|His Own Man
Author: Crunchysunrises PM
In the station between Life and Death Harry makes a different choice. Now he's eleven again, no one is turning out the same way, the Sorting Hat won't Sort him, the Malfoys are looking at him strangely, and - it's time for another visit.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Friendship - Harry P. - Chapters: 31 - Words: 147,481 - Reviews: 4,180 - Favs: 7,737 - Follows: 9,175 - Updated: 01-02-11 - Published: 10-19-09 - id: 5453054
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I do not own any rights to the Harry Potter franchise nor do I own the Harry Potter copyright. This is done purely for fun, not profit.
Harry's eyes slid to the wailing baby under the seat. Memories of being that child, crying in a house filled with people who hated and feared him, choked him. Regardless of whatever Voldemort or Tom Riddle were guilty of, this unhappy baby did not deserve to suffer for his future crimes. He knelt and picked the child up. It was awkward to hold baby Tom, not least because Harry knew nothing about holding a baby. There was something about supporting the head, right?
Gently he joggled the child around until it was propped against his chest and cradled against him like a rugby ball. He cradled the child with both arms, just to be extra supportive. Dumbledore watched him with a small frown. Oddly, the sight reminded Harry of fourth year. Dumbledore had frown when Harry had told him about Voldemort using Harry's blood to get his body back. Right after he smiled.
"You planned this from the very beginning, didn't you?"
Dumbledore had the grace to look away. "Not from the very beginning."
Harry's eyes narrowed. "Maybe not from the night my parents died but you had a decade after that to plan this. That's why we had such crap Defense professors. You didn't want me to fight. You wanted me to stand there and die."
"It isn't permanent. Not for you."
Half-formed thoughts and suspicions burst into the forefront of his mind and melded together into a truly ugly theory.
"If Sirius had custody of me, then none of that would have worked. I wouldn't have been anyone's victim, ever."
"You wouldn't have had the blood protections either."
Harry snorted. "Because they kept me so safe. If Sirius hadn't got to prison without a trial – and as Chief Mugwump it was your duty to ensure that he had one! – then he would have kept me safe and in the Wizarding World. But then I wouldn't have had to rely on you. Neither would Remus."
"Harry this is all for the best! Follow my plan and everything will work out the way that it should."
"For the greater good, right?"
The baby had finally stopped crying. Harry watched the boy's eyes slowly flutter shut. Dumbledore was going to leave him under a seat and crying. Dumbledore seriously believed in Grindewald's crap. He had deliberately left Sirius to rot in prison rather than getting him a trial. And Dumbledore had intended to kill Harry all along.
"Otherwise I wouldn't have known what to do."
Dumbledore smiled genially. "People so very rarely know what is best for them."
Albus Dumbledore was not the man he had appeared to be. He was nothing like the man Harry had believed in. Dumbledore had only cared for himself and his own machinations.
He was still exactly like Grindelwald.
Harry gently placed the sleeping child on a seat.
"I'm my own man, Professor. I'll decide what's best for me and follow my own plans."
Harry closed his eyes. He thought about where he wanted to go back to. With Dumbledore's shouts ringing in his ears, Harry fell through time and space.
In the Headmaster's office at Hogwarts one of the whirling silver instruments emitted a high pitched shrill. It glowed bright green for a moment then stopped. Completely.
"That's no good" said Headmaster Dippet. "Someone must go and tell Albus that young Harry Potter is in danger."
There was brief row over who was young enough or in enough need of exercise or unobtrusive enough to tell Albus. When someone was finally dispatched to interrupt the Headmaster's staff meeting, all the current headmaster said was "How extraordinary. We shall have to look in on young Mr. Potter."
"What do you mean you aren't going to let me into my vault?"
"No key, no entrance."
"I'm Harry Potter!" Harry shoved his hair off of his forehead. At the goblin's evil look, Harry lowered his voice. "Isn't there some sort of magical test you can do to prove that I am who I say I am?"
"Not until you're of age."
There was one small flaw in his current plans: Dumbledore had the key to his vault.
Harry stormed out of the bank. No money, no wand, no invisibility cloak, no horcrux hunting!
Rage welled up in him. Harry stepped into the nearest alleyway. He concentrated on breathing slowly, in and out, in and out. Blasting stuff would more comforting but that was stupid, juvenile and would draw attention to himself. Temper mostly controlled Harry slouched down Diagon Alley, his hands in his oversized pockets. He fingered the holes in the sides of his pockets as he tried to plan.
Okay, so he couldn't buy anything before he met Hagrid. He'd just have to lose Hagrid and do a bit of shopping on his own. Or owl order. But how was he going to make today worthwhile? He stole money from his aunt's purse to get here today. There was going to be Hell to pay for that. He should get something out of his first day in the past even if –
There was a jolt of pain in Harry's bum and the palms of his hands as Harry impacted the alley's cobblestones. He glared up. A blonde witch was outlined against the sun.
Great. And he couldn't even blame it entirely on her.
Harry scrambled to his feet even as he started apologizing. "I'm sorry. I'm having a really bad day and I wasn't looking where I was going and –"
On his feet and able to get a clear look at the woman's face, Harry's words stuck in his throat.
Harry tried not to groan.
Of course. He was probably fated to meet a Malfoy his first time in the alley.
Cool eyes studied his ragged hand-me-downs and lingered on his forehead. Harry automatically smoothed his hair over his scar.
"Harry Potter I presume?"
"Where are your guardians?" Narcissa's eyes moved to study the area around him.
Harry flinched, imagining the current, spoiled Dudley and his parents anywhere near Diagon Alley.
"Not here" he mumbled.
"Who are you here with?"
Harry edged back a step. "I'm fine."
Narcissa Malfoy studied him for another few moments then said, "Very well. Would you care to join me for lunch? I hate to dine alone."
Harry eyed her suspiciously. She would help Voldemort to help her husband and son. She was devoted to her family. And she was a bit of a snob. But she wasn't evil.
It probably wasn't a good idea to wander off with her anyway.
But, now that he was no longer furious, he was hungry. He'd stolen just enough for a night owl ticket on the bus. There was not enough money left to buy anything to eat in muggle London. He had not eaten anything since lunch yesterday. He had been counting on access to his vault.
"I know this charming restaurant" she said persuasively. "The food is delicious and if we sit on the first floor we'll be able to see most of the alley."
Well. It was not like she was inviting him back to wherever it was that the Malfoys lived.
Harry shrugged. "Thank you."
Her mouth curved into a small, restrained smile. "Of course."
The restaurant was much nicer than anywhere Harry had ever been before in either lifetime. The navy blue carpets were thick, the walls were painted a tasteful shade of off white, and the furniture was both delicate and expensive looking. All of the furniture's arms and legs were carved into the shapes of writhing and twisting snakes.
Harry idly wondered if he could still speak with them now that he had gotten rid of that piece of Voldemort's soul.
The four sets of silverware were a bit worrying though.
When Narcissa ordered, Harry was careful to order what she ordered. In the quiet afterwards Narcissa turned those thoughtful eyes on him.
"What brings you to the alley today?"
Harry scowled automatically, once again reminded of his earlier failure.
"I wanted to access my vault. Dumbledore has the key though."
"Is that so?" She eyed his clothes coolly as she asked, "What did you wish to buy?"
"My wand. Clothes. Some books."
"For school? My son Draco has yet to receive his Hogwarts letter."
Harry shook his head. "I haven't gotten mine either. I just thought that – I wanted – It would be easier for me to come today than to come later."
"Without your guardians." Her pale eyes were uncomfortably speculative. "London is a dangerous place for a child, Mr. Potter."
Harry's eyes flicked away. He watched the perfectly coiffure and well dressed witches and wizards around him.
"It would be more dangerous to come with my relatives. They hate magic" he admitted. "Not that it would prevent them from trying to steal my inheritance. Gold is gold, after all, even if its wizard's gold."
He looked back in time to see her eyebrows raised.
Deftly she turned the conversation toward his time in the bank. Harry admitted that the goblins hadn't even offered to tell him how much was in his vault. After that Narcissa Malfoy twisted the conversation to general information about the wizarding world. Some of it was stuff Harry had learned from his seven years in the community but some of it was new and fascinating.
When the food came Harry was careful to watch which pieces of silverware Mrs. Malfoy chose to eat with and then to imitate her movements. Her eyebrows climbed again but she made no comment on his behavior. Her gestures became larger and crisper though so that they were easier for him to observe and imitate.
Lunch was as delicious as she had suggested it would be.
When lunch was nearly over, Harry finally blurted out the question that had been bothering him since he had bumped into Mrs. Malfoy.
"Why are you doing this?"
"You looked hungry."
"But why would you care? No one else does."
No one else would until he met the Weasleys either.
"Because we're family."
"What?" he wheezed.
"Your Grandmother Potter was a Black before her marriage as was I. She was my favorite aunt." Her lips curved into that small, reserved smile again. "We are cousins of a sort."
Was she lying? Why would she lie? She had no reason to yet. She still thought Voldemort was dead. And it would be easy enough to research his family line. If she was telling the truth…
She was his cousin!
Draco was his cousin!
Sirius was his cousin!
Why was he only finding that out now? What else had no one thought to tell him the first time around? Had Dumbledore silenced them? Had they just expected him to somehow know?
Harry suddenly remembered all of those times he had caught Sirius staring at his family tree. And all of those long afternoons where Sirius would shoo Hermione and the Weasleys away and tell him stories about the Blacks. He would even point out the relevant members of the family on that giant family tree. Had Sirius been trying to tell him something? Had Sirius expected him to eventually notice the Potter nee Black on the tree, either intact or partially blasted off like Sirius' own name, and ask about her or research her himself in the Black Family Library?
"I have…cousins. Other cousins." Harry murmured blankly.
He had thought he hated Albus Dumbledore when he first came back to the past. Now Harry knew that sentiment was mere dislike. Now he hated Albus Dumbledore.
That put a whole new spin on his rivalry with Draco Malfoy, one that he was not ready to examine yet.
"Draco Malfoy is my cousin" he said aloud, trying the words out for the first time. Was that why Draco was supposed to make friends with him first year? Was that why Draco was so – no. Now was not the time to think about what was or what could have been the first time around.
Narcissa Malfoy giggled. "You sound so surprised."
"Everyone always said that I had to live with my muggle relatives because they were the only family I had left" Harry said absently as he tried very hard not to think about things that he did not have time to really think about properly. His mouth ran on without him. "Why would they lie?"
"Perhaps they were misinformed."
Harry shook his head. "No. He had to know. He lied." Harry shook his head again. "Never mind. What's done is done. Can I meet Draco?"
Narcissa Malfoy – his cousin's – face lit up. That was exactly the right question to ask Draco's mother.
"Of course." She said warmly. "I would like that very much."
Lunch paid for, she gently ushered him toward the establishment's door.
"Now, let me see if I can help you get an inventory of your vaults."
"Vaults? I've got more than one?"
"Dumbledore stole my father's invisibility cloak!" Harry said for the fifth time, outraged. Saying it five times did not make it any easier to see it printed in careful penmanship in the ledger for his personal vault. How dare that evil old man pretend that his father had given it to him for safe keeping! How dare he give Harry his own possessions as gifts! Harry stabbed a finger at a long list of withdrawals from his personal vault, the only one that could be accessed by anyone until he came of age. "And what are these? Why did he take this box of letters out?"
"Your guardian did not confide in us when he made the withdrawals" the old goblin said, his voice deep and gritty. Even Harry could see that his outbursts were testing the goblin's patience but this was adding insult to injury.
"And all of this gold he's taken out over the years. What's that for?"
"As I said, Albus Dumbledore kept his own counsel. It was not our place to ask."
"You let him steal my stuff!"
Mrs. Malfoy put a quelling hand on Harry's arm. Harry tried to settle, he really did.
The goblin bared his teeth at Harry, a flash of off yellow. His claws dug into the arms of his chair. Little curls of wood drifted down and out of sight.
"Albus Dumbledore is your guardian" Bogfoot the goblin said forbiddingly. "We did not let him steal anything."
"He is not my guardian!"
"Would you prefer that your muggle relatives –"
Harry glared fiercely at Narcissa Malfoy even as he interrupted her. "They aren't my guardians either! Sirius Black is supposed to be my guardian!"
Both of the adults in the room stilled.
"Are you quite certain?" Mrs. Malfoy asked.
"Yes! My parents made him my godfather! I'm supposed to be living with him – not with muggles or Albus Dumbledore or anyone else!"
Her eyes narrowed. "How do you know that?"
Harry narrowed his own eyes at her. "It's probably in my parents' wills. That's where parents write that sort of thing down, right?"
Mrs. Malfoy's eyes slid to the goblin. "Do you have a copy of the Potters' wills on file?"
The old goblin shook his head. "We have only the ledgers and only that one vault can be accessed at this time. Their reading was closed. Albus Dumbledore was their executor and he registered himself as Mr. Potter's legal guardian."
Harry drew in breath to shout 'Well Albus Dumbledore is a liar!' but Mrs. Malfoy tightened her grip on his arm forbiddingly. Instead, Harry took a series of long, deep breathes.
It was easier to be calm after being denied entrance to his vault. At least then, he had understood what was going on. Why was Dumbledore stealing his stuff?
Mrs. Malfoy nodded. She turned her attention back to Harry. "As far as you know Harry, were there any other provisions made for you?"
Harry shrugged. "I don't know. It doesn't matter. I'm supposed to be with Sirius Black."
Mrs. Malfoy and Bogfoot exchanged long telling looks.
Harry snapped his mouth shut. Of course. They still thought that Sirius had killed his parents.
Realization struck Harry like a lightning bolt.
Sirius was alive! Alive and breathing and not in a tatty veil! And in Azkaban!
Merlin's hairy balls! He was a raging idiot!
Harry lean forward, his weight on his elbows and his elbows balanced on his knees. He gasped for breath – no dead Sirius, no dead Dobby, no dead Cedric, no nearly dead Malfoy!
This was more than another shot at the war with Voldemort! He had a chance to undo all the screw ups he had ever made!
"Harry?" Narcissa's voice sounded very far away. "Harry are you well?"
"The most powerful wizard in the wizarding world is systematically stealing my inheritance. He's also pretending to be my guardian. My real guardian is missing. And everyone has been lying to me since my parents died!" Harry tilted his chin enough to glare at her. "I'm not well."
There was a short silence. The adults were probably looking at each other meaningfully again.
Harry's thoughts were scrambling to put themselves into some sort of order.
"He'll give me my key when I get my Hogwarts letter" Harry mumbled to himself. "He has to. Otherwise I won't be able to buy my school things. Okay. So when I have money I'll need to hire a solicitor and maybe a barrister and a detective of some sort. I'll need some sort of inventory and someone will have to track down every knut and every single item he's taken from my vaults. I'll make him give my stuff back to me and me back to Sirius!"
Harry nodded to himself. It was a sketchy game plan at best – aside from anything else, getting Sirius out of Azkaban was going to be a pain – but he wasn't Dumbledore's man anymore. He was Harry sodding Potter, his own man with his own agenda, and Merlin have mercy on the poor bastards who got in his way!
Harry straightened. "Can either of you suggest a good solicitor? For after I have access to my money?"
This time around, he was his own man.
"The poor dear" Narcissa said, her arm rising and falling steadily as she brushed her hair. Her eyes met his in her dressing mirror. "His world was collapsing all around him."
"So Dumbledore has stolen everything from him" Lucius said lazily from across the room where he was sprawled on her bed. "Why is that any concern of ours?"
"He is my cousin."
"Sirius Black is also your cousin and yet you have expressed no desire to aid him."
"He and Bella were foolish. There is no way that we can help them now. We can, however, help Harry."
"He killed the Dark Lord."
It was a weak argument at best. Lucius already knew the outcome of this discussion – Narcissa would have her way just as she always did when she truly wanted something – but it was important to put up at least a token resistance if only to determine if she was serious in her intent to champion the bloody Boy Who Lived.
"He was little more than a baby. Whatever happened that night was his parents' fault." Her eyes hardened. Even their reflection made a chill crawl up Lucius' spine. "If things had been reversed, I would have done whatever they did to save Draco's life."
"He's dead, Lucius!"
"You never know" he mumbled vaguely, thinking of the diary he kept in the secret room beneath one of the drawing rooms. Still, she was correct. If things had been reversed, he would have done no less than the Potters for his own son. The late Potters had to be admired for their determination, even if their taste in allies was atrocious: a werewolf, a mass murderer, a dead coward, and an old man prone to lying and embezzlement if what the boy said was true. Grudgingly, Lucius admitted, "He might be a useful connection to cultivate."
"In time perhaps" Narcissa agreed easily enough. Lucius wondered if she truly intended to use her cousin the way that he did. Harry Potter was going to be trouble – Potters were always trouble – and he deserved to get something for his efforts.
"How did he know about his guardianship?" Lucius asked.
"He wouldn't say." Narcissa's arm paused for a fraction of a second before resuming its repetitive motion. "Do you think he remembers what happened that night?"
"He wouldn't want Sirius Black as his guardian if he did."
"Perhaps Sirius is preferable to whomever Harry is living with. He was dressed in rags Lucius!"
"Perhaps it is a muggle fashion."
Narcissa frowned at him through her mirror. Her eyes caught his through the reflective piece of glass.
"Regardless of whom the boy's actual guardian is Dumbledore is exploiting him for his own ends. The child's invisibility cloak is only the outermost edge of whatever the old man has planned."
Lucius straightened. "He is the most powerful wizard in the world."
"And you are the most cunning." Narcissa put her comb down. She rose and gracefully made her way toward the bed. "If anyone can outmaneuver Albus Dumbledore, we can."
Lucius smirked. "Flattery will get you everything darling."
He pulled his wife down on top of himself. Her eyes lit with a familiar sort of mischief that sent a different sort of shiver down his spine.
"Is that so?" she murmured. "In that case…"