Disclaimer: Don't own either Harry Potter or Anita Blake. Set after OOTP for HP and after Incubus Dreams but Anita doesn't have the 2nd triumvirate with Nathaniel and Damian. As much as I hate it Sirius is dead and I really wish he wasn't but it is necessary for this story. Eventual Anita/JC/Richard, Asher/Nathaniel, Harry/Jason/Requiem?
Thanks to Mercy Rose, my beta.
Chapter 1: Truths
Harry stared at the owl that had just arrived. He'd only been back one full day, and already something had happened. It gazed serenely back, perched on the end of his bed; apparently unaware of the confusion its very presence caused in him. He wasn't expecting any mail and he didn't recognise the bird so Harry felt he could safely rule out any of his friends being the sender.
"Don't suppose you know if that's dangerous?" he indicated to the package tied to the owl's leg with a flick of his wrist. The owl puffed up, looking as indignant as an owl nearly overbalanced by a large package tied to its leg could, and screeched.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend you." Harry apologised to the owl as quickly as possible. The owl shook itself to calm the feathers that had puffed up and studied him closely, but accepted the apology and settled again. Harry smiled slightly before removing the package from the owl's leg and offering it some of Hedwig's water and an owl treat that was sitting on his desk.
Harry studied the parcel closely. It was well wrapped and addressed very neatly in black ink. All in all it looked rather official actually. Harry nervously studied it for a while before throwing a small pencil at it. Nothing happened to the pencil, but that still didn't mean it wasn't a portkey. Harry carefully weighed the pros and cons of touching the box before deciding to open it. Ready to jump back in an instant he carefully opened the wrapping to reveal a plain box, which he also opened. On top was an envelope, addressed by the same hand as the parcel. He carefully opened it, removing a sheet of parchment and another envelope. Harry unfolded the parchment.
Dear Mr. Potter,
The included letter was forwarded to us by an American muggle law firm and is addressed to your father. As the sole remaining Potter it has been sent to you. Inside the box you will find several items that your parents left in my care to be given to you when you started Hogwarts. My sincerest apologies for the delayed delivery. Headmaster Dumbledore was insistent that you not receive them and kept your location a closely guarded secret. It is only in the last week that I have been able to obtain your address.
I must also apologise for my absence during your trial at the Ministry last summer. As the Potter family solicitor it is my duty to defend you against all charges. However, I was not informed of the trial until three weeks after the fact. The Ministry has since claimed they had a problem with their owls at the time.
I have enclosed a non-time specific portkey to my offices for your use. It is necessary for you to go over your parents will at some point before next summer and your coming of age so that you may be prepared. Gringotts has also informed me that you are a beneficiary in Sirius Black's will. The reading of this will be on August tenth at four pm. I will leave the day free so that we can go over your parents will before the reading.
Merewether and Associates
Harry stared at the letter in shock. He had a family lawyer? He could have had professional help last year? When he thought about it, it made sense. What little he knew of the Potters was that they were an old Pureblood family so it seemed obvious that they would have to have some sort of legal advise available. He wasn't surprised that the Ministry had kept his lawyer from his trial or that Dumbledore had interfered in his receiving the box. Dumbledore kept too many secrets, supposedly for Harry's own good for Harry to trust him anymore.
He was curious about the other letter. Why would a muggle law firm write to his father, especially one halfway across the world? Harry decided to open it before looking through the box or thinking about the 10th, or Sirius, or Dumbledore, or the Prophecy or Voldemort or well... Perhaps he should focus a bit more on what he was currently doing. Shaking his head to clear his brain, Harry reached for the letter. He opened the envelope and pulled out a sheet of crisp white paper.
Dear Mr. Potter,
It is with deepest sympathy that I write to inform you of the deaths of your cousin Charlotte and her family. The sole survivor being the second youngest son, Richard, who was out of state at the time for work. The family was gathered to celebrate the birthday of the youngest son Daniel when a radical group destroyed the house. It is unclear at this time why your cousins family was targeted or if they were even the actual targets. Charlotte often spoke of you to me and it was obvious she remembered you fondly. The reading of the various wills will take place on August 25th at my office. If you are unable to attend please contact me by the 30th of July and the relevant documents will be forwarded to you. Once again, I offer my sincerest regrets to you and your family during this terrible time.
The second letter was an even bigger shock to Harry than the first. His father had family in America? Why hadn't anyone ever told him? Did they know his parents were dead? Harry didn't think so; after all, the letter was addressed to James Potter. He had a cousin, well second cousin, in America. A cousin he was determined to meet. He had a cousin named Richard who worked. How old was he? Would he want to meet him? Why exactly did Harry not know of this cousin, and why did this cousin not know that his parents were dead? Harry refolded both letters and put them back in their envelopes for safekeeping and to show to the lawyer. Mr. Merewether was his name wasn't it? It seemed like his solicitor held no great love for either Dumbledore or the Ministry, which Harry quite emphasised with, so he'd ask him for help. Maybe. Well, at least he'd go and see what this Merewether was like. If he was trustworthy, then Harry had some ideas for how this guy could help him. If not... well, it wouldn't be the first time someone had failed him. Now however, it was time for whatever was in the box.
An hour later he was done and had another reason to add to his growing list for being mad at Dumbledore. What right did the Headmaster have to keep these things from him? Harry ran his hands over his fathers' wandholster, appreciating how beautiful it was. Made from dragonhide it had a stag, wolf, grim and lily worked into it and was charmed to be invisible to all but the wearer when it was on. Had his father suspected Wormtail at the time to leave him off? Harry could feel the magic radiating off it, and he wondered what charms there were on it. He'd have to use a charm to find out, but he'd wager there were some dead useful things on it. Probably a ton of really useful charms on it, like an anti-summoning one, and something to make it invisbile or at least unnoticable to anyone but the wearer, and a well, Harry didn't know quite what. But he'd find out. He strapped it to his arm and slipped his wand into place before practising his draw a few times. Next there was a set of battle robes charmed to fit the wearer. He also discovered, quite by accident, that they would change to look like a muggle leather jacket if needed. All he had to do was twirl the second button on the left hand cuff. The robes were lightweight and extremely comfortable. Much better than anything the Dursley's had ever given him. The best contents though were the stacks of photos and his parents' journals. He'd have to spend a day putting the photos into his album and reading the journals thoroughly, he'd finally get a chance to know his parents, even if it was just by reading their thoughts. At the very bottom of the box were two slender boxes containing his parents' wands. Hardly daring to breath he carefully lifted them from the boxes and was shocked to feel the magic react positively to him, tingling through his hands, not as strongly as the reaction he'd felt the first time he'd held his own wand, but still there was something there. Harry grinned, maybe there was a way for him to use magic this summer and to have a back up wand when duelling Tom, if he worked hard enough. Once he was done looking he packed everything into his trunk, except the robes and holster that he was already wearing.
A little while later he was sitting on his bed, as he stared at his trunk, which now contained two extra wands. Would they register as underage magic? After all, his parents had been full adult wizards. The question he needed answered was this, is the tracking charm on the wand or the person? Harry also had a sneaking suspicion that when he had been younger the wards reacted to any magic, rather than his own magic. After all, there had been that incident with Dobby. However, at the beginning of last year, they'd known it was him, and Tonks had been able to use her own wand without anything happening, so he was pretty sure the wards had changed. Well, either the wards had changed, or there were both. If he was wrong and there were both, or even if using his father's wand wasn't enough to change the read out of the magical signature enough to confuse the wards about it being his own magic, then he'd be expelled for sure, and there were no extenuating circumstances this time. But would that be such a bad thing? There were other schools. He went to his trunk and took out his father's wand. There was only one way to find out. Suddenly feeling reckless he took a deep breath and aimed it at Dudley's old, broken alarm clock and muttered a repairing charm. Half an hour later there was still no Ministry owl. Harry grinned; he had a way to do magic. He had some serious planning to do.
It was two days later that Fawkes appeared in Harry's room and nearly got hexed for his troubles. The phoenix gave the bird equivalent of a glare as Harry grinned sheepishly.
"Sorry Fawkes, you startled me." Harry apologised as he reholstered his wand.
"Got a message for me?" The phoenix relaxed as Harry stroked his feathers, taking the parchment from the bird.
"Thanks boy. The Headmaster's not working you too hard is he?" Harry asked as he absently stroked Fawkes, smiling faintly as the bird gave a negative trill.
"That's good. Does he want a reply?" Fawkes gave another negative.
"See you at school then." Harry told him, finally stopping his petting and moving his hand safely away. With that the bird was gone in ball of flame.
"Wonder what the old man wants Hedwig?" Harry asked his loyal pet. The snowy owl joined her master on the bed, affectionately nipping his fingers earning a small laugh.
I hope you are doing well. Remember, what happened was not your fault. Sirius would not wish for you to grieve forever. I must insist that you not leave the wards; you are too vulnerable outside of them and regret to inform you that you will have to remain at Privet Drive for the entire summer. An Order guard will arrive to escort you to Kings cross on the first. I have taken the liberty of having your supplies purchased and have enrolled you in the appropriate NEWT courses. You will receive your OWL results and mail upon your return to school as it is simply too dangerous for you to receive mail at this time. Do not send any mail as Hedwig is too easily recognised. I have also managed to convince Professor Snape to continue your lessons as long as he receives a written apology for the incident last term. It is very important that you learn to protect your mind, as we would not want a repeat of this year's tragic event. I will see you after the Welcoming feast. Once again I ask you to forgive an old man who has only done his best to protect what was left of your childhood. I have only ever done what I thought best for your safety.
Headmaster of Hogwarts….
Harry stared at the parchment. Distantly he noticed that his hand quivered with fury. How dare he! No mail and no rescue until school? Who did the man think he was, dictating Harry's life like that? And what of the letters he was supposed to write every three days to inform the Order he was safe? Harry supposed he was to forget about them now. He'd been counting on them! The Dursley's would realise sooner or later it was an empty threat now. Harry hadn't believed the Headmaster would actually do this. He was suddenly very grateful for the portkey Merewether had sent. He would go to Sirius' will reading, with or without permission. The headmaster had no right to stop Harry from going, particularly since it was partly his fault Sirius had died in the first place! This did change his plans though. He couldn't risk returning to Privet Drive for the wait until he needed to go to the States as he'd originally planned, he'd have to disappear for a bit.
Harry groaned as Dudley's magically repaired alarm went off. Why had he set it for 5am? He lay back down only to have Hedwig nip his ear rather hard.
"Ow! What was that for?" he complained. She simply stared at him and then at the wall where his calendar was. Pointedly. It didn't take Harry long to get the message.
"Oh, right. Sorry girl." He automatically apologised to her as he slipped out of bed and dressed quickly, throwing his battle robes over the top of a huge shirt and pants Dudley hadn't been able to wear since he was ten. He was still a bit groggy, but he hadn't been getting much sleep lately. And he was worried about his nightmares. They had, unbelievably, gotten even worse on his birthday. Voldemort's idea of a gift obviously. Automatically, he quashed thoughts of it. Wincing a bit as he moved around, he packed his trunk as quietly as possible, double-checking all of his hiding places. He hadn't packed any earlier in case the Order decided to show up for a surprise visit or Moody was around and spying on his room. No sense in tipping them off to the fact he was leaving. Once he was packed he shrunk his trunk down to the size of a pack of cards and pocketed it. Harry snuck downstairs and made a breakfast to be remembered, eating his fill for once and leaving the rest as a farewell for the Dursley's. He left the note he'd written on the table as well as 500 pounds for their silence to the Order. The note basically said thanks for nothing and that hoped to never see them again. He cleaned up and went back to his room.
"Come on Hedwig, we're leaving." He called. She settled on his shoulder and he grabbed the portkey. With a tug Harry Potter left Privet Drive forever.
Harry staggered but managed to not fall as his feet slammed back into the ground, dislodging Hedwig from her perch.
"Are you alright young man?" Harry spun to see an older woman watching him from behind a desk. She didn't look harmful, but Harry knew by now better than to judge by appearances.
"Yes ma'am, I'm just not very good at portkeys yet," he said quietly, yet politely.
"That's perfectly understandable dear. Are you here to see someone?" She questioned kindly.
"Alexander Merewether ma'am," he replied, trying to discreetly watch everything around him without appearing paranoid.
"And who shall I tell him is here dear?" she asked with a small smile.
"Harry Potter." Harry said, bracing himself for the usual reaction to his name.
"Oh! I'm so sorry dear. I mean, Mr Potter. I didn't realise. Go right on in, he's expecting you." she replied, obviously a bit flustered that she'd been calling him dear.
"Thank you." Harry said automatically as he slipped past her into the rather large but cosy room she had indicated.
"Ah, Mr. Potter. Welcome." said the solicitor.
"Thank you Mr. Merewether" Harry replied automatically.
"Please, call me Alex. I'll assume the parcel reached you then." Mr Merewether smiled at him as he extended his hand for Harry to shake, which Harry hesitated to accept.
"Yes sir, just before the Headmaster had all my mail redirected to Hogwarts. Thank you very much for sending it." Harry said, even as he ignored the voice in his head screaming that he was being rude to someone who had already helped him. He also didn't feel comfortable calling someone he had just met by his or her first name.
"No problem Harry. As I told you in the letter you should have received it years ago. Please make yourself comfortable. Would you care for some tea?" Mr Merewether gestured to the tea set to the side with the hand that Harry had refused to shake and Harry was grateful that he had gracefully made no complaint of that fact and that he didn't seem that angry about it.
"Thank you. There was no need for all the apologies, the fact that you tried is enough." Harry said awkwardly, feeling even worse that the other man was being so pleasant.
"Thank you Mr. Potter. Being unable to contact you has been quite frustrating." Mr. Merewether smiled at him again.
"Harry, please. I'm not just here for my parents will Sir, I need your help. But, could I please see…" Harry indicated the mans arms and he nodded, rolling his sleeves up. Harry pulled out his wand and cast several revealing spells, and then relaxed at the sight of unmarked skin and reholstered his wand.
"Sorry but I had to be sure." he apologised.
"Nonsense, I'd do the same if I was you. What is it you need help with?" Mr. Merewether asked him.
"Do you know what was in the letter from America?" Harry questioned the man.
"No, but I know you have family over there from your father's side, so I'd assume it has something to do with them." Mr Merewether looked at him keenly.
"Does everyone know that but me?" Harry had intended it to be a rhetorical question, as he had only muttered it under his breath, but Mr Merewether had overheard him.
"You didn't know?" he asked, eyebrows high in surprise.
"The only family I was aware of is the Dursley's." Harry responded. "It isn't as if I had anyone to ask," he continued dryly.
"Your paternal Grandfather had a brother, Nicholas Potter, a squib. He moved to America in the forties and fell in love with an American muggle. They married and had a daughter, Charlotte. I believe she is also married." Mr Merewether explained what he knew to Harry. It was refreshing, Harry felt, to talk to someone who wasn't trying to hide everything they knew about him. So he offered his own information.
"She was. They were all killed except for her son, Richard. The wills are to be read on the 25th. That's why I need help. The Headmaster said I wasn't to leave the house this summer. When I show up for Sirius' will he'll know I've disobeyed him and find some way to make sure I stay put. I need to go to that reading Alex. My whole life he's kept this from me, I need to know…" Harry trailed off, rather embarrassed by his rather passionate outburst.
"If your other family wants you?" Mr Merewether suggested. Harry nodded. That fit the end of what he would have said as well as anything else he could have come up with.
"Harry, how have the Dursley's treated you." He asked gently. Harry froze, not having expected that question. No one ever asked that question.
"Fine." He said automatically.
"Why don't I believe you?" Mr Merewether said as he looked at him with penetrating eyes and Harry fought not to squirm. "My father was your grandfather's solicitor. I went to Hogwarts with your parents, two years below them. James and Lily were good friends," he continued. Harry had let his eyes fall down, rather than risk giving something away with his gaze, but now he looked up. "You need to talk to someone Harry, and I can give you a wizards oath to never repeat anything said here unless you give me permission." Mr Merewether said, and he looked him straight in the eye as he made that promise. Harry was terribly tempted.
"I can't, please don't ask." Harry said, twisting his robes in one hand and turning his face away. He had to look away from the disappointment he saw in the solicitors eyes.
"Alright, just promise that one day you will tell someone, before it eats you up." Mr Merewether looked at him solemnly.
"I promise." Harry said. It was an easy thing to promise. It wasn't one he had any intention of fulfilling soon though...
"Okay. So basically you need to disappear for the time between readings. That shouldn't be too hard to manage. Perhaps a portkey straight to America this afternoon. The only problem is you are still a minor, I'll presume your Aunt knows nothing of this?" Mr Merewether spoke professionally of his problems, and Harry relaxed a bit as he realised that the solicitor would not be trying to follow up on his earlier line of questions.
"I left a goodbye note." Harry offered as he shrugged noncommittally.
"Hmmm. We have two options then. Try to push through emancipation papers or find another family member willing to take responsibility for you for a year. The emancipation would be hard without proving abuse or some other extreme circumstance. Your best option would be to try to talk to your cousin Richard. Explain it's only for a year and that you'll be in school for most of it." Mr Merewether offered helpfully.
"That's another thing. Does it say anywhere that I have to go to Hogwarts? Could I transfer to another school?" Harry questioned hopefully.
"Say in America? Shouldn't be too hard to arrange. The closest to St. Louis is the Salem Academy, which I assure you is quite a good school. I can start the paperwork today if you would like." Mr Merewether suggested. Harry nodded gratefully.
"Thank you Sir," he said.
"No problem, James was a good friend. He'd hate to see you unhappy. I'll leave you to read their wills while I get all of this started. You can lock the door after me for security, if you'd like, and I'll knock when I'm back." Mr Merewether offered. "Also, help yourself to anything you wish here. If you need anything else, just ask Alison, my secretary. I'm sure she'll be happy to help you," he said as he gathered up the papers he would need to take with him. Harry watched him leave, and cast a complicated warding on the door after he had left. It never hurt to be cautious. With that done, he turned to the desk. There was a lot left to do.