by Healer Pomfrey
All recognizable characters belong to J. K. Rowling, and I am not earning anything by writing this story.
I am not a native speaker of English. Please excuse my mistakes.
COMPLETELY AU! Partly OOC.
It is my story, and I intend to write it the way I want it. If you don't like it, don't read it.
Reviews are very welcome, as they inspire my muse.
It was a few days before Harry's tenth birthday. Harry was sitting in his cupboard pondering his situation.
Two days ago, his uncle had instructed him to paint the garden fence in spite of the fact that it was raining cats and dogs. After spending two hours feverishly painting the fence green, while the heavy rain beat against his face, he had noticed, horrified, that the rain had already begun to wash off the colour from the part of the fence which he had worked on first. Feeling absolutely annoyed, especially since he began to sneeze every now and then, Harry once again painted the whole fence – without much success.
The only effect from his efforts, apart from the cold that he had caught spending hours in the pouring rain, was that his uncle was absolutely mad seeing that he had used up all the green colour and the fence looked still more brown than green.
While his growling uncle came nearer, Harry stepped backwards in fright, not caring that he found himself in the garden again. He stared at the fence in fright, not even realising that the fence turned completely green in front of his eyes.
He only noticed that his uncle was suddenly more than mad. In absolute rage, he grabbed Harry's neck and pulled the boy back into the kitchen and closed the door, before he began to shout at him in fury.
Harry was too shocked to even pay attention to the words his uncle used. It only penetrated his mind when he suddenly shouted, "We're going to leave for holidays tomorrow morning. By the time we come back, you'll be gone from here. We can't tolerate your freakishness any longer. We've put up with it for a long enough time."
'Where should I go?' Harry wondered. 'No one wants a freak,' he thought, sadly. He was just toying with the idea of asking Mrs. Figg for advice, his old babysitter who was so fond of cats, when strange noises coming from the back door in the kitchen penetrated his ears.
'What's that?' he wondered and could not help feeling slightly anxious. He carefully stepped out into the hall and looked into the kitchen, realising in surprise that an owl was sitting on the windowsill tapping against the kitchen window.
'An owl,' Harry thought in amazement and carefully opened the window. To his surprise, the owl held out a leg, and Harry noticed that a piece of paper was attached to her foot.
"Is that for me?" he asked in disbelief that only intensified when the owl curtly nodded its head.
Harry carefully took the letter from the owl and opened it with utmost curiosity. 'Who would write to me?' he wondered in confusion.
His first impression was that the letter looked beautiful. It was written in copperplate handwriting, and it was slightly difficult to decipher with Harry's untrained eyes.
'Dear Mr. Potter,
It seems that the blood wards around your residence have come down, thus I am taking the chance to send you an owl.
You probably won't remember me. I am Buckbean, the account manager of the Potter vaults at Gringotts. I'd like to speak with you about your betrothal contracts. You probably know that you must agree to one of the betrothal contracts before turning eleven, and recently, Professor Dumbledore has agreed to one of the contracts on your behalf.
Since I have been your family's account manager for more than fifty years, the future of the noble and ancient house of Potter is of highest priority to me. Therefore, I just wish to make sure that Professor Dumbledore is acting in your best interests. Considering that he completely ignored your parents' will, frankly speaking I am doubtful to say the least. Please contact me through the owl that should be waiting for your response and come to see me at Gringotts as soon as possible. If you don't agree with the contract that Professor Dumbledore signed on your behalf, we still have until 20 August to cancel the contract.
May your gold continue to flow,
Account manager of the noble and ancient house of Potter
'What?' Harry thought, bewildered. 'That doesn't make sense at all. Who is this professor and betrothal and Gringotts and whatever?' He returned to his cupboard and grabbed a piece of paper and a pen out of his school bag, before he sat down at the kitchen table and penned his response.
'Dear Mr. Buckbean,
Thank you very much for your letter. I have never received a letter before. I don't know what you a talking about and I don't know what and where Gringotts is. Could you perhaps come here and explain everything to me? My relatives are on holidays for three weeks, and I need to get away from here before they come back.
He carefully attached his letter to the owl's leg and profusely thanked the bird for waiting for him. Giving him a sharp nod, the owl took into the air and quickly vanished from the sight.
It was a few hours later that the door bell rang. 'Maybe Mr. Buckbean… Or Mrs. Figg,' Harry thought and hurriedly opened the door, only to take a huge step back in fright upon seeing a strange creature standing on the doorstep.
"Hello Mr. Potter, please don't be afraid, I'm Buckbean," the very small man told him.
"Please come in, sir," Harry replied, feeling very pleased that Buckbean had come to see him so quickly. He could sense that the goblin had no bad intentions towards him.
"Thank you Mr. Potter. I trust that you haven't seen a goblin before," Buckbean said in apparent amusement.
Harry led his visitor into the kitchen, where they sat down, before Buckbean began to explain everything about the magical world, Gringotts, Hogwarts, Harry's family and the rules made by the Ministry of Magic, especially concerning betrothal and marriage of heirs of the noble and ancient houses, to Harry.
"I didn't know anything," Harry said, when Buckbean finished his monologue after a little more than an hour. "My relatives only told me that I was a freak."
"How dare they?" Buckbean blurted out in apparent anger. "No Mr. Potter, you're not a freak but a wizard, quite a powerful one it seems.
Harry let out a deep sigh. "My relatives always told me that magic doesn't exist. They've kicked me out from here by the way. I need to leave before they come back." He remained thoughtful for a moment, before he asked, hesitantly, "You've told me that I own a lot of money in my vaults at Gringotts. Do you think it's possible for me to rent a room somewhere?"
"Yes," Buckbean said in a firm voice. "You're not safe here anymore in any case. The fact that your relatives told you to leave apparently made the blood wards collapse, which Professor Dumbledore placed around your house. Therefore, you should leave as soon as possible, before any of the remaining Death Eaters will find you like my owl and I were able to get to you."
Glancing at his wrist watch, he instructed Harry to fetch his belongings and join him in his office at Gringotts. "We can discuss where you will go in my office. Maybe my wife has an idea," he added, smiling.
Just when Harry and Buckbean arrived in the goblin's office, Albus Dumbledore walked up to the Dursleys' residence to enquire why the blood wards had unexpectedly failed earlier the same day.
To his instant relief, there was no sign of attack or any obvious danger, however, when he let himself into the house casting Alohomora, he realised with surprise and sadness that there was no hint that nine-year-old Harry Potter was living in this house. There were many pictures all over the walls, but not a single of them showed Harry. Neither was there any hint in the three bedrooms let alone the fourth room with broken toys.
'Oh no, and I thought he'd be safe here,' the old wizard thought in shock. 'Minerva is going to kill me.'
Buckbean introduced Harry to his wife Gwenlin, who patiently listened to what her husband told her, while she closely observed the boy who was of the same age as her own children.
"Buckbean, I think that he needs someone from the magical world to look after him. I'd of course be happy to take him in, and the twins would surely be thrilled, but I think that it would benefit him more if one of the old, human families took him in and told him everything that he needs to know once he turns eleven."
"Do you have anyone specific in mind?" Buckbean asked, knowing that his wife was friends with a couple of human witches.
"Why don't we ask Amelia Bones if she is available or can suggest someone dear?" Gwenlin suggested.
"She won't be able to go against the headmaster's wishes though," Buckbean contradicted, however, agreed to call Madam Bones to ask for her advice.
Harry immediately liked the witch with grey hair and a friendly smile, and Madam Bones told him that she was glad to see him, which sounded absolutely believable to him and caused him to smile, happily.
Like Buckbean had predicted, however, whilst being willing to help Harry with everything that he had to know about the noble and ancient houses, she refused to become his guardian.
"I'm sorry, Buckbean, but I'd be in a great deal of trouble with Dumbledore, just like everyone else would who attempted to gain the guardianship over Harry," she replied, sighing.
"You're one of the people listed as possible guardians in the Potters' will though," Buckbean informed her, causing the grey-haired witch to stare at the goblin in disbelief. "Sirius Black and Alice Longbottom are his godparents, however unavailable, and you and Remus Lupin are listed as further possible guardians," the goblin explained.
Madam Bones remained pensive for a few minutes, before she slowly spoke up. "Can you grant Harry access to Potter Manor? If so, maybe Remus Lupin could live there together with him. I believe that he is currently unemployed and should have time to look after Harry. That way, we could see to Harry's needs without having to change the guardianship at all. Or do you believe that Dumbledore will notice that he's gone from his relatives' house and will look for him?"
Buckbean grimly shook his head. "Apparently, Dumbledore never bothered to check on him. He didn't even show up when the blood wards failed early this morning."
"I think that Amelia's idea is a wonderful one," Gwenlin spoke up.
"However, it does not work," Buckbean added, sighing, and explained that Dumbledore had signed a betrothal contract with Ginevra Weasley. "Only a new guardian would be able to cancel the contract. I could, however, change the guardianship to myself if that's what Harry and you wish. Let me call Mr. Lupin here in any case."
"Yes please," Bones agreed, glancing at Harry, who shyly nodded his head.
Harry observed with interest how Buckbean scribbled a notice on a small paper and handed it to the owl that was waiting on a perch in one corner of the room. He said Remus Lupin's name, before he pointed a small item that looked like a pen at the owl, causing the owl to vanish from the spot.
Apparently realising that not only Harry but also Amelia were curiously observing her husband, Gwenlin explained, "The owl stick is a medium to pop away an owl. She will now appear right in front of Mr. Lupin."
"Respectively on his window sill," Buckbean added, smiling.
"Buckbean," Bones spoke up, frowning. "If Remus and I are listed as possible guardians and Dumbledore isn't, wouldn't a decision made by Remus or myself automatically overwrite Dumbledore's?"
The goblin remained pensive for a moment, before he replied, "That might be possible, however, I am not sure. Fortunately, we have enough time, so that we can try it out."
"Excuse me," Harry spoke up, hesitating. "What exactly is this betrothal thing?"
"Harry," Amelia began to explain, "due to the increasing number of muggleborn witches within the magical world marrying the pureblood wizards from the old magical families, the Wizengamot demands that all pureblood boys or sons of the noble and ancient houses must be betrothed by their 11th birthday. Otherwise, the Wizengamot will assign them witches of any age. The betrothed parties must marry on the seventeenth birthday of the wizard at the latest if they don't want the Wizengamot to step in," she added, sighing.
"Believe me, you don't want that," Gwenlin threw in. "It's better if you choose a witch yourself."
"In fact, there's even a name for a possible future betrothed mentioned in the Potters' will," Buckbean added, smirking.
"Which name?" Amelia enquired, seemingly curious.
"I believe that we should have Harry choose first, before we tell him about his parents' suggestion," Buckbean said, gently, and his wife nodded in agreement.
Ever since Harry had been small, he had been able to sense other people's thoughts if they were directed at him.
When a man with light brown hair and friendly brown eyes stepped out of the fireplace, Harry realised immediately that the man was over the moon with joy over seeing him. He could also sense guilt, however, it was guilt for not being able to take him in and look after him.
"Mr. Lupin," Buckbean greeted the wizard, who looked around in clear surprise.
"Hello Buckbean, Amelia… and Harry," the man replied, smiling, before he was introduced to Gwenlin.
"Hello Mr. Lupin," Harry said, returning the smile.
"Please just call me Remus, Harry. I'm not only surprised but very happy to meet you," the older wizard replied, giving Amelia a questioning look.
During the next few minutes, Buckbean and Amelia informed Remus about their plans with the occasional input from Gwenlin, and Harry realised that the man seemed incredibly happy at the thought of raising Harry during the thirteen months until he was supposed to leave for Hogwarts.
"I'd love to live at the Manor together with Harry," he finally replied, before adding in a slightly subdued voice, "I trust that you know about my furry problem though?"
"Yes, we know about your problem," Amelia confirmed, while Buckbean nodded, comfortingly. "We believe, however, that you know what you have to do and that the Potter elves will be well able to care for Harry one day every month."
Harry could sense that Remus was afraid of hurting him and asked, "Excuse me Remus, but…" He slowly trailed off, not sure if the older wizard wanted to tell him about his problem.
"I'm a werewolf, Harry," Remus replied and explained what it meant. "There's a cellar at the manor, which your grandfather specifically installed for me, so that I can spend the nights of the full moon there. You or the house-elves have to lock me in there in the early evenings."
"No problem," Harry agreed, smiling. 'He seems really nice. It'll be much better than living with the Dursleys,' he thought, happily.
After the living arrangements had been agreed on, the topic once again returned to the betrothal contracts.