"A New Order"
Pursuant to the Berne Convention Implementation Act of 1988 and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, this work is copyrighted 2008 with all rights expressly reserved by its author unless explicitly granted. No portion may be reproduced in any fashion without the express written and notarized permission of the author.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Harry Potter characters. All characters are creations of Joanne K Rowling, © 2007, to whom I am deeply indebted.
CONTENT Disclaimer: This story contains sexually graphic and explicit material and as such, it is not suitable for minors. If you are a minor, please leave now, as it is illegal for you to be here. If it is illegal for you to read or view sexually explicit material in the community you view such material, please leave now. This story and characters are purely fictional and any resemblance to events or persons (living or dead) is purely coincidental. If you are offended by sexually explicit stories, please read no further. If you are offended by stories featuring group sex, bisexual situations, incest, or any other situation, please check the story code before reading the text. These stories are just that, stories, and do not promote or condone the activities described herein
Note: Cannon? What cannon? You mean that crap that passed for a seventh book? NOT HARDLY. This story is an amalgam of several different story lines and does not adhere to any one particular AU. THIS IS A HARRY/HERMIONE SHIP. IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT, DISEMBARK!
Note two: On page 14 of this story, I mention that 99.9999% of all humans are taller than 4 ft. That is a relative statistic. True dwarfism occurs in one infant per 10,000 live births. In the United States today, with a population of over 300,000,000, there are less than 200,000 people affected by dwarfism, according to the National Institute of Health's Office of Rare Diseases. (ORD) (./)
Note Three: I have used names from a variety of sources. In keeping with the conventions I've set up in some of my other stories, Luna Lovegood's middle name is Marie. Hermione's parents' names are Jake and Miranda (See "VOX CORPORIS", by Miss_AnnThropic. That story can be found on and is worth reading!!!).
Note Four: the 'mohican' is British slang for the hairstyle that's called the 'Mohawk' in the United States. See: .org/wiki/Mohawk_hairstyle
Office of the Headmaster, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry; June 18, 1995
The forces of the 'Light' had gathered in the outer office of Albus Dumbledore, for the purported purpose of determining what the next move needed to be. The Tri-Wizard Tournament had concluded not twenty-four hours before and things had come to a head, both with the Minister of Magic and with the reincorporated Tom Riddle. The unmasking of Barty Crouch Jr. had shown everyone just how gullible and error-prone the Headmaster had become.
Jake and Miranda Granger had come to Hogwarts as Harry Potters' special guests to see the third task of the Tournament and therefore were, by dint of their relationship with Hermione Granger, present at the first reconvening of the Order of the Phoenix in more than thirteen years. Since they were adults, and particularly familiar with Harry Potter's life – especially as it connected with their daughters' life – they were allowed to learn some of the particulars of the changed situation.
Very quickly, the meeting had become heated, as Sirius Black was revealed and introduced to the group and the predictable reactions were made to his presence. Harry, Hermione, Jake, Miranda, Sirius, and Remus Lupin formed one block, while Molly, Arthur, Ginny, Ron, and to a lesser degree, Severus Snape formed the other. The twins, Fred and George Weasley broke ranks with their parents and joined Harry's group almost immediately, once they saw how the line-ups were shaking out.
The proximate instigators for the situation going all to hell were, as Harry might have predicted, Ron and Ginny Weasley. Ron had been glaring at Hermione for more than an hour, as she stood near Harry. However, the moment that Hermione took Harry's hand in hers, Ron exploded. Whipping out his wand, he sent a bludgeoning curse at Harry. So stunned was Harry at his former friends' behavior that he almost didn't get a shield up in time. He did though and the curse collided with one of the Greco-roman statutes that adorned the far corner of the office.
"You bastard!" Ron spat, "You knew I liked her and yet you just 'had' to have her. As if your fame and fortune wasn't enough. You couldn't even leave me the one thing you knew I wanted!!"
Ginny Weasley was seething too, because she had grown up believing that she was destined to be the wife of 'The-Boy-Who-Lived'. It was something that Molly Weasley had done everything she could to foster and something that the Headmaster himself had supported.
Ginny was too smart to try to throw magic at Hermione Granger, though. Luna Lovegood, Ginny's life-long friend, had even said to her, "Don't try it, Ginny. You're a candle in comparison to her bonfire. If you start it, Hermione will finish it and you won't like the results...if she lets you live to feel them."
It was at the moment where Ron and Ginny were about to square off against Harry and Hermione; each picking their predestined target, that the Headmaster attempted to step into the conflict.
His wand was out and he looked coldly at Harry and Hermione. "I'm sorry, Harry; Ms. Granger. For the 'greater good', I'm afraid that I am going to have to insist that your romantic relationship end. We can't afford to be fighting the pure-bloods at the same time we're fighting Tom and his forces. For better or worse, a relationship with a Muggleborn girl would drive away whatever support we might otherwise be able to gather from those who are not presently aligning themselves with the Death eaters." By that, Dumbledore meant the Windermere families and those aligned with them. "Mr. Weasley" he said, turning to Ron, "would you please see to Ms. Granger's safety and escort her back to the Burrow? And Ms. Weasley, would you please make yourself ready to travel back to Little Whinging with Mr. Potter? He will need some company this summer that I'm sure you can provide."
Molly Weasley beamed at her only daughter; welcoming the opportunity for Ginny to 'get to know' Harry better. What Molly meant by 'get to know' was 'act like a slut, seduce Harry, and maybe get pregnant - thereby claiming a rightful share of the Potter family fortune.' It was what she had planned to do to Carlos Zabini when she had had the chance – until she had discovered that Carlos already had marriage contracts waiting for him and she would never qualify as either a first or second wife because of her family's relative poverty.
The two youngest Weasleys grinned and nodded their agreement – thinking that they had gotten their way. That idea was quickly stepped on by both Harry and Hermione.
"Headmaster!" Hermione almost snarled at the old man, getting his attention. "I am NOT going with Ron or Ginny or anyone else from the Weasley family. I am going with Harry and that is final."
The Headmaster's response was to lift his wand and say, "I'm sorry, Ms. Granger, but you don't have a choice. Stupefy."
A golden, shimmery shield appeared out of nowhere and deflected the Headmaster's curse upwards, into the ceiling. That was all it took for Hermione's parents to spring into action. Jake Granger stepped closer to Albus Dumbledore. "You son of a bitch! How dare you try to separate Hermione from Harry."
Dumbledore's eyes flashed and his voice dropped into a 'control' register. "It's for Harry's good. He can't be distracted."
Wham! Jake Granger's right fist suddenly came out of nowhere and smashed into the Headmaster's stomach; folding him over instantly. Looking down, Jake fixed his eyes on the gasping 'leader of the light'. "Don't fuck with me, old man. Hermione is my only daughter, and I will kill to protect her interests."
In a flash, Dumbledore's hand came up and a golden light gathered around it. Harry saw it and in an instant, had thrown a shield up around Hermione's father; protecting him against anything the Headmaster could use short of an Unforgivable. Dumbledore saw the shield too late and the spell came back at him. Reacting instinctively, Dumbledore dove out of the way and came to his feet several yards way, in a move that Harry would have scarcely credited him with being able to do, if he hadn't seen it with his own eyes.
Harry stepped in front of him with both hands up and crackling with magical energy; his body shielding Hermione's father from further attack. "Touch him and die, Headmaster."
Struggling against the pain of Jake Granger's punch, Albus Dumbledore tried to stand completely upright. It was obvious from the look in his eyes that the physical assault was a complete shock to him and he didn't quite know how to think about it.
Clutching his stomach with his left hand, Dumbledore looked at Harry. Gone was any semblance of patience or kindness. In their place was a look of both anger and genuine madness. "You think to oppose me, Harry? Are you going to turn away from your destiny?"
Harry snorted; the disgust written all over his face. "Turn away? Not hardly. But, I'm going to take it on my terms and not yours. And yes, I'm going to oppose you. You and your loathsome minions here." Harry pointed at the Weasleys and Snape. "You're a blood bigot just like the rest of them, whether you'll admit it or not. You're also completely and totally incompetent as an administrator. I learned a lot this year when I was preparing for the Tournament, no thanks to you of course. Also, my magical core is unblocked now – thanks to Barty Crouch Jr. Gotta hand it to you, Headmaster. Not only did you hire a Death Eater, you hired him for the one position that could do me some good. Now that I think about it, it might be the only thing I've ever had to be thankful to Snakeface for. One of his minions actually made me much, much stronger."
If Harry hadn't been already anticipating it, he might not have been ready for how quickly the Headmaster's hand came up to throw the 'Petrificus Totalus" hex at him. He was ready though, and Harry's response was much more vindictive. Shielding his thoughts against any chance that the Headmaster would try to use them to anticipate his attack, Harry thought to himself, "Laceo". The cutting curse was just on the edge of being a 'dark' curse and therefore banned by the Ministry for Magic. It was delivered with so much power that the Headmaster wasn't able to completely defend against it and a large, deep gash appeared across the upper thigh of his left leg; causing him to cry out and buckle under the pain of it. Harry was immediately and deeply grateful that Sirius, after he was vindicated and freed by the Ministry the previous June, had had time to go to Grimmauld Place and find books in the Black Family Library that showed him how to do true occlumency and legilimency. It had taken the entire school-year to master, but it had paid huge dividends. The only thing that embarrassed him was that for all his remarkable skill and speed in learning the two, related mind-arts, Hermione had picked them up almost twice as fast, once Harry showed her the principles.
Harry pressed his advantage and threw three stunners in a row, each with as much power as he could muster. The final one got through and knocked the Headmaster onto his back and away from them by several feet. Harry then bound the unconscious Headmaster and took his wand and cloak; knowing that it probably contained many things that would be useful. The wand, in particular, was a prized possession. Harry could feel its radiant power as he held it and wondered if it, rather than innate talent, was the true source of the Headmasters' ferocity as a wizard.
Remus Lupin and Sirius Black had not been passive during the confrontation either. The moment that the Headmaster had thrown his first curse, the two Marauders had gone to town on the Weasleys; leaving them unconscious and bound on the floor. Severus Snape had come off worst, as he had tried to use the Cruciatus curse on Sirius Black. That had earned him a vicious cutting curse to the neck in reply. The foul man had bled out quickly and lay dead on the floor. Once he was down, Sirius kicked him in the groin, to make sure he was dead.
With a couple flicks of the wrist, Sirius repaired the far corner of the Headmaster's office and transfigured the body into a replica of the statute that Ron's wayward bludgeoning curse had destroyed. When he was finished, nothing was left looking at all out of place. With a couple of 'Scourgefy' charms, all the blood from the floor was gone; leaving no trace of violence behind, and if they were lucky, his body would not be found for some time. He wished that he had time to ransack the slimy potion-masters' private stores of potions, but he knew that things were moving too fast and that they'd have to come back or send an elf to do what they could not.
Once Harry was done, he looked up at Hermione, her parents, and the Weasley twins. "Well, this tares it then. We've declared war on the Headmaster. I don't know how many of the Order will follow me, but you can bet that we're going to have a fight on our hands from some of them. I beat the Headmaster today only because he was in a great deal of pain and couldn't completely focus his magic. The next time I have to face him…and I am sure that there will be a next time, I'm not going to be nearly so lucky. We're also not going to be able to return to Hogwarts so long as he is Headmaster. That means going to a different school. I'm thinking we head to the States or even up into Canada. Alternatively, we could head to New Zealand or Australia. Whatever we do, we're going to have to move fast. I know he's is not going to take this lightly." Harry pointed at the Headmaster with the tip of his shoe.
There were nods all around and looks of determination. Harry turned to face his long-time love; taking her hands in his. "Hermione – I love you. You know that and you know that I will never, ever leave you. I swear on my magic and on my life to defend you with all that I am and all that I have. So Mote it be." His magical vow took the form of a deep green ribbon and swirled all about him, before melting into his body. Relaxing for a moment, he paused and took a deep, cleansing breath, as if to consider carefully his next statement. "I'm asking you to trust me and to follow me now."
Hermione closed the small gap that separated them; crushing him in a huge hug. Crying into his shoulder she said, "On my magic and on my life, Harry, I swear that I'm yours now and forever, in this life and the next. So Mote it Be." Her vow, too, took the form of a ribbon - only hers was brown and gold, like the color of her eyes. It bound itself around her wrists and around her body before melting into her and disappearing.
She didn't hesitate when she said, "Of course, I will follow you now."
Fawkes trilled from his perch – a long, warbling trill of happiness. Bending his head, Harry kissed her and realized, in that moment, that he was unspeakably grateful for her love and for the fates that had brought them together. She had bound herself to him and she would be the reason that he'd beat Tom Riddle and the murderers who followed him. Lifting his head up just enough so that he could get the words out, he said "I love you, Hermione. Be my wife?"
The three words – the three most magical words in the world – broke through whatever hesitation she might have felt. Crashing her lips into his, she held him with all the strength she had as she said, "Yes Harry....a thousand times, yes!! I love you, too!"
After an indeterminate amount of time, the two finally parted, at least enough so that they could face Hermione's parents. Harry looked at them and they, in turn, finally saw the two young people not so much as individuals as two parts of an unbreakable couple.
"Now that that's settled, we don't have much time to get out of here and get a new place to hide. We can't go to Grimmauld Place and we can't go back to your home, as sad as that is. The Headmaster knows where that is and neither Hermione nor I know how to do the Fidelius charm yet. That's something we're going to have to work on immediately. I think we should get to Gringotts and figure out what my inheritance is and why the Headmaster was so adamant about keeping me from it."
The two adults nodded. What Harry had to say made sense and they had already committed themselves emotionally to whatever struggles their daughter and son-in-law needed them for. Jake looked at Harry and then towards the bound Headmaster. "What about him?"
Hermione looked over and said, "Let me deal with that. I was thinking about this the other day when Harry and I were practicing DADA."
Harry squeezed her hand gently and then let her do what she was intending. Pulling out her wand, Hermione began a series of incantations when she felt Harry's hand on her shoulder. He whispered in her ear, "Remember what I told you. Feel your magic and then will the magic to do what you want it to do. Your will is the incantation."
Hermione closed her eyes and thought about what her fiancé had just said. It took her several long moments to feel her magic the way that Harry had shown her in the Room of Requirement while they were working on their meditation techniques. When she was finally able to feel it and manipulate it, she felt much lighter – as if she had gotten it right and her magic was giving her good feelings, in order to reinforce what she had done. As she stood over Dumbledore's prone form, she thought about what she was trying to do and then just let her innate magic take over. Soon there was a glowing blue field over his body. Harry smiled at Hermione from where he stood. He could no longer feel the Headmaster's usually palpable magical aura, so he knew that Hermione had successfully created a magical dampening field around the Headmaster.
It was a sneaky damn charm, because it used the witch or wizard's magic against him or her. The more the person magically struggled against the field, the stronger it became. The secret to dispelling it was to absorb it. The person would have to be able to remain very, very calm and rational and fight against his or her instincts to fight the field in order to defeat it. Whether the Headmaster was able to figure it out was uncertain. It would certainly buy them some significant time for making their get-away.
Once she was finished, she walked over to Harry. "Done. We have about thirty minutes or an hour before he wakes up and then probably at least an hour or more before he figures out what I've created."
Harry nodded. "Good. Let's get going then. I'll make a portkey that will take us to the front steps of Gringotts. From there, we're going to have to run to the front doors. I'm going to disillusion all of us first, so we'll blend into the background. That won't make us invisible, but it will make us much harder to hit. We have to cross only about thirty feet, but I want to give us every chance to get inside intact."
Jake looked a little worriedly at Miranda. For all of her fitness and strength, Miranda was still a Muggle and therefore vulnerable to magical attack in a way that neither Harry nor Hermione were. He wasn't worried for himself, though. He had been a 100-meter sprinter in both high-school and college and had spent time as captain in the SAS. There was very little, in fact, that he was truly fearful of – though some of the things that Harry could do and had already done made him second-guess whether he was someone whom he ought to ever deliberately annoy.
The key to making a Portkey was the specific focus on the target. Much like apparition, the caster had to be able to 'see' the place where he or she wants the Portkey user to land. Since Harry had been to Gringotts a number of times, the mental picture he had was very clear. Certainly clear enough for apparition and therefore clear enough for a Portkey. The actual incantation was something he had heard a number of times from the Headmaster and it took no more effort to make a Portkey than it did to create a rune which would block a Portkey – and that was something he had learned from Sirius directly. It wasn't forbidden knowledge, of course, but it was discouraged. Actively.
From across the room, an unfurled piece of parchment flew to Harry's outstretched hand. He held no wand, and had not uttered the 'necessary' incantation...and it left Remus, Sirius, and Hermione speechless. They had never seen Harry do wandless magic before.
"Harry! How did you do that?"
He turned to face her. "Do what?"
"THAT!" she said, pointing to the piece of parchment in his hand. "How did you summon it without a wand?"
Looking genuinely surprised, Harry faced her. "Oh....I've been doing that since just after the first task. Once I learned how the charm felt, I realized that I didn't need a wand to cast it. I just focus on the object I want to summon and it comes to me."
Remus Lupin stroked his chin thoughtfully for a moment. "You mean, Harry, that you can feel the magic working through your wand the first time you cast a charm or curse and then afterwards, reproduce it because you remember what it feels like when it's done right?"
"Yea, pretty much. Some things are harder to do than others. I really have to concentrate when I'm doing transfiguration without a wand, but otherwise...yea. Most everything else I can do wandlessly really easily."
Sirius Black thought about what his adopted son had just said. He knew that if Harry was being honest and he could really do what he said he could do, then Harry was probably the most powerful wizard in more than a thousand years. It was a staggering revelation...and one that would need to be closely guarded for some time to come, if they were going to win the war against Tom and his followers. He was privately grateful that he'd been able to enforce the clause of James and Lily's will which gave him priority in any custody fight over Harry and had taken the opportunity, just after his legal liberation, to adopt Harry formally. He counted himself lucky that doing so hadn't required Harry's blood and blessed both James and Lily for their foresight in signing their wills in blood; making his efforts both legally and magically binding.
Once the Weasleys, were pilled up together, and had been divested of their wands, potions, and anything else that might be dangerous to Harry and Hermione's cause, Sirius asked Harry if he could make the Portkey, instead. "Wouldn't do to have you making keys, Harry. It's controlled magic and only the official Heads of Houses are allowed to do it with impunity. As soon as we get to Gringotts and you claim the Potter ring, you'll be able to do it....but before then, it's best if you leave it to me."
Harry couldn't argue with his adopted fathers' logic, so he quietly acquiesced.
The last thing that Harry did before they activated the Portkey was to reach out with his magic and call Gryffindor's sword to him. It had hung too long on the Headmaster's office wall and it was, by dint of the fact that he, himself, had called it forth from the Sorting Hat. It was his and the Headmaster would just have to deal with it. Once the sword was in his hand, Harry looked at Sirius – who simply nodded his support for what Harry had done.
After he had put the sword into his bag, all those who had chosen to support Harry gathered around the long strip of parchment and fell into the 'rabbit hole' the moment that Sirius said the activation phrase. Hermione laughed, as did Harry, when they heard Sirius say, "I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date".
The moment that they appeared in front of Gringotts, the group assumed a defensive posture and quickly made its way to the bank's front doors. Harry entered first, along with Hermione and the Grangers. Remus and Sirius, as well as the Weasley twins were last in the door.
Harry made his way over to the only Goblin he had ever trusted: Griphook. Bowing at the waist once they had made initial eye-contact, Harry said "Good morrow, Most Senior Teller of the Day Griphook. I have need of your services."
The green-brown Goblin looked up from his ledger. "Ah, friend Potter. What brings you to us today?"
"Mutual profit and revenge, friend Griphook. You have always treated me well and I wish to offer you something more than a position as a senior teller."
There were three magical words in the Goblin language. "Profit" and "revenge" were two of them. The third one didn't really have a direct translation into English...but roughly, it meant "roasting and eating the body of your defeated opponent." For Harry's purposes, two out of three wasn't bad...and it got Griphook's undivided attention.
"Tell me then, friend Potter, how may I be of service?"
"You can help me by taking over management of the Potter family vaults and any other vaults for which I might be heir."
Goblins don't usually blink three times fast, but the bomb that Harry Potter dropped in Griphook's lap was not the usual pronouncement.
Seeing that there was no response forthcoming, Harry bowed at the waist again and said, while not meeting the Goblins' eyes, "I am sorry, friend Griphook. I did not know that my request would be so unwelcome. I will withdraw now and make my apologies to your supervisor for bothering you."
The moment that Harry began backing up, Griphook shook off the overwhelming sense of shock and said, "Wait! Please, friend Potter…let me explain..."
"No need, friend Griphook. I should not have presumed so much. I will go and make my apologies." Harry knew enough to know that offending a Goblin could get a person banned from any further dealings with Gringotts and he wasn't willing to risk that. Better having to face shame for unintentionally insulting a Goblin and make immediate amends for it than be banned for life from the bank and have to deal with the 'financial agents' who could be found in Knockturn Alley.
Griphook was horrified. Harry Potter was about to walk out of the bank…and it would appear to all as though his request had been rejected, even though he – the client - would be the one tendering an apology. Griphook knew that he would be roasted and served for the King's dinner by the end of the day if he didn't rescue the situation quickly.
Risking all, Griphook reached out and put his short, clawed hand on Harry's and said, "Please wait, friend Potter. There is nothing at all for which you need to apologize. If anything, I will have to seek forgiveness from my King for even allowing you to think such a thing! My hesitancy in answering your question has nothing to do with unwillingness to serve!"
"Then what was it?"
"Friend Potter, if I am to explain all, you must come with me. I cannot say more here. Please, bring your friends and follow me."
Harry turned and looked at Hermione, then Remus Lupin, and at Sirius. Both of the men were staring at Harry with something close to wonder and awe in their eyes. It was as if they were seeing him anew. He wasn't sure how he felt about that, but realized that there was nothing he could do about it for the time being.
Taking Hermione's hand, Harry followed the Goblin through the back section of the bank and then through an enormous, black granite archway. It also bore the famous Gringotts warning; inscribed in one large, ornately carved flat panel over the keystone point of the arch.
A series of turns brought the small party into a much larger hall. Its ceilings were at least twenty feet high and it was done in an almost gothic architectural style, complete with the ribbed vaults and the flying buttresses.
It wasn't exactly pretty, but it seemed eminently functional and it matched the overall feel that Gringotts exuded to most of its depositors.
Coming to a stop in front of a set of gilded double doors, Griphook looked up at Harry. "Friend Potter, here we enter the Hall of the King. Ragnok has not met with human wizards since the last time a Potter came to Gringotts."
"My father?" Harry asked, very quietly.
"Yes, friend Potter. Your father was a very great man and it is because of his efforts and his repeated attempts to protect and defend our King that you and your party are here."
"I never knew." Harry said, unable to make eye contact, for fear that the Goblin might see the tears that had gathered suddenly and were threatening to run down his cheeks.
Griphook looked up at him – which seemed slightly painful for him. Without thinking about it, Harry wiped away his tears and dropped to one knee, so that he could look Griphook in the eye while he shared what he knew. Less quietly, Harry said, "Tell me about him? Please?"
Before he could get the Goblin to say anything, Griphook reached out and put his hand under Harry's forearm and motioned him to stand up again. "Please, friend Potter, it is unseemly for you to be kneeling to me!"
Goggle-eyed, Harry looked at him. "Why? I wanted you to not have to strain to look up at me and it was easier for me to kneel, so I did."
Turning to Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, the diminutive Goblin said, "Did no one teach friend Potter anything about Goblin society? Have things become so bad at Hogwarts that not even the basics are being covered?"
Remus looked down at the Goblin and said, "I'm afraid so, Most Senior Teller of the Day Griphook. There has been, unfortunately, a steady decline in the overall educational levels at the school. It is to wizarding shame that a ghost is still teaching "History of Magic" and that the Muggle-studies teacher has not been into Muggle London in fifty years. Albus Dumbledore has done a very great disservice to wizards and witches everywhere by allowing the situation to continue for so long. Please forgive my godson. He is extraordinary in so many ways…but he is still Muggle-raised and therefore ignorant of a great deal in our world."
Sirius, feeling Remus' lead, said "Most Senior Teller of the Day Griphook, I beg your forgiveness of my adopted son. Harry means well and has his heart most firmly in the right place, but I have not had the chance to teach him, given that I've been free for only a little while and he has been in school for most of that time."
Griphook considered what the two men had said most carefully. If they were telling the truth, and he had no reason to think that they weren't, Harry Potter needed the help that Gringotts could offer even more than he had been told. It was a most dire situation. "My lords, it is already forgotten. I was unaware that things had fallen to such a level. These are things that must be corrected, however, and quickly. Let us proceed to our meeting. If I am correct, King Ragnok should be free now."
And as he said it, the imposing, golden doors swung open and the two menacing guards stepped aside to allow Griphook, Harry, Hermione, and the rest to enter the smaller, more ornate hall.
Remus Lupin, with his finally honed werewolf senses, could tell that there had been a great deal of death in the hall…but all of it Goblin-on-Goblin. There was not a single trace anywhere of humans. It was a revelation that he would let Harry in on, after they were safely away from the bank.
Harry and Hermione were escorted down the long hall – which was approximately 110 feet – and into a wide, mostly circular room. At the center, with his back to the wall, sat King Ragnok. He was not an imposing Goblin, by any means. At barely four feet, he was taller than most all other Goblins…but short, in comparison to 99.9999% of all humans.
Two things distinguished Ragnok from other Goblins, besides his height. One was that while most Goblins had little or no hair on their heads, Ragnok had a strong and luxuriant plait of deep black hair which began at the nape of his neck and extended all the way up the center of his head to the crown in a style that almost reminded Harry of the Muggle fashion called a 'mohican'. The braid hung down to the middle of his shoulders and was tied off with what Harry was sure was a 22kt. gold band. The other thing that stood out was that he had golden eyes that were almost hypnotic. Harry thought to himself that Ragnok was probably the handsomest Goblin he had ever seen. He was far easier to meet eye-to-eye and less distracting.
Sirius Black and Remus Lupin moved forward, and knelt in front of the King. They were then joined by Harry, Hermione, and the twins. When the Grangers failed to join the others, Griphook looked up at them almost apoplectic. Jake Granger looked at him and said, "We're what you call Muggles, Senior Teller Griphook, and we already have a sovereign queen to whom we owe our allegiance."
Griphook considered that for a moment and then nodded, as if in agreement. Leaving the Grangers where they stood, Griphook moved forward and made abeyance to his king.
"Rise, Griphook. Rise, all. Griphook, for what reason have you bought these humans to me?"
Not daring to meet his lords' eyes, Griphook explained that the young, black-haired boy was Harry Potter; son of Goblin friend, Lord James Potter, and that the boy had brought him a request that only the King could answer.
"Have you now, friend Potter. And what was the request that has Senior Teller Griphook so concerned?"
"Sire, if I may. When I first thought to enter Hogwarts, I came to Gringotts in order to make a small withdrawal and to find out about whatever my parents might have left to me. Senior Teller Griphook answered all of my needs then and has done so every year since that day. I came today and said to him: "You can help me by taking over management of the Potter family vaults and any other vaults for which I might be heir."
Harry looked over to where Griphook stood and his fear was almost palpable. What Harry didn't understand was why he might be so afraid.
Ragnok looked at Harry and then at the party around him. "A most unusual group of friends you have, friend Potter. I've not seen such a collection since your father was here. Of course, two of your number were much younger then."
This earned a small laugh from both Sirius and Lupin. Harry held his own and said, "Sire, time ravages all of us in equal measure. It is the only opponent that Goblins cannot defeat."
Harry's statement startled the monarch and he looked at Harry intently; as if to probe him for something deep inside. "You know our legends, then?"
"Only a small portion, Sire. Professor Binns was occasionally useful, though he spent a great deal of time on the 1600's, while he should have been talking about the 1970's."
"Ah, friend Potter. So you do know more than you let on. Very well, then. We will make sure that more of what you should know is shared with you. However, that's not the reason that you came today or were brought before me. I think that before you commit yourself to the path, you should know what you are facing. Griphook!"
Griphook immediately fell to one knee in front of his lord. "Yes, my lord?"
"Go at once and fetch back all of the ledgers that friend Potter might need. Bring to me the Book of Families as well and the appropriate bowl."
Griphook almost tripped over himself in his haste to go and gather the things that he had been commanded to retrieve. During his absence, the King looked about the room and began asking Harry and Hermione questions.
"Tell me about your friends here, Harry" the King said, using Harry's given name for the first time.
Harry immediately brightened and then started introducing everyone. "Sire, I believe you already know my Godfather and my adopted dad" pointing to Lupin and then Sirius, "and I believe that you have probably heard of my friends, Fredrick and George Weasley…" Ragnok nodded as both Fred and George made eye contact with the Goblin King for the first time.
"Tell me, Harry, about the remarkable young woman who stands by your side. I know that I've never seen her before."
If Harry's smile could have gotten wider, it would have, as Harry said, "Sire, this is Hermione Jane Granger. However, she will soon be my wife, Hermione Jane, the Lady Potter. She is the top student at Hogwarts and, without a doubt, the smartest witch you, or perhaps any of your people, will ever meet."
Hermione's cheeks flamed a deep crimson as she listened to her fiancée praise her. "Rise, Lady Potter and know that you are also Goblin-friend."
Inclining her head in a show of respect, Hermione said gently, "I thank you, Sire. I will do everything in my power to make sure that you and your tribe never, ever have cause to doubt me."
"I know. I thank you for your words and for the emotion behind them. Our dealings with the wizarding world have never been as easy as they should have been, but you make me believe that there is still hope for that to change."
"Sire? May I introduce you to my parents? They are Muggles, Sire, but they respect me and respect my place in this world."
Ragnok looked Hermione in the eyes and then turned his attention to her parents, who were holding hands and standing, silently, along the back wall of the room. With a wave of his hand, a guard brought Hermione's parents forward, so that they were standing on the deep red carpet which led up to the dais.
"You do not seem afraid" he said, appraising the two. "Does this place not mystify you or make you doubt all the things you have ever been told?"
Miranda bit her tongue; leaving her husband to reply for them both. "Sire, thank you. We were not sure how we would be received, but you have allowed us into your presence and for that, we are grateful."
Ragnok smiled and even laughed a little. "Well spoken. My name is Ragnok and I am King of the Goblins here in what you call Britain. I know a little of your queen. She and I have had some contact in the past. She was kinder than I expected."
Jake and Miranda Granger fairly gasped at the King's admission. They couldn't believe that the Queen of England knew about the magical world, and more, had had contact with the Goblins directly. They began to wonder just how tight the Statute of Secrecy really was or whether it was honored more in the breach than the observance.
Miranda eyes flicked up; just enough to catch the King's eyes. "Yes, Lady Granger? Is there something you wish to ask?"
Blushing at being called 'Lady Granger', Miranda nodded slightly and then said, "Sire, it seems that my daughter's betrothed is somehow important to both our world and yours. Can you tell us why this is? You seem to know more than the rest of us."
Sitting further back into his throne, Ragnok looked around. His eyes wandered first to Remus Lupin, then to Sirius Black, and finally rested on Harry himself. "What say you, friend Potter? Would you have them know what Dumbledore's 'greater good' is?"
Harry was unsure, but he thought that more information was better than less and thought that whatever it was, he could face it, if he had Hermione, Sirius, and Remus in his corner. Clearing his throat, Harry said, "Yes, Sire. I would just as soon have them all know, if it means that they can help me with whatever it is."
The King seemed inclined to agree and then said, "Good then, friend Potter. I will tell you all that I know. There is a prophecy….about you and the one who calls himself 'Voldemort'."
There were suddenly several audible intakes of breath at the Dark Lord's name, but the Goblin King ignored it. "The prophecy, as far as we've been able to ascertain, says that you and the Dark Lord have to face each other and that neither can fully live while the other does. The complete wording is uncertain, but we know this much. The prophecy said that he will 'mark you as his equal' and that you 'will have a power that the dark lord knows not'. We assume that no one else can kill either of you, but of that we are not certain." The King hesitated before continuing. "Here is the hard part, friend Potter. We do know that the scar that you are carrying on your forehead is not just a scar, but rather a bit of the dark lord's soul. It must be removed for you to be truly whole and have complete access to your magic."
Hermione was almost apoplectic at the King's pronouncement and threw herself into Harry's arms; crying as she did so.
Ragnok smiled a smile of actual understanding. "Tell your bond-mate not to worry, friend Potter. We have curse-breakers here at the bank who know how to deal with this matter. It's a simple matter of finding an object that can be enchanted to receive the soul-fragment and then forcing it out of you and into the vessel. Once that has been done, the Horcrux can be destroyed relatively safely."
Remus Lupin and Sirius Black were in shock over what they had just heard…until they realized the implications and why Voldemort had bragged to Harry that he had 'walked further down the path towards immortality than any other wizard alive.'
It made sense…sick, twisted sense…but sense none-the-less. Sirius figured it out a moment ahead of Lupin and in his excitement called out, "Harry! We can beat him!"
His outburst might have caused them all grief if the King wasn't the sort to be forgiving – but he was – and so the exclamation went by, unremarked.
Harry turned and looked quizzically at Sirius, as if to say, "Huh?"
"Horcruxes, Harry, Horcruxes! That's how Voldemort has 'walked further down the path towards immortality than any other wizard alive'. That's what he's made and I bet anything that he's made more than one!"
Harry was still not sold, but the King interposed himself, if only verbally. "Your father is probably right, Harry. If the dark lord is trying to make himself immortal, then it makes sense that this dark lord would have made more than one. The question is how many more than one."
It was Hermione who supplied the ready answer. "Seven, Sire. I will bet all that I know that there are seven fragments. One in him and six hidden."
Harry smiled, recognizing immediately the truth that had been staring him in the face. "Actually, love, it's five."
Hermione looked at him…and then there was cognition of what had to be the truth. "Oh yes, Harry! That's got to be it!"
Sirius and Remus looked at Hermione from where they were standing and seemed a little bit lost. Even the King was looking unsure. Harry stopped and stood back about a half-step, so that he could face them all. "It's five" he told the group, "And here's why. At the end of my second year, when I faced Voldemort – his real name is Tom Riddle, by the way – I ended up winning because I destroyed a diary; a private journal – that had belonged to Riddle when he was a young man. When I stabbed it with the broken off tooth from the Basilisk which Riddle had summoned, the solid form of Riddle was destroyed and Ginny Weasley was restored to health. Riddle was using Ginny's life-energies to restore himself to a body…and I'm betting that the journal contained one of the soul fragments. It's the only way he could have come back."
Looks of shock and wonder raced around the room as each person pondered the story. The Weasley twins appeared to be almost beside themselves with awe and respect for Harry and what he had accomplished. They also immediately wondered if there was still a dead Basilisk under the school that they could harvest. They thought about all the things that basilisk parts could be used for and what those parts might fetch on the open market…and goggled in wonder at the immense wealth that was just lying there. Immediately, the twin brothers began to formulate a plan….
Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, on the other hand, were shaking with both rage at the Headmasters' ineptitude and fear/sadness from having been so close to loosing Harry without ever having had the chance to get to know him. Both men were frighteningly protective of James and Lily's only son and the full force of those emotions swept over and through them both.
Jake and Miranda Granger, on the other hand, marveled at the power and humility that their only daughters' betrothed showed. Each saw the look in their daughters' eyes and knew, without a doubt, that she would charge the gates of hell themselves, if it meant protecting Harry. They also saw that he felt the same way and that he was completely willing to lay down his life to protect her. For that kind of love alone, they could ask no more of their God.
The King, for his part, sat back on his throne and contemplated what he had just been told. It was a remarkable story and, since he had no reason to doubt its truthfulness, made him wonder…and not for the first time…whether something had gone very seriously wrong at Hogwarts and within the British wizarding community as a whole. Having a twelve year-old boy fight a Basilisk was something that not even Goblins would require during training…at least until much, much later on. If Harry Potter was Dumbledore's 'secret weapon', then he had been hugely careless with the way the boy was treated.
Asking the question that he hoped would break the tension that had filled the room, the King said, "Friend Potter, just how large was the Basilisk? We had heard that there was a monster that lived under the Castle, but we'd never been able to establish the veracity of the story."
Harry scuffed the carpet with his toe for a moment and then looked at Hermione; unsure of whether he really wanted to tell the Goblin-King the truth. It was Hermione's nod and the soft caress of her hand in his that told him that she supported him and thought he ought to be honest.
Lifting his eyes to meet the Kings' gaze, he said quietly, "Sire, its neck-ridge came up to my shoulder and its fangs were as long as my arm. I don't know exactly how long it was…but when I drove the sword up through the top of its mouth, I was looking at it face to face from twenty-five feet up. If I had to guess, I'd say it was probably sixty or sixty-five feet."
Stunned, the King looked at him, wondering if even his very best warrior would have faired half as well as the young man before him had. And, wryly, he mused about whether the boy knew of the enormous value of a basilisk carcass that large. Probably not, he thought. He knew there was profit to be had, if the boy was willing to turn over the rendering of the great snake to them, but put the thought of asking out of his mind. It wasn't the time to bring it up. Perhaps later, after he's received his inheritance.
It was at that precise moment – when the King was about to laud Harry for what had to be the greatest act of heroism in a twelve year-old that he had ever heard of - that the doors to the throne room opened again. If Harry had known what the King was about to say to him, in front of Hermione and the others, he would have asked the King not to do so. The one thing that Harry couldn't stand was being recognized for things over which Harry had had no choice or events into which he had been forced. Like the Tri-Wizard Tournament…or the duel after Voldemort's resurrection. Fame was not something he wanted, needed, or ever sought out, and it was just as well that the Kings' thoughts and praise for his actions went unvoiced.
Griphook bore, in his short, clawed hands, the items that his King had requested. One was an overly-large, grey, leather-bound book, and the other was a small, silver bowl with ornate runes carved in the side, in bas-relief.
Waving a hand, the King conjured a table and directed Griphook place the bowl and the book upon it. When he looked up, he saw the assembled group looking at him in fascination. When he saw their eyes flicking to the table and then back at him, he grinned. "Ah, yes. You humans are so presumptuous about magic. Your Wizengamot, for all their arrogance and pomposity, didn't realize that most races that are magical don't need or want wands and that their supposed 'ban' on ownership of wands by non-human species affects us not at all."
Harry was about to ask if house-elves and Goblins were related and then realized how awful such a question could sound. It was, however, a question to which he thought the answer might be very, very enlightening and promised himself that he would ask Hermione what she thought after they had left the bank.
Turning to Harry, Ragnok said, "Well, friend Potter, are you ready to be tested?"
Nervously, Harry stepped a half a pace forward and said, with as much dignity as he could muster, "Sire, if it helps my cause or serves our friendship, then I am ready for anything."
That caused the King's almost non-existent left eyebrow to try to rise considerably, without immediate success. "You presume our friendship, Harry?"
"No, Sire, but I offer mine to you." Harry said, hoping that it was the right answer. It was.
"Good. Then Griphook was correct in bringing you to me. We shall deal with that afterwards. Let us now be about figuring out which families you can claim as your own."
"What must I do, Sire?"
Producing a small, wickedly sharp-looking knife from a hidden sheath, Ragnok said, "Hold out your hand, Harry, palm upward. I will make a small cut in its center. When the blood gathers, turn your hand over and pour it into the bowl. It will do the rest."
Not a stranger to pain or to cuts, Harry willingly held out his hand. Carefully, Ragnok slid the blade across Harry's palm; making slices in perpendicular directions. The blade was so sharp that Harry felt it not at all – at first. The sting of the cuts grated on his nerves after a minute or so, but by then, the blood had gathered in his hand such that it covered the same area as a gold galleon. Gently, the King bade him turn his hand over and pour the blood into the bowl.
Once he did so, Sirius, who had been looking on in fascination, whispered the incantation, 'Epsikey', which sealed the cuts on Harry's palm painlessly.
Harry almost didn't notice what was happening with the book. Once his blood hit the bowl, a dark red vapor gathered; formed a cloud above the bowl, and then completely covered the book; seeping into what seemed to be every pore and crack. The book's pages opened, as if on their own, there was immediately a 'leafing through' action - as if someone was trying to fan him or herself with the pages – until the book appeared to settle on a particular page. It flopped open and then lay there, unmoving.
Ragnok, Harry, Hermione, Sirius, and Remus all looked down to see what the book said.
At the top of the page, there was a title which read, "Harry James Potter" and next to it was written "Hermione Jane Potter". There were empty boxes below their names which Harry thought were probably meant for children. He blushed as he looked over at Hermione. She was staring at the same page, her mouth agape, and her eyes twinkling madly. It was clear that she liked the idea.
The book began moving again and the next page it landed on said "Potter Family Tree" at the top. Harry's name was listed at the bottom, below the names of James and Lily Potter. There was what appeared to be a straight-line connection back to the very earliest Potters. The date at the top of the tree said, "563 B.C". Hermione's eyes went wide as she saw the date. Harry knew as well as Hermione, that Ollivander's shop dated back to 382 B.C and his was the oldest shop in all of wizarding Britain. That made the Potters 119 years older…and marked him as the only remaining member of the oldest (recorded) family in the country.
The book started moving again and this time, settled on "Evans Family Tree". Again, Harry's name appeared at the bottom, as the only survivor of the family.
It would have been nice, Harry thought, if the book had left it at that, but it didn't. The next family, though, was the shocker. It said, "Gryffindor Family Tree" and listed both Harry's and Neville Longbottom's names at the bottom. They were each descended from one of Godric Gryffindor's sons. Harry's line traced back to Brian Wulfric Gryffindor and Neville's to his younger brother (by eleven months), Alfred James Gryffindor. Grinning, Harry thought about how much fun it was going to be to tell Neville the good news about his true heritage.
Even Ragnok seemed impressed when the book opened to its final page and listed all of the family vaults to which Harry could lay claim:
Potter (Full share)
Evans (Full share)
Warren (Full share)
Draven (Full share)
Looking at the list, Harry wondered if anyone else had any idea of just what his holdings might be. Hermione seemed to be of the same mind and stepped close to him, so that she could take his hand in hers again. "It'll be all right, Harry. I promise."
"I know, love, I know. With you here…." He left the rest unsaid. There was no point in belaboring just how much he loved her and trusted that she'd help him make the right decisions.
Sirius put his hand on Harry's shoulder; causing Harry to be momentarily startled. "It's going to be all right, Harry. Remus and I promise that we'll do everything we can to help."
Ragnok stepped a little closer, too, and said – looking up at both Harry, Hermione, and the two men – "For what it's worth, friend Potter, I am glad that you have had your bond-mate, your father and your godfather here today. This might have been a difficult revelation without them. There is much to do, if you are going to execute all of these wills and lay claim to the associated vaults."
There was a great deal to do and four hours later, after signing what had felt like two thousand sheets of parchment, Harry Potter and his willing entourage emerged onto the marble steps of Gringotts Bank, considerably wealthier than any of them could have ever imagined. Fred and George Weasley had each received fifty thousand galleons, with Harry's grateful thanks for all the support they had given him…not to mention the fact that they had seen how stupid their family had been and chosen to do what was right, rather than what was easy. Harry gave Remus Lupin five hundred thousand galleons and the entire Draven estate – which meant that the 'old wolf' wouldn't have to work ever again, if he lived modestly and invested wisely.
Hermione's parents had been given the equivalent of five hundred thousand pounds Sterling and the promise that they would never, ever want for money again.
Sirius Black had the Black fortune – but got the one thing that money could not buy: Harry's love and a promise that no matter what else happened, he would always be the person Harry turned to for answers and for direction.
Hermione's gifts were the easiest in some ways. Harry found in the Potter vault the one thing that he knew would make her happiest: his mother's engagement ring and wedding band, along with a promise that they would be married (publicly) before the year was out. Harry also gave her a Gringotts medallion that she could wear as a necklace, so that there would never be a doubt about her rights at the bank.
By the time that they had finished, their sacks were ladened with galleons and they were all wondering what life had in store for them next.
Harry was torn between trying to get out of the country immediately and going around and recruiting other supporters. He knew that Neville, Luna Lovegood, Padma and Parvati Patil, Susan Bones, and many others would probably flock to him, if he called them. He also knew that members of the Order of the Phoenix were aware of most all of his friendships and would be trying to get to Harry through any or all of them. He wondered, too, if people like Emmeline Vance and Nymphadora Tonks would side with him or Dumbledore.
As they made their way down the steps of Gringotts, in order to get outside of the anti-Portkey wards, Harry thought about what they were all facing. It was bad enough to be opposed by someone like Tom Riddle. He was a psychopathic megalomaniac and a sadist. That Harry understood, after a fashion. Albus Dumbledore, on the other hand, was a completely unknown quantity. There was so much about the man that was hidden or known only apocryphally. He was a 'puzzle surrounding a mystery, wrapped in an enigma'. That made him both dangerous and unpredictable.
Once the group was at the correct spot, they quickly put their hands to the modified Portkey and disappeared. Their next destination was going to be interesting, to say the least.