What's a Little Death between friends?
Chapter 1: Watch that First Step.
"Harry Potter, what in blazes are you doing?" came a question that was half asked, half demanded from a voice behind him.
Harry Potter froze for a moment at the sound of the voice, before he relaxed recognizing it and allowed his hand to continue tracing over the roughhewn rock in front of him. He idly noted somewhat to his own surprise that the rock alternated between feeling warm and cool underneath his touch. Given where he was he had guessed that it would be cool at all times. As far as he could tell it didn't seem to have any rhyme or reason for how it changed temperature.
"Hello, Tonks," His voice was relatively calm at the unexpected interruption, and he didn't turn around to acknowledge the woman, "How are you this evening?"
"I was a lot better before I did my rounds and found you down here of all places," the room sounded with her footsteps as she got closer to him, stopping several yards away. "You didn't answer my question."
Harry noted that her voice was more tentative than usual. This wasn't an on-duty Auror demanding why he was in a restricted area of the Ministry. This was his friend. One of the few friends he had left. Though Harry could hardly blame her given where he was currently positioned.
He was standing right in front of the Veil of Death and running his hands over the asymmetric rock that outlined its arch.
"Do you ever wonder what's beyond the Veil, Nym?" Harry asked.
It was a sign of the tension Tonks felt in the air that she didn't even attempt to scold him for a different use of her name. Though she was well aware that it wouldn't do any good. He had been calling her that for months, at least when he was speaking to her about serious matters, though usually only when they were alone. Secretly she enjoyed it when he called her that… but she would never actually tell him that.
"I… yes of course I do Harry. Everyone does, I'm sure." Tonks replied carefully.
She was no fool she could tell Harry was tense and given what she had learned about him over the past few months, he had an expression on his face that told her that seemed intent on doing something. The fact that he was in front of the bloody Veil of Death was not helping her mindset at the moment.
She tried to keep her tone light as she moved a bit closer to him, all the training she had in her academy days about talking down suicidal people coming to the forefront of her mind, though she kept her hands away from her wand. Experience over the past year had also taught her that Harry could be jumpy, even with people he trusted. Her particular lesson had been learned when he had come into the house from a rainstorm and she had gone to cast a drying charm on him to be helpful and found herself disarmed, stuck to the wall, petrified and with a glowing wand pointed right between her eyes.
He had apologized profusely to her and set her free a few moments later after he realized what she intended. She had mostly shrugged off his apologies, they had just lived through a war and she could be jumpy in certain environments as well. Though Harry seemed to be tense all the time.
However she had learned that it wasn't an isolated incident. She had heard several other people whisper about similar experiences. She had seen when he had done nearly the same thing to Kingsley in his office, when he had gestured with his wand in Harry's direction. Of course he had also petrified herself and the other auror in the office at the same time.
"I think we all find out eventually," Tonks said with an attempt at being lighthearted, "Most people just aren't in a hurry to do so."
"No… I don't mean finding out about death in general," Harry paced both hands flat on the stone arch. "I mean literally. What is on the other side of this Veil? Why would someone go through the trouble of enchanting something like this… if it only 'killed you'? This thing has been here for at least six thousand years. Why put that sort of effort into something?"
"No one knows… its all guesses and conjecture." Tonks replied uneasily. She was watching Harry carefully now. His entire manner seemed bemused and detached and it worried her a great deal.
Harry's hands moved over the stone slowly, moving slowly around the side of the arch and then back, the silence hung for almost a minute before he replied, "I think… I'm going to find out." he said, his tone still quiet as he returned to the front and once more looked at the rippling doorway in front of him.
"What?" gasped an astonished Tonks, "You can't do that… you'll die!"
"How do you know?" Harry asked, his tone quiet and truly curious, his hands never stopping their gentle stroking of the stone before him.
"It's a one way trip to death. Everyone who goes through dies…" she said with exasperation.
"How do you know?" Harry repeated with that same curiosity in his tone, refusing to look away from the Veil, keeping Tonks from establishing eye contact with him.
"Remember Sirius?" She demanded with more than a touch of anger creeping into her tone. She knew it was probably a low blow but she needed him focused on something besides the Veil.
Harry looked back at her sharply before the anger in his expression faded to one of resignation, "Of course I remember Sirius. It was partially my fault he died," he replied.
Harry's voice was sharp and tinged with a bit of bitterness and anger as his fingers traced over the rock slowly. Tonks moved to speak, to console or deny but Harry cut her off, "However the Veil didn't kill him. It merely took his body. The curse from his cousin was what killed him."
He had lost both Sirius and Remus in that battle. Both of the last true Marauders had died. One had fallen to Bellatrix, and the other to a combinations of both male Lestranges. There was also a warning note to his tone, one that told Tonks she was walking on thin ice and to tread carefully.
Tonks was quiet at that, she had been taken out of the fight by her insane aunt so she hadn't witnessed it. She had just been told later that he had fallen through the Veil.
Harry seemed to take her silence as an opportunity to continue, "So we don't know what actually happens when someone goes through the Veil. And… I plan to find out."
"How?" Tonks demanded her throat suddenly dry, she took a very careful step forward, fear of pushing him preventing her from moving any faster.
Harry finally turned to gaze at her fully with a look that was combination scorn and incredulity, "By stepping through of course."
"You can't!" Tonks gasped, reaching toward him and stopping herself when she realized that he hadn't yet taken a step toward the Veil.
"Why not?" Harry asked, once more his tone was of polite but honest confusion.
"Even…. even if it doesn't kill you. No one who has gone through has ever come back! It's just a one way trip!" Tonks sputtered.
"So?" Harry asked, truly seemingly like he didn't understand where her complaint with that situation.
"What… what about everyone here?" Tonks demanded as she gestured around.
"What about them?" Harry's eyes actually flashed with anger as he faced off with her, "The wizarding world has learned absolutely nothing. Everything we fought for, everything we bled and fucking died all for. They learned nothing."
Tonks made to reply but Harry cut her off, "Sure, Voldemort is dead, but everyone acted like that was it. He was gone and there was nothing more we needed to do. But the same problems remain. The same people are in power."
"Kingsley has tried but the same people who hurt and killed my friends are blocking him at every turn," Harry's eyes flashed, "They're about half a step from declaring me a dark lord."
Tonks winced at that, she knew Harry had a point. Kingsley and several others were staunch supporters of the last living Potter, but other than the absolute worst offenders of the previous regime, many of the Dark Lord's followers had gotten off claiming coercion or imperius once again.
Draco Malfoy had even done so while under truth serum, and despite Harry now knowing exactly how the little shit had beaten the potion, there wasn't a thing he could do about it. That had led to loads of death eaters and other dark wizards getting off in the exact same manner.
Of course their close call didn't stop their ambitions or goals which meant the Wizarding World was nearly in the same place it had been pre-Voldemort, with more of their opponents gone after Voldemort's constant purges.
And many were definitely not fans of Harry Potter. It had barely been six months since Voldemort's fall and Tonks couldn't deny public opinion was being turned against him subtly, but slowly and surely.
A big article in the Prophet had run just the day before wondering where Harry had disappeared to during his seventh year. Accusing him of being able to stop Voldemort much sooner, and having cowered and hid until he was forced to fight when he was trapped during the final battle.
Tonks vividly remember Harry discussing how Dumbledore had let Grindelwald rampage in Europe for almost a decade and a half before confronting him. But Harry, who hadn't even finished Hogwarts yet, had been expected to snap his fingers and make the Dark Lord simply go away.
What really got to Tonks about the situation was that it wasn't even Voldemort's old supporters that were the loudest voice. Yes they started the rumors and whispered the questions, but it was the Wizarding world of Britain that quickly took up the standard, much as they had done during Harry's school years. Given an easy scapegoat, one they knew wouldn't lash out at them, the mob didn't take long to forget everything Harry had done in favor of a new spin on his actions.
"Wizards' disgust for 'lesser beings' is the only thing stopping them from going to the goblins and demanding the contents of my vaults," Harry half spat, "Despite the fact that I save them from being subjugated by a Dark Lord; they're still bitching about the people that died in the process. Saying that I owe them, of course nothing is said about the people I lost. Good thing I took everything the Potters and Blacks kept in the bank, otherwise they could try and take it all any day they manage to get the numbers for a vote. Greedy fuckers."
"I should've just killed them all when I had the chance. Make the Wizarding world start over and drag them out of the dark ages kicking and screaming and bitching," Harry muttered almost to himself as he shook his head in disgust.
"Who?" Tonks asked carefully watching Harry's expression.
"The Death Eaters… the blood purists, the dark wizards that flocked to Voldemort's banner at the promise of easy chaos before I offed the bastard. All those who supported his policies and who even now keep those policies in place with almost no changes." Harry gestured widely "We're pretty much back where we started. And all those needless deaths were ultimately for nothing."
Harry's voice went from musing to helpless frustration as he turned and smacked his fist against the stone archway in frustration. "Six months ago I would have been appalled at the idea of killing the dark wizards wholesale…."
"What… about your friends?" Tonks asked quietly, having heard enough to dread the answer.
Harry slumped a little bit and turned to regard Tonks with pain in his eyes. "My friends," he sighed a little bit, "My friends are scared of me."
"That's not true." Tonks replied immediately, and with a fair amount of vigor that surprised even Harry, but before she could continue Harry cut her off once more.
"It is true. Ever since I died, and absorbed that… piece of Voldemort. They have been. They've tried not to show it." Harry shook his head and glanced down at his hands, "They tried to remain friends and comfort me." But I set them on edge. I'm... different than I was."
Harry smiled sadly, "Ron was blunt enough to point it out. He used to think Hermione was brilliant but scary. Now he says she's like a niffler next to how I can be if I'm on a tear trying to solve something."
"They and the others try to stay around me. But I make them uncomfortable. I know I do. I've seen it in their eyes." Harry turned back to the arch and sighed, "And they have a right to be scared. I know I am sometimes."
Harry let that statement hang in the air between them.
"Why?" Tonks asked quietly, her voice very soft. Harry was opening up far more than she had seen and she wanted to keep him talking.
Harry's voice was solemn and grim when he replied after a minute's silence, "I don't just have power now. I have a lifetime of knowledge, of his knowledge. Most of it so intertwined that it's part of me."
"I'm so much more comfortable with my magic now. Its second nature to me," he placed a hand on the arch and ran his hand over it once more, "And… I got some of his personality as well."
"Harry, you don't have his-" Tonks started only to be cut off again.
"I'm more cynical. Quicker to react. Do you know how it feels to actually experience your brain working differently? Working faster? Analyzing things, people, events, situations. All of those thoughts taking place in the same amount of time it used to take me to decide to simply jump right in," Harry traced his fingers along a piece of the Veil. "Now though, I've figured out all the angles, including taken the time to laugh at the approach I would've used previously, and then moved forward to not only win, but to obliterate all who oppose me."
He turned his head to look back at her with an odd look in his eyes, "I'm also more selfish… though that wasn't exactly hard. I can get angrier and more demanding. It's frightened people off. It scared Ginny off in less than three weeks."
"Harry, you lived through a war. You lived through it longer than anyone really. It's bound to change you." Tonks hedged carefully, inching forward another step.
Though she wasn't able to completely deny anything Harry had said. The boy she met when he was only fifteen was gone. The lanky bespectacled thin boy who ogled her chest as she packed his few meager belongings in that muggle dung heap Dumbledore had insisted he live in. She remembered his naiveté, the emotions he wore on his sleeve and the simple way he looked at the world.
That boy was replaced by the man in front of her. The man who still was a teenager and could probably pass for sixteen except when it came to his eyes.
That wasn't to say that Harry never laughed or smiled, it was just rare, and seemed to happen less and less over the past few months. "You're tired of others not reacting to events or protesting what's happening. You're tired of them not seeing things the same way you do, I get that."
"You know… I could fix the wizarding world." Harry said quietly, turning to look at her, "I know how to do it now."
"You do? Why don't you?" Tonks asked in confusion. Harry stayed out of politics, and out of the limelight, in fact for the most part it seemed like he wanted little to do with the Wizarding World over the past few months. Not that he would have been able to do much, but he might have been able to force through some changes before they started tearing at his image.
"Because... I know what it would take, at least in this moment," Harry replied as he once more turned to look at her, his eyes watching her expression.
"Tom Riddle was an evil bastard, who was many things. But one specific thing he knew for certain, was that the Wizarding world is dying, and that it will take something extreme for it to survive." Harry spoke, leaning against the Veil of death casually.
Tonks just looked at him, listening raptly. She could see how passionate he was about what he was thinking based simply on his voice and gestures. She wondered when the last time was that he cared about anything this much.
"That thought got lost in all the stupid decisions Tom made. Which was sad, because of his brilliance he might have been able to save it. But he was only concerned with two things, showing others he was more powerful by crushing them under his heel while secretly lying to the masses at least about his own blood status, and escaping death." Harry shook his head, "It twisted his thinking, and he jumped on the idea of making Horcruxes. Unfortunately that twisted his thinking even more, made him more insane."
"It's even more of a tragedy when you know that he could have figured out other options that might have been better for immortality. He was a brilliant potioneer, and could have been the second person to make a philosopher's stone. He never even considered it… at least before he died the first time," Harry shook his head in disgust, "Such a waste."
"How does that translate into fixing the Wizarding world?" Tonks asked cautiously. She couldn't deny a twinge of worry that Harry was talking about Voldemort in such a way.
"Like I said, I think differently now. It's like I'm seeing the entire picture all at once. I know what it would take to fix the wizarding world as it stands now. How I would do it." Harry answered, there was a challenge in his voice, almost daring her to ask.
"How?" Tonks asked, giving him his opening.
"I would have to clear out a majority of the dead weight in the Wizengamot," Harry answered, watching her reaction carefully. "I would also need to break their control of the economy. Take control of the Prophet, make sure the sheeple think it's in their best interests. It would be that simple."
"As if all of that was as easily said as done." Tonks snorted a bit.
"I could probably do it," Harry replied seriously, his eyes still on her expression. "Start hunting down the Heads of the Houses of the majority that wouldn't be cooperative to the changes needed. Of course it would probably not just removing the Heads of Houses, but any heirs too old to learn any better. Say… anyone older than Hogwarts age."
"Voldemort tried to control the economy by destroying stores that weren't supporting him. But all that did was destroy the economy. I need a way to control the economy without destroying it. As much as I might like them, the easiest way would be to turn the Wizards against the Goblins. A few pushes in the right areas about Goblins screwing over wizards in general and all the hard work would be done for me." Harry looked a bit sheepish, "I would feel better if the loss of life was minimized, but truthfully my purposes might be served win or lose that war. As events could be manipulated to my benefit either way."
Harry shook his head, "The Prophet would just require gold. Assuming the owners were willing to sell. If not they might have to be replaced for people who were more willing."
Tonks bit her lip as she regarded him, knowing exactly what he was saying, finally she asked "So… why don't you?"
For the first time the question seemed to catch Harry off guard as he regarded her. He hadn't expected that reaction from her. He had expected disgust, and worry about his mentality. After a pause that lingered, he sighed. "Because…while I could do it. I'm not sure I want to… and even if I did. If I tried… that would make me another Dark Lord… or another Dumbledore."
Harry turned once more and rests his hand on the arch once more, taking time to look up at it before bowing his head. "And my friends… given what I had to do, my friends would side against me. They're already afraid, and if you've really listened to everything I just said, you can also see why I don't blame them. I'm honest enough to admit that my thoughts aren't all mine. That my thoughts are more evil than good."
He clenched his hand into a fist and rested it against the Veil. "So it's easier for all of us if I just step through. Satisfy my curiosity."
Tonks shook her head. She didn't know how to explain it to him. The thoughts and feelings she had struggled to voice aloud over these past few months, and now it looked like she might lose her chance. Unless she finally said them now.
"What about me? Where does that leave me? " she asked, her voice soft and vulnerable, almost lost in the silence that followed.
Since the end of the war, they had become friends. They had bonded over the mutual loss of family and friends. In truth he was one of her only friends, given that most of her classmates were dead or in Azkaban. Others that she knew just didn't understand the impact of the loss of both of her parents upon her. Her former partner was now the Minister for Magic and hardly had time to spend socially. She and Harry had spent a lot of time together, sometimes not even talking, merely appreciating the presence of someone who could empathize.
Harry hesitated and his shoulders slumped slightly, though he didn't look back and meet her eyes. "Truth be told Tonks. Without you I'd probably have done this two months ago."
"I can't keep having people who knew me keeping their distance because I'm not the same person I was before I died," Harry said quietly, "Believe me, I've tried to pretend that I'm the same person I was. That nothing has changed and I'm the same old naive, idealistic, Harry Potter that everyone expects me to be. But I just… I can't do it. It's like trying to pretend I'm eleven again."
"I haven't expected that of you." Tonks protested weakly, hating how lost and alone he sounded.
"I know. You let me be whoever or whatever it is I've become. No matter how influenced by him I've become." Harry replied softly.
Tonks sighed, and her hair drooped and went limp and pale. As much as part of her wanted to deny everything Harry said; and she did. She wanted to rail and protest, and argue with him at every point. Tonks was honest enough with herself that she knew he was right.
His comments about what he wished to do to the wizarding world. His observations about people. More often than not she found herself agreeing with him. She wondered whether it was her cynical side, one that came from losing everything in the war.
And she had.
She had lost all her family. Her friends. Between the attack on her parents and the attack on her in her apartment she had lost most of her possessions.
Other times, she wondered if it was merely her Black blood breeding true. She agreed with Harry, though not in the manner he thought.
He wasn't evil, just… no longer stupidly innocent. She hadn't admitted it, but half the time when she was reading the Prophet, or dealing with the Wizarding World through her day to day life or her job, she found herself wishing Harry would just cut loose the shackles and make a bid for control, and deal with the crap that continued to pile up in their society.
Then, when she would see him use his magic so easily, so casually, sometimes even without a wand, she found herself wondering if he did cut loose, whether anyone could actually stop him. Knowing Harry like she did, she thought that if he did, and was successful… whatever new era emerged afterwards would be infinitely better than the one they were living in now.
Unless he was stopped, or worse… simply gave up.
She supposed it was possible if enough people were arrayed against him. But she knew even before he had admitted it, that one of the biggest things holding him back was that those he still considered friends would be among those arrayed against him. She chuckled inwardly, she wondered how the Wizarding World would react to knowing that Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley were the reason the current status existed.
She wondered whether the two of them would take that as a compliment or mortal insult.
"That's the other reason I'm doing this." Harry's voice was quiet and a little bit strained, interrupting her stream of thoughts.
"Why?" Tonks echoed, his words pulling her attention back on him directly to see him looking into the Veil, having moved slightly closer to the entrance.
"If I do this… I'm risking myself. I'm voluntarily facing death or whatever is on the other side of that Veil. That's something that Voldemort never would have done. He spent his entire life avoiding death."
After he finished speaking, Harry simply stared into the wispy curtain of the Veil. Eventually, he glanced aside at Tonks, to see that her expression was still confused, which ultimately caused him to smile slightly.
"If I do this it proves that, whatever my personality is now, I'm still more Harry Potter than I am Voldemort."
"That's ridiculous Harry." Tonks huffed and rolled her eyes.
"Is it?" Harry asked curiously.
"Of course. Whatever you may have gone through, you are still Harry Potter. A person I've grown close to, enjoy spending time with and happen to think I very much like!" Tonks protested bluntly.
Harry turned to regard her once more, his eyes piercing hers. "I won't deny I enjoy spending time with you Tonks. But..."
A small smile had begun to break over the metamorph's face before it was dashed like being hit with cold water at Harry's final word.
"But… what?" Tonks asked, with a very soft voice.
"But do you really want to know what I've been thinking more than half the time I spend with you?" Harry asked, a dangerous quality in his voice.
"What's that?" Tonks asked.
"Half the time I want to kiss you," Harry said, his voice turning soft.
Tonks broke into a smile and opened her mouth slowly to reply to that, intending to tell him that wasn't something she'd protest but he continued before she could respond.
"And the other half of the time I want to drag you into a room, lock the door and not let either of us out until you're screaming at the top of your lungs for me to shag your brains out." Harry finished, his voice taking on a harsh tone. "And I don't know how much of that is me and how much is… him."
Tonks mouth opened and shut slowly before she was able to formulate a reply, "And… your solution to wanting a roll in the hay… the same roll in the hay that I would gladly give you three or four times a day, by the way… is to hop into the Veil of death? Seems… like an overreaction, Harry. I know Molly Weasley is your mother figure, but that prude shouldn't be your role model concerning premarital sex."
Harry narrowed his eyes at that and glared at her.
Tonks shrugged, "Seriously, if you wanted a romp, I would be more than happy to oblige. You aren't the only one who had those thoughts about us, and about far more than us just kissing."
"You don't get it. I don't want a roll in the hay, or a romp." Harry's eyes were fixed on her as he stepped away from the Veil and toward her. He reached out and brushed his fingers over her cheek. "What I want is that you never so much as look at another bloke. I want to take you. Claim you. I want to possess you. I want to make you want me… need me. I want to make you mine, Nym. Forever."
Tonks stared at him and felt a shiver run through her body as she stared into his eyes. That was quite possibly the most arousing thing she had ever experienced in her life and he had only spoke and lightly touched her cheek.
"Oh…" She breathed out, and despite her metamorph powers found herself blushing. She knew, privately, that if Sirius or Remus were still alive, that both of them with their enhanced sense of smell would've have easily cordoned on to the fact that Tonks was blatantly turned on at the moment. Of course, the little detail of her nipples doing their best to pierce her robes would have been another subtle clue.
Harry looked briefly pleased before he shook his head and shrugged slightly. "There's also the fact that at least right now you know that your thoughts are your own, and I'm about to do the same."
He squared his shoulders and turned back to the Veil, before grinning over his shoulder at her, "I'd say wish me luck but I've got that covered," He held up a small vial of clear liquid
"Cheers." He said, as he downed a mouthful of it in one go.
Tonks frowned and it only took her a moment to realize that he had just downed almost the entirety of a vial of incredibly rare and valuable Liquid Luck.
Harry turned back to face the Veil, his hand brushing right across the surface of the wispy ephemeral curtain that hung in the arch "If this leads somewhere then I'll be somewhere new. And if it's really the Veil of Death… well then I'll see you in 100 years or so with a welcoming party or something."
He prepared to step through the Veil when Tonks rushed behind him.
"No!" She darted forward intending to stop him, but she had taken two strides when she stumbled and lurched forward to grab his arm and pull him away.
Harry spun around at her grunt of surprise just in time to catch her but not enough time to set himself and stop her forward momentum.
With a cry, she inadvertently hit him with the full force of a rugby tackle, and they both tumbled arse over teakettle through the Veil, never to return.
"Urrgh…" was the only intelligible sound Harry was capable of making as he slowly woke up and regained his bearings.
His head was pounding and he felt like he had just been spun out of a washing machine. He shifted slightly and realized he was feeling hard gravel underneath him. There was even a loose piece of rock resting right under his head and digging rather uncomfortably into his skull. He reached up and lifted his head slightly, swiping the rock out of the way for a very minor improvement in comfort.
He groaned without bothering to open his eyes. "If this is death that was a hell of a first step…"
As he took stock of his surroundings Harry suddenly realized there was a weight on top of his chest. With a grunt of more effort than he wanted to expend he lifted his head weakly once more and this time managed to open his eyes.
He found himself staring at the head of dark hair that was laying on his chest, "Okay, that's new," he muttered softly.
He debated just lying down once more and closing his eyes until the soreness went out of his body and he didn't feel like he'd been trampled by a herd of centaurs. After some internal debate in which the part of him which was all for slipping back into unconsciousness lost out, albeit narrowly, Harry shifted his body slowly. He groaned again and with slow gentle movements, slid his hands up to lift the unfamiliar head of hair up to get a look at the person's face.
His heart stopped for a moment as he found himself staring into a vaguely familiar face. He saw it and his first instinct was that he was staring into the unconscious face of Bellatrix Lestrange.
"Oh Merlin… I'm in Hell," Harry muttered. Harry realized that part of him was entirely unsurprised by this fact.
In fact he realized that an eternity stuck with the spirit of an insane Death Eater would in fact be far worse than the brimstone and hellfire he had always been told made up Hell. He wondered if he'd be given an option at any point and he'd be able to choose hellfire and eternal pain and torment.
However that comment and the movement of her head was enough to stir the woman on top of him and her eyes flicked open slowly
She looked up at him and blinked several times before groaning "Urgh… Harry?"
That certainly didn't sound like Bellatrix. Harry looked up and finally it struck him just who he was looking at. "Nym?"
She nodded absently and groaned again, putting a hand to her head as she slowly looked around. "Where are we?"
"No idea. I woke up before you did. I assumed it was Hell," Harry answered, trying to shift a bit and look around, mostly futile from his current position flat on the ground.
"Bit chilly for that…" Tonks muttered, not moving an inch from her position on his chest.
"True…" Harry replied making it obvious that he was trying to look around from his prone position.
Tonks took the hint and slowly pushed herself up onto her hands and knees to look around with more alertness. As she pushed herself up, Harry noted that her form started to shift into the one he was more familiar with. Her body became more slender, her facial structure shifted and her hair turned back to her normal pink. Of course in the process of pushing herself up, she shifted and put a knee right in Harry's groin.
"Then again…" He groaned re-evaluating his opinion on whether this was indeed Hell. His voice slightly high pitched as he curled up and turned on his side a little bit as she pushed herself off him, mashing the solid mass of the Auror's muscled leg straight into the soft tissue dangling between Harry's legs.
She looked around at the buildings around them and frowned, "So where are we?" She asked, and when she didn't get a response, she looked down to see Harry still curled up a bit.
"Oh get up, you baby. We just fell through the Merlin-Damned Veil of Death. You don't get to lay on the ground after only a small love tap on your family jewels." She'd save her sympathy for after they determined if they were dead or not, right now she was miffed to say the least.
Harry glared up at her but then slowly pushed up to a sitting position, his entire body stiff as he unsteadily pushed himself to his feet. "Witch," he muttered.
"I did not imagine the afterlife looking like this." Tonks continued, primly ignoring his comment and looking around. "The buildings look… sort of familiar?"
Harry turned his attention from her to the surrounding area. They were in some sort of alley, and the buildings did look familiar for London, though Harry didn't recognize any specifically. "Well, it's not King's Cross this time."
"What?" Tonks asked in a confused tone. She was as much puzzled by the statement as she was Harry's tone. He sounded completely unsurprised.
"Last time I died I found myself in King's Cross," Harry answered, "So this is hardly out of the realm of possibility. Not as obnoxiously bright white though."
"I suppose we should look around." Tonks ventured, unsure how to respond to Harry's description of the last time he died.
"Or we could hide out in the alley for eternity." Harry offered, still gently rubbing his violated crotch.
Tonks shot him a glare before striding out of the alley and looking around.
Harry sighed and followed her shaking his head, "You're acting like I deliberately dragged you into this." he muttered. He looked up just in time to run into her back as she was looking left and right at the mouth of the Alley
Harry stopped to survey what had stopped her. They were at a semi busy area and judging by the sky it was late afternoon, moving toward evening. Passing in front of them were rush hour cars and people… in fashion that went out of style in the muggle world before Harry was born. He knew that from the minor amount of telly he had watched.
"I feel like I've just stepped into the Twilight Zone," Tonks said as she looked around.
"Maybe it should be called the twilight zone veil instead..." Harry offered helpfully, "Nah... not as catchy."
Tonks shot a look over her shoulder at Harry with a frown on her face. He seemed more relaxed than he had seemed in months. "Spending eternity here… might be irritating. But I suggest we look more than past the alley."
Harry just shrugged but didn't argue as he followed Tonks out of the alley. He felt better than he had in months. The tension and pressure that had been building up as he wondered if he was more Voldemort than he was Harry Potter had taken its toll. But that seemed to be gone now.
"I'll admit given all the things I expected to do today… tumbling through the Veil, was nowhere on the list," Tonks grumbled quietly as she surveyed the area. She had checked to make sure her wand was still on her person but wasn't carrying it at the moment, it was safe and secure in her wrist holster.
"Hey, don't complain. We didn't tumble… I was planning on stepping through. You stumbled on that tricky flat ground, and I tried to catch you and stop you from falling into the Veil with me," Harry snorted in reply.
"Yes, stepping through something considered to lead to death, totally reasonable." Tonks snorted as she looked around, trying to see any familiar landmarks.
"So what do we do now?" Harry asked, choosing to ignore her tone as he looked around.
"You're asking me?" Tonks asked. "You didn't have a plan for this?"
"Meh, not really. Like I said, last time I went through the whole death thing I ended up naked at a version of platform 9 ¾." Harry said with a shudder
"Huh… bet that was fun," Tonks replied, conversationally.
"Eh, you know. It was a good time all around. Whole thing was topped off when I absorbed the piece of Voldemort in my head accidentally." Harry responded
"How do you… accidentally absorb something like that?" Tonks asked suspiciously as she found herself walking past buildings that started to look at least vaguely familiar. He had mentioned it happening before but had never actually talked about how.
When he had confided that he had absorbed part of Voldemort during the night of the final battle, she had always assumed it was just a natural byproduct of their final battle. This was the first time he was shedding more light on the events of that night.
Harry responded by mumbling something she couldn't catch.
"What was that?" She asked, and Harry's expression grew more embarrassed.
When he muttered once more her eyes sharpened, and she nudged him with her elbow.
"I tripped," he confessed quietly, though still loud enough for her to hear.
"You… tripped?" Tonks echoed in confusion, not certain how something like that could cause him to accidently absorb a piece of the dark lord.
"Look, after Voldemort had hit me with a killing curse, I found myself naked and in a dream version of Platform 9 ¾. There was this small disfigured piece of Voldemort's soul there too." Harry shuddered a little bit, "Looked like a mutated baby."
"I was trying to figure out what the hell was going on. When suddenly Dumbledore appeared and started walking toward me. So there I was thinking I was dead, completely starkers and had the bearded bastard walking toward me. Like any reasonable person I backed the hell up but I ended up tripping on the piece of Voldemort." Harry looked somewhat abashed.
"Next thing, I suddenly had a whole new set of thoughts and memories in my head and I was waking up back in my body." Harry said.
Tonks couldn't help it, she started to chuckle, a chuckle that turned into an outright giggle as she imagined it.
"Hey!" Harry huffed in irritation, enough so that Tonks knew he wasn't really irritated.
"I dunno, I don't think I could blame you. If I was in your position I doubt I would have done anything differently." Her words of sympathy would have been helpful...if they weren't spaced out between bouts of sniggering.
Harry rolled his eyes, "At least I was already dead when I fell onto a deformed piece of Voldemort by accident. I didn't trip and fall through the Veil of death. I wonder if it's a Black family trait."
She looked at him strangely. The Harry she had grown close to over the past few months would never joke about very specific things. Voldemort. The Veil of Death. Sirius and their relationship.
Harry had just done two of the three.
Quickly she stopped and drew close to him, dragging him into an alley so they wouldn't make a scene. Once out of sight, she pressed her lips against his and kissed him, barely hesitating before her mouth opened and her tongue demanded entrance into his. Her movement surprised him for several moments that he didn't even respond to the feel of her warm lips and tongue upon his.
However that surprise only lasted for a few moments.
His hands came up to grip her hips tightly and pull her body against his possessively as his own lips returned the kiss. Almost immediately, both his hands dropped down to her arse, and he began to roughly squeeze both cheeks in a rhythmic manner. He felt her shiver at his actions but it did nothing but encourage her. He held her against him as they pressed close, and both seemed to lose track of time, it was several minutes later when she pulled back.
Or at least she tried to, Harry's hands tightened further and kept her pressed against him for several more seconds, causing an involuntary moan to escape her throat. Her aroused state made her lose full control of her morphing, and her body responded to unconscious desire as she felt her chest slowly expand out and arse tighten up.
When their lips separated she found herself staring into green eyes where she could easily read the desire contained within.
"I like this you a lot better," she said breathily as she stared into his eyes.
Harry's response was only to quirk an eyebrow in curiosity, though his mouth tilted slightly upward in amusement.
"You've joked more in the past five minutes than you have in the past five months," Tonks chuckled a bit, still shivering slightly from the impact of the kiss.
"Well, if we're in Hell, I've got nothing to lose, besides… I'm also distracting myself from the pain of being landed on" Harry responded in a deadpan.
"Prat. You're a terrible liar," Tonks snipped back, but there was a genuine smile now on her face as she finally slipped out of Harry's grip.
She adjusted her shirt and bra, "Cor, these puppies get outta control sometimes. Gonna suffocate me if I'm not payin' attention to 'em!" Usually she had better control over her accent, but Tonks felt this was a reasonable exception.
And what an exception it was. After months of watching Harry drift away and close up, he was finally opening up with a vengeance, finally coming back to her. She had never believed he was the second coming of Voldemort, but she had been deathly afraid of losing him to his own despair and felt helpless to stop it.
No chance of that happening anytime soon. Tonks thought to herself smugly as she readjusted her body to a more...public friendly configuration. They could pick up where they had stopped later when they had a proper break to break...repeatedly if Tonks had her say.
When she was finished, and he was still staring unabashedly at her, she didn't step away. She moved close and, to her surprise, suddenly found Harry's arm around her waist holding her against his side as she looked around as they walked out of the alleyway.
Suddenly her eyes sharpened as they fell upon several buildings. "I thought I recognized this area… at least sort of!"
"Oh?" Harry inquired curiously, looking for any familiar landmarks as his arm tightened slightly around her waist, keeping her pressed against his side. A state of affairs Tonks was in no great hurry to stop any time soon, snuggling in deeper to ensure this.
"Yeah..." She gestured vaguely, "It's a little bit different, but if I'm right, the Leaky Cauldron is that way."
Harry shrugged, "Sure, let's go take a look. Maybe we'll find a drink. If so it sure beats the last time I was dead."
Tonks had already begun to lead them in that direction, with Harry's arm still around her waist, he easily fell into step beside her. "You… seem way more relaxed than I've seen you in well… ever." Tonks observed after a few moments of silent walking.
It was true. Harry was walking with an almost carefree gait, all the more unusual after the past months where he had looked like he had the weight of Hogwarts on his shoulders.
Harry nodded a bit, "Well, first, it's entirely possible that this is all a figment of my imagination and I'm likely to wake up again, because, let's face it. That's pretty much how my life works. Second it's because I've got a beautiful woman on my arm who isn't star struck or scared. But… most importantly, unless this happens to be a complete break from reality, I went through the Veil."
"Yeahhh…." Tonks said slowly, not understanding.
Harry sighed a bit, "I was stepping through willingly, even without your imitation of a rugby tackle."
"So?" Tonks followed up, hoping he wasn't going Dumbledore on her, which would be just as bad. She didn't think the Wizarding world could handle any more bad taste of that extreme.
"So…" Harry drew out slowly. "It was something Voldemort would never have done."
At her continued blank look, Harry gestured around. "That means that even with… part of… him inside me. Affecting how I think. Affecting how I feel. I'm still Harry Potter. Because he never would have stepped willingly into something that would cause his death. I did the one thing he feared most. So no matter what I'm thinking or feeling or how much he's influenced me, I am still Harry and I still control my own destiny." There was relief in his voice as Harry spoke.
Tonks looked surprised. She hadn't realized that Harry was quite so serious when he was speaking about it, and had thought it was more of a general thing. "That's what you were worried about? Honestly?"
Harry's expression was serious as they walked through the streets. "Yes! I constantly have viable thoughts ideas about how to take over the ministry and fix the wizarding world. What I would need to do, how I would need to do it. And… as they started their campaign against me, all the people I would need to eliminate to stop it."
"That part especially worried me, not only knowing who, but knowing that killing wasn't the only option. I knew exactly how to get to them, how to hit them where they're most vulnerable." Harry's eyes flicked around their surroundings and tightened around her waist slightly, "Every person I met, even my friends, I couldn't stop cataloging all of that."
Harry's voice was serious as he tried to impress what he was saying to her. It didn't exactly work,
"You… are an idiot." Tonks finally said through gritted teeth, her hair shifting to a harsher, reddish color.
Harry tilted his head at that, surprise on his expression as he looked at her "Okay… not the reaction I expected."
"Harry… did you ever find yourself wanting to kill babies?" She asked with exaggerated patience, her voice dangerously sweet.
"What? No!" He sounded horrified
"What about torturing people for fun or because you were bored or they happened to disagree with you?" Tonks pressed, making her nails get a bit sharper as she dug them into his side.
"If I did… you'd definitely be the first to know." Harry said with rolled eyes, manfully ignoring with some difficulty, her attempts to draw blood.
"Contemplate sacrificing innocent children in bizarre rituals or going on murderous rampages for kicks and giggles?" She inquired, reminding them both of Rita Skeeter, an analogy that had both of them shuddering in disgust.
"No!" Harry protested again,
"Then no. You weren't becoming like Voldemort." she sighed and pinched him one more time, "Which you would have known if you had talked to someone!"
"Who?" Harry shot back, a little irritation in his tone. "A couple of comments and my friends have been walking around on eggshells ever since."
"Next time… talk to me." Tonks said with a more level tone "I'm not afraid of telling you when you're being stupid. Like… when deciding to step through the Veil in order to prove you are still you." She let the worry that was still in her system color her voice at that. Tonks couldn't let him get back into the habit of assuming he had no one to confide in or trust, not again.
"I'll keep that in mind." Harry replied dryly. "Though since we already went through the point is rather moot."
"Besides, you forgot the biggest thing Voldemort would never do," she said as she looked at him rather irritably.
"Oh, and what's that?" Harry said, a bit annoyed with how it was said.
"You think Voldemort was interested in beautiful birds?" Tonks asked before she gestured to herself and struck a rather humorous pose of presentation "All you had to do, Harry, was ask 'Hey Tonks, I'm worried about acting like a Dark Lord. Could you have sex with me? I only ask because the guy famously sacrificed his John Thomas in a ritual for more power.'"
Harry goggled at her, causing her to laugh and continue, "And I would've been like 'Well, as long as it's in the name of Science', and then shagged your brains out...vigorously."
Harry blinked several times before he looked a little affronted. "I would never say it was for science, Dora. I would say it was for the Greater Good. That phrase seems to get people to do almost anything," He said indignantly.
"You wouldn't need any phrases for that Harry," she replied with a saucy grin, When Harry's expression didn't change, she laughed and kissed him again on the cheek before pressing against his side. "I like this you, Harry."
She rolled her eyes when he continued to not move and nudged him with her elbow, despite the uncertain situation they still found themselves in, Harry being more relaxed and actually responding to humor was a far better outcome than she imagined.
She looked ahead and exactly where she expected she saw the familiar entrance to the Leaky Cauldron.
She glanced over at Harry who didn't seem to have much of a care in the world. "You're smiling a bit more suddenly." Yes she was basically repeating herself but by Merlin she was still getting used to this, she was going to loop a bit dammit.
Harry shrugged, "If this is Hell, then at least there's good company."
Tonks snorted a bit and glanced ahead of her, the familiar sight of the Leaky Cauldron seemed to become even more enticing, "It's not Hell. C'mon, let's figure out where it is."
She slipped her arm through his and guided him in the direction of the most famous pub in Diagon Alley. He shrugged, but followed along with her, albeit in a mostly bemused state, but there was definitely a smile on his face which Tonks had not seen in a long time. She was going to do her best, come what may, to make sure that smile stuck around...and the person it was attached to, he was important too.
She guided them both into the pub. Which upon first glance looked almost exactly as they both remembered, though the guy at the bar was younger as he still had some dark hair left rather than all grey hair as they had remembered Tom having.
"Certainly not Heaven." Harry said, without any attempt at quieting his voice. "Exhibit, like… seven… entered into evidence."
The bartender looked up as they entered and went to greet them, and tilted his head as he frowned clearly trying to figure out who they were.
Harry braced himself for the common reaction he'd gotten used to. Only the bartender couldn't seem to place them and just frowned instead. Harry looked around thoughtfully realizing that very few people so much as glanced their way for longer than a few seconds.
He was distracted as Tonks tugged him closer and whispered quietly in his ear, "I don't suppose you came prepared?"
"Prepared for what?" Harry asked, amusement slowly growing on his face and a rare teasing tone entering his voice as his eyes gave her form a rather scandalous once-over before he whispered back into her own ear, "If you're talking about getting a room, then yes, I know the proper protection spells for us."
"For whatever you'd face when you stepped through," Tonks clarified with a slight smack to the back of his head, though she couldn't keep her hair from briefly flashing red in embarrassment, her cheeks flushing to match.
"I have what I normally carry on me." Harry replied vaguely ignoring the slap on the back of his head with good humor as he looked around the bar with interest and at the people who seemed to be enjoying dinner.
Tonks sighed and shook her head at how nonchalant he was about all this. She was starting to wonder if Harry was in shock by everything around her. Only he didn't seem to be stunned, more amused than anything. "I meant do you have any galleons on you because I only have a few sickles in my pocket."
Harry sighed, "Tonks, when I realized the Wizengamot might and could target my vaults, and I took steps to remove all my possessions from Gringotts, I realized that the safest place in the world for everything I owned was wherever I was."
He patted his chest once, and lifted up a golden chain around his neck that, to this point, Tonks had never noticed was there. At the lowest point, she could barely see a group of oddly shaped 'charms' attached.
Then everything he said clicked. Harry was carrying the sum total of all the Potter and Black assets that had once been stored in Gringotts around his neck. The thought actually made her feel faint, as, if this had ever become public knowledge, Harry would have been an even bigger target from the general populace than he already was.
As she steadied herself against a wall, she looked down. She spotted the day's Daily Prophet lying next to a finished meal, and quickly snatched it up. The cover story featured the announcement of the opening of a new broom store. A broom store that she had never honestly heard of previously.
But, it was ultimately the date at the top of the paper that caught her eye.
"Look!" she demanded of Harry, pointing to the corner of the paper. All remnants of her prior worries about Harry's lack of fiscal responsibility and safety precautions gone in light of what the paper had just revealed.
Harry frowned and stared at it for a moment, "August 1st, 1976."
"Do you know what this means?" Tonks demanded when, after a dozen seconds that was all Harry had said.
"Hell is really behind in news circulation?" Harry inquired dryly.
Despite his dry tone his gaze suddenly sharpened and with a flick of his fingers a silencing spell along with a few subtle repelling wards went up around them.
"The Veil leads back in time," Tonks whispered while running her fingers over the newspaper's date.
"Since when can anyone actually trust what's printed in the Daily Prophet?" Harry shook his head. "Or… again, it could be Hell."
"You saw the cars and people on the way here!" Tonks threw up her hands in exasperation. "Why are you so certain we're in Hell?"
Harry stared at her for a few moments, then heaved a great sigh, "That's just the way my luck works, Dora."
Tonks groaned in exasperation, "Dammit, Can we assume, just for a second, this isn't Hell? And look at other options? It could be someone's memory, or we could really be back in time..."
Harry actually looked to have perked up a tad at the premise she had made, but still looked depressed as he gazed around the pub. "All right. But I reserve the right to say 'I told you so'."
"Fine," responded Tonks cheerfully before her face took an uncharacteristically serious look, "So, what now?"
Before he could answer, Tonks held up a finger and dragged him into a corner booth that was somewhat away from the crowd and slightly in the shadows of the pub's poor lighting.
After Harry said nothing after a few moments once he was settled into his seat, Tonks smacked her hand lightly on the table impatiently, "Well?"
"What do you mean?" asked Harry, his eyes watching the people go by with a slightly growing soft smile on his lips, testing his lady companion's patience to its breaking point..
"I mean," Tonks growled vehemently, "Get your head in the game so we can figure out where we go from here!"
"I have no money. No clothes other than what I'm wearing. We're in the past, so I have no savings and neither do you." She glanced down at her shirt and pants with her normal coat. She was just somewhat relieved that she never went for the robes that aurors usually wore. Otherwise she would have been sent here wearing those, which no doubt would have led to a lot of awkward questions when someone saw her.
Her rant paused only a moment as her eyes widened in horrified realization, "Hell I was born two years ago… there's probably a Mini-Fucking-Me running around somewhere, and you weren't even born yet!"
Tonks knew there was always a chance of meeting one's past or future self thanks to the way magic worked in their world...but she had a feeling that jumping in time to the point where such a meeting would have to bridge a generational gap would be a just teensy bit more problematic.
Harry looked at Tonks for a second before he sighed. He reached into his shirt and completely pulled out the necklace he'd only briefly showed earlier. Now that it was fully visible, she could see that the 'charms' on it were actually four rectangular boxes hanging from it.
Unhooking one, he held it in front of Tonks face. "Potter family gold and loose jewels."
He reached up and plunked down another, "Black family gold and loose jewels"
Then, he gestured at the last two, without unhooking them, "Potter and Black family heirlooms and library."
He shrugged his shoulders, "I decided that the safest place for all of it was on me. No one was desperate enough to attack me for it. So… while we may not have history or connections we aren't completely without resources."
Tonks rolled her eyes over-dramatically, "Yes. Poor us. I mean rich us. We only have more gold in those two trunks then we could possibly spend in ten lifetimes." Her voice was dry enough to make Professor McGonagall clap in approval.
Harry shrugged guilelessly, "Just saying… you asked where we stood. Not that I was expecting to need money when I was dead, I just didn't want anyone else getting their hands on any of my stuff."
Tonks nodded, and Harry suddenly felt her foot rubbing against his leg, causing an eyebrow to arch as he met her gaze.
Tonks merely smiled in response, enjoying the fact that Harry was responding positively to flirting for once. He could also tell she was more than slightly irritated by the fact that she literally left everything behind and has only the clothes on her back with her along with her wand.
He could also foresee that, whenever he did ultimately take her shopping, that she was most certainly going to make him pay rather literally for pulling her along with him in this. Though, he could easily admit, the fact that Dora was with him made him extremely happy. They had stuck together, and it could be the true impetus for him to act upon some of his less outrageous thoughts concerning the older woman.
His thoughts on the two of them were echoed when Tonks, still rubbing her now bare foot ever higher upon his leg, said "I noticed you kept saying 'we' in those statements. Repeatedly."
"Is there a 'we', Tonks?" he asked, a smirk on his lips as he felt her toes begin to move in waves atop his crotch, not bothering to hide his increasing reaction to her ministrations.
She opened her mouth to speak, an obviously saucy retort on her lips, when she was interrupted as several people ran into the bar from the alley, screaming in fear.
The moment the shout registered with the half-drunk patrons of the inn's bar, pandemonium broke out. There was a simultaneous rush for the Floo and the muggle exit Tom the bartender began to weave spells into the air, activating some kind of ward to offer as much protection to his family's establishment as possible.
Harry's eyes went flat at the announcement and he slowly glanced at Tonks. "You were saying something about this not being Hell?"
His sarcasm quickly faded as he took in the expression on Tonks face. Her eyes were wide as she stared toward the entrance to the alley where several more people pushed through. They both were ignoring the panicking in the bar.
Tonks quietly whispered, "August 1st 1976."
"What about it?" Harry demanded slowly, concerned about the expression on her face.
Tonks seemed to shake herself as she turned to stare in Harry's eyes, traces of fear in her own, "If… if we really are back in time… then… Voldemort and a large group of Death Eaters attack the Alley today. Hogwarts letters went out a few days ago, and two new shops owned by muggleborns had grand openings today, offering massively discounted alternatives and new magical innovations. A store specializing in enchanting and an apothecary. Diagon Alley was absolutely full and bustling with people who were hoping to see part of a new future for the country."
"How would you remember something like that if you were so young during that time?" Harry asked watching her expression carefully.
Tonks hesitated and then swallowed, "I remember… because my father was injured in this attack. It could have been worse but he got hit with a spell on his leg. The healers managed to save it, but it always ached after, and he couldn't run again. Always said he was lucky though since 26 other people died."
Harry read Tonks expression for several moments before he sighed and then pushed away from her and slid out from the table, shaking his shoulders to loosen them up.
"Where are you going?" Tonks asked reaching out to grab his arm, stopping him as they were ignored in the chaos of the bar.
"Like I'm just going to sit back and let that happen. Even if we are in a memory or something and this isn't real." Harry replied with steel in his tone.
"What… what if we are back in time then we… we could be messing with the timeline?" Tonks demanded. As someone who had a partially muggle upbringing she read plenty of books where someone interfered with time.
When she got ahold of herself, she noticed Harry's expression was completely serious, probably for the first time since they arrived, "If we really are in the past, then Fate is proving herself to be a twisted bitch again when it comes to me."
He resolutely stared up at the sky and spoke, "That's why I'm not going to sit aside and let things just happen the same way they did before. I'm going to do my absolute best to destroy the plans she has for me… and all those who didn't deserve to die."
He offered an arm when he apparently realized she was still dazed and confused from too much information at once. When he finally gained her full attention, he levelled his eyes upon her and asked, "Are you coming?"
Tonks took a breath, squashing the feeling inside that this was a bad idea, then got an idea of her own She grabbed his arm again, "You had some leftover Felix Felicis, right? Give me a gulp. Something tells me I'm gonna need it."
Harry didn't hesitate to pull the stoppered vial out of his robes and hand it over. Inside, it contained a little less than a tablespoon of the ridiculously expensive potion.
Before she tentatively raised it to her lips, intending to only take a very small bit and allow Harry to take the rest, Harry spoke up, a small smirk on his face, "This certainly won't be the last time I tell you this so you better get used to hearing it… Swallow it all, Tonks."
She coughed slightly, unable to contain her surprise, at the blunt declaration and despite her metamorph powers she couldn't help but blush, and as she raised the vial to her lips. After swallowing the remainder, she gave him a teasing smile and said, "Promises, promises." in a tone that made plenty of its own.
She chucked the vial into a corner trash receptacle and withdrew her wand, setting aside their playful banter for the focus of a season Auror. "Ready?" she asked.
His response was to nod and begin walking purposefully against the flow of fleeing magicals, causing them to part around him by sheer presence alone.
She took two steps following Harry as she was hit with a cacophony of shouts. She realized that he must have used a spell that deadened the crowd noise, because it was a hell of a lot louder and apparently someone had tossed up anti apparition and portkey wards. Based on the crowd at the door to Muggle London someone had sealed that door from the outside as well.
Harry and Tonks ignored the rush as they pushed through the crowd towards the Alley, they'd let this time's Aurors deal with the panic.
She realized that the Death Eaters must have cut off that exit her earlier thoughts were true when they found three robed and masked Death Eaters standing at the entrance, one was facing in their direction and the other two they were facing away clearly stopping anyone else from heading that way.
Tonks had slowly raised her wand up to hit one with a spell, the Death Eater facing them raised his wand threateningly only to collapse as he was hit by a dark red flash from Harry's wand. That flash was followed by another as Harry hit one of the ones facing away, while Tonks' blue paralysis spell hit the remaining one.
Harry walked past the downed Death Eaters without sparing any of the figures a second glance.
Tonks was inwardly pleased that they didn't even need to talk about who was getting who before all three death eaters were down. She knew for a fact that hers were stunned. She didn't know what spell Harry used on the other two so she wasn't even sure whether they were dead or alive. She didn't see any blood out of them, and taking time to see if they were still breathing wouldn't have told her one way or the other if he had petrified them or something.
Then she realized that she didn't care.
She never thought she'd be fighting these bastards again, but whether they were just in a demented dream, the past, or as Harry posited, Hell… The Death Eaters had killed her family and destroyed the lives of everyone she ever cared about. At this point, she was no longer an Auror. No longer bound by oaths to act a certain way while in combat. This was surprisingly liberating as she thought about how she could be behave now compared to how she had wished she could after the war.
Those who had survived, had either stuck their heads in the sand and pretended things were better. So many of the people who were tired of war, or those who had lost enough they didn't have the heart to fight another one, but not so much they had nothing to lose, like the Weasleys were pretending nothing was amiss and that they would make things better. The rest didn't want to disrupt their lives… or they secretly wished they could do something by themselves. They just didn't want the accompanying risk.
Harry however saw these thoughts as somehow 'evil', and she didn't think he realized that he wasn't alone. Tonks could easily admit she thought about doing the same thing a dozen or so times, but didn't act because she didn't believe she could ever make a true difference on her own.
Tonks was honest enough with herself that she could admit to feel anticipation rising inside her. She knew they weren't in hell, and was pretty certain they weren't in some memory, otherwise people wouldn't have reacted to them. They were truly back in time. Excitement filled her at the idea of Harry finally not holding back or being too reserved to do anything any longer, of the both of them finally getting to cut loose.
Of course there was also the possibility that the side of her that had Black blood running through her body exulted in the minor acts of revenge.
Her thoughts were driven from her head as, in front of her, was a nightmare come to life, and for just a moment she was wondering if Harry was right and they were indeed in Hell.
Death Eaters were spread out in a circle, wands raised threateningly at an entire crowd of people. Some who huddled in groups under the wands of some Death Eaters. Others who cowered in shops or behind debris were unable to escape the terrifying events ahead of them. Men, women, children, it didn't seem to matter.
Their masks and hoods were glinting in the fading dusk light of the evening as they moved their arms focusing wands on different areas in the
One of the shops, which would eventually become a cheap place for alcohol in Tonks' day, was burning away as smoke drifted through the air.
Of course all of that was secondary to the figure who was also clad in black robes in the center of everything. The Dark Lord had pale white skin, was completely bald, and she could see his red eyes glowing with malevolence. Though she noticed some differences between himself and the Voldemort she remembered. He seemed a little bit less thin, and he also had a nose, but those were the only differences from his post-resurrection appearance, she noted.
He stood there surrounded by his Death Eaters and fearful onlookers alone in the circle of attention that not even his Death Eaters seemed to be willing to enter. It seemed to be a no-go zone.
Well, all except for the person on the ground in a whimpering heap.
An expert-eye told Tonks that, from the various symptoms the person possessed, they had likely just been under the cruciatus.
The Dark Lord's voice was deceptively soft and dangerous and yet somehow seemed to carry to the entire alley as he spoke. His voice was laced with power and caused a shiver of fear to run up Tonks' spine, as much from the power in the voice as it was from the memory of that same voice on the battlefield during the final battle.
"And now that you have felt the true weight of my displeasure. Your screams have served as the first abject and clear lesson of the day, your dead body will make do as a testament to the final fate of all who would seek to oppose me!" Voldemort said in a smug and gloating tone.
The man on the ground whimpered as Voldemort raised his wand and cast downward at the unfortunate person, "Avada Kedavra!" The dark lord's wand spat out the deadly green spell toward its victim.
However the victim suddenly shot across the ground and out of the path of the spell which smashed into the ground, narrowly missing the body.
The man let out a grunt of surprise as he flew away from the Dark Lord and rolled in their direction. Tonks glanced toward Harry who simply stepped over the rolling man that he had summoned away from the Dark Lord's control and stepped forward to meet him.
"Ooh! Can I guess the lesson?" Harry's completely irreverent voice called out as he stepped out of the crowd even farther and several meters into the circle of people, idly spinning his wand in his fingers.
Tonks glanced up to see an amused smile on Harry's face, which surprised her, a lot. She had expected him to be enraged, expected him to launch an assault on Voldemort and this batch of death munchers. She had expected several things, but this carefree attitude was definitely not a possibility that had even occurred to her.
Harry's appearance seemed to have frozen everyone in shock. The Dark Lord even seemed completely taken aback by these turn of events. Although Tonks wasn't sure if that was from shock that someone dared defy him...or if it was outrage at Harry's flippant tone.
"Well…" Harry continued, taking advantage of the surprise as he stopped several yards into the circle with the focus of attention of nearly everyone in the square purely on him. His tone was amused as he idly spun his wand in his hand. "My first guess is something like 'Ooh Arr! Fear me! I am scary because I can use the three Unforgivable spells! Arr!'"
Tonks couldn't help it, she snorted. The sound effects of pirate talk from Harry had her initially wanting to, but it was look of indignation and confusion on the Dark Lord's face that really made the sound come forth.
She wasn't sure if it was Harry's apparent age, the temerity it took to stand up to him, or the way he stood up to the Dark Lord that had the despot so confused. But he clearly was not prepared for it. She covered her own thoughts by kneeling down and running a quick scan on the man who was trying to push himself up. The poor sod would live he just wouldn't be comfortable for a few days. Clearly he had been under the cruciatus for a bit.
Harry continued on, seemingly blithely unaware of the reaction his actions were garnering, his own tone smug, "Oh oh, if it's not that, how about 'Hear ye, Hear ye! Inbreeding is the only way to go!' That's another message you lot are good at sending."
That second statement seemed to nudge the Dark Lord into action. "How dare you!"
He snarled and whipped his wand forward, shooting a sickly yellow spell in Harry's direction.
Harry affected a bored look, barely flicking his wand and the spell was blocked by a shield. "Oh. This is that 'Don't you dare defy my awesome amazing power because I'll pitch a tantrum like a little bitch' speech. How tiresome."
Voldemort snarled in response and sent a flurry of powerful spells at Harry.
Harry didn't change his expression, looking unimpressed as he shielded against several of the spells, flicked a piece of gravel to intercept one killing curse, and counter cursed one that would have exploded against him and his shield.
When Harry had time to reflect he would be surprised that he didn't feel fear or nervousness or all-consuming rage when he was confronting the figure that had terrorized him for years and had been the biggest party responsible for the misery that was a huge portion of his life.
He was also a little bit surprised at just how comfortable and easy he found it. He hadn't been challenged in a fight since he had fought Voldemort the last time. After the final battle at Hogwarts, he had been attacked twice but both of those attacks ended in under thirty seconds and were almost childishly easily. Hardly surprising given the fact that the attackers were people who had just gotten out of Hogwarts a year or so before Harry and were unhappy with the fate of their parents during the final battle.
Harry would later admit that he truly enjoyed the reactions of the fuming Dark Lord. However he wasn't taking Voldemort lightly. He just knew exactly how to press his buttons. And blatant disrespect did it like nothing else.
An enraged Dark Lord was a sloppy one after all.
It also had Voldemort's attention focused completely on him.
He debated truly cutting loose and going on the attack, but there were too many people. If this wasn't Hell, and was actually the past, the horcruxes would be problematic.
Thankfully his own scar remained unresponsive.
When Harry countered his onslaught, including spells that would have smashed the shields of nearly any magic user in the world, Voldemort got more wary.
"Who are you, boy?" Voldemort demanded finally moving as he began to pace side to side slowly, his robes billowing in a way that reminded Harry rather strongly of Snape.
"That's a good question." Harry replied approvingly, making no effort to actually answer it. He knew intimately how much Tommy boy loathed the idea of something or someone he could not understand.
A movement in the corner of his eye caught his attention.
One of the Death Eaters had taken initiative and was moving to hit him in the side with a spell. Before he could move to deal with it a flash of spell fire from behind him sent the Death Eater flying into a shop.
He didn't even have to look to see that Tonks had moved to back him up. It was entirely coincidental that the shop the Death Eater had been blasted into was the one smoking and on fire, truly.
"You really ought to keep your pets on a tighter leash. Otherwise they end up hurt," Harry said as Tonks moved to stand behind and at his shoulder.
Voldemort's eyes fixed on Harry's shoulder. His eyes narrowed at her briefly but Harry shifted and moved to cut off line of sight between his eyes and Tonks. He wasn't sure how strong her occlumency was, but he wasn't going to risk it.
"You didn't answer my question boy," Voldemort said, his eyes focused on Harry's, readying to strike.
Harry smirked slightly and simply waited a moment, he felt Voldemort's legilimency assault on his shields. He saw Voldemort's eyes widen in shock when his strike was soundly rebuffed.
"Naughty naughty," taunted Harry as he waggled a finger in remonstration.
"Who are you?" Voldemort demanded again, practically snarling in frustration.
Harry grinned, he had to admit twisting Voldemort like this was more than a little amusing for him, "I've been called a lot of things in my life. You can just call me Harry."
Voldemort resumed his pacing back and forth rapidly, a stark difference to Harry who moved slowly, not staying in one place too long, but moving at about a third of the pace to the angry Dark Lord in front of him.
"You have some power in you, child. Why would you waste it defending these…?" Voldemort gestured grandly at the people surrounding them.
Harry just raised his eyebrow, an amused smile on his face, though he didn't respond to the Dark Lord's question, something that seemed to encourage the Dark Lord.
"You interest me, you are young and powerful. I could make you stronger. You could become one of my strongest Death Eaters," the Dark Lord cajoled softly. "There is almost nothing that would be denied you."
"I could get that by serving you?" Harry asked doubtfully, tilting his head as he examined the Dark Lord.
"Of course," The Dark Lord purred, "I can always use powerful followers who believe in our cause. Unlike many of the fossils in this world, I respect the fires of youth. You would be welcome among our ranks."
"Your cause?" Harry inquired, keeping his tone politely disinterested. He was well aware that he had no intention of accepting the offer. Even if it was a genuine offer, and Voldemort didn't plan to kill him the moment his back was turned.
"Of course!" Voldemort seemed surprised that the impudent youth in front of him didn't know what their cause was, "The right of those who come from magic, to rule over those who don't. To embrace the legacies they come from and to take their rightful place."
"Their rightful place… and you can grant the power to do that?" Harry asked, raising an eyebrow and feigning curiosity.
Voldemort just smiled and spread his arms, "There is only power and those too weak to use it."
Harry tapped his chin with his wand as he pretended to consider that. "Hm, does joining you mean torturing and killing muggles, mudbloods, and half-bloods?"
The oily smile on the snake man's face split into a wide-grin at these words "But of course." There was even a bit of murmurs of support from the Death Eaters surrounding them.
A frown of consternation crossed Harry's face as he looked truly worried, his tone reflecting that concern "There's a couple of problems though…Well really… one major problem."
"What problem is that?" Voldemort asked curiously, tilting his head as though examining a new specimen.
"I have a bit of a problem with hypocrites you see," Harry explained conversationally, "Well… assuming 'struggling to restrain homicidal impulses when confronted with them' is considered a problem."
Voldemort's expression just showed puzzlement, and he honestly began to question the sanity of the person in front of him.
"So I have problems with someone pretending to be something they're not." Harry's expression and tone was flat, all indecision and pleasantness gone from his voice. "Especially people who use made up names because they're ashamed of being a bastard child whose Mummy love-potioned a muggle to be their Daddy."
Voldemort's eyes narrowed and a sneer was forming on his face even before Harry delivered his final comment.
"I mean… you know how that is… right, Tom?"
Voldemort's eyes widened in shock at the confirmation and he hissed out the words, "You Dare!" His entire body was shaking with rage and his magic literally leaked off of him, making everyone in the area, including the Death Eaters tremble.
Harry actually looked abashed, "Oh, sorry… I forgot that you prefer Voldemort." he said as if the words themselves had a bad taste to him
"When you renamed yourself, could you at least have picked something that wasn't French? I mean, seriously. Have you no English Pride?!" He screwed up his nose in a sneer of disgust patronizing enough to make Draco Malfoy swoon with envy, "I guess a filthy bastard like you would have no respect for our people's traditions, would you, Riddle?"
Voldemort let out a bellow of rage and suddenly launched a spell at Harry. Harry was prepared and launched one at the exact same time. Voldemort shielded from the spell Harry sent, surprisingly being pushed back a half dozen meters by the blast. Harry meanwhile, could not let the spell hit any onlookers behind him, so summoned one of the silently watching Death Eaters into the path of the spell, causing him to scream in shock and then to explode in a shower of gore, which he easily repelled with his own shield before throwing more spells at the Dark Lord.
With that the firefight began in earnest. The spells from Voldemort rending the air as he focused on destroying the impudent youth in front of him. It was the sort of assault that would destroy entire groups of wizards. The sort that he might launch at Albus Dumbledore during one of their confrontations.
Harry matched his assault spell for spell.
Voldemort at this point in the timeline, had most of the same memories and powers as Harry did due to the Horcrux Harry had absorbed. The difference was, the Voldemort before him had already split his soul at least four times, leaving him with a very loose grip on sanity. A grip that was pretty much obliterated in his enraged state.
However, while Harry still wasn't entirely sure they weren't in Hell, and his grasp on sanity wasn't exactly considered ironclad, he did know everything Voldemort did at this point.
He also had one major advantage that Voldemort didn't. He was still under the influence of the luck potion.
For several minutes the people in the Alley watched a duel of epic proportions as spells flew back and forth between the two, shields and pieces of rubble were used and then discarded and then transfigured and used again.
As the duel kicked off, Tonks had shifted her hair to be darker so she could circle around the area, doing her best not to draw notice to herself, she was splitting her attention between keeping her eyes on the Death Eaters outside in the Alley in case one of them might have considered trying to hit Harry from behind.
Thankfully however it seemed that the Death Eaters were either enraptured by the battle between the boy none of them knew and their Lord, or they were afraid of possible reprisals from Voldemort if they interfered. The other thing that had Tonks attention was her destination, which thankfully wasn't far away. As she moved outside Flourish and Blotts and with one final glance back at the battle between Harry and the Dark Lord, turned to look inside the window.
It took her a moment to orient and figure out in the cramped area but then she saw what she had dreaded.
Two Death Eaters were in the shop with their wands out and pointed at the customers inside. Either they weren't fully aware of what was happening outside or they were just very determined to spread as much terror as possible.
However her gaze only flicked to them briefly as they searched the interior for a moment before she found what she was looking for.
A young version of her father, standing in front of several other people, with his arms spread, clearly trying to protect them. He wasn't in wizarding robes, instead in normal muggle jeans and a button up shirt. She knew he favored that up to the day he died, preferring an informal and relaxed look and never one to bow to convention.
Her eyes narrowed as she glanced one more at the battle, and seeing the confident smile on Harry's face, took the opportunity to slip into the book store.
Her step into the bookstore rang the bell and caused one Death eater to whirl around. Tonks wand was already raised and fired, but the Death Eater had his own wand up and was fairly quick with his own reaction speed and shielded. Tonks didn't let up though quickly firing spell after spell into his shield.
Behind him she also saw a flurry of spells, in the direction of where her father had been, and for a brief moment Tonks was terrified that maybe she hadn't helped but instead made things worse.
However the spellfire behind the death eater was heading toward the death eater, not away from him. It also served enough of a distraction for the concentration of the death eater she was facing to slip and she had him unconscious from a bludgeoning spell to his stomach and then a stunning spell to his head.
Tonks quickly moved and stomped on the guy's wand snapping it into pieces, before she moved to the other one only to see a boot do the same to that wand.
She looked up and found herself face to face with a version of her father who was her age holding his wand still pointed in the direction of the Death Eater. He grinned at her, "Thank you, I was getting worried there for a second."
Tonks stared for just a second, her father had died in the second rise of Voldemort and the last memory she had was stumbling into the ruins of her home to find his mutilated body impaled against one of the remaining walls. She had tried for months to get the visage of horror and pain out of her mind.
To see him now like this was jolting and very briefly Tonks was unable to stop a smile from crossing her face. Hell she was barely able to resist the impulse to hug her father, so she turned her attention behind him to see her mother also alive and whole.
Her mother looked up after holding a wand on the unconscious death eater on the ground and a relieved smile spread across her face. "Thank you very much, you saved us!" Andromeda was more direct in her thanks, her expression more grim than her husband's.
Tonks didn't reply immediately, as she was more than a little distracted. She wasn't as affected by her mother being alive and well, despite having witnessed first-hand her death being no more pleasant than her father's. At least she was not as affected in that moment, but only because in her mother's arms was cradled a young girl.
The young girl was held off the ground and had her arms around her mother's neck and turned to look at Tonks. The girl was frightened but seemed to realize the immediate danger had passed. The child turned to look at Tonks, and she found herself staring at her own two year old face.
A fact proven after a moment when the little girl's hair shifted to pink to match the color Tonks had at the moment.
Dora blinked in surprise at the little girl. Not because of the hair color shift, but because her parents had never told her that she had been present when her dad had been injured. Never told her that it had been because he was protecting his wife and herself. She wondered if she just didn't remember or if her parents had her obliviated of it.
Dora's hair shifted from pink to a light blue, as she considered that thought and the little girl's eyes widened and a small smile spread on her face as she shifted hers to match as well.
Of course that was nothing compared to the reaction of her parents, "You're a metamorph too?" Andromeda asked in disbelief.
Anything she was going to say was cut off as an explosion came from the alley and Tonks was startled back to focus remembering where she was and more importantly that Harry was currently facing off against Voldemort.
"Stay here and keep down!" Tonks ordered her father and mother, whirling around to step back out into the street, pushing open the door to look around.
She found everyone staring as the air surrounding them seemed to be saturated with magic and the bright flashes of spells going back and forth lit the early evening sky. Tonks eyes sought out Harry whose expression was set into one of determination, and even had a smirk on his face. He did have a cut on his cheek and she could see that one of his pants leg was burnt and had a hole in it. Otherwise he seemed completely fine.
A glance at Voldemort showed him in much the same shape. There was no cut on his cheek but his richly appointed dark robes were in tatters. The spells made loud crackling sound or explosive sounds as they continued to fly and be shielded, drowning out everything but the highest shrieks.
Tonks had never seen a display like that, even being there at the final battle Harry and Voldemort hadn't dueled on this level at least not in front of people for very long and she found herself just staring.
She was pushed out of that staring as she was jostled from behind. Her head spun rapidly to find herself staring once more at her father who was standing there with his wand still drawn. She glared at him, "I told you to keep your head down!"
He shook his head, "I'm not leaving you to face this alone. Think we can get those buggers?" He asked with a wave of his wand at a group of four death eaters in front of the next store over.
Tonks blinked and then focused on the group in question. She mentally cursed herself, rather colorfully in fact, that even with her training she had been caught watching the battle between two titans. Something that everyone else seemed to do. She knew better than that and had learned that lesson in the last war.
After some hesitation, wanting her father away and back in safety, and then remembering exactly how stubborn both of her parents could be when their minds were put to something she nodded a little bit, "I'll get the two in the back. Hit them hard and fast."
Ted Tonks nodded and lifted his wand in preparation.
Almost as one the two lifted their wands and a flurry of spells fell on the four death eaters. The four were in unconscious heaps on the ground before they even realized anything was happening.
Tonks shot a grin at her father who grinned back, however before either could say anything or before they could pick out another group there was a loud scream that interrupted the battle in the alley.
Tonks head whipped to the side to see the dark lord stumble back with his left arm over his right shoulder… and the stump where the entirety of his right arm used to be. Her eyes flicked to Harry and she found him standing there holding the wand of the dark lord in his free hand.
The Dark Lord didn't wait around or say anything further simply hissed something and disappeared with a WHOOSH of a portkey. A whoosh that was matched by the portkeys attached to nearly all of the death eaters in the Alley as well.
Tonks cursed to herself as she realized that the group they had just felled disappeared as well. It was standard practice of the Death Eaters to always have a recall portkey that would transport even those who were unconscious, and she had flubbed it again by forgetting it was there.
Putting the thought aside, she glanced around the alley. It was an unnatural calm as the silence of pure shock fell over the alley. The boogeyman who had slowly begin to torment Great Britain had been shown his first major defeat. The severed arm that lay upon the ground drew all eyes, and smiles slowly blossomed upon all witnesses as they realized that the terror that had begun to infect their society could be defeated.
Tonks on the other hand, only had eyes for Harry. For the briefest of moments, Harry stared down at the arm of his foe, and then his eyes found hers. Tonks found herself slowly walking forward, a smile of pure joy on her face. She was even more overjoyed to see that the smirk of confidence and pride at his defeat of Voldemort was replaced by a smile of relief that she was okay.
There was no hesitation when they found themselves at arm's length from each other. Tonks smiled and reached up to brush the light cut on his cheek, her fingers ran over the skin but once more before she found herself able to say anything she was cut off. Harry reached up and entangled his fingers in her hair tilting her head back as he pressed his lips against hers firmly. His other arm slid around her waist and pulled her tightly against him. His other hand slipped down from her hair and gripped her ass to pull her even more tightly against him.
Tonks shivered but didn't hesitate at all as his lips plundered her, and she found her legs wrapped around his waist as she was lifted against him. All her life she had been told by her mother, her professors, fellow aurors she was partnered with, and even dates, that she shouldn't be so overt, shameless, slutty, whatever the terms. That this sort of public display of affection should have been anathema. But Harry didn't seem to mind, in fact he seemed to be encouraging it, and that was absolutely fine with Tonks.
Her behavior also had everything to do with the fact that, at that moment, never in her life had Tonks ever felt as safe as she did just then.
Distantly, she became aware that the crowd that was watching had burst into cheers like some cheesy muggle-movie. Harry, abnormally shy in the best of cases, completely ignored it just like her, content to keep making a public spectacle of their show of relief that both were uninjured after the fight.
Finally, the kiss had to end. She broke off to look into his eyes. Harry slowly opened his, as if he was trying to commit every minor detail of what transpired to memory. When he finally opened this beautiful green eyes, Tonks couldn't even try to contain the words that spilled forth from her mouth.
"You are so getting lucky tonight, Mister."
Any response he might have given was interrupted by a staccato burst of multiple apparition pops. She glanced over her shoulder to see half a dozen Aurors brazenly begin to push their way through the still-cheering crowd.
In the lead was a surprisingly whole Mad-Eye Moody, who possessed both eyes and walked without the characteristic 'thunk' of a false leg. To see the man twenty years younger and without nearly two thirds of the man's grotesque scarring was a sight that almost made her gape in astonishment.
Harry though, ever quick on his mental feet, pulled her in close once more for a hug and whispered in her ear, "We'll have to play this by ear. Anyone asks, we're here because both our families were just wiped out and we decided to come back to Britain after being educated abroad. Come up with a name for yourself, and don't let them separate us."
Tonks blinked in surprise at Harry's comment as he pulled away from the hug with a final kiss on her cheek. She could see the expression on his face and could tell that his mind was working overtime and figuring out a way through this. Rather than question him or try and offer her insights, she gave a quick nod as she pressed herself against his side, and began to ponder what her new name could be.
As much as she hated the name Nymphadora, she realized that she would forever respond to it, so she needed some variant of it that was close enough to work with yet different so it didn't have people, especially her parents ask questions.
Moody stomped up toward Harry who stood there with a raised eyebrow in challenge but halted in his approach as there was a bright flash in the alley and Albus Dumbledore appeared in a pillar of fire. He had his wand at the ready and was looking around, finding himself surprised when he was hearing the sound of cheering.
Harry was surprised when he first lay eyes on the old man. Not so much at the appearance but at his own reaction to it. Voldemort had hated Dumbledore, had hated the power and respect the man got, had hated him for returning him to the orphanage year after year. Harry himself had been more than a little angry with the man due to his own actions that had completely messed up Harry's life.
However, seeing the man now, looking around, a look of genuine concern on his face followed by relief that things were not complete chaos everywhere. Harry realized his own emotional reaction to the man was far more muted than he had expected. The man had made mistakes, and had messed up, there was no doubting that, but at the same time he had done what he had thought was best, and Harry couldn't fault the man for that. Especially given the fighting of a war.
"That has got to be Albus Dumbledore," Harry said covering up his own momentary discomfort with his own reaction and surprise at his realization of his own thoughts and mentality, however even that surprise did not stop him from speaking deliberately loud enough for the old auror to hear.
"What gave it away?" Moody asked dryly.
"The robes," Harry replied with a deadpan voice.
Moody coughed as he poorly managed to mask a cough of amusement.
"Honey, do you think I could get a pair like that?" Harry asked.
"If you have suddenly decided to embrace a life of celibacy, sure," Tonks replied with a grin, bumping their hips together.
This time the Auror didn't even try and cover up his response as he let out a bark of laughter in honest amusement as he glanced at the couple.
That seemed to attract Dumbledore's attention as the wizard's eyes fell on Moody and he quickly moved towards him, people moving out of the way in respect to the powerful wizard, "I came as quickly as I heard he was here."
Dumbledore looked around, obviously ignoring the damage done to the alley and looking for bodies, "Was it a false alarm? Was he not here personally?"
"No… he was really here." Moody shook his head, before he waved his hand towards the cheering crowds, "At least according to the people here."
Dumbledore frowned as he looked around, "What is going on? Why are people cheering?" It was clear that the wizard was not used to not knowing what was going on.
"According to the aurors and the crowd, you should ask the two here, Albus," Moody said, gesturing towards Harry and Dora.
Albus, for the first time, seemed to fully take in the two individuals who stood nearby. His eyes seemed to rake over every detail of the two individuals that stood side by side, the male with his arm wrapped possessively around the female. It was impossible for him to determine their age, though they seemed young enough to still be in school. While their features were reminiscent of some of his current students, he knew that neither of the individuals had ever attended Hogwarts.
After his examination of the two, the bearded wizard bowed his head politely, "My apologies, I am Albus Dumbledore, may I know who the two of you are?"
"It's a pleasure to meet you in person, Supreme Mugwump," Harry said with a friendly smile on his face, his eyes flicked to the wand still in the headmaster's hand and the smile became a little bit wider as the thought of the Elder Wand made a lot of things click into place in his mind as he came to a decision, "My name is Harrison Peverell, Harry to my friends."
Harry made sure not to stare at the wand in the man's hand. He wondered what it meant knowing he had his own version of the Elder wand in his left hand wrist holster. He kept all three Hallows in a pouch there. It was sealed so only his blood could open it. After the Battle of Hogwarts he had realized the irresponsibility of leaving them around for anyone to find.
He hadn't used it for the battle, as it was a fairly distinctive wand. And if Voldemort's attention to detail picked that up it might draw attention to the wand, far more than Harry wanted.
Harry shifted slightly to scratch his left arm, checking to insure that the holster and wand were still there. He could feel the wand, and more importantly he could feel the magic in it still there. It didn't seem to be reacting at all to the fact that Dumbledore had a duplicate of it.
Albus' eyebrows lifted sharply to stare at the boy in front of him. A gaze Harry met confidently without showing any hint of surprise or challenge, just a statement of knowledge.
Dora glanced at Harry very briefly. She recognized the name and she fervently hoped that Harry knew what he was doing. His name had her raising her head, believing she had the perfect response in mind for the question of a new identity, "And I'm Theodora Nimue."
It was close enough that she could be called Dora or Nym without drawing any attention to herself since she definitely did not want to slip and snap at someone for calling her Nymphadora and tell them to call her Tonks. Besides, her younger self already had that name and that would bring in far too many questions.
"A pleasure," Albus said almost absently with a nod of the head before turning his attention completely back to Harry, his expression serious and his tone probing, "A genuine Peverell? I was not aware that anyone holding that family name still existed..."
Harry merely shrugged and smiled, "That's not entirely surprising. Given the history of the name and the items every one associates with it."
"If you indeed have a claim to that name, it is likely to draw attention to yourself," Dumbledore ventured. He kept his tone polite and not rude when he expressed his concern. "No one has claimed that name in hundreds of years, at least publicly."
Dumbledore's fingers flexed around his wand. While many people were of the belief that the story of the three brothers was just that, a story. Albus was well aware that the history of the three brothers was real, a portion of the proof was in the wand in his hand. He had researched deeply into the family in the intervening three decades since his confrontation with Grindelwald.
However no one had come forth to claim the title. At least as far as taking their seat and place in the Wizengamot or anywhere else as far as he knew.
Further complicating matters for Dumbledore, was that as far as he knew there were only two intact lines that were offshoots of the three Peverell brothers. The Gaunt Family line was direct descendants of Cadmus Peverell. The Potter family line came from Ignotus Peverell.
He had never read anywhere or found anything that suggested Antioch Peverell had ever sired children. So Antioch Peverell must have had a child that was somehow missed by history, and so utterly missed that Dumbledore in all his research had never found so much as a hint otherwise. Well either that or in his death the last head had set some magical requirements to be met.
There was also the much more likely possibility that this young man was deceiving him. That he had no claim to the name. Of course given the public nature of everything that has happened, he had no doubt the young man would have to prove his claim sooner rather than later.
"And one I will likely be taking in the future as well," added Dora, bringing the attention of Dumbledore back to her along with an accompanying look of shock, and only a slight tensing of Harry's arm around her back which was noticed by no one. Dora's only response to the hidden reaction was to morph her arse to ripple slightly under his fingertips, which caused Harry to squeeze her body to his side even more tightly.
"She is your intended?" asked Albus with a wry grin.
Harry glanced at Dora, who smiled cheekily and kissed him on the cheek. "Yes, though I had hoped to keep news of that sort somewhat quiet after today's events. I had not intended to make a target of her yet."
"After what you just did to the Dark Lord?" asked Ted Tonks who was walking over with Andromeda and tiny Nymphadora who was staring at her older counterpart with side eyes as if expecting her to change again, "Along with that kiss… sorry, mate, but you don't have a chance of that happening now. That kiss will likely be tomorrow's Daily Prophet cover photo."
"Andromeda, Ted, a pleasure as always." said Albus, his curiosity finally overcoming his desire for idle gossip. "What did you do to the Dark Lord?
Ted Tonks pointed at Harry, "This one was doing his best impression of you, Headmaster. Fought the bastard one on one. Never seen spells flying that fast. The nameless one ended up leaving a bit of himself behind in his rush to get away from him."
Ted pointed at the still untouched arm that was left on the ground, and everyone new to the scene suddenly figured out just who's arm that was. Albus looked at Harry again, reappraising him quickly in his mind.
"You fought Voldemort off?" He asked, a bit of wonder in his voice.
"Yeah, I held his attention rather than have him focused on the entire crowd. No one else seemed to be doing anything about it, and I was never one to stand quietly aside. Then Dora went to work on some of his minions. Though I think most of them got away. Parseltongue-activated group-linked portkeys." Harry answered honestly, admitting to himself that he enjoyed seeing the expression on the headmaster's face.
"My wife managed to keep the two in the shop we downed right where they fell," added Ted, pointing at the book shop where he and Dora had fought the small group of Death Eaters. "She summoned any portkeys and extra wands away from the two in the shop after me and our friend here downed them. Sorry to say, we didn't think to do the same to the ones we knocked out in the street here."
"Start from beginning," barked out Moody who was frustrated only getting part of the story and was flicking back and forth between the arm on the ground, Dumbledore and Harry.
Dora responded like she was back in the Auror Academy, "Harry and I arrived on the scene after hearing a commotion while we were eating lunch in the Leaky Cauldron. Harry engaged the Dark Lord in a bit of bantering after saving someone from a killing curse who was about to be executed as 'an example'. The victim had already endured numerous Cruciatus exposures as well as an unknown number of other curses."
She looked around, "I don't see the person in question at the moment, so I assume someone took them for healing."
"After bantering, and the Dark Lord offering both of us a place in his ranks, Harry began to duel him, while I snuck around and began to take out Death Eaters who were raiding some of the shops. Among those I took down were a few savaging this gentlemen here."
"The name is Ted Tonks, by the way. She walked in," began Ted Tonks without hesitation, gesturing towards Dora, "and took down one by surprise, while myself and my wife took the others."
"After that was done, I returned to the street and was assisted by Ted here and took down another half dozen Death Eaters before Harry disarmed the Dark Lord, causing him to flee and call for a retreat via portkey."
"You disarmed him?" Dumbledore inquired of Harry incredulously, his feeling of marvel growing the more the details came to light.
"Literally," Ted Tonks added with a chortle as he pointed toward the arm on the ground no one had dared get near, creating a 3 foot radius around the limb.
The tale was met with raised eyebrows and another glance at the arm on the ground. Moody's eyes narrowed when he saw which particular arm was on the ground. "Dark Lord's wand arm, eh Laddy? What happened to his wand?"
Harry had no reason to deny having the wand, as the issue of the brother wands, to the listener's knowledge, should have no bearing. He pulled Voldemort's wand out of his expanded pocket, and held it up for their view. When it was revealed, it produced a gasp of surprise from Dumbledore.
"That is most certainly Voldemort's wand," he whispered, his amazement nearing the breaking point after the series of revelations he was being presented with. This represented more hope than their world had had for years.
"I'll take that, Laddy," said Moody, already reaching for the wand with more than a little eagerness.
Harry for his part, didn't even blink as he placed the wand back into his pocket and said, "Yeah, I don't think so."
Moody looked like no one had ever told the man 'no' in his life with the reaction he gave Harry. "We'll need to enter that into evidence. You have no choice in the matter."
Harry, for his part, wasn't even phased, "I believe I do. I believe you are familiar with the phrase 'To the Victor, the spoils'?"
"I'm familiar with it boy, doesn't mean it actually legally applies here." Moody replied his eyes narrowing at the young man in front of him. He saw a brief flash of irritation in Harry's eyes at being called a boy but he let no other sign of irritation show.
"I disagree," Harry said, meeting Moody's gaze, "First, I'm pretty sure there is no legal statement saying that I need to turn it over to you. Especially given what I've seen and read about this bloke. I turn it over to the ministry and it'll probably be back in his hand before dawn. Unless you know whom all those nice masked fellows were and are sure none of them are employees at the Ministry."
That seemed to bring Moody up short as those words sunk in and he glanced toward Albus for his input.
"Secondly, I do believe that the fact that I disarmed him, means that I have won the loyalty of this wand, meaning its current master is… me," Harry continued with a small smile on his face, not letting the Headmaster get any words in edgewise, "I do believe Chief Warlock Dumbledore here even set a precedent with the wands of Dark Lords following duels."
"After all," said Harry, as he pointedly looked at Dumbledore, "Aren't you rather famous for still possessing the wand you took from Grindelwald to this very day?"
Dumbledore looked decidedly uncomfortable, his hand clenching on the wand, but eventually nodded his head in confirmation.
"Now, as I'm its current master, I'll be keeping this wand," Then he gave Moody a rather self-deprecating smirk, "Unless you'd care to duel for it. If you beat me I'd be happy to turn it over to you."
Moody gave Harry a dark and angry look for several seconds before he suddenly smirked, a smirk that turned into a full blown grin as he threw his head back and barked out a laugh, "I like you boy!"
Dumbledore seemed more than a little unhappy with this turn of events, but there was literally nothing they could do. However there didn't seem to be any malice in the way that Harry had talked to Moody, and Dumbledore knew he could hardly make an issue of it given the lad's rather knowledgeable bent toward history.
"Moody! Moody!" A shout from one of the aurors drew their attention before anyone could converse further, Harry raised an eyebrow as he found himself staring at Kingsley Shacklebolt. The auror really didn't look much different than Harry had seen last, Sure he was noticeably younger, perhaps only a year or two out of Hogwarts, but he was still a larger black man, shaven bald and built like a brick shit house. However his demeanor wasn't the stoic or experienced one Harry was used to.
An amused glance at Dora told him she was thinking the same thing.
"Shacklebolt! Did you have an issue getting the Death Eaters left behind secured?" Moody demanded as he scowled at the younger man.
"Yes! I mean, no. There were two in the bookstore that we secured, it was the other one… the dead one in pieces… he's…" Kingsley clearly made an effort to drop his voice, so it wasn't shouted around. Though the fact that he was trying to tell Moody, and had Dumbledore standing right there had him trying to tell both men. "It's Reginuald Lestrange."
"What happened?" Moody demanded immediately.
"We've got witnesses saying that he was killed in the fight between You-Know-Who and…" Shacklebolt trailed off as his eyes went to Harry in a mix of fear and respect.
Moody blinked twice at the news and turned to scowl at Harry.
Harry seemed less than intimidated by the auror's scowl. "If you're talking about the one that ended up in pieces then it isn't my fault he's dead. He attempted to curse me in the back. I then simply used him to block several of his master's curses. It's hardly my fault that Voldemort was tossing deadly curses in my direction." He retorted flatly
"Damnit!" Moody cursed and stalked away with Shacklebolt to look at the body, pushing through the rest of the crowd. Most of the rest of them the crowd was now dispersing at the insistence of many other aurors. Harry found himself in the position of being rather relieved. It seemed with Dumbledore there, most of the rest of the crowd did not find it necessary to approach him with thanks or anything else.
"This could… be problematic," Dumbledore said quietly as he stroked his beard watching Moody wave his wand to run diagnostic scans over the pile of robes.
"If it was the Head of House Lestrange, that's going to cause a major political reaction from the purebloods," Andromeda Tonks observed as she stepped close to her husband. She still held her daughter close, though her daughter's attention was clearly fixed on Dora's hair. "Not to mention the chaos that it will cause within the Lestrange family itself."
Dumbledore tilted "Andromeda, while I understand the first part of your comment perhaps you could enlighten me as to the second part?"
"Are you sure? It tends to fall into that pureblood drama and maneuvering for position that I think tends to bore my husband so much," she responded with a chuckle, said husband making an exaggerated face of disgust behind her.
"Would you care to share?" Dumbledore asked, a trace of amusement in his own tones, acting for all the world like he was back in his school hearing a particularly elaborate oral assignment from one of his students.
"Let's… just say that unless something has changed in the last three years then House Lestrange is without a sitting head, at least for the foreseeable future. Which basically sends all internal family politics out the window." Andromeda said with an amused lilt of her voice, blatantly enjoying the thought of one of the greatest Pureblood houses being undone by their own nature.
Any further explanation was cut off as Moody headed back their way, "Albus there's gonna be trouble." He said without preamble.
"What trouble Alastor?" Albus asked, his tone resigned.
"That's definitely Lestrange," Moody shook his head, "Once the purebloods get wind of this they're going to be up in arms about one of their own being killed."
"You mean once they take off their masks and put on different robes," Harry said without humor.
Moody just grunted in agreement before he turned to Harry, "Look boy, I really don't wanna do this. But we've got a dead Lord of an ancient house, and the law says anyone that had anything to do with his death is responsible as well."
Tonks stilled next to Harry and her eyes narrowed, to which Harry gave her a gentle squeeze around her waist for reassurance. For his part, Harry simply nodded, knowing that the auror wasn't done.
"Alastor, I don't think that's nec-" Albus started to say, only for his friend to cut him off.
"However, if I arrest you, soon as the Daily Prophet is printed tomorrow there may be a riot at the Ministry and I might not escape being lynched," Moody actually blanched at that, glancing around as if he expected someone to step out immediately and try.
"I'm really hoping that you weren't spinning tales when you gave me your name and that you can prove you are who you claim to be." Moody said quietly, looking around, "If you're at least a pureblood that gives you some protection..."
"Ah yes, I had almost forgotten the notoriously… biased laws in Britain," Harry said with a grimace. He had hated those laws and how it let people escape scott-free from hurting or doing worse to his friends. Now he was about to use and manipulate those same laws to benefit himself. He could appreciate the irony if nothing else.
"But I need proof one way or the other..."
"The Peverell name holds much esteem in our society amongst those who know its history. Would you be willing to undergo an inheritance test to verify your claims?" Dumbledore asked, a little more loudly than the volume their previous conversation previously had taken place at, thus drawing the attention of those who had loitered too close in the aftermath of the attack.
"It was actually on my list of things to do anyway," Harry shrugged, though he felt Tonks suddenly squeeze his ribs rather painfully.
"Excellent," said Albus boisterously, "The Goblins are always very keen to provide their services in situations like this."
"I have some business with them anyway," Harry replied blandly. "I'd be happy to prove my claim before I take care of my personal family business with them."
The small group began to move towards Gringotts while Aurors were detailed towards cleanup actions. They were joined by Moody and two other aurors, and Dumbledore. Harry wondered if the only reason Moody didn't ask for more escorts was because he had Dumbledore with them.
Harry was a little bit surprised that after a whispered discussion Andromeda and Ted Tonks joined the group. He was also a bit surprised to see Andromeda, Ted and Dumbledore comfortable, chatting quite amiably as they walked up the steps, though he was certain the old wizard's eyes remained locked on him.
Harry glanced down at Dora surreptitiously to see her giving him a look of incredulity at his actions. He knew why she seemed to be against this course of action, by blood alone he would not be the head of any houses. Mostly due to the fact that they had just arrived in this time, a fact he was slowly coming to terms with, that they had traveled through time and he was not in Hell.
The few times he had asked about inheritance tests, he had been given vague answers, but even before the final battle at Hogwarts, he knew enough about them to be relatively certain that they wouldn't show that he was the son of two people who were still in Hogwarts, which wasn't something he cared to admit to anyways.
After all, he was sure that, somewhere buried in the archaic laws of wizards, time travel to the extent that Dora and he had just undergone was a no-no.
He almost laughed aloud when he figured it was probably punishable by "Death via the Veil".
After he had absorbed Voldemort's fragment, Harry understood them a great deal more. Apparently Voldemort had done a lot of research into that area. Hardly surprising given that there didn't seem to be many areas outside of Divination, Astrology and Runes that he didn't do research into.
However he had done research specifically into inheritance tests. After he discovered his bloodline he had hoped to claim the Slytherin bloodline. Something that would have garnered him instant respect and awe. However the inheritance test had shown him listed as an Heir but had not met all the necessary requirements to take the house. While he may have the family blood, that specific house apparently needed more. The test didn't tell Tom what requirement he didn't meet, but it did tell him there was one he hadn't fulfilled.
Given Slytherin's stance as an advocate for purebloods, Tom had never cursed the memory of his muggle father more than he had at that moment.
Harry shook his head slightly from those thoughts. While he had never actually gone in and gotten a test, he hadn't want to bother, and it wasn't like he needed more power or recognition, or reasons to hate him in their old world. Harry was certain he met all four qualifications for house Peverell. The last time he met with the goblins, the Director had mentioned as much and wondered why Harry hadn't claimed the name. Harry just didn't want more political hassle or attention so he had never bothered.
The bank was open for business and seemed to just be returning to normal operation after the attack in the alley. Thankfully no one else seemed to have come back in for business yet, so Dumbledore was able to approach one of the teller's rather quickly. "Excuse me good sir, could we arrange for an inheritance test to be done? It is a matter of quite some urgency."
The goblin looked distinctly less than impressed as he looked at Dumbledore before he nodded and rang a bell.
Another goblin rushed up and after a brief conversation in the goblin's language, the newly arrived goblin nodded, "Follow me," He said without preamble or any attempt at politeness.
Harry recognized the bluntness for what it was, a combination of efficiency and taunting; a warrior race's blunt attempt to goad those it felt were inferior to itself into a willing culling.
The goblin stopped as they approached a door, "Who is getting the inheritance test?"
"That would be me," Harry replied politely stepping forward.
"Who do you want to be present for the test?" The goblin demanded bluntly.
"This isn't our business and we are not Aurors, we can wait out here," Andromeda spoke up, grabbing Ted's elbow in a wordless signal. She looked up and caught first Harry's eyes and then turned until she caught the older Dora's eyes.
"We were hoping we could talk to you before you leave," she said as she lightly ran her fingers over her daughter's hair for emphasis, signaling exactly what she hoped to talk about. Dora glanced at Harry briefly and then nodded slightly. She wondered if they had cast a sleep spell over the young girl or if she had just been exhausted by the events because she was limp and drooling on her mother's shoulder.
Knowing that Dora was a drooler was blackmail material that could likely last him months.
"We need to be there so that we can verify his claims for legal reasons," one of the Aurors, an older one Harry didn't recognize, spoke up. His tone was pompous and reeked of self-importance and seemed to think he was at least nominally in charge. He completely ignored the scowl that came from Moody next to him.
"Actually you don't," Harry corrected, unsurprised at the way the goblin sneered at the Auror, "I can absolutely go in, get everything verified and squared away and then you can submit a request for verification through Gringotts. The Nation can attest to my claims that way."
Harry managed not to grin as the Goblin's expression turned evaluative as the diminutive being peered up at him. Harry knew that by referring to them as 'the Nation' he was at least hinting at respect for their own identities.
"However," he turned back to the Goblin, "I'm okay with these people present, it will save paperwork and such in the long run, and no one will doubt the word of the Aurors and the Chief Warlock. It saves trouble in the grander scheme of things."
Of course that would be enough. It didn't even take that much to get Sirius twelve years in Azkaban for a crime he never committed.
The Goblin looked up at Harry, seeming to be unimpressed with his statement. "I'm obligated to inform you that you do have an expectation of privacy and non-disclosure from us. However we cannot guarantee the same from any guests you bring with you."
Harry looked thoughtful for a minute and then shrugged, he was relatively certain that it would get out sooner rather than later, "I know sir, and I will hold the Nation blameless for anything that gets out."
The Goblin seemed satisfied with this, and opened the door to the room with a wave of his hand, "Very well. Inheritance Manager Gorbag will see you."
The group, excluding the Tonks family, continued on deeper into the Gringotts' underground. They were led to an inconspicuous office hewn out of the rock. A hammer on the rock was used as a 'door chime', and the large stone door that barred their way opened slowly with a rumble and crack of stone upon stressed hinges.
"Ah," said a gravelly voice from inside as the group made their way in. "I have to admit, you're not my usual customers."
Harry's eyes quickly adjusted to see that the same Goblin who had once given Tom Riddle his inheritance test could be found inside the office. The Goblin had a bit more white hair, and seemed to have lost the tip of one ear in the intervening years, but he clearly could remember the face in Riddle's memories.
"Look, we need verification that this… person… is who he says he is. Or rather that he's not who he says he is, since he's claiming a name no one else has since the family disappeared into myth. Are you the Goblin that does inheritance testing? Or did that other one lead us to the wrong place?" The same auror that had spoken earlier demanded impatiently.
Harry refrained from face palming, and just barely refrained from smacking the idiot Auror.
"Ah, I gather based on the excitement outside of the bank earlier that this is one of those incidents, is it?" The goblin sneered in response, seeming completely unimpressed by the Auror's demand.
"What would you be referring to, Master Goblin?" Albus asked unnecessarily.
"Well, usually I get one of three sets of customers, either parents bringing in their children to confirm an heir or change one… or I get singular visitors from young men or women hoping they're the long lost great great grand-something of Merlin and Arthur and somehow entitled to own half of England and the obedience of everything magical ever," The goblin, replied with a sneer of contempt at such nonsense. "Though occasionally people come in because they're hoping that they may be part of an inactive family whose inheritance pass through the squibbed lines every so often when the main line dies off. At least those tend to be less idiotic to deal with."
"And the third type?" Harry asked curiously.
"Generally bastards seeking recognition and establishing proof." The goblin replied without concern.
"Judging by your… austere presence here that it has to do with that trouble in the Alley earlier," Gorbag said, indicating the Auror who had spoken so rudely and had narrowly avoided a slapping by Harry.
"Thus leading to my rather rarer fourth variation of customer." Gorbag gestured at the seats in his office uninterestedly as he examined the group, "I assume one of your high borne 'Purebloods' did something quite illegal and was killed for his trouble. In response, your very predictable government will attempt to slander the name of the one who did the killing no matter the circumstances, self-defense or not. In an attempt to appease the very tiny portion of your population who holds all of the power in your government."
"Very insightful, and perfectly summarized, Inheritance Manager Gorbag," said Harry with a smirk, much to the outrage of many of the Auror witnesses, and the silent laughter of Dora at his side. It did cause the goblin to pause and examine him with a bit more interest though.
"He killed another wizard! No matter what the circumstances," the unnamed auror responded defensively. Harry was trying to figure out whether the man was a pureblood bigot, a Death Eater upset about his Master's defeat, a law abiding fanatic, or an Auror looking to make a reputation for himself.
Or an idiot. He never discounted that possibility when dealing with wizards, and ministry personnel especially.
"Wizards killing wizards. Not always profit to be had, but amusement if nothing else," Gorbag responded to the Auror's disbelief with a grin before he turned away and removed a few items from behind his massive stone desk, including a large bowl, a blank piece of parchment and a red potion, setting them out in front of him.
The Goblin, his joke finished, gestured to the bowl he had set in front of him, inside the bowl was the imprint of a hand, "Nothing too invasive needed for this. Simply place your hand in the bowl. It will cut your hand to get a portion of your blood, and simply pour your magic into the receptacle. If you don't know how to channel your magic, I'm told to treat it like you were casting a spell with a wand. You may feel… slightly uncomfortable for a moment." The goblin warned innocuously.
Harry snorted at that, well aware that it would be a little bit more than uncomfortable. He also knew that the blood replenishing potion was there for a reason.
"It will identify any familiar family magics registered with our people, and tell us if your magic happens to be dominant over any of them, which means you are eligible to take headship of a family,"
Harry, already familiar with the process and almost smirking inwardly as he remembered Voldemort's own personal rage at not being granted the Lordship of House Slytherin. This test, after all, couldn't identify if someone was supposedly pureblood, half blood, or muggle born.
The test was one of those idiosyncratic bits of British Wizarding culture. Generally if your ancestry wasn't directly known, but you could claim headship of a house, it was assumed that you were a Pureblood.
Harry also knew from Voldemort's research that when this process was initially created and the goblin's treaty dictated it would now be in their domain to manage this process. If someone had a family's magic, but were unknown to it, the head was notified. Generally when that happened, a person would more than likely be immediately disowned by said family's head anyways. Of course that was if they were lucky. If they were unlucky they were disowned and then hunted down and killed.
It was with this test that Voldemort was able to claim to be something more than he was, since there was no head of house Slytherin at the time to banish the upstart Tom Riddle from the family as would have been normal. It wasn't something that was very well known, as most muggleborns often couldn't cite any families anyways, unless they happened to be a branch family, descended from a squib. And that family had no current sitting head.
Something Harry knew he could now use to his advantage, just like Tom Riddle did. He would take possession of the Peverell house and that would instantly give them credibility, as well as helping insulate them from legal ramifications, at least in the short term.
Harry glanced over at Dora and saw her worried expression still present, but he winked at her and stepped forward. He put his hand in the bowl and laid it flat in the area made for a hand and immediately felt the stone close around his hand, locking it in place. A moment later he began to channel his magic into the bowl.
He didn't so much as wince when he felt the stone squeeze his hand firmly, and a slash across his palm, his blood going into the bowl.
The parchment the goblin laid on the desk started to flutter as names started to fill it up. The names were written in dark red, clearly from his own blood, and in clear, if ornate script. Abbot, Black, Bones, Greengrass, Lestrange, Malfoy, Nott, Parkinson, Potter, Weasley, Zabini, where the only names that were familiar to Harry. There were dozens of others, many of which he assumed were minor households or simply (presumably) extinct families.
"Those are all names of family magic or blood relations. Generally wizards are related to most pureblood families somewhere, so it takes a bit to fill up." Gorbag explained as he evaluated Harry, surprised that the wizard in front of him hadn't so much as winced.
Harry remembered this, and he also remembered that Tom Riddle's sheet was distinctly less filled with names. The Gaunt family tree truly was more of a family bush that grew straight up. Generations of marrying their own brother and sister had diminished any familial magics that may have been inherited down to almost non-existent levels.
It was also why he wasn't afraid of suddenly being announced as the head of House Potter or Black. Those houses had heads, and heirs. He wasn't certain, but his showing up shouldn't have impacted those houses.
He really didn't want to cheat his father out of inheritance. For that matter, he wasn't sure how the magic would work if it said that he was head of a house that already had one head.
There was a distinct change suddenly in the thrum of magic in the air as this first list of names completed, and Harry felt the magic he was pushing into the bowl suddenly being pulled more forcefully. The parchment in front of them seemed to have glowing letters on it. Harry remembered this as well.
This is where Tom Riddle's experience went sour. The gold glow had occurred and when it had stopped it had listed him as the Heir of Slytherin. However… it had listed him as ineligible to take the Head. He did not meet all the magical qualifications, none of which of course had been listed. He had been 16, and it had been Christmas holidays. Harry wondered if this might have been the final straw that pushed Tom down the road to making Horcruxes.
At this point, Harry experience suddenly became much different than Tom Riddle's.
Slowly the golden script on the page dimmed, to read, "Peverell Family- Eligible- Unclaimed."
Harry couldn't resist a smirk, he hadn't been 100 percent sure given the nature of how they arrived, and he was moderately curious to find out if the family came with any vaults. He doubted it, as those vaults would likely have been merged into the Potter and Gaunt Families. However his curiosity was cut short as the page began to glow once more.
His heart fell, and he instinctively tried to pull his hand from the bowl, but it wouldn't let him, increasing the draw on his magic. He really didn't want that sheet to announce his relations to either the Potter or Black Families. That would bring way more questions than he wanted or was capable of coming up with any believable story for.
If his heart fell before when the writing started, it nearly stopped when he read the next entry.
Gryffindor Family- Eligible- Unclaimed.
Harry blinked in surprise as he saw that, and he heard Moody mutter "Damn," underneath his breath. But even Harry's composure was broken when the parchment started glowing for a third. time.
Several moments later, more words formed on the paper, once more in golden lettering…
Slytherin Family- Eligible- Unclaimed
The paper gave a final shimmer of magic and the bowl in front of him shuddered slightly and released his hand.
Harry almost laughed at the stunned look on Dumbledore's face. "How… how is this possible?"
It took all of Harry's mental control to hold a straight face as he blithely responded, "Magic."
His statement probably would have been more impactful if Dora hadn't immediately dissolved into helpless giggles. Harry could tell it was as much from relief and disbelief as it was from honest amusement at his comment to Dumbledore.
"Huh, have to admit that's a new one. Three inactive family names at once. My old record was two, and that only happened twice," Gorbag stated with some surprise as well, but he continued on with his business approach, asking Harry quietly. "Is it your intent to claim those families and their magics?"
"It is," Harry replied without hesitation. He honestly hadn't planned for this, but he knew this could only help his plans. It was all he could do to keep from cackling in amusement, even though he wasn't sure exactly how he had claimed all three houses.
"You realize by doing this that Voldemort will stop at nothing to get ahold of you. To kill you." Dumbledore said with a small warning note in his voice.
Harry shrugged, "Wouldn't be the first time,"
He realized that the old wizard was trying to help. Probably. Harry knew he'd already painted a giant target on his back, not only standing up to the Dark Lord, but beating him, and taking his wand. Not to mention his arm. Taking this name would just rub salt in the wound, and there was no way this didn't get out.
He looked up at Gorbag, who was eyeing him with interest, "Inheritance Manager Gorbag, how do I claim these families?" Tom Riddle had not gotten to this point so he had no idea what was required or how he went about it.
Tom's knowledge let him know how family headships were passed down. It was either by elaborate ceremonies when a previous head wanted to step down or thought their heir was ready. The other way was to put on the rings of the head of house and have it accept them. But that was done when heirs were named or defaulted by blood. This was different.
"Normally I would send for the rings for you to put them on. However, none of those families have rings stored here. The ring tradition was mostly created after these families last were around," confirmed Gorbag who looked thoughtful as he considered it, "Therefore I'm going to suggest you to place your hand on the parchment and put your magic into it, and state the inheritance claim."
Harry raised an eyebrow at the goblin, as he had sounded less than completely certain that this was the way to go. After a moment's hesitation he internally shrugged and did as instructed, placing his hand on the parchment above the first name. He took a breath and then poured his magic into it.
"I hereby claim headship and dominion over the Peverell family name and magics and all responsibilities that entails." Harry stated clearly.
There was a moment's pause when nothing happened and then from nowhere powerful winds buffeted the office. Harry felt the winds surround himself, and thought he heard Tonks cry out his name. But the winds moved around him and the felt like they were moving through him.
He felt his wrist holster, the one holding the Hallows heating up as the wind continued to move through him, the sound in the room rising to a keening wail. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed Dumbledore holding his wand in surprise.
He heard a soft and dry voice clearly despite the loud wailing of the wind, "One who has been touched by, willingly faced, and finally conquered Death. Like the three brothers who were his forebears. I approve. So mote it be."
As suddenly as it had started the wailing and the wind had stopped. The entire room was left as if nothing had happened. The only change was now there was a ring on Harry's middle finger on his right hand. He looked at the ring and was completely unsurprised to see that it was a simple black band with the symbol of the Hallows in black onyx.
Harry flexed his hand experimentally, and then watched as the ring faded out of sight. He felt the weight disappear physically, but could tell it was still there magically. It was an interesting sensation to say the least. He concentrated a few times making the ring appear and disappear and felt it as the weight appeared and disappeared from his hand. Finally he made it disappear and glanced back at the others in the room.
"Well, that was fun!" Harry said brightly, "Shall we do it again?"
Without waiting for a reply from anyone, especially as they all seemed too stunned to speak, save for Gorbag who just grinned wide, Harry placed his hand on the next name, "I hereby claim headship and dominion over the Gryffindor family name and magics and all responsibilities that entails."
This time there was no pause as the room filled with the roar of a lion immediately, this time fire filled the air, as heat filled his body. He heard a scream from Tonks as his entire body seem to burst into flame and the sound of crackling and burning was added to the roar of the lion.
A deep baritone voice spoke this time, "One who has not only the power, but has shone the strength, and bravery of Gryffindor. He has drawn the Sword from its hiding place. I approve. So mote it be."
A spiral of orange flames separated from his body to move in front of and just above his hand. Abruptly out of the fire dropped a gleaming silver sword encrusted with rubies. Harry blinked in surprise as he realized it was the Sword of Gryffindor.
The sword sat in his hand for a moment before it seemed to melt, the metal becoming silver goo and the rubies becoming just red spots in the metal. Harry watched as the metallic liquid seemed to crawl toward his hand, encircling his middle finger and glowing briefly before the fire and the heat disappeared. On his hand rested a large ornate ring in the form of a lion. The ring had rubies for the eyes, and gold for the mane.
Harry slumped slightly after that experience, his body sweating from the intense heat he had just felt. He once more flexed his hands, marveling that he could feel both rings magically even if they weren't physically present. He turned to Tonks and held up his hand with a smile, "It's alright, I'm okay."
That didn't stop her from reaching out to touch him to confirm it. She looked up into his eyes and said softly, "You scared me."
He reached up and brushed a few strands of hair behind her ear, it was a testament to just how much that had scared her that she wasn't making jokes about it. "I'm okay really. I promise. Besides, I still have one more to go." She stared at him for several moments as if determining that he was telling her the truth before she nodded and hugged him tightly before stepping back and trying to brace herself for whatever might happen with the last one.
This time he didn't even bother glancing at the others in the room. He placed his hand once more on the parchment and after taking a breath poured his magic into it once more, "I hereby claim headship and dominion over the Slytherin family name and magics and all responsibilities that entails."
This time the group looked around the room as the sound of bubbling water seemed to fill the air. Bubbling water that was joined by the hissing of snakes as two snakes of water seemed to wind their way up from the ground. They slithered up his legs and around his torso and seemed to engulf his body. He felt warm water pressing down on him as the hissing continued to fill the air.
A precise and cultured voice spoke this time, "One who speaks the noblest of tongues, and the power to remain unbowed. One who has defeated a King in magical combat and yet has his venom in his veins. I approve. So mote it be."
The water cascaded down his arm and to his hand where another ring was formed. This one of a coiled snake with emerald eyes. The water disappearing into the ring with a final hiss.
There was silence in the room until Gorbag spoke up, "Well that was more than a little bit theatrical."
Harry snorted as he looked up, exhaling a large breath, he felt his energy already returning. He chuckled softly, "Well, I have never been accused of not being able to put on a good show."
The Goblin's patience seemed to have ended as he peered at Harry. "Was that all the business you had with me today?"
Harry shook his head, "No, actually. I have some further business with you, Inheritance Manager Gorbag. However, that I prefer to do in private."
He turned to stare at first Moody and then the Auror who had been so demonstrative earlier. "I take it this proves my claims of lineage, Master Auror?"
The Auror in question looked like someone had stolen a prize ticket to the Quidditch World Cup from his very fingertips. He grunted in annoyance and pushed his way out of the room. Moody, for his own part, stared at Harry hard for a few seconds, then grinned before he turned an about face and walked out of the room.
Finally, the only remaining person who hadn't left thus far was Dumbledore. The calculating look hadn't left his face, and he likely would've continued to stare at Harry if Gorbag hadn't cleared his throat deliberately to get the attention of both Dumbledore and Tonks and pointed with annoyance at the door.
Harry reached out and snagged Tonk's hand making it clear he wanted and intended for her to stay.
"I would like to speak with you some more Harry, if you wouldn't mind?" Albus ventured, clearly hoping to stay for more of the conversation.
"We can speak another time then, sir. I wish to speak privately for a while. As you can imagine, there are quite some details I need to iron out," Harry replied evenly.
Dumbledore stared at Harry for a moment before he bowed his head slightly, "As you wish. I look forward to speaking to you in the near future," he stated quietly and turned to leave.
The door closed behind him the instant he stepped through the threshold. As he walked away, his mind was awhirl. He was trying to figure out all the implications of not one but three names suddenly emerging into their world, on top of this unknown 'Harry' and the very public defeat of his former student.
Alastor was waiting in the lobby of the bank. He was standing impatiently next to an uncomfortable stone-carved bench. Albus noted that Andromeda Tonks was still waiting there, though her daughter and husband seemed to have departed.
"Well, Albus?" Alastor demanded the instant he got within earshot.
"Well, nothing, my friend." Dumbledore replied, "You saw the results the same as I did. The minute this gets out, I daresay there is going to be a flurry of activity."
"It'll be all over the papers tomorrow morning," Moody snorted with disgust, "Michaels couldn't keep a secret if you stuck his lips together and silenced him."
"Quite so, Alastor," Albus shook his head, he remembered Eric Michaels as a Hogwarts students and he always seemed to delight when he had news or information before other people. The only thing he delighted more was in sharing that information. "Director Crouch is going to be quite unhappy with him for letting it leak."
"Ol' Barty will skin him alive," Alastor retorted with a roll of his eyes, "He'll be lucky if he's busted back down to training for this. Doesn't change the fact that it won't stop the information from being out there… and how certain people will react."
"I daresay you're right," Albus replied. "For now we have to plan our own reaction to today's events… all of today's events." Moody just nodded in agreement.
Albus turned his attention to the woman on the bench who was making no secret of listening to them with interest. "Andromeda, it is a pleasure to see you as always. I'm glad that you are okay after today's events."
"Thank you Albus," the woman replied genuinely with a smile, "We might not have been without the intervention of the young woman and man you've met."
"Are you waiting to thank them?" Albus asked curiously, "Based on his tone, they could be quite a while still, especially due to the fact those particular houses may be in very poor financial shape."
"Well, giving thanks is only part of the reason," Andromeda glanced around before looking up at the old man she trusted for more reasons than she cared to list, "The woman. She is a metamorph."
That caused Albus eyebrows to lift up in surprise. He hadn't noticed the overly-flirtatious woman go through any changes. A flirting woman hardly made someone like Albus bat an eye, after all. Though to be fair he knew he had been focused on Harry Peverell to the exclusion of almost all else. "Truly?"
"Yes," Andromeda nodded firmly, "I saw her hair change myself. I don't know if her gift is as strong as Nymphadora's, but she's the first metamorph we've ever encountered and we hoped she might… if not teach my daughter, at least provide Ted and I some insight into anything we might expect or need to deal with."
Andromeda added very quietly, "Anything for my little girl." her eyes filled with the determination that marked her a member of the House of Black
Dumbledore nodded slowly and mused as he stroked his beard, "Quite the day of surprises." Then his eyes looked piercingly at the young woman as she spoke.
"But a good one," Andromeda responded obliquely, very carefully not smiling or rubbing her hands as the tone of her voice almost demanded.
Albus eyes stared down at the woman in consideration and then his eyes widened slightly and a smile tugged at the corner of his lips, "Ah, yes. I think today's events may throw some of your… former family's negotiations and plans for your sisters into disarray."
Andromeda just smiled slightly wider in response, it was a smile that was partial amusement and partial feral satisfaction.
The old wizard nodded, "Yes, I was quite focused on one specific aspect of today, but you're right. In the end, it's not hard to say the good that shall come to fruition from today most certainly has outweighed the bad."
He then turned toward Alastor gesturing for his friend to join them as he directed them both out of the bank. He needed to speak to some old friends and quickly.
Today may have changed everything. Plans had to be made accordingly.
The instant that the door shut as the old man walked out of the room, Harry slumped down, and practically fell as he flopped down in one of the chairs in the office with a sigh.
"Harry? Are you okay?" asked Tonks as she stood next to the chair, searching his eyes demanding the truth from him as her fingers brushed through his hair.
"Yeah, Nym, I'm fine." Harry replied with a reassuring smile, "Just a bit tired, and I was hoping that Inheritance Manager Gorbag may have some answers to some questions that I have."
"What questions would those be Lord Peverell-Slytherin-Gryffindor?" the goblin asked carefully.
"Lord Peverell-Slytherin-Gryffindor," Harry said as he grimaced in disgust. "God that's a horrible mouthful. Just call me Harry, please."
"Then feel free to call me Gorbag," the goblin grinned at Harry in a toothless smile, as if he had just passed some sort of test. "I have never met a wizard who takes the time to respect our titles."
Harry shrugged, "The People's titles may be different ones than ours, but that is no reason not to use them unless given permission not to."
"Indeed," Gorbag replied slowly, "You seem awfully knowledgeable about my people."
"I do try and learn what I can about others around me, especially when they are responsible for our gold and our economy," Harry replied without really answering the question.
He certainly wasn't going to say that it was information that he had learned after the final fall of Voldemort. By then he had returned to the bank to talk to them about at least offering some compensation for the stolen dragon and destroyed roof. His offer of money had impressed the Goblins enough that they had only taken a portion of what they could have.
They respected him for his ingenuity, and for taking the challenge posted so clearly on their bank's entrance. As they had repaired their roof and he had helped arrange a new dragon for them, he had had a chance to talk with several different goblins and had learned quite a bit about them. His new mentality had absorbed every bit of information and interaction that he could during that time.
"Harry, how did you know that the parchment would say that you were a Peverell?" Tonks finally blurted out as she pulled an armless chair next to Harry and grabbed on to his left arm, unable to contain her curiosity any longer about everything she had witnessed.
Harry glanced up to her and then his eyes flicked to Gorbag who was also listening with curiosity, "This stays between us, Gorbag?"
"Gringotts' honor," the goblin replied evenly.
"Research. Research into the family history, and what happened in legend versus reality." Harry said with a chuckle.
"While I'm sure you know the tale of the Three Brothers," he glanced up at Tonks and then Gorbag who both gave small nods before he continued, "The oldest brother, Antioch. To say he was a greedy bastard who thought himself better than the others is an understatement. As he was eldest and head of the family, he had no interest in losing his position or precious wand to other members of the family. So, the very night he received the wand, he stated that only someone who had united the three Hallows would be able to succeed him as head of the family."
Harry's tale represented a fair bit of cheating. The research he cited was actually from Dumbledore, which the man had painstakingly acquired after his father had lent him the cloak. Harry had no idea where Dumbledore had tracked down the information, but it had been in one of the volumes of notes left to Harry by the Headmaster upon his death.
Well… technically they had been left to Albus' brother Aberforth, but Abe had told Harry one night as they shared a drink at his dingy bar, that if Harry didn't take the research, then it was likely to be used as toilet paper by the patrons of the Hog's Head.
Needless to say there was not much love lost between Abe and his brother, even a few years after Albus' death.
"You not only know where these items are, you have united them?" Gorbag asked the inevitable follow-up question.
"In a manner of speaking," Harry replied obliquely.
He could still feel that they were there in the pouch but also knew, after seeing Dumbledore's wand that they existed during this time as well. So he was uncertain as to the impacts of that.
"What I confess I do not understand was the other two family names that came up. As The Nation has been the guardians of family magic and lineage since time immemorial, I was wondering if you could help us with that little mystery," Harry inquired as he slid an arm around Tonks waist and pulled her bodily onto his lap. She let out a little squeak of surprise but recovered and settled in quite comfortably with a large smile on her face.
Without batting an eyelash as Tonks wiggled her arse provocatively in his lap, almost certainly feeling him respond to her ministrations, Harry added, "The voices that spoke to me as I took control of each house gave hints, but I wanted to see what your people might have to say about some of the specifics of what happened."
"Voices?" Nym asked.
"Yeah, I heard three distinct voices when I claimed the families." Harry replied with a puzzled frown, "You didn't hear anything?"
"No, I heard the wind then the roar of lions and flames and then the bubbling of water and hissing of snakes." Nym replied.
"Huh," Harry replied eloquently, turning to look at the goblin to see if he could provide more insight.
Gorbag regarded him thoughtfully, before nodding, "I would normally charge for that service, and as there are no Ministry personnel here any longer, you would be responsible for the payment rather than us sending them a bill. However… I am most curious as well. Those are wizarding names that The People know and respect. To find someone has claimed their families is most curious indeed."
The goblin took the parchment that still lay on his desk and allowed one clawed finger to lightly trace the exact line of the words declaring what Harry was head of before he looked up at Harry once more, "May I see the rings?"
Harry nodded and lifted his hand from where it had slid down Tonk's back. He found himself distracted by her writhing against him. His eyes met hers briefly, his expression clearly letting her know she was playing with fire and that it would come back to bite her later. Her impish grin in response let him know that she knew exactly what she was doing.
The goblin hesitated a moment before he finally left his position from behind the desk and moved around. He approached Harry and waved his hands in the air. Harry watched with interest, focusing, he wasn't able to specifically see anything when Gorbag waved his hands, but he could feel it, and he could certainly see the reactions.
Symbols floated in the air, ones Harry didn't recognize, and Voldemort's knowledge recognized only vaguely as goblin runes, something Tom Riddle never had the opportunity to study in depth. Harry's own attempt to memorize what he saw in front of him was thwarted as Tonks leaned in slightly, enhancing her bust to block his view and push into his neck and the side of his face. The battle and subsequent revelations and events had obviously aroused the woman, and she was now content to subtly rub herself on his lap as she waited for the meeting to end.
The goblin continued to waves his hands and examine the symbols thoughtfully, and seemed surprised when Harry allowed him time to examine in greater depth, completely oblivious to the fact that the female in the human's lap was doing her best to surreptitiously dry hump the male while in his presence. He most certainly didn't notice the male respond back with his free hand and firmly grip the outer breast that was obstructing the human's view of the runes and fondle it blatantly, causing the woman to lean back with a gasp and give him another unobstructed view of the runes.
This continued for another ten minutes, with Gorbag taking notes on the runes assigned to each ring before he returned back to his own seat at the opposite side of the desk.
As he sat down, Gorbag began to speak, "It will take some time to decipher some of these runes, as some of them look to have been comprised of custom arrays designed and implemented especially for these families. The specific results can be forwarded to you later as well as stored in your new vaults."
Harry waved his free hand, "Then how about some generalities now? I would appreciate your insight." he added the comment at the end almost as an afterthought.
The goblin stared at him a moment before nodding, "Well, based on your comments I assume you have a passing interest in history and law."
Tonks looked like she was going to reply but Harry quite blatantly slipped a hand under her shirt to caress her bare stomach, causing her to shiver and squirm against him. Despite the slightly amused smile at her reaction, Harry's attention remained on Gorbag, so the Goblin continued, "Millennia ago, wizards names were more than just the accident of their birth. In those times reputation was sometimes all a wizard had, for good or ill."
"A name was something someone spent a lifetime building up, great actions and deeds, or conversely, ill actions and deeds. It was common in those times for a witch or wizard chose their own successor. Sometimes it was a son or daughter, or grandson or daughter. Other times a wizard would chose a close apprentice."
"Of course by the same token, it was equally as common for a person to refuse a name due to a dispute, or the connotations carried with a name," Gorbag shook his head, "Being born and managing to draw breath and feed oneself was not deemed enough of a qualification to inherit a mantle."
"Something that has changed over time, clearly." Harry replied with an amused smile, thinking of Crabbe and Goyle.
"Quite so," Gorbag replied with a grin of his own, "Wizards started to care more about their lineage than their own accomplishments and providing a platform for their progeny to achieve higher greatness."
"The wisdom of the old was forsaken as wizards placed more import on the names and actions of the dead than they did of the living. They counted the names of their forebears more dear than the names of their own children." Gorbag shook his head, "Wizards of the great lines, would set qualifications for someone to inherit their lines, deeming accomplishments and a person's attributes far more valuable than blood."
"That is why you don't see anyone laying claim to names like Bloyse, Emrys, Le Fay, Majere, Rasputin, Telchine, Garath, or Yaga," Gorbag shook his head, "Even those families who are blood descendants of names like Slytherin or Hufflepuff and can actually prove that, are unable to lay claim to those names."
"Of course the mentality of wizards also works in your favor. As they set up their governing structures, they always included the old names as part of them, in case one of their own children might one day happen to find themselves in a position. Thus… you now have three family lines, as well as three powerful seats on their governing body." Gorbag shook his head, "All of that yours for wandering in here and cutting your hand."
"That is what makes your claiming of those families such a big deal, and likely to ruffle more than a few feathers." Gorbag concluded, "The stupidity of wizards never cease to amaze me."
"I admit, determining leadership by trial by combat every fifty years, seems downright brilliant by comparison," Harry replied blandly with a grin at the goblin.
Gorbag blinked and then grinned, enjoying the back and forth with this human. "Determining who leads us is always a big event, it also determines who safeguards all those vaults of wizard gold and items."
He reached for a stack of parchment that Harry hadn't seen earlier and must have appeared while Gorbag examined the runes. "Speaking of vaults, those that do exist are unfortunately rather empty. Some left us with very little or no money. Gryffindor for example, was always more interested in owning land. That land has mostly passed on to other families. While past generations of offshoots of the Slytherin line have squandered the entirety of their wealth. Including selling most of the remaining artifacts to maintain their lifestyles until nothing was left or the families merged quietly into others and were forgotten about."
Harry waved his right hand in an unconcerned manner, "The money is not an issue. My family was very careful about their money and moved most of it abroad and guarded it and added to it slowly. My family obviously has a history in England, and I was raised here, though carefully hidden. As we're both the last remaining members of our families, we both have complete control of the assets we had."
"That is the curious part of this entire episode," mused Gorbag as he leaned back. "It has been some number of years since a Magical Inheritance of any major line has occurred within these walls. As I said… blood inheritance has been the primary method of power transfer within British Society for centuries. To have a fully recognized magical inheritance of not one, but three influential families will make many waves, my Lord."
"We're going to have hundreds of owls proposing marriage for the other two titles," said Dora, with a mischievous smirk on her face.
Harry blinked and turned to look at her sharply. However, once more the knowledge he had absorbed from Voldemort which included in depth research on pure blood rituals and traditions, told him that she was right. Of course Voldemort had found out all he could about purebloods. He had done it in part out of envy, because he loved traditions that implied he was superior to those around him. But also because if he wanted to manipulate those within that caste than he needed to understand them.
He turned back to Gorbag and debated with himself before he reached up on his neck and lifted the gold chain mostly obscured by his shirt, with a simple application of his magic and a tug, he pulled one of the charms free. He looked at it for a moment before he tossed it to Gorbag who caught it with a raised eyebrow.
"This… is quite the amount to carry with you," Gorbag stated carefully, as if he could tell exactly how much was in the charmed trunk on his hand that was no larger than a galleon, simply by judging its weight on his hand.
"I'm well aware. Like I said, my family has been careful with their money. Put all of it into a vault named for all three families, and requiring my blood to open. No other wizards may enter or direct you to do anything with the vault. Of course save for 100 galleons that you keep for yourself for your service today." Harry said, well aware that the goblin had been relatively patient with him and had provided more information for him, as well as amusement, never a value to be under estimated.
"I entrust that to the care of the People to appoint the best qualified to manage it." Harry said to the goblin who had started at the mention of being paid, a major reaction for a goblin.
"You… are very unique Sir," Gorbag replied with wide eyes, "I get the feeling that interesting times are ahead."
Harry grinned a feral smile, "You have no idea."
They departed the Inheritance office together, Harry had his arm around Dora who seemed quiet. Harry's own mind was racing as he was trying to figure out all of the possible outcomes of the day's events.
They walked through the main lobby and were surprised to find Andromeda Tonks had been sitting and waiting for them. She didn't wait to approach them as they neared. Harry felt Tonks stiffen slightly next to him so he greeted her politely, "Missus… Tonks was it? I appreciate the concern but you didn't have to wait for us."
Andromeda eyed the two people up and down, Harry was polite and friendly, though his eyes seemed to be sharp and miss nothing that happened around them, and when they focused on her seemed equal parts cautious analysis and politeness. "It was no trouble I was hoping I could speak with you for a moment?"
"Sure," Harry replied easily, "Do we need to move somewhere more private?"
"No, I… was actually hoping to speak to your… companion?" Andromeda ventured as she looked at the girl. Andromeda was surprised to see the surprise and the brief chaser in the path of a bludger look that flashed across the woman's face.
"Yes?" Dora asked far more hesitantly than she was used to doing. She wondered if somehow her mother knew exactly who she was and if she had done something to give it away. That was definitely not a question she wanted to answer right now.
Andromeda looked back and forth a bit nervously, concerned that she might be being too forward, "Forgive me for my forwardness, but in the book shop. Was that a spell on your hair or are… you a… metamorph?"
Dora glanced at Harry briefly, but he didn't seem to give her direction one way or the other so she braced herself and shook her head, "It was not a spell." She demonstrated her ability once more by shifting several hair colors and then took it a step further by shifting her face to match Andromeda's briefly.
Andromeda looked startled, and then she smiled in relief, "I was hoping you might be willing to have dinner with me and my husband sometime in the near future. Both of you are invited of course." She added the last bit belatedly, not wanting to be rude.
Dora tilted her head, and blurted out loquaciously, "Why?"
"You saw my daughter?" Andromeda asked, not withholding her amused look as Harry winced at the ineloquent reply of his companion. She continued on though before Dora could reply to the question.
"She's a metamorph too. We've been searching and sending letters out everywhere to try and find someone who might be able to help her learn to control it." Andromeda shook her head, "But we couldn't find a true metamorph that might be willing to help out."
Dora held up her hand immediately in a stopping gesture, "You should stop sending those letters immediately. The only thing you'll do is possibly attract the attention of individuals who would want to do nothing more than kidnap her once she has gained control of her powers and do… unscrupulous things with her."
"Yes, we're aware of the danger," Andromeda nodded in response, "We have been sending them out through people Albus Dumbledore knows, to help preserve a bit of the anonymity and make them go through him in order to get more information."
Dora nodded, "Well, I'd be happy to talk to you and your daughter and we can kind of go from there…"
Andromeda nodded, "I'll owl you with the details."
She stood in a proper way that Dora always envied, knowing her own sense of balance could never allow her to pull off such a graceful move. She smoothed the wrinkled lines in her robes with an elaborate flourish, then turned to Harry and Dora, "I look forward to your response. Good Day, and thank you again."
Both Harry and Dora watched her walk quickly from the bank lobby, leaving them alone for the most part. Business had yet to pick up again after the earlier attack, and by the color of the now-darkening sky, they had spent far more time inside of Gringotts than they had expected.
Dora, her libido denied for most of the day after being stoked constantly, was finally ready to move forward and destroy anything that got in the way of her goal, placed an arm in Harry's and began to guide him out of the bank. The guiding lasted only a brief moment before Harry himself seemed to take control of the pace of their gait, his presence imposing its will upon her own.
"Shall we get a room, Dora?" Harry asked, a definite glint in his eye that matched her own.
"Certainly," she coyly responded.
Author's notes: Yay! Yet another story that we've been playing around in. Taking some cliches and using them. Seeing where they go.
1)Mostly this started because Plums pretty much challenged me that I couldn't write a story that had a relationship establish itself within the first few chapters and didn't take 20 chapters to get to. So, that's part 1. It's also one of like a dozen stories that we've been distracted with, on top of WoW and classes ending then summer work and then training for work this fall.
2) Part two was making use of the cliches and such we've seen and have a bit of twist and fun with them.
3) Part 3 was that I wanted a Harry that was different than what I or Plums usually wrote. His Harry Potters are competent and generally helpful and for the most part emotionally well balanced. I've got a Harry Potter who is skilled but erratic and is Mr. Cranky McEmopants in I'm Still Here, and skilled and competent but Mr. Crazy McWTFdidyoujustdo in my HP/SW story.
Thus… we are going with a darker Harry without much emo at all in him :P. Not evil. But not good either. You'll see as we go forward. He can be selfish. He clearly isn't untouched by the piece of Voldemort in him.
3) One of several things we've been working on actually. =D
4) Plums Ponderings:
Harry / Fleur / Tonks. There is no quicker way to get my attention than to pair any combination of the above three together, and this story has two of them.
I will however, give you some semblance of the "huh?" state of mindset that inspired this particular one. One day I login after work, check our doc space, and she has a new file there. Its simply called at the time "HP Dark", and starts with Harry being emo and Tonks yelling at him.
That was it.
I think it's progressed slightly from there :)
5) Alternate Chapter Titles
"Tonks Trips. 'nuff said." - Harry
"Funny, coming from the guy who has Voldemort's memories because he tripped." Tonks
"As I said. Extenuating circumstances. I was naked and Dumbledore was walking toward me." -Harry
"What do you think turned me into a dark lord?" - Voldemort.
"Yeah see… if that were true I totally don't think I blame you as much then." - Harry
"The Dark Lord gets Disarmed." - Harry
"See, it's funny because you lost your arm." Harry
"No it's not." Voldemort.
"WTF?" - Voldemort
"That's not much of a title." - Puzzled Harry
"But it fits all of the standard w questions so well, they're even interchangeable." - Voldemort
"How so?" - Harry
"WTF did you come from? WTF are you? WTF are you messing with me? Where/When, Who/What, Why?" - Voldemort
"Cliche Central!" - Reviewer who has never written a story.
"What's your point?" - Authors.
"It will not take 20 chapters for them to sleep together." - Plums
"He threatened me with mean things if I felt the need to build their relationship." - Kat.