Chapter 1: Just a Formality
The sun began creeping through the blinds, slits of light that slowly ran at an angle to the striped duvet. She could feel the light behind her closed eyelids as sleep began to fade. Her breath became deeper and she closed her eyes tighter, hoping against hope that it would be just a dream and she could sleep longer, hold the day at bay for as long as possible, but it was not to be. The light steadily became brighter, an affront to her mood. It should be a dark, gloomy day. That would have been appropriate for the reading of Sirius' will, a dark, rainy, depressing day to match her mood.
With a noise of irritation she kicked the covers towards the end of the bed and slowly made her way into the loo. As she sat there and tried to wake up fully the thoughts of what she had to do that day made her stomach turn. If I had only been quick enough to take out Bellatrix he'd still be alive...Shaking her head to clear those thoughts she took care of business, peeled out of her pajamas and started the shower. As the water began warming she glanced over in the mirror. Damn it, it's the same as Mum's today. With a slight twitch her hair straightened, turned a muted deep blue and fell down about her shoulders. For a moment she thought about shortening it but let it stay long. As long as it didn't look like Black hair it would work.
Once the shower was finished she wrapped a towel about her torso, went over to the vanity and rummaged through the assorted empty Muggle beer cans and takeaway containers until she found her wand. She'd been slightly pissed when she tossed it over there last night, but needed it to dry her hair. The air began coming out of the end of the wand with quite a bit of force, so after a few calming breaths she tried the spell again; the second time it worked as intended. As the wand did it's work she stepped over a pair of trainers and some dirty clothes and went to her closet, opening the door with her free hand. It took a bit to find what she was looking for, but eventually like the wand it was located. It was stuck at the back of the closet, wadded up and shoved behind a pair of jeans she had forgotten she'd purchased, as the tags from the Muggle secondhand store were still fastened to the belt loops. The formal robe looked...wrong. It was wrong to her, to dress up for Sirius' will reading but her mum had given her strict instructions. Even though her Mum was no longer a 'real' Black there were some things that ol' Andromeda couldn't let go. When she'd shaken out the robe she stopped drying her hair and focused on the robe, casting a slight levitation charm on it and then began a series of cleansing, freshening and ironing charms. It wasn't fashionable in the least, a dark gray robe with no coloured lining or embroidery, but it was well made and from very rich fabric. She knew her mum expected her to wear something appropriate underneath the robe, but she saw a piece of clothing from the corner of her eye, tucked into the back of the closet above a pair of heels she'd bought and worn exactly once. Leaving the robe still levitating she knelt down and pulled out a t-shirt, shook it out and laid it on the bed. It looked just like an ordinary, black t-shirt with nothing displayed on the front but with a quick tap of her wand an image began to spread across, an image of red lips, parted, teeth visible above a tongue that stuck out luridly. With a laugh she dropped the towel, reached down and pulled on the t-shirt. Sirius, you may be gone but you're not forgotten.
He stood outside of Gringotts, ready to go in and get it over with, just one more reminder that Sirius was gone. They had all been kind to him, of course, especially Molly. She still hovered near him, protectively, and even though part of him wanted to scream at her to leave him the hell alone another part of him just wanted her there. He knew that Molly had insisted with Dumbledore that he be able to stay with them before the reading of Sirius' will, he'd overheard that Floo conversation.
It was while thinking of that inadvertent eavesdropping that they were ushered into Gringotts, the Weasley's a protective cordon around him, as if good intentions and red hair made harmful spells ineffective. Well, they were almost all red-headed, as Hermione's bushy hair bobbed alongside Ginny. They'd all been sent Gringotts letters, they had all arrived at the same time, a separate owl for each letter per Gringotts directive. He'd been playing wizard's chess with Ron when the owls arrived and deposited their letters; Hermione was the first to open hers and as soon as she said 'Sirius' everyone knew what it was, what the letters meant.
He turned to see Molly give him a weak smile and nod towards the others who were following a goblin towards a door leading off from the main hallway. He nodded quickly and started walking towards her outstretched arm, letting it fall around his shoulders as she leaned over.
"It's ok, dear. This won't take long. Just a formality."
The shadow-filled hallway soon gave way to a very bright doorway; Harry's eyes adjusted slowly, blinking several times, until he finally could see exactly where he was, and more importantly, who else had been called. Unsurprisingly Narcissa Malfoy sat next to her son. For a moment Harry felt like saying 'fuck it all' and pulling out his wand and cursing Draco within an inch of his life but rational thought, not to mention the sight of several sharp goblin weapons hanging ceremonially on the walls, stopped that thought in it's tracks. Dumbledore sat two chairs away from Draco, an obvious buffer between the seats of the Weasleys, Hagrid, Remus Lupin and Hermione. He thought he recognized the woman sitting behind Hermione, but something was off about her. The woman sitting next to her, holding hands with the rather normal looking middle-aged man was obviously a Black, as she looked alarmingly like Bellatrix, but only if Bellatrix wasn't insane and was...well, normal. He quickly shuffled ahead, as pointed by Molly, and took a seat next to Arthur, Molly following directly.
Once everyone was seated a small gong was heard and a goblin walked out from behind a door that had materialized. A desk sat in front of the assembled rows, giving Harry a momentary thought that it was like being in Hogwarts, but the professor was a goblin. He gave himself a quick shake of the head, trying to clear it and pay attention, but it wasn't very successful as he thought of the goblin giving Malfoy a wonderful, painful detention.
"Ahem." The goblin cleared his throat and pulled out a very tiny pair of gold rimmed spectacles from his brocade waistcoat. "Thank you for attending. All named in the will are here, so we will begin. This is the reading of the last will and testament of Lord Sirius Orion Black."
"Point of order."
Every head in the room turned to Narcissa Malfoy. The goblin gave a great sigh and took off his spectacles. "Mrs. Malfoy, these are not court proceedings in the Wizangamot, this is a reading of a will."
Narcissa inclined her head slightly, outwardly a deferential action but exaggerated enough so that everyone could see that the action was a patronizing one. "Thank you for the clarification, but it appears there has been a slight error. Sirius was not Lord Black, and as he was not Lord Black this entire will may be invalid."
Harry glanced at the goblin and saw a grimace appear on the goblin's face, sharp teeth growing visible in something that might have been called a smile in some respect but in reality was quite...scary.
"Mrs. Malfoy, are you questioning the integrity of Gringotts? The will has been verified. Sirius Black was Lord Black of the House of Black at his death." He stopped suddenly and clapped. Almost instantly a goblin appeared at his side, a scroll with a red and gold-striped ribbon tied in a bow in his hand. The goblin handed the scroll to the goblin in the spectacles and left. "I have here in my hand the Scroll of Investiture. As an educated witch I believe you understand that there is no possible manner that this document can be fabricated."
Narcissa gave a slight wave, as if dismissing the whole line of conversation. "Of course, goblin. I..."
"Barkshield." The goblin tapped the scroll in his hands. "My name is Barkshield."
"I apologise, Barkshield, of course I know the magics behind the Scroll of Investiture. My husband's scroll resides in our vault in this very institution. The scroll you have in your hands must be a forgery or some other charmed object because Sirius Black was disowned by his family and by the laws cannot be the Lord Black unless he was reinstated. All the Lord Black would have to do would be to simply reinstate Sirius, by writing, and then he would have been able to become the Lord Black of House Black. Since he was not reinstated then, by law, the Lord Black would become the closest male relative."
Harry felt himself gripping the bottom of his chair, squeezing it tightly, the wood pressing into his fingers. If Draco became Lord Black then he would inherit Grimmauld Place, not to mention all the Galleons in the Black vaults would go right into Voldemort's coffers. As this thought went through his head he heard some angry mutterings behind him but couldn't look away from Malfoy. The arse looked smug!
Barkshield nodded at Narcissa. "Your grasp of the law, Lady Malfoy, is correct. Your assertions regarding Lord Sirius Black are not." He smiled and opened the scroll. "For Lord Sirius Black to have been cast out of the House of Black it would require the order to be written, signed and sealed with the Black ring. Gringotts has on file the documentation that removed Andromeda Tonks nee Black from the House of Black. There is no such documentation for Lord Sirius Black, therefore he was able to take possession of the Black Head of House ring and other assets before his demise. Gringotts followed procedure, contacted Lord Black and once the formalities were completed assisted him in the recording of the will we are about to read. This..." He brandished the Scroll of Investiture as if it was a sword. "...is a certified original, unable to be altered or modified in any way possible. If you wish to read it, Mrs. Malfoy, you may. However, I believe we will retain that for your perusal at a later date." He turned to the seated attendees in front of him on the other side of the room. "This is the reading of the last will and testament of Lord Sirius Orion Black."
Harry sat there, gobsmacked. Sirius was a Lord, Lord Black? He'd come into Gringotts and done some paperwork? What did it all mean? His woolgathering was cut short by the scrape of a chair. Turning his head towards the sound he saw Narcissa Malfoy, face red with anger, striding out of the room. Draco, just as angry or more than his mother, gave Harry a face that looked as if it would erupt in a snarl before he got up and quickly followed behind his mother. Once the door slammed shut Harry tapped Arthur Weasley on the arm.
A laugh came from behind him, a throaty, female laugh. "They got what they deserved."
He turned around and saw her, finally recognising her. She was the Auror, Tonks. Her hair was different, but there was a bit of light in her eyes. "Sorry, I was lost in my thoughts. What happened?"
"Ahem." Barkshield cleared his throat and looked to Harry. "Lord Black disinherited Mrs. Malfoy and her son, casting them out officially and legally from House Black." His words were calm, no tone of irritation at having to repeat himself. The goblin had done more than one will reading, and surprises always meant covering the same directive quite often. He glanced at the documents on his desk and chuckled internally. "Now, as Mrs. Malfoy and her son have left the room, I will continue."
Harry listened as Sirius, from beyond the grave, let everyone know how much they had meant to him. Hermione was given a nice sum of Galleons and instructions to have a personal vault set up, not just one of the student vaults used by Muggleborn Hogwarts students, along with some books from the Black library. All of the Weasleys received Galleons along with other items, especially Fred and George who were given instructions to return later that afternoon for a private meeting with the goblins. That made Molly quite irritated, as she knew that Sirius wasn't the best influence on the twins, but Arthur reached around Harry's back and patted Molly on the shoulder. Remus received quite a bit of Galleons and a small house in Cuba. That made Harry wonder if the tropical birds that brought him messages from Sirius were from that house, but before he could think about it more he was aware of the silence. Nobody was saying anything, just looking at Barkshield.
The goblin placed a small, highly-polished wooden box on the top of the desk. "I have here the Head of House ring of the House of Black. I will now continue the reading." He picked up the paper. "Harry..."
"Barkshield, if I may."
Everyone looked over at Dumbledore, who had raised his hand.
"Yes?" The goblin looked at Dumbledore and then for a quick second glanced at Harry and winked.
"Harry is much too young to become Lord Black, and with all of the tumult in the wizarding world at this time I feel it is unwise to continue this reading. I propose we postpone the rest of the reading of the will until...the situation is more settled."
Barkshield nodded solemnly. "Duly noted." He looked down at the will and before Dumbledore could interrupt began reading. "Harry, if things were all happy and wonderful I'd name you my heir and then you'd be the next Lord Black but you've got enough on your plate as it is." Barkshield paused and glared at Dumbledore, causing the old wizard to slink back slightly in his chair. "So instead you'll just have to be boring old Lord Potter."
"Again, I must insist." Dumbledore had once again raised his hand. "Harry is much too young and this is not the time fo..." His comments were cut off mid-word. His mouth continued to move but no sound came out.
Barkshield gave Dumbledore a toothy, frightening smile. "Chief Warlock, please forgive Gringotts but this is not of our doing. Lord Black requested and paid for enchantments to be placed upon the will and this room, specific enchantments to prevent interruption to his will. He was quite clear, that after reading the words 'Lord Potter' that any interruption would trigger the enchantment. Once the will has been read in it's entirety the enchantment will cease."
"Harry's Lord Potter?" Hermione leaned forward and looked down the row of Weasleys at him, then turned in her chair and looked over the back at Remus. "Did you know about any of this?"
Remus gave her a slight shrug. "Some, but not all. I always knew that Sirius and James were from old families, but they didn't like to talk about it. They felt bad that, well, that they had gold and I didn't. They tried to give me things for years, but I told them I couldn't take their charity. As for the 'Lord Potter' and 'House Black'...to be honest I thought they were just taking the mickey." He saw the look of disbelief on Hermione's face. "I never imagined that they were actually...Hermione, for Merlin's sake, they called me Duke Lupin."
George and Fred's snort of laughter brought a sharp rebuke from their father, but Harry continued to stare at the goblin. What was he going to tell him? Lord Potter? What did that mean?
It was while Harry was pondering the abrupt change his life was going to potentially take when Dumbledore stood up and began pacing, stopping to take out his wand and flicking it about in the air, writing letters that seemed to glow and hang in the air. STOP THIS NOW.
With a resigned sigh Barkshield raised his hand, twisted the wrist slightly and two very sharp weapons floated down and began to prod Dumbledore back to his seat. Once he was seated Barkshield clapped his hands again, causing a different goblin from before to walk in. Barkshield simply pointed to Dumbledore. The new goblin produced a small, thin box of some sort of stone and held it towards Dumbledore. Eventually, seeing no way out of the situation, Albus placed his wand in the container and watched as the goblin placed it on the corner of the desk and left the room.
"Let us continue." Barkshield once again took up the parchment. "Harry, if things were all happy and wonderful I'd name you my heir and then you'd be the next Lord Black but you've got enough on your plate as it is. So instead you'll just have to be boring old Lord Potter. I'm sure that the Dark Idiot is gone now, you've married and have four or five kids with one of them named Sirius, but since you're going to be the Potter of House Potter (Merlin I hate using titles like that) I'm going to right a few wrongs if I haven't done it by the time you read this. If I kick it before things are righted then I want to at least right a few things before I go. First, and I know they have the parchment on file because the goblins here at Gringotts are sticklers for things like this, and no I didn't say that to have you knock three Galleons off of your service prices, I see you over there, writing like mad, Sharpskin. Right, so the parchment is on file and I as Lord Sirius Orion Black of House Black do hereby reinstate Andromeda Tonks nee Black into the House of Black and recognise her marriage to Ted Tonks."
"Oh Merlin!" Andromeda sat back in her chair in shock. Ted held her hand and patted her leg with the other hand, smiling.
"And as for my favourite relative Nymphadora, I did not forget you Nymphadora. Nymphadora I simply couldn't leave you out, how could I Nymphadora?"
Harry turned back and saw Tonks' face was a bit red, even with her metamorphagus skills. He knew she hated to be called by her first name, and Sirius had found a way to get to her in his will. Nothing like a prank in the will, Harry thought.
After the chuckles in the room subsided Barkshield continued. "Nymphadora, there are many things that aren't fair in life, we both know that, so therefore as Lord Black I'm changing a few things. I modified the succession documents for the house and now the Head of House doesn't always go to the male. Nymphadora...my clever little cousin, have you figured it out yet? I, Lord Sirius Orion Black, name as my heir and Head of House Black little Nymphadora Tonks. Congrats, love, you're Lady Black now."
"Bloody fucking hell!" Tonks stood up and held out her right hand. There, on the ring finger, was the House Black ring.
Many things happened after that. Dumbledore sat back in his chair as if he had just missed being trampled by Thestrals. Andromeda and Ted were silent and still as if they had been stunned, George and Fred were bowing repeatedly in front of Tonks, Harry, Hermione, Ron and Ginny just looked at each other as if things couldn't be happening and Hagrid kept pounding Tonks on the back, telling her that she'd be a 'whopping great Lady Black.'
Once everyone had calmed down more of Sirius' will was read, gifting a hunting lodge in Poland to Hagrid. Barkshield turned to the next parchment page, focused his attention on Dumbledore and began reading.
"Albus Dumbledore, you infuriate me more than any wizard I've ever known but I do still slightly admire you. Slightly. If you are still around and I'm gone I suppose it can't hurt me anymore so let me just say that what you thought happened with the list of seventh year girls? It actually happened. I also did that thing with the potions, you know what I mean, and I was behind the great de-bearding incident. Oh, and it wasn't me who did that thing on the fourth floor to Filch, that was James. And yes, it was me who gave Auntie Minerva that bottle of firewhiskey laced with love potion. Now that we've got the good stuff out of the way I cannot for one more minute abide with how you've treated Harry's inheritance. I agreed with you that he didn't need the distraction but now he might need the resources. Unless this is all over and Harry's kids are pulling your beard asking about more bedtime stories about the great Sirius Black. In that case you still annoy the hell out of me. You know I don't do well with authority. As Harry's official guardian, and as Lord Black of blah blah blah I am authorising Gringotts to provide Harry with his inheritance, investiture, you name it. If it happened on your twenty-first birthday like it should, as your parents' intended, then sorry I didn't do it sooner. If you aren't twenty-one yet, Harry? Buckle up, lad. Oh, and Dumbledore, I bequeath you the Hog's Head and twenty acres of prime farming land in Ireland. Didn't know the Black Family was your brother's landlord, did you? Now you are. Harry, I've set aside a vault for you, you'll get a new key, but with all the Potter things you've got I didn't want to fill it with something as impersonal as Galleons, so I've put a few of my favourite things in there, just in case."
Barkshield paused for a moment, took a sip of water, and continued.
"So there you have it. I think I did very well. Only took me two bottles of firewhiskey to write this. Joking, joking, the goblins would have my hide if I tried to take one smell of anything alcoholic whilst writing this. Enjoy life, everyone. Merlin knows, even with a rather large gap, I certainly did. Signed this day Lord Sirius Orion Black."
That was the signal for everyone to get up and start talking, but Harry took off his glasses and rubbed the corner of his eyes. He told himself that he wouldn't cry, even if it was as sad as he thought it would be, and it was even sadder than he thought it would be, but the revelations had put him into a state of shock. The Malfoys were cut out, Tonks was head of House Black and he was Lord Potter?
He looked up to see Ron,Ginny and Hermione standing in front of him, their faces full of concern.
Hermione sat down next to him in the chair Arthur had vacated. "Harry, are you ok?"
"Yeah, Lord Potter, are you ok?" Ron smirked at him and sat down. "Sorry, mate, couldn't resist. Lot to take in, yeah? Like she said, you ok?"
The gong rang out again, drawing everyone's attention to Barkshield. "Thank you for your attention. In light of Lord Black's will and testament we have further business to conduct today. Harry Potter, will you step forward, please?"
Harry saw the looks in his friends' faces but ignored them. He knew they were worried about him, but he just wanted it over. He wanted to go back to the Burrow, to back to Ron's room and lie in bed, maybe grab his broom and go flying...the broom that Sirius had given him.
"Mr. Potter?" Barkshield gave him an honest, comforting, no pointy teeth smile. "I'm afraid I'm following Lord Black's directives in this investiture test. Usually to prove inheritance for investiture the applicant provides a small, almost imperceptible amount of blood. This is by tradition, as any bodily fluid would suffice. Lord Black has requested that you provide saliva." He reached down and pulled up a white stone statue of a very naked and very busty witch. "If you would lick the breasts, Mr. Potter."
Giant guffaws of laughter came from Fred and George, not to mention others. Harry thought he heard Tonks' laughter as well but quickly ignored the sounds. "Lick?"
"Yes, both breasts, please. If you are the next Lord Potter...we will soon know."
Get on with it, Harry. He stepped forward, leaned over and stuck out his tongue, licking the left breast. It didn't taste like anything. Not knowing what else to do he licked the right breast, astonished to find out that it...tasted like toffee. Suddenly the statue became animated, jumped off the pedestal and began chorus stepping along Barkshield's desk, throwing confetti in the air while a small series of fireworks shot out from her backside, coalescing in the air to say 'CONGRATS LORD POTTER!' Harry stood there in shock, watching the figure dance about the table until he felt something prick his right hand. Specifically the ring finger of his right hand. There, glowing slightly, was the heavy gold ring of House Potter.
To say that the other attendees enjoyed the show would not be exactly correct, as Albus, Molly and Andromeda were less than pleased. The others thought that it was truly Sirius at his best. The twins simply marveled at the creativity of the old Maurader.
Tonks came over and put her arm around Harry's shoulder. "Welcome to the club, Lord Potter."
Harry smiled and raised an eyebrow. "Same to you."
The fireworks suddenly ceased. Once again the small gong rang and Barkshield waved his hands, motioning for everyone to take a seat. Harry quickly sat down next to Tonks, Ginny followed suit and sat on his other side. Barkshield stepped in front of the desk this time, an old, crumpled parchment in his hand.
"Lady Black, Lord Potter, guests. I'm afraid there is one more piece of business to conduct today. Before I begin I must determine eligibility. Lady Black, what is your age?"
Tonks sat there for a moment before realising with a start that the goblin meant her when he said Lady Black. "Oh, sorry. Twenty-three."
He nodded. "Very well. Lord Potter, what is your age?"
Harry quickly glanced over at Ron who gave him the 'I have no idea, mate' look. "Uh, sixteen.
Barkshield put on his spectacles, read for a moment and then turned back to the attendees. "The parameters are correct. As the reading of the will is complete, and Lord Potter has accepted his position, I must ask that everyone exit the room except for the following individuals. Lady Nymphadora Black, Lord Harry Potter, Mr. and Mrs. Tonks and Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Weasley. Thank you for attention today, goblins await you outside to advise regarding any gifts bequeathed here today. Mr. Fred Weasley, Mr. George Weasley, your meeting will begin at once." He held up his hand and the door flashed green and then opened.
Dumbledore left almost immediately after retrieving his wand, striding out, his purple and orange robe billowing behind him. The Weasley twins had to be almost forcibly removed by Molly but then remembered they had a meeting and scarpered off, Ginny and Hermione looked back at Harry, wondering what the Boy Who Lived had got himself into this time. Hagrid chuckled as he walked away with Ron, muttering about 'Lady Black' and 'Lord Potter.' Remus gave both Harry and Tonks an odd look and walked off. After they had all left the room the door closed again, flashed green and everyone turned to Barkshield.
"The instructions given require viewing of a pensieve memory prior to the official reading of the decree." He clapped his hands and the door behind the desk opened, filled almost instantly after that with a goblin levitating a massive silver pensieve through the door. One side of the pensieve scraped the door jamb slightly, causing the goblin to blanch and quickly glance over at Barkshield. The older goblin took off his spectacles and tilted his head. "It is all right, Hawkfist, the doorway is quite small." He turned to the assembled witches and wizards. "The pensieve usually required for the readings of wills or other legal documents is much smaller. Due to the amount of wizardkind required to view this memory the Gringotts pensieve is needed."
Harry looked over at the pensieve and saw carvings of goblins with spears and other weapons attacking...wizards. It didn't make him any more comfortable. More than anything he wished Hermione was there with him, she would be able to figure things out if it got weird, and if the statue was any indication things were about to get weirder.
He was right. As soon as they were all gathered around the pensieve Barkshield put the memory inside and indicated for them to watch.
The interior of a smoky, dimly lit pub came into view. A sign above the bar read Old Odgen's – Best Firewhiskey Award 1979. Immediately a serving tray became visible a hand went out and grabbed the bottle, the hand of Sirius Black, wearing a black leather motorcycle jacket, hair long and wild. He waved off the barmaid's offer of glasses and made his way to the back of the pub where James Potter sat. James' hair was disheveled, more than how it appeared in photos, his glasses were slightly askew, face filled with stubble and he was smoking a cigar.
Sirius plopped the bottle down on the table and half-slid into the opposite chair. "I still can't believe it, Prongs. Lily pregnant...you're going to be a father!"
"I know!" James handed Sirius a cigar and then looked as if he was trying to decipher Abyssinian arithmancy. "Is this the second bottle?"
"Third." Sirius reached over and pulled off the cork. "Don't worry, I took care of the tab."
James laughed. "Right. You never pay. Who is it this time?"
"I'm shocked, Potter. Shocked." After a moment he couldn't help himself and started laughing. "Fabian Prewett. I'm sure they know I'm not him but I don't think they care."
"Brilliant." James held out his glass which was quickly filled. "I bet it's a girl."
"Nah." Sirius waved him off. "Boy all the way. Just think, Jimmy my boy, you're gonna have a son. Someday you'll have to send him to me to tell 'im how to pull birds. Merlin knows you're pants at it."
"HEY!" James poked the cigar towards Sirius. "Who's the one who has a fit wife who's up the duff? Me, that's who. You? Pfft." He blew out his lips. "Good luck finding someone to marry your smell old doggy arse. You probably got three or four kids running around though. You remember France?"
"Of course I remember France. Mostly." Sirius shrugged. "And I cast one hell of a contraception charm, mate. Practice makes perfect, you know."
"Wishful thinking." James sat there suddenly silent and then looked over at Sirius appraisingly. "We can't do this as often, you know. Go out and get legless. I'm gonna be a father."
Sirius took a long drink and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "I told you things would change when you got married. You said it wouldn't, Lily-bird said it wouldn't, but it did. This'll change things too, mate. Oh, it'll be grand for a bit and then you an' Lily and the boy will move out to the country or summing. It'll just be me an' old Remus in that horrible flat. Then you'll be Lord Potter, eventually, and then you'll be off in the Wizangamot making Britain wonderful." He paused. "After the dark wanker's gone, of course."
"Sirius, no, mate. You're like family. Mum claims you, and if Mum claims you, well, you're family."
Sirius waved him off and puffed on his cigar. "Not really. Unless when you become Lord Potter you adopt me. No other way to be family."
A melancholy expression faded from James' face as his eyes went wide. "You know what would be brilliant? My kid and your kid, getting married. We'd be family then."
"What?" Sirius half spit out his drink. "Are you mental? Two blokes..."
James waved him off. "I'm sure it's a girl, but you'll probably have a bloke or two. What'dya think? Happened before, you know, Black and Potter."
"But we're related, sorta." Sirius shook his head. "They'd probably come out all fucked up like...Snape." Both men shuddered, then Sirius looked over at him, thoughtfully drunk. "But that would make my parents furious. Yours and mine, married."
James sat upright and pounded his fist on the table, causing the drinkware to rattle. "Well, let's do it. A contract."
"Are you daft? Really? What would your wife say?"
He waved Sirius off. "She'll be fine with it, she loves you like a brother. A brother that's a git, but..."
Sirius gave James a two-fingered salute. "Well if we're gonna do this let's do it right. We need parchment and rules."
"Right." James waved over the barmaid and soon thereafter parchment and a quill were brought over and laid on the slightly damp table. "Ok, first, has to be a boy and a girl. Can't carry on the line otherwise."
"Spoken like a true pureblood." Sirius leaned over and smacked James on the top of his head. "Of course it has to be, idiot. Ok, my rule next then. They can't be too far apart in age. I'm not having my ten year old son in a contract with your forty year old girl."
"Ten years or less, that work?" James saw Sirius nod and continued writing. He looked up at Sirius. "What if you're shooting blanks? Adoption count?"
"I DO NOT SHOOT BLANKS." Sirius angrily grabbed the bottle and took a swig. "I am a very...viral? Viable?" He waved off James. "Fine, our heirs. That count?"
James thought for a moment and shrugged. "Sure. Heirs. Ok. Now what?"
"No sham weddings like...what's her name? You know, two years above us. Blonde, bit tits, no brains? Married the ancient wizard just to get his Galleons?"
"I can't remember her name. Loved the boobs, though. Saw her running one time, late to class. Bloody hell." James laughed. "They were going EVERYWHERE." He took a drink. "How about a kid in the first, um, I dunno. Five years."
"Sure. Fine. Since this'll probably never happen." Sirius sat back in the chair and took a puff off his cigar, the fun of planning now gone. "Do you really see me marrying someone? Popping out kids like, I dunno, the Weasleys? I'm the bad Black, Prongso. Yeah, I'm an Auror, but even the birds that fancy me don't really trust me to, uh, I mean, I think they expect me to go all 'crazy dark wizard Black' on them. Do you really think in less than ten years that'll change?"
"Sirius. Mate." James leaned forward. "I do. I do. In fact, I do so bloody much that I'm going to finish writing this up, you're gonna sign it and we're taking it to Gringotts in the morning."
Suddenly Harry felt himself being pulled out of the pensieve, a sensation much worse than side-along apparition in his stomach. He looked across the pensieve to the very pale, very worried face of Tonks.
"Attention, please." Barkshield tapped his fingers against the desk. "I have the parchment that was produced that evening, and yes, it does still slightly smell of firewhiskey. The contract, written without the most standard clauses, was determined to be valid by Gringotts. It was later verified with the Ministry and filed appropriately. As Lord Black did not mention the contract when he drew up his will it is our belief that both he and James Potter were too inebriated to remember the creation of the contract. It would have been unenforceable if Lord Black had named Lord Potter as his heir. As he named Lady Black as his heir, though, the contract became valid." He cleared his throat. "Lady Nymphadora Black, it is my responsibility as a member of the Gringotts Family Law and Inheritance Department to inform you that you are bound by contract to wed Lord Harry Potter. Congratulations."
A/N: I do love a good Lord Baron Potter Black story, and while reading one the other day thought about how Harry always becomes the head of House Black thorugh Sirius' will. What if he wasn't the heir? I also do love a good Honks story (see Respitechristopher and Chelseyb's stories, they're wonderful) and thought about giving it a go. This is also a little bit out of my wheelhouse, as in My Lord Harry Potter I had a little fun dismantling the tropes, and I'm not as comfortable writing during Harry's school years, but what the heck. Why not give it a shot?
Yes, I know I have other WIPs that desperately need attention, but when my muse showed up and tapped me on the shoulder this is what happened. The other WIPs may languish a bit as this story is fresh in my mind, but trust me, I will get to them. May take a bit, but I will.
Poor Duke Lupin. I'll have to do something nice for him.