice was just a little hard. They were talking about her children after all.

“Ah, I take it Luna spilt the cauldron then?” Pandora said as she emerged from the flames.

“She did. Yes.” Molly sighed.

“Well, let’s all have a seat and get it all out in the open, shall we?” The blonde gave Molly a sad little smile as the flames spat out a tall raven haired man.

“Hello Mrs Weasley. Thank you for allowing us into your home.” He said.

The flames flared again and a second dark haired man, this one a little shorter than the other.

“Mrs Weasley. Good afternoon.” Sirius Black’s manners were refined and those a pureblood Heir would be proud of, but the glint of mischief in his eyes reminded Molly that Sirius and his friends were pranksters that still caused shudders in some of their classmates.

“Heir Black, Professor Henrick.” Molly nodded to both men.

“Tea?” Pandora lifted a gentile hand to her throat. “I’m parched, Molly, and I will miss your scones when I go.”

“Yes.” Snapped Molly. “When you go to heaven? It that right?” She snarled.

Pandora sighed. “Let’s sit, Molly, and I’ll explain.”

“You’d better.” The redheaded woman demanded and pointed the towards her kitchen.

Once in the kitchen, Molly set about making tea and placing a plate of scones on the table between the two men. Waving her wand to float butter, jam, honey and cream to the table, Molly filled the teapot and carried it to the table. She sat beside Henrick and Sirius and opposite Pandora.

“Alright, Pandora, we all have our tea. Now start. Why does Luna think you’re going to heaven?” Molly asked.

“Hmm… where to start?” Pandora hummed. “Cassandra Trelawney nee Alexiou. A seer of well documented repute. The blood of Kassandra of Troy is believed to have run through Cassandra’s veins. She bore her beloved husband, Anthony, two children, Nikolas and Theresa. Both carried her ability. Nikolas married early, Louisa Mayne bore him three children, a son and two daughters, Dorian, Nikoletta and Sybill. Nikolas died before Nikoletta and Sybill were a year old, he’d Seen his death and done everything he and his wife could think of to avoid it. The outcome? His Sight had come to pass years earlier than his visions had foretold. Theresa, also married, to Historian Jonathan Lipinsky, and like her brother she, too, had a son and two daughters, Christos, Larrisa and… Pandora.” She said into sudden silence.

“Like Nikolas, Theresa Saw her death and that of her eldest daughter, Larrisa. Unlike Nikolas, she searched, not for a way to avoid it, but for the truth behind it, for time, for the paths of her loved ones. And she found them. It was Theresa that found a way to manipulate what was Seen, not to avoid, but to understand. She passed that knowledge to my brother and I.” Pandora sipped at her tea before buttering herself a scone.

“So… You’ve Seen… your death?” Molly asked.

“I have. Mother taught Christos and myself how to search our Visions, how to See what would happen if we changed one thing here, or here, or there. I have spent days, manipulating my vision, trying to work out how, where, when and what will happen to those left behind. My death is not a fixed point, it can happen at many different times, depending on various decisions made beforehand.”

“But it will happen.” Henrick sighed, sadly.

“It will. What concerns me more is… What will happen to those left behind. Xeno. My beautiful Luna. I studied my vision, I twisted it, it changed it here, there and in so many places, but only one path would have Luna and Xeno smiling at Luna’s wedding.”

“And this is what you’ve chosen?” Molly asked.

“Yes. Luna will go to live with Harry and Sirius, this weekend. These two men will treat her as their family, but they will never try to take Xeno’s place, to them, they will be her uncles. Uncles who will love and guide her, until Xeno recovers.”

“Will he recover?” Sirius asked.

“Eventually. It will take many years, but eventually he will see joy in the world again. Until that time Luna will stay with her new uncles. Xeno will not be cut from her life, he will be encouraged to spend time with her, but it will be years before the pain of our severed Bond will dull.” Pandora answered.

“But… what about my boys?” Molly asked. “Luna said that they would be her brothers.”

“And so they will. Her family will be large. Your sons, Harry and Sirius and their children, Hermione and Remus and their children, Severus and Abigail and their children.”

Sirius spluttered. “Severus and Abigail?”

“Really?” Harry raised an eyebrow at Sirius. “You’ve got no problem with me playing cupid with Mione and Remus, but you can’t see Sev settling down?”

“No, it’s not that… I just didn’t see him with Abigail.” Sirius disagreed.

“And what’s wrong with Abigail?” Molly asked.

“Nothing, but she very different from Lily, that’s all.” Sirius tried to defuse the situation.

“He saw Lils as a sister, you blockhead, of course he wouldn’t be looking at Abigail the same way.” Harry shook his head in amusement, a ginger streak in his hair catching the light.

“Ooohhh…” Sirius drew out the sound in new understanding.

“So… your Vision… showed some of our boys, living with Henrick and-”

“Harry, please.” Harry cut in on Molly’s question.

“What?” Molly asked.

“Harry, please. According to Pandora we’re going to be sharing children, so let’s get rid of the formality, huh? Harry and Sirius.” Harry smiled.

Molly studied the younger man, before nodding.

“Harry, then.” She agreed. “So, your Vision showed some of our boys living with Harry and Sirius?”

“Yes, it did. Bill, Fred and George. When the boys return to school, Harry and Sirius will be listed as emergency contacts for all your boys. After the Halloween feast, Bill will be given a room in their quarters that is just his, one that he doesn’t have to share with the twins or the rest of your boys when they go to visit. As for the twins? After Halloween, they’ll spend time each weekend with their new uncles, until Christmas. They’ll have Christmas lunch here and afterwards, they’ll join Harry and Sirius and the rest of their extended family for a late Christmas tea. One of their gifts from Harry and Sirius will be a room of their own and a room for you and your family to use when you visit them. From that point on they will stay with Harry and Sirius.” Pandora could see that Molly was uncertain, still. “Both Harry and Sirius will encourage all three boys to spend time here, during their holidays, floo-ing back and forth. You will not loose your sons, Molly, Harry won’t let that happen. He and Sirius might be responsible for them, but you and Arthur will always be their parents. You will give them a parent’s love and Harry and Sirius will give them an uncle’s love.”

Molly sighed in relief.

“Bill will spend time with Harry and Sirius each weekend and after Halloween, so will the twins.” Pandora added.

“But there’s a lot we still need to cover before we get that far.” Harry tapped his knife handle on the table.

“Like?”

“Bill is your eldest? And from what Arcturus said, he will be Heir Weasley.”

“Yes, he will be.” Molly wished she hadn’t sent Arthur to keep the children occupied. This was something he should be a part of. “And the twins will be… are the Heirs Prewett.”

“Yeah… So, Arcturus has offered to include them in the lessons he’ll be giving Sirius and I.” Harry grimaced as he said the word ‘lessons’.

“Grandfather would like them to start early in the new year. No hurry and they won’t be very intensive, but he’s getting more persistent that we commit to a start date.” Sirius added.

Molly managed to hold her grin back to a small smile at the reluctance both men were showing for these ‘lessons’.

“So, do you know what is involved in these lessons?” She asked.

“Arcturus has written out a list of things. Wizengamot protocols. Business etiquette. Social etiquette. Business management. Stock holding. Financial management. Record keeping. Information validation. Property management. Family history. Family Lore-” Sirius recited.

“He’s going to ask Septimus to take Bill for Family history and lore.” Harry cut in. “But we’ve no idea what we’re going to do about the twins for that. Molly? Is there anyone on the Prewett side that can help?” Harry knew full well that Muriel was the current lore-keeper.

“Muriel, I think. I’ll pop over and speak to her this evening.” Molly answered.

“That would be much appreciated.” Harry thanked her.

“Not a worry, dear. And as long as it doesn’t interfere with Bill’s classes, I’ll leave it to you to decide when. The twins? I do think that they shouldn’t have to start just yet, but if you can get them to sit still, some things may interest them.”

“If a subject interests them, we’ll include them, if it doesn’t… we’ll wait. We’ve time, yet.” Sirius huffed relieved.

“Thank heavens for that.” Molly agreed. “We’d never survive, if Bill and the twins were the same age.”

“Like that, are they?” Harry grinned.

“Oh yes…” Molly replied fervently. “Now would you like to meet them?”

Sirius and Harry shared an excited look. “Yes, please.” They said together.

“We met Bill last week, at the Hogwarts’ workshops, but we only had a few minutes with him, enough to for us to consider Arcturus’ suggestion.” Sirius added.

“Why do you call him Arcturus and not grandfather? Isn’t he your paternal grandfather?” Molly asked, after having sent Arthur a patronus message.

“He is, but… I never had much to do with him. Mother and Father… they were… dark. That’s all you can call them, Dark. They supported You-Know-Who and his pureblood mania, financed him, too. If they could have they would have given Regulus and myself to Him, even as infants. Arcturus, however, is Lord Black and they knew he did not approve of a Black bowing to an upstart Half-blood from nowhere. Arcturus knew that Tom Riddle was at Hogwarts with Father. I think Father was a year behind him.”

“Who is Tom Riddle? I’ve heard that name before, but I can’t remember, where.” Molly frowned in thought.

“Tom Marvolo Riddle is the same monster that we call You-Know-Who.” Harry sighed. “Thanks to Dumbledore, people are afraid of Hi-”

“Dumbledore? What’s he got to do with Him?” Molly demanded.

“Everything. Dumbledore was responsible to introducing him to the Wizarding world, he was responsible to monitoring the boy’s home life. He was supposed to mentor the boy, but instead he forced him back into a muggle orphanage, one he knew was abusive, where Tom dreaded going, each year. But no… Dumbledore insisted that he return. From Tom’s school records we know that, of his seven years at Hogwarts, six of them he started the year injured.” Harry explained.

“Oh, my.”

“Yeah, basically Dumbledore created the Dark Lord and then did nothing to stop him.” Sirius shook his head.

Luna’s light voice was heard as she, Arthur, Bill and the twins approached the house.

“You’s gonna love Unca Harry and Unca Siri. They’s sooo sooo much fun.” Even Luna’s heavy lisp was becoming understandable, at least to those inside the Weasley house. “Here we’s are, Mummy!” Luna crowed as the split barn-door opened.

“So I see, my little love.” Pandora smiled, a soft bittersweet smile.

“Hullo, Mrs Weasley. Hullo Unca Harry, Unca Siri.” The little blonde chirped brightly.

“Hullo, Luna.” Harry and Sirius both chirped back, just as brightly, making everyone in the room smile.

“Come sit with me, my little love.” Pandora held out her hand.

Luna beamed with joy and danced around the table to her mother’s side, climbed deftly up onto the offered lap. “There you are. Molly?”

“Thank you, Pandora. Boys? Come on in.” Bill and the twins entered the house and quietly, or as quietly as the twins could be, sat down near their mother. “I take it, your father is staying with the others?” She asked.

“Yes’m.” Bill whispered. “He said, he’d come in, soon. Just wanted to get Charlie started on a talk about how some of the professional quidditch teams did their training sessions. He thought that would keep Charlie, Ronnie and Ginny busy for an hour or two, before they realised that dad wasn’t still there.”

Harry and Sirius snorted trying to hide their amusement.

“Yes, he would.” Molly sighed in resignation. “Alright, we won’t wait in him. Bill, Fred, George? These two men are Harry and Sirius…? Ah… What are you using for a surname?” She turned to Sirius, first, then Harry.

“We’re using Snape-Black, generally.” Sirius answered. “Formally, we use whatever title we need to, but for day-to-day use? Snape-Black.” Sirius still couldn’t believe that he willingly took his school enemy’s name. Not that Severus was his enemy, anymore, but still…

“So, Luna says we’re going enjoy staying with you.” Bill tried to be positive, but the thought of leaving his family was a scary one.

“We hope so.” Sirius started.

“But Bill? We’re not going to expect you to just leap from your family to ours. Right? That’s not going to happen. We’re hoping that you’ll spend some time with us, a few weekends, maybe. Luna seems to think that you’ll pick a room of your own around Halloween. What we were thinking was that… maybe we could have your family come stay for a weekend.” Harry added.

“Yeah.” Sirius caught on. “We’re not taking you away from them.”

“Never.” Harry denied. “They’ll always be your family.”

“Just… so will we.” Sirius said. “We’ll be the fun uncles everyone wants.”

“But we will be teaching you, too. Things that your mum says, there’s no one in your family that can teach you. We’re not trying to replace your family… we’re adding to it.”

“Giving you another set people that you can turn to.”

“The real downside is that you’ll be answerable to more people, if you get into trouble. Deliberately, that is. Accidents happen and we’ll never blame you for an accident that wasn’t avoidable.”

“Avoidable ones might get you a lecture. Depends on the circumstances.” Sirius shrugged.

“But the thing you need to know, more than anything…” Harry paused.

“We will not take your family from you.” Both men said firmly.

Bill was trying not to laugh at the expressions on Pandora and his mother’s faces. And the twins were no help, they had fallen off their chairs and were laying on the floor holding their sides as tears of laughter ran down their faces.

“See, I told you… they’re so much fun.” Luna laughed.

Billy took a couple of deep breaths and made sure not to look at the twins or the mothers, he was sure that would set him off again.

“Okay…” He gasped. “I think we get it. More family not less.”

“Yep.” Sirius grinned.

“But you’ll give us time to get used to you? Right?” Bill asked.

“Of course, we will. No leaping into things unknown.” Harry replied adamantly.

“You do realise, I’m a Gryffindor, right? That’s kinda what we do.”

“True… But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a plan too.” Harry advised.

“Just don’t be surprised if your plan goes out the window, fast.” Sirius was reminded of watching Harry’s memories of the Great Horcruxe Hunt.

Bill studied the two men, the twins now leaning against him. He knew the twins understood that Bill saw things in the same way they did, a different way to the rest of the family. Finally Bill looked down at each of them, Fred first, then George.

He nodded.

“We can work with that.” Bill smirked. “I hope you know what you got yourselves into.”

“Oh… we do, more than you’d think.” Harry smirked back, he could remember the teenaged Fred and George and the pandemonium they created in their fight against Umbridge.

Chapter Text

Minerva looked up from the chess board, as her children and their friends stumbled into the room, Filius was winning… so much so that Minerva was tempted to hex the smile off the part-goblin’s face. The tired but pleased smiles the younger people wore, soothed her worries… a little, anyway.

“Where have you been?” She chided them. “I expected you hours ago.”

“Sorry, Máthair. We were done about four hours ago, but Sirius decided to take a side trip and that meant we had to raid Lord Black’s library. Then Sev lead us on another side trip, that one took us to southern Wiltshire.” Hermione answered.

“But it’s all over now and we’re done.” Harry added.

“At least for today.” Hermione sighed.

“I take it things went well, then?” She asked them.

“Yes, Máthair.” The triplets answered.

“Fenrir Greyback’s pack are a thing of the past.” Remus smile became brilliant.

“Oh, well done, well done. Sit down and tell me the details, while Telli, Dalli, Dobby and Kreacher get you something to eat.” Minerva beamed at them, letting the worry over their self-appointed task float away.

“Oh, yes please, Máthair.” Hermione sighed in relief. “You start, Sev.”

Severus just nodded and began. “When Remus told us of his contact in the pack, we agreed that we shouldn’t break his cover, so we waited until Remus had left, before we acted. It took only a moment for me… and Harry… to get the location of the pack’s current lodgings from the contact’s mind, via legilimency. We apparated to a nearby location, cast scent-dampening and silencing charms as well as over powered notice-me-not’s on all of us, before we approached their camp. Our timing was excellent, as they were just preparing to dish out their midday meal. We had debated which way to go, a potion in their stew or the three of us casting one of Hermione’s more obscure sleep charms.” He sighed in pleasure as food began appearing on the table. “In the end we went for a combination of the two. We spelled a sleeping potion directly into their cauldron and waited to see how many ate, before we started casting. It was a good thing that we had both options, as some of the less... consenting... wolves weren’t fed-”

“-and neither were the cubs.” Harry snarled.

“No.” Sev conceded. “But, at least we had dealt with their strongest wolves, with the potion. Once we realised the captives and the cubs weren’t being fed we began to cast, with Remus and Sirius as our guards, just in case someone wasn’t as sedated as they looked.”

“But they had no problems.” Remus put in quickly.

“We didn’t, true.” Sev nodded. “With everyone present comatose, Remus apparated back to the shack and collected the cauldron of antivenin. Then it was a case of… what to do and to whom? We couldn’t leave them as they were, some were muggles, others squibs and others were wizards. Leaving them wasn’t really an option.”

“So, we split them into groups. First? We used legilimency on them to work out what category they fell into and divided them up.” Harry took up the narration. “Besides Fenrir and his lieutenants, there were three willing wizards and one witch. They were the worst of the lot. We just dumped them in the DMLE holding cells, without the benefit of the… of Harry’s potion. The rest were turned without their consent. There were a dozen or so, witches and wizards. A half dozen squibs and about ten muggles, not including the cubs. We all had measuring-syringes and so, we began to dose them.”

“But after that it got complicated.” Hermione joined in. “Three of the muggles, two squibs and two witches were… used as… well, for breeding, I suppose you’d say. Between them, there were nine cubs, not including five kidnapped muggle children yet to be turned.”

“Oh, hell.” Minerva moaned.

“Yeah.” Sirius huffed a sigh. “So… we kind of felt we needed to do something about them.”

“Yes. Yes, I can see you would.” Minerva smiled sadly.

“Yeah, well…” Sirius grimaced slightly. “Hermione and Remus began casting charms to work out who were the parents of which child, then we had to think about it.”

“One child, Luke, his parents were the one of the unwillingly-infected witches and an unwillingly-infected squib. The mother wanted nothing to do with the child, she loathed him, she refused have anything to do with him, not anything at all. But his father loved him, cared for him, wanted him. We talked it over and decided that we would leave father and son together. With the boy being a squib, too, we didn’t really see an issue with it. We left him a note to go to Ragnok and dropped him in a prepaid motel room, not that far from Diagon alley.” Hermione went on. “Another three children had the same mother and father, the mother was the other witch, but the father was a muggle. After checking that all three children were magical, we felt they could stay with their mother, the father couldn’t care less. Sirius knew who she was and that she and her father were the last of their family bloodline, so children were not a bad thing. Again we sent a note with her to take to Ragnok, her family have never been well off, always been in the lowest income bracket, they’ve struggled along, but when her brother was killed in a Death-Eater raid, the family lost the will to fight on. Children might be enough to change that. Harry directed Ragnok to send them to one of the Peverell estates, they’re good workers, loyal and honest, our elves can do with someone to work the land, while they see to the buildings.” Severus added.

“The last ones we kept together were a wizard and a squib, they’d formed a genuine bond with each other and their two magical children. Same as with the last witch, I left a note for Ragnok to send them to one of my estates, whichever was closest to liveable.” Harry said, lifting a fork to his mouth.

“The rest? They were all over the place and with no attachments, we decided to leave them for St Mungo's to deal with. Except the muggles, of course. Them, we did a selective obliviate on, removed anything after they went to bed the night before they were bitten.” Sev said.

“All but one, him we obliviated everything from, he was sought out by Greyback, not because Greyback was a werewolf, but because he was a violent man. We removed everything from him and left him for the muggles to sort out.” Hermione smirked.

“And the muggle children?” Minerva asked.

“I tested them, Máthair. Other than the ones already mentioned, all are purely muggle, so we applied the same obliviate that we used on the adult muggles, before we deposited them at different muggle hospitals. None of them too close to their homes, though, we want the muggle authorities to be involved, one girl was being abused by a family member and two of the boys were being beaten on a regular basis.”

“Oh dear.” Minerva sighed.

“But with the authorities involved? That should come to a halt. If not? We can always step in.” Harry admitted.

“Yes, let’s keep an eye on them.” Minerva agreed. “Now… what of Sirius’ side trip? What was that about?”

“Well…? No one told me that Frank and Alice were in St Mungo's. Not until tonight, anyway. We went to see them and…” Sirius paused.

“Somehow, only a few specialist healers are still being taught that curses using Family Magics are visible to the Head of the Family and their Heir.” Hermione scowled.

“So… apparently Bellatrix used a Family Magic based curse on Frank and Alice… and as Sirius is Heir to House Black…?” Harry trailed off.

“…he could see the curse?” Minerva asked resignedly.

“Yep, but he didn’t know what he was seeing.” Harry answered. “When he asked a healer about the faint red shimmer, the healers became agitated and confused, but eventually Healer Strout was called in and he knew what Sirius was on about and asked Sirius to speak to Lord Black about it.”

“Which is where we went for about an hour, going through book after book in the Black Library.” Severus sat back with a cup of tea in his hands. “Then it was back to St Mungo's with Lord Black, to see which of the Family-originated terminating phrases would work. Then we had to give a statement to the DMLE, as Bellatrix using Family Magic, even on a non-Family member, could actually sidestep her conviction, but Lord Black was furious, he asked for the use of the DMLE’s ritual chamber so he could disown her. He cited her abuse of the Family Magics as justification, after all Frank is a son of House Black, through his grandmother, Callidora.”

“Did it work? The terminating phrases? Did one of them work?” Minerva’s eyes were wide.

“Oh, yeah…” Harry grinned. “Frank sat up swearing and Alice? If she’d had a wand in her hand, we’d probably all have been well and truly hexed.”

“Augusta and Lawrence will be delighted to have them back.” Minerva wiped a tear from her cheek.

“They might be, but I can say with absolute certainty, that some members of the Longbottom and Greengrass families won’t be pleased.” Harry’s grin was vicious.

“Algernon Longbottom and Domitian Greengrass, in particular.” Hermione’s grin was just as vicious.

“Why them?” Minerva asked.

“They were the ones to put Neville in life-threatening situations, just to try and get his accidental magic to flare up.” Hermione answered.

“Either that or they were actually trying to kill him. We could never work out which it was.” Harry frowned.

“They were what?!” Minerva screeched.

“Not that it matters anymore.” Hermione grinned. “Frank and Alice will take care of that, now.”

“I see.” Minerva nodded. “And Severus’ side trip?”

The five younger people all paused, looking at each other. No one wanted to explain this time.

“Gentlemen? Hermione?” Minerva frowned at them.

After a few more grunts and head-shakes, Harry sighed.

“Alright… but you owe me, Sev.” He muttered. “While we were with Lord Black, he raised the matter of a letter he’d received. From Narcissa and Lucius. She was wanting to affirm her position in the Black Family. Lucius might be Heir Malfoy and his father’s mental health might have been deteriorating for some time, but Abraxas is still Lord Malfoy. His business decisions are getting worse and Lucius was requesting a formal meeting to discuss removing Abraxas through the Wizengamot. They both stated their willingness to discuss any oaths that Arcturus felt necessary, if he would support Lucius’ proposal.” Harry continued. “While Remus, Mione and I searched the library, Sirius and Severus discussed the matter with Lord Black. It took some time, but Arcturus will support Lucius, after the appropriate oaths are agreed on and taken, of course. But once we’d finished at St Mungo's, Sev asked if I’d meet with Lucius. If, under oath or veritaserum, or both, Lucius swore that he was not a loyal Voldy follower? Would I consider removing his Darkmark?”

“Oh, my.” Minerva gasped.

“Yeah, my reaction wasn’t quite so… positive. I’d seen Lucius do some horrid things during the second war, but…? This Lucius, isn’t that Lucius, not yet. And even the older Lucius was never that strident a follower, he was more of the ‘if it protects my family, I’ll do it’, sort of follower. I figured that veritaserum and a truth charm, together, should be enough to sure, though.”

“And?” Minerva held her breath.

“Abraxas was responsible for Lucius being Marked, he was still a child when it was done, 13 years old. Abraxas ordered him and told him if he didn’t, then Lucius’ little sister would be given to the Death-Eaters to use however they wanted. She was 8 years old. Even back then, Abraxas was losing his mind. Lucius spent a very scared few years, trying to protect her, but Abraxas couldn’t have cared less about her and he gave her to Voldy. Voldy… he... used her... and killed her. In front of his Death-Eaters. In front of Abraxas. In front of Lucius. She was 11 years old when she died.” Harry snarled.

“Oh gods above.” Minerva whimpered.

“It says a lot about Voldy, doesn’t it?” Harry twisted his lips into a semblance of a smile. “I couldn’t… I just couldn’t leave Lucius, not then.”

“No, I wouldn’t think you could.” Minerva gave him a sad smile.

“I removed his Mark and suggested that Lucius give the memory of Abraxas’ ultimatum to the Wizengamot. He can then show his bare arm, saying something like… ‘with not being a true follower, when he died, his Mark died with him, but that Lucius’ position as heir meant that he was forced to follow Abraxas’ orders and not speak on the matter, but with Abraxas’ failing mental health, Lucius was able to break the compulsion and take action, hopefully before Abraxas destroyed the House of Malfoy’, or something… He’s good with the word-spin, he can think of something, I’m sure.” Harry sighed.

Minerva poured herself a cup of tea. “So… let me see if I understand your day’s efforts? Greyback’s in DMLE custody, still a werewolf, along with his lieutenants. But his pack is gone. All dosed with the antivenin. Frank and Alice are awake and quite probably headed for the duelling mat, in regards to certain family members. Lucius Malfoy is unMarked. Plans are in place to remove Abraxas as Lord Malfoy.” Minerva tilted her head in thought. “Does St Mungo's have the werewolf potion? Or are you keeping the recipe secret?”

“Nope, we sent the remains of the cauldron, the recipe and the dosage chart to St Mungo's, with a note that says that Gringotts will be announcing the ‘cure’ in the daily prophet in two days, recipe and dosage chart, included. Just in case they get a bit reticent.” Sirius smirked.

“I see…” Minerva sat back and sipped at her tea in a gentile manner. “So… what’s left?”

“For this year?” Hermione asked.

“To start with, yes.” Minerva answered.

“We’re waiting on Ragnok and his goblins to… end Voldy.” Hermione started.

“Bogrod says, his team are already in Albania, but encountering a little difficulty in locating Voldy’s particular copse of trees. They have narrowed it down, significantly, and expect to make contact in the next day or two.” Harry expanded on his sister’s comment.

“Luna’s already moved in, so we don’t have to worry about sorting out her room.” Sirius grinned.

“We’ll pick her up before lunch tomorrow.” Harry added. “She’s having a sleepover with Ginny Weasley, tonight.”

“Harry’s making noises about seeing Dumbles.” Remus added.

“I want to want until I hear from Ragnok, though. Telling Dumbles, Voldy’s truly gone is worth the wait.” Harry put in.

“Students arrive in three days.” Severus said.

“We need to set a schedule for some lessons for Filch and the others with unbound cores.” Harry warned.

“Now that he’s close to getting cleared by St Mungo's, we need to think about it.” Remus agreed.

“We should sort out a room for Weasley’s on masse.” Hermione added.

“I want to make a room just for Bill.” Harry mused.

“And a room for the twins, too.” Sirius reminded his husband.

“Maybe we should rearrange the trunks into smaller units.” Severus suggested.

“Sounds like a good idea.” Filius nodded, pleased he was finally beginning to be able to follow these multi-directional conversations.

“I’ve put an alert in place for Alioth’s birth in December.” Harry informed the others.

“Alioth?” Minerva and Filius both asked.

“Oh… um… Alioth is… Alioth will be the first of our fully adopted children, he’ll be born just a few days before New Year’s.”

“Harry didn’t find out about Alioth until he was asked to investigate unusual outbursts of accidental magic in a muggle area. The reason it was handed to the Aurors was that WFS and Hogwarts’ Book of Names had no magical children in that area. It turned out to be Alioth and an unstable core. His parents were both killed in muggle traffic accidents, his mother first-” Hermione added.

“March 12th 1988, she was hit by a drunk driver. She was badly injured, but it was her head injury that was fatal.” Harry cut in. “His father was the grandson of Marius Black-” Sirius gasped, but Harry continued. “-but Castor, Marius’ Grandson, died when a delivery van crashed into a construction site, in August of 1993, the scaffolding around the partially completed build collapsed and Castor was dead before he hit the ground. Alioth Black’s letter was due to be sent out in ‘96, but Dumbledore decided that he couldn’t have that. He was Dark and related to me. Alioth was just one of the children that Dumbledore saw never came to Hogwarts. Unfortunately, Dumbledore hadn’t bargained on how strong his core was and a couple of years ago, he broke the binding.”

Minerva and Filius gasped.

“Yeah, it exploded, violently. The explosion was… it was bad, really bad. It killed Alioth and five others, all muggles. I had just interviewed him and he’d agreed to come to St Mungo's for treatment, but needed to inform his boss, before leaving his work site, so I said I’d meet him in the alley next door. The explosion hit like a rogue bludger, I had no chance to even get a shield up, Ron and his trainee were coming to meet us and saw it, they pulled me from the rubble, but there was no chance for Alioth. He was only days away from turning 17.” Harry sighed.

“So, why are you letting his parents die? Why not save them, too?” Filius asked.

“I thought about it, but his mother was a drug addict and a low-priced whore, she died when he was less than a year old, leaving him in the muggle welfare system. A diary she left for Alioth, said that she never knew who his father was, she left his birth certificate blank and Alioth’s name was randomly picked out of a book, that she selected blindfolded. It just sounded right, she wrote. And as for his father? We had to test Alioth’s remains, just to identify him, but that also gave us the names of his parents. Castor was married and beat his wife senseless, almost weekly. The only good thing is… with his death, in ’93, that his wife was able to move away from the city and raise her two un-magical children quietly. Alioth is a son of House Black, with Black blood. He deserves a better life than he had and with him already having Black blood, Arcturus is less likely to object to the adoption and him being named Heir-Dependent.” Harry shrugged.

“And the other children?”

“First will be Alioth, about the middle of next year, like I said both parents dead. Next would be… Marcus and Tristan, I think.” Harry looked over at Hermione. “The Desmond twins.”

“Let me think… Oh yes. Twin boys, born 3rd of June 1988. Mother, Gloria Desmond, squib. The twins are the result of their mother’s rape and torture at the hands of a pair of unknown muggles, both boys showing as muggleborns. Gloria, too, is a drug addict, both boys suffered withdrawal symptoms at birth and were removed by the muggle child welfare department, immediately after birth.” Hermione recited. “Accepted to Hogwarts in ’99, sorted into Ravenclaw, OWLs in 2004, top two in all their selected subjects.” She paused. “Loners, completely dismissed any and all overtures of friendship from their year-mates.”

“That’s them.” Harry nodded.

“I’m beginning to see a pattern here, Harry.” Sirius nudged his husband with a shoulder.

“You are. Helaine is born in January ’89, but won’t be in a position for us to remove until her mother’s death in January the following year.”

“Why not?”

“Her parent’s aren’t abusive, they just can’t be bothered with dealing with her, but she has a full-time nanny. In January ’90, there’ll be a fairly large accident, a shopping complex collapse, Helaine will be separated from her parents and nanny. It took three months to reunite her with her father, he didn’t look for her at all, the only reason they were reunited, was the nanny kept pushing. The nanny, not her father.” Harry answered.

“Wasn’t the nanny fired for that?” Hermione frowned in thought.

“Yep. The father was tired of the nanny interrupting his work.” Harry lips twisted in disgust.

“Oh, the poor dear.” Minerva said quietly.

“Nah. The nanny hated him and the kid, she was only doing it to annoy.” Harry disgust deepened.

“Oh.” What else could Minerva say?

“Helaine was sorted into Hufflepuff, in 2001. She swore that September 1st, 2006 would be the last time she ever had to see her father again.”

“So removing her during the confusion of the building collapse…?” Filius began.

“…will be easy. Leave a golem, or parts of a golem, in her place. Muggles won’t know the difference. She’ll have a family that love and want her and the muggles won’t really miss her.” Harry finished the part-goblin’s sentence.

“Indeed.” Severus nodded.

“Is that all? Of the children, I mean.” Minerva expanded her question.

“Nope, that’s only half of them. Braxten’s documented as being born in October '89, but he doesn’t come to the attention of the UK authorities until late June in 1990. We were never able to back track where he was before then. Not even breaking into the muggle system helped. There’s no record of his birth and an ID test at Gringotts, registered his parents as Laura May Wescott and Adam William Bennett, both were listed as being deceased. Only problem is… Wescott and Bennett were listed as deceased, back before my parents died.” Harry frowned.

“We believe that someone used permanent physical and mental de-aging potions and rituals on Braxten, which is why his birth date is reading so long after his parents’ deaths.” Hermione added.

“It’s only supposition, but… it fits. St Mungo's did a multitude of tests on Braxten, after he got his letter, but that was the only scenario that Gringotts, St Mungo's and the Ministry could agree on.” Harry shrugged.

“So grabbing him is going to be easy, too, we back-tracked him to the day he was found, 21st June 1990, at Fishguard in south Wales. He was found wrapped in blanket in a basket, a little before midnight, not an adult in sight on the sand with no footprints around. We figure he was placed there, either by portkey or levitation. Prior to that, nothing, and as he appeared to be less than a year old? He went into the muggle welfare system, immediately.” Hermione nodded.

“And last are the twin girls I told you about, the ones that the idiot locked into a soul container. Anica and Talitha. Born late May ’94. Muggle mother, muggleborn father. Mother dies in childbirth, apparently from a heart defect, father is a drunk, takes his anger out on the girls. Given the damage done before that idiot realised a soul container wasn’t a soul-and-body container, the healers said they’d never recover.” Harry added to the explanation.

“And their father didn’t want them back?” Filius asked.

“He never wanted kids, so why should he have to keep them? That’s what he told us when we notified him that they’d been found.”

“Oh, my.” Both Minerva and Filius’ expressions were alarmed.

“Yeah.” Harry sighed. “You can see why I’m claiming them.”

“Besides that? As Harry said, Alioth is a Black. Marcus and Tristan are the children of a disowned squib. Helaine’s parent just don’t give a damn. Braxten’s the victim of de-aging potions and rituals. And Anica and Talitha are mind-linked twins. Add to all this… Helaine’s father and Harry’s mother shared a great grandmother and Braxten’s father and Harry’s shared a great great grandmother. There’s enough of a blood connection that he would have been the Magical guardian for Alioth, was the guardian for Braxten and Helaine, and after Anica and Talitha’s father rejected them, he was working towards claiming them, when he had to go and play with wolfwort, castor beans and blue moonflowers.” Hermione started poking Harry in the ribs when she reached the word ‘wolfwort’, her tone sharp.

“Okay, okay, Mione. I’ll pay more attention to safe brewing practises.” He batted at her hands.

“Do.” She sniffed.

“Alright, Miss Mione. If we’re done for the night? I’d like to spend some personal-” Sirius waggled his eyebrows, “time with my husband, please.”

Hermione and Severus shared a speaking look.

“Don’t forget to shield our link, please. I don’t need to be a party to what you pair get up to.” Severus grimaced.

“Same here.” Mione frowned.

“Will do.” Harry cheerfully replied as Sirius dragged him from the room.

Hermione sighed in pleasure. “It’s so good to see Harry smiling.”

“Was he not happy? Back then…?” Remus asked.

“I don’t think he was unhappy, but he certainly wasn’t happy. I’m not sure you could even say ‘content’. I think it was more resigned that, that was as good as it was going to get.” She answered.

“Really?” Filius asked. “He seems quite cheerful.”

“He is… now…” Hermione responded. “I was doubtful about he and Sirius. I wasn’t sure either of them could see the other for who they actually are, but as per usual, Harry has proved me wrong. Harry doesn’t see this Sirius as a father substitute and this Sirius doesn’t look at Harry and see James.”

“If only he’d remember to shield our link, when they get… amorous.” Severus whinged.

“Yeah, that’d be good. I might be happy for them, but I don’t need to see my brother like that.” Hermione agreed.

“True, but… they do have the right idea. Some quiet time would be good, before the madness of the new school year.” Remus suggested.

“I’ll leave you two to sort through the books Arcturus gave us, I feel like some stargazing.” Severus tilted his head. “Máthair? Care to join me?”

“Up on the astronomy tower, portcullis keep or the owlery?” Minerva stood and pushed her chair back.

“Portcullis keep, I think.” Severus replied as he offered Minerva his arm and the two left, chatting about the meeting with the Governors the following evening. Once they were a floor away, Severus asked a question. “Do you think Mione and Remus have any idea what Harry’s planned for them?”

“Oh, I do hope not. It’s quite entertaining to watch them waltz around each other.” Minerva laughed in reply.

“Hmm… I wonder how long it will take before Hermione realises?” The young man pondered.

“Well, personally? I’m putting my ʛalleons on… oh, let’s say… Yule? Yes, Yule will do nicely. You, Severus?”

“Me? Bet on my sister’s love life?” Severus sounded horrified.

“Oh, don’t you try and pull that on me, Severus Snape-Urquart. I can remember you and Regulus taking bets on when James would ask Lily to marry him. I seem to recall you winning that bet, too.”

Severus smirked. “Reg somehow talked Sirius into laying a bet, too, Máthair. I won… oh, how much was it? About a ʛ100, I think.”

“See?” Minerva crowed.

“Yes, Máthair.” Severus sighed. “What are you thinking?”

“Oh, lets make it interesting, shall we? Just between the two of us? Say… two hours of essay marking?”

“And your terms?” Severus tilted his head in question.

“Hmm… Who makes the first move? And when? And who figures out Harry’s involvement first?”

Severus considered the terms. “Alright. When? You said Yule. I say Spring Solstice.”

“Agreed.” Minerva stated. “And who makes the first move?”

“Remus.” Severus replied bluntly.

“Hmm… And who sees Harry’s stirring rod in the cauldron?”

“That one, I’ll give you, Máthair. I don’t think either of them will realise it, not until he tells them. I think Sirius will see it before they do.”

“Really? What makes you say that?”

“The link the three of us share? I saw a lot of their memories, before we worked out how to give each of us private space. Remus… that older Remus, anyway. He was… he lacked self-worth. Yes, he was a competent DADA teacher, he taught Harry so much, but personally? The stigma of being a werewolf had drained his confidence and the physical strain of a moon-forced change every month, had drained his vitality. He was old before his years, Máthair. You know werewolves rarely survive 40 years after being bitten? Well, Remus was four years old when Greyback bit him and was 38 when he was killed, it would have been unlikely that he’d have seen his newborn son start at Hogwarts.”

“I see. And Hermione?”

“Bluntly, she doesn’t want to see it. She knows that Harry has a phenomenal success rate at matchmaking, but she’s thinking he’s going to be too busy teaching, being a father and husband to bother with matchmaking.”

“And you think he’s not?”

“Oh, I know he’s not.” Severus denied. “He’s matching and those two aren’t the only ones he’s got his eye on. Hermione and Remus, you know about. There’s also, Nymphadora Tonks and Charles Weasley. In that ‘other’ time, Remus and Nymphadora were married. Our Bill and another 4th year, Laura Oswald, the other Bill married a French part-Veela. Myself and Abigail. Oh and he thinks Professors Vector and Hamilton would be suited, too.” Severus recited.

“You and… Abigail?”

“Yes, we got along quite well as students. I tutored her for Potions and she assisted me in understanding the arithmantic properties of some of the NEWT potions.”

“Ah. You don’t seem… concerned, about the implications, I mean.”

“I’m not, Máthair. Abigail is a smart woman, we both saw Harry’s meddling, immediately, and as we know that he’s not being mean or manipulative about it, neither of us are taking offence. We’ll let him do his finagling, as long as we both have our eyes open and it keeps Harry happy, we’re okay with it. That may change in the future, but for right now?”

“For right now, it’s fine.” Minerva smiled at her son.

“Yes.” Severus smiled back.

“Very well, I’ll stay out of it. For now.”

“Thank you, Máthair.

“Whoever’s closest, wins. Agreed? May the best witch win.” With that last taunt, Minerva turned her attention to the old telescope that rested between the keep’s battlements.

 

~~~~~

 

Two more days passed and Hogwarts was ready. The great Hall was cleaned and dressed, the House pennants were gleaming in the sunlight and fresh candles were ready to light. The portraits were excited, waiting to see the students come back, to watch the new classes, to see the new teachers interact with the students. And the teachers themselves, they were ready, too. Letters had been sent and answers received. The school was now home to almost 100 staff members, teachers, administration assistants, janitorial staff and grounds staff, all swelling the adult population of the school to levels not seen in almost a century.

Yes, Hogwarts was ready.

All the new teachers, all the old teachers and the new staff, stood quietly as Headmistress Minerva McGonagall entered the hall for breakfast, on the last day before the term started.

“Good morning.” She said, settling herself into the central throne-like seat that was reserved to the school’s Head.

Various responses came from various people, all bright and cheerful.

“Good morning, Máthair.” The triplets chirped.

“Good morning, my dears. Are you ready for term?”

“Yes Máthair.” Harry said.

“Good. I’m very pleased to hear it. I have had a delivery this morning.”She removed a hand from sight and when it reappeared, she held a phial in front of her.

“Is that…?” Harry whispered.

Minerva nodded. “Ragnok sent it along, about an hour ago, with a message.” She placed a scrap of parchment on the table beside Harry’s hand.

It is done.

Happy watching.

RG

The goblin’s writing was bold and the flourishes around his initials were as elaborate as the most formal of contracts.

Harry’s smile lit the room. “Finally.” He whispered, his voice full of relief.

“Finally.” Minerva agreed. “I thought we might take a look this morning. Then I thought that you might have a quick look through a particular room, see if you can find the right item to express our gratitude to Gringotts, for their assistance.”

“Hmm… Maybe the other way round, Máthair.” Harry tilted his head in thought.

“What? Why?” Sirius asked from his seat beside Harry.

“I have no idea how the goblins got rid of him and I don’t fancy loosing my breakfast, too soon after eating it.” Harry answered.

“Ah… Yeah…” Sirius grimaced. “Didn’t think about that…”

“Minerva, Henrick, Severus?” Aloysius Hamilton leant forward and spoke. “Has there been any news of Mr Filch? The head caretaker?”

“Yes, Máthair received a message from him last night, Aloysius.” Severus replied. “St Mungo's wanted him to stay there for another week, to work with their mind-healers but have agreed that he’s finding being away from the castle too stressful. They feel that returning to Hogwarts and being treated as an outpatient for the present, may actually be better for him in the long brew. That being the case, they will release him this evening, however he will have to attend St Mungo's three afternoons a week for the remains of the year.”

“Harry has volunteered to be his monitor, as St Mungo's wouldn’t release him without one. Harry as his monitor and I as his employer’s representative will be collecting him this afternoon.” Minerva added.

“Oh, that very good. I understand that it’s been a fortnight since it was confirmed? That he was another of Dumbledore’s victims, I mean? Have you been updated on his progress?” Pomona Sprout asked.

“Indeed.” Minerva replied. “Once he had the binding removed and had basics of occlumency down, Harry and Severus have spent some time with him, teaching him their time-twisting trick. Healer Strout and Mind-healer Delving have both stated that it has shortened the treatment of a number of patients, Argus included. After much discussion on the matter, it has been decided that Argus Filch, Rubeus Hagrid, James Lightower and Amanda Grilling will undertake private personalised lessons. Some of the their practical lessons may overlap with a student-based lesson, but these are the only four of those restricted by Dumbledore that survived or are adults and we feel that it is best to let them progress at their own speed.”

“Yes. Yes, that’s a wise idea, Minerva.” Poppy Pomfrey responded, while many others nodded.

“For this morning, I’m going to join the triplets, Sirius and Remus in a little boggart-hunting in the upper reaches of the castle. Then there’s a Gringotts missive to deal with, before we head for St Mungo's and we have to be back for the Governors meeting at 7pm.” Minerva smiled as she spoke.

“Of course, Minerva, of course. We’re as ready as we’re going to be, so a little quiet time before the influx, is highly recommended.” Poppy replied.

Little more was said during breakfast, food and tea taking all their attention. Some quiet conversations were had, but on the whole the staff area was dedicated to food. Eventually. The triplets pushed their plates away from them, across the table to join Sirius and Remus’. Standing, the triplets, their mother and the two marauders nodded to those still eating or drinking and made their way down the length of the Hall. Once through the massive doors, the six turned their feet towards the Great Tower and the 7th floor.

“Minerva!” Filius’ voice caught them before they’d climbed more than a couple of stairs.

“Filius?” Minerva questioned.

“Might I join you? If I spend any more time in my office or the common room, I think I may do my students a disservice.”

“Certainly. I doubt your returning ‘Claws would appreciate too much interference in their space or routine.” Minerva grinned.

“Oh, definitely not.”

Up stairs, through corridors and around corners, the six chatted about inconsequential things, until they reached the 7th floor and a familiar blank wall.

“Harry? You have a better understanding of the Room, you do it.” Hermione pushed Harry forward as she stepped back.

Harry walked back and forth in front of the bare space.

‘I need the room of hidden things, I need the room of hidden things, I need the room of hidden things.’ He thought, trying to focus on only that. As he stepped past the blank space for the third time, a set of ornate timber doors faded into being. A click and Harry pushed the door open, inside he paused and attempted to send a thought to the room, much as he would to Hermione or Severus. ‘I need all the goblin made items on one side of the room. I need all the goblin made items on one side of the room. I need all the goblin made items on one side of the room.’ The room went dark for a moment, the torches dimming before flaring bright.

Seeing the piles of jewellery, weapons and armour, Harry grinned. ‘Thank you, Hogwarts.’ He looked up, as he mouthed the words. The nearby torches blazing even brighter in response.

“Wow, Harry. I thing Hogwarts likes you.” Sirius teased. “Should I be jealous?”

“Of course, Hogwarts likes me, Sirius. I’m working to bring her back to her former glory. You continue to work with us and help the students and I’ll bet soon enough, she’ll like you, too. As for being jealous? Why bother? We both live within her walls, sleep within her rooms, teach within her halls. You can reach out and touch her, just as easy as I can.”

“Hmm…” Sirius hummed as he thought. He wasn’t sure Harry got the joke, but what he said was right. Harry might have more of a connection than he did, but Minerva had a stronger connection than Harry did. It stood to reason, Harry had spent more time at Hogwarts than he had, while Minerva had spent much more time than Harry had.

“Alright, everyone. I want you to sort through-” Minerva began, only to be cut off by Harry.

“Máthair?” He started. “Does Hogwarts really need all this?”

“Because… we’re wondering about it…” Hermione added.

“… if Hogwarts doesn’t need it…” Harry took up.

“… why pick just one item…” Hermione frowned.

“… why can’t we just give it…” Harry gestured to the piles.

“… all back to Gringotts?” Severus finished.

Minerva and Filius blinked a few times and looked at each other, Sirius and Remus both tilted their heads in thought.

“Why can’t we?” Remus asked. “Any reason?”

“I…” Minerva trailed off, finishing in a breathy half-growl, half-mewl. She took a deep breath and started again. “I don’t know. I don’t see…” She trailed off again, this time she tilted her head and closed her eyes in thought. “Hogwarts? Will you permit us to remove the goblin-made items and return them to the goblins of Gringotts?” She lifted her face and spoke towards the ceiling.

There was a low pitched humming sound, it emanated from the walls around before the ringing of bells rang out, light and cheerful.

Sirius laughed. “I’m going to guess that was a ‘yes’ from Hogwarts.”

“I’d say so. Yes.” Hermione shook her head in amusement.

“Alright, that’s enough, you two.” Minerva chided. “How are we going to do this? Harry? Severus?”

“I’d suggest taking a few of the non-goblin-made items, books perhaps or chairs, and transfiguring them into large chests. Then we can add extension charms and fill them.” Severus replied.

“Hmm… Yes. Yes, that should work.” Filius commented.

“Then can we go watch Ragnok’s memory?” Sirius asked, bouncing on his toes.

 

~~~~~~

 

The mist formed above the Pensieve, slowly moving, swirling, forming shapes. Trees rose from a formless ground, their branches casting shadows. Goblins moved among them, flitting from here to there, spreading out and encircling the clearing. The goblin whose point of view they were watching, lifted a hand and rested it against a trunk of a tree at one end of the clearing. In the centre, in a patch of sun, a great snake lay basking in the warm rays.

At an unseen signal, the goblins began to move forward, one by one making their presence known, forming a rough circle around one end of the clearing and the snake, standing as tall a goblin could, a staff held directly in front of them, the butt between their feet. The snake raised its head, it’s tongue flickering and tasting the air. Recognising the flavour of goblin, it hissed in displeasure, but the goblins paid it no attention. All their focus was on the bent figure tottering into view.

The tiny wizened old goblin made his way forward, his legs trembling with the effort of keeping him upright. Right behind him scurried a young goblin-lad, carrying an odd-shaped stool. It vaguely resembled a horse-riding saddle, but it was in multiple parts and when the lad placed it in front of the old goblin, it became clear that it was different. Instead of sitting on the saddle and leaning back, the goblin sat on the saddle and leant forward, resting his chest on what the watchers first thought was the narrow upright backrest.

A few seconds later and the old goblin began to chant. After that, every few seconds, another goblin joined the chant, while pounding their staves on the hard ground.

The snake began to move, first twitching, then twisting before beginning to writhe in pain. The pensieve-watchers could see the scales actually buckle and distort. Slowly the snake began to shrink, going from a great beast, at least twelve feet long and eight inches in diameter, down to that of a more realistic three feet long and two inch diameter. As it shrank, a cloud of an oily smoke-like substance oozed from between it’s scales, bleeding into the air surrounding it. The ‘smoke’ tried to form a shape, but with each impact of the goblins’ staves hitting the ground, the ‘smoke’ jolted and small sections began to break away from the whole.

As each section broke away, it danced on an invisible breeze, lasting only a few seconds before the ‘breeze’ bit at it, causing it to break down into even smaller sections, before loosing cohesion and fading away as though it truly were smoke. As each section broke away, the main mass emitted agonised wails and hisses, anger and fury clear.

But anger and fury were no match for the combined chants of more than sixty goblins and eventually the ‘smoke’ gave a last gasping wail and burst apart, drifting in sooty patches until one by one they caught a gust of air, then faded, leaving only an echo of a wail behind. The goblins’ chant lost strength and the impact of their staves petered away, lessening with each hit. Finally there was silence, the rustle of the leaves in the trees, sounding like thunder in the absolute absence of any creature-generated noise. One by one the goblins bowed deeply to the old goblin, before fading back into the trees, until all that was left was the old goblin, the youngster and the memory creator.

The snake curled in on itself, no longer the clearing’s apex predator. A human man made his way past the memory’s creator, a glance and a nod of recognition and the man stepped forward, placing his feet carefully as he crossed the clearing. As he approached the snake, it drew itself tighter into it’s coils, it’s tongue flicking out to ‘taste’ the air. The man stopped roughly ten feet from the snake and there was a whisper of sound, that could have been levioso. The snake twisted and turned, but was unable to get enough traction on the ground to move away. The man raised his wand and the snake rose into the air, floating forward, still twisting, the man flicked out his other hand and a second wand appeared, another breath of sound and a box was transfigured from a twig on the ground. A gentle wave and the snake, for all it still twisted and turned in defiance, was forced, gently, head first into the box, the lid beginning to slide closed while the tail was still visible. The man bent down and hefted the box to his shoulder as he turned back towards the last three goblins.

“Master Tornak. Sentinel Blordik. Apprentice.” He bowed to each goblin and after receiving a nod from the older goblin, left the clearing the same way he’d arrived.

A few seconds later and the projection-memory faded, leaving the seven Hogwarts’ watchers to sigh in relief.

“It is done.” Harry whispered, slumping down into the nearest seat.

“Finally.” Hermione huffed in pleasure.

Sirius and Remus just looked at each other, they didn’t know how to feel.

Minerva and Filius both, sharing a small smile, both had lost friends, students and relatives to Voldemort and his Death-Eaters during the first war. To know that no more innocent lives would be lost, was a great relief them.

“The next few weeks are going to be busy for the Aurors.” Hermione smirked.

“Thank heavens we’re teaching.” Harry grinned.

“The Aurors? Why will they be busy?” Remus asked.

“Voldy tied the DarkMark to himself. Yes, the Horcruxes were anchoring his soul, but it was the magic of his servants that was keeping was powering it. The DarkMark will, if not blocked, eventually cause instability in a Marked person’s core. I might only have removed seven Marks, but I blocked about two dozen, mostly the wives and some of the juniors that had been coerced.”

“And if not blocked? What’s the long-term prognosis?” Remus asked, curious to know if there was a permanent consequence.

“Eventually their core will become so unstable it will collapse.” Hermione shrugged.

“You don’t seem too concerned about the fallout.” Remus said.

“Nope. They supported Voldy willingly, took the Mark willingly and not one of them would revoke their oath and have the Mark removed.” Hermione answered matter-of-factly.

“They swore allegiance to Voldy, now they can pay the price.” Harry added.

“They swore that they would die for him… and now they shall keep their promise.” Severus stated, his voice hard and cold.

“In that, we are definitely in agreement, Severus.” Sirius clapped a hand on Severus’ shoulder as he crossed behind the triplets to sit beside Harry.

All seven nodded, firmly.

“So…? We take the chest to Ragnok?” Hermione asked.

“Then to St Mungo's to spoil Dumbles’ day?” Harry asked.

“Then collect Filch?” Severus added.

“Then we have the enjoyment that is a meeting with the Governors.” Minerva grimaced.

“And somewhere in there, we need to remember Luna, we did say we would collect her before lunch.” Sirius reminded everyone.

“I’ll collect Luna. I don’t think I could restrain myself from hexing the old goat. So, once we leave Gringotts, I’ll floo to the Rookery. I can check on Pandora and Xeno, before heading back to Hogwarts.” Hermione offered.

“Thanks, Mione.” Harry gave her a one-armed hug.

“Would you like some company?” Remus asked. “St Mungo's gives me the creeps.”

Minerva and Severus shared an amused look while Harry and Sirius somehow managed to contain their smirks.

“As long as you show us a pensieve memory of Dumbledore’s reaction, Harry, I’ll let you have that for yourself. I think I’ll spend some time with my sister, it’s years since Tinrilla and I spent more than a few minutes together.” Filius sighed.

“I’m like Hermione.” Minerva added. “So, I’ll spend the day at Altnam broc, I’ve some estate management to see to and a new will to write. I’ll meet you at Strout’s office at 4pm, to collect Filch.”

Sirius and Severus exchanged a speaking glance.

“Sev and I’ll stay with Harry. He won’t see the old man, alone, we won’t let him.”

Everyone nodded. Their plans were sorted, now all they needed to do was to start moving.

 

Chapter Text

Stepping into Gringotts, Harry was sure that while the goblins made no overt actions or behaved visibly different, it quickly became clear that the Snape-Urquart contingent had been significantly elevated in terms of client value. The sneers fell and a tone of respect was evident. Quite a few wizards glanced at the group, some eyeing the triplets with interest and some eyeing the goblins with surprise. It was rare that goblins were anything but nasty to wizards.

 And they never addressed wizards by their given names.

“Harry, Hermione, Severus. Good morning. Heir Black, Professors McGonagall and Lupin. Cousin Filius.” The goblin was recognised by a few, who thought he was a high-ranked manager.

“Bright day, Ragnok.” The triplets answered.

“Greetings, Director.” Minerva and Remus added.

“Salutations this day, Director.” Sirius responded formally.

“Cousin.” Filius grinned, bouncing on his toes.

Not a few jaws fell in reaction. But there were some th