" Hagalaz! ”
The vaguely “H” shaped rune on his right hand glowed golden and a lightning bolt found its target across the room. The dark figure went down immediately. Without allowing himself even a short pause, he dived behind an upturned table, barely escaping a cutting hex. His mind was firing information at him – three down, seven more to go, two wounded, aim for wounded areas to take them down more easily, noises to his left, two, no – three figures trying to get closer, breathe quietly now, a non-verbal Algiz first, the protective shield around him flaring in a light blue, get out of the corner, figures coming closer, move soon, wall to your back, where are the others, move in four, three, two, one, move now! – and he was running. Three curses bounced off the protection shield around him, and without thinking he blasted the broken table into the attacking figures. With a wave of his hand he set the whole pile of broken wood and human limps on fire, the rune Kenaz humming happily on his left hand. Already, he was searching for new cover, aware of the four figures which were still hidden somewhere in the room. He was breathing hard, and unfortunately some of the blood running down his left arm was indeed his own.
Time was ticking and he had to end this now. He spotted a quick movement a few feet away, a black robe slipping behind a surprisingly intact cabinet. Under his breath he murmured quietly, activating both Mannaz for identifying the people around him and Raidho to make the magic moving around him visible for a moment. A second later, the four missing magical presences suddenly revealed themselves to him. He smirked as he realised that two of them were approaching him from the right, hiding in a conjured cloud of dust. Keeping an eye on the other two figures he let his hand dance though the air. Pushing a large amount of magic into the water rune Laguz, his two enemies were soon drowning in a dirty ball of water.
He confronted the last two on open field, twisting and turning as he activated one rune after another, combing them and twisting their meaning into displays of magic of which some would get him stuck behind the bars of Azkaban for several decades if an Auror were to see him using them. He laughed, excitement making his blood sing, when the head of one figure exploded due to Isa turning it into ice and Thurisaz splitting it apart. Grinning widely, he turned to face his last opponent. Eyes completely void of any emotion stared back, and then the green light of the Killing curse was suddenly flying right at him. His own eyes, which were the exact colour of the curse aiming to end his life, widened in surprise. He let himself fall to the side, all while cutting the air with his right hand, his magic pulsing with fury beneath his runes. His overpowered Hagalaz cut the opposing figure into two halves with nothing but pressured air, leaving his fast breaths as the only noise in the room.
“Very impressive. A little bit slow, but you were more or less playing, weren’t you, my dear?”
Green eyes snapped open and the young wizard forced his sore body into standing upright. Brushing off some dust off his battle robes, he looked up and glared at the elderly witch at the other side room.
“You didn’t tell me that you changed the settings, mother! I was unprepared for the Unforgivables!”
His mother returned his glare with an unimpressed stare. “Real life won’t give you a warning either, will it now? Don’t whine, Hadrian, it’s undignified. It’s not as if the curse would have actually killed you.”
Hadrian sighed, but he automatically straightened his posture. “Yes, mother.” he murmured, before looking at his bloodied robes. Sometimes the training room took these simulations a little bit too far, in his opinion.
“May I take a shower before breakfast? And a change of robes would be appreciated by both of us, I think.”
His mother smiled lightly and nodded. “Of course. I will wait for you in the green sitting room.”
Humming in agreement, Hadrian Rigel Potter walked out of the training room, leaving behind a scene of destruction and violence. His mother, Dorea Potter née Black, smiled happily as she watched the lean silhouette of her son. Ten opponents against one, and all of them defeated in a little under half an hour. Yes, one could safely assume that she was quite proud of her son.
A hot shower and a change of clothes later, Hadrian stepped into the sitting room where his mother was already waiting for him. He smiled a little bit sadly when he saw her talking with the portrait of his father in a low voice. He missed his father every single day, but it was obvious that his mother was taking the sudden death of her husband even worse, though it had been almost three years since then. Their marriage had been one of love and defiance of their families, and to have been ripped apart so soon was just another sign of how cruelly fate sometimes dealt her cards.
“Mother.” Hadrian greeted her with a quick kiss on her cheek and smiled at the portrait of the late Charlus Potter. “Father.” he added respectfully.
“Percival Warrington.” his mother said instead of a welcoming remark, Charlus rolling his eyes in fond exasperation.
Hadrian suppressed the urge to copy his father and sat down in the chair to his mother's right. “Second son of Lord Peter Warrington, part of the neutral party of the Wizengamot.” He started to list fact after fact while simultaneously adding some more brown sugar and fruits to his porridge. “Will be in his… seventh year at Hogwarts this September. Slytherin. After the death of his older brother and heir of the Warrington family, he is now expected to take on the Warrington Lordship and his seat in the Wizengamot. However,…” Hadrian added some honey to his tea, “… it seems as if Mr. – excuse me, Heir Warrington is much more interested in Quidditch and girls than politics. Since we can assume that Lord Warrington won’t allow the Lordship to fall to the secondary line, the future Lord Warrington will be a quite weak addition to our government.”
Dorea Potter nodded in satisfaction and then glared at her son’s breakfast. “Really, Hadrian, it’s no wonder you need to work off steam in the training room so often! This amount of sugar can’t be healthy.”
Hadrian shrugged, his grin widening at his mother’s glare because of the ‘plebeian’ gesture. “Sugar fuels my brain, dear mother. And Merlin knows I need all my wits together with you as a teacher.”
His mother continued to glare, but Hadrian saw the glint of amusement hidden in her grey eyes. She turned to the copy of the Daily Prophet next to her plate and sneered at the headline.
LORD POTTER LOSES FIGHT AGAINST SUDDEN SICKNESS
The British Wizarding World mourns the well-respected Head of the Potter House
The news of Lord Potter’s sudden sickness has reached us only a few hours before a horrible suspicion became a devastating truth: Lord Fleamont Potter has lost his battle against Dragon Pox. His wife and his son, Heir James Potter, are currently in St. Mungos, but with the current political climate it wouldn’t be surprising to see both of them at Gringotts soon. James Potter, at this moment only sixteen and soon to be a sixth year student at Hogwarts, will have to take his father’s place as Lord of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Potter. No doubt the young wizard will be relying on Albus Dumbledore for this staggering task, as his father has done before him on many different occasions.
There has been no word about the reaction of Dorea Potter, the wife of the late Charlus Potter who died four years ago. Considering the fact that the younger twin had been cast out of his family by his own brother, his reclusive wife and her son might not have been as heartbroken as the rest of the family.
Written by: Evelyn Rhys
“They are probably in a ritual chamber at Gringotts in this very moment.” Hadrian said after catching sight of the headline. He wasn’t mourning the death of his uncle – he had never met the man. Whenever he thought of the other part of the Potter family, he felt the anger at the treatment of his father rise once again. Charlus Potter had not been formally disowned by his brother, but it had been a close call. Fleamont Potter had been waiting for a reason to cast his younger twin from the family, simply because he didn’t want to be associated with him. Charlus had always been physically weak, and his magical power levels had been so low that their parents had feared him to be a squib for quite some time. Indeed, in the last few years of his life, his magical core had appeared to close down, denying Charlus the access to his own magic. But Hadrian had never seen his father like that, had never associated him with words like "weak" and "shameful". Charlus Potter had been brilliant, his mind faster than anyone else’s. It was his mind that had attracted Dorea Black when they were in Hogwarts together, and it was his mind which Hadrian hoped to have inherited. It had been this mind, after all, that had ensured that Hadrian wouldn’t suffer the same fast death as his father.
“Disgusting people. Euphemia has always wanted to be in control of the House of Potter, and with her husband gone and her son being a foolish good-for-nothing student, she finally reached her goal.”
Hadrian couldn’t help but laugh at his mother’s description of James Potter. He had never met his cousin either, but they had exchanged a few letters. Or rather, James Potter used Hadrian’s birthday to send him creative insults and taunts badly hidden behind formal well wishes. Well, they were supposed to be formal, but it seemed as if James had never really been educated in etiquette or politics. Hadrian was prepared to gleefully watch his cousin embarrass himself in front of the whole Wizengamot and the wizarding public.
He had just opened his mouth to answer his mother when he suddenly felt a twisting sensation in his stomach. Recognizing the feeling of an apparation, he gasped out loudly. Immediately he held the attention of his mother.
“Forced apparat–“ Hadrian was able to squeeze out before he was whisked away.
James Potter had not been waiting for this day. In fact, he had hoped that this day was still years and decades away from him. The only reason why he was currently surrounded by the white stone of Gringotts was the death of his father. He could still see him in front of his eyes, but his mind refused to remember the still, white form which had been lying in the hospital bed. Instead, he remembered his father flushed with life riding his favourite horse, teaching James how to meet a target from the back of the running animals. He remembered him sneaking into the kitchens for a midnight snack and how he complained about the other members of the Wizengamot. He remembered him welcoming Sirius, James’ best friend, with open arms and an easy smile.
Merlin, how he wished Sirius could be here at the moment. Or Remus. The quietest of the four friends would know what to do right know, would know what to say, how to act. James was just so fucking lost, standing here in the middle of a rune circle, waiting for the goblins to start the ritual which would transfer the Lordship from his father to himself.
Sometimes he wanted to curse his mother for her ambitions. If she had been patient enough to wait a few days, they could have gone the standard way. No rituals, no rune circles, simply James putting on the Lordship ring. But no, his mother had demanded the transfer to happen on the very day his father had taken his last breath. Gringotts’ magic had not yet initiated the transfer, and therefore, they had to enforce it with a ritual.
“Heir Potter.” a goblin suddenly called out. James was sure that this one had told him its name, but he had already forgotten it. They all looked the same to him anyway.
“We will begin the ritual. Please focus on your magical core, and if possible, try to call as much magic to you as possible. I remember the Potter family magic to be quite stubborn.”
James nodded, but from behind he could hear his mother’s indignant voice.
“He’s the rightful heir of the Potter Lordship. There won’t be any problems as long as Gringotts performs the ritual in an acceptable manner.”
James could almost hear the tension in the chamber thicken, and not for the first time he wished that his mother would sometimes soften her words.
“I hope you are not implying that we at Gringotts offer sub-optimal service.” one of the goblins said stiffly. Cold, black eyes were staring at the richly dressed witch with undisguised anger.
“Of course not.” James quickly interjected. He knew his mother would be unhappy with him for basically giving in to the goblins, but in this moment he simply wanted to get this ordeal behind him.
The goblin who had reacted to the thinly covered insult gave him a sharp glare but nodded after a few seconds.
“Please ready yourself, Heir Potter.”
James took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He had no problems with performing magic with a wand in his hand, but calling his magic to the surface was a difficult exercise. Around him, the runes started to glow with a bright, white light, similar to the Lumos charm.
Low chanting could be heard as the goblins easily recited the incantation for the ritual. However, James frowned slightly, eyes still closed, when the voices of the goblins started to become strained. The chanting grew louder, the magic in the air suddenly growing smothering.
James opened his eyes slowly, trying to keep his magic strong. This was not supposed to happen. He could see the confusion on the goblins’ faces, even while they continued the ritual. Considering the words they were chanting (or rather growling, by now), it seemed as if the family magic refused to accept him as the Heir and therefore as the new Lord Potter. But why? He was the eldest son of Lord Potter. He was the only son of Lord Potter. There was no reason why the ritual should fail.
His thoughts were interrupted when a sudden, blinding light filled the chamber. Biting back a curse, James pressed his eyes close. Then, a low thump could be heard, and an unfamiliar, male voice cursed out loudly.
“What the bloody –“
James opened his eyes carefully and stared in confusion at the boy lying in front of him. He couldn’t see much except for expensive, dark green robes and long, black hair.
The boy jumped to his feet, looking around wildly and startling James enough that he actually took a step backwards. The speed of how he was suddenly holding his hand out in front of him and the way he held his body spoke of duelling experience. However, James noted in a second of confusion, the boy did not appear to have a wand.
Bright, green eyes met his own, and suddenly James knew who was standing in front of him.
“Hadrian?” he asked, breaking the silence.
Before the other boy was able to answer, his mother was suddenly by his side, her voice overpowering everything else.
“What is the meaning of this?! You were supposed to perform the Lordship ritual, not summon some stranger! How dare you manipulate my son’s inheritance?!”
“You are James Potter.” a wondering voice interrupted James’ mother. He ignored her insulted huff for the moment and met the curious but slightly cold look of the other boy. His cousin, if his suspicion was correct.
“And you are Hadrian Potter. My cousin.” James stated.
“Who cares who he is?” his mother sneered. “How did you interrupt the ritual?!”
Hadrian looked at his mother with seemingly unbreakable calm. “I did not willingly interrupt the ritual. I was at home when a forced apparation took me here.”
“Impossible!” his mother immediately responded, glaring at her nephew.
Suddenly, a goblin coughed in a slightly obnoxious manner, obviously trying to gain their attention.
“There might be a reason for Mr. Potter’s suddenly appearance.” the goblin said, ignoring the angry glare of Lady Potter. “Your father was Charlus Potter, the younger twin of Lord Potter, correct?”
Hadrian nodded, carefully listening. James couldn’t help but think that his cousin looked more like a Black than a Potter. The shoulder-length, black hair looked almost identical to that of Sirius. But he had inherited the green eyes of his father, a trait which seemed to randomly pop up in the Potter line. For some reason, the other boy was wearing black gloves – wait, had he already worn them when he had appeared? Maybe James had simply missed him putting them on. An odd fashion choice – but Hadrian was probably just as mad as his father.
“It seems as if the ritual has chosen you as the rightful heir of the Lordship title, instead of Heir – Mr. James Potter. I would suggest…” here, the goblin had to raise his voice in order to be heard despite Lady Potter’s loud complains, “I would suggest an inheritance test to clear this matter up.”
James had been more curious than anything else up to this point, but now he was becoming anxious. The Lordship title was his birth right, promised to him since the day he was born! Sure, he wasn’t really all that interested in politics, but he was definitely interested in becoming Lord Potter! And he'd been told that it was really important that he became Lord Potter, important for the war against the Dark. Also, what claim did Hadrian really have on anything belonging to the Potter name? His father had been disowned in everything but the name. He’d been a squib, for Merlin’s sake, and seeing as his cousin didn’t attend Hogwarts, surely he was also a squib. They had had no contact with Charlus Potter for longer than Hadrian had been alive! Hadrian had no connection to the Potter name, no sense of responsibility for the family business. No, James thought angrily, there was no way he would give up his title to someone like Hadrian!
Hadrian was conflicted. On one hand, he wanted to take the inheritance test, wanted to know if he truly was the heir to the Lordship title. The mere possibility seemed ridiculous, but the rituals at Gringotts were known to never fail. There had to be a reason, a good reason, for magic to bring him here. But on the other hand, he had never wanted much to do with the rest of the Potter family. The way they had treated his father for being seemingly weak, and his mother for having the wrong surname… well, it had done the other Potters no favour in Hadrian’s eyes. And although he would never admit it… he was still bitter about his own treatment by the main line of the family. His uncle and aunt had never even acknowledged his existence. There had been no response to his letters, no invitation for a visit. There had never been any birthday or Yule presents, and at the age of nine, he had stopped sending them letters and presents. He had been so hurt and disappointed, and his father had been so angry he had almost gone to confront his brother.
And then, with him and James both turning eleven, the later had started sending him letters. Letters about Hogwarts and his family. The words had been taunting, cruel in an honest way only a child could be. Hadrian had refused to talk to his parents for a whole week, angry that he wasn’t allowed to go to Hogwarts as well. By now, he could understand his parents’ decision and was actually glad to have been home schooled, but back then, it had seemed as if everyone had been against him.
To them, he had never been part of the Potter family. The only reason he felt any kind of connection to his own surname was his father. Charlus Potter had made sure that his son knew of the family business and the secrets, of the heirlooms hidden in vaults deep below Gringotts, and of the role Lord Potter held in the government. Being Lord Potter meant more than just having a fancy title and a lot of gold. It meant work and responsibility. There were families tied to the Potter family, some due to debt, some as former vassals. It was so much more than just a ring on a finger, and Hadrian would lie if he said that he hadn’t wished to be the heir on various occasions.
His father would have been an amazing Lord Potter, Hadrian was sure. Charlus Potter had been an incredible man on his own, but much more important had been his sense of responsibility towards his family and everyone else. He would have been a major player in the Wizengamot, the complete opposite of his brother, who had been mostly noticed for his numerous missed sessions.
It was a difficult situation which Hadrian had suddenly been thrown in, and therefore, he had currently an urgent priority.
“I would like to wait with any further decisions until my mother is here as well.” Hadrian told one of the goblins. The goblin was dressed in richer clothes than the others and seemed to be in the highest positions.
The goblin nodded. “Of course, Mr. Potter.” he agreed immediately. “An emergency notice has already been sent out to Mrs. Potter.”
“That woman has no place here.” Lady Potter suddenly shoved her way into the conversation. Hadrian had known her for a mere ten minutes and he already strongly disliked her. “This is a matter of the Potter family. She’s a Black, a dark witch. We do not want her here.”
Hadrian didn’t try to hide his anger. “Lady Potter, my mother was bonded to Charlus Potter in a perfectly legitimate ceremony. I assure you that she has every reason and right to be here. Or should we follow your argument and exclude you as well, since you are a McKennon by birth?”
Lady Potter was breathing heavily, her glare hateful. “How dare you…” she hissed angrily before being interrupted by her son’s urgent whisper. Hadrian didn’t try to overhear them, but it seemed as if James Potter was at least more intelligent than his mother.
He clasped his hands tightly, finding comfort in the presence of the tight gloves as he tried to bring his thoughts in some kind of order. Thank Merlin that he had early on adapted the habit to always carry a pair of fingerless gloves with him, even when he sat down to eat in the supposed security of his home. He couldn’t let anyone see his hands, after all.
He took a subtle but deep breath. This was not something to think about while ruled by emotions. Yes, he loved the thought of embodying his father’s triumph over his older twin… but that couldn’t be the deciding factor for his decision.
Hadrian had always seen his future in politics. He loved magic, loved working with it and duelling filled him with more joy than most other things, but above all this, Hadrian loved the magical world. He loved the diversity, all the different races, wizards, witches, creatures, even plants with magic flowing through them. It was fascinating to see how many shapes magic took on, how it gave all of them different abilities and traits by granting them the same gift. He himself was prove of that and he yearned to have the possibility to prove his worth to all those wand-wielding elitists.
He loved the possibilities of magic, from simple household charms to the fact that magic fuelled many of the technologies which muggles needed to power with electricity. The Knight Bus had never even been close to a drop of oil, and still it worked perfectly fine. They had a huge advantage, and yet, they didn’t really use it.
It was sometimes frustrating to see how much the wizarding world was happy to stay stagnant, to never feel the need to develop further. It was a staggering contrast to the almost relentless force which seemed to drive the muggles into new innovations every day. But Hadrian saw it differently. He loved the traditions of his world and he didn’t want to see them changed. In his opinion, the magical world was developing, was going further, but in the opposite direction than the muggles. Instead of working towards ruling the planet by slowly using up all its natural resources, already planning to leave this world behind and to discover new planets, new homes… the magical people strived to better harmonize with Nature. Magic was a natural resource, similar to light. No life would survive without light, and no magical life would survive without magic. And therefore, they needed to honour magic, needed to protect it in all its forms. That was what his world needed to focus on.
Hadrian knew the mindset of Dumbledore and his followers. They didn’t represent the whole of the Light party, but a large part of it. He knew about their dream of the magical and the muggle world living in harmony. About their desire to modernize the wizarding world, to integrate technology in their daily life. It was hopelessly naïve. The muggles would see them as nothing more than a resource. They would study magic, using wizards and witches and magical creatures for experiments, all in the name of science. And when they realized that they wouldn’t be able to steal magic, that their bodies weren’t made for it, they would want to control them, to take away their freedom, and to use them. As a resource, as a weapon, as a pet. Whatever the final goal would be, Hadrian was determined to never see it become reality.
But without a strong position in the Ministry, without political influence, there was nothing he could actually do. He had planned to apply for a job at the Ministry, though he wasn’t quite sure yet which Department would be the most suitable to make the realisation of his ideas possible. Now though… well, being Lord Potter would make his plans significantly easier. But was the easiest path really the one he wanted to follow?
Hadrian glanced towards his relatives and met the glare his cousin was sending his way. He could understand James’ reaction, but he couldn’t help but feel smug regarding the changes between them. James had taunted him with the Lordship title and the Potter family itself various times, and to see his own words thrown back into his cousin’s face was quite satisfying.
The stony silence of the room was only interrupted when the heavy doors opened to allow the tiny, but still somehow imposing figure of Dorea Potter to enter. Hadrian immediately relaxed, soothed by the certainty of a son who knew that somehow the mere presence of his mother would solve all his problems.
With large, gliding steps he crossed the chamber and leaned down to press a short kiss to his mother’s cheek.
“Mother.” he said lowly. He knew she hated being the only person in the room who didn’t know what exactly was going on, so he quickly explained what had happened. “For some reason, the Lordship ritual denied James the title and instead reached out to me. It appears that the Potter family magic sees me as the rightful heir.”
Only a widening of her eyes showed how much his mother was surprised by his words. She looked at him with piercing eyes, trying to figure out what he thought of the situation. He gave her a tiny, grim smile. He still wasn’t sure what to think. His mother took his hands in hers and tightened the grip for a second before letting them go.
They didn’t need words. Hadrian had shown his conflicted feelings and his mothers had understood. Now, it was time to face the people who had refused them their place in the family for all these years.
The goblins had guided them out of the ritual chamber and into a formal meeting room. Some of them had left as well, leaving behind only a goblin called Brighthax, who introduced himself as the manager of the Potter account, and Ragnok, who was the manager of the Gringotts branch in Diagon Alley. Obviously, the goblins considered this matter to be quite important and they had assured them that the other goblins who had been present during the ritual were all bound to strict confidentiality oaths.
As soon as they had all sat down, Brighthax summoned various documents and shuffled through them. He found the one he had been searching for quite quickly, and after studying the Potter family tree for a few seconds, he turned to Ragnok and spoke to him in harsh sounding Gobbledegook. Next to Hadrian, his mother waited in perfect calmness for the goblins to finish their discussion, while Lady Potter on the opposite side of the table grew more and more agitated with every passing second.
“Well?!”, Lady Potter suddenly snapped. “Let’s get this farce over with! It’s insulting that you even consider the possibility of my James not–“
“Thank you, Lady Potter.” Ragnok interrupted the angry witch with a deep rumble. It was obvious that he did not appreciate Lady Potter’s behaviour at all. The goblin turned to Hadrian’s mother, nodding respectfully. She responded in kind, apparently completely at ease in the uncomfortable chairs they were all sitting in.
“Mrs. Potter, I assume your son has already explained the situation to you?”
“Yes, Master Ragnok, I am aware of the situation.”
If the goblin was surprised by her respectful address, he didn’t show it. “Very well. The Potter family tree shows that the late Lord Potter was the older twin and therefore the rightful heir to the Lordship title. Was there ever any indication that your husband, Charlus Potter, was the older twin instead?”
Ignoring the indignant sputter from Lady Potter, Dorea Potter frowned. “No, there was never even the slightest suspicion that Charlus was the older twin. Fleamont was born half an hour earlier, if I remember correctly.”
Ragnok nodded, still ignoring Lady Potter. Hadrian thought it interesting to see how different the goblins treated the two women. One should have assumed that they’d treat Lady Potter with more respect and attention, since she held a higher status and more Galleons behind her name than his mother. But it seemed as if there had been a very good reason for his mother to teach him to always treat magical creatures with respect, goblins of course included. The gesture was obviously appreciated.
“We would like to perform a family test on Mr. Potter. Mr. Hadrian Potter.” Brighthax clarified. “A drop of his blood will be enough to trace his family tree back to his grandparents. The lines of the tree will show clearly, whether he and his father Charlus Potter are considered the main line by the Potter family magic, or if this position is held by Mr. James Potter and his father.”
No one raised any concerns against the goblins’ plan. Lady Potter seemed to want this whole situation to be over with, confident in her position as the rightful Lady Potter. James stared at the white sheet of parchment in the middle of the wooden table with a deep frown. Hadrian didn’t know his cousin well enough to guess what he was thinking in that moment.
With a deep breath, Hadrian took the small, silver knife handed to him by Brighthax. Carefully, he raised the sharp blade to his right hand, since the blood for rituals was traditionally taken from the hand which channelled the most magic. He was able to channel magic through his left hand as well, but his right hand was definitely the dominant one.
The cut on his thumb was only small and not very deep, but Hadrian had to suppress a pained hiss anyway. This was another side effect of rituals: the wounds always hurt more than in a normal situation. Some people thought it was due to the magic infused in the ritual knives, and some argued that it was a warning to prevent people from performing too many blood rituals. Hadrian thought that both arguments probably held some truth.
A drop of his blood fell on the clean parchment and seemed to be absorbed by the thick paper. Hadrian allowed his mother to heal the wound with a quick swipe of her wand, well aware of the judging eyes of his so-called family. But there was no reason to reveal his... unique approach to casting magic, not yet.
His mother cleaned the knife as well, all while they were watching the parchment with sharp eyes. The tension in the room rose once more, and then black lines started to form on the paper. Hadrian watched as his own name was spelled out, his eyes tracing the line which connected him to the slowly forming names of his parents. He couldn’t help but notice that their names were positioned in the very middle of the parchment, not on the side as one would have expected from someone who was part of a secondary family line. He could feel his mother stiffen next to him when her parents’ names appeared as well. Cygnus Black and his wife Violetta (née Bulstrode) had never disowned their daughter for marrying a “misguided Light wizard, and a near squib as well”, but they hadn’t spoken with her in over a decade. Still, at least she had fared better than her cousin Cedrella, who had been disowned and had never been spoken of again after marrying Septimus Weasley.
From the names of his grandparents, Harold and Charlotte Potter, a second line started to form. Black ink moved slowly, shaping the names of Fleamont and Euphemia Potter. Shortly after, James Potter’s name appeared, and the parchment seemed to settle. Hadrian stared at the so familiar and yet so completely new family tree in front of him. There were his father and he, directly under the name of the former Lord Potter, Harold Potter. Under the table he could feel his mother taking hold of his hand once again.
The results were clear. Charlus Potter had been the one to continue the main line of the Potters. He had been the older twin and the rightful heir of the Lordship title. Instead, he had been the laughing stock of his family.
“Lies!” Lady Potter suddenly hissed, her complicated hair-do slowly falling apart. “You sabotaged the test. My Fleamont had been announced as the heir by the Potter family immediately after his birth. He was taught in politics and the family business from early on. There was never – I cannot believe – you are lying! Charlus Potter was a weak little man, there is no way he was the true heir!”
The temperature in the room seemed to drop rapidly as Dorea Potter stared at Lady Potter with cold, grey eyes. “I would advise you to refrain from insulting my husband in front of me, Mrs. Potter.” she said calmly. Everyone present was able to hear the threat behind her words.
“How dare you address me like that?! I am Lady Potter, the –“
“Ah, but apparently, that title is supposed to be mine, isn’t it?” Hadrian’s mother interrupted her with a cruel smile. Her Black heritage had never been more obvious.
Ragnok coughed pointedly, gaining the attention of the agitated witches and wizards.
“Please, let’s focus on the situation right now. The test shows that Charlus Potter was indeed the older son, making Hadrian Rigel Potter the rightful heir of the Potter Lordship.”
“But he was cast out of the family!” Lady Potter screeched. “Charlus was cast out, so his son should not even be considered to be part of the family!”
Hadrian was surprised to hear her hostility so plainly in her voice. He had known that they didn’t care for him, but to know for sure that they didn’t even consider him family… It hurt more than Hadrian wanted to admit.
Brighthax glared at Lady Potter. “May I remind you of the difference between casting out a family member and disowning them? By casting out Charlus Potter, he was forbidden entry to the Potter estates and was unable to join the family business in any way or form. He was unable to make contracts in the Potter name. But he was not disowned! He kept his family name and the Potter family magic never denounced him! He was still part of the family, and therefore his son is part of the Potter family as well!”
Hadrian wondered why Brighthax seemed to be so passionate about defending his father’s name. Then he remembered his father’s interest in finance and businesses. He had seemed to have an incredible feeling for which company would have success in the future. Even though Charlus hadn't been able to sign contracts with his own name, he had steadily built an impressive network of contacts and business partners. Their family had never been short of money, even with both families denying them monetary support. His father had told him on various occasions that, as a business man, you needed to be a friend of the people controlling the money. In the case of the wizarding world, those people were the goblins at Gringotts.
Yes, Hadrian thought, Charlus Potter had probably been mourned more by Brighthax than by his own brother.
Before Lady Potter could start her tirade again, Hadrian directed his word to Brighthax. “But how come my father wasn’t given the Lordship title after my grandfather’s death? Why did the family magic accept his brother?”
As soon as he started to speak, James Potter appeared to shake off his shocked stupor. Hadrian could feel his cousin’s furious glare burning into his skin. On one hand, he felt victorious as he finally had the upper hand between them. On the other hand, he couldn’t help but mourn something that he had never had. There was no way his cousin would ever want anything to do with him now, no matter how this would end.
“The late Lord Fleamont Potter cast his brother out when he was still only the heir of the family title. Normally, such a drastic step can only be taken by the head of the family, at that time Harold Potter, but as we all know the later was very sick during the last few years of his life. While Fleamont Potter might not yet have been Lord Potter on the paper, he already fulfilled all duties tied to the position. I believe his father had set up a contract at one point, naming him the acting head of the family. Since such a contract can be set up without a ritual, there was no reason to suspect Fleamont Potter of not being the rightful heir.”
Brighthax shuffled through the documents in front of him, before making a short sound of satisfaction. “Yes, here is the contract. This was set up and signed by Harold Potter in 1959, three years before his death. It allowed his son to remove his twin brother from the family, however, as I said before, he was not able to disown Charlus Potter.”
“What does it matter anyway?!” James suddenly growled. He glared at Hadrian with a disturbing amount of disdain. “My uncle was removed from the family. My cousin has no right to the Lordship. This is my title we are talking about, it was promised to me, I was trained for it–“
Hadrian rolled his eyes at the whiny note of his cousin’s complains. “Which party of the Wizengamot will you join then?” he asked impatiently.
James turned towards him, his body tense. “The Light party of course. Just like my father and his father before.”
Hadrian nodded. “And why?”
“I- what do you mean, why? There is no alternative! Are you thinking about joining the Dark party? If yes, you just affirmed that we can’t trust you with anything of my family!”
Hadrian almost groaned at the other boy’s obvious prejudices. His mother had warned him about the unfortunate influence which being sorted into Gryffindor apparently had on one’s number of brain cells. However, seeing it spelled out so clearly was quite shocking.
“How do the goals and objectives of the Light party reflect your personal political goals? Which parts of the Neutral party’s and Dark party’s agenda do you disagree with? Why?”
James crossed his arms defiantly. “I support the same political goals as Professor Dumbledore does.”
Hadrian had already suspected that answer. “And which goals would that be? How did Headmaster Dumbledore place his vote on the last bill on the regulation of the international trading of the passiflora incarnata?”
“What are you talking about?” James asked him, staring at him disbelievingly. Next to him, Lady Potter seemed to struggle to decide between shouting at Hadrian and shushing her own son. “I don’t care about stupid flowers! I want to help with the war!”
There was a short moment of breathless silence. Hadrian wasn’t even sure which sentence baffled him more. Then he caught himself straightening in his chair, glaring at his cousin. “A stupid flower?! The passiflora incarnata is one of the main ingredients of the Dreamless Sleep potion, the Draught of Living Death, and many more sedatives! This flower is one of the main reasons why Dreamless Sleep is so addictive, and this bill is crucial in the fight against potion abuse! The implications of a possible leniency in trading volume for trauma victims alone are –“
“You sound like Snape.” James interrupted him with a groan.
Hadrian was on the brink of forgetting all of his manners. “If you are talking about your fellow Hogwarts student, Severus Snape, potions prodigy and published in various potions magazines starting at only fourteen, then I’m honoured for that comparison. But enough of that. What in Circe’s name did you mean with ‘I want to help with the war’?”
James straightened, smiling superiorly. “You might think you know so much, but Professor Dumbledore trusts me with much more important information. I know about the war between Light and Dark wizards, and I will do everything I can to support the Light side in the fight against evil!”
By now, Hadrian wasn’t the only one staring at James in disbelieve. The goblins hid their emotions very well, but Hadrian could see the discomfort in their black eyes. His mother, on the other hand, was openly sneering.
“You are nothing more than a little child who wants to play in a world of adults. You cannot even begin to understand what the words you are throwing around actually mean.” she hissed. “Light and Dark, evil, war. Those are not only words, and you should know better than use them so carelessly.”
Lady Potter, who had been staring proudly at her son, turned and glared at Dorea Potter. “Don’t you dare speak to my son like that! He’s the future Head of the House!”
“Is he?” Hadrian’s mother asked sweetly, her voice dripping with venom.
Hadrian ignored them all and looked at his sulking cousin pensively. He had to make a decision, because if he had understood the goblins correctly, he himself was the rightful heir of the Potter Lordship. Hadrian had never been officially cast out of the family, and he certainly hadn’t been disowned. Mainly because the rest of the family had never deemed him important enough for any kind of attention from their side, but those were simply details. Fact was that Hadrian was born into the main line of the Potter family, and therefore, he would be able to simply claim the Lordship title in this very moment.
But was it really the right decision?
He would make enemies, no doubt. Mainly among the Light side of the government, and he would have to be cautious of Dumbledore. Lady Potter and James would hate him with their whole being, and their friends and allies would take their sides. But with James’ display until now, Hadrian doubted that his cousin had acquired many allies, if any at all. He seemed to be the kind of guy who had a few close friends, feeling better than anyone else.
They would accuse him of stealing the title. Of being selfish and unprepared for the role. A sixteen years old in the Wizengamot? They would laugh at him and never let him speak. But he couldn’t just leave his seats in the hands of someone else, like James had obviously planned to do with Dumbledore as his proxy.
Was he acting selfish? Hadrian wasn’t sure. Of course he loved the idea of claiming the Lordship of the family which had denied him their homes until know. In some way, he wanted to do it for his father more than for himself. But he had to take a step back and think rationally. Responsibly. Which decision would bring more benefit for the Wizarding World?
Hadrian looked up and watched James argue with the goblins. His voice was loud and arrogant, his behaviour towards the goblins demeaning. He glanced towards his mother instead. Dorea Potter was watching her son with proud eyes, a small smile on her lips as if she already knew his final decision.
He returned the smile and turned towards the goblins. Brighthax was listening to James with a barely covered frown, but Ragnok was watching him with a sharp grin on his face. Hadrian’s smile threatened to transform into a grin, but he managed to control himself.
“I would like to claim the Potter Lordship.”