Harry leaned against the wall under the window and breathed calmly, listening to the silence. Luckily Vernon had gotten home late last night and hadn't bothered trying to break the door down. Harry looked at the letter in his hand. He'd ripped apart a sheet from the bed and used some of his blood to write the address on it. He'd been hoping Hedwig would come, but it seemed Dumbledore had been truthful about a ward to keep owls out.
A squawk drew his attention and he jolted with hope. He pulled himself up and gazed out his bared windows. Keiruim sat in a tree across from them.
"Keiruim." Harry whispered relieved.
Then he noticed the bird's singed tail feathers and ruffled appearance.
"Did you fight through the wards?" He asked in concern.
The bird made a non-committal sound. Harry pushed his hand through the bars, holding out the bloody cloth.
"Take it to Griphook. He'll help." Harry rasped.
The bird gave him a worried look but grabbed the cloth and flew off. Harry collapsed back to the ground.
Harry focused on his breathing as he closed his eyes. He prodded at his own occlumency barriers and was ever so thankful he'd spent his whole summer practising them and that they were more subconscious then magic, without his magic he would be unable to block out a Legilimency attack but the 'clearing calmness' that came with the barriers was still there. If not he would be screaming in pain and terrified out of his mind. As it was he only let loose the odd whimper when he shifted and his body only trembled slightly, all his fear and pain shoved into a dark corner with everything else.
He went over his memories slowly, examining each and every one of summer. Not because he wanted to but because he needed to get his mind off of where he was. As he looked over his memories he made notes to himself. Things to do if he lived through this experience. He hoped to god Keiruim would get help. He knew Vernon would kill him this time. His idiot of an uncle didn't realize he was doing real damage this time and that Harry's magic wouldn't save him like it usually did.
Harry blinked his eyes open as he heard someone try the door. There was a pause as they found resistance in the form of his chair. Then they left. Harry didn't know if it was Petunia or Dudley, as Vernon was at work, but it seems as if they weren't going to bother him.
A few minutes later they tried again though. His cat flap swung open and a bottle of water was shoved in.
It was Dudley. Harry didn't respond. He didn't know if he could. His ribs hurt too much and the hollow pain in him kept tugging at him. And his heart, dear god half the time it felt as if it would beat out of chest with a flash of terror, and sometimes it slowed so badly he'd thought it would stop. He shook all the time too. He was cold, then hot, and always nervous and twitchy. His body would spasm randomly and not from his physical pain. He thought of his magic, still restless behind the barrier and nearly cried, tears welling up. His emotions, when he even felt them through the void, were unpredictable at the best.
"I don't know if you're awake, but I'm sorry."
Harry snapped back to Dudley and convulsed silently, fingers scrabbling for grip on the wood, all his occlumency gone with the lapse of concentration. He gave a soft keening noise through his battered throat and hadn't wanted a hug as badly as right this moment. Or at least a knife in the back. But Dudley, he sounded genuine.
"I didn't think dad would ever get this bad. I mean, well, I saw it before, but I never really realized how bad it was. But mum was muttering earlier that maybe your magic made you stronger before because even she is worried about the blood. But well she won't ever do anything. Hates you too much I think, just doesn't want a murder to happen in the house."
Dudely fell quiet a minute and Harry heard him sniffle.
"And well, I've learned a few things this year and I grew up a bit. At school, I talked with a councillor a lot and she explained what abuse is and I didn't ever really realize what it was. And now I look at mum and dad and I wonder how they love me so much and treat me like their son, but how horrible they really are to you, and to everyone else really. They're bitter and mean and I want to hate them, but they're my parents right But…but what Dad's doing… its…its wrong." He swallowed. "And I'm going to get you out."
Harry moaned as he jolted at the words. Out? Of here? This nightmare? And his bully would get him out? Harry had never hoped as much, nor felt as hopeless.
"You're awake?" Dudley asked hearing the moan.
Harry managed a keen.
"I have some friends who said they'd help tonight." Dudley said quickly. "When Dad and Mum go to bed I'll let them in. We'll unlock the door and get you out. They'll drive you where-ever you need."
Harry wanted to cry. Dudley was actually going to help him. The boy who'd used him as a punching bag. This was just so…so…surreal. He convulsed again as his magic tried the barrier and he instinctively slammed into his own side. With the fiery jolt of pain his heart paused then stuttered and started. Harry reminded himself to breath and realized Dudley was still talking.
"-just survive the night." Dudley said quickly. "I gotta go. Good luck Harry."
Harry gave a wet cough as he closed his eyes in the pain. He panted and felt blood slip past his lips to fall down his chin. He had most definitely broken a rib. But what was one rib in the grand scheme? His magic was gone, what was this physical pain against having his magic absent from his soul. But the pain! God, his side hurt! No, it was okay now, he just couldn't lay on it. He needed his magic. He lost focus as he tried the barrier again. He was almost used to the fire in is veins now. It drew him away from Vernon.
"Thought you could lock me out with a chair." Vernon snorted.
He kicked him again and Harry slid across the flood, leaving a bloody smear. Oh. Harry thought. My blood looks like Valentine's hair. I wonder how he is. At the exact same time he screamed inside his head, ramming into the barrier so hard he whited out and convulsed. He came back, heart trying frantically to beat out of his chest. His nerves were on high alert and he twitched as he felt how hard the floor was.
Vernon was staring at the blood streak a bit surprised and frowning, as if he didn't understand that he had broken the skin on Harry's back. As if he didn't realize Harry could bleed.
"Vernon! They'll be here in a few minutes!" Came Petunia's shrill cry.
"You're lucky we're having guest tonight and I can't teach you your place freak. But if you make one noise I'll make sure you regret ever being born." Vernon growled as he hurried from the room, slamming and locking the door.
Harry blinked and he was gone and the lights were out and everything was okay. He rolled and screamed silently.
"Oh god." Harry whimper as he coughed up a mouthful of blood. "Something pierced my lung."
He morbidly pictured his own blood rising in his lungs, his heart screaming from beside them and watching helplessly. Maybe if he died Valentine could have it. He had said his blood was delicious. And Santinus and Hermione could fight over his books and Ron could– and the void hurt! Why did it feel so empty! Why was he hurt? Oh yeah, his magic was gone. He remembered warmth and feeling whole but that was all it was; a memory. How long had he been here?
He snapped back to focus and rolled onto his stomach, tilting his head to the side, his cheek digging into the wood. He closed his eyes and focused on his breathing. He didn't know if Dudley's friends would get here in time. He might drown in his own blood before then, the pretty red spilling onto the floor and forever taunting Vernon that he would never be gone, because he knew how hard bloodstains were to get rid of.
He turned back to his magic. He could feel it rolling in fury behind his barrier. The small traces of magic in the environment were swirling around him also but couldn't do anything for him. If he had perhaps been in a more magically soaked place he could do something. He doubted it. He wouldn't know how to begin, or continue, or end. Harry wondered if a sharp knife in his throat would hurt this much. He doubted it.
Harry didn't know how long he had been lying there but when he opened his eyes it was dark and there was a slam down stairs. Harry recognized the sound of a door being thrown open somehow, even through the fuzzy haze that covered him almost like a blanket. His limbs were numb again and while that was nice physically, it hurt inside still, well hurt was the wrong word. It was empty.
Then he heard Petunia's scream. A second later the locks his door was kicked open and a furious looking vampire stalked into the room.
Valentine froze as he saw Harry. His eyes dilated and Harry saw his fangs grow. The rumour that Born-Vampires could go into a bloodlust was both true and untrue. They didn't get any madder then a starving person. But lots of blood was tempting, sinfully so. Harry fancied Valentine's hair rising in an unseen wind as he bared fangs and claws like on a movie. Then the vampire turned and fled.
Harry tried to focus on the second figure and soon his face swam into focus.
"Griphook." He chuckled, blood bubbling from his mouth.
He tried a smile and failed by the forbidding look on the goblin's face.
"We're dealing with the parasites as we speak Lord Potter."
Petunia's scream echoed again along with Vernon. Harry tried to laugh but it came out as a pained cough.
"Medic!" Griphook yelled harshly.
Another goblin came scurrying in and took one look at Harry.
"We need to get him to Gringotts. I need more things then I brought it appears."
Griphook yelled something in the goblin language and two burly goblin guards stalked in, each wearing armour and carrying an axe or a spear. Two other's followed and a quick spell and Harry was on a stretcher, being carried outside.
"Illusions on!" A goblin yelled at the door. "The muggles have gathered outside."
All the goblins swirled and looked like muggle police and paramedics a second later. Harry was carted outside as the guards cleared the gathering neighbours who all gasped or screamed as they saw him. He tried to name each of them as they went by and remember what they had done to him from sneers to yells to subtle stones. He was carted too what like looked to the muggles like an ambulance, to Harry it looked like a carriage drawn by two huge, vicious beasts that looked like a cross between bears, horses, and dogs. Harry was pulled inside the carriage and they took off.
"What?" Harry slurred as Griphook's face appeared again.
"We had to use non-magic transportation. The others are too violent for your condition." He said calmly.
Harry moaned again as another goblin gently prodded him.
"Three broken ribs." The goblin reported. "Two bruised and two cracked also. He had some internal bleeding. One of his ribs pierced his lungs. He also has a slight concussion, a broken wrist and a fractured ankle. He's dehydrated and had no food in the last thirty six hours. Littered with bruises on the skin, some bruised bones, with a few bruised organs. He also bit his tongue badly and a finger is badly sprained."
"I'm a mess." Harry chuckled through the pain, coughing up blood.
"Rest Lord Potter." The medic goblin snapped. "You'll only make it worse by moving."
"We'll make sure you're safe." Griphook added.
"Dumbledore." Harry moaned.
"Will not get near you. We're taking you to Gringotts. He can't enter without threatening a war. He won't even know you're there hopefully. We have a team covering up our tracks. The…the…parasites, will be thrown in our own holding cells."
"Not Dudley." Harry slurred as black crept up his vision. "He helped."
"The youngest then, shall be shown to a locked…guest room." Was the last thing Harry heard as he drifted off.
Harry screamed as something seared through him. Pain, hot and unbearable! Worse then the barrier and Vernon together. It was blinding and all consuming. His screams turned to chocked soundless noises.
"It's A Binding Collar!" Came a panicked yell.
Another stab of pain and it felt like glass was flowing through his veins. He screamed again, arching against the surface he laid on. Hands clamped to his wrists and held him down as he tried to lash out. His magic, a dull buzz at the edge of his senses was roaring it's fury behind its prison. It seemed to be prodding at the barrier violently, searching for any escape. It slammed against it sending fire through his veins. Harry realized he was still screaming though his body was now going numb. He scrabbled frantically at the barrier trying to get to his magic cause it would help. He needed it, he loved it, it was his magic.
He stuttered and stopped suddenly, his whole being suddenly numb.
"His Heart!" Came another panicked cry.
Harry felt numb as he collapsed, loosing all sense of being. His distant senses were fuzzy and he felt everything start to fade.
"His Heart Stopped!"
Cries were coming above him. His magic felt so loud inside of him, smashing violently against its prison. He reached for it feebly, stealing some of the magic in the air in a last ditch effort. It splashed against the barrier and he started to fade again. His magic gave an even louder scream of absolute fury that was echoed by the magic of Gringotts and the ambient magic in the air. Harry was touched that they were all so angry on his behalf. He felt very much loved. Then there was a loud snap. His magic roared with satisfaction as a crack appeared in the barrier. The other magic also gave elated cries and backed off. Only a tendril escaped but it quickly jolted out through him. With a sharp crack Harry felt a great force of electricity flow through his veins. The fuzzy edges of his mind slowly pulled back. Harry felt a smile take his lips as he felt even that small wisp of his magic free in his veins. He tried to laugh, perhaps hysterically, but he was already out.
Harry moaned softly as he came to awareness. All he felt around him was the soft blankets he was tucked into and the mattress he lay on. The air was pleasantly fresh and warm and he felt perfectly content to just lie there. After a while though he forced his eyes to open. He peered up blurrily and gently eased an arm out searching for his glasses, then remembered they were broken. But a gnarled hand handed some to him. He slid the glasses on and looked up at Griphook's scowling face.
"Hi Griphook." Harry smiled, voice raspy from his sore throat.
He was one whole bruise and everything ached painfully, but a small tendril of magic caressed him comfortingly and he couldn't help the stupid happy grin.
"How do you feel Lord Potter?" Griphook asked seriously.
"Fine." Harry hummed. "A little sore but otherwise fine."
"Good. Our healers did their jobs then." The goblin sighed rubbing at his face. "Did you know your heart stopped three times last night? If not for your own magic helping our healers you would be dead."
Harry paused and reached inside of him. He felt the barrier was still there, but the crack in it allowed a sliver of his magic free. He smiled as he felt his magic burn warmly in him.
"What…what of my relatives?" Harry asked more grimly.
"The fat one is in a cell guarded by our most vicious dogs. The skinny one is isolated in a cell while the child is in one of the sparsely furnished offices set up to hold him, contentedly."
Harry nodded slowly.
"Do not worry." Griphook shrugged. "They shall be put on trail."
"I don't want this to get public." Harry rushed.
"And it will not." The goblin agreed. "They shall be tried by goblin court, not the human one."
"…Dudley helped me." Harry said softly.
"We have questioned him and learned that he did not agree with his parents. He shall be released to your custody, or the muggle government should you wish."
"I'll take him." Harry said. "Thank you."
"It is no problem. Rest, I shall call for some food for you."
Harry sipped at the warm mug of soup in his hand as he leaned back into the stack of pillows behind him. His hands were carefully bandaged as they had both been bruised with a finger on each sprained. The bandages were no longer needed as he had been fully healed but he had yet to take them off. He was fairly surprised to learn that Goblins were very, very good healers if they trained in that field. What would have been weeks in a normal magical hospital and months in a muggle hospital had turned into a day in the goblin infirmary. It probably helped Griphook had been screaming at them and he had had a whole team working on him as it had been an emergency.
And here he was alone, except for a sleeping goblin bandaged from a fighting accident. No people popping in and out. No one bothering him. No Pomfrey hovering. The goblin healers were quite respectful too, not overly bothering him, but helping if he needed it.
"You feel well?"
Harry started and realized he had been gazing at his soup thoughtfully. He glanced to Griphook who had once again taken a seat in the chair next to his bed. Harry nodded to his question and looked at him thoughtfully. Griphook sighed.
"What's your question?" He asked.
Harry pondered his wording a moment.
"I wanted to know why you're doing this for me?" he asked. "I mean saving me, and healing me. Taking care of all my business, helping with anything I ask. You don't do it for anyone else. Not that I'm not grateful, I just feel like you're treating me...better than most people. I somehow doubt that if another person with an account here had sent out a distress letter you would have charged in with a full team of goblin warriors and medics to rescue them."
Griphook looked at him for a long moment then sighed.
"Roman's founded London in 50 AD. It started out as a merchant town. What most don't know is that in that time non-magicals and magicals shared the world with very few boundaries. It was a magical Roman Lord that claimed London and the area around it. Lord Aelius, the magical lord, was the seventh son of his family. He would never have inherited everything, except while on the roman battle front in Britain all his family was killed. The reason unknown. He had no close relatives and as thus, inherited the family title. He had grown up never expecting to get anything though. He'd worked hard and knew struggle, so he was not like the typical lord. He was said to be stern, fair, and compassionate. When the merchants built a small town called Londinium, with his permission, they also had a small magical sector.
It was around this time the Gringotts Clan was expelled from their native clan lands by the Scottish. Lord Aelius, for an unknown reason, agreed to let the Gringotts Clan burrow under his city of Londinium. He even helped using his magic. It took many years but the clan got deep enough to move into the cave system. They also found many precious metals deeper down and immediately started mining. It is said they offered Lord Aelius gifts every years in return for him allowing them to live on his land.
It was a few years after this that they decided to repay the Lord back by guarding whatever he wished. They dug the very first vault and Lord Aelius stored many things in it, trusting the goblins to keep it safe. This drew other lord's attention. Goblins have always been good at wards and locks. Our vaults quickly became some of the most secure places in the world. Other Lords came to us, paying a fee to store their valuables.
For many a year this went on. Lord Aelius died and his only son, by a new wife, replaced him. So the years went by and the lords along with them. Then another European Goblin clan started a war some time during 700 AD. Goblins were put in a more violent and bloodthirsty light. While it was true we are a bloodthirsty and warrior race, we do not fight for no reasons. Our European brethrens had decided to rebel against the humans who were quickly gaining power. Goblins lost much trust in these years. Almost every lord returned to our vaults and withdrew their items. This lost us our connections with the humans. Only the new Lord Aelius said he still trusted and openly showed it by keeping his vaults still in our keep. He also defended us against the growing city above us when they feared we would turn on them.
The war died down and the magical castle Hogwarts was made. Shortly after Hogwarts was made, along with the farming village of Hogsmead, Diagon Alley became more secluded. Non-magicals had started to gain a healthy dose of caution around their magical brethren and the magical brethren had gained the same caution. It was around 1100 AD that they became completely separated and magic dulled to fairy tales in the minds of the non-magiks. It was also in this same time that the Ministry of Magic started to develop.
It was in 1300 AD that the last Aelius, a female, married into another line and the name Aelius was lost. Most in this time had forgotten that it was the Aelius family the owned London, Diagon Alley, and the cave system that is home to the Gringotts Clan. The Clan once again opened vaults which were very rarely used by non-goblins. The Ministry of Magic had also grown strong in this time and had decided that Magical Creatures were worth less and weaker then Wizards and Witches. They started to put laws out against all magical creatures, especially goblins with us being so close to their settlement. We rebelled. A war was fought that ended only three years later with the ministry signing a treaty with us. We were our own nation, allowed to govern ourselves and keep our land.
It was in 1500 AD that we opened our bank. It quickly gained customers as no other magical creatures, even wizards, had opened such a bank. We gained much power through the running of this bank. The vaults we had carved out many centuries ago were quickly used. Our own farms and homes and towns were mostly forgotten, buried beneath the vaults and farther under London. Soon, we were running the economy. We controlled most of the money and the Ministry quickly realized they could do nothing or we could destroy their economy. We had a neutral pact though.
The Ministry soon forgot that the Aelius Family owned magical London. They had given up the rights to Muggle London as they were not able to do anything with it but they kept a firm hold on the magical side. They still own all of the Alleys along with Gringotts. When anyone buys a building or storefront in Magical London, a small amount goes straight into the vault of the last Aelius descendent."
Harry was silent for a long moment at this brief history.
"The last Aelius married into the Potter line, didn't they." He said softly.
"Correct." Griphook smirked. "And as the Potter line has long ago been cursed to only ever have one male child with each generation, you are the last Potter with no relatives of Potter blood, though you have some cousins by marriage. You are also the last of the Aelius blood."
"Curse?" Harry frowned, sidetracked.
"The Potter line was cursed centuries ago to only ever have a single child, a male heir, for each generation."
Harry blinked but returned to his soup and sipped at it, mulling this over.
"So…I'm your landlord?" Harry frowned.
"In a way. We still owe your family much, for their trust, their business, the rights to this land, and other such things. We try to help each generation out as best we can. Sometimes we do not though." Griphook scowled. "Sometimes your ancestors were as bad as the other filthy humans and we felt no regret for not giving them more of our attention. Your father is an example. Though he was polite, he showed very little concern for us and openly declared more then once that wizards were better then magical creatures. He was bigoted."
Harry bit his lip at his father's description but he had pieced that together slightly from his meeting with his Father's spirits and tales told by others. He was his father though and he loved him. Harry shook the thoughts away and wiggled his toes.
"When can I be out of here?" He asked.
"In two hours." Griphook said easily. "But there is one other problem."
Harry frowned in confusion and Griphook made a gesture to his neck. Harry swallowed thickly as he remembered that the collar was still there.
"What is it?" he asked hoarsely.
"It's called a 'Binding Collar'. They are very rare; rare enough that there are no laws on them. Some have even been used on magically powerful children who can not control their accidental magic. They are not that bad unless you are magic sensitive. To be cut off your magic can cause a non-sensitive person to become weaker physically, and perhaps a bit slower, but for a magically sensitive person it can kill to be cut from a piece of your soul you can actual feel. Like how you can die of shock from losing a limb or organs or such."
He gave Harry a pointed look and Harry winced. He hadn't even really understood he was magically sensitive until Santinus had explained it the other day. He had not known it was unusual to be able to feel ones magic and magic around yourself so clearly.
"Can you get it off?"
"No." Griphook said softly.
He winced at Harry's pained moan of helplessness.
"But we're searching for someone who can." The goblin continued. "We think we may have found a man in Africa. He's an expert on binding magiks."
"How are you feeling?" Dante fluttered around him as he slowly sat on the couch.
"I'm fine Dante." Harry sighed.
When the binding collar had snapped on him the magical bonds connecting the two demons to him and this realm had also faded. It was as if he had died to them. Luckily he had made a fail safe the other day with the help of Harold and Santinus. They had learned you were able to tie 'knots' in the bonds so that if one side ever somehow broke the bond the other would not feel the backlash. It also meant should the human connected to the demon ever die the demon would gain control of the bond so they could decide to either stay longer on earth or could return to the Demon Realm. It was actually fairly common of a thing and many necromancers in the past centuries who had died with their demons still summoned had left demons on earth.
Dante and Santinus had stayed in this realm until they had learned he was fine. From Harold's account the two had been furious as they thought he had been killed because of the abrupt cut to the bonds. It appeared he had grown on the two and they had been quite worried and angry over his disappearance and his so called 'death'. Harold said they had even started to track Dumbledore down to organize an accident before Harold had stopped them. They had simmered silently at his home, waiting for word of his body being found.
When it had been said he had been found they had hurried to Gringotts. After making sure he was fine, after being healed by the goblins, Santinus had hesitantly left for the Demon Realm once more. Dante had told Harry that the other demon had a role in the Demon Realm that he could not abandon for much longer and had stayed longer then he should have to make sure Harry was fine before leaving. Dante had agreed to stay and look after Harry.
Hermione and Ron had headed home almost as soon as Harry had been nabbed. They'd bought the last of their supplies and then headed home to feign ignorance over if they had seen Harry while shopping. Griphook had written quick messages for the two telling them Harry was fine now.
Valentine hovered in his bedroom doorway, watching with a keen eye, with Harold a ways away with a book in hand and muttering. Loraine was making tea in the kitchen and Dante was fluttering around him worriedly.
A knock at the door had everyone pausing and looking up. Harold reacted first and answered the front door. A goblin and human in robes stepped in.
"We're the magical construction workers." The goblin said. "A Greeva Griphook sent us to add a basement to your home."
Harry blinked and faintly remembered that yes, Griphook had mentioned that since Dudley would be joining him at his house he would need more room. And of course only a magical crew could add a basement under an already built house without having to lift the whole house up and takes weeks. Harold stood next to the men as they started, keeping a sharp wary eye on the. Harry for a moment wondered when Dudley would arrive having gone with a disguised Griphook to take care of some things and get his stuff.
Valentine joined Harry on the couch as the crew started to work. He was glad that the ward stone was buried very deeply as it gave these people more room to work with
"I apologize." Valentine said softly, voice low enough to not even be heard by Dante. "I didn't even check on you though I was the first in the door."
"It's okay." Harry said gently. "I was fairly coated in blood and you once said my blood is addicting."
Valentine nodded slowly.
"Why is it addictive again?" Harry asked aloud, looking for something to speak of to keep his attention focused.
"The power." Valentine said. "Blood holds power. Even with that collar cutting you magic off you blood was still powerful because of the magic it had carried before. It also carries powers from traits you have. Necromancer's blood have unique flavours because of their powers just as those very adapt at Transfiguration have a unique flavour. The rarer the gift usually means the unique flavour tastes even better. So your power combined with your necromancy abilities and your emotions is almost maddening."
Harry nodded idly and leaned into the red haired man and closed his eyes, sighing softly. He needed anything to distract him from the hollowness. It had lessened but it still hurt. Like something had been ripped away and left as an open wound to bleed.
"H-hello." Dudley stuttered, nervousness taking over under the eyes of all the people.
"Well, come in Dudley." Harry smiled. "Just kick your shoes onto the shelf and hang your coat on the hook.
Dudley did so quickly while Harold grabbed the boy's large suitcase for him. Harry headed for the stairs, his movement a bit slow from his weariness.
"Dante, is everything ready?"
"Yes, I just finished enlarging some of the rooms." Came Dante's voice.
"Enlarging?" Harold frowned.
"Dante knows spells that enlarge spaces."
"Spaces as large as rooms for a whole floor?" He asked in surprise.
"The logic escapes me so I just accept it."
Seeing Dudley shifting nervously still Harry smiled.
"Dudley this is Harold a pureblood wizard. The man on the couch is Valentine a vampire. The man downstairs is Dante, a demon. And the woman at the counter is Loraine. She's a non-magical person."
While Dudley had squeaked at Valentine and Dante's introduction he almost looked relieved at Loraine's.
"Now, the first floor here contains a bathroom, a spare room which Valentine is occupying, the kitchen, and this living room. The second floor contains two spare rooms which Harold and Loraine are in, the room Dante made, and a second living room with a TV. The third floor is my floor and is more my bedroom and bathroom and an open attic space. Feel free to explore the floors, but don't enter the rooms without permission from the residents. The backyard has my gardens and greenhouse. The greenhouse is magical but you can enter if you wish."
"What about downstairs?" Dudley asked nervously.
"I haven't actually seen it yet." Harry smiled. "It was only finished an hour before you came. Dante took over and directed the construction crews on colors and such."
He led Dudley down the winding metal stair case and they found themselves in a fair sized room that would be a good rec. room. It was a soft red color with dark brown trim. A hallway branched off the room with three doors on either side.
"Each one is a bedroom with a connecting bathroom." Dante chirped appearing beside Harry.
While Dudley yelped in surprise Harry only nodded.
"So I now have six new spare rooms?"
"Yes. I would suggest asking the others if they would like to move as I have enlarged the rooms."
Harry nodded and yelled up the stairs. It was quickly decided that they all did wish to move to the basement, except Valentine who quite liked his room. The construction workers had somehow seemed to have 'jacked' the house up a bit too as there were small windows at the top of the room looking out at ground level, both to let light in and act as fire escapes.
When that was taken care of Harry helped Dudley pull his suitcase to his room. They both glanced around the bare room that had been painted a light green. The bathroom matched made of whites and greens. It reminded Harry of peppermints.
"We need to go buy you some stuff." Harry said after a moment. "We can do that now."
"I'm coming." Valentine said from the open door of his own room. "I wish to buy a few things and I want to watch over you."
"We won't be going any place magical." Harry said quickly. "You don't have to watch me."
"You're magic is sealed off and you are tired. Not only magical people can harm you." The red head said curtly.
Harry could almost hear him say, I don't want you to hurt yourself. Harry felt numb enough at times, that he sort of just fazed out, stopping everything even breathing. He'd smashed into the kitchen counter hard when he'd tripped and had barely felt anything earlier. The hollowness was too distracting and overwhelming even with the small amount of magic now in his veins.
"I'll join you I suppose." Loraine said. "I can drive this way too as you still have passenger restrictions."
"Which one do you like best?" Harry asked from where he was sitting in one of the chairs.
Dudley eyed the furniture warily.
"Can you afford all this? I mean I like it but I don't need you spending all this money on me."
Harry smiled at his maturing cousin. A year ago he would have demanded the most expensive. It seems he truly had changed.
"No worries. I have a lot of money." Harry smiled.
"Um, okay." Dudley said hesitantly still looking uncomfortable.
"Dudley. You don't have to act super polite. I don't expect us to suddenly be best friends." Harry said softly. "I am grateful for the help you tried to give and you are family. And I am considered your guardian at this point which means it's my job to take care of you."
"Thanks Harry." Dudley finally struggled for the words. "That Goblin explained that the choice had been to give me to Aunt Marge, place me in the care of the government, or let me live with you through some means. He said you immediately said you would take me."
"Would you rather go with your aunt?" Harry asked.
"Not at al." Dudley shook his head quickly. "She was always…she's a pretty horrible person which I didn't notice as a kid as she loved me, but I wouldn't want to grow up with her. And I expect…I expect you'll let me have a lot of freedom."
He peered tentatively up at Harry who offered him a smile.
"Of course Dudley. You're old enough to make your own decisions. I'm just legally responsible for you."
"How is that possible anyways?" Dudley frowned. "You're the same age as me."
"In the magical world I am considered an adult, legally. It carries over to the Muggle side. And well, Griphook is a master of legal loopholes and such, so he found some-way to get you legally under my custody."
Dudley finally nodded, still not looking entirely comfortable.
"And sorry about the whole wack of people who live with me. You'll get used to them but they can be overwhelming."
"It looks like you run a boarding house." Dudley snorted. "For the weird."
"They're just people who crossed my path and needed a place to stay for one reason or other." Harry smiled. "Don't be afraid to ask any or them for help or even just questions."
"Harry, I found a couch that would be perfect for the new living room downstairs." Valentine called, interrupting them.
"Take your time. And don't worry about the price. My mother made a small fortune in investments to add to my father's fortune, and I'm sure they would never mind spending money on you." Harry smiled at Dudley as he stood. "We don't have to get everything today either, so have fun."
END OF CHAPTER 26, AUGUST 23rd and 24th
I finally explained why the goblins work so hard for Harry. And welcome to the story line Dudley.