1. No Consequences
Ever since Harry could remember, bad actions got little to no consequences. Good actions however, were punished. This started at the Dursleys, even though Harry knew this wasn't a good comparison since his family hated him and loved Dudley.
Earning good grades, Harry gets punished. Beating kids up, Dudley gets rewarded. Doing all the chores, Harry gets punished. Messing up the house, Dudley gets rewarded. On and on and so forth. Harry hated bullies and the Dursleys easily qualified, or rather, won the competition hands down.
Hogwarts was his second chance, it practically had to be better, hadn't it? Nope.
Being good in class, Harry gets punished by Snape. Being bad in class, Draco gets rewarded. Protecting students, Harry gets punished. Cursing students, Draco gets rewarded. On and on and so forth. The Dursleys had some real competition.
Snape, Dumbledore, McGonagall and even all the other teachers punished good behaviour and rewarded bad behaviour. Oh, on the surface it was otherwise, but Harry could read between the lines. Second and fourth year had been particularly bad for Harry.
The faculty, some more than others, did their level best to ensure the hatred and isolation between houses remained strong. They gave bullies free reign and punished those that defended themselves. "We have no proof," became the sentence Harry loathed the most, right next to "I'll have a good talk with Mister Malfoy." Like a good talk had ever solved anything.
Worst was the Blood divide. Every single person in power held themselves to those arbitrary rules that put some people above others. Dudley, because he was their son. Draco and the Slytherins' because they were pureblood. It didn't stop there, no. The Weasley twins were almost as bad, and McGonagall did nothing to stop them. Only because they were a counterpoint to Draco and his buddies did Harry not hate them as perhaps he should have. That, and they mostly left him alone prank wise.
This same thing happened outside of Hogwarts' walls. Death Eaters walking free while everyone knew they were guilty. Stunning them whilst they sent killing curses in return. Harry would not again make such a stupid mistake.
All in all, a powerful message was being sent. Maybe it was time Harry started Listening.
No proof meant no punishment, of course Harry seemed to be the exception. Mostly because Snape and Dumbledore had no compunctions against reading his thoughts. Fix that little problem, and Harry would get off free and clear.
Teachers did nothing to stop the rivalry, rather encouraging it instead. So, if Harry were to operate within that rivalry, there'd be no reason to stop him, other than the pure blood thing. Harry should have been expelled before if the accusations had been true, just like Malfoy. That's why he didn't believe there'd be any consequences in Hogwarts, so long as there was no proof. For some reason, Dumbledore seemingly wanted both Harry and Draco to remain at odds indefinitely.
This year, even though Harry told Dumbledore that the marked Draco Malfoy was trying to kill him, again nothing was being done. Well, not any longer.
Harry's eyes roved the map and quickly spotted his quarry. He was on the seventh floor waiting for his prey. It would not be long now. Malfoy was followed by two second year girls Harry knew to be Crabbe and Goyle in disguise, but they followed from an ample distance giving Harry just enough time.
Malfoy opened the door and Harry immediately stunned him from under his cloak, keeping the door open. Harry sighed in relief, that had been tricky.
Quickly, he disillusioned Draco and dragged him inside, just before the two minions entered the hallway. Luckily, the path Draco usually took was clear from the footprints in the dust. Harry followed the tracks with a floating Malfoy behind him, stopping at the cabinet.
He knew it was this that Draco had been working on, given the books that lay open next to the cabinet. A vanishing cabinet, intriguing. It wasn't working fully according to Draco's notes, sending stuff through but not leaving them breathing was kind of a problem after all.
Or was it?
Hermione always tried to get it into his head that he should do all the work as quickly as possible, because it would prevent complications and would produce better results. He didn't think she'd meant it this way, though Harry really was rather of the opinion that she had never been more right than at this moment. If left alone, Draco would surely have brought in a party of Death Eaters via the cabinet, there's no telling how bad that would turn out. Better for all concerned if Draco was taken care of with all haste. Permanently, because otherwise Dumbledore would likely give him another chance or ten to repent.
Harry snorted and stuffed the unconscious Draco into the (broken) cabinet. He closed the door and followed the instructions that were written on a piece of paper under the book. Thanking Malfoy for his diligence, Harry chanted the spell required to work the cabinet. "Harmonia Nectere Passus."
Opening the door again, Harry was elated to find it empty and a laugh escaped him. Did he even feel guilty? Nope. And that said enough, didn't it? Malfoy had earned this, and Harry could truthfully say under Veritaserum that the last time Harry had seen Malfoy, he'd still been alive. "Reducto! Evanesco." There, now there was no more entry into Hogwarts for the Death Eaters, nor any evidence thereof. This sort of thing really was too easy with magic.
Harry had to duck as a Tiara sailed past his head courtesy of the exploding cabinet, landing on the floor with a clatter. That would have caused a good-sized bump if it had hit him. Pure luck it had missed. A good day all told. Harry grabbed the Tiara and felt the urge to put it on his head, more pressing though, was the feeling that it was something reprehensibly vile. Even more worrying, it seemed to pull on his scar.
It felt like Tom Riddle's Diary!
That wasn't good. Why was his scar connected to these things? Would this Tiara be one of those things the Headmaster was on about? Dumbledore had been showing him memories about items that Riddle had collected, maybe in the next meeting he'd finally hear what it was all about.
Carefully, Harry levitated the thing into his bag. He'd decide what to do with it later. Now it was time to get an alibi or leave.
It was very lucky that the Inquisitor squad never realised the room could exit in different places, otherwise Harry had to get through Dumb and Dumber.
Damn it all to hell!
Horcruxes, Voldemort was immortal, and Harry's scar held a piece of his soul. Not to mention another five items, not counting the Diary. Dumbledore had been dismissive about speculating which items Ravenclaw was famous for but had grudgingly told him about the Diadem of Ravenclaw. It was an artifact lost ages ago, so of course, Harry stumbled upon it just like that. Typical really, and to think he owed it all to Malfoy!
Sure, Dumbledore hadn't actually told him his scar was one, but Harry would have to be stupid not to connect the dots. His scar ached in the presence of Voldemort, so of course items that made his scar ache held pieces of the Dark Lord. Harry's scar was a Voldemort detector. It stood to reason that Dumbledore knew of this too, at least after the first year, and yet he held that information from Harry indefinitely. No doubt he did it out of some misguided attempt to grant him a facsimile of childhood.
Then he mentioned Nagini, the snake that was his fellow living Horcrux. "There's only one way to destroy that Horcrux, and that is to kill it." Dumbledore had told Harry. It had taken Harry a full minute to process that little titbit, which was convenient, since Dumbledore had just turned around when Harry finally understood what that meant. Dumbledore meant for Harry to die. That was why he was never trained to fight, was never told stuff, and left to rot at the Dursleys. Ten dark years but it was necessary indeed, the man wanted him to accept his death because life wasn't much better.
Surely Harry's expression when he had figured it out would have tipped the old man off, if he had witnessed it. Harry just got his mask back in place when the headmaster looked at him again.
On another wholly unrelated note, Malfoy had mysteriously vanished from the castle. Harry smiled at that and truthfully told the Headmaster that he'd seen him yesterday last and that he was just fine at that time. "I hope he stays gone sir; Draco has never been a good influence in this school." The Legilimency probe Harry felt did not detect a lie, just faint amusement, which made the Headmaster frown.
"Ah, young Mister Malfoy will grow out of it in time, I'm sure," had been the Headmaster's answer. The man was wilfully blind to the very end. "Everyone deserves a second chance." And a third and a thirty-third, perhaps even a hundredth if it involved a 'misguided' pure blood. Dumbledore's forgiveness was legendary for some people, mostly those on the wrong side.
With that amazing last bit of wisdom, Harry had been ejected from his office. He'd fled towards the Room of Requirement for some lasting privacy.
After Sirius' tumble down to the afterlife, Harry had once again been locked up at Privet Drive in order to give him time to mourn in peace. And Owl-post was very dangerous. Yeah, right. Fat lot of good that did. The two good things to come from that summer was that Harry learned he had no friends left - they hadn't written, even on his explicit request - and his Occlumency training finally got started.
Accidentally meditating on the darkness inside his old cupboard had done the trick, he finally emptied his mind of thoughts on Sirius and the awful happenings of his life. It couldn't be healthy, but Harry practised that trick religiously, if only to escape his feelings. At first, he didn't even realise that it was Occlumency that he was practising. How could he? Snape certainly hadn't explained that part! It had finally become apparent once he started thinking back in that state, finding all his memories easily accessible and in almost tangible form.
He had never read a book on Occlumency since the library at Hogwarts had none, which was typical and likely deliberate. That's why he took his inspiration from Hannibal Lecter and built a mind palace. A very, very small one. His cupboard. Specifically, in the dark. He knew every inch of that space which made that very easy indeed. Stuffing all his memories in there in some kind of order was the hard part.
But he had managed, and that made all the difference.
Snape had never once told him of mental defences, and that they could be anything. As complicated or simple as you could imagine.
Harry's was simple and again, purely accidental. He had always had so few possessions, and they all had their own exact spot in his cupboard. Even his broken clock had a default position. Dudley and Vernon's bulk bouncing up and down the stairs had always shifted some stuff around, which Harry religiously put back as it should be when it was finally time to retreat to his space. It was his winding down and coming home ritual in one. Only when everything was how he'd liked it, could one access his mind.
Kreacher had finally been forced to get him books on Occlumency and Legilimency when he'd hit a block. That was when the real practice had started. The Dursleys had been test subjects one, two and three. It astounded Harry how far he'd gotten in so little time. Most of it could be attributed to the fact that he had no compunctions about using mind magics on 'his family'. If he screwed up something in their heads, well, would one even notice? Harry sincerely doubted it.
The few remaining accessible memories were those he allowed to be seen, with a carefully edited selection every morning. Snape and Dumbledore had no chance to figure that out.
Learning that Snape had all but destroyed his natural defences with his mental attacks didn't surprise him in the least. If only he'd had that book from the start! Snape's actions in those sessions had told him what side the man was really on, which meant he had to die.
Harry didn't care one whose orders Snape had destroyed his mental defences, Dumbledore or Voldemort. It just meant that instead of helping him, he had been hindering, which said enough about what side he was on. Not Harry's.
2. Fallout, what fallout?
"Harry! Ron! Have you read the paper yet?!" Hermione hissed loudly. "Draco Malfoy has been found dead inside Borgin and Burkes!"
Ron's foot in mouth attitude summed it up nicely. "Really? Couldn't have happened to a nicer bloke!" And that was that. He didn't even shout it through the hall as was his usual. Food was more important to Ron, as he demonstrated by putting two whole sausages away in one swallow. Growing up was clearly done in very small steps for this particular redhead.
Revolting, Hermione's facial expression said it all. Ron would have been a popular poofter though; he clearly didn't have any gagging reflex to speak of. 'Hmm, high time to think of something else.'
"What happened, have they got any leads?" Harry asked finally.
Hermione shook her head. "No. Apparently, he just appeared inside a vanishing cabinet, dead without a mark on him. The store owner and a customer came in yesterday morning and smelled something strange. They then checked where it was from." She paused meaningfully and grimaced. "It was quite disgusting really. Dead bodies can't keep in anything because the muscles relax, so he basically shat and peed himself in there. They quickly located him by smell alone. The Aurors were called in immediately after, Skeeter even managed some pictures if you can believe it."
"Wassat bou'nywy?" Ron asked through his food. Not put off his food in the least.
Harry laughed softly. "Nothing ever bothers you, does it Ron?"
Hermione looked disgusted. "How can you eat after hearing that?"
Ron swallowed audibly, then he grinned. "I didn't think Skeeter was a dung beetle, that's all."
Predictably, Hermione looked scandalised and Harry had to stifle a laugh. Having only fair-weather friends wasn't so bad when the weather was good after all.
Harry wondered how Slytherin was taking it and looked around. While more silent than usual, the students in green didn't act markedly different, just subdued. Interesting! Perhaps Malfoy wasn't really liked there either. He'd have to ask a Slytherin about it sometime.
His friends were arguing again, leaving Harry watching from the side-lines. A perfect opportunity to practice.
Ron was thinking about how great it was that Malfoy was dead, hoping that Malfoy Senior would follow him soon after. Very practical of him. Hermione had strong but basic shields and had never told him, so Harry skipped her with an angry twitch. Finding that out hadn't surprised him for more than a second. Luckily, she didn't seem to notice him, which was likely because she had learned from books and only from books. Though how she got access to those books before him, he didn't want to know. Dumbledore maybe?
Colin Creevey was thinking about Harry's fit body. Eew! Ginny Weasley got skipped, her mind was even more disgusting than Collin's at most times. Her defences were very much non-existent, perhaps a lingering result of her first year.
Since he had to look people in the eyes to check on their thoughts, that invited conversation. Ginny eagerly grabbed her chance when his eyes passed hers. "Hi Harry. How did you like those cakes my Mom sent you?" On second thought, Harry peered into her mind. 'I hope the love potion is working, otherwise I'd have to send Mom a letter to up the dosage.' Great, just… Just great!
Harry shook his head, mostly to clear his thoughts but also to indicate he hadn't. "No, not yet. I was saving them for a hungry evening snack. As it is, food at Hogwarts isn't really lacking if your name isn't Ron, you know." It may have been a joke, but he wasn't lying either. Eating at mealtimes was plenty for Harry.
Ginny giggled annoyingly, blinking her eyes faster than the humid air warranted, surely. Harry really wanted this conversation to end but he wasn't that lucky. "Well. Be sure to eat them, Harry." Because that wasn't suspicious at all! "I will, thanks Ginny." Then he forcefully averted his eyes, signalling he was done with her. She took the hint.
'Great, now I need to figure out what to do with those cakes.' He snorted. 'Who am I kidding? I'll just give them to Ron. Then tonight I'll tell her they were delicious, how many upped dosages would it take for Ron to try and seduce his sister?'
"What's so funny Harry?" Hermione wanted to know; his mirth had interrupted their bickering.
Harry waved her concerns away. "Just an inside joke for now. Perhaps I'll tell you later."
She gave him a dubious look but dropped her questions. "Alright, but I'll hold you to that."
That demanding attitude almost had him dig his heels in, but he hesitated. He would tell her, even if only to check if she was getting dosed too. Ron was showing his interest in her this year after all, even if very pathetically. Harry wasn't much better with the girls, but he could at least recognise when a guy was doing well or making a fool of himself. Hermione didn't deserve that any more than he did.
Her being potioned would actually explain why she hadn't yet punched Ron in the face yet. Then again, that would mean the potioning had been going on a long time. Food for thought, that was for sure. It was scarily possible.
"Alright. I'll go walk around the lake today, clear my head a bit. See you later guys." Harry stood abruptly, giving his friends no time to join him. Not that they weren't used to his 'brooding' by now, he'd made sure of it.
He needed to check himself for potions and charms ASAP. It was absolute madness that he hadn't checked that before, considering what happened here at Hogwarts. He couldn't fathom how he could ever have been that trusting; he never was that trusting outside of Hogwarts. The incongruity grated on him, making him all but sure he was being influenced by something. Blaming others for your misfortune, Mister Potter? How very much like your father you are. He could all but hear Snape's sneer in his mind. Still, whether it was his fault or not, he would do something about it, now he thought of it.
Madam Pomfrey was out, for obvious reasons. She had yet to say a single thing about his home life after all. God, another stupid thing. He'd never been seen by a healer either, but why? Pomfrey wasn't a healer, she was a nurse. What's more, she was obviously under orders to let him walk around malnourished and untreated.
He was stabbed by a thousand-year-old Basilisk of all things, the doubly deadly king of snakes. All she had done was fix the wound and give him a blood replenisher. Quality healthcare it was not.
That made a few new points on the agenda.
-Contact a curse breaker about the Diadem.
-Ask a Slytherin how things work in Slytherin House.
-Check himself, and maybe Hermione, for spells and potions.
-See a Healer about EVERYTHING.
Maybe he needed a planner, like Hermione. Nah, that only invited people to see his business, not a good idea. He'd keep a planner in his mindscape. That would easily work.
After his walk, Harry wrote a letter to Gringotts Curse Breaker Division, trusting Hedwig to sort out which Goblin was needed.
Good day Master Curse Breaker Goblin,
Sorry, I have no clue how to address a person when I don't even know who it is I'm addressing. It's not like Hogwarts teaches these things. Anyway, on to business.
I have found a prominent historical item, a priceless artifact if you will. Now I don't really care about the item itself, but it is cursed in a manner I abhor and cannot abide. You see, I have reason to believe it holds a piece of soul. A dark soul. The known ways of destroying such a curse - Fiendfyre and Basilisk venom - would also destroy the item, something I'd rather not. Therefore, I thought I'd ask the professionals.
Would you perhaps know of another way to destroy the soul without destroying the item? If so, could I hire you to perform this service for me for an appropriate fee?
May your gold flow,
He dearly hoped they would have a way, and that it worked on living Horcruxes too.
3. More Betrayal.
Interesting, very interesting! Very damning too.
Ron refused food whilst he was 'Starving!'. Not just any food, the cakes Molly had sent. Clearly, he was at least aware of the plot, was he participating? Likely.
Harry had already found and brewed a highly potent purging potion from a recipe out of a book he'd found in the restricted section. Eight vials in total. That should deal with all but the most insidious of potions and poisons. He'd have to give Hermione one, but then she'd demand a reason. It was unavoidable really.
From the book, he'd also found an identifying spell. The love potion inside his cakes was more than a little illegal. Harry was of a mind to call the DMLE. But then, that would put a lot of attention on him and the Weasleys, he'd have to think that through before committing to any sort of action.
"Alright Ron, I guess you weren't hungry after all. It's only an hour until dinner anyway." He soothed his betrayer.
"Yeah. I'm not that hungry. You should eat those yourself mate, my mom made them for you after all." His shoulders hung low, he was clearly uncomfortable on some level, which was good to know. His 'best friend' at least felt a twinge of guilt when using a liquid imperius curse. Good to know!
Harry just nodded, disappointed despite having already divorced Ron as a friend in his mind prior to learning of this plot. "Sure mate." This was attempted line theft and could net you a minimum of twenty years in Azkaban when it involved an heir to an Ancient family, like Harry. Otherwise, using lesser love potions was only mostly illegal, stupidly enough. Harry couldn't find any circumstances where using those would be justified, period.
"I'm going to drag Hermione out of the library Ron. See you at dinner?"
"Nah. See you mate."
His mind was awhirl with thoughts on the way to the library. They hadn't yet settled when he found himself looking Hermione in the eyes. She stared back, waiting.
"I need you and at least twenty- no, thirty minutes of total privacy. Do you have some time now?" He told her seriously.
She narrowed her eyes before debating her options, making him cringe. 'Oops, in hindsight my wording was a bit suggestive, but she'll understand me, she always does. Well, mostly.' Sure enough, she nodded after he had passed some undefined test. "Follow me then."
She led the way to the Room of Requirement, one of the only places without any sort of surveillance in the whole castle. Her setup was a simple room with two leather chairs and a table. Cozy.
"Talk." She said simply.
He nodded. "Molly has been sending me potioned baked goods, have you got any food from Mrs. Weasley? Perhaps you've been feeling something for Ronald lately?"
Her eyes widening, she nodded. "Yes, which is very odd, since I was starting to loathe him last year. How do we check?"
"I know a spell, may I?"
Hermione accepted, so Harry waved his wand and got a red glow and blue glow back. "Love potions and Loyalty potions." He concluded sadly. "I've got some very strong flushing potion, want some?"
"Yes!" Hermione hissed, pissed off beyond measure. "But we can't right now, flushing potions can take up to six hours to pass through the body. We'll have to do it on the weekend. Fucking Molly Weasley! Who're the loyalty potions for?"
Harry shrugged. "I suspect Dumbledore, but I don't know of any way to check."
"I'll think of something." Hermione decided with a determined glint in her eye. "We'll have to scan everything we drink or eat from now on. At the least."
He grinned viciously. "I wanted to feed Molly's stuff to Ron, but he wouldn't eat it because 'it wouldn't be right.' Since his mummy made it especially for me of course. I still want to feed it to him, want to help me with that?" His tone made it clear what he thought of his old friend.
"That Bastard!" She spat venomously. "Of course I'll help! I still got some chocolates left over for Ginny as well. Let's give Hogwarts a proper scandal. I'm sure it'll be perfectly horrid! For non-purebloods that is."
Laughing, Harry agreed. "It has to be done. So, transfigure it into something else?"
"Oh, yes. Definitely!"
Hermione was in, it was time for some unholy vengeance.
"Alright guys, so what's up with that?" Neville asked Harry and Hermione at dinner the next day.
He had witnessed the first of their offensive this afternoon in the common room. Ten minutes apart, Hermione and Harry had presented their 'would be lovers' with edible goods. Beautiful chocolate muffins for Ginny and a chocolate Chudley Cannons logo for Ron. It had taken them about five minutes each to devour the lot. They hadn't shown one hint of suspicion, the stupid bastards.
Hermione and Harry told them that they had wanted to reciprocate, since the stuff Molly sent had been so delicious. The two youngest Weasleys hadn't thought twice about it.
Harry had read their minds and had discovered that the next shipment was due sometime next week, with an increase in the dosage. Hermione had laughed heartily at that and had immediately started plotting out their next ploy.
Harry motioned him closer and whispered. "Nev. Their mother has been sending us food laced with very strong and illegal love potions keyed to those two. We know it's never nice to give away stuff received as gifts, but figured we'd make an exception for our 'best friends'. They should be starting a courtship soon if Molly's potions are in any way potent."
Hermione watched Neville turn green for a moment. As it passed, a smirk appeared on his face. "I'd say that's cruel, but it's more like poetic justice. They knew of their mother's plan I expect?"
She nodded viciously. "Of course, apparently Ron thinks I'm just a mud blood to do with as he pleases." Relaying those thoughts of Ron to Hermione had not made for a pleasant conversation at all, but she deserved to know. "He's just as bad as Malfoy ever was." Harry added decisively. "Ginny is just obsessed with me for some reason, I blame Molly."
Neville nodded grimly, but then his expression turned sad. "And to think that I liked Ginny in fourth year. Ginny "the broomstick" Weasley. I don't think I can blame potions for that, but I'm happy that I see her for what she is at last."
Harry thought about it, but it didn't take long to come to a conclusion. "Neville, I've brewed a batch of very strong flushing potions, Hermione has already checked them. We are using them this weekend. Want one?"
Like Harry, Neville also didn't have to think long. "Sure, flushing potions can't do anything bad. It might turn surprising though, I've always suspected the pumpkin juice was spiked with something. We'd best prepare for a bad reaction and hope it isn't needed."
"Saturday eight o'clock in the Room of Requirement, be there. Oh, and you might as well ask Luna too." Hermione told Neville, who nodded.
"Shh, Red alert!" Harry whispered urgently. Hermione looked at him funny for a second before understanding came and her mouth formed a perfect O.
"Hi mate!" Ron sat down next to Harry. "How's it going?"
"S'alright I suppose. What about you and Ginny, have a good afternoon?" Harry said earnestly.
Ron's ears pinked slightly, "it was fine, but then that bastard Snape took twenty points from Gryffindor because me and Ginny were walking to close or something stupid like that. I hate him, you know."
"Is that so, Ginny? I'm surprised you're getting along with Ron all of a sudden, what's up with that?" Hermione spoke up.
If Ron's ears were pink, he had nothing on Ginny's, they were positively glowing. "Um, we're just brother and sister, who cares if I held his hand for a second. That's normal, right!" The last words squeaked out of her.
Neville nodded calmly. "Of course it is. If I had a sister, I'm sure I'd have loved her too, held her hand and stuff. That's what family is supposed to do, right?" He was really getting into the spirit of things.
Hermione smiled tightly. "Well, it's not like we can say anything about that Neville. Harry, you and I are all only children. But I'm sure it's perfectly normal, Snape is just jealous, you know that. He's probably never known or experienced the miracle of love."
In the privacy of his mind, Harry was laughing himself silly. He was fully impressed by how well Neville and Hermione were handling this situation. The rest of dinner continued in the same vein, not outright teasing the siblings, but the conversation continually revolved back to their very good brother and sister relationship. Harry was wiped afterwards, that had been somewhat draining.
He could kill a bad person without a second thought but to continuously lie to someone's face was hard. Very entertaining though.
4. Royal Flush
"Hi guys." Neville greeted Harry and Hermione, with Luna following him on his heels.
"Hi Nev, Luna." Harry waved them in. Luna waved back happily.
"I've set the room up with four beds and two fully equipped bathrooms, boys and girls." Hermione explained. "The vials are over here, just one each. If you need anything like water or food, call for Dobby the House Elf. Harry has managed to secure his services for the afternoon."
Harry grinned. "Any questions?"
Luna nodded seriously. "Yes, but they can wait until after. You have to explain what's going on with Ginevra as well, I saw some highly disturbing things last night at the Astronomy tower."
The rest of them cracked up. Harry recovered first. "I'd be happy to, Luna. I'm sure we'll have a laugh about that later, let's first drink those vials." Luna nodded.
All four took a vial of the foul looking grey sludge and tipped it over. It was strangely tasteless for a change, which was not at all disappointing. The potion started working within seconds.
"Blurrrrhphh," Harry tried to stop himself from vomiting immediately by holding it back manually and promptly legged it to the bathroom.
What followed next could only be described by people who've lived through the worst hangovers, even then they'd fall short. Harry shat himself while vomiting, just after reaching the bathroom. As you can imagine, that never has a good ending. Harry was no exception; he was in fact on the very bad end of the scale. His Hell was just starting too.
The other three teens had it much less bad, but still, only Dobby somewhat enjoyed the following hours. There was lots to clean after all. When Harry finally left the bathroom for the first time in four hours, they started talking seriously.
Luna told the rest what she'd seen the previous night, intermittently stopping to wait for Harry's latest vomiting session to stop. The siblings had been kissing and feeling each other up like only two newfound lovers could. It was decidedly, intensely awkward for all involved. Luna wasn't the only one to spot them either, a second year Hufflepuff had watched avidly with Luna, both fully ignored by the amorous pair. She was sure to have told some students already.
Hermione told her the rest, since Harry was in no shape to help. Luna thought it over and smiled. "That's a very good punishment actually. And you're saying that there's another batch coming in the next few days?"
Hermione nodded. "And that's after Ginny asked her mum for the dosage to be upped. I'm certain that we'll see some rather disgusting things next week."
"I'll whip up some stomach soother potion then." Luna replied calmly. "For when I can't avoid seeing that. I suppose you wouldn't mind for them to go at it at the Gryffindor table during lunch?"
Harry had just exited the bathroom but after hearing that turned around immediately. "BruGHriuhhgul!" His miserable screams could be heard by the rest.
"He's very creative, don't you think?" Luna smiled sadly.
"Merlin," Neville breathed. "What have they been feeding him then? He might actually need another dose if he keeps it up!"
"There was a major amount of loyalty potion in him, also in me. Harry thought it had to be keyed to Dumbledore." Hermione looked disgusted. "Before this potion, I didn't believe him, and now I do. I think that already proves he was right."
"If that is true," Neville marvelled, "then how was Harry the one to even conceive of that possibility?"
Luna raised her eyebrow. "Hello, the man shrugs off the Imperius curse like it's a cheering charm. With the stuff and amount he's been exposed to, I'm sure he's resistant to all sorts of potions and compulsions. When the brain can't think the way it's supposed to, it starts to build up an immunity after a while. Your magic also fights that stuff instinctually, the stronger you are the less effective it is." Luna smiled. "Harry is a powerful wizard."
The potion was supposed to work for six hours, and that's what Harry got. After taking another shower, he finally joined the rest and gathered his thoughts.
"Snape and Dumbledore are just as big a threat as Voldemort and Bellatrix are." Were his first words, shocking his companions. He was a hundred percent sure he'd have killed or at least hurt Snape long before now if it hadn't been for those potions. Loyalty to Dumbledore meant being a good boy, after all.
Hermione for once didn't react with disbelief. "You think he's working with Molly?"
Harry nodded. "I don't think she's capable of brewing all that. And even if she is, there would be no reason for her to include loyalty potions to Dumbledore. That means that they're using Snape to brew those or working on potioning us separately. They all must have plans for me. For all of us."
Luna grinned joylessly, something they'd never seen her do before. "There's also compulsion charms and the like. If they are willing to use potions, why not charms? Have you checked for those yet?"
They shook their heads. "Never used the spell before, but I know how to check." Hermione added, pointing her wand at Harry and twirling it into a spiral. "Specialis Revelio."
Harry lifted his hands and noticed himself starting to glow in blues, greens and even a slight red. "I assume that's all bad?" He noted dryly, already knowing the answer. It was a rather pointless question.
All three of his friends gave him a firm nod. "So, how are we going to fix this latest disaster? Would Finite work?"
"Oh, I know!" Luna smiled. "A purification ritual. It should cut off ALL external magics. The goblins and healers use it before doing any other ritual, since external magics interfere with most other rituals."
"A ritual! How does it work, what do we need?!" Hermione asked her hungrily, the library had very few mentions on rituals.
"Well, first you need to make a runic circle, but I think this room could take care of that easily. Then you'd need a few ingredients, like -"
Harry's eyes drooped and he promptly fell asleep. This day had wrecked him like none other.
Neville grinned at his sleeping friend. "I've a feeling we're going in the right direction. Check me too will you? We should all perform this purification ritual."
"Yes, you were once again the worst off. Neville and Luna only had blues, I had blues and greens, and you had blue, green, red and a spot of black around your scar." Hermione told Harry when he woke up, they were alone in the Room. "Red is anger and hatred. You might have been spelled to hate Malfoy or perhaps Snape. I don't know what black means."
Harry frowned at that. He didn't think he'd need a compulsion for that, hating Snape and Malfoy seemed to come natural to him. He did know what black meant, but he wasn't ready to share that information just yet, maybe after the ritual.
After the ritual he'd know for sure. "We need to write our feelings on certain persons down before and after the ritual, that way we can spot the differences. The same with the potions."
Hermione beamed. "That's brilliant Harry!"
"I try." He muttered. "So, when's the ritual?"
"Next week. The ingredients can be owl ordered, nothing really rare."
"Great, the year is almost over. I want to leave Hogwarts a free man. Be myself, whoever that is." Harry grimaced. He figured he'd never really gotten the opportunity to be himself. It was high time to fix that.
Hermione hugged him hard. "Oh, Harry. You know I'd love any version of you, right? You're the brother I never had."
He had to smile at that. "I know, and you're the sister I've always wanted. I'm just glad we don't love each other like Ron and Ginny." He teased.
The hug ended rather quickly after those words. With a punch, Hermione made her feelings known. "You prat."
Harry laughed. "So, looking at any boys yet, sis?"
Hermione pinked. "I think so. Having you as a standard put the bar quite high though, only Neville approaches that. How about you?"
That made Harry happy. "He's a great guy, and he'd be lucky to have you." With a shrug, he answered the other question. "I don't know. The only girls that think of me as Harry, as opposed to the Boy-Who-Lived, are Luna and Susan Bones, perhaps Su Li. But I hardly know them. I've talked the most with Luna in the DA last year, I suppose I could see myself with her if I survive to have a future."
That made Hermione frown, but she didn't argue. Instead, she asked a question he'd avoided thinking about for the most part. "What do you want to do, if the war ended tomorrow and Dumbledore and Voldemort were dead?"
Damn, she'd really changed without those potions in her system. Harry would never have expected such a blunt question from her before this. Especially since it held Dumbledore in a negative light. "Well. I really hate my fame, you know that. That said, I'd like to leave Britain, or at least become some sort of recluse. Perhaps France would be good, at least the weather would have to be an improvement. In any case, I won't accept any responsibility for Wizarding Britain after I get rid of Voldemort or perhaps even before. Let the sheep reap what they've sown."
Now that he thought about it, that too had changed. "Whatever I do though, I never want anything to do with the Ministry of Magic. I can't believe I ever wanted to be an Auror now that I think about it. In fact, I have so many reasons to hate and leave Britain I don't even know why I haven't yet. The only thing keeping me here was you. And after the summer, even that was gone for a bit, since I thought you chose Dumbledore over me when you refused to write to me."
He'd shocked Hermione into silence, so he spoke again. "Oh, I know now it was those damn potions and charms. But really, apart from you, I barely have anything tying me to Britain. Those years at the Dursleys or my time at Hogwarts surely haven't been filled with good memories outside of my time with you." Hermione was still very quiet. "Talk to me Hermione."
She grimaced. "I've just realised the same, Harry. You were the only thing keeping me at Hogwarts. But I never broached the subject of another school with you, even though I knew about those from first year. Why didn't I? Dumbledore sure has a lot to pay for!"
Harry shrugged. "What about your parents?"
Hermione looked at him like he was stupid, which made him feel like he was. She was talented like that. "Harry, what do you know of my parents?"
"They're dentists, and you live in Crawley. And you told me they were happy with your grades. You also go to France on holiday and visit museums sometimes."
"Exactly, you know close to nothing but what you've told me of the Dursleys." Hermione pointed out. "They're not really good parents, very cold emotionally. Never outright abusive like your relatives, but I wouldn't look back after I'd left either. In fact, I was already planning to leave them after I get my NEWT's. All they wanted is a child to brag about. The reason I'm so into books is because those were all I really had, but even that started because I strove to work hard to earn their love and affection."
That shocked Harry badly, how could he have never noticed that. "I'm so sorry, Hermione. I should have noticed." Like she had noticed. He had never outright told Hermione the Dursleys were abusive either, but of course she had known. She practically forced him to eat every September and October.
His friend nodded. "I forgive you of course. You had your own share of problems, not to mention those potions and charms. But you can be damn sure we're talking about leaving Hogwarts later."
"Yes, Ma'am!" Harry saluted with a laugh. Things were looking up, perhaps he could look up the Delacours if they'd ever go to France.
He needed to look into his finances too, if he was planning to live somewhere. Perhaps when Gringotts responded to his previous letter.
Sharing a look with Hermione, both having aired and resolved their grievances, both firmly reaffirmed their friendship and status as chosen sibling. Lighter hearts lifting their spirits by the time they left the room.
5. Banking Letters
Monday bright and early at breakfast, a Gringotts Owl alighted near Harry's plate and handed him a letter. Harry hoped it was good news. Since he was one of the first out of bed and the only Gryffindor currently at the table, he felt safe in opening the letter immediately.
Greetings Heir Potter,
Our Gringotts curse breakers have some experience with the cursed items you speak off. How you came to know what it is, is of great interest to Gringotts. To answer your question, yes there is such an option that leaves the container unharmed. The procedure is only dangerous when the container lives. When encountering such an item, the item often tries to take over the body of the finder. This leaves a residue at minimum and can result in full possession if left untreated and the soul-piece still survives. We at Gringotts do have the wherewithal to correct the influences of these abominations.
On another note, the Potter Account Manager Snarkack was very surprised to see this owl, who he presumes is your familiar. He said that the regular Potter correspondence is done with another owl. Snarkack was surprised about that and would like to inquire why that is so. If that statement rings any alarm bells, Snarkack reminds you that he's been inviting you for a meeting in his bi-monthly reports since your eleventh birthday.
May your enemies die by your sword.
Gritflick, Senior Manager of the Gringotts Curse Breaker England Division.
Growling, Harry put away the letter. His plan to contact Gringotts about his finances just got replaced by the urgent need to meet with his ACCOUNT MANAGER, who had been SENDING STATEMENTS MONTHLY. FUCKING DUMBLEDORE!
There was no doubt in his mind at all about who was responsible for this clusterfuck.
He'd be going to Gringotts this Saturday if it was the last thing he did. Hermione would cover for him.
Taking a deep breath to calm himself, he took out his writing gear.
Greetings, Account Manager Snarkack,
This is Harry Potter, the boy who never had any correspondence with Gringotts before today. I'm sure you can guess what that means better than I can, since I find myself woefully uninformed. Manager Gritflick's message was appreciated. I have a fair idea about who is responsible for this mess, and for that I'm going to keep from forming any opinions until I speak with you. My main suspect is not a goblin you see, and he has a very long white beard.
Since I don't even know what all I need to ask you, I'm going to have to ask you for an appointment on Saturday next. If possible, please put me down for a lengthy appointment. I could be there at any time of your choosing. Just to forewarn you, the sum total knowledge of my finances and banking business is the fact that I have a trust vault.
If you've spoken to Gritflick as I suspect you have. You know that I have some other business to arrange with Gringotts. I have a soul container that needs to be cleansed (Ravenclaw's Diadem), and even worse, I think I AM a soul container that needs to be cleansed. If you could arrange an appointment for me regarding that, I would greatly appreciate it. Otherwise, I'll try to arrange that in person after our appointment.
Given the fact that I am likely a soul container, I'm sure you appreciate how discretion would be appreciated. I've just purged myself from massive amounts of influencing potions and have found that I'm still under myriad charms of unknown purpose. I was planning on purging myself via ritual but haven't gotten that far yet. If possible, I'd like the help of Gringotts with that too.
May your gold grow and bury your enemies alive.
That ought to put the fox in the hen house. Harry had the feeling that Snarkack and Gritflick were on his side in this thing. Those names though, goblins really were strange sometimes.
He looked up to see Hedwig waiting patiently and his anger left him abruptly. Barking a laugh, he stroked Hedwig's feathers in her favourite spot. He'd trusted Hedwig to find the right goblin and boy, how she had delivered. "Thank you, Hedwig. Thank you thank you thank you! You did better than I could have ever imagined. Are you ready for another trip to Snarkack girl?"
Her only response was to hold out her right claw.
Harry tied the letter to her claw with a grin and fed her another piece of bacon. "You're the best, girl! What would I ever do without you?"
With a pleased 'Hoot', Hedwig flew out again.
Thinking on his plans, he had to amend them slightly. At the very least, he'd have to reschedule or cancel the purification ritual with his friends. His participation at least, depended on the meeting Saturday. Removing the Horcrux would probably also involve a ritual, which meant a purification ritual beforehand, making the point moot.
His new mental agenda, read thus:
-Ask a Slytherin how things work in Slytherin House.
-Do the purification ritual with Neville, Luna and Hermione.
-See a Healer about EVERYTHING.
-Meet Snarkack about finances.
-Contact a curse breaker via Gritflick about the Diadem and me.
Harry's impromptu meditation meant that he didn't even notice that his friends had arrived, plus Ron and Ginny, who were rubbing their legs under the table. 'Ah, I guess talking plans will have to wait.' Harry thought wryly.
Rumours about Ron and Ginny were already being whispered around the school, Harry really didn't think he could keep from laughing much longer.
Naturally, that's when the Owl arrived with the newest doses of love potion. "Ah, those should be mums." Ron notes happily, beaming at Ginny, who beamed back.
The whole affair was quite nauseating and twice as disturbing in its implications.
Hermione huffed when nobody moved to take the loads from the owls. Standing up herself, she quickly divested the owls of their burdens and distributed the candy appropriately, winking at Harry as she blatantly switched the chocolates around.
"Very nice of Molly to include us in her baking, don't you think Hermione?" Harry managed with a straight face. "Yes, she truly is a treasure." Hermione agreed with an expression that would have made McGonagall proud.
Neville just sat looking back and forth between them and the brother sister duo with a pinched face. The switch turned out to be much easier than expected as the pair only had eyes for each other.
"Why don't you eat yours after breakfast Ron? Just a taste of course, you don't want to get fat." Hermione mothered him sweetly, knowing full well that telling him he couldn't eat it now just ensured that he would.
Sure enough, Ron stopped chewing his sausage and grabbed his box. "Nah, Mum likes prompt feedback, you know. That way, she feels appreciated. Right, Gin-Gin?"
Ginny happily agreed, grabbing her own box as she followed Ron's example. It was like watching a train wreck. None of them could look away as they started eating one after the other.
Of course, Ron always had a fair few people watching him eat for that very reason. The masochists of Hogwarts if you will. Therefore, Harry and co. weren't the only ones to notice what happened next.
Ron was happily chewing his sixth chocolate when he suddenly looked at his sister with an expression of undisguised lust. His sister didn't notice at first, but that changed after she'd gotten through a few of her own.
Their eyes met and Ron made his decision. "Gin, would you like to get into a broom cupboard with me?"
Ginny stopped moving her face toward his when she decided that privacy was a good thing after all. "Sure Ronnie, I have a free period next. Let's go!"
Everyone with eyes on them just watched incredulously as the siblings skipped hand in hand from the Great Hall, their mirroring blushes clear from across the hall. It was too early to have many teachers at the staff table, so this went unnoticed by the staff. Rumours started flying left and right in seconds, everyone looking at Harry and Hermione for their reaction.
Both gave their watchers nothing but a shrug. "So, anything new?" Harry asked Neville, who promptly choked on his glass of water; no more pumpkin juice for him.
He recovered quickly though. "Not really. Though I have a feeling today is going to be interesting regardless."
"I have something for the weekend, Saturday specifically, our plans may need to proceed without my presence." Harry informed them quietly. "I find myself needing to visit the bank."
Hermione was very curious, but managed to hold her questions, knowing that Harry would rather tell her in the Room.
"Hi guys." Luna approached them with a small bag. "I've got some stomach soothing potion for you as a precaution." She whispered conspiratorially, handing out a green vial for each. "I have a feeling they might be necessary later. I have class now, so I'll see you later."
Since they had classes too, everybody stood to go. "Do you think Ron will make class?" Neville wondered aloud.
Harry snickered and Hermione's lip twitched. "I'm sure we'll see him eventually."
Ron missed Potions class, all two hours of it, but made it to Charms just in time. He looked rumpled and sported a hickey in his neck. "Hi guys, did I miss anything?"
Hermione grinned. "Yes, but I'm sure you'll catch up eventually."
Since nobody dared to chat in potions class, a holdover from Snape's reign, the rumours only really got started in Charms class. Fortunately, the other students did make an effort to keep Ron clueless, wanting to see more drama play out. Harry and Hermione played dumb for the same reason, but Neville was happily spreading the rumours to the Puffs a few tables down the row. Flitwick did notice something was wrong, but in true Hogwarts fashion, did nothing about it. The combined faculty was very dependable in that way.
After Charms, Ron quickly fled the classroom to find 'his sweet Ginny'.
As one, the whole class turned to Harry and Hermione for answers. Harry burst out laughing, leaving Hermione to fill them in. "Their mum tried to dose us with strong love potions keyed to her children. Ron and Ginny were full participants of course. Somehow, the orders got mixed up. You've seen the results."
The whole group burst out laughing, though there were some frowns mixed in from the students that recognised that dosing someone with a love potion was a serious crime.
Harry nodded and addressed the group. "Are you going to say anything? Because I for one, would be happy to let this play out as long as possible."
Most students agreed, and walked away chatting excitedly, eager to spread the latest news. That left Susan Bones and her friend Hannah Abbott. "You do know that's illegal, right?"
Hermione gave Harry a look. Harry sighed, "ritual, right?" Hermione nodded and moved to whisper in Susan's ear. Susan nodded after a minute. "We'll be there."
Harry spoke up again, not caring who was listening in. There were no portraits in this hallway, but you never knew with magic. "I'm really curious to see when the professors will finally deign to notice and do something about it. I give it a week."
Hannah was frowning but didn't say anything until she knew what Susan had been told. Susan nodded. "As long as they keep it quiet during the meals, nobody on the staff should notice. If Malfoy was still around, he would have had something to say about that too, but he's dead."
Neville grinned. "We could quietly spread the word, asking people not to talk. As far as I'm aware, the effects usually last no longer than a week, so it shouldn't be all that difficult to keep secret."
Harry raised his eyebrow in a silent question, Hermione sighed. "Since Molly only sends a package once in a while, and Ron usually eats his before two days have passed, it shouldn't last past Wednesday next. Though it could also mean that this is a special recipe that lasts longer, you never know. Perhaps there is more than one potion in the mixture?"
Susan held up her hand as if she was in class. "You should send some of those chocolates to the DMLE regardless. This is a crime, and you don't want to be caught as an accomplice.
Hermione tilted her head sideways in thought, before nodding. "I'll be sure to take a few for testing. Can you send a letter to your aunt tomorrow?"
Susan nodded. "Now, I'm quite hungry and I'm sure you are as well. We'll be seeing you around."
Yeah they would.
6. Auror Interference
It was incredible how none of the staff noticed what was happening. The two Weasleys were by no means being covert about their newfound relationship. Still, it did prove what everyone already knew, a handful of adults can't reliably keep their eye on hundreds of students.
Even if the two had already skipped at least two classes each in order to snog each other silly, and perhaps even more. The whole student population knew about it and thought it great fun. The contingent of half-bloods and muggleborns had been making pureblood jokes right and left.
Susan had sent her letter as requested, and Hermione had nicked a few of the laced treats, with the accompanying cards clearly labelled for the recipient. Just in time as it was, since Ron ate the last just that morning.
Wednesday at breakfast things escalated when Amelia Bones walked into the castle accompanied by a few Aurors. She found her quarry with a practiced eye, though admittedly, it could have been the distinctive red hair. "Susan, where are Mr. and Ms. Weasley?"
Susan stood. "They've just left together, perhaps their friends would know?"
That was his cue, Harry stood, fully prepared. He'd watched where they went on the map and Hermione had just passed him the labelled samples. "If you'd please follow me, I can take you to them, Madam Bones."
"Just what is happening here Madam Bones?!" McGonagall wanted to know. Dumbledore hadn't decided to attend the meal today.
Madam Bones looked at her in surprise. "You don't know? I've been told that the youngest Weasleys have been acting very odd lately, probably potioned. Susan there, suspects a powerful love potion after talking to Mr. Potter here."
Susan spoke up before Harry could. "They've been spotted making out and frequenting broom closets together, Professor. What else was I supposed to think?" Harry held out his hand for the Head Auror. "Oh, and here's the samples to test, Madam Bones."
McGonagall looked angry and confused. "Then why didn't you come to me?" She looked at Susan for an explanation.
"You're always busy Professor, and I thought this to be a crime. That meant I had to tell the DMLE, not a professor." She retorted coolly. "Besides, how could you not have noticed! Aren't you their Head of House? I thought you already knew." 'And approved' wasn't said but it was damn well heard.
"Well, I'll be-" The Scottish woman started, but was interrupted by a cough from Madam Bones. "Perhaps we should determine if there has been an actual crime first. Care to follow me, Professor?"
When both women looked at Harry, he motioned them through the door, Susan didn't follow. "He said something about the forbidden corridor from our first year. I'm pretty sure we'll find them there."
"Forbidden corridor?" Bones wanted to know.
Harry saw McGonagall pale, "you mean Susan hasn't told you what has been happening here over the years?" He asked incredulously. "Well then, let me tell you a story as we walk."
Harry spoke as his mind raced. He couldn't imagine why Susan wouldn't have told her, so that meant she was made to forget or disregard that in her letters home and their talks. Perhaps this was one of various charms that were placed around every student here.
Amelia was an attentive audience. She also had no trouble shutting McGonagall up when she tried to interrupt. "Well, I'd say! Perhaps we should have another meeting later with my niece. I'm very curious to hear some more stories."
They had arrived at a cupboard from where some suspicious sounds were coming. "I'll be happy to tell you everything you want to know and more, Madam Bones. There's plenty of things you should hear about. I believe our quarry is located behind this door."
Bones nodded sharply, quite capable of hearing that herself, and opened the door with a silent charm.
Ron wasn't wearing any clothes but his too large boxers and Ginny was performing some very experienced fellatio, if Harry was any judge. She'd certainly swallowed his member whole. Her upper body and small breasts were uncovered, but she at least still wore pants. They didn't even notice their audience at first.
"I've never! What is the meaning of this, Mister and Miss Weasley!" McGonagall bellowed, already forgetting the leading theory.
Both Weasley's looked up, which freed Ginny's mouth enough to let out a surprised "EEEP!" Ron on the other hand, just froze and fainted.
Harry's nausea was enough to resist his urge to burst into loud laughter. It was damn funny, though he could've gone without a view of a naked Ron. Thinking fast, he grabbed the vial he had been given and tossed it back. Luna's stomach soother did the trick, he'd have to thank her for that later!
Madam Bones promptly stunned both and with a few flicks of her wand, put their clothes to rights. Another, more complicated charm that Harry recognized, made them glow certain colours representing potions. Then she did the Specialis Revelio charm for good measure, Ginny had some very familiar black around her head.
Both women gasped out loud.
"Ah, Madam Bones, perhaps you should check the chocolates too?" Harry reminded her.
Another few flicks of her wand made the chocolates glow red and blue too.
"So, what do the colours mean?" Harry asked with well faked curiosity.
McGonagall just sighed, but Bones answered, "blue colours mean a mind-altering component in potions, probably loyalty. Red always means hatred or love; this shade is love if I'm not mistaken. Green has to do with memories and thought processes. The black you saw when I checked her for charms, well, that's the darkest of magic."
Harry summed it up nicely. "Well, damn! Perhaps Ginny's black comes from Voldemort's diary in second year."
That of course, triggered Bones' curiosity again. "Voldemort's diary? Mister Potter, I'm going to have to have a very long talk with you. You as well Minerva, I am quite curious to find out what all has happened at Hogwarts these past few years. My most important question though, is going to be why I haven't heard any of this before today."
She turned around, but not before witnessing McGonagall pale considerably. "Jenkins, Shacklebolt, process the victims and the samples. Then I'd like you to arrest Molly Weasley and put her in an interrogation room and let her sweat for a while. I'll be having a nice long talk with these two in the meantime."
"Sure boss, consider it done." The black Auror named Shacklebolt agreed professionally.
Harry was looking forward to this, so he smiled when Bones invited him into a classroom.
"I think it's best if you start telling me everything you believe I should be aware of Mister Potter. Can you do that? Afterwards Minerva, I'd like to check a few more students, unless you have something to tell me."
He grinned. "Oh, yes! There's been a lot of stuff happening here you should really have been told. I'm actually incredibly surprised that your niece or the faculty haven't told you. Perhaps I shouldn't have been all that disappointed by the lack of justice in this world of magic. Afterwards, I need to talk to you about my abusive home situation."
Harry ignored her angry growl and started his story. "Now, let me start back in second year, when the Chamber of Secrets was opened, and people started getting petrified in the halls."
"Harry! What happened? You've been gone for hours!" Hermione greeted him when he entered the Room. Neville and Luna were present too.
Harry smiled wickedly. "I'd always wondered why nobody did something about what happened at Hogwarts year after year. Now I know. Turns out nobody knew, since the students were under compulsions to keep stuff secret. Naturally, Madam Bones didn't like that little discovery, so I spent the past few hours telling her about everything that Dumbledore tried his best to cover up, complete with memory evidence of the same. She almost lost it when she tested a few Hufflepuffs for charms and found they were all under compulsions."
Hermione's jaw hung low, which was a first. "But… Is that why I've never told my parents anything? Or was that me? I certainly thought it was me. Could that be linked to my wanting to stay in Hogwarts? Was that because of the potions and charms too?"
Whilst Hermione was having a minor breakdown, Neville had another concern. "But what happened with Ron and Ginny?"
Harry waved his concerns away. "Taken in by the Aurors, Molly should have been arrested by now. We found Ginny giving Ron a blowjob, I was very happy with your stomach soother right then, I thank you for that, Luna."
Luna smiled. "I'm glad it helped. I wonder, where was Dumbledore in all this? He hasn't been seen all day."
Shrugging in response, Harry grinned. "Don't know, but it sure was lucky! He'd never have allowed me to spill the beans to Madam Bones otherwise. Never mind allowing for Ginny to visit a mind healer to see to the lingering effects of the Diary. Dumbledore would have sent her back to Pomfrey for a nice calming draught and a good bedrest instead, I'm sure."
That shook Hermione from her breakdown. "Is that what happened second year? She'd been possessed for an entire year. How could he not have gotten her the help she clearly needed?!"
"You know Dumbledore wanted to keep things quiet." Harry explained. "Hard to do that when you have to explain how a schoolgirl has been possessed for months during school. She had some black coloured influences around her head still."
Neville grimaced. "What'll happen now, to Hogwarts I mean?"
"I'm sure the Weasleys get their much-needed wake-up call," Harry mused, "and Dumbledore will finally have to explain himself along with the rest of the faculty. I'd say it couldn't happen to better people."
Shaking her head, Hermione looked him in the eye. "I have to play advocate of the devil here. Don't you think it's bad for Dumbledore to be having problems when there's a war going on, isn't he the only one Voldemort fears?"
"Not my problem is it?" Harry disagreed lightly. "Besides, nothing will happen if his actions have been above board. I believe Dumbledore sorely needs a reality check right now. This war should have never lasted this long as it has. Do you know how many Death Eaters are imprisoned from the last war? Incredibly few and even less were killed, which means the Ministry and Dumbledore didn't do shit."
Luna grabbed his hand. "Harry, what do you mean it's not your problem? Isn't Voldemort going to keep trying to kill you?"
Harry made his decision. "Alright guys, there's a lot I need to tell you. First off, I don't plan on throwing my life away like Dumbledore seems to expect of me. In fact, I plan on leaving Britain when I can, as soon as I can." Before they could argue with that statement, Harry forged on. "You remember the prophecy from last year, the one that got destroyed? Dumbledore told me what it was, and I've learned a few more things that will hopefully soon render it irrelevant."
"Before I can tell you everything however, I first have to speak to the goblins on Saturday. And I'd like it if you started studying Occlumency, because some of the stuff I have to tell you is very sensitive and could conceivably get you killed."
With that last statement, he officially shut the lot of them up for a few seconds. Hermione was the first to recover. "I've been trying to teach myself this summer, but I have no idea how far I've gotten."
Harry smiled as he heard that, already knowing she was succeeding somewhat. "If you trust me, I could check. I've been studying too; Occlumency and Legilimency."
Hermione was eager for a test, while Neville decided it wouldn't do anything, since he'd yet to learn a single bit of Occlumency. Luna smiled enigmatically and locked him in a gaze. "Alright Harry, why don't you take a peek to see if you can spot what I ate at breakfast."
That was a clear challenge, so he dove right in. He found a green meadow, stretching on forever. In the meadow he found a house shaped like a chess piece, but the house was empty. Harry didn't see anything else, so he gave up with a smile. "Is that your home Luna? It's lovely."
Luna smiled back triumphantly. "Yes, it is, isn't it? Couldn't find a thing, right?"
He shook his head. "Nope, and that's good enough for me. Hermione, you ready?"
His bushy haired friend nodded, so he dove in with a thought. Pushing through her shield, he found himself in a city, having no clue where to go. Some fruitless searching netted him nothing, so he got back out. "A city? How in the hell did you get so much detail? That would take ages, wouldn't it?"
Hermione grinned. "My hometown actually, you'd first need to find my home and get past some traps there. You know my memory is good right? Well, it's actually better than good. I remember almost everything. Though I did make every home similar, to provide an even better time sink."
"I'm impressed." He said, nodding to himself. It did explain a lot about his friend.
"So, what did you do, Luna?" Hermione wanted to know.
Luna put on her most Looney expression and took on an airy tone. "I put everything in the Nargles and Blibbering Humdingers and the Crumple Horned Snorkacks, etcetera. Since only I can see those, nobody will ever find my memories."
"An unbeatable defence. I like it." Neville laughed. "Do you guys think I could do something with plants then? Since that's what I'm best at."
The rest quickly agreed. "Alright Neville, let's give you a crash course." Harry decided.
7. Rituals and Decisions
Harry stood in front of Gringotts and took off his invisibility cloak, scaring a goblin guard. "Sorry, just had to get here unseen. I wouldn't use it inside."
The guard looked at him sceptically, but he nodded nonetheless. "Hurry up then, before someone sees you anyway."
"Thank you." He nodded to the guard and walked into the bank, ten minutes early, which was just on time in goblin custom. It was too early for the bank to be busy, which was a good thing for his privacy. "Hi, I'm Harry Potter, here for an appointment with Snarkack. Can you tell him that he can find me here when he has the time?" He asked a teller, who agreed.
Two minutes later, his account manager waved him inside.
"Well hello, Heir Potter, nice to finally meet you. I'm sure we have a great deal to talk about, but I figured you'd want to be rid of that scar sooner rather than later, so I'm bringing you straight to Gritflick. Does that meet your approval?"
Harry nodded, but realised that the goblin couldn't see it because he was walking in front. "Ah, sure account manager Snarkack, you guessed right. Though I don't know if I have enough to pay for that service, do you know by any chance?"
Snarkack laughed. "Oh, I'm very sure it won't be any trouble. The Potter vaults have been growing for the past fifteen years after all. You don't have to worry about gold for a very long time, but we'll discuss that later. Here's manager Gritflick's office, would you mind if I stayed?"
Seeing no reason to deny him, Harry agreed.
"Hello Heir Potter, Snarkack. Right on time I see." Gritflick intro This is curse breaker Gerard, he'll be the one to check your item and you. Do you have it with you?"
In reply, Harry grabbed the bag he brought with him and took out the Diadem in question. "Here it is. Watch out though, there's a fairly powerful compulsion on it."
Snarkack waved it away. "That's fairly standard. Gerard, it's all yours."
Curse breaker Gerard didn't hold back, immediately casting various charms the likes of which Harry had never encountered. He nodded eventually, clearly satisfied. "Definitely a Horcrux, I've disabled the compulsions."
"How about my scar?" Harry wanted to know badly.
"May I?" The curse breaker asked, holding up his wand. Harry just nodded, eager to get it over with. This time, the man was done in seconds. "It's a piece of soul alright, but not a traditional Horcrux. It's stuck to the residue of dark magic in your scar. I think even a simple purification ritual could dislodge it, but I recommend it be transferred instead. There's no telling what the loose piece of soul would do before it expired, I suspect it would try a last effort to possess you. In fact, I think it's strange that the soul piece hasn't tried already."
Harry shrugged. "Dumbledore insists that my mother invoked some kind of ritual to protect me from the killing curse, which grants me some type of protection from Voldemort. I don't know if I can believe that though."
Now it was Gerard's time to shrug. "Beats me. Lucky though, if it's true."
"Alright, so how do we get this sucker out of me and that Diadem?"
"We'll need to stun you and two pigs, do a transference ritual and kill the possessed pigs." Gerard grinned. "Easy as pie. Greatly simplified of course."
"Well, no time like the present." Harry smiled nervously. Gerard promptly stunned him.
When he woke up, he felt much lighter. Looking to the left, he saw the two goblins, "I'm guessing it worked?"
Gritflick and Snarkack both smiled creepily, but Harry could tell they were genuine. "It did indeed. You should be feeling better already, especially since we took care to dispel any magic on you first. It was a lot, but then, you already knew that."
"I do feel much better." Harry confirmed. "More powerful too, for some reason. It's like my magic and body are free for the first time! If that makes any sense?"
Gerard snorted, clearly amused. "Well, that's only to be expected, right? Knowingly or not, you've been fighting possession since you got that thing. The magic for that had to come from you."
That surprised him, but he could only sigh from relief. "I'm damn glad it's out then. Thank you all for that."
"No problem, Heir Potter. The fees have already been taken from your vault." Gritflick quipped. "And it's always interesting to see something new." Gerard agreed with a grin.
"Shall we move on to the subject of your finances?" Snarkack asked.
Harry nodded. "Thanks again guys, if I ever find another one of these, I'll know who to call on."
"Please do." Gritflick nodded. "These things should not be allowed to exist. If only we knew how many he had made, it would really help end him."
"Seven, according to Dumbledore, and that's four down now with these two. I destroyed his first in second year, Dumbledore got one this summer, and now these two."
Gritflick looked at Gerard before both started grinning wildly. "And that's done. He's mortal, just in pieces."
Confused, Harry motioned for him to explain.
Gerard took up the explanation. "The soul is always connected to the rest of the soul, even in death. While that means that the soul can't cross over when the Horcrux is whole, that primary truth doesn't change with multiple Horcruxes. When you say that four out of eight pieces are destroyed, that means half of the soul resides in the realm of the dead. If Voldemort dies again, there's three pieces dragging him to stay, and four dragging him to go. The four win over the three, so he'll die. It's like a game of tug of war. Greatly simplified of course, the Arithmancy is simply heinous!"
The goblins and the curse breaker watched as Harry's face slowly lit up. "That's great!" He cheered, "but what about the other pieces?"
Gritflick waved his hand. "While they could still possess someone that comes into contact with them, they would be just as mortal as Voldemort is now. And they'd only have his memories up until they were made. Possession of an unwilling host would quickly cause that host to expire. Willing possession isn't much better for that matter."
Harry mulled it over slowly, ending with a shrug. "Well, it's still very good news on the whole. Thanks for the greatly simplified explanation." He quipped, receiving two matching grins in return.
"Oh, right! Here's the bag with the Diadem." Gritflick handed the object over. "What will you do with it?"
With another shrug, he made his thoughts clear. "I've no idea actually. I suppose I'll check whether it actually grants the wearer wisdom. After that, I have no idea. In fact, I'll put it on right now."
Nothing happened, but then again, Harry wasn't really thinking much at the moment.
"It's a remarkable artifact for a non-goblin made item, as expected from the lady Ravenclaw. I'm interested to hear if it works as advertised." Gritflick said, waving them on when nothing obvious happened.
"Looks good on you too." Gerard joked just as Harry walked out of the door, making him grin.
The trip to Snorkacks office was two doors down, so over before Harry knew it.
"Well Heir Potter, from your letter I have been made to understand your so-called 'magical guardian' has been withholding your mail and has told you nothing about your responsibilities and finances. Is that a fair summary?
"Yeah, that about sums it up, Snarkack." He agreed unhappily. "What is that about responsibilities?"
Snarkack sighed but started talking. "Your house is an old and respected one, and you have been declared an adult by way of the Triwizard Tournament in your fourth year. That means that you have responsibilities now, to your House and to yourself. Add to that the House of Black, since the previous head named you his heir, and you have a long list of things you should be made aware of and manage them accordingly. I was really surprised when I heard that you didn't show up at the reading of the Last Will and Testament of Sirius Black. Even if Dumbledore kept your mail from you, he still should have let you attend. It seems I have thought better of him, even though I knew I should not."
"Most people expect more from that old man, Snarkack. Since my blinders have only recently come off me too, I can hardly blame you for making the same mistake I did." Harry shook his head. "Let's get back to business. Can you tell me about those things I should know and manage for House Black and Potter?"
Snarkack nodded thankfully. "Yes, let's. Since Sirius was restricted in his business dealings due to his illegal fugitive status, he couldn't deal with anything contract based. Especially contracts that haven't been honoured by the other parties in business and matrimony alike." Then he laughed sharply. "Since a lot of people never expected the Black family to act, they never honoured their contracts and are now liable for a lot of gold in backpay and penalties. Gold they likely don't have. Same with the marriages, you can annul those that broke their contracts and ask for the dowries back including interest. That might very well bankrupt some purebloods."
Harry grinned viciously. "Do tell." Using a clarity of thought he'd never before enjoyed, Harry actually had fun learning about this stuff and applying it.
A lot of business was done that day, and both Snarkack and Harry had formed a bond over the coming suffering of many stupid people. Only when he had said his goodbyes and walked down the hall did he freeze, "hey, this thing actually works!"
Back in Snarkack's office, he was greeted with guttural goblin laughter. "I see you can't go a few minutes without another discovery, Mister Potter. Tell me then."
"Hey Harry! You look amazing! Before you start on your day, which I'm sure has been interesting, how about you let us tell you about our results first?" Neville greeted him chipperly as he walked into the Room of Requirement. "Oh, and by the way, Hannah and Susan didn't participate since her Aunt had them all purged from external influences immediately."
Hermione looked at him and closed her mouth with a loud clack, obviously irritated to be kept waiting so long for the promised information but Luna patted her on the back, "there, there, Hermione. Patience is a virtue and Harry's results are sure to be interesting as well." Luna muffled her giggles and Hermione's words with her two hands.
With more than a little amusement at the scene, Harry laughed. "By all means, Neville. How did it work for you, any surprises?"
Neville smiled widely as Hermione gnashed her teeth at the stalling attempt. "Yes, it was definitely interesting, how about you tell him, Luna?"
Luna chuckled before she continued. "Neville had some blocks on him, which caused a small magical explosion when they broke. He feels more powerful now and even somewhat smarter, if you can believe that."
Harry nodded along, that made sense actually, given what he knew of Dumbledore's beliefs and goals. Neville had been an option for the prophecy after all. He was also experiencing the same feeling of being more powerful and smarter. Hermione was tapping her foot loudly as she waited for him to respond.
Grinning, he replied "same as Neville I expect. I can actually feel my magic moving through my body now, though it seems really different. I no longer need my glasses either. They now hold plain glass so that nobody notices any differences."
Luna couldn't hold her laughter anymore and giggled merrily. "I think we should give him a mirror. Look here Harry, it might explain some things."
Harry tracked the mirror and his jaw dropped. That's why Snarkack had laughed when Harry had returned to his office to let him know the Diadem worked as advertised! The little bugger had also suggested wearing it invisibly until he got back to somewhere with privacy. It was obvious now that wearing the Diadem had prevented this for some reason. Snarkack had nodded in satisfaction as Harry had put it back on. The Diadem which he'd just taken off after entering the Room.
His hair was changing through all the colours of the rainbow, just like Tonks' did on occasion, and he'd grown at least two inches. "Ooh, that's what you were talking about! I'm a Metamorphmagus! That could come in handy if I manage to figure it out."
Hermione looked vindicated, and a little smug besides. Harry goggled at her as he realised how she'd kept from commenting on his hair all along. She really had changed! If she was able to keep quiet for that long, even if under protest. It could even be considered something of a prank! Not something he'd expected from her at all.
He frowned as he thought of a possible snag. "I can't let Dumbledore see this; he might actually try to bind my magic again." He could of course, use the diadem, but that was a short-term solution at best.
That shut everyone up for a second. Neville spoke first. "Well, you've got about a day. Tomorrow is Sunday, so you shouldn't be missed if you don't show up for meals. Still, I have no clue how that works, do you?"
He shook his head immediately but had to pause as a thought crossed his mind. What would be the wise thing to do indeed? "I might actually. But I can't today, this day has been very draining. How long do we have until curfew?"
With a muttered Tempus, Hermione sourly informed him it was only half an hour. "I'll bring you new clothes tomorrow morning, but you better give me some answers then Harry. I've waited long enough!"
Smiling, Harry nodded. "Sure, but don't blame me if I still keep a secret or two. Everyone should have some secrets."
With a last huff, Hermione trotted off.
"Sleep tight Harry." Luna grinned, dragging Neville with her. "Yeah, see you tomorrow Harry."
Alone again, Harry grabbed his stuff and reconfigured the Room into a copy of the Gryffindor tower, with only one dormitory. The room contained nothing more than a large bed and a full-length mirror.
He took out the Diadem and put it on his head, sitting on his bed. Closing his eyes, he meditated. Half an hour later, he grinned.
The next morning, Hermione entered the room first, followed by Neville but she was about to be disappointed. "I'm sorry Hermione, but it's better to explain it just the once. We'll just wait a bit for Luna and then I'll talk."
"But you've already figured it out, how!" She demanded, her demanding voice and nature really weren't her best traits. "Tonks said she had to train for years!"
With a grin, he turned to his other visitor. "Hi, Nev. Slept well?"
Understanding the game immediately, Neville replied calmly. "I did actually, thanks for asking. I dreamt of pudding if you can believe it! It was like I was channelling Luna."
Harry nodded seriously. "Sounds delicious, a good dream. What kind of pudding?"
"All sorts actually, I couldn't even name them all." Neville added with a wide smile.
The only thing saving them from Hermione's eruption was Luna entering the room. "Hello. It seems you've figured it out. That's good."
"That's good? That's good!" Hermione blew up. "HOW?!
Harry's smirk was proud and mischievous. "Well Hermione, since you ask, I'll tell you. You know those magical catalogues from clothing stores with the manikin you can dress however, that's what I used. I make a mental model of myself, and my external body follows those changes. Instead of designing an outfit, it's like designing my own body instead."
"And that works?!" She cried. "How the hell are you so good with Occlumency anyway? I would never have thought of that!"
'Well, I did have help.' Harry conceded mentally, after all, the Diadem had really helped him come up with that idea. He had figured out yesterday that it helped him order his thoughts and make connections more easily, making his thoughts flow more fluidly. An incredibly useful tool! When thinking was required. If it wasn't so damn conspicuous, he'd keep it on his head all day. 'I don't think I'll tell Hermione either, I'd never get it back if I did.'
He shrugged unapologetically, not having an answer for her. "So, can we get to breakfast, or should I tell you something more?" Harry teased Hermione. He quickly dodged a spell and grinned. "Alright, alright, no need to act all cranky. You really need to relax sometimes, Hermione."
Seeing as she was about to attack him if he didn't share something soon, he gave in.
Taking an exaggerated breath, Harry spoke, "Voldemort is mortal. He wasn't before, but after yesterday he is. He broke his soul you see, and now over half of it is gone, there's only three parts left, not including the part that used to be inside my scar."
"WHAT?!" All three cried.
So Harry told them most everything, except for the fact that he had the Diadem of Ravenclaw, just calling it a piece of jewellery in his tale.
Then he spoke of the prophecy that was given to Dumbledore, which he and Voldemort believed in. "The prophecy says he 'marked me as his equal,' which obviously means my scar, and that 'neither can live while the other survives.' I can't rightly consider myself an expert, but Dumbledore seems to think it means I have to die to make Voldemort mortal, because he knew I had to die in order to kill the piece of soul in my scar. Obviously, I don't agree with that assessment, especially now that it's gone."
"I happen to believe that neither can live while the other survives relates to me and the piece of soul in my scar, and that I've fulfilled my part by destroying it." Harry finished. "So, what do you say?"
It wasn't often that Harry managed to get Hermione speechless, so he enjoyed it immensely. Too bad the silence didn't last. A long discussion ensued, but eventually, even Hermione agreed he was right to flee Britain if this was the information Dumbledore was working under.
9. Potions Plot Punishments
Having waited an entire week for nothing - apparently nobody wanted or needed him as a witness - Harry finally got some news regarding the Potioning affair. In hindsight, he couldn't be all that sorry to have missed the trial.
Harry was glad he'd sent letters ahead to the remaining Weasley family when the Prophet finally reported on what had happened. This was the stuff you really didn't want to blindside you.
The three biggest stories said it all. Rita Skeeter had only written one, but you could guess which it was. It was a smear campaign if he'd ever seen one. Poor Arthur and his eldest sons, even Percy didn't deserve this.
WEASLEY PLOT TO SNARE BOY-WHO-LIVED! by Rita Skeeter
POTIONS MASTER SNAPE INVOLVED! by Frederic Umblestump
DUMBLEDORE AGAIN LOSES CHIEF WARLOCK POSITION, FOR GOOD THIS TIME! by Petra Oozles
It was all kinds of amazing that the justice system had gotten it right for once. Perhaps it was because the criminals were pure-blooded blood traitors, and not the wealthy kind either. Molly had gladly testified that the potions had been supplied by Snape, under orders of Albus Dumbledore himself. Somehow, she was under the impression that this would absolve her or something.
The old man had finally been caught! Just too bad that the only position he still held was the one he needed to lose the most. Someone who condones the use of mind control potions on children has no business being responsible for a school full of them. But that was the idiocy of the wizarding world, it simply couldn't be avoided. At least Snape was now gone.
Besides, Harry had one hell of a backup, a parting shot if you will. He'd rather his past be kept there, but if necessary, he'd gladly use it to get some real justice. He planned to unleash that story just before the school year ended. It was time to send out some letters and hire a solicitor.
Silence invaded the hall, which made Harry turn his head. He saw Aurors, Healers, and the Minister himself; stupid fool that he was. Harry could easily see why they'd come; they were here to check the rest of the students for tampering. With a dark chuckle, Harry watched on. They were sure to find all kinds of illicit uses of magic, it was their own fault for not checking sooner. Dumbledore might have held onto his job through one crisis, but what about two?
If it were up to Harry, everyone would get a bimonthly check at the very least. Especially the children and the ministry workers. With the thousands of ways magic provided to fuck people over, it really was the least one could do.
It was particularly satisfying when the Aurors arrested Albus Dumbledore in front of everyone, but Harry already knew he'd be out soon. This was too easy, too clean to be real.
Dumbledore was a political animal, and he knew how to assign blame. Which is why he was back a day later, having blamed it all on Snape, who for some reason, wanted everyone loyal to Dumbledore. Yeah, right.
"Harry, my boy, please come in." Albus greeted him magnanimously, as if he hadn't just summoned him and was just here for a friendly visit.
Harry merely raised an eyebrow in disbelief and took a seat. "Is there something wrong with my grades, Sir?" Of course, both knew he wasn't here for that.
The headmaster was perturbed by the question, because it indicated clearly that to Harry, he was now just a headmaster, nothing more. "No, my boy, you're doing fine by all accounts. I called you here to ask you about what happened with your friends, the Weasleys."
Shrugging, Harry told him he knew as much as himself. "It's not like they proved themselves my friends that day, so in actuality, I guess you could say I never really knew them at all, Sir. I just can't trust them anymore, so calling them friends is holding onto a delusion. My childhood taught me that there is no greater folly than to expect love where none can be found."
There really was no way to counter that, which left them in silence. It was obvious by how this talk was going, that the headmaster was part of the problem from Harry's point of view. The dig about his childhood and clinging to false hope of love and rescue clinched it. He had feared it would turn out like this without Severus' potions helping Harry along. Those Merlin be-damned youngest Weasleys had really thrown a wrench in his plans by getting caught.
Dumbledore finally nodded. "Ah, yes. I admit to knowing a bit about the plot, but I'd never suspected they'd go so far as to use Amortentia." Which was a blatant lie. "I'd like to ask you if you've made any progress regarding the memory of Horace." a clear copout if he had ever seen one.
Harry shook his head. "He doesn't want to share, so I've decided to stop trying. After all, I can't coerce him, that'd be illegal, not to mention immoral."
What Harry had done was nothing more than the absolute bare minimum according to himself and his spy network, which was asking him point blank and reminding Slughorn that it would be on his shoulders if they'd miss one in the clean-up. The old Potions master had refused and had avoided Harry ever since. No more Slug parties! Needless to say, Harry loved this new arrangement. Albus knew all this.
"You have to get that memory my boy, it is a vital piece of intelligence." Dumbledore prodded the boy, he wasn't asking for much, was he?
"Shrug." Harry said, shrugging. He'd never acted more like a teenager than in that moment, and he clearly loved it.
Albus looked in bewildered amazement as his greatest hope and weapon just shrugged off the first tiny bit of responsibility he'd given him. "But… Don't you want to stop Tom?"
Harry looked him into the eye with a carefree expression. "Not at all. In fact, I'm finally following your words of advice, Headmaster." He grinned. "You told me I deserved a childhood often enough, and to let this business of war to the adults. Well, I'm doing that right now. I finally see how right you are. Why don't you ask Professor Slughorn yourself?"
Albus' thoughts stalled. It was clear to see that the Leader of the Light was lost for words. This, he had never seen coming at all. If there was one thing the Headmaster couldn't handle, it was a belligerent teenager in a rebellion.
Deciding he'd done and said enough, Harry stood and left with a cheerful, "good luck with that, Professor." The door slammed closed behind him with a loud bang.
"Well, you really fucked that up beyond all recognition, didn't you, Albus?" The portrait of Phineas Nigellus taunted him cheerfully, before dissolving into hysterical laughter.
Albus didn't manage a response, already immersed in heavy thought. All his plans had failed or were failing. He was dying, and now his successor was starting to deviate from his carefully laid tracks. If he was being honest, the tracks were half gone as well, what with the Weasleys and Snape out of the picture. What to do, what to do?
A few hours later, he still hadn't gotten anywhere. Without his spy he had no one to brainstorm with, no one else on the side of the light was as morally flexible as Snape.
Too bad he didn't even realise the irony of that last thought.
10. Financial Responsibilities
Harry smiled genuinely as he read the letter from his account manager. It seemed a lot of pure bloods were going to get a rather bad surprise today; if they hadn't already figured it out that is.
"What's that Harry?" Hermione demanded rudely, he'd spelled his letter so that only he could read it, something that irked her to no end. By now, Harry was used to his sister's ways, but that didn't mean he planned on giving in this time.
Harry looked up shortly. "Personal business Hermione, nothing that concerns you." Then he went right back to reading his letter a second time. It wasn't only to rub it in, no. The letter was just pure fun to read. Luckily, that's when the Daily Prophet came in, distracting Hermione.
He put down the letter to take his own paper from the owl in front of him, offering a piece of bacon in return. The owl took off with a happy chirp.
The front page didn't disappoint.
Black business bankrupts upstanding families! By Rita Skeeter
Gringotts declined to answer who the current Lord Black is, but that unidentified person has dealt a massive blow towards our economy! As of yesterday morning, dozens of owls flew from the bank of Gringotts to the lords of families such as the Goyle's, the Malfoy's, the Rosier's, so on and so forth. In these letters, the Lords were informed that payments and loans were being called due by the current Lord Black, immediately.
These pillars of our community - most affected families have seats on the Wizengamot - are now scrambling to pay what they owe, and some are failing. What will this mean for us, the populace of Wizarding Britain?
Since they are having trouble paying, those families are now calling in all outstanding loans and payments themselves, which just spreads the financial drain further. All liquid wealth is being drained, which the goblins tell us, makes gold scarce and drums up interest rates on further loans. In other words, witches and wizards, it will get harder to get loans for us ordinary folk. The goblins assure us that solutions are available.
What nefarious plot does this new Lord Black have in mind?
Who are the most affected?
The Lord Black, who is it?
Answers to those questions and more can be found on pages 3, 4, 6 and 7.
Barking a short laugh, Harry grinned as he once again read his letter.
Greetings Heir Potter,
Our plans have indeed borne succulent fruit. The families of which we called in the outstanding payments have acted exactly as predicted. By calling in their own outstanding debts, they've created their own downfall.
Since most pureblood houses usually only work and trade with other pureblood houses, this sudden drain on those families ensured that most if not all, couldn't pay most if not all payments due from you and each other, triggering the insolvency clauses. The result of this is that your net worth has doubled, and you have a lot of new businesses that are already being audited as we speak.
You'll be pleased to hear that the neutral and light families in financial need have agreed to our joint Potter-Gringotts enterprise of granting low interest loans with secrecy clauses. This means that you now hold the debts of those factions instead of bankrupting them too and have dealt a harsh blow towards the darker faction that allies itself with the dark lord. These debts will certainly make bribing their way out of prison a much harder enterprise in the future.
We found an interesting trinket in the Lestrange vault, and it has been dealt with. This cup is said to have powers of healing, please check it out the next time you visit.
May your gold multiply,
Account Manager Snarkack.
It was more than a bit amazing to Harry how much the stupidity of the wizarding world translated to their finances. Even Vernon Dursley knew that you had to diversify and keep short term investments in order to ensure liquidity. Or in simpler terms, don't keep your eggs in one basket and keep a nest egg for a rainy day. Also, you should always pay your debts. The purebloods thought themselves above such common sense, thereby proving that they had none.
With a lasting grin that just wouldn't leave his face, Harry put away the letter and looked around for the reactions in the Great Hall.
Malfoy's bookends seemed to understand that there were clouds on the horizon, if their frowns were any indication. Though those could just be because they were attempting to read something. Pansy Parkinson was silently crying, not a pleasant sight at all. Of the Houses, most of the affected were in Slytherin, which was to be expected, given their leanings. But it was still only a minority. The rest of the students in other Houses looked interested but not terribly invested, except for those that hated the late Malfoy's cronies.
The faculty was more interesting; particularly the reaction of the Headmaster, who looked on the verge of a panic attack. Very suspicious reaction, that. He was the only one that seemed negatively affected, since Snape was enjoying Azkaban. Why would he not be happy with this development, didn't it help his faction in multiple ways? Was it just because he didn't want the status quo to change?
Harry shook his head wryly; he'd never understand that man. 'At least that's another Horcrux down. Amazing! That leaves only two and the bastard himself!' He thought happily.
Blessedly ignored in favour of the paper, Harry fully enjoyed his breakfast and thought of the future. Almost all his preparations were done, and things were progressing well, it was time to start dreaming.
"What are you reading Harry?" Luna asked him a month later. It had been a blessedly calm month at Hogwarts, with most of the troublemakers gutted and Harry no longer caring about most things. It was freeing, like he'd imagined magical school to be from the start.
He looked up lazily at the pretty blonde. "It's a diary from a Potter ancestor, he actually built the first iteration of the Potter Manor. Very interesting actually, I'm thinking of building a home for myself after this year."
Spending a lot of time with Luna really taught him to appreciate her, and he suspected the feeling was mutual. Particularly because she had taken to spending most of her free time with him over anyone else. Harry was more than happy with her companionship and happily sought her out himself.
Luna blinked. "Oh, can I design my own room?"
Chuckling happily, Harry nodded. "Naturally. I'm still focussing on the structure for now, but when interior design comes up, I'll ask you. Is that alright?" Having a perpetually happy girl over didn't seem like a bad thing at all.
"Harry, do you like me?" She asked seriously.
If it had been anyone other than Luna asking him this, he'd have frozen up for sure. But this was Luna, he just knew this wouldn't jeopardise their friendship. "I do, Luna. Very much actually." He said candidly.
Luna sighed. "Oh, Harry. While I'm sure we'd be a fine couple, I don't think we're meant to be."
Disappointed, but not ashamed or surprised really, Harry nodded slowly. "If you're sure?" She nodded. "Alright, we'll just have to keep on being good friends then."
He was tackled in a fierce hug and he hugged her back. "You'll find your other next year Harry, don't worry about it. Just design your house for now. In fact, let me help you with that. I was thinking we could do something with portals, like on platform 9 ¾."
Harry just let her take the lead in the designing process while he took the time to think. Honestly, she was doing much better than he had already, giving him great ideas in the process. For a first romantic confession and rejection, Luna was actually perfect. Seriously, what girl just immediately told him what's what, and continued on just like that? He counted himself lucky with a friend like Luna and rather surprisingly believed her when she said he'd meet someone next year. Luna was never wrong.
"That's a great idea Luna! Building under the ground in order to be closer to a ley line. Why has nobody ever thought about that?"
Looking at him like he was stupid, she snorted. "Goblins?"
Gaping, he closed his mouth. "Well, damn. It's like a wizard forgetting about house-elves. I'm losing more of my logic the longer I reside in the wizarding world."
"Exactly." She grinned up at him. "Keep that thought."
Taking her at face value, he started brainstorming what it might mean. "Am I going to meet a muggle girl?"
"Ah, ah, I'm not going to tell, Harry. Just follow the logic to its end."
That was easier said than done and he got exactly nowhere; not that he minded. His mind was fully distracted from anything else, and he quickly forgot about Luna's rejection. Perhaps that had been her goal all along. If so, she was truly a great friend.
Harry slowly learned how the Potters built their own home and decides to do the same using their books and diaries. Luna's suggestions would be taken into account for certain. She came up with a lot of suggestions, many of which he liked instantly, like the ways to keep a family together without building a sprawling and ostentatious manor via portals.
In a letter, he tells the goblins to stop the payments for Hogwarts, since he's leaving at the end of the year. What use does he have for NEWTS? He's not planning on working for the ministry or similar. Hiring a tutor would probably be better than enjoying a Hogwarts education.
11. Teenage Rebellion
Ron and Ginny had still not returned, and by now people were assuming they wouldn't be coming back to Hogwarts at all. Some people were sad for that fact, but those were in the clear minority and Gryffindors all. Most students were ambivalent but there were a good few who were celebrating.
Harry had been curious enough to ask why, which led to him finding out how far Ron and Ginny had been going behind his back in order to isolate him and denigrate him. If Neville and Luna were to be believed, a lot of the disbelief, suspicions and downright anger on behalf of the student population regarding him had originated from their actions specifically.
Snape and Molly Weasley had taken the fall for the potions, all the potions. Ginny, Ron, Dumbledore and even Arthur got away clean. Harry and Hermione had been betting on Arthur being potioned by Molly, but that hadn't been the case at all, surprisingly. They didn't know if he had been aware of the plot or not but didn't care to know either. Nothing had been said about it either way. Harry and Hermione decided to see it as a clean break. Their relationship with the twins was still up in the air.
Since a replacement teacher for DADA couldn't be found, students had a lot of free time. Combined with the loss of the worst of the insults and aggression, school was starting to feel downright peaceful at times.
Harry frequently got asked to help with DADA, so he set aside a few hours every Saturday in the Great hall to help anyone in need. The turnout seemingly doubled each week until most of the students attended and great fun was had. It made students feel like they were doing something worthwhile whilst the war simmered outside the walls.
Hermione was genuinely flipping out over her OWL's and thus had little time for him or anyone else. He didn't mind and took that as a sign that he shouldn't tell her about his plans, they would only distract her. He rather doubted she'd agree with many of them, particularly the leaving Hogwarts bit.
The time flew and exams were approaching. Of course, Dumbledore didn't notice or didn't care about most of what was happening, and his scheduled meeting continued as planned.
"Ah, Harry my boy, please sit." The aged professor bade Harry, who was already seated.
"I called you here because I think I've found one of his Horcruxes. I'd like for you to join me on an adventure this night."
Harry just nodded where needed and before long, they were standing in front of an ominous green potion of unknown origins. "Professor, is there a way to test if that locket is the real deal? It might very well be a deception. I mean, why put it in the most obvious place imaginable, why not just toss it into the lake and put a fake in the basin?"
Dumbledore frowned briefly before he smiled softly. "Ah, young Harry, I sincerely doubt it." He said condescendingly with his grating grandfatherly way. "While you and I might think like that, I doubt Tom would. But yes, we might as well check first." The man actually winked.
Harry managed to keep his revulsion in check whilst the Headmaster waved his wand with a mutter. His motions became erratic after the first two spells. Eventually, Dumbledore's shoulders sagged, and he sighed, totally defeated by the results. "It seems you are right, and Tom was more devious than anticipated. Though, it might still contain a clue. I shall be drinking this potion-"
"Whoa! Hold your horses, Professor!" Harry snorted. "You're telling me we're just going to trust that this potion won't kill you in seconds, just for the slightest possibility of a clue? No way! Find a different way, or I'm leaving right now." It was beyond insane to trust in the megalomania of a man who by everyone's standard was as slippery and cunning as Salazar Slytherin himself.
It was like Dumbledore didn't mind dying and handing over all responsibility to Harry. Hold. That. Thought! Honestly, he had given up already, hadn't he?
Damn it all! That sounded truer than Harry liked. He'd always tried to understand Dumbledore with the assumption that the man wanted to see the end of this war alive. If that wasn't true, it was no wonder that Harry didn't understand his motives. Was he planning to be a martyr? Is that why he did nothing to stop Malfoy whilst he knew that the boy was planning to kill him? Perhaps he'd even been slightly aiding the boy, who knew?
No sense thinking about it and asking Dumbledore wouldn't help anyone. Harry smirked as Dumbledore visibly realised how his plans were once more falling apart.
"You might be right, my boy. I'll return later when we've got a better plan. Perhaps with a member of the order like Bill. This is a war for the younger generation it seems." Dumbledore sighed deeply.
That was a nice way to say he was done with this shit. Harry couldn't begrudge him that, feeling the same way at most times. The way back was spent in silence, and Harry quickly retreated to the Room of Requirement upon their return.
"Any news?" Luna asked him.
"Dumbledore is an idiot, and he's given up." Harry replied sadly. "So, no. No news. I'm just sad, I guess. What about you?"
"Hmm…" She hummed. "I want something."
He raised his eyebrow, "such as?"
Luna's smile twitched with uncertainty. "Don't take this the wrong way, but I would like a mould of you." She pointed at his crotch. "I'll give you a mould of me in return of course. We'll enchant them to be lifelike together."
Harry's jaw dropped open. "That can be done?"
She nodded with a tight smile. "So, want to help each other out?"
Slowly, he nodded. "And then we'll never speak of this again? Since you don't like me that way."
"Sure." Luna agreed easily, too easily. Her voice wavered a bit. "We'll need to test things out of course. Are you up for that?"
Harry didn't know what was going on anymore. "I am, if you are. We're just very good friends, helping each other out. Aren't we?"
Luna's smile was more carefree this time. "Yes, we are. Thank you for understanding, Harry."
"So, how does this work? Is there some kind of instruction for the construction?" He asked curiously.
She shook her head. "Well, no. Not as such, but I do know charms to make stuff feel like skin and such. I also know how to enchant items, my mother's journal taught me that."
"Oh." Harry's intelligence had well and truly left the building. "Well, if you know how to get started, let me know."
Neville, that sneaky devil! He'd been dating Sally-Anne Perks quietly and Harry hadn't even noticed. Good for them! The first Harry had heard about it, was when Neville wanted to invite her up to the Room.
Luna had of course laughed at Harry's face - which was typical - when she realised how clueless he was. Honestly, he'd had some other things to worry about, chief among them his project with Luna. He was a teenage boy and Luna was a rather beautiful girl, if a little unconventional. Then again, they didn't talk about it. Strangely enough, it had helped both of them get more comfortable with the other sex without making it too awkward. They had both traded their virginity in an awkward and awesome afternoon. Luna was a taskmaster and wanted to try every natural reaction to replicate them perfectly.
Harry was amazed by what they had accomplished already, and Luna was very happy with the results, even if she wanted to finetune them before making an extra each.
After some stories were shared by Neville, they all readily agreed to let Sally-Anne into their group. Neville was very happy with it. Sally-Anne was quickly and easily integrating into the group.
Dumbledore had once more tried to interrogate Harry in his office, but it was clear to Harry that the old man wasn't even sure what he was asking for anymore. Answering those questions in the most obnoxious way he could think of to show his annoyance made it a short visit indeed. Harry was dismissed after a measly five minutes, when it became clear that he wouldn't even ask about the fake locket in the cave.
In a week's time, Harry would be leaving school for good, and he couldn't wait. Dobby and Winky were already preparing with all their might and having a lot of fun doing it too.
Harry's plan called for a lot of raw materials, most could be bought, and some had to be looked for, like the stones for warding. Finding those large stones wasn't the issue for the elves but transporting them was. Dozens of the Hogwarts house elves wanted to help which rendered the problem moot. Dobby actually regretted accepting the help since they had taken his work away.
House elves were amazing!
"Master Harry sir, the letters are completed and ready for delivery." Tipper of the laundry elves told him proudly, Harry just smiled and thanked the elf.
They truly were!
12. Striking Out
"Missed anything, ready to live out on your own?" Neville asked him as they finished their triple caramel mountain ice-creams at Fortescue's.
Harry nodded gravely. "Definitely, it'll be ready for a visit when the winter holidays come around. I'm hoping you'll visit, and you're very welcome to bring Sally if you want."
"About that, her parents got that letter." Neville frowned. "I'm pretty sure you'll be making enemies left and right when they notice people leaving Britain en masse. They certainly seem to take your warning seriously."
With an agreeing nod, Harry smiled. "They listened then. Good." He sat up and squared his shoulders. "I know, Nev. The point I'm trying to make is threefold. People are in danger, some groups more than others so they should flee. Second, the government will do nothing to help, you know it's true. Third, I'm leaving too. Given my record, I'm pretty sure people will blame me for everything that goes wrong; this is just a pre-emptive strike. They can't very well blame me for stuff that goes wrong after they disregard my warning, now can they?"
Thinking it through, Neville laughed. "Actually, that covers everyone. You first warned the authorities, and they did nothing, so now you warn the people who have evidence that they did nothing. A lot of people are going to believe your warning, so you did a good thing. That's all that should matter, let the rest reap what they sow. I'm just hoping my Gran will be safe, she'll never leave. Not even when the wards are under attack."
There was nothing Harry could say to that, so he just nodded and tossed a few coins on the table. "Hey Nev, it was good to see you, but I'll be going now, see you later."
He knew reactions would be bad, mostly because when even Hermione didn't react well, he knew some people were far too stubborn to accept that Magical Britain was falling apart. The elves had delivered the letters to the parents first, students second. Hermione had not been well pleased. In fact, he'd had to have Dobby pop him away from the station to avoid a scene, she was very much angry in fact. Her parents weren't either, but they were angry at Hermione instead, since she'd been lying to them for years. Oops!
Ah, she'd thank him later, he was sure. Leaving her parents in Britain with war coming was not on. Especially as the muggle born famous for being Harry Potter's best friend. He hoped her parents did the smart thing.
First things first, Harry had to carve a lot of runes in a lot of rocks.
The goblins had warded the land unplottable and all that security jazz, but Harry wanted to ward his new home in many different ways, and he was going to do that himself. Dobby and Winky had built a barn that served as a temporary shelter and were now planting their garden. It was their goal to become mostly self-sufficient. Aside from chicken, meat was something that was too much effort to produce, so that was going to have to come from outside.
He'd had Dobby and Winky pick out some of the oldest and smoothest stones they could find. They had delivered beautifully. Several large, well, monoliths really, had been found or otherwise cut out from the Scottish ground. Smaller stones had been found more easily and in much greater numbers. Harry had checked the monoliths for their suitability as ward stones and found that they easily qualified as long as he carved them right.
Since he'd planned and designed them ahead of time with Luna's help, he could immediately begin carving the runic inlays. It would be one hell of a job, but definitely worth it in the long run.
As much as he'd practised though, Harry still took much longer than the elves did in planting a massive garden, so he'd had them start digging and then tunnelling out a huge hole in the ground down to where the lower levels of the house would be positioned. When he was done carving the stones, he'd taken over the digging with high powered blasting and drilling curses to power down the rock, whilst Dobby and Winky got a hold of some three dozen felled trees to use for wood.
It took thirteen days to dig the pit out fully, one for the top layer of earth and another twelve for the rock. Harry and the elves used their magic to smoothen the rock whereupon the house could be built. Melting a whole bunch of stone into one smooth floor because transfiguration wouldn't do was damned hard. In theory, the bedrock would be a giant, self-made ward stone. The sheer size and the magic channelled into it would have to be plenty for every magic under the sun he wanted to add to his house. When it was all said and done, there would still be an enormous surplus of magic in the walls.
The centre pillar was a huge 10 feet thick, but it needed to be, in order to hold up all the levels. The walls were equidistant at 30 feet from the pillar. The walls and the central pillar would be made with more stone, every inch of wall inscribed with runic inscriptions that would regulate temperature, keep everything unbreakable and refresh the air to make for very comfortable living. The central pillar would keep the entire construction upright and sturdy without even a bit of magic, as unlike the Burrow as magically possible.
When that was done, Harry would panel every wall with wood to hide the stone and make it feel more like a home and less like an underground tower. He was also planning to add windows that would show an outdoor view.
Neville had come by to check on his progress a few times already, even helping two afternoons and exhausting his magic, but the rest had yet to see. Harry had just finished the last of the floors in the main tower when Hermione had Dobby pop her in. He wiped away his sweat and caught a breath when he saw his oldest friend approach. It had taken a few letters back and forth to settle the argument at the station, but Hermione had promised she was over it in her latest. That letter had arrived immediately after the exam scores had been delivered. Coincidence? Harry thought not.
Basically, the only visible part of his efforts was a stone circle with a square hole in it. The circle was surrounded by ground that was just sprouting their first inches of plants. All in all, not that impressive when you factor in magic. The soil was only seven feet deep at this plot of land, but it would work.
"Hi Harry, it's so good to see you! Err... I don't mean to sound disappointed, but what have you been working on this whole month?" She was cautiously disappointed, but also curious as he had come to expect from her.
Harry smiled, already thoroughly amused. "Ah, you're a bit early for a tour, I have yet to put in the stairs, but I guess I can show you if you don't mind a broom ride."
It was clear to Hermione she was missing something important, as her twitching eyebrow made evident. "Sure, I'd love a tour."
When she was seated behind him, Harry lifted off. "You might want to cast a Lumos, there's no light yet." With that said, Harry made for the hole and they plunged into darkness.
Hermione grasped him tightly in surprise. "Lumos." She gasped in surprise when she saw the large empty space and the runed walls.
They flew down another four floors and landed on the bottom, where the floor was also inscribed with runes. "What the… You don't do things half-way, do you Harry?"
He smirked in response. He wasn't even half-way done, but he'd already built himself fifteen thousand square feet in floor space with those five levels. That was plenty of space without the extra underground spaces he'd planned, space expansion charms were neither needed nor wanted at this point. "How do you like my runes, Hermione?"
Shooting him a quick look, she rushed off to check his work.
There was nothing complex about it, just a few lines of magical code that he'd checked, double-checked and had triple checked by Bathsheba Babbling. The arithmancy hadn't been particularly hard either because of its simplicity. He needed lots of magic for this amount of space, but if his calculations were correct, that was no issue at all. Even without a wizard or witch living inside, the magic pulled from the ground should provide that easily.
His ward stones would provide the actual security: anti-Portkey, anti-Apparition, anti-Animagus, anti-Scrying and more besides. Seven of those littered the ward-line, half-buried for a good, grounded connection, with another set of seven in storage.
Hermione came back to him and nodded. "I approve Harry, but how did you do it, you never took the Runes course at Hogwarts?"
With a shrug, he answered. "It's actually quite simple, I needed it and so I taught myself. Luna helped and I went to Babbling for book tips and questions. Using the time I usually spent on History, Divination, Care and Astronomy meant that I progressed rather quickly."
She looked chagrined and sighed. "Which is why you scored A's instead of E's this year. Did you at least take the OWL for Runes?"
Harry shook his head with a grin. "Nah, I was told I didn't need the Greek runes for home building, so I didn't even study those. Since that would have made getting a passing grade difficult, I didn't even try."
Another sigh from Hermione made him chuckle. "So, want to see the array I used on my ward stones? Those are quite a bit more complex."
That perked her right up, and she enthusiastically debated the merits of his runic structure versus others. The afternoon got away from them quickly and Hermione left with a promise to help him design the runic ward for his personal library. She had already been planning her own, but with the space available in his plans, she could use this as a playground and design her heart out.
The next to visit were Neville and Sally-Anne, by then the stairs were in and a small and unassuming house sat above the entrance to his tower. The rest of the stone surface of the tower had gotten a layer of earth seeded with grass to complete the disguise. Now the whole area looked like all it had was a modest homestead, the accompanying barn and the fields of produce.
Sally complimented him on his home and just about lost her mind when she descended the stairs into the tower. It was obvious that Neville hadn't told her anything important yet, wanting to surprise her.
"It's incredible! What on earth are you planning with such a home Harry?"
After lots of thoughts on this exact issue, Harry finally had his answer. "I'm preparing for the coming war. There's going to be lots of magical orphans, people who have to flee their own families and more. In the short run, I'm going to offer them shelter. In the long run, I'm going to live my life here in relative seclusion, study magic and invent stuff. Since almost nobody knows of this place, I should be able to put everything underground under Fidelius. That should ensure lasting privacy and security. I hope to have that up next week at the latest."
"I don't like the Ministry and I don't like the Pure Bloods, so I'd like to cut them out of my life entirely. In short, I'm going to go underground literally and figuratively. If people want to join me, that would be fine, as long as they hold themselves to some common courtesies and rules. I've written them down if you want to see." He handed over a piece of paper from his pocket. "It's still a work in progress, but this is basically it."
Common Courtesy in the Potter Homestead:
1: Treat people how you'd like to be treated
2: Clean up after yourself
3: Try to be useful at least three hours each day
4: Respect others' privacy
5: Don't complain about something you can fix yourself
6: Try to see solutions instead of problems
7: No means No.
Sally looked up at him. "I might know a few people who would be wanting to come here for shelter. What would you need to accept them?"
Well, he wasn't expecting something so soon, but it should be fine, right? "Err... Maybe an oath that they mean no harm to me or those living here and a check for tracking magic and the like? I haven't really thought about it since I just decided on this course of action yesterday."
Neville nodded. "One of my ancestor's made up a similar procedure after setting up a shelter a few hundred years ago. I'll look it up and come back to you. If I'm right about who Sally is thinking off, it'll mostly be girls, and some pure blooded too. Would you accept them if they were running from their families?"
Harry looked at them. "Is that true, Sally?"
She nodded. "One has a Death Eater as a father, he punishes her with Crucio if she disobeys him, and is planning to set her up to marry another Death Eater. Last I heard from her, she was thinking of killing herself to avoid that fate. If you would accept her, she'd do whatever was required." She sighed. "There's plenty who don't like the lives they're forced to live, but they'd be bringing nothing but the clothes on their back, you should know that."
Harry thought it over for a minute. "I'd be willing to take them in, but we'd first need to come up with some safety procedures. I really don't want Voldemort or the Ministry to come knocking on my wards any time soon. Not Dumbledore or his group either."
"Agreed." Neville said for both of them. "Let me and Sally think about that, you just continue building. You might want to start building a set of rooms sometime soon though, if people will be coming in."
"I'll do that." Harry agreed, his mind already hard at work adjusting his plans. It would be simple to convert one floor into a lot of rooms, just a lot of work perhaps.
By the time his guests had left, he had some new orders for his elf friends. "Dobby, Winky!"
"Harry Potter sir called?"
"I've decided to open this home to refugees soon, which means we'll need some additional help. Would you be able to find some elves that need work or a family if you went looking?"
"Oh yes sir, there be plenty elves losing family each year. There be even some born and not finding family. Dobby and Winky be putting the word out."
Harry smiled sadly, "doesn't that mean that there's elves dying all the time?" Two nods answered him. "How about you say that there'll always be work here for elves looking. I'm planning a big expansion here to provide shelter, that means plenty of space and work for elves too. If there's not enough work, I'll just make more."
Winky hugged him and popped. "Harry Potter is truly great!" Dobby popped away as well.
"Well, I'll just start on that Fidelius then."