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Doctors and Lawyers and Such

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Hagrid had been in a bit of a rush to get Harry to every place in Diagon Alley that he needed, so after his initial gawk about they tended to move fairly quickly. It didn't help that Hagrid took such large steps that Harry was constantly rushing along. So when he saw the small sign over the door crammed between The Serpent's Whisper and Odds Bobbs, he barely registered the name before Hagrid was turning into the next shop.

But a few hours later, while he had a moment to breathe while sitting on the tube, Harry thought back to it. Turpin and Chang, Law-wizards. He had a number of questions about the wizarding world, and while a lawyer might be a bit of overkill, Harry was also relatively certain that they could be counted on to give him accurate, unbiased information.

Harry suspected — now that he knew that magic was real — that someone magical had been interfering in his life for a good while before they sent him hundreds of letters. His primary school teacher two years ago had been really upset after Uncle Vernon broke Harry's arm, and had promised to get him help. But after the weekend, she had come back to class acting differently, and barely even glanced at Harry, let alone pulled him in to talk about science at lunch like she usually did.

At the time, Harry had assumed that Uncle Vernon had just threatened her, and she was keeping his distance out of fear. But now, Harry had a few other theories. He was also highly suspicious of the kind of person who would send a hundred letters to him before coming in person, or why they would just assume that the first letter hadn't been received, instead of reasoning that Harry was simply thinking about his answer.

If Harry had been able to read his letter, but wanted to do a little research before accepting, then being bombarded by more and more letters was liable to just frustrate him.

No, they would only send so many letters if they somehow knew that Harry hadn't gotten one yet, and that meant they were spying on him and playing games with him. Hagrid might only have been sent because Uncle Vernon was right about them being watched, and the wizards responsible hadn't been able to spy on them out in that little hut in the sea.

And of course, there was the whole Voldemort thing, and several other things Hagrid had said — or avoided saying — that had pinged Harry's senses.

Altogether, he really wanted another opinion, and to ask some more detailed questions than he thought Hagrid could really answer. And a law-wizard might be just what he needed. Harry looked up at the tube map above the window, thinking.

The Dursleys had no idea that Harry was coming back this evening; they might not even be back from the island themselves. Or perhaps from the hospital, if they'd needed to take Dudley there. Though Harry thought that Uncle Vernon might just have a coronary if he had to explain how Dudley had ended up with a tail to the A&E doctor.

But what it meant was that, even if the Dursleys were home, they wouldn't be expecting Harry, so there really was no reason for him to go back. He could get off at the next station, catch the train going back to Charing Cross, and return to Diagon Alley.

Decided, Harry got up and made his way to the doors. He was very grateful that he had paid the extra to have a wheeled attachment on his trunk, as he maneuvered it around the weary commuters. Thankfully his owl remained asleep, and he didn't have to worry about her attracting even more attention to himself by making a racket.

As soon as they pulled into the next station — Wembley — he was ready, and alighted onto the platform. It seemed to go faster on the way back, and before long Harry was tapping the bricks on the wall behind the Leaky Cauldron.

Back inside Diagon Alley, it took him a moment to recall exactly where he had seen the small sign, but soon Harry had retraced his steps, and was standing in front of the right doorway. The sign was neatly written, gold lettering on a black background, and it hung over a freshly painted black door with a gleaming brass handle. Seeing no buzzer, Harry took a chance on the knob.

It readily opened, revealing a narrow staircase, and Harry slowly tugged his trunk up the steps. At the top was another black door with brass fittings, and it opened as easily as the first one had, though this time with the tinkle of a bell. Inside, Harry found a small reception desk and two comfortable looking cream and wood chairs. There were four doors along the wall, but only one was open, and a light shone from inside it.

"Did you forget something, Hyacinth?" a man called.

"Uh, sorry, erm." Harry wasn't sure what to say. He had a sinking feeling that they were already closed for the night — despite the doors being unlocked — and he'd intruded. His owl made a soft hooting noise, as though she was agreeing with him.

A moment later an older man stuck his head through the doorway. He was about the same height as Uncle Vernon, but much thinner, and wore a navy blue wizarding robe. He had a rectangular face topped with wavy light brown hair and a thin moustache and beard. "Hello, what's this?" he asked kindly.

"Uh, it— it wasn't locked," Harry explained.

The man sighed. "That girl will forget her own head next, mark my words. Well, since you're here, and I'm working late, you might as well come in, lad."

Harry wasn't positive that he didn't want to just come back tomorrow, but as the man had been relatively friendly so far, he followed the man into his office. Like the reception area, the walls were a plain cream color, and the floors were polished wood with a warm tone.

The wizard's desk looked very ornate and fancy, but there were so many piles of parchment on top of it that Harry honestly couldn't be sure. More parchments were framed on the wall behind him, with what appeared to be two wooden file cabinets on either side. Four well-stocked bookcases filled the rest of the space. There was also the largest potted fern that Harry had ever seen, and when he looked at it, he swore he saw it move!

"Now, I'm Miles Turpin, lad," the man said, sitting behind his desk. Harry slid into a comfortable cream and wood chair just like the ones in the outer office. "Along with my partner, Chang Hu, I own this firm. So, what brings you here today, and all by yourself?"

Harry was curious about the reaction from the Leaky Cauldron earlier, and decided to see how this man would react to hearing his name before telling him anything else. "I'm Harry Potter."

To his credit, Mr. Turpin leaned back in his chair, blinking rapidly, but didn't gasp or cheer or rush to shake his hand. Harry put a check in the 'pro' column. "Well, I must say, that answers some questions, but raises several others," he finally said. "I take it — ah, Hogwarts letters have just gone out, haven't they?"

"Yes sir," Harry agreed. "This was my first visit to Diagon Alley, and I saw your sign earlier. When I came back, I didn't realize how late it had gotten…"

"Don't worry about it." Mr. Turpin waved away his concern. "As I said before, I had already stayed late, engrossed in my work; I can certainly stay a little later."

Slightly reassured, Harry nodded and continued. "I've got lots of questions about the magical world, sir, and I thought that a law-wizard might be a good choice to tell me the truth."

"I see; well, I'll certainly endeavor to help you with whatever you need," Mr. Turpin said.

Harry was quite pleased that he didn't promise to be perfect or never lie; he already knew from experience that blithe assurances were rarely worth anything. So, Harry launched into a short explanation of the sequence of letters he had received, Hagrid's visit last night, and his uncle and aunt's objections to magic.

He glossed over the incident with Dudley's tail, or any details about his relatives — save that they were apparently muggles and that he'd lived with them for as long as he could remember — and then gave a quick recap of what he and Hagrid had done today. Harry also left out Ollivander's creepy information about his wand being a brother to Voldemort's, but did include what little Hagrid had told him about his parents and Voldemort.

Other than startling when he used Voldemort's name, Mr. Turpin listened attentively, and kept most of his emotions off his face.

When Harry finished, he sat there for a moment, seeming to gather his thoughts. Finally, he said, "Mr. Potter, your story has raised quite a few red flags for me. The most glaring of which is the fact that you have lived completely separate from — and ignorant of — the magical world. That's… unthinkable."

"Further, I'm afraid the mob you described in the Leaky Cauldron was fairly typical of the reaction you can expect from the wizarding public, and you'll certainly need more experience in how to handle it. I'm also deeply disturbed by something that you didn't mention — did you not meet with your account manager at Gringotts?"

Harry shook his head. "Griphook took me down to my vault in a cart, and then we went to another vault that Hagrid needed to go to. Then we left."

"Most unusual," Mr. Turpin murmured. "There are several other things I would need to look into — and more, I'm sure, that I'm not remembering off the top of my head — but suffice to say that something is making this potion smell rotten. If you— no, you'd need to speak to them first. I have…" He picked up a wand from his desk and waved it about. A moment later, a drawer on the nearer file cabinet shot open.

Mr. Turpin reached out and easily caught the thin stack of parchment that flew out of it, then swiftly thumbed through it. Then he pulled a quill from the mess on his desk and scribbled something on several of the pages. That done, he handed the stack of parchment to Harry.

"This is a very basic contract, Mr. Potter," he explained. "I want you to read through it carefully, and ask any questions that you like. The gist of it, however, states that I will take you as a pro bono client, on a short term basis. In your case, for as long as it takes you to get more information about your vault and family accounts."

"Pro bono means that you wouldn't pay me anything. While I'm fairly certain that you could afford my services for far longer, I wouldn't be comfortable charging you until we're sure. Once we've gotten to the bottom of your accounts and you've had time to read and understand what your goblin account manager has provided, then you may choose to hire me for any other needs, or we may part ways. Understand?"

Harry nodded. "Why do you need the contract at all, then, if you aren't being paid and it won't last very long?"

"Good question. For one, this is a standard contract, which we sometimes use for longer cases, so the length isn't set in stone. However, as with any contract, the main reasons are to create boundaries, and to protect both parties. For example, that contract sets out in advance what I will and won't do on your behalf. That way, we both know what to expect going in. When we reach the end of our partnership, we'll be able to look back at the contract and make sure that I did everything that I promised you, and nothing was left out."

"Another important feature is that it protects you — the client. While we have a contract together, I am bound not to disclose what I learned to any other people without your permission. So, for example, if I learned how much gold was in your vault, I couldn't go announce that in the Leaky Cauldron."

"And that confidentiality lasts after our business is concluded. If, say, four years from now, you discover that I have just disclosed your vault contents to the Daily Prophet, you would have the contract as proof that I was in the wrong, and the Department of Magical Law Enforcement would come after me for breaching the contract. Does that answer your question?"

Harry nodded again. He would read the contract, of course, but if Mr. Turpin was telling the truth about what was in it, then that sounded like a fantastic deal. And after the way that everyone had stared at him today, he really liked the part about protecting his privacy. Of course, his Uncle always said that you couldn't trust lawyers, and couldn't read anything they gave you anyway, but Harry was inclined to believe that — like the existence of magic, or whose fault it was he had fallen down the stairs — his uncle was wrong about law-wizards.

And, at first glance, it appeared that he was also wrong about their contracts. There were a few words that Harry didn't recognize, but the rest was remarkably readable. When he mentioned as much, Mr. Turpin chuckled.

"That kind of contract is used for people who don't understand legal language, such as children and magical beings. We worked very hard to make sure that the wording wouldn't be too complicated, and had my oldest nephew and niece test it out for us. Since Edwin's only two years older than you, and Lisa is due to start Hogwarts next month, like you, it should be alright."

Accepting that explanation, Harry continued reading. He reached the end quickly, and found nothing objectionable about it. The part that Mr. Turpin had written in clearly said This contract will not be considered completed until the client has a satisfactory and understandable accounting of his family's wealth, assets, and status at Gringotts bank, and the client declares the task fulfilled. Harry had worked out that he had the final say when things were declared so that Mr. Turpin couldn't just dump him off five minutes after they reached the bank, but was bound to wait until Harry thought he understood enough to no longer need him.

"Alright, where do I sign?" he asked. This might be a bit impulsive of him, but Harry had been doing impulsive things since he first spoke to Hagrid last night, and so far it had all gone alright.

Mr. Turpin handed over his quill, then raised his wand again and tapped the contract. "Initial each page where it glows green, and sign your full name where it glows purple. Write the date where it glows orange."

That was quite easy to follow, so Harry took the quill and dutifully signed, initialed, and dated each space. When he was finished, he handed the contract and quill back, and watched as Mr. Turpin did the same. When he was done, he put down the quill and then tapped the contract with his wand. There was a small blue flash of light, and then a second contract was resting next to it.

"Here's your copy," Mr. Turpin said, handing it over to Harry. "And you, Mr. Potter, are now officially my client. Welcome to the Turpin and Chang family."

"Er, thank you," Harry said, bemused.

"Now, it's getting on to supper time, and I suspect that you'll be hungry; shopping always stirs the appetite."

Harry's stomach chose that moment to rumble, of course.

Mr. Turpin laughed. "It's agreed! Now, how about we go out to dinner to celebrate; it will be my treat!"

Harry agreed, though he wasn't sure about letting the law-wizard pay for his food. He still had a few gold coins left from his shopping, though, so he could pay his own way once they got there. Mr. Turpin offered to let his owl out of her cage so that she could stretch her wings while they ate.

There was a large perch beside one of the windows, with little food and water trays attached, and when he opened the cage, the owl hopped onto it and took a quick drink. Harry petted her for a moment, and she nipped his fingers gently in reply. Reassured that she would be alright, Harry allowed Mr. Turpin to put her cage into his trunk and shrink the whole thing down so that it would fit in Harry's pocket.

Mr. Turpin quickly closed up his office, locking both doors behind them, and escorted Harry next door to The Serpent's Whisper. It was a bit brighter, nicer, and cleaner than the Leaky Cauldron, but it didn't feel stuffy and posh, like the places Uncle Vernon described visiting for business meals. They had many dishes that Harry was familiar with — and a good many that he knew how to cook — but when Mr. Turpin assured him that he could pick anything, no matter the cost, Harry decided to order a personal pizza.

He'd only had pizza twice before, that Harry could remember, so he was quite excited to see if the wizarding version was the same as what he remembered. Dudley certainly enjoyed the regular kind well enough. Harry had asked about fizzy drinks, and Mr. Turpin suggested that he try something called pumpkin juice, which wasn't fizzy, but had all sorts of spices and things in it. When it arrived, Harry took a tentative sip, and decided that he really liked it.

For his part, Mr. Turpin ordered steak and potatoes, with tea. Both of their meals came with a small salad to start, and while they ate that, he asked Harry questions about growing up in the normal — muggle — world. Mr. Turpin admitted that his wife was a muggleborn witch, so he had experienced that world when he went to visit his in-laws, but there were still lots of things that he didn't quite understand about it.

It wasn't until he was halfway through his pizza that Harry realized that, in and amongst the questions about what he learned at school and how to know when to cross the street, the law-wizard had asked questions about how his aunt and uncle treated him. Harry had already revealed that he had to get lower grades than Dudley, how he cooked and cleaned for his family, all about the second bedroom and the cupboard under the stairs, and even about landing on the roof of the school one day, before he'd even noticed what happened.

Harry stared shrewdly at the other man for several moments, while he calmly ate his steak, before finally figuring out something. "Everything we say tonight falls under our contract, right?" Harry asked, thinking back to the wording on the parchment that was tucked into his pocket. "Not just when we're at the bank?"

"Correct, Mr. Potter." Mr. Turpin smiled. "Everything we have talked about tonight is covered by my confidentiality oath."

"Oh, good," Harry said, relieved. And also a little pleased at how clever the man was, as long as that cleverness was working for him.

The topics became less serious after that, with Mr. Turpin explaining the rules of the wizarding sport, Quidditch, and explaining which team he supported. He also knew about football, thanks to his wife's family, though he only half-heartedly supported the same team as them. Harry rarely managed to see any games when the Dursleys left him home alone, so he didn't have a team either, but he enjoyed talking about his limited experience.

It was nice to learn more about the wizarding world and to have something to compare it to in the normal — muggle — world without the pressures of trying to remember all the new details, or having people staring at him for being Harry Potter.

They had a small pudding menu, and Mr. Turpin recommended the fruit tarts, though he admitted that his nieces and nephews preferred the chocolate cake. Harry wasn't sure he could eat a whole slice of cake or an entire tart, but Mr. Turpin assured him that he could apply a preservation charm to the leftovers and they wouldn't go bad for months!

With that assurance, Harry decided on the chocolate cake, and it was as good as promised! Mr. Turpin got the fruit tart, and it did look good, so Harry decided that he'd try that the next time he came here. As predicted, he wasn't able to finish, but Mr. Turpin easily cast a pair of spells to create — conjure, he said — a plastic food container and charm it for preserving the cake inside.

He then shrunk it down so that it easily fit in Harry's pocket, and told him that all he would need to do was tap it with his wand to unshrink it later. Doing that also didn't count as using magic, to the Ministry's sensors, so he wouldn't get in trouble for underage magic. Mr. Turpin had done the same thing with Harry's trunk earlier, which was tucked into his other pocket.

"Now that we've finished our meals, you have a decision to make, Mr. Potter," he said as they walked back out into the Alley. Night had fallen, and colorful illuminated globes floated above their heads. Some of the shops were closed and dark, but others still had lights in the windows, and there was a good bit of brightness and noise coming from one of the side alleys.

"We can certainly go to Gringotts tonight; they are open all day every day, rather than risk losing money by being closed when a customer wants in. However, I understand that you had a late night last night, and a very busy day today, and you might want to tuck in early. The Leaky Cauldron has rooms to rent for the night, and they're very affordable. Five galleons for the night, or thirty for the week."

Harry still had a dozen galleons in his pocket, and he knew he had piles more in his vault, so he could get the rest of the thirty tomorrow. And, now that his belly was full of the biggest meal he'd ever had, Harry was indeed feeling quite sleepy. "I think I'd rather go tomorrow, if that's alright with you."

"Perfectly alright, Mr. Potter," he said cheerfully. "That will also give me a little time to do some research and make some notes. What time do you usually get up?"

"About six. I usually—" Harry cut himself off. But he'd already admitted that he cooked and did chores around the house, and Mr. Turpin hadn't been upset, so he gathered his courage and finished. "I usually cook breakfast then, before Uncle Vernon goes to work."

"Then why don't we ask Tom — the owner of the Leaky — to wake you for breakfast at seven, so you can have a bit of a lie in," Mr. Turpin suggested. "He can deliver whatever you want to your room, if you don't want to deal with the crowds downstairs. And then I could meet you at the bar around eight, perhaps?"

"Alright," Harry agreed. It all sounded good to him.

As they started walking up the alley towards the Leaky, Mr. Turpin asked, "Do you enjoy a full fry up, or just a half English? Or are you a bubble and squeak man?"

Despite his earlier confessions, Harry didn't want to admit that he rarely had more than toast or cereal for breakfast, so he shrugged. Thankfully, that didn't seem to put Mr. Turpin off.

"Well then let's split the difference and ask Tom for the half English, and then if you want more you can ask for it, and if it turns out to be too much, the day maid can perform the same preservation charms for you."

Harry nodded again, and then they had reached the top of the alley. The windows of the Leaky were all brightly lit, though the grime was even more apparent than during the day. It was also quite loud, and Harry shied away from encountering another boisterous crowd all trying to shake his hand.

Mr. Turpin was quite perceptive, as he took a step backwards as well. "Why don't you wait out here, Harry. You bought the cloak on your Hogwarts list, didn't you?"

"Yes sir."

"Then why don't you enlarge your trunk and pull it on, so it will cover your face. I'll go ahead and talk to Tom — he might be a bit busy at the moment — and see if I can get your room arranged for the night. Then I'll come get you, and you'll be able to sneak past the nightly crowd, eh?"

"Yeah, thanks," Harry said gratefully. He pulled his wand and trunk out of his pocket as Mr. Turpin headed inside — accompanied by a large burst of boisterous noise when the door opened — and did as suggested. He'd just gotten his cloak settled and his trunk locked back up when the door opened again.

Mr. Turpin beckoned to Harry, and quickly led him through the pub to the stairs. As soon as they hit the top step, all the noise from below vanished. "Silencing ward," Mr. Turpin said approvingly. "And you're here in Room 11. It's at the back of the hall, so fewer people will pass you, and it's slightly larger than Room 12, as I understand."

Using a key on a thin chain, he unlocked the door, and ushered Harry inside. A wave from Mr. Turpin's wand lit a fireplace, and it started crackling merrily — a far cry from his uncle's pathetic attempt with the crisp packets the night before. With that illumination, Harry could see that the room was larger than his aunt and uncle's bedroom! There was a wide window, a small table and two chairs, the fireplace, and a huge bed in the middle.

"Will it do?" Mr. Turpin asked with a chuckle. He walked over to the window and opened it.

"Do? It's brilliant!" Harry grinned. A moment later his snowy owl swooped in the window.

Mr. Turpin drew his wand and tapped one of the chairs, transforming it to a smaller version of the perch in his office. A wave of his wand filled the attached bowl with water, and another wave added small pellets to the food dish. "That will change back in a few days, but I expect you'll have gotten something more permanent by then," Mr. Turpin explained.

"I will," Harry nodded quickly. He hadn't thought about things like perches and food bowls when Hagrid had given him the owl, but obviously she couldn't stay in that small cage all the time. He was very grateful that Mr. Turpin cared not just about Harry as his client, but even about his owl.

"Well then, I'll leave you to it," Mr. Turpin said, handing over the room key. "And I'll see you at eight, down by the bar. You can wear your cloak again if you don't want to be recognized."

Harry managed a "Thank you," as Mr. Turpin left, and then he was alone. He set his trunk up at the foot of his bed and opened it again, but Harry quickly realized that he didn't actually have anything but school supplies in it. If he wanted pyjamas or a toothbrush, he would need to wait until tomorrow, when he found out how much spending money he had, and ask if there was a place in the Alley to buy such things. He might have to go back into London proper to take care of it, but Harry wouldn't mind that.

Since there wasn't much else he could do tonight, and the combination of the meal and the fire were making him warm and drowsy, Harry shucked his cloak and Dudley's hand me downs, then climbed into the bed in his shorts. The sheets were soft cotton, and the mattress beneath him was plush, and Harry fell asleep almost before he could even get his glasses off.

o

The next morning, Harry was delighted to have the day maid deliver him a tray with a single egg, sausages, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, and fried bread. There was also a glass of the pumpkin juice he had tried last night, and tea.

The maid — Maybelle — was also very helpful, and taught him a simple tooth cleaning charm that could be cast with your finger instead of your wand. It wasn't as good as a real toothbrush, but it would do in a pinch. As it was a child's spell, Harry mastered it quickly, and felt much better about the day.

He was able to polish off most of his breakfast without feeling full and heavy — though he did feed a sausage to his owl, and tuck away his last slice of fried bread into his cake container — and quite enjoyed all of it. Even the pumpkin juice, which had so many spices that he wasn't used to, was brilliant! Last night he had been tired, and a little overwhelmed, so Harry hadn't really paid attention to all the different flavors, but he'd really enjoyed his morning glass.

Harry debated briefly, but eventually decided that he'd rather wear his school robe under his cloak, instead of showing off Dudley's old things. He was still quite hopeful that he could get new clothes soon, and be rid of these for good. Besides, Harry was around wizards, and he'd noticed that almost everyone he saw yesterday was wearing robes. He didn't want to stand out any more than he had to, and Dudley's hand-me-downs certainly stood out!

It only took a moment for Harry to transfer the bag with his remaining money and vault key, his wand, and his contract from the pockets of yesterday's trousers to those in his school robes. After a bit of thinking, he added his school letter, just in case.

Harry still had a half hour to wait, once he'd finished his meal, so he looked through his school books. He thought that he might find more information about goblins, but they weren't in Fantastic Beasts. When he thought about it for a little longer, Harry realized that made sense, as when he had met them yesterday they seemed much more like people than the animals covered in that book.

With that in mind, Harry thought he might have better luck with History of Magic, so he pulled out that book next.

By leafing through the first few chapters, Harry was able to find information about a goblin rebellion, but that was very clearly biased. It only talked about how fast, strong, and skilled in battle the goblins were, and said nothing about them running the magical bank.

Still, Harry persisted until his watch beeped that it was time for him to go downstairs. Putting History of Magic on his bedside table, Harry stood up, pulled his cloak hood up, grabbed his room key, said goodbye to his owl, and then headed out. It only took a moment for him to lock his door and pocket the key, and then Harry hurried down the stairs.

Mr. Turpin was waiting for him, leaning against the bar and chatting to Tom. Today he was wearing golden brown robes and carrying a matching satchel. When Harry walked up to the law-wizard, he smiled brightly. "Had a good night, then?" he asked.

"Oh yes." Harry nodded emphatically. "It was wonderful."

"Get on alright at breakfast?"

"It was very good," Harry agreed. "And I really like pumpkin juice!"

Tom chuckled. "You and every other youngin', lad. But I'm glad that everything was to your liking."

"It was, thank you," Harry said politely.

"Well, shall we be off?" Mr. Turpin asked. Harry nodded and fell into step with him when he pushed away from the bar. Together they walked out the back, opened the arch, and headed back into Diagon Alley. Though he had done his fair share of gawking the day before, Harry found new things to catch his eye today.

After his experience with Mr. Turpin, he was more conscious of the small doors crammed between the storefronts, and often looked up at the first floors to see what was happening above them. While it was clear that many of them were residences — and Harry saw all kinds of interesting things in the windows, from owl perches to large flower boxes to a shimmery blue fuzzy creature — there were also some businesses.

One advertised a seer with an oversized crystal ball sitting in the window, while another promised "Bismuth and Cinnabar's Potions for the Discerning Customer" with a steaming cauldron stirring itself on the banner. One tall building he hadn't taken much note of the first time around seemed to house the newspaper that Harry had seen people reading during his brief time in the Leaky Cauldron's dining room this morning.

Harry was tempted to read it, to see if there was any important news, but he was afraid that without a better grasp on the wizarding world, he wouldn't understand a great deal of the articles. Still, he made a note of the sign that listed the subscription prices, just in case.

Finally, they arrived at the bank, and it was just as impressive as the first time Harry had seen it. Mr. Turpin didn't hesitate, but strode right up the steps and inside. Harry kept close by his side, not wanting to lose track of him in the crowd.

As soon as they entered, Mr. Turpin turned to his right and walked over to one of the many doors that Harry had noticed the day before. When they drew near, he saw that it said "Accounts" in neat lettering. Mr. Turpin knocked once, then stepped back and waited.

A few minutes passed, and Harry occupied himself with surreptitiously watching the other customers. But finally the door opened, and someone called out "enter" in a deep voice. When Harry followed Mr. Turpin inside, he found a very dignified looking goblin sitting behind a desk.

Unlike the guards outside, he wasn't wearing a scarlet and gold uniform, but a neat black pinstripe suit. Though he was clean shaven, there was a hint of grey in his black hair. Harry was no expert, but this goblin looked older than Griphook.

The door closed itself behind them as Harry and Mr. Turpin stood in front of the desk. Where Mr. Turpin's desk had been piled high, the goblin's was neat, with nothing on the blotter and just a few crystals and stones along the top. There was a single file cabinet behind him, but no bookcases or wall decorations.

"Yes?" the goblin asked.

"Mr. Potter needs to speak with the Potter account manager," Mr. Turpin said formally.

The goblin's gaze shot to Harry, and he got the distinct impression that, unlike the wizards that had stared at his scar in awe, the goblin was somewhat annoyed with Harry. He immediately felt defensive.

"And why did Mr. Potter not schedule this meeting in advance, as our letters clearly requested he do?" the goblin growled. "The Potter account manager was quite upset to learn that Mr. Potter had been in the bank yesterday and slighted him."

Harry glanced at Mr. Turpin, who nodded at him reassuringly. Harry had mentioned, when they were speaking last night, that his Hogwarts letter was the only magical mail he'd ever received. He'd never even heard of Gringotts until he was already in Diagon Alley!

"Mr. Potter has never received any correspondence from Gringotts or anyone in the Wizarding world until his Hogwarts letter this past week," Mr. Turpin said evenly. "He was unaware of your attempts to contact him, or that he even had an account manager, until I informed him of the latter last night. Furthermore, Manager Ripfang, when Mr. Potter was in Gringotts yesterday, no mention was made of his account manager, the desire for a meeting, or any unanswered correspondence."

The gobin's expression darkened, but his glare was no longer directed at Harry. Harry suspected that Griphook or someone else was going to get a scolding for not talking to him yesterday. Indeed, the goblin — Manager Ripfang, Mr. Turpin had called him — reached over to a row of odd shapes carved on a pale round stone that resembled a dinner plate.

Pressing a carving that looked like a lumpy circle, he said something in a harsh, guttural language that Harry didn't understand. There was a response from the stone, and Manager Ripfang snarled when he replied. Then he raised his clawed finger and pressed on a carving that looked a bit like a trident. Harry was expecting the odd language this time, and listened to the brief exchange eagerly.

When Manager Ripfang finished, he released the stone and then turned to face Harry again. His expression was still troubled, but he didn't growl at Harry like he had the first time. "Has your magical guardian never spoken to you about your accounts?"

Harry shook his head, then glanced at Mr. Turpin. "I don't know who that is. I'd never even heard of magic until the night before last. My Aunt and Uncle aren't magical, so I don't think you mean them?"

"In the brief time I had to research, I found the name of the person legally recognized as your magical guardian," Mr. Turpin said. "However, when I attempted to put that name down on your official parchmentwork, Magic refused to accept it. I'll need to do more research to figure out who Magic believes that to be."

"We have run into the same irregularity," Manager Ripfang said. "The Potter account manager has just informed me that he has been in contact with Mr. Potter's magical guardian. I am, however, aware of the guardian that Magic has determined, and I know it is impossible for Rotlung to have spoken to him. Apparently he is either lying about it, or he has decided to accept the guardian the Wizards assigned, ignoring Magic's will."

"Is that why nothing was mentioned to Mr. Potter yesterday?" Mr. Turpin asked.

"It seems so," Manager Ripfang said. "I would need to investigate further, but Apprentice Griphook said that his instructions came from Manager Rotlung. It's likely that he was unaware of Manager Rotlung's deception, though I will not yet rule out the idea that they could have been working together." Harry hoped not; he'd enjoyed his brief acquaintance with Griphook, and he'd rather think that only one goblin had lied, rather than a whole conspiracy.

"Are you able to tell us the identity of Mr. Potter's true magical guardian?" Mr. Turpin asked. "It would help me narrow down my investigations."

Manager Ripfang considered Harry for a moment, and then nodded sharply. "I will administer the inheritance test to confirm his identity, and then we may proceed."

Harry watched in fascination as the goblin removed a thick piece of parchment, a shining black quill, and a large golden brown crystal from the drawers of his desk. Next, he drew forth a small dagger, which worried Harry a bit.

It wasn't that Harry didn't trust Mr. Turpin or Manager Ripfang per se, he just wasn't sure he trusted anyone with a knife around him. For all Harry knew, this was a perfectly normal Wizarding practice, but he also couldn't help but remember the way that Hagrid had talked about dark magics yesterday and shiver a little.

Manager Ripfang placed the parchment in the center of his desk blotter, and then placed the crystal at the top, closest to Harry. From this angle, he could now see that there were more shapes carved into it, like on the stone the goblin had used to communicate, and a small indentation in the top.

"Harry, the inheritance ritual uses a bit of your blood," Mr. Turpin said. "Manager Ripfang will cut your finger with the ritual dagger, and you'll let a few drops fall into the well on the crystal. It will hurt a bit, but no more than a bad papercut, or being spattered with hot grease on the hob."

Harry winced, remembering that he had shared that detail last night when talking about cooking.

"Once the crystal activates, it'll automatically heal your finger," he continued. "However, you should know that that quill isn't an ordinary one like the ones you bought for school. That's a special Gringotts blood quill. It will draw your blood to write, using it and your magic to spell it. The words will briefly appear across the back of your hand, and will hurt for a moment, but I promise it will all heal over before we're even done, alright?"

"Alright," Harry agreed hesitantly. He didn't like the sound of all that, but if it was necessary then it was necessary. And he appreciated Mr. Turpin explaining it all in advance. He'd been very good about that right from the start, actually. Harry thought it might be because he had a niece and nephew Harry's age, so he was used to dealing with children. Of course, that didn't explain Uncle Vernon, who had Dudley, but Harry was becoming more and more convinced that his Uncle wasn't the best example in most cases.

"Hold out your wand hand, palm up," Manager Ripfang said. Harry complied, leaning forward to stretch out over the desk. The goblin cupped Harry's hand, then hefted the dagger and lightly cut his pointer finger.

It did hurt, but Mr. Turpin was right that Harry had had much worse. Manager Ripfang turned his hand over, lining it up over the crystal. As Harry's blood dripped down into the well of the crystal, it began to glow faintly. The blood spread out to the little patterns, almost like spiderwebs or lace. Manager Ripfang squeezed Harry's finger firmly, making the blood flow a little faster.

Finally, the crystal gave off a bright flash, and Harry felt something ghost across his fingertip. Manager Ripfang released his hand and Harry flipped it over, seeing that his finger was healed, as promised. Then the goblin picked up the quill, dipped it in the well of blood, and placed it on the parchment.

The quill began to move on its own, and Harry felt a sharp sting on the back of his hand. Flipping it back over, Harry saw the tail end of his name being spelled — the first few letters were already gone. It wasn't much worse than the knife cut, at first, but it kept going, growing more and more uncomfortable.

Finally, the words stopped, and the quill fell over. The last cuts on Harry's hand faded, leaving his skin a little pink, but no worse for wear. The crystal flashed brightly again, then went dark. As Harry's vision cleared, he saw that the parchment had changed. The words that had been blood were now a deep, embossed red. A golden seal decorated the bottom.

Manager Ripfang examined it for a moment, then spun the parchment around so that Harry and Mr. Turpin could read it. At the bottom was Harry's full name — Harold James Potter — and a thin line rose up from it before branching out. To Harry's confusion, there were three names above his: Lily Rose Potter nee Evans, James Charlus Potter, and Severus Prince Snape. Beneath each of their names was much smaller writing. Lily's said 'Heiress Presumptive of the Elder House of Evans'; James's said 'Lord of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter, Heir Presumptive of the Most Noble and Most Ancient House of Peverell'; and Severus's said 'Lord of the Elder House of Prince'.

Branching up from each of the three were more people — Posey Brown and William Evans, Dorea Black and Charlus Potter, and Tobias Snape and Eileen Prince — and more above them. Harry noticed that his Aunt Petunia was on there as well, and her title was the same as his mum's. Looking past the names that he assumed were his great grandparents, Harry saw a paragraph of writing at the top.

It said, Harold James Potter, Heir Apparent of the Most Noble and Most Ancient House of Peverell, Heir Apparent of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter, Heir Apparent of the Elder House of Prince, Heir Apparent of the Elder House of Evans, Heir Presumptive of the Noble and Elder House of Buttermere, Heir of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black.

"Am I really related to all those families?" Harry blurted out. He was still trying to figure out why it appeared that he had three parents, but that was the first thing that popped out of his mouth.

"Indeed you are," Mr. Turpin said. "The goblin inheritance tests can't be faked. I hadn't realized that your mother was from a magical line, but it makes sense. Your great-grandfather, Richard Evans, was a squib, it appears, and so it was more accurate to say that she was a squib-born, rather than a muggle-born."

Harry stared at him blankly, and he quickly explained, "A squib is a child born to magical parents who doesn't have enough magic to wield a wand. The opposite of a muggleborn, if you think about it. You can see here that your aunt is also rightly termed a squib, or she couldn't have been your mother's heir, or yours."

That made Harry gape. His Aunt Petunia was a kind of magical person? She would die if she found out that she wasn't as normal as she desperately believed.

"You come by the Peverell line through the Potter family, as you can clearly see in the titles of your father, grandfather, and great-grandfather Potter. Again, that isn't well known amongst most wizards, as the Peverell family is believed to have died out some generations back. The Black and Buttermere lines are also through the Potter family, in your grandmother and great-grandmother."

Mr. Turpin cleared his throat. "And finally, your… third parent; Mr. Snape is alive, as you can see," when he pointed it out, Harry noticed the small diamond next to Severus Snape's name. None of the other people on his chart had a diamond except himself and Severus Snape. "Snape isn't a wizarding family name, but the Prince line comes down to you both from his mother."

"How—" Harry cut himself off, unsure how to even voice his question.

"How did you come to have three parents?" Mr. Turpin asked. Harry nodded. "Well, there are two ways that I know of, though Manager Ripfang might know of others. "The first is through magical adoption. Unlike the purely legal adoptions that muggles use, a magical adoption includes an exchange of blood between the parent and child, and magical bindings. The child becomes related to their third parent by blood and magic, but they don't have the physical characteristics of the third parent."

"Alternatively, there is a ritual that allows multiple parents to create a child together, as magic mixes their contributions equally. In that way, instead of a child having two physical parents, they have the traits of all three. Without more information, I'm unsure how to determine whether your parents used the former or the latter method," Mr. Turpin concluded.

"There are further tests that can be run," Manager Ripfang volunteered. "Though you could also just ask the living parent, as there is one."

"Indeed," Mr. Turpin said. "Now about his guardian…"

Manager Ripfang pointed to a thin dotted line that Harry hadn't noticed before. It led away from his own name and off to the side, before splitting and ending first at Sirius Orion Black, Lord Apparent of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, Sworn Godfather to and Magical Guardian of Harold James Potter.

The second name read Alice Elizabeth Longbottom nee Bell, Heir of the Elder House of Bell, Lady of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Longbottom. Sworn Godmother to and Magical Guardian of Harold James Potter.

Mr. Turpin made a choking sound. When Harry glanced at him, he saw the man's eyes were quite round, and he'd gone very pale. "What does all that mean?" Harry asked him.

"A sworn godparent has made a vow on their own magic not to bring harm to their godchild," Manager Ripfang explained when Mr. Turpin didn't answer. "That Black is your magical guardian as well, instead of your third parent, means that there are conditions in your… other parents' wills that have declared him as such, in addition to conditions that either temporarily or permanently remove Mr. Snape's paternal claim over you."

Finally Mr. Turpin cleared his throat. "Suffice to say, Mr. Potter, that Mr.— Lord Black is currently not in a position to take care of you, but I shall be investigating that as soon as possible. I suspect now that the person who has claimed to be your magical guardian is responsible for Lord Black being… indisposed."

"That is Gringotts' suspicion as well," Manager Ripfang agreed.

Mr. Turpin continued, "As for your godmother, she too is indisposed, in a manner that should eliminate her guardianship of you, as it did of her own son. That Magic has not decreed it so… will also bear investigating." Manager Ripfang nodded agreement.

"In the meantime, Mr. Potter will need a certified copy of that parchment, as will I, when I begin to poke into Black's case."

Manager Ripfang nodded again, then picked up a deep blue crystal from the row of them along the top of his desk. It was about the size of Harry's thumb, and when he pressed it to the contract, it created a duplicate beside the original. He pressed it again, creating a second duplicate. Then he pulled a file folder from his desk, placed both copies inside it, and handed it to Mr. Turpin.

"Thank you, Manager Ripfang," Mr. Turpin said, tucking the file into his satchel. "Now, since he has had his identity confirmed, and as there is a conflict regarding the Potter account manager, who may we speak with about Mr. Potter's accounts?"

The goblin thought for a moment, then reached out to his communication stone. He pushed a new mark that looked like a strange triangle and said something into it. Then he turned back to Harry. "As the Peverell account manager has not been implicated in these irregularities, and as that family line appears to be entwined with the Potter one now, I am assigning the Potter accounts to her. Manager Steeleye will be with you shortly."

"Thank you, Manager Ripfang," Mr. Turpin said, standing. He gave a little half bow and added, "May your vaults be full of gold and your enemies tremble before you."

Harry followed his example, rising and attempting the same bow. He had no idea what the words meant, but they sounded oddly formal. "May your vaults be full of gold and your enemies tremble before you," he said. "And thank you for helping me today."

To Harry's mild surprise, the goblin rose from his desk and repeated the gesture back to them. Then, he smiled with a large, toothy grin and added, "Well spoken, young wizard. Gringotts looks forward to working with the Houses of Potter and Peverell in the future."

Mr. Turpin ushered Harry out of the office, and the door slammed closed behind them. "Very good job, Mr. Potter," he said with a smile. "The goblins are a proud race, and very few wizards show them the courtesy they deserve. You impressed him."

"Why don't wizards treat them courteously?" Harry asked. "They run the bank, don't they? Why would you antagonize the people who run your bank?"

Mr. Turpin chuckled. "For several reasons, but the most predominant is that they don't see goblins as 'people'. There have been several wars fought with the goblins over those and similar matters, and that is one source of the antagonism. Furthermore, have you heard the phrase 'history is written by the victors?'"

Harry nodded quickly. "My teacher last year had that written on a sign in the back of the classroom."

"Then you will understand when I say that the wizards who wrote the history books were not very concerned with relaying accurate information about goblins. The most important things to remember are not to waste their time; time is money, and if you waste a goblin's time, you're essentially costing them money by keeping them from doing something more important."

"Oh." Harry thought about that. "Is that why we didn't have tea or chat about the weather first? You got right down to business." Uncle Vernon was always talking about how good he was at small talk, and how important a skill that was when in meetings with his bosses or potential clients.

"It is!" Mr. Turpin said cheerfully.

A goblin walked up and said "Follow me," before he could continue. Now understanding why the goblins seemed so curt, Harry quickly followed them and Mr. Turpin. They went through an ornate door that led to a long hallway full of doors.

"Is it alright to ask questions while we're walking?" Harry asked quietly.

"Quite alright," Mr. Turpin confirmed. "Most goblins would be very pleased that you chose to multitask — do two things at once."

"Good. Excuse me, what's your name please?" Harry asked the goblin.

The goblin gave him a smaller grin than Manager Ripfang had, but there were still a lot of teeth on display. "I'm Apprentice Thinblade," they replied.

"All goblins use their title in formal introductions," Mr. Turpin explained. "It's a sign of courtesy to use it in return. This is because, in goblin society, titles are hard-earned, and they're rightfully proud of their accomplishments."

"Oh, it's nice to meet you, Apprentice Thinblade; I'm Harry Potter. I haven't earned any titles yet," Harry said, and was rewarded with another toothy smile.

Mr. Turpin chuckled. "Perhaps 'earned' isn't quite the right word, but you are the Heir Apparent for several noble Houses. Introducing yourself with those titles is commonplace."

Before Harry could reply, they had reached a door — that looked just like all the others — and stopped. Harry had just enough time to see the word 'Peverell' written on it before Thinblade stepped forward and knocked.

The door opened almost instantly, and Harry and Mr. Turpin were ushered into another office that looked almost the same as Manager Ripfang's, down to the communication stone that the occupant was speaking into. The goblin sitting behind the desk looked similar to him as well, except she had slightly longer hair, and her pointed ears appeared larger. She seemed to be wearing the same suit, and if Manager Ripfang hadn't said that his account manager was a 'her,' Harry wasn't positive he could have told the difference. Harry glanced at Mr. Turpin, but wasn't sure exactly how to ask what he was thinking.

"Note the ears," Mr. Turpin murmured as he and Harry sat down. "It's the most obvious difference."

Harry thought back to the goblin that had escorted them. Though their hair had been quite short, their ears were very tall. "Was Apprentice Thinblade also—?"

"Female? Yes," Mr. Turpin confirmed.

The goblin behind the desk finished speaking into the stone and looked up at them. "Mr. Turpin, Mr. Potter; I am Account Manager Steeleye," she said. Looking closely, Harry could see that her eyes were grey and hard, and he had no problem imagining how she had gotten her name.

"Manager Ripfang has explained to me the issues raised with the Potter Account Manager," she said in a clipped tone. "I have retrieved the relevant files, but have not yet had time to examine them. I am, however, prepared to discuss the Peverell family accounts."

"That would be very helpful," Mr. Turpin assured her.

Manager Steeleye turned to Harry. "Mister Potter, do you acknowledge that you desire for Law Wizard Turpin to attend this meeting, where private matters of your House may be discussed?"

Harry glanced at Mr. Turpin uncertainly.

"It's a safety measure," he explained quickly. "If I had brought you here by coercion, you could say the word now and I would be forcibly removed by the goblins. It's also something of a warning, as you might not be aware that this discussion could include family secrets. Of course, those are covered by the confidentiality clause in our contract. If you want to continue with me here, you'll need to confirm that to Manager Steeleye and show her our contract to register it with Gringotts."

He chuckled. "Of course, if you want me to wait outside, I will do so. But please just tell me, and I'll go at once. I'd rather walk out on my own two feet than be hauled out by goblin warriors. You can also ask me to leave at any point in the future and I'll go. It won't upset me at all."

Harry thought about it for a moment, but since everything was covered by their confidentiality contract, he felt comfortable with Mr. Turpin hearing this. It was also reassuring that he could change his mind at any time. And he could definitely use the help to keep from offending the goblins. Mr. Turpin seemed to know all kinds of things about how best to talk to them!

"I'd like you to stay," he said. Then he turned back to Manager Steeleye. "I'd like him to stay, please."

"The aforementioned contract?" she asked.

Harry quickly fished it out of the pocket of his robes. "Here you go."

She perused it quickly, and Harry wondered if goblins could also read faster than humans. That done, she pulled a deep blue crystal out of the top drawer of her desk. It looked just like the one that Manager Ripfang had used to duplicate his inheritance spell parchment. Sure enough, when she pressed it to the contract, it created a copy of his contract. Steeleye handed the contract back to Harry, and then placed the copy to the side.

"I acknowledge the existing contract between my client, Harold Potter, and Miles Turpin, Law Wizard," she said. "Now, Mr. Potter. I understand that you have had no previous contact with Gringotts, and you were unaware of your connection to the House of Peverell. Have you seen any documents regarding the House outside of the bank?"

Harry shook his head.

"Then we will start with the summary," Manager Steeleye pulled a folder out of her desk and flipped it around so that it was facing Harry. Then she opened it and tapped the first piece of parchment with her finger. "In short, the House of Peverell consists of three large family vaults, and seven individual vaults. The last wizard to use one of the individual vaults died over one hundred and fifty years ago, when, according to wizard law, the family became extinct."

Looking at the parchment, Harry saw a list of vault numbers and names, as well as several other columns he didn't know the meaning of.

"However, though the family name ended, the family blood and magics continued through several cadet branches, including the Potters. At the moment, all other heirs of the family have died, leaving you the only remaining member. As such, all vaults, properties, and assets are yours and yours alone."

"Properties and assets?" Harry parroted.

"There are four properties associated with the Peverell family," Manager Steeleye explained, flipping to the next parchment. In the top corner was a picture of a dilapidated hut. "One is a small hut, which was owned by the Gaunt family. They, like the Potters, were a cadet — daughter — line of the Peverells. The last of the Gaunt line died ten years ago, and all associated properties and assets returned to the Peverell accounts. The list of assets is quite short, and the property is abandoned. There is no Gaunt vault."

Manager Steeleye flipped to the next parchment, which showed a cozy, two-story house with a small, fenced-in yard. A large blooming tree rose up over the house, shading the yard and the nearby pavement. It looked like something out of a storybook.

"The second property is a small house in Hogsmeade, which is currently rented out. Rent payments have regularly been made into the Peverell accounts."

She flipped to the next parchment, which showed a three story building with a sign for a used book store over the door. "The third property is a storefront in Hogsmeade with an attached living space on the floors above. This, too, has been rented for many years, with regular payments going into the vaults."

"Finally, there is a country villa outside of Seville that belonged to a cadet Peverell branch that joined with the Noble and Elder Bolibar family." Manager Steeleye flipped to the next parchment, which was a distant shot of a large, sprawling mansion. There had to be dozens of rooms! It was made of white stucco and bricks, and all kinds of plants and trees surrounded it. There was even a fountain and a courtyard!

"Though the Bolibar family itself is not extinct, the branch that joined with the Peverells is, and the villa has returned to the family. There are a large number of assets in the villa, which is under stasis wards. Additionally, there are various assets in each of the Peverell vaults," she concluded.

Harry took a moment to process all of that. "I have a house? A villa, I mean?"

"You have several properties," Manager Steeleye replied. "From just a cursory glance at the Potter file I know you have several through that family line as well. But yes, among your Peverell inheritance you have a villa that you could move into today, if you wanted."

"Wow," Harry murmured. He wasn't sure about traveling to a different country, but he had a house! He could leave the Dursleys today. Uncle Vernon had always told him that if they hadn't taken Harry in — out of the goodness of their hearts — he would be living in the gutter. But he had a house!

"And the liquid assets?" Mr. Turpin asked.

Manager Steeleye glanced at Harry, then looked down at the file and flipped back to the first sheet. "The various Peverell vaults have different amounts, but the combined total is over nine million galleons. The current exchange rate is one galleon to five muggle pounds."

That meant that Harry had almost fifty million pounds! Just from the one family! "Wow," he managed to reply.

"As the heir, how much of that money does Mr. Potter currently have access to?" Mr. Turpin asked, bringing Harry's feet back to solid ground.

Manager Steelblade glanced back at the file. "As he is not the Lord of the family yet, he should only have access to the heir's vault. However, as there has been no recent Lord, no such vault exists. In these circumstances, he would usually be granted access to the most recent logical vault. That would be either the Family vault established by Ignotus Peverell, or the dowry vault established for Iolanthe Potter nee Peverell."

She flipped forward several sheets of parchment in the file, until she came to one titled Vault 859. "Iolanth Potter's dowry vault currently contains a little over one million galleons and numerous assets."

"And custom and Gringotts policy would dictate that Mr. Potter be given access to this vault at this time?" Mr. Turpin asked.

"Indeed," Manager Steeleye agreed. She picked up a dark green, thumb-sized crystal from the corner of her desk and tapped it to the file, speaking a word in her own language. There was a bright flash and when Harry's eyes cleared, the crystal was gone, replaced by a small copper key. "Here you are, Mr. Potter. Vault number eight hundred and fifty-nine."

Harry scooped up the key, noticing that it had the vault number stamped on it, and tucked it into his pocket beside the one Hagrid had given him yesterday. Once they were done with Gringotts he would ask Mr. Turpin if wizards had such a thing as keyrings. He didn't want to lose them!

Then Manager Steeleye pulled out her blue copying crystal and made a copy of the parchment for Vault 859. Mr. Turpin accepted it and slipped it into his satchel. Harry assumed that, like his copy of the inheritance test, he would get them later.

Mr. Turpin spoke up again. "As you are assuming control of the Potter accounts, Manager Steeleye, will you also be responsible for Mr. Potter's inheritances from the Elder House of Evans, the Nobel and Elder House of Buttermere, and the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black or should we consult with those Account Managers?"

"Due to the irregularities in Mr. Potter's service, until we discover if his supposed magical guardian influenced those accounts, I shall be coordinating with the other account managers," Manager Steeleye said. "Once the initial problems have been solved, Mr. Potter may pay extra for consolidated service."

"Consolidated service means that instead of you spending your time going from account manager to account manager, you're paying the goblins to coordinate for you," Mr. Turpin quickly explained. "Depending on what is discovered in the investigations into your magical guardian's dealings, and what your responsibilities are to the Houses where you are merely one of many heirs, the consolidated service may be worth it. If, on the other hand, it seems that you don't need to attend to Gringotts more than once a year or so to top off your money pouch, you might not bother."

"I see," Harry nodded. That made good sense to him. And it seemed that Manager Ripfang had already done him a favor by making Manager Steeleye both the Peverell and the Potter account manager. Two of his accounts were already 'consolidated' in one person.

"Now, would you like to know more about your vault contents, your properties, or other assets right now, Mr. Potter?" Mr. Turpin asked.

"Can I find out about other properties?" Harry quickly asked. If he had something local — something closer than the Peverell villa — he might be able to stay there right away.

Mr. Turpin turned to Manager Steeleye. "How long would it take to get an accounting of at least the Potter properties?"

She gathered another file from the stack on her desk and glanced through it. "I'll need to investigate further, but at the moment I can say it appears that there are at least seven Potter properties — six of them in Britain. Three are currently rented, one has been claimed by the Ministry, one seems to have been claimed by the supposed magical guardian, and one is vacant."

"What is the vacant one?" Harry asked. That sounded very promising.

"Potter Manor, in Wales," Manager Steeleye replied. She removed a sheet of parchment from the file and placed it where Harry could see it, but he was disappointed to find that the corner for a picture was blank. "Our ward analysis indicates that it is presently hidden under heavy war wards. Its status beyond that is unknown, due to the wards' severity."

"Which is probably why your supposed magical guardian left it alone," Mr. Turpin mused. "War wards usually include a blood-based element; in your case, anyone who didn't have Potter blood, or wasn't bonded to a Potter, couldn't enter."

"So if I went there, you couldn't go with me, but also my fake magical guardian couldn't get to me?" Harry summarized.

"Indeed," Mr. Turpin nodded. "Usually— oh! Are there any house elves listed on record?"

"There are two, but their status is unknown," Manager Steeleye read from the parchment.

"House elves are another kind of magical being," Mr. Turpin quickly explained. "They are somewhat like servants, and if a family's property becomes uninhabited, they'll continue to maintain it. Generally speaking if your family is old enough and rich enough to have a manor house, you've also got house elves. But until we know more about your accounts, we won't know if they're still around."

Harry accepted that. He wasn't sure how he felt about having magical servants, but he was more disappointed that he wouldn't be able to move into the house right away, if it had these dangerous wards.

"Is there anything else that Gringotts needs from Mr. Potter at this time?" Mr. Turpin asked.

"We will have questions for you once we have figured out the irregularities in your accounts," Manager Steeleye told Harry, gathering up the parchments and files. "You will need to make several decisions about your investments and properties, but that should wait until we have a full accounting of the apparent malfeasance. I will also need to familiarize myself with the accounts so that I may properly advise you."

"Be aware that we have discovered Mr. Potter is under a mail owl redirect ward. I am taking him to St. Mungo's directly to have them remove it, but in the meantime, his mail may be sent care of myself," Mr. Turpin said.

Steeleye looked at Harry, who nodded that that was alright. Mr. Turpin had already explained that he was willing to bring things directly to Harry's room at the Leaky until they were certain that owls would reach him properly.

"Well, Mr. Potter, is there anything else you would like to know today?" Mr. Turpin asked. "I know one of your primary concerns was whether you had enough money to afford to stay at the Leaky Cauldron, and I think we've established that you do." He chuckled.

"And then some," Harry murmured. Other than finding a place to stay, that had been his primary worry. Knowing that just one of his vaults had the equivalent of over five million pounds in it was still going to take some time to get used to, but he was definitely going back around Diagon Alley to look at everything he had missed! And though he might not be able to go to Potter Manor right now, Harry had more than enough money to pay for the entire month at the Leaky Cauldron. He could also go out into the regular world and get better clothes to replace Dudley's hand-me-downs.

"Can I change galleons into pounds here?" he asked.

"Yes, any teller will be able to change them out for you at the counter," Manager Steeleye said.

"Then I think that's everything, for now," Harry decided. He'd visit his new vault and get a bunch of galleons — plus enough to change into pounds — and then he could buy anything he wanted.

"Then I believe we've used enough of your time for the day," Mr. Turpin said, rising to his feet. Harry scrambled to follow him as he gave the small half-bow and said, "May your vaults be full of gold and your enemies tremble before you."

Harry and Manager Steeleye repeated the phrase, and then they left her office. Harry was still getting used to the goblins' desire not to waste time, and he was once again thankful for Mr. Turpin's guidance. As Apprentice Thinblade led them back down the hall, he asked, "How do you know so much about goblin customs, if wizards don't usually care?"

Mr. Turpin grinned. "My wife works for Gringotts. There are two positions that they routinely hire wizards and witches for; curse-breaking and arithmancers. There are several other areas where they accept apprentices, though few wizards and witches in Britain know about that, as Hogwarts doesn't advertise the fact. But for those who are interested in healing, battle magic, weapons forging, and the like, learning the goblin way of doing things is quite beneficial."

"And which does she do?" Harry asked. "Your wife, I mean."

"She's a curse breaker," Mr. Turpin said with a smile. "It's a very demanding career, but she loves it."

They emerged into the large marble hall, but before Harry could gawk around, Apprentice Thinblade led them right into another door. This one hid a stone passageway with railroad tracks like the one Griphook had taken them to yesterday, though Harry was fairly certain they'd gone through a different door.

The three of them climbed into the waiting cart and then they were off, zooming down into the depths of Gringotts. Once again their path twisted and turned more than Harry could keep track of, and at one point they passed an underground river. Reminded of what he'd seen yesterday, Harry asked Mr. Turpin, "What’s the difference between a stalagmite and a stalactite?"

"Stalagmites have a 'G' and rise from the ground," he explained, "while stalactites have a 'T' and come from the top."

"Is that all there is to it?" Harry asked. Why hadn't Ms. Jones taught them that when they learned about caves in science last year?

Before long, the cart shuddered to a stop. Harry wasn't certain, but as cold as it was, it felt like they'd gone pretty far down — possibly as far down as the vault Hagrid had been to yesterday. When they climbed out of the cart and approached the door to vault eight hundred and fifty-nine, Harry noticed that it had a keyhole, just like his other one. He finished the new, copper key out of his pocket and handed it over to Apprentice Thinblade.

She opened the vault, and deep violet smoke billowed out. As it wafted away, Harry stared in awe. It appeared to be about twice as deep as his first vault, and filled just as high with stacks of gleaming gold, silver, and bronze coins. Just by using maths, he could guess that if this was a million galleons, his first vault probably had about half a million in it.

"Approximately how much did you want to withdraw, Mr. Potter?" Mr. Turpin asked.

Harry thought for a moment. If it would cost him 30 galleons a week for the Leaky Cauldron, then he'd need at least 120 or so for the month. He'd want several hundred more for shopping in Diagon Alley, and at least another hundred or so to convert into pounds. "Can my bag hold six or seven hundred galleons?" he asked. It seemed like it should be quite heavy.

"Easily, Mr. Potter," Apprentice Thinblade replied. "The money pouch is charmed to be bottomless and weigh no more than five galleons, regardless of how much is put into it."

"It's also possible to spell it so that only you can open it," Mr. Turpin added.

"In that case, I'll get some extra," Harry decided. "Can I get an even thousand galleons?"

"Certainly. Hand it over." Harry handed over the bag Griphook had given him yesterday, and she fiddled with the bead on the drawstring, then handed it back. "Now you may scoop coins into it and it will automatically reject them once it has reached a thousand."

Harry quickly set about toppling piles of gleaming galleons into his money pouch. He added a few sickles and knuts, reasoning that he might need the smaller amounts as well. Now that he was thinking about it, he recalled that yesterday he had always found the right coin when he reached inside, no matter what he was looking for. Harry rightly assumed that was part of the magic of the money pouch. Soon enough, he nudged a pile of galleons into the bag and they tumbled back out. He realized that it was full.

"Add a few of the smaller ones to finish it off," Apprentice Thinblade advised.

Harry did as she instructed, and found that he could add a few more sickles and a small pile of knuts before even those were rejected. Pulling the cord tight, he was quite pleased that it remained as light and small as promised. He started walking back to the entrance, but Mr. Turpin called to him.

"You should look at these, Mr. Potter."

Harry headed to the side of the Vault, and found the law wizard examining a shelf of what looked like doll furniture. "These have all been shrunken down and placed under the stasis charms on the shelf," Mr. Turpin explained. "When you find a place to stay, you can collect any of this furniture and bring it there. It will grow to its proper size with a tap of your wand, just as your trunk did last night."

"Wow," Harry said, taking in the dozens of items on the shelf. There were even little racks of outfits, and what looked like suits of armor. "And all of those?"

"Armor and enchanted clothing," Mr. Turpin explained. "And on the top shelf you can see several wizarding portraits. I expect you haven't seen one of those yet?"

Harry shook his head. "Are they quite different from regular ones?"

"They are, but that's something I think you should see, rather than hear about. Just keep in mind that they are here, if you want to return for them."

"Alright," Harry agreed. It was nice to know they were all here, waiting for him, however, and he was quite grateful that Mr. Turpin had pointed out the shelf to him. He was trying to recall if there had been a similar shelf in his vault yesterday, but he couldn't remember. "Would it be possible to stop at my other vault again?" he asked.

"Do you have the key?" Apprentice Thinblade asked. Harry quickly dug it out of his pocket and held it up. "Then yes."

They left the vault, with the goblin closing the large door behind them, and piled back into the cart. It whizzed off again, but Harry got the distinct impression that they were slowly climbing. In short order, they arrived back at vault six hundred and eighty-seven. Apprentice Thinblade used Harry's key to open it, and disappointingly no green smoke billowed out this time.

"Looking for the smoke?" Mr. Turpin asked.

Harry gave him a hard look, wondering how he had guessed. Not for the first time he wondered if wizards were able to read minds.

Mr. Turpin chuckled. "No, I didn't read your mind. But I saw the smoke in the Peverell vault. The smoke indicates how long since a vault was last opened, increasing in color and amount. It's a handy way for someone to tell if their vault has been accessed by another keyholder. I'm not positive of the exact color meanings, though perhaps Apprentice Thinblade could enlighten us?"

They both turned to look at the goblin, who gave a short nod. "The violet you saw indicates that no one has accessed it for over five hundred years. The spectrum reaches red around three hundred years, and orange around one hundred."

"What's green?" Harry asked.

Apprentice Thinblade's eyes narrowed. "One to five years."

"Are you— was there green smoke when you accessed this vault yesterday?" Mr. Turpin said sharply.

"Yes," Harry said, before realizing what that meant. "Do the goblins access vaults?"

"Not without the client's permission, or if we suspect a client is in violation of the treaties," Apprentice Thinblade explained.

"Yet another sign of malfeasance from your so-called guardian," Mr. Turpin growled.

Then he cleared his throat sharply. "Yes, well, we'll deal with that later—"

"As will we," Apprentice Thinblade said menacingly.

"Now, was there something you wanted to see?" Mr. Turpin continued smoothly.

"I was wondering if there was a shelf," Harry explained, looking around. He was a little disappointed to find that he couldn't see one. "Oh well, I just thought there might be something here."

To his confusion, both Mr. Turpin and Apprentice Thinblade looked even more upset.

"Every vault comes with a shelf," the goblin quickly explained. "They're a standard feature. If yours had been emptied, that would be one thing. But for the entire shelf to be missing…" she growled something in her own language.

"I suspect that we know at least one thing your false guardian did when he accessed your vault," Mr. Turpin agreed. "By removing the shelf entirely, he likely hoped you wouldn't know that it should exist, and ask questions about potential heirlooms that would normally be stored upon it. In doing so, he ensured that you wouldn't even know to ask about what was missing."

Now Harry was beginning to grow angry. He'd already been wary about the magical world thanks to the mess with the letters, and now here was even more proof that someone was out to get him. Someone who had enough power to name themselves his guardian legally — if not magically — and even get at least one goblin to help him steal from Harry. Not to mention that Mr. Turpin thought this guardian had enough influence or power or something to incapacitate his godfather and godmother!

Right now, that villa in Spain was looking more and more attractive. Harry wanted as far away as possible from this mystery guardian! If it wasn't for Mr. Turpin and the helpful goblins he'd met today, Harry would already be trying to get enough muggle money to get on a plane.

"Is there anything else you need from this vault?" Apprentice Thinblade asked.

Mr. Turpin looked at Harry, who shook his head. They quietly left the vault, which was closed behind them. Apprentice Thinblade returned Harry's key and they gathered into the cart for the ride back to the surface. It was a surprisingly quick journey, and Harry suspected that the goblins actually could control the carts — at least in terms of how short or long a distance they had to travel!

Apprentice Thinblade escorted them to a counter, where the teller quickly changed out three hundred galleons into fifteen hundred pounds for him. Of course, all the bills fit neatly back into his money pouch without a problem — Harry was quite impressed by the spellwork on it!

Once they were outside of Gringotts, Mr. Turpin turned to Harry. "Now, Mr. Potter, there is one more thing I believe we need to do before we consider your first contract with me complete. I would be remiss in my duties to you if I did not suggest this very soon."

"Alright?" Harry asked, wondering what could possibly be wrong now.

"When you mentioned to me yesterday that you hadn't had any contact with the magical world, it occurred to me that you also had never been to our hospital, St. Mungo's, for any of your childhood inoculations. It's a risk for you to attend Hogwarts without them, and all muggleborns are notified of that in advance, so that they can be treated before attending. Since you aren't technically a muggleborn, but are certainly muggle-raised, I'm unsure whether this was a deliberate oversight or simply a mistake."

With how he was feeling about Hogwarts and their letters at the moment, Harry was willing to believe them capable of all kinds of deliberate oversight regarding himself. "So is this St. Mungo's in Diagon Alley?"

"No, it's elsewhere in London. However, I have a floo in my office that can take us there," Mr. Turpin replied. As they walked back down the Alley to his office, he explained to Harry what floo travel was, and the trick to stepping out the other end instead of shooting out with too much force. Harry had a chance to meet Hyacinth, the young woman who worked in the front office, but Mr. Turpin's partner, Mr. Chang, was in a meeting.

The floo ride was uncomfortable, but Harry successfully found himself arriving in another waiting room, where Mr. Turpin was holding out a hand for him. Harry accepted it, though he had stepped out correctly, and then Mr. Turpin cast a quiet spell that vanished all the soot from both of them. After speaking briefly to the witch behind the desk, Mr. Turpin led Harry over to the elevators and then up to the pediatric ward on the second floor.

They only had to wait about five minutes before they were ushered into an exam room. It looked much like a normal exam room, and Mr. Turpin sat in the visitor chair after helping Harry to hop up onto the exam table. After another five minute wait, a young Asian man wearing a lime green robe entered the room. "Hello Miles," he greeted him easily.

"Hello Jiang," Mr. Turpin shook his hand with a smile.

"Mr. Potter, this is Healer Chang; his older brother is my partner at the law firm," Mr. Turpin explained.

Out of the corner of his eye, Harry noticed that Healer Chang startled upon hearing his name, but then quickly blanked his expression. Harry was getting heartily sick of his fame, but was more and more grateful for those who didn't feel the need to gush over him or shake his hand.

"And what brings you to my ward, Mr. Potter?" Healer Chang asked.

"Mr. Potter, Healers have confidentiality oaths, just like the one on your contract with me. He's magically bound not to share what he learns about you with anyone else, except with the Department of Law Enforcement in certain situations," Mr. Turpin explained.

Right away, Harry added another mark in his column. Harry had been told by muggle doctors before that they wouldn't repeat anything he said, only to turn around and talk to police officers who would come by the house that night and speak to Harry's aunt and uncle. They never returned — something for which Harry now suspected magic, though at the time he had believed his uncle was just that convincing — but it hadn't stopped Harry from copping an extra beating for causing trouble.

Harry appreciated that Mr. Tupin was upfront about the fact that the magical police might become involved, instead of going behind his back later. "Will magical police be able to arrest my uncle, even though he's a muggle?"

"Ordinarily, the aurors — magical police — do not have jurisdiction over muggles. The exception is when they commit crimes against a magical person — you, in this instance — so yes, they could arrest him," Mr. Turpin explained.

"And because they're magic, they wouldn't just forget after they left, like the normal police?" Harry pressed.

Mr. Turpin and Healer Chang both scowled at that. "Yes, Mr. Potter, they would be protected against magical interference from your false guardian," the law wizard promised. "Now, if you would like, after I explain to Healer Chang my suspicions about your wizarding inoculations, I can leave the room. I wouldn't want to intrude on your privacy."

Harry considered that. One of the reasons he had wanted to speak to a law wizard was out of a daydream that he might be able to get his uncle arrested, so he never had to go back to Privet Drive. Now it seemed like the latter was going to happen anyway, since he had lots of properties and enough money to rent a room elsewhere. With that taken care of, should Harry still try to get the police — aurors — to investigate his uncle? It felt a little petty, since Harry might never see him again, but part of Harry wanted to do it anyway.

"If— if I did want the ar— aurors to look into my uncle, I would need to tell you all about it anyway, right?" Harry asked. "Since you'd be my law wizard?"

"If you intend to hire me once our initial contract has concluded, yes," Mr. Turpin agreed.

Harry was already positive he wanted to do exactly that. Mr. Turpin had been quite upfront and honest with him, even about the little things, and he knew all kinds of tricks about the wizarding world, like how to deal with goblins. He'd even suggested things Harry would never have thought of, like getting his wizarding shots.

Harry didn't usually trust adults, and especially not so quickly, but he was inclined to believe Mr. Turpin. And even if not, Harry had contracts that kept the law wizard from speaking about his business to anyone else. The first one had even been reviewed by his account manager and she hadn't said there was anything wrong with it or any loopholes. She had definitely been on Harry's side in that conversation, not Mr. Turpin's.

There was still a small chance that the entire thing was one big scam, Mr. Turpin working with the goblins, like Harry had originally thought that his letter and magic was a trick. But he had to believe something, and between the sketchy and incomplete information he'd gotten from Hagrid and the very clear information he'd gotten from Mr. Turpin and the goblins, Harry was inclined to trust the latter.

"You can stay, then," Harry decided. "Since you might need to know anyway."

"If that's what you want," Mr. Turpin nodded his head. "If you change your mind at any time, just ask and I'll leave."

"Alright," Harry agreed.

"Shall I tell him why I brought you here, and what I suspect from the things you've told me?" Mr. Turpin asked.

Harry quickly nodded. That might be easier. So Mr. Turpin explained about Harry being muggle-raised, and missing his wizarding inoculations. Then about the owl mail wards, and how they'd even stopped Harry's Gringotts mail. He also mentioned some of the things Harry had told him about his life with his relatives. Hearing it all repeated, Harry found himself flushing with embarrassment more than once. However, Healer Chang kept his face relatively impassive.

Finally, Mr. Turpin was finished, and both men looked at Harry. Hesitantly, he added a few more details, including his various trips to the muggle hospital when he'd had broken bones and such. He wasn't sure if they'd want to know, but he included the two times that he'd gone all funny in the head, and it had been fixed the next morning. At the time, Harry had thought that was just how his body worked, but now he suspected magic.

When he ran out of things to tell the healer, Harry trailed off and began fidgeting with the keys in his pocket. Everyone was silent for a long moment, and Harry suspected that the adults were exchanging meaningful glances over his head, but he didn't feel like confirming it by looking up.

At last, Healer Chang said, "Well, it sounds like we have a lot of work ahead of us. Mr. Potter, I'd like to start with an analysis spell. It will analyze your body, mind, and magical core, and record everything it finds to an enchanted parchment. That will go into your file, which will be heavily protected by confidentiality wards. However, if it confirms evidence of what your relatives have done to you, I'll be required by law to provide a copy to the aurors."

"Alright," Harry agreed. He did look up finally, eager despite himself to see more magic being performed. Healer Chang opened a drawer and pulled out a long roll of parchment, accompanied by a yellow quill. When he tapped the quill with his wand, it leaped into the air, and the parchment followed it. Both followed him around the room as he moved.

Then Healer Chang moved in front of Harry and waved his wand around him, chanting in a language he didn't recognize. Finally, he tapped Harry on the head with his wand. It felt kind of like being in the shower, with heat trickling from that spot down his body. It wasn't wet, so perhaps shower wasn't quite the right idea, but Harry didn't have a better word for it. It wasn't like being wrapped in a blanket, though the warmth was similar, so he was at a loss.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the quill sailing across the parchment, scribbling furiously. It took several minutes for the sensations to travel all the way to the soles of his feet, and the warmth pooled there for a moment. After a few more minutes, the heat began to dissipate, and the quill finally stilled.

Healer Chang reached over and tapped it with his wand, catching it as the spell keeping it afloat ended. He read over the parchment, and Harry saw a variety of emotions flicker across his face. Finally, he finished, and looked up at Harry.

"Well, Mr. Potter, we're going to have a lot of work to do to get you ready for Hogwarts. As Miles suspected, you need your inoculations for common wizarding diseases like Black Cat Flu, Dragon Pox, and Spattergroit. There are also several old breaks and scars from where your body healed itself. These can be repaired, and you won't have aches or pain in those areas. Your bones will also be much stronger from proper healing."

"There is a tangled mess of wards around you; owl mail redirect as expected, but also notice-me-nots geared at specific people I couldn't begin to identify, anti-scrying, and something blood-based that I've never seen before. In theory I could remove the mail redirect, but as it is interwoven with the others, I'm not positive it will work. I'll need to consult a warding specialist, who will be here this afternoon. We'll get you back in as soon as possible to see him."

"I'm also concerned about several blocks I see on your core, and lingering dark magic that appears to be associated with the scar on your forehead. I'll need to call in specialists for each of those, as well," he concluded.

Harry felt a little sick, hearing how much was wrong with him, but he was distracted by the rage that had flashed across Mr. Turpin's face for a moment before he contained it. "What?" Harry asked.

Mr. Turpin sighed. "Mr. Potter, do I have your permission to share with Healer Chang what we learned about your… unique parentage?"

It took Harry a moment to realize he was talking about how Harry had three parents. "Oh, yeah, if it'll help."

The law wizard reached into his satchel and pulled out the heritage parchment, then showed it to Healer Chang. "One of those blocks wouldn't happen to be related to his third inheritance, would it?" he asked.

Healer Chang read the parchment, then scowled. "It very well might. From the age of the blocks, it appears that one was cast just after Mr. Potter was born; since children don't display accidental magic that young, suppression of family traits seems the most likely reason." He glanced up and seemed to notice Harry's confusion.

"There are two kinds of magical blocks typically placed on a child's core, Mr. Potter. The first is a temporary, low level block. It's fairly common when a child is displaying strong instances of accidental magic and is at risk of hurting themselves or those around them. This is also sometimes done with muggleborns, if they have a strong enough magical outburst to trigger the Ministry sensors. Since their parents aren't magical, even relatively innocuous kinds of accidental magic can be dangerous or difficult to handle for muggle parents."

"The other kind is more long term, and is common with children who have some kind of mental or emotional problem that makes their magic lash out accidentally. This block essentially makes the child a squib, or close to it, for their own protection."

He chuckled. "Sometimes it is only one specific kind of magic — there is a rather famous case that all healers study. A child in the thirteenth century was born with an extremely powerful inclination for necromantic magics. It reached the point where their magic was pulled out of them by nearby animals and insects without their control. In that instance, only their necromantic magics were bound, allowing the child to live a much more comfortable life."

"You said I had more than one block?" Harry asked.

"I did indeed. You have one placed within days of your birth, which, as we suspect, is to suppress your inheritance from the Snape line. That's a rarely used kind of block, which I've never personally seen. That's one reason I'd like to consult a specialist. You have another block of the temporary variety, which should have been removed a decade ago. It appears to have been cast when you were just over a year old. There's another, stronger, binding from shortly after it, and yet another cast when you were about five. And, most concerningly, yet another cast only yesterday."

"Three long-term bindings?" Mr. Turpin burst out. "And one only yesterday?"

"Given, as you say, that it was Mr. Potter's first day back in our world, the timing can be no coincidence," Healer Chang agreed. "I suspect the temporary binding was cast by your parents, Mr. Potter, who simply never had a chance to remove it. The others… Well, I'd like to consult with the specialist."

"Alright," Harry agreed, feeling a little overwhelmed. "And the rest of it?"

"Well, as I said, we'll give you your inoculations today, and schedule a time for you to come back and handle the rest. We'll take each problem one at a time, but I'm sure we'll get you all sorted out before you head off to Hogwarts at the end of the month." Healer Chang's tone was very reassuring, and Harry found himself believing that everything would indeed be fixed so easily.

"So you'll just give me a bunch of shots today?" Harry wanted to check.

"Oh, we don't give shots, like muggle doctors do," Healer Chang said with a smile. "Most muggleborns — or muggle-raised, in your case — I find are quite pleased with the way we do things." He walked over to the cupboard and opened it up, revealing several shelves, filled with lots of tiny vials. The healer looked over them, then pulled out a handful of them.

Walking back over to Harry, he held up the first one. "We wizards use potions, you see. I'm afraid that they don't taste all that good, though some aren't bad. We've gotten quite a bit of feedback from muggleborns over the years as to the best order to take them in, to get the worst flavors out of the way first, and wash them away with the better ones. So, we'll start with the worst of the lot: Dragon Pox."

He uncorked the vial of blood red potion and handed it to Harry, who accepted warily. "Best to just toss it back quickly, lad," Healer Chang advised.

Harry did so, then grimaced as the taste hit his tongue. Rotten eggs were the most prevalent, but there was a hint of something charred as well, like the time Harry had accidentally burnt the bacon and gone back later to fish it out of the trash.

Next came a sludgy green colored potion that tasted like muddy grass and apparently prevented something called spattergroit. A deep, midnight blue potion for Black Cat Flu tasted like boiled cabbage and tuna. A dark, shimmery green that almost looked black in the light was for Augury Fever and tasted like black licorice. Harry wasn't sure whether to be grateful that it banished the taste of the first three or not.

The last three weren't nearly as bad: a sickly orange potion that tasted like slightly sour roast beef was for Scrofungulus; a fizzy purple potion that tasted like buttered peas was for Erumpent Cough; and finally a pale yellow potion that tasted like burnt butterscotch was for Mumblemumps. It was almost like having a slightly disgusting dinner followed by pudding.

Finally, Healer Chang magicked up a glass of water that he handed to Harry to wash it all down with. He deposited the empty vials into a small container on the counter. "There, that's done!" he announced. "As for the rest, I'd like to consult with the others before I give you anything else. While it's highly unlikely, there's the slight possibility that the dark magic in your scar — or one of the many wards or blocks on your magic — might interfere with the rest of your healing."

"Then why didn't you wait to give me the inoculations?" Harry wondered.

"Because, just by entering our world, you're at risk. All it takes is one person wandering through Diagon Alley who doesn't realize they're sick yet, and you could be in for quite a rough time. Usually, muggleborns are directed to come here the week before they intend to come to Diagon for their supplies. That way we can make sure that the inoculations have taken hold before they risk exposure."

"It's really that big a deal?" Harry asked.

"Probably not, but it has happened in the past — rarely — which is why we now have that policy. There should have been an extra parchment with your admission letter, explaining this all, but since your parents were magical you obviously didn't receive it. Whoever was sending them probably didn't realize that you were muggle-raised."

Harry glanced at Mr. Turpin, but he shook his head. If he didn't want Harry to mention the odd things that had happened with his letters, then Harry wouldn't. He'd ask why later.

"So does this mean I shouldn't go out into Diagon Alley?" Harry asked.

"It would be best for you to avoid heavily crowded wizarding areas for at least two days," Healer Chang said. "Muggle areas would be fine, medically speaking, though sometimes the inoculations can leave you feeling a bit poorly, and you won't be up for much in either world."

That made sense to Harry, so he nodded. After scheduling an appointment for him to come back in two days to speak to the specialists, Harry and Mr. Turpin left the exam room and headed back downstairs. They stopped at the desk, where Mr. Turpin left his card and asked for a Healer McCuddy to contact him as soon as possible, then he escorted Harry towards the public floo.

"Did you want to go into the Muggle world for something?" Mr. Turpin asked.

"I— yeah," Harry admitted. "I can go alone, though. You don't have to babysit me."

"I wouldn't consider it babysitting, Mr. Potter," he said kindly. "And I know you only have the example of your relatives, but most people wouldn't expect an eleven year old to wander about London on his own. That said, I believe I mentioned that my wife is a muggleborn?"

Harry nodded.

"Her brother is a squib, like your aunt, but his daughter, Sally-Anne, is going to Hogwarts this year. Perhaps she and her mother could take you around London tomorrow or later in the week? It would be nice for Sally-Anne to know someone before getting to Hogwarts, and her mother is an adult you could trust. And unlike my wife, she's still living in the muggle world; she knows all about the shops and fashions and whatnot."

Harry considered that. He trusted Mr. Turpin's judgement — for the most part — and it would be nice to make a friend before getting to Hogwarts. Well, he had Hagrid, kind of, but a friend who was his own age would be better. If many of the kids raised in the wizarding world were like the blond boy he had met at Madam Malkins, or fawned over him like the adults in the Leaky, Harry would need all the muggleborn friends he could get!

And now that he thought about it, Harry knew that most shopkeepers were suspicious of children who came into shops alone, assuming they were there to steal something, like Dudley bragged about doing. If Harry walked into Harrods and handed over hundreds of pounds it might raise eyebrows. Going with an adult would help negate that suspicion, even if Harry had to slip the pounds to her so she could pay for him.

If Harry wasn't going to be able to go shopping in Diagon Alley for a few days, he might as well take care of everything he needed in London while he was restricted.

"Alright," he agreed. "If it wouldn't be any trouble."

"I'll ask, but I know Sally-Anne would love to meet another classmate before getting to school. She's exchanged owls with my other niece, Lisa, but it isn't the same as knowing someone else muggle-raised." Mr. Turpin explained.

Harry was more confident with the floo this time around, and he didn't even stumble when he emerged into the waiting room. Hyacinth gave him a broad smile and vanished the soot from his cloak as Mr. Turpin followed behind.

Once they reached his office, Mr. Turpin pulled all the documents from Gringotts out of his satchel, and added his copies to Harry's file with his contract. Then he pulled out a special, thick folder he called a folio organizer. There was a blank parchment on one side, and a series of pockets on the other. There was a quill in the center that he explained was self-inking.

Mr. Turpin placed Harry's copy of the Gringotts parchments into the largest pocket, and had Harry add their contract and his Hogwarts letter as well. Then he talked Harry through placing his thumb in the slight indent on the spine, and pushing with his magic to claim it. Once that was done, the folio organizer would only open for Harry, and he was the only one who could remove its contents.

Then the law wizard went over Harry's initial contract, and asked if there was anything else Harry thought was unfinished. Harry couldn't think of anything — Mr. Turpin had helped him find a place to stay, taken him to Gringotts and helped him clear up the misunderstandings there, and even taken him to St. Mungo's, which Harry would have never realized he needed to do! He thought their first, brief contract was well and truly completed.

After signing as much, Harry was quite sure that he wanted Mr. Turpin to be his law wizard long term — on retainer, the contract said — so he was given a much longer contract to look at. Harry struggled a bit more with the language on this one, though it still wasn't as impossible to understand as he had originally feared. After a short discussion, Mr. Turpin filled in the blanks that said what he would be investigating.

  • The incapacitation of Harry's godfather, Sirius Black.
  • The incapacitation of Harry's godmother, Alice Longbottom.
  • The actions taken by Harry's false magical guardian, Albus Dumbledore, and how he came to gain the title in the first place.
  • Any malfeasance with Harry's Gringotts accounts and former manager.
  • The investigation into and possible trial of Harry's muggle relatives, and any wizards who might be implicated in committing or covering up their crimes.
  • Any issues that arose from Harry's future medical appointments with the warding, magical binding, and dark magic specialists.
  • How Harry came to have three parents and why the third, Severus Snape, wasn't his magical guardian.
  • Finding Lily and James Potter's wills — as Harry hadn't known they existed until they were mentioned by Manager Ripfang — and any investigations that arose from their contents.
  • The status of any properties that Harry owned, including associated house elves.
  • Any information that could be obtained about what had happened the night that Harry's parents died, and how he had survived.
  • Who had authorized the use of Harry's name and likeness over the years.

The last one was a complete shock to Harry, when Mr. Turpin explained that there were all kinds of books and dolls and things that carried his name. Harry thought that the list was quite intimidating, but Mr. Tuprin assured him that many of the matters were related, and that some of them would be helped along by the goblins.

When neither one of them could think of another thing to add — though Mr. Turpin assured Harry that they could always add an addendum in the future if something new came up — they both signed the new, long term contract. Mr. Turpin also had a form that Harry could fill out, so that his expenses were drawn directly from his Gringotts vault, and then detailed in a statement that would be owled to Harry. Hopefully the owl mail redirect ward would be gone by the end of the month when that was due. With that completed and sent off by Mr. Turpin's owl, Harry tucked his copies of both into his new folio organizer.

With a promise that Mr. Turpin would visit him tomorrow morning with any mail from Gringotts or St. Mungo's, and with word about the shopping trip with the Perks ladies, Harry set off. It wasn't until he stepped out into Diagon Alley that he realized how early it still was. Since they had gone to Gringotts just after eight in the morning, and been back out in less than two hours, it had still been mid-morning when Harry went to St. Mungo's. Between his appointment and then going over things with Mr. Turpin, a few more hours had passed, but it was still barely the afternoon!

As though to confirm it, Harry's stomach rumbled right then. Harry didn't want to spend too much time in the Alley, as he was still quite wary of getting sick before his inoculations would protect him, but he remembered seeing last night that The Serpent's Whisper did takeaway. In no time at all, he had a fresh sandwich, chips, and one of the fruit tarts in a charmed container, and a bottle of something called butterbeer that the hostess had assured Harry he would love.

It didn't take long for Harry to get back to the Leaky Cauldron, and he again pulled his cloak over his face before he went inside. Since it was a little after the usual lunch time, there wasn't much of a crowd, so Harry was able to catch Tom at the bar and pay for the rest of his week's stay.

Once he was back in his room, he spread out his meal and tucked in. Harry spent most of the afternoon poking through his school books — he and his owl both liked the name Hedwig, which he found in his history book — and making lists of the things he wanted to purchase once he could.

He was able to order up a hearty soup for dinner from downstairs — including another one of those delicious butterbeers — and then, as Harry was indeed starting to feel a bit poorly, he went to bed early.

o

The next morning, Harry was still feeling a bit unwell, so he kept to his room and had his meals brought up. He was almost getting used to lying in and not having to cook in the mornings! At the advice of the day maid, Harry tried several new foods — the Leaky seemed to specialize in soups and stews — and was even able to send out for treats for Hedwig.

Mr. Turpin visited him mid-morning with his mail — a single letter from Manager Steeleye promising to look into the recent access to his Potter vault and the missing shelf and possessions — and the news that the Perks ladies would be delighted to meet with him after lunch the next day.

Harry was already feeling slightly better than he had upon waking, so he was fairly confident that he would be up for a visit and a bit of shopping then.

After Mr. Turpin left, he spent the rest of his day reading ahead in his school books and working on his lists. His belly nicely full, Harry went to sleep after the laziest day he could remember having, and dreamed of magic.

o

The next morning, Harry had another lie in and a large breakfast. He was mildly surprised to note that this time he was able to finish everything on his plate, instead of tucking away some of it for later. He spent a little more time reading, and then a few minutes before eleven he went down to the Leaky wearing his only muggle clothes to wait for the Perks ladies.

He spent a very enjoyable afternoon with Sally-Anne and her mum, and got a whole new muggle wardrobe. Harry wasn't sure what Mr. Turpin had said to them, but they didn't ask him any questions about why he needed so many new things, or why his own family wasn't taking him.

While they were out, Harry also got a set of toiletries, towels and flannels, and a plush dressing gown. Belts, shoes, and a new watch that wasn't cracked were also on Harry's list. Sally-Anne's mum suggested a nice brass alarm clock and a water bottle he could bring to class, so Harry got those as well. Muggle notebooks and pens for when he didn't have to use parchment and ink, a dozen interesting-looking books, and one stuffed plush owl that looked like Hedwig rounded out his purchases for the day.

To Harry's surprise, Sally-Anne was very easy to talk to. For someone who'd struggled to make friends before, thanks to Dudley's bullying and his horrible hand-me-down clothes, Harry was amazed at how easy he found it to talk to her. She had also faced bullying at her old school, and was quite looking forward to Hogwarts. Her uncle Miles — Harry's Mr. Turpin — had purchased her an owl when she got her acceptance letter, so they could continue to keep in touch after their afternoon in London.

At least, they could once his mail owl redirect was gone. When Sally-Anne and her mum dropped Harry back at the Leaky Cauldron after dinner, Tom handed him a sealed letter from Mr. Turpin before he could head upstairs. Inside he found a short note from Healer Chang, asking Harry and his law wizard to come to St. Mungo's at nine the next morning.

The long day of shopping had worn Harry out, so after changing into his new pyjamas and washing his face and brushing his teeth with all his new toiletries, Harry went to bed early. He snuggled up with his new stuffed owl — Hedwig had given it a small nip of approval — and was soon slumbering peacefully.

o

The next morning, after another nice full breakfast, Harry headed into Diagon Alley and to Mr. Turpin's office. Hyacinth greeted him cheerfully, and in no time he and Mr. Turpin had gone through the floo and upstairs to the pediatric ward at St. Mungo's.

There he met Wardmaster Thistletoft, who was also a Healer. She was shorter than Harry, with a bun of pure white hair and wrinkles, but she spoke and acted much younger! She was talkative, explaining all about wards to Harry. He learned that most had to be cast on objects or places — though really the latter were just being cast on really big objects like houses — but that there were some that were cast on people.

She was easily able to remove — unravel, she said — most of the wards, including the owl mail one. However, the strange blood ward would take more time, she explained, because it was also tied to an object. She took all kinds of measurements with her wand and one of the floating quills and parchments, and even used what looked like a goblin crystal at one point.

When she was done, Healer Chang gave Harry a quick checkup to make sure that he hadn't had any bad reactions to the inoculations. He was able to perform a test with his wand to see if Harry now had all of the stuff — antibodies he explained — to protect himself from catching those diseases. The inoculations had worked, and he declared it safe for Harry to wander through Diagon Alley and any other wizarding areas he wanted.

Once that was done, Harry met with the specialists in magical blocks and black magic, and they had their own tests and measurements and questions. Harry thought if he never saw another floating yellow medical quill again it would be too soon!

Finally, though, he was free to go, and he and Mr. Turpin had a late lunch at the Serpent's Whisper while they talked about what progress he and Gringotts had made on Harry's list.

Now that the specialist Healers had seen him, all of their reports about his mistreatment from his relatives and supposed magical guardian were going to be compiled by Healer Chang, and then he and Mr. Turpin had an appointment with the Head Auror — Madam Bones — to start the process of investigating his relatives.

After lunch, Harry went back to his room, and then he and Mr. Turpin sent several short owl messages across the Alley, to test that the mail ward was truly gone.

Now that Harry had permission to go back into Diagon Alley, he spent the next several days — and several hundred galleons — there. He purchased more robes and a second cloak, so he wouldn't have to wear his school uniform everywhere. He'd noticed that almost no one wore Muggle clothes in wizarding spaces, and the last thing he wanted to do was stand out again because of what he wore.

Once he had proper wizarding robes to wear, Harry headed straight to the Owl Emporium, and picked up a large, sturdy perch — with attached food and water dishes — for Hedwig. The clerk helped him pick out the kind of treats that a snowy owl would enjoy, and even gave him a pamphlet that shared all kinds of information and advice about her species. Harry also discovered a small leather harness that could be attached to her leg, to make it easier for her to carry letters. Without it, she would need to hold them in her beak.

With Hedwig's new perch all set up, Harry was able to get the day maid to change the one Mr. Turpin had made back into a chair. He'd been a little worried that he wouldn't be in time, and it would suddenly vanish out from underneath his owl!

Harry also returned to the bookstore, once Hedwig was squared away, hunting for more information about goblins, history, magical ailments, and himself. There were several books that discussed Harry's supposed defeat of Voldemort, as well as a whole whack of children's books with his face on them. Harry bought a couple, just to see what they were like. The little boy in them was nothing like him, having grown up in a stately manor with house elf servants, always going off on adventures with dragons and the like. If he swapped out the name, Harry could almost enjoy them, imagining they had happened to someone else.

There were a good number of books about wizarding families and customs, and Harry bought a dozen that he thought might give him more information about the Potters, Peverells, Princes, Blacks, and magical Evanses. Harry also stumbled upon a muggleborn guide book completely by accident. When he asked at the counter, he learned that it was included in the extra muggleborn letter that warned about inoculations and the like, and it was yet another thing that had been skipped out on for Harry.

He picked it up, and found it very helpful for explaining several little things that he had noticed. Sally-Anne, despite having magical relatives, was considered a muggleborn as well, so she had gotten the extra shopping list and guide book. After having heard what had happened with his own botched introduction, and now this new issue with the guide book, Sally-Anne made a photocopy of the second letter she had and mailed it to Harry.

In addition to the inoculations and the muggleborn guide book, it suggested a book on quill penmanship and essay structuring, as those were both crucial for the kind of homework that Hogwarts assigned. The Turpin family had also suggested an introductory book on potion making, after hearing how much their oldest son struggled with the professor. Sally-Anne had written the name in the margins for him, so Harry added both to his pile.

After the bookstore, he went back through the Alley, poking his head into every shop he discovered. Harry found one that sold all kinds of wizarding sweets, and got a great selection of them to try out. There was a joke shop, where he found all kinds of pranking products, but didn't purchase any.

The Quidditch shop held more interest now that Harry had learned what it was, and Harry found a children's illustrated book that showed the players whizzing about. There was also a self-updating almanac that included the stats for all of the teams in the British and Irish league, and highlights of each game the day after they happened.

Harry thought that he might make some friends who liked Quidditch, and it would be nice to be able to look up what they were talking about. A much thicker, leather-bound version of the almanac included all previous seasons, and Harry splurged to purchase that one instead, so he could get a feel for past games. It went all the way back to the very first official Quidditch match recorded, and Harry thought it was fascinating to see how the game had evolved over the years.

The Quidditch shop also sold little model figures of the most popular players, and all kinds of jerseys, but Harry decided to hold off on those until he became more familiar with the teams and found someone he wanted to cheer for.

A little shop tucked away on the upper level — like Mr. Turpin's office — sold sheet music, instruments, phonographs, and records. When Harry inquired about cassettes and compact discs, he was informed that muggle electronics wouldn't work at Hogwarts. Instead, he was encouraged to buy a small portable radio, which he could tune to the wizarding wireless stations.

Harry elected not to point out that radios were also electronics, and that if they could be made to work, then cassette players and disc players should as well. He didn't know how to play an instrument, so Harry had no interest in the rest of the shop's wares, though he made a note to get some muggle music the next time he was in London. Just because they wouldn't work at Hogwarts, didn't mean they wouldn't work elsewhere, like perhaps at his magical houses!

He continued to make his way down Diagon Alley, poking his head into every shop he found. Many of them held nothing to interest Harry, such as homegoods or kitchen supplies, but he did spend some time wandering through the used robe store, just to see the old fashions.

Just past Gringotts was a small odds and ends store where Harry found a few interesting items. From a roll of star charts he thought would be helpful with astronomy, to a wand holster that would allow him to keep his wand up his sleeve instead of in his pocket, it had all kinds of useful things. Harry also picked out something called a pocket sneakoscope that would warn him if he was around untrustworthy people, a brass astrolabe that was near the start charts, and a multi-compartment box that was for organizing potions ingredients.

His first trip, with Hagrid, Harry had been so overwhelmed that he hadn't really registered the fact that everything he bought was being dumped into his trunk, free to mingle with everything else. From talking to Tom down at the Leaky's bar during the slow afternoon hours, Harry had learned that most wizarding raised children used a multi compartment trunk, and had lots of little containers for the things they kept inside. It was yet another thing that wasn't mentioned on the muggleborn list or book, and Harry was starting to suspect that whoever had written them didn't actually want muggleborns to know these things.

So, Harry returned to the luggage store where he had first gotten his trunk. The shopkeeper there was quite helpful, and agreed to take Harry's trunk back and swap it out for one of the advanced models. His new one had one compartment for clothes, which would keep them from getting wrinkled or tangled; one with shelves for books; and one with compartments for everything else.

While Harry was there, the shopkeeper mentioned special school bags — something Harry hadn't even thought about — that would never get heavy, even with every one of his school books in it, and which had separate pockets for quills, ink, and his other school supplies. He also accidentally clued in Harry to the fact that he was missing something else, when he mentioned that there was a pocket for his quill kit.

Back to the stationary shop, Harry learned that he could purchase a small kit that included a quill sharpening knife, various nibs, and a special cloth that would help dab up ink blots, kind of like a muggle eraser for pencil marks.

With everything purchased and transferred to the right compartments in his new trunk, Harry was finally ready to go to Hogwarts.

o

A week after their last meeting, Harry was ready for his next appointment with Mr. Turpin, to get some answers for the things he had been researching on Harry's behalf. After another filling breakfast at the Leaky, Harry made his way to Mr. Turpin's office.

Harry waved hello to the now familiar Hyacinth as he entered the waiting room, and she smiled back and beckoned him towards Mr. Turpin's office. Harry poked his head in the doorway, and found the law wizard standing by one of his bookshelves, looking through a thick book. When Harry cleared his throat politely, Mr. Turpin glanced up. "Ah, Mr. Potter. Do come in." He put the open book on top of one of the many piles on his desk and sat behind it while Harry took the visitor's chair.

"So, I understand you've got your follow-up Healer's appointment in a few days, and Managers Steeleye and Lugrok have sent you several files," he said.

Harry nodded. Until they'd confirmed that the owl direct ward was gone, the goblins had been passing messages to Harry through his law wizard, so he was well aware of what had gone on. Now, however, Harry was finally receiving his own mail. The first message from the bank was that the former Potter account manager had contrived to make themselves the Evans account manager some years back, and there was evidence of malfeasance there too.

In another instance of Gringotts doing Harry a subtle favor, the Evans account had been assigned to Manager Lugrok, who was also the Prince account manager. By combining the account duties in that way, it lessened the number of managers Harry would need to coordinate with. Mr. Turpin had explained that this was probably the goblin way of apologizing for not noticing the problems beforehand, and for the fact that one of their own had been corrupted by his false magical guardian.

"Good! Now, I asked you here this morning to discuss some very unusual results of one of our investigations," Mr. Turpin explained.

Harry bit back a sigh. So far nothing about his introduction to the wizarding world hadn't been unusual.

Thankfully, Mr. Turpin didn't seem to notice his frustration, as he was looking through the files on his desk. "I put a high priority on investigating the situation with Mr. Snape, and we finally have answers."

As Harry's jaw dropped, he pulled out a file. "Here, these are certified copies of the Gringotts' version of your— of James and Lily's wills. They are different from the versions registered with the Ministry — I suspect Dumbledore's work — and it took a good while for your new managers to find these in the former manager's office." Mr. Turpin handed the file to Harry, and he glanced through it.

"There is quite a bit to go over, and of course you'll want to read it all, but I put a flag on the page you should read right now," he concluded. Harry flipped to the page with the glowing edge, and found the paragraph that was flagged.

Harry, we aren't sure at what age you're reading this. We asked Alice and Sirius to show it to you when you would understand, and hopefully they've laid the groundwork in advance, as we asked. The truth is that we are your mother and father, but you also have another father.

Severus Snape was Lily's best friend growing up, and though he and James got off to a less than stellar start, they put their differences behind them after an incident in their fifth year. Ask Sirius about the idiotic stunt he pulled, if he hasn't already told you. Because of that stunt, Severus owed a life debt to James.

Life debts, if you haven't studied them, are quite important in the wizarding world. The one who owes the debt will be driven to approach the one who holds it, and to attempt to rectify the imbalance. James was in love with Lily, and he didn't want to be at odds with her best friend, so he used the life debt to attempt to get to know Severus.

Over the next few years, they became friends, and then better than friends. Three-way relationships aren't exactly common in the wizarding world, but they aren't unheard of. They're far less common in the muggle world, Lily says, but that's where we found ourselves.

Depending on your age, Sirius — actually, Alice would be better — can explain to you how it is possible for all three of us to be your parents as well. Just know that all three of us loved you and wanted you to come into this world. Unfortunately, while Lily was pregnant with you, something happened.

We hope that you live in a world where there is no war, but we're realistic enough to know that that might not be the case. In the chance that you've grown up knowing only peace, then we need to explain something.

There has been a discontent brewing for years in the wizarding world. The war with Grindelwald caused deep wounds, and the next Dark Lord — Voldemort — capitalized on those. For some reason, those wounds were encouraged at Hogwarts. Slytherins and Gryffindors were actively pitted against each other, and the professors ignored it at best, and actively supported it at worst.

Severus was a Slytherin, while we were both Gryffindors. Because of this, it was hard for us to be open with our relationship across House lines. Voldemort recruited Hogwarts students, especially Slytherins, and a confluence of circumstances pushed Severus into joining his Death Eaters. Headmaster Dumbledore convinced Severus that he could be a spy for the light side and help bring Voldemort down.

He agreed, in part, so that our children could grow up in a world where their House didn't matter. Something happened, however, the night of his initiation. We don't know why, but Severus completely cut himself off from us after that. On the few instances we managed to run into him, he sneered at us and called us idiotic Gryffindors, among other less flattering terms.

We don't know what happened to him, or why he forgot about you, but if nothing has been changed, then we have requested that he not be given guardianship of you. Right after your birth, James cast a spell on you to suppress any Snape traits and inheritances. We hope that someday whatever magic was cast on Severus can be reversed, and he can become a part of your life again.

When he finished the page, Harry sat for several moments, processing it. It explained quite a bit he had been wondering about — like why he had three parents, and why the third wasn't raising him — but it spawned so many more. Finally, he managed to pull his thoughts into a semi-coherent form.

"Do you know what happened to him?" Harry asked. "Severus, I mean."

"We do, actually," Mr. Turpin said. Harry's head shot up as he looked at him questioningly. "We discovered this copy of the will yesterday, and took the problem to a Healer who specializes in dark magic — the same one who will be examining your scar, actually. He had heard of a spell that had a similar effect, and sent an urgent message to Mr. Snape to come see him on a pretext."

"Mr. Snape arrived at St. Mungo's yesterday afternoon, and Healer Peasegood examined him, discovering that his supposition was correct. Someone had cast upon Mr. Snape a spell that was designed to lock away his positive emotions — love, compassion, and so on. From what he was able to tell us afterwards, he was told it would be a temporary spell, but whether through intention or accident, that was not the case."

"In an effort to keep his mind from fracturing under the strain of suppressing his immense love for you and your other parents, his magic locked those memories away along with his emotions. It essentially fractured his magical core, creating a core within a core. Healer Peasegood cleansed the spell residue from his mind, and then performed a healing ritual to repair his core last night."

"This morning, Mr. Snape woke up, and immediately asked about you. He has quite a bit of healing to do, but he does want to get to know you. Since you will need to be confined to St. Mungo's for a short while for your own healing and recovery under Healer Peasegood, you have the option to share a hospital suite with Mr. Snape. If, of course, that is something you want."

Harry wasn't sure what to say. In a way, he felt relieved that his other father hadn't willingly left him with the Dursleys. He was also horrified on the man's behalf at what had happened to him. But he was also worried. If Snape had had all of his happiness locked away, then what kind of man had he been? Harry was afraid that the answer was 'a lot like Uncle Vernon', and he wasn't positive he wanted to be stuck in a hospital room with someone like Uncle Vernon.

"Can I— can I visit him first?" Harry asked. "To see… what he's like now, I guess?"

"Of course!" Mr. Turpin assured him. "I was told to warn you that he's very remorseful and guilty about what happened, and he will understand if you are cautious around him at first. No one expects you two to become an instant family."

Well that was reassuring, Harry decided. He wasn't sure how things were going to go with himself and Snape, but he was glad that no one was going to be disappointed with him if it didn't go perfectly right away. But there was one thing still bothering him. "Who cast the spell on him?"

"The magical signature and Mr. Snape's own recollections of the event confirm that it was Albus Dumbledore," Mr. Turpin said firmly.

Harry saw red. He'd already learned that Albus Dumbledore was the man who had claimed to be his magical guardian, meaning he was also the one who had hidden Harry's parents' wills, and stopped him from getting his mail, and stolen the shelf and possessions from his vault, and helped incapacitate his godmother and godfather, and claimed one of his properties, and even placed him with the Dursleys! Albus Dumbledore had very quickly climbed to the top of Harry's very short list of people that he hated.

And so far, Mr. Turpin had found no explanation for why Dumbledore had taken such an interest in screwing up Harry's life. "Did he know about me when he cast the spell?"

"We don't know. From other sections of the will, we know that your parents hid their relationship from all but their closest friends, because of the general animosity between Gryffindor and Slytherin. Once it became clear that the Dark Lord was intent on recruiting Snape to his cause, it became even more important to hide."

"While it is highly probable that Albus Dumbledore knew your mother was pregnant, even Mr. Snape didn't know if he was aware of your true parentage before he read your parents' will," Mr. Turpin concluded. "However, we wouldn't be surprised. As the Headmaster of Hogwarts, he was uniquely positioned to know about secrets that his students attempted to hide. It would not shock us if he had known in advance."

Harry had never before wanted to kill someone — even Aunt Marge and her vicious dog Ripper! — but he thought he just might strangle Dumbledore if they ever found themselves together in the same room! Harry scowled as he realized something. "You keep saying he's the Headmaster — does that mean he's still there? Would I have to go to school in the same building as him?"

"He is still the Headmaster, yes, and Mr. Snape is actually a professor at Hogwarts," Mr. Turpin said. "However, from what little he said, I suspect that he will be tendering his resignation very soon."

"Is there somewhere else I could go?" Harry asked. "Are there other schools besides Hogwarts?"

"Yes and no," Mr. Turpin said. "In fact, that's what I was looking up when you arrived. There are two large magical schools in Europe, and a handful of smaller ones. There is even a small school in Seville, near where the Peverell villa is located."

"Most of the smaller schools include an element of home tutoring, which — as a professor himself — Mr. Snape might be able to provide you. According to the law I was just looking up, you may attend any school to which you receive an invitation."

"And Hogwarts is the only school that sent me an invitation," Harry deflated.

"Ah ha!" Mr. Turpin waggled a finger. "Hogwarts is the only school that you know of. We've already found that Dumbledore had a mail redirect ward on you, so any letters which other schools might have sent to you would have gone to him. He would then decline them on your behalf, so that you only knew about the Hogwarts letter."

"And it is far harder to switch schools once started, than to change before your first year. Once you had come to Hogwarts, you'd be ensnared there, and likely completely unaware of your other options," he concluded.

"But since I haven't started yet…" Harry latched onto the loophole he was hearing. "I can ask those other schools if I can attend?"

"More than that. You can — or rather, I can on your behalf — ask if they had sent you an invitation that was declined or ignored. Those schools who have already attempted to contact you will be able to give you another copy of your invitation, and you can choose whichever one you'd prefer to go to."

"Hang on, what about S— Snape? Shouldn't he get a say? I mean, wouldn't he want to pick where we live and such?"

"I'm sure he'll have some opinions, but when I was able to speak with him briefly, his biggest concern was your safety," Mr. Turpin said. "It's also worth noting that some of these schools are boarding schools, like Hogwarts, so where you choose to attend and where you chose to live are not required to match."

"Even for one of the schools that includes working at home, wizards are capable of traveling great distances easily. Using floo or portkey, you can go from your school to your home in minutes."

Harry was reassured by that; he didn't want to upset Snape during their first meeting. It would be a very inauspicious start to their budding relationship. "Alright, let's do that then," Harry decided.

"I shall contact every school personally this morning," Mr. Turpin promised. "Now, since you are not due at St. Mungo's yourself until tomorrow, Healer Peasegood suggested that if you wanted to meet Mr. Snape in advance, you were welcome to come visit today."

That made sense to Harry, so he nodded. Meeting this afternoon would give him an idea of whether they could spend the next week — or longer — together.

"Well, you're welcome to use the floo here, or at the Leaky," Mr. Turpin said. "Just tell the welcome witch at St. Mungo's that you're there to see Healer Peasegood and she'll summon him. You don't have to give her your name if you'd rather not."

Once again, Harry was relieved that his law wizard seemed to think of everything in advance. The one time he'd come down to the bar in the Leaky Cauldron without his cloak or muggle hat, Harry had been mobbed again. He hated his fame, and if he could carry out his business at the hospital without giving his name or showing his scar, Harry would be much happier.

"I'll send you an owl once I have a list of schools for you," Mr. Turpin promised. Since they'd removed the mail redirect, they'd tested sending Harry letters from both the Turpin family's personal owl and the law office's owl, and both had successfully found him. Not to mention Hedwig and Sally-Anne's owl, Quinn It had already been explained to Harry that he could receive owls while at St. Mungo's, provided he wasn't in the criminal ward.

After saying his goodbyes, Harry used the office floo, and in no time Healer Peasegood was escorting him upstairs to the fourth floor and the Nerida Elphick Ritual Recovery Ward — number 43. There he led Harry over to the only occupied bed and directed him to sit in the nearest visitor's chair.

At first glance, Severus Snape looked a bit haggard. His long black hair fanned around him on the pillow, and even in sleep he had deep shadows beneath his eyes. His hooked nose stood out prominently, and his skin was pale.

"He said to wake him if you arrived," Healer Peasegood explained. Then, before Harry could change his mind, he gently shook Snape's shoulder.

Snape awoke with a start and glanced around warily. As soon as he caught sight of Harry, he froze, and several emotions flickered across his face. Harry thought he saw fear and guilt, but wasn't positive about the others.

"Hello, Harry," he said softly

"Hullo," Harry replied cautiously.

"I'm sorry that I wasn't there for you, growing up," he said. "I was so eager to meet you when I found out that the ritual had worked and Lily was pregnant."

Harry wasn't sure how to reply to that, so he just nodded.

"Al— Dumbledore has told me a few things about you, but right now I wouldn't trust him if he said the sky was blue. C— would you be willing to tell me a little about yourself?"

Harry didn't want to get into too many details about the Dursleys, but he thought that his last week in Diagon Alley would be a fairly safe topic. He began to recount his adventures shopping with Hagrid, and then meeting Mr. Turpin. Harry gave a broad overview of what he had learned at the bank — including how he had learned about his parentage, but skipping some of the details about what had been stolen from him — including all the goblin lore that Mr. Turpin had passed on.

Then, since Snape was still watching him neutrally, Harry described his shopping trip with Sally-Anne and her mum, and the various stores he had explored around Diagon Alley. Finally, he lightly touched on his previous visits to St. Mungo's, and how he'd needed to get his inoculations. He wasn't sure about mentioning how they were going to need to ritually cleanse the dark magic in his scar, so Harry skipped over that as well.

When he finished, Snape was looking upset, and Harry steeled himself for the explosion to come.

To his mild shock, Snape simply growled, "I hope Gringotts and your law wizard are going to ruin that old medler."

"Um, Dumbledore?" Harry asked.

"Yes," he snarled. "If that's just what you feel comfortable telling me, then there's definitely much more, and I've no doubt he's behind it all."

"How— um, that is—" Harry wasn't even sure what he wanted to ask, let alone how to phrase it.

Snape sighed, and some of the tension leached out of him. "Harry, what do you know about me?"

Harry squirmed. "Just what was in the wills, mostly. That you grew up friends with my mom, and didn't like James. But after he saved your life, you became better friends, and eventually all fell in love. Then when you went to become a spy, Dumbledore cursed you and took away your love for— for us."

"Not inaccurate," Snape agreed. "Harry, I was a student in Slytherin House, which is currently known for producing two kinds of students: Dark wizards who think they are better than everyone else; and cunning, ambitious, political types. These are stereotypes, of course, but there is good reason for that."

"What few know is that there is another kind of student who is often sorted into Slytherin. Someone who has learned at a young age how to be cunning for their own protection; who knows that people wear multiple faces and is adept at looking beneath the mask; who has secrets of their own to keep, that stop them from displaying the brash thoughtlessness of a Gryffindor or the easy loyalty of a Hufflepuff."

"Slytherin is full of students who had a — shall we say — less than loving home life before arriving at Hogwarts," Snape said softly. Harry couldn't help but see himself reflected in those words, and suspected that he would have been sorted into Slytherin if he were actually going to Hogwarts.

"If I had had a different father, I might not have been sorted into Slytherin, but into Ravenclaw, where I begged to go," Snape admitted, shocking Harry. "Lily had come before me, you see, and I knew from my mother that Gryffindors and Slytherins didn't get along. I begged the hat to put me in Ravenclaw instead, but it insisted that my cunning would serve me well in Slytherin."

"Instead, I encountered a man who was determined to mold the best of Slytherin into his perfect soldiers; the Dark Lord had a grip on all of the prefects in my first year, and I was actively courted by them after I got my OWL results from fifth year. As a Slytherin, I had no one else to turn to; everyone assumed I was either a slimy schemer or a dark lord in training."

"I didn't realize it at the time, Harry, but Dumbledore was using me in the same way. He claimed that he was protecting me when he forced me to become a professor at Hogwarts. He even made me the head of Slytherin House in my first year, despite my lack of experience."

"With hindsight and the restoration of my memories, I can see that it was one more way to make me feel inadequate, by thrusting me into a role I was ill-prepared for. But I have filled that role for the last decade, Harry, and I have seen more children come through Hogwarts' doors than I care to count." He snorted.

"If my forced servitude was good for one thing, it honed my ability to recognize in my students what had happened to myself. I can tell, both by what you say and by what you carefully don't say, that you are the third kind of Slytherin, aren't you?"

A little ashamed, Harry ducked his head and nodded. "Yeah."

"Then let me now say to you what I wish someone had said to me; what I wish I had been able to say to my other students like us. Whoever hurt you was in the wrong, and no matter what they said, it was not your fault, Harry. I am very sorry that I haven't been here for you, and I have no idea how to raise a child, but I would very much like to get to know you, and one day be accepted as your father."

Tears pricked at Harry's eyes, and he felt flushed and warm. Through his blurring vision, he saw Snape open his arms, and Harry tumbled into them.

For years he had imagined what it might feel like to be held, the way Aunt Petunia always held Dudley. Harry had long since learned to cry silently — and ideally once he was back in his cupboard, instead of out where his relatives could see him — but he'd never lost that idea.

Being held by Snape was awkward, because the man had been laying down, and Harry was practically bent in half over him, and when he patted Harry's back it was with an uneven, tentative pattern. And yet it felt comforting and safe and right.

He didn't even realize what had happened until Healer Peasegood spoke, startling them both. "Well, that's unusual."

"What?" Snape asked roughly. It sounded like he might have been crying too, but Harry couldn't tell through his fogged-up glasses.

"That flash of light; it appears that the infant binding, suppressing Mr. Potter's Snape inheritance, has shattered. The others appear intact, however. From the glow around you both, I'd say that the family magics have just accepted your relationship."

Harry hadn't seen either of those things, but at least he knew what the Healer was talking about.

Snape, on the other hand, appeared to be hearing about this for the first time. "What bindings?" he snarled.

"Oh, dear," Healer Peasegood muttered. "Perhaps I should get Healer Chang up here…"

Harry just sighed. He was going to have a lot of explaining to do, about the Dursleys, and Dumbledore's magical blocks, and how he intended to go to a different school abroad. At least he felt more comfortable about doing so now, and if that was related to the broken block, then he wasn't complaining. He just worried that hearing all the things that he'd left out would be too much for Snape.

o

"Very well written," Severus declared, handing the parchment back to Harry.

Harry flushed at the praise, then busied himself rolling it up and sealing it with wax and a stamp of the Potter crest. While Mr. Turpin knew a lot about many things, he was not from a Noble and Ancient family, like the Potters or Peverells. Or the Blacks, for that matter.

Severus, on the other hand, had learned a lot from James when they were younger, and had studied even more when becoming the Head of Slytherin, because he had to know how to deal with the heirs of important Houses who fell under his care.

And one of the things he had insisted upon was that Harry — now that he knew about his heritage — behave in a manner befitting the Lord of the Houses of Potter and Peverell. Though he might not officially be able to claim his titles until he was seventeen, Harry should act as though he had.

During the week that they'd spent together in the Nerida Elphick Ritual Recovery Ward, Severus had begun to tutor Harry in those kinds of subtleties, from how he introduced himself to his correspondence. After the initial awkward discussions about what to call each other — they'd settled on Severus instead of dad — and what Severus knew about Petunia — since they'd grown up together as well — things had gone fairly well between them.

Occasionally, when he was teaching Harry, Severus would become waspish and short tempered, expecting Harry to already know things he had no way of knowing. Healer Peasegood had explained that this was a side effect of the curse, which would fade over time.

Severus had been less sure and more self-deprecating, explaining to Harry that he had never done well interacting with very young children, nor had the patience for those who didn't know the first thing about his craft. He had no intention of teaching at that age level before Dumbledore had cursed him and then forced him to become a professor for his own safety. Before that, he had intended to become a professional Potions Master, and perhaps take on apprentices here or there — all young adults who already knew the basics.

Harry thought that made perfect sense — if you didn't have the patience to teach absolute beginners, why force yourself to? — and tried not to take it personally when Severus got snappy after a long day.

Today it was still early, and Harry was writing his responses to the schools that Mr. Turpin had contacted. It turned out that Harry had been invited to attend one of the other large European schools — Beauxbatons — and six of the smaller ones. He had passed on the letters and a slim book that detailed all the ins and outs of every school the morning after he spoke to Harry, before they reported to St. Mungo's for his ritual appointment.

Once Harry was conscious again, he and Severus had gone through the letters and book together, as well as the files on all of Harry's properties that the goblins had finally arranged. Severus himself only owned the small muggle house that he had been raised in, as the Prince family estate had been sold off by his grandfather some years back to pay off his debts.

Severus had no attachments to the Snape house, so he was more than willing to move into one of Harry's many properties. The Potter property that Dumbledore had claimed for himself was a vineyard in France, which would be conveniently located if Harry decided to attend Beauxbatons. And of course, the Peverell villa was quite close to the Haranmagikoa Academy in Seville. Though Severus had also reiterated Mr. Turpin's point that it didn't necessarily matter where they lived, as magical travel was so advanced.

The language barrier wouldn't be a concern either, as there were special translation charms that could be used not only for reading and writing, but for hearing and speaking a language. They could be affixed to a piece of jewelry, such as a necklace or earring, or even placed on Harry's glasses! The goblins also alerted Harry that they had a special magic that would actually teach him the language overnight, by using one of their crystals. It was more money than most people wanted to spend, but if he was going to be attending a foreign school for seven whole years, he might find a thousand galleons a very reasonable investment.

With millions in his accounts, Harry agreed that the expense was well worth the effort, and also asked for a crystal for Severus, so that he too would understand Harry's texts and assignments. The only hurdle remaining was to pick a language, and — more importantly — a school.

After spending a day debating the pros and cons of each one, and frequently thumbing through the guidebook, Harry decided on Haranmagikoa. As he explained to Severus, Beauxbatons was probably the first place that Dumbledore would look for him, seeing as how well known the school was. There were also examples of cooperation between Beauxbatons and Hogwarts in the past, in the form of exchange programs and something called the Triwizard Tournament. Harry wanted no part of a school that might force him to interact with Hogwarts in the future.

Haranmagikoa, on the other hand, was quite self-contained. They rarely invited students who weren't related to alumni — they actually knew of the link between the Peverells and Potters, as they had taught Peverells in the past — and had sent the Boy Who Lived an invitation more out of curiosity than any belief he might accept. Their exclusive nature was perfect for Harry, as it meant less chance of his location spreading.

The Spanish academy was also part of a network of smaller schools, tutors, and masters willing to take apprentices. Because their schools didn't have the name recognition of the big three, they relied largely on word of mouth and a strong alumni network to help their graduating students gain entry to the fields they wanted to study.

It was the perfect way for Severus to find work as a Potions Master, and give him the option to only accept apprentices who were past the young age he struggled with. When they found that section of the guidebook, Severus had also expressed a willingness to tutor NEWT students in their final year before their exams, as — again — they were far more advanced than the first and second years that he struggled with at Hogwarts.

Harry had no intention of ever telling Severus of that second reason for choosing Haranmagikoa, but it had definitely been a large check in his mental 'pro' column. The only downside was that Haranmagikoa had a home-tutoring component.

All students attended lessons on campus three days a week, and then spent the other two days being tutored at home. Which days were which depended on their exact class schedule, and sometimes they'd attend two half-days instead of a full day. The explanation they gave was that it allowed students to work at their own pace, moving faster in the subjects that they excelled in, and getting extra help in those that they struggled with.

In principle, that sounded fine to Harry, but he was worried that Severus wouldn't want to teach him at home — at least not until he'd passed his OWLs!

But the guidebook assured him that many parents worked, and it was common for groups of students to be tutored by someone else. Apparently lots of recent graduates who were working on their own Masteries also turned to tutoring the younger years to help make their way. If Severus had no patience to teach Harry, then he wouldn't be without other options. Group tutoring would also give him a chance to interact with his peers in a more informal environment, Severus had pointed out, which was important since Haranmagikoa wasn't a boarding school.

So, with Severus's approval of his polite wording, and the Potter crest sealing it from being opened by anyone but the recipient, Harry was ready to send them his acceptance. Since he hadn't been sure how long he would need to recover from the ritual to fix his scar, and since everything he owned now fit in a single trunk, Harry had gathered up all of his possessions and checked out of the Leaky Cauldron when the time came.

Because of the nature of the healing done here, though there was an open ward, there were also a number of individual and group rooms leading off from it. Harry and Severus had been moved into a double room with a window, and he'd been able to set up Hedwig's perch just as he had before.

Now he approached her and attached his letter to the harness on her leg. "Please take this to Headmistress Alcala at the Haranmagikoa Academy, girl," Harry said, stroking her head. He'd noticed that Hedwig liked to be rubbed there, and she'd butt his hand for more attention if she thought he hadn't given her enough. Once she was satisfied, she stepped away from him, ruffled her feathers, and took off through the owl-charmed window.

Severus had already talked Harry through writing his rejection letters, and Healer Chang had taken the whole stack of them off to the Owl Post office after checking on Harry this morning. Harry hadn't really understood why that was necessary, since Dumbledore had rejected all of those schools once before, but Severus insisted. Since Mr. Turpin had contacted them all again, it was only right to give them a new response.

There were many things like that, Harry was learning from Severus, that wizards did because of tradition. Though Harry was a half-blood, he would become the lord of several old, pureblood houses, and he would need to act like a pureblood. He was going to have to serve on the Wizengamot one day, and be heavily involved with lawmaking and politicking. Since his peers were trained in this sort of thing as very young children, he had a lot of catching up to do. It was yet another thing that Severus and Mr. Turpin blamed Dumbledore for.

One of those things was knowing how to send proper correspondence, and Hedwig was getting more of a workout than Harry had ever expected! Even his letters to Sally-Anne had changed slightly, as Severus insisted Harry use them to practice his formal and informal headers and signatures and such. Fortunately Sally-Anne didn't mind.

As a muggleborn, Sally-Anne hadn't gotten any other letters, and couldn't be homeschooled without a magical parent, but after hearing what Harry had shared, she and her parents didn't want her to be at a school run by Dumbledore either. With less than a month's notice, there wasn't much they could do, unfortunately, so she was going to Hogwarts. But her uncle, Mr. Turpin, had promised to look into other options for her as quickly as he could.

From what some of his modern history books said, and even some of the bits and pieces that had come up in their conversations, Harry expected Severus — as a Slytherin — to dislike Sally-Anne for being a muggleborn. He had forgotten that his mum, Lily, was a muggleborn too, and that Severus had been partially muggle-raised, like himself. He thought Sally-Anne was a fine friend, and hoped like Harry that she would be able to escape Dumbledore's grasp at Hogwarts.

Though Sally-Anne, as a muggleborn, and her Turpin cousins weren't likely to attract Dumbledore's attention the way that Harry would. Harry hadn't met the Turpin children yet, but he'd heard about them from Mr. Turpin and Sally-Anne. Like her, they were reconsidering their schooling plans, and if anything suspicious happened at the castle, they had promised to let their parents and Mr. Turpin know as soon as possible.

Harry was actually pleased that Severus had a muggle background, as it gave them a common ground to talk about when his wizarding lessons were done. Seveus seemed to feel the same way, and he appeared more and more comfortable sharing stories with Harry, treating them less like the lectures on pureblood families and more like conversations.

With the blocks on his magic gone, Harry found his thinking a little clearer, and his memory a little sharper. Healer Peasegood said that the brain fog was partially because of the block cast on him shortly after his other parents, and partly because of the one suppressing his Snape qualities. Since Harry had inherited his intelligence from Severus, as well as James and Lily, it was partially suppressed too.

His sharper thinking meant that Harry noticed right away that Severus spoke about his own mother with fondness, but also a bit of frustration. Eventually Harry worked out that it was because she had given up her magical life for his father, and then died and left Severus alone with the man.

From what Severus didn't say, Harry got the impression that Mr. Snape had been a lot like Uncle Vernon, right down to hating magic, despite having married a witch. The fact that almost all of Severus's happy stories were about visiting the Evanses — Harry's grandparents — told its own story.

Figuring all that out actually made Harry feel a little closer to Severus. They were both half-bloods, raised by magic-hating muggles, who had been royally screwed over by Dumbledore.

Harry's newest specialist, Mind Healer Brown, said that it was good for Harry to latch on to those commonalities, and get to know Severus as a person, instead of trying to force themselves into a father/son relationship right away. He said that if Harry viewed Severus as a mentor — someone who was teaching him about the wizarding world — that was perfectly fine. He said that affection and love would come in time.

Though Harry had been a little worried that Severus would be disappointed in him, Harry took his Mind Healer's assurance on board, and tried to focus on the ways they were connected, rather than the relationship they were supposed to have. And despite Severus's protestation that he didn't like teaching young children, there were lots of things he was willing to teach Harry, like learning about all the pureblood families, or how to send proper correspondence.

Harry only hoped they continued to do so well once they were out of St. Mungo's!

o

Harry was deep in thought as he returned to his and Severus's room — so deep that he didn't even notice that he wasn't alone.

After the first meeting — clearing the air, Healer Brown called it — between Severus and Harry's godfather, Sirius Black, they had mutually decided to spend as little time together as possible. That meant that Harry had to go across the ward to Sirius's private room by himself when he wanted to visit his godfather.

At least that first meeting had cleared up a few things! Sirius knew about Severus being in a relationship with Lily and James, but hadn't known that they had all conceived Harry together. James and Lily hadn't told him about the spying on Voldemort thing either.

So, when Severus appeared to break up with them as soon as Lily became pregnant, and run off to join the Dark Lord, Sirius assumed it was some kind of long term Slytherin plan to learn their innermost secrets and then leave them heartbroken and vulnerable. Sirius was ready to hate Severus, and hex him every chance he got, until everything was explained properly.

Severus, for his part, hated Sirius for his part in the rampant Slytherin-Gryffindor bullying that went on while they were at Hogwarts. He had come to tolerate Sirius for Lily and James's sake, but that too had been caught up in Dumbledore's spell. Now, it was better if the two just didn't see each other all that often.

Harry felt conflicted, because he was growing closer to Severus, but at the same time Sirius wanted to get to know him. Sirius was one of the ones who should have been raising Harry, if Dumbledore hadn't interfered, and he did tell Harry lots of stories about James and the other Potters.

Sirius had run away from home himself, because of how dark his parents were, and Harry's grandparents, Charlus and Dorea, had taken him in. Even though Sirius's own mother and father disowned him, his Grandfather hadn't, because he was living with his great aunt Dorea, and still learning the things a proper Black should learn.

For Harry's part, he enjoyed hearing about his other set of grandparents, and he thought the parallels to how Lily and the Evanses had brought Severus into their fold were striking.

He couldn't visit with Sirius for long, as he was still recovering from his own rituals to restore his strength and vitality. He had been locked up in a horrific wizarding prison, and Mr. Turpin had actually gotten him free sooner than expected.

As it turned out, he didn't actually have to prove that Sirius was innocent, because he had never gotten a trial in the first place! Due to some law, purebloods were not allowed to be held in prison for longer than a month without a trial, or they had to be released to await their trial at home. Since Sirius had been in Azkaban for ten years, he'd been released to St. Mungo's while the Aurors scrambled to actually find evidence for his upcoming trial.

That wouldn't happen until September or October, and Harry would be in Spain by then, but that was alright. He wasn't going to be needed at the trial, and attending would only put him in the same room as Dumbledore — something he wasn't looking forward to. Once the trial was over and Sirius was well enough to travel, he'd promised to come visit Harry in Seville.

Harry hoped by then that he and Severus would get along a little better!

"How was your visit," a voice asked.

Harry startled and looked around. Severus was sitting in one of the cozy armchairs by the second window — the one that wasn't dominated by Hedwig's perch. He and Harry often sat there for their conversations, when Harry didn't need a table to take notes.

"I didn't think you were back yet," Harry admitted, checking his watch. He'd meant to time it so that he was back before Severus returned from his appointment with Healer Brown. They always met with Healer Brown in a separate office, for privacy. It looked like he'd spent a good thirty minutes more than he'd intended.

"You don't need to hide your visits to Black from me," Severus said. "It's true that we don't get along, and part of that is due to the misunderstanding that occurred before you were born. But it was also something that was true long before then. Sirius and I tolerated each other for your father's sake, but there was still a lot of bad blood between us. Part of that is because I have issues with the entire Black family, as two of them were directly responsible for recruiting me into the madman's service."

"It would have taken us a while — maybe years — to become more comfortable with each other, as James and Lily were trying to get us to do. And that was before this added complication and a decade spent hating each other. At this point, we may never be friends. But I don't want to deny you from seeing him, Harry. If for no other reason than that he can tell you stories about James and the Potters that I don't know."

"But also because it makes you happy to see him. Just because I don't want to visit him myself doesn't mean that you need to hide it, or that you can't tell me about the interesting things you've learned, alright?"

"Alright," Harry said hesitantly. He'd thought to make it easier on the two men by not mentioning them around each other, or making it obvious that he was spending time with the other. He'd learned long ago that 'out of sight, out of mind' was safer than the alternative. But if Severus really didn't mind…

"He— he said that Charlus and Dorea didn't— er, didn't mind that Lily was a muggleborn. He said that, even though she was a Black, she wasn't like the others who would've burned James off the tapestry for it?" Sirius was still recovering from Azkaban — though no one would tell Harry exactly what the prison did to him — and his mind tended to jump around. He often said things that Harry didn't quite understand. If Severus was willing to help fill in the planks, he'd take it.

Severus actually chuckled. "Ah, that I can explain. And I think we have just enough time before you go visit your godmother. Come sit, and I'll tell you a bit about the Black family."

Harry had almost forgotten that he was going to visit the Longbottoms for the first time this afternoon. That was initially why he'd gone to see Sirius — for a distraction from his anxious wondering about how they would react to him. As he settled into 'his' chair beside the window, Harry thought that maybe Severus's explanations could distract him just as well.

He had a very deep voice, and he could convey his emotions with it while telling Harry stories about the Evanses. He could even convey Aunt Petunia's snooty attitude with eerie accuracy. Harry had wondered — though he'd never dare say it aloud! — what it might sound like if Snape read him a story, the way Aunt Petunia read them to Dudley when he was younger. Harry would never mention it, of course; he wasn't a baby who needed bedtime stories, after all!

o

Harry glanced around the private hospital ward one last time, but there was nothing left to find. He'd packed everything back into his trunk — in truth most of his new possessions had never left his trunk, as he didn't need the classroom supplies or clothes in St. Mungo's — other than the robes he intended to wear today. Harry had spent most of the last few weeks in his hospital pyjamas and dressing gown, though Severus had started wearing robes as soon as he was able.

Harry had been persuaded to wear a robe last evening, for their goodbye party. His godfather, Sirius Black, had been allowed to leave his own medical suite to come up for a short visit — he and Severus had agreed to a truce for the duration of the party.

Harry's godmother, Alice Longbottom, and her husband and son had also attended the makeshift party. Thanks to the goblin heritage spell that listed her as Harry's active godmother, it was proven that her diagnosis of long term mental spell damage had to be false. Mr. Turpin had scheduled a meeting with her and Uncle Frank's healer, back on the first day he had brought Harry to St. Mungo's.

With that information, they had started an investigation into what could possibly make her appear to be so damaged without actually stripping her guardianship of Harry. They'd discovered that Dumbledore had cursed them both the night of their attack, trapping them within their own minds. All it took was a skilled legilimencer to slip inside their minds, find the blocks, and remove them, and Alice and Frank were freed.

They had remained in St. Mungo's for two weeks, to recover their fitness that had dwindled while they were trapped, but had gone home to their son a week ago, right after Harry had been able to meet them for the first time. They'd returned last night with Neville, who was Harry's godbrother, just for the party.

Neville had been raised by his Gran, and apparently Dumbledore had cast spells on her too, to keep Neville down. Harry had heard bits and pieces and something about falling out a window, but it hadn't made much sense amidst the multitude of other conversations happening that night. Severus had given him the look that they'd developed, which meant that he'd explain later. The important parts he caught were that thanks to Dumbledore, Neville's Gran had also needed a healer, and Neville was seeing Mind Healer Brown, and it turned out he did very much want to be Harry's friend.

Part of Harry was sad to be leaving, after he'd made his first ever friends in Neville and Sally-Anne — who had also attended the party with her mother and aunt, Mrs. Turpin — but one thing wizards were quite good at was developing ways to talk long distance. Aside from owls, they could also talk via floo, and through enchanted mirrors.

Neville was also being withdrawn from Hogwarts, but was attending Beauxbattons, as he hadn't been accepted to Haranmagikoa, since his family had no ties to Spain. With him in France and Sally-Anne in Britain, Harry was going to be getting a lot of experience with international communication.

He was a little worried about Sally-Anne going to a school run by Dumbledore, though her Turpin cousins had apparently promised to look out for her. And of course, Mr. Turpin was also working on a series of court cases against Dumbledore, using all the evidence from Harry's accounts, Sirius's arrest, and the Longbottoms' curses, so they hoped that he would no longer be the headmaster by the end of the year.

In fact, Mr. Turpin had told Harry yesterday morning, at their last in-person meeting for a while, that he had enough different charges to pursue against Dumbledore to keep him in court for a year! And with the goblins involved in tracking down Harry's possessions from the shelf in his vault, and reclaiming his property and gold from Dumbledore, the old man would be hit from all sides.

To Harry's delight, the goblins had also come to his farewell party last night — at least the ones he knew! Mr. Turpin had warned that the goblins might not attend, since they were generally busy, but all three — Apprentice Thinblade and his two account managers, Steeleye and Lugrok — did accept his invitation and had come last night.

Thinblade had been the goblin to attend to Harry every time he returned to the bank, and though such things weren't usually made official, Mrs. Turpin had passed on the word that she was unofficially assigned as his permanent liaison. Apprentice Griphook, who Harry had met on his first trip, had proved that he wasn't involved in Dumbledore's shenanigans, but was being retrained on recognizing when his superiors gave him suspicious instructions.

Harry might be moving to Spain, but he intended to come back to Diagon Alley when possible to handle his accounts, as he liked the trio. Of course, when Dumbledore was brought to trial, both Harry and Severus would have to return to testify, and Harry had already decided to visit Gringotts while he was back in the country. Mrs. Turpin had also told him, at the party, that once he visited the Gringotts branch in Seville, he'd be in for a surprise, but she refused to give him any other hints. Harry was still debating asking Severus if they could stop by the bank before going to the villa.

Harry's various Healers and Hyacinth from Mr. Turpin's office had rounded out the guest list, and altogether it was the best party Harry had ever attended — of course, it was also the only party other than Dudley's birthdays that he'd ever attended, but that was beside the point. He had had a marvelous time last night, and even Severus and Sirius had kept the peace — mostly by avoiding each other.

And now he was all packed up and ready to take a portkey to Seville. He and Severus were going to check in at the local portkey office, which doubled as a customs office, and then head to the Peverell Villa. They'd been able to hire a house elf locally and send it ahead of them to bring the villa out of stasis, so it should be ready to go.

Severus and Mr. Turpin both believed that the space would be quite out of date, but they'd have plenty of time to fix it up. Harry would even be allowed to decorate it, though he had no idea of what he would even pick. Other than wanting it to look nothing like his aunt's house, Harry knew nothing about interior decorating.

The elf — Poppy — had also been able to purchase Harry's school books in Seville's version of Diagon Alley, and with the Goblin translation spell completed, Harry had been able to read ahead this past week. Most of the spell and potion books were quite similar to the Hogwarts version — one was even a direct translation! — but the history and wizarding traditions texts were very different. History, because it was focused on the Iberian peninsula instead of the British isles, and wizarding traditions because Hogwarts had long ago dropped that class.

"Are you ready?" Severus asked, breaking Harry from his musing.

Harry double checked his bed, where his robe, cloak, money pouch, and wizarding and muggle passports were laid out. His wand was in the holster on his wrist, and everything else had been packed away. Hedwig had been released to fly ahead, instead of being cooped up in a cage to travel by portkey, and her things were also packed away.

Severus's own trunk was packed up at the foot of his bed, and he was already changed. Once Harry changed, his hospital pyjamas would be left behind. He was as ready as he would ever be.

A month ago, Harry had never traveled beyond the school in Little Whinging, and would have never imagined that magic was real, and now, here he was, heading off to another country, with his father, to live in a fabulous house, learn magic, and be tutored about his family legacy. He had friends, a wizarding family, and a law wizard who was fighting on his side. He couldn't believe how much his life had changed since that first letter appeared, but he was excited to see what lay ahead.

"I'm ready," Harry replied.