That something was very wrong Harry realized as soon as the cup-turned-portkey dumped him unceremoniously on the ground. Getting the cup was the last task, he had to do, to get free of that thrice-damned unbreakable contract. Harry got to his feet and summoned his wand to his hand, slowly turning around to survey the place he was currently stuck in. The hair on his neck stood up in warning. Something was up. Previous experiences with the remote locations, where he found himself alone, pointed to it.
He caught sight of Pettigrew creeping around, half-hidden in a shadow. Full of trepidation, Harry was suddenly very glad, he let Cedric talk him into taking the Cup for himself. It was a nice gesture from the steadfast Hufflepuff seeker. Spying Pettigrew’s progress to sneak around, Harry had to admit it most likely saved Cedric’s life. The rat was clearly up to something.
“Expelliarmus.” Finally losing his patience with Pettigrew, Harry waved his wand and murmured the spell. Fortunately, that traitorous rat was too fat from years living with Weasley’s as their sons’ pet to dodge the spell. His wand flew into Harry’s hand. Loath to admit it he had to be thankful to Snape of all people, for teaching him disarming spell during that failure of duelling; club two years ago. Seeing that useless peacock Lockhart to be knocked on his ass was one of the highlights of his second year.
The disarming spell was quickly followed by petrification and silencing. Staring at Pettigrew’s wand, Harry didn’t hesitate. He broke the wand and flung both pieces in different directions. No need for Pettigrew to flee again. Considering his last successful escape-attempts, the rat could give Houdini run for his money. Nasty little traitor.
One threat taken care of, Harry looked around trying to figure out what crazy plan was Voldemort hatching now. There was no way Wormtail was acting alone. Also, it seemed the fraud masquerading as a divination teacher was right for once when she warned him about this.
The location was easy to determine by the surrounding macabre decorations. He was in a cemetery. It was a strangely familiar place. Like he had been here once before - in his dreams. Not that he made a habit of visiting a lot of cemeteries.
“Tempus.” Harry murmured. Barely half an hour had passed since he found himself in his current predicament. He wouldn't be missed for at least another hour. By his estimation, it should take that long to someone with the authority to start missing their little money-maker.
Harry hissed and clapped his hand on his famous scar, losing his wand in the process. Voldemort was here. But where? He quickly glanced around, paying special attention to the dark corners, trying to guess where the Dark Lord was hidden. No such luck. The cemetery was abandoned. The pain in his forehead spiked. His scar split open and started to bleed. Harry bit his lip to stifle his cries.
Something heavy wrapped around his chest and constricted.
“Nagini, let go.” Harry choked out. Voldemort’s snake just tightened her hold on him and squeezed the breath out of him. Between the pain and suffocation, Harry was quickly losing the fight to stay conscious.
“There are nothing but problems with you, Potter.” A high-pitch voice hissed in his ear. “I sincerely regret I didn’t kill you with your mudblood mother.” It was the last thing Harry heard before he succumbed to the darkness.
“Enervate.” A snivelling voice woke Harry up. The teen gritted his teeth at seeing that rat free. It grated on his nerves to be so close to the betrayer.
Not good, Harry noted dispassionately as he analysed his current circumstances. He was tightly tied to a tombstone and silenced. His wand was also nowhere to be seen. Right in from of him was a strange ritual underway. A lot of runes were written in blood on the ground around the large cauldron. He just started to study the Ancient Runes with Hermione this year, so he could recognize only minuscule amount of them. Mostly ones denoting the renewal, rebirth, and sacrifice.
It’s worse than I thought. Harry realized. It could mean only one thing. Voldemort was trying to get a body in some kind of necromantic ritual. The question was - which one. Hermione would have known.
“Bone of the father, unknowingly given, you will renew your son.” Pettigrew intoned. Half of the runes on the ground started to shine malevolently. Harry watched with rising apprehension as a bone lifted itself from Tom Riddle's grave and was dumped into the cauldron.
What the fuck. Harry started panicking when he remembered what was Voldemort’s true name. Half of the runes around the cauldron catch alight.
“Flesh of the servant, willingly given, you will revive your master.” Pettigrew mechanically chanted and with shaking hand he cut off his finger. It seemed he had quite a practice with chopping off his body parts. The rat’s eyes flooded with tears and he whimpered as banished his finger to the cauldron. The rest of the runes in the circle ignited with black fire.
“Blood of the enemy, forcibly taken, you will resurrect your foe.” Harry gulped heavily, trying to suppress his fear, as the gleaming knife neared his throat. He glared defiantly at the Pettigrew daring him to use that knife. The rat looked away, ashamed. But not ashamed enough. Older wizard gripped Harry’s hand and turned it forcefully palm up. The knife slashed down and Harry hissed. His blood welled from the deep wound.
Pettigrew dropped his hand abruptly and dumped the knife in the cauldron. The potion bubbled violently, spilling out of the cauldron. The runes changed their colour to blood-red. They lifted simultaneously of the ground and started to swirl around Harry. One by one the runes tattooed themselves on his skin until the final one covered his famous scar.
After a moment of horrifying silence, the runes on Harry lit up and cut themselves into his skin. Harry trashed trying to get away from the pain centralized in his scar. It was of no use. He was tied too tightly. A bit by a bit the runes sucked out his life and magic to power the ritual. Through the haze of pain, Harry wasn’t sure how long it took, be it minutes or hours.
A strange crackling pervaded unnatural stillness in the cemetery. The runes peeled off Harry’s body, leaving him quite drained, and attached themselves on the cauldron. With an awful screech, something broke from Harry’s scar and travelled the same way as runes. A violent whirlwind enveloped the cauldron and it shattered under the power of ritual. The shards fed the wind the stolen magic as it grew stronger and stronger and then... It stopped abruptly and in its place stood Voldemort.
“Massster. Welcome back.” Nagini greeted Voldemort and slithered up his body, nuzzling into his neck affectionately.
The sight of the Dark Lord and his serpent was terrifying. The monster was back. Bald head, deathly-white skin, long fingers, and red eyes, clad only in a simple dark robe. Harry was greatly reminded of a Dementor. The same despair was filling him. Faintly he could hear the voice of his mother in his mind. Voldemort smirked at him bloodthirsty, sending shivers up his spine.
“Pettigrew, your arm.” the Dark Lord commanded the snivelling man. The little traitor was disgusting but he had his uses.
The rat slinked out of his hiding place and grovelled. “My lord.” He offered his arm. The Dark Lord twirled his wand between his fingers thoughtfully and pressed the tip against Pettigrew’s forearm. “Come, my friends.” He hissed. “My Death Eaters.”
A series of pops echoed through the cemetery. Harry flinched. At least dozen of darkly dressed masked wizards apparated in, spreading strategically through the area, closing the most obvious escape routes.
I am going to die, flashed in Harry’s mind when he found himself surrounded. He paid no attention to Voldemort’s monologue and focused on getting out of the bindings.
My wand. Where is my wand? Harry wanted to know. He wriggled his fingers thinking intensely on summoning spell. Hermione mentioned that the silent spell work was possible. He was desperate enough to try anything to get out of that mess. The wand slapped into his hand. Stealing a quick glance at the dark lord showed him, Voldemort was still addressing his minions. The Death Eaters didn’t dare to ignore the Dark Lord, so nobody was paying attention to him. It was his chance. Finite Incantatem.
The bindings fell from him. Harry ducked behind the tombstone, to take a breather and think about his options. He was in deep shit. The only way out of the cemetery would bring him dangerously close to the dark wizards. No time like the present. Harry decided and sneaked out.
“Crucio.” The torture spell caught him unawares. Harry fell screaming on the ground, rolling around, trying to escape - with no avail. The pain was all-consuming. The bonds between the teen’s soul and body, already greatly weakened by participating in resurrection ritual, shattered violently. Harry’s lifeless body fell on the ground.
“Is it him?” A feminine voice asked.
A hand brushed against his forehead lingering on his scar. “Yes, my love. This is our little dragon. Our Hadrian.”
Harry groaned and opened his eyes. A bright light blinded him for a little while. He blinked it away and the world swam into focus. He was in the King’s Cross station in the presence of a pair of highly magical beings. “Is this an afterlife?” He asked curiously. The last thing, he remembered, was Voldemort hitting him with an Unforgivable and then he was here. Wherever it was.
“Not even close, little dragon.” The male figure clad in black clarified. “You are still alive, Hadrian. Currently, you are in a place between life and death.” He nodded to the female beside him. “We summoned you, using Riddle’s timely spell, to have a little chat.”
“Athanasius, you shouldn't try to scare him.” The woman admonished the male playfully and shrugged down the hood hiding her face. She was gorgeous. At least Harry thought so. And strangely familiar. She inclined her head and introduced them. “This is Athanasius, my spouse.” The male nodded to him regally. “And I am called Hecate by your people. But you...” She smiled gently at the teen. “You can call me Helaine.”
Harry bowed deferentially, the truth of their names resonating deeply in his soul. Both entities, known to wizards as Lord of Dead and Lady of Magic, didn’t take an active interest in the magical world since Merlin and Arthur drove the Romans out of Britain. However, the question was. “Why me? Why now?” Harry tilted his head inquisitively.
Helaine sighed and explained. “Hundreds of years ago we saw a great need in the people of Britain. So, we gifted them with a child. A boy born of royal blood and embraced by our powerful magic, who led them to freedom.”
“You know him as Arthur Pendragon.” Athanasius chimed in.
Helaine elbowed him and continued. “The world needed hope. A powerful light to stand against the forces of evil in all of its forms. That was the fate of our child, our golden dragon, our Arthur.”
“So, what you are saying is…”
“Arthur was born of mortal parents as were you,” Helaine admitted. “However, your souls were created by the blending of Athanasius’s and my power.”
Harry stared at Helaine in shock, trying to process her words.
“Now, you did it, love,” Athanasius said and waved his hand in front of Harry’s face. The teen shrugged himself out of stupor.
“Your Dark Lord is a problem.” Athanasius continued blithely, as he clapped his hands and send out a pulse of his power. The three items radiating magic shimmered in between them. The Lord of Dead frowned at the ring, wiggled his fingers and set the stone free of its gaudy prison. The golden band was crushed into nothingness. Athanasius exhaled sharply and smiled at Harry. “The keys to unlock your potential, Hadrian Pendragon. Your Hallows.” He pointed to the respective items. “The Elder Wand for you to use your magic in your fullest on my behalf. The Resurrection Stone to get the advice, if needed, to make the right choice. And finally the Cloak of Invisibility - a shield against your enemies.”
Harry holstered the wand, dropped the stone into his pocket and draped the cloak around his shoulders. “What do you need me to do?” He asked as the Hallows’ power settled in his magic.
“Return back, little dragon, to deal with your dark lord problem.” Helaine’s answer rang in Harry’s ears. “Don’t worry. We’ll be with you.”
Harry twitched and groaned lightly, as his soul was unceremoniously dropped back into his body, Athanasius’s laughter ringing in his mind. The reassuring weight of the Hallows helped him to focus on his enemies. Nobody was paying any attention to him. It was his chance. Carefully, he climbed back to his feet, wincing at the pain lingering from the Unforgivable.
You could have healed me. Harry grumbled. He got a mental swat in response. Clearly, Athanasius was in charge.
Harry wasn’t sure how long it took for him to return from his little sojourn, but it seemed, Voldemort was still gloating about his death. Harry grimaced and hid under the Cloak, only half-listening to the drivel older wizard was spouting. Evidently, he was still mightily peeved by his temporary defeat at the hands of a muggleborn witch and her son.
“Harry Potter is dead.” Voldemort gloated to his minions. “I have overcome easily the minor setback, caused by the boy and his mudblood mother. As you can see, my friends, the boy was nothing special. Just a little helpless lamb.”
Harry rolled his eyes at the repetitive bragging of the Dark Lord and tightened the hold on his wand. His Gryffindor nature reared its head. The cloak shimmered out of sight leaving him visible standing behind Voldemort. Harry interrupted the older wizard impetuously. “Not quite, Riddle.”
Voldemort turned around to face younger wizard and hissed in disbelief. “This is impossible. You are dead. You are finally dead.” He ranted. “I killed you. The curse hit you, your heart had stopped and you were dead.”
Harry quickly darted around the dark lord and stunned the rat second time that night. He absolutely refused to allow Wormtail to escape. He landed nimbly back on his feet, taking a defensive stance against the remaining threats. He was careful not to let himself be boxed in by Voldemort’s slaves. Meeting Athanasius and his wife once - that was enough for him for a lifetime. He didn't want to get another lecture if he got himself killed tonight.
We are with you, Hadrian. Courage, little dragon. Athanasius whispered in his mind.
“Avada Kedavra.” Enraged Voldemort hissed. Harry swiftly dodged the spell, surprising the Dark Lord. The teen changed the tactics since his brief sojourn into the land of in-between. It was mostly Athanasius’s influence through his Hallows that lent him enough knowledge to predict Voldemort’s moves.
“I thought you learnt more decade ago that using the Killing curse won’t help you against me.” Harry taunted, while he summoned the Elder wand into his free hand.
Infuriated, the older wizard released a barrage of curses. The Killing curses, dark piercing spell, bone-breakers and more than Harry could recognize. The teen danced out of harm’s way.
Now you did it. Gryffindors. Athanasius muttered in his mind.
Don’t disturb me, Athanasius. I need to concentrate. Harry snapped out rather rudely, as another Killing curse missed him narrowly. “Expelliarmus.” He muttered at the same time and waved the Death’s wand in a large arc. The strength of his spell threw Voldemort a few feet back, while he deflected it aside.
Harry smirked and using his holly wand he directed the disarming spell at the Death Eaters. The wizards, caught unawares, were thrown out of their feet, their wands sailing through the air, falling at Harry’s feet. Now, Athanasius.
The Lord of Dead appeared between the teen and the Dark Lord. Slashing his scythe, he petrified the downed Death Eaters and their leader. Harry exhaled in relief and stood back - the pain and exhaustion hitting him suddenly. He grimaced and cast a pain-relief and the first-aid spell to temporarily head off the worst of his injuries before Voldemort was dealt with. The teen nodded to Athanasius to allay any concerns he could have, so he could focus entirely on the pretentious old wizard.
Athanasius circled the abomination, finally meeting its eyes. “Tom Marvolo Riddle.” Voldemort blanched at the attention he got from the being in front of him. Athanasius smiled coldly. “You thought to defy my will by splitting your soul.” Glancing briefly at the younger wizard, he smiled reassuringly at him and waved his hand. Nagini whooshed beside her master, hissing angrily in her frozen state.
“Come to me,” Athanasius commanded the Hallows and thrust a tip of his scythe in the ground. The Hallows obeyed the will of their creator. They lifted from Harry and started floating around Voldemort and his familiar, forming an impenetrable barrier. “Damnatio animam.” Athanasius intoned. A dark flame enveloped Voldemort and his snake, both shrieking in pain as they were judged and found wanting.
Harry hissed as the Hallows pulled at his depleted magic to strengthen Athanasius’s spell. The barrier shrank gradually and dissolved Voldemort’s body into ash. When it reached Nagini, the snake convulsed and stilled. The damaged spirits raised from their bodies. Harry closed his eyes in an attempt to block the hideous sight. Athanasius gestured with his hand and both spirits faded out, sent directly to the afterlife.
What now, Athanasius? Harry asked in the following silence.
Now, everything changes, Hadrian. The Lord of Death nodded in the direction of the trio items still fairly singing with magic. The Hallows returned to Harry and he put them back. The title of the Master of Death is an old superstition preserved in the magical society in the form of a highly inaccurate fairytale.
I don't understand. Harry admitted reluctantly. His education didn’t include learning common wizarding stories.
The Hallows are yours to use and to protect, little dragon. They were first created to aid Arthur in his tasks. After his death, they were scattered around by Merlin’s grief. Then some years later the Peverell brothers found them. Their affinity for necromantic arts allowed them to use the Hallows in a limited fashion. Two eldest lost the wand and the stone shortly after and died. The youngest... Athanasius smiled fondly. The youngest was clever. He lived to old age, using the cloak only sparingly. At the end of his life, he entailed the cloak to his line. And that’s how the cloak ended up in your possession. The wand’s and the stone’s history is more muddled. Both of them ended up quite often in the hands of dark wizards seeking power. Considering, I am their creator and they are bound to my will, I chose to return them to you, as it was intended.
Thank you. Harry bowed his head to the Lord of Dead. Then he glanced thoughtfully at the pile of ash that was Voldemort. Is he dead?
Athanasius just shrugged. Not quite. He made few precautions to avoid death for as long as possible. Gently brushing Harry’s faded scar, he continued. But I’m sure using your Hallows it won’t take you long to find out how he survived. Just don’t let yourself lead by the nose by Dumbledore. He has his own agenda and it is detrimental to your health.
Will I meet you ever again? Harry asked.
Yes, you will. In time. Athanasius whispered and vanished into the air. His voice echoed in the still graveyard. Pay attention, Harry. The dwarrows are here.
Quickly turning around his sight fell on the goblin team, that was in process of securing the graveyard. Dwarrows?
Dwarrows. That’s the true name of their species. They guard it zealously. One of a few victories they scored in the wars against the humans. Be direct and truthful and you’ll be alright. And Harry, good luck. Athanasius’s voice faded out.
The young wizard approached the heavily armoured dwarf warily. Clearly, he was some kind of a leader. At least amongst the ones present in the cemetery.
“Secure the prisoners.” The leader ordered. He turned to the young wizard and inclined his head in respect. “Hadrian Pendragon, I presume. I am Rhone. First Guard of the Horde’s Chieftain.”
Harry holstered his wands and bowed. “At your service, honourable warrior. May I ask how you knew to come to my aid.”
The dwarf sized up the boy critically. He looked like a half-starved street urchin, but the magic radiating out of him belied that misconception. His squadron arrived just as Voldemort’s spirit was sent into the afterlife. The heavy magic of the Lord of Death still lingered in the air, signalling his actual presence in the events preceding their arrival. The singed empty robes of the Dark Lord and the group of petrified wizards laying around just confirmed it. “The Chieftain would like to speak with you. I am positive, he has some of the answers you seek.”
“Then I shall follow you to the bank,” Harry replied following Athanasius’s advice.
Close to them, the dwarrows were finishing with their task of securing the prisoners, tying them and reviving for transportation. Pettigrew, feeling his chance, transformed quickly from rat and back to man to escape the bindings placed upon him. In the chaos, he seized a wand and cursed Harry in the back. “Sectumsempra.”
Harry spat out blood and collapsed in front of the commander. The dwarf plucked a medallion from under his tunic, grabbed the boy and spoke the portkey password urgently. “Gringotts.”
The dwarrows were running around like the headless chickens. The customers were quickly ushered out and the gates on the bank were closed, as soon as Rhone portkeyed in with a grievously injured and unconscious Pendragon heir right in the middle of the lobby. When the legacy woke abruptly an hour ago, it caused alarm in the bank. Especially since it indicated, the heir was in the danger. The Chieftain sent out his best warriors to contain the situation and rescue the heir. What they didn’t expect was that the recipient of Pendragon legacy would be so damn young.
“What happened, for fuck’s sake,” Ragnok asked sharply, as the rest of his warriors popped in with several prisoners. The most stoic of his underlings just pointed at the unconscious boy cradled in Rhone’s arms. Ragnok raised an eyebrow. “Well, Rhone? Report.”
“We came in the human’s cemetery. The boy just finished with disposing of a necromantic abomination. I am not sure what was that thing’s purpose but one of its slaves got the child in the back with some kind of cutting curse. I’ve chosen to seek medical attention for the boy since I think he knows exactly what happened there.”
“And may I ask why didn't you think it was necessary to bring the vermin into my bank?” The Chieftain asked sharply.
Rhone just shrugged. “If you mean the wizards they were already unconscious and bound by some strange magic. I thought they could clarify some things, such as what the hell happened at the cemetery.” Then the dwarf narrowed his eyes at the rat squeaking in the unbreakable cage. “If you mean the rat, it’s a wizard-shifter. He was the coward who cursed the boy in his back.”
Impatient tapping of the heals interrupted their conversation. Ragnok winced and turned to his chief healer. “I was going to call you.”
The dam narrowed her eyes angrily. “And meanwhile the boy would have bled out, you fool. Just look at the ground. The petrification spell was a good idea, Rhone, but it was not enough. It didn’t stop working of the curse. I remember seeing something similar a few years ago during that spat between Riddle and Dumbledore. The subject got to my care too late to help him. I won’t see another to suffer such fate. Now, I’m taking the boy into my healing halls. And I don’t care what you think about it.”
The healer turned on her heel and without another word, she strode away with the floating boy following the suit.
“Women.” Ragnok sighed as soon as his wife vanished around the corner. Then he shrugged and grimaced. “Rhone, find someone to clear the blood. We don’t need the scrutiny right now. Not before we know, what in the hell is happening with those wizards. And put that vermin into the deepest cell you can find out and interrogate them thoroughly. I want to know everything.”
“Yes, chieftain.” Rhone bowed and cleared out the hall with his warriors and prisoners. The blood vanished in their wake leaving only a smell of sanitation wafting in the air.
Two weeks later
Ragnok looked up from the report. The entire situation with Hadrian Pendragon was shaping up to be the biggest mess since they had to handle the split between Godric Gryffindor and Salazar Slytherin. He spent last weeks buried under mountains of paperwork regarding boy’s inheritance and anything even remotely connected to it. The irregularities found in the young wizard’s accounts already cost a few employees their heads. The Chieftain was intolerant of corruption. In the light of the favours bestowed upon the child by their patron and the Lady of Magic, it was a priority to get quickly everything in order.
“Rhone. Do you bring me any good news?” The Chieftain asked tiredly.
“The ICW relieved us of our prisoners. They requested the records from interrogations. French representative is especially anxious to get their hands on them.” The First Guard answered.
“Let them have the records, Rhone. The wizards identified as Death Eaters are already marked as enemies of the House of Pendragon and the Horde. Should they return to any Gringotts branch in the world, they’ll be killed on sight. Good riddance of bad rubbish.”
“At least the boy is out of the country for a moment with his godfather. The Ministry and Dumbledore are demanding we disclose their location.”
The Chieftain waved his hand dismissively. “They are under unplottable Black wards. Those proceed even the creation of Gringotts. We don’t have the information they seek, anyways.” Then he narrowed his eyes. “Dumbledore should watch his step carefully. We are only one more proved misdeed away from labelling him the enemy of the Horde.”
“So, not the much longer.” Rhone surmised.
Ragnok smirked viciously. “Maybe a week, if that long. Then you’ll have the pleasure of escorting him to our very hospitable cells for the interrogation. The one previously occupied by Pettigrew seems to be fitting for the occasion.”
The warrior gave the chieftain a bloodthirsty grin. The anticipation was going to kill him.
“Why the fuck is ICW getting into our business. And why the Gringotts froze our accounts two weeks ago. Umbridge, find me the answers. Immediately.” Minister Fudge seethed in his office. Since that disastrous end of the Triwizard tournament, he was beseeched by the worried public. Parents were screaming at him for getting their children in danger demanding the Aurors to be stationed in the Diagon Alley and other wizarding villages.
And it was all Potter’s fault for getting kidnapped at the last task. How and why the goblins found him was a mystery. The boy was granted a sanctuary in the bank. It was impossible to get to him now, when he was protected by the goblins.
“Minister.” The voice of his secretary interrupted him. “Urgent message from the International Wix News.” The woman handed the Minister a brief.
As soon as he started reading he paled rapidly.
The British Ministry of Magic faces sanctions for breaking international treaties
In the unexpected turn of events at the public trial of Lord Sirius Black. British wizard demanded to be put under the Ritual of Truth to clear his name from the taint of the betrayal of the Potter family. Since the ICW and the World Court were unable to procure relevant proof from the British Ministry, it was agreed to Lord Black’s demands.
Before the eyes of the World Court, Lord Black let himself to be put under the oath and Ritual of Truth. And what a shocking truth it revealed... More than a decade ago, during the last days of the British Civil War, Lord Black was accused of the various crimes from murder to terrorism and brought directly to the Azkaban. No trial, no chance to defend himself, Lord Black languished in the high-security cell for years, surrounded constantly by dementors.
Only a year ago he broke out of his unlawful containment and run. His magic was impacted by robust parental vow and it brought him to his godson - Heir-apparent Potter. During the following year, he tried to get into British school several times to be close to his godson but was repeatedly thwarted. In the final attempt, he made a contact with Heir Potter and almost caught the true mastermind of All Hallow’s Eve tragedy at Godric’s Hollow. Unfortunately, his godson and he were attacked repeatedly by the Dementors almost died in the following moments...
Fudge blanched. That accursed boy was telling truth then. But Dumbledore assured him that night the boy was making everything up to avoid getting detention. The esteemed Potion Master Snape supported headmaster’s statements. The minister continued reading.
… The ICW convened shortly after the Lord’s Black trial, during which he was pronounced innocent of all charges, and sanctioned Britain for several serious breaches of international law. The ICW promised to send the committee to investigate the British Ministry of Magic in an effort to bring the country to the international standards of conduct.
A throat clearing interrupted his concentration. The Minister looked up and cringed. The ICW was working quickly. The committee was here, in his office, protected by hit wizards and the international force of Aurors. The leader came forward and gave the Minister the parchment.
Minister Fudge took the scroll with shaking hands and opened it. It was over. He was finished.
The Official note of British Ministry Audit by ICW
A blue light flashed and quickly spread out through the building, freezing everything. The soon-to-be-ex-Minister fainted with the scroll still clutched in his hand.
Jean Delacour smiled vindictively.
“Sirius.” Harry admonished his godfather who just tackled him into the sand in his dog form. The man changed back and helped his godson to stand up and dusted off his clothes.
“But Harry. I want to celebrate.” Sirius whined. Since the ICW had cleared him of all charges, he was undergoing intensive physical therapy and mind healing. Harry grimaced. Both of them were works-in-progress according to their healer.
Harry just rolled his eyes. “No Sirius. You know that our healer is coming today. You need to behave yourself for her.”
The older man scratched his head. “I just don’t understand how you managed to call a favour with a chief goblin healer. I heard she never leaves the bank.”
Harry chastised him. “She is a dwarrowdam, Sirius. And incidentally, she is also the Chieftain’s wife. Use the correct address, please. No need to offend her and make your potions more unpleasant.”
Sirius shrugged. Sometimes it was really hard to shake off a lifetime of pureblood indoctrination. “Ok, Harry. I’ll behave. I swear.” Sirius promised and ruffled Harry’s hair playfully. “And when is your witch coming?”
Harry blushed. “Next week. Her parents finally agreed to let her come. And she is not my witch.”
“Yet.” The blush on his boy’s face darkened. Sirius just raised an eyebrow. “You can't be so thick. She risked her life for you repeatedly. She is lovely inside and out and magically powerful. And she cares for you. As your guardian, I must insist you court her. She is a treasure anyone would cherish.”
“Sirius.” Harry cried out in embarrassment. “We are only friends,” Harry emphasized. And then he asked plaintively. “She likes me?”
The older man only smirked in response.
Helaine leaned into Athanasius’s embrace. She smiled at the picture her mirror was showing them. “He is happy.”
Athanasius kissed her hair gently and murmured. “Yes, he is. With his godfather free and his ongoing healing, he should be soon in a good place physically and mentally, to fulfil Fate’s prophecy.” He frowned. “He did well against Voldemort. But love, you know it won’t be enough. There is still a matter of the Horcruxes. We didn’t get all of them.” The mirror flashed - showing them a tiara, a locket and a cup in quick succession. They laid undisturbed in their hiding places.
Helaine sighed. “Fate is still pissed off at our interference, isn’t she? I hope she won’t make things more difficult for him than is needed.”
Athanasius stilled. Helaine glanced up at him, a worry gnawing at her insides. “She won’t interfere. Right?”
“She was always jealous of you.” Absently playing with her hair, Athanasius admitted reluctantly. “And she absolutely hated our golden dragon. As a consequence, he had a hard life that ended prematurely with a betrayal. Not to mention how she cursed him.”
Helaine’s eyes filled with tears, she refused to let fall. “Poor Arthur.”
“There aren’t enough of us to rein her in if she gets in her head to make things more difficult,” Athanasius replied. “I tried to interfere with our golden dragon, but the best I was able to do was to snatch his soul out of her grasp at the moment of his death and hid him from her sight. Hundreds of years passed and his soul still carries the Fate’s marks. I don’t know if they’ll ever fade. She got her claws too deep in him.” The mirror showed them an image of a lonely man standing faithfully on the shore before returning back to their Hadrian. “Merlin is still waiting for him.”
Glancing at their grinning boy Helaine was filled with foreboding. She exclaimed resolutely. “She won’t get to Hadrian. I’m not going to lose him to her machinations. We are going to help him.”
Athanasius smiled warmly at his wife. “That we will.”