A few minor changes in this chapter. The more major ones will come as the story develops. I will focus on improving the romantic aspect and Harry's growth a little more in this version along with some other things.
A new chapter of TGITG will be with you soon.
Chapter 3: Embrace Who You Are
The past few days had contained a multitude of emotions for Sirius Black. He had been; proud, worried, angry, anxious and fearful. His usual easy-going demeanour had been discarded and he had been short tempered and irritable. Overall, he felt useless. He was currently waiting for the first meeting of the Order of the Phoenix to begin and was sat tapping the top of the kitchen table with his forefinger impatiently.
He glanced at the members and couldn't help but feel disappointed at what Dumbledore had managed to bring to the cause. On his left, sat Remus Lupin, who was in a similar mood to himself. He had been silent for the most part but occasionally his eyes would become wolfish, would turn a dangerous amber colour and he would grit his teeth in frustration and apprehension.
Next along were Molly and Arthur Weasley with their son Bill. Molly appeared to be constantly on the verge of tears and her husband had an ever-present arm around her shoulders to calm her worry. Bill was quiet, observant and Sirius could see he was like neither of his parents and could maybe be a good ally to have on side, particularly as he worked alongside the Goblins and was a very skilled Cursebreaker.
Next to Bill was Kingsley Shacklebolt, a large soft-featured dark-skinned man who was a very accomplished auror. His presence made sense to Sirius; he was someone who could fight.
Next was his cousin Nymphadora Tonks whom he hadn't seen since she was a small child. She seemed nervous to be there and would often shoot him a shy smile that he would return as best he could. She too was an auror, though not as seasoned as the former.
The man next to her made the most sense to him, Mad-eye Moody. He was a very decorated auror himself and was a real asset in the last war. He was not a man to be crossed and had no qualms about hurting or killing those who threatened him in any way. Sirius was wary of him and respected his prestige and reputation. He sat in silence, his magical eye taking in everyone and everything around him.
Minerva McGonagall and Severus Snape were next along the table, the latter looking bored, allowing his eyes to roam everywhere but on to Sirius or Remus. There was simply too much animosity there to expect anything else. Minerva was her usual calm self and no expression could be gleaned from her.
The rest of the group seemed to be little more than a few office workers and ministry staff who, to Sirius, could offer very little to the group. The only exception was Mundungus Fletcher who had his finger in every despicable pie in the black market. He was a cowardly sneak thief all in all and the best that could be got from him would be information.
Sirius glanced at the discarded newspaper on the table and shook his head at it disgustedly. The front page was visible and the headline of the day had served little more than to annoy him further.
Dumbledore Claims the Return of You-Know-Who
The article was nothing more than a character defamation piece accusing Dumbledore of finally going insane, that he should be stripped of all his titles and apologise for scaremongering. It was of course endorsed by the minister himself who dismissed the claims as all thought he would.
Sirius knew the coming war would be messy, especially if Fudge was unwilling to accept what had happened. This meant that only those in the room were fighting against Voldemort and that simply was not enough.
He shook his head again, frustrated at the situation.
He himself felt next to useless, as he couldn't even take an active part due to his current status. If he was able, he would be out looking for his Godson and had attempted to several times, not caring if he was captured. It had been Remus who had stopped him, reminding him of how his recklessness before had landed him in Azkaban in the first place. He reluctantly stayed put hoping that Dumbledore would bring news. His thoughts were interrupted by the man himself who had entered the room looking as calm as ever despite the slanderous article still laid before them.
He took a seat at the head of the table and smiled gently at those present before addressing them.
"Firstly, I would like to thank you all for coming tonight," he started, bowing his head to those in attendance.
Before he could continue however, a clearly worried Sirius cut him off.
"Where is Harry?" he asked, clearly fearful of the condition of his godson.
"This whole thing isn't about Potter, Black," Snape spat. "This is about the Dark Lord returning. Just because Potter has decided to disappear and sulk it doesn't mean we should be wasting our time looking for the brat," he finished feeling smug at the horror on his childhood foes face.
Sirius exploded to his feet, his face twisted into a look of unadulterated hatred and rage. All present were reminded of the fact the he was a Black, the easy-going prankster nowhere to be seen. What stood in front of them was a man close to the edge, a man bordering on instability. They could almost feel his rage leak from him and they blanched at his fury. When he spoke, his voice was quiet and dangerous but carried to all those in the room with ease.
"I don't give a fuck about you; I don't give a fuck about this war and I don't give a fuck about anything else. The only thing I want is my godson back," he said choking at his own mention of Harry. "When he does come back, I will be taking him away from here to be somewhere safe where he doesn't have to worry about any of this."
Remus put a calming hand on his forearm and looked imploringly at him. Sirius breathed deeply before taking his seat and looked at Dumbledore expectantly, who sighed deeply before answering the emotional man.
"I'm afraid it's not that simple, my boy," the headmaster began tentatively. "If you knew Harry then you would know that he would not leave while Voldemort is alive and it would not be fair for you to take away his chance to avenge his family name."
Everyone in attendance was in shock. Did Dumbledore truly expect Harry to fight and defeat Voldemort? Did the usual man of peace just talk of allowing a mere boy to avenge his family through killing?
The mood at the table had taken a sudden turn and each wanted to voice their opinion on the matter. The first to speak was Molly Weasley.
"You can't be serious, Albus," she despaired. "He's just a poor boy, surely you can't expect him to face that monster alone. What on earth would give you that idea?" she finished quite hysterically.
Snape was the next to put his view forward.
"Potter?" he laughed. "You really think that Potter is capable of killing the Dark Lord? Tell me you're joking," he said almost pleadingly.
Upon seeing the serious expression on Dumbledore's face, he continued.
"You're serious, aren't you? You really think Potter can do it," he said sceptically. He shook his head but remained silent in his disbelief. Before anyone else could speak, Dumbledore put an end to the dissent with his commanding voice.
"Enough," he said almost angrily. "There are things you don't understand that I have to discuss with Harry before I discuss with anyone else," he said firmly. He raised his hand to cut off any protest that would surely be made. "It is his right to know before anyone else and that's all I will say on the matter for the time being." he concluded.
"You still haven't told us where Harry is," Remus cut in sounding desperate.
Dumbledore sighed again.
"I can only tell you what I know for certain," he said. "I should start from the night Harry went missing so you can all understand as much as possible."
He now had the undivided attention of the room and began his explanation.
"On the night of the final task, Harry and young Mr Diggory both took the cup at the centre of the maze and were transported to a graveyard in Little Hangelton. During their time there, Mr Diggory was hit with the killing curse. Voldemort then completed a ritual to gain a body back using his father's bone, flesh willingly given and blood of an enemy, Harry's blood."
All in the room looked disgusted upon hearing the description of the ritual and many faces were horrified at the implications. Dumbledore spoke again before he could be interrupted.
"From the state the Graveyard was in, it is clear that quite a violent fight took place between Harry and Voldemort, and from what I could see, Harry certainly fought valiantly." he said with pride in his voice. "From here, it becomes difficult to decipher what happened. I do know that the Cruciatus curse was used quite liberally as was the killing curse," he explained tiredly.
The expressions of those around him were even more horrified than they had been previously. He held up a hand again to quell any interruptions.
"Please, let me finish. From what I could gather, two people were killed there that night but there was no other body present. It is possible that Harry killed one of the Death Eaters and they simply took the body when they left, but that is not what I think happened," he said, placating those who looked worried at the thought of Harry having to take a life.
"You think Potter was hit with another killing curse, don't you?" Minerva asked. eliciting several gasps and concerned looks from many at the table.
"I do," he said simply. "But," he continued before anyone else could speak, "Harry is very much alive," he informed them confidently.
Everyone at the table breathed a sigh of relief at his proclamation.
"How?" Sirius managed to rasp through his emotional state. "Surely he's not immune to the curse," he added.
"Again, that is something I have to discuss with Harry but no, I do not believe Mr Potter is immune," he said sounding slightly amused. "If what I think has happened then Mr potter will be feeling better than he ever has and I expect we will see a lot of changes in him. His magical signature was very strong within the graveyard and it was not simple passive magic, it was mature and powerful and very much defiant," he chuckled gaining a few strange looks from some. "Mr Potter was clearly very angry during a large part of the confrontation and his magic responded quite spectacularly, I must say. He did not submit as almost everyone would. He faced Voldemort the way I would expect him to."
"Where the hell is he, Dumbledore?" Sirius again cut in.
The amusement Dumbledore had exhibited was now gone.
"I don't know," he answered truthfully. "When I arrived at the graveyard he was already gone and all that was left behind, was this," he said removing the two halves of Harry's wand from his pocket and placing them on the table which Sirius immediately snatched up.
"His wand," he croaked. "How the hell is he alive?" he asked desperately.
He suddenly looked very fearful.
"You-know-who must have him," he finished standing and beginning to pace.
"The Dark Lord does not have him," Snape said firmly. "He was taken from the Graveyard as the killing curse was fired at him. Someone broke the wards around the area and fired off some fog to block out the Dark Lord and apparated in and took Potter," he explained. "He is convinced that his curse hit and that Potter is dead wherever he is. He has no idea who it was, but we can be sure that it was a powerful wizard who broke wards erected by the Dark Lord himself."
"So, how do you know that Harry is alive?" Sirius asked, pointing at Dumbledore.
"Two reasons," the older man began. "Firstly, the blood wards around his home are still intact. If Harry were to die, they would collapse immediately. And secondly," he sighed knowing more questions would be asked, "the night of the leaving feast, I received what I thought was a howler that turned out to be an audio message of some kind. It was from whomever has Harry, stating that he is safe and sound. It was sealed with a magical vow."
Sirius sagged in relief momentarily before the questions began to run through his mind. Before he could ask, he was beaten to it by Remus who was looking relived and curious.
"Who was it from?" he asked Dumbledore.
"I can't be sure," the headmaster answered honestly. "But the voice seemed somewhat familiar to me," he added, frowning deeply.
"Well, what can we do?" Tonks asked, speaking for the first time.
"In regard to Harry, all we can do is wait," he concluded sadly. "But there are many other things we need to attend to in his absence," he finished flicking his wand towards the door so the gathered teenagers outside could no longer listen.
Two floors up from the kitchen five teenagers were gathered on the landing, strings hanging from their ears and looks of shock and worry plastered on their faces. The first to speak was the youngest of the group, Ginny.
"Do you think he's really okay?" she asked nervously.
It was Hermione who answered although she herself was not entirely convinced after hearing Dumbledore's explanation.
"I'm sure Harry is fine," she said reservedly. "If Dumbledore says he's fine then he must be."
"Then where the hell can he be?" Ron cut in sounding frustrated.
"I don't know, Ron," Hermione answered exasperatedly. She took a breath to calm herself before continuing. "If I know Harry and if he's in danger, he will find a way out."
"But he doesn't have his wand," George pointed out.
"He killed a basilisk with only a sword," Ginny interjected.
"Yeah because Harry just happens to carry a sword with him at all times," Ron snarked sarcastically, shaking his head.
They all stood in silence for some time lost in their own thoughts until Hermione spoke once again.
"His relatives must be really worried about him," she said worrying her bottom lip with her teeth.
The twins and Ron shared uneasy looks but decided to say nothing. The look went unnoticed by Hermione but Ginny picked up on the awkwardness immediately.
"What?" she asked. "What is it?"
The boys exchanged a look again before one of the twins nodded and looked at the girls through a curious frown.
"What do you know about Harry?" he asked.
"He's brave and he's strong and quiet," Ginny answered. "He's the strong silent type," she finished with a dreamy expression.
"That's the crap you read in all your stupid books," Ron said disgustedly.
"What do you know about him Hermione?" Fred asked.
Hermione frowned and thought deeply before answering. She worried her lip again before looking very confident.
"He's a shy and introverted person who lacks confidence and doesn't work to his full potential. He's very powerful when he wants to be but he seems reluctant to stand out," she said nodding at her own conclusion of her best friend.
"True," was the simple reply she received. "What do you know about his life away from Hogwarts?"
Hermione hesitated. "Erm, well not much really, he doesn't ever talk about it, but I do know his relatives aren't very nice people."
The three boys again shared a look before Ron nodded to his older brothers. They seemed to have a silent debate between them before one of them nodded reluctantly.
"When we rescued Harry the summer before second year, we found him in his room half-starved and there were bars on the window. He was locked in," he explained irritably. "His relatives hate him and treat him worse than a house-elf, that's why he has no confidence."
He shared a look with his brother before continuing.
"When we got his trunk from the cupboard under the stairs, we found a bed in there and some drawings on the wall that Harry had done, he must have slept in there for most of his childhood."
Hermione looked a mixture between horrified and furious.
"Why didn't he tell us?" she asked no one in particular. "Surely if he would have told Dumbledore he would have done something," she said with conviction.
"Well, we did speak to mum and convince her to write to Dumbledore," one of the twins replied rubbing the back of his neck nervously. "All he did was thank her for raising her concerns and that's it," he finished looking perplexed.
"Do they really treat him that badly?" Ginny asked disbelievingly.
"Listen, Gin," one of the twins started, putting his arm around her shoulders. "The Harry you read about in your stories as a girl is not real. He didn't grow up in a castle and he's nothing like how he is portrayed in them. The Harry you think you love does not exist. Harry hates being famous and hates attention, that's just in his nature but he has his issues and they are down to the muggles who raised him."
"But he's really powerful and brave," she said almost desperately.
"Yes, he is" Hermione agreed. "But he doesn't do the things he does for fame or attention, he does it because it's the right thing to do."
"And what is it he has done?" the twins asked in unison. "We've heard rumours but you know what rumours at school are like," one of them said knowingly.
The three younger teens shared sheepish looks before nodding in agreement and turned to look at the twins who were waiting patiently.
"What we tell you can go no further," Hermione said in a no-nonsense tone.
"We swear that…"
"We won't say a word," the twins chorused.
Between the three of them, Hermione, Ron and Ginny explained what they knew of Harry's first three years at Hogwarts. The twins remained silent, taking in every detail and listened in awe at what they were hearing. By the end, they were dumbfounded and simply stood mouths agape. Even Ron and Ginny were amazed at Hermione's description of Harry's patronus the night they saved Sirius.
"He's really that powerful?" Ron asked shaking his head.
"I've never seen anything like it, it was amazing," Hermione answered quietly.
"But that's not supposed to be possible," one of the twins said disbelievingly. "One hundred Dementors, even the most powerful wizards struggle with a few at the most, Dumbledore is probably the only possible exception," he said mirroring his brothers head shake.
"I saw him do it," Hermione responded. "Have you ever seen him angry?" she asked the collective group.
"Yeah," Ron replied. "When he realised it was Sirius who had taken me in the shack. He was furious and he was terrifying. It felt like I couldn't move," he finished looking thoughtful.
"That's exactly how I felt," Hermione said. "Even Sirius froze for a while. It takes a lot to make him angry but when he gets there, it really is terrifying."
"I don't believe it," one of the twins denied. "Our little Harrikins is the nicest bloke going."
"Yeah," the other interjected. "He's not got a horrible bone in his body."
The group went silent again for some time before one of the twins spoke up. He looked at his sister questioningly before speaking.
"Are you sure the basilisk was as big as you said?" he asked sceptically. "You were in shock you know and it might have seemed bigger than it was."
His sister huffed angrily and took a moment to compose herself before she answered her brother.
"I know what I saw," she said angrily. "It was massive and nearly killed Harry. It bit him when he stabbed it with the sword," she said adamantly.
"But Harry would be dead," Fred pointed out. "No one can survive being bitten by a basilisk"
"Dumbledore's phoenix healed him," she replied through gritted teeth. "He has the scar on his arm," she finished, glaring at her brother.
"Okay, okay," George broke in raising his arms in a gesture of peace. "It seems our little Harry is quite lucky at getting out of trouble," he said, impressed by the younger boy.
"But luck runs out eventually," Fred muttered.
"Then let's hope his luck holds for a little longer," George sighed before they left the landing and headed towards their bedroom.
Ron looked at Hermione for some reassurance. She shrugged her shoulders before taking Ginny by the arm and leading her away. He stood alone on the landing for some time thinking of his wayward friend.
"Where the hell are you Harry?" he mumbled to himself before he too made his way to bed.
Harry awoke to find himself in a peculiar predicament. His nostrils were filled with the scent of both old and new parchment mixed with a distant smell of frying food. It took him several moments to remember where he was and what had happened in the last 24 hours. When he did, he felt both nervous and relieved once again knowing he was safe, for now.
He roused himself and removed the offending weight from his face before stretching and opening his eyes. He instinctively reached towards the bedside table for his glasses but could not feel them. He double-checked his face only to find they weren't there and began to feel a slight pang of panic.
It took a few seconds to realise that he could see perfectly without them and he relaxed slightly. Was he wearing them yesterday? Having been used to only seeing with them on he didn't check.
He shook his head, stretched and began to reflect further on the day before. He wasn't long into his musings when the door opened and Arcturus entered carrying a plate of food and a pile of clothes.
"Ahh, awake are we Potter?" he asked, not really expecting an answer. "I see you've been reading," he acknowledged, gesturing to the book.
Harry had indeed read a considerable amount of the book in his sleepless state. He found what he read quite disturbing and was very reluctant to even think of casting the spells he had seen within the tome. His mind had wandered back to the memories that he had seen and reluctance slowly turned into a determination to learn everything he could from the book. He remembered the horrors of the war and battles he had seen and knew that if he wanted any fighting chance at surviving, he would have to learn all he could. Backed by his desire to avenge his family and to see to the end of Voldemort personally, his resolve became unwavering and he wanted to learn the same magic he had seen his Grandfather use.
Yes, Harry had witnessed battle, he had seen his grandfather face down any man who would attack the people who couldn't fight, those who would attack him and the ones he cared about. He found a deep respect for someone of his own blood and wanted nothing more than to live up to the man. He wanted to make him proud and follow his morals. He would do as the man himself told him; "You do what you must to survive."
He looked towards the older man who had fought side by side with his Grandfather with the determination he felt reflected in his eyes.
"Yes, sir" he answered simply, knowing that was all he needed to say.
Arcturus observed the young man in front him for a moment before nodding in reply and handing him the plate of food.
"You have a few decisions to make today, Potter," he said in a business-like tone. "Eat first, the bathroom is opposite this one then come down to the drawing room at the end of the corridor," he instructed, placing the clothes on the chair next to the bed before he left the room.
Harry found that he was very hungry, after all he hadn't eaten for almost four days.
He ate his breakfast with gusto, picked up the pile of clothes from the chair and made his way to the bathroom. The room itself was simple. It was slate tiled with a glossy black sink, toilet and shower enclosure to match. Despite the dark décor it was brightly lit and he found the atmosphere relaxing. He turned on the shower and stripped-down waiting for the water to heat up.
He caught sight of himself in the mirror and was surprised at his appearance. He no longer looked emaciated. He was still on the thin side but he looked considerably healthier than he remembered. He noticed too that his scar had faded considerably and traced it with his finger.
He touched his face and found he had rather high cheekbones, something that had been hidden by his glasses all these years. He didn't look so much the little boy he remembered. He was truly growing and maturing physically. He couldn't recall the last time he had paid any attention to his reflection; he had never been vain so he never noticed any kind of changes but now really looking at himself, he could see that he wasn't a child anymore.
It seemed that his reflection was living up to the strides his emotional maturity had made over the years. He drew his attention away and stepped into the shower to cleanse himself.
He exited the shower when he was finished and got dressed quickly before making his way to the indicated drawing room. He paused at the door and took a breath before knocking.
"Come in," the voice of Arcturus instructed.
Harry entered the room and was taken aback by what he found inside.
The drawing room was more of a library. Stacks upon stacks of books lined the walls placed upon thick, oak shelves. The carpet was a deep green and the furniture matched the shelves perfectly. Arcturus was sat behind a desk at the end of the room waiting for Harry to take the seat on the opposite side.
"These are all the books I took from the Black library when that sow Walburga finally croaked," he said seeing Harry staring in awe at the sheer number of books in the room. "As long as you are here you can read whatever you like," he offered.
"Thank you, sir," Harry replied gratefully. "How long will I be here Mr Black?" he asked nervously.
"That is what we need to discuss," the older man answered seriously. "Now you are not a prisoner here Potter, you can leave whenever you like," he explained, appeasing the boy.
"Thank you, sir," Harry said, breathing a sigh of relief.
"That being said," Arcturus continued. "I think it is best that you remain here for the foreseeable future. Riddle thinks you're dead and that itself gives us time for you to prepare. I have already sent a message to Dumbledore so he knows that you are safe so you need not worry about that," he added upon seeing a little bit of panic in Harry's eyes. "I can send Elgar to fetch any of your belongings you will want and then you can make sure you're ready to make an appearance when the time is right."
Harry was torn. It was not that he disliked the man but he wanted to see his friends and Sirius to let them all know he was ok. But the more he thought about it, the more he knew it made sense to stay where he was. The less people that knew he was alive the better.
"Yes, sir" he answered. "I think you're right. I'm not ready to face him yet and I need to be," he admitted, slightly ashamed.
"Good," was the reply he received. "Elgar," he called out for the house-elf.
"Yes, Lord Black," the elf replied upon entering the room.
"Can you locate Mr Potter's property? It may be at Hogwarts or at his home."
The elf looked a little nervous before he replied.
"Elgar can be checking Hogwarts, Lord Black, but Elgar cannot be going to Mr Potter's home," the elf said apologetically.
"Hmm, must be the wards," Arcturus mused. aloud "Do you have an elf Potter?" he asked.
"I don't own an elf, sir but, there may be one that can help," he replied.
"Call it," Arcturus answered.
"Dobby?" Harry called uncertainly.
There was a pop and Harry immediately found himself wrapped tightly in a hug by a hysterical elf.
"Master Harry Potter, sir, Dobby has been worried about you sir, but sir is ok," the elf wailed.
Harry just sat in shock at the elf's antics unsure on what he should do. That was until he saw Arcturus standing across the desk, furious, his wand in hand.
"What the hell is the Malfoy elf doing here?" he asked angrily.
"He's not a Malfoy elf anymore," Harry explained, shielding the Dobby. "I set him free at the end of my second year."
The look of fury turned to one of confusion and then to one of amusement as the older man barked out a short laugh.
"Set him free, did you?" he asked. "You'll have to share that story," he said before turning his attention back to the shaking elf. "Who do you serve, elf?" Arcturus asked bluntly.
Dobby looked sheepish and turned a deeper shade of green before he answered the question. He stood straighter and looked the older man in the face defiantly.
"Dobby serves the great Harry Potter sir," the elf answered in perfect English. He turned to look at Harry looking slightly worried. "When Harry Potter sir freed Dobby he had to find a new master quickly as Dobby was weak and he would die. Dobby bonded to the great Harry Potter sir knowing that Harry Potter sirs magics were strong and Dobby wouldn't have to serve him to stay alive."
"It's ok Dobby" Harry consoled the trembling elf. "All you had to do was ask and I would have agreed if it would save your life".
Arcturus shook his head at the pair.
"Just like Charlus," he said. "Making friends with creatures. It drove Dorea crazy when he would come home with another animal to look after," he added looking thoughtful. "Elf?" he said slipping out of his thoughts. "Can you get Mr Potter's things from wherever they are?" he asked, back to his usual tone.
"Yes, Baron Black sir, Dobby will be getting it right away," the elf replied before popping out of the room.
Arcturus shook his head at the elf's personality and turned his attention to the boy who was still looking quite dumbfounded. He coughed to get his attention.
"Well if you're staying here there are things we need to get," he said. "We will take a trip to Gringotts, in disguise of course, and go to your vaults. I'm sure there will be some stuff for you there. You need a couple of wands and probably clothes I imagine," he finished, scratching his chin.
Harry was relieved at the thought of getting a wand but frowned when he realised Arcturus mentioned getting more than one. He looked at the man questioningly.
"You should always have a second wand," he said sternly. "It's not strictly legal, but you need to be prepared for all eventualities."
"I'm sorry, but did you say vaults?" Harry asked.
Arcturus looked confused for a moment before he snapped out of it and stared at the boy.
"When did you last go to the bank?" he asked.
"Not since before my second year second year," he answered confusedly.
"Ahh, so you wouldn't be aware of your family vault yet. All families have a family vault Potter and as the last of your line you can access it," Arcturus explained.
Harry was shocked and excited at the prospect of what he would find in there. More than anything he was hoping for more pictures of his family and sentimental things to remind him of them. Before he could ponder this further, Dobby popped back into the room with his trunk in tow.
"Professor whiskers be sending master Harry Potter sirs things back to the fat ones," he said. "The fattest one was not happy to see Dobby," he added, looking guilty.
"He didn't hurt you, did he?" Harry asked worriedly.
"No, sir," Dobby answered. "Dobby may have cursed him a little though and Dobby is not sorry," the elf said with some force. "Dobby be punishing himself if Master Harry Potter sir wishes," he said hanging his head.
"No," Harry returned firmly.
"Why would the elf curse your family?" Arcturus questioned.
Harry turned red with embarrassment before he steeled himself to answer.
"Well they're not very nice people," he said lamely pushing his hands through his hair.
Arcturus scowled at what he said and read between the lines. He felt anger rise within him but calmed himself quite well before he spoke.
"Did they hurt you?" he asked quietly and Harry could sense the danger in his voice. He really did not want this conversation to happen but knew he had no choice.
"Only sometimes," he replied barely above a whisper. "But its ok," he added quickly. " I won't have to go back there until next year," he placated.
Arcturus growled and his nostrils flared at seeing the reaction of the boy to the subject of his relatives.
"You won't ever have to go back there," he said resolutely. "This is my idiot grandson's fault," he growled. "Oh, I will be having words with him soon enough," he said to himself. "And we" he continued indicating between himself and Harry, "will be having a conversation later."
Harry gulped but nodded knowing that Arcturus was very serious and there would be no compromise.
"Now," the older man began again after he had calmed down. "It's time for us to take a trip, but first, we need to hide who you are," he said beckoning Harry forward. He removed his wand and pointed it at Harry's face, who couldn't help but flinch, and waved it a few times before turning his wand on himself and repeating the process. "No one will recognise us like this," he said, summoning a mirror.
Harry now had light brown hair and brown eyes. His cheekbones had lowered and he was slightly fuller in figure. Arcturus looked like him only much older with blue eyes. They looked as though they were grandfather and grandson and Harry had to agree; no one would recognise either of them for who they really were. Before he could comprehend what had happened, Arcturus had grabbed his arm and had apparated them out of the house.
They appeared in an alley just outside the large, white marble building that was the bank. It took a moment for Harry to gather himself from the unexpected apparition, but his disorientation passed quickly.
"When we go in let me do the talking," Arcturus said seriously before taking Harry by the arm and leading the way past the two heavily armoured goblin guards and into the bank. It looked just as Harry remembered. There were two very long rows of desks on either side of the bank and one large at the end placed in the centre of the gangway. They approached the desk completely unnoticed and Arcturus spoke to the goblin who was quite displeased at being interrupted.
"I wish to see Barchoke, the goblin in charge of the Black accounts," he said in a low voice, flashing a ring on his right hand in to view.
The goblin was surprised but covered it quickly. He looked intently at Arcturus and then at Harry, his bushy eyebrows raising significantly at the unlikely duo.
"It has been some time Baron Black," the goblin replied in an equally low voice. "Don't worry," he added seeing the concerned look on Harry's face, "We pride ourselves on our discretion, as Baron Black can attest to."
The diminutive creature left his desk to fetch the required goblin leaving Harry and Arcturus alone for a moment. It wasn't long before he returned with another, confused goblin in tow. When he saw Arcturus, an evil smirk appeared on his face but it did not look sinister, in fact, he appeared to be very gleeful.
"Ahh, Baron Black," the goblin greeted. "It has been 5 years since you last graced me with your presence and that only happened because the matter was both urgent and delicate. I assume this is the same," he inferred, his gaze switching to Harry briefly.
"It is indeed," Arcturus confirmed. "However, I must insist on the same level of discretion as previously. I'm sure you are aware of my companions' current status," he said giving the goblin a sharp look.
The goblin bowed his head in understanding before answering. "I am indeed, Baron Black. Perhaps we should discuss things in a more private setting?" he offered seeing a few other goblins taking notice of them.
"That would be appreciated," Arcturus said gratefully.
The goblin beckoned them forwards and the y followed him through a set of doors to the left-hand side at the end of the corridor. They walked through what appeared to be a labyrinth of hallways before reaching a large brown door in which the entered. The room was seemingly a conference area of some descript. It was simply decorated with a large table in the centre adorned with 12 matching chairs. There was a fireplace but the walls were bare and painted a neutral magnolia.
Harry and Arcturus took seats opposite Barchoke to begin their business.
"What is it I can do for you Baron Black?" the goblin asked sounding slightly suspicious.
"As you can see, I brought company today," Arcturus began. "He would like to access his family vault to receive some gold and any items of his choosing."
The goblin looked relieved at the simplicity of the business with the older man. He was curious about his accompanying the Potter boy, however. "May I ask as to why you are bringing Mr Potter?" he asked quizzically. "Does it concern your previous visit?"
Arcturus nodded in response but did not address the second question vocally. "A certain Dark Lord as resurfaced," he stated darkly. "Mr Potter here has already had a run in with him and he needs to be prepared," he added giving Barchoke a knowing look.
The goblin breathed out a sharp burst of breath before addressing Arcturus once more.
"We appreciate the warning," he spoke sincerely. "And of course, as Mr Potter is one of our more significant customers, it is in our best interest to keep your visit as quiet as possible. However, as far as Gringotts is concerned, due to the nature of a certain tournament this past year and the fact that Mr Potter is the last of his line, he is considered an adult wizard as of now," the goblin finished clicking his fingers.
"I was hoping you would see it that way," Arcturus replied, offering the goblin a bow of his head. "I would like to request a health check on Mr Potter also. He had quite the traumatic experience recently and as you can imagine, St Mungo's would not be ideal currently," he explained gesturing towards the young man.
"Of course, though our healing skills are rather different," the goblin warned.
Arcturus simply nodded.
The goblin stood and made his way towards Harry and looked him in the eyes. He took hold of his hands and closed his own, a look of deep concentration coming over him. He then placed his hands on his head his thumbs pushing gently into Harry's temples. Harry felt a warm tingle spread throughout him that finished as quickly as it begun. Barchoke then made his way back to his seat and looked curiously at Harry.
"Your magic has undergone significant changes recently," he stated simply. "Your body also seems to be in the process of changing physically and will continue to do so in the coming weeks, it's as though it has been stunted and held back by a few factors and is now catching up on itself," he finished turning to look at Arcturus. "Him?" he questioned.
"I believe so," Arcturus replied. "He was hit by the killing curse again. Is it all gone?" he questioned the goblin.
The goblin nodded. "There are no signs of any other magic influencing Mr Potter in any capacity," he answered. "There are however a couple of curious things I came across and he will need to be fitted for a new wand. His magic is different, his old one may not be a fit any longer."
"What curious things?" Arcturus asked, frowning.
"It appears that Mr Potter has traces of both basilisk venom and phoenix tears in his blood," the goblin explained. "It is curious how they got there and how the venom did not kill him," he finished looking intently at Harry, as Arcturus was also.
Harry looked nervous and didn't know how to answer but knew that honesty went a long way with the older Black.
"I fought and killed a basilisk in my second year. Someone opened the chamber of secrets and it was petrifying students. It petrified my friend and my other friends' sister was taken into the chamber so I went to get her out," he said looking at the floor. "I got bit by the snake as I stabbed it and Fawkes, that's Dumbledore's phoenix, cried into the wound."
Arcturus shook his head. "It seems we have much more to discuss, Mr Potter," he said. "How did you find the chamber."
"We spoke to moaning Myrtle in the second-floor bathroom. She was killed by the basilisk the last time it was opened in there so we figured the entrance was there. It was using the plumbing to get around the school," he said.
"Hmm," Arcturus mused. "And how did a 12-year-old enter the chamber when many more experienced wizards have failed to even find the entrance?" he asked even more curiously.
"You have to be a parselmouth to open it," Harry replied quietly.
Arcturus coughed in surprise but schooled his features again quickly. "So, you're a parselmouth?" he asked.
"Yes," Harry answered shamefully. "Dumbledore says that I got the ability from Voldemort when he hit me with the curse the first time and it backfired."
"There have been parselmouth's in the Black line, but not for several hundred years," Arcturus explained. "We are related to the Slytherins by blood but very distantly now. We married into a lower branch of the family centuries ago so it may be a blood trait. Your magic has changed and I am guessing if that ability came from Riddle, then it will no longer be there," he said looking questioningly at the goblin who had been very quiet for the past few minutes.
He shook himself from his stupor before answering.
"I believe that would be the case. Any traits both positive and negative would have been removed along with the… essence left behind," he sighed, noticing a look he was given by Arcturus. "There is only one way to find out," he stated summoning a small adder. "Speak" he instructed Harry.
Harry looked at the snake and gulped before clearing his throat to speak. "Hello there, friend" he hissed.
" A ssspeaker" the snake replied. "You have the ssscent of the great one about you. How may I ssserve?" the snake finished questioning Harry.
"I jussst needed to know if I could ssstill ssspeak to snakesss," he began. "My magic hasss changed and I wasn't sssure if I could anymore," he finished.
The snake shook its head, stragely appearing to be amused. "Silly human thiss iss a part of your magic only thossse from the sssnake line can ssspeak it but even in the line it is rare now, too much mating with your own kind hasss soiled the magic," it finished eliciting some laughter from Harry.
"What did it say" asked the goblin.
"It said it is my own magic but…" he stammered.
"But?" asked Arcturus impatiently.
Harry steeled himself before replying.
"He said that it is very rare now even in the Black bloodline because of continuous inbreeding, it has corrupted the magic," he muttered, stifling his laughter.
Arcturus looked murderously towards the snake before vanishing it with a simple wave of his wand.
"Well that explains it," he said. "It's your own magic. I'm guessing your father marrying your mother removed any impurities from both bloodlines and has awoken the dormant magic. It will be a significant advantage for you when in battle, just not against Riddle. I will get the parselmagic books from the Black vault while we are here."
"What became of the basilisk Mr Potter?" the goblin asked inquisitively.
"It's still in the chamber," Harry answered. "Only myself or Voldemort can get in there."
"How big was it twenty-feet? thirty-feet?" Barchoke questioned.
Harry though for a moment before answering. "I would say it was closer to 70 feet," he answered uncertainly.
Both Arcturus and the goblin shared a similar look before the older man addressed Harry.
"Are you sure about that, Potter?" he asked sceptically.
"I can't be sure," Harry replied. "If you have a pensieve, you can see for yourself," he offered.
The goblin shrugged at the older man who placed his wand at Harry's temple.
"Think of being in the chamber and fighting the basilisk," he requested.
Harry did as he was told and felt the memory being pulled from the side of his head. He watched as the goblin summoned a pensieve and the two disappeared into it after Arcturus added the memory to the basin. They both emerged several minutes later wearing similar expressions of shock. Arcturus looked at Harry with something he could only describe as pride.
"Just like your grandfather," he said proudly. "There was some luck there, Potter, but you definitely have skill," he added, looking at Harry more intently.
"Yes, Mr Potter that was very impressive," the goblin chimed in. "I would like to negotiate a price for the carcass of the basilisk. As you killed it, it is rightfully yours," he explained.
"I have no idea how valuable that would be," Harry admitted.
"The last whole basilisk sold for around four-hundred-thousand galleons but that was some centuries ago," the goblin said frowning. "The parts from that snake are still in circulation and I imagine a fresher specimen would garner much interest, especially one of this size. I can confidently offer you one million galleons for it, it is a very fair price and that added to the current value of your vaults would make you a very wealthy wizard, Mr Potter. You will be able to live a very comfortable life as will many more Potter generations without having to ever be employed."
Harry looked towards Arcturus who simply shrugged his shoulders at the boy.
"That seems fair," Harry answered. "I don't know what I would do with a big snake corpse anyway."
"Excellent," the goblin replied clapping his hands together. "We can arrange a visit to collect the beast."
"Can we go down to our vaults now?" Arcturus asked. "We are somewhat pressed for time" he pointed out.
"Of course," the goblin replied. "I will take you down personally."
The trip down to the vaults was exactly as Harry remembered. The cart on the single winding track was as exhilarating as his first journey. The only difference was the depth in which they travelled. Harry realised they must have made their way to the lowest point in the bowels of the underground cavern. It must have been miles below the surface. They came to a stop outside a vault that was simply eerie. The air was cold and the stone roughly carved. The door was a thick construct of oak decorated with an intricate obsidian pattern around the bronze hinges and fixtures. In the centre of the door was a crest which Harry assumed belonged to the Black family. It was faded considerably to the point of that the details could not be seen very well, demonstrating its age. Below the crest were to words; Toujours Pur.
"Vault number thirteen," Barchoke announced at their arrival.
"Come, Potter" Arcturus said. "It is safe to enter as you are with me."
As they approached the door the older man gently stroked his family crest lovingly but with a mournful look on his face. He swallowed hard and composed himself as he removed his wand from his sleeve and placed it against the crest. The door glowed a gentle orange and then blue before a series of locks could be heard unfastening.
It opened slowly revealing a room that seemed endless in size. Harry was taken aback by the amount of wealth on display but couldn't help but feel a sense of foreboding within.
"Do not touch anything," Arcturus instructed. "There are things in here that will take your life before you can blink and they are the more pleasant items."
Harry stood still not wanting to come within a foot of anything in the room. Arcturus made his way to a large bookshelf that was halfway down the left side wall and began to peruse the shelf. Around five minutes later, he returned levitating three books that were bound in aged leather.
"Here," he offered, directing the books towards Harry. "These are the parselmagic books that belong to the Blacks. I have no idea what is in them because if you do not possess the gift, you can't touch them. Do not let anyone touch them under any circumstances; the curses on them are very dark and will kill someone very painfully," he advised sternly.
Harry hesitated before taking the books, not wanting to be cursed horrifically. He finally plucked the books out of the air and breathed a sigh of relief when nothing untoward happened.
"Thank you, sir," he said gratefully to the older man.
Arcturus nodded. "Do not share that knowledge with anyone. Those spells have not been seen or used in centuries so it is one of your advantages and may or may not be useful against Riddle. I am not sure of his own knowledge of parselmagic."
"I won't share any of it," Harry promised.
He looked down at the books to determine what they contained and how useful they would be. The first book was titled; Spells of The Serpent and was more of a notebook containing several spells that would come in useful in battle and day to day life.
The second book was called; The Serpents Gift and was a book on more spells and parseltongue wards that Harry knew would be a boon and the final book was the oldest, was the smallest and was again handwritten, but the name of the author could not be made out. The book was titled; Speaking the Tongue, was little more than a manual on how to control the parseltongue ability and speak it at will without the presence of a snake or another speaker.
Harry knew this would be very useful having never being able to speak the language at will.
They left the vault again and after another much shorter journey, found themselves outside a vault with a door that appeared to be made from redwood. In the centre was another crest that was much more prominent than that of the Blacks. The crest was of a dragon and a griffin back to back, each clutching a sword in one claw and a wand in the other. The background was a deep blue and the animals each a mixture of gold and silver lined in black.
Harry stood in awe at the crest and a warmth spread throughout him at the connection to his family he now felt. He raised his right hand and brushed his fingertips against the crest. As he did so, he felt a gentle pull on his magic and the door vanished leaving him shocked.
He turned to look at Arcturus with that expression etched on his face.
"You need to be a Potter to open the vault," he explained. "If anyone else tried that I'm sure it would be a very unpleasant experience," he added looking at the goblin who nodded gravely.
Harry turned and entered his family vault for the first time. There were what could be described as mountains of gold Galleons taking up around ¾ of the massive room that was around the size of the Blacks, but his attention was not on the gold.
He only had eyes for the other part of the vault that he could see contained piles of neatly stacked trunks and portraits. Without even thinking, he made his way over to that corner and began to look through the items left behind by various family members.
Arcturus watched the teen closely and could only see the boy that more than anything in the world wanted a family. Any other child would have been filling their pockets with as much gold as they could carry, but not the Potter boy.
He could see the kind of man he was becoming. He cared not for material wealth but the wealth of sentimentality. He nodded unseen in approval at the young man who was turning out to be more than he expected. He was not a typical child. He was a boy that had seen hardship and endured quite a terrible life and all he craved was a family, a family that had been taken away from him.
It had been years since Arcturus had felt any kind of real sadness but witnessing first-hand the desire the boy had to have a family gave him a twinge of it; a feeling he was not fond of.
He made his way over to the corner to find Harry looking at a picture that he recognised.
"That's your grandmother and grandfather, not long after their wedding," he spoke softly making Harry jump at his interruption.
Harry just nodded not trusting himself to speak. The occupants in the picture were both smiling at him looking truly happy. It warmed his heart knowing that there were times that his family were happy and not everything had always been such a disaster for them as he had only ever experienced.
He was disturbed from his thoughts by Arcturus handing him another picture he had pulled from the pile.
He looked at the picture he was handed and could no longer hold back the emotions he had, a single tear escaping him and running slowly down his cheek. It was a picture of his parents and grandparents. In his grandmothers arms he could see a little bundle swathed in a white blanket that could only be him.
His grandfather was stood next to her with his arm wrapped around her shoulder proudly. All the occupants were beaming at the new addition to the family and the emotion Harry was feeling overwhelmed him. He felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up to see Arcturus looking at him in understanding.
"Use it," he urged. "Use what you're feeling to honour your family, use it to avenge the crimes committed against them all."
Harry could only nod weakly in response but judging by the older man's reaction, it wasn't enough. Arcturus turned him sharply and grabbed him by both shoulders and looked him piercingly in the eye.
"What is worth fighting for?" he demanded. "Is it for the wizarding world? Is it for your friends? Or is it for yourself?"
Harry thought about what he was being asked and was surprised at what he concluded.
The wizarding world had always been fickle to him, a hero one moment and then a villain the next. They were sheep and would turn on you in an instant if things went badly and it was deemed your fault. No, he would not fight for them.
His friends had proven to be fickle at times also, despite knowing him, especially this past year. Ron had outright called him a liar and accused him of cheating and although Hermione didn't say anything, he could always see she had doubted him.
He frowned at those thoughts.
The entire school had turned against him and even the staff struggled to believe he did not enter the tournament willingly. As much as he wished he could fight for his friends he couldn't bring himself to do it.
He thought about his own reasons.
He had always been selfless and seldom did anything for himself. It always seemed what he did would benefit everyone else. He scowled at that thought but couldn't stop it playing repeatedly in his mind. What could he get for himself if he fought for his own reasons? Freedom, some normality, no more Voldemort, peace and revenge for his family that had been torn apart by Riddle and his regime? The thought of what Riddle had done to his family angered him and he trembled in rage and gritted his teeth.
"I'd fight for myself and my family," he said almost ashamedly.
"You should not be ashamed of your reasons, they are your reasons and that is all that matters," the older man said firmly. "Your grandfather would have answered the same had he been in your position right now knowing what had been done to those he loved. You fight for what feels right to you and you fight with everything you have; do you hear me? Remember what your grandfather said to you and remember what you saw in those memories and you're already halfway there."
Harry nodded more resolutely before turning his attention back to the photos.
"We don't have much time today, Potter," Arcturus said. "Get that green trunk there" he said pointing to a trunk near the top of the stack. "That's your grandfather's he used during the war it will have everything you need for the time being. Get some gold and find your family ring it should be by the book over there," he explained, indicating a pedestal in the centre of the room.
Harry complied and pulled down the trunk and pocketed the photos.
He made his way to the centre of the room where the pedestal was and found a box next to a large tome. The book itself was an index of all the books that the family owned. He opened the box that contained the family ring and then pocketed it.
"Grab the book also, it will help with any studying. You still have exams to do," Arcturus said. "The book will become any book you own in the Potter library so it is very useful to have with you" he finished making his way to the door to wait for the boy.
Harry picked up the book also and filled a nearby pouch with as much gold as it could carry. He then picked up a stack of muggle notes he spotted among the gold, just in case he needed it. He made his way to the door still feeling overwhelmed and was reluctant to leave.
Arcturus, who shook his head at the boy, noticed this.
"You can come back any time you like, Potter but we have things to do now," he reminded the teen as he entered the cart followed slowly by Harry.
The journey to the surface felt much quicker than their descent and before he knew it, Harry found himself back in the alley that had apparated into when they arrived.
"We need to get you your wands," Arcturus said.
Instead of heading to Olivander's, which was further up the alley, Arcturus took Harry's arm and led him to Knockturn Alley. When Harry realised where they were heading, he hesitated but was pulled forward by the man.
"Do not believe everything you hear," he said shaking his head. "If everything here was illegal and dark do you think it would be allowed to remain functional?"
Harry remained silent but allowed himself to be half-dragged down the alley.
Arcturus eventually came to a stop outside a building that had clearly seen better days. It was constructed of very old stone and the wood had clearly once been dark but was now a faded grey colour. The sign above the shop was a blank oaken shield and the paint had faded so badly it could no longer be read. Harry was quickly being dragged once again and found himself inside the shop. The first thing he noticed was the very pungent smell of burnt wood and what smelled like animal parts he had used in potions.
"Who's there?" an aged, scratchy voice asked from somewhere behind the counter.
"I'll give you one guess, you decrepit old bastard," Arcturus replied. "Get out here now."
There was a loud thump from somewhere as though something heavy had been dropped. A fast shuffling of feet followed this.
Harry was surprised to see a man much older than Arcturus and more so that he could move so quickly. He was very old indeed. He had almost no hair save a few random pure white wisps and his eyes were almost completely white with only a hint of brown left in them. He was heavily wrinkled and dressed as though he was in the 1800's.
"Do my eyes deceive me?" the man asked looking at the disguised Arcturus. "Baron Black?"
"Your eyes have been deceiving you for decades you useless swine. I'm not here for a reunion I'm here to get some wands made," he told the man harshly.
"Surely your wands are fine," the man stated ignoring his brash remarks.
"They're not for me you damned cretin, they're for my young companion here," Arcturus explained gesturing to Harry. "And of course, you will give an oath of secrecy, we were never here. Do you understand?" he asked dangerously.
The man gulped audibly but gave his oath before continuing.
"To business then," he declared, rubbing his hands together. "Come forward young man," he requested beckoning to Harry.
"Pass me your wand hand," the man instructed.
He waved his wand over it when presented and before Harry knew what was happening, he felt a sharp pain that quickly disappeared. The man was now clutching a vial of what appeared to be blood that was surrounded by a golden glow.
"This is a mixture of your blood and magic, it is unique to you. From this I can determine what components will be required for your wands and what will work best for you. I then use what's in this vial to key the wands to you and you only. That means only you can use them," he explained.
Harry just nodded at what the man said and waited for him to continue.
"From just looking at what is in the vial, I can see you have strong and powerful magic, a mixture from a few powerful bloodlines I imagine," he finished, mumbling to himself.
He turned and made his way behind the counter before pulling out a bowl from beneath that looked like a pensieve. He emptied the vial into it and began waving his wand over it and mumbling in a language Harry did not recognise. The bowl began to glow in steadily changing colours before stopping and becoming its original colour once again. He frowned at the results and then grinned in satisfaction at his conclusion.
"Well, Mr Potter," he said causing Harry to gasp in surprise, "You are a very interesting person."
Arcturus growled and glared at the man but he simply reminded him of the oath he had given.
"How do you know who I am?" Harry asked worriedly.
"I will explain when the wands are complete," the man answered. "But I am interested in hearing about your connection to some of these very unexpected ingredients," he added looking very curious.
"How long?" Arcturus cut in looking peeved at the man.
"They will be ready in a couple of hours," the man assured him.
Arcturus had already taken Harry by the arm and was already leading him outside. He dragged him a few shops further up the alley and Harry found himself being pulled inside one that sold clothing.
"How may I help you, dears?" a portly female voice asked as they entered.
"The boy needs everything," Arcturus explained.
The woman looked as though Christmas had come early and immediately set to work measuring Harry every way possible. By the time she had finished her measuring and asked Harry about styles and colours, he was exhausted and irritable.
Before the woman set to work Arcturus pulled her aside.
"I want the robes to have this on," he said handing her a picture of the Potter crest which the woman blanched at. "And your discretion would be much appreciated," he added threateningly.
"Of course, sir," she replied shakily. "I pride myself on confidentiality," she said hastily, retreating to the back room.
What seemed like forever had passed but soon enough Harry was handed a massive trunk with his newly completed wardrobe. He had; Robes of various colours and styles, t shirts, jeans, trousers, underwear, cloaks, coats jackets, various types of shoes, boots and trainers and lots of loose fitted clothing for exercise.
He quickly paid his bill, eager to leave the store, and they made their way back to the wandmaker's shop. They entered to be greeted by the man who was awaiting their arrival. He looked quite tired but equally excited.
"Well, Mr Potter, your wands are complete and I must say, it was quite the task," he informed the teen, strangely happy at the difficulty of the job.
He pulled out a heavy but small black box and opened it to reveal two very beautiful, identical wands. They were white interlaced with embedded, black crystal of some kind.
"What are they made of?" Arcturus asked the question that was on the tip of Harrys' tongue.
"Well," the old man replied, "you wanted to know how I knew who you were?" the old man asked. Receiving a nod from Harry he continued. "I knew you were a Potter from the primary cores," he began looking a little smug. "Dragon heartstring and Griffin claw. All Potter males have these cores it is a unique combination to the family. The heartstring comes from a female Horntail and the claw from a male Golden Griffin," he explained. "A very unique combination in itself but it is the rest of the wand that is curious," he added frowning.
"How so?" Harry asked, confused at the man's expression.
"The shaft of the wand is made from white ash," he explained, indicating the white wood. "The obsidian marbled into the wood would usually be used as a focus stone on the end but it wasn't possible for this wand. I had to merge the 2 components, which is impossible without magic, for the wand to work the way it should," he finished again shaking his head.
Arcturus frowned at the man again before questioning further.
"And why did you have to do that?" he asked impatiently.
"The final two components" he stated looking at Harry more curiously than before. "Phoenix tears and basilisk venom."
Harry did not react but Arcturus was now very annoyed with the man's curiosity and questions. What is your point?" he asked the wandmaker quietly with a warning tone.
"It doesn't take a genius to work out how Mr Potter ended up with these two contradictory components in his blood, but the fact they both survived in there is quite the feat. I am guessing it is due to his magic that they still reside there, it is the only way to explain it. Both surviving in your blood is a unique form of alchemy and it shouldn't simply happen," he pointed out shaking his head in disbelief. "However, getting them to exist in a wand was quite the conundrum. That is why the obsidian and white ash are as they appear. I had to encase the venom inside the obsidian and the phoenix tears into the ash, that way they are connected as they are both in contact with the obsidian that also acts as a barrier keeping them separated" he explained. "If they were to merge, they would simply counteract the effects of each other neutralising them and making them useless. That is why your wand is so unique, Mr Potter," he concluded tiredly.
Arcturus was impressed whereas Harry was quite shocked at the complexity of is wand. Before he could respond, the wandmaker interjected.
"It will take a powerful wizard to wield this wand," he said matter-of-factly. "There are a lot of very magical components and I doubt anyone but you could use it even if it wasn't keyed to you only," he hazarded looking at Harry. "But you should not worry". he added looking at the concerned expression the boy wore, "this wand is tailored to your requirements so you will have no problem using it, in fact it will help you perform at your absolute best."
"Will it make me more powerful?" Harry asked curiously.
The man chuckled at the question before he answered.
"It does not work like that, Mr Potter," he said shaking his head amusedly. "A wand is merely a way your magic is concentrated, that is all. The power comes from you. A wand does not give power but only control. Everything in your wand is what your magic needs to be used to the best of its potential. Anything you achieve, comes from you, Mr Potter. The wand is just a tool but it can be quite a special tool, as you can see," he concluded, presenting the box to him.
Harry reached out and took one of the wands in his right hand. He immediately felt his magic respond, tingling and warming him to the very tips of his toes and fingers. It felt like a glove that fit perfectly. It felt so very right. He smiled at the feeling and no longer felt the sense of vulnerability he had the past few days.
"May I ask?" the man began cautiously, "What happened to your other wand?"
Harry looked towards Arcturus who shrugged his shoulders and looked away, clearly not wanting to influence the answer nor having any objections to how he handled the query. Harry looked at the man and felt that he should tell him the truth; he had after all helped him immensely.
"It got destroyed in a duel with Voldemort," he answered.
To Harry's surprise, the man did not flinch nor seem perturbed by the revelation, but he scowled distastefully.
"Back then, is he?" he spat.
"Then you send him right where he belongs if you get the chance," the wandmaker demanded.
"How much do I owe you?" he asked the now silent man.
"That will be 500 Galleons, Mr Potter, expensive I know, but the ingredients and craftsmanship is quite spectacular," he boasted, smiling again.
Harry paid the man and bid him farewell. Arcturus led him back to the alleyway next to the bank in silence before he apparated them back to his home.
They arrived back in the drawing room and took the seats they had left hours before. They sat in a contemplative silence, lost in their own thoughts. Harry was overwhelmed by the events of the day; his family vault, the photos and his wands. He took one of the wands from the box and twirled it in his fingers. It truly was a thing of beauty. It was around the same length of his previous holly wand and weight not much more though it felt more rigid and sturdy.
"Aren't you going to test it?" Arcturus asked.
Harry looked at the older man questioningly before answering.
"I'm underage," he pointed out.
"Your wands don't have the trace on them," Arcturus explained. "You can do all the magic you like."
Harry had to admit that he was quite excited by the prospect of being able to perform magic whenever he wanted. He thought of his spell repertoire and was quite disappointed at his lack of general knowledge. He knew he had to be better. He swallowed and thought of how happy his family looked in the photo where he was in his grandmother's arms. He felt a warmth engulf him and he basked in it for a moment before intoning mournfully; "Expecto Patronum."
A bright white shape erupted from the tip of his wand, bright enough that the two in the room had to shield their eyes briefly. Arcturus looked on in both shock and appreciation at seeing such a young wizard performing a spell of such difficulty. The appreciation he felt came from the form the patronus had taken.
Harry himself was shocked also. He had become used to seeing a stag as his form but that was no longer the case. What stood in front of him now was a bigger animal, an animal he didn't recognise.
It was as large as a stallion, had large leathery wings and skin and a long thin tail that ended in a thicker triangular point. Its face was horse-like but much more skeletal and defined. He looked towards Arcturus and could see a somewhat sad expression on his face which he adjusted upon seeing the young man's gaze.
"A fully corporeal patronus?" he asked.
"Yes, sir," Harry replied, "But it's different," he whispered.
"Different how?" the older man questioned.
"It used to be a stag, my dad's animagus form," he answered with a hint of sorrow.
"Ahh and now you feel like you've lost a part of him," Arcturus deduced. "Well, the form it takes now still has a family connection."
At this Harry looked at the older man but couldn't bring himself to speak. His mouth was dry and a sense of sadness had filled him. He was fond of his patronus it had saved his and Sirius' life. It had always filled him with comfort.
"You have the same patronus as your grandmother," Arcturus informed him. "I suspect that the changes in your magic and your new knowledge of your family caused the change. I don't think there was anyone prouder the day you were born than Dorea. She cared for you very much in the short time she was around and from what I know, you were fond of her too. You never fussed when she was around and you quite liked being in her arms."
Harry felt a smile creep on to his face at what he heard and no longer felts so sad. He was grateful for another connection to his family. He nodded at the older man and took a second to compose himself.
"What is it?" he finally asked, pointing at the still present patronus.
"It's a Thestral," Arcturus answered simply. Seeing the confused look Harry had he elaborated. "They are said to be dark creatures because they can only be seen by those who have witnessed death. That's not true at all. Anyone who has studied them will tell you they are strong, loyal and very loving and caring creatures. They are fiercely protective of the younger members of the herd and can be very formidable if provoked."
Harry just nodded and didn't miss the fact that what he had heard seemed to describe what he knew of his grandmother. Instead of answering, he cancelled the spell and cast it again with the other wand getting the same result.
"Anyway," Arcturus interrupted his thoughts, "I'm sure you will find a lot of useful things in here," he said removing the green trunk from his pocket and resizing it. "Place your hand on the nameplate, it belongs to you now so you will be able to open it," he instructed.
Harry did as he was told and the lid of the trunk popped open to reveal its contents. Inside he found several wand holsters, books and personal items that belonged to his grandfather.
"The holsters will be very useful," Arcturus interjected. Harry picked up two matching dark green ones and placed his wands inside. "One on the wrist and one on the ankle, flick your wrist and the wand will appear in your hand and you can summon the one from your ankle wandlessly," he explained.
Harry attached the holsters as instructed and began to look at the books that were inside. He realised that most were simple journals that he could look at in his leisure, some containing more photos. One of the books he saw caught his attention; Magical Health was the title. Inside were diet and exercise programs that would help develop the body to perform magic better and build fitness and stamina.
"You will want to really pay attention to that," Arcturus advised. "Charlus knew what he was doing and he was in very good condition. He never got exhausted in a fight."
Harry pocketed the book and closed the trunk. He would revisit it again later. He took a seat, lost in his thoughts, and removed the photos from his pocket and held them lovingly, as though they were the most precious thing in the world.
Arcturus allowed him his silence knowing that the day had been an emotional one for him. It was Harry that broke the silence, though he sounded a little timid and nervous.
"Sir," are there any portraits of my family like there are in Hogwarts, ones that I could talk to?" he asked hopefully.
Arcturus had wondered if the boy would ask this question and had to choose his words carefully in his reply as to not raise the teen's hopes too much.
"I know that Potter manor has several portraits like that, but I am unsure if Charlus or Dorea had them made for themselves. I would expect they did," he mused aloud. "However, I can't be completely sure," he added truthfully. "I very much doubt your parents would have though," he explained further causing Harry to look disheartened. "They were both very young and probably never considered it necessary."
"Can I go to Potter Manor?" Harry asked hopefully.
"You have to put the family ring on," Arcturus instructed. "You may be too young to gain access though. The manor was locked down many years ago and the wards may not recognise you as the head of the family until you come of age," he explained. "You are the head of the family but the house was sealed by your father, who may have placed a stasis spell to coincide with when you reach your majority."
Harry removed the ring from its box and placed it on his right hand. He felt his magic respond to it and felt a familiar warmth spread throughout him. There was nothing else and it felt very anti-climactic to him.
"Where is Potter Manor?" Arcturus questioned.
"I don't know," Harry answered disappointedly.
"Then you can't go there yet. The ring will give you the knowledge when you can. It has been a very long day Potter, we should eat and then turn in," he suggested. "Tomorrow it is time to start your preparations.