Chapter 15: Dobby Saves the Day
"Shall we try this?" Tonks questioned the others as they stood around the excitable house elf.
"Yes, please," Regulus said both excited and confused at why this house elf was able to get through when his calls for Kreacher had gone unanswered.
"Why didn't you respond earlier when I called?" Harry asked curious.
"Dobby comes as soon as Dobby hears the call."
"Will you take us home now, Dobby?" Dobby nodded and took both Harry and Tonks's hands, who both took Regulus's hands as well. For a moment nothing happened, and then Dobby's voice broke the silence.
"Dobby is sorry, but Dobby is not being able to take everyone. Dobby is not strong enough. Dobby is a bad elf."
"You are not a bad elf Dobby. I am happy you were willing to try," Harry stepped in to reassure his friend as the others released hands.
"I know Dobby said there was no formal bond of house elf and wizard between Dobby and Harry, but perhaps there is some other bond," Regulus stated thoughtfully pondering that question.
"Dobby tried to save my life once, that's how we met. Then later, I was able to trick his former master into freeing him, and Dobby has become my friend," Harry reported simply with a shrug of his shoulders. It was moments like these when he wished he knew more about house elves.
"Interesting. Did you want to be freed from your former master, Dobby? And why did you try to save Harry's life? He was not your master, after all," Regulus wanted to know directing his questions to the elf.
"Dobby really wanted to be free from Dobby's bad former master. Bad master wanted to kill Harry Potter. Harry Potter saved us all from the Dark Lord, so Dobby had to help him," the elf stated promptly.
"And Dobby has already said he would like to work for Harry one day. I think we have our answer. Dobby has obviously already expressed a great deal of intent to be Harry's personal house elf. And he found him here. Has Dobby ever been able to find Harry through other wards as well?"
"He did. Dobby went straight through the wards on a Black family property to reach Harry," revealed Tonks thinking about Dobby's trip through the wards at Hunter's Place. It should not have been possible as the Black family excelled at wards.
"Had Dobby been to the home before?" Regulus wanted to know looking to Tonks, who shook her head.
"No, never. It surprised me at the time. Harry didn't even know about the place until I took him there the day before Dobby appeared. And the wards on the property are pretty strong."
"Dobby, I believe you have been bound to Harry based on your past actions with each other. Since neither of you have formally recognized the bond, it isn't complete, but it's close enough to allow Dobby to sense Harry even through wards," Regulus suggested thinking that was the most reasonable explanation for the odd phenomenon.
"But Dobby is a free elf. He wanted to be a free elf," Harry stated not sure he liked the implication of Dobby being bound to him because of their actions. "I would never want to force Dobby to work for me."
"Harry Potter is a great wizard. Harry Potter worries about what Dobby wants," the elf was near tears in his delight as he latched onto Harry's legs nearly knocking over the young wizard.
"Of course, I care about what you want Dobby. It has to be your decision. I would never want to force you to bond with me, especially if you changed your mind."
"I think I shall try Kreacher again, and then we can talk some more about Harry and Dobby completing the bond," Regulus stated hoping that time would allow the house elf to calm down some. "Kreacher! Kreacher, I demand you come to me now," Regulus commanded forcefully. Dobby released his hold on Harry as the occupants of the small kitchen waited for several moments, but the other elf did not appear.
"Would Kreacher come if you called him, Harry?" Tonks wanted to know turning to meet Harry's gaze. "After all, everyone thought that Regulus was killed, and that you were Kreacher's new master. Perhaps the magic of the bond attached to you."
"I don't know. I've never tried to call Kreacher," Harry replied before doing just that. "Kreacher, come to me now." Everyone waited patiently for several moments, but Kreacher still did not appear.
"How old is Kreacher being?" Dobby's question surprised the others who all looked to the elf in surprise at the question. After a moment's thought, Regulus responded with, "quite old, he was my mother's elf throughout her life, and I believe he may have served my grandmother a bit as well."
He honestly had never considered Kreacher's age or initial bonding with his grandmother and/or mother. Then again, his mother was a Black before her marriage as well as after, something he tried not to contemplate since his parents had been rather close cousins. Intermarriage among the same handful of families for generations meant that essentially all purebloods were related to each other in some way, but he felt his parents had taken the idea a bit too far by marrying within the Black family. He reminded himself to stay on topic, and shoved thoughts of his parents aside. It finally looked like he might go home, and he really wanted to make that happen.
"Perhaps that is part of it. Kreacher is older, and his main bond would have been to your mother, and she passed away a few years ago," explained Tonks pondering the question. "He may not have the power to hear you." Her mother had taught her something about house elves, but not nearly as much as Regulus appeared to know.
"It still seems strange that Kreacher cannot sense that I am alive since I am a Black, and would now be the Head of the Black family," mused Regulus thinking things through carefully. "You said that everyone thinks I am dead. So Harry inherited from Sirius or did one of the other cousins get Kreacher?"
"Harry got most of it, except for some money that Sirius gifted to various friends and family," Tonks explained keeping it brief. After all, she still didn't know Regulus really, and he had been a Death Eater in the past. The group fell silent again as Regulus debated his next statement.
"I think Harry should officially bind Dobby to him. A house elf draws power from their family, especially the bond with a witch or wizard if they bond directly to them and not just to the family. That may give Dobby the power he needs to get us out of here, especially since he was already able to find us here without the formal bond."
"It has to be Dobby's decision," Harry stated emphatically. "And if Dobby wants to remain a free elf, then there has to be another way. We haven't even tried anything else," he reminded them. He did not like the idea of enslaving another being to him.
"Dobby would be honored to be the house elf of the great Harry Potter," Dobby informed them once again near tears. Harry looked at Dobby for several long moments before he placed a hand on the elves small shoulder.
"Thank you, Dobby. I would be honored to have you as my house elf, and if you ever change your mind, let me know," Harry stated firmly still a bit uncomfortable with the idea. 'Hermione is going to kill me,' he thought briefly.
"It's a good plan, Harry. And Dobby knows you are nothing like his former master. There are benefits to being a house elf to a powerful wizard as well," Tonks said in an attempt to reassure Harry. She knew he was uncomfortable about the bonding.
Harry stared at Tonks and did his best not to blush. He still remembered their kisses, but knew he had to focus on their current discussion. It was extremely difficult to do, and he knew he had avoided looking directly at her for most of the conversation. However, his friends' lives and safety depended on him. He had to get home. He had to at least try to defeat Voldemort.
"Dobby's power will grow for awhile after the bond forms until it settles. It may take some time to build up. There's no guarantee that Harry has the power to give Dobby a large enough boost immediately," Regulus pointed out as his mind returned to his mother's lessons in regards to house elves. Tonks barked out a short laugh happy to have something to relieve the tension she'd felt growing the longer Harry looked at her.
"We don't have to worry about power with Harry. He has that in spades." Harry felt his face heat up slightly. Tonks noticed this, and placed a reassuring arm around his shoulders in a friendly gesture which only deepened his blush. She reminded herself that there was no reason to feel embarrassed around Harry. It was just a few kisses when they were half asleep after all. 'No big deal,' she reminded herself, 'and not something she should allow to make them uncomfortable around each other.' Out loud she added, "Harry has been able to produce a corporal patronus since he was thirteen, and it was strong enough to send over a hundred dementors packing." Regulus's mouth fell open in shock at that revelation.
"You must be joking," he finally managed his face still reflecting his surprise.
"No, I'm not. Your brother talked about that story a lot. Harry saved both their lives that day, and Sirius was like a proud father bragging about him." Harry looked down again at that not sure what to say. He was always uncomfortable when others talked about his past deeds. Although part of him was also pleased to hear that Sirius talked about him to others including Tonks. And, Merlin, it felt great to have her arm around his shoulders, and feel her pressed close against his side. Regulus pondered this new information as well.
"My mother was never very powerful, but she was incredibly sadistic and cunning. Her specialty was poisons, and attacks that you never saw coming. If Harry is as powerful as you say, that could also help explain how Dobby can sense him even through wards and whatever this place is. A boost through a formal bond to Harry should certainly give Dobby an increase in magical power, especially considering it's a bond to a wizard directly and not just the ambient magic from working at Hogwarts. I would bond him directly to you, and not necessarily just to the Potter family."
"So, are we ready to try this?" Tonks asked Harry and the colorful elf fairly certain in the answer.
"What do we need to do?" Regulus looked askance at Harry's question surprised at Harry's lack of knowledge.
"Just state your name and that you want Dobby to be your house elf, and Dobby will state the same, the intent is more important than the actual words. You need to want him as your elf to make sure it works properly," Regulus cautioned him well aware of Harry's reluctance even if he did not understand it completely. House elves were incredibly useful, and it was far better to have an elf than to not have one in his opinion.
Harry nodded in understanding, took a deep breath and then stated, "I, Harry James Potter, would like for Dobby the house elf to be my personal house elf."
"Dobby wants to be the great Harry Potter's personal house elf," Dobby finished the excitement evident in his voice and manner as he was practically bouncing up and down on his feet. A soft golden glow surrounded both Harry and Dobby after he finished speaking before fading away slowly. Regulus admired the brightness of the glow thinking it fit perfectly with Tonks description that Harry was a powerful young wizard.
"Excellent. It looks like magic has accepted the bond."
"How long should we wait to see if it worked?" Tonks asked deferring to Regulus's knowledge on house elves.
"Whenever Dobby is ready to try, I would think. It's obvious the bond was accepted. If it doesn't work right away, we could wait and try again tomorrow. Sometimes a little time is needed for the magic of the bond to settle and provide the necessary boost. I would imagine that Dobby can already feel some difference."
"What do you think, Dobby? Feeling any more powerful?" Tonks asked Dobby curiously with a smile.
"Dobby feels good. Master Harry Potter sir is very powerful," he practically squealed in excitement and gave a little hop.
"Just Harry is good, Dobby," Harry stated really not liking the even longer title. 'Hermione is going to be so mad,' he thought again hoping that she would go easy on him if it worked and got them home.
"Dobby is ready to try again," the elf assured them confidently.
"Is there anything you want to take with you, Regulus? I forgot to ask earlier." Regulus took a look around, then summoned his books to him before shrinking them and placing them in his pocket. "I'm surprised that I almost forgot about them."
"Let's go home," he said with a smile though he was beginning to feel a bit nervous.
"Dobby, can you take us to Headquarters."
"Make it an order to be on the safe side," Tonks ordered and Harry quickly complied.
"Take us to Headquarters, Dobby."
"Yes, sir, Harry, sir," Dobby stated and the world shifted. It was over in a moment, and Harry stumbled and soon found himself in a tangled heap on the floor with Tonks mostly on top of him. It was a position he was becoming familiar with lately, not that he was complaining.
"You made me fall this time," Tonks stated with a smile as she carefully got to her feet.
"What happened to sorry?" Harry wanted to know as he watched her and did his best to strive for the easy conversation that usually existed between them.
"Sorry, are you alright?"
"Apology accepted, and yes, I'm fine," he replied climbing to his feet.
"This looks like a bit like the kitchen at Grimmauld Place," voiced Regulus surprised by their location.
"That's because it is, just older and more run down. The place was empty for several years, and Kreacher doesn't tend to do much cleaning," explained Tonks as she looked around the room. It was good to be home, or at least close.
"Kreacher," Regulus called, and the house elf appeared instantly.
"Master Regulus?" Kreacher stated his shock evident in his voice. He peered at the three closely. "Kreacher thought Master died. Kreacher couldn't sense Master anymore, but you is Master Regulus. Kreacher is a bad elf to not be knowing his Master was alive."
"I didn't die, Kreacher. Lucius banished me. Harry and Tonks found me, and Dobby brought us here," Regulus focused only on the highlights of what had happened to him.
"Kreacher is pleased to have Master Regulus back. Mistress will be so happy. No more mudbloods, half-bloods and blood traitor filth in the house of Black. Shall Kreacher throw out the half-blood filth, master?"
"No!" Regulus responded quickly. "I need some information first."
"Yes, Master Regulus. What does Master Regulus need from Kreacher?"
"Is anyone else in the home other than those people in this room?"
"No, master. No one is in the home other than master and the half-blood filth in this room," he responded promptly.
"You shall not talk badly about Harry or Tonks, Kreacher. They rescued me, as such the House of Black owes them a great debt," Regulus directed the elf who nodded grimly. He obviously did not like that order. "How are the defenses of the home?"
"The old man relies almost entirely upon the fidelius charm to hide the house of Black. No Lord Black has taken his rightful place to raise the family defenses, master." The scorn was obvious in the house elf's voice.
"We should let Dumbledore know that we are back," Tonks stated as her mind started going to everything that might need to be done. "Any defenses you may try to raise could interfere with the fidelius."
"The defenses of this home are far superior to a single charm with more than one fatal flaw," Regulus countered easily dismissing Tonks' objection. "However, I would also like to get some more information before we start letting others know anything. After all, we do not know what sort of situation we have walked into here." Tonks appeared ready to argue until Harry placed a hand on her shoulder and added his own comment.
"Regulus has a good point in wanting to be cautious and find out all that we can before we wander around too much. For all we know, Death Eaters could have taken over Headquarters in the time we were gone." Tonks took a deep breath before answering.
"You're right. We don't know if it's safe or not. Just because we are in the kitchen at Headquarters doesn't mean that it's still headquarters."
"Or how long we've been gone because I don't feel as if nearly twenty years has passed," Regulus pointed out to the others.
"What is today's date, Dobby?"
"November 30, 1995."
"What!" Tonks yelped unable to mask her surprise.
"We cannot have been gone that long," stated Harry in disbelief.
"What did you think the date should be?" Regulus enquired curious himself at the amount of time that had passed since he disappeared. Fifteen years was a long time to be gone.
"Sometime in early August. I mean it certainly felt like we were gone for several days, but not several months."
"So perhaps one day equaled a month or thereabout," Regulus speculated intrigued by the time difference.
"Would everyone think we are dead like with Regulus?" Harry pondered looking to Tonks for her take on the situation.
"I don't know, honestly. I suppose it depends on if the goblins noticed and issued something in regards to a will reading for us, otherwise I'm sure Dumbledore has probably had the Order looking for us."
"If that's the case, he may already know you are back, especially if he has been monitoring for you in areas where you may try to return like here."
"It's certainly possible," mused Tonks thinking about it. It would make sense for Dumbledore to have done something like that especially if he hoped that the two would reappear. "We really need to know what's happened over the last few months."
"Kreacher, are you aware of what's been happening in the wizarding world in the last few months?"
"Everyone is looking for master Harry," Dobby revealed before Kreacher could respond. Kreacher gave Dobby a withering look and grumbled about uppity young elves.
"There is a search for Harry Potter. Some have suggested that he ran away out of fear of the Dark Lord, others suggest he was kidnapped either by the Dark Lord and his followers or by the Auror Tonks who disappeared around the same time. The old man set alerts here, but Kreacher's mistress ordered them removed. Kreacher has done his best to remove those he could. Master should be safe here form meddling old man until he can raise the family defenses."
"Thank you, Kreacher. Any other news that we should be aware of?"
"The Malfoys are pushing to have young Draco named as Lord Black arguing that Harry Potter is dead and Draco Malfoy is a Black by blood. The old man has managed to avoid any declaration of Harry Potter's death to prevent this," Kreacher added. "Now that true master is back the Black family will rise to power once more." The old elf looked quite pleased at this.
"We shall see, Kreacher. For now, I would like as many recent Daily Prophets as you can find, then make us something to eat. Are there bedrooms clean and prepared for us to use?"
"Master's room is clean and prepared," Kreacher replied quickly.
"Tonks and Harry will need a room as well," he informed the house elf and noted that both Tonks and Harry's faces turned pink at his request for a single room for them.
"Yes, sir. Will that be all, Master Regulus?"
"Yes, report back to me once you have a meal prepared," Regulus informed him. Kreacher nodded and was gone with a pop.
"Dobby is more than happy to clean a room for Harry and his Tonksey," Dobby stated interrupting the silence after Kreacher's departure.
"That's not necessary, Dobby. I suggest we go somewhere to sit and talk for awhile so that Kreacher may make us something to eat in peace," he added heading towards the stairs. "You are welcome to join us Dobby to continue filling us in on news from Hogwarts and the outside world. I doubt Kreacher leaves the house often."
"Please do join us, Dobby. I want to know how Ron and Hermione are doing?" Harry said before he started to follow Regulus from the room. Seeing that she was outvoted, Tonks followed the others still marveling at how much time had passed and what they should do next.
Author's Note: I should say never finish a story, and then decide to re-write part of it. However, that would not be good advice. Even if my edits and re-write meant it took forever to try to finish a story a second time. I have been playing with this chapter for nearly a year now off and on, and frankly, I am still not happy with it. However, it completes the basic story while still leaving room for a sequel in either novel or one-shot form. Thank you for following the story, posting reviews, and encouraging me to continue writing. Thoughts or ideas in what you would like to see in a sequel or epilogue are appreciated and encouraged. Feedback makes a writer's day, especially when it's good and/or encouraging.