Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or anything related to the world created by J. K. Rowling.
AN: - T.T.H.S.L.W. – denotes a scene break.
Harry had just arrived at the Dursleys house (Durzkaban as he called it) the day before and already he was ready to get out. Since losing his godfather over a week ago, he had been having trouble sleeping and didn't have much of an appetite, though he forced himself to eat. Before he left school, he realized that it wasn't his fault (with his friends' help) but that didn't stop it from hurting so much. Plus, he was pretty pissed with Dumbledore for having kept the prophecy a secret from him for so long. If he had only known about it, he would have expected an attempt to lure him to the Ministry in the first place. In fact, he could've destroyed the thing so there would have been no reason to guard it at all. Then, even knowing how badly hiding things from him had gone so far, the man continued to do so, refusing to explain why it was so important that he go back to the Dursleys or why he wouldn't train him to face Voldemort. The only bright spot was that the Dursleys were steering clear of him and he was able to get his own food with the muggle money Tonks had slipped him before he left the train station.
After all of the crap he's been forced, to put up with, Harry was contemplating running away. He needed a break, a real break. One that didn't involve having to be in the presence of people who hated him. A place where he could heal, actually heal, from the horrible school year he suffered through. From being labelled as a liar, tortured by the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor (not that she was a good teacher anyway), and watching his godfather die, Harry was nearing his limit. That's not even including the chaos from the rest of his life. He really felt like if he didn't get a break soon, he would go mad or stop caring about this war, a bad thing either way.
Just as he was about to start making a plan of where to go and how to get there, an official looking owl flew into his window, upsetting Hedwig who barked angrily at the bird. She glared at it with a predatory look from her perch, causing Harry to shake his head at her. Before the owl crashed into something in its attempt to get far away from her, he plucked it out of the air. There was a single letter tied to its leg and he quickly untied it before sending the owl out of the window. It didn't need any urging as it flew away as fast as it could.
"That wasn't necessary Hedwig, it was just doing it's job," Harry chided, knowing it wouldn't work.
Hedwig barked angrily as if to say, I should be the only one delivering things to you.
"We've been over this before girl. You're the only owl for me, the best one ever," he said, trying to appease her. Thankfully it worked.
Hedwig flew down to land on his shoulder and gently butted her head against his. She hooted happily saying, Of course I am, and don't you forget it.
Harry rolled his eyes at his feathered friend's proud thoughts, though he admitted that she really was the best owl ever. He knew others found it strange, but Harry really could hear Hedwig's thoughts. When they met for the first time, Harry and Hedwig immediately felt a connection form between them. Since then, he's been able to communicate with her as if she was speaking plain English, something he was thankful for when he was locked up at Durzkaban. Hedwig was also able to intuitively know where he was and if he needed her at all times. Hermione said it was called a familiar bond, though no books mentioned it being as strong as theirs was. Her ability to fly long distances rather quickly, made him suspect that she wasn't a regular post-owl.
Harry shook his head to focus his attention back to the letter he had received. Surprisingly, it was from Gringotts. I've never gotten anything from them before, he mused before opening the letter. Inside was a single piece of parchment and a galleon. Harry quickly read the letter which stated:
Dear Mr. Potter
I am your account manager Silverclaw writing to inform you about the Will of your godfather and magical guardian Sirius Black. There will be a private reading tomorrow at nine in the morning of which you need to be in attendance. To make it easier for you, I have turned the galleon that came with this letter into a portkey. It will activate at 8:55 sharp, so be ready for it. I am sorry for your loss and understand how this subject may upset you, but it is imperative that you attend this meeting tomorrow. There will be negative consequences if you do not.
Harry's first reaction was to throw the letter and the galleon as far away as he could. He didn't want any of Sirius's stuff, he wanted the man to be alive. As he felt his grief and despair start to overwhelm him, he decided to go for a run to clear his head. Throwing on some old clothes (he didn't have new ones to prevent the Dursleys from finding out about his money), grabbing some of his muggle money, and putting a hat on his head, he headed down the stairs and out of the house. He ignored the looks he received from his "relatives" who were gathered in front of the tv.
When he got to the park, he stretched his muscles before starting off with a light jog. After a minute, he increased his pace and headed in the direction of the town nearby. For almost an hour, he ran, his mind focused only on his path and the sound of his feet hitting the pavement. Hedwig flew alongside him, keeping him company and watching over him, like she usually did.
After the events of his first year, Harry had started working out, wanting to be in shape the next time he faced a dangerous situation. For help, he began taking combat lessons from an old military veteran named Cole in exchange for helping the man build a house. That, in combination with the nutrient potion Madame Pomphrey gave him when she noticed his malnutrition and getting three meals a day, Harry had gone from a scrawny boy to a slim but toned young man, standing at a respectable 5'10". He was in peak condition, so an hour-long run wasn't too difficult for him.
Harry finally stopped when he realized he was reaching his limit, cooling his body down properly to avoid any injuries. Seeing he was nearby a pizza parlor, he decided to stop there for dinner and think over what the letter from Gringotts could mean. When he got inside, he took the table farthest from the door, Hedwig on his shoulders and waited to be served. Harry came there during the summer often, so the waitress wasn't fazed at the presence of his snowy owl as she came to take his order. After a few moments, he decided on a personal cheese pizza and got bacon for Hedwig. Ten minutes later, their food was in front of them and they began digging in.
After he finished eating, Harry began thinking through the implications of the Gringotts letter. Unfortunately, he realized that he couldn't ignore the letter from the bank, no matter how much he may want to. Goblins weren't known for making jokes or exaggerations, so if they said it was serious, then it most likely was. Besides, while he may not understand much about the political side of the wizarding world, he did know that Draco Malfoy through his mother Narcissa was a Black. If Sirius left him almost everything – and he suspected his godfather had – then he had to claim it, if only to keep it out of Draco's hands. Well, really Voldemort's hands since he knew the dark lord used the resources of his servants.
When Harry got back to Durzkaban, it was a little after 9 at night. He knew he wouldn't be able to go to sleep just yet, so he decided to practice his magic in an attempt to tire himself out. He opened up his special trunk that Sirius had given him for his 15th birthday. It had a few secret compartments to store different thing, but the best part was the apartment inside of it, complete with a kitchen, bedroom with a bathroom, sitting room, and training room which had muggle and magical training equipment. The latter part is where he headed, staying there for at least three hours as he worked out his frustration and sorrow. Finally, exhausted, Harry took a quick shower before climbing out of the trunk. He practically collapsed on his bed and fell asleep quickly and without any trouble.
- T.T.H.S.L.W. –
The next day, Harry woke up at five in the morning, getting more rest than he had since that night. His rest was still plagued by nightmares, but he got more of it and felt a bit more alert. Knowing there was no chance of going back to sleep, he got up and went into his trunk to start exercising. He spent about two hours down there trying to exercise his nervousness away, feeling much better when he was done. Then he took a shower and made himself some breakfast before putting on one of the only decent outfits he had. The clothes were still too big for him, but at least they had no holes or tears.
By the time he had finished all of that, it was a few minutes after eight. He decided to work on his rune project and pulled out the materials from a small compartment in his trunk. He was trying to make a better version of the Marauder's Map, similar to some of the sci-fi movies he's watched before. The goal was to make the map holographic and have it worn on the forearm as an armband. Harry already had the design of the armband, now he was just trying to perfect the holographic part and also make it respond to voice commands. He was using runes to do it, but he hadn't figured out the right combination just yet. As he tinkered with it, he wondered who else would be invited to the meeting. As long as it isn't Dumbledore, I don't really care.
- T.T.H.S.L.W. –
While Harry was tinkering with his rune project, another person was making sure all of their things were packed as they got ready for the same meeting. When they had received the letter the evening before, many possibilities ran through their head, but the biggest one was hope. Holding onto that, the person devised a plan to get away without arousing their spouses' suspicion. They came up with a credible reason for leaving the house for a few days before thinking about everything they needed to pack. Not wanting to bring any reminders of this life with them, they only took enough muggle clothes and three robes to last them for a week, the many books they had gotten over the years, and their personal items that hadn't been tainted with bad memories. As they finished packing, they hoped their plan would give them a few days before their ruse was discovered.
Now, they were finishing packing up another bag, though this one was made to look like a trip for a few days instead of the forever that was planned. The rest of their things they had packed last night were in a shrunken trunk in their pocket. Looking at the time, they realized it was time to go, so after one last sweep of the room to make sure nothing important was missing, they apparated away, hoping they would finally get their freedom.
- T.T.H.S.L.W. –
Before it was time to go, Harry made sure his trunk was fully packed, shrinking it so he could carry it in his pocket. He wasn't sure, but something was telling him he wouldn't be coming back here.
"Alright girl, I have to go for a meeting at Gringotts and I don't know what's going to happen," Harry said, a minute before the portkey was set to leave. "If I don't come back here, I'll call for you wherever I am." Hedwig hooted in acknowledgement a few seconds before the portkey pulled him away.
Surprising himself, Harry managed to stay standing as he landed. When his vision cleared, he looked around to see where he was, which turned out to be an office. A goblin, Manager Silverclaw most likely, was sitting behind a walnut desk wearing a slate grey suit with a navy-blue tie. He looked up when Harry arrived, beckoning him to take one of the four seats in front of his desk. Harry chose the chair on the right end.
"Good morning Mr. Potter. Thank you for coming on such short notice, but Lord Black insisted that this meeting happen before the public reading," Silverclaw greeted when Harry was seated.
"Thank you for providing the portkey for me to be able to come," Harry replied gratefully. "I may not want to be reminded of my godfather's death, but I know it's imperative that I am able to keep the Black fortune and other assets out of the hands of certain people."
"Exactly," Silverclaw agreed. The goblin was not a fan of the Malfoy family and took any chance he had to cause them grief. "We just have three more people to wait for before we can start this meeting." Harry nodded in acceptance, sitting back in his chair to wait.
At ten o'clock, the door opened, admitting Tonks, her mother Andromeda, and, to his surprise, Narcissa Malfoy. Harry looked at the last woman thoughtfully wondering why Sirius wanted her here, though he felt no animosity toward her. Even though he had issues with her husband, son, and sister Bellatrix, he had always felt that Narcissa wasn't like them. There was something about her eyes that made him feel like she was forced to act the way she did, as if she was a prisoner like him. Plus, he had a chance to meet a softer side of her when he stayed in Diagon Alley after blowing up his aunt.
At Silverclaw's insistence, the three women sat down, Tonks beside him, Andromeda by her, and Narcissa on the end.
"Wotcher Harry," Tonks greeted as she sat.
"Hey Tonks, how are you holding up?" he replied, noticing that her hair was a mousy brown color, which was not normal for the usually cheerful auror.
"Bout as well as can be expected, I suppose. How are you?" she asked in return.
"Same," he answered.
"Thank you all for coming," Silverclaw greeted when everyone was settled. When all three witches responded, he continued talking. "Let's get straight to business then. Lord Black had his will changed shortly before his death. In it, he stipulated that the four of you were to attend a private reading before the public one. He left a self-reading letter for you to hear, informing you of what he left for you. Anything that is bequeathed to you from this letter is official and will be available to you immediately following this meeting." He waited for them to ask any questions, continuing when they nodded in understanding. "Very well, I will activate the letter." Silverclaw tapped his finger to the single piece of parchment on the middle of his desk. A second later it glowed, and Sirius's voice filled the room.
"Since this isn't the official reading of my Will, I'm going to skip all of that legal mumbo jumbo stuff and get right down to business. First if you're hearing this, then I am dead. I'm sorry I wasn't able to stick around, but if I died while either fighting or being with a pretty woman, then I died a good death so try not to mourn me too much. I know you're probably wondering why I only chose the four of you to hear this letter, but you will understand in a moment. To Andy and Nymphadora – and you can't curse me for that – I give you each 50,000 galleons and bring you back into the family. I've already signed the forms; they are just awaiting your signatures. I wish I could've done this sooner, but with the war going on, my imprisonment, and being on the run, there was never really any time. To Narcissa, I give you 50,000 galleons and some advice. I know you didn't choose the life you have, but there's a chance for you to get out of it now. If you're sincere in your request, he will help you, I promise you that."
Narcissa sent a glance at Harry, hoping Sirius was right. She hoped Harry would be able to forgive her for her "family's" transgressions against him and help her."
"To Harry, I leave everything else that has not been allotted for others in my official Will and emancipate you. This includes the Black lordship. I know that might seem like a big responsibility, but Andy and Narcissa can help you with it. Take this as an opportunity to have more control over your life, something you need desperately. I also hope you use the Black fortune to have some fun in your life for once. You, more than most, deserve it.
Finally, I wish I could be there to see you through this war, but I ask that you don't blame yourself for my death. Also, I don't expect to see you until after you've had a full and happy life with lots of kids. Andy, Narcissa, and Tonks, I ask that you give my godson the love and support he needs to get through this war. He hasn't been given much instruction on how to deal with the magical world and could use as much guidance as he can get.
I will be watching over you always Harry and I love all of you. Take care. So, mote it be."
The message ended, leaving the room in silence as the four humans tried to take in everything they'd heard. Silverclaw gave them a few moments to themselves before speaking again.
"Everything Mr. Black has bequeathed to you has already been prepared," Silverclaw began, focusing their attention back on him. "These are the keys to your new vaults," he stated, handing one to all of them, except for Harry who got two – one for the Black vault and one for Sirius's personal vault.
"Mrs. and Ms. Tonks, these are the forms you need to sign to become part of the Black family once again. Mr. Black's signature is already there." Silverclaw gave them blood quills and they quickly signed on the designated line, glowing as they were accepted by the Black family magic.
Then he turned to address Harry. "You have to sign this form to make your emancipation official." He handed Harry a blood quill, showing him where to sign his name. Silverclaw placed the form into an official looking box that glowed to show it was accepted. "If you are ready for it, you can take up the mantle of Lord Black right now. You won't have to announce this change in your status until the public reading, which will be in three weeks."
Harry, unsure what being a Lord meant, turned to the witches beside him for advice. "What will that mean for me?" he asked warily.
"It means that you will be in control of the Black family and all of its members," Andromeda began. "You will have the right to kick people out of or bring people into the family. You can have a say in who they marry or associate with, though you do not have to use that power if you wish not to. You will also have to take part in the Wizengamot, but you can appoint a proxy to vote in your stead if you need to do so." At Harry's confused expression, Andromeda asked him a question. "Did no one tell you anything about this? These are responsibilities you should know about for the Potter family as well."
Harry shook his head. "No, I haven't really been told much about my family name and what it means," he replied.
Andromeda sighed, upset that Harry didn't know his place in society. "Can he also become Lord Potter since he is emancipated?" she asked Silverclaw, who nodded in response. "Okay Harry, you need to take up both lordships right now, but don't worry too much. I will help you learn everything you need to know." Silently, she made a promise to ask a certain headmaster why Harry has been kept in the dark about things he needed to know.
"Okay, let's do this then," he declared. Silverclaw walked him through the short ritual, having him place both of the House rings on his left pinky. Harry was illuminated by a glow twice, signaling that both Houses accepted him as their Lords.
"Congratulations Lord Potter-Black," Silverclaw declared. "You now have access to the Potter family vault and your parents' shared personal vault." Silverclaw pulled out to more vault keys from his desk and handed them to Harry who slipped them into his pocket for the moment. "Your parents' Will was never found so everything they had is yours. Is there anything else Gringotts can help you all with?
"You should get a full list of all assets both houses have," Narcissa suggested. Harry looked at her intently, before giving her a nod of thanks.
"I can have that ready for you in two days," Silverclaw stated. Harry was disappointed about the Will but wasn't ready to visit his parents' and godfather's personal vaults just yet. He felt it would overwhelm him emotionally and he needed time to wrap his head around the fact that he was free and a lord of two houses.
When no one else had any questions, the goblin dismissed them from the room. The four of them left out of the bank together – Harry and Narcissa with disguises to hide themselves from discovery – and walked all the way to the Leaky Cauldron in silence. Narcissa was trying to summon her courage while the others were still coming to terms with the results of the meeting. Finally, as they reached the entrance to Tom's establishment, she spoke up, nervous energy filling her voice.
"Harry, would you mind having lunch with me in muggle London? There is something I wish to discuss with you," Narcissa inquired. "You and Tonks are invited of course Andromeda," she added when Harry didn't answer after a few seconds. "I need your help with something."
Harry stared her in the eyes, trying to decide if this was a trick or not. When he saw no signs of deceit or malice, he decided to hear her out. "Okay." Tonks and Andromeda also voiced their acceptance. Andromeda wondered what her estranged sister wanted with Harry, but her instincts told her that it wasn't to harm him.
Narcissa led them to a pizza parlor about three blocks away. They sat in a booth in the back of the restaurant, sitting in silence until after their food and drink orders had been taken and served.
When the silence finally got to her, Narcissa cleared her throat to get their attention before getting straight to the reason for this impromptu lunch. "Again, thank you for agreeing to talk to me."
"You're welcome. How can I help you?" Harry replied politely, still a bit wary.
"I asked you here because you are the only one who can help me, Harry." She took a deep breath before continuing. "I need you to annul my marriage with Lucius."