Gringotts Wizarding Bank – London – 22 December 1985
Arthalian sat speechless for a long moment, and then sprang to his feet.
“The goblin leader. I need to get an audience with him immediately. It’s possible that the goblins are responsible for whatever caused the infans animus to reactivate, and if not, it can’t be too hard to find out the names of all the children under nine currently here.”
“We will need to reveal ourselves.” Caeldabryn said quietly. They all turned to look at him, but Marodena and Halvaden both nodded their heads.
“You may need to explain the search as well.” Halvaden offered. “A show of trust now may very well yield dividends later.”
Neither of the two Lythari Alpha’s were in the habit of offering their advice freely, as they felt it was necessary to allow Arthalian lead, but their advice when offered was always sound.
“Right.” Arthalian said firmly. “Does anyone disagree?” There was a chorus of ‘no’. “Anyone need more time to recover?” Again there was a chorus of ‘no’. They were all smiling at him, even Caeldabryn. “Then Syllevella of Ornthr, I ask that you remove the seals you created to lock us in our human forms.”
“As you wish, Arthalian of Moreithil.” Smiling brightly Syllevella came forwards, offering her right hand to Caeldabryn. He carefully extended one claw, and let her slice a shallow cut on the pad of her thumb. She used her bloody thumb to swipe a line horizontally across Arthalian’s forehead.
“Release.” Syllevella breathed, and they all watched as Arthalian regained his elven features. It didn’t look like much, just that his ears were once again pointed. On another level he now had access to his wings again, and his magical core was no longer disguised. Under the seal, anyone looking at him under mage sight would see a low level wizard, and a wizard’s identification spell would show him as non-magical. Sealing his wings away was perhaps a bit paranoid, but he had decided that it was better to err on the side of caution. Although Arthalian generally had full control over their manifestation, he was still young enough that he might release them in moments of great shock or extremely strong emotion. Finnath was only forty six years older than him, but that extra time had allowed him full mastery. Also, Finnath was one of the exceedingly rare Avariel that could change forms fully, taking the form of a black eagle.
“Anyone else while I’m bleeding?” Syllevella waved her bloody thumb at others. They each lined up and had the entirety of their elven characteristics unlocked. When she was done Syllevella concentrated briefly, unwinding the restraint on her own magic, and her thumb healed up instantly. She sighed happily in appreciation of having her full abilities available to her once more. Sun elves were always the most crippled by the need to masquerade as humans, their magical cores larger and more complex and needing more effort to disguise.
Now that they were no longer disguised, the feel of agitated magic in the room gave away the excitement of the occupants. Arthalian settled himself, and then went to the door. As expected, an armoured goblin stood on either side. Arthalian addressed the taller (and therefore older) of the two.
“Greetings. My name is Arthalian of Moreithil in the Aerie of the Snow Eagles. My arvenai and I seek an audience with your company chief on a matter of some urgency. Thank you.” Arthalian inclined his head in respect, and then returned to wait with his companions.
Ragnok looked up at the double chime that indicated something important had just come through the transport system. Reading the parchment, he allowed his eyebrows to rise infinitesimally, then the side of his mouth twitched, which was not a smile as Ragnok was a firm believer in the old adage that a smile unseen was no smile at all.
So the young Potter lordling was right. Arthalian had indeed come for him, elven companions in tow. This whole situation was turning out to be even more interesting that he had first hoped for after reading Mornuk’s request for a Secrecy Seal, something that hadn’t happened in over two hundred years.
As a younger goblin chief, he might have held himself aloof from any dealings with human magic users, a petty way to return to them the disdain they openly showed his people. Older and wiser now, he knew that change had to be approached from both sides. This young lord coming to Gringotts for help and showing respect for their ways may be the sign that the goblins had been waiting for since the oracle last spoke.
And now elves! The goblins had always had a cordial relationship with true elves, rare as they now were in this realm. Single elves came to visit and explore on occasion, and gifted goblins occasionally braved the journey to the elven realm to study with the metal smiths there, but frequent contact of a more formal nature had long been relinquished as the rising tide of humans had encompassed the globe. The elves had abandoned their outposts and ceded the land to the native species.
Ragnok would have granted an immediate audience to elves in any case, but given the relationship with the Potter lordling it may be best to have Mornuk here as well. Ragnok wrote and sent a summons for Mornuk before replying to the request for an audience. He gave the response to one of his guards, informing the others that the elves were to be admitted without challenge. At their bows of acknowledgement, he returned to his office and garbed himself in his formal over-tunic.
Mornuk arrived first, as Ragnok had planned, clearly curious as to why he was summoned.
“Arthalian of the elves has requested an audience for himself and his arvenai.” Ragnok told him after they had exchanged greetings. “They will be here soon. As account manager for Lord Potter, you will often be our spokesperson when conducting business with them.”
Ragnok was proud of his young kinsman, the second son of his sister’s eldest grandson. He had dealt with the ignominy of being dismissed as an account manager for several lucrative accounts and relegated to customer service with stoic steadiness, and then recognized the opportunity that the Potter lordling had dropped in his lap almost instantly. Since then, he had ousted the Potter account manager taking his place, and was now well on his way to being an influential advisor to one of the oldest families in the wizarding world. And the Lord was proving to be intelligent, crafty, and a pleasure to do business with. Now his name would be known by elves, and exceedingly rare honour.
A knock on the door signaled the elves arrival and Ragnok stood to greet them, Mornuk standing behind him to his left.
Arthalian and his arvenai entered the office of the Goblin Chief in a wedge formation in recognition of the prowess of the goblins in battle. Arthalian stood at the tip as the acknowledged leader, flanked by Finnath on his left and Marodena on his right. Syllevella held the protected position in the centre of the back row, with Caeldabryn to her right and Halvaden to her left. Each elf had displayed their dagger at their belt, but other than that they were not visibly armed.
They came to a stop two metres in front of Ragnok, and bowed as one. Ragnok acknowledged the bow with an inclination of his head.
“Greetings Chief Ragnok.” Arthalian spoke formally. “I thank your for the indulgence of this audience. I am Arthalian, Firstborn of the Lord and Lady of Moreithil in the Aerie of the Snow Eagles. May I have your leave to introduce my arvenai?”
“Greetings Arthalian of Moreithil.” Ragnok answered. “Please make known your companions.”
“I present Caeldabryn of Harailin, Halvaden of Melithyr, Marodena of Ornthr, Finnath of Moreithil and Syllevella of Ornthr.” As each elf’s name was said, he or she stepped out of formation, bowed, and stepped back.
“Greetings.” Ragnok bowed his head to each one. “I present to you Mornuk, account manager.” More bows were exchanged, the elves quirking curious eyebrows at each other.
“Please sit.” Ragnok waited until everyone was seated before continuing. “Mornuk is here because I believe I know why you have asked for this audience, Arthalian of Moreithil. Please, dispense with formality and speak your mind.”
“Thank you Ragnok” Arthalian said as he got comfortable. “I come searching for my son, long hidden from me. I believe he has found his way to your caverns, and is even now within your walls. I do not know his name, only that he will be at least five years of age and under nine. Perhaps there is a child of that description that has recently had a blood ward broken?”
“What makes you so certain that he is here?” Ragnok asked, curious as to the methods the elves had used to get here so quickly.
“Like all closely related elves, my son and I share a bond.” Arthalian replied, mindful of Halvaden’s advice. “This bond activated over four years ago, alerting me to his presence. Shortly after that, and before we were able to mount an expedition to find him, it disappeared. We knew he was not dead, that feels very different, so we gathered together to come to the human realm and search for him, and we have been searching ever since.
“Less than two days ago the bond once more became active. We were in New Zealand, and our locator put him in England, so we traveled here by portkey as soon as possible. While recovering from the disorientation such travel causes, I could tell that he was very close, and when I examined the bond…”
Arthalian once again asked his magic show a physical representation of the infans animus. This time the bond extended out in front of him. Once more it was pointing downwards.
“I see.” Ragnok said, and he did. “What are your intentions for this child when you find him?”
“I plan to protect and love him.” Arthalian answered, fully aware of the goblin ability so see truth and lies, and grateful for it. “Although I may wish to, I do not intend to rip him from a happy family. We cannot take him through the portal to the elven realm until he is fully grown into his elven magic, so he must remain in the human realm until then. If he is unhappy where he is, or wishes to make his home with me then we will reopen one of the old steadings, and make our plans from there.
“Whatever happens, I will ensure that my son is loved and cherished, and given every opportunity to flourish.”
Ragnok looked to Mornuk to see his opinion. Mornuk nodded. Lord Potter had given his permission to reveal his business to Arthalian and his companions as long as none of them were human. Ragnok turned back to Arthalian.
“Very well. Your son was named Harry James Potter, born to Lily Evans Potter and adopted in blood and magic by James Potter, Lord of the House of Potter. James and Lily Potter were killed on the night of samhein in 1981, and soon after their son’s godfather in blood and magic was illegally imprisoned. A very powerful wizard appointed himself your son’s guardian, and left him unsupervised with his mothers adopted sister’s family, placing blood wards to hide him.
“Lord Potter arrived here yesterday to ask for goblin aid in several endeavors. He appointed Mornuk as account manager of The Potter Holdings, and requested a cleansing ritual and the destruction of the blood wards, which he knew about. We conducted the ritual at 12.30pm yesterday. Since then, Lord Potter has been in the infirmary we keep for our human employees, receiving the health care that he requested.”
“Health care?” Arthalian had to stop his wings breaking free. “Why did he need health care? Why did he come to goblins to receive health care?” Caeldabryn put a solid hand on his shoulder, helping him calm down. Arthalian could feel that Caeldabryn’s nails had extended and hardened, a sign that the Lythari Alpha was extremely angry. However, this was not the goblins fault.
Arthalian took a deep breath, released it and finally noticed that each of his companions were showing signs of anger, slight but there. Halvaden and Marodena both had their nostrils flared, Syllevella’s eyes were backlit with power, and Finnath’s hair had darkened, a precursor to the change of forms. Caeldabryn was the most composed of them all, if Arthalian could not feel his claws he would have thought him unmoved.
“I apologize for my anger, Chief Ragnok.” Arthalian said after a moment. “I meant no disrespect of the goblins. I was only incensed that he obviously felt he could not find healing amongst humans. I am sure your care of him has been exemplary. Is it possible to meet my son?”
“I took no offence, Arthalian. I was not unaffected myself.” Ragnok could not find fault with the elves for reacting. If anyone had treated a caveling of his as badly as he suspected Lord Potter had been treated, their blood would have flowed and their screams would have echoed throughout Lochrock for months. “Lord Potter awoke around an hour ago, and asked to see Mornuk before going back to sleep. When he awakens, he will eat, and then be taken to one of the visitation suites. Mornuk will apprise him of your arrival, and ask his permission for your entry.
“I must warn you that until yesterday Lord Potter was bearing the full magical brunt of unanchored blood wards. As a result, his magic has grown strong and resilient, and far beyond any expectation of full control. He has been recuperating in a room that absorbs all magic expended by any other than Gringotts healers, however the visitation room will not have that capability. His newly unencumbered magic will no doubt be ready to react any emotional upheaval.”
“If I may suggest something Arthalian?” Syllevella spoke up before Arthalian could respond. “I can make him an amulet that will absorb most undirected magic output, it’s something many Sun elves must wear before full maturity. It will take me about an hour, and I’ll need something that can store large amounts of raw magic.”
“I have something.” Caeldabryn reached into travel pack and removed a large stone disk on a knotted leather cord. With no further explanation he handed it to Syllevella, who received it curiously.
“Is this sky rock? That would be ideal.” She handled it gently and then looked more closely at it. “Hang on, this isn’t a replica. Cal, this is an Ath-Tel artifact! Where in Thystaesi did you find it?”
“Not important.” Caeldabryn answered brusquely. “Will it work?”
“Not important?” Syllevella’s eyes flashed and she started radiating warmth. “Cal, this looks like a Math-leri! My people have been hoping to find one of these for almost as long as our records exist! Our amulets were designed based on stories of these. Of course it’s important!”
“Sparky? Sparky!” Arthalian redirected her attention. “You can discuss that later. The question is, will it work?”
“Of course it will work, weren’t you listening? It’s like…” She scrambled around for something to compare it to. Their time recently spent amongst non-magical humans provided an analogy.
“Like someone described telephones to you, and you came up with tin cans tied with string. This” she brandished the Math-leri “is a telephone, and I was planning to tie two tin cans together with string. You and I are going to have a long talk about this later, Caeldabryn of Harailin.”
Caeldabryn just looked bored. Arthalian was pretty sure she didn’t have a hope in getting him to tell her anything he didn’t want to. Caeldabryn had over five hundred years on Syllevella, and he was an Alpha Lythari who preferred to live outside a pack structure. It was said that the only authority he would submit to was Lord Lethavyl of Harailin, his closest surviving kinsman.
Arthalian was well aware that he would retain leadership of this group only as long as he didn’t do something stupid enough that Caeldabryn felt he had to take over, and that Halvaden was following Caeldabryn’s lead. While Halvaden was also an Alpha, Caeldabryn was older and more experienced, and would undoubtedly win any dominance challenge.
“You said the amulet you were talking about would absorb most undirected output?” Arthalian asked trying to change the subject. “Is that like a percentage then? And will this do the same thing?”
“No,” Syllevella replied, still glowering at Caeldabryn. “The amulet was designed to recognize defensive magic, and allow that through. It’s not perfect, there has been the odd issue, but all that’s moot now, isn’t it? Although,” she said thoughtfully, turning the Math-leri over in her hand, “I’m not sure how to tune this to your son’s magic.”
“Excuse me,” Interjected Ragnok. “What is an Ath-Tel? And will this artifact be safe for an elf who still appears to be a wizard, despite our cleansing ritual?”
“The Ath-Tel’Quessir were a race of elves that disappeared from our realms many millennia ago.” Arthalian said. “We don’t know where they went or if they ever planned to come back. What we have are a few old tales of interactions, and even fewer artifacts. They are said to have been the best of us, as far above us in understanding as we were above the first humans who emerged on this world.”
“The Math-leri won’t hurt anyone.” Syllevella rejoined the conversation, still fondling the stone disk. “It may not work correctly for him, but the only way it could hurt him is if someone hit him with it. If it doesn’t work, I can make an amulet as I said earlier.” She seemed almost hopeful at this last thought.
“If so, the Math-leri will be returned to Cal.” Arthalian noticed that Syllevella didn’t make any indication of agreement, but wasn’t too worried. If she thought she stood a chance against Caeldabryn she was in for a very large shock.
A chime sounded from Ragnok’s desk, and Mornuk retrieved the parchment that arrived for his chief. Ragnok read it, and then looked back at Mornuk.
“Lord Potter has awoken and is eating. Make your preparations to meet with him, and message me his decision on Arthalian joining you.”
Harry stared at the empty plate that fifteen minutes ago had been piled with food, rather astonished at his own appetite. He couldn’t remember ever eating that much before, not even as an adult. He wondered if it was a side affect of the cleansing ritual or the potions he had taken. Regardless, he’d eaten all his vegetables as directed and was now hoping to get a chance to talk to Mornuk. Tina wouldn’t give him any proper information on his own health, only telling him that he would soon be better. He really missed the goblins straightforward way of speaking.
Harry supposed that it was something he would have to get used to, being treated like a child by adults. Hopefully Arthalian would be here soon, and could be convinced that he didn’t need to be coddled. He grimaced slightly at the thought of spending the next fifteen years without the autonomy he was used to.
“What’s that face for?” Tina was back, probably come to check he was eating his ‘yucky’ vegetables. “Good boy! You’ve eaten all your dinner, I guess that means you deserve a treat! Now, do you want chocolate or strawberry icecream?”
Harry wondered briefly if he would have appreciated her manner when he was really five. He suspected not. Maybe two? She must not have any interaction with children. If he was here much longer he was going to give in to the urge to prank her mercilessly. He was pretty sure she’d never suspect him, as she seemed to think he had no cognitive function whatsoever.
“No ice cream for me, thanks.” Harry had discovered as an adult that if he limited his meat and cut his dairy intake he felt a lot better. Hermione had talked to him at great length about calcium and iron deficiency, but in the end he decided that his digestive system was his own business. Now he was wondering if it was something to do with being an elf.
Tina removed his tray, setting it down on one of the empty beds.
“Are you sure? I can probably rustle up some vanilla if you prefer? No? Well then, I’ll just give you a quick check over and then we can pop you into a bed that moves so you can visit with Mornuk.” She got her wand out, and Harry steeled himself not to flinch.
“Do I have to be in a bed? Can’t I sit in a chair?” Harry was horrified to hear himself whining. Was this sort of thing contagious? He needed to get away from this woman as soon as possible. Tina finished her spell work and considered the results.
“Since you’re doing so much better and ate all your dinner, I’ll allow it, but ONLY if you promise to be good. I don’t want to hear that you were up and running around, do you hear me? Or you might get even more vegetables tomorrow!”
“Right. Of course.” Harry smiled thinly at her, deliberately giving the appearance of agreement without actually promising anything. It’s not like she’d find out what he was doing in the meeting room, he didn’t exactly see her and Mornuk sitting down for a heart to heart.
Ten minutes later, he smiled a welcome at Mornuk from his nest of blankets that Tina had arranged in his chair. Harry had to admit that he was extremely comfy, clearly Tina had hidden depths.
“Lord Potter.” Mornuk greeted him.
“Mornuk.” Harry replied. “Surely that’s enough formality? We’re in private now, after all.”
“As you wish Harry.” Mornuk said, but Harry noticed his ears were rigid. Mornuk was anything but relaxed. What on earth was wrong?
“Is there something wrong Mornuk?” Harry asked, hoping he wasn’t going to be told some horrendously bad news, like Dumbledore had been made King of the World while he was asleep.
“While you were sleeping…” Mornuk began, and Harry closed his eyes in resignation. What the hell? Was he psychic now? He was going to have words with Hecate next time he saw her.
“Harry?” Opening his eyes, Harry saw Mornuk looking at him in concern. “Are you alright?”
“Fine, great. What was it you were about to tell me?” Harry mustered a smile, and waited for his doom to fall.
“While you were sleeping Arthalian of Moreithil asked for an audience with Chief Ragnok. He’s with him now, hoping that you will agree to see him.”
“He’s here?” Harry asked in surprise. “Already?”
Mornuk nodded his head. Harry gulped, suddenly nervous. He’d planned out how to get to this point, but had always been hazy on how such a meeting would go. He had no frame of reference, and being stuck in this young body was having more of an effect on his emotions than he had imagined it would. He decided to answer before he completely lost his nerve.
“Yes.” Harry said abruptly. “Yes, send him in.” Mornuk nodded, and sent a parchment that he had clearly prepared in advance through the ever-present transfer system.
Harry sat in his nest of blankets trying not to have a panic attack. What if Arthalian didn’t like him, was disappointed? And he’d always known he would have to reveal the whole Death Veil thing, what if he was angry that Harry wasn’t really his son, only an older alternate version in his son’s body? What if the elves thought he was too much trouble and went back to elf land? Oh my god, why hadn’t Harry changed into some clothes, he was still in these plain white pyjamas he’d woken up in and his hair was probably sticking up everywhere, and what had he been thinking and it was too late to change his mind now Arthalian was on his way.
“Harry!” Mornuk’s voice broke through Harry’s internal monologue and Harry realized that his magic was visibly swirling around him, distorting the air like heat rising from the road on a baking hot day in summer. Harry was truly astonished.
He’d never seen his magic manifest itself like this before, he’d never been able to see where it was. Was this somehow resultant from dropping the blood wards? Actually, come to think about it, he wasn’t sure the blood wards ever dropped in the last universe. Dumbledore had been dead, no one else knew much about them other than that they existed, and since they had nothing to do with Petunia after all there was no reason he could think of why they would drop as soon as he gained his wizarding majority.
Being side tracked into introspection about the nature of the blood wards and what had really happened with them had settled his magic nicely. Harry noticed that Mornuk looked slightly impressed, it was likely the goblin thought Harry had exercised conscious control rather than accidentally diverting himself. Harry decided that it was unnecessary to tell him. Then the door to the visiting room opened, and for the first time Harry saw his biological father in person.
Arthalian’s eyes went straight to Harry, and he smiled. Harry could almost see the tension flow out of him, and felt his magic rise again in excitement and recognition. He was stunned when he realized that his magic was reaching out to Arthalian’s magic, and the feeling that washed over him was like nothing he had ever felt before. He had thought he had felt loved and safe while touching that golden bond that was tethered to his core, this was like that feeling only exponentially greater.
The world had shrunk to contain only him and Arthalian and the singing of his magic as his father approached him for the first time. Some part of him knew what was expected, and so he wasn’t surprised or worried when Arthalian took his face in his hands and kissed his forehead.
“Thou art Harry James Potter of England. I bequeath to thee, Harry James Potter of England, the blessings and gifts of thy kin, the Aril-Tel’Quessir. I name thee son. Under the love of this house shalt thou be sheltered and cherished, wheresoever thou art.”
Arthalian’s voice was deep and smooth, and it interwove with their magic, helping strengthen and shield the bond between them, now so palpable Harry could almost discern it’s outline. Their combined magic rose to a crescendo, and then faded back into both their skins. Arthalian moved back a step to give Harry some room, and then stood, smiling at him with clear delight.
For a moment Harry was paralyzed with indecision. Did elves do hugging? He wanted nothing more than to barrel into Arthalian’s arms and be held, only his fear of rejection holding him back. Then he remembered witnessing his mother’s birth, and the affection his aunt freely displayed. He remembered that Arthalian had put aside his life to search for him, and was out of his nest of blankets, on his feet and hurtling into his father before he could convince himself it was a bad idea.
Strong arms came around him and lifted him up, and instead of feeling unsafe he felt secure and loved, and like nothing could ever hurt him. For the first time in his life, he had a true inkling of what he had missed, what Dumbledore and the Dursleys had stolen from him, and he burst into tears, hiding his face in Arthalian’s neck and clinging to him with all his strength. And once he started he couldn’t seem to stop.
It was like someone had taken a lance to a festering infection. Harry sobbed out his fear, his feelings of loneliness and betrayal, a life of scrambling from day to day, with pain and misery at every turn. Every happiness ripped from him or shown to be an illusion, sacrificing his life for a lie, the final bone weary exhaustion that had prompted his decision to walk through the veil, and then finding out that he had been betrayed more than he’d ever guessed, that his journey wasn’t over, and that he had to go back to a life that he had been so eager to leave that he had already walked to his death twice. He felt something warm and soft envelop him and gave into the abreaction.
Even as he cried, some part of him was fiercely glad that he had agreed to come to this alternate dimension. Other Harrys would now have the opportunity to know the love of a father, would feel the immeasurable warmth from the bond. And he knew they would cherish it all the more for having had to live without it.
When his tears finally trickled to a halt some time later, he became aware of being surrounded by warmth, and opened his eyes to see that he was enfolded in black feathers. At some point Arthalian had extended his wings around him, cocooning him in safety. Harry reached out a tentative hand towards one wing, hovering just before touching and looked up at Arthalian.
“May I touch them please?” Arthalian passed his hand over Harry’s face, cleaning it and his shirt of the inevitable result of a storm of weeping. Harry waited for Arthalian’s assent before touching the raven dark wing and stroking the glossy black feathers. They were soft and strong at the same time, and Harry gave a sigh of appreciation. He was really hoping that he would get wings too.
Raising his head, he realized that he and Arthalian had been loosely circled by five other elves, each of them touching Arthalian in some way. Feeling suddenly extremely self-conscious, he ducked his head in embarrassment. What must they think of him? Then he was struck by the humor of the thought. No doubt they thought him a young child, overwhelmed by meeting his father for the first time.
A hand reached out and gently touched his chin, raising it so that he could meet the eyes of a beautiful female elf with long light brown hair. She smiled at him kindly, and Harry felt himself smiling back.
“Feel no shame, Harry of England.” Her voice was calm and soothing, although he could hear echoes of something else there too. “It is a great honour to be a witness of this moment, when a lost child is united with his family for the first time. And an even greater honour to receive your trust as you allowed yourself the freedom to purge such strong emotion.”
“I didn’t even realize you were there.” Harry blurted, and then was horrified at what he’d just said. “Sorry, my lady, what I meant was… I mean I didn’t…”
Harry was relieved when she laughed, clearly taking no offense at his inability to express himself.
“I am no lady, Harry of England. My name is Marodena of Ornthr, Lythari and bonded of Halvaden of Melithyr. And as for trust, what happened was that your magic touched us.” She explained. “Your reaction was instinctive, your magic has accepted us and found us worthy. The pain you have revealed to us only makes that honour greater. You and I are not blood kin, Harry of England, but you are now as dear to me as any connected to me by the infans animus. And I will guard you with my life.”
Harry was smiling again at her explanation. It was true that he had felt no caution from his magic, no indication whatsoever that he might not be safe. And that meant that his most vigilant and instinctive self had already accepted these elves, and he need have no hesitation in trusting them. Which was a relief, because they were clearly good friends of his father, and wouldn’t that have been awkward.
“Harry, would you allow me to make some introductions?” Arthalian asked, having retracted his wings, but still holding Harry in his arms. Harry strangely felt no inclination to ask to be put down.
“Yes please.” Harry replied. “And we don’t have to be formal do we? I mean, these are your friends, right?”
“They are indeed.” Arthalian agreed. “Informally then, this is Finnath of Moreithil, my second cousin through my mothers side. We call him Finn, and he is Avariel like me, which means Winged Elf. He can also turn into a black eagle, but we can talk about that later.”
Finnath’s hair was as crazy as Harry’s, maybe even crazier. He didn’t seem to be in any hurry to tame it, either. Finnath came forward smiling, and kissed Harry’s forehead.
“Welcome kinsman.” He said softly, and then broke out into a mischievous grin. “Oh, we’re going to have so much fun! None of these fuddy duddy’s are interested in helping me with my experiments, so you can be my sidekick!”
“Finn.” Arthalian was trying to be stern, but his twitching lips gave him away. “You are not teaching my son how to explode people!”
Harry snickered. He was pretty certain he was going to like Finn. And he could turn into an eagle! Being an Avariel got better and better. Arthalian turned to the next elf.
“This is Caeldabryn of Harailin, and he is distant blood kin to you on your mothers fathers side. We call him Cal, and he is Lythari, which means he can change into a wolf whenever he wants. Cal is particularly talented, and can change separate body parts at will. Show Harry your claws, Cal.”
Caeldabryn gave Harry a kiss on his forehead as well.
“Welcome kinsman.” Caeldabryn said, and then extended his right hand palm up. Harry watched with great interest as Caeldabryn’s fingernails lengthened and hardened into claws.
“Wow.” Harry murmured. “Can you make them as sharp as you want?”
Caeldabryn smirked, and in an instant the claws were sharpened to a very pointy point.
“That is so cool…” Harry was starting to think that being a Lythari wouldn’t be so bad if he couldn’t be an Avariel. Caeldabryn’s smirk widened when Finnath muttered to him that Harry hadn’t seen his wings, and that Caeldabryn was not cooler than he was.
“Marodena has already introduced herself, we sometimes call her Ripper, or Rody. Rody is the daughter of one of your maternal grandmothers closest friends. She is bonded to Hal here, Halvaden that is, and they are both Lythari like Cal.”
Both Halvaden and Marodena touched their hands to his forehead, and spoke together.
“Greetings Rody and Hal.” Harry smiled at them and then turned to look at the only elf he hadn’t met yet.
“And this is Syllevella, and her nickname is Sparky. She is a Sun elf, which means she’s very smart and knows a lot about magic, and is very good at it.”
“Greetings Harry.” Syllevella smiled brightly and reached out a hand to touch his forehead.
“Greetings Sparky.” Harry could feel her magic when she touched him, and it did feel a bit like sparks.
“And I am Arthalian, only son of the Lord and Lady of Moreithil, an Avariel as you already know, and your father. And now that I have finally found you and we have solidified our bond, no one can ever hide you from me again.” Arthalian’s voice was fierce, and Harry could feel his determination along the bond they shared.
Harry decided it was probably better to get the biggest shock over sooner rather than later.
“And I am Harry James Potter.” He began. “Son of Alvalia of Harailin and Arthalian of Moreithil, and adopted in love, blood and magic by James Charlus Potter, Head of the House of Potter. Two days ago in a different universe, I walked through an artifact known as the Death Veil held in the Ministry of Magic, and was given the choice to come to an alternate universe where a much younger version of me had died.”
There was a moment of stunned silence broken by a loud snort. Seven pairs of eyes turned to regard Mornuk, who had been sitting unobtrusively to one side, observing the proceedings.
“Mornuk!” Harry said, embarrassed that he had forgotten his account manager’s presence. Mornuk face had once again taken the greenish tinge that Harry was starting to associate with suppressed laughter.
“Lord Potter, that is the third time you have made outlandish claims in my presence in the last two days.” Mornuk responded. “Both of your other fantastical stories have been found to be factual in all respects that we can check, and once again you clearly believe what you have just said. This is an unusual stance for a goblin to take I know, but I believe you. If there is anything I can do to help you with the task you have clearly appointed yourself, please let me know.”
Arthalian appeared to be recovering somewhat from his shock, and had yet to put Harry down. Harry decided to take this as a good sign.
“Mornuk, is this room secure from surveillance?” Arthalian asked.
“I would normally say yes, but for something this sensitive?” Mornuk was hesitant. “Not all goblins agree with Ragnok’s policies, and while the Secrecy Seal should keep all Lord Potter’s business within Gringotts, it may pay to utilize what security measures you have.”
“Isn’t it illegal for non staff members to cast magic inside Gringotts?” Harry asked, sure that he remembered something along those lines. Mornuk smirked.
“It is illegal for wizards and witches, Lord Potter. Elves are free to cast magic under the auspices of a Gringotts worker of sufficient rank, such as I.” Harry grinned to himself at the distinction. After all he was an elf as well, even if he was in disguise.
“Sparky, do you have anything so that we can continue this conversation unobserved?” Arthalian asked Syllevella. “Or should we make our way to the closest steading?” Syllevella pondered briefly, and then she smiled in satisfaction.
“Actually, the spell that was recently developed for hunting should do the trick.” She said with enthusiasm. “It’s easy enough to discover and counter, but only another elf could do so. People will know that something is happening here if they put their minds to it, but they won’t be able to tell what. Or who, for that matter.”
“Thanks Sparky.” Arthalian replied.
“Right, Mornuk, could you come here please?” Syllevella asked as she arranged the other elves in a circle around her. “I need to mark you with my magic to bring you into the spells influence. Right, that should do it, now if you could stand right there…” She gathered her magic and then wove the spell, casting it with the breathed word “undisturbed”.
“Right.” Arthalian looked around, and sat in one of the available chairs, still clutching Harry to him. Harry felt a bit odd sitting on a grown man’s lap, but wasn’t ready to give up his connection with his father just yet. If it so happened that this was all he was going to get, he was going to relish every second. Everyone else chose chairs, and sat.
******* (Change POV to Arthalian) *******
Surprisingly Caeldabryn was the first to speak, although he was characteristically abrupt.
“Give him the Math-leri.” His words were directed to Arthalian, but caused Syllevella to start. Arthalian frowned. Was she that unwilling to relinquish it? He held out his hand for the stone disk as it was removed from her satchel.
“I’ll do my best to try and tune it to his magic, but I can’t promise anything.” Syllevella reminded him, before reluctantly handing the artifact over. Arthalian gave it Harry to examine, watching as his increasingly surprising son ran his fingers over the carvings, and then held the stone to his ear as if listening to it.
“This will help me control my magic.” Harry said, turning the artifact over in his hands, and inspecting the other side. Arthalian nodded, intrigued as to how he could possibly know that.
“It was made from rock ‘gifted to us by the gods’… Arthalian, I can understand it!” Harry was growing more excited, his hair lifting in the breeze of his magic and his bright green eyes sparkling. “It was made to identify and protect the chosen of the gods, and has many uses, and it’s accepted me!”
Harry’s magic had been steadily rising with his excitement, swirling happily and dancing around the occupants of the room, and Harry suddenly drew his gaze away from the Math-leri to look warily at Syllevella. Arthalian followed his gaze and was worried to see that she looked extremely unhappy, almost angry.
“You’re making that up!” She said rudely. “No one can read that, the language was lost thousands of years ago! What? No one actually believes him, do they?”
“I do.” Mornuk said, exposing his teeth in a rather terrifying facsimile of a smile. “He does. He believes everything he says is true. You however, don’t. I’ll remind everyone here that I can see truth and untruth, and I have committed myself to the best interests of Lord Potter. If anyone tells an untruth in an effort to do him harm, I will expose it.”
“And how do we know that you’re telling the truth?” Syllevella countered angrily. The room was getting warmer. “You just said you’re committed to this child who tells fantastical tales. How can we trust your impartiality?”
“Syllevella!” Arthalian rose and deposited Harry behind him in the seat he’d just vacated, shielding him with his body. Syllevella was still sitting in the chair she had chosen, arms crossed in front of her with defiance in every line of her body. “Are you trying to get us banned from Gringotts? Everyone knows that goblins are incapable of telling an untruth! What they don’t say may be suspect, but what they do say is always the truth as they see it. You know this! What is this really about?”
“It’s not fair!” Syllevella burst out. “My people have studied the Ath-Tel’Quessir for generations! Then this,” she gestured wildly at Harry who was leaning around Arthalian to see what was going on, “this child comes along, claiming to be able to read it just like that. And you just give him a priceless Ath-Tel artifact! Why does he get everything handed to him on a silver platter!”
Arthalian suddenly realized what the real problem was. Syllevella had always been acknowledged as one of the leading magical minds of her generation. She was quick to pick up spells and other magical minutiae and was described as inventive in their application. She was used to being the one with the answers in her peer group, and in the last few years had been spending half of her time in the elven realm as a leader of her peers and the other half in the human realm as the lowest in the pecking order due to her age.
Now a child was besting her in a field in which she had always prided herself on her mastery. Syllevella and Garlavel had traded places only the day before the infans animus had activated, so she had yet to settle into her place with them again. Normally he and the others put up with her temper during the re-integration process, she was the youngest after all and because of that some of her behaviour was overlooked rather than challenged. And he was the worst offender, as the leader discipline was his responsibility. He squared his shoulders. Well, this self-aggrandizement would stop now.
“Harry,” Arthalian said, crouching in front of his son, deliberately turning his back on Syllevella, trusting his safety to his other companions while in this exposed position “how old were you when you went through the Death Veil?”
“Thirty one.” Came the subdued answer. Right, well that explained a few things, but what Harry had no way of knowing was that for an elf that was still very young. Arthalian would have a lot to explain later.
“Thirty one. For future reference Harry, elves aren’t considered adult until they reach at least a hundred. One of the ways that an adult elf differs from a child is the standard of behaviour that they are expected to adhere to. One of those standards, one of the most important ones, is governance of temper and how that relates to other elves, especially those who haven’t yet gained their majority. Which is ninety years of age by the way. Children sometimes lash out after all, but adults are expected to exercise control over their emotions.
“So what we have all been witnesses to today is a purportedly adult elf breaking several principles of decency, launching an unprovoked attack on an elf not even halfway to his majority. She followed that up by insulting a goblin, a representative of a race that we elves have always enjoyed cordial relations with. Not only did she insult him, she did it badly. All as part of what appears to be a tantrum that someone has beaten her at something.
“In short, she has exhibited behaviour that would not be out of place for a child of the age you appear to be. I must accept a portion of the responsibility as the leader of this group, as I have allowed worsening behaviour in the past to pass without comment. The question now becomes how to handle this situation.” Arthalian couldn’t see how Syllevella was responding to his dressing down, but he could see both Finnath and Caeldabryn, who as Harry’s closest present blood kin had sat to either side of him in a defensive move neither of them likely even thought about.
Caeldabryn was watching Syllevella with his usual bored expression. Arthalian was not deceived, Caeldabryn spent his entire life on alert and would be ready to intercept any attack a tantrum throwing Sun elf could throw. Finnath was keeping his face admirably placid, but his eyes were lit and his hair darker than usual. He was Syllevella’s usual target when she was testy, and put up with it fairly good naturedly, his slightly wild nature glorying in the verbal thrust and parry. He had clearly already seen where Arthalian was going with this, and his demeanour demonstrated his agreement. Syllevella had been approaching the line for some time now, and today she had just careened over it. You do not attack children.
Harry was still looking withdrawn and subdued, gripping the Math-leri with white-knuckled fingers, and Arthalian hoped that Syllevella’s tantrum hadn’t just destroyed the trust that Harry had so easily granted the elves. Harry seemed to have the knowledge and intelligence of his thirty one years, but a lot of his mannerisms and instinctive reactions fit with the age of the body he inhabited. He was clearly fearful about Arthalian’s reaction to his news that he was from an alternate universe, and Arthalian wanted to get Syllevella sorted out and the Math-leri in place so that he could more plainly reassure his son. He decided to wrap this up quicker than he really should.
“Well, if Syllevella cannot be trusted to behave as an adult, then we cannot treat her as one. And since a child of thirty one is showing more dignity and grace than she is, we have some measure of where to place an estimation of her control. I think perhaps Rody and Hal should assume guardianship of Syllevella until she can correct what appears to be a serious gap in her education.”
Arthalian twisted his body so that he could see Marodena, receiving her nod of acquiescence. She was the most controlled elf Arthalian had ever met, and she was perfect for this task. He turned back to his son.
“I want to assure you Harry, that you did nothing wrong, nothing to deserve being attacked. As Syllevella proved herself when she went on to attack Mornuk, you were a random target, picked only because of your perceived vulnerability.” Harry perked up slightly at his fathers assurance that the attack was not personal, for all that it had sounded that way. Arthalian smirked at his son. “She would do well to remember that not only are you considered a child at thirty one years of age, you are also the first and currently only grandchild of the rulers of two domains.”
Arthalian rose from his crouch, and reseated himself with Harry back on his lap.
“Mornuk, please accept my apologies for the rude behaviour of the child we brought with us.” Arthalian said politely to the openly amused goblin. “I assure you her education will be seen to, and when we feel she has learned what she needs to, I’m sure she will apologize on her own behalf.” He looked back down at Harry.
“Now, where were we when we were so rudely interrupted? Ah yes. The Math-leri. You were saying that it’s accepted you?” Arthalian smiled at his slightly stunned looking son. “Can you just put it on, or is there some long involved ritual that should be performed?”
Harry quite clearly dragged his attention back to the stone disk in his hand, some of his earlier excitement returning.
“No, well, not long and involved in any case.” Harry got down from Arthalian’s lap, and walked two steps to stand beside Caeldabryn. He handed the Math-leri to his kinsman, and bowed his head.
Caeldabryn carefully placed the Math-leri around Harry’s neck, arranging the knotted leather against his skin comfortably. Harry guided Caeldabryn’s large hand around the disk, placing his own small hand on top. Then he reached up and kissed Caeldabryn on his cheek, whispering something in his ear. Caeldabryn smiled and whispered something back causing Harry to laugh out loud, and leap on top of the blond elf for a hug.
Arthalian found himself staring in shock. A quick glance around showed four other stunned faces seeking some sort of explanation. Mornuk just looked amused again. Arthalian was starting to think he was an imposter. Goblins did not do amused, and even if they did it certainly wasn’t with this kind of regularity.
When Arthalian’s son had finished hugging the most efficient killing machine the Lythari had produced in centuries, he turned around on Caeldabryn’s lap, and the rest of the room could see that the Math-leri had lit up, blinking through several sequences of the carvings rather reminiscent of the way the control panel of a jet plane did while idling. And Arthalian mentally lambasted Finnath again for that one. That had been a truly terrifying experience, and now that he came to think about Finnath had never really paid for it. Maybe that was something fun he and Harry could do together.
Realizing that he had let his mind wander off down the garden path, Arthalian decided to bring the conversation back on track. Or his mind anyway. To what they were supposed to be talking about, rather than what was on the top of his mind, which was why was Harry still on Caeldabryn’s lap? Feeling a little jealous, Arthalian finally got to the point.
“Right.” Arthalian’s voice came out a little croaky, so he cleared his throat and started again. “Right. So Harry, you went through the Death Veil? Would you object to telling us why?”
Harry sighed unhappily, and Arthalian suddenly saw the advantage of being able to see his son’s expressions.
“Actually, I can do one better.” Harry declared. He smiled slightly, and explained. “The Math-leri has a function that allows me to show you my memories, and no matter how long the memory is it will take just over two minutes.”
“That’s pretty impressive.” Arthalian said, and was just opening his mouth to ask how they went about this when Harry spoke up again.
“They won’t be fun.” Harry was looking down at the Math-leri, avoiding the eyes of everyone in the room. “I can’t ask everyone to watch, but it really is the best way to explain everything. And it won’t work for goblins, sorry Mornuk, but if you can get hold of a pensieve I can give you the highlights, and you can show Ragnok.”
Mornuk nodded his agreement, and Arthalian looked around at the others.
“What do you think?” He asked. “No one has to watch if they don’t want to.”
“If you don’t object Harry, I’ll watch.” Finnath said at the same time as Caeldabryn said something quietly to Harry. Harry nodded, and Marodena leaned forward in her chair.
“If you are not concerned about the invasion of your privacy Harry, Hal and I would be honoured to share this with you.”
“No, that’s fine. Thank you.” Harry responded. He hesitated slightly, and then looked Syllevella in the eyes for the first time since she verbally attacked him. “It’s really not recommended for use with children, but I’ll be happy to share when you’re older.”
He looked away again quickly, and Arthalian was forced to turn the laugh that erupted into a cough. It appeared to be contagious, as Marodena and Halvaden were both coughing, and even Caeldabryn had to clear his throat.
Finnath and Mornuk were openly sniggering, and Arthalian decided that maybe it was best not to look at Syllevella. He was rather glad that Harry seemed to have recovered so well, and he obviously felt comfortable teasing Syllevella, which was a good sign that the trust between them had not been irreparably damaged. Arthalian decided to cautiously hope for the best.
“Alright, so it may be easiest to do this sitting on the floor.” Harry said, looking around. “Everyone who’s watching will need to touch the stone disk, and as I said it will take just over two minutes. I don’t know what happens after I start it, whether you will stay upright or not, or even if you have to be touching it for the whole time.”
Well, that sounded sensible. Harry sat on the floor and Arthalian, Caeldabryn, Finnath, Marodena and Halvaden arranged themselves around him. They each reached forth and touched a finger to the stone.
“Ready?” Harry asked them. “Well, here goes.”
The five elves surrounding him closed their eyes as Harry sent the request to the math-leri. He could feel his energy running into and through the disk, and it palpably cooled to the touch. He could see sections of the carving lighting up, and at his question the math-leri was explaining what each section meant, and how they were affecting the memory transfer.
When he had first touched the ancient stone artifact, Harry had felt his magic recognize it. It was if a place in his head that he had never known about had been uncovered, it had always been there, only hidden from him.
After Harry’s magic and that of the math-leri had touched and measured each other, the device had communicated its function to him, although Harry could not explain exactly how. The math-leri had been crafted as a teaching tool for children with dangerously strong magical gifts, called ‘chosen of the gods’ by a race of advanced elves devoted to learning.
It reminded Harry quite a bit of a computer with an advanced user interface, the sort of thing he had read about in science fiction novels. The math-leri was sapient, but not truly sentient. It could reason and adapt, and it integrated and stored the information that each user had available, expanding it’s capabilities. It was an incredibly sophisticated device.
Much of the information collected by the math-leri over the eons wouldn’t be relevant here in the human realm, and other than helping him regulate his magic and alerting him to perceived threats, the device would not act of it’s own accord. It could answer questions with the information available, and help solve problems, and even teach lessons tailored to the capability of the ev-lera (the common term for an elven child who wears a math-leri).
Part of its function was protective, it monitored the ev-lera and alerted them to both internal and external dangers. Apparently Ath-Tel children were intensely curious, and the more magical the child the more trouble they could get into. The math-leri was able to communicate lighting fast with its ev-lera, presenting options to resolve dangerous situations.
A math-leri chooses to bond with a wearer making them into ev-lera based on specific criteria. Only a kinsman can put a math-leri on a child, and once activated it will only come off once the child has full and conscious control over their magic. Previous ev-lera had gone on to be the innovators and leaders of the Ath-Tel’Quessir, strong, wise, and compassionate. Harry was honoured to be an ev-lera, as had each one who had worn this math-leri before him.
Harry looked up from the math-leri (at its prompting) timing it so that he would see his father and his arvenai open their eyes. Arthalian’s manner prior to the memory transfer had seemed to indicate that he didn’t hold it against him that he wasn’t his real son, but that wasn’t the only thing Harry was concerned about.
He wanted to stay and try and turn the wizarding world around, franchise the disenfranchised as Luna used to say. Releasing Sirius, dealing with Dumbledore, all of that could be achieved fairly quickly in the grand scheme of things. It was the rest that would take time, and he especially wanted to make things better for Luna and Neville, the two best people he had known in the last timeline. Or at least, the best people he had known well, for all he knew he’d been on speaking terms with a saint and wasn’t aware of it.
But he didn’t know if his father would agree with him. He knew from when Hecate had showed him Arthalian speaking to the Wise Ones that he was currently too young to safely traverse the portals, so he would be staying here on earth. The question was, where? Would the elves think helping the wizarding world was a good idea, or would they want to wash their hands of it?
Five pairs of eyes snapped open, and the magic of the elves surrounding him was suddenly crackling with intensity. Arthalian grabbed Harry’s attention as his wings snapped out and extended to their fullest, brushing the walls before retracting back to loom threateningly behind his back. All of a sudden Arthalian looked incredibly dangerous. If Harry had been unable to feel the infans animus thrumming with love, protection and grief, he would have found his father quite frightening.
Harry flailed a bit as he was dragged into a tight embrace, his face crushed against Arthalian’s shirt. Those dark wings enveloped him once more, and he could feel his father’s heartbeat racing beneath his cheek. Arthalian’s whole body was trembling with reaction, so Harry wiggled until he could wrap his arms around his father. He tried to send soothing feelings down the infans animus, but having never done it before he didn’t know if he was doing it right. They sat that way for a while, until Arthalian was able to calm himself down.
When Arthalian finally released him and banished his wings to wherever they came from, Harry was finally able to see Finnath, Marodena, Halvaden and Caeldabryn. He had missed their initial reactions, and now if it weren’t for the tightly controlled body language he would think they were fine. But they obviously weren’t. Harry was absently fiddling with the stone disk around his neck, wishing he could do something to help them, when the math-leri made a suggestion. Harry gave an internal shrug. Hugging people wasn’t something that came naturally to him, but he could see that there might be some benefit.
He smiled at his father, and then moved to Finnath, reaching out to hug him. Once more he was dragged into a crushing embrace, although Finnath didn’t release his wings. Harry’s magic swirled around them both comfortingly, soothing the rough edges of Finnath’s distress, calming him before moving on to Marodena. When he finally made it around the circle to Caeldabryn the magic in the room had subsided, although it was more a feeling that it had been leashed, rather than dismissed.
“Arthalian, I wish to speak to you informally as the father of my kinsman.” Caeldabryn was the first to say anything, and everyone paid attention as they always did when he spoke up. Caeldabryn was notorious wherever he was known for his guarded manner, he often kept his own counsel and it took a long time to earn his trust.
“Of course, Cal. Speak your mind.” Arthalian replied curiously.
“I want to create an infans animus bond with Harry. Do I have your permission?” Caeldabryn’s voice was steady, he might have been asking for permission to water the garden for all the expression in his voice.
“Me too!” Finnath interjected before Arthalian could respond. “That’s a great idea Cal. Please, Arthalian, we need to know we can find him if anything happens to you. Albus bloody Dumbledore might be able to take out one of us, if he’s lucky, but there’s no way he can get all three.”
Arthalian glared at his cousin.
“I can see the advantages very well for myself, thank you Finn.” He said with some annoyance. “If you had given me the opportunity to speak, you would have heard me agree to it. It’s Harry’s decision in the end of course, but I have no objections.”
“Harry, will you agree to let us create kinship bonds with you?” Finnath asked. “It will mean we are each connected to you for as long as we live. The bond won’t have the same strength as the one you have with Arthalian, but since we are both here to recognize it we can shore it up so that you can never be hidden from us. It will be as though I am Arthalian’s brother, and Cal is your mother’s.”
Harry appreciated Finnath not using the word Uncle. He couldn’t use that term with out thinking of Vernon, and he didn’t want that horrible excuse for a human being associated with two elves that he was pretty sure he would love fairly soon, given how easy the infans animus had made it to love Arthalian.
“So, I can’t be hidden from you, and neither of you will be able to be hidden from me, right?” Harry asked curiously. Hermione used to say he had a ‘saving people thing’, and Harry knew she was right.
“That’s right.” Finnath nodded. “Although, you’re not to come rescuing us until you’re at least a hundred, or I’ll unleash my most powerful weapon on you.”
“What’s that?” Harry asked.
“My mother.” Finnath answered. Harry saw Arthalian give an involuntary shudder, and looked curiously back at Finnath.
“He knows.” Finnath said with mock solemnity. “Trust in your father, Harry, avoid the wrath of Harlvacath of Moreithil. It’s really not worth it.”
“What’s not worth it?” Harry was a little skeptical. How awful could she be? Finnath was nice enough, and didn’t seem irreparably damaged.
“Any of it! Tell him, Arthalian!” Arthalian frowned at his cousin.
“Stop making my mother’s cousin out to be a monster, Finn. And Harry, Finn’s right, it isn’t worth it. Harlvacath would put you to bed and feed you soup, and fluff your pillows, and read you stories, she’s almost impossible to escape from and it goes on for weeks if she thinks you’ve been even slightly hurt or emotionally damaged. Best just to avoid her until you at least reach your majority.” Arthalian shuddered again in remembered horror, and Harry had to agree. That sounded terrible, in an incredibly kind and benevolent way.
“Right. I’ll keep that in mind Finn.” Harry said and then returned to the point of the conversation. “And yes to the bond. With both of you, that would be great.”
“Good.” Caeldabryn nodded briefly. “The sooner we get that done the happier I’ll be. Arthalian, I suggest that Rody, Hal and Syllevella go and make the steading ready while we finish up here. We need to get our defenses organized as soon as possible.”
“Thank you, yes.” Arthalian answered, grateful for the advice.
“The closest steading would be Overlea, yes?” Arthalian glanced around to get confirmation from the others. “Mornuk, is there a map of the country we could look at?”
When Mornuk had produced the map, Arthalian unrolled it and examined it.
“Yes, it’s here in what’s now Lower Tadfield. Hal, take Rody and Syllevella and open it up. While you’re there, get in touch with the Wise Ones and let them know that we’ll want the permanent gate stationed there.” Arthalian looked at the raised eyebrows around him. “What? The Wise Ones began constructing a permanent gate before we even left Thystaesi. There was no point in placing it until we knew where we were going to settle. I think Harry has made it clear he would like to… assist… with matters here in England, and Overlea is a perfectly acceptable base. Does anyone object?”
Syllevella started to say something, but Marodena shushed her, and Halvaden frowned at her. Everyone else ignored her.
“Agreed.” Halvaden said to Arthalian. “We’ll head out as soon as Syllevella takes down the hunting spell, and we’ll message you when we’ve made sure Overlea is secure.” Halvaden then took Harry’s small hand in his large one, and looked into his eyes. “You did extremely well with the tools you had available, Harry of England, and you are a credit to all three of your parents. It will be an honour to travel with you and be your companion. If it were possible for the infans animus to extend outside of blood kin, Rody and I would ask for it in a heartbeat.”
Harry blushed, and shyly thanked him. He wasn’t used to receiving honest praise from people he respected. In the last universe the majority of the wizarding world had seemed to feel he needed help keeping his ego in check despite all evidence to the contrary, and sincere affirmation was generally sparse or quickly followed up with qualifiers.
By the time Halvaden released Harry’s hand, and Marodena had hugged him again and kissed him on the forehead, Syllevella had released the spell and the three elves were ready to leave.
“How are you getting there?” Harry asked, since no one else had mentioned it.
“We will take a taxi.” Marodena replied. “We’ll be there in less than an hour unless we hit traffic, and as soon as we’ve ensured that it’s secure, we can alert Arthalian so that you can shift there.”
“I’ll wait to ask about shifting.” Harry said with a smile. “First I want Mornuk’s advice on helping get Sirius free.”
“About that Harry,” Finnath said as soon as the others had left. “It might be a good idea for us to go and get Pettigrew as soon as possible. I’m sure that between us Cal and I can make off with him.” The smile he exchanged with Caeldabryn was almost feral.
“You mean, flush him out and chase him and catch him?” Harry asked, a bit amused at the eagerness they were showing. “Wouldn’t it be easier to walk up to the front door and offer to buy him?”
“Well, if you want to be sensible about it Harry.” Finnath grumbled aggrievedly. “Arthalian, you’ve clearly passed your fuddy duddy genes on here. Cal and I will have to do what we can, someone so young being so reasonable, it just isn’t right.”
“You think Cal is going to help you teach my son to be irresponsible?” Arthalian asked in amusement. Harry was watching avidly. “Have you even met him?”
“Not irresponsible!” Finnath defended himself. “Just… perhaps a little less cautious.”
Harry and Caeldabryn exchanged a speaking glance and Harry went over and sat beside him. He motioned with his head towards Arthalian and Finnath.
“Do they do this a lot?” Harry enquired.
“Generally not when the others are around.” Caeldabryn replied. “I think Arthalian feels it would diminish his status as leader. And with that annoying Sun elf, it might have.”
Harry still wasn’t sure what to think of Syllevella. She had seemed so open and warm, and then all of a sudden she was spiteful and nasty. He’d never known anyone to do a one-eighty like that. He believed Arthalian when he said that it wasn’t about him, not really, but it was still hard not to expect a follow up attack. Ah well, he would just do his best to not be left alone with her.
As he listened to Arthalian and Finnath argue the differences between recklessness, fun, caution and stultification, with divergences into the levels of merit in such pastimes as wyvern baiting and something that Finnath called meltew counting, Harry let his gaze travel to Mornuk who was quietly reading through some papers, occasionally making a mark on a separate sheet with a self inking quill. Every now and again, when one of the two bickering elves made an especially snotty remark his eyebrow twitched, but that was the only sign he was paying attention at all. Harry couldn’t help but wonder what he thought of all of this, it must seem like a frivolous waste of time. He cleared his throat, drawing everyone’s attention.
“Sirius? I was hoping to set the ball rolling on that as soon as possible.” Harry hated the thought of his godfather locked up one day longer than he needed to be.
Mornuk put down his parchment as the four elves in the visitation chamber gathered closer together around the table.
“As you say, Lord Potter.” The goblin said expressionlessly. “Now, you know that as your account manager I can’t help you with this?”
“Of course, Mornuk.” Harry smiled at him. “And do you think you will be ready to finish work for the day soon?”
“As it happens, Lord Potter, I’m finishing up right now. Have a good evening, please let me know when you will require my services again.” Mornuk gave a small bow, and then gathering his papers, he exited the room, closing the door gently behind him.
“What?” Finnath said, looking stunned.
“Harry, I thought you said you wanted his advice?” Arthalian asked, also appearing surprised. Caeldabryn’s mouth twitched. Harry laughed.
“When did the memories stop?” He asked. Although he was fairly certain, he wanted to confirm they hadn’t seen his initial meeting with the goblins.
“When you said goodbye to Sirius and Hecate.” Finnath responded, still looking towards the door. “I suppose we missed something that would make sense of this?”
“Goblins aren’t allowed to sell their services as legal representatives, or advisors for anything other than wealth handling, property warding and curse-breaking.” Harry told them. “There’s probably some legal leeway given my age, and the fact that I’m not actually human but an elf, but Ragnok agreed that it was best as far as the Ministry of Magic is concerned to tie things up legally as tightly as possible. So Mornuk, account manager to the Potter Holdings cannot advise me. However, Mornuk, private citizen and my personal friend will probably be along shortly, and who knows what we may discuss?”
“Sneaky.” Finnath said approvingly, and Harry could feel pride flowing through the bond with his father. He basked in that feeling for a moment, and then remembered the discussion about the other bonds.
“So, how do we create these bonds? Will it be hard?” Harry was looking forward to taking part in something elvish, he couldn’t wait to start learning more about his true heritage. He was even more excited than when he had found out he was a wizard, this time around he had people on his side, people here specifically for him rather than just being shoved in the deep end and expected to swim.
“It’s not hard at all Harry.” Arthalian reassured him. “Basically, both parties need to be bleeding, and then you combine magic and mix it with the blood. Traditionally the older of the two initiates the bond, which is just giving intent to the blood mixing.
“All you really need to do is welcome the magic, and allow first Finn and then Cal to guide it. Once the bond is settled, which will take a couple of days, you can sit down with each of them and strengthen it. We may as well do this now. Cal, if you would?”
Caeldabryn extended his hand, the nail on his index finger sharpening into a razor sharp point. Harry and Finnath both carefully sliced their thumbs, and then rubbed them together, smearing the blood. Harry’s magic welcomed Finnath’s somewhat hyperactive magic joyously, and he felt a warm rush as the bond manifested. When Finnath released his magic, Harry couldn’t contain himself, and threw himself into his kinsman’s arms for a hug. He already really liked both of them, and with the bond he knew that Finnath wouldn’t reject him, would welcome him in fact. He could feel Finnath’s fierce love and strong desire to wreak vengeance on his behalf, and tried to send him his happiness and affection through the bond.
“Wow.” Finnath opened his eyes wide in wonder as Harry disentangled himself. “That’s some pretty strong magic you have there, Harry.”
“Told you.” Arthalian said smugly. “You all thought I was just a doting father.”
“Yes, yes, you were right and we were wrong.” Finnath muttered. “You don’t need to go on about it.”
“Go on about it?” Arthalian asked indignantly. “I barely mentioned it. Not like that time when…”
“Right.” Harry interrupted loudly, wanting to get this done. Just then there was a knock at the door, and Mornuk came through.
“Ah Harry.” He said. “It came to my attention that you might be here. Do you have time for me stop by and chat?”
“Of course Mornuk.” Harry replied. “And how is your family doing?”
“Not bad, Harry, not bad.” Mornuk grinned toothily. “We’ve recently had a bit of luck, I’ve pulled a rather prestigious job, so everyone’s rather pleased at present.”
“Glad to hear it Mornuk.” Harry responded. “Do you mind waiting for our discussion until me and Cal create our bond?”
“Not at all Harry. Bond away.” Mornuk settled himself comfortably in the chair next to Finnath, watching the proceedings with interest.
When the bond to Caeldabryn manifested Harry was surprised that along with the rush of love and fierce desire to protect, there was also a feeling of immense strength that was almost equaled by a deep feeling of loneliness. Harry didn’t know what made him so sure, but it was clear to him that aside from the bond they had just created, Caeldabryn had no bonds. Harry was fiercely glad that he’d hugged Finnath, or he might have felt self conscious tackling Caeldabryn. He did his best to send his affection, gratitude and respect along the newly opened link, and was pleased to feel something inside his newly bonded kinsman relax infinitesimally.
“Okay.” Harry said when he felt the hugging had probably gone on long enough. “Sirius. What ideas do you have Mornuk?”