Harry felt himself hit solid ground as the Portkey dropped them off at their final destination, and rolled out of the way to avoid being squashed by Hermione, Sirius and Lupin. Once he had gotten himself up off the ground and brushed himself off, he noticed where they were, and his jaw dropped.
They were standing in what appeared to be the parlor of Mapleworth Hall, a grand room that had a ceiling that was very tall, from which ornate candelabra chandeliers, like larger, grander versions of the one in Harry and Hermione's special room in the Gryffindor Common Room, hung down, bathing the room in warm golden light. Full-length French windows looked out onto an elaborate, perfectly-kept garden, and filling the room were dozens of beautiful, plush Edwardian sofas and armchairs, a piano and a billiard table. Portraits and other paintings lined the wall. A gorgeous fireplace of polished marble shone in its place against the west wall. Harry and Hermione looked around in awe, unable to say anything. Sirius and Lupin were looking around with reminiscent grins.
"M-m-master James??" A croaky, old, astonished voice suddenly said. Harry looked around for the source of the voice, and his vision rested on three House Elves standing a respectable distance away from Harry's feet. The slightly taller of the two looked older than the third who looked like the elfish version of a human in their thirties, who was also smaller than the other two.
"No, it is Master's son!" Squealed the smaller elf, who seemed very excitable, "it is surely young Master Harry! I is Dilly, sir! And these is Dilly's parents, Fillian and Davenscrift, sir! We is the Potter family house elves!"
"Master Harry, I am so proud," Davenscrift, who was the oldest and largest, said, bowing. Fillian also bowed. Harry's sense of overwhelm only increased, and he looked over at Sirius, who must have noticed his almost helpless expression for he laughed.
"I'm sorry, Harry, it did not occur to me to tell you that, along with everything else you now own, you have these elves under your supervision," Sirius said to Harry, "It's been a long time, Davenscrift," he added, stepping towards the elf.
"Sirius, sir!" Davenscrift said happily, but at a look from Fillian, who appeared to be his wife, and Dilly's mother, from what Harry's shocked brain could put together, Davenscrift faltered. "We is sorry, Sirius, sir, but we is hearing rumors from Everard's portrait…"
"Ah, yes," Sirius said, "I have been cleared of all charges, Davenscrift, and will be filing to be Harry's guardian." Davenscrift beamed. It was clear he and Sirius got along. "Speaking of Harry," Sirius added, "do we need to contract him to you and Fillian and Dilly?"
"No, Sirius, sir," Davenscrift responded, "as far back as I is remembering, sir, the Potters have always bonded their children and elves when the child is an infant. We have been Master Harry's elves since then, as much as we were Master James and Mistress Lily's elves."
"Which means," Sirius said, facing Harry, "that these elves are here for you, and will serve you."
"It is so nice to have someone to serve again," Fillian said wistfully, "I loved serving Mistress Lily. She is Fillian's favorite, Master Harry, sir, but I is honored to be in the service of the noble Potter family and am proud and excited to be serving Mistress Lily's son. But Fillian is recognizing Sirius, Remus and Master Harry, but is wondering who the young girl Master brings with him is?"
"Sorry," Harry said caught unaware, "Davenscrift, Fillian, Dilly, this is Hermione Granger. Er…we're bonded."
"I is seeing the magic!" Dilly said suddenly, "but I is wondering why Mistress Hermione is still being addressed by her maiden name? Why is she not Hermione Potter?" Harry blushed, having not really considered much that they were now married. She was his, and he was hers, that was all that mattered to him. Hermione was blushing but also grinning broadly. She looked at Harry.
"Hermione Potter…I like the sound of that."
"We will call you Mistress Hermione Potter then," Fillian said in a final tone, but still smiling.
"Er…I'd rather you just called me Hermione," Hermione responded.
"Yeah…I'd prefer it if you just called me Harry, too," Harry said. Both Davenscrift and Fillian looked confused, but bowed, showing, Harry assumed, assent. However, they refused to not call Harry and Hermione 'Master' and 'Mistress', citing that it was an honor to serve them, and that they felt equally honored to be bound to them, and therefore were honor-bound to address Harry and Hermione, in their eyes, by their rightful title.
"Would Master Harry like a tour, sir?" Dilly asked. Harry nodded, and followed Dilly from the parlor.
The house was amazing. They left the parlor, and found themselves in a semicircular room facing the left side and slightly behind a grand two-sided staircase like on the Muggle luxury liner, the RMS Titanic, which had sunk many years before Hermione or Harry had been born. It even had a sculpted figure, an elf, holding a gorgeous chandelier on the central banister. To the right and slightly behind the staircase was the entrance to the dining room, which included a veranda which offered stunning views of the grounds, including a garden which appeared to go around the entire house. A door directly behind the staircase led to a hall that had two large studies, what appeared to be the residences of the house elves, and a door at the other end offering access to the grounds, and the first floor entrance to the two-floor library. Facing the staircase was the main hall, where the front doors were located. They were large, impressive but not intimidating doors. To the right hand side was a very large walk in closet and bathroom, to the left, a smaller parlor where guests could relax with their hosts, from which another bathroom adjoined. This room was almost all windows and clearly doubled as a greenhouse, with Parisian wicker chairs that surrounded four three-person wicker coffee tables. It was from this room that you could just get a glimpse of the sea. On the second floor there were mostly bedrooms, and the second floor part of the library, off which was another, much smaller room that Dilly said housed the security center for the house and said that Harry should not visit unless he had a few hours to spare. Harry agreed to skip over that particular room. His attention was on Hermione, who was speechless with delight at the library. Actually, they all had been speechless with delight from the moment the Portkey had dropped them in the parlor of Mapleworth Hall, but Harry loved seeing Hermione gazing at the too numerous to count bookshelves; she was so cute, all flushed with excitement and pleasure. There was another, much smaller parlor/living room across from the library which was much more Spartan in comparison with its first-floor counterparts. The rest of the rooms on the second floor were bedrooms, ten in all, and each had adjoining bathrooms in various states of elegance. The master bedroom, which Sirius and Lupin agreed should be Harry and Hermione's, as it had been James and Lily's before them, was at the back of the hall. A dark, forest green carpet covered the floor, and there was a king-sized four poster in there, as well as a sofa and two armchairs, a walk-in closet and an enormous bathroom that was by far the most elegant; the whole room was the most elegant, and offered breathtaking views of the ground, and included a small hanging screen porch. The next most elegant rooms became Sirius and Lupin's bedrooms.
The outside was equally magnificent. The garden did indeed circumnavigate the house, and also seemed to be the main attraction of the outdoor area. It was like living in a park, right down to the center of the garden which featured a gorgeous fountain surrounded by brilliant blooms and comfy park benches. Harry couldn't wait for the opportunity to snog Hermione by the fountain. The Quidditch pitch offered a spectacular view of the sea, and what appeared to be a quaint little harbor. Also nestled into a small cliff that overlooked the bay was a large boathouse. After further explorations, which included discovering a swimming pool made of marble, Lupin called them all in for a delicious lunch prepared by Fillian and Davenscrift.
After lunch, Sirius suggested that they visit the town, because there would be business, according to Sirius that he would need to get done there. He led Harry and Hermione outside and down to a basement entrance at the back of the house he must have missed during Dilly's initial tour of the grounds. Sirius opened the door to the basement, and led them in. It was not a big room, but it housed a very large furnace, and stacks of firewood lined the long side of the room.
"The elves liked to call this room theirs," Sirius said as he strolled around a large tarp, "but your father thought that this would be a good place to store these." He pulled on the tarp, which fell away to reveal two small Muggle Honda motor-scooters.
"Your parents liked the town," Sirius explained, "and thought these to be a fun, easy way to go incognito when they wanted to visit the town. Now, if we take these over to the Quidditch field, I think we'll find that it has a charm similar to Moony's cushioning charm, and we can practice riding those scooters."
"But…by Muggle law, Harry and I aren't old enough to operate those," Hermione said uncertainly, indicating the scooters.
"Don't worry, Hermione," Sirius said reassuringly, "there's a little charm that Davenscrift knows to create perfectly valid licenses for you two, and you'll find that most in the town knew Harry's dad and grandparents, so as long as you know how to work these things, I can pretty much say you'll be just fine." It took a minute to convince Hermione, but a few moments later found Sirius and Lupin patiently teaching Harry and Hermione to operate the scooters, and after about a half hour, both elder men declared the children to be ready to drive into town.
"How do we get there?" Harry asked bluntly.
"Just follow the yellow brick road," Lupin responded, indicating a road that was indeed made of yellow bricks—actually, it was plain asphalt, but Lily had charmed it to look like yellow bricks to pay a humorous tribute to one of her favorite movies, and indeed the party was delayed a further few minutes as Hermione regained control of her mirth.
The town, Anstruther, was a picturesque Scottish fishing village near St. Andrews. Sirius, who was straddled uncomfortably on Harry's scooter, indicated that they needed to get down to the road that ran alongside the harbor, and told Harry to stop at a particular building with a door marked Harbor Master. Sirius stiffly got off the scooter and knocked.
"Come in," a voice called. Sirius opened the door and stepped inside. It was like walking into an explosion of maritime charts and pipe smoke, for the man sitting at the desk, who had black hair and beard and a blue pullover with a small anchor in the center, was smoking a pipe.
"Captain Haddock, it's good to see you after so many years," Sirius said warmly, moving towards the man with his hand outstretched, "it's Sirius Black."
"Sirius, mate! Good to see you as well. I trust I find you well? That you, Remus?"
"Indeed, Archie," Lupin responded.
"Don't call me Archie," he growled back.
"Harry, this is Archibald Haddock, who prefers to be known as Captain Haddock or just Captain. Captain, this is Harry Potter, James Potter's son, and his wif—girlfriend, Hermione."
"Thundering typhoons," Captain Haddock responded in awe, "yes, my word, so you are. So pleased to meet you, son. Your father was a great friend and my employer. Actually, your whole family was my employer for about five generations now. Your great-grandfather's grandfather was a big part of how this area got its name in the fishing industry. So, I reckon you want to see your boats?"
"I have boats?" Harry asked in awe.
"Yep," said Sirius ironically, "among other things."
"Come on," Captain Haddock said excitedly, taking a draw on his pipe and expelling a cloud of sweet smelling tobacco, "let's go." He led them out of his office, and down to where a whole plethora of boats were tied up to a pier.
"See them out there?" Captain Haddock asked, pointing. Harry followed the Captain's finger and indeed saw three boats side by side. One was a schooner, tied up in a slip in one of the floats, a smaller motor launch in the slip beside it, and a large fishing boat was pointed out by Captain Haddock, tied up beside two more of its kind, against the part of the pier that was near a warehouse. Captain Haddock led them to a pier which had a ramp leading to the floats where the schooner and launch were moored.
"We'll see the schooner first," Captain Haddock said, and led them out to the schooner.
It was a beautiful 55' Gaff-rigged schooner called the Bonny Bonnie. A wooden boat painted dark blue with a varnished trim.
"Beautiful, isn't she?" Captain Haddock asked. It most certainly was, and once again Harry found his voice stubbornly unwilling to make a sound or cooperate with his brain, which was insisting that he prove to the Captain that he had heard him.
"Your great grandfather bought this," Captain Haddock told Harry, "when he went across the pond to Boston one time. Charles, his name was, and his wife, Bonnie. Excellent sailors they were, my grandfather used to tell me stories about them. The Haddocks have looked after this boat for five generations, we have. Now," he reached up, pulled himself up into the cockpit and reached around till he found a little ladder which he secured over the side, and then offered his hand to help Hermione up. Once Sirius and Lupin were on board, Captain Haddock began talking about the boat, explaining the different sails, how everything worked, etc., etc.
"But you won't have to worry about any of that," he concluded, "or at least any more than you want to learn. Your father used to trust me to take care of captaining the boat if he needed to use it to get away for a while, or at least put together something of a crew, and I will be delighted to carry on doing that for you."
"Thank you," Harry said. Captain Haddock nodded, and pointed to the fore and aft cabins.
"That one," Captain Haddock said, indicating the aft cabin gangway, "leads straight to your personal cabin—or at least, your father and grandfather decided that would be their personal cabin, along with their spouses, so I reckon you'll want it to be yours." Harry nodded.
"That sounds good." Captain Haddock grinned, and led them down the gangway. It was a gorgeous room which had Hermione in transports of delight. Perfectly sized, it contained a queen-sized bed off to port (left) with clothing drawers and a foldaway settee on the starboard side (right). A small door enclosed the aft cabin for privacy. The midsection contained a large chart table and workbench which led into the forward cabin, which contained a foul weather gear locker, the head (bathroom) with a shower stall and sink included. To port was the galley (kitchen) complete with a refrigerator/freezer unit, a stove a sink and storage locker, and through an open archway forward of the galley was the salon, which was nicely posh and comfy, but not overly fancy. Forward of the salon were two private guest berths, containing two bunk-bed double beds. The most forward room below decks was the foc'sle, which contained a bunk-bed V-birth for four.
"Your grandfather had the upper bunks added when he would take groups of his friends for weekend cruises, although it more commonly is where the crew sleeps," Captain Haddock explained. Privately, Harry wondered if there were other ways his family had made it possible for more friends to come aboard than the additional bunks.
After much briefer tours of his other two boats, the fishing boat the Sea Marauder and the motor launch, a Flanders Bay 27' Dutch harbor launch that Captain Haddock said Harry's father had used for day trips to an island he owned and the farm on said island, the group returned to Anstruther.
"I'm exhausted," Harry grumbled good naturedly a little bit later after he and Sirius had secured the tarp back over the motor scooters.
"Yeah," Lupin said, "we really need to get you and Hermione back to school. Dumbledore'll do his nut if we spent much more time here." Suddenly, Hermione gave the group a terrified glance.
"I've just remembered," she said, "Griphook wanted to speak to us after we were done, but we must have spent the majority of the day here!"
"Don't worry, Hermione," Lupin responded, who seemed fond of Hermione in an uncle-like sense, "he'll have gone on and seen other clients. Basically, Gringotts has a charm that alerts goblins of when their clients have finished their business and have left their vaults, and send the appropriate goblin straightaway. If the goblins waited while their clients did their business all the time, there'd be no goblins to wait on counter in the lobby." In response to Harry and Hermione's unknowing looks, he went on. "Gringotts does not only safeguard a wizard's gold and inheritances, but uses the vaults as meeting places for the wizard's most important meetings or if they just need an escape of some sort. Others, like Ron's brother, Bill, often make their offices in their vaults, and if your work involves very valuable stuff, it is a very wise move."
"We'll have to bring you back here, say next weekend," Sirius said as they trudged back up to the manor, "now that you've seen the house, we need to set up the privacy, and make sure everything is still secure, like the Fidelius charm and whatnot." Harry nodded. He was in fact, very much looking forward to when he'd have to return, whatever the reason for it be, and he also wanted to sleep with Hermione in one of his new beds. Whether in his suite or on board the Bonny Bonnie he did not know, but was excited nonetheless. He grinned to the parlor's immense ceiling as he and the others touched the Portkey that would take them back.
When they left the vault, after replacing the Portkey, and had stepped outside to where the vaults overlooked the goblin cart tracks, Griphook, just as Lupin had said, was by their side in an instant. As it conspired, the business he had wished to discuss with Harry was, as it had been with the elves, to know how Hermione wished to be addressed, due to her bond with Harry, and, after saying that she wanted to be addressed as 'Mrs. Potter', the goblin ushered them from his office after many thanks, and they prepared to apparate back to Lupin's house, from where they would floo back to Hogwarts.
As they stepped out from the fireplace in Professor McGonagall's office, the designated floo location, they were met by a grave Professor Dumbledore.
"Come to my office quickly," he said before anyone could say anything, in an urgent voice, "there are issues that must be dealt with, and quickly."