Harry gazed at his reflection in the mirror, studying it carefully.
He wasn't sure what had happened that summer, but his appearance had begun to change. And not the normal 'maturing' sort of change either, but quite a drastic one.
It had started with a growth spurt.
He had awoken one night to extreme pain, his muscles cramping as his body grew. By the morning, he had visibly gained a couple of inches, which even Aunt Petunia commented on. It continued for a few weeks. He also gained more muscle. He wasn't bulky or anything like that, but still more muscular, with a lean build, although slightly underweight.
Harry found it strange. Even if he was a wizard, growing several inches overnight wasn't normal.
The next thing had been his face.
The changes had been subtle at first so that he barely noticed them, but gradually, as the summer progressed, they became more prominent. His cheekbones became sharper, more defined, his hair sleeker and easier to manage, his nose more aristocratic. His eyes, thankfully, stayed the same, blazing emerald, like his mother's. And it worried him
Harry knew that something was wrong. After about a month, the changes seemed to have settled, leaving him over a foot taller, and looking like a completely different person.
Naturally, no one was sending him any letters, and with Sirius… gone, Harry knew he would have to rely on himself.
So, he spent the days cooped up in his little room, sending mail-orders to Flourish and Blotts, in an attempt to find out what was wrong with him.
His search revealed nothing. He couldn't find anything that would lead to such drastic changes. What he did find, were glamour charms, which would at least help in the meantime.
Harry also discovered a great passion for reading and knowledge, and ordered more books for pleasure, soaking it all in.
He found out that wandless magic couldn't be tracked by the ministry, so he began to learn some, and managed to apply a glamour to himself that way.
This, luckily, allowed him to go out of his room, as he was beginning to get stir crazy.
He had realised that, if he was going to have any chance at beating Voldemort, he would need to train, and a good way to start would be to get into shape.
Harry took to waking early every morning, and going for a run around the neighbourhood. He knew the order was watching him, and it amused him as he improved, to hear his hidden guards huffing and puffing to keep up with him.
Two weeks before school started, Harry still hadn't received any letters. So, he gave up waiting, donned his cloak, and left for Diagon Alley, unseen.
His first stop, as per usual, was Gringotts.
As he entered, he removed his cloak, and double-checked to see that his vault key was in his pocket, before walking over to a teller.
He was stopped midway, however, by someone calling his name. He turned sharply, to find a goblin giving him a hard state.
"Director Ragnok wishes to see you. Please follow me."
With that, he walked off, leaving a confused Harry to stumble on after him.
He eventually found himself before a set of ornately carved doors, one of which had a metal plaque, which read, 'Ragnok - Director' in clear gold lettering.
The goblin who had led him there knocked, and Harry could hear a gravelly voice respond from within, "Come in."
The goblin opened the door slightly, "Mister Potter is here, sir,"
"Show him in," the voice replied.
With a nod, he opened the door wider, and shoved Harry through, closing it behind him.
Harry, rather flustered, gazed at his surroundings, his eyes landing on the desk before him, behind which sat yet another goblin - Ragnok, he assumed.
"Well, Mr Potter," he began, authoritatively, "Would you care to explain exactly why you have not responded to any of our summonses?"
Harry frowned, confused.
"Summonses?" he asked, "I haven't received any 'summonses'."
Ragnok gave him a grave look.
"You mean to tell me," he said, darkly, "that you have not received a single letter from Gringotts since your 11th birthday?"
The goblin cursed, a string of guttural-sounding words expelling from his throat.
"Please excuse me, Mr Potter, but this is most worrisome. We've been sending you your monthly statements, and getting confirmation that you'd received them, ever since your return to the wizarding world on your 11th birthday."
"Well, I can assure you that I've never seen any of them."
He thought for a moment, remembering his lack of letters the past summer, "Do you think it's possible that someone could've been either blocking or redirecting my mail?"
Ragnok looked up at him sharply.
"It's possible," he admitted, "Do you have any idea who could have the opportunity to do so? They would have needed the chance and the power to erect a ward."
To Harry, only one name came to mind.
"Dumbledore," he responded, promptly, "He's the only one to have both the opportunity and the power."
"That is most unsettling," Ragnok agreed, nodding, "but it also brings me to the point of your meeting with me today."
He paused for a moment.
"I've been asking my staff to keep a lookout for you, Mr Potter, because I have been needing to speak with you about your inheritance for quite some time now."
Harry quirked an eyebrow, "My inheritance?"
Ragnok nodded, "Yes, from both your parents and your godfather, Sirius Black."
Harry's heart clenched at the mention of Sirius. Ragnok's eyes filled with empathy, but he didn't mention it and instead got straight to business.
"First, I have been instructed by your parents to perform an inheritance ritual for you," he explained.
"What's that?" Harry asked.
"It's very simple," Ragnok assured him, "at least to perform. The variety of results are a bit more complex. You simply drop a small amount of blood on a piece of charmed parchment. The blood will, shortly thereafter, turn into ink, which will map out your lineage, as well as any special magical abilities, curses or blocks you may have received or been born with. It will also list any titles you have a claim to. For instance, in your case, the Potter lordship most definitely springs to mind."
"Why yes, of course!" Ragnok exclaimed, "The Potters are one of the Most Noble and Most Ancient houses! Don't tell me nobody informed you of that either?"
Harry shook his head. Ragnok clenched his fists, eyes ablaze, but managed to control his temper. First, the boy shows up clearly malnourished and neglected, then he hasn't received any of his mail, and now no one has informed him of his inheritance. Could it get any worse?
"Never mind," Ragnok said, "I'll explain it once the ritual is completed, as there may well be more lordships for you to inherit."
He removed a piece of parchment from his desk drawer, placing it before Harry, along with an elegant knife.
"Now, kindly prick your finger and allow a few drops of blood to land on the parchment."
Harry did as asked, watching curiously as the parchment glowed for a moment, before Ragnok snatched it away.
"Before you read that," he said, "I have been instructed to give this letter to you. Your parents wrote it for you."
With wide, surprised, eyes, the 16-year-old took the parchment from the goblin, breaking the wax seal before unrolling it.
If you are reading this, it means that James and I are no longer with you.
My darling, I am so terribly sorry that we've not been there for you, but know that we both love you so very, very much. I hope dearly that we died trying to protect you.
Unfortunately, this letter wasn't written as a final goodbye.
Please don't misunderstand me after what I am about to tell you. I love James very much, too much, in fact, but the truth of it all is that he is not your biological father.
We were both young and stupid. A few months before you were born, I caught James with another woman. Of course, I didn't realise that he was dead drunk at the time, or it might not have happened, but I was so upset that I ended up getting drunk myself… and sleeping with another man.
When I discovered I was pregnant, I didn't give it another thought, but after you were born, it became clear that James wasn't your father.
He was furious at first, when I told him, but he calmed down as soon as I explained what had happened. After a discussion, he decided to magically adopt you, making you his child by magic. He really did love you as soon as he laid eyes on you.
We also, for your own safety, placed a strong glamour charm on you, that changed your appearance to be more like James'. If I'm correct, it should've begun to wear off as you read this.
Harry, my baby boy, I truly am sorry to put you through all this, especially after everything else you must have faced. To discover that you weren't who you thought you were must be terribly shocking. Regrettably, I do not know your biological father's identity. It is one of the reasons we instructed the Gringotts goblins to give you an inheritance test. It should tell you.
Hopefully, you shall never have to read this letter. If we're lucky, James and I can tell you ourselves, and we can cry or laugh or both in each others' arms. But, if we aren't, just know, Harry, that we both love you so very, very much.
Lots of love
Lady of the Most Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter
By the end of the letter, tears had welled up in Harry's eyes, and were threatening to spill over. He wasn't sure if it was from the declaration of love or from the fact that he had just had his whole world turned upside down. James Potter wasn't his biological father. Sure, James had clearly loved him, he had even been magically adopted by him, but that wasn't the problem.
Harry felt like his whole life had been a lie.
It took him a while to calm down enough to gather his wits about him and notice that Ragnok was eying him worried from behind his desk, the parchment of the inheritance ritual in his hands.
"Mr Potter? Are you alright?"
"Uh, yes," Harry stuttered, "I think I am, thank you."
Ragnok raised an eyebrow sceptically, but let it slide and instead focused on the parchment in his own hands.
"Well then, Mr Potter, here are the results of the inheritance test. Would you like me to read them or would you prefer to do that yourself?"
"I think I'll do it myself, thanks," Harry replied, nervously, "And while I do that, you can read this."
He handed the goblin the letter, much to Ragnok's surprise.
"Are you sure, Mr Potter?"
Harry nodded, firmly, "I trust you. Besides, it will explain what I'm sure will be some very puzzling results on my inheritance test."
Ragnok looked slightly reluctant, but traded papers with him anyway.
Harry carefully took his parchment face-down, inhaling deeply and summoning all his Gryffindor courage before looking at it.
Name: Harrison James Potter - half-blood
Mother(s): Lily Marie Potter nee Evans - muggle-born
Father(s): Tom Morvalo Riddle - half-blood (natural); James Fleamont Potter - pureblood (magical adoption); Sirius Orion Black - pureblood (blood adoption)
Harry didn't dare to read any further. His world went black before he could.
When he awoke again, he found himself lying down, on a couch still in Ragnok's office. The goblin in question was seated at his desk, looking at a parchment Harry could only assume was the inheritance ritual, but he looked up as Harry moved.
"You're awake then," he stated, "How are you feeling?"
Harry thought about it for a moment. Finding out that one's father was actually one's mortal enemy was shocking, not to mention horribly ironic.
"I'm not sure, to be honest. Everything's just kinda numb."
Ragnok nodded sympathetically, "I understand that," he replied.
They were both silent for a moment.
"I take it that, from your mother's letter, you are currently wearing a glamour?"
Harry nodded, swallowing the lump that formed in his throat.
"Yeah," he replied, "I cast one on myself earlier in the summer."
Ragnok appeared surprised.
"How did you manage that? The trace…?"
"I did it wandlessly," Harry responded, standing up, and removing the glamour from himself with a wave of his hand.
Ragnok did his best not to gape at the boy, no - man, before him.
The difference was startling.
Harry began to get uncomfortable.
"So, um, do you think I can read the rest of my inheritance test now?"
Ragnok snapped out of his daze, "Of course," and handed it over to him.
Harry took it carefully, and picked up where he'd left off.
Most Noble and Most Ancient House of Slytherin
Noble House of Gaunt
Most Noble and Most Ancient House of Gryffindor *
Most Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter *
Noble and Most Ancient House of Black
Most Noble and Most Ancient House of Ravenclaw #
°- Through natural father
*- Through magically-adoptive father
×- Through blood-adoptive father
#- Through mother
Parseltongue - 50% block (Partially broken from full block)
Occlumency - 100% block
Legilimency - 100% block
Magical Core - 78% (Partially broken from 90% block)
Glamour Charm - 1 % (Mostly broken from full charm)
Horcrux - (Located in scar)
Magic Leech (See Horcrux - above)
Harry finished reading, stunned, and placed the parchment on the desk.
"What's a Horcrux?"
Ragnok's head snapped up sharply.
"A result of a dark ritual that splits a person's soul. Why?"
Harry gulped, "The test says that there is one - in my scar."
The room was filled with a deafening silence, as the implication of the statement soaked in.
Eventually, Ragnok picked up the parchment and read it over carefully.
"I must say," he said, once he'd finished, "You really are full of surprises, Mr Potter. The Horcrux is very serious though, as is the block on your magical core. I think that those should be dealt with immediately."
Harry nodded in agreement.
An hour later, after many messages had been exchanged through multiple departments, Harry stood anxiously in a dark ritual chamber, surrounded by goblins.
Ragnok had explained the process to him. The goblins would conduct the ritual that would extract the soul piece from him, a sort of exorcism, and then transfer it to another object in order to be destroyed.
Harry was instructed to lie down on the stone floor, which he did, clenching his hands together anxiously, and squeezed his eyes shut.
The goblins around him began to chant around him. Suddenly, after a few moments, Harry was overwhelmed by agonising pain, worse than anything he had ever experienced. He remained conscious for only a few seconds, before passing out.
When he came to, the first thing he heard was the sound of goblins speaking around him. They weren't speaking English, but rather in Gobbledegook, their own language.
Harry groaned, sitting up slowly and holding a hand to his aching head, as he slowly opened his eyes. He was surprised to find that he could see his surroundings with perfect clarity, without his glasses on.
"Good morning, Mr Potter."
Harry turned in bed, to find Ragnok smiling at him, "Or should I say 'afternoon'?"
"How long have I been out?"
"Two days -"
"Two days?!" Harry exclaimed, shooting up out of bed.
"Calm down," Ragnok said, "You haven't been missed. Or, at least, not by anyone important. The people who were lurking around your house nearly had a fit when they realised that you'd disappeared and have launched a search for you, but I assume I would be correct in saying that you would prefer not to be found?"
Harry nodded, "Dumbledore's told them to keep an eye on me, which basically translates to 'following me around but not letting me go anywhere.' So let them worry. It will teach them that I'm perfectly capable of looking after myself."
"I quite agree," Ragnok smiled, "However, there are other matters to attend to. I am pleased to inform you that we have successfully removed and destroyed the Horcrux, which we believed to belong to one Tom Morvalo Riddle."
Harry flinched slightly, but didn't comment otherwise. Ragnok looked over him curiously, "I must say, Mr Potter, you're taking it remarkably well."
Harry shrugged, "I guess I've accepted it. There's nothing I can do about it, and I still hate him, so that's all there is to it "
"Of course," the goblin agreed, "We'll move on then. We have managed to remove the block on your magical Core, as well as cure all the issues pertaining to your health."
Harry looked surprised, "So that's why I can see without my glasses. But you didn't have to do that. I was going to go to St Mungo's."
"Nonsense!" Ragnok exclaimed, "Your family has been friends of the Goblin Nation for centuries! Besides, we took a small amount of compensation from your vault." He grinned, "Which brings me to our next matter," he paused, "As you are the last living member of the Potter, Gryffindor, Black and Ravenclaw, you are eligible to become emancipated. This, of course, includes all the benefits of an adult wizard, such as using a wand unrestricted."
Harry grinned at him, "What do I have to do?"
Harry spent the next few hours doing various tasks with the help of Ragnok, receiving the lordship rings to his 4 houses, and the heir rings to the other two. Those two, he discovered, could become invisible, so that no one else could see them. Harry was glad as he didn't want anyone to know about that yet.
He also discovered that Dumbledore had been keeping more than just his letters from him. It turned out that he had multiple vaults in his name, and that the one he had known about was only his trust vault, set up by his parents for his schooling. His other vaults, however he should've only gotten access to on his 17th birthday, by due to his emancipation, he got them early.
When he saw the combined sum of all his vaults, Harry's jaw dropped. He had to be the richest wizard in England!
Once he had gone through his finances, he went over his list of properties - looking for one to move into. He eventually decided on a townhouse situated in London - close to Diagon Alley - that had belonged to his parents. Ragnok gave him a ring that acted as a portkey to all his properties - which included Privet Drive - so he used it to go and collect his things. So, he thanked Ragnok profusely before tapping the ring with his wand and popping away.
Due to the wards surrounding the house, he landed in the park at the end of the street. Remembering what Ragnok had told him about the Order, he left off his cloak and removed his glamour, revealing his true appearance. Smirking, he stepped out onto the street and headed for number 4.
As he got to the path, he was amused to hear the quiet shuffling that signified an order member. Smiling to himself, he knocked on the door.
Thankfully, it was Petunia who opened it. She took one look at him and promptly said, "I'm not buying."
"Good," Harry replied, discreetly placing a privacy charm around them, "'cause I'm not selling. Now, Aunt Petunia, if you could let me inside, I'll just grab my things and then I'll be out of your hair for good."
His Aunt gaped at him "But- but you're-"
"Devilishly handsome? I know, but if I can get my things you'll never see me again. I've got my own place now."
"Well, yes, of course then."
Harry quickly packed his meagre belongings into his trunk, including all his school supplies and took Hedwig in her cage, leaving all his stupid Dudley-hand-me-downs behind.
With that, he tapped his wand to his portkey and left Privet Drive for the last time.
Meanwhile, the Number 12 Grimmauld Place was in chaos. The Order had spent the last two days looking for Harry, but nothing had turned up. That is, until Tonks had come back saying that an unknown man had come to Privet Drive and talked to Harry's aunt before going inside, erecting a privacy ward so that their conversation couldn't be heard.
As such, the order was in a frenzy.
Ron and Hermione were worried. Harry had, understandably, been rather sullen and quiet when they had last seen him. They just hoped he wasn't in too much trouble.
Coincidently, for the first time in 15 years, someone had just appeared in the entryway of the red-brick house next door.
Harry looked around him curiously.
The house was in good condition - clean and tidy - very much unlike number 12 had been when Sirius first went back there.
'Although,' Harry thought, as a loud pop sounded behind him, 'that's probably because I have a proper house elf'
The house elf, whom he discovered was called Taffy, was very happy to have her 'Master Harry's back again. She gave him a brief tour of the house before leading him upstairs to the main bedroom.
It was quite large, with white walls, red accented furniture and a bay window that looked out onto the street. Harry decided he liked it, and Hedwig did too, judging by the pleased hoot he received.
There was a desk in the far corner, where Harry sat down, pulled out a few pieces of parchment and a quill from his trunk, and wrote a letter. Once he'd sealed it, he sent it off with Hedwig, giving her very specific instructions, before lying down on his bed and falling asleep atop the covers.