Hello everybody, merry Christmas. Here is my two-shot for this year's Christmas. As always, I don't own Harry Potter, just this litte idea. Happy reading.
Harry Potter was a pragmatic boy. He had grown up being bullied by his cousin, screamed at by his aunt and often beaten by his uncle when he was in a bad mood or drunk. He knew that the world wasn't good and that being a good boy didn't help you in any way. Being sneaky and underhanded helped preventing harm though. Money allowed you to buy things that could make your life easier. As long as nobody knew you had the money, you could use it in whatever way you wanted. If they knew, you had to look out who wanted to use you for it, but it also gave you power. He had seen how respect often was given to those that had a lot of money. Because of that Harry wanted to have a lot of money. And even more that nobody knew about.
He had learned early on that getting money the right way, by working for it, didn't do him any good, as the money was always confiscated by his uncle, supposedly to pay for his keep. Therefore, Harry stopped doing chores around the neighbourhood, as he wanted the money for himself, not his bastards of relatives. He looked into other ways of earning money. He didn't want to sink as low as Dudley and threaten other people. That would only cause trouble for him, as he didn't have a powerful backer that could get him out of trouble countless times. Being obviously bad wasn't a good thing otherwise. Dudley had his Dad to get him out of many punishments. He was high-ranking in his company and many people in the neighbourhood had to work for him, therefore they never said a word against him.
One of his maths lessons helped him find a way to save his money better than before. The maths teacher explained in basic terms how banks worked. Harry asked a few innocent questions after class how one would go about opening a savings account and got the information he needed. He would need the permission of his aunt or uncle as his guardians. Harry knew that if they knew about the account, they would still take his money from him. Therefore, they couldn't find out that he had that account. Harry had overheard the librarian talk about having opened an account for her goddaughter at a bank in London by post.
Harry had got all the information he needed from a school trip to see a museum in London, as there was a branch of a bank that didn't have branches in Little Whinging, next to the museum. When his teachers didn't look at him, he sneaked out and got all the pamphlets and opening documents about savings accounts and other types of accounts that helped you save up money. He had filled out the form to open an account and had borrowed a sample of his aunt's signature to copy it. He had sent in the form and asked for information how you could put money into them, even if you weren't living at the city where the next branch was. Of course in the name of his aunt. It wouldn't work as well as he had hoped, for example he couldn't send in coins, but notes were doable, but he would manage to at least save a little money up. The existence of the account was the most important thing for the moment anyway.
He had found fifty pounds stuck between the pillows of the armchair that Uncle Vernon preferred and he had sent the note to the bank with the request to put it into his savings account. With money in it, the account would stay active. He planned to save up enough coins to exchange them for a note at the bakery at the other end of the village, where his aunt never shopped. Therefore, she wouldn't find out what he did. And he had a safe place for small amounts of money. There was a loose stone in the wall inside his cupboard, behind which you could hide small things. He had tried and found that he could place ten stacks of coins behind the stone without it looking out of place.
That allowed to hide enough coins to get five to ten Pounds together. And no adult wondered why an eight-year-old boy had those amounts of money. It wasn't much by adult perception. Harry made a point to walk past the bakery on his way back from school. His cousin was always collected by car by his aunt and Harry had to walk, therefore it wouldn't be strange if he walked that way. It was only five minutes longer than the normal route directly back to Privet Drive. Nothing his aunt would ever notice.
And getting the coins was fairly simple. He collected anything that he found in pockets of his relatives, never the whole amounts, but small ones. His uncle had the habit to put change into his pockets and forget it there, so when Harry had to do the laundry, his aunt never commented on the number of coins he handed her from finding them in said pockets. She never knew how much was in there after all and after searching Harry for taken coins at the beginning and coming up empty, she was convinced that he was too frightened of punishment to even think about 'stealing' from them. Harry was smart enough to hide the coins he took inside the laundry room, there were after all enough boxes in the shelves to put a few coins under the ones in the back and his aunt never looked there, and collect them when his aunt was otherwise busy.
Next to that he did 'collections' in Dudley's room, whenever he was forced to clean it. Dudley was a pig and his room looked accordingly. Harry only went in there wearing rubber gloves and he always threw the windows open first thing. He only needed to wait for five minutes until it didn't stink as much anymore. Dudley often bullied other children at school into giving him their lunch and pocket money to not be beaten up. He collected the money in several boxes and glasses in his room. Thanks to having to clean regularly in there, Harry knew where they were and he didn't feel bad for stealing from a thief. It wasn't money that Dudley had earned, therefore he didn't have a right to it. And with the number of places where Dudley stored the money, not to mention that he didn't really care about the amount, just that he had the power to force others to give it to him, he didn't have any idea if some of it went missing.
As long as he didn't take everything, Dudley never noticed. Harry also made sure to always put a few of the coins into the official piggy bank that Dudley had, just in case he did ask about missing coins. It had happened once and after the explanation and actually realising that his piggy bank was heavier, Dudley let the complaint fall and never mentioned it again. Harry didn't even get a punishment for that time, as he had convincingly acted confused when he told his aunt, who was shouting at him for stealing from her son, that he thought that money should be saved in a piggy bank and he wanted to make it more tidily for Dudley.
When Harry found out about magic and his vault at Gringotts, he was really happy that he now had money, but a check with the goblins revealed that compared to the ones that had influence in the wizarding world, he didn't have a lot of money. He had inherited more than enough to get through school and have good quality things, but it wouldn't be enough to use it for anything but that. He would also have to find a job soon after graduation. He didn't have enough for a house or any place for himself. His father, it seemed, had financed a good part of the war against Voldemort and had reduced the Potter fortune to a pittance of its former self. It didn't help that he had been forced to go into hiding, unable to continue working, when they became targets of Voldemort, which meant that they had to use up gold without earning more. Harry intended to bring it back to former size.
At least he had a starting point with the money he had. And he saw the possibilities that magic gave him. If he learned it all, he could become rich, at least in the muggle world, by using magic to work the system to his advantage. Therefore, Harry could be found lots of hours studying books about all kinds of spells that he found interesting and useful for all kinds of things.
The biggest advantage for him appeared when he overheard a handful of goblins complain about the high amounts of muggle money that they had to exchange for valuable gold. The goblins didn't have contacts with muggle banks and therefore didn't have a way to get back gold for the paper money. They kept a small amount for the times when people needed muggle money, but that wasn't very often and about five thousand pounds always were enough for the events that took place. For a whole year. The muggleborns normally left about fifty to one hundred thousand pounds with them during the school shopping period of July and August. And as one galleon was worth fifty Pounds, they had an abundance of money during that period.
When Harry realised that they normally burned the paper, he decided to approach them. He offered them to buy the paper from them, both during the summer months as well as before Christmas, as then there was also a lot of exchange going on, for just ten galleons the whole load. As ten galleons were much better than just burning the money, which would only cost them work, Harry got the whole supply of Pounds that Gringotts had stocked for ten galleons. When he counted the money, he was astonished. He had just got one hundred forty-seven thousand five hundred and twenty-five Pounds for the price of what normally were five hundred Pounds. All because the goblins didn't have a way to exchange the money back to galleons.
He was very happy with his deal. He would be filthy stinking rich after a few years of doing this.
Harry's time at Hogwarts wasn't always peaceful, but he learned a lot and he studied the system of the magical world. He made contacts with other students, without ever revealing how rich he was becoming. After his name had come out of the Goblet of Fire, he had investigated what this meant for his legal status. He had to suppress cackling with glee. The idiots had set a magical precedence. He was underage, but the rules clearly stated that only those of age were allowed to participate. Meaning, as both wasn't possible at the same time, and the contract forcing him to participate was binding, he was acknowledged as an adult by magic itself.
He only had to send a letter to Gringotts with the request to change his status from minor to emancipated minor and inform the Ministry to change his status as well and deactivate the trace. It was a formality. And there were laws that forced the Ministry to just do it. They couldn't refuse for any reason, as soon as he walked into the arena for the first task, the magical contract was sealed and irrevocable. And Harry had shown his great magical progress in the tournament. He just didn't expect the Triwizard Cup to be a portkey. That took him off guard and led to Voldemort managing his rebirth ritual. Thankfully Harry had been alone. He didn't want to imagine if Cedric, Fleur or Viktor had accidentally been dragged into this trap as well.
Well, Voldemort and his Death Eaters had got a bad surprise when they allowed Harry to duel and returned his wand to him. His wand was a blur of action and he knew that he had managed to kill or severely injure ten of the Death Eaters and Voldy was missing one of his new arms now. Payback is a bitch. Why anybody would think that a boy that had grown up with violent relatives that thought nothing about hurting him, or who had been forced to kill in self-defence before, would have problems striking back with violence when his life was in danger, he didn't know. But he actually didn't care either. He sent cutting curses, blasting hexes, acid curses, piercing hexes and anything else he could think of at his enemies.
Voldy certainly hadn't expected that. He also seemed mildly shocked that Harry claimed to not be light. He had seemingly also bought into the bullshit that certain authors liked to print. As if Harry would do things without gain for himself. He had gone after the stone out of self-preservation interest. He knew that if Voldemort got the stone, he would be toast. Not to mention that the temptation of that much gold was clearly in play as well. Then the basilisk. He didn't want to return to the Dursleys full-time. Therefore, Hogwarts had to stay open and the basilisk had to die. That he saved a girl in the process, certainly nice, but not why he really went down there. Not that he told anybody his reasons.
And the carcass of the basilisk sold really well. He had hired Dobby to take it apart, after asking him if he could do it, which was after Dobby had sent Lucius Malfoy crashing into a wall, and the little elf had been delighted to work for Harry for so little money that Harry could hardly call it expenses. Dobby seemed to only want to earn money as a symbol. And he was over the moon to be working for 'The Great Harry Potter'. The carcass's sale's profit filled his vaults very nicely. Seven hundred thirty-seven thousand two hundred and ninety-one galleons were made by selling the different parts so far. The goblins, who he had given the deal to sell it, as they were at least honest when a contract was in play, and they earned well for the work they did, had spread out selling the rarer parts to not have the prices fall too low, which meant that there were still some vials with the venom or the blood available to be bought and it would increase his profit more. It would have also already been more, but he had reserved some of the hide for a battle robe for himself, once he had grown up. Basilisk hide protected better than dragon hide. Not to mention it looked really cool.
He got a second elf in Winky, after Crouch, the idiot, had fired her. But she was bound to him, as she didn't want to be a disgraced elf. He let her do it the way she wanted. Dobby had wanted to be free, so he was free and was paid, Winky wanted to be a proper elf, therefore she was bound to the Potter family. Winky turned out to be a fantastic tailor, which cut down on his expenses for clothes immensely and let him look really good at the same time. He only had to get Winky the materials she needed and she would work wonders. And those materials could easily be ordered in the muggle world for much less than in the wizarding world. Mass production simply reduced costs of things. He loved house elves. And he made Winky very happy when he asked her to design a whole line of clothes that he could market under his label. She didn't want to be known for designing the clothes, but her master should get a good image.
Therefore, Harry hired a muggleborn couple that needed jobs badly to manage a shop where they would sell Winky's creations under the symbol of the golden lightning bolt on a green triangle. He had secured that symbol as his trade mark and had subtly advertised that he was going to open a shop where people could buy things that he promoted. He also had allowed Lavender to find some designs for clothes and jewellery with the trademark on the bottom right corner that had fallen from his bag. Supposedly accidentally, but actually he had wanted to spread the rumours discretely without it looking like he was advertising them.
You could trust Lavender to spread the gossip and show around the designs with her friends. And Harry had chosen a very pretty dress that Winky had designed and added a simple but tasteful necklace with matching earrings, which he had designed. Jewellery design was actually his hobby. And for some reason Dobby knew potions that could create the gems and precious stones that were needed for them. Seemingly they were Malfoy family secrets in the distant past, but had been forgotten over time. Dobby's family had been Malfoy elves for centuries and the stories of their family were always told to the young elves by the older ones.
Well, their loss, Harry's gain. Dobby organised copies of all interesting books that weren't protected at Malfoy Manor for Harry, which was about ninety-five per cent of the whole Malfoy book collection, and he soaked up the knowledge. Where you would have had to pay ten thousands of Pounds if you bought the raw jewels in the muggle or wizarding world, Harry got them for the price of the potion ingredients. A bargain. And to make sure that nobody could give him trouble, he put them under the patents he got for all kinds of spells and production processes for his company. Some of his own invention, some found in old books at the library that nobody seemed to have read for ages.
He had learned from Winky that to protect business secrets, you could simply ask for a collective patent file at the Ministry and add processes simply by the name of what was achieved. Gem creation for example secured the whole process of producing the jewels with potions. There was no need to give up how exactly it was done. But this way, in case one of the Malfoys accidentally came across the secret in the old book, not that it was probable, as the current Malfoys weren't big on reading more than current books, they wouldn't be able to demand him to stop or give them part of the profit. A patent protected any business from extern claims. The only way you could be stopped was if an already existing patent existed for the process. Then the registry would inform you and you had to negotiate with the one to hold that patent if you were allowed to use your own method, if it was different to that one, or you had to pay an annual user fee. But Harry's patents were unique to himself and he could work like he wanted to.
Now, after his fourth year, Harry had new plans to expand his fortune again. He had looked up some spells to make him appear older than he was. He went to London by train, as he was out the whole day anyways, his relatives never thought it strange, and used his ability to use magic freely now to the full advantage. He used a modified summoning charm that turned everything he specified invisible and summoned all the lost money that lay around the streets of London. Dobby and Winky were ready to pop it away, clean it and sort the coins and notes by currency and nominal value. Next he went to a muggle casino and used a few basic spells to make sure that he won, not obviously, but big when he wanted to, at games like roulette, black jack or poker. It multiplied his capital a lot and there were many casinos in London where he could get things done.
He only had to deposit the money into his account in smaller amounts to not tip off the people in charge that something strange was going on. Thankfully he had managed to place a confundus charm onto his file to let people ignore what was going on, but with computers becoming more and more important, he needed to be more careful and have a source of income that could explain why he earned that much money. The shop, which he by now had expanded to have a branch in the muggle world as well, was that alibi. Should anybody look into things too closely, they would think that it was just a really well-working business.
The deeds were in his name, but with a remark that, until he turned eighteen, his guardian, a Mr J. H. White, would be taking care of the legal side of things. J. H. White was actually Harry's glamour, inspired by his dad's first name and his own, with a touch of involving his godfather in using the opposite of his name, which Sirius never liked to be associated with anyway. Would he know, he would certainly get a good laugh out of it.
Harry sat at a table of the library, drawing a new design for a series of jewellery that he wanted to create next. Winky had given him her newest designs and had asked him to create fitting jewellery to go with the clothes. Most of what Winky designed was meant for females, but she was also very good at coming up with great designs for males. Harry normally was the one to try them and then play model at school, advertising her clothes among his peers. And he knew how to design his jewellery to make it appealing for males as well. Like a dragon made from onix with either ruby or emerald eyes. Dragons were cool after all.
Like basically all the time during this year, he didn't have a lot of privacy and Ron plopped down in the chair next to him and Hermione took the seat opposite of him.
"What are you doing, Harry?" Hermione asked, looking at his drawings.
"Trying to decide if aquamarines or sapphires will look better with these dresses. The fashion show is going to take place in a month and I need to have everything ready by then," Harry answered distractedly.
"Harry, why are you working on a fashion show?" Hermione asked annoyed, "You should concentrate on your OWLs. They are important. You need good grades to get a proper job after you graduate."
"Hermione, I have my own brand in the fashion world and am going to expand the shops that sell the clothes and jewellery that are sold under that brand once I get out of school. I don't need to care too much about getting the best grades. I only need to know how to perform the spells and which ones can help me make my products successful. The strictly academic approach that most of our teachers take doesn't help me much with that. I won' fail my OWLs, far from it, but I really don't need to go into panic mode about them. Not to mention that I have studied up on all kinds of spells, which you saw me use in the tournament, by the way. I'm good on the practical side of things and I know enough theory to get an E," Harry countered.
"But don't you want to become an auror?" Ron asked aghast.
"No," Harry replied, "Aurors are in constant danger and I don't want to end looking like Mad-Eye Moody. He was the best and if the best looks like him and has issues to ever relax, that is not the right job for me."
"But aurors are the elite!" Ron protested.
"And while designing clothes and jewellery seems like a nice hobby, it wouldn't be a proper job," Hermione stated.
"Chanel, Versace, Lagerfeld, Boss," Harry listed and Hermione shut up immediately.
"What are you talking about?" Ron asked confused.
"Those are the names of very popular and expensive brands of fashion in the muggle world, Ron. And for your information," Harry told Hermione while standing up from his seat, as he had no intention to let her tell him what he needed to do, he was more than doing well in all his classes without her nagging, "I have offers to have a joint fashion show with Versace over the Christmas break. One of their scouts noticed my jewellery designs that I make for the Bolt Fashion line and asked if I could imagine equipping his designs with unique jewellery as well. And I have agreed."
With that he left, knowing fully well that Lavender and Parvati had overheard him. They would spread this and confirm many rumours about him going into fashion business. It was after all news that he was the owner of Bolt Fashion. That he endorsed the brand was known, but not that it was his. And honestly, an auror didn't make that much money. A successful fashion designer earned much, much more and Harry wanted to be rich and successful. If now only Voldemort would leave him alone. He really didn't want to deal with that maniac all the time. Not to mention the constant headaches.
Coincidence helped Harry with his Voldemort problem. When he researched what kind of clothes sold for the highest amount of money, both in the wizarding and the muggle world, he came across a unique material that was made from magical Chinese silk worms. You could drench the material, which took up the magical properties of any kind of potion it was treated with first, in a potion that would cleanse all dark magic from a body. The potion normally was too dangerous to use on more than small bits of skin. He had found out from Madam Pomfrey, when he had asked her about the possibility of creating jewels with medical properties as well as clothes that could help stall off colds for example, that the potion was normally used on small injuries caused by dark magic. Werewolf scratches for example.
While it would still leave scars, it would cleanse the dark taint, if it wasn't too strong. The potion always vaporised quickly if it was brought in contact with air and dark magic, which made it very difficult to use. Harry, after reading about the properties of the silk, decided to try if the combination could help him in his business plans. And he had the perfect test subject to see if it would work in his scar. He worked on preparing a long piece of cloth that he could use to bandage his forehead three times with it. Once it was done and the properties of the potion had sunk into the cloth, he went to the hospital wing to ask Madam Pomfrey to oversee his experiment and step in if necessary.
"You want to test an experimental potion on yourself? Are you insane, Potter?" She asked aghast.
"No, I want to test a piece of cloth made from Chinese silk worm silk, which I had suck up a tested potion to deal with dark magic in injuries. I just don't know how my body will react to having a constant pull on the dark magic in my scar. You told me that the potion vaporised too fast for my kind of scar, therefore I came up with this idea. The worst that could happen was that it didn't work and I had to vomit or blacked out. Which is why I came here," Harry countered.
"You're going to be the death of me, Potter, but very well, at least this way I can prevent too much harm being done. Even if I think this is a stupid idea. If that would work, others would have tried it before," Madam Pomfrey shook her head.
"Well, we'll see the results in the end," Harry declared and hopped onto one of the hospital beds.
"Just let me do a basic diagnostic charm to have your current state of health to interfere if anything really bad happens," Pomfrey sighed and proceeded to cast the spell when Harry nodded.
Soon he was lying down on the bed.
"So what exactly will you do?" She asked.
"I will wrap this cloth around my head like a bandage. The silk I used to make it takes up the magical properties of the first potion it comes in contact with. If everything goes like it should, the dark residue inside the scar will be dragged out. But I don't know how painful the process will be or if there are side effects," Harry explained.
"Alright, I will keep watch," She nodded.
Harry tied the cloth around his head and waited for the effect to start. It only took a minute until he felt the cloth heating up. Then he started squirming as it was becoming uncomfortable and felt himself being hit by a full-body bind charm.
"This is a common effect of the potion, Mr Potter," Pomfrey pointed out, "The potion heats up the area it effects and basically burns the dark residue out."
Harry felt sweat pouring from his forehead and the effect on his scar was clearly noticeable. It was a piercing pain that concentrated on his scar and became worse with every passing minute. Finally, he felt as if the scar was on fire and it broke open with a wail and a loud, pained scream tore through the hospital wing. Harry felt really dizzy all of a sudden and when the body bind was lifted, Madam Pomfrey was already there with a bowl into which he could throw up. She gently untied the cloth from his forehead and put him back down into the pillows of the bed after he had washed out his mouth with some water.
"You certainly found something incredible there, Potter," She told him smiling, the cloth now looked black and burnt in the place where it had touched his scar.
"Is it all out?" Harry mumbled. He felt really tired, but he needed to know.
Madam Pomfrey performed a scan and then nodded.
"The dark residue is gone, except for a few after traces, which is normal after cleaning out a lot of dark residue in a wound. But this can be treated with less painful potions and your natural magic will deal with pushing the rest out on its own. Rest and tomorrow we can discuss this more," Pomfrey told him and Harry gave in, surrendering to sleep.
When Harry woke up again, he could hear Dumbledore and Madam Pomfrey arguing.
"You should have called me here before he tried something that dangerous!" Dumbledore stated, sounding furious.
"You aren't a healer, headmaster, and I was more than qualified to oversee the test. The results are wonderful. The dark taint from his scar is purged and the remains are being neutralised as we speak. In about three days there won't be anything left. He can finally be free from those stupid nightmare visions that he told me about," Madam Pomfrey countered.
"This isn't something like a normal injury," Dumbledore started.
"No, it is something that should have been corrected when he was still a baby. But you refused to let any healer see him. We can treat dark magic best if it hasn't been a long time since it was used," Pomfrey also sounded angry.
"It was too dangerous," Dumbledore repeated his earlier argument.
"Not more dangerous than being inside this school regularly is," Harry commented loudly to inform them about him being awake.
"Harry, my boy, what you did was very foolish," Dumbledore started.
"Don't even go there, headmaster," Harry stopped him, "You have been giving me the cold shoulder all year, left me alone to deal with the lies Umbridge and the Ministry spread about me and left me with abusive relatives when I was a defenceless baby. You have no right to scold me for anything. I'm emancipated, thanks to being forced into the stupid tournament last year, which you know, since I took the accusations for the patronus use apart that way during my trial. And don't try to claim the school is safe for me. I only have to mention bringing the Stone to Hogwarts, not realising a basilisk was going around when Hermione found it out after a few months and then allowing dementors to attack on the grounds. The tournament is another good example. Well, at least I got something valuable out of it, even if I had to face Voldemort at the end."
Dumbledore looked very unhappy with the scolding.
"You have to let go of your anger," Dumbledore tried, but Harry interrupted him.
"Or what? You will tell me how disappointed you are in me? You aren't in any position to do that. Your so-called mistakes prevented that I had a childhood. They put me in danger since the time my parents died. You didn't even do your stupid job as head of the Wizengamot to give all people that were accused to be Death Eaters a trial and let real Death Eaters walk away with the imperius excuse. You had tremendous political power in your positions, but you didn't use it to do, as you said yourself at the end of last year 'the right thing over what is easy'. I'd rather take a calculated risk, after all, I didn't use any kind of experimental potion, but one that was tested and established in the medical field. And I had a fully trained healer observe everything.
"And letting go of my anger? Why should I, if I never get any apologies when I'm wronged? You seem to think that my life is something you can play with, like a game of chess. Well, I don't think so. I'm nobody's puppet and I make my own decisions. And as an adult in the eyes of the law, as long as I don't break it, nobody can tell me what I can or can't do. You made your bed, lie in it, but leave me alone. You lost any trust I might have had when you let the school turn against me in second year. Power is only good if you actually use it. And as headmaster, preventing the whole student body turning against one student is part of your duties. Especially as Hagrid saw me before the attack on Justin and knew I couldn't have done it."
Harry turned around, to not have to see Dumbledore anymore. He really couldn't stand the self-righteous idiot. Had he seen his face, he would have noticed a mix of anger, sadness and trying to figure out what to do. Well, Harry didn't want to deal with a man that had let things become like they were. Madam Pomfrey shooed him out after that and Harry, still feeling tired, went back to sleep.
Severus Snape felt horrible. For some days now he felt as if he was becoming weaker and weaker. He didn't know what was happening, but it came from the dark mark. That much he knew. Something was wrong with the Dark Lord and it influenced his Death Eaters as well. While he had by now got used to the volatile temper of the Dark Lord, Potter cutting his new arm off which no healer had managed to grow back so far, certainly didn't help that, he could block the overflowing feeling of fury fairly well, thanks to his occlumency skills. But this was something totally different. He was trying to find a spell or potion that could stop the effects, but so far he had only managed to slow whatever happened down to half speed. He cursed Harry Potter, after all he was sure that the boy was at fault, like he nearly always did, and continued to work on a potion that might be able to stop this drain on his magic.
Harry read with surprise that a high number of purebloods were admitted to St. Mungo's with strange symptoms of their magic being out of control or getting weaker and weaker with every day. Going by some names in there, he figured that they were the Death Eaters that had escaped his attack at the end of June. He listened to the speculations Hermione came up with, but his own thoughts went to the date when this phenomenon had started. It was the week after he had had the dark taint taken from his scar. And the scar was connected to Voldemort. Did the procedure have anything to do with it? Well, he couldn't care less about some bastards being sick or perhaps dying. It wasn't his fault.
If they were sick as a consequence of him getting rid of the problems with his scar, thanks to being Death Eaters, well, they made their bed, not him. He looked over to the Slytherin table where some of the students were missing. Probably visiting their sick relatives. Snape was also absent. Well, he was a Death Eater after all, so if it targeted them all, he wouldn't be spared. When breakfast was close to ending, Dumbledore stood, surprising some that were about to leave to get their books for classes.
"If I may have a moment of your time," Dumbledore said and Harry could see that Umbridge wasn't happy at all about something, "Thank you. As some of you may have read in today's Daily Prophet, a high number of people have fallen to a mysterious disease and are hospitalised. Professor Snape has been caught as well and I will be substituting in Potions for the time being until he can return. Some of your classmates have also gone home to visit their sick relatives and I ask you to not bother them about their condition. The healers at St. Mungo's are working fervently to find a cure for this mysterious disease. As far as could be determined the disease isn't contagious in normal ways like through air or liquids, which makes the way it spreads difficult to track down, which complicates finding a cure.
"As my time is limited, there have been some changes made to the timetables for the time being to accommodate my needs to also do my work as headmaster. All Potions classes have been moved to the mornings so that I have the afternoons for my other duties. Your heads of houses will pass out the new timetables. Please don't try to go and visit Professor Snape, as he has been transferred to St. Mungo's this morning as well. Professor Sinistra will substitute for him as head of Slytherin House until he can return. Classes will start twenty minutes later than normal today, as you will probably need to get the right books from your common rooms, as you weren't aware of the changes. From tomorrow on, classes will begin as usual in the morning."
Dumbledore sat down again and the three remaining heads and Professor Sinistra started walking through the Great Hall, passing out the new timetables.
Harry followed the reports on the mysterious sickness of the purebloods and the rare halfblood with interest. There had been the first report about one weaker wizard becoming a squib from it. It caused a wide-spread panic and some families were reported to have fled from England already to escape becoming sick as well. As far as people like Lavender could tell him, they were of the shadier kind as well. Probably they had made the connection of the victims being Death Eaters as well and had decided before whatever had hit them hit them, as unmarked supporters probably, as well, they would rather jump ship and flee to another country.
His scar had faded and lost all dark residue. And thanks to another potion and a small medical procedure done by Madam Pomfrey, he had managed to let new, healthy skin grow over the former lightning bolt shaped scar. He was truly happy that nobody would ever be able to stare at his scar again. Those that didn't know him personally, wouldn't be able to simply identify him on the streets anymore. And he was growing out his hair to change from the messy, short hair look he had worn previously. Next to getting contacts, he looked totally different. And he thought that long hair looked seriously cool.
His designs for the fashion show were also as good as done now, he only needed to coordinate things with the manager for the show. He was actually also halfway done with the designs for Versace's show. It was an intriguing project and he enjoyed having to adjust to another designer's style. He had also begun to design a few things for males himself. Not just jewellery, but casual wear. He knew what kind of things he felt most comfortable in. He drew a few things that he thought would look good and then conversed with Winky to get the opinion of his main tailor. Winky sometimes had a few suggestions for changes, but mostly she advised him on which material would work best with what design. He had a lot of fun with this and it would bring him a good amount of money into his accounts.
There were by now two lines. One for wizards and one for muggles. The tastes in both worlds were different, but he was working on bringing them closer together. Fashion in the wizarding world was so far behind times, it was high time that somebody pushed them a bit forward.
Harry looked at the first finished clothes that Winky had brought him of the clothes for the fashion show. As it was going to take place in the back of his magical store in London, which he had had set up as a viewing room for clients to have some models show off the current fashion for them, if they booked the room beforehand, he wanted everything to be perfect. Just when he was going over the order of the show with Winky, the door to the unused classroom that he used for things like this opened.
"Oh, sorry, I didn't know that somebody was here," Harry heard Lavender say.
"No problem, Lavender. No harm done," Harry replied.
"Wow, those dresses are stunning. Are they for your shop?" Lavender asked.
"Yes, these are the new spring collection of Bolt Fashion. I was just going over the order I want the models to present them at the fashion show next weekend. I like to have everything perfectly organised so that the show will be a grand success. It will be the first one I hold at the shop as well and it will be a big part of our current advertising strategy," Harry revealed. It wasn't a secret after all that he owned Bolt Fashion by now.
"Oh, I would give anything to be able to watch it. I would bet several girls here at Hogwarts would love to see a real fashion show. I only heard about one from my older cousin, but that was a muggle fashion show in Paris. She works for a French designer and it was fantastic to see some of the pictures of the models.
"Hm, maybe I can set up something in Hogsmeade next year. The only fashion shop there is Gladrags, and honestly, the designs are boring and old-fashioned. I would have to see about a premise first though. Well, I have people that are experts on that kind of thing," Harry commented.
"You're really into the fashion business now, aren't you, Harry?" Lavender asked, still looking at the dresses mainly with stars in her eyes.
"Yes. I will make my brand known all over the world. Right now I don't have the time to really concentrate on this, as I'm still at school, but once I graduate, I'll do this full-time. I plan to actually study fashion at one of the famous fashion schools as well, next to business management, to get a degree in it. It will help me with expanding my shops and knowing what to look out for. The trends change all the time after all and if you want to be successful, you need to know what the clients want to wear, or be good enough to make them want to wear your clothes," Harry stated.
"I don't think you'll have trouble in the wizarding world at all. There are very few good designers. Most clothes shops only sell the same things. Madam Malkin only sells robes in all variants, but nothing else. Twilfitt and Tatting's is for higher society, but basically it is all the same, conservative stuff. Gladrags is for the younger crowd, but they also mostly concentrate on robes, but with a bit brighter colours and more accessories. I'm really glad that I can get a good number of things in the muggle world. Even if I have to go to cheap shops, as my parents never have much muggle money in the house," Lavender told him.
"I see. Hm, could you perhaps do me a favour, Lavender? I know that you and Parvati are very fashion conscious and want to look good when you don't have to wear your school uniforms. I would like to have the opinion of girls that love fashion what kind of things they like best and would want to buy. It would also help me to know how much pocket money you actually get to be able to spend on things like these. After all, if I really go through with my plans of setting up a shop in Hogsmeade, it would need to properly serve the younger crowd, next to having a section where adults can find clothes that they want to wear all the time," Harry asked, "I'll of course pay for it as market research."
"Really? I would love to, Harry. I'm sure Parvati will too!" Lavender squealed excitedly.
"Great, if you could set up some kind of understandable report on your results by February, it would work out perfectly. I won't have time to analyse your results before that time anyway. I have the fashion show in London this weekend and one over the Christmas break in Dublin with Versace coming up and will be very busy."
"Don't worry, we won't disappoint you!" Lavender promised and rushed off to find her best friend and tell her of the deal she had made.
Harry went back to his work, smiling at having another thing covered without any effort on his side. And paying Lavender and Parvati some galleons for information that will be worth much more wasn't a hardship in any way.
Harry had to grin when the headmaster went through a number of different kinds of faces. Harry had checked with the school charter and there was a rule that allowed students to be absent from the castle on weekends, if they either were of age, emancipated or needed for familiar reasons and had the permission of their parents. Harry was emancipated and he had just informed Professor McGonagall, as his head of house, that he would be absent during the weekend for business reasons. She had tried to dismiss his claim as not feasible, but Harry had simply pulled out an up-to-date copy of the school's charter and had opened it at the page in question, showing her why he was definitely allowed to leave and was just doing his part in informing her of his leaving.
The school, as long as the student wasn't failing his classes, couldn't forbid it. Especially not when the privilege hadn't been used before. Theoretically any student that fell into the group that could use the clause, could leave every weekend, but if that happened, normally a teacher could point out that Hogwarts was a boarding school and not a weekday school. And you would normally need the weekend to get your homework done. But Harry had planned in advance and presented every single essay due on Monday and Tuesday to his head of house.
Of course things couldn't simply be done by the book, no, if Harry Potter was involved, the headmaster had to meddle. Well, not this time.
"Harry, you can't leave. It isn't safe for you!" Dumbledore insisted for the third time in his attempt to stop Harry.
"Headmaster, I will leave and you have no power to stop me. You know it as well as I do. This is just a futile attempt to guilt trip me into staying. I already told you a few times, it doesn't work on me. I don't see you as the infallible authority that most people raised in the wizarding world have been led to see you as. I have been emancipated, simply because you and the other judges in the Triwizard messed up. Simply take the truth as it is. You forced me into the Tournament and activated a magical precedence. And concerning my safety, who would attack me right now? Voldemort and his Death Eaters are sick as dogs. I do read the Daily Prophet, especially as they now are too busy worrying about this disease that seems to hit 'upstanding purebloods' more than anybody else.
"I would bet that all those that have been brought to St. Mungo's bear the dark mark. I certainly recognised a lot of the names as belonging to the ones that appeared at the graveyard. I have no idea what causes it, but with them all being too weak to get out of bed, how would they manage to attack a fashion show? And I have contracted Gringotts to ward the place impenetrable for anybody not invited, which is reserved for an exclusive circle of people. Next to that my security personnel will make sure that everything goes smoothly. I'm not asking for permission, I'm giving you due notice, as I need to do demanded by the school charter," Harry pointed out.
"I can't let you leave," Dumbledore insisted.
"You don't have a choice. If you try to keep me here, it constitutes as illegal imprisonment and I can sue you for it. Fudge would jump at the chance to put you on trial. He dislikes and fears you much more than he does me. If he smells a chance to get some good PR, he will take it with both hands. And imagine, being able to say that he helped the Boy-Who-Lived to escape the clutches of the control-obsessed headmaster Albus Dumbledore, who he is convinced is after his job anyway," Harry mentioned.
"I wouldn't have thought that you would sink as low as threatening blackmail," Dumbledore stated annoyed, "You are treading a dangerous path, Harry."
"It isn't blackmail; it is my lawful right. You are the one not accepting that you aren't the one to decide what I do anymore. Well, I don't care. I never did. I only want to live my life without you or Voldemort meddling in it. If you think that standing up for my rights is dark, I suggest seeking out a councillor. You seemingly lost your sense of what constitutes as dark. I don't kill people, I don't torture them, I don't exploit them and I don't force them to do things they don't want to do. I just live my life the way I want to do. If I change a few opinions on the way, well, not my problem. I give people options what they want to do, mostly in what kind of fashion is available, but with how old-fashioned this world is, well, I might as well start a revolution. One that is overdue. Well, I did my duty as a student, you know where I'll be. I'll be back Sunday before dinner. Bye," Harry turned away from Dumbledore and left his office, leaving an angry and disbelieving headmaster and deputy behind.
"He's going dark," Dumbledore worried.
"Get your head out of your arse, finally, Albus," the portrait of Armando Dippet reprimanded him, "The boy is in no way going dark. You just hate that you lost control. Get rid of the idea that everything has to follow your ideas and opinions. The younger generation will always challenge the older generation and their proving themselves brings progress. It has been the case in my time, it is the case in your time. You are over one hundred years old, Albus. And the boy resents all kinds of control."
"Not too uncommon for a teenager," Dilys Derwent added, "They will always want to test themselves. And his way is completely harmless. What harm can it do if he wants to make a mark on the fashion world and make a name for himself for something he actually did? If he is successful, well, it also reflects positively at Hogwarts, as he's a student here. You should support him in his endeavours, not hinder him at every turn."
"Not to mention that I can see his Black heritage coming out. He's like his grandmother in a way. I watched how Dorea grew up from my portrait at Grimmauld Place. The only way to get through to him is treating him like an adult, not like a child. Next to expertise on all kinds of powerful magic, we Blacks are incredibly stubborn when we feel in the right. You can easier work with him than against him. And I certainly enjoy my descendant, even if he's a halfblood, showing the good Black attributes. Much better than that Great Grandson of mine," Phineas Niggelus Black commented smirking.
"I would give him some space, Albus," Minerva sighed, "He is in the right after all and I'd think that he'd be more open for a guard that he approves of, like Sirius or Remus, than anything else we might come up with. Perhaps Tonks would also be an option. She is an auror after all and he got along quite well with her during the summer break when he stayed at Grimmauld Place."
"I don't like this. He shouldn't be doubting my orders like this. I only act for the Greater Good," Dumbledore objected.
"That boy combines the best and worst traits of his parents, but essentially, he's more like his mother than his father. And you know how Lily reacted when she felt she was wronged. She never forgave Severus for calling her a mudblood. Not that I can blame her. Had I been there, not only would James and the others have been in detention faster than they could say Quidditch, Severus would also have spent a month in there, as soon as the new school year started. I suggest you swallow this toad and choose your battles. This one you can't win, as he is in the right," Minerva commented.
Dumbledore didn't look happy, but he knew too well that Harry would leave, no matter what he tried. He knew the secret passages inside the castle better than anybody else, probably much better than even the Weasley twins.