Author's Note: Hi! This is my first fanfic of any significant length so I hope that you guys are willing to be nice; but hey, I'll try to roll with any punches, and grammatical & continuity errors being highlighted would be really helpful.
I'm the first to admit that a few of early aspects and tropes I use are long way from original in the HP fandom, but hopefully as the story progresses I get further away from them and their normal uses.
- Aside from OCs and AUs everything is the property of J K Rowling-
-I- The Morning Post-
Three letters. Two owls. One crow. A fourteenth birthday. That was the sum total of the morning's arrivals. Harry stretched out in his deeply comfortable bed, enjoying the play of warm silk against skin as he forced himself into wakefulness. He blinked once before turning his head toward a window on the far side of the room, left open the night before, its gauzy curtains shifting gently in the slowly moving air. The trio of birds on the sill stood out in sharp relief against the dawn. The owls were waiting patiently; the crow was responsible for waking him.
Harry debated showering before addressing the post, but elected not to try the patience of the two birds who were eyeing their companion with icy disdain. Slipping out of bed, he padded across the room to retrieve his letters. The first, emerald ink on heavy cream parchment, was expected. Its barn owl, looking surprisingly unruffled after its intercontinental flight, sidled neatly through the slightly open window and took off immediately. The second, a thick parcel wrapped in canvas, unaddressed and sealed with a blood stamp, was predicted. Its courier, an enormous horned owl, remained stationary and impassive. The third, a lined sheet of muggle paper, folds held by magic rather than envelope, was a complete surprise. The crow, with a final caw of farewell, followed its recently departed companion into the morning beyond the apartment block. He nodded the remaining messenger onto his forearm, taking her to settle on the back of a chair before summoning a bag of owl treats and bowl of water with a lazy wave of his hand. Leaving her to eat, he sat at the desk and opened the first missive.
Dear Harry, it began. His lips twitched slightly at this new informality.
I know that you are at least receiving these letters, although my others have all failed to reach you, and so I must trust to official Hogwarts correspondence. I would like to offer you once more a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry. It is time for you to assume your place in our society, the society of your birth and heritage. You must by now have accepted the existence of magic; your powers cannot be but obviously manifest at your age even without training. It is dangerous for you to develop outside of the structured environment Hogwarts can provide.
I offer you the education you require to reconcile with your magic and learn to use it. Whatever your current circumstances, all you need do is sign the bottom of this parchment and the owl who bore it will return and carry your confirmation. Any correspondence, or information about your circumstances you might wish to inform me of, may also be sent. If you require rescue, I can help you.
Remedial training to bring you up to the level of your peers at Hogwarts will be made available to you, and I include a list of the subjects on offer to fourth years (those you choose will be your OWL subjects).
I hope to hear from you soon.
Yours in friendship,
Albus Dumbledore, MoT, OoM, OoSC
Headmaster of Hogwarts,
Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot &
Grand High Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards
Harry raised an eyebrow at the parchment, surprised by the indications of Dumbledore's rising desperation; the suggestion that he might require rescue at odds with the expected tone of staid complacency, and, more startlingly, the faintly emotional intimation of friendship at the end. The impatience was clear, however, and hilarious.
Harry turned over to the second enclosed sheet to find a list of subjects;
List of Subjects, Required Texts and Equipment: Year 4
Core Subjects (compulsory) (all further/additional texts provided)
Transfiguration (Poultry to Porcelain: Intermediate Transfigurations for the Able Student, by Albus Dumbledore)
Charms (The Standard Book of Spells: Year 4, by Miranda Goshawk)
Defence Against the Dark Arts (Curses & Creatures: Wizarding Protection in the Modern World, by Claudius Stormwind)
Magical Theory (The Complete Guide to European Magical Theory, by Cuthbert Dewden)
Potions (Draughts of the Mind, by H.E.F Slughorn)
Arithmancy & Finance (Numerology and Grammatica, by Misocles Carneiro)
Astronomy (Light in-between the Dark Spaces: Stars & Constellations of the Northern Hemisphere, by Anastasius Rigel)
History of Magic (Wizarding Britain & the Age of Change, 1450-1700, by Bathilda Bagshot)
Herbology (The Comprehensive Plants of Europe & Asia, by Phyllida Spore)
English & Magical Literature (Writers Muggle and Magical of the Early-Modern Era, by Archibald Chauxton)
Electives (minimum one, maximum three)
Advanced Arithmancy (The Maths behind the Magic: Further Equations for the Gifted, by Annette Wenlock)
Geographical Studies (Two Worlds, One Earth, by Arthur Trench)
Muggle Studies (Primitive or Misunderstood? The Culture of the Non-Magicals, by Wilhelm Wigworthy)
Ancient Runes (Signs & Symbols: Making Sense of Marks, by Yuri Blishen)
Care of Magical Creatures (Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them, by Newt Scamander)
Magical Languages (Texts provided by the school, and vary according to language/s studied, inquire for further details)
Divination (Unfogging the Future, by Cassandra Vablatsky)
Ancient Studies (Old Magicks: Cultures of Southern Europe and Latin America, by Monty Ochti)
Music (Magical Chords and Muggle Music, by Giordiano Caccini [basic proficiency in an instrument required; auditions during first week of term])
Art (Painting the Soul: Portraiture and the Science of Moving Pigment, by Marvin van der Doon)
(Those teachers responsible for their individual electives reserve the right to refuse admission to their course to any they consider unsuitable.)
Standard Equipment/Clothing (Male): Robes (3 sets, plain black, house crest), Tie (house colours), Shirts (5, white, formal), trousers (3 pairs, black/charcoal, formal), Shoes (black, formal), Dress Robes, Dragonhide Protective Gloves and Apron, Quills, Ink, Parchment, Cauldron (1, Standard Size), Potions Kit (Standard Student), Telescope (brass), Wand.
Musical instruments and broomsticks are permitted, as long as stored and used appropriately. Casual clothing may be worn before breakfast, after dinner, and during weekends.
Harry nodded slowly as he worked his way through the list, but rolled his eyes when he reached a postscript scrawled in Dumbledore's illegibly loopy hand: Your parents were possessed of considerable wealth- the standard assurance to a financially unsure young wizard that had appeared in every year's letter- I would be delighted to accompany you to Diagon Street so you might have my guidance in Gringotts (the main Wizarding bank)- the slightly suspicious, vaguely creepy, and probably greed-motivated, offer.
He flattened the two pieces of parchment out on the desk in front of him before concentrating on extending his magical senses, dropping into the semi-trancelike state that allowed him to see curses and enchantments with far more clarity than his normal awareness would permit. This way managed to be both quicker and far more thorough than the myriad diagnostic spells he would otherwise have had to use. The magic he had sensed on the first page was, as expected, now visible as the gentle white glow of a binding magical contract, its words hidden behind the visible text, and the space for his signature where Dumbledore had politely suggested he affix his name. The contract itself would do little more than tie him to Hogwarts, preventing his enrolment at any other school of magic, although the gentle inclination towards attendance it would initially instil in him would no doubt gradually strengthen if he failed to arrive.
The second parchment was more interesting. The bottom three inches, containing the text of Dumbledore's addendum, appeared to his sight to be dripping slowly with a luminous sickly lilac liquid. Examining it more closely, he felt the gentle pull of a compulsion; no doubt the parchment had been carefully dipped in what was a hugely complicated, and internationally illegal, potion. It was impressive, for the letter itself had borne only a very faint magical trace he had initially subconsciously explained as the natural result of stationery stored in powerfully magical surroundings, and subsequently handled and marked by a wizard of considerable strength.
Despite the lack of magical signature, the compulsion suspended in the potion and soaked into the parchment was hugely strong and, although not doubting his ability to throw off its effects, Harry was glad that he had managed not to touch the poisoned area. The purpose of the compulsion itself seemed to encourage a belief in, and an acting upon, the words covered by the potion, but also a more general trust in the man who had written them.
Dumbledore's getting desperate Harry thought amusedly as he passed a hand over the sheets, brushing them to the side as they folded themselves neatly.
He drew the heavy pack of canvas-wrapped papers in front of him, and took a silver letter opener from the desk drawer. He pressed the enchanted tip gently against the tip of his left forefinger and let the drop of blood that welled fall onto the crimson seal in the centre of the folded canvas. The Gringotts blood stamp melted away, recognising the identity of the one to whom it had been sent, and releasing the wrappings around the documents rather than burning the whole packet to ashes, as would have happened in the event of attempted tampering or the application of the wrong blood.
A stack of parchment leaves even weightier than Dumbledore's stationery was revealed, a letter written in neat copperplate at the top.
Dear Lord Potter,
It has come to our attention that today, your fourteenth birthday, marks your rightful coming-of-age according to the ancient tradition of Britain's magical aristocracy. You are now able to lay full claim to the Potter lands, properties, vaults, titles and dignities. Special Wizengamot dispensation will be required to receive official Ministry acknowledgement of your coming of age, and to demand your family seats on the Wizengamot itself, which you can otherwise only accede to at the age of 17.
Gringotts would like to offer you its congratulations and compliments. Furthermore, it is our honour to invite you to visit any of our major branches at a time of your convenience so that you might claim what wealth of yours we hold in the Potter vaults.
I include a list of the assets of yours we have held in trust for you for the last thirteen years; we manage a significant property portfolio in addition to extensive shareholdings in your name in both the magical and muggle worlds.
Desiring to do business with you soon,
He found himself faintly surprised by the platitudes, but supposed it was his wealth that had prompted the businesslike goblins to write in such a way. Harry flicked curiously through the financial statements and lists of his holdings for a few minutes before setting them aside.
The third letter was the most curious. Harry unfolded and spread the slightly crumpled page out, finding it densely covered in tiny, spidery writing.
Dear Harry, it began.
I beg you to read what I write with an open mind. That's all I can ask of you. My name is Sirius Black. At this point Harry froze, forcing down the white-hot rage any mention of that name had induced in him since Remus had told him the full story of his parents' betrayal two years ago. The news of Black's escape from Azkaban had reached him with the Daily Prophet nearly a year previously, and his subsequent loss of control over his wandless magic in his fury had required the replacement of the kitchen in the flat they had been staying in at the time. Only the wards his magic had strengthened according to Remus' blueprints had prevented the entire building from going up in flames. He spent a few moments calming down, resisting the temptation to shove everything away with Occlumency, and let his innate curiosity at the request he have an open mind come to the fore.
He continued reading. I did not betray, would never have betrayed, James and Lily. Harry forced back a snort of disbelief and tried to ignore the painful reminder of those words. Your parents were betrayed by Peter Pettigrew, who was made secret-keeper for the Fidelius when it was thought Voldemort would assume that it was me whom your parents would trust with their lives. Giving in to Dumbledore's request in this has been my deepest regret, the thought that has haunted me the most in Azkaban for all these years. I am so sorry to be writing to you now and stirring up your pain and rage, but know that, although we have never met, no one is as important to me as you are. I write now what I know to be the true occurrences of the day following your parents' murder, and your survival.
I arrived the morning after All Hallows' Eve to find you alive, and James and Lily dead. I was about to take you from the wreckage of the house when Rubeus Hagrid, the Hogwarts groundskeeper, arrived and claimed to have orders from Dumbledore to take you into safe custody. My second most profound regret is allowing myself to be convinced, by both Hagrid and my desire for revenge, to let you go. I knew that you and your parents could only have been found if the secret-keeper had broken the Fidelius. I went after Peter. I found him that evening hiding in a hospital in muggle London. My rage overcame me and we fought in full view of the muggles. I am ashamed to admit that several must have been killed, and although I might wish to blame Pettigrew for those fatalities, I must confess that in my anger I lost control and share at least equal responsibility. I fought Pettigrew into a corner and disarmed him, at which point I my memory fails me completely. I woke up in a cell in Azkaban, and was told by a guard that I had been found by the aurors, unsconscious at the edge of a crater where the hospital ward we fought in had been blown up. I was apparently clutching Pettigrew's severed finger in my hand, and in those days, with the DMLE under Crouch Sr., that was sufficient grounds for imprisonment.
Dumbledore made a mistake in forcing James and Lily to choose Peter, and I believe his unwillingness to admit that inclined him to accept how events turned out. He never questioned my incarceration. Whatever you choose to believe, do not trust that man or his mad philosophies. All that I have claimed in this letter I am willing to testify to under veritaserum, or swear to upon the loss of my life and magic.
Although I have no right to ask, I truly believe that you are the only one who can help me, and I have waited in exile until your fourteenth birthday, the earliest age of noble inheritance, to contact you. By the time you read this I will no longer be Lord Black. You are. The Black lands, titles, and vaults are yours. The blood ritual to make you my heir was done when you were a baby and I was first declared your godfather. Until this point, none but myself knew that you were my legal heir, and very few that you were my godson and technically, since your parents' deaths, my ward. I have written to Gringotts, the Black solicitors, and the College of Heralds to renounce the title no legal authority may strip from me. The papers have been filed, and the inheritance will by now automatically have passed to you. I will pass the lordship itself to you if and when we meet: this is no persuasion, but the ring itself cannot be removed from the finger of the last Lord by any but the new. Now, the reason for my action:
I, Sirius Orion Black, do formally petition my liege lord and the Head of the Ancient and Noble House of Black for asylum and protection against mine enemies according to the ancient laws and codes of Wizarding Britain. I request that this asylum extend until such time as I might be brought before a trial consisting of my peers where I might be judged fairly for the crimes of which I am accused, but otherwise declared innocent and exonerated from undue blame and the blemish of unfounded accusation.
Know that I do not make you Lord Black solely for my own purposes and persuasions, but that I hope you to be capable of being more successful in the role than I have ever had the opportunity or inclination to be. I do not know you, and have not seen you in thirteen years, but I maintain my faith because it is all I have.
Meet me. Name a time, a place, and I will be there. I do not ask for your trust, not yet, but only your willingness to listen. A drop of your blood on this letter and the paper will clear. Write a reply, and your owl will find me.
I do not know your situation, and I fear that it may be worse than mine. I ask you to meet with someone you believe to be a mass-murderer and the betrayer of your parents. I ask too much and know too little, but can do no more.
Your ever loving godfather,
Harry sat back into the chair, anger now completely faded and replaced by confusion. There was no doubt that Black's story made considerable sense, and he certainly gave the advice Harry had always given himself with regard to Dumbledore. The accepted hospital explosion and unconscious Sirius had always slightly raised his suspicions, though admittedly the new interpretation asked as many questions as it answered, not the least of which was whether Pettigrew was actually dead, seeing as the whole situation Sirius described seemed to be a deliberate setup. He hadn't had the comfort of the knowledge that his parents' betrayer was being punished for his crimes since Sirius' escape nearly a year ago, but the idea that the real traitor might be alive and out there, completely unpunished and living a comfortable life, whole save for a finger, was doubly infuriating.
Something made him inclined to believe Black, though once the folding charms had dispelled there was no trace of magic on the parchment at all, let alone a compulsion. If the purpose of the letter had been to make him question everything he thought he knew, he though wryly, then Black had succeeded. He returned to analyse the contents of the missive, attempting to throw out any preconceptions he had managed to establish on his, admittedly slightly prejudiced, first read-through. Assimilating everything, Harry decided to confirm the inheritance with Gringotts, and ideally the Black solicitors as well, before he attended any meeting.
If it was all true though... he couldn't help but feel guilty both on behalf of Sirius for his decade in prison, and for delaying a response to a man whose last hope he seemed to be, in spite of the accidentally-killed muggles. Shit... he thought suddenly... Remus. He was going to have to show him the letter, not least because his advice on how Harry should respond would be invaluable, well, once he got over the implications. He would also need to look into this asylum stuff; he knew that Black hadn't received a trial, but in those days that was hardly unusual, and to the best of his knowledge the imprisonment had still been legally binding. His thoughts paused and he sighed internally. At least this whole affair made the decision he had been considering for months somewhat easier.
He stood up, slipping out of the underwear he'd slept in, and went to shower. He dismissed Gringotts' owl, wanting time to formulate his response.
Coming through into the huge kitchen half an hour later, dressed in skinny jeans and a white t-shirt, he found Catalina, the housekeeper his aunt had hired from an agency when they moved into the penthouse three months ago, already cooking. She turned round smiling as he walked in, and he grinned back as he sat down on a stool in front of the counter.
"Morning, sexy." He said cheerfully.
She giggled slightly before composing herself sufficiently to mock-glare at him.
"You should not call me that, Mister Harry.
"It's true though," he replied, dragging on an innocent look, "and, thankfully, me being fourteen and gay makes it charming instead of creepy."
"And a lie." Aunt Mim interjected briskly as her heels clicked sharply into the room.
Harry turned widened eyes on her. "But surely you can tell when another woman is attractive, Auntie?"
She frowned at him slightly. "That doesn't mean I can justify calling them 'sexy'. Anyway," she continued, now smiling, "Happy Birthday, darling." She came over to kiss him on the forehead, carefully avoiding leaving any lipstick behind.
"Cheers, Auntie." Harry thanked her whilst adding smoked salmon to the plate of scrambled egg Catalina had placed in front of him.
"Stop calling me that, makes me feel old," she grumbled.
"And how am I to address you, then?" He asked, smiling sweetly, "When you've already decided that 'Mim' is too casual, 'Miriam' too formal, and 'Aunt' too much like Petunia."
"Perhaps we should try 'Ma'am' next?" She responded pleasantly, as she watched Catalina add a bagel to Harry's plate, and smothered the one she'd been brought with cream cheese, "It might bring a hitherto missing element of respect to our relationship."
"But there's no one I respect as much as you already, Ma'am. Well, apart from Catalina, but when you can scramble eggs this well then I'll be happy to rethink the rankings."
"So where do I feature on this list, then?" Remus questioned as he came in, still half asleep and dressed in rumpled pyjamas.
Harry felt a twinge of concern as he watched his tutor and friend sit in front of the enormous cooked breakfast Catalina placed, still steaming, on the counter. Not only would he have to reopen old wounds, at best making Remus feel guilty for abandoning his friend, and at worst revealing Sirius to be a manipulative bastard trying to get close to Harry, but do so on the day following the night of the full moon.
"Oh, somewhere near the bottom," he replied casually, forcing himself to sound light-hearted.
Remus looked up from his food to glare at him.
Harry shrugged. "It's a short list. That help?"
Harry changed the subject. "Aren't you going to wish me a happy birthday?"
"Cheers," Harry said brightly.
Remus rolled his eyes at him, before Catalina came to bully him back towards his food.
"Your car's here, Madam."
"Thank you, Catalina." Aunt Mim turned to address Harry, "We'll do lunch. I'll text you."
He nodded agreeably in response, used to his guardian's schedule. "I'll just spend a nice relaxed morning with Remus then.
"No morning with you is ever relaxed."
"Then we'll just have to keep trying," he replied, knowing even as he said it that today was not that day.
Aunt Mim eyed them suspiciously for a moment before grabbing her handbag and striding towards the lift. "Be good." She called behind her.
"Don't worry, I'll keep an eye on them both, Ma'am."
She ignored him.
"Why are you so cheerful this morning?" Remus questioned as soon as she was gone.
"Umm, it's my birthday?" Harry suggested hopefully.
Remus snorted. "You couldn't care less about your birthday."
Harry tilted his head to the side slightly as he eyed Remus. "I got some post this morning."
His tutor looked up as he finished his meal and passed the plate absently to Catalina. "Well, you were expecting that."
"Mhm, two of the three letters." Harry began cautiously as he, too, stopped eating.
"And the third?" Remus questioned suspiciously.
"Is the reason I'm being cheerful."
"Good news, then?"
"Nope, but I want to show it to you, and for you to know that I'm not emotionally traumatised or anything, but that I'm here for you when you are."
Remus hadn't lost the faint frown, but looked more confused than anything by now. "Sorry, why would I think you were emotionally traumatised, and why would I be?"
Harry looked at him for a moment longer in silence. "Why don't we sit down, on some furniture that you won't hurt yourself falling off?"
Remus' eyes narrowed further, but he followed Harry when he stood and moved to one of the sleek sofas in the living area.
"Sirius Black." Harry began, deciding that more circumspection would just irritate.
"What?" Came the yelped response.
Nearly, Harry mused internally as Remus' start of surprise, no doubt made considerably more violent by the remnants of his transformation the previous night, brought him perilously close to the edge of his seat. He silently summoned the letter in question, raising a hand to catch it neatly.
Remus, apparently putting two and two together in spite of his shock, eyed the letter as though it were a bomb. "You mean..." he began, "you mean that... that that's from him?"
Harry could almost see the mind opposite him working furiously, probably wondering, behind all of that instinctive rage, why on earth Harry was being so calm about all of this, and how the letter was still intact rather than ashes. Eventually, he seemed to force himself to calm, no doubt for his sake, thought Harry.
"May I see the letter?" Came the request, in a voice of such peculiar serenity that Harry immediately suspected forced Occlumency.
Nevertheless, he wordlessly handed it over. Remus took it gingerly. Harry watched his face pale progressively, and was there to catch him when he began to fall in on himself at the end, Occlumency barriers no doubt collapsing under the weight of emotion. He called for Catalina, asking her to bring them some tea when she appeared. He added a generous glug of summoned whiskey to Remus' cup when it arrived, remembering that it was supposedly something done for people in shock. Harry didn't particularly like tea, but drank his own to give his tutor time and demonstrate his willingness to be patient. Remus sipped slowly, face turned away from Harry, who still had a comforting arm draped around his shoulders.
"I'll go to the meeting." He said finally.
"No, you won't." Harry said firmly, privately relieved that Remus was able to speak coherently, if not sensibly.
Remus faced him at last. "But you can't." He replied desperately.
"He might try to kill you."
"Or you." Harry pointed out. "I'm going. Besides, if you come then I doubt any sane conversation is going to be possible."
"What?" Remus replied, yelping again, "You can't mean to go alone? He's dangerous Harry!"
"And possibly innocent, apparently." He returned calmly. "I hold most of the cards here. I decide where the meeting is, and who goes to it, seeing as he'll almost certainly be alone. It's only my blood being required to send a response that gives him much security. I wanted your opinion, your advice, on this, but if I'm not convinced you're being rational then I'll just ignore it."
Remus stilled, taking a few moments in an effort to compose himself. "It looks like his hand," he began, "but are we sure it is from him?"
Harry raised an eyebrow at the laughably obvious attempt to demonstrate a logical approach. "He used, as he mentions, a blood spell to get the letter through the wards. It'd have to be a fairly close relation, and a magical one, to manage that. As you know, I'm rather short of those. It'd be a pretty weak attempt from someone else to lure me out of hiding, anyway."
Remus nodded slowly.
"Anyway, I hate to ask you this, but you knew him. Are you inclined to believe what he says in the letter?"
Remus sighed, head falling into his hand for a few moments before he answered. "Yes." He replied simply. "His story makes sense. I knew him for more than a decade, and the one thing I could never imagine him doing is betraying his friends." Head returned to hand. "Oh, Merlin," he moaned suddenly. "Don't you see? I've betrayed him."
"Quite probably." Harry replied.
Remus jerked upright, no doubt instinctively expecting sympathy in spite of his self-absorbed misery, and eyed Harry with surprise.
"What? Did you expect me to immediately give you a hug and consider everything forgiven when there's a possibility that your lack of faith in your best friend might have subjected my godfather to Azkaban for twelve years?" Remus' face crumpled as he spoke.
Harry mollified his harsh expression somewhat, extending a hand to hold the one in Remus' lap. "I love you." He began, "But if all of this is true then I'm upset with you."
Remus nodded miserably. "Not as upset as I am with myself. "
Harry held his hand, but otherwise kept his distance, caught between anger and compassion. They sat like that for a long while.
"Anyway," began Harry, breaking the tense silence and forcing himself to sound cheerful, "I'll write back to him and arrange a meeting, and then show you my other letters. We can drop off the reply at the owl station when we go into the city this afternoon."
Remus nodded mutely, apparently having given up fighting whilst still distraught.
"Excellent," Harry continued, summoning a fountain pen and some parchment from the writing desk against the far wall. He murmured a charm to copy the text of the letter onto the parchment before pricking a finger, this time with magic, and letting a drop of blood fall onto the page, which cleared instantly.
He spent a moment pondering the method of address, finally beginning
'Dear Sirius Black,
I am unsure as to whether I can believe your words or not, despite a perhaps natural desire to. I would be glad of the opportunity to meet with you, whether it be to welcome and grieve with, and help to heal, a long-lost godfather, or personally destroy the betrayer of my parents.
August 2nd, Gringotts Headquarters, Zurich. 10 AM, local time.
He then copied that letter over onto the parchment, too, for Remus to look over later.
He rose and took the papers through to his room, dropping them on the desk before changing his clothes. "I'm going for a run," he called to Remus as he slipped on a pair of trainers. He'd decided he needed to clear his head, and give Remus some time alone, before tackling the rest of his correspondence.
He took the lift straight down, and grinned at the doorman as he exited the marble lobby, jogging down the steps and out onto the streets of muggle Lima. They'd been in the city since the beginning of May. They moved several times a year for his Aunt's job, and in an effort to help preserve his own anonymity. He liked Lima; the culture and the food and the architecture, even if it tended to be slightly cool around this time of year, and although it was uncomfortably humid in the early mornings, which forced him to go running either before dawn or later on in the day.
Harry loved that both the magical and muggle sides of the city were as vibrant and varied as one another, although his interaction with the magical was, by necessity, somewhat limited. He ran from the San Isidro district and up into what locals called 'El Centro', where the old colonial centre of the city stood. The weather was comfortable enough for now, at least. The streets and plazas were full of people, both locals and tourists by this time on a Sunday morning, as the churches emptied out their worshippers.
Harry mentally counted off the twelve miles of what had become his usual route, and arrived back at the flat to find Remus standing, hands loosely clasped behind his back, in front of the plate glass wall of the living room. He turned around slowly when he heard Harry come in.
"Can I see your response to Sirius?" He asked quietly.
Harry looked up from where he was taking off his running shoes. "Sure, you can also see the letters from Gringotts and Dumbledore."
Remus nodded, crossing the room to sit back on a sofa, sipping slowly at his refilled cup of tea.
"I'll just change," Harry continued cheerfully as he walked along the corridor to his own room. He rushed through his second shower of the morning, towelled himself dry, and pulled on the jeans and t-shirt he'd worn earlier.
He found Remus still in the same position when he rejoined him. He wordlessly passed him his response, and was glad to see Remus' nod of approval when he reached Harry's chosen meeting place.
"You're sure you can arrange to meet him there in time?"
Harry grinned at him. "I'll try to fly out this evening or early tomorrow morning, and if I can't get a commercial flight in time it'll be easy enough to charter."
"I meant getting the goblins to agree."
Harry smirked slightly. "Lots of people have their shady meetings there: Gringotts Headquarters isn't just in Switzerland for rich wizards to stash their wealth and illegal knick-knacks untraceably. Besides, when I rock up and prove who I am then I'm sure they'll be only too happy to provide me with a room for an hour or so, bearing in mind what a valued customer I've suddenly become."
Remus rolled his eyes, though couldn't help but smile slightly. "Can I see the letter from Gringotts?" Harry nodded, handing over Director Bronzeclaw's covering note. He'd left the list of assets locked in a draw, preferring to keep them private.
He was handed the paper back after a couple of minutes. "I've never seen a goblin come up with platitudes before," Remus mused, before his face darkened. "Not that a werewolf's allowed to have much in the way of dealings with Gringotts normally. Some of the older, richer packs are supposed to have vaults in Zurich."
"Maybe that can be changed," said Harry quietly, "it's the ICW, after all, stopping werewolves banking. I suspect the goblins themselves would just be glad of more customers."
Remus didn't look hopeful, but cleared his expression quickly enough. "Let's see what Dumbledore has to say to you." he sighed.
Harry passed him the parchments. "The first one's a concealed magical contract, and the bottom of the second's been dipped in a compulsion potion." He said, knowing that his tutor wasn't powerful enough to detect their presence without diagnostic spells. "So, as long as you don't sign that one you're safe, seeing as the compulsion will only really have much effect on the addressee."
Remus frowned deeply and cursed softly under his breath at these new tactics.
"I like the offers of help and friendship," Harry said sardonically. "He's much chattier in this one than he's been before, although he must be getting desperate to be using illegal methods that can so easily be traced back to him."
Remus nodded slowly. "You're right, he must be worried," he agreed.
"I think I will go to Hogwarts this year," Harry continued casually.
Remus actually dropped the letter in his shock as his head snapped round to face him. "No!" he exclaimed, managing to make even that one syllable sound strangled.
Harry waited a few moments, picking up the dropped parchment to give Remus time, before speaking. "We've discussed this," he began, "I have responsibilities in England; if what Sirius claims is correct then I'm now two of the Twenty. We all agreed that I'd have to wait at least until I inherited to go back, and I'm fourteen now. I can handle Dumbledore." He continued confidently. "I'm brilliant, really fucking brilliant, and I want to test myself at last. We don't really know what's happening, and we're not going to find out on the run."
Remus didn't look convinced at all by this, so Harry decided to change tactics.
"Look," he began earnestly. "I love you and Aunt Mim, and I've had an incredible time travelling the world for all of these years, but I want some stability. I want to be able to live in the same place for more than a few months, to call somewhere home. I need to build a life of my own, have friends who I can see in person, and who know me for who I am, rather than just ones I can write to occasionally."
"It's not safe." Remus said softly.
"Life isn't." Harry responded sharply, "Particularly mine. The Potter titles and inheritance should give me nearly as much security as the Evans money does in the muggle world, even with the prospect of a war and a Dumbledore."
Remus lowered his head slowly, knowing it was no use arguing with Harry when he was like this.
"Besides," Harry continued, hammering another nail into the coffin of Remus' flight instinct, "I suspect I can't give Sirius the formal asylum he needs without claiming the Black inheritance, and actually being in England to protect him."
Any remaining defences crumbled at the prospect of abandoning the man who had been his friend once again.
Harry saw that he had won, and felt a distant satisfaction, but no triumph. "You don't have to come with me, of course," he began, "and I would never try to make you. I can give you all of the money you'd need to live comfortably for the rest of your life, wherever you choose." He smiled gently, and continued jokingly, "You can be free of me at last. You keep saying that I'm intolerable."
Remus suddenly hugged him. "I'm not going to abandon you Harry, never; it looks like I've made that mistake once already. I'm with you." He breathed into Harry's ear.
Harry returned the hug and smiled at Remus. "Thank you."