A/N; This is just quick plot bunny that I threw together. It's up for adoption if anyone wants to take the story and run with it. If you do, drop me a link and I'll post it. If not, just enjoy a fun "what if" moment featuring a goblin raised Harry.
Disclaimer; I don't own Harry Potter and am making no money from this piece of fiction.
No one knows quite how it happened, but sometime in the late spring of 1984 the Wizarding World changed forever and yet no one noticed for several days. One might think that such an immense change would have been noticeable, but it was not. The world changed not with a bang, but a whimper. A little boy, not even four years old, cried out for help. And something answered.
When the first person noticed three days later, she just said "Good riddance to bad rubbish," and slammed the cupboard closed. She and her family pretended as if nothing had ever happened, and they felt better for it. By the time the first wizard knew their world had changed, it was too late to detect what exactly had happened. All they knew was that in an old man's office, a device used to track the boy's welfare was shrieking in terror at his near death state. Harry Potter had been missing for three months, having disappeared from a locked cupboard.
Seven years passed and the people of the Wizarding World grew less hopeful every year that their savior might one day be found. A small but dedicated group of witches and wizards had been searching off and on in that time, but there was never one shred of real evidence to give them hope. They investigated hundreds, thousands even, of rumors about green eyed, dark haired, young boys with unusual scars but they never found a reliable lead to follow. Naturally a lot of fake Harry Potters sprouted up over the years, but the Goblins of Gringotts turned them all away without testing a single one. In retrospect, this was probably something the searchers should have been aware of.
No, in the end it was a rather mundane event that revealed to the Wizards just how much their society was about to change.
Minerva McGonagall sat at her desk sorting through all of her paperwork. It was time once again for letters to be sent to prospective students and it was her job to make sure that muggle raised students were properly informed about their opportunities. This meant that she had to check the addressed envelopes coming from The Quill against her list of magical families. Wizarding children got their letter and a supply list, muggle born children had their letters delivered by a professor or ministry worker. As she worked her way through the stack of envelopes to be sent her eyes looked for Harry Potter's name, hoping that he would be somewhere in her pile, found at last.
She had sorted all of the letters but one and her spirits were falling, just a glance showed her that it was not the name she sought. It was only as she compared it to her list that she was broken out of the half trance state she had fallen into. The job was so routine she was not paying attention, except for that additional desire for the name Potter, but this envelope forced her back into the present. This letter was not addressed to anyone on her list, but the name... Slamskull, c/o Gringotts Bank, London, England...
At first it seemed so preposterous, Goblins did not care to learn wizard magic. There had never been a goblin at Hogwarts, other than for business affairs, in over five hundred years. It simply wasn't done! And yet... There was one letter missing, and one letter that should not be... Perhaps she needed to talk to the Headmaster, and if none of these muggle born wizards turned out to be Potter under a new name...
Negotiating with the Goblins of Gringotts was difficult at the best of times, usually it was over money in one form or another, but when one wanted something from the Goblin Nation itself... Albus Dumbledore sighed and rubbed his temples slowly. He had yet to see this mysterious Slamskull, he only hoped that his theories were correct and all of this would be worth the effort. The first response he received to the Hogwarts admittance letter simply stated that Slamskull did not wish to leave his post. Persuasive letters stressing the opportunities that would be open to him were answered with assertions that he could not leave his two comrades who had only just earned their names and were not yet fit for guard duty on their own. He was told that Slamskull was responsible for them and that it was his duty to his Clan to make sure they behaved honorably.
Dumbledore immediately offered to take all three as students, surely three trained magicians would be a noteworthy addition to the Clan's history, and that was when the negotiations started. Initially when the Headmaster entered the bank, he had assumed they merely wanted to negotiate some form of group rate, or a discount on boarding fees since the goblins would not eat as much as a human. Instead he found that the Goblin Nation wanted him to purchase a contract hiring the three as guards for a term of seven years because this schooling would mean they could not pursue other forms of employment. Dumbledore immediately brought up tuition, room and board, and the fact that two of them were (by their own admission) unfit for guard duty.
The negotiations raged for several hours, every item in the prospective contract argued over and enumerated with precision. Eventually terms were settled and a deal was struck. The three young goblins would attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but they would be paid a starting sum of one hundred galleons per year with a rate increase yearly based upon their performance in their assigned studies, the grading of which would be done by a third party to ensure fairness. Dumbledore would be responsible for convincing the ministry that three goblins were to be allowed to carry and use wands in spite of Clause 3 of the Code of Wand Use instituted in 1793. If those conditions were met, the contract would become binding on the first of September of each year and extend through the second week of June. Orders and requests outside of assigned class materials could only be made by Dumbledore and one other wizard or witch to be determined at the Sorting ceremony.
Precisely at ten forty five a.m. on the first of September, three trunks, two goblins, and one heavily scarred human child arrived by portkey on platform nine and three quarters. They boarded the train with the utmost decorum and no fanfare. They found an empty compartment and stowed their things before breaking out a game that consisted of a board, tiles decorated with glyphs, and for some reason dice. The game was something like a mix of Scrabble, Go, and Battleship. The glyphs were used to spell words in gobbledygook that were worth points, the glyphs on any square could be captured with proper strategy, and ultimately some words were more powerful than others and eliminated those glyphs from the board entirely. The game was used to teach young goblins how to fight a war politically, financially, and physically all at the same time and was very complex in practice.
The train had been rolling for around an hour, and the game just beginning to become interesting, when a young girl with bushy hair entered their compartment. She was a bit surprised to see the occupants of the compartment dressed in shining armor and playing a board game but recovered quickly enough.
"I'm sorry to bother you, but have any of you seen a toad?" She asked politely.
"No we haven't," Slamskull told her.
The smaller of the two goblins piped in at this point, "But don't worry miss, if we see it, we will kill it for you!"
She looked shocked and was about to correct him when the other assured her, "Oh we may not look it, but we are all proud warriors of Clan Gringotts. A mere toad will stand no chance against our might, you will be safe here.
"No! I don't want you to kill it! I'm just trying to find it," She gushed.
"You don't?" Slamskull asked with a puzzled look. "Why do you seek this toad? We were told human females, especially young ones, detest and are frightened by all manner of amphibians."
"What? I'm not afraid of toads. I'm not looking for me. This boy I was talking to, Neville Longbottom, lost it. It is his pet."
"Ah, Clan Longbottom... An honorable Clan if such things can be said of wizards, their warriors fought well, if on the wrong side." Slamskull placed another tile on the board and smiled as his companions groaned. "What Clan do you hail from young miss?"
The girl had to consider the question for a moment then extended her hand. "Oh, where are my manners? My name is Hermione Granger and I am the first witch in my family. Who are you?"
Slamskull took her hand and touched it to his forehead as he bowed deeply. "Then may your Clan prosper Clan Chief Granger. I am Slamskull; these are my denmates and comrades Flipstaff and Jeff the Mighty. We are warriors of Clan Gringotts."
"Jeff the Mighty?"
"Yes," Jeff puffed his chest out proudly. "It is an honorable name chosen by my mentor after I completed my first battle."
"I'm sure that must be quite the story," Hermione said with some amusement. "You said you were part of Clan Gringotts does that mean you work for the bank?"
"Not necessarily," Slamskull told her. "Clan Gringotts owns the bank but not all of it's employees are members of our Clan, nor are all of us employed by the bank."
"Oh, well it was nice to meet you all but I should help Neville find his toad. I'm sure we'll get the chance to talk again later." She left the compartment and let them return to their game.
The Sorting was an interesting event, when it eventually got underway. The students were forced to wait awhile as three of their new classmates decided that sitting still in a boat was not nearly enough challenge and chose to swim across the lake instead. They refused any help and did not even let the professor dry them off when they reached the other side. They were proud of their chills and proud to have proven themselves stronger than their classmates.
Once in the Great Hall the Sorting Hat sang a song detailing the origins of each house and the students were called individually to be sorted. Once Granger, Hermione, had been sorted to Gryffindor, the professor called on "Gringotts, Flipstaff!"
The young goblin approached the stool and the hat had barely touched his head when it called for him to be placed in Slytherin House. There were a few snickers as "Gringotts, Jeff the Mighty" was called to place, but soon he too was in Slytherin. Slamskull was ready and waiting, but they did not call his name. The Sorting continued for a while before the professor called out "Potter, Harry".
Whispers immediately began to circulate. Could it be, The Boy Who Lived found at last and returned to Hogwarts? Slamskull looked around for this great Wizarding warrior he had heard about, but did not see anyone who met his description. The professor repeated her call twice more before the Headmaster stood up. "Slamskull, she means you. Please come forward for your sorting."
"But she hasn't called my name," He pointed out.
"You are Harry Potter, that is your name." The whispers were reaching a frantic pace as everyone wondered if this scarred and sopping wet young boy was really the legendary Harry Potter.
"I am not a furry craftsman who works in clay. No, my name is Slamskull and I am a warrior. I earned my name after my first battle." He protested.
"And what were you called before that?"
"Before my first battle, I had no name. Goblins do not get a name until they have proven themselves."
"But you lived with your human relatives before you disappeared, surely they called you by your name."
"Those humans were filth, barely fit to live. If they spoke to me at all it was to call me freak or boy. I have only one name and it is Slamskull of Clan Gringotts. If you do not call me by my name you insult my honor and that of my mentor who named me. If you insult my honor as a warrior then I will have to earn a new name starting with your death." The hall had gone quiet as Flipstaff and Jeff the Mighty rose from their seats to stand behind their kinsman.
Dumbledore bowed low from his waist. He realized that if these three tried to fight him, others would interfere. When that happened all of Gringotts, and possibly other Clans, would rise up angry that one of their warriors had been mortally insulted and then denied the proper chance to answer the insult. "My apologies to Clan Gringotts for my unintentional insult. Very well Slamskull, would you please come forward to be sorted."
Slamskull walked to the stool and put the hat upon his head. Soon a voice whispered in his mind, "Oh my, my, my... What do we have here? I see another proud goblin warrior, fearless in battle, loyal to the death, thirsty for knowledge, and sly enough to sell ice to a Viking, but why? Ah, your ambition... You seek to become the best warrior possible to earn honor for your clan. You seek to become the best to win honor for yourself. You seek to become a legend! With ambition like that there is only one place your you. Salazar would be proud to have you in the House of SLYTHERIN!"
As soon as they reached the Slytherin Dormitories however, things began to turn sour. It seemed that certain factions within the house of snakes did not desire the company of goblins within their sacred halls and wished to make that dislike known. As soon as the three warriors passed into the common room they were surrounded by a group of fourth and fifth years.
"Your kind aren't welcome here," the largest said, cracking his knuckles noisily.
"And yet here we are," Jeff the Mighty replied.
"Goblins and filthy goblin lovers have no place in Slytherin House," another jeered.
"That is irrelevant. We were assigned this dormitory so here we shall stay."
"No, you won't," the largest corrected. "We will not allow you to stay here. You are not worthy to stay in Great Slytherin's House."
"Is that so?" Slamskull smiled a very goblin smile, showing off his teeth which had been filed into points. Suddenly there were knives in each of the warriors' hands. "I guess we'll have to change that."
The two goblins and the young wizard let out a furious cry and leapt forward. Slamskull tore into the leader while the other two took the nearest two. Slamskull swung high as he leapt, knowing that his opponent would protect his face instinctively. As he did so his other hand grabbed a portion of the fabric over his shoulder. Suddenly the knife wielding terror was behind his target and the knife which moments before had been inches from his nose was swinging in an arc across the backs of both knees. Immediately the larger boy's legs gave out and Slamskull's body acted as a fulcrum directing his fall. The others watching quickly saw how he earned his name as the bully's head connected with the stone floor and a small puddle of blood formed around him. Flipstaff and Jeff the Mighty had also brought down their targets, but the others had fled. Slamskull turned to the two downed opponents who were still conscious.
"We stay, and if you're smart you'll leave us alone until you are certain you can win. Just this once we'll forget this ever happened, next time we'll see how well you fair when you're in the hospital and suddenly your family can't afford your treatment." Slamskull smiled again, "Understood?"
The two nodded and tried to get up. Just that minute the common room burst open and Professor Snape stormed in. "What's going on in here? The portraits said there was a fight going on."
The three warriors grinned and Slamskull spoke for them. "A fight? I didn't see any fight. Did anyone else?"
Slowly at first, but then with gathering speed everyone else in the common room shook their heads in the negative.
"See, no problems here. You might want to get these three something though. Looks like they took a tumble down the stairs."
Snape narrowed his eyes into slits. "That's preposterous. They've clearly been stabbed and sliced, and all three of you are still holding bloody knives."
"Like I said, they tripped and fell down the stairs. If we were at the bottom and got crushed, that's not our fault. And if we just so happened to be cleaning our knives before bed like any good warrior does, well that's not our fault either," Slamskull shrugged, "This all seems like some kind of tragic accident Professor. Maybe they should pay more attention to where they are falling. You might want to have that one looked at; belly wounds have a habit of going septic."
Snape looked around the common room once more, very slowly. Clearly some of the students were scared, and others impressed, but no one moved to correct this farce of a story, not even those who were injured. So that's how it was going to be then? Someone made a bid for power and lost. Slytherin kept its secrets well, and he doubted anyone would hear differently even when everyone knew it wasn't the truth.