Disclaimer: See Chapter 1
A/N: My readers are AWESOME! The next chapter in this saga and the final story arc: Camelot.
September 1, 1997
Daphne was straightening Harry's robes while they waited to meet the Danforths just outside the barrier. The Nomajes walked by without paying them much attention. She made sure the Head Boy badge was prominent on his left chest, just above the Hogwarts crest. As Head Boy, he would still be considered a Gryffindor, but technically of no house since he was to be representing them all.
"Are you going to fuss over me like this all year?" Harry asked with a smirk.
"Only when you look messy," she told him, usually not caring how he looked. Though, Harry was usually impeccably dressed and well-groomed now, compared to when she had first approached him in the library third year.
Harry chuckled. "So, all the time, mum."
She huffed. "Do you have to be so incorrigible? You are Head Boy and should be presentable."
He took her hands in his, then kissed the palm of each. "Thank you."
Daphne smiled and moved to give him a soft kiss. "You'll do great."
He laughed. "I think you are more nervous than I am. Are you still disappointed you didn't get Head Girl?"
She gave him another soft kiss. "If it had been anyone else besides Hermione, I would be. This gives me more time to focus on other things."
"Like me?" he asked cheekily.
She rolled her eyes. "Thinking a little highly of yourself, aren't you?"
He gave her a grin. She liked how boyish he looked when he did that, like he was up to no good. He shrugged. "I just like having you paying attention to me."
She chuckled this time. "You won't have to worry about that."
"Harry! Daphne!" Dani said excitedly, catching their attention. Harry's smile grew. They hadn't seen the Danforths since coming back.
After some hellos and goodbyes, they made their way through the barrier. Auntie Ami, her parents, Lady Zabini and the Grangers were all gathered, saying goodbye to everyone else. For Auntie Ami and the Grangers, this was the last time they would be sending them off to school.
"You be good this year. I'm proud of you," Aunt Ami told Harry while giving him a hug.
"I will. Otherwise, McGonagall will disown me," he told her.
Aunt Ami laughed. "I'll have my own words with you. Keep him in line, Daphne?"
"I will, Aunt Ami. He will not lose his Head Boy badge," she said.
"Keep an eye on Susie," Aunt Ami reminded him.
"I'm telling her you said that. She can take care of herself," he cheekily said back, earning him a raised brow.
Once on the train, Hermione and him made it towards the head car right away. She went to find Neville, Blaise and Tracey before going to the prefect car. They were towards the front of the train this year. Theo and Luna were in the car as well. "Hey, Daph. Where's your other half?" Tracey asked.
"In the prefect carriage. Hermione and him are going to stay up there," Daphne said, hugging her friend. They hadn't seen each other since Greece. She moved to hug Luna next. "Luna, how was your summer?"
"It was really nice. Daddy and I were in Africa for a month. Look what we found," she said proudly, taking a Quibbler out of her bag. Daphne looked at the cover, not recognizing the dragon on it. Tracey took in a breath though.
"Is that a Nigerian Night Puffer?"
Luna beamed. "Isn't he handsome? We found a colony. Also found evidence of a Blackthorn Fire Drake."
"Bloody hell, they are both thought to be extinct," Tracey said.
"I wouldn't have believed it either if I hadn't been there," Theo said.
Daphne rose an eyebrow. She had spent some time with Hermione and Blaise, but hadn't seen Theo or Luna all summer. She had been too into Harry and the time they had spent at Potter Green. The inn was now open and three wizarding families had rented plots to build on.
Tracey jumped on Theo before anyone else could. Though, Blaise looked to already know what was going on.
Luna's smile couldn't grow any larger. "Theodore came as my father's apprentice. He wants to become a reporter and photographer. He came to Africa, and then Sweden with us. Oh, you should have seen him when we saw a nundu. I have the pictures."
Luna dug into the satchel at her side.
Theo caught her questioning look. He shrugged. "I have to do something after school and my family can't get me a comfy job in the Ministry anymore."
She had a feeling it was more than that though. The Notts had been bankrupted and tossed out of the Wizengamot when the Dark Alliance members were found to be Death Eaters and the corruption they had perpetrated were all tried. Theo didn't have any connections except the friends he had made since his father had been sent through the veil. If he really needed a job, she knew Harry could help him, but perhaps he really enjoyed this?
Or, perhaps, he liked the blonde next to him? When Luna pulled out the pictures, many spilled out onto the floor. She didn't miss how many were of Luna… or the ones that were rather artistic with her in her all.
Blaise gave his friend a wink. Daphne just gave him a raised brow when Theo bent down to help. He gave a boyish grin. Neville's neck reddened when he caught the pictures too. Tracey just gave Luna a huge grin. She would get the truth out the girl later.
"Neville, can you help me get my trunk up? Then Blaise and I need to head up front," she told them.
"But this is just getting good," Tracey said like a kid at Christmas.
September 6, 1997
Harry needed them all out of the castle of Hogwarts. He was being paranoid with what he had dug up over the last few weeks. Things that had confused him or he thought he had done the translations wrong on were making sense.
What Croaker wanted…
What the goblins wanted…
What he wanted…
They all met, meshed and clashed together.
What was good about this situation was that he could ask his closest friends and family to come, and not one of them questioned it. That was why he had them all at Potter Green for the day. There were important things to discuss.
They were in the library. It was a large thousand square foot room that went two stories up. There was a large fireplace along the main castle wall with two doors on either side. A sunken square with three large couches, a few chairs and desks for studying were scattered about the room. Two walls had books on two levels. There was close to a thousand volumes in this room. It was what he had found in the Potter and Peverell vaults, as well as new ones that had been added.
Except for two cases on the lower level, he had opened it to all the people here.
Daphne sat next to him. Neville and Tracey were on a couch opposite them. Hermione was behind them, a book open in her hands and a finger tracing the archaic script. Blaise was drinking some coffee as Dobby served them.
"Thank you, Dobby. Can you tell Melly that we will be eating lunch, and most likely dinner here? We may stay the night as well."
Over the last year, Harry had adopted two other elves. Melly was a younger house elf that knew how to tend the garden, cook and do all the laundry. This past summer she had set up a large vegetable garden on the grounds and in one of the greenhouses. Most foods she made were with fresh produce.
Dobby was still his personal elf, tending to him and Daphne when she called. Harry never really told him what to do, and didn't care how much time he spent here or at Grace Hall with Tipsy and their elflings.
Elden was an older elf that had been cast out from the Parkinsons. Harry hadn't known that when he sold off of their lands that he had freed three house elves. When he had asked the goblins where to find other elves, he had found they had been bound to lesser branches of the House that had mostly died off and were not documented. Once he did, he had Dobby track them down. One had died, mostly of old age and the shock of suddenly being freed. He felt guilty about that. Another had found work at Hogwarts, and had bonded with the castle. Elden had not found work and had been sick. Harry had bonded with him, and within a few weeks he was back to normal. He happily tended to the needs of the castle and grounds.
Daphne and him had decided to wait on one more elf, unless they found one that needed a home, until they were married and the greenhouses started up. She would need the help if her ambitions were anything to gage by. She wanted to be as large a supplier as her parents or the Longbottoms, though she wanted to provide potions, more than the ingredients.
"So, what was so important you wanted to drag us all here and activate the wards?" Neville questioned.
Hermione looked up from her book, curiosity on her face. Harry smiled on the inside. Hermione was growing up and was growing more patient to satisfy her curiosity. Daphne knew everything. He had needed someone to talk to besides auntie, and she was his deepest confidant.
Harry took a sip of his tea before putting it on the table between the couches.
"I'm pretty sure most of you are in on this, but Camelot is real." He wasn't surprised when no one else wasn't either. Neville knew that he confided most thing in Tracey. He should. Blaise and Hermione were as close and as trusted by him as well. "There is a lot more to it than any of you think."
"Like what?" Hermione asked. "Is this related to all the family histories and lands you had me researching?"
"That helped us find it last summer," Harry told her. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you, but I have been very apprehensive for anyone to know what is in my study. There are secrets there that I don't think anyone should really know."
"Like what?" Tracey asked, sounding like she was about to find out something juicy.
"Understand that whatever is talked about here is talked about with family and the strongest confidence," Daphne told them all. "Harry doesn't want an oath, but I think it important enough we all should."
Blaise sat up. "This must be some deep shite for that."
Hermione took the book and joined them. "What is going on, Harry?"
Harry let out a deep breath. "The wards that I put up will not allow you to talk about this outside these walls, except with each other, or unless I give you permission. I'm sorry I didn't warn you, but I think these secrets would shake our world to its core. If you don't like it, you can leave, but I really need you. Tracey, you really aren't involved in this, but if you are going to be with Neville, then you should probably know all this. I could also use your help."
"This is rather serious. What would happen if we did talk about anything we discuss today or it is forced out of us?" Neville asked worriedly.
"You won't be able too," he told them simply.
"What do you mean? Will it kill us?" Tracey asked worriedly.
"I would never endanger anyone I care for that way. No. You just won't be able too. Others won't know you know the secrets and if they tried to force it then you just won't know it. If they try to use Legilimency, they won't like it and let's just say a carrot will have more life in it than the person that tried to get into your head," Harry told them.
Blaise whistled. "That is serious wards."
"How is that possible? There shouldn't be anything that can do that," Hermione said. "I've never read anything about that. Uhm… that isn't family magic, is it?"
"It is, actually. It is something I was wondering if you might like to learn?" Harry put to her.
Hermione's eyes widened and he thought she would start drooling if her mouth was to open. "But… really?"
Harry gave her a smile. "I've been able to crack some very powerful runes. I need people to help. Next December I will be presenting the Ministry with a new charter for a Ward Weaver guild. I can't before then due to goblin treaties, as you and Daphne found, but I think I have a chance to get our first wards created, and you and Daphne are the only others I know of that can understand runes like I can. Daphne wants to work on a Mastery in Potions. If you would join me, Hermione, we could work on this, probably have a project for end of year to give Babbling, then next summer we can find a Master that will work to certify us."
Hermione was gripping the spine of the book. "Are you sure? You said this was all family magic. I don't want to upset you again."
"I mean it, Hermione. I need someone else to help with the translations. I can teach you what I know if you don't know Latin, Old Futhark and Ancient Greek," he offered.
"You know ancient Greek? How did you even learn that? You know you must be able to pronounce the runes to activate them? What are you doing that you need Ancient Greek anyways?" she asked excitedly.
He chuckled at her. "I will tell you all of this, but we will only talk about this and do our studies under these wards. I have permission from Head Mistress McGonagall, and plan to spend a half day here three or four days a week when I have my free periods. I passed the captains badge to Ginny this year. I've given her the choice if she is to keep me on the team or not, but I won't be available for half the practices we normally have."
Hermione looked conflicted for a moment. "What about changing the Wizengamot and the Ministry? I still want to change it so that we don't have to rely on dynastic nepotism."
Daphne shook her head. "You do realize you are part of that now?"
"I don't want it," Blaise said. They all looked to him. "You all know that my step-father and his family are one of the few that have studied our history. Hermione is right that we are our own worst enemies when it comes to passing down the reins of power."
"Most of the Dark Wizards in the last few hundred years have come from families that were considered dark or grey. They were also from Houses on the Wizengamot, had been cast out or from another government like ours," he added.
"And what about the dictators in the Muggle world?" Tracey asked. "Some of them have risen from the same type of background or from an elected society like you want. My family and Neville's have been on the Wizengamot for generations, and we have never supported a Dark Lord."
"That is the point," Hermione started.
Harry held up his hand. "Hermione, it was you that brought up that the covenants and protections enforced by the Ministry require magic. That magic is given by the hereditary swearing of those to the Wizengamot and all their family members. Have you found a way to supplement that?"
Hermione deflated some. "No. I haven't," she said a little morosely.
"We will," Blaise told her.
"I may have found a way," Harry told her.
This got her attention. "How? I can't find anything in Blaise's library. What did you find? Was it in the section you won't let me into?"
Harry sighed. "I think I have found something. The original Wizard Council, and the Druids Council before it, all go back to Camelot. You all know that Neville, Daphne and I represent the original triumvirate that protected the isle after the Romans left."
For Tracey this looked like new information. "Wait… are you saying that between the three of you, that you are descendants of Arthur Pendragon, Merlin and Morgana Le Fay?"
"It's actually Myrddin Aurelius," Hermione corrected her. "Harry is the last direct line of Merlin through a cadet branch. Neville is the last of the Pendragon line, and has a link to the Aurelian line through Harry's aunt. Daphne and Astoria are the last of the Le Fay line."
"Merlin's saggy balls!" Tracey exclaimed. She turned to Neville. "Why didn't you ever tell me! Or you!" she accused towards Daphne.
"We aren't married yet. I didn't know until about a year ago," Neville told her.
"Harry, what is so important about Camelot? I feel there is more than just wanting to find the fabled city," Hermione asked.
"There is a lot more," Daphne said. "Harry has been scouring the libraries of my family, the Longbottoms and his. My mother has been helping him. We found some hints that most of the foundations of our society, and even some on the continent, start with Camelot and our families."
"The Merlinian bindings?" Blaise asked.
"The what?" Hermione questioned. "What are the Merlinian Bindings? You never said anything about this and I haven't seen anything like that in your library."
Blaise took her hand. "Hermione, you know that we haven't shown you everything yet. Not until we are married."
Hermione pursed her lips. "I want to get married as soon as we can."
Blaise looked a little shocked for a moment. "I thought you wanted to wait a bit. We aren't required until we are both twenty-one."
"You two can talk about that later. The important thing is Camelot. Yes, I think it goes to the Merlinian Bindings. There is so much more. The goblins want secrets from there. The Unspeakables have secrets we need to get into Camelot, and they want their own secrets from Camelot. Croaker is still looking for all the Bloodlines of those that were part of the Triumvirate and the Round Table. I think he still wants to change the government, but I don't know why or what he wants to do once he does," Harry told them.
"And why do you want to get into Camelot so badly," Neville asked.
Harry looked at his cousin. After a moment, he reached for his new sword. "I've cracked how the goblins used to make their most powerful wards, and they are just a shadow of what they can be. My goal is to get the Ward Weaver Guild operational as soon as possible after we graduate. I need to see if there is a library or other information from Merlin or Le Fay."
"What do you mean you cracked the goblins' methods? I thought that impossible," Hermione said.
He drew the sword. The runes were softly glowing, like they always did when they were near other celestial bronze or his crystals. Everyone looked at the blade as Harry put it down on the table. "Not if you have a key."
"I've never seen a metal like that," Blaise said.
Neville looked at it. "Is that what I think it is?"
"Celestial bronze," Daphne said. "As far as I know, it's been millennia since anyone has seen some."
"There is no such thing as celestial bronze," Hermione said with some awe. "Is there?"
"You are looking at it. I think the Unspeakables have some, and that Croaker knows about it. I can't tell you how dangerous this could be if this information got into the wrong hands," Harry told them.
"Are we the right hands to have this?" Blaise asked. "Hermione wants a revolution. The three of you could have possible claim over the crown at Camelot, if those old stories are true. The Merlinian Bindings keep the wild magic at bay and allow us to focus magic like we do. You and Hermione talk about not putting too much power into just a few hands. You could be talking about having the power for our whole world at your disposal."
They were all quiet for a long moment.
"I don't trust the Unspeakables and the more I learn about the goblins, I don't trust them either," Harry told them.
"Where did you get that sword?" Hermione asked.
Harry looked her in her eyes. "I am pretty sure it was from Hephaestus himself."
She gawked at him. The others were just shocked.
"There are texts in my family's library that talk about the origins of many of the magical races," Daphne spoke up. "The Le Fay's were once thought to be of High Elf stock. It was Morgana that brought the magical races together. Merlin was the one to bring the beasts and wild magics under control. Arthur was the bridge between man and magic. Some of the oldest scrolls we have talk about the goblins being cast out of the realm of the gods somewhere around three-thousand BC. There is no record of them before that."
"Morgana's tits," Tracey uttered. "What the bloody hell am I here for if you all have this power and knowledge?"
Harry looked to her. "Well, if you want, I have a position for you too. I need Hermione's brilliant mind to help make sense of what I found. Many of the runes and formulae require the charting of stars and to understand important celestial moments. You are still planning to go for a Mastery in Astronomy and Arithmancy, right?"
Tracey looked at him with her mouth open.
"And me?" Blaise asked.
"I have a potential deal with Croaker. He will give us the means to get beyond the Mists of Avalon with unfettered access to Camelot, but like I said, he wants all the Bloodlines. Your family seems to have the most complete records on this. I am uncertain if I want him to have this, but I don't trust the goblins. I think they are looking for a way to win against us if they revolt again. It's been a hundred and fifty years or so since the last revolt, and I think that is only because they know they can't win," Harry told them.
"What do you mean they can't win? Wasn't it them that negotiated the last charters for Gringotts and that they are the only ones able to mint any wizarding money," Blaise enquired.
"You would think that, but if you read the treaties, the goblins don't really get anything from it. Yes, they can charge for the service. They can charge us for using them for our banking and vaults, but they lost the ability to charge wizards for heirlooms or items they sell to wizards. They have lost the ability to use foci to use their magic. They are unable to use the Merlinian Bindings, which limits their use of their own wild magic. They are now confined to only two strongholds in Brittan, and a handful on the continent, compared to the hundreds they once had. They have also lost some of their ability at curse breaking and ward weaving. That is why they employ wizards," Harry told them.
"Bloody hell," Neville said. "Here I thought they were smart little blighters for controlling our gold."
"But they don't, do they?" Hermione asked. "They have to follow Ministry rules, unless the treaties allowed them otherwise. Many have said how greedy they are. If they are so greedy, and prone to revolt, why would they protect our gold and treasures, instead of fighting against us and taking it all?"
Daphne looked to him. He wasn't sure she had understood all he was trying to tell her lately. "They can't, can they?"
Harry shook his head. "Wizards have some items that the goblin prize above all else. It all comes down to these runes, the celestial bronze and knowledge mostly forgotten. The goblins know that wizards have the keys to be their undoing. We just haven't known that for a long time."
"Every time they have revolted in the last eight hundred years, the goblins have lost more of their ancient powers. Camelot holds many of those secrets. I don't trust anyone besides us right now. I think the guild will be a good way to hide that until we decide what to do." Harry looked to them all.
After a moment, Tracey asked, "How much does it pay to be the Lead Astronomer? I assume that will be a pretty high position?"
Harry chuckled at her. "We can negotiate."
"What are the risks of Croaker knowing the family trees?" Blaise questioned.
"He wants them so that he could find the original bloodlines to break the covenants. I don't know what else he could do with this information," Hermione told them. "Blaise and I have been able to make some detailed trees to help you find Camelot. I don't think we should give him this information. Croaker wants something I don't know about."
"Are you saying that family magic and knowledge shouldn't be shared with everyone," Daphne asked amused.
"I still think it need to be shared, but nor to everyone," Hermione countered.
"Is there something else he wants?" Neville questioned.
"Camelot," Harry told him. "My library. This sword. Is there something else we could offer that would be as valuable but not as harmful?"
They all sat there for a few minutes. None of them coming up with anything. "Let's think about it," Daphne said after a few.
Blaise looked at his watch. "It's only half past ten. Why are we here all day?"
"I want to go through the bloodline trees you have found. We may need representatives of any of the remaining families to get into Camelot. Croaker admitted the Unspeakables haven't gotten in and I have some information from my ancestors on this. Neville, could you get into your vaults to see if you have anything else on Pendragon or your relatives? I am looking for a key. I don't know what it is, but one of my ancestors mentioned one. Tracey, I have a project for you. I have a feeling we will need to access an important pagan holiday to use the key, but I can't figure out which one," Harry told her.
"And you said Astronomy wasn't important," Tracey playfully replied.
"I did tell him," Daphne added.
"Oh, shut it," Harry replied to them, his smile showing he didn't mean anything by it.
"Do you think we will get this all done in a day?" Blaise asked.
"If we are efficient," Hermione told him.
"I doubt that. Hermione, I want to show you the main ward stone of the keep. There are secrets there that only Daphne knows about and I think you can help me," Harry told her. "Daphne will work with you Blaise."
"I'll have to talk with Gran again, Harry. She is still reluctant to let too many secrets out. There is also the chance if I take anything out of my vaults that my uncle could get them," Neville told him.
"I'd rather that than the goblins," Harry replied.
"You really don't trust them, do you?" Hermione asked.
"You won't either once we tell you all we have found," Daphne told her.
"Mother and father always told me to respect them, but never trust them," Tracey pipped up.
"Sounds about right. To answer you, Hermione, we won't get this done today. I think it will take several months, and we will only do the research here. Dobby, Melly and Elden all know to let you in. You can use any of the bedrooms if you need to stay a night. I want all our research notes and other materials to be kept here. We can't risk anyone finding this out. The only other people that have access is Anders, Iliana, Sirius, Remus and Aunt Amelia. I've only talked to Aunt Ami about this," Harry told them.
Hermione looked excited. His other friends not as much, but they all agreed to support him in the end. His only hiccup of the day was how would Hermione take meeting Sasshassa and Harssess? It had scared him the first time, and he had only fought Slytherin's monster, not been petrified by it…
October 13, 1997
A black eagle owl landed on the table, trying to push Hedwig out of the way. Harry's owl snapped her beak at the other owl before letting out a screech. "Easy, girl. He only wants to get me a letter. You know Arcturus. What do you have for me today?' he asked Sirius' owl.
Hedwig wasn't much please and took off. Daphne chuckled. "I think you're in trouble."
"I'll bring her some bacon and owl treats in a little bit. I don't have any classes until this afternoon," he told her.
"You better bring some bandages too," Hermione absently said from across them.
Harry shook his head as he gave Arcturus the rest of the bacon that Hedwig hadn't already taken. He had a letter for auntie as well.
Opening the one from Sirius first, a smile grew on his face. "Wicked."
"What has you so chuffed?" Neville enquired as Harry handed the parchment to Daphne.
"I'm a godfather," he said with a grin. "Quinten Sirius Black."
"I thought the blacks always used a star name," Hermione asked, looking up.
Harry shrugged. "I don't think he cares."
"It was probably Erica," Daphne said. "I think one of her grandfathers was named Quinten."
"I'm going to talk with Professor McGonagall. I would like to go to St Mungo's after classes," Harry told her, giving Daphne a peck on the cheek.
"I'm going too," she told him.
It was close to four-thirty when they made their way down to the Three Broomsticks. As much as he loved apparating, it was too far to do London in one hop. After a short Floo ride to the Leaky Cauldron, it was just a short apparition to the Wizarding hospital and to find the room on the first floor.
Inside the room they found Sirius walking around, making annoying sappy baby sounds as he held a bundle of blankets. Erica was sitting up in a rocking chair. The brunette looked a little tired, but rather nice.
"Hey," Harry said. "Mind if we come in?"
"We weren't sure you would make it," Erica said with a smile.
Harry moved over to her to give her a hug. "I wouldn't miss it. I think someone promised to make me a godfather."
Erica laughed. "Siri's been a little excited about that. How are you, Daphne?"
"Very well. You look good. Feeling well?" she asked, moving in to take Harry's place.
"You are too kind," Erica told her.
Sirius came over to them. "Quinten, this is your Uncle Harry. Harry, your godson," Sirius said with some pride in his voice. Harry looked into the blankets where a small boy was sleeping. He had a thin head of black hair, slightly chubby cheeks with reddish splotches and a tongue that was going in and out of his mouth.
"A little small, isn't he?" Harry asked, never really been around babies before.
Sirius laughed while Daphne tapped his arm. "He's adorable," she told him.
"I doubt Erica will agree with you on that small comment," Sirius told him.
"Felt like a bloody melon coming out of me. We'll let Harry deliver the next one," she said with a gimlet eye.
"No, no. All set, thanks," Harry told her. "He's beautiful."
Erica gave him a happy smile. "I like him. The baby's even better looking."
"OI!" Sirius complained. "You want to hold him?" he offered Daphne.
"Please," she said happily, taking Quinten from his godfather.
"There. Oh, forgot, Quinten, meet your godmother, Daphne," Sirius said totally seriously.
Daphne looked up to Sirius. "Godmother? I thought you were thinking Hermione?"
"I love Hermione, but I thought someone with more a sense of humour," Sirius said.
"Siri!" Erica chastised. "We thought of Hermione, but thought it might be better to have you and Harry as godparents, unless you have changed your mind to get married?"
"Like she would let me run?" Harry teased, earning himself an unimpressed look.
"I would be rather put out," Daphne warned.
Sirius chuckled. "Glad to see I'm not the only one that gets in the doghouse."
"You are the only one that has a doghouse in the yard," Harry retorted dryly.
Erica laughed. "God, I miss you two when you are at school. Remus just doesn't check him like you do."
"That doghouse is actually used by our dog, you know," Sirius reminded him, looking like he was amused. Erica had wanted a dog so they had a sheepdog that would run all over the yard they had in the countryside.
"Godmother," Daphne said in a slightly wistful tone. She snuggled her nose into Quinten's.
"Uh oh," Sirius said. Erica was giving an amused look.
"What?" Harry asked.
"I know that look," Sirius told him.
"What look?" Harry questioned.
"Let him figure it for himself, Siri," Erica said with a hint of a laugh on her voice. She was so perfect for his godfather.
Harry looked between them. "What?"
Daphne came over to his side, sidling up to him so that Quinten was between them. "Isn't he so handsome?"
"He is. So, when can I get him on a broom?" Harry asked, not seeing the looks that Sirius and Erica were sharing.
October 31, 1997
Dani was walking out to the Quidditch pitch with her Nimbus 3000 on her shoulder. Her friends were giggling about something that had her smiling too. Daphne and Harry were leading the way. They all had brooms today. It was a nice day for the end of October. The sun was warm enough to fend off the cool air. It was still an hour or so before it would dip below the mountains.
She was just happy to be getting some practice with Harry. He was so busy this year that he had decided not to play Quidditch, and she got so little time to fly with him compared to last year. Never having any cousins, she was happy to have him and Daphne now. Astoria was pretty nice too.
"Adams wants to study with us tomorrow," Gwen said.
"He wants to study with Dani, you mean," Cordi replied, and her friends giggled.
Dani blushed some. They had been on her case for weeks about the Ravenclaw. Dani was at the top of their year, with her friends not far behind. Harry and his friends were a large part of that, but she was no slouch in her studies. Slytherin were supposed to be ambitious. She was determined to be top of the class, get a prefects badge and make Head Girl. She knew Daphne was a little disappointed she didn't get it, but Hermione was just as good. Dani would be the top. Being Quidditch captain wouldn't be bad either.
"Adams just wants my notebook," Dani told them.
"I think he wants a kiss," Gwen teased.
Dani was still flush. She would be thirteen soon, but didn't really want to date. Adams was cute, though.
"I think he wants to know how Dani is beating him in most classes," Cordi replied.
"I just study," Dani told them.
"And the fact that you are the one Daphne picked to become top snake when she leaves doesn't hurt either," Gwen added.
Dani stuck her chin up. "I am still a few years away from that. Astoria will probably get that before I do."
"Oh, come off it. We all know you'll have it fourth year. No one else in the house will challenge you and you whipped Cuthbert's arse all over the floor in Defence this week," Cordi stated.
Dani smiled about that. She had been working with Harry and his friends this year. She couldn't believe his skill at duelling. If she could manage it, Auntie Ami said Dani could earn the right to a sword by the summer. She was finding she preferred more of a rapier type, not the broadsword like Harry enjoyed.
"Cuthbert was poking fun at you. I didn't use anything that anyone else could have learned," Dani told them.
"We haven't learned the stunning or disarming spells in class. How far along are you?" Gwen questioned.
Dani shrugged her shoulders as they walked through the hall on the pitch.
"Dani is about where a third year should be at the end of the year," Harry told them. "You ladies are welcome to join us."
Gwen made a face. She was much happier reading a history book or studying the stars than in Defence against the Dark Arts. Cordi was more active, enjoying the greenhouses, but not Defence. She was dying to start Care of Magical Creatures next year. Dani was finding she enjoyed Charms, Transfiguration and Duelling.
"I like to sleep in," Gwen replied.
Cordi gave an uncertain look. "How far do you run again?"
"A few miles," Daphne told them. "It is a good workout, and you'll like the figure you have when you get a little older."
That got both her friends' attention. Daphne had to be the best looking girl in school, and if they could look half as beautiful as she did when they got older, it may be worth it. Harry reached into his pocket. "You want a go?"
Dani gave him a huge smile to see a snitch in his hand. "You ready to lose?"
Harry laughed, releasing the snitch and getting on his broom. "Bring it, little girl."
She was fuming at his cheeky grin.
Daphne gave her a look. "Just beat him," she ordered.
Dani had a determined set to her to launch off and follow Harry. He may not be playing this year, but he was the best competition she had. Playing professionally for a few years before she started a career was something that really interested her.
She levelled off against him as he circled the pitch, giving the snitch time to hide. "How is your year going?" Harry asked. "I know I haven't been able to spend much time with you."
She gave him a smile. "It's really good. I am getting top marks and we did our first duelling practices in DADA this week."
Harry nodded. "I heard you levelled Cuthbert and Gwen."
Dani grinned. "He was being an arse. I went easy on Gwen."
Harry laughed. "You know I'm not letting you join us just because you can beat someone up."
"I wasn't beating him up. He didn't have too many bruises," she told him. "Besides, he wants to be top snake in a few years and I won't let him."
"You have been hanging out with Daphne and Tracey too much," he replied.
"I like them, though Daphne says I need to be a little more subtle," Dani told him.
"You are too much like me. Ready?" Harry warned before taking off.
She had only peripherally been looking as she talked with Harry. Cursing, she took off after him.
They played until it got too dark to keep going. The whole time Daphne had been flying around with her friends. The girl she considered her cousin liked to fly, but she was nowhere near the level of her and Harry. Harry flew down to Daphne and gave her a peck on the lips. Gwen was next to Dani and sighed. "I want a boyfriend like that."
"You're only twelve," Dani pointed out.
"I'll be old enough for a courtship in December," Gwen told her.
"I want to wait," Cordi pipped up as they followed the couple. Daphne and Harry were holding hands and talking with their heads close together as they headed back towards the school.
Her stomach grumbled. "I can't wait for the feast," she told her friends.
They both giggled at her. "You're always hungry."
"I am not," Dani complained.
"You are too," Gwen and Cordi said at the same time, bringing another fit of the giggles to all three of them.
"I'll see you at the feast," Harry called to them as he headed off to the Head Boy rooms.
Daphne fell into step with them. "You're getting better," she told Dani.
Dani grinned. "If we can get him to play the last game, I'll win."
Daphne gave a sly smirk. "Are you asking me to convince him?"
"I would never do that. He says he's too busy," Dani replied.
"Real subtle," Gwen whispered. Cordi laughed.
"She's getting better. I'll see what I can do," Daphne told her.
Dani grinned. She would like one last game with Harry before they graduated.
November 6, 1997
Harry had been avoiding this meeting for months. Unfortunately, when the Senior Bank Manager summons you, you have to respond. For months now, Harry had slowly been increasing his exposure in the muggle world. He wanted to make sure he still had something to his name if things went south over the next year. This could be the cause of the meeting, but he doubted it.
It was more likely due to his lack of progress.
Auntie was accompanying him. He may be of age now, but that didn't mean he didn't want her help or need her if things didn't go to plan.
They were shown deep into Gringotts. For the third time he was brought before the bronze scale doors. Unlike the last two times, they were not asked to disarm themselves. Harry wasn't sure if this was a good thing or not. That was when it hit him that in his rush to get hold of auntie after getting the owl this morning, he had not left his sword behind. That might explain their odd behaviour. Some looked ready to gut him. He actually saw a few that looked at him in fear. At least, that was how he interpreted the wide eyed, ready to bolt look, never having seen a scared goblin before. The others were more reverent.
Not knowing how this might go, he took in a deep breath as the doors opened.
Usually, several guards and senior accountants would be present in the office. Today, it was only a put out looking Ragnok and tea set on his desk. The closing doors had an ominous feel to them. They walked over to the desk and took seats when motioned. Auntie and him both knew that this goblin didn't go for long winded niceties.
"I am having a hard time not calling you oath breaker," Ragnok said to him. He was very pointedly looking at him.
"And I am having a hard time not to be offended. I have not broken any deals," Harry replied.
Ragnok bared his teeth and Harry was immediately on edge. It took some will power not to reach for his sword. The goblin's voice was low and dangerous. "Then what is that sacrilege you carry at your side? You have entered Camelot."
Auntie looked about as ready as he was. They would not draw any blade or wand unless Ragnok did first.
"I have not entered Camelot. I have not broken any agreement. This sacrilege, as you call it, was a gift I obtained away from these shores," Harry told him.
Ragnok's lip curled down to cover his teeth. The goblin's eyes moved to the pommel just visible inside his partially opened robes. Ragnok had laughed in the face of his basilisks. Today, Harry wasn't sure if he was afraid or angry.
"Did you call us here to just call us oath breaker?" Aunt Ami questioned.
Ragnok didn't take his eyes of the pommel. "There has been no progress by either Gringotts or Scion Potter-Greengrass for months, almost a year now. Some grow restless while waiting, and now this whelp appears with a blade forged in a place once sacred to us. The only place my people know of where such can be found is the wizards' Ministry or Camelot, and we know nothing has moved out of the Ministry," he said in an angry tone. "What am I to say to keep certain factions from seeking you out?"
"You need only say that I didn't break any deal. This blade is not from here," Harry told him.
Ragnok bared his teeth again. "Then I expect you to have progress or let us go after our prize. Should you not have answers by summer, perhaps much sooner, I will not be able to keep some goblins from trying to breach the mist."
Harry stared the goblin down. He was most likely signing his death warrant in the future, but he wasn't about to back down. "Trying to unravel notes, runes and manuscripts over a thousand years old is not an easy task. Perhaps if we could have worked out a deal for me to understand how you make crystal ward stones, I would be farther along. I think the mists use some of that lost art."
"It is not lost," Ragnok said with some heat.
"Are you sure? Goblins have not offered it in almost eight hundred years," Harry snarked back.
Ragnok's lip curled up. "Wizards broke their word. A goblin will never give them such powerful wards again."
"Then you must wait for me," Harry told him. "What is another year or two compared to the fifteen hundred it's been since you last had a way to make an Arkenstone? That is what you want. I am pretty sure that is what the Unspeakables stole from Grimlast. Without them, you are not as strong as you once were."
Harry had intentionally tipped his hand. He now knew what Croaker had and how the goblins had forged the runes and manipulated the celestial bronze in the crystals.
Ragnok's lips closed. His anger abated some. Auntie and him sat, regarding the aged goblin. "I thought you just bluffing when you said you knew what was in Camelot," Ragnok said after a moment.
"I know what you want. I can get you an Arkenstone, but the Pelanstone is not part of the deal. It was freely given to Myrddin Aurelius. As his descendant, I claim it," Harry said.
Ragnok's eyes narrowed. "That is not the deal."
"The deal was to get you back the power you lost. You never specified which power. I didn't know about the Pelanstone then, so my intention was an Arkenstone," Harry told him.
Ragnok looked very upset. "You tricked us, human."
"No more than you tricked me. I will uphold my side of the bargain. Will Gringotts?" Harry challenged.
Auntie didn't look comfortable with how he spoke to Ragnok. Harry knew that Ragnok would only respect strength, even if he felt like he was being shagged the wrong way.
"Gringotts will not be an oath breaker. I see in the future I will have to be more to the point," Ragnok stated.
Harry nodded. "Is that all you wanted?"
Ragnok sneered. "This isn't over, whelp."
"I have already brought down two Dark Lords, four Houses on the Wizengamot and stand to be head of a powerful alliance. Can Gringotts claim as such?" Harry shot back.
Ragnok glared at him. "Overconfidence can be a killer, whelp."
"That goes both ways," Harry replied.
They stared each other down for a few. "When can you be sure you can bring down the mists?"
Harry shrugged. "Are you willing to teach me your runes?"
Ragnok huffed. "No outsider has ever been taught that knowledge."
"Then maybe a year or two. A good chance of more," Harry replied.
"We will move by summer," Ragnok informed him.
"Then you will die," Harry easily said. He knew what the mists were and the guardians within. Without a celestial bronze focus, it would be impossible to change the wards that make the mist, and Harry was certain the goblins didn't have one anymore. He didn't know if any other clan would, or if there might be more Arkenstone outside of Britain. He did know that his sword was a key to what he needed.
Ragnok didn't look impressed. "We are not as weak as you think we are."
"I never said that. I just know what awaits you," Harry told him.
"And you would have us just go with no warning? I thought you different, whelp. You are just like every other wizard," Ragnok accused.
Harry leaned forward. "I was not the one that didn't say anything about the differences in the Pelanstone or Arkenstone. Were you ever going to tell me that it would take more than just me to open the gates if I didn't want to die?"
Ragnok just sat there, his face going passive. "It would appear we are at an impasse."
"Potentially," Harry told him. "Unless you want to make some profit out of this?"
Ragnok's eyes became slits. "What profit? An Arkenstone or two is not what we desire. Any goblin made items are a shadow of the wealth any god made bronze would be. I didn't even think any wizard still knew of such materials. What profit would you have us make if you only limit us to the best our own crafters can do?"
Harry grinned at the upset goblin. "If my ancestors are right, I have found the location of the goblin stronghold of Rogsnorg. I have no idea what is in there, but I would not stand between you and your kin's lands. I have the approval of the heirs to release those lands to you. They would be outside of any treaty you have and anything inside is all yours."
Ragnok's eyes widened. Harry could see the greed. Rogsnorg was rumoured to be the goblins' main stronghold during Merlin's life. Harry figured this would keep them satisfied and busy until Harry was ready to give them their reward for helping him so far.
"How? How could you know of Rogsnorg or its location?" Ragnok questioned.
"I am a descendant of Myrddin. I have been able to find information. Do you know what the goblins could do to earn this information?" Harry had dangled the carrot. Would Ragnok bite?
"What can Gringotts give you?" Ragnok asked cautiously.
"First, I want to know your complete written language and how to translate it. Not the one you give your curse breakers and speak in the open. I wand the true goblin tongue. Second, I think you have information on the Druids and Wizards council, possibly copies of the original covenants or oaths. I want everything you have," Harry told him.
Ragnok rose an eyebrow. "What makes you think goblins would be interested in wizard things like that?"
"Because they both required the sentient races to ratify them. I know the Ministry has hidden them in the Department of Mysteries. It seems the information has been magically purged from family libraries or other knowledge sources. These are my terms," Harry told him, sitting back in his chair.
Ragnok looked to ponder this for a while. "How do I know you are not tricking me?"
"I am willing to swear an oath or sign a contract. No ambiguity on either side. No tricks. Just what I promise and what you will give me," Harry told him.
After a moment, Ragnok snorted as though amused. "I summon you here ready to gut you like a pig, instead you want to walk out of here with closely horded knowledge?"
"And you get the information and location I have for Rogsnorg. Aside from Camelot, is there a larger prize you would like?" Harry questioned.
Ragnok gave a gravelly chuckle after a moment. "Perhaps you are not like the other wizards. We shall draft up a contract. Oaths can be tricky or changed by your intent." He didn't seem as happy about the word 'intent'.
"Agreed. Regent Bones will act as my solicitor and witness to this deal," Harry told him.
When they got to the bottom of the stairs, Harry looked back. The guards looked to be mostly of the awed persuasion. Auntie took his arm in a vice grip, dragging him down the alley and stopping at an alcove between buildings. "What the bloody hell was that! You didn't tell me about half of what you just talked about in there and what is Rogsnorg!"
"Rogsnorg is supposed to be the largest goblin stronghold that was abandoned after it was raided by a nesting pair of Icelandic Elder Dragons. The goblins were scattered far and wide, with Gringotts and a few other clans settling where we know goblins to live now. There was some clues that the goblins didn't know where it was anymore, and that they wanted what was still there," Harry told her.
"And what is still there?" she demanded.
"No clue. But there is no way I am letting them get the Pelanstone. This will keep them busy for a long time," Harry told her.
"You didn't just send them on a wild goose chase, did you?" she demanded.
"No. At least I am pretty positive I didn't. There was information on it inside the Greengrass vaults. If I find anything else, I will give it to them, as agreed upon," he promised.
She took in a sharp breath, then let it out. "Is this all worth it?"
Harry took on a very serious look. "Yes."
The Pelanstone would give the goblins the power to do rune crafting, create celestial bronze and other things he didn't even know. Potentially it was the source to make automatons. Arkenstones were really only good to make rune enchanted items. Yes, it could be scary what the goblins could do with just that, but Harry knew that he could counter it, if needed. The Pelanstone were just too much power to put in their hands. Harry was afraid of the power that was implied to be contained in it.
"And what are these stones?" she questioned.
Harry looked around. "Can we go back to Potter Green or home?"
She nodded, letting his arm go. "You are explaining this all to me."
Harry nodded. "We better go to Potter Green then." He hadn't had time to go over anything his friends and him had found since September.
December 21, 1997
Her family had offered to host Yule again this year. Daphne was pleased to have even more people here than last year. The Grangers, Bones, Thomases, Zabinis, Higgs, Davises Abbots, Longbottoms, Danforths, Umbridges, Weasleys, Prewitts, Blacks, Lupin, Professor Slughorn, Headmistress McGonagall and a others of their alliance or important to them were here. It was as much family as it was politics tonight.
The barn fire was ready. For now, they were inside. The game room and parlour had been set up for the large affair. Looking around, she smiled to see Astoria whispering into Eric's ear. The boy had grown on her over the years. It was also obvious how much he cared for Astoria. She had a feeling they would be participating in the Rite of Yule tonight. She certainly had her own plans to drag Harry off and redo their own rites like they had last year.
The younger group, who all coalesced around Dani, where in a corner. They were laughing and playing snaps. There were eight of them, from three houses and ranging from ten to thirteen. Dani and her friends were definitely at the centre of that group.
Other groups included a smug looking Professor Slughorn. They had known he wanted into parties like this as part of his 'help' to connect them with who Harry needed for the guild and Mosedale. On the whole, he was a harmless old man, she just was like Harry who didn't want to be 'collected'.
Her own friends were scattered throughout the room. At their age, they were at the cusp of being able to either only hang out in their own group, or to mingle around. Tracey was holding her nephew while talking with Wendy, her parents and Madam Longbottom. Neville was talking with Harry, Gary, Mr Umbridge, Lord Weasley, Head Creswell and Lord Prewitt. Bill was a character, better suited to adventuring than this stuffy environment. He fit in relatively well though. Percy was made for this, easily acting as snobbish as any proper pureblood could be. Harry and Neville were joking with the others while Percy didn't look as amused. She knew Harry was trying to get them to support some new legislation that would make it easier for him to contract jobs without the goblins raising a protest. That was something Harry was very concerned with once he could close the deal with Croaker.
Speaking of her least favourite Longbottom, Algernon was talking with Mr Weasley and a few other Ministry workers.
Her job tonight was to talk with the wives to get them to convince their husbands. It was the first time that either of them were actively using their budding political acumen. Her mother stepped up besides her and handed Daphne a fluted glass of elven wine. "Your scion is being quite the social butterfly tonight."
Daphne smiled. "He still hates the attention, but looks to be making some headway."
Her mother took a sip of her sparkling water. Daphne was sure she would like the wine, but she was far to far along with their brother. Her mother was due in February. "I would say he is. Horace has been beaming at the two of you all night. Is this about the changes to the contract law?"
"Yes," she simply said.
"Your father has some reserves. Curtailing some of the powers that the goblins have is not always a good thing," her mother said.
"They will get a half percent leeway on loans and services that should more than make up for the loss. Most wizards will still use the goblins since they can use blood quills and other magics to ensure deals," Daphne told her.
"Have you talked with Mrs Creswell yet? I think she will be key to getting her husband on board with this," her mother suggested.
"That is my next step. I am starting to think I will have to interrupt her and Lady Abbott. They have been talking for a while and the Yule fire will be lit in about an hour," she told her.
Her mother gave her a smile. "You are going to be a very powerful Lady someday soon."
Daphne gave a satisfied smile at the praise. "I promised Harry I would see his dreams come true."
"And I assume he is helping with yours?"
"Most definitely. If you would excuse me," Daphne said. Her mother was very pleased to see Daphne, at just under eighteen, being the Lady she had been brought up to be.
When they were called out to the Yule pyre, she found Harry. He took her hand, looking a little tired. "How did it go?"
"Creswell is still being stubborn. He's afraid that the goblins are already riled about something, and that this might push them closer to the edge," Harry told her.
Daphne knew they were riled, but not because of the wizards this time. "I talked with his wife. I think she's on board, especially when I told her that the Ministry would get an additional on tenth of a percent, which would bring in tens of thousands of galleons more each year to her husband's office," she said.
Harry smiled. "That was genius of you to do that."
She preened a little. "I'm not just a pretty face."
Harry laughed, some of his tiredness disappearing. "Merlin, I never thought I would be doing something like this."
"Well, you are. I'm very proud of you. Now, let's enjoy the ceremony and I have a place in the orchard for us later tonight," she said, her voice more sultry at the end.
Harry's green eyes matched her desire. "You are a vixen, aren't you?"
She gave him a grin. "You can chase me before you lay with me."
"If I can have all your attention," her father's amplified voice came over the crowd. It took a moment or two for everyone to calm down. Being in such a public setting, Harry only slipped an arm around her back. She would have rather had him come up behind her and put both arms around her, but they had to act more mature tonight.
"On behalf of my family, I would like to say thank you for joining us on such an important occasion. Yule is the night of celebration from one year to the next among the old magical sabbaths. It is a night where we leave behind the old year and welcome the new," he announced.
"As such, the Yule pyre will be lit in a few moments. Any gifts you wish to give to magic are all welcome. For those old enough, we are also offering locations for the rites. Our elves can help anyone that wishes it in a little bit."
"Before then, I would like to recognize my daughter, Astoria, and her betrothed, Eric Higgs," he said.
There was polite clapping as Astoria waved and Eric stood tall next to her.
"I would also like to recognize my eldest and her betrothed, Scion and Heiress Potter-Greengrass. Most of you will receive wedding invitations in the coming months for their nuptials in August," he said with pride in both his daughters. Daphne stood tall, Harry dropping his arm and they both did small bows in a few directions.
"Lastly, I ask for all your well wishes as my wife approaches the end of her pregnancy, as well as the future parents to be, Lord and Lady Weasley, Lord and Lady Prewitt and Scion and Heiress Davis, who will be welcoming their second some time over the summer," he said, indicating the pairs. There was more clapping and pleasant whispers. "If I missed anyone, it was not intentional."
"Lastly, I would like to recognize two new ladies that will be joining our ranks when they get older. Heiress Glamorgon and Heiress Peverell as cadet lines of the Potter line, soon to be Potter-Greengrass," he said. Dani gave a big grin and waved. She was fully accepting her new role. Terri gave a small wave before burying her face into her mother's dress.
He did a dramatic look at his watch. "It is close to midnight. If you would all raise your wands," he said, holding his up.
Daphne held hers close to Harry's. As the time approached, raw magic built on their wands. She hadn't felt this much ever. Magic was rejoicing in having so many participating the Yule celebration tonight. "If you would," he indicated. Everyone flicked their wands. The balls of magic flew into the pyre and it went up almost immediately. She could feel the magic rejoice in this.
She took out her gift and sacrifice. It was a bracelet she had picked up in Greece. It may have only been a cheap Nomaj bauble, but it had a special significance to her. Harry took out a length of rope. She was sure it was from their Greece trip as well.
"I give this gift for wishes of a good year to come," her father said, throwing something into the pyre. Everyone else followed.
As the magic welled, she could feel herself wanting Harry. They may have performed the rites last year, but there was nothing saying they couldn't again. Harry leaned over, "I am going to catch you."
She gave him a coy smile. "You haven't yet."
"Are you sure about that?" he asked.
She knew she was totally smitten with him. "Let's just make sure we say goodbye to our guests and then you can try again."
Harry gave her a short kiss. "I won't need to try hard."
She playfully pushed him away. "I think you are a little too confident, Scion Potter-Greengrass."
He just gave her a cheeky grin before they turned to start working through the crowd. By the time those that had decided to leave were going or gone, and those that were staying found their own private spots, it wasn't missed the playful sounds of two foxes chasing after each other for a while.