Harry Potter and the Peverell Legacy - JayanPhoenix - Harry Potter (2024)

Chapter 1: A Warrior in Training

Chapter Text

Harry Potter and the Peverell Legacy - JayanPhoenix - Harry Potter (1)

Hidden within the wilderness of Bulgaria was the Black Lodge, a hunting lodge that was owned by the notorious Black family. It had been almost two centuries since a hunt had been held within the grounds, but its renown had never been forgotten.

Its expansive grounds were filled with all manner of magical creatures, which high society witches and wizards had hunted for sport despite many of them being rare or otherwise endangered species. Many magizoologists had petitioned the Blacks for permission to access the Black Lodge and study the menagerie it contains but all had been denied.

Within the Lodge was a young boy of sixteen, who had been brought to the hunting lodge for training by his adoptive father to develop his survival skills but also to hone his duelling capabilities.

Harrison Black-Potter was not what you would consider a normal teenager, he was famous and his history legendary. Although he despised the fame due to how he had gained it and what it had cost him and everything he had lost. But beyond the fame, he was also a powerful and skilled wizard, and that power and skill was still growing.

It was not uncommon in old wizarding families for heirs to undergo a series of stringent and rigorous tests to ensure that they are ready to take on their inheritance when the time came. After the battle within the Department of Mysteries, Sirius Black had decided that he would revive the long-standing tradition and so had brought Harry to the Lodge.

Sirius decided to model the training on something akin to what he had received under the tutorage of auror Alastor Moody when he’d joined the Hit-Wizards. The training was extreme, dangerous, and vigorous but its results were extremely effective, and it didn’t required months to work. They created sink or swim situations and the experience learnt from either might mean the difference between the defeat at the hands of an enemy or defeated but living to try again.

The first lesson Sirius had taught was that a wizard must always been on their guard. Sirius had managed to take Harry from Kings Cross Station to the Lodge through a perilous long-distance apparition without a fight. Once they landed he had quickly explained the ground rules before sending an arrow through his son’s calf.

Understandably Harry had been furious, and his face flushed both with pain and anger, but Sirius was not done, and he began to send other spells at Harry forcing him to defend himself and push through the pain. Their duel had lasted only twenty minutes, partly because the apparition to the Lodge had taken more out of Sirius than he preferred to admit, but also the pain from Harry’s wound had made him feel sick. Family magic had its benefits, but in that moment it had worked against its holder.

“That was your first lesson.” Sirius said as he stopped sending spells at Harry, “Always be on your guard in public, never let yourself be taken against your will. Your second lesson; be sure to always heal yourself when you can. You do not want to get it infected, leave a trail of blood or draw attention to a weakness.” He then had seemingly disappeared.

The moment he was gone, Harry fell to the floor and began to examine his leg and cursed very loudly at the seemingly absent Sirius Black. The curse he had used on his leg was infamous among quidditch fans, a small hunting arrow was stuck in the muscle of his calf.

A vanishing charm made quick work of removing the arrow to prevent further damage but immediately his leg throbbed painfully, he felt sick, and blood spurted out the hole it had left.

Just as Harry was about to use the diagnosis charms he had learnt in the DA that year to probe the injury, he heard something moving fast and then the underbrush behind him rustled and moved, something exceptionally large, grey, and toothy shot towards him.

Even through his shock and pain his wand raised towards the creature and with a great bang a stunning charm hit it and it fell with a large thud and he was able to get a good look at the beast. It was a strange creature and unlike any he had ever seen.

It had a wolf-like head with a large pink hairy nose and no discernible eyes, its body however was like that of a rat and its wormlike tail was twice the length of its body. It was not a creature he recognised from his books or classes which only made it scarier given how he didn’t know its behaviour or how it hunted.

With the creature stunned he turned his attention back to his wound, he cleaned it with a spell which stung and made him hiss, another spell sealed the wound into a red puckered scar that was partially healed. This he had learnt from the healing lessons in the DA, it wasn’t perfect and knew that even partially healed it could still get infected.

"Fasciaturarire!" He muttered and a fresh bandage wrapped itself round his calf, given his choice of healing spell Harry would have preferred to use a poultice under the bandage but he didn’t have the necessary materials to hand to make one.

Harry continued to explore the Lodge and thought to find somewhere more defendable, if he were to survive out here in the forest he knew he needed to become far more familiar with his surroundings.

Sirius had reappeared half an hour later and had inspected his wound and nodded impressed, “You knew more about healing than I thought. Good.” Was all he said, “now we duel again. Keep me at a distance, do not let me catch up to you, but don’t forget to keep an eye on the forest itself.”

They had duelled and covered a massive distance and Harry had been hard pressed to stay away from Sirius and stop himself running headlong into the various creatures inhabiting the Lodge. As the sun began to set over the Black Lodge, Harry became increasingly aware of his surroundings, daylight had revealed numerous dangerous creatures and the thought of what nocturnal beasts lay hidden in the dark made him shudder.

Eventually Sirius called a halt to their second duel, both of them were breathless and looked worse for wear but Harry thought Sirius looked oddly exhausted. It had been a long and intense day and Harry ached all over and was relieved their duel was over, he was looking forward to getting some rest until Sirius turned it into another lesson.

“As I told you, you’ll not be sleeping in the Lodge but down here in the forest. You must find a safe place to rest and ensure its well protected from what goes bump in the night. In the field aurors must often sleep rough when following leads, especially during deep surveillance.”

Sirius had then left Harry alone surrounded by the shadowy forest where the small amount of moonlight played tricks on your eyes. Fear of the unknown made Harry keep moving. He was exhausted and eventually after an hour he came to a stop at the base of a large tree.

Magical beasts roamed everywhere and in the darkness of the night Harry was more likely to stumble into a beast or just injure himself, he could light his wand but that would only draw attention to himself. Limping Harry walked out a wide perimeter around the tree encircling it with proximity charms that if triggered would alert the caster to any life form that entered the specified area. It wasn’t much but it allowed Harry to close his eyes and try to rest.

The next two days were spent duelling extensively. Sirius attacked Harry using his surroundings, from the trees and rocks to the leaves and vines. Everything was a weapon in a duel and a duellist had to learn how to use them to their advantage in order to attack and defend. Harry had to use his skills with charms, defence, and transfiguration extensively and it tested his knowledge of the magic he had learnt.

One of the biggest obstacles Harry found was hunger, Sirius had shaken his head sadly and told him that he wouldn’t bring him food from the Lodge and that Harry needed to find it in the forest.

“In the field an auror must be able to sustain themselves on what they can find, summon, or create. You have magic Harry; you need to use it.”

That was easier said than done in Harry’s opinion and he had been able to forage food from the forest itself thanks to his herbology knowledge.

Fortunately, Sirius left Harry alone most evenings so far, but each new day Sirius would hunt Harry down wherever he was in the Lodge. The problem was that Sirius could track Harry anywhere on the property and there was no spell or enchantment that could block it.

After seven days of running all over the Lodge and catching only a few hours sleep each night Harry was exhausted. He stopped at a stream to take a drink of water when Harry noticed a large rock formation which formed a natural cave.

Cautiously Harry approached the cave, he had found a handful of caves across the Lodge already and had learnt firsthand that various beasts often occupied them. Three spells shot from his wand into the cave but to his surprise nothing came rampaging out towards him.

Edging slowly into the low cave with his wand lit and a curse on his lips, Harry’s heart raced imagining anything from a bear to a wolf to a winged water demon jumping out at him. Fortunately, he found the back of the cave and was relieved to find it was truly empty.

The cave wasn’t overly large, it had enough space to fit three people or one large beast. Yet it offered good protection from the elements as it was dry, was made entirely of rock, the only downside was it was cold. The cave was the safest location Harry had yet to find in the Lodge, realising this he set about making it his temporary home.

Several quick spells removed all the dirt, twigs and leaves and removed the general dampness from the inside of the cave. The open entry point was a vulnerability and though Harry could use magic to protect him he preferred the idea of a physical barrier. He found a large boulder in the forest which he shaped and used to block the entrance. Within the cave itself he began the process of flattening the cave floor which was not as simple as Harry had thought it would be but eventually was content, and lastly created a secondary exit should it ever be needed.

Happy with what he had achieved, Harry conjured a thick layer of blankets and cushions and tried to rest but found it too cold and felt suffocated by the darkness. Summoning rocks from outside he transfigured them into crude stone lanterns into which he poured the bluebell-flames Hermione had taught him in his first year. Smokeless and waterproof, the flames provided just enough heat and light for Harry to get his best nights sleep since entering the Black Lodge.

Everyday Sirius’s lessons continued but Harry’s biggest issue remained to be food. So far he had survived off eating berries and whatever edible plants he could find in the forest until Sirius began to actively stop him foraging. Quickly Harry grew wretched from the lack of food. His duelling had gotten sloppier, his temper frayed, and his magic had turned darker.

By the end of day nine Harry was desperate. He was ready to curse Sirius into the next life when he next appeared but as he walked through a large bramble bush looking for anything edible a rabbit dashed out in front of him in fright.

Acting on instinct only, Harry pounced towards the creature with his wand raised “Stupefy!” He snarled and the red beam struck the rabbit, and it went limp.

Harry regarded the rabbit carefully. He couldn’t kill it, no matter how hungry he was. Yes he had killed a rabbit only a few weeks ago at Hogwarts but he wasn’t sure he could do it again now. That had been different, he had done that to save Tonks’ life. This would be out of a selfish need.

The rabbit remained on the forest floor helpless, but Harry didn’t move. He sat down looking at it with his wand tapping incessantly on his leg and battled with his own mind. After what felt like days; his resolve hardened, and he acted. Bile rose up in his throat over what he had done, and he almost threw the dead rabbit into the forest, but his hunger was too great.

Never before had Harry had to butcher and cook a wild animal so he wasn’t entirely sure what he needed to do. Harry did at least know how to cook from his time at Privet Drive, although he had never cooked rabbit. Years before he had watched Uncle Vernon prepare a chicken one summer during Aunt Petunia’s free-range chickencoop phase, not that it had lasted long.

With this in mind Harry decided to start by removing the head and feet with a cutting spell and then used magic to skin the rabbit. Next he cut open its belly and used a summoning charm to pull out the internal organs. Finally he began to cook what remained on a magically revolving spit above a fire he started and when it was browned he took his first bite.

It was perhaps one of the best things that Harry had ever eaten. He even thought to himself that the Hogwarts feasts could not compare to the exquisite taste and flavours of the rabbit. Harry couldn’t help but be satisfied with himself at what he had managed to accomplish.

“Well done.” Came a voice from behind him which made Harry spin in alarm and his wand fell on Sirius.

“How long have you been there!” Harry demanded.

“Long enough to watch you prepare your own dinner. You did far better than I did. I failed this test and gave myself food poisoning and it was nasty.” Sirius said proudly, “You actually took longer than I expected to hunt for your food, you are very stubborn Harry. Get some rest, you have until tomorrow before your next lesson.”

Sirius left the forest and Harry himself didn’t linger. Many of the creatures in the forest were dangerous and some stalked each other to steal kills and more than likely the smell of blood would attract scavengers. He extinguished the fire, picked up the discarded rabbit skin, and walked off into the forest wondering if he could use it to make a thick rug or mattress for his cave.

The next morning Harry awoke early and immediately picked up his wand, wary of an attack but everything was quiet. He left the flames lit within the lanterns hoping it would warm the cave while he was away as the temperature had dropped during the night and suspected he would need to renew the flames that evening.

Leaving the cave always felt like a chore each morning, it was his safe place. Yet Harry knew he couldn’t linger, if he did Sirius would only track him and likely destroy it just to teach him a lesson and Harry didn’t want to lose it.

A new series of lessons had then begun. Each day Sirius drew Harry to a location within the lodge with a signal of loud bangs and sparks in the air. He would then present Harry with a choice; the first had been a large basket of food on one rock and a pile of clothing on another.

When Harry had first arrived, he had been very hesitant thinking it was a trap. Slowly he had approached after watching the clearing for a while.

“Good, you scouted the clearing before you approached. Before you are two prizes, but you may only choose one.” He had explained, “You need to think not only about your immediate needs but also think what you might have need of in the future.”

Surprisingly, Sirius had then left him alone in the clearing to make his choice.

Harry pondered the choice for twenty minutes. The food basket contained bread, meat and fruit and it made his belly rumble longingly for proper food. The other pile contained boots, a cloak, gloves, and a change of clothes. His own clothes were filthy, torn and worn, offering little warmth at night or any protection against the elements.

Trying to outthink Sirius he thought to take both, but they prevented all of his attempts of manipulating them and Harry suspected that Sirius had placed enchantments over them he couldn’t unravel. Instead Harry thought about it carefully weighing up his needs as Sirius had instructed. Food was important to him, but the food basket wouldn’t last him long and he would still need to hunt for food and forage for edible plants. Warmth and clothing were things he couldn’t get for himself. So he made his choice and picked the bundle of clothing, the moment his hand touched it the food erupted into fire and was gone in an instant.

It was obvious that Sirius had put a lot of thought into what he was trying to teach Harry and how he would impart the skills and experience he believed Harry needed. Although Harry suspected Sirius was enjoying his role far too much and made Harry want to curse him to oblivion. The question on Harry’s mind was how far Sirius would take this training and what else did he have in mind.

Chapter 2: The Lament

Chapter Text

In the Scottish Highlands sat the ancient castle of Hogwarts School, it had been two weeks since its students had left and was now only inhabited by a handful of the faculty who had decided to remain at the school during the holidays.

The quiet calmness that usually fell over the castle during the summer holidays was broken during the early hours of the morning when a sudden wave of magic radiated out of the school, it woke not only the staff but also the entire population of the neighbouring Hogsmeade Village.

The disturbance was caused by a song. A magical song which echoed across the valley. It was mournful, filled by deep grief that could be felt in the hearts of all who heard it. Yet for all its devastating pain it was truly beautiful.

In living memory none had heard the song, however all who now heard it knew instinctually what it signified.

Only one creature could sing such a song. Hearing it sung signalled a profound change had come to the British Magical Community, the passing of a man who had been a constant pillar and presence in their lives for decades.

The song, coupled with the realisation of what it meant, caused many who heard it to shed a tear in remembrance for Albus Dumbledore, including his estranged brother Aberforth.

Hundreds of miles to the south was the City of London, the roaring and bustling capital of the British Isles, and under it lay the British Ministry of Magic. An emergency meeting had been called of the three most senior members of the Ministry. The Minister of Magic; Rufus Scrimgeour, the Director of the DMLE; Amelia Bones and the Head of the DOM; William Croaker.

Reports of the magical disturbance in the north had led the Minister to call on his two senior colleagues within the hour. Their community would require stability and they had little time to act before the news broke through the morning newspaper.

“We must release a statement to be included with the morning edition of the Daily Prophet, I’ll get Weasley to draft it.” Scrimgeour told them tersely, “If either of you want to add any comments give them to him too. We must move quickly if we are to get in front of this, we might even use this to our advantage. Transfer the publics confidence from Dumbledore to the Ministry, we cannot lose this opportunity.”

Amelia’s face transformed into a fierce scowl, she deeply despised such political tactics and had never though Rufus would use them.

For years she had worked with Rufus and truthfully had thought he had started out well; setting up numerous offices and divisions needed to combat the dark threats and was keen to act. Recently Amelia felt that the pressures of the office, keeping people safe and several failures were starting to impact his leadership.

“No. The Ministry will publish a statement to say we mourn his death and this is a serious loss to our community. You will not use this to garner public support Rufus!” Amelia admonished, “this is not an opportunity for you to bolster support, it’s a time of mourning!”

“Fine,” Rufus grunted noticing her expression and clearly deciding to not push her further. “I will insist on approving your comments before they go to print. Get your departments briefed immediately. When the public learns what has happened, this is going to turn into a dung storm.”

“Already reports of the Phoenix Lament have travelled, my Unspeakables are already briefed.” Croaker spoke calmly. “We’ve alerted St Mungo’s already, the Lament’s power can overwhelm people. If its your intention to unite the people in their grief Rufus, then I would recommend we allow for a public funeral.”

“Impossible!” Was Scrimgeour’s immediate loud response. “Dumbledore for all his faults would not have wanted to endanger more people. A public funeral would be a security nightmare, and the logistics too will be costly.”

"Maybe so," Amelia agreed, "but Albus Dumbledore will not have a private funeral. He was a highly respected and influential member of our community; he should be buried with every honour we can give. As such a public figure, he has touched the lives of many and each of them should be given the opportunity to pay their respects to him.”

"This is not an opportunity that the Death Eaters and He-Who-Must-Not-be-Named will pass up. They will attack the funeral!" Rufus exclaimed his hands flapping around erratically.

“Hogwarts should provide sufficient protection, the Ministry must only bolster the existing security around the village.” Amelia pointed out, “the DMLE can provide the needed security, the Departments of Magical Transportation and International Cooperation will also need to be involved of course. William can your people assist?”

“Of course,” Croaker pledged, “We can provide similar security checks to what we provide to the Ministry and Wizengamot. This will of course require additional funding.”

Scrimgeour was not happy that much was clear, but he did reluctantly agree. He left the meeting in a sour mood to prepare the Ministry for what was likely to be yet another stressful day for the Minister of Magic.

Both Amelia and Croaker left the office together and headed towards the lifts to leave the minister’s level.

“I don’t envy Rufus,” Amelia said once they were out of earshot of everyone. “He’s playing a role that I’m not entirely sure he is right for. As Head Auror, he controlled the careers of many and led the department well. Now he has to balance the lives of our entire community, as well as its safety and secrecy from the Muggles.”

Croaker gave her a ghost of a smile in response before he replied, “Rufus is doing what he can with what he has to work with. I do however think the Minister is very much aware that you were a strong contender for his position Amelia. You might have declined the position when the Wizards Council and Wizengamot appointed Rufus as Minister, but if it ever came to a public vote you would almost certainly win.”

“I declined as I didn’t believe I could be a figure that people would look to, I thought I could do more to help by remaining as Head of the DMLE.” Amelia stated somewhat resigned, “admittedly Rufus wasn’t the first choice. Both Lord Black and Lord Danvers were also considered before him. Jacob refused the position for several reasons but chief among them was he believed it better to appoint a Minister for Magic from within the Ministry itself rather than from the Ancient Houses. Sirius had merely laughed at the absurdity of his surprising nomination and flatly declined.”

“A Lord of the Ancient House of Black serving as Minister for Magic?” Croaker said chuckling to himself as they walked down the corridor, “now that would have been interesting even if Sirius is not at all like his predecessors. I’m well acquainted with the histories and politics of the Ancients Houses having studied them thoroughly, to my knowledge there has never been a Black with his principles, morals, or politics.”

“Sirius can barely manage a fully Wizengamot session without falling asleep or coming close to cursing someone for their stupidity.” She replied laughing herself, “he is however a formidable ally to have. I should get a message to him, he’s out of the country currently and likely won’t be yet aware of what has happened.”

“Will you go straight to Hogwarts?” Croaker questioned, “The governors will no doubt be summoned.”

“No,” She signed, “Better I go home first and try and get some sleep before the news breaks. I’ll send the owl to Lord Black from Bone Hill.”

“Where is he?” Croaker asked with interest, “I imagine he has taken his intriguing young heir with him?”

“The Black Lodge.” Amelia stated silently wondering if the stories of the legendry hunting lodge were true and saw the same thoughts on her companion’s face. “Sirius will need to return. I imagine the gravity of the situation will require the determination of the Lord of House Black to keep everyone on track.”

“Your likely correct.” Croaker nodded cautioned, “Your message will not reach him in time.”

Amelia knew that even the fastest of owls would be unable to deliver a letter to Bulgaria before she was summoned to Hogwarts, and she had already thought of a way around that particular problem.

“Sirius appointed Professor Remus Lupin as his proxy to the Board of Governors during his absence, he is fully capable, but I honestly think we will need Lord Black to manage this personally. Dumbledore had the means of communicating quickly with people, I suspect Remus and Sirius will likewise have their own.”

Both of them had been around during the last war and were well aware of the secret group of witches and wizards that had fought against the Death Eaters. Amelia herself had on occasion fought alongside the group during the war and had long suspected her brother Edgar had been a member prior to his death.

Parting company, Amelia returned to Bone Hill and was happy to see she had beaten the owl that she was sure would eventually wing its way to her. It allowed her to get a few hours sleep, wash and change her clothes before she set off for Scotland.

Over the last month the school governors had met numerous times. They had discussed and planned what was to happen to Hogwarts when Albus died, something he himself had told them was unavoidable.

Not twenty minutes into the meeting it was evident that many of the governors wished to change what had already been agreed.

Silently Amelia wondered just what Rufus had done after she had left him at the Ministry since the ministry representatives on the board were suspiciously aligned to his thoughts. Together they worked to overturn almost every existing decision and were pushing for the school to be closed. It was as clumsy as it was obvious, Amelia would go so far as to say that Cornelius Fudge played the political game far better than Rufus, and that was saying something.

Truthfully the ministry representatives’ position was hardly surprising, yet they unfortunately were not the only governors who wanted to close Hogwarts. Several of the Lords and Ladies of the Ancient Houses were agreeing with them which Amelia found infuriating.

For over an hour they argued about Dumbledore’s wishes to be laid to rest within the Hogwarts grounds which was unprecedented in the history of the school. Although that might only be because no headmaster had asked for such a burial. It wasn’t something Amelia thought outrageous, in fact given his length of service to the school it felt right to see Dumbledore buried here.

Eventually a recess was called, and Amelia stalked directly over to Remus who was speaking quietly to Jacob off to the side of the room.

"We need Lord Black.” She said bluntly interrupting their conversation, “I sent him an owl hours ago, but I know he is out of the country.”

“He’s at the Black Lodge, it will take time arrive and the owl may not even be able to reach him.” Remus said sounding resigned and not at all offended. “I promised I wouldn’t disturb him, yet its clear my voice is not the one needed here. They want this school closed and are ignoring all of the previously agreed plans, its ludicrous.

“That cannot happen.” Jacob stated firmly, “never in a thousand years has this school closed its doors and I will not be the one who allows it to happen.”

“Can you get a message to Lord Black?” Amelia said apologetically, “I mean you no offence Remus, you are a good substitute for normal situations, but in this we need the influence, strength and authority that the Lord of House Black provides.”

"I know," Remus said, smiling at her. "I’m also aware they believe me dangerous and will likely vote against me because of my condition.”

“Then they are fools.” Jacob said evenly, “they should remember that it was Dumbledore who allowed your education at this school, and it is because of this school that you were taught magic. You of all people would want the school open and its students' safe."

“Professor you must send a message to Lord Black.” Came the stern voice of Augusta Longbottom as she joined them, “send him one of your secret messages like Frank used to use. Get him here now, he needs to be here for this.”

Amelia raised her brows in surprise at the elder woman’s words wondering if Augusta was referring to the secret communication methods of the Order of the Phoenix. If she was that could only mean Frank Longbottom had been a member, something that Amelia had never known or even suspected.

“I can do better than that.” Remus told them, “Excuse me for a moment I have a call to make.”

o-HP-o

A lone figure stood within an empty hunting lodge. The man looked troubled as he looked out over the grounds which were bathed in the late morning sun and watched as forests below swayed and shook from what could either be due to wind or beast.

For two weeks Sirius Black had been here in the old Lodge, and it had been filled with ups and downs. The entire premise of this trip had been so that he could train Harry how to survive, but such training wasn’t without pain. When Harry was hurt, Sirius felt it due to the familial magic that bound them together, and he suspected that it was made worse by the fact that he himself was the one who was causing Harry pain.

The training Harry was undergoing was in truth brutal, but it was also necessary. The Battle of the Department of Mysteries had shown Sirius that Harry needed to be properly trained, so he had set about finding a way to do it quickly and effectively.

Today would begin the next stage of that training. Sirius had convinced Alastor Moody, Kingsley Shacklebolt and Bill Weasley to come and help, they were due to arrive at the Lodge at some point before mid-day.

Not that Sirius had been alone, his cousin Andromeda Tonks had come when she had learnt he had brought Harry to the Lodge. She had lectured and questioned Sirius thoroughly about what he was doing, his ears still rang with the strength of her chosen barbs, yet she did not intervene. Andromeda might have fled the Black family, but she still understood their old traditions and recognised this was a rite of passage. His cousin didn’t agree entirely, and she had made it plain that she would stop him if he took his idea of training too far no matter.

Truthfully, Harry was surpassing all of Sirius’ expectations and hopes. The boy had so much raw potential and instincts that he was honing and refining with each passing day. What had taken Sirius aback most was the power that Harry now commanded, several times during their duels his power had caught Sirius by surprise. It was even more surprising when Sirius considered the fact that Harry’s power had still not fully matured.

It was getting late, usually Sirius would have initiated the days exercises by now. Somewhere below Harry would be awake and prowling the lodge apprehensively awaiting whatever trial Sirius could think up, unaware that Sirius was waiting for the Order members to arrive.

In an effort to distract himself Sirius began to pace around the large open sitting room looking up at the tall stone walls that were decorated with various hunting trophies. The collection was magnificent and exotic but incredibly macabre, Sirius winced every time he noticed a trophy from an endangered species mounted on his walls.

He was studying an awful trophy of nine Golden Snidget that had been killed during a Hunt by the Blacks three centuries ago when he felt the mirror in his pocket glow hot. Knowing it could only be Remus calling him, Sirius instinctively knew it couldn’t be good news.

Remus quickly summoned Sirius to Scotland; he was needed at the meeting as all of their plans were being cast aside by the other governors. Sirius was furious. The last thing he wanted was to leave Harry alone in the Black Lodge, but he had little choice. He told Remus to make his way immediately to the Black Lodge and would need to ensure the others kept up with the lessons Sirius had planned for Harry. Unfortunately Andromeda had left the night before so Sirius ordered Winky to watch over Harry carefully and issued her very precise orders of when to intervene should it become necessary while he was gone.

Wasting little time Sirius rushed out of the lodge, only pausing to pick up Harry’s Firebolt which he had brought as a surprise and a reward for after his training was completed. Sirius swung himself onto the broom once he was out the door and kicked off. He was surprised by how good it felt to be on a broom after so many years but also discovered just how remarkable the Firebolt truly was.

It took five minutes at top speed to reach the edge of the Black Lodge where Sirius landed and crossed the threshold of the property on foot. Once he was clear of the potent wards, he twisted on the spot and disapparated.

Sirius didn’t dare to directly apparate to Hogwarts, his mind was too turbulent to even think of risking a long-distance apparition. Instead he stopped briefly in Munich to collect himself before he finally arrived at the gates of Hogwarts School.

As he approached the gates he was met by four aurors.

"What business do you have here?"

Sirius's hand twitched, he was ready for anything, and he trusted nobody outside the gates. "I am Lord Black, here to attend a meeting of the Hogwarts Governors. I would advise you to lower your wands and step aside," he growled and to his satisfaction, the aurors complied very quickly and moved aside casting him somewhat scared looks.

As he approached the gates, he suddenly stood face to face with Severus Snape who looked at him with a curled lip.

"Flaunting your power as usual Black," he sneered as he pulled out his wand.

Sirius returned the look. "Let me in Snape."

Snape didn’t respond but flicked his wand at the gates which opened with a creak and a small barrier of magic was visible for a moment before it dissipated. Sirius stepped through the gates before he swung his leg back over the broom and flew towards the castle, leaving Snape to secure the school once more without so much as a backwards look.

Entering the castle Sirius swiftly made for a door near the staffroom which was traditionally used for formal functions by the school faculty, but most notably it was where the governors always met.

As he approached Sirius put on the mask of Lord Black before storming into the room like a thunderous hurricane startling most of the room’s occupants, several of whom had drawn their wands. At the head of the table sat Albert Heradale, a ministry representative who Sirius knew worked closely with the Minister of Magic.

Sirius focussed his gaze directly on the man as he strode over to the empty chair that had been previously occupied by Remus, between Augusta Longbottom and Jacob Danvers.

"I apologise for my tardiness, I was out of the country, however perhaps you can explain to me why you are sitting in the Head Governor's chair Mr Heradale."

Heradale gulped nervously which was noticed by almost everyone around the table. He was a weak looking man, black haired, and dull brown eyes, with robes that looked incredibly flashy, but were clearly of poor quality.

"Mr Black if you–" he began, but Sirius stopped him.

“Its Lord Black to you Heradale.” Sirius snapped glaring at the man, “I care not for your excuses. Remove yourself from that chair and allow Lord Gilbert to take his seat as he is due as Head Governor.”

Surprisingly Albert Heradale didn’t immediately comply but sat determinedly for a long moment trying to meet Sirius’s unrelenting gaze before finally backing down and stood to allow Christopher Gilbert to take his vacated chair without further protest.

Taking his own seat Sirius took note of the others in the room; Amelia Bones, Harriet Cavendish, Jacob Danvers, Christopher Gilbert, Augusta Longbottom, Gregor Maveric and Oromis Smith, of the Ancient Houses; all were lords or ladies of their House. The ministry representatives were Mr Heradale, Mr Gibbs, Mr King, and Mrs Edgecombe and were all members of various departments of the ministry that he was certain would want the school closed.

“Thank you Lord Black,” Said Lord Gilbert politely, “I take it Professor Lupin has stepped away now you have arrived, we had wondered where he had gone. I apologise for pulling you away from your retreat, are you aware of what has transpired?”

Sirius registered the small jibe from Lord Gilbert but chose to ignore it.

“I am fully caught up Lord Gilbert. Remus has appraised me of all that has transpired. I’m acutely aware that instead of following our previously agreed plans we are instead discussing the closure of Hogwarts School.” Sirius stated gazing around the room slowly and watching some of the governors shift uncomfortably, “I find myself wondering what has changed?”

Predictably it was one of the Ministry Representatives who spoke up.

“This school is a beacon to the dark forces,” Stated Joseph King, who Sirius believed worked somewhere in the DMLE, “It’s a centre of learning, full of treasures both powerful and valuable. We should empty the school so that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named does not gain them."

"And where would you place everything?" Sirius asked thoughtfully, “Our own houses? Gringotts Bank? The Ministry?”

"Everything can be stored safely in the deepest vaults of the ministry; the Ministry can ensure that the Death Eaters will be unable to get their hands on anything.” King said confidently, “The treasures of Hogwarts will be safe and protected.”

“You speak of the Ministry security yet need I remind you Mr King that the Death Eaters infiltrated the Ministry of Magic only recently. I would also add that a group of Hogwarts students also managed to slip through the security you speak of preventing the Death Eaters from stealing from the Department of Mysteries no less.” Sirius said laughing at the absurdity of the man’s suggestion.

“I agree with Lord Black,” Augusta stated, “the Ministry of Magic is out of the question. Gringotts already holds the wealth of our community and is secure, buts its high security vaults aren’t numerous and I doubt they could contain a collection so large even with magic. Such action would also make the Goblin Nation a target for the Dark Forces, they could be turned against us or more likely they would refuse to store the collection preferring to remain neutral.”

Lord Smith looked furious and slammed his hand on the table. “This school must close. I will not allow its magic and artefacts to fall into the hands of the Dark Lord! He can take the castle, but we will have its magic.”

“You would give them the castle?” Mr Gibbs gasped shaking his head in incredulity, “If it comes down to it the school should be destroyed. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named must never gain control of this historic school. His ancestor did not, and neither will he."

“With Dumbledore passing who can guarantee the continued safety of the students were the school to remain open? There is a reason the school was never attacked directly during the last war; Dumbledore was a deterrent,” Mrs Edgecombe stated resolutely, her words carried a certain polish that Sirius recognised as belonging to a Ministry drawn up message. “As much as Dumbledore was an eccentric headmaster, prone to doing things his own way, he was still able to protect our children. The Ministry doesn’t feel confident that the school should remain open in the current climate. It would be better to send students to the local ministry run schools.”

Augusta Longbottom gave a derisive snort, “I’d sooner put my faith in a school that’s stood for over a thousand years, with its many layers of protective enchantments than the ministry schools! They have no such protections, but more importantly they couldn’t cope with the necessary capacity, nor do they have the funding.”

Mr Gibbs came to Mrs Edgecombe’s defence quickly, “That can be changed with the Hogwarts tuition fees being diverted to the state schools, and of course the professors would be retained.”

"I for one will not be sending my son and wards to a ministry run school," Lord Danvers stated firmly. "I’d sooner send them to Beauxbatons or Durmstrang, or even Ilvermorny. My gold is spent on a premium magical education, not on a school that barely teaches which end of a wand to hold!”

“You can be assured that this will be the response from most if not all of the old wizarding families.” Agusta confirmed, “I would rather not send my grandson abroad, but I will if this is the only option I have. In my opinion Hogwarts School should remain open. The Ministry can supply additional security, update the wards, and add additional power to them if they are so concerned.”

"Lady Longbottom, that is out of the question. The money would be better spent–"

"Enough." Sirius said firmly, and felt his temper throb to be released, "Hogwarts as you have said is a beacon, it will be a beacon to Voldemort." There was a large shudder from around the room at the name which only hardened Sirius' resolve. "We shall not be frightened into submission; we will not run and hide! The school will remain open, even if I must pay for it myself. I am certain that the professors will stay, and they will teach whichever students still wish to have a higher education than that provided by the ministry."

"You would risk my heritage, on your own whim!" Smith roared at him.

“Your heritage?” Sirius questioned nastily, “forgive me Oromis but you forget yourself. As a descendent of Helga Hufflepuff you have no claim or rights to the castle or its contents. The same is true for the Weasley’s and Longbottoms who are descended from Gryffindor, and it holds true for Voldemort as the last direct descendant of Slytherin. Hogwarts, doesn’t and never will belong to any singular family.”

“You mock my ancestry,” Lord Smith spat his face a brilliant shade of red, “yet you wear yours like a crown Black! Your family tree is filled with dark wizards; go back far enough and you are descended from the darkest witch of all time! You cannot force-“

“Lord Smith control yourself.” Lord Gilbert interjected, “I think we have debated enough, and this is not the time to discuss family history. The question is simple; Should Hogwarts remain open?”

"I agree," Lord Danvers stated giving Lord Smith a reproachful look, "and I call for a vote."

"Agreed," Lord Gilbert said and he turned to his left and looked at Mr Heradale.

"I vote to close the school," he said glaring at Sirius.

Next was Mr Gibbs who looked around the table and nodded. "I too believe that the school should be closed."

Predictably Madam Edgecombe voted in favour of the school’s closure, but to the surprise of his ministry colleagues Joseph King voted in favour of the school remaining open. Sirius doubted King would retain his position as a ministry appointed representative on the board of governors following this meeting.

Sirius stood purposefully and looked around the room.

“I vote to keep Hogwarts School open, and I am prepared to fight for this. Closing the school in my belief will be like raising a white flag. Voldemort will not attack Hogwarts until he has control of the Ministry of Magic, this school will remain impenetrable so long as the Ministry stands. I give my word that I will ensure the school remains safe.”

He sat down and met the gaze of everyone who looked at him and did not flinch from their gaze.

Amelia stood and voted with Sirius, as did too did Augusta. Lady Cavendish voted against the school opening for the immediate future but wished to discuss it further, likewise Lord Gilbert voted to close the school in favour of further discussion on its future.

Lord Maveric stood and spoke for the first time since Sirius had entered the room.

“I do not know why this is even a question we must vote on.” He said tiredly, “but I will vote for the school to remain open. Dumbledore would never have wanted the school to close, his death does not change this, the school should remain open to any who wish to attend.”

Next was Lord Oromis Smith who glared at Sirius with a triumphant smirk. "I vote to close the school. With Dumbledore gone there is now no witch or wizard with the means to protect this school and our children."

Sirius sat with a blank face but internally he was irritated. Smith’s vote was unsurprising but now the vote was not in favour of the school remaining open.

“Well Lord Danvers the vote falls to yourself,” Lord Gilbert announced, “you can either make the vote a draw and give the Ancient Houses enough votes to outvote the Ministry, or, if you vote against then the school will close.”

"That is preposterous!" Madam Edgecombe exclaimed. "You’re saying that if we vote and it’s tied then it will then be broken by a majority vote of the Ancient Houses?”

“But entirely in line with the law,” Lord Gilbert said with a placating smile, “when this new board of governors was created by the Wizards Council the Ministry of Magic was given a voice in an advisory capacity only. A tie will always be broken by a majority vote of the Ancient Houses if needed. Should you believe this needs to be changed you will need to bring this before the Wizengamot, where again you will need a majority vote of all Ancient House representatives on the Wizengamot.”

If there was one area in which Sirius wouldn’t dare challenge Lord Gilbert, it was the law, given that it was the area in which Christopher Gilbert had made his career. Lord Gilbert had been instrumental in writing the Wizards Council legislation and later the ratification of those laws on the Wizengamot.

The man turned away and looked to Lord Danvers expectantly who stood slowly and looked around the table before he spoke; "It falls to me to decide if this great school should be closed and be allowed to be used by dark forces, or if we should build up its defences and continue to use it as a sign of our strength and will, at the expense of risking our children."

He paused and the room remained silent expectantly.

“I have listened to both sides and I happen to agree with points on either side, however I feel I cannot allow the school to remain open unless I can be assured of our children’s safety.”

Sirius felt his heart drop wondering how he would explain to Harry that he couldn’t go back to Hogwarts that year and would need to consider transferring abroad.

“That being said.” Lord Danvers said after a long moment during which the opposition had looked triumphant, “My conscience will not allow me to close this school without attempting to keep it open. In order for me to cast my vote, I would place a condition on Lord Black and so long as he agrees then the school will remain open.”

"Whatever the condition is, I will do it," Sirius said quickly.

Lord Danvers smiled. "Very well, then I vote in favour of the school remaining open."

Jacob returned to his seat, and it was clear from one look around the table that many of the occupants thought Lord Danvers had cleverly managed to trap the Lord of House Black. Sirius for his part remained silent and fought to keep his face impassive and resist the urge to roll his eyes.

“Very well.” Lord Gilbert acknowledged, “the vote is a draw, but the Ancient Houses have voted in the majority to keep the school open. Hogwarts School will remain open for the new school year, but what was your condition Lord Danvers?”

“Its simple,” Jacob said easily, “Sirius will need to guarantee the safety of the students.”

“By what means?” Sirius asked cautiously, knowing that no matter what Lord Danvers said he had given his work to uphold it.

“Don’t worry too much Lord Black, you may even be glad of the condition.” Jacob smirked and hen then explained the condition and Sirius sat in silent shock.

It wasn’t anything the governors had expected, and it created a cacophony of protests from the board, and they remained seated for a further three hours debating the condition before it was put to a vote. Sirius had no way out of the situation and was forced to agree. Once the vote was done he wanted nothing more than to leave and return to the Black Lodge, but he had to stay and discuss the plans for Dumbledores funeral and proposed burial at Hogwarts.

Eventually the dreary meeting was called to a close, there would be further meetings, but they could wait for another night, they had agreed on the most pressing matters. The ministry officials were not happy, and they stormed out of the castle, probably going straight to the Ministry to report to Scrimgeour.

Oromis stood before Sirius tall and proud with deep loathing in his eyes.

“You Blacks are all the same. You think because of your name the world is yours for the taking.” He said darkly, “I will never follow you Black, you lead us to our doom. I will personally see to it that you fail.”

He left without a backwards glance and was slowly followed by the other Lords and Ladies leaving only Sirius, Jacob, Amelia, and Augusta.

"Would you care for some refreshment back at the house?" Jacob asked them.

“I would,” Sirius agreed easily.

“I think I’ll come too thank you,” Amelia said, “I do not believe I will get much sleep anyway.”

"That would be most welcome," Augusta confirmed, and they quietly walked out of the school. Professor Flitwick was on hand to escort them out and lock the gates behind them.

Jacob pulled out a rope and created a portkey and they all took a hold before being hooked away. They landed directly in the Danvers' drawing room and took a seat. The moment they had, an elf popped in with tea and a decanter of brandy.

"You will have to excuse my lack of a hostess, but Georgianna is with her sister in Prague and spending all my money I don't doubt," he grumbled humorously.

They all chuckled at the thought; Prague was a place of fashion in the wizarding world too and many women emptied their purses whilst there.

“Nonsense,” Augusta commented readily pouring herself a large brandy without water appreciatively, “are we not friends and allies? This is hardly a formal occasion; we needn’t stand on ceremony.”

Sirius smirked; Augusta Longbottom was a formidable woman yet over the last year he had come to respect her attitude appreciated her forthright manner.

“Well I think we can say that we have things back on track.” Amelia said taking a sip of her tea relaxing into her chair, “Albus was right in what would likely happen.”

“He dealt with the Ministry and Governors for decades,” Augusta pointed out, “its hardly surprising he could predict this might happen, where children are concerned emotions get the better of most.”

“Or in Lord Smiths case the possibility of lost relics and powerful artefacts,” Jacob said disdainfully. “Given the rumours that the Smith’s lost their Hufflepuff relic I think he would love an opportunity to plunder the Hogwarts Archives.”

“Was there any proof that it was stolen?” Augusta queried curiously, “I’ve always suspected one of them still has it but has hidden it away from the rest of the family. Never been a fan of the Smiths; too capricious for my tastes.”

"You do realise that he meant what he said Sirius," Amelia said pointedly. "You may have just created a lifelong enemy."

“I’m not overly concerned about Oromis Smith.” Sirius snorted, “He doesn’t have the backing to be a threat, but I’ll be wary of course. You never know whose wand is pointed at you in the dark.”

“It has to be said you played your role perfectly Sirius, I doubt anyone outside of this room would have any idea that you already knew what I would propose.” Jacob said lightly, but there was a tug of humour on his face, “but did I detect a glimmer of apprehension?”

“Well you could have said anything, and I would have been honour bound to agree.” Sirius shrugged, “it would seem my trust and friendship in you was not unfounded after all.”

“You have Harrison to thank for that, without him Sirius I doubt we would have had much cause to interact.”

“Probably,” Sirius agreed knowing if it wasn’t for Harry he would never have claimed his lordship.

"How is Harrison?" Augusta asked. "I’d thought to invite him to the house this summer, but I believe you have taken him abroad?”

“He’s well,” Sirius said smoothly, “He is enjoying the delights of the Black Lodge.”

“The infamous Black Lodge, I remember the stories,” Augusta said wistfully, “When will you be returning home?”

“Probably in a week.” Sirius said thoughtfully, “Harry will want to attend the funeral. After it we’ll be taking a family holiday to France.”

"It's a shame, the boys would have liked to see Harrison," Jacob said and he frowned for a moment before looking pointedly to the door and raised his voice. "Stop eavesdropping Cameron, come inside."

There was a light knock on the door before it opened revealing Cameron Du Vant who stepped inside, a bit sheepish but not at all flustered in embarrassment. Sirius didn’t bother to hide his smirk, remembering the times he himself had been caught eavesdropping as a young boy. There was no resemblance between Cameron and his uncle in their features, but Sirius thought there were similarities in their bearing.

“Sorry Uncle, I heard voices and thought it might have been Josh or Mordred.” He said easily not even hesitating in what was clearly a blatant lie. “My apologies Lord Black, Lady Bones and Lady Longbottom, I didn’t mean to disturb or interrupt you.”

Jacob narrowed his eyes at his wayward nephew but couldn’t quite hide his amusem*nt behind a look of disapproval.

“You didn’t so don’t worry.” Sirius said with a fond smile as he realised what he must have looked like whenever he was caught by Aunt Dorea, “although next time you try snooping, you would be better off not doing it in a house where the host can sense you through their wards.”

Cameron met Sirius’s gaze and looked shocked for a moment before he realised what Sirius had said and he smirked broadly.

“I’ll remember that for next time Lord Black.” He laughed, “I see now that Harrison wasn’t joking when he said both you and Professor Lupin were once notorious pranksters.”

Jacob and Amelia both laughed loudly and shook their heads. Augusta gave a small smile, she had never seen any of the Marauders pranks but had heard of them through Frank.

“You better hope I don’t come out of retirement Mr Du Vant,” Sirius said mockingly with a large wink, “I used to have a gift for pranking Slytherins.”

Jacob chuckled and took a sip of his drink before turning to his nephew.

“Go up to bed Cam, I’m sure your brothers will be up early, and you’ll need your sleep.”

"Yes Uncle," Cameron said respectfully and he bid them all a good evening and left them.

“He’s a charming boy,” Amelia said with approval, “Susan told me he’s a friend of hers.”

“Cam is a good lad, if a bit roguish,” Jacob said fondly, “truth be told both he and Mordred have become my surrogate children, I’ve raised them like my own.”

“Your sister would be proud of the way you’ve raised her children.” Sirius told him firmly; he had known her from Gryffindor only in the year below him. “You’ve done well by them Jacob, its clear that he respects and cares for you and you him.”

"He is my nephew," Jacob responded. "It is no different to what Amelia has done, or what Augusta did for her grandson, or even you with Harrison who was your godson. We look after family, a lesson that the Dark Lord should know by now."

Last summer when Sirius had taken on the mantle of Lord Black he had spent a great amount of time learning all he could about the recent histories of the other Ancient Houses along with other influential families. He had been shocked to learn what had happened to the House of Du Vant.

Lord Baldwin Du Vant, his son Andrew and daughter-in-law Celine had been killed mysteriously in 1984, the two young Du Vant brothers had survived only because they had been with their grandfather Lord Marcus Danvers. The DMLE never uncovered why the Du Vant family had been targeted and the culprits were never caught or even identified. It was a strange and mysterious business that led to Lord Marcus exiling himself from society, becoming a recluse in Scotland and making Jacob the new Lord Danvers.

“Before we retire we had best have a conversation on the agenda points ahead of tomorrow, specifically the budgets.” Augusta said returning to business, “I would prefer to discuss this between us before we meet with the others.”

They continued their meeting for a few hours and eventually they all left apart from Sirius who was invited to stay the night rather than go back to a closed up empty old house.

Chapter 3: Hunters in Black Lodge

Chapter Text

Harry had grown increasingly apprehensive when he had left his cave one morning and hadn’t been found by Sirius or drawn to an area of the lodge. It was long past noon when Harry discovered three hooded men prowling the lodge.

One of the men walked with a pronounced limp and slightly hunched posture, he had barely caught sight of Harry through the trees when spells began to fly from his wand. Immediately the others joined their companion and engaged Harry in a fierce duel. They were not making it easy for him either, each used different types of magic that forced Harry to adapt and think of ways to counter, evade and overcome.

The hunched wizard forced Harry to use defensive duelling techniques to counter spells of large power, but some of the spells were unblockable, forcing Harry to resort to dodging or creating physical defences. Harry also got the distinct impression that the wizard was enjoying making him dance around the open field even without him saying a word.

The second wizard was very tall, his strategy was to test every aspect of Harrys defences, often using Harry’s distraction while duelling his companions to his own advantage. Mostly the tall man watched carefully and no matter how Harry tried he was unable to hit him with a spell.

The third was also tall but much shorter than the second. His style of attack was creative, and he also utilised the environment around them. This wizard created magical traps and countered almost every spell Harry threw at him with ease. Twice Harry was caught by the roots of trees the man had bewitched to trap him and another time the earth itself had swallowed his feet.

After what must have been an hour of head-to-head duelling Harry felt himself tiring. A true duel wouldn’t last so long but clearly the idea of this lesson was to push Harry to the limits of his endurance. They continued for at least another hour but eventually Harry had little choice but to admit defeat. His breath was ragged, his wand arm ached, he needed to flee but had no idea how to escape.

Unsurprisingly his three adversaries were all too aware of Harrys weakening position and they began to close in on him much to Harry’s dismay. They pushed Harry back under the trees and deeper into the forest where the foliage blocked the sun and its there that Harry found a way to escape.

Drawing them into the forest Harry waited, he had only one chance of getting this right and his timing had to be perfect. Once they were within the dark gloom of the forest Harry acted, pointing his wand carelessly and diverting his eyes.

"Solis Bendu!" He exclaimed and a great flash of brilliant white light pulsed from the tip of his wand.

Instantly Harry heard the cry of anguish from the three wizards, they stopped attacking him and groped blindly at their eyes due to flash damage. The leader growled menacingly clutching one eye and swayed dangerously. Harry grinned triumphantly having finally found his weakness and hit him with a curse for good measure before fleeing quickly.

Unfortunately, that hadn’t been their last duel. Throughout the rest of the day the three tracked, traced and ambushed Harry across the entire lodge. Harry had never used so much magic, and the duels had been the most vigorous and varied he had ever experienced. The three wizards were powerful, knowledgeable and experienced, but Harry was proud that he had been able to repay them in kind several times throughout the day. He had been quick to learn it was impossible to hide or even sneak up on them, the hunched wizard always spotted Harry no matter how hard he tried to hide.

Later that night Harry felt he was finally alone but didn’t immediately return to his cave. Instead, he prowled the lodge longer to assure himself it was safe for him to retire and wasn’t being followed. His concern wasn’t unfounded as the following morning at the crack of dawn he was ambushed while he slept. Harry fought back but was forced to flee when he was injured by tree roots that tried to ensnare him and one of the wizards hit him with a potions vial.

Six days later Harry was practically dead on his feet.

In those days Harry hadn’t had a single hour of sleep. He was both physically and mentally exhausted a fact the three hooded wizards were taking full advantage of. Harry had quickly deduced the identities of the men under the hoods, not that the knowledge had done him any good. They continued to track him regularly each day forcing him to push through his growing exhaustion.

Such as one of the days they caught Harry trying to sleep but had contained him within a bubble of magic. It had taken Harry an entire day to break the magic that held him, it had been so simple, yet the counter spell had escaped him for hours.

Eventually Harry realised he was suffering from the effects of a potion, which explained why they had thrown them when they attacked his cave. Whatever it was must have gotten into his system through the cuts on his arms from the tree roots and he hadn’t realised.

Drawing on all the knowledge he had gained from five years of Herbology classes, while combating severe sleep deprivation had been a real challenge.

During his foraging for antidote ingredients, he stumbled on a Filo Madraxa, a magical plant which produced a sweet syrupy nectar full of caffeine and other properties. It was something Harry had seen upper year Hogwarts students mix with water when studying to stay alert but had never tried himself. With the nectars help Harry eventually found the necissary ingredients and brewed himself an antidote.

A day after he had cured himself of the potions noxious effects Harry felt as if a cloud had been finally lifted from his mind. His body ached painfully from sleeping rough and having spent weeks running through the forest to escape both man and beast. He had become hyper vigilant, at the slightest sound he was prepared to attack or run.

So far Harry had been forced to use all aspects of his Hogwarts schooling beyond the core magical subjects normally used for self defence. He had used Herbology for foraging for food and ingredients. Forced to brew several more antidotes as his attackers had used potions against him three more times.

Within the lodge Harry had seen various creatures he had only read about in his Care of Magical Creatures textbooks and others he couldn’t identify. Some of the creatures were harmless but most of the creatures that roamed the lodge were dangerous if not deadly. Harry had done his best to stay away from the various creatures but that wasn’t always possible. Such as when he stumbled on a griffin's nest and had sat and watched them for over an hour with interest.

In fact, barely an hour went past when Harry didn’t see or at least hear the signs of any number of magical beasts.

On the night of the full moon Harry found himself growing increasingly apprehensive. The wind itself felt as if it carried a sense of fear on it, and the expansive forest had fallen eerily quiet.

Deeply unnerved and unsettled Harry roamed the Lodge for hours after dark, he suspected it was another trick, test or lesson and had no intension of being caught unawares. Eventually he found himself on a ridge overlooking the forest. It was the highest point of the grounds accessible to him, excluding the lodge itself which was opposite him.

The Lodge was everything Neville had described, built atop the high ravine it was a small castle with five tall spires penetrating the skies above with its spiked tops. It was made of cracked dark stone and in some places covered in snakelike vines. It was an intimidating structure and Harry thought it looked more like a fortification or prison.

Twenty feet away there was movement on the ridge that caught Harry’s attention and made him freeze as he witnessed something he hadn’t thought possible. There stood atop an outcrop of rock was a creature Harry hadn’t expected to see even in the Black Lodge. It was an incredibly large white wolf, but one that was intimately familiar.

High above the moon came out from behind a cloud and under its glow the wolf could have been a patronus, it looked ethereal. Harry recognised the wolf instantly. It was a dire wolf.

The wolf turned its head and watched Harry with its bright scarlet eyes for a long moment and it gave a low warning growl. It sniffed at the air carefully before co*cking its head at him in confusion.

“Can you sense the wolf in me?” He whispered quietly watching the wolf in equal parts awe and fear, noting that it was in fact a female.

Whatever the she-wolf sensed she clearly dismissed him and returned to watching the forest below them, looking like a queen overlooking her kingdom.

Not wanting to disturb or provoke the direwolf, Harry sat down and watched her. He wasn’t sure how long they stayed atop the ridge but much later there came a shrill shriek from the ravine below. Instantly the direwolfs head snapped around at the noise, its eyes seeking the source. With a brilliant leap the she-wolf leapt off the ridge and bounded out of sight.

There came another shriek, this one sounded panicked and pained, but was quickly followed by a deep howl. A triumphant howl that echoed across the Black Lodge, clearly the direwolf had caught her prey and it sounded like she was challenging anyone for her kill.

Deep within, Harry felt something stir in response to the howl. An instinct that wasn’t entirely his own, he felt the urge to respond, to challenge, to hunt. A mark of his inner animal making itself known for the first time.

Feeling inspired he stayed atop the ridge for the remainder of the night. Harry meditated on the edge of this small world and focused his mind and magic on his animagus transformation. After two weeks of practice, he could now change his eyes at will, it wasn’t permanent as so far it hadn’t lasted longer than ten minutes, but with his wolf’s eyesight Harry could see far better.

Slowly he began to transform other parts of his body. Managing to change four nails on one hand silver, sprouting jet black hair in irregular quantities and places across his body, and had managed to transform several large teeth. Harry wasn’t ambitious, he didn’t want to try too much as he was afraid, he wouldn’t be able to reverse it.

As the sun began to rise over the Black Lodge Harry returned his body back to its human appearance before he made his way to the forest floor. All around him the forest became alive once more as the absent sounds of the various creatures and beasts returned.

Making his way to a particular area in the forest where Harry knew he would find apple trees he was shocked to find Sirius sat in the clearing on a conjured chair. Sirius sat with his hands in the air and didn’t react when he saw Harry draw his wand and point it at him.

"Easy Harry. It’s over now, it’s time to leave the Lodge." Sirius said quietly and hesitantly.

Harry didn’t reply. His every instinct was screaming at him, he hadn’t seen Sirius in who knew how many days. Right now, he wasn’t sure whether to fight or attempt to flee and his eyes darted about wearily.

“Your training is over. We need to get you back to London so we can pack for the family holiday.” Sirius said calmly as if he was speaking to an easily spooked animal. “If we are late that will make me face Andromeda’s wrath and I would rather not have her curse me if I can avoid it.”

It took Harry a moment to realise what Sirius was talking about. It felt like a lifetime ago that they had made plans to go on holiday to either France or Italy, he had actually forgotten.

“Has it really been that long?” He croaked.

"Yeah mate, you have taken everything Mad-Eye and I could throw at you, you have done brilliantly!” Sirius said carefully but smiled proudly. “Your nerves will be frayed, and I know you’re on edge, but you are safe now I promise.”

Hearing this didn’t make Harry lower his wand, part of him felt like this could be some type of trap, another test.

“I was younger than you when I first came here.” Sirius said darkly looking out into the fringes of the forest, “Only thirteen when my mother threw me out into the wilds. I was here for two days before my father came and retrieved me and brought me home after discovering what my mother had done.” He turned back to Harry then, “Do you know what I have taught you?”

"To never let you apparate me anywhere again?" Harry said mockingly.

"Well that’s true, especially as you didn't know if it was truly me." Sirius said with a smile. "What I taught you was survival. Out here you had only two things, your mind and wand, and I must say you used both beautifully. I was not the only one who was impressed."

“Mad-Eye?” Harry asked smirking. He suspected Mad-Eye hadn’t liked that Harry had managed to get the better of him more than once, although Harry would admit it was mainly luck, but it had still happened.

“Yep, not sure if he wants to curse you or hire you for the auror office,” Sirius snorted, “he’s been in a right foul mood according to Remus. You’ve definitely impressed him, he was furious that you outfoxed him. You managed to accomplish something neither I or James ever did, and we were said to be the best.”

Harry felt a small amount of pride at that, but it was overshadowed by the ordeal he had gone through to accomplish it.

"Now are you going to allow me to stand up, or are you going to continue to point your wand at me?" Sirius said looking pointedly at his wand.

Harry lowered his wand, but he didn't relax his grasp on it, "Fine."

Sirius stood up and when he flicked his own wand out, he had to dodge a curse that Harry sent at him.

"Easy Harry, Im just getting rid of this chair." He said and with the flick of his wand the chair vanished, and his wand returned to its holster. "Come on, we can walk back up to the lodge."

They walked slowly and in near silence for half the way before Sirius spoke again.

“I’m sorry I put you through this Harry. I know its not what you were expecting. Had I told you what this trip entailed you would have tried to prepare yourself, in most situations however you will not have the luxury of preparation. You had to rely on what you already knew and that’s what you did throughout.”

Harry didn't say a word but nodded in response.

“I was impressed by your potion skills. That had been Kingsley’s idea not mine. You found ingredients using only your knowledge of Herbology, not to mention you successfully brewed antidotes from scratch without instructions or reference books.”

“I did what I could with what I had.” Harry said lowly.

“Which is all you could have done.” Sirius said promptly as they began to walk up the mountain path. “Tell me, what was the worse part of all this?”

Harry didn't respond, he didn't have an answer to that question, and he still didn't by the time that they reached the lodge, but Sirius didn’t seem to mind.

Walking through the lodge Harry was struck by how basic the decor was in comparison to Black House, he also tried not to look at the trophies that adorned the walls. Eventually Sirius led him to a bedroom where his Hogwarts trunk sat. Harry found it strange being under a roof again and not surrounded by nature and the elements.

“Go bathe, I’d also cut your hair as it’s tangled and matted. Once your dressed come downstairs before you sleep. You need to eat, and I have some potions you need to take.” Sirius instructed from the doorway. “I’m not going to crowd you Harry, so once your ready come downstairs.”

He didn’t linger for which Harry was grateful as he was once again alone. Harry crossed to his trunk and placed a hand to the lock, it promptly clicked open. Pulling out his grooming kit and a change of clothes he then went into the bathroom and ran a deep hot bath. Out in the forest he had only used a bowl of warmed water to wash, and he felt he had never truly appreciated the luxury of a bath before today. He soaped himself up thoroughly and removed a shocking amount of filth and blood from his skin and hair.

Once done he stepped out of the now black bathwater and crossed to the mirror. As he moved there was a sudden noise that made him jump. Instantly he snatched up his wand from where he placed it in easy reach and shot a concussion hex towards the source of the disturbance and heard the sound of shattering porcelain.

He found the source of the noise, the bar of soap had fallen into the empty tub which now sat broken from his hex. Hastily Harry repaired the damaged and listened carefully for signs that Sirius had heard and was relieved when he heard nothing.

Turning to the large mirror Harry was shocked when he saw a stranger looking back at him.

Instantly he noticed the dark hair atop his head had grown unruly and matted, his cheekbones stood out sharply from weight loss but somehow looked broader in the shoulder and leg. Shockingly his eyes looked black, with the awful dark shadows under them making the only feature he had inherited from his mother almost unrecognisable. Harry was reminded of drawings of vampires, his appearance was so close to the undead, all he was missing was their characteristic fangs.

Opening the grooming kit he unstrapped the scissors and comb which sprang to life, darting eagerly towards his hair. Harry gave them clear instructions to cut his hair very short, not caring for style or fashion, it would grow back soon enough after all. Once done he then pulled out the razor and removed all vestiges of the itchy patchy beard he had grown before brushing his teeth for five minutes. Lastly he applied a small amount of the magical make-up Hermione had gifted him that adapted to the users’ skin colour and covered up his lightning bolt scar on his forehead.

Returning to the bedroom he found on the bed were two items he had missed; his belt and wrist cuff. Changing into comfortable clean clothes, he then strapped on the wrist cuff and inserted his wand inside and felt somewhat like his old self once more.

Reluctantly Harry made his way downstairs following the smell of food which made his mouth water and his belly growl painfully. Eventually he stumbled into a dining room where he beheld a table laden with an array of food.

“Come sit, eat.” Sirius said gesturing to all the food. “You can either sit at the far end or you can sit next to me. Its your choice. “

Harry stood hesitant at the threshold of the room before he took a cautious seat next to Sirius, he ignored Harry’s evident unease and instead pulled out three vials of potion.

“Drink these before you eat anything, they’ll help I promise.” Sirius told him, “Remus got them for me when I arrived at his house after your fourth year, so I know they work. They will help your stomach adapt to proper food and meals, but also ensure you can sleep and recover.”

Picking up the first potion which was a pinkish colour Harry downed the foul-tasting contents and almost immediately his stomach rebelled. Feeling himself begin to retch he was then shocked when a strong hand grabbed his jaw, forced his head back, poured a white potion into his mouth before clamping his jaw shut and holding his nose.

The instinct to breathe overcame the need to vomit and Harry managed to swallow painfully but as he did the urge to purge his stomach vanished. His eyes were streaming now and with a shaking hand he picked up the final potion that was blue and drank it, it was surprisingly sweet but otherwise palatable.

“Thanks,” Harry muttered as Sirius retook his seat.

“I’ve used those potions on too many occasions to not remember their effects,” Sirius said dismissively. “Now eat, while the potions begin to do their magic.”

Hardly needing to be told twice Harry began to pick up small amounts of the different foods and slowly ate them, salivating over the different tastes, it was practically decadent after three weeks of foraging and hunting. He was sampling a dish that was flavoured with lemon when a thought suddenly struck him.

“Professor Dumbledore?” He asked quietly, although he feared he knew the answer.

Sirius didn’t answer immediately but looked at Harry was a great deal of concern before he sighed, “I’d hoped to shield you from this until after you slept, but I wont lie. I’m sorry Harry but Albus passed a week ago.”

Harry’s appetite vanished and he dropped his fork on his plate and felt the need to be sick once again.

“Will there be a funeral?”

“Of course, you didn’t miss it, its in thirteen days’ time.” Sirius explained, “as such a high-profile wizard it’s taken time to arrange the funeral, not to mention the necessary security makes it difficult. Albus will be buried on the island out on the Great Lake at Hogwarts. His body has been placed in a magical statis while everything has been arranged.”

“Has anything else happened that I should know of?” Harry asked looking up at Sirius.

“No, or at least nothing that requires your immediate attention.” Sirius told him carefully and his gaze sharpened as he noticed Harry was no longer eating and merely playing with his food. He pulled another potion from his pocket and placed it next to Harry, “take this, it’s the last one that’ll help you recover.”

The potion was a mint green in colour but harry barely noticed as he swallowed the contents quickly, too caught up in his thoughts. Only as he lowered the vial, he smelt the potion and suddenly recognised it in horror.

“Sleeping draught?” He spluttered already feeling its effects, “what!”

“Mixed with both dreamless sleep and nutrient potion.” Sirius admitted, “in the Auror Office this concoction’s effects are called the Healing Haze, it helps you recuperate.”

“You should have warned me!” Harry snarled trying to get to his feet but managing only to knock over his goblet of water.

“I did.” Sirius shrugged apologetically, “I said the potions will help you recover. To do that you need a deep and restful sleep, the potions will ensure you get it.”

Harry would have argued the point, but his head drooped, and everything went dark.

Slowly Harry regained consciousness and his first thought was noticing how quiet the forest around him was, the second was that he was no longer wearing his glasses. Fear and alarm burned away his residual grogginess, he made to bolt upright only the ground beneath him was spongy and his body was trapped beneath something soft and heavy. Instinctively he transformed his eyes into the direwolf’s, managed to extract his hand into which his wand flew seemingly of its own accord, and he looked around wildly for any sign of a threat.

Only there was no threat. In fact Harry wasn’t even out in the forest and there was no wild beast about to attack him. Instead Harry lay in an unfamiliar bed up in the Black Lodge, belatedly recalling that his training had ended.

Harry yanked the bed sheets off him and sat up and noticed that he was wearing pyjamas. He was mortified at the thought of Sirius changing him into pyjamas and putting him to bed as though he were a child.

“You don’t need to worry; I used a switching spell.” Said a voice from the door.

Harry turned sharply and saw Sirius dart out of sight.

“I’m not going to curse you,” Harry said at the vacant doorway, although a spell had been on his tongue and his wand was aimed towards the door.

“Well you can’t blame me for being-” Sirius began as he came back into the bedroom only to freeze at the sight of Harry aghast, “what in the name of Merlin?”

Harry blinked at him wondering what could garner such a reaction before the realisation hit him.

“Ah,” was all he managed to say before he began to concentrate for several moments and reverted his transformed eyes back to normal and hastily picked up his glasses from the bedside table.

“There something you’ve forgotten to mention?” Sirius accused unable to stop the smile on his face.

“Yeah erm… I…” Harry said awkwardly, rubbing the back of his head and suddenly missing the feeling of his longer hair. “I may have unintentionally discovered my animagus form.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Sirius asked with a hurt tone, “I could’ve helped you with the transformation process. I started when I was fourteen, but it wasn’t until fifth year I managed to complete it.”

“I’d have told you sooner had you not kidnapped me and thrown me into that infernal forest for the last few weeks.” Harry said sharply before adding, “Remus knows, I freaked out when I discovered it and parts of my body spontaneously transformed at the end of the term. “

Sirius let out a great bark of laughter and it took him a number of minutes to stop.

“Happens to all of us” He said trying to catch his breath, “My tail was the first thing that came to me whereas James got an antler. James quickly transformed it back, but I was stuck with a tail for two whole days, it was murder to hide it I can tell you.”

“Well I suppose I have that to look forward to.” Harry said casually wondering if Sirius would notice.

“Oh? You do?” Sirius gasped and reminding Harry of a small, excited child rather than a grown man, “What’s your form? Is it a dog?”

"Close, a wolf." Harry said rolling his eyes at his eagerness but noticed Sirius’s face fall.

"You're kidding!" Sirius said frowning and he looked annoyed. "That is not fair!"

"What are you complaining about?" Harry asked confused.

“I owe Remus two hundred and fifth galleons!” Sirius complained, “I was certain he would never be right.”

“Why?” Harry asked bewildered but now that he thought about it he did remember Remus saying that Sirius would be disappointed when he learnt his form.

“We had a bet years ago, about what form you might take if you decided to become an animagus.” Sirius explained sourly, “James and I would argue for hours over it until Remus eventually shut us up by betting us two hundred and fifty galleons each that it would be a wolf."

Harry couldn’t help but snort, “You should never bet against me Sirius, I have a habit of surprising everyone.”

“I don’t think you were even four months old!” Sirius whined defensively, “how far along are you then?”

Harry looked at Sirius for a moment before closing his eyes and reaching out to his magic and pushing and directing it to the areas he had already transformed. In his minds eye he pictured the direwolf; the silver claws, the coat of black fur, the two-coloured eyes, pointed ears, long tail, the lithe body, and the long muzzle.

He opened his eyes when he heard a gasp and saw Sirius gazing at him in shock.

“Well you clearly have work to do, but your further along than I expected.” He said walking around Harry carefully, “You have the front claws and partial paws, good amount of fur, the eyes and half the teeth.” He reached out and held Harry right paw and studied his claws, “silver? How odd.”

Closing his eyes again Harry began to transform him back into his human skin and features but struggled to revert his paws, this was the first time he had ever gotten them to transform.

“Remus is the expert of wolves, but do you perhaps know what species of wolf you are?” Sirius asked with great interest distracting Harry.

“Direwolf.”

“Interesting, the species was not originally a magical breed, but wizards’ experiments have led them to have some unique abilities and properties which have led to them being abused and hunted by wizards.” Sirius said thoughtfully, “I believe their bite is venomous and dangerous in large quantities.”

“I discovered one out in the forest below.” Harry told him.

“The direwolves here are among the most elusive creatures that were hunted in the Lodge’s heyday. In fact I don’t know if one was ever caught or killed.” Sirius said looking up at the wall mounted trophies, “Aunt Dorea told me stories about the direwolves of the Lodge, they apparently killed a guest or two back in the day although she did wonder if that was just a cover story. They’ve mostly been hunted to extinction across the world.”

“Well I know the lodge has at least one.” Harry pointed out, “are people that scared of them?”

“It’s just superstition mostly. Direwolves were always highly sought after in hunts because they were so hard to catch, and they made for highly prized trophies.” Sirius explained and he watched as Harry continued to struggle to transform his paw. “Don’t only picture your hand, think of the way your fingers move independently, the way you use them to pick things up. It will help focus your magic into the proper bone structure.”

Doing as he was instructed Harry slowly transformed his paws back into hands, “I do have a question. When does the transformation get easier? How are you able to shift so seamlessly?”

“Its really only a matter of practice. Currently you are consciously transforming parts of yourself, in time and with practice that process becomes easier as your magic and body memorises the process. Once you are capable of the full transformation you must still practice until this becomes as natural as blinking or breathing.” Sirius told him before transforming himself into Padfoot and back in several seconds. “The real trick is learning to make sure your clothes transform with you, that is something that took me years to learn.”

Harry doubted he would be mastering the full animagus transformation any time soon.

Chapter 4: A Place Called Home

Chapter Text

The journey back to England from Bulgaria was longer, unlike last time Sirius made four stops as he took Harry by side-long apparition. Harry had been very hesitant to allow Sirius to take him anywhere and had almost cursed him on their first attempt.

As they materialised in a rundown garden square of a London residential street, Harry knew he was almost home, but he found himself unable to recall where the house was. Frowning deeply Harry looked around in confusion, how could he have forgotten where he lived?

Sirius then whispered in his ear, “Black House may be found at Number Twelve Grimmauld Place.”

Instantly a house appeared out of nowhere, emerging from between Number Eleven and Number Thirteen before his eyes. A big smile broke out over his face as he looked up at the house. It shone grandly especially compared to the neighbouring houses.

The house had been protected by the powerful Fidelius Charm, that kept the house’s location and function as headquarters of the Order of The Phoenix a secret. Dumbledore’s death had compromised those protections as all those who had known the secret had then become Secret Keepers themselves. Apparently the Fidelius Charm had been broken in its entirety and recast by Sirius since Dumbledore’s death and its secret was now hidden within his soul if he was able to tell Harry himself.

Stepping over the threshold and into Black House Harry was overcome by a feeling, it was simple yet so powerful. He loved this house; he’d helped rebuild it last year and even now he could feel its magic reaching out to embrace him. Here Harry felt safe and secure. This was his home now.

Reaching his bedroom Harry placed his school trunk down and opened it, the moment he had Dobby suddenly appeared and with a click of his fingers made all of his clothes disappear. The house-elf bowed low to Harry and excitedly welcomed him home before vanishing with a crack, making no mention of the wand that had been levelled at him.

A neat leather box had been placed on his desk which had been filled with all his letters, no doubt by Remus or one of the house-elves. The amount of correspondence Harry needed to sort through was alarming as he had only been gone a few weeks. Flicking through them he noticed most were letters from his friends, others were invitations to various social events for the summer. A letter from Gringotts caught his eye, his account manager asked for him to call at the bank at his earliest opportunity.

Resigned Harry took a seat and began to properly read and sort through his mail, it took him almost an hour to reply to his friends and respond to the various invitations. Almost all of which Harry had to politely decline as he would be out of the country while others he sent apologies for missing as he had been in Bulgaria and unable to respond previously.

Deciding to visit Gringotts Bank, Harry changed out of his t-shirt and jeans and into something more presentable before he made his way up to the top floor of the house where Sirius sat in his office.

The office wasn’t overly large although that might have been due to every spare inch of wall being covered in large bookcases filled with leatherbound books containing the various records made by the Black family over the centuries. Behind the desk was the only stretch of wall that was not covered by bookcases, instead it was decorated by an elaborate and detailed relief carving of the Black coat of arms.

Sirius looked up as Harry entered, “Everything alright?”

"I need to go to Gringotts, Griphook sent me a note asking me to call on him.” Harry said hoping that Sirius wouldn’t disagree.

Sirius didn’t look surprised by his request to go to Diagon Alley, he merely put down the documents he had been reading which Harry noted were marked by the Hogwarts crest.

“Naturally, you have an estate to manage just as I do. Would you like some company? Or do you need any help? It’s been a while since we spoke about your estate and business interests.”

“No. I will be fine alone.” Harry said bluntly and the moment the words left his mouth he hated them as he saw the pain they caused Sirius and quickly added, “I’ll take my mirror, should I need to call you.”

“Okay, but if you’re going alone you’ll need to change your appearance.” Sirius said standing up, “have you learnt how to do that yet or would you like me to do it?”

Harry shook his head and took a hesitant step backwards as he saw Sirius come towards him and had to force himself to stand still, “If you wouldn’t mind?” He said stiffly.

Sirius smiled reassuringly and pulled out his wand and made no comment when Harry’s flicked into his own hand, with four flicks of his wand Sirius had turned Harry once again into James Evans.

"I wouldn't worry about the goblins, your rings prove your identity and they appreciate discretion for their clients." Sirius said as he pulled out a piece of blank parchment and wrote down something before adding his seal, "If you want to you can also have a look in the Black Family vault, all of the dark artefacts have been removed, and they have only just begun to sort through them but you are free to take anything."

Harry took the note and looked at it:

I Sirius Orion, Lord of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black authorise my heir Harrison James Black-Potter to access and withdraw from the Black Ancestral Vault.

"Thanks, but I probably won’t go into there today.” Harry told him.

Harry couldn’t help but feel on edge around Sirius after the trip to Bulgaria, it had made things awkward between the two of them whereas before Harry had always felt so comfortable and at ease around him.

“You should take a look in the Potter Ancestral Vault at least,” Sirius said easily not pushing him and he returned to his work. “I’d also recommend you visit the Potter Estate too, its long overdue. You should become acquainted with your lands even while you’re rebuilding the manor. Call me if you want to visit, I can take you.”

Harry left Sirius to his work and made his way downstairs, pausing at his bedroom to grab the stack of post that he needed to send off. The fireplace on the ground floor was one of Harry’s favourite features in the house, it was beautifully crafted out of the finest mahogany. Pressing a section of the carving it gave way under his hand, a hidden drawer slid out and from it he took a pinch of floor powder and threw it into the hearth.

"Diagon Alley!" He announced clearly after taking off his glasses.

He shot out of the grate in the Leaky Cauldron barely managing to stay on his feet. That was only because he fell into a patron who was standing too close to the fire. After making his apologies, he left the bar.

The moment he stepped into Diagon Alley, Harry was struck by how it had changed. Previously the alley had always been bustling and filled with a happy and loud atmosphere, now the atmosphere was subdued, the street was less busy, and the people travelled in small groups that tried not to linger.

Even the window displays were no longer a sight that caught the eye. Almost all of them now bore various ministry posters displaying images of known Death Eaters or warnings and messages. Harry was just making his way passed a group of sullen witches when he suddenly experienced sensory overload.

One shop stood out against all of its neighbours; it was painted in a vibrant orange with a large sign that read; Weasleys Wizard Wheezes.

In the left-hand window there was a display of various products, and it instantly caught the eye of anyone walking past. Everything in the window moved, revolved, popped, flashed, bounced, shrieked and smoked. Passersby often came to a halt as though hypnotised and then enter the shop as though compelled to satisfy their curiosity.

The right-hand window at first glance looked just like the others in the alley, covered in a large ministry poster. Yet it was not at all what it appeared. The posters ink flash drawing your eye to its message and when your attention was on it the lettering would flash and change.

Why are you worrying about You-Know-Who?

You SHOULD be worrying about

U-NO-POO

The Constipation sensation that's gripping the nation

Harry couldn’t help but laugh at the Twins sense of humour ignoring the fretful looks he received from the passerby who quickly shuffled away.

Eventually Harry managed to squeeze his way into the shop with no small amount of effort as it was rammed full of people. All around him Harry saw boxed piled high on shelves, bins of merchandise and magnificently magical displays. Everything about the shop was loud, brash and chaotic which was very much on brand for its owners, who stood out in the crowd of shoppers with their orange hair and purple waistcoat.

Harry could only smile to himself, knowing he was certainly right to invest his money into the Twins business. He couldn’t help but wonder what Mrs Weasley thought of their enterprise now, she had been adamant that her sons needed to finish school. No matter what their mother thought, Harry was certain the twins would make the business work and he would likely see a large return on his investment.

Reluctantly Harry left the shop and made his way to the post office. The elderly postmaster eagerly accepted the business and took the stack of correspondence from Harry clearly noticing the names of the recipients. As he handed Harry his change he could feel the wizards curious gaze looking him over, clearly wondering just who James Evans was.

When Harry entered Gringotts Bank he noticed that it too had changed since his previous visits. There was a queue of fifty witches and wizards waiting at the kiosks and even more were standing waiting for the carts to go down to their vaults. There was also a very noticeable increase in the goblin security force within the bank.

Harry joined the slowly moving queue for ten minutes before he saw Lord Flint enter the bank, bypass the queue entirely and walk directly to the head teller before he was escorted directly towards the account manager offices. This did not go unnoticed by the other witches and wizards in the queue who began to complain loudly before they were silenced by the goblin security.

Stepping out of the line, Harry ignored the hushed mutterings of the people in the queue and approached the head teller himself hoping he wasn’t about to embarrass himself.

"Good morning, I am here to see Account Manager Griphook," He announced.

“Is he expecting you?” The goblin asked with a nasty sneer as he looked Harry over dismissively.

“No, but he will make time to see me.” Harry said curtly not appreciating the goblins tone and doubted he had spoken to Lord Flint in the same way.

“Account Manager Griphook is busy boy,” The goblin said dismissively returning to his ledger, “he doesn’t have time to deal with teenage walk-ins. If you wish to discuss business you should have made an appointment like everyone else.”

“His business is my business.” Harry said sharply, “I ask that you show me to my account manager now.”

The goblin looked up startled before looking at Harry suspiciously before slowly ringing a bell which summoned another goblin who he addressed in his native tongue.

“Very well.” The teller said calmly, “you will be shown to Griphook’s office.”

Silently Harry was escorted through the bank by the goblin attendant trying to ignore the feeling that he was now being closely watched. When he was brought before the door which bore the Potter crest Harry eagerly knocked and was allowed entry.

“Good morning Griphook.” Harry said politely stepping up to the goblins desk, “I trust all is well.”

“Just who might you be?” Griphook asked shrewdly, his clever eyes looking over Harry’s face and appearance carefully.

“Harrison Black-Potter, Head of the House of Potter.” Harry replied, “My apologies, I’m under concealment spells but I can assure you I am your client.”

Griphook dipped his head in acknowledgement before pulling out a small knife and parchment from his desk and setting them before Harry.

“I’ll require your blood for identification and to see your House Rings.” He stated firmly.

Taking the knife, Harry cut his finger and allowed a single drop of blood to fall onto the parchment which he then handed to the goblin using his ring hand. Griphook gripped his hand with his long fingers, closely studying the rings before he eventually released Harry and read the offered parchment.

“Everything is in order Mr Black-Potter.” He said getting up from his desk, throwing the parchment into the fire and pulling out a large ledger from a shelf before returning to his desk. “There is much we need to go through, so we should dive straight in.”

“I’d like to see a full account overview, detailing my investments and potential returns, along with current account balances.” Harry said remembering a lesson he had been given by Sirius the previous year.

Griphook didn’t waste a moment and picked up a file from the top of a pile on his desk as though he had expected Harry to request it.

- Gringotts Annual Audit of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter -

- July 1996 –

Vaults:

Potter Ancestral Vault : 1,802,231 Galleons

: Estimated value of miscellaneous contents 3,641,710 Galleons

Potter Dowager Vault : 50,000 Galleon Limit

Potter Trust Vaults 687-691: : 100,000 Galleons

Property:

The Old Cottage, Godric's Hollow (Registered Historical Monument)

  • Property Valuation: 120,000 Galleons
  • Notes: Structural damage to the upper floor and residual curse damage. Contents of the property are unknown.

Hogs Hill, Hogsmeade, Scotland (Leased to Hogwarts School)

  • Property Valuation: 146,000 Galleons
  • Notes: Lease ends in 2010. Subterranean tunnel links the property to the school.

Potter Estate, Peveralle Valley, Lake District (Estate Under Restoration)

  • Property Valuation: 14,150,000 Galleons
  • Notes: Manor structure construction is complete. Wards have reached maximum efficiency and external boundary walls and Gatehouse have been rebuilt. Two farms have now been tenanted

Business Investments:

Belegar Butterbeer Brewery: Ownership: 33% Annual Income: 300,000 Galleons

Daily Prophet: Ownership: 20% Annual Income: 11,000 Galleons

Discreet Elf Services: Ownership: 60% Annual Income: 96,000 Galleons

Eeylops Owl Emporium: Ownership: 2% Annual Income: 1,660 Galleons

Flume Confection: Ownership: 17% Annual Income: 21,000 Galleons

Quality Quidditch Supplies: Ownership: 11% Annual Income: 64,000 Galleons

Twilfitt and Tatting's: Ownership: 4% Annual Income: 2,400 Galleons

Weasley Wizard Wheezes: Ownership: 30% Annual income: 3,000 Galleons

Commercial Properties:

Yellow Field Farmland: Leased to Highmoon Research Institute

  • Property Value: 85,000 Galleons
  • Annual Rent: 16,000 Galleons

Highmill Farm: Tenanted to Dale Family

  • Annual Income: 7,000 Galleons

Murray’s Grove: Tenanted to the Murray Family

  • Annual Income: 7,500 Galleons

Rowan Pastures: Leased to European Society for the Breeding and Racing of Equestrian Creatures

  • Property Value: 1,300,770 Galleons
  • Annual Rent: 22,000 Galleons
  • Annual Income: 63,000 Galleons

Overall Harry was pleased with what he saw, his financed were in a good position even with the substantial drain on them from rebuilding the Potter Estate and several new acquisitions.

“I approve, it’s been a busy year.” Harry told the goblin returning the document, “I do have concerns in light of Voldemorts public return and the Ministry’s declaration of war. I’m sure it will impact businesses.”

Griphook gave a predatory smile baring his teeth. “I can see that unlike most of your kind you are not entirely foolish. The wizarding market is small, already we are seeing business rates fall and material and operational costs increase. Some business owners are buying out their stakeholders, whereas other investors are selling off their interests. It’s a turbulent time for the market. War makes good business if your smart, some enterprises will suffer but not all. Do you have any idea what you would like to do with your own interests?”

"Eeylops and Twiflitts." Harry stated. "Sell them, they are my lowest investments and I want to free up some of my gold.”

"That can be arranged." Griphook said writing it down, "I would recommend selling your interests of Quality Quidditch Supplies. With the Dark Forces on the rise the sport will not be as popular and the value of the investment will quickly lose its value.”

“Sell that too. I think it would be prudent we halt any further investments going forward.” Harry said thoughtfully, “Any idea how much the sale of those three investments might give us?”

Griphook didn’t reply but began to look through various papers and ledgers and scribbling on a piece of parchment for fifteen minutes. “It will entirely depend on the sales negotiations and what interest I might find. If you want an estimate, I would say between one hundred and fifty to two hundred and seventy thousand galleons. Most of the gold would come from the sale of Quality Quidditch Supplies.”

“See what you can do.” Harry instructed before he moved onto the next item of his agenda. “I wonder if its possible for Gringotts to set up a bank account in the muggle world?”

“Gringotts has a somewhat limited connection to the Bank of England and through them the various muggle banking institutions. Your family should already maintain an account, most wizarding families have one, not that most use them often. Let me find the details.”

Griphook got to his feet again and began to look through various ledgers and folders that his office contained all of which pertaining to the Potter Accounts. Harry meanwhile picked up the transaction ledger which he found oddly interesting as he saw not only his own spending but also that of his parents and grandparents.

During his years living in the muggle world his accounts had been entirely frozen with no expenditures at all. After his return to the Wizarding Community he had begun to receive a steady income into the Potter Account but also money equally began to leave his vaults. Largest were his Hogwarts tuition fees and he was shocked to see how much his education cost.

He was just looking at the pages from when his parents were in hiding when Griphook at last spoke.

“According to our records the Potter Account in the muggle world was closed in 1980 by the muggles, the money it contained was rather minimal. No more than a mere fifteen galleons in Pound Sterling.” He said looking somewhat disgruntled, “I’ll investigate the reason for the accounts closure, and seek reimbursem*nt of the lost money. If you wish to make transactions in the muggle world we will need to begin setting up a new account for you, given the division between the wizarding and muggle communities it’s a complicated process.”

Harry nodded distractedly as he had noticed something peculiar in the ledger. According to the records his parents had made no gold withdrawals from the Potter Account during their time in hiding from Voldemort. Even prior to that he saw no large withdrawals which he would have expected if they had stockpiled gold outside the bank. Which begged the question of how his parents supported themselves during their time in hiding.

“What about my mother?” Harry said thoughtfully flicking through the pages, “she was muggleborn, did she perhaps have an account of her own in the muggle world?”

Griphook gave Harry a long-suffering look before he again poured through his files and after twenty minutes eventually extracted a folder and returned to his desk and flicked through its contents. A look of surprise crossed his face, and he muttered something in his own language that Harry didn’t understand.

“What is it?” Harry asked intrigued by the goblin’s demeanour.

Griphook looked up at him and seemed to have forgotten he was there for a moment before he schooled is expression into disinterest.

“Your mother did in fact have an account in the muggle world Mr Black-Potter, ordinarily I would have expected it to be absorbed into the Potter Account on her marriage but instead it was maintained and kept entirely separate. Most unusual. I hadn’t thought to look at these records when I took over your account, a mistake on my part I admit.” Griphook told him, “my predecessor on the other hand was very much aware of your mothers account and took full advantage of it.”

“How so?”

The goblin didn’t see at all surprised by Harry’s question, he merely settled himself comfortably in his chair and regarded Harry with his clever dark eyes and linked his fingers together.

“Gringotts Bank has extremely strict rules that govern the accounts we safeguard for wizard-kind. When your parents were murdered, and you were placed in the muggle world this triggered one such rule. Gringotts immediately froze the Potter Accounts in their entirety, preventing any transactions in or out until you as the sole beneficiary reached your majority or claimed your position as Head of House Potter. Trust Vaults are governed by separate rules which is why you gained access to yours when you first entered Gringotts Bank five years ago.”

“While the Potter Accounts were frozen and dormant, your various investments and interests continued to operate and generate income each year. So then what happens to that gold? Well the Wizarding Banking Act of 1710 stipulated that incomes of dormant wizarding accounts must be paid into the Ministry Treasury.” Griphook continued sneering disdainfully, clearly this was a point of contention for goblins or Gringotts.

Harry wondered how much gold was generated by dormant wizarding accounts, he didn’t think it was a coincidence that this particular banking law was made shortly following the formation of the Ministry of Magic.

“You said my mother’s muggle account was kept intact and separate from the main Potter Account and that your predecessor took advantage of it.” Harry pointed out shrewdly a thought occurring to him, “Are you suggesting it was possible for him to have the Potter Accounts income paid into that unfrozen account rather than it going to the Ministry of Magic?”

“Rignak died two years after your father, but before he died he arranged for the annual Potter incomes to be deposited into your mother’s muggle account rather than have it stolen by the Ministry of Magic.” Griphook confirmed his eyes glinting, “As it is a muggle account it was not subject to Gringotts Banking Regulations and wasn’t frozen with the Potter Account, which therefore meant it was exempt from the constraints of the 1710 Banking Act. A marvellous little loophole wouldn’t you say.”

Mutely Harry nodded not trusting himself to speak, he wondered if this was truly legal but suspected if anyone knew how to skirt Wizarding Law it would be goblins, although that didn’t mean there wouldn’t be repercussions.

“How much?” Harry said weakly before clearing his voice and asking in a stronger voice, “How much money is in there?”

“The amount will be quite substantial,” Griphook offered and he began to flick through various papers, accounts and ledgers on his desk looking for something before he found the file he was looking for. “I’ll need to request an official statement from the muggle bank, but by my estimations, depending on the exchange rates and interest payments, you’re looking at a sum in excess of seven million galleons.”

Harry sat aghast. That was a staggering figure of money and one he hadn’t expected in the least.

“That’s quite the sum.” He managed to say.

Griphook smiled nastily in delight, Harry recalled that as per the terms of his employment contract once that money was transferred into the main Potter Account the goblin was entitled to a very large bonus.

“Let us put that aside for now, there is one issue that we must discuss urgently.” Griphook stated

“Putting that aside for now, there is one issue that we must discuss.” Griphook stated, “the Potter Account is in arrears to the Ministry, you have a substantial tax bill that you must pay.”

This revelation caught Harry’s attention immediately and he indicated for Griphook to continue.

“Last year when you claimed Headship of House Potter, you unfroze your accounts and appointed me your account manager.” Griphook recounted, “that very afternoon I was presented with the tax bill by the Ministry’s Tax Office. Fourteen years of backdated taxes on your accounts and assets is not insignificant, neither are the death duties. I took the liberty as your account manager to negotiate an interim period to provide us time to get your accounts organised before we needed to address the arrears.”

Harry sat uneasily in his chair, he hadn’t even thought about the taxation of his accounts and holdings and wondered just how much it could be. He had trusted Griphook to handle such matters which is what Sirius had told him to do. Now Harry questioned why Griphook hadn’t cautioned him against rebuilding the Potter Estate and spending huge amounts of money if he was to be hit by a huge tax bill.

“How much do I need to pay?” Harry asked fearing the answer.

“A one-off payment of five million galleons will cover the bill, including the necessary interest payments.” Griphook said after checking the figure, “there is also the option of paying it in instalments which was what I would have advised you had we not just discovered your mothers account. My advice now would be to pay it off straight away rather than have it hanging over your head any longer.”

Considering the problem before him, for the first time Harry felt the weight that had been placed on his shoulders and the pressures of managing his estate. He had his mirror in his pocket meaning Sirius was only a call away and could help him, but Harry wanted to try and do this on his own.

Griphook wasted little time schooling Harry on the various forms of taxation within the Wizarding World, a topic that Harry thought was severely missing from the Hogwarts curriculum for muggle-raised students.

“Transfer the majority of the money from my mothers account into the main Potter account, that will satisfy the arrears.” Harry said finally once he felt he understood enough, and half wished he could have made notes as he listened. “As you said I can afford to pay it off so there is no need to drag it out. Will this transfer be subject to any additional taxation or fees I should know about?”

Difficult though it was to get a read of any goblin’s thoughts, feelings and emotions, Harry couldn’t be certain, but he thought he saw something akin to respect on Griphook’s face at his question.

Fortunately even with the transfer fee, which was minimal in comparison to his accrued debt, the amount would still cover the debt in its entirety and still leave Harry with money left over.

With that matter concluded Harry moved onto the next item on his agenda.

“I’ve been meaning to ask a different service from you, and I hope its one that Gringotts or you can help with.” Harry said pulling out a list detailing requirements for muggle properties in and around Surrey along with a rough budget, “is this possible?”

“Property Acquisition and Sales are part of the Gringotts Banking Services, the bank has a number of employees who often deal with business dealings in the muggle world.” Griphook said looking over the list before adding it to his grown list of tasks. “Is this property for yourself?”

“No,” Harry said cautiously not wanting to give too much away, “It will be a gift. I’d rather the purchase was not recorded with the Ministry and if possible not even here in your files. Given the current climate I require absolute discretion and I mean no insult to you Griphook.”

The goblin considered the request for a long moment, he studied Harry closely with his black unblinking eyes before he eventually answered.

“I can only work within the rules and laws of both Gringotts Bank and the Ministry of Magic, you understand Mr Black-Potter?” He said speaking carefully, “that being said I can arrange for a portfolio to be prepared for your specifications. I will have to expand the area, should you wish to focus solely on Surrey when you receive the portfolio then that is your choice. Wizarding purchases and investments in the muggle world are stringently regulated and monitored, not that you need to worry about such things, but as part of your larger education you should understand know this. Now tell me Mr Black-Potter which account will this purchase be made from?”

“My mothers account will suffice I think,” Harry said quickly realising that Griphook was helping him within the limits he was able.

A brief nod from the goblin told Harry that it was the right answer.

“Thank you Griphook,” Harry said sincerely knowing he wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without the goblins help, let alone all of the other work he had done on his behalf in the last year.

“Do not mention it Mr Black-Potter.” He replied pointedly, “We should turn our attention to the Potter Estate.”

“We should.” Harry said frowning, “but can I ask, why didn’t caution me against rebuilding and redeveloping the estate, or even the purchase of addition investments in the last year given the debt I was carrying?”

Even as he spoke Harry heard the underlining accusation of his question and winced as Griphook drew himself up in his chair clearly affronted.

“I can assure you Mr Black-Potter that I acted in the best interest of the accounts you hired me to manage.” Griphook said stiffly, a hint of challenge in his voice, “I said my recommendation originally was to pay off your debt in a series of instalments. To that end I began to invest your gold into properties and businesses to increase your annual income which would in the long term provide the means of paying off the instalments so that you didn’t need to use your family fortune.”

Harry shifted awkwardly in his chair feeling very uncomfortable, he hadn’t meant to insinuate that Griphook had been remiss in his role as account manager, and it had clearly insulted the proud goblin. Given that Griphook managed his accounts and wealth, had he any concerns over his plans to rebuild the Potter Estate he would have voiced them by now.

“You have my sincere apologies,” Harry said guiltily, “I honestly meant no offense Griphook.”

Griphook nodded briskly giving nothing away, “Shall we continue?”

“Yes.” Harry said quickly, “I’ve already approved the reforging of the Great Gates, repairs to the boundary walls and construction of a new gatehouse. I admit I’ve put off arranging the next phase, but I think its time to get that started.”

They spent a further hour going through the various plans and proposals which would see the interior walls, staircases, fireplaces, and plumbing built into the house along with the installation of windows and additional stonework features. Griphook would begin getting quotes for all of the work, arrange the labour and source the materials necessary but first they had to review several new contracts and orders that Harry needed to sign and authorise.

Finally with their business concluded Griphook clicked his fingers and the various ledgers and folders on his desk were sent back to their shelves around his office and he then neatly stacked the remaining parchments into piles on his desk.

“I believe I have more than enough to be getting on with, but you should expect an owl soon.” He said looking grimly at the amount of paperwork in front of him, “Is there any other service I might provide?”

Harry considered making a joke but decided against testing the goblins patience further today.

“I would like to visit the Potter Ancestral Vault and potentially if I have the time the Black Ancestral Vault too.” Harry stated, “I have written authority from Lord Black for the Black vault.”

Griphook took the parchment from him. "This should be sufficient; I will deliver this to Account Manager Narfang. Follow me and I will have a cart come to collect you.”

He marched Harry out of his office and led him through a long corridor of the bank before they stepped through an open archway that led to the tracks that led down into the vaults beneath them. Standing guard looked to be a full battalion of goblin warriors wielding spears, swords, and crossbows and wearing full goblin armour.

As they approached their path was blocked by two surly goblins who intersected their spears preventing their passing. The goblin who looked to be in command of the battalion exchanged heated words in gobbledygook with Griphook but eventually permitted them to continue. Griphook ordered another goblin to accompany them onto the cart carrying an odd-looking object. It was metal and looked like a double ended bell surrounded by hammers which made an awful noise when shook.

Once they were aboard the cart it shot like a rocket along the tracks through the tunnels under the bank, it moved so fast that at some points Harry struggled to know which direction they were travelling or even what way up they were. Plunging deeper and deeper into the earth, Harry gasped as they passed through a waterfall and was soaked through. In front of him Griphook was busy piloting the cart, he did something to the central console and then suddenly the cart leaped off the track.

Harry swore at the top of his lungs as their momentum had them shoot out into a cavernous expanse, had he had time to react he would have tried to jump from the cart, but their speed had them barrelling into a rough rock wall before he could do anything but clench.

Only they didn’t crash into the rock. Instead they passed directly through it and entered a new tunnel, landing bumpily onto a new set of tracks and accelerating forwards. Harry’s heart was racing and he gasped and closed his eyes when he was suddenly blinded by a brilliant white-hot fire that engulfed the tunnel ahead. Behind him Harry heard the accompanying goblin move and shake his metal contraption, the fire head vanished, and they raced passed the opening from when it had emanated before Harry could even think to look.

A short time late they came to an abrupt halt, the cart screeching and sparks flying from the brakes.

The only light came from the carts single lamp which Griphook removed from its setting before he stepped off the cart onto a rough stone platform beside the tracks.

“Step off the cart please.” Griphook instructed looking at Harry expectantly and Harry did not fail to notice his amused expression.

Gingerly Harry stood and wished there was more light so he could see where he was putting his foot, fortunately he found the stone floor and stepped shakily off the cart. Griphook he noticed remained firmly behind him very close to edge of the platform.

“You will go on alone. The magic on the Ancestral Vaults are powerful, you will be tested.”

There was a shallow hollow in the rockface next to the cart, as Harry took several hesitant steps forwards four metal touches ignited, the flames illuminating what looked like a natural rock formation and Harry stood facing a dead-end.

“Who dares attempt to enter this protected place.” Came a disembodied voice that sounded like the rock itself was speaking. It was gruff and deep and incredibly foreboding.

Harry didn’t hesitate to answer, recalling the words Sirius had taught him last summer for accessing the ancestral vaults.

“Harrison, Son of James, Son of Charlus. Head of House Potter.”

Cautiously Harry waited expectantly, and he was beginning to think he had done something wrong when in the middle of the passageway a podium rose at his feet, flowing out of the stone floor like water. It solidified into sharp polished obsidian and was etched with golden lines. At the top of the podium was a large hole into which Harry placed his hand. The moment he did he felt it immobilised and caught by an unseen force and he tried not to panic. Pain lanced through his wrist and made Harry wince and he felt his hand grow cold for a number of seconds before it was released.

Looking at his wrist Harry saw there was a pink line across it where the podium had drawn his blood.

"Welcome Son of our House" the voice said deeply.

From within the rockface ahead a door began to seep out, it was made of the same materials as the podium, but it was far more elaborate and finely detailed. The door was decorated with relief images of the Potter and Peverell crests and Incals.

This was the first time that Harry had seen the Peverell crest. It was simpler than the Potters, reflecting an earlier age but he could see where parts of the Potter crest had been drawn from. It depicted a skull spiked by a spear with a triangular banner with a letter P inside a circle, and it was surrounded on either side by two thestrals.

Harry had never seen such craftmanship and he wondered thoughtfully if it was the work of Wizards or Goblins or perhaps both, either way it certainly required magic in its crafting.

There was no keyhole anywhere in sight and he turned to Griphook who had now approached the door.

“How do I open the door?”

“Just touch it.” Griphook replied, “I will then do the same.”

Harry did as instructed and a crack appeared down the centre of the doorway, Griphook then slid a clawed finger down the crack and they could hear the sound of many mechanisms within the door clicking and disengaging but the door still did not open.

“This is where I must leave you.” Griphook said stepping back into the cart and putting the lantern back in place, “When you wish to leave, close the door, and then hold out your wand over the track. A cart will come to bring you back up to the bank.”

The cart engaged forwards and leaving Harry standing alone in the passageway. Returning to the door Harry once again pressed his hand to it and it slowly opened before him allowing Harry entered his families Ancestral Vault for the first time.

Within the vault he found himself in a surprisingly small room. It was made of sculpted polished stone and was lit by witchlight embedded in the tall ceiling but there were three doors leading off what was clearly the entrance chamber. In the centre of the chamber was an ancient looking wooden table carved with the Potter and Peverell Incals, sitting atop it in pride of place was the ritual bowl Harry had used the previous summer to claim his heritage.

The left-hand door opened onto a treasure trove of gold, silver and bronze coins, there were literally mountains and mountains of stacked coins and Harry couldn’t believe the sight of so much money, it was overwhelming. It made his trust fund look like pocket money and Harry was glad the Weasleys had never seen inside this room. As he was about to leave he noticed something odd. Right at the back of the vault were a number of recesses carved into the stone walls, stacked inside were green-black metal bars engraved with the Gringotts seal.

Through the middle door led to a long narrow space where the air was much cooler and there was a noticeable lack of moisture in the air. On either side there were tall shelves filled with all manner of scrolls, ledgers, books, parchments, and journals. Looking at them Harry saw that some dated back centuries and others looked to be relatively new. He assumed they were likely records and important documents and could only imagine what they might contain.

The third and final room was by far the largest of the three. It contained boxes and chests all of which were filled with all manner of his family’s personally belongings. There was a large collection of heavy wooden chests bound in rune covered iron bands, stacks of paintings, carpets, and tapestries. Harry also found a number of portraits of various dozing family members if their resemblance was anything to go by.

Looking through the many shelves he found boxes of ancient weaponry and armour and a vast collection of clothing from various eras of fashion. There were chests filled with a trove of jewellery, gems, and accessories and in others a large collection of silverware.

It was an odd thing seeing the wealth of his family all boxed up in the vault, clearly it had been collected and curated over centuries and he couldn’t help but wonder about its history. He discovered a large cupboard filled with leather bound books and glass bottles containing ship models sailing on water but had no idea what they were or why the Potters had them.

Harry didn’t take anything from the vault, he just looked around at what his family had amassed and stored away. It was odd that deep within the underground tunnels of Gringotts he found a sense of familiarity and belonging not unlike what he felt at Black House. Here for the first time he felt connected to the Potters, surrounded by their history and treasures but it also made him feel alone.

As he made his way out of the storage vault he once again noticed the wooden chests bound in runed iron and saw each was branded with a serial number on the lid. He realised that these chests likely contained the contents of Peverell Manor which his grandparents stored away due to the war. He could only imagine what they might contain but thought it likely they had only removed valuables or important heirlooms.

When Harry stepped back into the entrance chamber he was about to leave the vault when he noticed three objects were now sat on the table in the centre of the room that he knew had not been there when he first entered.

The first was a medium sized silver box inlaid with emeralds in the shape of the letter ‘P’. Next to it was a photo album similar to his own that decorated with a doe and a stag on the front. The third item was a letter addressed to ‘Harrison James’ written in a hand that Harry was very familiar with having read journals filled with the same handwriting.

Picking up the letter with shaking hands Harry opened it.

Harry,

I truly hope that you never have to find this letter, for if you have it will mean that both your father and I are no longer with you and for that I am truly sorry and I wish that we could have raised you.

If the worst happens then your godfather will have taken great care of you. Sirius may be reckless and an old dog, but I cannot think of a better guardian for you my darling boy. I just hope that Alice can keep him in line and stop him from turning you to mischief too soon.

You will know by now that we went into hiding because of Lord Voldemort; he was targeting you, so we went into hiding to protect you. We would do anything to protect you Harry, even if it means sacrificing our own lives, neither James nor I would regret it.

We have placed these letters into the Ancestral Vault just in case anything happens to us. These are just a few words from parents who love you and wish that they will always be there to guide you. I fear fate has other ideas, but I hope that these letters will help you know us.

The silver box was a wedding present from your grandmother Dorea. She and her sister made it years ago when they were experimenting with blood magic, they bound it to our family line and only a Potter can open the box.

Inside you will find a few things that we want you to have Harry. I know they will not make up for the birthdays and Christmases we might have missed but I hope you will forgive us.

My greatest wish for you is to have a long and happy life and being married with children and grandchildren, remember family is the greatest gift you can have.

With all my love,

Mum

There was a second letter in the envelope which Harry knew was from his father and he pulled it out eagerly.

Harry,

Your mum had things she wanted to tell you, as do I.

I hope you have a happy childhood and when you enter Hogwarts you have the most memorable years of your life, filled with excitement and adventure. My own years at Hogwarts were the best times of my life, and I truly hope you experience half of the joys that I found in that ancient castle. Although if you turn out anything like your old man you may spend a good portion of your time in detention!

I intend to give you our invisibility cloak, or if you are too young then I will leave it in the care of either Sirius or Alice for when you enter Hogwarts in your first year, but it is currently with Professor Dumbledore who has borrowed it to study as he thinks it is remarkable…

Although between you and me I think he has taken it because he doesn't want me to use it to sneak out of this house! If your godparents do not have it you will need to speak with Albus, that cloak has been in our family for centuries and is a family heirloom that should be in your possession, it was my fathers before me and it should be yours.

Now if you are reading this letter it means you are now within the Ancestral Vault. You will find it full of a great many things, I myself don’t know what’s in there as its contents have been accumulating for generations.

Our family home was destroyed by Death Eaters. I was there that day, and it breaks my heart to know you will never see the home of our forefathers and I’ll never forgive myself for what happened that day. It’s my hope that you will rebuild the manor Harry. Most of the contents of Peverell Manor were placed into storage when I began to fight Voldemort as a precaution by my parents. Those chests have extension charms and are bound in compression runes to keep them contained. Within the Archive Room here in the vault you will find a ledger which will tell you what each chest contains. They also contain the entire Potter library, where you will find our family history. As you do you will discover our family had a rich and diverse history and I hope you can feel close to us even from the beyond.

Padfoot will teach you of the Potters status and position no doubt, but if for whatever reason he hasn’t then please seek out the Longbottoms, Blakes or Bones. Long have they been the staunchest friends and allies to our family, and we to them, they will help you.

The Potters are an old family, our wealth is quite large due to our hard work, ingenuity but also from supporting our friends. Our vault contains enough gold for you to live like a king and rebuild our home and still have enough money for the next five generations. Gold alone doesn’t buy happiness, trust me on this Harry.

I may be a pureblood, as were my parents but the Potters have never stuck to the ideology that other families follow, especially the mixing of magical lines and blood. My marriage to your mother is a fine example of this. Lily might be muggleborn, but she is still a witch, what matters most is she is who I fell in love with, not her blood, not her heritage, or even her magic.

My father believed, as do I, that muggleborns are new pureblood's, they will probably have a magical ancestor somewhere in their ancestry, but it is their own magic that makes them magical and if their parents are not magical at all then they are a pureblood witch or wizard. So I married a pureblood witch and have a pureblood son, but even if you were a squib, muggleborn or half-blood, I would love you all the same.

Eventually you will become the next Lord Potter. As I sit here writing this letter I am watching you babble to the cat and its strange to think my little boy will one day sit on the Wizengamot. All I can ask is that you do not let the title go to your head. We are not rulers; we are the protectors and advisors to our community only.

We’ve moved into the cottage in Godric’s Hollow now. My father used to tell me stories about it when I was a boy, how it was used by our ancestor Ignotus Peverell and how it protected him from harm till he died of old age. It’s my hope that the magic still lies in the house and will protect you and Lily.

I wish that I could see you grow to be the wizard I believe you will become. I think fate has other plans, perhaps that’s just my fear speaking, but I can already feel the shadow of an old friend on the path ahead.

Remember that I love you, and I did everything I could to protect you Harry.

Be happy and enjoy life.

Love Dad.

Harry felt tears falling down his cheeks as he finished reading the letters and he carefully tucked them back into their envelope. He chose not to open the box. After reading the letters he didn’t feel ready to open it. Pocketing the letters, he filled his coin purse with gold and picked up the box and photo album and left the vault.

Once outside he walked to the edge of the platform and stuck out his wand, as he waited the vault door behind him closed silently and then withdrew back into the stone leaving no trace of the vault he had entered.

After several minutes a Gringotts cart rocketed down the tracks and came to a grinding halt in front of him.

"Will you require another vault?" The goblin asked.

“No,” Harry said looking at his watch and noticing he had been at Gringotts for hours and he still had other things he wanted to do, “take me up to the surface please.”

The trip was much easier than before. They sped out of the tunnel through what looked like another solid rock wall, only to land on a track below and then began to ascend up out of the depths towards the bank above.

“Would you happen to know what those metal bricks engraved with a Gringotts seal are?” Harry asked the driver loudly, “I saw them in my vault.”

“They’re Gringotts Bullion made of a rare goblin alloy, they hold a value of around fifty thousand galleons. They are used by wealthy clients to better store their wealth and to reduce the volume of coinage within their vaults.” The driver explained but didn’t elaborate further so Harry kept quiet.

o-HP-o

Once Harry was back up to the surface Harry stepped back into the marble bank and awkwardly passed the impatient customers still queuing. It quickly became apparent that his disguise had been removed as he began to draw attention and he heard people mutter and whisper his name.

Harry hurried away and found himself a secluded corner in the bank and called Sirius to come and meet him outside. It didn’t take long for Sirius to arrive, and Harry met him outside, he paused only to check it was truly him, before allowing Sirius to take him away by side-long apparition.

They landed on a small country dirt road in the middle of a valley surrounded by hills and trees as far as the eye could see.

“This is the very edge of the Potter Estate.” Sirius told him, “Follow this road and it will eventually bring you up to the old gatehouse. Take your time, explore a little, all of this is yours and you should get familiar with it.”

Harry looked around with interest but apart from the road it looked like he was in the middle of nowhere.

“I need to get back, the Order will be arriving shortly, but don’t hesitate to call me if you need to.” Sirius added and he pulled out a metal disk and handed it to him. “Portkey, I’ll see you when you get home.”

He had been studying Harry’s face as he spoken and must have seen something there as he hesitated.

“Unless you want me to stay?”

“No go,” Harry said trying to sound sure of himself. He was feeling a little overwhelmed and the letters in his pockets were weighing heavily on him especially given that he was returning to his ancestral land. “I should do this alone I think.”

Sirius gave him a fleeting look before nodding uncertainly and making Harry promise to call him if it got too much before eventually disapparating.

Following the dirt road Harry made his way into the valley and stepped onto his estate for the first time. Initially it was hard to see much else except the tall trees bordering the road and the tall hills in the distance but eventually the trees fell away, and he got his first look at the valley.

From his vantage point Harry could make out a good portion of the estate and it was clear that much of the estate was overgrown and has long been reclaimed by nature. Only wild hedgerows hinted at edges of old farmland, but all now resembled wild fields. Harry did spot several portions of land had been tamed and new fields had been planted and in the very distance he could see a plume of smoke rising from a building. This was evidence of Griphook’s work, once again the estate was being worked and now home to two tenant farmers and their families.

At some point Harry would need to meet them, it was only polite, but Harry decided that today he wouldn’t intrude and wanted to visit the estate unnoticed.

In centuries past all of the Potter Estate would have been tenanted and farmed properly, but this had changed at some point in its history. Harry wondered at the history of the estate, how his family had acquired it but more what it must have once looked like in its prime.

Suddenly the ring on his finger grew warm, looking down Harry saw the Potter ring’s stone glow brightly, images began to pass through his mind. All of them showing the estate throughout its long history.

There was an ancient looking village with thatch roofs, then a newer settlement made of rough stone. Next he watched as a rough stone fortification was built overlooking the area before it transitioned into a larger castle. The magic in the ring then showed Harry how the old castle had fallen into disrepair and was eventually demolished. A new stone house was built on the same site and over time the house evolved structurally, and it eventually became recognisable as the Peverell Manor that Harry was familiar with.

Watching the transformation of his ancestral home had been truly fascinating, watching how over the centuries new advances had changed the appearance of the structure. Whether it was a dominating defensive fortification or an elegant manor home, both images clearly demonstrated power and influence.

Within the images Harry had seen evidence of a village on the estate. The original had stood where the house had been built but it had been relocated when the castle had been constructed. It had stood for centuries although if Harry had to guess he thought it had likely been abandoned between one or two centuries ago.

The old road led him further into the valley to the edge of a calm narrow lake, he crossed over an ancient looking stone bridge and entered a flat area where once a village had stood. Standing in what once had been the centre of the small village Harry felt something in the very earth under his feet.

A feeling of residual power, magic that was both familiar and foreign. It was diminished and felt old, incredibly old, but still Harry could feel an echo of something from ages past.

Long had the village been abandoned, had his ring not shown him what had once sat on this spot Harry could have easily overlooked the area and continued walking, unaware of what had once stood on the lakes edge.

Hogsmeade was the only all wizarding settlement in the country, yet here Harry stood on the spot of another such settlement. Why had it been abandoned? What had changed to make people leave? History of Magic had taught Harry that when the Statute of Secrecy was signed many magical families integrated into muggle communities like Godric’s Hollow and Ottery St Catchpole but if he was right then it was around the same period that this village had been abandoned.

Returning to the road Harry continued to walk in the direction Sirius had pointed him towards. Wild and overgrown though it was, the estate might lack human occupants, but it wasn’t lacking in rabbits, deer or squirrels let alone birds and insects.

As the road straightened it became noticeably less worn and a boundary wall appeared out of nowhere, swiftly followed by a large gatehouse blocking Harry from venturing further.

Two stone towers rose up either side of the road, each bore a large cast iron lantern and its towers were capped by majestic griffin statues. Connecting the two towers was a stone bridge which bore a stone relief of the Potter coat of arms. The final design was as close as the builders could get to the original structure that had been destroyed. Under the stone bridge sat a large metal gate. The Great Gates as Harry recalled them being called. They were made of an enchanted metal and were a doorway through the powerful wards that lay over the boundary walls which encircled the property. The metalwork was black and silver and gleamed in the afternoon sunlight, the blackened metal had come from the original gates but had been blended in artistically with the new metal by the smith when they had forged the new gates.

Stepping up to the gates Harry placed a hand on the metal and felt a flare of magic. Harry winced slightly but nothing bad happened. The Potter ring glowed dimly on his finger as the gate lock released and they opened silently allowing Harry entrance to his ancestral home.

On the other side of the gates he got his first look at the rebuilt structure that he had commissioned over the last year and even from a distance Harry could see the scale of the building and his breath caught. Harry had seen it in a memory but that did not prepare him for seeing it properly with his own eyes.

Unfortunately the house was nothing more than a mere shell of its former grandeur, all that had been built were the basic stone walls, floors, and the roof. Harry knew it would be several more years before the house would be ready to be lived in once again.

The house had been built at the very end of the valley; it was surrounded on all sides by the steep valley walls that were lined with trees. From the front of the house you could see over the top of the gatehouse and look out across the entire valley. Once it would have given great views of the farmland, village and lake, but even now it offered a view of a wild valley. It was, Harry thought, a beautiful place and he found it peaceful.

He stood taking in the sight of the house, its grounds and the larger valley around him. One day this would be his home, or it could be if it wasn’t for the looming war with Voldemort. The war had destroyed his ancestral home once already, he wasn’t sure it could survive a second.

Thinking of the war and Voldemort reminded Harry that the Order of the Phoenix were meeting back at Black House and gave a tired sigh and decided it was time to go home. Before he left he had one final place he wanted to visit, he walked along the long drive towards the house and approached the perfect circle of brown earth within the otherwise green lawn.

On entering the circle he felt like he was being suffocated, like the very air was poisoned by some great evil. Harry knew what had caused it. This was the spot where the Potter house-elves had been butchered by the Death Eaters and the spot had been marked by their deaths.

Kneeling down Harry touched the very centre of the circle and ignored the effect it had on him.

“On behalf of my family, I thank you for your sacrifice.” He said quietly, “You will always be remembered.”

Chapter 5: A Firm Stance

Chapter Text

Landing lightly back in the entrance hallway of Black House, Harry pocketed the used portkey and reached out to the magic of the house and through it felt a large group of people were still congregated in the dining room.

Harry steeled himself, having already decided back at the Lodge that this year things would be different and after the day he had already had, there was no point putting this off. Sticking out his chin and holding himself straight he strode towards the door and opened it with a mental command, inside were twenty-five members of the Order of the Phoenix.

"Harry dear!" Came the voice of Mrs Weasley who jumped up and came over to give him a bone crushing hug, but Harry didn't return the embrace.

He looked over the people sitting at the table: Sirius sat at the head of the table with Kingsley Shacklebolt and Mad Eye Moody to his left and right. Remus, Tonks, Mr Weasley, the Twins, Bill, Minerva McGonagall, Mundungus Fletcher, and many others that Harry did not know were also there.

"We are having a meeting; you should go on up to your room."

"No." Harry said moving past Mrs Weasley.

He made his way to the very end of the table and took the empty seat opposite Sirius and purposefully sat down much to the shock of the assembled Order members. Yet Harry didn’t take his eyes off Sirius and stared at him challengingly.

“This is as much my fight as it is yours. I may not be of age, but I’m now sixteen and can legally use magic and next year I will be Lord Potter. No longer will I sit idle while you all make decisions that affect me and the defence of our community.”

The room had fallen silent.

Harry wasn’t entirely sure how this would go but he was determined to hold his ground. He continued to stare at Sirius who merely sat watching him, his face unreadable, and didn’t say a word.

It was Moody who broke the silence with a gruff response.

“The lad will fight no matter what we say.” He grunted, “I would rather have him fighting with us, he is talented, and has a vested interest in the war. We cannot turn away wands from our side, we don’t have that luxury.”

“I would rather he did not have to fight,” Kingsley said calmly, “But Harrison is more than an able wizard. He has proven that already, I saw that first hand recently. I support him joining our ranks.”

"He is just a boy!" Mrs Weasley exclaimed looking for any kind of support, "his abilities and skill are not in question, but he is not of age no matter the circ*mstances of his station.”

“I am no boy.” Harry said sharply turning towards Mrs Weasley unflinchingly, trying hard not to question his nerve for speaking to Mrs Weasley like this. “I’m old enough to make my own decisions, after everything I’ve been through I’m older than I should be. I would remind you it was me that saved your husband and daughter even when adult witches and wizards could not.”

Mrs Weasley recoiled from his words like he had slapped her in the face, but she didn't answer back and stared at him in outright shock.

“Harry has and always will have my full support.”

Sirius had finally spoken.

"Leadership of the Order fell to Alastor, Kingsley and I with Albus dead, and it is we who will make this decision and it is made.” He said slightly louder now, Kingsley and Moody nodded in agreement. “I welcome House Potter back into the fold and recognise Harrison as a member of the Order of the Phoenix.”

"Very Well." Mrs Weasley said returning to her seat next to her husband and her twin sons who were looking incredibly gleeful at the turn of events.

“We were discussing our plans going forward,” Kingsley explained for Harry’s benefit. “We have received intelligence that Voldemort has sent Fenrir Greyback as an emissary to the European werewolf packs.”

“This is not new news.” Harry stated, silently wishing he hadn’t delayed returning home as he now needed to catch up quickly. “I understood that the Death Eaters had sent representatives to the werewolves just as they sent Lucius Malfoy to the giants when Hagrid was there.”

“Right,” Moody agreed, “but we’ve now learnt that Greyback is Alpha to four European packs who originally refused to be recruited. Greyback challenged their former Alpha’s and won; they now follow Greybacks orders who is a Death Eater in all but mark.”

“We need to send someone in.” Said one of the Order members Harry didn’t know, “Lupin is a wolf, we can use him.”

Remus sat mutely not at all surprised by the remark whereas Sirius, Harry and Tonks bristled angrily and did not disguise their feelings.

“Wont work.” Moody growled, “Lupin has decided to be the poster boy for the new wolfsbane potion trials. He’s too well known and not to mention is employed at Hogwarts.”

“I’m well known to the packs.” Remus explained calmly, “they know I haven’t forsaken the Wizarding Community. I obtained an education, have a respectful job and I’m also a well-known friend of Lord Black and the other Ancient Houses. They will never trust me now.”

"What would you suggest Remus?" Mr Weasley asked.

“I hate to say it but there is nothing we can do for the European packs now. Greyback will likely gain more support or take it by force.” Remus stated dispassionately, “Fortunately the British packs are small, and I doubt they will follow Greyback, not with the new werewolf legislation.”

“Will they fight on our side?” Bill questioned thoughtfully, “or would they remain neutral.”

“They wont fight with us, there is too much mistrust even with the new legislation I’m afraid. No they will try to remain neutral and out of this war. They have no love for Voldemort or the Death Eaters, they remember being hunted in the last war. Britain doesn’t have the traditional pack hierarchy, culture, and traditions like there is on the continent. Almost all are lone wolves but are classified as a pack merely because of where they live.”

“The auror office is monitoring the packs carefully.” Tonks informed, “Scrimgeour has also sent people to make contact with the French, German and Spanish Ministries to discuss the werewolf problem.”

"What was their response?" Sirius asked with great interest, "Did they support us?"

“No,” Kingsley said dejectedly, “we couldn’t even speak with the French Minister for Magic, our new werewolf legislation has not done us any favours there. The Germans gave nothing away at all and from what we can tell Spain is refusing to believe he has even returned let alone that the werewolves are allying with him.”

“Pity.” Moody grunted, “Hardly surprising, not with the state Fudge left things.”

“I have a friend who went to Beauxbatons; she told me that many of the students believe in the return of Voldemort." Bill said, "She was part of the contingent who came for the tournament."

Tonks laughed loudly "You mean Fleur Delacour? She was the damn champion!"

Bill smiled slightly, “Fleur is now employed here in London at Gringotts, but we also know Madame Maxime supports our cause.”

“She could be worth cultivating.” Moody said steadily gazing at Bill, “We need foreign allies.”

“I’m sure Bill wouldn’t mind cultivating her.” Tonks said with a wink which made several members laugh.

“Well that will be easy,” Bill said casually, “we are now engaged, and I was hoping to bring her into our fold.”

Harry gaped at Bill in shock, he remembered two years ago Fleur had seemed to be interested in the eldest Weasley brother, but he hadn’t known they were acquainted let alone dating.

“I see no reason why not, so long as she passes the normal tests. Enough about that though! It seems that congratulations are in order!” Sirius said happily and summoned a bottle of wine and glasses for everyone, and everyone congratulated Bill on the happy news.

"What about Albus's funeral?" Asked an old wizard who Harry was sure was called Elphias Doge.

“It will be held at Hogwarts.” Sirius confirmed, “The Ministry will be supplying the security at the main entrance of the school and the wards will be set to maximum. I’d like all Order members to be present and to be ready to defend the event if needed. I don’t trust the Ministry not to botch it.”

“No slight against the aurors of course.” Tonks said shooting an annoyed look at Sirius.

“Of course not cousin.” Sirius laughed unabashed.

“Will the school remain open?” Mrs Weasley asked and she looked close to tears, “With A-Albus gone. I don’t feel… I don’t feel its safe. Ron and Ginny won’t be returning.”

Harry spun and looked at Mrs Weasley in surprise.

"Have you told them that?" Fred asked curiously.

"Yeah, I can’t imagine that went down well." George added.

"They will be going back to school Molly, and that is final." Mr Weasley said sternly, and Harry had the impression this was not the first time that they’d had this conversation and it was clearly as sore subject between them.

"Hogwarts will remain open." Sirius said firmly. "The Governors have promised this, and the school will open its doors as normal. The school has also had its ancient wards reinforced by experts, I have also taken it on myself to block and seal every secret passageway out of the castle. I have done this to keep the students safe; even though I would rather they have fun."

Harry had to hide his snort of amusem*nt behind his hand at the thought of a Marauder preventing students from using the secret passageways that they had so abused. Across the table Fred and George were both staring at Sirius as if he had just spoken the greatest of blasphemies.

“I’ve also reached out to key members of the Ministry.” Sirius continued, “Amelia Bones has returned to the Bone Hill, her ancestral home at my urging. It was fortunate she did given the attack on her London flat. Unfortunately the subsequent murder of Emmeline has lost us a healer, a powerful witch, and a dear friend.”

"Do we know how they got to her?" Mr Weasley asked sadly. "The Ministry has been rather mute on details."

"That is because they do not know, neither do we.” Moody replied. "She was a skilled witch. I do not believe she would have been easily killed or followed."

Harry had only meant Emmeline Vance once during dinner last summer and thought her nice and wondered why she had been targeted, but that was a topic for another time.

“Every member of the Order should look to increase the protections around their homes.” Harry recommended, “if they haven’t already that is.”

Bill was quick to offer his expertise to the Order along with both Sirius and Remus, together they would ensure that all member houses and their families were protected as much as possible, but they would be spread thin, and it would take time.

They then discussed some other Order business, the tracking status of known Death Eaters and several contingency options. The worry was that the Ministry of Magic would fall, and the Order needed a plan for that eventuality as none of them doubted it would happen at some point.

For the remainder of the meeting Harry remained quiet, preferring to sit and listen and learn. It was his first meeting after all and he had already pushed his way in.

Eventually the meeting ended, and the members departed.

“Now that the meetings over, I’ll need to go out for a few hours Harry. If you like you could visit the Weasleys? Or perhaps Neville?” Sirius said as the front door closed leaving the two of them along with Tonks and Remus. “Tomorrow we’ll be leaving for France, so you have time to see your friends, I’ll probably miss dinner.”

“We’ll also be leaving.” Tonks said brightly, “Remus lost a wager and I’ll be collecting.”

Harry looked at Remus and could tell that he looked incredibly uneasy and somewhat annoyed with this wager.

“That’s fine,” Harry said smirking at them both along with Sirius, “You know I might speak with Daphne actually, make sure things have settled at home since the end of school.”

o-HP-o

Not two hours later Harry was sat in the beautifully decorated drawing room of Granstead Hall, the ancestral home of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Greengrass. Sat opposite him was Daphne Greengrass who looked extremely regal in a turquoise robe, her hair pulled up atop her head in great curls.

Daphne poured him a cup of tea in fine china and handed it to him.

“How was your trip to the legendary Black Lodge? Is their truth behind the rumours of the magical creatures it is said to contain?” She asked with interest.

Harry pondered her question, “I don’t know what to say about the trip to be honest. I learnt a great deal, but I can say with certainty that the rumours do not do the Lodge justice.”

“I see,” She said carefully regarding him over her cup, “then I hope one day the Black Lodge might be reopened, not as a Hunting Lodge, but I’d love to see what magical creatures it contains.”

“Perhaps one day it will. Though I doubt the Black Lodge will ever host a hunt again, but I have no idea what plans Sirius has for it.” Harry shrugged wondering what purpose the lodge might possibly have in the future, “so how’s your summer been so far?”

“Dismal,” She replied shooting a dark look at the door. “Father has invited his woman to stay here for the summer.”

“I take it you would rather she continue to reside at Greengrass House in London?”

“I’d rather my father remained alone, if that isn’t possible then at least she would be out of sight and mind.” Daphne responded somewhat sharply, “Father decided that since I learnt of her and have told my sister, Georgiana should reside here with us. He says there should be no secrets around family.”

Harry looked at Daphne carefully, noticing subtle traced of anger on her feminine features that she could not control. He took a bracing sip of tea before he said, “that’s not what’s made you angry is it.”

She looked at him sharply before she relented and said, “No it’s not.”

Harry sat watching her for a time, neither of them breaking eye contact but neither speaking.

“I’m the only one who objects to her presence. Astoria loved a woman in the house, they’re always out shopping, riding or having tea together.” She admittedly quietly, “She will never be my mother. She has no right to manage this house, a duty I’ve carried out for many years!”

“Has she tried to speak to you? To get to know you?”

“I do not wish to know her!” Daphne exclaimed irately her composure slipping and she put her cup on the table heavily. “She has taken over my family home. My father is a fool! He’s given her access to the family jewellery, and she had my mother’s portrait moved to the matriarch gallery, they are not even married yet!”

"Daphne, for the sake of your family you need to resolve your differences or failing that, you must treat her with the respect of her position in public and ignore her in private." Harry said thinking of his teachings, "You know better than I that we do not show our family grievances in public."

"Let's talk about something else," she said quickly. "What did you do for your birthday?"

Harry blinked at the sudden change of subject but quickly snorted because of his answer, “well I ate some lovely berries, spent the day running from magical creatures and dodging curses.”

“Well that’s certainly memorable,” She said shaking her head seemingly forgetting about the previous topic of conversation, “I did get you something. Narina!”

A female house-elf appeared and Harry noticed immediately that the house-elf looked very young. She had the same appearance as most house-elves with bat like ears and big eyes, but she also had a small nose and big smile. The house-elf was dressed in a dress-like sheet in a vibrant green decorated with blackcurrant-coloured edging.

"Mistress Daphne is calling for Narina?" The elf said bowing low.

"Yes Narina, please bring the package that I bought for Harrison." She ordered.

The elf bowed low, and disappeared with a crack, but a moment later she was back holding a box which she placed on the table in front of Harry.

"Leave us Narina." She said thankfully, she then looked at Harry "I saw this and thought that you might like it. You said you were interested in the practical applications."

Harry picked up the box carefully and opened it. Inside was a rune scribing kit with tools for scribing runes into all manner of materials, and a small book entitled 'Scribing, The Forgotten Arte'

“Thank you Daphne, it’s a beautiful gift.” Harry said sincerely and picked up one of the scribing tools. It was made of beautiful smooth ebony, the metal was bright silver and its blade sharp. “A most thoughtful gift, even more so as I’m pretty sure I only mentioned my interest in runic magic in passing.”

She looked away at his compliment and looked out of the window.

“I’m glad you like it. I wondered if you would be joining the NEWT Ancient Runes classes this year, you did join us after our exams for the first time.”

“Only if I pass my OWL.” Harry said thoughtfully and was about to ask about their results when the door to the drawing room opened and a woman walked in.

She looked to be around thirty years old, had brown hair that she wore in a side braid that was adorned with flower-like jewellery. She wore simple robes of silver that hung from her slight but curvy figure.

“Daphne the house-elves told me you were entertaining, I wondered if your guest would be joining us for dinner?” She said and then looked over at Harry and gave a small gasp of recognition.

Daphne glared at the woman disdainfully, but she turned to Harry.

“Harrison may I introduce my father’s future bride, Georgiana Maveric.” She said with tight lips and a forced expression as she satisfied social courtesy. “Georgiana, this is Harrison, Head of House Potter and Heir to House Black.”

Harry stood and smiled at her and offered his hand to her, which she held, and he touched her knuckles briefly to his lips, "Georgiana, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Regretfully I have to decline dinner, I’m leaving the country tomorrow for a short family holiday.”

“Of course Mr Black-Potter,” Georgiana said smiling recovering quickly from her surprise. “It would have been rude of me not to invite you. Lord Greengrass will be returning shortly; I know he is acquainted with your father, but I imagine he will be sorry to have missed you.”

"Harrison, you should stay." Daphne said with a glint in her eyes, "I am sure you would not wish to insult our hospitality."

Harry looked at her in a silent question and she gave him an almost imperceptible nod.

“If you insist then it would be my pleasure.” Harry said easily, wondering why Daphne would want him to stay, “It’s been too long since I spoke with Lord Greengrass. Will anyone else be joining us?”

“Just the family.” Georgiana said kindly before she excused herself and left to arrange dinner.

"My family not yours." Daphne said darkly towards the door, before turning back to him. "Sorry to force you into staying, I hope you don’t mind. I’d rather have a friend at the table, rather than be the odd one out.”

“It’s fine, but I’m hardly dressed for dinner.” He said looking down at his attire and wishing he had worn something more formal especially give how Daphne was dressed.

"Nonsense, you look fine." She said waiving a hand, "It’s not a formal dinner so you needn’t worry. Now, would you care to accompany me through the grounds?”

"Sure." Harry said holding out his arm into which she entwined her own and led him through the house and out into the grounds.

Granstead Hall, Harry reflected, was very beautiful and filled with many treasures and art from different eras. He learnt that Daphne’s great-grandfather, Cyrus Greengrass had a great interest in wizarding archaeology which was why the house was filled with many objects and pieces of décor relating to Ancient Egypt and even the Mayans.

Together they walked through the gardens, and they spoke at greater lengths than they ever had before. Harry learnt a great deal about Daphne’s life growing up that he hadn’t been aware of. She had been raised by a governess of House Cavendish, a woman who was a second cousin to the previous lord. Her mother had died when she was eight, although she had been gravely ill since Daphne was six.

Harry found himself telling her about the Dursleys. How they had lied to him for eleven years out of fear of the wizarding world. How they would not even allow him to ask questions or buy him anything new.

“You were treated horribly by them, yet you don’t seem to wish them ill.” Daphne observed, “you are the heir of two ancient houses, and you were treated like a house-elf.”

“In fairness, it was only last year I became aware of my heritage.” Harry replied, “but one doesn’t choose their family, we above all others protect our own.”

"Yes, we do." She said sadly. "You must find me very shallow. You have an awful family who you choose to recognise. I have a woman who is nice enough, but who I do not like because she is to become my stepmother."

“I would never judge you Daphne; I have my own problems the same as anyone.” Harry stated carefully not wanting to upset her, “but if you did gain a half-brother, would you honestly shun or hate him just because he didn’t share your mother?”

She didn't reply but led him deeper into the gardens, which were beautiful to all who saw, but they lacked personality. They were too uniform for Harry; they were for show and beauty, but they lacked the depth to fully connect with a person.

As she led him through a high hedge and a silver and golden gate, he was suddenly surprised to find a secret garden, so unlike the others. It had fountains and statues, all of which magically moved. The flora was vast in its diversity and it was much wilder and without uniformity it allowed for natural beauty to be seen. There was a large bench in the middle which was carved with two sets of initials: D.P.G - A.K.E.

“This was my mother’s garden.” Daphne explained taking a seat on the bench and touching the initials on the stone. “Father designed and planted this entire garden himself as an anniversary gift. She loved this place; she’d bring me out here and read to me when I was very little. Now I come here to think.”

"It is beautiful." Harry said truthfully joining her. "And it is a beautifully charming anniversary gift."

“Father forbade the house-elves from maintaining it, he wanted it to die like my mother, to mirror the end of their marriage. I refused to allow that to happen.” She stated and picked a white tulip from the ground next to the bench. “To answer your question Harrison, no I could never hold it against any of my future siblings. I only worry that father will forget my mother, the lineage books will have no record of her as she bore no male heirs."

"No, but she will be remembered as the first daughter of your grandfather Lord Eire. She will be remembered as Lady Greengrass, mother of Daphne and Astoria Greengrass, and someday as grandmother to your children."

"Women are never remembered Harrison." She said haughtily. "The only famous women are infamous; like Morgan Le Fey or Bellatrix Lestrange. Both dark witches and devoted to the Dark Arts."

"Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw were famous, and they were not evil" Harry told her, but they ended up just staring at each other.

They heard a gong sound across the grounds.

"Come, that is the dinner gong." She said standing and leading him back to the house.

Dinner was a comfortable and easy affair.

Lord Daniel Greengrass had been surprised to find Harry joining them for dinner but had been quick to welcome him into his home and at his table. They had an interesting conversation regarding the movements of the Wizengamot and a not so veiled conversation regarding Voldemort. It had struck Harry through dinner that this was not the same man he had met at the Danvers Ball, he didn’t sound so jaded or bitter.

The younger Greengrass sister had barely battered an eye when Harry entered the dining room and Astroria had happily conversed with him. They might look very similar to each other, but it became quickly apparent just how different the two sisters were in personality and temperament.

Throughout dinner Harry had found himself speaking to Georgiana at length and found her quite likeable. She was a distant cousin of her family line, pure-blooded and moneyed well. Harry could see why Lord Greengrass liked her, she was kind and cheerful, not to mention it was obvious she cared for Daniel and Astoria. Daphne’s reluctance to accept her was apparent but Georgiana took it in stride.

Later that evening Lord Greengrass surprised Harry by taking him aside when they retired to the drawing room wishing to speak to him privately.

“I know why Daphne had you stay Harrison.” He said pointedly regarding his daughter who sat reading a book while her sister and Georgiana discussed something happily nearby. “Daphne despises my relationship with Georgiana, she found out in a way that has forced the issue and now my daughter feels betrayed.”

Harry didn't say a word, it felt impertinent to him, and it was an uncomfortable discussion that Daphne didn't seem to be inclined to help him with.

“Daphne greatly resembles her mother, and that resemblance grows with each year,” He told Harry, “but Daphne has a steel in her that Andrea did not. Daphne was with her mother in those last few weeks when I wasn’t, I was a coward, and my daughter has never forgiven me. My eldest daughter took the lessons her governess and mother gave her and used them to run this house. Planning dinners and parties, ensuring that Astoria received her lessons and even on occasion dealt with Gringotts when I had forgotten.” He paused and sighed deeply, “I regret that I forgot so much in my grief, back then I didn’t even wonder how everything was getting done, but I know it was all Daphne.”

"She is a strong woman," Harry agreed, "but she does all she can to protect her family and your heritage."

“Then it is little wonder she has never forgiven me for forgetting her and Astoria and turning away from my responsibilities. She believes I disgraced the memory of her mother and insulted our family, but I can admit that I’m ashamed of what I did.” He said ruefully, “Georgiana helps me cope with my guilt, she dotes on Astoria, and she would like very much to get to know my eldest daughter.”

Harry made to reply but quickly decided against it, but Lord Greengrass noticed and gestured for him to continue.

“I’ve been at school with your daughter since the day we both started at Hogwarts, but its only this year that I’ve gotten to know her personally. Previously I always thought Daphne to be proud, cold, and aloof. Now I’ve learnt that she is proud, but also clever and is not as cold as she would have people believe. You’ve just told me everything she has done to protect the reputation and prestige of House Greengrass,” Harry paused wondering how best to phrase his point. “Can you perhaps see why she might view your decision to take a wife to be a reflection of your belief that she is incapable of defending your family and continuing your bloodline?”

Lord Greengrass blinked and looked at his daughter in surprise.

“I had not thought of it that way.” He said quietly, “truthfully I know she would never allow a family such as the Malfoy’s from gaining our wealth and title. No my daughter would be an obstacle and that position puts her in grave danger. Ambitious wizards like Lucius Malfoy are vicious, they would kill to secure a rise in station for their house.”

“Your daughter is a very skilled witch Lord Greengrass. You should not underestimate her.” Harry pointed out not liking the idea of Daphne being at the end of Lucious Malfoy’s wand in the slightest. “It’s customary for the Lords of the Ancient Houses to test their heirs as they age to ensure they’re ready for the mantle that will one day pass to them. Daphne may be a woman, but she is still your heir. Test Her. I’m sure she’ll surprise you.”

Lord Greengrass gave his daughter an appraising look before turning his sharp gaze to Harry and chuckling lightly.

“You speak well and opening Harrison. I think I now see why my daughter truly wanted you here for dinner.”

Harry frowned in confusion not understanding what Lord Greengrass meant.

“I suspect she knew I would speak to you about her and Georgiana, that you would most likely speak out in her defence and challenge me. Daphne is as charming as she is clever and cunning. She chooses her friends most carefully.”

Harry was surprised by his words and looked at Daphne himself and she was the picture of poise and etiquette with her book in hand, but he now wondered just how much attention was actually paying to the literature.

“She wouldn’t allow just anyone to intervene on her behalf, in fact she must trust you a great deal to reveal so much of herself. I may have neglected Daphne, but I know my daughter much better than she believes I do.” Lord Greengrass continued taking a small sip of his wine surveying his daughter proudly, “oh she played her hand very well I admit, she would be a major player in the Wizengamot in the future if given the chance.”

“Whatever her motives were, they doesn’t change my point.” Harry said tightly, not knowing if Daphne had manipulated him as her father suggested.

“No, I suppose it doesn’t.” Lord Greengrass snorted drawing the attention of the ladies in the room, “You are clearly a Gryffindor Harrison. None of her other friends would have dared speak to me as you have tonight. This friendship between you both is most intriguing, I see potential for an alliance between our Houses.”

Lord Greengrass walked away leaving Harry completely stunned and trying to contemplate exactly what had just happened.

Taking a glass of wine from a passing tray held by another Greengrass house-elf, Harry took a sip of the contents of what was likely an exquisite vintage, but he just used it as a distraction from everything.

Lord Greengrass obviously still grieved the loss of his late wife, and if what he said about Daphne resembling her was true, Harry could understand why he struggled to interact with her. Harry suspected that this might be what afflicted his own aunt, every time she looked at Harry she could see her dead sisters’ eyes gazing back at her, haunting her.

Deciding that he needed to leave since he was now unsure why he was even there to begin with, Harry began to make his goodbyes but was surprised when Georgiana thanked him for speaking to Lord Greengrass, apparently she had been eaves dropping on their conversation.

Astoria throughout dinner had shown herself to have a fun and carefree outlook and a good sense of humour and was not at all reserved like her elder sister. She was quick witted and smart tongued and wasn’t at all scared to make fun of her sister or even her father, during dinner she had also decided that Harry was also a fair target.

“It was good of you to join us Harrison,” She had said in a mocking farewell, “How will we ever recovery from having Gryffindors golden lion at our table? You’ve ruined our diners for years to come!”

Daphne was quiet as she escorted Harry out of the drawing room and away from her family to the fireplace so that he could leave, but she eventually broke the silence when they reached their destination.

“Thank you for this evening Harrison. I know that you would rather have left, but you helped me by speaking to my father in a way that I never could.” She said smiling happily and surprising him by kissing him lightly on the cheek. “We are even now, you helped me today, and I helped get you to London. Admittedly I think I got the better bargain, now my father will look at me as more than a simple woman.”

“How did you know-“Harry began to ask but she interrupted him.

“I know you.”

It was a simple statement but a powerful one.

Chapter 6: Family Holiday

Chapter Text

Harry packed what little he had unpacked back into his trunk while Dobby was packing his freshly washed and ironed clothes, a lot of them were new since Sirius and Andromeda had decided to buy Harry new clothes for their holiday.

The dinner of the previous evening still weighed heavily on Harry’s mind. When he had returned home he had decided to speak to Sirius about it, hoping he might have some insight, instead he had just added to his confusion.

“Daphne Greengrass is a Slytherin. They use whatever means they can to achieve their ends.” He had told him, “I must say she certainly knows how to play the game well for one so young. You would do well to get her playing the game with you, not her just playing you for her own game.”

Sirius had left Harry after that, walking away cackling at some joke that completely escaped Harry, although that wasn’t uncommon when it came to Sirius’ sense of humour.

Closing his trunk we a sigh Harry pointed his wand at it and muttered, “Wingardium Leviosa!” the trunk lifted effortlessly into the air, and he enjoyed the fact he no longer had to worry about getting into trouble with the Ministry of Magic. After three weeks in the Black Lodge using his wand and magic freely, the novelty of being able to use magic outside of Hogwarts had already worn off.

The entrance hall of Black house was bathed in morning light from the upper floor skylight and the windows around the front door. It might be early morning, but Black House was full of activity as the house-elves diligently prepared the family for their trip and the smell of breakfast and coffee wafted out enticingly from the basem*nt kitchen.

Remus would return to Hogwarts while they were away, leaving the house empty except when it would be used by the Order. Sirius had tried to insist that Remus join them for their holiday but he had refused stating he had a lot of work to do at Hogwarts, but he also needed to be in England for the wolfsbane trial.

Andromeda, her husband Ted, and daughter Nymphadora had arrived at some point as their travelling trunks littered the hall. Harry placed his trunk with theirs and made his way down to the kitchen where he saw Andromeda and Sirius idly talking, while Remus, Ted and Tonks were busy eating breakfast and reading the morning newspaper.

“Harrison.” Andromeda called the moment she saw him getting up to give him a small embrace which Harry returned, “Its good to see you, especially away from that frightful Lodge.”

“You were there?” Harry asked startled suddenly wondering if she had been one of his masked assailants.

“I was in the Lodge several times; I did not however participate in Sirius’s awful idea of training. Believe me when I say I tried to talk some sense into this idiot, but he refused to listen.” She told Harry shooting a sharp disapproving look at her cousin. “Come join us for breakfast. Sirius was just explaining why we are only now learning that we are going to the French chateau and not the Italian villa.”

It was always amusing to watch Sirius interacting with his elder cousin. Sirius might be Lord Black but Andromeda was not afraid to challenge or tease him and Harry had yet to see Sirius win an argument against her.

“The villa was given to Callidora Longbottom on her marriage. I assumed incorrectly that it was return to the Black Estate on her death, but it appears it was given as part of her dowry.” Sirius explained wearily, “I know the villa was your favourite holiday home but theres nothing to be done, unless you wish to ask Augusta Longbottom if we might rent it from her for the week?”

“Sirius Orion Black!” Andromeda scolded, “We have been planning this trip for a year and were supposed to decide today whether we were going to France or Italy, only now do you tell us we have no choice at all!”

“What can I say?” Sirius said sheepishly, “I thought I told you, but the chateau will be fine.”

“Sirius,” Harry laughed, “Even I remember that there was no villa listed on the Black Accounts and I do not even manage them.”

Sirius gave him a betrayed look which only made Harry laugh louder.

“Men!” Exclaimed Andromeda shaking her head but laughing along with the rest of the kitchen, “Only a man would overlook such a crucial thing!”

“Come on Dromeda, since we now know where we’re going,” Ted chortled placatingly to his wife, “Lets get our plans finished so we can get going.”

“Of course,” She said returning to her usual no-nonsense self. “Sirius can create us a portkey to take us directly to the chateau. I assume – and I better not be proven wrong again Sirius! – that the house is ready for visitors?”

“The house-elves cleaned and closed the property last year, but I sent Winky ahead last night to get it ready.” Sirius explained finishing his cup of tea, “a portkey is problematic; the French have tightened their boarders. Boundary wards have been erected preventing outside magical transportation into the country.”

Warding on such a scale was something Harry had never heard of. It took considerable effort, skill and magic to erect local warding boundaries, to surround an entire country was almost unthinkable.

“It seems the French are better prepared than I thought.” Andromeda said her eyebrows raised appreciatively, “usually the French Ministry of Magic buries their head in the sand.”

“I believe they’ve been pressed into action by the students and parents who were involved in the tournament.” Sirius told them, “Not to mention Madame Maxime has some sway over the Ministry and Convention. They’re being vigilant even if they are not getting involved.”

“Then how will we be getting to France?” She asked pointedly.

Sirius gave Andromeda a roguish grin as he pulled out five small burgundy-coloured booklets.

“By muggle ferry.” He said simply, “we’ll apparate to Dover and catch a ferry to Calais, once we are on French soil I can create a portkey to the chateau.”

“Muggle transportation?” Andromeda asked aghast, “is that even safe?”

“Of course it is Aunt Dromeda.” Harry said smiling at her reluctance to trust muggle technology even when she was married to a muggleborn.

“I’d prefer that people were not aware of where we are going or our movements,” Sirius explained, “travelling muggle will keep us safe and our plans private from anyone who might be watching for us.”

Andromeda looked very reluctant but accepted this with a brisk nod, “well then shall we leave now?”

Sirius agreed and turned to Kreacher who seemingly sensed his masters attentions and promptly presented himself.

"We are leaving Kreacher; whilst we are gone this house is to be locked down. Only Remus will be allowed full access to the house. We will have guests occasionally, you are to serve them, but make sure they do not go where they should not, only the kitchen, dining room and bathrooms are to be accessible. You will follow Remus's orders whilst I am gone, am I understood?"

"Kreacher is understanding Master Black." Kreacher croaked stiffly, their relationship was still strained but was at least somewhat cordial now . "Dinner will be waiting by Masters return, Kreacher follows Masters orders."

"See that you do." Sirius nodded and he turned to everyone. "Let's go then, Harry I will take you."

Harry paused, his right hand twitching to summon his wand.

“If its all the same I think I’ll go with Tonks.”

There was a flash of hurt across Sirius’s face before he quickly smiled to cover it.

“Don’t worry Harry, I won't be taking you anywhere you don’t want to go. Besides I’ll be taking all of us at once.”

"Sirius, I can apparate myself!" Tonks complained.

"Yes, but do you know where to apparate to?"

"Of course, I know where Dover is" she said in an annoyed voice.

"And where is there a safe point of apparation at the port?" Sirius challenged her knowingly.

Tonks clearly didn’t know the answer, instead she maturely stuck her tongue out at him and rolled her eyes. Instead she stepped between Harry and Sirius, and Ted and Andromeda came to stand at Harry’s other side.

Sirius placed a hand on the kitchen wall for a moment and closed his eyes in concentration and the ring on his finger glowed.

"Right we have a minute before the disapparation ward reasserts itself" Sirius announced turning back around, “Remus I wish you were coming with us, but I wish you luck with the trial and doing your professor stuff while we are gone.”

“I hope you all enjoy your holiday,” Remus said smiling before reaching Harry to give him a handshake and whispered quickly, “If ever you wanted to get Sirius back for the Lodge, now would be the time. Try and channel your inner Marauder.”

Harry barely had the chance to nod before he felt Tonks and Ted grip his arm tightly, Remus stepped away, then he was pulled into the suffocating feeling of apparation before reappearing in a filthy alleyway that stank of rancid sewage and was battered by a powerful wind.

"Sirius Orion Black!" Andromeda exclaimed. "You failed to mention that the place we would arrive was in such squalor."

“It’s not like I’ve been here since I was nineteen!” Sirius complained taking a moment to catch himself, taking so many people by side-long apparation took it out of a person. “Quit your complaining Andy, you sounded just like Aunt Druella.”

“Watch your words cousin or I’ll show you what it truly means to be my mothers’ daughter.” She said sharply, flicking her wand at her travelling cloak and transfigured it into a trench coat to combat the change of weather.

They all took the moment to transfigure their wizarding clothing into something appropriate for traveling by a muggle ferry, and Harry noticed that unlike most wizarding families they didn’t fall into the usual pitfalls of appropriate muggle attire and fashions.

Sirius guided them towards a ferry port that catered to all types of people, where Ted bought them five tickets and they passed through a checkpoint before embarking the ferry and sat on an exposed deck as they were carried away from England.

Eventually Sirius, Ted and Tonks went off in search of tea and coffee leaving Harry and Andromeda up on deck holding their seats.

“Aunt Dromeda,” Harry said thoughtfully as he leant over the railing looking at the water below, “Whats the story behind you and Uncle Ted?”

Andromeda looked up from her book to look at Harry in surprise, “Sirius has never told you?”

Harry shrugged and winced at the withering look Andromeda gave him for the gesture.

“He told me you ran away and were disowned.” Harry said frowning trying to remember what he had been told, “I think you were originally betrothed to Lucius Malfoy before he married your sister?”

Andromeda closed her book and seemed to gather her thoughts carefully before she answered.

“In essence that’s correct, but that’s hardly the full story.” She told him, “Well we started at Hogwarts the same year, but we didn’t speak a word to each other until our fifth year. I was Andromeda Black, pure-blooded, monied, and so very arrogant in my knowledge of my place in society. Yet despite that I wasn’t entirely like the rest of the family, I had reservations about blood-purity that grew over the years. During my fifth year I had my first conversation with Ted by the lake. For two years we met and spoke in secret, Ted answered all my questions about the muggle world and challenged me on many of my long-held beliefs. It wasn’t until my seventh year I realised I had feelings for him.”

“What happened with your family?” Harry asked curiously, “how did you hide it from your sisters? Bellatrix is two years older than you, isn’t she?”

The mention of her elder sister made Andromeda’s face contort in a mixture of anger and sadness.

“They didn’t learn about Ted and I until after I finished my seventh year. As you can imagine I was extremely secretive about us, I even made Ted swear and unbreakable vow not to reveal our relationship.” She saw Harry’s confused look and quickly explained, “It’s a magical vow that binds two people, if the vow is broken the person dies. Only Narcissa noticed, she was very suspicious and felt betrayed that I was keeping things from her. We managed to graduate Hogwarts without our secret getting out.”

“Two days after I left Hogwarts there was a big family dinner with the extended Black family.” She shivered as she recalled it. “My father, Cygnus Black, surprised all of us that night when he announced that he had signed a marriage contract with Abraxas Malfoy, agreeing to marry me off to his son. Everyone was happy about the news and congratulated me on such a respectful match! I barely noticed, I just sat there in my chair numb to everything.” She paused to take a breath, “My father was ambitious, and he had no qualms using his daughters. Bellatrix was to be thrown to one of the Ancient Houses if my father could convince her to allow it, and he likely had plans for Narcissa’s own marriage for when she left Hogwarts.”

Harry could only look at Andromeda in stunned silence. She pocketed her book and joined him at the rail and looked out over the water and gave a deep sigh.

“I should have run away immediately, but I felt that I at least had to try and speak to my family. Not a week later there was another dinner, this time with just my parents and sisters and it was then that I made my announcement. I told them I wouldn’t be marrying Lucius Malfoy as I had already chosen my own husband. My parents were furious and began to shout only to stop when Bella came to my aid. She silenced them both and demanded that they allow me to explain myself.” She continued seemingly lost in her memory, “I think Bella thought I had found a better match for myself; I doubt it even crossed her mind that I would think to marry a muggleborn. When I told them who I intended to marry, that Ted was a muggleborn, their reactions varied. Bella sat seemingly too shocked to move, Cissy sat silently crying and refused to speak or look at me. My father and mother on the other hand were beyond enraged and were quick to draw their wands and point them at me.”

Harry made a horrified sound but Andromeda didn’t stop there.

“Naïve though I was, I wasn’t foolish enough to go to that dinner completely unprepared. I convinced Lord Arcturus to make me a portkey, not that he knew why I would need it or what I intended, though he took a great amount of convincing I can assure you. That portkey saved my life. I activated it before my parents could curse me and escaped to Diagon Alley.”

“Did you ever speak to your parents again?” Harry asked despite already knowing the answer.

“Never. From that day on I was no longer a daughter of the House of Black. My parents must have gone to Arcturus too, as four days later my access to my Black trust fund was removed, although I had already withdrawn all the gold from it. I’ve seen Narcissa enough times to count on one hand since then, the first words we have spoken were at the Danvers Ball,” she told him. “Bellatrix on the other hand, I saw her once during an attack on Diagon Alley. She wore a mask, but I knew it was her, she ignored her mission and pursued me with a fury that could only have been possessed by my sister.”

“Do you ever regret your decision?”

“No not once in the last twenty years. I have a husband who cares for me and a beautiful and talented daughter.” She replied easily, “things have certainly improved in the last few years with Sirius’s return, not to mention I have a nephew who I can be proud of. Once again I am Andromeda Druella, Daughter of the House of Black. Its good to have a larger family again, I hadn’t realised I had missed it.”

Harry blushed at her compliment but noticed how Andromeda stood frozen looking out over the water with a far away look. He suspected that despite everything, Andromeda secretly missed her sisters and parents and likely always would.

“I’ve often wondered what things might have been like if I’d grown up with my parents.” Harry said wistfully, “Do you think I would have had siblings?”

Andromeda looked thoughtful as the question returned her to the present.

“Through Sirius I got to know both your parents Harrison. Had they lived I think you would have had at least one sibling.” She told him, “I know both James and Lily wanted more children. For Lily, she simply wanted you to have what she had once had with her own sister. James on the other hand, he wanted a larger family to share the burden of the responsibilities of House Potter.”

“Do you know what happened to my other relatives?” Harry asked, he had only ever heard about his father and grandfather but no others, it struck him as odd now.

“The Potters have never been a large family like the Blacks or the Weasleys. For generations they’ve been oddly singular with only a male heir and no daughters. Genealogy was never my speciality, but I don’t think there has been a daughter of House Potter for at least four or five generations.” Andromeda explained before giving him a speculative look, “Speaking of family lines, have you got any young ladies in your sights?”

Harry’s mind wandered to Daphne for a moment, but he cast that thought away immediately since he wasn’t sure of her motives. Then he thought of Ginny who he had become closer to during the last year, not that he would ever admit that given her six elder brothers.

“No Aunt Dromeda.” He said in a bored voice.

Andromeda raised an eyebrow at him and regarded him closely, “Well I hear you’ve grown rather fond of Miss Daphne Greengrass.”

“Did Sirius tell you that?” Harry demanded hotly seriously considering Remus’s advice now.

“No I didn’t.” Sirius said from behind him making Harry jump so violently that he almost fell overboard. “That’s something you will need to speak to Nymphadora about, she was rather excited about you picking a Slytherin witch to be your girlfriend.”

“Daphne is not my girlfriend!” Harry exclaimed blushing furiously and he glared at Tonks who was walking across the deck with a cup of something which she managed to spill as she tripped over her own feet. “Tonks what have you been saying!”

“Wow Harry no need to be so defensive!” Tonks cackled with a wink, “If you like her its perfectly fine, we won’t judge you.”

Harry glared at her before stepping towards her and shot back in a whisper, “Well if I like Daphne, then you obviously like Remus!”

Tonks merely shrugged, “I don’t deny that I do.”

This admission left Harry without a comeback, he had expected her to deny everything.

“Remus doesn’t care for me, he is too stubborn.” She added gloomily before turning away and speaking with her father.

Sirius came over and handed Harry a steaming cup of tea just as he liked it, “I wondered if there was anything in particular that you’d like to do on this trip.”

A group of small children ran past screaming and laughing and Harry watched them before he answered.

“Can you teach me to apparate? I’ll be receiving lessons at Hogwarts this year anyway.”

Sirius considered it, “I can but I warn you that its not a quick thing to learn and it can be incredibly frustrating. As a compromise, I’ll teach you how to make portkeys.”

“I already know how to make them.”

“No, you know the spell and your rings shape the magic to allow you to create family portkeys.” Sirius corrected, “You do not know the full applications of the spell or magic, if you were to try to make one to Diagon Alley you would fail.”

“Oh, well then, that sounds good.” Harry said lamely but frowned as another idea came to him, “does the chateau have any thestral, Corsaié or even common horses? Could you teach me to ride properly?”

This was not something Sirius had expected for he blinked in surprise, “My great-great aunt used to breed Corsaié horses at the chateau, but I doubt any are left now.” He paused thoughtfully, “we will work something out.”

The rest of the journey across the English Channel had been enjoyable. They watched the muggle passengers move around the ferry, all happy and excited or otherwise moaning about the weather. Eventually they docked in Calais and hurried off the ferry in search of a place to apparate before they arrived on a hill in the middle of the French countryside surrounded by fields and trees.

“Sirius do you remember the time you stole the carriage during our holiday here.” Andromeda said as they began to cross a field.

“I didn’t steal the carriage, it stole me!” Sirius exclaimed smiling broadly, “As I told mother, the carriage was bewitched, it came to life all on its own!”

“Yes the carriage was bewitched to take the rider wherever they wanted by thought alone.” Andromeda shook her head chuckling turning to Harry and Tonks and adding “for three hours Sirius rode that carriage, he chased us over the grounds but also all the way out here through the countryside!”

Sirius laughed loudly, “It was fun, although a muggle hiker did catch sight of the carriage and noticed it was horseless. Poor chap, he looked terrified!”

Listening to both Andromeda and Sirius reminisce about their previous visits to the Black Chateau and various anecdotes of family members antics, it was almost possible to believe they had once been part of a happy normal family.

They eventually approached a rough stone wall covered in ivy and wild plants and hedges and in a large gap was a wooden gate. It was almost unassuming, except the gate was bound by a chain locked by a large ornate padlock etched with a raven. Sirius placed a hand on the lock which glowed before it released, and the chain snaked free, and the gate opened of its own accord.

On the other side was a long wide driveway which led up to a two-story building, built of pure white stone with a tall roof. The chateau was built with large wide windows, large arching stonework, and artistic carvings, all of which was covered by various climbing plants.

“This place is beautiful.” Tonks exclaimed in awe, “I never thought the Blacks would own something so… well beautiful!”

“This property was originally owned by House Macmillan,” Sirius explained. “The property formed a part of Melania Macmillan’s dowry when she married Arcturus.”

“Arcturus broke tradition by not changing the property to better reflect the family.” Sirius added, “my grandmother didn’t want it to be like other Black properties and grandfather chose to respect her wishes. Mother despised the chateau and always complained about it. Some changes were made over the years, but mostly all we did is change the Incal on the front gate from the Macmillan ram to the Black raven.”

They walked up to the front door which was promptly opened by Winky.

“Winky has had rooms made ready Master Black.” She said bowing low, “All luggage has arrived and Winky is unpacking, does Master Black be needing anything of Winky now?”

“No thank you Winky.” Sirius said kindly dismissing her, “Come let’s get settled, it’s time for our family holiday!”

o-HP-o

Later that afternoon Harry had secluded himself in the chateau gardens surrounded by tall hedges and flowers. After his time in the Black Lodge Harry had thought he wouldn’t want to spend any time outside, but he found it oddly comforting. Although that might only be because Sirius was in the chateau and Harry might be avoiding him.

Harry sat with his back against a large tree next to a pond and was reading a book on defensive magic enjoying the heat of the sun. He was halfway through a section of the book concerning warding and concealment when he heard footsteps behind him and a branch snap underfoot.

Jumping up he darted behind the tree in an instant and heard somebody walk into the gardens, stop, and look around.

Peaking around the tree Harry saw Tonks standing there in what was clearly muggle attire exposing her arms, legs, and stomach to the sun. Today her hair was brown, as it had been for several weeks now according to the conversation he had overheard between Sirius and Andromeda.

“Point your wand at someone else!” Tonks snorted rolling her eyes, “surely you recognise your own cousin?”

Harry released his wand back into his holster and shrugged, “Can’t be too careful.”

Tonks gave him a knowing look and walked over to where he had been sitting and picked up his dropped book and read the title curiously.

“Survival training huh? It’s a killer, leaves your nerves wrecked for a while, but its worth it in the end.”

“Is it?” Harry asked remembering that as an auror she would have undergone something similar.

“Yup.” She said brightly, “It teaches you not only how to survive off your surroundings with only your wand, but it also teaches you how to use your environment to your advantage in a fight.”

“How long until my nerves settle?” Harry asked hoping to avoid future embarrassment.

“A while,” She told him sympathetically, “during my own survival training in the Auror Academy I struggled, especially with stealth and tracking exercises, I kept giving away my position to my instructors. You will chill out eventually, it just takes time to settle.” She paused thoughtfully, “You know Sirius didn’t want to do what he did don’t you?”

“He put an arrow through my leg!”

“Better an arrow than a killing curse.” Tonks shrugged easily before giving him an uncharacteristically serious look, “Do you think Sirius enjoyed putting you through that training? Your pain caused him pain, not only emotionally but physically. You are connected through family magic, just as you felt my pain he felt yours.”

Harry hadn’t forgotten how he was connected to Sirius; it was after all how he had tracked him across the Lodge, yet he hadn’t even thought about how that same connection would alert Sirius to his pain.

"I -" he began but he didn't know what to say.

“None of the Order members who participated took pleasure out of hunting you.”

Harry shot her a dark look, “Mad-Eye did.”

“Well yeah he would but that’s just Mad-Eye, you know how he is.” She snorted, “Moody will take any opportunity to teach someone his famed ‘constant vigilance’ and survival. Although I suppose that’s where his paranoia comes from, perhaps its not such a good thing. Actually I think I’ll have to wipe your memory. Keep the family safe from a paranoid defence fanatic who cannot tell the difference between a stick and a wand in a garden.”

Harry felt himself laugh loudly for what he thought was the first time since he left Platform Nine and Three Quarters.

“Thanks Tonks.” He said sincerely and saw her smile in return, but it didn’t reach her eyes, “What’s wrong with you?”

“Me? Nothing.” She replied quickly and moved away like he had hit her with a stinging jinx. “I only came out here to tell you an owl arrived; you have a letter waiting for you in the sunroom.”

"Who was it from?" He asked wondering who would write to him here.

"Well I would assume it was Hogwarts because of the seal on the envelope." She said slyly grinning at him as his face fell.

"Does Sirius know?" He asked quickly taking his book back.

“Yup, he and mum are waiting for you.” She said enjoying his horror filled expression, “Now I need to go find dad, mum thinks he’s gotten lost looking for the stables.”

She left Harry standing in the garden frozen on the spot. Harry had completely forgotten about his OWL results were due to arrive. They were important exams for any witch or wizard as they were required for almost all chosen careers. Gathering his fortitude, Harry walked out of the gardens and across the path to the chateau.

Harry looked at the chateau glowing white under the sun, it should have been welcoming but regarding it now, he was filled with dread. He felt his former confidence in himself and his exams leave him with every step he took. As Tonks had said, Sirius and Andromeda were sitting together in the sunroom drinking iced tea. Sirius was laughing loudly at something in a book Andromeda was showing him.

“Harrison.” Andromeda said warmly noticing him, “would you care to see the pictures of Nymphadora' most bizarre metamorph appearances?"

Harry looked down at the pages of the photo album and saw it was filled with pictures of Tonks throughout the years, displaying her many phases of looks and some looked like they were a surprise to the horrified girl in the pictures.

“Tonks said I had a letter?” Harry croaked hesitantly looking around and his eyes fell to the envelope Sirius held immediately.

“It came a few minutes ago,” Sirius told him handing it over, “I haven’t opened it.”

Nervously Harry took the envelope, broke its seal, and pulled out the parchment.

Harry Potter and the Peverell Legacy - JayanPhoenix - Harry Potter (2)

Harry read through the parchment several times, his breathing and heart rate lowered, and he felt himself calm down. He had done well. In some subjects he had scored far better than he had hoped, even his History of Magic grade wasn’t awful despite the distractions he had been subjected to during the exam. Looking down the list of grades he counted six Outstanding grades, and he was certain now he would be able to enter any of his choices of classes for NEWTs.

Looking up from the parchment he saw both Sirius and Andromeda looking at him expectantly.

“I did well, I didn’t fail anything.” Harry told them and handed the parchment to Sirius wanting him to confirm what he had just read himself.

Sirius regarded the parchment for several long moments before he looked up with a genuine proud smile. “Well I’m impressed! You got exceptionally good grades considering what you’ve been through. Outstanding in Defence! Despite that hag teaching you! HA! Although I suppose we should give Remus some credit, but that grade is practically all your own work Harry!”

“Do you know when I’ll get my Hogwarts letter?” Harry asked, “I need to think about my options for next year.”

“Probably tomorrow,” Sirius said vaguely, “They’re late this year but should come soon. Looking at these grades you should be able to pick any class though, any idea what you want to continue?”

Harry shrugged, "Charms, Defence, Transfiguration, Herbology, Runes and Potions, and possibly Care of Magical Creatures."

“That would be a hectic two years.” Andromeda cautioned before congratulating him.

“Andy isn’t wrong, believe me NEWTs get nasty and the amount of work is beyond OWL. I’d suggest dropping creatures as a class, but you can always study it at your leisure.” Sirius stated getting up, “before we celebrate your success I have something I must teach you. Andy we will see you later.”

Sirius led Harry through the chateau to a room that was nearly empty apart from two plump cushions on which they both took a seat.

“What are you teaching me?” Harry asked warily.

Sirius didn’t answer, instead he closed his eyes, his breathing slowed, then he opened his eyes, and they were glowing bright grey.

“I’ll teach you how to channel your family magic.” He said in a deeper voice than usual before closing his eyes once more and a moment later his eyes returned to normal. “The first step you need to do is focus on the power within yourself, let it run through you, its part of your body, part of your identity.” Sirius instructed, “I want you to tap into that magic and project it out.”

Harry looked into himself; he knew where the power resided within him now almost instinctively now. Both his own magic and his familial magic enveloped him, but he concentrated solely on the familial power and allowed it to surround him.

No matter what Harry tried he couldn’t shape or influence the power. He was about to give up with a sigh of frustration when he remembered what Sirius had previously taught him. The ring he wore was a tool for focusing ancestral magic just as a wand was a tool for channelling his own magic.

Opening his eyes, Harry raised his hand which bore the Potter ring in a fist. The image of the griffin flashed into his mind and the magic responded, he felt it channel through his arm, into his hand then the rings gemstone glowed.

The spectral griffin materialised in front of them, spreading its wings and flapping to keep itself airborne. It was made of a golden-brown and silver light, but the creatures’ eyes that bore into Harry were hazel and oddly familiar.

“Well done Harry! You successfully channelled your family magic.” Sirius said in surprise, “This wasn’t quite what I had in mind but it’s a very good start. You’ve projected the magic as the family Incal, pull the power back into yourself, and then channel it out of you like an aura.”

Harry closed his eyes and cleared his mind of all thought and reached out to the magic once again and connected to it through the ring and began to slowly pull it back into himself. It enveloped Harry again, it felt as if an electrical current was running across his entire body.

“Keep your focus.” Sirius instructed, “Hold onto that feeling, now open your eyes.”

Doing as he was told Harry opened his eyes and gasped. He was looking at himself through a mirror that Sirius had conjured but his eyes were glowing bright green, his skin had taken on a silvery glow and there were what looked like golden-brown tribal markings across his arms and face.

"What is this magic?" Harry asked confused, but his own voice was distorted and reverberated through the house.

“This is a manifestation of the magic that’s referred to as the Ancestral State, its how you would have looked when you entered your Blood Rage and unlike before you are in full control of this magic.” Sirius explained, “You're doing nothing more than projecting the power outward, long ago our ancestors learnt to harness it in this way. Remember the family magic doesn’t add to your own magic, its separate and dangerous, but projection is one of the safest methods of channeling this magic without repercussions.”

Looking at his reflection Harry couldn’t suppress the shiver of fear, he might only be projecting the power outward and not directly tapping into its capabilities, but he had seen what family magic could do.

“Truth be told projection is nothing more than a parlour trick of the Ancient Houses.” Sirius continued, “projecting the incal, making your eyes glow, giving off the aura or the full ancestral state, they have long been used to intimidate, coerce or frighten our enemies.”

Harry didn’t doubt that projection was a useful tool but there was a good reason why their enemies feared the full power of family magic. In the past the Ancient Houses must have used it liberally and to great effect, especially if it could scare a witch like Bellatrix Lestrange.

“Why does it allow me to see things?” Harry asked curiously.

“You mean the vision you saw of the attack on Peverell Manor?”

“Not only that vision,” Harry replied quietly although his voice still carried a great weight, “When I was at the Potter Estate it showed me images of the estate over the centuries. I saw the original castle, how it changed and evolved over time into the manor house of my grandparents. I even saw the village that once stood on the estate.”

“I don’t know, but since you told me about your previous vision, I did some research and its not completely unheard of.” Sirius said thoughtfully but looked troubled and he stood up and moved to the window, “For now I want you to sit and continuing familiarising yourself with projection while I think.”

Drawing on family magic was certainly different than channeling power through a wand, but Harry found the process not dissimilar to his animagus transformation exercises. Power pulsated throughout his body, and he could feel it radiating out of him in waves. Slowly he released the focus he held on the magic and watched as the markings receded from his skin and the light diminished in his eyes reverting to normal. Once again, he reached into the flow of his magic and blood and began to call on the griffin when the image of the thestral came into his mind and he entered the Ancestral State.

Only this time it was not the same, the markings were different. Even the colours of the magic had changed, this time they were grey and dark green. These were the markings of the thestral, the incal of House Peverell.

Sirius turned from his window and regarded Harry in surprise.

“Those are thestral markings.” He stated in surprise, “I didn’t know it was possible to call on the incal of the Peverell family like this. Then again there are only three houses that have changed their incal over the millennia and the Blacks are not one of them.”

Harry pulled back on the magic slightly just enough to leave only his eyes glowing.

“What about my visions?”

“There are old legends of the Ancient Houses being able to commune with their ancestors and how they learnt from those who were long departed. What you’ve experienced makes me wonder if there is perhaps some truth to those legends.” Sirius said thoughtfully, “I told you before there is so much we don’t know or has been lost and forgotten.”

He nodded simply despite not getting an answer to his question.

“What I actually intended to teach you today was aura projection, but instead you jumped ahead straight to true ancestral projection.” Sirius told him rolling his eyes, “I’m starting to think your just showing off.”

Harry smirked. Truthfully things were still awkward between them both and though Harry wasn’t yet completely comfortable around Sirius, he was beginning to let his guard down if only slightly.

They spent a further two hours working on the various projection techniques and Harry was quick to get the hang of them but eventually they began to discuss other aspects of family magic that Sirius hadn’t had the time to teach him last year.

“Family magic can be practiced in two ways; Projection or Expression.” Sirius instructed, “Projection is the safer of the two forms, its mostly symbolic and its mostly harmless. Expression is the manifestation of the user’s will, it’s through expression that you can tap into the full potential of family magic. Blood Rage is the most powerful and dangerous forms of Expression.”

“So what is Expression?”

“That depends entirely on who you ask.” Sirius said thoughtfully, “ultimately Expression allows the user to tap into raw, wild magic without using incantations or a wand to enact your will. Its powerful but innately dangerous to the user as its your thoughts that control and direct the magic, one stray thought can cause unpredictable consequences. I’ve never used Expression personally, but I’ve seen it used only twice.”

Harry digested what Sirius told him but a new question came to his eager mind.

“When I use a wand I draw and channel my own magical reserves, where does the power of family magic come from?” Harry asked curiously.

“No one knows.” Sirius responded and snorted when he saw Harry’s disappointed expression, “There are numerous theories of course; the power comes from the rings, our blood, our ancestral lands or even our dead ancestors. Long has the DOM wanted to study our ancestral magic but the Ancient Houses have always refused their insistent curiosity.”

Could it be possible that the Ancient Houses had never known the true origins or the magical theory behind their ancestral magic? Harry suspected that after thousands of years at least one of the bloodlines must have learnt something, but that didn’t mean they would share it with the others.

“You said you’ve seen Expression used?” Harry asked, “Who used it?”

“James and I were caught by Death Eaters during an attack and were taken to a vault on one of the Channel Islands. We were there for three nights, had no means of escape and honestly feared we would die in that mausoleum.” Sirius recounted, “On the fourth night Charlus Potter stormed the vault single-handedly, he was in the ancestral state using Expression. Every Death Eater that tried to stop him was incapacitated, he broke us out of the vault and brought us home. It was an incredible sight watching him stride into the vault I can tell you, especially witnessing his mastery of Expression.”

“But he didn’t use Expression when the estate was attacked.” Harry pointed out confused.

“You should never rush to tap into Expression. It should never be done lightly and to tap into it without preparing properly can easily lead to dire consequences.” Sirius cautioned but looked troubled, “I’ve attempted to learn more about Expression, went through about fifty journals of prior Lord Blacks and there is barely a mention of family magic, let alone Expression in their musty pages.”

“Do you think I might find information in the Potter Library or Archives?” Harry asked remembering his father's letter which said to check the library for the family history. “I doubt it will be easy to find it, but it might be worth a look.”

“It’s possible, but ancestral magic has long been taught father to son, or Lord to Heir.” Sirius explained his expression darkening as he remembered his fallen friend. “Long has it been this way to safeguard our secrets and magic, protecting us from others trying to usurp or steal from us.”

Harry now felt he better understood the actions of Lord Greengrass, the Ancient Houses protected themselves against outsiders and he suspected it was likely for good reason.

o-HP-o

Unsurprisingly the idea of a family holiday was completely unfamiliar to Harry, and he had not known what to expect. The Dursleys never went abroad since neither is aunt or uncle liked or trusted foreign foods or cultures, instead they chose to travel around Britain leaving Harry in the care of Mrs Figg.

Over the years he had spent his summers with the Weasley’s who had welcomed him into their home with open arms. Yet a part of Harry always felt like an outsider, a visitor or worse a burden. It wasn’t something the Weasleys had done or hadn’t done, it was just how Harry secretly felt sometimes.

For the next week and a half Harry slowly overcame his wariness and uncertainty and felt himself relax and truly enjoyed his first holiday. Perhaps more importantly and surprisingly Harry grew accustomed to being around family and felt a sense of belonging he had never truly experienced before.

Each day Harry spent a couple of hours learning various aspects of family magic, family history or even aspects of his role in society. Sirius had also begun to tutor him on the various techniques needed to master the animagus transformation, skills Harry was very eager to learn before he returned to Hogwarts.

A couple of days into the holiday three Corsaié flying horses had been delivered which Sirius had purchased so that he could teach Harry to ride as he had requested, and they spent a portion of each day flying or riding across the French countryside. Andromeda had also attempted to teach Tonks how to ride but it had ended in disaster as Tonks fell off the horse as it took flight and knocked herself out much to her mother’s chagrin.

Uncle Ted had also began teaching Harry the basics of apparition and it was perhaps even more frustrating than occlumency exercises, especially hearing Ted repeat the so called ‘Three D’s of Apparition’. Harry managed to do it only once and had splinched his little finger, it truly was Harrys least favourite method of magical transportation. After Harry grew increasingly irritable, Sirius had quickly decided to intervene and make good on his offer to teach him how to create portkeys.

Andromeda had not been idle, she had marched Harry into the small dancehall of the chateau and began to drum two new dances into his repertoire that he would be expected to know. Harry thought he knew enough to muddle through, but he could tell Andromeda was not impressed, especially with how much he retained since last summer.

They had also taken trips to Place Cachée the magical shopping district of Paris which was much larger than Diagon Alley and filled with all manner of shops and stores that Harry eagerly explored. Sirius and Tonks had fled when Andromeda decided to go clothes shopping leaving Harry and Ted to tag along behind her, the two of them had a great time pretending to be supportive but were secretly having fun when she wasn’t looking.

Surprisingly the Blacks and Tonks’ had also been invited to a number of French high society events; from croquet, formal dinner, tea parties and equestrian events. Together they attended many of them and it had been a surprise to bump into Fleur Delacour’s family at one of the equestrian events. They had spoken with Harry for a while, he found them pleasant and reasonably well connected in French society. Monsieur Delacour worked for the Bureau de Coordination des Affaires Magiques Internationales as an ambassador to Italy but was petitioning to take over as ambassador to Great Britain and Ireland.

On the second day of the holiday both Sirius and Andromeda had decided Harry needed to learn French, it was according to them the second language of the Black family by tradition. His lessons begun immediately but was aided by an old Black family heirloom which increased language absorption and retention. Harry was hardly fluent, but slowly he was understanding enough to get along with.

When not flying on a Corsaié horse, Harry was up flying on his broom. He, Sirius, Ted, Tonks and to Harry’s surprise Andromeda had played a number of pickup games over the chateau. Tonks unsurprisingly was not a great chaser due to her clumsiness, but she was an excellent flyer. Andromeda was an exquisite flyer, but she was far too poised and her form too perfect which made her predictable, Ted could thwart her every time she was in possession of the quaffle much to her annoyance.

Flying had brought out Sirius’s competitiveness and he pushed Harry through a series of drills he and James had long ago invented to test a player’s abilities. Harry had picked them up quickly and took delight out of outperforming Sirius, who resorted to cheating to try and beat him. The competitiveness led them to bicker and argue but ultimately ended up laughing together and slowly the damage to their relationship was being healed.

Eventually their short holiday came to an end, all of them were thoroughly relaxed and had obtained a tanned complexion. Slowly and reluctantly they had to pack up their belongings and prepare to leave the chateau. Originally they had planned for their holiday to be longer, but Dumbledores funeral was the following day, and they couldn’t miss it.

Harry was the first to be packed up and ready to leave, he waited in the sunroom for everyone patiently reading a book, Sirius was the second down and he entered looking rather glum.

“What’s wrong?” Harry asked concerned, he noticed that Sirius was still cautious when approaching him, but after he had been hit by several hexes and curses over the holiday the caution wasn’t without reason.

“I wish we could stay longer, and away from England.” He said sadly looking out of the large windows and taking in the chateau. “If things were different Harry, I wouldn’t be forced to train you like an auror, fate seems to want an all-out war.”

“Sirius.” Harry said resigned, “I understand why you took me to the Lodge; I was forced to learn and defend myself. It was brutal and I was incredibly underprepared. Should you need to train me like this? No, but we must take the hand that we are dealt.” He gave a deep sigh and shrugged, “At least we got just under two weeks of a family holiday. It was my first one and I’ve loved it. Its good to do this as a family.”

Sirius nodded but it didn’t improve his mood, if anything Harry thought it had made Sirius feel worse.

“Did you pick up the family portrait that we had taken the other day?” Harry asked changing the subject.

“The photographer said he would owl it to us within the week. Having larger sized photographs is a new concept that has come over from the United States.” Sirius stated, “the small proof looked good, better than other family photos we have back home.”

“Have you had your own portrait commissioned yet?” Harry asked curiously remembering that every Head of House was expected to have a portrait.

“Andy made me commission one last year.” Sirius said with an annoyed tone, “Maestro Giovani Salvatore has started it, but I doubt it will be finished until Christmas. Black family tradition dictates that I should have had one painted at eighteen, but of course I ran away from that tradition. If I had a portrait already it could have merely been edited to reflect my matured looks.”

“You mean grey hair and age lines?” Harry mocked knowing how vain Sirius could be and thought it would draw him out of his mood.

“I’m not getting old!” Sirius exclaimed hotly spinning around, “I don’t look a day over twenty-three!”

Harry snorted and barely had time to run before Sirius transformed into Padfoot and bounded after him with the intent of making him take back his comment.

Chapter 7: Funeral of Albus Dumbledore

Chapter Text

On the day of the funeral Harry looked awful. He had large dark circles under his eyes where he had been unable to sleep in his own bed, plagued by the guilt he felt that he was the cause of Dumbledores downfall.

Dobby had been a somewhat welcome distraction, the little house-elf had pushed Harry forcibly into the bathroom where he had a hot bath waiting for him. Once Harry was thoroughly scrubbed and smelt strongly of fragrant citrus soap he was permitted to return to his bedroom.

He noticed that while he bathed Dobby had diligently laid out robes for him. They were black, with no detailing but even still Harry could tell they were of the highest quality and tailoring. It struck him just how conservative these robes were in comparison to some of the eclectic and flamboyant robes he had seen Dumbledore wear over the years.

Pulling on the robes numbly, Harry slowly got himself dressed and presentable. His hair had grown slightly since he had sheered it off after Bulgaria, but he still removed the light stubble from his face daily. His shorter hair made his scar far more noticeable, so he applied liberal amounts of his makeup to hide it but made no effort to conceal his dark eyes.

Behind him Dobby entered the room whistling a sad tune that matched the mood of the house, Harry noticed that the house-elf lacked his usual eagerness and excitable demeanour. Dobby narrowed his eyes carefully at Harrys appearance searching for anything wrong or out of place. He gave his black shoes a light buffering and brushed at the robes absently before nodding.

“Master Black Potter is being ready, would master be liking a potion to hide his bag eyes?”

“No thank you Dobby.” Harry said quietly turning away from the mirror, “thanks for your help, I’m sure Kreacher could use some help, why don’t you go lend a hand?”

Dobby nodded contently and disappeared with a crack.

Harry knew Dobby was happy to be his only house-elf, although he suspected that the elf would eventually want to manage his own house and serve a larger family. Although Harry didn’t see that happening any time soon, he was just glad that despite their differences Dobby and Kreacher could work together without any noticeable issues.

Making his way downstairs and into the basem*nt kitchen he found Sirius already seated in near matching black robes, reading a copy of the Daily Prophet wearing a rather sombre expression.

“What is it?” Harry asked taking a strong cup of tea from Kreacher and a plate of toast.

“Last night the Death Eaters attacked Diagon Alley.” He replied not looking up, “initially the DMLE believed they repelled the attack, and nobody was killed or harmed. This morning it’s been discovered that both Florean Fortescue and Ollivander have vanished.”

“What!” Harry explained walking around to look at the paper over his shoulder. There was a picture of the wand shop, its windows destroyed, and wands were strewn across the floor, and another showed what little remained of Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour. “How did they not notice?”

“That’s the question.” Sirius acknowledged, “According to the Prophet they were accounted for after the attack but this morning there is no sign of them, it’s certainly odd.”

“Isn’t there like an unspoken pact between wand-makers and wizards,” Harry said thoughtfully looking at the picture of Mr Ollivander. “Wand-makers are left alone in conflicts as both sides will need wands no matter which side wins.”

Harry would never forget the first time he met the wand-maker and his comments regarded Voldemort. ‘He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did great things, terrible, yes, but great.’ Ollivander was certainly strange, too devoted to his craft and disconnected from the larger world around him.

“True. The Ollivanders produce amongst the finest wands in the world. Fortunately their craft won’t be lost though, Evander, Garrick’s son will continue but I doubt the shop will reopen any time soon. Most forget that the Ollivanders are a Noble and Most Ancient House too. Its Evander’s wife who sits on the Wizengamot and represents the family when necessary, the most recent in a long line of Ollivander wives.”

“What will people do for wands?” Harry asked concerned.

“They will have to make do with the less notable wandmakers, with Ollivander missing and Gregorovitch retired last I heard, the choice of wandmakers in Europe is limited but not non-existent.” Sirius told him, “What I don’t understand is why the Death Eaters would target Florean. Ollivander is powerful and extremely knowledgeable and provided the means for us to fight back and defend ourselves, not to mention a Lord of an Ancient House. To my knowledge Florean Fortescue hasn’t done anything that would make him a target.”

Harry had met Florean during his third year, he had helped Harry with his History of Magic homework and from what Harry could recall had a keen interest in history. He had been polite and made Harry laugh with his anecdotes about medieval witch burnings, not to mention giving him free ice-creams.

“Sounds like Florean, he was a good man; we went to school with him.” Sirius said fondly after Harry told him, “was two years above in Gryffindor, was best friends with Frank Longbottom. Only person I ever saw him argue with was Professor Binns of all people. If the Death Eaters targeted him then Florean either knows something or has something they want. Unless he got in their way I suppose.”

“What about the Twins?” Harry asked concerned thinking about their shop which they lived over now.

“The article says the alley was overcome by a pitch-black cloud when the duelling broke out and it was lifted once the Death Eaters were gone. I’d bet my entire Gringotts vault that was the Twins doing.”

“Will you call an Order meeting?” Harry asked.

“No need, they’re all coming here after the funeral anyway.” Sirius stated matter-of-factly, “you’ll be present of course, so too will Hermione as Molly can’t prevent her, but Ron and Ginny will likely be a different story.”

“Does this mean you’ll finally show me how to make the talking patronus?” Harry asked eagerly. He had made no headway with his attempts to uncover the secret, even though he knew it was possible he hadn’t worked out how it was done.

Sirius laughed, “Since you didn’t work it out on your own, and you’re now a member of the Order of the Phoenix I suppose I should.”

“When do we have to leave?” Harry taking a sip of tea and managing to nibble on his toast.

“In an hour, the funeral will start at midday but it will take a while for everyone to arrive and get through the security.” Sirius told him, “Hermione should arrive with the Weasleys.”

Harry nodded; he had wondered how his friend would get to the funeral. Sirius cast away the paper and went upstairs leaving Harry alone. Taking the paper he turned to page four where there was an obituary to Dumbledore.

Albus Dumbledore Remembered – By Elphias Doge

It was odd thing to read about Dumbledore’s past, especially his younger years. Harry had seen the graves of his mother and sister in Godric’s Hollow and Sirius had even told him the tale of his father attaching muggle children. Many years previously Dumbledore had been a student just as Harry was now, it was an odd image to imagine of the ancient headmaster.

Sirius walked back into the kitchen and saw what he was reading.

“Elphias certainly portrays Albus in a good light, but I doubt it will last. Albus led a long and accomplished life, he was controversial and certainly made his share of adversaries over his years at Hogwarts and also with in the ICW and Wizengamot. Once the dust settles I imagine long forgotten tales and rumours will begin to be published.” Sirius said ruefully, “the problem will be separating the fact from the fiction.”

“There was so much I never thought to ask him, he never spoke about himself.” Harry said sadly, “I should have asked him about his fight with Gellert Grindelwald, I never thought about it until it was too late.”

“Well there is a very curious tale relating to the two of them.” Sirius said idly, “your mum told me a story she heard from a neighbour in Godric’s Hollow. According to her Albus and Grindelwald were far better acquainted than most are aware.”

“What!” Harry gasped, “You don’t mean they were friends do you?”

“I don’t remember who told lily, but almost everyone who knew Albus as a teenager are likely dead themselves now. Is it truly shocking he might have been friends with such a person?” Sirius asked dismissively, “Look at Wormtail. I was friends with the rat for years, considered him a brother, never occurred to any of us what he might one day become.”

“People change.” Harry said to himself, but Sirius managed to hear him.

“They do” Sirius agreed, “For better and for worse.”

“Do you know what the security will be like at Hogwarts?” Harry asked wanting to change the subject as he felt the guilt in his stomach bubble uncomfortably and he cast aside his cold toast.

“I do, there’ll be a lot of security. No one will enter the grounds without thorough checks being done, including blood testing for Polyjuice Potion.” Sirius answered draining his own drink and taking a blueberry muffin from the tray Kreacher offered. “Of course the entire Order of the Phoenix will attend, along with the school faculty, and a good portion of the Ministry and Wizengamot and then you have the public too. Aurors will be posted throughout the village, at the gates and in the grounds.”

“It’s an attractive target for the Death Eaters.” Harry said thinking about just who would probably attend the funeral. The Lords and Ladies of the Ancient Houses, various heads of departments from the Ministry along with other senior and important people. Harry seriously doubted the funeral would be a small affair either. “What about the students? How will they get to the castle?”

“The Hogwarts Express is running a service; the Ministry added additional carriages to cater for the additional people.” Sirius explained, “they would have boarded the train at the crack of dawn too. Most will likely use the floor in the Three Broomsticks or otherwise apparate. Madam Rosmerta was happy to provide the use of her fire, people just need to use their own powder.”

Harry could only imagine how difficult it had been for the arrangements for the funeral to be made. The funeral was open to any witch or wizard in the country, requiring security and travel arrangements, all the while ensuring that they operated within the Statute of Secrecy.

“It also doesn’t help that we’ll have a giant in attendance.” Sirius added casually.

“Grawp’s coming?!” Harry exclaimed spitting out the tea he had just sipped, he quickly vanished the tea and regarded Sirius in horror.

“So you know all about Grawp.” Sirius said with a sly smile, “I thought you might. But yes, Hagrid is bringing him. The Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures were not happy, but Amos Diggory oddly was less concerned about Grawp than he was about his pet Cerberus.”

Eventually the time came for them to leave. Sirius took Harry’s arm to apparate them since Harry had failed to learn how to do it himself and portkeys were blocked from reaching the village.

Arriving in Hogsmeade they found it awash with people. Most were wearing robes of black, blue or grey, while others had dressed in what most would consider garish colours. Both Sirius and Harry found them fitting considering Dumbledores own eccentric tastes in fashion and the man likely would have asked where they bought them.

Outside the village stood the thestral drawn Hogwarts carriages waiting to take people up to the school. Harry and Sirius managed to find a carriage and stepped inside. They were accompanied by other witches and wizards but none of them spoke, likely because Sirius had set his Lord Black mask in place and glared at them.

Both Harry and Sirius watched the crowds cautiously, red-robed aurors were patrolling the village and the road all the way up to the school but given the number of black robes it wasn’t hard to think a Death Eater could easily hide in plain sight.

Once they reached the school gates they stepped off the carriage and it took them close to half an hour to get through the security checkpoint that had been set up, but eventually they were allowed access to the Hogwarts Grounds.

Following the directed path Sirius and Harry crossed the grounds and made their way towards the Great Lake on the opposite side of the school. Hogwarts loomed high above them overlooking the valley from which Dumbledore had for so many years lived and taught. Hundreds of chairs had been arranged at the lake edge. Row after row sat astride a long aisle through the middle which led to a brilliant white marble table.

The area was swarming with witches and wizards, but Harry found himself frozen and rooted to the spot. Sirius noticed quickly and placed a hand on his shoulder and steered him through the crowd without a word. The sheer number of people who had come to pay their respect to Dumbledore was overwhelming, but the crowd contained an extraordinary assortment of people.

As Sirius had said the entire Order of the Phoenix were in attendance and spread throughout the crowd. Harry saw Mad-Eye Moody and Kingsley Shacklebolt standing with a group of serious looking people they were likely active or retired aurors. Remus stood wearing pristine dark formal robes speaking with Tonks who had worn her auror robes. Andromeda and Ted were with the Weasley’s; Charlie had come home from Romania and was standing with his elder brother and future sister-in-law.

Within the crowd Harry saw many of the shopkeepers from both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. There was the sweet lady and driver of the Hogwarts Express, and if Harry was correct members of the Weird Sisters and even Celestine Warbeck; Mrs Weasley’s favourite aging singer. Even Mrs Figg had come to the funeral and was conversing with a stoic looking Aberforth Dumbledore. Many of the members of the Ancient Houses were also in attendance, none displayed their Incals but the families were present if you knew who to look for. Harry even spotted Professor Marchbanks and Tofty who had overseen his OWL exams.

It appeared that almost every current student of Hogwarts had also come, some dressed in their Hogwarts uniform as Harry spotted their house colours, but others had dressed in both muggle and wizarding fashions.

To Harry’s surprise there were also five goblins in attendance too, although they kept to themselves and out of the way. The Hogwarts ghosts were also assembled but they were barely visible through the bright sunlight. There was a small army of ministry employees as Harry noticed Director Croaker, Rufus Scrimgeour, Amos Digory and Madam Bones. He noticed Percy Weasley among them, partially hidden from sight but clearly watching his family from afar.

Sirius led Harry towards a set of chairs at the front but before they could reach them Harry was intercepted by a large bucket sized hand covered in opals and large jewels. Looking up he saw Madame Maxime, the headmistress of Beauxbatons Academy of Magic.

"Bonjour monsieur Black-Potter." She said in her heavy accent.

Recovering quickly Harry offered a small smile and kissed her knuckles as Professor Dumbledore had done years before on these very grounds.

“Bonjour Madame Maxime, il est bon de vous voir, je souhaite juste qu'il était dans des circonstances différentes" Harry said in French politely, he wished they could have met again under better circ*mstances.

"Merci mon Cher." She said in response smiling at him. "I did not know that you spoke French, but I am pleased to see you again as well."

She nodded respectfully to Sirius before she made her way towards Hagrid who had caused something of a stir as he was settling his brother into a large chair that had clearly been specially crafted for the giant. Said giant was clothed in what might have once been the material of a marquee but had been fashioned into trousers and a tunic, he still looked brutish to Harry, and he wasn’t surprised people were giving him a wide berth.

“If my eyes don’t deceive me Maxime brought a small French delegation with her.” Sirius said casually looking over a group of people who were conversing in rapid French and their robes were clearly of French design if Harry had learnt anything from his time with Andromeda during their holiday.

“They’ll probably have been the students from Beauxbatons that came from the Triwizard Tournament.” Harry said thinking he might recognise a couple but also saw Gabrielle Delacour among them.

“You are correct.” Came a heavily accented voice from behind them.

Turning Harry was startled to see fifteen people behind them dressed in black robes but leading the group was none other than Viktor Krum who held out his hand.

Harry took his offered hand easily and shook it, “Viktor, it’s good to see you.”

“And you,” Viktor replied before looking at Sirius warily, “It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance Lord Black.”

“Indeed,” Sirius smirked, “It’s good to see the man who Harry competed against in that tournament, but it’s even better to meet a famous quidditch player. One day I hope to see you play myself.”

Viktor gave a small nod, clearly used to such comments before turning back to Harry, “Is Herm-own-ninny here?”

“She’ll be somewhere,” Harry said looking around before he noting the rest of Krums companions and realised who they were, “You could try over there with all the redheads but since you brought your whole National Quidditch Team I doubt you will get far.”

Viktor laughed, “It’s not too bad, they don’t speak great English.”

“I never told you this before, but I should actually thank you and your teammates for a great World Cup Final. It was the first and only professional game I’ve watched. You taught me loads.” Harry said managing a cheeky smile before he added, “never know, one day you might compete against me in a match. You did say I fly well.”

A number of the Bulgarians who spoke some English laughed at Harry and rolled their eyes, Viktor laughed the loudest and quickly spoke in his native language and his companions suddenly gave Harry an appraising look.

“I think your friend just warned his teammates not to underestimate you.” Sirius whispered in his ear.

“Vell Harry it was good seeing you,” Viktor said, and they shook hands again before he made his way towards another group who Harry suspected had been Durmstrang students.

Seeing Viktor and Fleur along with other former students of both Beauxbatons and Durmstrang here at Hogwarts again to pay their respects to Dumbledore made Harry realise the Triwizard Tournament hadn’t been a complete disaster. It was meant to be a way to establish ties between witches and wizards of different nationalities and perhaps it had worked.

They made their way towards the seats set aside for them and were met by the Weasleys who were happy to see them.

“Harry!” Ron exclaimed, “How you doing? What was Bulgaria like?”

Hermione ran over to Harry and hugged him tightly, “It’s so good to see you. I missed your letters over the summer!”

“Bulgaria was… different to what I thought it would be.” Harry said carefully, “but it was a great place and I really enjoyed France.”

“We’d better sit down.” Mr Weasley said after shaking hands with Harry and Sirius, for the first time Harry noticed him wearing his house ring.

Harry was sitting next to Ginny with Hermione and Ron sitting in the row behind. They talked quietly amongst themselves, Harry filling them in on how he had been and what he had done in France. He heard about their own summers, which had all been relatively calm and normal in comparison to his own.

Fleur came over and kissed Harry on both cheeks happily, her parents had written and told her about meeting him in France and apparently her sister now wanted to marry him. Harry laughed it off good naturedly but did notice that neither Ginny nor Mrs Weasley looked to be keen on Fleur at all.

“What’s that look about?” Harry asked Ginny quietly once Fleur sat beside Bill, she was about to reply when there came a strange and other worldly sound drifting over the grounds.

Everyone was now seated but they looked around curiously trying to find the source of the odd noise.

“Its coming from the lake.” Ginny said looking at the water in wonder.

It was the merfolk. With the sun beaming down onto the lake surface the merpeople could be seen. A large group floated just below the surface singing in their own language, Harry couldn’t understand the words, but it spoke of loss and grief. It was eerie, making the hair on the back of his neck and arms stand on end.

“Dumbledore spoke mermish.” Harry whispered, “he must have spoken to them over the years.”

Harry remembered during the Second Task that Dumbledore had spoken to the Merchieftainess at this very lake edge.

“It’s a beautiful song.” Ginny said watching the merfolk transfixed.

Harry couldn’t continue to watch them as he heard a large sob come from behind them.

From the rear Hagrid came walking down the aisle, he was crying unashamedly, and Harry wondered how his friends could even see where he was walking as his eyes were so swollen. In his arms he carried a large roll of wrapped velvet, it was purple with bright yellow starts shooting across it. Hagrid was bringing Dumbledore’s body to its resting place.

Pain rose from Harry’s throat, and he felt his eyes fill with tears, but he forced them away; he wouldn't cry in front of his friends and family. Ginny sat next to him with tears running down her cheeks as she watched Hagrid.

Behind them Hermione cried openly, beside her Ron looked incredibly white and shaky and he kept blinking to hold back tears of his own. Harry noticed Hermione reach out for Rons hand for support and despite himself Harry felt a tug at his lips, and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to laugh or cry.

Seeing Dumbledore’s wrapped body being walked down the aisle had drained the life away from Harry, making him feel empty and without hope. Just seeing Hermione reaching out to Ron for support had rekindled a spark of hope within him. For even in loss, love could be found. Dumbledore would have understood and wanted that.

Many of the people in the audience were crying openly or staring solemnly as Hagrid gently lay the should onto the white marble table. From the pocket of his awful but best suit Hagrid pulled a tablecloth sized handkerchief and blew his nose like a trumpet. Some of the attendees looked on at him in disgust but Harry ignored them. Dumbledore was good friends with Hagrid and wouldn’t have minded, it was part of what made him Hagrid.

Hagrid took his seat next to his brother and was dabbing his nose. Grawp seemingly understanding his half-brother’s emotions, tried to reassure him by patting him on the head but only succeeded in pushing the chair into the earth. He then bowed his head and looked mournful; it was an almost human emotion on his face.

He almost laughed when he saw Hagrid pat Grawps knee and offer him his own dirty handkerchief, but at that moment someone cleared their throat and a little tufty haired man was standing at the front, and he began a long speech about the great deeds and attributes of Dumbledore.

Harry didn't pay it any attention as to him it didn't matter what they said. They all knew the man that Dumbledore had been, and this speech was not in Dumbledore's own style. He remembered during his first year the speech that he had given consisted of four words "nitwit, oddment, blubber and tweak."

He heard a splash and saw that out of the lake the entire population of merpeople had come to the surface to listen to the service. From the forest came the sound of hooves and centaurs appeared at the very edge of their domain. They stood tall and proud, their bows by their sides, their presence a mark of great honour to a wizard. A large crack startled the crowd and the aurors sprang into action but they needn’t have bothered, it was the Hogwarts house-elves, all dressed in black tea towels looking sombre and out of place.

Eventually the dull speech came to a close. Nobody spoke as the next person went to make their speech, it was Minister Scrimgeour. He was beaten to the front by Aberforth who was wearing grey robes and a dour expression. He held out his wand and fire shot from its tip. Fire poured over his brother’s prone body; the flames springing to life around him and emitting a wave of heat and a plume of white smoke.

Looking at the furious expression of Rufus Scrimgeour, Harry doubted this was exactly part of the planned service. The Minister could do little to remedy the situation however, the fire was hypnotic, and every person sat transfixed by the growing intensity of the flames and beauty of its shape and colours.

Out of nowhere a mournful phoenix was created of pure fire and it flew in graceful arcs before their eyes. To Harrys shock high above the spectacle created by Aberforth’s wand, a smaller plume of fire erupted into existence and with it came a real-life phoenix.

“Fawkes” Harry whispered.

Phoenix song permeated the very air, Harry could feel it deep within his chest and it enhanced his sense of grief and he could do nothing to stop himself crying silently and unashamedly. Sirus too was affected by the song, his jaw clenching as he tried and failed to rein in his own tears.

Fawkes’s lament was not his final tribute to his fallen master. The phoenix dived into his spectral counterpart, and they fused becoming a flaming dart that raced into the very heart of the fire on the ground.

There was a brilliant burst of fire so bright that it made Harry shield his eyes. Then it was over. The fire and light were extinguished and it its place stood a pure white marble tomb.

Aberforth lowered his wand and grunted in acceptance of what he had wrought and sat down without so much as a word.

The Hogwarts staff stood together and pointed their wands at the great block of marble; it was flawless with not a single rough edge and perfectly symmetrical. The professors lifted the tomb from the ground and levitated it out over the lake. Below the merfolk moved and formed two lines on either side of the tomb. They escorted it to one of the small islands at the centre of the Great Lake. Leading the procession was the Merchieftainess, who rode a blue roan Hippocampus. Eventually the tomb arrived at the island where it was lowered, and the professors looked relieved as their part was finished.

There came a rustling from the fringes of the Forbidden Forest and the great centaur herd stepped out. There were centaurs of every colour imaginable to an equestrian race and many of the assembled witches and wizards gasped in shock, likely having never seen one let alone a whole herd of the reclusive people. They did not come closer but stood with their heads bowed for a minute before they let lose seven volleys of arrows into the lake. Once done they turned tail and returned into the forest leaving only Firenze who stood alone and apart from the staff and his former herd.

Next came the Hogwarts house-elves. They walked to the lake edge and in unison raised their little hands all while looking nervously at the surrounding witches and wizards and sent out a series of blue sparks which littered the sky over the lake giving it a mystical quality. With their own gesture of respect completed they popped away leaving many a person shocked by their use of magic.

Rufus Scrimgeour stood at the front podium, looking intent on making his speech. Eventually everyone in attendance settled down and they had little choice but to sit and listen. It was exceedingly long and filled with politically moving subtext. It couldn’t have been clearer to Harry that Rufus Scrimgeour cared little for Dumbledore, but Harry supposed that this was too good an opportunity for him not to attempt to use it for his own agenda.

There were many other smaller speeches. Ministry employees who had sat with Dumbledore on the Wizengamot, another who had witnessed the aftermath of Dumbledore’s legendary defeat of Grindelwald, others from the International Confederation of Wizards who had long worked with Dumbledore on the international stage. Eventually the last person to take the podium was Professor McGonagall.

She stood tall with her head held high, but her resolve had fallen slightly, and Harry could see the tear tracks on her cheeks. She stood and surveyed them all over her square spectacles and cleared her throat:

"Today we lay to rest not only one of the most respected wizards in the last century, but also my lifelong friend. Like many I first met Albus when I was but an eleven-year-old Scottish girl seeking to develop her magical abilities. In time I discovered I had a certain aptitude for transfiguration and Albus was my teacher who mentored me and later encouraged me to pursue my mastery in his subject. I decided against my mastery, instead taking a low-level job at the Ministry of Magic. Albus did not judge me, he accepted my decision and wished me luck, but he told me that if at any time I reconsidered he would be happy to help.

After a number of years I returned. I met with Albus, and he offered me a position teaching the lower years Transfiguration while I studied for my mastery. During this period I came to not only respect Albus as a brilliant teacher, but as a caring and compassionate person.

Albus Dumbledore was one of the best headmasters this school has ever had. He devoted his life to the development of young minds and protecting them from outside forces. During his life he was offered numerous positions at the Ministry but his passion was teaching and so he remained here at Hogwarts.

Though he may have been a gifted teacher, when necessary Albus was not afraid to fight though he appalled the need to resolve any situation with violence. Even his famed duel with Gellert Grindelwald, he did not seek glory or acknowledgement. Albus acted only to save the lives of the many and finally put an end to his campaign.

I will not stand here before you all tell you that Albus was not without his flaws, I can tell you now we certainly had our disagreements. In his long life I know that Albus made mistakes and he had his own regrets, but they shaped him into the man that most of us know and will remember. Albus always tried to see the best in people, he did not give up on people when they made mistakes and would try to give them a second chance.

Remember the man that he was to each of you, a professor, a headmaster, a friend, a colleague, a mentor, a leader, a guide. He was and always will be one of the most accomplished wizards of recent history. Today we say goodbye, but he will always live on in our memories."

The crowd was subdued on hearing McGonagall’s speech.

Harry himself thought her words had been moving and heartfelt, speaking of a long-held friendship, respect and loyalty for Dumbledore. There was also a growing sense of curiosity within Harry about his former headmaster’s past.

As the service ended the crowd stood and began to leave via the school gates; either choosing to walk back to the village or instead taking one of the carriages. Harry noticed Mad-Eye was keeping a close watch on the crowd, he didn’t move from his position and his magical eye was spinning erratically.

“Alastor is making sure that nobody tries to sneak into the school or remain in the grounds.” Sirius muttered noticing Harry’s attention, “it would be the perfect opportunity for someone to do something. The castle is in full lockdown but its better we ensure nobody lingers.”

“Whose idea was that?” Harry asked.

“Mine” Sirius said with a crooked grin, “how do you think I was able to move about the castle during your third year?”

“You used the secret passages as Padfoot didn’t you?” Harry asked surprised, he had always assumed that was how Sirius had avoided detection and got into the school without notice.

“Oh I did use them, but twice I was forced to linger within the castle after a lockdown was initiated. I’d find myself a nice, secluded corner, curl up and wait, once the lockdown was lifted I then snuck back out into the grounds.” He corrected, “I was found one time though. In the early hours by one of the teachers.” He then chuckled, “Not sure who was more startled until she ran away screaming about grims.”

Harry snorted loudly drawing attention from a group of unknown people.

“Probably Professor Trelawney.” He snickered, “You probably caused her to predict my death more, she was always going on about grims and death omens.”

Sirius’s bark-like laugh echoed across the grounds, “Well I hope I get the opportunity to follow her as Padfoot at some point. I might even let my hair grow messy and tangled to make myself look more realistic.”

“Does your own appearance influence your forms?” Harry asked remembering the small changes he had seen in Sirius’s animagus forms over the last few years.

“No, not at all.” Sirius admitted sourly, “It was my mental well-being that was being reflected by Padfoot. I just prefer to think of it as a matter of choice and not that I was basically off my rocker.”

They didn’t speak more as they boarded a carriage, this time accompanied by Hermione, Ron, Ginny, Bill and Fleur. When they reached the Village they disembarked and walked towards the Shrieking Shack to get away from the large groups of people. Many were taking drinks in the Three Broomsticks, but they noticed a small number making for the Hogshead pub, no doubt those familiar with Aberforth.

Taking a discrete look around after they made it beyond the village boundary, Sirius conjured a long piece of rope and it flashed blue for a moment. “We will portkey back to the house, everyone else will have to apparate, but since you four can’t do that, this is easier.”

“You know you could get into trouble for that.” Bill snorted as he took a hold of the offered portkey.

“Maybe, but technically it would be classified as an Ancient House’s Portkey.” Sirius shrugged, “Bit of a grey area in the law but even so I think I have enough sway to get off any charges were we to be caught.”

Bill just smirked and shook his head. Harry decided to stay silent as not only had he made a number of unauthorised portkeys, but he had also now learnt how to create general one-use portkeys to places he knew, no doubt if he admitted this he would get a lecture from Hermione.

“Right then, no point linger out here longer than we have to.” Sirius said activating the portkey, and they were whisked away.

Harry managed to land on his feet but had to walk a few hurried steps to lose the momentum. Hermione, Ginny and Ron were not as coordinated, they landed on their backsides on the floor glaring at Harry in disbelief.

"Since when are you able to use portkey's successfully?" Ron demanded looking annoyed and rubbing his back where Hermione had landed on him.

"I practiced in France." Harry said simply helping Ginny to her feet, "It is only a matter of practice."

"Harry I am just going upstairs to change out of these robes, and I need to grab something, can you make sure that the dining room is ready for the meeting?" Sirius asked.

"Sure." Harry said nodding and he walked into the dining room, "Kreacher! Telvar! Dobby!"

Three elves appeared with identical pops, one was dressed in the Potter colours, but two were dressed in Black colours.

"Master Harrison calls." Kreacher croaked bowing low and was followed by Telvar.

"Master Black-Potter is calling Dobby?" Dobby said bowing low, but he had a large smile on his face.

Harry noticed the change in his title, the Black elves called him Master Harrison or occasionally Young Master, but as Dobby was his elf and as the Head of House he was Master Black-Potter. It was such a small thing he had never noticed before, but he knew that it was a gesture of respect. The change also subtly showed who the true master of the elves was, and in large families that could be important as the Master could override some orders.

"Telvar, Winky is currently closing up the Black Chateau, please could you attend to Master Black." He asked kindly. Telvar was ancient even compared to Kreacher but he bowed low and went off to help his master. "Kreacher, we will be entertaining guests, please can you and Dobby arrange for refreshments to be brought up."

"Is Master Harrison’s guests be needing dinner?" Kreacher asked aghast "Kreacher has not had time to prepare. Kreacher did not know guests be coming."

Kreacher looked angry with himself and bowed low and hit his head on the floor extremely hard in punishment.

"No Kreacher!" Harry said sternly. "The fault is not yours. I do not know how long the guests will be here, but they may be staying for dinner. Send up some platters of sandwiches, tea, biscuits, wine, butterbeer and pumpkin juice. If you have cakes or anything else that could be eaten whilst we talk that would be great."

"Kreacher will do as Young Master commands." Kreacher said bowing looking somewhat relieved, "Will Young Master be finding out if dinner will be needed?"

Harry nodded, "I will find out, but we will not be expecting an extravagant dinner. Make it something simple that you could stretch to a large group of people, perhaps a soup starter, with Shepard’s pie and a simple pudding?"

"Kreacher will do what he can." He said bowing again before looking at Dobby. "Dobby is needed in the kitchen for Masters dinner, it is not making itself."

Dobby nodded his head making his ears flap and they both left the way they came.

Harry turned and saw that his friends were looking at him with surprise "What?"

"You know how to arrange dinners and gatherings. I never thought to see you like this," Hermione said in shock "but did you really have to pressure the elves like that?"

“I have to learn how to do this, according to the old traditions it would be my wife or mother if I was unmarried who would see to such arrangements. In a modern society a man should also know too.” Harry said thinking on Sirius’s lessons, admittedly Sirius wasn’t great at them himself and often relied on Andromeda to help him. “Don’t underestimate my house-elves, they’ll get it done and will enjoy the challenge. They will also be rewarded if they succeed and if they fail they won’t be punished or even reprimanded.”

The front doorbell chimed.

"We better go upstairs." Ron said gloomily. "Mum said that the Order would be meeting the moment they got here."

“Yeah I know, I’ll be in that meeting,” Harry replied raising his eyebrows, “Didn’t your parents say anything? Or the Twins?”

"They let you join the Order?" Hermione stated in surprise. "But they wouldn't let us within a foot of the door last year!"

"I didn't give them much choice!" Harry replied bluntly "They meet in my house; they are fighting the man that killed my parents and has tried to kill me. Its dangerous for me not to know what they are doing, and by they I mean both the Order and Voldemort.”

“You’ve changed.” Ginny stated looking at Harry carefully, “You’re not the same person who got off the train at the end of school.”

Harry shifted uncomfortably; he had hoped to avoid talking about Bulgaria.

“I’m what I’ve been made by this war.” Harry replied resigned, “I’m not a little boy who will just do what adults tell him unconditionally.”

"Wow mate. How did you manage to convince mum?" Ron asked in awe.

“I didn’t give her much choice and really it wasn’t her decision. Sirius, Mad-Eye and Kingsley had the final say.” Harry shrugged flicking out his wand and summoning the additional chairs from the attic where they were stored.

"Harry! Don't use magic! Do you want another hearing?" Hermione said grabbing his arm desperately and looking around as if a ministry official was about to swoop in and snap his wand.

“Hermione if the Ministry could detect the magic that was performed in the house it wouldn’t be a very secure headquarters would it.” Harry pointed out, “I’m sixteen now, I can legally use magic as the I’m Head of House Potter and Scion. You do know that in any magical household underage magic can’t be identified, I’m sure I told you this before.”

“We cannot do magic until we are seventeen.” She stressed not ignoring what he had said.

“Actually Harry can.” Ron stated.

Harry looked at his friend in surprise and gave him a questioning look.

“Dad gave me a few lessons over the summer.” He said with a shrug and Harry noticed suddenly just how much taller Ron had gotten, he was far taller than Harry and getting much broader in the shoulder.

“But that’s…” Hermione began but she bit her tongue before trying again, “Mrs Weasley won’t allow us in here.”

“Mum can’t actually boss you around Hermione.” Ron pointed out, “if anyone was going to stand up to mum I thought it would be you.”

“Don’t let them move you.” Harry told Hermione, “Point out that I’d tell you everything anyway and as my friend you’re also more at risk from not knowing what is happening.”

Hermione just nodded but set her jaw and looked determined and she took a seat.

"What about us?" Ginny asked.

“Do the same,” Harry said thoughtfully helping himself to a bottle of butterbeer that had appeared on the table. “Your mum is just being overprotective, your dad likely will allow it if you make a good argument.”

Ron looked somewhat apprehensive, no member of the Weasley family liked to question or challenge the family matriarch.

They didn't have to wait long, Sirius walked into the dining room followed by the remaining Weasleys. Bill and Fleur following quickly which made Harry wonder where they had slipped off to. Sirius saw the platters of food and drinks arranged on the table, looked at Harry and mouthed a quick 'thank you'.

“Ron, Ginny, Hermione and Harry you will need to go upstairs while we have a small meeting.” Mrs Weasley said quickly, her eyes were swollen, and you could see the tear tracks on her face. She began to arrange the food and drink on the table, although Harry thought she was only doing it to keep herself busy.

"No." Sirius said taking his seat at the head of the table, the Black Incal clear behind his head on the chair. He gestured to his right side. "Harrison is a member of the Order. I have allowed it as too did Kingsley and Alastor, he is right to be here.”

Harry took the seat that Sirius offered, to an outsider it looked like an off-hand gesture, keeping Harry under his protection as a son, but taking the seat at his right-hand side was both a sign of respect and showed that Harry was his son and heir. Remus entered the dining room and took the seat to Sirius’s left as his most trusted friend, Kingsley sat himself next to Remus.

"Fine, Fine." Mrs Weasley muttered, "but my children and Hermione will be leaving."

“Sorry Mrs Weasley,” Hermione said weakly, “but I’ll not be dismissed while the adults speak.”

She took a seat next to Tonks who pulled a chair out readily for her, Tonks didn’t seem to notice the look Mrs Weasley threw at her but that was likely as she knocked over four goblets and was trying to pick them up.

“Neither will I mum.” Ron said moving to the other side of the table closer to his father and Bill. “Harry will only tell me anyway, and as his closest friend I’m going to be fighting at his side. V-V-Voldemort will fight Harry, and I’ll be right their beside him.”

"RONALD BILLIUS WEASLEY!" Mrs Weasley screeched red faced, "You will get upstairs now! You are not of age and you are not a member of the Order. If Harry was to tell you then that only shows that he shouldn't be here! Hermione, you are a muggleborn, if your parents were here -"

"Molly." Mr Weasley said with a hint of warning, but it stopped his wife in her tracks. "I have already told you that our children should be in attendance, I will not have us divided. They can better protect themselves if they know the details."

"But Arthur they are children!" Mrs Weasley sobbed.

“Molly Harry and Ginny haven’t been children since their were first years at Hogwarts.” Mr Weasley stressed, “Hermione was left petrified in her second year after working out what was plaguing the school, something grown wizards had failed to accomplish. Ron hasn’t been a child for some time either. Our youngest son sacrificed himself in his first year, risked everything to save his sister in his second, in his third he was attacked by a werewolf, a deranged escaped prisoner and learnt his pet rat was in fact a hidden wizard. Last year Ron battled the Death Eaters themselves, as did the other three. They’ve early the respect of most of those in this room. They will remain.”

"Thanks Dad." Ron said quietly glowing bright red at his father's word.

"I am just trying to protect their innocence!"

“Mum stop. Their innocence will not protect them from the Death Eaters of Voldemort.” Bill said looking at her pleadingly. “You’re more likely going to get them killed by mothering them. How would you feel if they died because you refused to allow them to know of a planned attack and they found themselves caught up it and caught unawares?”

"Do not speak like that!" She blubbered. "I will not lose more of my family to that monster!"

"Mum, we are staying, sit down and allow us to have this meeting!" Ginny said sternly taking a seat without so much as a by your leave. “You’re embarrassing us.”

"Fine." Mrs Weasley replied, and she sat next to her husband and cried silently.

"Now that you have finished procrastinating," Moody growled stomping into the room and sitting next to Harry, "perhaps we should begin. Sirius, we need to bring you up to speed, and we would all like to have a report from them." He added pointing at the door, where the twins came through a moment later.

"Sorry we’re late, we had to open the shop," said Fred taking his seat.

"Lee gave us some grief for making him work too." George added sitting next to his twin.

"Your here now, let's not waste more time." Sirius said, "Come on, you know we want to know your story from the attack last night."

“Not really much to say.” George said awkwardly, “Diagon Alley was mostly closed up for the night, only the bank and Leaky Cauldron were open. We were just finishing up inventory when we felt a tremor shake the shop.”

“Your premises are located to the Cauldron, with Florean’s place a few shops down.” Moody said gruffly looking over a parchment that he had summoned, it looked to be a plan of Diagon Alley. “What happened next?”

“We ran out to investigate. Street was empty but people started to enter from the Leak Cauldron.” Fred said taking over, “I had our newest product in my pocket and used it. Threw the entire alley into darkness, we were able to walk through it unhindered though.”

“This new product,” Sirius queried, “You have something that counteracts it I assume. Could the Death Eaters have done the same thing?”

“No it’s a highly guarded secret that only the manufacture knows. He gave us something that enables us to see through it.” Fred clarified, “no way they would have it.”

“What did you see?” Tonks asked, “was it the Death Eaters?”

“Well that’s the thing.” George answered grimly, “there was nobody there. All we saw was Fortescue’s shop on fire. We arrived, used the presence revealing spell and found him unconscious in a back room. Once we revived him we put out the fire. Seemed to be alright though, told us to go check on the rest of the alley.”

“Our darkness cleared as we got to Ollivander’s, it was the only other premises that had been hit.” Fred explained, “Ollivander was there, obsession over the state of the centuries old shop that had been in his family for generations.”

“What do you mean when you say he was obsessing over the shop?” McGonagall asked sharply.

“Exactly that. He was distraught over the state of the shop and couldn’t believe someone would damage it,” Fred said looking at McGonagall bewildered.

“What I meant, was it the shop itself or the wands he was obsessing over.” McGonagall clarified.

Fred and George exchanged a look between them, likely suddenly reminded of all the times they had been given such a look from their former head of house.

“The shop, he didn’t say a thing about the wands.” Fred said thoughtfully, “right George?”

“Yeah he said something about the premises being in the family for generations.” George shrugged, “Think he might have been in shock.”

“That gentlemen was not Garrick Ollivander.” McGonagall said over her glasses, “the shop itself would have been the least of his concerns.”

“As a wand-maker the shop mattered little to him, his most prized possessions are the bits of wood that almost all of us carry.” Moody growled nodding appraisingly at McGonagall. “Aye if he had the choice between saving his shop or its contents, I doubt he would even hesitate in picking his wands.”

"But why?" Said a female Order member Harry didn't know.

“Garrick Ollivander is completely devoted to his craft; his wands are his life’s work. Each and every wand is a unique pairing of wood and core and even design.” Sirius explained, his gaze flickering cautiously to Harry as he added, “even Brother Wands are not identical, I doubt Ollivander would even attempt to craft an identical wand. A mere shop can be rebuilt or relocated, but its contents are the true treasures of the Ollivander family.”

“I ‘ave never visited your Mr Ollivander’s shop.” Fleur said thoughtfully, “my wand was crafted in France. Our wandmaker is not as renown as your Ollivander eet is true but she does specialise in custom wand cores.”

Harry recalled Mr Ollivander had inspected her wand during the Triwizard Tournament; her wand contained the hair of a veela, her grandmothers, if Harry remembered correctly. Across the table he noticed Ginny’s sour face as Fleur spoke and for the second time wondered why she disliked her so much.

“We left Ollivander to it and returned to our own shop.” George said continued regretfully, “It was only this morning we found out both Fortescue and Ollivander were missing, we didn’t notice anything wrong.”

“The aurors also didn’t notice anything untoward.” Kingsley assured them, “both of them were checked over, the aurors noted that both men had suffered minor injuries, were shocked, but otherwise fine.”

“If the Mr Ollivander that Fred and George spoke with was in fact not the real Garrick Ollivander,” Remus posed quietly, “is it possible that Florean might also have been an imposter?”

“It could be a coincidence.” Dedalus Diggle pointed out fiddling with his velvet hat on the table, “there is no evidence to suggest that Florean might also have been an imposter.”

“The Death Eaters wouldn’t have targeted both shops without reason.” Tonks stated, “despite our best efforts I think it very likely the Death Eaters are well aware of the security measures the DMLE have placed over the Alley.”

No member of the Order of the Phoenix contested this, in fact Harry thought they looked resigned to the fact the Death Eaters had eyes and ears throughout the Ministry of Magic. Not that they could do much about it he thought to himself, but that didn’t make him feel any better about the state of things.

“Fred and George’s little trick likely caught them off guard.” Tonks continued but paused clicking her tongue in thought, “Impersonating Ollivander required Polyjuice Potion, which means they came prepared when they attacked Diagon Alley. This must have been part of their plan, but why?”

From down the table Hermione hesitantly cleared her throat and looked around timidly as the Order members looked at her expectantly.

“Mr Fortescue could just be missing or have gone into hiding.” Hermione said shakily, “his shop might only have been attacked so it didn’t look like they had specifically targeted Ollivander. They might have planned to hit other shops too before Fred and George stopped them.”

“Its certainly possible.” Kingsley agreed giving her a small encouraging smile.

Moody considered her words before shrugging gruffly turning his mismatched gaze to the twins, “if the Death Eaters were to target any shop I’d have pegged yours given your window display.”

Harry stifled a snort knowing Moody could only be referring to the U-No-Poo posters and he wasn’t surprised to see both Twins grin despite the implied threat.

“Ollivander is a valuable and strategic target. With Garrick missing I don’t know if his son will take over the family business.” Sirius said frowning, “If they did in fact take Florean it might only be to create fear and panic. Last time disappearances were a daily occurrence, people were too scared to leave their homes in case they would be the next to vanish without a trace.”

There was a collective shiver from the elder Order members who had lived through the last war.

Ron cleared his throat awkwardly, pointedly avoiding looking anywhere near his mother.

“What do we know about Mr Fortescue?” He asked hesitantly his ears scarlet, “beyond his occupation.”

Professor McGonagall leant forward so that she could address Ron directly, although Harry didn’t think this helped settle Ron’s nerves.

“He was a powerful wizard, placed near the top of his year when he was at school. I was surprised when Florean opened his shop in Diagon Alley, I always thought he would devote himself to academia, he was fascinated with wizarding history. The Fortescue’s themselves are of Italian pure-blood descent, although I believe Florean is a half-blood. Beyond that his great-great-grandfather was Dexter Fortescue, headmaster of Hogwarts and Professor Binn’s predecessor as teacher of History of Magic.”

That explained why Florean had been so knowledgable and passionate about the history of British Witch Trials Harry thought to himself. Although he couldn’t see why any of this would make him a target of the Death Eaters.

“What of Florean’s family?” Mrs Weasley asked quietly.

“They’re safe.” Kingsley assured her, “or as safe as the rest of us at any rate. Obviously they’re shocked and devastated by what has happened. As Hermione pointed out we cannot be certain Florean has not gone into hiding, but the DMLE does not believe he would leave without his family. They also have no idea why he would be targeted either.”

Clearly the Order were unable to work out the motive behind Fortescue’s disappearance so focused on what they knew instead.

“By attacking the alley they triggered the protective wards,” Tonks hummed, “they must have known this and planned for it. It’s possible they captured Ollivander, took his place, and then waited for the wards to be lowered so they could make their escape.”

Nobody disagreed, but clearly there was far more to this attack, something they were missing.

“Did the Order not think to approach Ollivander?” Harry asked curiously.

“We did,” Kingsley said tiredly, “he refused to listen. Happened during the last war too, he refused to hide, maintained his neutrality like the wandmakers of old.”

"Silly old duffa." Mundungus muttered loudly.

“From now on we need to be more alert to the comings and goings of Diagon Alley. You two are our eyes there. Anything happens you need to alert the Order immediately.” Moody told the twins sharply, “You should have sent a patronus, although they take time to arrive.”

“Harry, Hermione, might you be able to create something for us to use?” Sirius asked looking at each of them in turn, “Ive seen your groups communication method, we could use something similar.”

“Ah the secret defence group.” Remus said fondly, “how do you communicate with each other?”

Harry and Hermione looked at each other across the table, neither said a word, and Harry watched Hermione look guiltily to Professor McGonagall.

“We might.” Hermione said biting her lip hesitantly, “they do have their limits, and they are not as secure as patronus messages. We could however make something similar for the Order of the Phoenix.” She paused, and added quickly, “if such a method did indeed exist.”

“What is this group?” Moody asked curiously.

Around the table the six DA members remained mute, bound by the secrecy pact they had signed when they formed the group.

“These three created a secret society of like-minded students who banded together last year to teach themselves magic while that dreadful woman was at Hogwarts.” Professor McGonagall said with a note of pride, “I believe this group is the reason behind the good defence grades this year. Remus could only do so much in the short time he had before the OWL’s.”

“I imagine none of you can speak about the group either.” Remus said knowingly, “no doubt you took precautions to protect the group from being discovered by Delores Umbridge.”

The DA members shrugged noncommittedly but couldn’t conceal their knowing smiles.

“Well these students should know a thing or two about fighting if they were taught by the kid.” Grunted Moody who gave Harry a shrewd look with his real eye.

“You’re not still sore I managed to get the better of you in Bulgaria are you Mad-Eye?” Harry snorted rolling his eyes, “It was only a couple of times, and you were quick to pay me back threefold!”

“It only takes once!” Snarled Moody, “Constant Vigilance!”

Tonks cackled in delight, clearly enjoying how ruffled her mentor was.

“Harry stop baiting Mad-Eye.” Sirius said firmly his lip twitching before looking at his cousin, “Tonks I believe your to be among the contingent of aurors stationed in Hogsmeade?”

"Yep, the auror office is providing seven aurors on a permanent basis to the village." She said cheerfully, "We have had the old Ministry building reopened as our headquarters."

Sirius nodded and turned to Kingsley, "You are still assigned to the muggle minister?"

“Yes, he’s still rather annoyed I’m a wizard, but understands I’m there to protect him.”

"Dung anything to add from your contacts?"

Mundungus was in the middle of eyeing up one of the cabinets in the dining room and didn't hear the original question so Sirius repeated it.

"No, not 'erd nuffin, tho old Wilkie Bennett told me that the Lestrange brothers have been seen skulkin Knockturn Alley, and they went to the bank four times in the 'ast month." He said groggily.

Sirius turned to Bill and Fleur, but they shrugged noncommittedly.

“Your confidentiality oaths prevent you from speaking I get it.” He sighed, “Bill can you try and get more out of the goblins? Be better if they were on our side but I’d settle for them remaining neutral.”

"Your father is applying to be French ambassador here isn't he lass?" Moody asked turning to Fleur.

"Papa is trying,” Fleur quickly nodded, “eet is not so simple. The National Convention is making things difficult, and our Ministry doesn’t ‘ave the best relationship with yours.”

Moody tapped his gnarled fingers on the table deep in thought.

“Do you think you might be able to reach out to your friends and connections back home, work with your father to spread our message?” He asked eventually.

Sirius turned to Alastor in interest, clearly not knowing what the ex-auror was thinking.

“I’ve heard from old contacts that the Death Eaters are back on the continent.” He said gruffly, “they have got giants and werewolves, but it’s likely they are now looking to recruit wizards from Europe.”

“Where have they been seen?” Sirius asked in alarm.

"France recently, but mainly Bulgaria, Germany, Denmark and Austria." Moody stated, "my informant travels across Northern Europe on less than legal business, they’ve heard whispers that the Death Eaters have approached the remnants of Grindelwalds old army.”

“They must all be old by now surely!” Sirius blinked, “I thought the Alliance was broken when Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald in forty-five and threw him into whatever pit he currently resides. The ICW made a big thing of the supporters being rounded up if I remember correctly.”

“Old?” He snorted, “those that escaped persecution went to ground and have spawned the next generation who’ve been taught the old dogma. My source said he saw Gustav Jugdar, who was once one of Grindelwalds top generals towards the end, wearing the old uniform proudly displaying Grindelwalds private mark. He’s stirring up the old guard, it’s the first time he has publicly resurfaced in over forty years.”

Sirius looked very troubled by this news, he looked at Harry thoughtfully before he turned to Professor McGonagall.

"I think it would be prudent for us to send people to Europe, to get a feel for the mood but also to hopefully drum up support.”

McGonagall’s eyebrows rose, “what are you thinking Sirius?”

“You know the Continent is closing its doors to Britain don’t you.” Bill pointed out.

“To British Officials maybe,” Sirius smiled with a slight gleam in his eye that made anyone who knew him nervous. “I think we might capitalise on the relationship between Hogwarts, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang that were built by the Tournament two years ago. We should arrange an exchange program.”

“Sirius!” McGonagall exclaimed exasperated, “you cannot be suggesting an exchange program between the three schools with only two weeks before the new school years starts!”

“But I am.” Sirius said matter-of-factly. "I happen to know a charming witch who is on good terms with the French headmistress." He said smiling at Fleur, "Would you be able to go to Madame Maxime?"

"Oui, but how many students will be going?" She asked.

“I think two male and female students from each Hogwarts house which would mean sixteen students from each school. That’s not an unreasonable number I don’t think.” Sirius said thinking it over quickly.

“Viktor might be able to pull some strings with Durmstrang too. Have they got a new Headmaster?” Harry asked.

“They have.” McGonagall said thinly, “Gregor Petrov, he was deputy under Karkaroff.”

“Petrov has a stern but fair reputation, he made a name for himself on the duelling circuit.” Moody said thoughtfully, “wasn’t he one of the few who managed to beat Flitwick when he was duelling champion?”

“That’s him. Petrov is a master martial mage, a magic Durmstrang is famous for among other things.” McGonagall said with a hint of disapproval.

“Do you really think it feasible to arrange all this? That the parents will allow their children to go to a different country and school?" Remus challenged, "all so that we can spy?"

“The students will not be spies for the Order. They will build connections and cooperation between the schools and nations and hopefully gain us support and sympathy.” Sirius said firmly, “this is also a good opportunity for the students to learn from other schools. As to the parents concerns, both of the other schools are protected much like Hogwarts and some could argue they are safer abroad than here. Harry, you would be happy with the opportunity to go, wouldn’t you?”

Harry blinked startled by the question but did consider it, he wouldn’t mind visiting another school of magic and seeing how they might differ to Hogwarts.

“Would I get to pick which school I got to go to?”

“Perhaps a three-stage exchange, alternating which school the students go to?” Bill suggested, “You could also host some type of event or something to make it more attractive.”

“Will Viktor have the time to help?” Hermione asked, “won’t he be busy with quidditch?”

“No, the season doesn’t start till next year.” Ron said scowling, “he will likely need to attend practices though.”

“I’ll owl Viktor and ask to meet with him to see if he would be agreeable to help us.” Sirius said thoughtfully, “if Viktor agrees, then the three Triwizard champions can represent their schools. We mustn’t forget to do something to honour Cedric Diggory either. Fleur can you reach out to Viktor too?”

Fleur nodded easily.

“Sirius you realise this will require a lot of work and you do not have a lot of time to arrange it. I’ll help you where I can, we will need to send out permission slips with the Hogwarts letters or at least a note.” McGonagall said resigned, “I will however leave the arrangements and negotiations with the ministries and foreign schools entirely to you.”

“You're making a lot of work for yourself Sirius, you will need to get a lot of support if you mean to convince both our ministry and the Hogwarts board of governors to support your plan.” Kingsley cautioned, “you may find your most challenging obstacle to be Rufus Scrimgeour.”

“I figured, but Scrimgeour will support it if it means our neighbours open their doors to us even a little. Leave it to me” Sirius stated confidently before flicking his wand and ensuring everyone’s glasses and goblets were filled. “Now I think we should firstly formally welcome Harrison Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger and Ginny Weasley into the Order of the Phoenix. Secondly I propose a toast; to Albus Dumbledore, the man who brought us together, a friend and leader against this dark fight!"

They all raised their glasses and drank to Dumbledore's memory.

Harry Potter and the Peverell Legacy - JayanPhoenix - Harry Potter (2024)

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