The Final Nexus – Overlea

The Final Nexus – Overlea

Chapter eight

Saturday 21st December 1985 – evening

(For clarity – at this point Harry went through the ritual several hours ago, but will not awake until the next day. Arthalian and friends have arrived in Gringotts by portkey, but are recovering. I may move this around later so the timeline is easier to follow.)

It was late in the evening by the time Dumbledore and Snape returned to Hogwarts, both of them in foul moods.

After being pepper sprayed, both wizards were handcuffed while they were incapacitated, long before they were capable of raising any kind of defense. They had been taken back to the station, where they were processed under the charges of trespass, and causing a breach of the peace.

Their photographs had been taken, and to their bemusement they had been asked to blow a long breath into some muggle machine. Their wands had been taken away from them, and they had been left in a cell together to wait for the morning.

Dumbledore had tried tugging on the internal bond that kept his phoenix chained to him, only to find (to his shock and horror) that it was no longer there. He had just enough time to register this, when Snape suggested escape by phoenix. Dumbledore was able to dissemble, saying that Fawkes had gone through a rather traumatic burning day and wouldn’t be available for some time. When Snape looked interested, and wanted to know what could hurt a phoenix that badly, Dumbledore lost his temper, telling Snape that it was none of his business.

Since Snape had actually been asking in the hope of learning how to incapacitate the old wizard that he had tied himself to so foolishly, this didn’t strike Snape as being odd.

After sitting in the cell for close to an hour, the only plan that they had come up with was to cast wandless magic in the hope that the Obliviation Squad would turn up to deal with it. Dumbledore decided to yield to inevitability, he had been hoping they could find some way out of this that wouldn’t involve the Ministry. Stifling a sigh, he began to cast lumos, his only truly wandless spell. Repeated wandless magic in a muggle area should trigger the sensors, and someone would be sent out to investigate.

Half an hour later Dumbledore was beginning to have trouble hiding his weariness from Snape. The last thing he needed was anyone finding out that he wasn’t as powerful as his reputation made him out to be, as that would cause no end of trouble. The sound of someone in heavy boots coming down the corridor gave Dumbledore all the excuse he needed to release the spell. The ginger haired policeman that had sprayed the foul concoction into their faces was opening their cell.

“All right you two, someone down from London’s claimed jurisdiction.” Snape was developing a true hatred for that ginger hair. “Up you get, we’ll need to get this sorted out so that you can be transferred.”

When they entered the processing centre, Dumbledore’s heart sank. While Smethwyk from the Obliviation Squad could probably be made to see things Dumbledore’s way, he was accompanied by an auror who was not one of his ex-students, and it was unlikely that he could be persuaded to cover things up. This was one of the foreign aurors that the new head of the DMLE Amelia Bones had installed as part of her ‘exchange’ system, something she had sold to the Wizengamot as a way to learn new methods without having to pay for training.

“Ah, there you are Wallace.” Smethwyk said without a hint of surprise at seeing his old headmaster in handcuffs. “Lets get on with it shall we? You’ve led us a merry dance this day, and I was supposed to have the weekend off.”

Dumbledore stayed silent, not sure what cover story Smethwyk had used to gain custody of them. He was pleased to see that Snape kept quiet too.

It was nine thirty before all the paperwork had been signed and Dumbledore and Snape were escorted to a large vehicle and firmly assisted into the back seat. While still wearing those blasted handcuffs! Snape was clearly fuming, and Dumbledore was still hoping to get out of this without having to explain himself.

Unfortunately the foreign auror (who turned out to be French, of all things) was determined that they should be taken back to London and a report filed as per standard procedure when muggle authorities were involved. The International Statue of Secrecy was clear on the reporting required for such incidences. It was only due to Dumbledore’s reputation that he and Severus weren’t detained further in the ministry cells until they could be questioned by a senior auror. Their wands were returned, and they were let go with a stern warning to behave. When Dumbledore got his hands back on his wand, he noticed that the Death Stick was no longer warming to his touch. In fact, it’s power seemed to have drastically diminished, and it didn’t appear to be compatible with his magic at all.

As soon as they were released, Dumbledore and Snape immediately flooed back to Arabella Figgs, and this time cast disillusionment charms over each other before making their way back to Privet Drive.

Petunia and Vernon Dursley had evidently retired for the night, so the two wizards let themselves in, casting magic detection charms to check for death eater tampering. When nothing was found, they went upstairs and Dumbledore cast a locator spell, hoping to discover which room was Harry’s. When the spell gave no indication of Harry’s presence in a twenty metre radius, they carefully checked each room. One room was empty, one was filled with junk, one held a veritable whale of a child, and the other held the adult Dursleys.

Casting the muffilato charm, they bound and then awakened Petunia and Vernon. It became clear very quickly that they weren’t going to get anything out of Vernon who could only gibber in terror, so they silenced him and turned their attention to Petunia. She was clearly also terrified, but made of sterner stuff than her husband and quite coherent. She refused to tell them anything about the Potter boy, and seemed confused by the idea that death eaters may have gotten hold of him. Eventually, Dumbledore cast legilimens at her, and was shocked to discover that Harry Potter was in the downstairs cupboard. Surely the locator spell should have worked at that distance?

Leaving Severus to guard the Dursleys, Dumbledore went down to check. No, the cupboard was empty aside from a few rags, Harry Potter was definitely not here. Going back upstairs, he asked Snape to find out if they knew where he might have gone. Dumbledore was feeling significant strain, and was hoping to get this done and home to bed as soon as possible.

Snape spent fifteen minutes rooting around in Petunia’s mind, before shaking his head. He quickly modified the memories of both Dursleys, and then sent a stunning spell at each, unbinding them and taking down the muffilato.

The two by now rather weary wizards made their way back to Arabella Figgs, (she still wasn’t there, perhaps she had taken a holiday?) and flooed back to the Headmasters Office in Hogwarts. Dumbledore was displeased to find a letter sitting on his desk from the ministry, no doubt to advise him of the time he and Snape would be expected for their interviews. Not important, that wouldn’t be until Monday at the earliest, so he could concentrate for the moment on the Harry Potter situation. And then he planned to have a long sleep.

“Well, Severus?” Dumbledore asked after sitting in his high backed ornate chair. Only as he sat down did he realize that whatever had caused the fireball in his office had destroyed the cushioning charms he layered the wooden surface with. Gritting his teeth, Dumbledore gestured for Snape to sit.

“As far as Petunia knows, Potter should be in the cupboard under the stairs. She has seen no indication of wizards aside from the two of us, and there is no special place the brat likes to go that she is aware of.” Snape said as impassively as possible, giving the minimal information as was his usual practice. Information was power after all. And he wanted to think over what he had found in Petunia’s mind before sharing it with anyone.

“What on earth was the boy doing in the cupboard at that time of night anyway?” Dumbledore asked rhetorically. “No, never mind Severus. I’ll need you to call a meeting of the Order for tomorrow, we need to find Harry as soon as possible.”

“Of course, headmaster.” Snape replied smoothly.

“Although, perhaps you should forget to notify Remus.” Dumbledore added. “No sense in panicking the man. He’s been rather insistent on seeing the boy, and only my assurances that he was safe and the location could not be compromised has mollified him. Discovering we don’t know where he is… no, best he’s kept out of it.”

“As you say.” Came Snape’s dispassionate reply.

“That will be all Severus.” Dumbledore dismissed his potions master before getting his original wand out of the drawer where he had kept it for decades. He instantly felt the familiar connection with it, and making a mental note to investigate whether having his wand taken by a muggle auror counted as it being won from him, left to find his bed.

There would be a lot to do on the morrow.

Hogwarts – 22nd December 1985 – early afternoon (Sunday)

By 1.30pm The Order of The Phoenix was assembled for the first time in over four years.

Dumbledore would have infinitely preferred to have met elsewhere, but there was nowhere that he knew of that could be prepared and made secure at such short notice. He held the meeting at Hogwarts, in the classroom closest to the entrance hall, and was glad that the timing meant that most of the students had gone home for the Christmas break. Hopefully the few that remained wouldn’t notice anything amiss. Unfortunately, he hadn’t thought to advise Severus that he should inform the Order that utmost secrecy would be required, and no one made any effort to disillusion themselves.

“What’s this about Dumbledore?” Alastor Moody growled abruptly. He was sitting with his back to the wall, his magical eye swiveling around for possible threats. “Stupid place to have a meeting if you ask me, not secure at all. And there are students around! Ridiculous.”

“I’m afraid I have something rather serious that I will require the Order’s help with.” Dumbledore said gravely.

“Of course.” Arthur Weasley responded, conveying the general feeling in the room. “Anything you need Headmaster.”

“Yesterday all of the devices I had monitoring Harry Potter and the wards that protected him failed.” Dumbledore said somberly. “When Severus and I went to investigate, we found no trace of the wards, no sign that dark wizards had been there, and Harry was inexplicably missing.”

There were several gasps, and Molly Weasley let out a wail before her husband shushed her.

“As you can imagine,” continued Dumbledore, “it is of vital importance that Harry is recovered immediately. It’s been less than a day since the wards were broken, and we firstly need to ensure that he is not still in the general area, before widening our search. His distraught guardians have asked that we respect their privacy while we conduct our search, so please respect that.”

“Right.” Moody muttered, getting to his feet. “Best get to that quick smart then. Where do we need to go?”

“It may be best to disillusion yourselves so that you don’t scare the muggles.” Dumbledore advised them after passing on the address. “Alastor, I’m sure you can organize the quickest and most thorough search. I will remain here and plan our next move.”

“Snape can stay here too.” Moody said aggressively, glaring at the man. “We’ll let you know if we find the little blighter. I’ll talk to his guardians and find out what they know.”

“No!” Dumbledore exclaimed quickly, before calming himself. “No need Alastor, Severus and I questioned them most thoroughly last night, and they know nothing of his whereabouts. They were so traumatized to discover that he was missing that they asked not be bothered until Harry has been found.”

“Hmmpf.” Moody responded suspiciously, taking in Snape’s slightly raised eyebrow. Looked like Dumbledore’s pet death eater didn’t agree. Never mind, Moody knew how to run a search, and what’s more he knew how to pass as a muggle, although it required a glamour charm.

Upon arriving at Arabella Figgs, Moody allocated the Order members to search various streets in the neighbourhood, reminding them to cast their disillusionment charms before they left. Then he cast a glamour charm disguising himself as a policeman (something he had done many times before) and went straight to 4 Privet Drive to speak to the Dursleys.

Upon finding the house vacant (he would discover later that the Dursleys had packed up and made tracks as fast as possible to Vernon’s sister Marge’s place upon finding that Harry was not in his cupboard) Moody performed a thorough search, and was greatly disturbed both by what he found and what he didn’t find. There was no trace of Harry Potter anywhere in the house, except for in a cupboard under the stairs which contained some ragged clothing, a small child’s mattress covered in dark stains, and (even more revealing) two sheets of paper covered in crayon, one denoting this as ‘Harrys Room’ in a very crooked childish hand, and the other showing three stick figures with big smiles on their otherwise ordinary faces, and big lopsided hearts in the vicinity of their stomachs and ‘Mummy, Daddy and Harry” printed underneath, clearly written by an adult.

Moody straightened up, and thought over Dumbledore’s insistence that he not talk to the Dursleys. Acting on the suspicion that was rising hard and fast, he cast several charms used in law enforcement for evidence gathering, making a note of the results in the small notebook he always carried around with him. According to the spells he had been using his entire career, the wards had never been anchored around this property. The only ping he had received was from the stains (that his spells had determined to be old dried blood) on the mattress that was found in that disgusting cupboard.

Something stunk here, and Alastor hadn’t survived all these years by ignoring his gut instincts. Something was very wrong, and Dumbledore was in this up to his twinkly eyeballs, and therefore couldn’t be trusted with the investigation. For years he had been fobbing Alastor’s questions off with assurances of Potter’s safety and happiness, but that wasn’t the story being told by the evidence here.

The only thing for it was to go straight to Amelia as soon as Dumbledore released them. Thankfully she had taken leadership of the DMLE when it was offered in order to have more regular hours so that she could be more involved with raising her niece. Having someone he knew well and could trust in the top position was a great relief for someone as paranoid as he was.

Casting one last rather obscure spell that he had learned back when he was a hit wizard, he whistled with surprise at the result. So the goblins were monitoring this address, were they? That was very interesting, very interesting indeed.

Moody walked out to where his spell had detected the goblins monitoring device, and saw that it had been placed fairly recently. There was no build up of dirt, dust and other detritus that could be expected on anything left out in the open for any length of time. In fact, the stone had no weathering at all, so either someone (or something) was regularly replacing it, or the goblins were a new player.

Sending a messenger charm to Amelia letting her know to expect him at her place later on, Moody headed back to Arabella Figgs house to wait for the others to arrive back. He wasn’t expecting anyone to find the lad, the fact that the goblins were interested was unlikely to be coincidental. Something was up with the Potter boy, and Moody intended to find out what. It was the least he could do for the son of one of the most promising students he had ever had.

Bones Manor – 22nd December 1985 – evening

“And on top of all that, I couldn’t find any signs that the recently broken wards had ever been tied to the property.” Moody growled, finishing his recitation.

“What?” Amelia Bones was aghast. “Nothing? No traces at all?”

“Nothing.” Moody confirmed heavily. “At least, nothing aside from a strange reverberation from the blood on the small mattress in the cupboard. It’s always possible, given the monitoring device I found there that the goblins had a hand in bringing whatever wards were there down, but they would only do that if they had a specific request from the property owner. And the owners are muggles.”

Moody saw Bones’ gaze sharpen. He could still take his old protégé in a fight (as he had proved just over a month ago, to his glee) but she was a much better political thinker, and had a knack for ferreting out the truth of the most twisted of situations. In a way her ascension to Head of the DMLE would be depriving the auror force of a brilliant investigator, but you couldn’t have everything, and her political skills were also needed.

Or if they had a specific request from the person the wards were tied to.” She tapped her index finger against her bottom lip, an unconscious mannerism signifying deep thought that she had mostly erased unless she felt completely safe. “If the wards weren’t tied to the property, but the Potter boy…”

“Then that would explain the reading from the blood, and the goblins involvement.” Moody snorted disgustedly. “How could Albus do such a thing? The boy’s five years old! How could he expect the magic of someone so young to support concealment wards for any length of time! We’ll be lucky if he hasn’t turned the boy into a squib!”

“The goblins would still have had to get permission from Potter’s magical guardian.” Bones said thoughtfully. “I thought that was Dumbledore? He announced it as such in the Wizengamot, although…” She straightened perceptibly as a thought occurred to her. “Come to think of it, he hasn’t been voting the Potter seats, when Diggory asked about it he said something along the lines of leaving them for Potter out of respect. But what if he can’t vote them? What if he’s not Potter’s legal magical guardian at all? The goblins don’t care about anything the ministry says if it’s not legal. If Dumbledore has subverted the legally expressed wishes of Lily and James…”

“We need to have a look at that Will.” Moody said roughly. “And given the access Albus has to the ministry, and our suspicions, it might be best to try Gringotts. You’ll need to authorize it of course, maybe open up an official investigation.”

“Yes, and if I place it under strictest secrecy…” Bones mused aloud. “You’ll need a partner. The goblins are aware that all official investigations have two aurors assigned to them, they’ll smell a rat if you turn up alone. Who do you trust? Even under vows, someone could deliberately give certain hints that might lead Dumbledore to discover what we’re doing before we’re ready.”

Moody considered this briefly, but there was really only one name that sprung to mind.

“Young Shacklebolt.” He said with certainty. “Get him to take the vows, and then tell him everything. He’ll see the importance of this remaining covert.”

“Shacklebolt’s only young compared to old fossils like you and Dumbledore.” Bones said with slight asperity, making some notes on a parchment. “But I agree, he’s a good choice. I’ve tagged him as one of three that I want to test for leadership capability, with the aim of choosing and training up my successor.”

“Who else are you considering?” Moody asked with great interest.

“None of your business, Mad-Eye! Hmm… Scrimgeour was slated to do the interviews tomorrow, but it might pay to see to that myself.” Bones smirked. “As a show of respect for the position and dignity of the Chief Warlock, of course. Can’t have just anyone asking the delicate question of how it was he came to be arrested and thrown in prison by the muggles.”

“Albus was arrested by muggles?” That was new, Moody would surely have remembered being told something that interesting. “When was this?”

“Just last night.” Bones smiled sardonically at her mentor. “Dumbledore and Snape, in Little Whinging, Surrey. Trespass and causing a breach of the peace, with possible further charges to be brought by a muggle couple called Dursley. Sound familiar?”

“Traumatized by the boy’s disappearance Merlin’s wrinkled arse!” Moody snorted. “Traumatized by having to deal with a twinkly eyed old man and his sneering accomplice, more like.” He sobered. “I want permission to take a full memory scan, Amelia. There was something seriously not right going on in that house, and the sooner we get an official record of that information the better. I’d hate to miss out because somebody got jumpy and memory charmed them to help cover their arse.”

Bones made another note on her parchment.

“Okay then, tomorrow I’ll open up a covert investigation into Harry Potter’s guardians, based on suspicion of foul play, using the bloody mattress as evidence. I’ll bring Shacklebolt in and get his vows, and then get the paperwork sorted for the goblins so that you can visit them while I interview Dumbledore and Snape.” She paused. “That interview is set for tomorrow at one, you need to head to Gringotts then. If the goblins don’t have a copy of the Will that they can present to you, ask to see the Potter account manager. No, wait.”

She tapped her lower lip again while she thought. “There’s no guarantee that Potter has seen the goblins, only suspicion at this point. If we’re wrong, and this gets back to Dumbledore it could become quite awkward, not to mention his political reaction to us interfering in what he has made clear is his business.”

“Can you get me an interview with old Ragnok?” Moody asked. “If we can’t trust his discretion then the entire nation is screwed, since Gringotts holds all our money. I know he doesn’t often see wizards, but a criminal investigation relating to the Potter Family… might just do it.”

“We can only try.” Bones sighed, making more notes. “Alright. I think we have a starting point. I’ll get you paperwork for the goblins, a letter for Ragnok, and authorization for a full memory scan for all adults living at, what was it? 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey. I’ll send everything to you with Shacklebolt, and we’ll meet up here tomorrow night at 8.30pm unless there is something urgent, in which case we’ll have to take our chances with my office.”

“Deal.” Alastor Moody rose to his feet. “Thank you Amelia. I know you’re placing a lot of trust on my feeling that something’s very wrong. I appreciate it.”

“You got this meeting based on your gut Mad-Eye.” Bones responded fondly. “The rest is your reputation for blunt honesty, and MY gut. I’ll see you tomorrow. Happy hunting!”

Overlea – 22nd December – evening

Marodena, Halvaden and Syllevella exited the taxi outside the high, stone wall that served as the gateway to Overlea. From either side it looked like bare stone, a wall in the middle of nowhere. The taxi driver gave the three elves a weird look, but when they assured him that this was where they wanted to be left, he shrugged. Not his problem what a bunch of crazies get up to, after all, so long as they pay their fare.

Marodena paid for the taxi while Halvaden moved over to the stone waymarker. As soon as the taxi was out of sight, he used the dagger strapped to his arm to make a slice in his thumb, drawing several runes on the smooth surface. When he was finished, the blood glowed a bright white, and then seemed to sink back into the stone, leaving no mark. Along the wall an archway appeared, a doorway in the stone, visible only to elves.

Passing through the shadowed doorway, they entered the steading of Overlea.

Despite the thousands of years since elves had been there the building was in good condition, the gardens still beautiful. Many Green Elves had spent decades cultivating the magic of the gardens, infusing them with their enthusiastic magic, whispering spells of encouragement and love. And the gardens were still flourishing, guided by magic laid down long ago.

For the elves it was a good indicator of how they would find the buildings. Halvaden and Marodena were both confident that they would find nothing greatly amiss, and strode purposefully along the path towards the large, castle like structure. Syllevella ambled after them, still quite annoyed by how everyone was treating her, but charmed by the beauty of this steading that so many elves had put so much work into.

When she made it inside, she found Halvaden and Marodena with both their bloodied hands on what at first looked to be a gray stone, but as Syllevella watched, it flushed with an azure tint, before steadily deepening to the strong dark blue of lapis lazuli.

Removing their hands, the bonded couple smiled at each other and leaned across the stone to share a kiss. Syllevella found herself envious as usual. It was the wish of every elf to find someone with whom to create a bond like the one Halvaden and Marodena shared. It was a bond for life, an intertwining of two beings so that they could no longer truly be called separate.

Releasing each other, Halvaden and Marodena turned to face her, startling her somewhat with their severe expressions. It was a huge change from the happiness radiating from them only moments before, and Syllevella was struck with the unhappy thought that perhaps this beautiful place wasn’t suitable after all.

“Is everything okay?” Syllevella asked anxiously. “This place looks solid, and I haven’t seen any indication that anything has breached the boundaries. What did the lapis tell you?”

“Everything at Overlea is as it should be. We have notified the Wise Ones that we will be placing the permanent gate here, and requested a consultation for tomorrow morning. There is just one thing left to do before we message Arthalian.” Halvaden said, and then continued sternly. “Rody and I are going to have a discussion with you about the behaviour you exhibited while at Gringotts.”

Syllevella rolled her eyes and sighed.

“It was a mistake, alright? I lost my temper with the way everyone’s falling over themselves to believe every outlandish claim made by a child no one even knew until today, and when Arthalian gets here I’ll apologise. Then we can all just put it behind us, and you can all stop pretending I’m a child. And I won’t even bring up Harry’s rudeness to me.”

Marodena frowned at her.

“Are you truly ignorant of what you have done?” She asked disbelievingly. “You, who ask to be recognized as an adult in our society, made an unprovoked attack on child. It was clear to Arthalian, Hal and I, and probably Cal, Finnath and Mornuk too, that the true reason you were unhappy was that you wanted the math-leri that Cal was giving to Harry, and felt that Harry was somehow depriving you of your right!

“Harry may have lived for thirty one years, but emotionally he is not even six years old yet. You, an adult elf that had been vouched for by Arthalian, risked the trust we had managed to build with his newly found son, the whole reason we made this journey, for a fit of pique! For a childish tantrum! Because you wanted something pretty and Cal was giving it to someone else!”

Marodena’s voice had been getting louder, and she was gesturing with both hands, trying to express her frustration. Syllevella stood there with her arms crossed in front of her, her weight on one leg and her hip thrust out, her pose clearly indicating that she was waiting out the lecture but wasn’t taking on board a word that Marodena was saying. Marodena threw up her hands in exasperation, and let Halvaden try. Maybe it was time for the blunt truth.

“You keep insisting that you are an adult, not a child. As an acknowledged adult, for the unprovoked attack on the self worth of a child that you knew to be in a fragile emotional state, Arthalian would have been well within his rights to demand your death. Rody, Cal, Finnath and I, and likely Mornuk too, would not have hesitated to carry it out.”

Syllevella gaped at him.

“There are privileges with being acknowledged as an adult, Syllevella, but there are responsibilities too. The most important of these is that you do not cause harm to children. That means physical and emotional harm. The only time an adult causing harm to a child is in anyway accepted, is if it is the only way to avoid further, greater harm, and the danger must be immediate. There is a reason that only adults are allowed to properly spar with adults.

“If an adult uses their hand to harm a child, that hand is cut off. Do you understand what I’m saying Syllevella? By demoting you to a child, Arthalian gave you the only option open to you to avoid Cal ripping out your tongue. Because you are now a child, he cannot harm you. As your punishment, and because Harry had more self control than you, your social age has reverted to thirty one.

“As you are no longer considered trustworthy, you will be sent back to Thystaesi as soon as the permanent portal is established. Everyone there will know what has happened, and in sixty nine years when you are again considered to go through your ceremony you will be quizzed exhaustively in the responsibilities required of an adult before anyone will even think of allowing you that privilege.”

Halvaden stopped talking and took in the effect his words were having on the Sun elf. Her dark skin had turned a sickly grey, and she finally seemed to be taking the situation she had caused herself seriously. Marodena, once again her usual calm self, linked her hands together in front of her.

“You could have vented your temper at any other person in the room with only a reprimand. You chose Harry because you perceived him as weaker than you, and knew that you could cause him the most damage.

“I want you to be aware of something, so that it doesn’t come as surprise. Everyone will know that Arthalian showed you mercy. That includes all four of Harry’s grandparents, the Lord and Lady of Moreithil, and the Lord and Lady of Harailin.”

Syllevella blanched even further. Marodena seeing that Syllevella at last appeared to have a full idea of what she done to herself, had one piece of advice for the child that had been placed in her care less than two hours before.

“If you cannot even pretend that you know what you have done is wrong, then you may as well ask Arthalian to reverse his judgment so that Cal can give you swift justice.”

And then Halvaden and Marodena joined hands and walked further inside, leaving Syllevella standing there alone.

Chapter nine

Gringotts – 22nd December 1985 – evening

It turned out that Mornuk had several ideas with regards to bringing international attention to the illegal imprisonment of Sirius Black. He pulled a sheet of parchment out of the drawer in the table, and made notes as they went with a quill.

“While Mr Dumbledore is the Supreme Mugwump and approves the meeting agenda for the International Confederation of Wizards, there is a not particularly well known loophole in the charter that allows a ‘member of good standing’ to raise an issue without the usual approval of the Supreme Mugwump if it can be successfully argued that the Supreme Mugwump is directly implicated. Not only that, but while any matter implicating the Supreme Mugwump is tabled he must step back from the ICW, leaving his country unrepresented and allowing another to temporarily take his leadership duties.” Mornuk’s sharp teeth made an appearance.

“Do you mean,” Harry began with mounting excitement, “we get someone else to stand up and say, ‘Hey, why has Dumbledore allowed at least one pureblood wizard to be imprisoned in the high security wing of Azkaban without receiving a trial’ and we give him all the information we have that can be proved, and immediately Dumbledore has to stand down from the ICW? Why should the ICW care?”

“The ICW is a regulatory body whose main function is to oversee and monitor the International Statute of Secrecy,” Mornuk explained. “They also mediate between governments when disputes arise, and are the highest judiciary body that wizards or witches registered in one of the signatory nations can apply to. This doesn’t happen very often, and generally the cases presented are ones where a wizard wanted for various crimes by one government applies for sanctuary with another. Of course, in order to have your case heard by the ICW you must first convince a member to present it, and then it has to get by Dumbledore’s screening process.” Mornuk snorted. “You may not be surprised to hear that Dumbledore has a reputation for using that power as a bartering chip in other negotiations.”

“So, we present a case on Sirius’ behalf?” Harry asked. “Is that legal? Don’t we need to get his permission?”

“Harry, you are his heir, sealed in blood and magic during the godfather ceremony after your birth.” Mornuk reminded him. “You are allowed to bring a case on his behalf. Also, it might bear dividends to look at getting in touch with Lord Arcturus Black, your godfathers grandfather and the Head of House Black. He is still alive, and lives isolated in Black Castle under war wards. He allows no visitors, and accepts mail only from Gringotts. Sirius Black is still listed as the heir to the Black Lordship, and he may be willing to assist with your plans.” Mornuk hesitated.

“It is common knowledge that the Black’s are blood purists. What isn’t common knowledge, is that Lord Black knew that Sirius was planning on naming you his heir in blood and magic, and approved, despite you having what he believed to be a first generation witch mother. As such, I cannot predict his reaction if he finds out that you are an elf. You would have to decide what to share with him, were he to answer you.”

“He’s still alive?” Harry was gobsmacked. “Did he even try to get Sirius a trial?”

“All we know is that he retreated to seclusion not long after you were born.” Mornuk shrugged almost imperceptibly. “He may have tried to intercede with the ministry, we don’t have access to those records. Contacting him is a risk, but one that has the possibility of having many benefits if it pays off.”

“Will the goblins allow us to include a letter to Lord Black from Harry with his usual correspondence?” Arthalian asked.

“Provided that there is no spell work on the letter, that can be arranged.” Mornuk agreed. “If you request it, for a small fee Gringotts can also provide Lord Black with assurances that you are who you say you are.”

“Thank you!” Harry replied. “That sounds like a really good idea, especially if he’s as paranoid as he sounds.”

“Tell me Mornuk,” Arthalian said, head cocked slightly to one side. “When you were speaking of the ICW, did you have anyone in mind to present the case? I would hope to find someone as close to neutral as far as politics goes as possible, we don’t need anyone to excuse Dumbledore on the grounds that ‘his enemies are just out to get him’.” Arthalian smirked. “Even if we are.”

“As you say.” Mornuk agreed. “I believe that the Finnish member would be a good option. His land’s neutrality originated with their magical people. My advice would be to send an emissary to see him, and once you have his interest the rest of us can meet, and we can discuss plans.”

Arthalian and Caeldabryn exchanged glances.

“Rody and Hal?” Arthalian suggested. Caeldabryn nodded his agreement.

“I would technically probably be a better option,” Arthalian explained to Harry and Mornuk, who were looking curious at the reason for this decision. “I’ve had training in diplomacy all my life. But I’m not taking Harry to Finland anytime soon, and I’m certainly not leaving him here either. Rody hasn’t had the same level of training that I have, but she’s the best natural diplomat I’ve ever met. Being unaffiliated to a ruling house, she’s still far too young to be considered for a diplomatic posting in Thystaesi, and this experience would be good for both her, and us. I’ll ask them tonight.”

Harry nodded in understanding. He was in no hurry to be separated from his father, or his other two kinsman for that matter. The feeling of warmth and safety he experienced in their presence would take some getting used to, and he was in no rush to lose that comfort. He settled a little closer to Arthalian, leaning into him slightly. Arthalian brought his hand up and squeezed Harry’s shoulder gently. Harry gave a small sigh of happiness.

“Finn was right earlier when he said we should acquire and confine Pettigrew as soon as possible.” Caeldabryn said, capturing the attention of Finnath, who had been gazing at Harry and Arthalian fondly

“I’ll go!” Finnath volunteered enthusiastically. Arthalian rolled his eyes.

“I think Harry had it right when he suggested buying him.” He said pointedly. “Just say that you’ve just come back from five years abroad to discover that while you were gone, a stasis spell in your lab failed and one of your experiments escaped. Mention that you are looking for a grey rat with a missing toe, and that you’re willing to pay fifty galleons for it’s return. They should hand him over no problems. Make sure the money goes to the kid for taking such good care of him, and make sure you ask about his diet and exercise.”

“Fine!” Finnath responded, glaring at his cousin. Then he grinned in anticipation. “I think I’ll fly there. And when I have him, I can shift straight to Overlea.”

“So that should take care of Pettigrew.” Arthalian said, absently carding his fingers through Harry’s untidy hair. Harry had to put effort into not dissolving into a puddle of contentment right there. “Rody and Hal will head off to see the ICW member from Finland, and Harry and I will write a letter to Lord Black to be sent to him by goblin correspondence, outlining our plans and asking if he wishes to be involved, or if there’s anything he thinks we should know. Were there any other ideas, Mornuk?”

“Just one, really.” Mornuk replied. “We could try sending a letter to the new head of the DMLE. She’s known to be fair, and a stickler for the law. The only difficulty with that is that the ministry is not secure, and we could tip Dumbledore off in time to let him prepare, which would be a mistake. He is far less dangerous to us as someone who reacts, than if we give him enough time to make plans.”

“This new Head of the DMLE.” Harry said, thinking over the pro’s and con’s that he could identify, and considering ways that he could get a confidential audience without alerting anyone in the ministry. “Would that be Madam Bones? Wears a monocle?”

“That is correct.” Mornuk answered, with one slightly raised eyebrow. “I take it she was around in the other universe?”

“Yep.” Harry nodded. “She was widely accepted by the majority of magical humans as the best candidate for minister when Fudge was finally ousted, but Riddle clearly didn’t want her there and took some goons and killed her personally.”

“Fudge?” Mornuk sounded horrified. “Do you mean Cornelius Fudge? Are you seriously telling me he became Minister of Magic?”

“Uh, yes.” Harry said, glancing at Arthalian for support. “I think it was not long before I started Hogwarts? So, about four or five years away?”

“Harry, I need to see those memories.” Mornuk said, looking more serious than Harry had ever seen him. “Ragnok needs to know about this as soon as possible.”

“Of course.” Harry nodded. “Do you have any other ways of transferring memories, or is a pensieve the only option? Because I can see that becoming very time consuming.”

“We have a ritual that will cause a full memory dump to be recorded into a viewing stone.” Mornuk replied, although he didn’t look very confident. “But that means your memory will be stored on that stone for as long as it exists. We goblins use them in order to keep the knowledge of the wisest of our kind available to us for eternity.”

“Is the ritual hard?” Harry asked. “Will it take long to do?”

Mornuk stared at him.

“Mornuk?”

“You would trust us?” Mornuk asked blankly. “You would trust us with the memory of the entirety of your existence to date, even knowing that you have powerful enemies that would stop at nothing to get hold of them?”

“Well, I’d want some assurances first.” Harry said, trusting that Arthalian, Caeldabryn or Finnath would say something if they saw a problem with what he was proposing. “I think it would be best to store the stone somewhere that we have control of, like Overlea. And anyone wanting to use it would have to take some vows?” Harry tried to think of anything else, and looked enquiringly at his kinsmen.

“And all memory viewing would be under guard.” Caeldabryn added. Harry nodded. Sounded fair to him.

Mornuk looked vacantly down at the sheet of parchment he had been making notes on. When he looked back up, he had regained his composure.

“I need to talk to Ragnok.” He said abruptly. “I suggest we finish this here, and pick things up again tomorrow afternoon.”

“Three o’clock?” Arthalian suggested agreeably. “Please also let Ragnok know that we would like to place a shifting station in a room somewhere in Gringotts to cut down on travel, and for safety reasons. While Harry is vulnerable, I’d prefer not to have him out in the open and exposed to random attack, or identification. I have no objections to whatever safety measures Ragnok feels are needed. Otherwise, it might be best if you visit us at Overlea.”

“Before you leave, I’ll arrange for a set of linked journals that we can bind to us by blood. That way we can safely correspond with no delay, and I can let you know what Ragnok decides.” Mornuk rose to his feet. “I’ll go and get them now. Please wait here.”

“Wow.” Harry remarked. “That was weird. He seemed really surprised. Why wouldn’t I trust the goblins? I mean, after getting vows and everything.”

“Despite the fact that you are in truth an elf, you spent your life in the other universe as a wizard, being instructed by them, and exposed to their prejudices.” Finnath told him gently. “Goblins are not used to wizards placing any true trust in them at all. And what you are speaking of doing, allowing them access to your mind, your memories, your history of self, has likely never been done by any non-goblin before. When you do this you leave yourself open to unscrupulous exploitation, something that the goblins have long been acknowledged to be very good at. And because they have no respect for wizards, they exploit them at every opportunity.”

“Well then.” Harry mused. “I guess we just found one extremely tarnished silver lining to being raised by hateful bigots. As a result of the discrimination I faced, I’ve always done my best to take each person on their own merits, and not be influenced by such stupid considerations as race, gender, sexual orientation, magical status… I’ve not always been successful, of course, but I do try.”

“Yes.” Arthalian said, his voice somewhat thick with emotion. “Yes, you try, and that’s all any reasonable person can really ask.” He pulled Harry onto his lap for another hug, and Harry went willingly, breathing in the increasingly familiar scent of his father. “I’m so very proud of you, Harry. I know that the person you developed into has next to nothing to do with me, it’s not like I was able to be there for you after all, but nevertheless I am extremely proud to call you my son, no matter which universe you originated in.”

Harry felt tears spring to his eyes at his father’s unconditional love and acceptance, and turned his face to hide them in Arthalian’s shirt. He felt like his emotions had been on a roller coaster since he had woken up early that evening. He didn’t know if it was the chemicals this young body was producing, or some function to what Hecate had done when she dropped him into this universe, but he was turning into a clinging watering pot. He, who by the age of four had learned that crying got him nothing, but that holding back his tears at least gained him the satisfaction of denying his tormentors. And his desire to not be a clinging watering pot was overwhelmingly dwarfed by his visceral reaction to being touched in love by those so much stronger than him, people that loved him, that he could count on.

When Harry gave a final shuddery breath and emerged from hiding, he immediately noticed that Caeldabryn and Finnath both had their hands on Arthalian. Recalling that last time he had been weeping all over Arthalian the same thing happened, his curiosity overcame his embarrassment.

“Why all the touching?” Harry asked as both of his kinsmen let go, and sat back down, Finnath taking the seat that Harry had been sitting in before his latest crying jag. Finnath reached out with his closest hand and tried to tidy Harry’s untamable hair, before giving up.

“We Avariel tend to have strong abilities with healing.” Finnath explained. “It’s easier with blood kin, the closer the better, something about the magical pathways, I wasn’t paying much attention to be honest. But when you release your hold on your emotions like you just did, and when we first got here, Arthalian is able to use his magic to help heal you.” Finnath ran his hand through his own tangle of hair. “It’s very instinctive, he doesn’t have to direct it or anything, but depending on the amount of healing required it can be a bit draining.

“When Cal and I, and the others before were touching Arthalian, we were bolstering his magic and sharing our own, so that he wouldn’t get exhausted and stop. His core filters our magic, adding to his stores, and you get more healing than Arthalian himself would be able to give you.”

“Thank you.” Harry said shyly. He would have to remember to thank the others, including Syllevella. Even though he was going to be a little wary of her for a while, he didn’t want one exchange to create an insurmountable barrier between them. She had spent years assisting Arthalian to search for him, and he owed her some latitude for that at the very least.

“Oh, Harry.” Arthalian sighed and kissed the messy head in front of him. “It should never have been necessary. There will be a reckoning, mark my words. We elves are a long-lived race, and our population growth is negligible. Every child is precious, and our whole society has evolved with their protection at it’s core. Even during the Territory Wars, the most terrible time in our recorded history, it was considered unthinkable to put anything before the welfare of a child. Children are considered untouchable, inviolate.

“Those of us that travel outside our home realm must make a divide in our minds between elven children and the children of other species, races, cultures, or whatever you want to call it, or we would go mad with what we see others put their children through. What that divide does though, is enhance our already genetically predisposed protective natures. When the permanent gate is placed at Overlea, we’re going to require several healers, and probably some combat specialists to help us release the build up of anger and to recover our control. Without some outlet, Finn, Cal and I and likely Rody and Hal as well may very well snap and set this world on fire, and watch, laughing no doubt, from our protected steading as everything burns.”

For a moment, Arthalian again looked like the fearsome being that Harry had seen just after sharing his memories, and this time he could see that there was an echoing golden glitter in the otherwise icy blue eyes of Caeldabryn, while Finnath’s hair darkened to jet black and his eyes went from green to golden brown, his mouth curving in a predatory smile.

“Is that why you came down so hard on Sparky?” Harry had been wondering about that. Arthalian shook his head, his usual demeanour returning.

“I was extremely lenient with Syllevella, Harry.” He disagreed. “There must be some great gap in her education, which I shall notify the Wise Ones about so that they can investigate it. She spoke maliciously with intent to cause you pain. Because of her youth, and the service she has done me, I have mitigated her punishment as far as possible. While her true age remains over a hundred, her social age has been returned to thirty one. She will now be held to the standards expected of an adult while no longer having the privileges of one, and this will last for a minimum of sixty nine years.

“She will no longer enjoy her previous favoured status in any of the learning institutions, and many opportunities which were open to her will now be closed. People will be wary of her, she will be watched for any sign of backsliding. And this is still a better result for her than if I had not demanded her social age be reduced to thirty one. She has her life. She has the ability to speak, without which she could never even hope to create the kind of bond every elf hopes to find. Over time, she may recover some of her standing, and if she is wise, she will learn to make the best of it.”

Harry pondered that for a bit. If he tried to view the situation as an onlooker, he could see where Arthalian was coming from. It was only when he was thinking about it from the perspective of the injured party that he was trying to excuse her, and he knew that he had been conditioned to forgiveness. The elven punishment system might seem harsh, but it accurately reflected the value children were held in and so long as everyone was held to the same standard… he wondered how it was that Syllevella didn’t seem to realize the severity of the consequences of her actions.

He was reminded slightly of Draco Malfoy, back in first year. When Harry had first met him, Draco was arrogant and entitled, and had spouted several obnoxious opinions, and young Harry had not liked him one bit. Looking back however, it was clear that in his own way he had been trying to make friends with a scruffy skinny nobody in tattered clothing, whose name he didn’t even know. Before he knew him as Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, before he was subsumed by his father’s political machinations, and Harry let Ron Weasley shape his end of their encounters.

That was Draco as he had truly been before life had repeatedly shown him that consequences weren’t something he had to worry about, that he was better than everyone else.

“I think I get it.” Harry said. “How often does the sentence for harming a child get handed out?”

Arthalian sighed.

“This is the first that I have heard of in my life time. Cal? As the oldest here, you would have a better idea.”

Cal shook his head.

“This is the first case that I’ve heard of in almost seven hundred years.” He was quiet for a moment, before adding, “I’m not sure you’ve done the right thing, but it’s your decision. If it looks like it’s going to come back to bite you, I’ll take care of it.”

Just then there was a knock at the door and without waiting for an invitation, Tina walked in, her eyes going straight to Harry and not appearing to notice the three elves in the room.

“Lord Potter! What are you doing out of your chair? It’s long past time you were back in bed young man, I only hope you haven’t set your healing back.” She frowned, and whipped out her wand, no doubt to cast the same diagnostic charms as earlier.

Before she had a chance to raise her wand more than two centimetres, Harry flinched involuntarily and was shoved behind Arthalian, Finnath had moved to stand in front of them both and Caeldabryn had grabbed the wrist Tina was holding her wand in and was using an iron grip to point the wand away from the occupants of the room. Everyone held their positions for a full second, which was when Mornuk reentered the room, carrying two journals and a chalice.

He stopped just inside the door and swept the room with his gaze.

“Ah.” He said which Harry thought was rather an understatement. Mornuk slowly advanced into the visitation room, setting the items he carried down on the table.

“Perhaps, Ms Brownell, you should consider putting your wand away. Slowly.”

Caeldabryn released her wrist, and Tina very slowly returned her wand to the holster on her forearm. Her face was white with shock, although she otherwise kept her composure. Harry was quite impressed.

“Ms Brownell, these gentlemen are newly arrived kinsmen of Lord Potter, who have been searching for him for some years.” Mornuk stated dryly. He indicated Finnath. “This gentleman is Finnath, Lord Potters father’s closest relation here on earth (not including Lord Potter, of course), and this is Finnath’s second cousin. The other gentleman is distantly related to Lord Potter’s mother. Gentlemen, this is Ms Martine Brownell, who has been the healer charged with Lord Potter’s wellbeing during his stay here at Gringotts.”

Everyone exchanged stilted greetings except for Mornuk, who looked on expressionlessly, and Harry who was doing his best not give into the giggles he felt rising inside him.

“Lord Potter’s relatives will be removing him from our care.” Mornuk continued smoothly. “Please provide them with the necessary records and a copy of the treatment plan you have drawn up, so that they may consult with their personal healers. Within the next half an hour should be sufficient. Thank you, Ms Brownell. You are dismissed.”

Tina walked to the door, still looking rather shell shocked, and Harry only just managed to wait until the door was fully closed before he let loose.

By the time he had finished laughing, his relatives had calmed down, and were relaxed enough to smile fondly at him. Wiping his eyes, he looked at Mornuk, who had taken a seat, and was eyeing him benevolently. Well, as far as Harry could tell.

“Mornuk, I think I may love you.” Harry said. “Actually, I love all of you. That was brilliant. Truly brilliant. Oh god, her face!” He went off into another peal of laughter, missing the effect his casual declaration of love had on the men in the room. When he had finally calmed down, Mornuk showed them the journals.

“They are linked.” He explained. “What is written in one will show up in the other. In order to ensure proper privacy, I suggest we blood seal them. If all of us here can shed three drops of blood, we can bond both books to all of us here.”

That was very quickly accomplished, and Arthalian stashed the elves copy in his traveling knapsack.

“As far as creating a shifting station, Ragnok is agreeable.” Mornuk announced once that had been taken care of. “We will have a room prepared at around 10.00am tomorrow. Perhaps you should send someone over to take care of that before our meeting at 3.00pm?”

“That will work great.” Arthalian agreed. “We’ll have to send Syllevella, but Hal and Rody will be with her. Depending on how things have gone at Overlea, she may be ready to offer you her apology. If you don’t feel it’s sincere, please don’t feel you need to accept it.”

“Of course.” Mornuk said, and there was a knock at the door. When it opened, a smallish goblin came in and wordlessly gave a large envelope to Mornuk, before leaving again.

“This looks like… yes, Harry’s healers records and his belongings, shrunk for convenience.” Mornuk closed the envelope, passing it to Arthalian to put in his knapsack. Then everyone rose to their feet, except for Harry who was still in Arthalian’s arms.

“Thank you for all your invaluable assistance, Mornuk.” Arthalian said, bowing slightly, Caeldabryn and Finnath bowing on either side of him. Harry inclined his head, the closest he could get to a bow from his current position. Mornuk bowed back.

“Not at all. Profit to you and yours, Lord Potter. We will meet again tomorrow.”

And with that Mornuk left the room.

“Well, Harry.” Arthalian said to his son. “Overlea’s open and waiting for us. Are you ready?”

“I’m ready.” Harry replied, looking forward to seeing the place he would call home for the near future.

With a shimmer, the four elves left Gringotts.

For Harry, it felt like passing through a cool waterfall, only with out the water. He could feel something cold streaming down him, and then they were at their destination.

They were in what looked like the entrance hall of a stone building, and Harry could see that they were standing on a spiral carved into the stone of the floor. Despite the time of year, and the stone building, there was no chill in the air.

Arthalian finally put Harry down (somewhat reluctantly) and they all greeted Marodena and Halvaden, who were waiting for them.

“How did things go?” Finnath asked what they were all thinking when they noticed that Syllevella wasn’t waiting for them.

Marodena shrugged expressively.

“I think Hal finally got through to her, but we haven’t seen her since then. We thought we’d leave her alone until tomorrow morning.” Marodena began leading them towards one of the doors. “Come, we will sit and eat, and you can tell us what happened after we left. Overlea is in fine shape, and tomorrow at 11.00am the Wise Ones will make contact through the Lapis Stone.” At Harry’s curious look, she explained.

“The Lapis Stone monitors all the permanent magic of the steading including the wards, and also allows us contact with the master stone, which is an extremely large piece of Lapis Lazuli found in the Seminary of the Wise Ones. It is no longer monitored at all times, but it is checked twice per day, so we have left a message.”

Harry nodded in understanding. That made perfect sense.

Marodena led them into a smallish sitting room, with a low circular table surrounded by two long half circle padded bench seats. The table held fruit, and some vegetable dishes Harry wasn’t familiar with. Everything could be handled tidily with the fingers, and there were glasses and a pitcher of water to one side.

Harry ended up sandwiched between Arthalian and Caeldabryn on one seat, with Finnath, Marodena and Halvaden sitting opposite. He listened as Arthalian and Finnath recounted the plans that had been made, and feeling safe, warm and well fed, quietly feel asleep leaning against Caeldabryn.

Chapter ten

Overlea – 23rd December 1985

When Harry awoke, he was alone in a lovely warm bed. It was dark, but there was some ambient light filtering in through a window to his right that didn’t have any coverings drawn across it.

He wondered how to find out what time it was. When he was in his cupboard, he would creep out and check the kitchen. During his first year at Hogwarts he had bought a watch from Katie Bell, saying that he had lost his, and his guardians were away from home, and would she mind getting her parents to send one and he would reimburse them? It was before the points loss debacle, so she had happily agreed.

Harry slipped out of bed to go and look out of the window. His bare feet landed on something soft and fluffy, and the room was pleasantly cool. Halfway to the window, a small movement off to one side caught his attention. There was large chair in the shadows by the window, and curled up on the seat, with it’s eyes open and looking at him, was the largest wolf he had ever seen. It was huge.

Harry froze, one foot comically halfway off the floor, and watched the wolf carefully. It blinked at him, and then it’s mouth opened in a yawn, releasing it’s tongue and incidentally displaying some extremely large and lethal looking teeth, finishing up in a wolfy grin.

Harry felt relief rush through him when he remembered that Cal, Hal and Rody were all Lythari, so this was likely one of them. And given that Hal and Rody were bonded, which meant if it was going to be either of them then they’d both be here increasing his likelihood of heart attack, this was probably Cal.

“Cal?” He asked quietly, sending a query through the bond. He got back amusement and warmth, and the wolf jumped down from the chair stretching out it’s long body, before giving a little shake and padding over to Harry. Now that Harry was paying attention, he could feel the bond between him and Cal thicken at the wolf’s approach, and so when a cold nose nudged his hand, he reached up slowly to scratch behind the soft furry ears. He clearly managed to get one especially good spot, as Cal swiveled his head slightly, pushing into Harry’s fingers, his eyes half closing in bliss.

Harry found himself laughing, and leaned into Cal, whose wolf form was taller than he was. He got his face licked by a long wet tongue for his troubles, so he turned it to one side and wiped it on the massive shoulder next to him.

“Just what I always like in the morning, to be slobbered on. I don’t suppose you can give me an indication of what time it is like this?” Harry asked, not really expecting a response. Cal tapped one of his paws on the floor seven times. Harry blinked.

“Seven o’clock?” Well, that made some sense. Back at the Dursleys, he would be expected to be up soon, getting breakfast ready. Harry continued on to the window, Cal padding beside him. Looking out, he could see beautiful gardens, shimmering with frost in the pre-dawn light, low clouds scudding overhead. Harry gave a great sigh of contentment. This was going to be his home for the foreseeable future, and he thought it was the most beautiful place he had ever seen. He reached out to give Cal a hug, running his fingers through the thick rough fur at his neck.

There was the sound of a door opening, and then light spilled in from the hallway outside. Harry watched curiously from the window as Finnath tiptoed in and then leapt on the bed.

“Wake up Harry! Time to… Harry?” Finn looked around for his nephew, his crazy hair looking even crazier. Harry started giggling, attracting Finn’s attention.

“Lights one half!” Finn said, and Harry could feel the magical intent, even as the room was flooded with warm yellow light, light that didn’t appear to have a specific source. It was if the walls were one big light bulb, and all you needed was the dimmer. He wondered briefly of you could have some of the wall alight, and leave some dark, but decided that perhaps that could wait until they no longer had The Conspiracy to unravel.

“There you are.” Finn said, looking over at Harry and Cal by the window. He frowned at Cal. “You’re getting to show him all the cool Lythari stuff before I even have a chance to promote being an Avariel! Is this what happens when you get old? You get all sneaky and… and devious?” He considered for a moment. “Not really a downside, is it? Oh well.” He jumped of the bed and bounded over to Harry sweeping him up in hug and then releasing him just as quickly.

“As soon as we get somewhere with a bit of room, I’ll change and you can see me fly. Surely being a bird and able to fly is cooler than being a wolf?” Finn was pulling Harry behind him by one hand out the door, which Harry only allowed because it wasn’t like he had any decent clothes other than pyjamas anyway, and everyone had already seen them. But he did make a mental note to sort something out.

From what Arthalian had said last night, he wasn’t planning on letting Harry out in the open, so that meant someone else would have to do his shopping for him. And wouldn’t that be weird. Aside from the hand me downs from Dudley, which so didn’t count, the only clothes that he had ever worn that had been bought for him rather than by him in his life were the dress robes in fourth year purchased by Molly Weasley. Ginny and Hermione had bought him a ton of stuff that they tried to make him wear, but he had hated their choices, and refused to wear them.

At least whomever Arthalian was going to send already knew about his reaction to that. How weird that all of the controlling potions worked in some areas but in others he was able to assert himself. It must have been his magic trying to break free, to overcome the external influences. By the time the potioning was discovered and he was purged, the mix and strength of potions was almost at a lethal level, according to the healers in Toronto.

But then Finn had told him that Avariel had natural healing abilities. Could it be that those abilities, trained from an early age to take care of Harry, had continued to do so for the rest of his life? He’d never had any treatment for the years of malnutrition in his formative years, after all. Surely his organs should have been in pretty dire condition? The healers at Gringotts had certainly leapt on the opportunity to feed him as many disgusting concoctions as possible. Personally, he’d much preferred the hugging, even if it came with a side order of weepy embarrassment.

The three made their way along a long hallway and down a flight of stairs and then through an inconspicuous door into a large airy room that Harry immediately recognized as the kitchen.

Hal was beside a large oven type device using a frying pan on a stove top, while Syllevella chopped things with a large knife at a bench close by. Arthalian and Rody were sitting at one of several large wooden tables, as close to Hal and Syllevella as possible. And they were having what sounded to Harry like a very heated discussion. At least, Arthalian’s voice sounded heated. He was clearly doing the majority of the talking, and at Rody for some reason. She was listening to what he was saying, occasionally answering, but didn’t look particularly worried. It almost looked like she was humouring him.

Harry stopped in the doorway, and tugged Finn’s arm.

“What’s that about?” Harry didn’t want to interrupt them if it was important, and Arthalian at the very least looked extremely invested in whatever he was saying. Finn looked conflicted very briefly, then capitulated.

“Arthalian was almost as worn out as you were last night.” Finn kept his voice low. “The portkey travel, the emotional overload of the confirmation of the bond, seeing the clusterfuck that Dumbledore made of your previous life, performing two healings… we all knew that he was keyed up enough that it was unlikely that he would let you out of his sight, going so far as to sit up and watch over you while you slept. And since he really needs to be rested to function as well as we’re going to need him to…”

“You guys drugged him or something.” Harry guessed, easily seeing both sides to the argument.

“We knew he was going to be angry.” Finnath shrugged. “We’d do it again. But Rody was the one who slipped him the mickey, so to speak, and so he appears to be taking his ire out on her. But he’s only just woken up, and he’s always irritable then. You’ll notice Rody’s not worried, she knows that as soon as he gets some food in him his mood will improve, and he’ll see the reasonableness of what we did.”

Just then Arthalian saw the three of them standing in the doorway, and his disgruntled frown melted into a beaming smile.

“Or, we can just dangle his son in his face.” Finn muttered sotto voice to the large wolf at his side as they watched Harry move quickly over to Arthalian and exchange hugs and delighted greetings. “I wonder what other things that will work for…”

“Cal! No fur in the kitchen!” At Rody’s insistence, Cal appeared to give a great shrug, gaining his human form in a blink.

Finnath and Cal joined Rody, Arthalian and Harry at the table.

“See Arthalian?” Finn said as he sat. “Harry’s fine. Cal spent the night curled up in his chair, and you can’t think that there’s any possible way that anything could have got through the barriers, and into Harry’s room and past Cal without the entire house being woken.”

“Yes yes.” Arthalian muttered into his steaming mug. “I was being an arse, I get it. Sorry for taking it out on you, Rody.” Marodena gave him a smile full of teeth.

“No matter. Perhaps you’d like to join me for a spar later on?” She raised her eyebrows in challenge. Arthalian winced, and then perked up again.

“Sorry Rody.” He replied, not sounding particularly sorry at all. “We’ve got a lot to do today, and then you and Hal will need to be off to Finland to see this ICW member on behalf of Harry’s godfather.”

“Of course. Some other time then.” Rody gracefully let the subject drop. “You said that the three of us will need to be at Gringotts at 10.00am? Syllevella, can you give us an idea on how long will it take to place the shifting station?”

Syllevella finished what she was doing and put down the knife, handing the chopping board covered in food to Halvaden, before turning to face the five seated at the table.

“That will depend on how long you’ll need it to last, and, or perhaps or, how many uses you foresee it being required for.” Syllevella was definitely more subdued this morning, and she seemed unable to make eye contact with anyone. “The more lasting the structure, the longer it will take. If you want a truly permanent station, you’ll have to wait until you have at least three elves with the requisite skill level. Until then, the best I can do is a station that will last for about six months, so long as it is not used more than twice a day. And that will take between three to four hours. And by twice a day I mean one incoming, and one outgoing, although the number of bodies being transferred isn’t an issue.”

“So…” Arthalian thought about what they would be needing. “How about a station that will last a couple of weeks, with maybe four or five uses a day?” Syllevella thought about that for a moment before answering.

“Providing I know before hand and can have the plans drawn up, maybe three quarters of an hour? So long as I’m inscribing on stone that is. That’s the only material really stable enough to take that kind of traffic, for more than one or two days.” She shrugged, and then flicked her eyes to Marodena. “I’ll probably need a small magical boost to charge the station once it’s done.”

“Thank you Syllevella.” Arthalian hesitated for a moment. “If you start your planning, will you be ready in time to port to Gringotts and get started at 10.00am? If Hal and Rody set off immediately after breakfast, you can port directly to their sides, and the three of you will hopefully be back before the Lapis conference at 11.00am.”

“Sure.” Syllevella replied. “That should be plenty of time.” She hesitated, obviously a bit unsure as to what she should be doing now. Harry gave her an encouraging smile.

“Why don’t you sit here with us, and wait for whatever smells so delicious?” He said, hoping to get past this very awkward moment. This was the first time he and Syllevella were in the same room after having what her loss of control would mean for her going forward spelled out to both them.

“Thank you.” Syllevella said quietly. “But first there’s something that I need to say.” With great trepidation she raised her eyes, and met Harry’s gaze.

“I’m sorry Harry. I lost my temper and took my frustration and anger out on you, and it was inexcusable. You were in no way to blame, and you didn’t deserve anything I said to you. Please don’t take anything I said to heart, I just… I just really need to grow up I guess. I hope one day we can be friends.” She looked back down to her hands, which were twisting together.

“I’m sure we can be friends Sparky.” Harry’s heart really went out to her. This was only the very start of the consequences she would be facing, and he in no way wanted to make it any harder than it was already going to be. And it wasn’t up to him to punish her anyway, he was a child, just as she would now be viewed as. And that gave him an idea.

“And since for a while it will be just us two against all these adults, I’m going to need you to give me all the ammunition against them that you can, so that I’ll have something up my sleeves, and won’t feel so outnumbered when you’re gone.”

Everyone in the room relaxed a bit at Syllevella’s relieved giggle. This time when she looked into Harry’s eyes, hers were warm with gratitude.

“Thank you Harry.” She gave him a conspiratorial glance. “And since I’m not going to be able to use any of the dirt I’ve gathered on these jokers, it’s only fair that I pass it on.”

“Mwa, ha ha!” Rubbing his hands together, Harry gave maniacal laugh number one, Luna’s response to anything even slightly naughty that sounded like fun.

After eating, Syllevella went to the study to draw up her plans, Hal and Rody shifted to their wolf forms and then faded into invisibility before leaving for Gringotts, and Harry joined all three of his bonded kinsmen in the largest, most impressive library he’d ever seen.

While he wasn’t quite the bibliophile Hermione was, Harry had always enjoyed spending his time in libraries, providing he wasn’t there solely for homework purposes. Libraries were quiet, and in public libraries there was usually a stern librarian keeping an eye on things. Because of his reputation, they had always been especially careful to keep an eye on him, which meant that a library was one place where he was safe from Dudley and his gang.

Taking a closer look at some of the books closest to him, Harry realized that he didn’t recognize any of them. He couldn’t even read most of the titles, and the ones he could read had vastly different spelling than what he was used to. He supposed that made sense if Overlea had been closed up for hundreds or even thousands of years. This huge library would also be seriously out of date.

Arthalian had pulled up a seat at a writing desk, and Finn and Cal were lounging on a huge sofa that was placed to catch the morning light from the large windows. Harry could see something slightly off with the tint in the glass, but figured that glass making must have changed over time. There was plenty of space on the sofa between Finn and Cal, so Harry hopped up and made himself comfortable.

Together, the four of them composed a letter to Lord Black from Harry. They didn’t mention his elven heritage, but they did explain the situation that James Potter had found himself in, and the solution he and his wife had come up with, and how Sirius had helped. They said that Harry had been reunited with his father, who wasn’t a muggle after all, although not quite a wizard either (they were hoping that even if the rest of the letter was a bust, this might at least spark Lord Black’s curiosity), and since Harry had a copy of his parents will that clearly stated that Peter Pettigrew was their secret keeper, they were planning to do everything that they could think of to get Sirius released from prison, or at least his long overdue trial, where he could demand questioning under veritaserum.

They went on to mention that Harry had been made aware that he was the magical and legal heir to the Black Scion, and that he also wished to learn more about his Black heritage. They finished with a hope that they could enter into a correspondence, with a view to meeting, and suggested Gringotts as an intermediary, and also as a neutral meeting place. Harry was unsure about how to sign off, but both Arthalian and Cal advised that he use the title Lord Potter, as it might make Lord Black more inclined to take him seriously.

When they had finished with that and had put it to one side, they talked about the pro’s and con’s of trying to get some sort of letter to Madam Bones. Harry felt that if they could be sure of getting it to her safely, she would at least consider looking into the matter. The difficulty would be in managing to convince her of the necessary secrecy involved in such an endeavour. They were all well aware that one of the reasons The Conspiracy had succeeded so well was that whole idea of it was ludicrous. The idea that Dumbledore was playing everyone from behind the scenes like some sort of puppet master, and that no one had noticed in all this time…

They didn’t want to look insane after all. In the end, they decided that if they could lure her to Gringotts where they could speak to her in person and she could witness their oaths, they would include her in their plans. Otherwise, it was just too risky that information might get back to Dumbledore before they were ready. The last thing they wanted was for Sirius to be ‘accidentally’ kissed before the international spotlight had been well and truly trained on the situation.

They had just come to an agreement on that, when Syllevella came by to say that she was ready to head off to Gringotts, and just had to wait for 10.00am.

“That reminds me.” Harry said, straightening up from where he had been slumped against Finn. “I need some clothes, and I’d really like a watch. I have no idea what time it is, and it’s getting really frustrating.”

“I obviously don’t have any clothes that will fit you, but I do have a spare watch.” Syllevella offered. “I can’t stand to be without one either. It might not be quite what you like, let me get it and you can tell me what you think.”

She was back quite quickly and while the watch wasn’t anything that Harry would pick for himself, it was substantially better than having no watch at all. Harry said as much when he thanked her, promising to return it as soon as he got his hands on a watch of his own.

“Don’t worry about it.” Syllevella dismissed it with a smile and a wave of her hand. “And I had an idea about clothes too. If Finn or Arthalian can get you some things of theirs, I can shrink them and then use a tailoring spell to make them fit. Again, not ideal, but as a stop gap measure it should work.”

Thank you!” Harry said emphatically. “You have no idea how sick I am of these stupid pyjamas. Is there somewhere I can wash?” He could see that it was currently 9.30am, so he had a bit of time before Syllevella was due to leave.

He was shown to a bathroom that held a tub of steaming water, and after making a mental note that he really needed to find out more about the place he was now living in, Harry had a quick wash, and emerged ten minutes later wearing a towel, the math-leri sitting firm against his skin for the first time, and holding the despised pyjamas in one hand.

Syllevella had already started with the shrinking, and very soon Harry was dressed. She tried to do something with his hair, but soon gave up.

“It’s a pity I won’t be able to take you shopping.” She said a little wistfully as she straightened his shirt, before giving a small sigh and then plastering a smile on her face. “Ah well. What are your plans until the Lapis conference?”

Finn stretched to his full height, and gave a wild grin.

“I think I’ll have a quick flight out to Devon, see if I can pick up a troublesome rat.” He accepted the moneybag that Arthalian passed him. “Ah yes, cover story, right.” He turned to Harry. “Want to see me change into an eagle?”

Harry agreed eagerly, and they all traipsed outside, where Finn leapt into the air, becoming a black eagle between one second and the next. He let out a raucous cry, and beat his long wings firmly, gaining some height before catching an updraft.

“Show off.” Cal muttered under his breath as Finn executed a daring dive while giving another grating scream, before heading off to the southwest.

Harry watched him go with starry eyes. Oh, to be able to fly like that. He looked up at Arthalian who was gazing after his cousin with fond exasperation.

“Do you think I’ll be able to change into a bird?” Harry asked, holding his breath for the answer.

“I can’t think of any reason why not.” Arthalian answered, glaring at Syllevella as she opened her mouth. She shut it again quickly. Harry didn’t notice, his attention once again on Finn’s receding figure.

The previous night after Harry had fallen asleep, Finn had initiated a rather long discussion regarding Harry’s potential. He was adamant that they not limit what he could achieve by telling him that things couldn’t be done. Finn was personally of the opinion that more Avariel could find an avian form if they weren’t led to believe from a very young age that it was almost impossible. Everyone knew that avian Avariel had only come along a few times in the entire history of the race. Finn had grown up certain that he would be the eighth, and he refused to listen to anyone telling him differently. And lo and behold, before he even reached his twentieth year he had gained his other form, much to the shock of everyone around him.

Finnath wanted Harry to have the chance, after seeing his memories it was clear that Harry had the desire, the will power to achieve the full form. He planned to guide Harry through it, and so long as no one told him that it was impossible, he was sure that Harry would succeed. Arthalian had agreed that it was a worthy experiment, with nothing lost if it didn’t work out. Harry was clearly already enamoured with the idea of being a bird, and it would be devastating to be told he couldn’t have it at any time in the proceedings. They may as well make sure, before they broke his heart.

Along those same lines, it had been decided that no one would tell Harry that never before in the history of any of the races had an elf gained two forms. If Finn was right, it may just be possible that Harry could also take advantage of his Lythari heritage. They had a unique opportunity with Harry, due to his isolation he had none of the learned limitations that other young elves were exposed to.

His advanced intelligence, his large magical reservoir, and the childish ability to express emotions, to believe wholeheartedly in something that he had retained with this body, added up to wonderful possibilities. Most of the discussion had been about whether or not it was ethical to hide what they were planning from Harry. He’d already been through so much betrayal, and the last thing they wanted to do was add to it.

In the end it was decided that he would be encouraged to believe that anything and everything was possible, even if not everyone could do it. And no one was to mention any facts or figures as to the number of people that had succeeded doing anything in the past.

Someone needed to have a word with Syllevella, so that she didn’t inadvertently ruin things. If someone had told Harry that no one could read the math-leri before it was handed to him, who knows what would have happened?

By the time 11.00am came around, Rody, Hal and Syllevella had returned from Gringotts having installed the new shifting station, and Finn had returned from Ottery St. Catchpole, unconscious rat in hand.

While they waited, Harry, Cal and Arthalian had a snack and then went on a ramble around the house deciding to leave the garden till they had more time. As it was, it was good that Cal was with them, or they might have become a bit lost, and missed the conference with the Wise Ones.

With five minutes to go, the seven elves placed chairs in a circle around the lapis, and Harry was advised that as they didn’t know how long they would be there, it was best to get as comfortable as possible.

At one minute to, they were all sitting there ready. There was only a short wait until the lapis began to glow, radiating blue light. The elves reached forward and each placed their right hand on the stone, and the left on the elf beside them.

Sitting there, linked to the other elves and the stone, Harry felt as if his mind fell away, leaving him standing, and not touching anything or anyone in a featureless gray place. Arthalian, Cal, Finn, Hal, Rody and Sparky materialized around him. Two heartbeats later a group of elves appeared facing them. The same female Wise One that Harry had seen in the memory that Hecate had showed him was standing in the front.

The Gatekeeper smiled, and opened her hands in greeting.

Chapter eleven

Harry opened his eyes and removed his hand from the Lapis Stone. Well. He hadn’t been quite sure what to expect, given everything else he had seen the elves achieve, and frankly, the reality was a bit of a let down. Communication by Lapis was just that. Communication. Everyone met, had a chat, and then disengaged. Still, it had been agreed the permanent gate would be coming through in a fortnight, and that would allow for traffic backwards and forwards every month.

As activating the gates took power and strength and was quite draining, it was agreed that once a month would be adequate unless an emergency arose. The Gatekeeper had suggested that there should be a rotation of Wise Ones at the Overlea end of things, to open the gate in case of an emergency, otherwise it would be opened at the Thystaesi end. Arthalian mentioned the linked journals that Mornuk had provided them with, and agreed to ask to purchase an unbound set for the Wise Ones to study. Harry had attempted to use the math-leri, but discovered that the only thing taken into the grey space was consciousness. He had no feeling of magic, no ability to touch. The Gatekeeper explained that the grey space was an artificial construct that allowed expressed thoughts to be exchanged, and nothing else.

Upon checking his new watch, he realized that less than an hour had passed. So, there were still over three hours before they were due back at Gringotts.

“So Harry.” Finnath said casually, glancing at him from corner of his eyes. “Is there anything you want to… resolve with a certain rat before we hand him over to justice?”

Harry stiffened. After everything with Riddle was over he had entertained many dark fantasies about what he would have liked to do to Pettigrew if he had the chance. No doubt those had played for everyone along with the rest of his memories. He was suddenly mortified.

He hadn’t given a lot of thought to it… of course they weren’t just getting the highlights, they were getting everything. Every furtive wank, the disaster that was sex with Ginny, the rather self destructive drinking binge he had gone on after finding out his life was a lie, Neville and Luna turning up to drag him kicking and screaming out of his pity party… His and George’s drunken night together a week before he left through the veil…

Harry found himself growing hot with embarrassment. Suddenly, he wanted nothing more than to be somewhere else. Anywhere else… All these people had seen… he had showed them, said, come and look at sad Harry and his life…

The math-leri warmed against his skin, and Harry suddenly remembered that his father was an Avariel… if he could fly… it was probably something perfectly natural to an elf, and since Harry no longer had the blood wards weighing him down, and he had no blocks on his magic… The math-leri inserted an image into his mind.

If I just concentrate on that, and then twist and pull here and push forwards here

Between one second and the next, Harry felt his entire perspective of the world change. His vision was drastically different, he could see the tiniest details of everything, and everyone in the room with him was huge! He was off balance and flailing around, and realized that it wasn’t arms that were wind milling in his panic, but dark wings. He could feel himself dropping through the air, and his panic ramped up a notch. He could feel that the math-leri was trying to make suggestions, but he was in no state to listen. His heart was going like a trip hammer, and he had no idea what to do, how to fly.

A huge shape lunged at him with hands outstretched, in his mind he dimly recognized that it was Cal, but instinct took over and he jabbed at the intruding hands with his beak. And then he was no longer falling, although he was still descending. There was something warm and solid beneath him, and he flapped his wings, trying to right himself. Then the warmth was gone, and he was standing on solid stone, and he was upright, and he finally had the time to stop panicking. He could hear people talking, but he registered the sounds as familiar, and they didn’t concern him.

Finally calm, Harry spent a moment looking over his new body. He was black, at least the feathers he could see and his beak and feet were black. He slowly spread his wings, careful not to overbalance.

He was a bird. He was a bird! Arthalian had said he could probably do it, and here he was! He let out a shout of triumph, it coming out as a recognizable gurgling croak, and began doing an odd little dance to demonstrate his happiness, before he realized that he had a, no idea how to fly and b, no idea how to regain his usual two legged form.

***

Everyone was staring in surprise as Harry first turned bright red, and then changed into a juvenile raven, hanging in mid air before dropping towards the ground. Cal was the one who leapt forward to catch the clearly struggling bird, getting jabbed by what was clearly a sharp beak several times for his troubles.

“Feisty wee bugger, isn’t he?” Cal remarked calmly, observing his bleeding hands after he had set Harry down on the ground, where the recently panicking raven started looking himself over. “I guess that answers one question.”

“How did he… that’s impossible!” Syllevella was perhaps the most shocked of all of them.

“Clearly not.” Finn said dryly. His face spread into a broad smile, and he raised his fists in the air. “Who called it? I did! Bow before my wisdom, fools. You stand in the presence of greatness! Ow!”

Arthalian had poked his cousin in the ribs.

“My son has turned into a raven Finn. Yes, I’m proud. Now, how on Thystaesi does he go about turning back?”

They all watched in silence as Harry let out a loud cry, and then danced around like his tail was on fire. No one could see anything wrong with him, and Finn had an indulgent smile on his face, so it probably wasn’t anything to worry about.

“Maybe Finn could change, and then have a chat with him?” Syllevella had regained her composure, and was smiling at the dancing raven. Finn shook his head.

“Birds don’t have a language, so to speak.” He explained. “We communicate through body language mostly. Vocalizations are usually to emphasize things, or transmit common information over long distances. Like, ‘here I am, and I’m totally studly’ or ‘there’s something really yummy here’ or ‘oh my stars it wants to eat my chicks’. He’ll probably have a better chance of understanding instructions if I talk in this form, with just one problem.”

“Yes?” Arthalian said resignedly. “Care to share oh great and wise one?”

Finn ran his fingers through his hair, and then shrugged.

“I’ve never had to explain it before. It’s just something that I do. I don’t know if I can explain it.”

“Wonderful. Anyone else got any ideas?” Arthalian looked around hopefully, only to see blank expressions all around. “Great.”

On the ground, Harry had stopped his dance, and seemed to be considering something, head cocked to one side.

“Maybe he’ll figure it out for himself.” Finn suggested optimistically. Just as Arthalian was opening his mouth to tell his cousin what he thought of that plan, Harry changed back to his wingless form. He was slightly off balance for a moment, but he was smiling widely and his eyes were glowing with happiness.

“That… is so cool.” Harry breathed.

Finn threw his hands in the air again.

“Yes! Two for two! I am the KING!” It was Finn’s turn to do a mad dance.

“I’m sure that will make sense later.” Harry muttered under his breath. He took in the sight of Cal’s bloody hands and remembered jabbing at them in his panic.

“Oh god Cal, I’m so sorry!” Harry cried out, distressed that he had unwittingly caused such harm to someone who was helping him. He reached out, turning Cal’s hands over so that he could see the wounds, and winced at the painful looking gouges. He couldn’t understand why Cal was smiling at him so fondly. Harry was busy berating himself and wishing he could somehow fix what he’d done, when the math-leri gave him a suggestion.

Rather than just do it, this time he decided that maybe he should get someone else’s input. Especially as this time he was thinking of using his magic on someone else, no matter how benevolent he intended it to be. Someone else that he had already caused harm to, however inadvertent it was. If nothing else, he needed Cal’s permission.

“Um, so, the math-leri is giving me some info on how I could go about healing this.” Harry looked up at Cal through his scruffy fringe. “Are you okay with me trying it out? It seems simple enough, but then so did changing into a bird, and that’s what got you in this mess to start with.”

Cal looked over to Arthalian, who shrugged.

“It’s up to you Cal. I’m sure it will be fine, but you’re the one who’ll have to cope with anything unexpected.” Arthalian came and stood with Harry, placing one hand on his shoulder. “What’s the procedure, Harry?”

“I have to basically imagine the flesh knitting back together, and sort of” Harry struggled to find the right words for the feeling the math-leri had given him “pour? No, maybe direct? My magic through my hands, and out into Cal’s hand. They’re fairly simple injuries, so I don’t need a lot of anatomical knowledge. I’ve had similar wounds myself, and my body already knows how to heal them.” The hand on Harry’s shoulder gripped tighter for a moment as Arthalian was reminded of the brutal life his son had undergone at the hands of Vernon Dursley.

“Sure.” Cal said, resting his hands more fully in Harry’s grasp. “Go ahead. I’m sure you’ll do great, your raven was perfect, wasn’t it?”

“So I was a raven! I thought so when I heard what I sounded like…” Harry’s eyes lit up again, before he visibly reigned himself back in. “I’ll just get this sorted, and then we can talk about it.” He concentrated on Cal’s hands, and everyone saw the bloody gashes slowly close, and then disappear as if they’d never been there.

“That’s extraordinary!” Syllevella breathed, watching over Finnath’s shoulder as Harry withdrew his hands. “You let your magic flow without precise direction?” She turned to Arthalian. “Is that like what you do when you use the infans animus to facilitate healing?”

Arthalian shook his head.

“No, what happens there is we funnel magic to the bond, and the bond directs it on it’s way.” Arthalian removed his hand from Harry’s shoulder, only to pull his son into his side in a semi-hug. “Harry didn’t use the bond at all, he sent his magic directly to Cal’s hand. He used about a fifth of the magic I would have used to heal the same wounds if I’d been using a bond. Harry, you say that your body having experience of the wounds helped?” Harry nodded.

“My magic already knows how my body heals things like this, and so it didn’t need direction. If it was something I’d never experienced before, like a finger cut off, my magic would have needed more instruction.”

“But you could still heal a cut off finger?” Syllevella asked intently. Arthalian and Finnath were both waiting to hear Harry’s response.

“Well yes.” Harry said looking a little confused. “I’d just need to concentrate really hard on what I wanted. You know, flesh and blood vessels, and bones and cells and stuff to reattach themselves where they’re supposed to go, so that the finger looks like it should and works properly.”

“There’s no scarring.” Cal said as the others stood around in stunned silence. “Is that what usually happens with your own injuries?”

“Yep. Unless there’s something in the wound, or effort is made to create scarring.” Harry replied. “There was the curse scar, the basilisk fang mark, the one with the blood quill, and then the ones…” Harry trailed off, not wanting to mention the ones on his back where Vernon had poured lemon juice all over him in a fit of temper that he’d not been able to leave any marks on him.

Just then Harry’s stomach gave a great growl.

“We can talk further over lunch.” Rody said, and headed off to the kitchen. “It’s my turn to cook, any requests before I get started?”

During lunch, Harry explained how the math-leri had showed him how to reach his raven form.

“But why then?” Arthalian asked him. “What made you want to be a bird right then?”

Harry’s face flooded with heat as he remembered what he’d been thinking when he decided to try and change into a bird.

“I just realized…” Harry gulped, and tried to find the words to explain how he felt. “I only just realized that by showing you my memories, you saw everything. I’d been concentrating on the important things, like the potions and stuff. It didn’t cross my mind that you’d see, you know. All the… private stuff. You know.” He said a little more desperately, hoping not to have to go into specifics.

Rody was the first to understand the reason for his embarrassment, and hurried to reassure him.

“No Harry, it was fairly clear that your magic directed the transfer.” Her very tone was calming, and he felt his face cool down slightly as Rody continued. “We did not see every moment of everyday, we would find ourselves skimming through parts where I assume not much happened, for instance, with the exception of what your school called potions class, we didn’t see a great deal of your class time. And even in that disgrace for a class, we generally saw the interactions rather than the entirety of the lesson.”

Harry smiled at her gratefully.

“Thanks. It’s just… Finn asked about the rat, and then I thought, oh yeah, you must have seen all the time I spent wishing I had him so that I could…” Harry trailed off. “But actually having him is a different matter. I could kill him, I think, but I don’t think torturing him is a good idea. I just don’t want him to escape again.”

“I agree, Harry.” Hal said gently. “He likely has no information that we could find useful, and as such to torture him would only cause you harm. He is a dead man walking anyway, it matters not to him in the long run.”

“Is there something we can do?” Harry asked hopefully. “So that if he escapes, we can make sure he dies? Last time he escaped from me, he raised Voldemort from the dead. I always felt a bit responsible for that… if I’d just let Sirius and Remus kill him like they wanted to…” he heaved a great sigh. “But if we had a way to kill him from a distance, then it wouldn’t matter, would it?”

The three Lythari at the table looked quite intrigued at the idea. Arthalian and Finn exchanged a long glance, and Syllevella looked slightly nauseous. Despite her obvious distaste, she was the one to answer Harry.

“Yes actually. There’s a spell that we use when experimenting that operates as a sort of two part chemical reaction. The idea is that you cast the spell to prime the contact surface. You have to leave a sort of… magical tag, you stop casting, but the spell isn’t complete yet. You complete it when you pick up the tag and then transfer whichever substance you wish to the surface you’ve already primed.”

“And if the reaction between the two substances is volatile…” Harry said, understanding where she was headed. “BOOM!”

“Boom.” Syllevella agreed.

“Does it need to be the same person who casts both sides of the spell?” Finnath asked her, thinking of several uses and also the possibility of sabotage.

“Yes.” Syllevella answered. “The tag can only be picked up by the original caster, and distance doesn’t matter.” She swallowed, and looked down at the table. “I would rather… if it can wait until someone else gets here, I…”

“That’s fine.” Rody said, stroking Syllevella’s arm comfortingly. “There’s no great hurry, we can just wait to hand him over until it’s done.” Rody’s eyes dared anyone to naysay her.

“Would you be able to teach Harry?” Finn asked. Syllevella jerked her head up in surprise, and looked at Harry thoughtfully.

“Sure, I mean, it’s simple enough in practice.” She looked significantly perkier. “We just need two substances that show some reaction with each other when mixed. Two different colours of paint would work. Even if you decide not to… you know… it’s still a useful spell to know.”

It was decided that Syllevella and Harry would practice the two part spell under Hal’s supervision, and the others would get some of the training rooms organized. They ended up having a list fourteen pages long of things that needed to be changed or bought, with Cal making the majority of the changes. If they were going to be training Harry here, he wanted access to anything and everything he could think of.

It was decided that they would send the list back with Syllevella, who would be heading back during the first activation of the permanent gate.

Then Finn brought up the clothing situation, restating that Harry needed some, so they held an impromptu and rather spirited game of cards to determine who would be attending to that duty. Arthalian lost, and no one felt too bad for him, as it was probably his responsibility anyway. He made a note to get some money changed while at Gringotts. Almost all of their non-magical English money had been used getting the two taxis.

When Harry, and Syllevella came in, both flushed with success and with Hal on their heels, they found their companions in a large sitting room, gathered around a coffee table playing cards. Harry went over and sat by his father to watch.

“Who’s winning?” Syllevella asked curiously, sitting down at the edge of one of the sofas, looking over Finnath’s shoulder to see which cards he held.

“Cal, like usual.” Finnath replied, sounding rather disgruntled.

Arthalian tried explaining the rules of the game to Harry, but he was tired and decided to just sit there and enjoy the company of this family that he was now a part of. There was still an hour until they were due at Gringotts, so Harry let himself slide into sleep.

***

They shifted through to Gringotts with five minutes to spare until their meeting. To the surprise of all of them, they were shown down to Ragnok’s office.

When they got there, it was clear that this wasn’t a last minute change in location. Mornuk was sitting at the conference table with a pile of documents to either side, going through some files and taking notes, and Ragnok was sitting at his desk.

Everyone bowed their greetings, and Arthalian asked the question that was on the mind of every elf in the room.

“Not that we aren’t pleased to see you Ragnok, but why are we meeting in your office? I wouldn’t have thought our business was that important.”

Ragnok waved everyone to seats, joining them at the conference table.

“Today I was given a request from Madam Bones of the DMLE to meet with two aurors who had given oaths of strictest secrecy, with regards to the location, welfare and legal magical guardianship of the Head of the House of Potter.”

Harry leaned forwards, aware that he wasn’t the only one indicating extreme interest.

Legal magical guardianship? Which two aurors?” Harry asked, holding his breath.

“Alastor Moody and Kingsley Shaklebolt.” Ragnok said imperturbably. Harry almost groaned in disappointment. Dumbledore’s stooges! Why did it have to be them?

“Don’t dismiss them just yet, Harry.” Arthalian said sharply. “Ragnok wouldn’t have us here unless he was somehow convinced they were acting against Dumbledore.”

“As you say.” Ragnok inclined his head in Arthalian’s direction. “Under the Secrecy Seal, I was unable to give them any information. However, neither of them are fools, and they requested an audience with someone who can give them information. They are currently in Mornuk’s office. What do you wish to do?”

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