Disclaimer – JKR (and several other companies etc) owns the characters that you recognise. I own the plot
Notes – the following story is very AU! Based on a 'what if the Ministry exiled Harry after he defeated Voldemort…' and a 'what if the great Horcrux hunt was set for Harry as a sixth year challenge instead of it being mostly Dumbly's job…' Dumbledore is still alive, as is Snape. Sirius is dead though…
Oh and Dumbly is slightly evil in this one. On the other hand, at least he's not the benign character that I usually write.
I can't give any warnings or pairings without giving the game away. It is an MPREG story, but not graphic. Actually, everyone has babies in this one… Wizards, Witches, Hippogriffs… but still not graphic!
As I said in my profile there are several character names I have 'lifted' from other shows… they are NOT supposed to be in character…
BTW – Harry will be speaking with a number of people from various countries around the world and I have chosen not to try to record their accents – it would be too confusing and as I only speak two languages (English and bad English) I don't wanna mangle anyone's home language…
Harry Potter and the Soul Gems
Extract from 'Harry Potter: The Man behind the Legend. An Unofficial Biography'
… Coming as it did a mere ten hours after his defeat of the self-styled Lord Voldemort, the British Ministry's declaration of exile is still seen by many as a crushing betrayal. Having sacrificed both family and love to the cause of ridding Britain of the ascending Dark Lord, Harry Potter found himself reeling on a street corner in France, deposited there by the Port Key the Ministry had used to part him from his homeland forever.
Little is known about those first grim hours, though it is believed that several magical races made contact with Mr Potter to offer their support and succour…
Harry settled more comfortably on the floating carpet and waited patiently for the sun to rise. He had his journal balanced on his knee and the spell he used to orient himself, giving Muggle latitude and longitude as well as the Wizarding equivalent, was hovering in the air, waiting to be directed to a new location. He'd already marked in the main site, and all he needed now was the dawn to prove his theory right.
The last of the shadows lightened and then began to lift. Acting quickly, Harry sent his spell out to locate the four rounded shadows that shouldn't have been on the flat featureless terrain, sketching them in quickly on his map, and adding the location details as the spell bounced back. He added in the major landmarks, the sketched map taking shape under his sure eye. At Hogwarts, he'd never have listed sketching as one of his talents, but now… two years of near constant practice had improved his skills, as well as his handwriting.
Satisfied he'd recorded all the pertinent details, Harry cancelled the spell, and then used the magically altered Polaroid camera to take a few pictures. The sun was rapidly heating the air, which was to be expected in the desert. Dobby had insisted on Harry wearing a cloak in the cool night air, but Winky had laid a few charms on it that would prevent him from overheating once the sun was up. The loose cotton clothes he wore beneath, a marked changed from the usual Muggle clothes he'd worn growing up, had the same charm.
Harry glanced over his shoulder, admiring the dawn as it crept over the desert. It was so different to England, no green hills, no crowded together houses. This part of the desert had seen action in a Muggle war – there were still trenches and barbed wire around, and an unwary or unlucky person could take a nasty fall into one or the other, or both, if they weren't careful. The area was supposed to have been the site of some furious Muggle battles, and was still said to be haunted, though Harry suspected that was the by-product of the tomb's wards more than anything else.
The sun got too bright, and Harry sighed, shut his journal around his never-out quill and nudged the flying carpet into motion, heading for the small group of tents that the team of curse breakers called home. Though he still vastly preferred to fly on a broom if going any distance, the small flying carpet he'd picked up in a Cairo bazaar was a good platform for map work. It would seat four, and had a lovely gold and blue scarab woven into the centre. From his vantage point he could see the roof of his tent, home to himself and two House Elves, the ventilation panels rolled up to let in the fresh air. Winky had a real fetish for fresh air, and after ten years in a cupboard, and another six and a half in a boarding school Harry had no objection.
To say that he'd been surprised when Dobby arrived at his side in France, mere minutes after the Ministry Port Key deactivated would be an understatement. He'd still been reeling from the shock of being told to leave England, not to mention weakened and seriously injured by the final battle against Voldemort. His only other choice had been Azkaban, locked up on charges of plotting his own Dark Supremacy, and if he'd stayed, they'd have also locked the Weasley's and Hermione away, charged as his key supporters. Harry had chosen to leave at once, not wanting to ruin their lives as well, and the Port Key had been shoved unceremoniously into his hand. The walls of his ward in St Mungo's had been replaced with the pre-dawn street, cold spring rain drifting down to soak his hospital issued pyjama's. Apart from his wand, that was all he had to his name.
Dobby had arrived moments later with a thick robe and slippers, hiccupping with tears as he dressed Harry, who had slid to the ground in a disbelieving heap. Dobby had insisted on them waiting where they were for a moment and had produced a huge umbrella, putting it up and standing so that Harry was sheltered from the mist. The robe had been charmed to warm him, as had the slippers, and by the time Winky arrived with all of his possessions, Harry was at least a little more coherent than the weeping elves. Dobby and Winky had insisted that he bind them to him at once, and Harry had been in no fit state to turn them away.
Only seconds after he felt the bond seal itself to his magic, a Goblin had appeared with a sharp crack. The elves had stopped weeping by that point and for a moment, it was unlikely that they were going to let this new arrival anywhere near Harry at all.
The Goblin's name was Cleaver, and he was representing the Gringott's Curse Breaking Department. Gringott's was an international bank, and it appeared that the Goblins in England had identified several key curse breaking traits in Harry, and had passed that information along to their compatriots in France. Harry was offered an apprenticeship with the Department, based upon his success in finding and destroying Voldemort's Horcruxes.
Fate had a third surprise in store for Harry, namely one Rubeus Hagrid. The half giant had gone immediately to France, once word about Harry's exile had got out, resigning from his beloved position at Hogwarts. Hagrid had gone to work for Madame Maxime, managing her own collection of magical creatures, and had made Harry live with him in his ample quarters above the fine Beaubaxton stables until Harry had proven that he was once more in good health. Between the mothering of his elves, and Hagrid's tender mercies, Harry had recovered both his strength and spirits in fairly short order.
The rest was history. Harry had learned a lot very quickly, and had passed through his apprenticeship with honours. He'd learned to research, catalogue, and record better than he had at school, skills that would no doubt shock Hermione if she'd been there to see it. He'd spent quite a bit of time after gaining his mastery working on various family heirlooms brought to the bank by its more prestigious customers, but the work had not held his attention. Then the opportunity to accompany a senior curse breaker – a man who'd earned his Mastery over three decades ago – had come up and Harry had leapt at it. To assuage the worries and concerns of his friend, whom he saw every second or third day, Harry had charmed a pair of tin boxes, and left one with Hagrid. They used them to send letters and photographs to each other instantaneously, as Harry encountered quite a few beasts that Hagrid would find interesting and misunderstood. Harry had gotten used to helping out when he went to visit the half giant, eventually coming to understand Hagrid's fascination with the beasts he loved.
Fortunately, Dobby and Winky didn't mind that they were tent elves instead of house elves, and Harry had taken to expedition life with gusto. Henri Dupree was not the easiest man to work with, but Harry had learnt a lot from him in the last four months, and was hoping that when the man retired next year Harry would be eligible to form his own curse breaking team for Gringott's.
Their current site was proving to be problematic. They had located the tomb that they were interested in, and had disabled enough of the external wards to allow them to get close to the entrance. Unfortunately, they hadn't got any further. The team linguist had identified that additional objects were required to disable the rest of the wards, but as she was still working on her translation, things had come to a halt.
Harry had suspected that there were other, lesser tombs in the area, and had gotten Dupree's permission to look for them while the team waited. They'd done all the research and preparation they could on the current tomb, and Harry hated sitting around waiting. Most of the team had chosen to apparate back to Cairo to wait in comfort, but Harry preferred to keep investigating the area. Bazaar's and marketplaces were all well and good, but he had seen enough of them for the moment, and the nightclubs were all about one-night stands, which he preferred to avoid. He wasn't living the life of a monk, but neither did he want to jump into intimacy with strangers.
His wandering attention was recalled by a flash of movement and colour in one of the nearby trenches. Curious about what it was, he directed the carpet into a shallow dive, and went to investigate.
Thanks for the pictures of the Auguries! They do look magnificent, I can tell by their plumage that you've taken fantastic care of them; it was definitely the right decision to send them to you for their recovery. Tweedledum has never looked better, especially now that his feathers have grown back, and Tweedledee looks to have put some much needed weight on. Thanks also for the clipping announcing the outcome of their previous owner's trial. No matter how hard Dobby tries, he cannot always get a newspaper that is in English and at the end of the day my translation spells don't always come out as accurate as they could.
News from the dig – I found four new tombs while we were waiting for the latest translations on the main tomb, much to Dupree's disgust. I enclose (on the back) a sketch of one of the beasts depicted on the tomb. I haven't been able to find it in any of the books in my personal library (thank you again for directing me to so many great sources) but I've got a few more books on order (no surprise there, when haven't I?) and I'm hoping that it will be in there. Whatever it is, I wouldn't like to meet it in a dark alley.
The photo's are of a Hippogriff that I found entangled in some barbed wire near the camp. I think that it tried to land in the dark and got its legs tangled, which made it fall into one of the trenches. I don't think it was there for many hours before I spotted it, but as you can see it was there long enough to do some serious damage to its left foreleg. Luckily, his wings weren't damaged in the fall or the subsequent attempts to get free. I got him freed and healed (see photos three and four especially) but I have a feeling that he will be lame in that leg. Thankfully, he hadn't broken any bones, and he let me close enough to put on that salve you sent for the Anaconda in Peru. That seemed to do the trick and I've got it resting comfortably for now (see photo five). If there's anything that I'm missing, let me know, and I'll see to it. I called him Brightfeather due to the single white feather he has at each wingtip – quite a startling contrast to his steel blue coat! He seemed to like the name, and although I don't expect that he'll hang around once he's well, it's nice to see such a beautiful Hippogriff.
Dobby thanks you for the knitted blanket you sent me; he finds it very useful to wrap me in when I go to sleep on the couch. Before you start scolding, I've usually fallen asleep over a fiction book, not a work one, and besides, Winky has taken to locking me out of the library after dinner anyway! I think I'll have to keep you three separated the next time we're all in France together!
Give my best wishes to Madame Maxime. And of course, all my love and best wishes to you as well.
"Hey Harry," the woman's voice broke into his thoughts and he grinned, squinting up into the sunlight. There were no trees out here of course, but shade could be made with a cloth at the right angle, and he'd added what he called an annex and what Dobby called a porch to the front of his tent so they could leave the front door open all the time. One handy spell to keep the bugs out and they were set. Dobby had set up a canvas chair for him, Winky had brought him a long cool glass of lemon lime and bitters, and Harry was annotating his journal with sketches of the four mounds.
"Good morning Mrs Vecchio," he waved a hand and a second canvas chair appeared. Francesca Vecchio was a brown eyed, slender witch with stylishly short hair. She was the team's linguist, though she didn't live at the base camp full time. Dupree would send her back to France or Italy every few weeks, claiming he had no further need of her, and then recall her when his latest idea fell through. Harry was beginning to get the feeling that Henri was not in top form here.
"Very funny, Potter," Francesca settled herself into the chair, her loose cotton robes fluttering around her. Winky appeared with a frosted glass of water for his guest and was thanked with a charming smile, "You wanted to see me?"
"Yeah, I was hoping you could have a look at the writings on the smaller tombs I discovered," Harry opened his journal to the right page and handed it over, "Based on your translation of the major tomb I had a go at it – as you can see – but I'm fairly sure its completely wrong."
"Yup," she drawled, and then snickered, "So wrong it's funny. Leave the languages to the linguist, and I won't tell you how to do your job either."
"That's no fun!" Harry pretended to complain, and then settled back quietly to watch her work. Francesca knew a frightening number of languages, and spoke them fluently in the accent of a native. It was something that she'd done since she was a child, and living in Rome, she had the perfect opportunity to pick up a wide variety of both living and dead dialects. She was trained as a historian in the Muggle world, and Gringott's had hired her to translate for curse breaking teams all over the northern hemisphere.
Harry didn't mind that she had no respect at all for his talents in languages. He'd managed to pick up a smattering of French, Italian, Polish and Arabic since he'd joined Gringott's, but English was always going to be his main language and in the four languages he'd begun to learn he would always be marked as a hopeless outsider. He did all right in Latin, and of course, he could cast a spell in just about any language there was, but that was more a function of intent and ability, not to mention lessons learned on a battlefield, than actual linguistic skill.
"I think…" Francesca trailed off for a moment, and then smiled, looking up at him happily, "I think that these four little tombs hold the keys for the larger one! If you and Dupree deactivate their defences first, then you'll find the four objects that the main tomb describes to unlock its wards."
"Ah," Harry sighed, "I was afraid of that. Dupree will lose sole control of the main site if we use goods from my discoveries."
"Harry, what on earth is this job about? Finding and recording history, or getting rich from treasure hunting?" Francesca scolded and he held up a hand to placate her. Some of the curse breakers that worked for Gringott's were little more than grave robbers. Harry's Master in France had been almost rabid about the proper survey, documentation and treatment of any tomb or vault that was uncovered by the curse breaking teams, and Harry had picked up his Master's enthusiasm. It was akin to Muggle archaeology in a way, and Harry had always loved solving puzzles and little mysteries, which made working for Gringott's unexpectedly his dream job.
"You and I both know it's about the discovery and adding to the body of evidence," he said firmly, giving her a jaundiced glare, "So don't go all righteous on me, ok? We both know that Dupree is retiring soon, and to lose control of the site like this is not a good thing."
"Because he should have anticipated all of this and ordered you to look. Instead it's on the record that you requested permission to investigate on your own initiative," Francesca sighed. The serious Masters were the ones that publish, both in the journals for their profession as well as books. There was talk that Dupree was having a biography written about his career, and it wouldn't do to suggest that at the end he'd been forced to rely on a Master that was new to the field, even if Harry had been working with the man for months.
"It can't be helped, Harry," Francesca said firmly, "Dupree needs to know so we can call the team back and get started on cataloguing and entering your four tombs."
A curse breaker employed by Gringott's had to comply with a surprising number of health and safety rules. For instance, until the main wards were confirmed down and safe, no one could enter a tomb without a registered Healer being on site. Their current Healer was in Cairo, as were Dupree's two apprentices. Harry sighed and drained the last of his drink before putting the glass down carefully and lunging up out of his comfortable canvas chair. He hauled Francesca up as well and retrieved his journal and her notes.
"May as well get it over with," he muttered, "Dupree will at least want to see the sites for himself, and you need to make an in-person visit to ensure I didn't transcribe anything incorrectly."
"Don't be so defeatist," Francesca replied, pulling a squashed cotton hat from a fold of her robes and shaking it into rough shape, "Besides, there's already talk about this dig – I've been called back more often than a yo-yo."
Harry grinned, straightened the crooked hat and headed out into the bright sunshine, grateful that he'd learned a charm that darkened his glasses when he stepped into the sunlight so he didn't have to squint. The upcoming meeting wasn't going to be pleasant, by any stretch of the imagination.
Extract from 'Harry Potter: The Man behind the Legend. An Unofficial Biography'
…Having gained his Mastery in Curse Breaking at such a young age, in fact, he was the youngest recorded Master in the craft, it came as no surprise that Harry Potter took charge of his own team only two and a half years after his exile. In true Potter fashion, his team was made up of a wide cross section of Society, from several different countries, and even different magical races. Not satisfied with breaching the magical racial barriers, Harry Potter also took the step of insisting that his team be made of dedicated families and couples, inviting spouses with complimentary skills to accompany his team from site to site.
Of course, with typical luck Harry Potter encountered his five most important sites in the first five years with his team. These five sites not only had great significance in the field of Curse Breaking, they had an impact on Harry Potter's life that was so significant that to this day they influence his actions and work…
Interviewing people was a lot more draining than Harry had ever expected. Francesca at least had agreed to his job offer right away, and her husband was a Healer, interested in pursuing a second Mastery in Charms, which was the most common cause of spell damage. The opportunity to travel would help him with research and access to unique spells and potions ingredients, and Francesca had admitted that they'd wanted to start a family. It had been a win-win deal for all of them, and Harry genuinely liked Armando.
Gringott's was apparently going to send him off to look at an area where there was significant magical leakage of an organic nature. After the Horcruxes, Harry had naturally specialised in organic curses, though he managed just fine with the inorganic ones as well. Given that the area was remote, he had stipulated that any applicants should be willing to bring their spouses or families with them, as organic curses took the longest to crack, and he didn't want to have to keep stopping because someone needed to go home.
He'd already hired an older man with a very laconic nature by the name of Harding Welsh, who had two young children and a lovely young fiery spirited wife by the name of Elaine. They were both adept in the field of arithmancy, which Harry felt was not one of his greatest strengths, though he could get by when he needed to. The couple planned to share the child rearing and arithmancy duties between them, and Elaine had already confided to Harry that this was the opportunity of a lifetime for them. They hated being apart, and hated being left out of the fieldwork, so bringing the children with them made sense. Not many team leaders were too keen on children, but Harry was happy to have them along provided they were adequately supervised. Tents could be remarkably comfortable and he saw no reason not to broaden children's minds with travel.
He needed at least one more person along to assist with research and casting, and was waiting to interview a Wizard by the name of Ferdinand Bolero when there was a crash outside the small office he'd been temporarily allotted, which was followed by a lot of swearing in Gobbledegook. Harry got up and looked out of the door cautiously, then moved to help the two Goblins that were buried under a mound of coins, which were still pouring from an overturned chest.
One of the Goblins turned out to be Clawhammer – someone that he'd trained with for a short while before their specialities diverged. Clawhammer had a particularly foul mouth and seemed to find Harry swearing in Gobbledegook hilarious. Harry was careful not to use the words and phrases he'd learned in public, mainly because he wasn't sure that Clawhammer had accurately translated what he was saying into English; with Harry's luck, he'd mortally insult someone, or completely humiliate himself.
"Thanks Potter," Clawhammer grumbled grudgingly once the trunk had been put upright and the excess coins – faked by the trunk and therefore worthless – had been banished.
"What happened?" Harry grinned, not bothering to disguise his amusement, and Clawhammer growled at his hapless companion. The other Goblin was not as nattily dressed as Clawhammer, and Harry suspected that the broken lace on his shoe had been the reason for the accident; he must have tripped and dropped his end of the trunk.
"Trinket here has a bad luck curse on him, and he was assigned to help me move the trunk. He's useless in the field – every expedition he accompanies is fruitless or a complete failure and his family are completely shamed," Clawhammer spat on the floor through his fingers, as if to ward off the bad luck while Trinket glowered at them both. Harry was glad that he hadn't been standing too close to his associate when he'd started spitting, and regarded the new Goblin with professional curiosity.
"So why hasn't someone taken the curse off?" Harry frowned, "Isn't that the whole point of this department?"
By phrasing it that way, he was implying that Trinket wasn't completely at fault, which seemed the safest way to deal with the introduction. Goblins could be touchy about this sort of thing, especially if it had been announced that they were a blot on the family's stature. Trinket huffed and folded his arms while Clawhammer rolled his eyes in exasperation.
"No one can detect the unprintable curse," Clawhammer snarled, "But of course the youngest Master of Gringott's hasn't had a look yet. Well go on then! Prove all of us wrong!"
Realising that he'd backed himself into something of a corner Harry sighed and flicked his wand out of his sleeve. He'd chosen to wear casual Muggle clothes today, and his worn boots squeaked on the floor as he carefully approached the scowling Trinket.
"With your permission?" he asked, though it was more out of habit than anything else. Clawhammer had challenged him to the examination, which meant that Trinket could only refuse if he felt his life was threatened. The few people and Goblins that had been passing in the hallways all stopped to look, which indicated to Harry that Trinket was well known in this branch of Gringott's. Harry had trained in France, and spent a bit of time in Rome before coming to Spain to interview Mr Bolero, who was now waiting by the office Harry had been loaned.
Trinket nodded grudgingly and Harry flicked the standard diagnostic spell he used to trace magical energies over the Goblin. There was nothing out of the ordinary there, Trinket had a standard magical core for a Goblin, and used no accessories or items of clothing that required magic.
"You find that the curse interferes with any magical fields that you enter or wear?" Harry asked, frowning in curiosity and Trinket nodded cautiously. Harry flicked a second spell over the Goblin, seeking outside interference this time, as it was obvious that whatever was plaguing the being in front of him was not being caused by an internally anchored source. The second spell sent back positive trace and Harry hummed under his breath, sending the spell out again. He was shuffling through his memories of Hagrid's classes and letters, something about the situation stirring a chord in his mind.
"Have you ever been to South Africa?" Harry asked as the positive traces increased, and Trinket's eyes widened in surprise.
"That was his only successful field trip," Clawhammer confirmed in an odd tone, and Harry clicked his fingers. Hagrid's amused voice and the taste of fire whiskey rose in Harry's mind.
"Accio Krugerand!" he snapped and drew a quick cage in the air as a small creature shrieked in protest and came sailing out of the shadows. The people in the hallway jumped in shock as the cage rattled fiercely and Harry reinforced the spell quickly, not wanting the vindictive thing to transfer its attentions to him.
"What is that?" Clawhammer leaned in cautiously and Harry reached out a hand to pull him back. Inside the magically reinforced wire, a small and very gangly monkey paced and snarled, displaying disconcertingly long teeth. Its fur rippled in a variety of colours as it tried to camouflage itself against the cage, but Harry had anticipated that and made the wire nearly transparent, something that the creature couldn't mimic.
"It's a Krugerand," he murmured, "Better known as a bad luck monkey. They live in South Africa mainly, and like the vibes given off by cursed objects. At a guess, Trinket here somehow attracted its attention and then when all the curse breakers tried to get rid of it, they made it mad. Because it was fixated only on Trinket, its attentions presented as a curse, but of course there would be nothing for the Masters to detect because it does all of its mischief manually, not magically. It does have a small amount of innate magic, which is what my second spell detected."
"How do you kill it?" Trinket snarled and Harry shook his head, holding up a hand in warning. That was a bad idea with a capital Yikes.
"Killing a Krugerand is not a wise thing to do. They release all of their innate magic in death, and that in turn seeps into the surrounding area and destabilises it. You really would end up cursed, and there would be no way to lift it. Fortunately, Krugerand's can be distracted. What are you planning to do with that trunk of yours Clawhammer?"
"Sawtooth wants to display it," Clawhammer shrugged, "Why?"
"The spells on it would be sufficient to keep the Krugerand in place for thirty days, which is how long it will take for it to lose track of Trinket and myself. After that, the Krugerand will probably consider the trunk its home and act to protect it from thieves, which is what it probably thought Trinket was when he attracted its attention. South African Wizards were known to breed these creatures as additional security for their treasures," Harry shrugged, "As long as Sawtooth supplies it with insects the Krugerand would be happy enough to stay in one spot and not bother anyone."
"Stick it in then," Clawhammer gave Trinket an odd look, "I've got things to do."
Harry levitated the cage into the trunk and they shut it securely. Trinket whirled on his heels and stormed away, and Harry turned to the waiting Ferdinand Bolero, ushering the flamboyantly dressed Wizard into the borrowed office and turning his mind once more to the interview process.