Privet Drive, Surrey – 21 December 1985 – 2.03am
Harry awoke to a sight he knew well. Having spent ten years sleeping in this cupboard, it was still the most familiar place to awaken. Years after he had left Privet Drive for the final time, he had continued to be startled upon awaking in a different location. He had once spoken of it to Luna, and she had told him that if he slept in a nargle-free environment, he might find sleeping (and also waking) easier.
He had spoken to Luna again after the potions, spells and core bindings had been found, and from her answer, he realized that she had known that something was wrong, but not what. She had been taught very harshly that people did not appreciate the vague advice that she could offer, and so stopped giving it long before Harry had befriended her. Harry understood. Lessons learnt young were difficult to overcome.
Not only was he in his cupboard, he was also in significant pain, which fit with what Hecate had told him. Since being left with the Dursleys he had done very little accidental magic, as the wards he was powering greatly depleted what magic he had available. As far as Hecate could discern, his magic was currently unbound, or if his magic had been blocked there would only be the one binding. He currently had more magic available than either he or the previous Harry had at this age, as he was no longer supporting the soul fragment that had been leeching off his magic. Which was good, he would need that extra magic if he was to succeed in leaving this place.
Judging by the lack of light around the cracks in the door to his cupboard, Harry judged it to be night, which was good because he had things to do. Fitting his fingers between the door and the floor, Harry gave the small lift and twist movement that disengaged the latch holding the cupboard closed. Opening it cautiously he peered around the edge. Sure enough, it was dark, with only moonlight showing through the panes by the front door. Harry crept through to look at the clock in the kitchen. The glow from the moon outside gave enough light for him to see that it was just after 2.00am. Perfect.
Moving quietly Harry went up the stairs, ignoring the pain from his injuries out of long habit. He winced at the slight creak of the door to the attic stairs, but there was no sound from either of the occupied bedrooms, so he continued on up. He knew what he was looking for, and he knew where he expected to find it. In his previous life he hadn’t come across the trunk his mother had left there until well after he had left Hogwarts. Dudley had let him know that Petunia and Vernon were moving, and that Petunia had told him that she wanted it gone.
It was under a rune-based notice-me-not ward, and could only be seen by people who knew it was there. If you hadn’t been told of it’s existence, the only way to find it was by the detection charms that ward-breakers regularly used when searching tombs in Egypt. But this time around Harry knew it was there, and he wanted the things that he had found in it last time.
It was dark in the attic, and Harry dared not use his magic to make a light in case Dumbledore had set detectors for accidental magic. However, magic for enhancement of bodily tissue and metamorphic magic were internal, and therefore could not be picked up by external sensor spells. Harry sat on the floor and closing his eyes, entered the meditative state that would allow him to manipulate his magic. This was a largely mental exercise so his immature body and magic did not impede it, although the amount of pain he was in did. On reaching his core he pulled magic directly to his eyes. Holding the connection, he opened his eyes to a room that was lit with the ambient magic supplied by the wards he was maintaining. In one corner, lit by the yellow glow of the notice-me-not runic array was the trunk he was looking for.
Upon opening it, Harry had to suppress a cheer. As he had hoped, Petunia had stored every single item she had that related to the magical world in the trunk in order to keep them hidden. All the letters Lily had sent and everything from Dumbledore. Alongside them there was a copy of James and Lily’s will, a letter for Sirius, one for Remus, one for Peter (Harry only just stopped himself from setting that one on fire immediately) and a thick packet for Harry.
There was also Lily’s personal grimoire, sealed with a blood rune and sent to the trunk via what appeared to be a rather ingenious transport array, set to trigger after the grimoire had been unopened for thirty five days. Since Harry knew from experience that the best way for a witch or wizard to bind a grimoire to them self required a drop of blood every full moon, this meant that if it was stolen the failsafe would kick in before anyone had time to dismantle the blood rune. Beside it sat her jewelry box, another blood warded item.
In many ways it appeared that Lily had been gambling on Petunia’s aversion to magic and anything connected with it to keep the trunk safe, and it was clearly a gamble that had paid off almost too well. It was only the fear of others finding it after the Dursleys had left Privet Drive that had led Petunia to divulge it’s existence.
Harry sat back and thought briefly. He needed to go to Gringotts, and since he had little desire to ever return to the Dursleys, he should take the trunk with him. But if he was to try shrinking and lightening spells, any magic detectors would activate. He glanced absently at the contents again, gaze sharpening on the transport array. What if…
He crept downstairs stopped by the kitchen and then went into what Vernon laughably called his office, returning to the attic with a small knife, a ballpoint pen and an almost unused legal pad. One thing he had discovered during his research into runes, was that the reason inherently strong or magical materials were used in rune crafting was for longevity. Because few people knew how to properly create them, runic arrays were generally purchased at a high price. Flimsy arrays that would be destroyed on their first use, or would degrade over a relatively short period of time (for a wizard that generally means a year or less) were deemed impractical, and then over time (most likely as apprentices were told they couldn’t make them without being told the reason why) it devolved to the rule that you must never use anything other than stone or the magical metals. And as every runes teacher stressed that using anything else couldn’t and shouldn’t be attempted, no one ever bothered attempting it.
Hermione had once told him that a lot of the greatest wizards didn’t have an ounce of logic, and Harry had over time refined that theory. Wizards (or witches for that matter) had very little logic or common sense, and the more muggleborns used magic the more the common sense and logic dribbled out of their brains. He had noticed that the majority of magic users treated their magic either as if it was a half wild dog, able to be somewhat trained but on the whole unpredictable and therefore to be used sparingly (like a lot of muggleborns), or like an unthinking tool with preset boundaries that needed to be followed.
In the last few years before entering the veil Harry had become accustomed to immersing himself in his magic, and had discovered that if he contemplated what he wanted to achieve in this state he could generally get a feel of the right way to go about it. His magic was part of him, instinctual and dedicated to his welfare. He had learned to listen to it and loved the feel of it swirling around and through him, reacting to his surroundings and warning him of danger.
At this point in time however, his core was being depleted almost as fast as it was filled, by the drain caused by the wards Dumbledore had set. What was left over was almost always required for healing. Creating a rune set for transportation required no active magic as along as he used his blood as an anchor. He quickly drew what he required on two sheets of paper, and using the knife smeared both sheets with his blood. With a great deal of effort, he lifted one side of the trunk and slid the exit runes face up underneath it, doing his best not to just drop the trunk on to of it. He rested for a moment, and then took the letters and a ring from the jewelry box before closing and locking it again.
Creeping downstairs again, Harry grabbed Dudley’s oversized woolen coat, put on the gloves and shoes the Dursleys had been unable to avoid getting him, and stopped to look for a last time at the cupboard that had been both prison and refuge to him for so long. If everything went as he hoped, he would never have to come here ever again.
Unlocking the front door, Harry eased outside, closing it gently behind him. He put on Dudley’s winter coat, and took a deep breath of the frigid air. Then he left without looking back.
The next morning, Harry entered Gringotts and made his way over to a teller with no customer. The goblin looked up from his task and grunted.
“Well? What do you want?” The goblin asked perfunctorily.
“I am an orphan. My parents held accounts here. I wish to speak in private with someone who can help me. Here is my surety that I am not wasting time.” Harry held out the ring he took from the jewelry box in his mother’s trunk for scrutiny. The goblin lifted a glass to examine the stone, then motioned Harry towards a door flanked by two armed goblins.
“Wait in there. An account manager will see you.” The goblin said brusquely, and then went back to his task.
On the other side of the door was a small room containing a table and four chairs. In the centre of the table two stone slabs carved with runes were set into the surface. Immediately opposite the entrance was another door. The room was bare of any decoration, and the table and chairs were utilitarian and didn’t look very comfortable. Harry sat in the chair closest to the door he came through and studied the runes on the stone slabs. They appeared to be standard transport runes, and from what he could tell one slab would transport things in, the other out. Just as he started to decipher the rune limiting volume, the far door opened.
As a goblin entered Harry rose and made a shallow bow in his direction. The goblin raised his eyebrows, and looked at the young boy carefully. Inclining his head, the goblin spoke.
“I am Mornuk. What do you want?” Mornuk’s voice was gruff.
“May I have an assurance of confidentiality?” Harry asked. Mornuk frowned.
“You find goblins untrustworthy? You doubt our honour?” He growled. Harry remained calm and shook his head.
“I would ask this of anyone that I would speak business with, regardless of race, gender, age or reputation. I have enemies with a long reach, and no wish to alert them.” Harry explained. Mornuk appeared skeptical.
“A human so young has powerful enemies? You waste my time!” Mornuk appeared ready to leave. Harry held the ring out so that Mornuk could see it.
“Half an hour under confidentiality oath. If you find me a waste of time, take the ring and depart. If not, we can do business.” Harry stood there with the ring in his extended hand. Mornuk raised an examining glass from somewhere to examine it. He grunted, and then gestured for Harry to sit, seating himself after.
“Very well. What oath do you require?” Harry handed him a piece of paper with the oath he had worked out written on it, with a space for a name, date and a signature. The oath was fairly basic, outlining that anything discussed would be held confidential until Harry gave permission. Mornuk’s eyebrows went up again, and after reading it through pulled a blood quill from a drawer on his side of the table. He filled in his name, the date and time, and then signed it before passing it back it Harry, who took a deep breath and plunged right in.
“I am Harry Potter. My legal magical guardian, Sirius Black, has been imprisoned illegally without trial. Albus Dumbledore in his capacity as Chief Warlock is complicit with Sirius Black’s illegal incarceration. In the will of James Potter it was clearly stated that Peter Pettigrew was their secret keeper, and that Sirius Black as my oathbound godfather was to have custody of me should both my parents die. Albus Dumbledore cast the fidelus charm for my family. He signed the will as executor and then as Chief Warlock ordered it sealed. He then illegally placed me with Petunia and Vernon Dursley, who were not only excluded by name from receiving custody of me, but also disowned, so that they were unable to apply for compensation from the estate.
“I need to ensure that only those specified by my parents have access to any vaults held under my name. I need a reckoning of all that I have inherited, and what has been done with it since my parents died. I need to put into motion the exoneration of my godfather Sirius Black, and I need a full health scan and probably treatment. And I need all this kept in complete confidence so that nothing can get back to Albus Dumbledore before I am out of his grasp.” Harry sighed. “Can Gringotts help me?”
Mornuk had looked steadily at Harry throughout his recitation. He waited several long moments before replying.
“We will require blood verification before we can proceed. That will cost a minimum of ten galleons. Also, I will require the permission of Ragnok to set the Secrecy Seal on your accounts. Under Secrecy all who have taken the Gringotts oath will be unable to communicate anything of your accounts with anyone who has not also taken the oath unless you specifically allow. This includes all Gringotts related documentation. It will remain blank to outsiders without your permission. Blood verification?” Mornuk had taken out parchment and quill and was writing as he spoke. At the question he looked back at Harry, who was unable to disguise his relief.
“Yes.” Harry answered. “And when blood verification proves my identity, I agree to petition for the Secrecy Seal. Do you require me to take any oaths of truth telling?” Mornuk grinned toothily, and started on a second parchment.
“No goblin can be lied to without detection. As you believe everything you have just said to be true, we first ensure secrecy, then we corroborate facts. And while we cannot disclose to you details of other vault holders, we can investigate on our own behalf and make our own decisions accordingly.” He finished his writing and placed the first parchment on one of the stone slabs. Pressing a ring on his left hand to the transport rune caused the parchment to disappear. Harry was fascinated.
“I imagine that someone trying that without a rune engraved goblin ring might find themselves in difficulty?” Harry asked. Mornuk smirked.
“You are welcome to try it and find out.” The goblins tone was smug, and Harry laughed. “You are exceedingly well informed and articulate for a human not yet six years of age.” Harry sobered, and mindful that goblins could spot a lie replied.
“I am not yet ready to speak all my secrets, however I can show you these.” He removed his backpack and fished out Lily’s letters to Petunia, still held together by rubber band. He passed them to Mornuk, who inspected the rubber band curiously.
A chime sounded in the room and several items appeared on the second stone slab. Mornuk handed the knife and bowl to Harry, and then started unfolding the parchment.
“For basic identity verification, three drops of blood, and it will cost ten galleons. To also provide a vault listing you will need seven drops of blood and fifteen galleons. It will cost twenty galleons and thirteen drops of blood if you want to include a basic family tree. For a full family tree we would need to use the Ritual chamber, which needs to be booked. That is up to a thousand galleons, depending on several factors. When you are finished, give back the bowl and knife.” Mornuk explained as he pulled another parchment from the drawer.
Harry used the knife to pierce his finger and carefully let seven drops fall into the bowl, then handed everything back to the goblin.
“Vault listing and identity verification today Mornuk. I will want a full family tree done at some stage, so please book the Ritual chamber. This will show all vaults under my name? And all inherited vaults I am eligible for as well?” Harry enquired. Mornuk nodded.
“Yes. Your name and any titles, if underage the name of your magical guardian, also any vaults and properties registered with Gringotts that are yours, and if inherited the name of the previous holder, when they died and how it came to you. Then if you wish you can ask for a vault catalogue and a list of transactions.” Mornuk added six drops of a blue liquid and then six more of a yellow one, stirred the mixture, waved his hand over it and then poured it onto the unfolded parchment. It seemed to be absorbed, soaking into the parchment, and then lines began to spider web out from the centre.
Mornuk examined the completed parchment and then handed it over to Harry. While Harry looked it over, the goblin placed the second parchment he wrote earlier onto the out stone. After it disappeared, he returned his attention to Harry. Harry was looking rather gobsmacked.
“I didn’t…” Harry let himself trail off. What was he supposed to say? ‘No one told me that I held these vaults in my last life’? He swallowed. “The McKinnon’s? They were related to the Potters? The O’Neills? The Cosgroves?” Harry put the verification parchment down. “The last holder of the Cosgrove account died in 1641. Why has no one claimed it?”
Mornuk sighed. As a chime sounded, he glanced at the incoming parchment, then responded.
“In 1620 Balfour Blane led the Wizards Council to pass legislation preventing Gringotts from volunteering inheritance information. I believe it was so several of his political competitors would be unaware of coming into funds, leaving him richer than them. A stupid law that was never repealed, and we are bound to follow legalities to the letter.
“Only if a wizard makes a request for the information are we are allowed to apprise them of their inheritance, and as most wizards are quite specific in their requests, these vaults lie dormant. Since you asked for all accounts, we can give you the information, and finally the gold will be back in circulation. If only all wizards took the heritage test… but there is a perception that it is a waste of gold. Fools. Such a small wager, for potentially large profits.” Mornuk snorted derisively.
Harry thought this over and then decided, why not? What could it hurt? It had worked with Hecate, after all.
“Mornuk!” Harry smiled sweetly. “Please make me aware of any information that may concern me that does not infringe upon the confidentiality that you must uphold for your other clients.” Harry was shocked as Mornuk broke into what must be goblin laughter, almost falling off his chair. He finally got himself under control and had righted himself, his face a rather darker green and his ears flopping limply.
It was at that moment that the door behind Mornuk opened and two armoured goblins holding rather sharp and lethal looking spears marched through, followed by the largest goblin Harry had seen in either life. Harry leapt to his feet, as did Mornuk. It did not take a genius to realize that this was a very important goblin, given the previous conversation it was likely to be Ragnok who from memory was the legion chief. Harry bowed low, as did Mornuk.
“Greetings Lord Potter. I am Ragnok, chief of the legion of goblins residing in Lochrock, which includes what humans call England.” Ragnok inclined his head in Harry’s direction. “Mornuk, allow me to see your thoughts.” Mornuk rose from his bow and approached Ragnok, who extended his hand palm out until it came into contact with the smaller goblin’s forehead. Both goblins closed their eyes.
Ragnok dropped his hand and turned to Harry.
“I, Chief Ragnok of Lochrock agree that you qualify for the Secrecy Seal. Blood Verification has confirmed the identity of your magical guardian, and we are aware that he is illegally incarcerated. As such, as your guardian is unable to be present due to the unlawful actions of both the Ministry of Magic and the Wizengamot, and since you have had no lawfully appointed guardian for longer than a calendar year, we of Gringotts are prepared to accept your emancipation in your dealings with us until such a time as you have a lawful magical guardian available to be consulted. Please accompany Mornuk to a more private chamber to further these discussions. I will place and activate the Secrecy Seal and then will join you there.” Harry bowed again as the great goblin left the room with his guards.
Mornuk rose from his own bow, and gestured for Harry to accompany him.
“This way, Lord Potter.” He started after Ragnok’s group.
“Please address me as Harry, Mornuk, or just Potter if you prefer.” Harry requested as they walked.
“There are proprieties that must be maintained, Lord Potter. It would give the wrong impression of both you and me if all heard me speaking so informally.” Mornuk answered.
“Fair enough.” Harry replied, “Perhaps in private then?”
“Well done, Lord Potter.” Mornuk congratulated Harry. “Always look for the loopholes, implied or not.”
Harry grinned to himself as he accompanied Mornuk along several corridors. This start was better than he could have hoped for. The stupid manner in which wizards had managed to shoot themselves in the foot over the years no longer surprised him. He amused himself by imagining an evolutionary tree like the ones he had seen in muggle encyclopedias showing the progression of man, with wizards several steps back from the muggles. He idly wondered whether the wizarding world had similar charts. Probably not, he decided. He doubted that human magic users would take kindly to the idea of evolution. Most purebloods refused to believe that they were in any way similar to muggles.
Mornuk motioned him through another set of doors into what looked like an office, complete with cabinets, desk and chair. In the front of the room was an oval table surrounded by chairs. There was a name plate on the desk reading Grigglefutz, and behind the desk was a sleeping goblin. Mornuk gave a rather nasty grin.
“Lord Potter, may I introduce you to your account manager Grigglefutz.” Mornuk’s voice was nasty too. Harry looked askance at the sleeping goblin.
“Am I detecting a hint of hostility here, Mornuk? Are you perhaps on bad terms with my account manager?” Harry said wryly. The whole sleeping thing was a really bad look, and Mornuk had already been extremely helpful. “You wouldn’t happen to have any idea how long Grigglefutz has been appointed to this position, would you?”
“You picked that up Lord Potter? You are truly a wise individual. As for how long that worthless meat sack has been your account manager, for about two years now. He was an assistant to the previous account manager until his sudden death. Do you wish for me to wake him?” Mornuk asked reluctantly.
“No.” Harry replied slowly. “No, let’s wait until Ragnok gets here, shall we? If he’s been working so hard that he has to catch up on his sleep in the middle of the day, it would be rude to wake him before he’s needed.”
Mornuk’s grin was savage, and displayed an excellent set of what looked like incredibly sharp teeth.
“What a good idea, Lord Potter. It is refreshing to see a human who understands good business sense. It appears we must wait then. Please, take a seat.” Harry and Mornuk both sat to await Ragnok, who arrived ten minutes later.
Grigglefutz was still asleep when Ragnok entered, preceded by his two guards. Harry and Mornuk both rose to their feet. Ragnok took one look at the sleeping goblin, and barked out a harsh sentence that Harry couldn’t understand. Grigglefutz eyes blinked open sleepily just before he was hauled roughly to his feet and dragged outside by the larger of Ragnok’s guards.
Harry was not an expert in goblin expressions, but he filed the one that flashed across Mornuk’s face away for future reference as smug. Ragnok finished his instructions to his second guard, sending him on his way. As he exited, Harry saw two more guards stationed outside the door.
“Lord Potter, the Secrecy Seal is in place.” Ragnok announced. “It is set for renewal in twenty years, please make an appointment within six months of that date to discuss. Unfortunately your account manager has been involved in a terrible accident, and you will need to appoint a new one. I can have a list of goblins with the requisite skills and availability for your perusal in half an hour.”
Harry only just managed to stop himself from sniggering. How was it he never knew goblins had such great senses of humour? He remembered them as perpetually dour and grumpy. Apparently the right introduction made all the difference. He made a mental note to thank Hecate and Sirius when he could.
“Chief Ragnok, would Mornuk’s name be on that list?” Harry asked glancing sideways at the goblin he had already achieved a rapport with.
“Yes.” Ragnok replied.
“Then I would like him appointed. If he wishes to be, of course.” Harry added, suddenly realizing that he had no idea of why Mornuk may have been on customer service duty. Perhaps he didn’t want to be an account manager?
That smug expression made a more extended appearance on Mornuk’s face.
“I would be delighted to be your account manager Lord Potter.” He answered. Ragnok grunted.
“Very well. Have the contract drawn up.”
Mornuk wrote quickly on some parchment, sent it on its way via one of the transport slabs on the desk.
Ragnok then spoke directly to Harry. “Lord Potter, what are your plans to remove Sirius Black from Azkaban?”
“My tentative plan is to contact the ICW and maybe the muggle government, let them know that Sirius Black has been held without trial in the High Security wing of Azkaban for four years.” Harry replied. “I was hoping the goblins could either advise me on how to go about this, or point me in the direction of a trustworthy solicitor to help me.”
“Goblins are merely wealth handlers, property warders and curse-breakers, Lord Potter.” Ragnok said. “We may not sell our services as advisors or legal representatives to wizards or witches, as was agreed in the Treaty of 1815.”
“Okay.” Harry cocked his head to one side, remembering Hecate telling him about Dumbledore and Grindlewald failing to consider proper wording. “Chief Ragnok, what is the definition of ‘wizard’ under the treaty?”
Mornuk’s eyes gleamed, and Ragnok answered.
“There is no definition of wizard in that particular treaty, Lord Potter.”
“Do you have any other treaties that define wizards as magic users over a certain age, or having certain qualifications? Such as having sat their OWL’s or NEWT’s?” Harry asked.
“There is such a definition in the Treaty of 1683, Lord Potter. What of it?” His ears, standing sharp and cocked slightly in Harry’s direction, belied Ragnok’s steadily impassive countenance. Mornuk was having difficulty keeping his face straight. Both goblins awaited Harry’s reply.
“It appears then that I may not qualify legally as a wizard under the treaties.” Harry said. “In any case, you said that you may not sell those services to wizards or witches. However if certain matters come up in conversation with my friend Mornuk, who also happens to be my very well paid account manager, and he gives me his opinion as a friend then I don’t see any problem. Of course, I am aware that any opinions that Mornuk gives me as my friend could in no way be attributed to the goblin nation or to Gringotts. And how much I value my friend will of course be indicated in how much I pay him to manage my accounts.”
Ragnok’s face cracked. It wasn’t quite a smile, but it was on its way there. Mornuk had turned green, and his ears were drooping significantly.
“You are correct, Lord Potter. As far as legalities go, you are not yet a wizard. However, it may be best to ask Mornuk for his friendly opinions to cover all contingencies. Mornuk would also do well to remember that he is welcome to eat at my table if he has anything he wishes to discuss with me.” Ragnok turned his gaze upon Mornuk, who straightened and acknowledged the thinly veiled order. Ragnok continued. “What services that Gringotts offer were you hoping to avail yourself of at this time?”
Harry considered his immediate needs, and the services Ragnok had listed. He decided that the blood wards were the pressing need, followed by healing, and then he could see about Sirius and finding the elves. He also needed to come up with a disguise and find a place to stay in the interim.
“After my parents death Dumbledore sent me to live with my mother’s sister and her husband.” Harry began, dropping his eyes to his hands, unsure of the best way to say what he needed. “I have been informed that he set blood wards around the property fueled by my mother’s sacrifice, and anchored by the blood ties between the sisters and me. However, I have recently discovered that my mother was adopted, therefore Petunia, her adoptive sister, cannot have anchored the wards in any way.
“Given that my magical guardian has been unlawfully incarcerated and was never able to take custody of me, it seems unlikely that his permission was asked, let alone granted for any blood to be taken from me for warding purposes, and since my parents will excluded the Dursleys by name as being options for placement, they could never have agreed either. I would like to hire the goblins to do an inspection of the property, and make a note of any wards present. If there are blood wards, I wish them to be broken.
“I would also like to be examined for any foreign magic, and if any is found I hope to organize a thorough magical cleansing.” Harry finished, then muttered mostly to himself. “Perhaps I should have a thorough cleansing in any case.” He looked up to see that both Mornuk and Ragnok looked rather fierce.
“Lord Potter, do I have your permission to quickly examine you for the magical drain that such wards would require?” Ragnok was pulling a blue tinted examining glass from somewhere even before Harry managed to give his consent. He briefly raised the glass to his eye, and then broke out in to the same harsh language he had used before, spitting out a sentence before passing the blue glass to Mornuk before sitting back with a thunderous frown on his face.
Mornuk looked through the glass, and then repeated the sentence Ragnok had used. Giving the glass back to his chief, he removed a parchment and quill from the desk that Grigglefutz had been sitting at and began writing. Harry decided he wanted to learn that language.
“Address?!” He barked out, writing down 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey as Harry directed before passing the sheet to Ragnok, who pressed a ring on his left hand to the parchment. The parchment was placed on the outgoing transport slab and sent on it’s way. Mornuk immediately began writing on a second sheet.
“Lord Potter,” Ragnok began, “in the next five minutes, Gringotts curse-breakers will be deployed to the address you provided. They will have been directed to carry out their instructions as discretely and quickly as possible. We should have notification in an hour.” He paused briefly. “Such speedy service is not cheap, Lord Potter, however I assure you that your vaults contain ample funds for your needs were you to live several extravagant lifetimes.”
“That’s fine.” Harry said. “Are you able to do the cleansing? Does that come under curse-breaking?”
Ragnok and Mornuk exchanged glances before Ragnok responded.
“We do not have such a service currently available to clients, as such things have always fallen under the banner of ‘healing’. However, if we were to label the service ‘curse-breaking’ as you suggest, and include in the fine print that such service obligates the client to a full healing scan and treatment at the clients cost, then we can achieve the desired result without alarming the Ministry of Magic. If they were to discover that you went outside of their jurisdiction for healing on purpose you might find yourself in difficulties.”
“Thank you!” Harry said gratefully. “I appreciate your concern for my welfare.”
Just then there was a chime, and a document appeared on the incoming transport slab. Mornuk lifted it, and glanced through it, before passing it to Harry.
“This is a very basic contract assigning a goblin as manager to the Potter accounts, and all other accounts held by the Head of the House of Potter, as per their usual agreement.” Mornuk stated. “The current Head of House Potter should fill out the name and rank of the goblin, and the agreed upon percentage of profit for payment. If you wish to contract outside of the usual agreement, you will need the signature of your heir as well as your own.” This agreed with what Hecate and Sirius had told him at the Crossroads, so Harry quickly looked it over to check that it was what Mornuk said it was. He looked up, catching what appeared to be approval on the faces of both goblins.
Glancing back at the document in his hand, Harry made a snap decision.
He wasn’t sure if this was the right time to say this, but if they managed to drop the blood wards and Arthalian and his elven companions were in the vicinity, it was possible that things could get very ugly very quickly.
“Before we bring down the wards, there’s something I need to tell you.” Harry gulped nervously. “James Potter adopted me as his son and heir through blood and magic. Lily Potter was really an elf, and my biological father is an elf too. As soon as the wards drop, my elven father will know where I am and is likely to come looking for me. I don’t know how long it will take him to get here, but it is doubtful he will let anyone stand in his way.”
Both goblins stared at him in silence for several minutes. Harry fidgeted under their gaze.
“He believes what he’s saying.” Mornuk ventured eventually.
“It would explain the golden tinge to his Nucleus.” Ragnok remarked almost conversationally. “Very well. Lord Potter, do you know the name of this elf that you claim is your biological father?”
“Arthalian.” Harry said with enormous relief that he hadn’t been thrown out as a dangerous lunatic. “His name is Arthalian of Moreithil. And he will have other elven companions with him, I don’t know their names.”
“One day, Lord Potter.” Ragnok said slowly. “One day when we have more trust between us, we shall share a meal, and I will find out what in Zanbog’s name is going on.”
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – 20 December 1985 – 11.30pm
Headmaster Albus Dumbledore sat at his large, claw footed desk, reading through the latest documentation to arrive from the International Confederation of Wizards. This was by far his most onerous duty, as there were many wizards and witches who were angling to take the Supreme Mugwump position from him. Oh, he had his allies of course, but in order to stay one step ahead of his detractors it was best to see to these tasks himself. His duties as Headmaster took up a miniscule amount of his time, as over the years he had gradually shifted most duties to one or other of his senior staff. And as far as the Wizengamot went, he had several extremely devoted friends (it was important to call them friends rather than followers even in his own mind, so as not to slip up) who kept an eye on the movements of his political enemies, and informed him of anything of concern.
Headmaster Dumbledore was nearing halfway through his pile of parchment and was fully engrossed in the proposal put forth by the Turkish representative, and therefore didn’t notice when one of the blood bound monitors he had tuned to Harry Potter changed directions with a little whistle.
The other denizens of the office, the portraits, the sorting hat, and a scarlet phoenix on what looked like a golden perch all witnessed it, but chose not to bring it to the Headmaster’s attention. His position in the castle commanded obedience, but the things they had seen and heard this man do and say had long worn away any loyalty to him.
New Zealand – Auckland Magical District 22 December 1985 – 1.30am
Arthalian was reading while he took his allotted turn on watch when the infans animus re-activated, alerting him to the whereabouts of his son for the first time since he and his companions had set out on this journey.
“Finn!” Arthalian leapt off the couch and reached out to shake his second cousin who was sleeping in the left bed. Finnath came awake in an instant, raising his head and automatically scanning for danger. Finding none, he frowned at Arthalian who grabbed the recently vacated pillow to throw it at the other bed, where Caeldabryn was snoring. The pillow was shredded by razor sharp claws before it made contact with the previously sleeping elf.
“What?” Finnath grumbled, annoyed at being woken and his pillow stolen so soon after going to sleep. It had been over a week since he’d had a chance to stretch his wings, and it was starting to show in his disposition. Caeldabryn sat up and scented the air, rolling out of bed, reaching for his backpack and pulling out his clothes.
“I’ve got him Finn! Help me wake the others, we need to get tracking as soon as possible. By the tailfeathers of Aerdrie, being unable to fly is bloody inconvenient.” Even before Arthalian had finished speaking, Finnath was banging on the wall separating the two rooms the group of elves had taken for the night.
By the time Halvaden, Marodena and Syllevella were all dressed and had joined them, Caelvabryn had found the locator stone and Finnath had laid out the map. Arthalian filled them in and then Syllevella got to work.
“Got it! North 347 degrees, somewhere over 18,300 kilometres. ” Syllevella called happily. Following a signal was far less draining than casting a net. “That puts us in England. We’ll need to head to London, and then I can do a more refined search. Unfortunately, the locator stone has depleted itself trying to stretch that far, and I’ll have to give it forty eight hours to recharge.”
“Can’t you just cast a net when we get there?” Finnath asked her impatiently. He hated sitting around waiting, and this was the first time in four years that they had a solid lead.
“A net will only tell us that he’s within it, Finn.” Arthalian spoke before the irritated Sun elf could verbally eviscerate his cousin. While their bickering could be amusing, now was not the time. “We can also use triangulation. Do we agree that a Gringotts portkey is the best option to get there quickly?”
Finn and Syllevella both pulled faces, while Caeldabryn grunted and Halvaden and Marodena exchanged glances, before sighing and nodding. Elves found the uncontrolled spinning of portkeys extremely difficult to cope with. A portkey to London would be expensive, and the disorientation would have them out of sorts for most of a day afterwards. At least the goblins allowed new arrivals a room in which to recover, for a fee of course.
“Right then. Everyone get sorted, we’ll meet downstairs in half an hour.” Arthalian paid no attention to Syllevella muttering about uncivilized backwaters as she left to make some ice to help renew her energy. England would be cold, and she would need all the help she could get.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – 21 December 1985 – 12.30pm
The next day Albus Dumbledore was out of his office when all of the monitors he had so painstakingly tuned to Harry Potter ceased working, which was simultaneously lucky and unlucky for the aged wizard. Lucky because several of the devices suddenly exploded in a shower of white hot goblin forged steel, and a minute later the one that had altered itself the night before went up in a fireball that burnt to ash everything in the circular room that had not been spelled to be fire resistant.
Unlucky, because it was four hours before Headmaster Dumbledore returned to his office. Fawkes had been caught by surprise and covered with the flying melted goblin forged steel, which forced a burning day, and the new chick sat through the following fireball with great enjoyment. Unbeknownst to the wizard that had cleverly trapped and bound him thirty years before, he was currently free. The fireball had helped fuel his growth, and within three hours he was once more in prime condition, his beautiful plumage darker and glossier than it had been for decades. The firebird let out a loud discordant shriek, grabbed hold of the few devices that had not self destructed and then in a flash of flames was gone. He would never spend time amongst humans ever again.
When Albus Dumbledore returned to his office, he found it in a scorched shambles. The paperwork on his desk and several books that he had confiscated but had yet to read had all turned to ash, his phoenix was nowhere to be found and all his magical monitoring devices had been destroyed or were missing.
Dumbledore whirled to face the smirking portraits of headmasters past.
“Who did this?” He demanded. Phineas Nigellus, the usual spokesperson, replied.
“No one did it, Headmaster, it just happened. About four hours ago.” Dumbledore glared at the insolent face of his predecessor, wishing he could set the portrait on fire himself. He didn’t have time to deal with them right now, later would have to do.
He hastened to the fireplace, only to curse when he realized that the floo powder he kept beside it had gone up in the fireball.
“Dippet!” Headmaster Dumbledore barked to the painting closest to the fireplace. “Go at once to Severus, and instruct him that he is to come immediately, and tell him bring floo powder with him.”
Removing his wand from the holster on his forearm, he tried to set his office to rights, his temper and the resulting agitation of his magical core masking the change in responsiveness of the wand he had been carrying for the last forty years. Spells that the Death Stick would have overpowered had no effect on the mess that the melted goblin forged steel had made as it solidified, increasing Dumbledore’s ire.
It took Severus Snape fifteen minutes to make his way to the Headmaster’s office. By the time he got there, floo pot in hand, Dumbledore had regained control of himself and had the beginnings of a plan in place.
“Severus,” He greeted his spy. “I fear that something terrible may have happened to Harry Potter. He may be in grave danger! I will need you to come with me to Arabella’s, so that we may determine the facts.”
“Arabella Figg?” Snape asked, his saturnine countenance darkening further at the mention of the hated child. “What use could she possibly be?”
“She has been keeping an eye on the boy for me.” Replied Dumbledore hurriedly. “She lives in the adjacent street and looks after him from time to time. Come Severus, we must hurry!”
Grabbing the floo pot, Dumbledore reached in for a large pinch. Setting the pot down, he rushed to the fireplace. The fire flashed bright green, and then he was gone, calling the name of their destination. Snape followed immediately.
Arabella Figg wasn’t home when they got there, so Dumbledore led the way along Wisteria Walk towards Privet Drive, Snape sneering around him at the manicured lawns and immaculate gardens.
When they arrived at 4 Privet Drive, Dumbledore was astonished to find no sign of any disturbance. Surely if dark wizards had found Harry and brought down the wards there would be some outward sign of it?
“Is this it then, Headmaster?” Snape drawled. “How very stultifying. What is it you wish me to do exactly? Uproot the rosebushes so the precious boy who lived doesn’t prick his finger?”
“My instruments!” Dumbledore said. “They’re destroyed, I thought the wards must have come down. Maybe something else caused them to explode? Quickly Severus, see if you can detect any wards!”
Dumbledore and Snape both checked for the presence of wards and couldn’t find any. The house in front of them seemed just like any other muggle house.
“Perhaps we should ask these paragons you left your prophesied savior with?” Snape suggested acerbically.
“Yes, quite right my boy, Mrs Dursley may be able to tell us what happened.” Dumbledore and Snape approached the front door.
Snape used the door knocker, and they had to wait for a minute before the door was opened, revealing an extremely corpulent man, whose face was already red with anger.
“What kind of time do you call this to go knocking at peoples doors!” He shouted even before he got the door completely opened. As soon as he saw the men standing on his doorstep, he slammed the door shut in their faces.
“Pet!” They heard him call. “There are freaks at the door!” There were hurried footsteps, and then Snape was astonished by the sight of Petunia Evans, older but just as frightful looking. Even as he sneered at her, his mind raced. Had Dumbledore really left his precious saviour with Petunia Evans? Was this woman supposed to be the one providing the loving environment Dumbledore had been assuring the Order that the Potter brat was living in?
“Get out! We won’t have you here, you freaks!” Petunia’s raised voice was shrill, and more vitriolic than ever.
Dumbledore smiled kindly at her, eye’s twinkling behind his glasses.
“Please Mrs Dursley, we just want to ask you a few questions about Harry.”
This didn’t appear to placate Petunia in the slightest.
“I told you to get out! We don’t want your kind here! We just want to be left alone!” Her voice got louder, and even more shrill. Snape hadn’t thought it possible.
“We will only take a few moments, I really must insist.” Dumbledore said, becoming more stern.
“Leave us alone, you freaks! We’re decent people, just leave us alone!” Petunia shouted, and went to slam the door.
Snape wedged his foot inside, grimacing as the door slammed into it. He was getting extremely curious as to what Petunia was hiding. This reaction was excessive, even for her. He was reaching into his robes when he heard a voice behind him. He was not at all prepared for what happened when he turned around.
In his haste, Dumbledore had forgotten to make any attempt to dress like a muggle, and he attracted a great deal of attention in his usual garishly outlandish robes. Several of the women living along Wisteria Walk called the local police station to report the possibility of escapees from a lunatic asylum wandering down the road, and a vehicle with two bobbies was dispatched to investigate. Both Gerry and Sammy were long term residents of the area, and were quite worried about the possibility of dangerous lunatics hanging around where their children liked to play. They made sure they had their truncheons with them and Gerry also brought along some pepper spray that his sister in law had brought him from her last visit to America. He’d heard that it was brilliant at incapacitating without injury, and since lunatics weren’t really responsible for their actions, he felt that this would be a good time to try it out.
When Gerry and Sammy caught up with the lunatics, it was clear that they were having some kind of argument at the door of 4 Privet Drive. Gerry carefully gripped the pepper spray as they approached, only to hear Mrs Dursley shouting.
“Leave us alone, you freaks! We’re decent people, just leave us alone!”
Both lunatics reached inside their dresses, and worried that they had guns, Gerry ran the last few steps, yelling
“Stop! Police! Hands up!”
His panicked brain just had time to see that both lunatics were holding something as they turned towards him, so he sprayed them right in the face.
Gringotts Wizarding Bank – London – 22 December 1985 – 3.00pm
Harry awoke with a start in a completely different room than the one he last remembered.
When the report on the wards at Privet Drive had come back, it was agreed by the goblins that Harry had the right to bring them down, as it was his magic that was fueling them. He reiterated his desire that all foreign magic be removed from him, and it was agreed that a full magical cleansing would be performed as soon as the chamber could be prepared. At Harry’s nervous query, Mornuk told him that all curse-breakers employed at Gringotts underwent this procedure at least twice a year, regardless of their race.
He was taken to a reinforced chamber deep underground where several goblins placed rune stones around him. He was directed to place a drop of blood on each stone, and then sat on a large engraved slab of obsidian in the centre. Black robed goblins lined the walls and seven came forwards to stand in a circle outside the rune stones and began chanting.
He sat there listening to the oddly hypnotic sound of their guttural voices when he noticed four goblins detach themselves from the wall and join their chanting bretheren. As soon as they did so, he felt a pressure surrounding him and his magic responded. More goblins moved from the wall to the circle, and part of Harry’s mind noticed the pattern that was forming. The number of chanting goblins was always a prime number. He felt the pressure increase, and eventually passed out.
The room Harry awoke in could easily be recognized as an infirmary of some kind. He was on a bed, covered in a thick white sheet, and he could see several other beds along the wall.
Wait. He could see. He lifted a hand to his face instinctively to check for his glasses, and then saw them sitting with a small red stone on the small table beside his bed, along with a stoneware pitcher and a matching cup. He felt a smile sliding across his face and gave an internal cheer. He could see!
He lay there for a moment, reveling in the knowledge that he no longer needed glasses before taking stock of the rest of his body. He was no longer in any pain from Vernon’s last thrashing, and felt stronger and healthier than he could ever remember feeling. And there was a strange feeling of fullness that he’d never experienced before, a warmth that was both unfamiliar and the most natural thing in the world.
Curious, Harry dropped into a meditative state to inspect his core and nucleus. He was astonished, he’d never seen anything like this. None of the reading he had done in the years leading up to his decision to step into the Death Veil had ever mentioned anything like this. Rather than the steady pulse of reddish orange that he was used to, his core was a swirling maelstrom of colour, the nucleus a dark green with what looked like gold dust swirling over the surface of it in dizzying patterns, shapes forming, and dispersing again to form something different. He could see undulating tendrils of the same gold leading away from (or was that to?) his nucleus, and when he reached out tentatively to touch the thickest one, he felt the new feeling of warmth increase.
To his shock, he distinctly felt a query from the tendril he was touching, and a wave of love and pride followed. Basking in that feeling for a time, Harry was suddenly broken out of the meditative state he had been maintaining by a concerned looking young witch calling his name in a faintly South African accent. He tasted salt, and could feel that his face was wet with tears.
“Lord Potter! Lord Potter! Oh there you are.” She smiled reassuringly at him. “It’s alright dear, it was only a dream. You’re safe in Gringotts, and nothing will hurt you here.”
Harry decided it wasn’t worth correcting her.
“Thank you, miss…” Harry trailed off, hoping she would introduce herself.
“My name’s Martine Lord Potter, but please call me Tina.” Tina looked to be somewhere in her twenties, small boned and pretty but with that look in her eye that Harry recognized from every female healer he had ever met. “I’ll be the healer in charge of your healing while you’re here. There will be other healers that come and see you from time to time, but if you have any questions I’m the one to ask. If I’m not around, just pick up this pretty red stone and say my name, and I’ll be here shortly. How does that sound?”
“That sounds great, thanks Tina.” Harry replied, trying to hide his amusement. It was only natural for her to treat him like a small child after all, even if he had been older than her less than a week ago. “How long was I sleeping for?”
“It’s been just over a day since the goblins brought you here.” Tina’s voice hinted at her disapproval. “We’ve had a quick look at you, and unfortunately it seems like you’re going to have to take some nasty potions for the next week or so, but after that you’ll be all better! Won’t that be nice?”
“Yes.” Harry agreed, smiling at her. “When can I see Mornuk? Is he allowed to visit?”
Tina made a hmmpfhhing noise, and waved her wand over him quickly. He was unable to repress the involuntary flinch that always accompanied someone he didn’t know well and trust casting a spell at him. Tina couldn’t help but notice, and although she didn’t say anything Harry thought he saw her lips tighten in displeasure.
“You can’t see him in here I’m afraid, but if you eat a full dinner we can wheel you into one of the visiting rooms later. That means all your vegetables, even the yucky ones!”
Harry agreed and watch her bustle away. He settled back in his bed, getting comfortable. That golden bond he had seen tethered to his core, he was sure that was Arthalian. That meant that bringing down the wards had successfully removed whatever was hiding him from his father, and soon the primary reason he agreed to come to this alternate dimension would have been achieved. Everything after that would be gravy. For the first time in all the universes Harry Potter, not yet six years old, drifted off to sleep feeling safe, with his magic swirling through him, ready to alert him if danger approached.
Twenty-seven hours after leaving their hotel, all six elves were stretched out on benches in the recovery chamber at Gringotts, waiting for the spinning to stop. Arthalian was just starting to reorient himself when he felt a tug on the infans animus leading to his son.
“He’s found the bond!” Arthalian reached out to grab the nearest warm body, which happened to be Marodena. She graciously refrained from slicing his hand to ribbons, although she did shrug it off and sit up. “He’s so strong… are all children this strong?”
Arthalian had never had a close kin bond to child before, so he had nothing to compare it to. He saw the indulgent smiles his companions exchanged and rolled his eyes. They thought he was exaggerating like any other besotted father. Well, they would see when his son was found. Speaking of which… Arthalian sat up.
“He also feels close. Remarkably close. Definitely within a kilometre close.” He stopped himself from looking towards Syllevella. Finn wasn’t as well disciplined.
“Not for another twenty hours, I told you!” She said exasperatedly. “It won’t work if the stone isn’t fully charged. In any case, if he’s this close it’s probably easier to follow the bond. What direction is it going in?”
Arthalian closed his eyes and asked his magic to show a representation of the bond on the physical plane, opening eyes just as his companions gasped almost as one.
The glowing bond extended from his left side, and it was angled down. Finn was the one to voice what everyone was thinking.
“He’s here.” Finn’s voice was shaky. “He’s here, at Gringotts. We’ve found him.”