Chapter 1: The Potters are Dead
Sunday 31st October 1981.
Dead eyes stared up at Sirius Black as he knelt over the still cooling body of his best friend. His brother in all but blood. The grief he felt in that moment was so profound it took him several minutes to realize the frantic sobbing he'd heard when he walked through the destroyed front door was conspicuously absent.
Tearing himself away from James, he quickly bound up the stairs to see the nursery door in a similar state to the front one. Without even stepping inside another spear of grief ripped through his body as he saw the still red hair cast across the doorway. Both the Potters were dead.
Struggling furiously against the desire to simply give in to his agony, Sirius finally entered the room and could not keep his eyes from caressing the lifeless form of Lily. She was still as beautiful in death as she had been in life, but there was no longer the fiery glow in her warm eyes.
Unable to fight any longer, Sirius collapsed and wept as the reality of his world came crashing down on him with full force. The rat had betrayed them, and now he was utterly alone.
One thought pierced the grief and pulled Sirius from the brink of the despair he was so close to surrendering to.
Sirius dragged himself, barely crawling to the broken crib in the corner. He was all Sirius had left, and Sirius was all the boy had. He must be strong for Harry. As his eyes crested the deformed mattress he beheld the ruined bedding.
Shock set in as he realised the bed was empty, but for a few dark drops of blood. Harry was gone. Agony wrenched through his body as Sirius fell back against the now useless child's bed and let everything wash over him. Time meant nothing anymore and he would never again smile as he watched his dear friends holding their bubbly baby boy.
Hours passed before any semblance of rational thought managed to break through Sirius' mood. He, at last, noticed the shredded cloak and pale wand of the feared Dark Lord bunched over by the far wall from him. A tiny glimmer of pride grew in him as he realized that at least his friends had managed to take that dark bastard with them. Whatever had transpired had destroyed not only Harry but Voldemort as well.
The glimmer only lasted a moment before a fiery need spread through his chest. There was one more thing that Sirius could do for his friends. He could hunt down the rat and end him for good.
The fire was back in Sirius' eyes as he stood, walking from the room and back downstairs. He wished Lily and James goodbye as he passed them both.
"I'll make him suffer for this Prongs. And we'll meet again when it's over."
And with a crack, he was gone.
The lungs on the lad were truly something to behold. Mipsy almost wished she were as deaf as Pops. Her large bat-like ears magnifying the sound to a painful degree.
"Mipsy, sit him down in the rocker, please."
"Yes, mistress, of course." The House-elf replied.
"Harry, sweetie," the voice cooed, trying hard to be heard over the wailing boy, "Mummies right here sweetheart. Please don't cry."
Bright green eyes opened, and Mipsy got her first good look at the young master. He had been kept away from her his entire life and now he was alone, but for her and the others. She had followed her instructions to the letter but had been unable to break through the enchantments. She'd had to wait for them to fall before she could enter the ruined building.
"That's my brave boy. Yes, you are."
Mipsy looked at the portrait of the young couple, practically crying as they attempted to calm the young lad she now rocked gently back and forth, just as she had been in this very same rocker.
"You must be so frightened and tired. Mipsy is going to watch over you and care for you now. But you can talk with me whenever you want, too."
Young Harry was transfixed by the portrait. He knew it wasn't quite his parents but was too young to properly tell the difference. The confusion and longing were written on his face as he reached out to the painted surface eagerly trying to touch the dead.
"I'm so sorry, my sweet baby. I so dearly wish I could hold you right now. But you need to rest. Tybalt!" A soft popping sound heralded the arrival of her brother. "Mipsy is going to take Harry to his crib. I want you to take us and place us on the wall above it. Do it at the same time so Harry can see us."
"Right away Mistress." Tybalt bowed, nose brushing the floor, before gripping the frame firmly and watching his sister closely.
A moment later and they were all in a different room, a much brighter room with snitches and brooms adorning the walls. The nursery the young master and mistress had been preparing before old beardy suggested they hide in Godric's Hollow, where the elves could not go. Such was the twin's co-ordination that Harry's eyes never left his mother.
"Perfect. Time to sleep now, my baby. I'll be here with you all night. Rest sweet child, for tomorrow, is a new day."
Mipsy lay Harry as gently as she could in the scarlet bedding and made sure he could see the portrait the entire time. Leaning over the wee figure, she pressed a delicate kiss to the boy's forehead, as she knew her mistress would want to do herself. Stepping back, she watched in silence as the painting sang soft lullabies and whispered kind words until Harry's eyes could resist no longer and fell closed for the first night in his new home.
Tuesday 2nd November 1981.
The gamble had worked. Voldemort was destroyed. The prophecy fulfilled. Both had died, which had been unfortunate. It should have been nice to have the boy as a beacon for the people to rise behind as the dust settled. No matter. Each eventuality had been prepared for. This one simply meant a richer position for the side of good going forward. Albus Dumbledore would ensure the security of their world, and make sure the scales never tipped too far to either side.
For as surely as there is light and dark in all of us, there must be in the world. Balance is important. And he saw this clearer than most. So why were these infernal creatures taking so long? Surely, they knew that the great Albus Dumbledore had better things to do with his time right now than sitting here waiting for a meeting.
The law was clear on this. He'd made absolutely sure of it so that whichever Tom chose, they would benefit in the end. As Chief Warlock, he would take control over any unclaimed inheritance as a result of the war. To ensure proper distribution of course. And no one would begrudge a great man such as him from indulging himself of the finer benefits of those estates either. If they ever knew of such a thing that is.
"Mister Dumbledore." The voice broke the old man's train of thought.
"Lord Ragnok will see you now." The goblin gestured at the enormous silver doors opposite his seat, a horrid grimace deforming its features.
"Very good. About time."
He straightened his bright purple robes and strode through the opening doors. He knew how to make an entrance, looking every bit the reincarnation of Merlin himself. He felt a spike of displeasure as the flair seemed wasted on these dull creatures. The armoured goblins along the walls smirked maliciously and Ragnok himself seemed unperturbed as Albus sat opposite him at the ridiculously large stone desk. Perhaps he would take the concept for use in his own office at Hogwarts.
"Mister Dumbledore" Albus rankled at the goblins continued use of such a plain title. He had worked so hard and long to garner his many titles, yet these cretins seemed determined never to use them. "How can Gringotts help you today?"
Clearing his throat Albus drew himself up as he addressed the leader of the Nation. "I have come to take possession of the Potter Estate, as per the law."
"I'm afraid that would be impossible." Ragnok gruelled back.
Albus concealed his shock well. "Whatever do you mean? That is the law. As Chief Warlock, I must preside over all unclaimable inheritances caused by this egregious war."
"Indeed." Ragnok stared him down, not moving an inch. "Despite that pretty trick in your Wizengamot, the Potter Estate is not unclaimable."
This time he failed to keep the shock from his face. "And why is that?"
Ragnok smiled as evilly as it was possible for a goblin. "Because the final beneficiary of the Will still lives. With a legal Heir, the Estate is sealed until they can rightfully claim it."
"Nonsense. I was present at the Potters filing of their Will. I know that all who are listed upon it are dead or currently reside in a cell in Azkaban."
"Wills can change, Mister Dumbledore. And accidents happen." The glare directed at him by the Director of the Nation sent a cold chill down Albus' spine. While he was surely a very powerful wizard, raising his wand in these halls would see him cut down by the hundred beasts surrounding him. The unspoken threat bothered him. The goblins can't have known the truth about the Estate. Or the Longbottoms. His plans were still safe if he could just get them to act.
"Very well then, as Chief Warlock, I demand to see the adjusted Will so that I can see to its enactment." The grandfatherly smile spread over his lips to hide the darker smirk that would have appeared at such a genius maneuver.
"I beg your pardon?"
"I said, no! Are you deaf as well as daft?"
"How dare you. I have every rig…"
"You have no rights while seated in Goblin territory to demand anything of us if our clients see fit to keep it hidden. As the Potter Will was sealed by order of James Potter three days before his death, you have no right to overturn said decision. It shall only be opened by the listed Heir at the approved time."
"Now see here…"
"If that is all, Mister Dumbledore, I have other matters to attend to." Ragnok waved a hand dismissing him.
A fiery rage overtook Albus as he stood and felt his fingers slipping up his sleeve.
"I wouldn't if I were you." Ragnok chided, without even glancing in Dumbledore's direction.
Albus grimaced again. "Good day." He spat as he turned on his heel and beat a hasty retreat from the room. No matter, I will just have to throw a little more weight at the problem.
As the door swung shut behind the manipulative old goat, Ragnok was a blur of motion. "Silvershard, get your ass in here. And bring Griphook with you." He shouted into an enchanted speaker on his desk. "Darkblade, watch that miserable coot closely. He will not give up at this." He called to his chief guard as the side door swung inwards bringing the requested goblins inside. "Sit."
The two goblins quickly sat in the indicated chairs as Ragnok continued scribbling furiously on the documents on his desk. As he finished, he grabbed a silver blade from the desktop and sliced it over his palm, allowing several drops of blood to hit each piece of parchment.
"You have 24 hours to complete a full audit of the Potter Holdings. I need it on my desk by this hour tomorrow, or your head will take its place, Silvershard."
The aged goblin gulped deeply at the threat before taking the offered parchment and speeding from the room. Such was his terror that he forgot the customary nod as he left the office. Ragnok smiled to himself at his ability to strike fear into those he needed. There was a reason he was the unchallenged ruler of the Goblin Nation.
He turned his attention back to the younger of the summoned goblins. "Griphook. You are proving most resourceful. I wish for you to contact the Potter Elves. I know several still live on their properties and suggest that they lock them all down as heavily as possible. The wizards may think young Harry dead, but magic tells us otherwise. Whoever has him will likely come for the same thing the stupid old bastard was after. You have five hours to have their response on my desk. Understood."
Griphook clearly felt the same fear that had sent Silvershard sprinting from the room, however, he did not show it on his face. "Of course, Director. Right away." He calmly leapt from his seat and strode from the room, remembering the customary nod as he left.
"That lad is going places."