Harry Potter And The Great Manipulator
A.N. This started off as a brief filler before heading to the will reading but as usual the bunnies ran away with things and because of that I had to go back and rewrite the last couple of chapters. I felt it was worthwhile exploring some aspects of Goblin society as this will have a bearing on the plot development eventually.
Disclaimer: Harry belongs to Jakey
Saturday 25th June 1996 – 10:00pm (22:00 hours) BST – Gringott's Bank, Diagon Alley – London
Ragnok, the senior director of Gringott's Bank and Clan Chief of the Bloodaxe Clan of the Goblin Nation, was sitting at his desk in his office, carefully studying the open file in front of him. Next to his right elbow, resting on the desk, was a small stack of files he had been avidly reading through over the past week since the death of Sirius Black, one of the bank's more valued customers. He sneered and let out an exasperated curse in tungumál (*) as he raised his eyes from the document on the top of the file. Then, carefully removing the pince-nez spectacles from the bridge of his rather long nose, placed them on top of the parchment and stood up. He walked over to the tantalus set on the small table next to his desk and poured himself a goblet of the dark red liquid it contained. Taking a sip he returned to the the desk and placed the goblet beside the open file and then walked to the door, opened it and called "Griphook. Bring me all the Potter files as soon as you can."
Returning to his desk he sat down and lifted the goblet to his mouth for another sip. Then replacing the goblet he opened the top right hand drawer of his desk and extracted a blank piece of parchment. He reached towards the quill and inkwell set at the centre of his desk, picked out a simple goose-feather quill and after dipping it into the inkwell proceeded to write on the parchment.
After about twenty minutes Ragnok appeared to be satisfied with what he had written and replaced the quill in its holder; then, lifting a small container from the inkwell set, sprinkled drying sand over the parchment. He gently held the parchment horizontally and tilted it very slightly from side to side to ensure that the sand had covered the parchment. He then turned and shook the sand into the waste bin at the side of the desk; finally blowing gently across the surface of the parchment to remove the last of the sand. Satisfied, he then placed the parchment on top of the other documents in front of him, inserted them all into the file he had been reading earlier and placed the file on top of the small stack by his right elbow.
Ragnok looked at the stack of files thinking. "I wonder what I'll find in the Potter files" he mused. "If what Sirius Black has done with his will is anything to go by, I suspect that a right can of worms is about to be opened." Just then Griphook entered the director's office with a bundle of files, which he placed on the left side of Ragnok's desk.
"That's everything we had director however there is a note in the latest file that the Potter will had been sealed by the Wizengamot until the 31st of July 1997, in just over a year's time. The will has been sealed since the 2nd of November 1981" said Griphook. "The remaining appropriate documentation is held in the Dumbledore files since the Wizengamot appointed him as Harry Potter's magical guardian. I took the liberty of copying the relevant parchments which I have included in this file." Griphook laid an additional file atop the small stack he had just set down on the desk.
"Thank you Griphook" said Ragnok. "you have been most diligent. Please return these files to our document vault except the top one." He indicated the stack on his right side which he had been studying for the past week. "That file contains the will of Sirius Black and my notes pertaining to the reading of the will. I think we should arrange for the reading to be held on Tuesday morning next week. Eleven o'clock should suit. Can you owl the beneficiaries to invite them to the reading? There is a list of those mentioned in the will in my notes. Also, I suspect that Ministry will attempt to interfere. No one from the Ministry with the exception of Madame Bones, as head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, is entitled to attend. I would like you to ensure that a full company of Clan Warriors are stationed at the Bank that day. I think you should ask the Princess if her Guard is available. We will probably need our best warriors in attendance if what I've read so far is any indication of the current situation."
Griphook nodded a brief affirmative and lifted the stack of files, that Ragnok had indicated, from the desk and turned to leave the room.
"Oh! Just one final thing Griphook" said Ragnok. "Under no circumstances can any word of the arrangements reach Albus Dumbledore or his minions until the day of the reading. He and his allies who are mentioned in the will should only be informed of the reading on Tuesday morning at the earliest. There is something going on and I suspect that he is at the centre of it."
"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" commented Griphook as he left.
"Heaven will direct it" replied Ragnok, completing the quote. (#)
Ragnok picked up the first of the Potter files and began to read.
Dawn was beginning to lighten up the sky in the window behind the elderly goblin as he finally put down the last piece of parchment he had been reading. He had completed reading all the Potter files plus the additional parchments gleaned from the Dumbledore files and was shocked by what he had discovered. The Potters, like the Blacks, were valued customers of Gringott's Bank and it appeared that, due to Dumbledore's machinations, the bank had failed to protect the interests of Harry Potter. This was an insult to the integrity of the Goblin Nation. Ragnok felt that it was imperative that Gringott's, and by extension the Goblin Nation, ensure that Harry Potter had their full support against his enemies, both politically and financially. It was time, therefore, for the goblins to end their neutrality in wizarding affairs and take a stand in the battle between the "light" and the "dark". There was no way that the goblins would back Voldemort. For all his promises to the werewolves, giants and vampires, his sole interest was himself and what power he could exert over others. Neither would they support Dumbledore nor the Ministry. Despite all his public protestations, under his leadership the Wizengamot and the ICW had implemented increasingly restrictive legislation on so-called dark creatures, non-human magical beings and "half-breeds". For these reasons the Goblins had long kept their own council and avoided all, bar the financial, affairs of wizardkind but lately Ragnok had seen changes. Since young Mr. Potter's arrival back in wizarding society he had befriended house-elves, part giants, centaurs and vela. Indeed, according to Ragnok's distant cousin, Filius Flitwick, Harry Potter had selflessly put his own life at risk to protect others, regardless of their so called "blood-status". This was a person that the goblins could respect. Harry was clearly on the side of "light", as were his parents before him and indeed the whole Potter family going back over the generations but the revelations within the files in front of him led Ragnok to the conclusion that the "light" had internal enemies. If Harry and those friends that he could trust were made aware of the truth there would arise a third faction. A faction that would support the freedoms and rights of others regardless of status or blood. A faction that would desperately need the support of the Goblin Nation. "I will offer young Harry Potter an alliance" he said aloud.
"And I will support that offer" came a female voice from the doorway of the office.
Ragnok looked over to the door with a start. Standing there was a young goblin warrior. She was tall for her kind, about five feet four inches in height, and dressed in a red leather loincloth. Around her waist was a bejewelled red leather belt from which hung a scabbard containing a twenty-six inch bladed sabre of the finest goblin craftsmanship. Across her shoulders hung two bandoleers of red leather forming an X shape separating her naked breasts; each holding a dozen sheathed stiletto bladed throwing daggers, again of goblin manufacture. On her feet she wore calf length red leather boots, each with a side scabbard holding a twelve inch bladed dirk, the pommels of which were set with large golden quartz stones to aid their balance for close hand to hand combat. Her pale skin had an almost blueish tinge which darkened to deep cyan on her lips and the aureoles of her breasts and semi-erect nipples. Her hair, a glossy navy colour, was tied at the nape of her neck with a red leather thong and cascaded down her back to her buttocks: she wore a pleasant smile on her exotically beautiful face.
Ragnok stood up from behind his desk and bowed deeply. "Princess, I'm honoured."
"Oh cut the crap dad and stop being so formal" replied the beauty, her delicate features breaking into a wide grin and her amber eyes twinkling with amusement. "Just because I'm next in line for the Matriarch's throne doesn't mean that you have to kowtow to me at every opportunity."
Most of the wizarding world was unaware of many aspects of goblin society. The sexual dimorphism of goblins was one particular area that nearly all modern day witches and wizards were unaware of. Male goblins were the crafters, miners and builders and had developed into small stocky but immensely strong individuals. The females on the other hand were the hunters and protectors who cared for the children and had developed into a taller, slender and more agile form than the males. Over time the males had become the most financially astute of all the magical races resulting in their control of the wizarding economy, whilst the young womenfolk became the most fearsome of warriors and made up the elite core of the goblin armed forces. It had been many generations since the last goblin rebellion and wizards had forgotten this, seeing only the male guards at the various Gringott's Banks around the world and assuming that these were the only armed forces at the command of the Goblin Nation.
Even the structure of goblin society was a mystery to most of wizardkind. It was assumed that the Clan Chief of the senior clan was the overall ruler, however this was only true for business and trade, as it affected the clans. When it came to the security of their people it was the Matriarchs who were in charge of the clans and the Matriarch of the senior clan was the overall ruler of the Goblin Nation. Ragnok, who had twelve sons, had but one daughter, Ástriðr(~), his youngest and dearest child, who was now standing before him in amusement. When her grandmother passed on to the next great adventure she would become the senior Matriarch and overall ruler.
"Sit down dear" said Ragnok, smiling. "I was just going to go and see your grandmother."
"Thanks dad" Astrid replied as she walked over to the tantalus on the side table and poured herself a goblet of the dark red liquid her father had been drinking earlier. She sniffed delicately at the goblet and took a sip. "Hmmm. Lacryma Christi rosso. Your taste has improved." She then sat down on the upright chair across the desk from her father, discretely adjusting her sabre so that it would not catch the chair-leg. "Don't worry about going to see gran. I bumped into Griphhook as I was coming out the training room last night and he asked me if my Guard Company was available to oversee the reading of Sirius Black's will on Tuesday. It didn't take a genius to work out that you were worried about something. When I wheedled out of him that you were digging your way through the Potter files as well I was sure that Sirius must have decided to do something about getting the Potter will heard and possibly try to get Harry emancipated. Seeing as James and Lily were friends of the Goblin Nation and not just good bank customers I thought I should have a little chat with gran myself. We had a long talk last night and she decided to extend the honour given to his parents to Harry in case he needed help." She looked carefully at her father. "Looks like I hit the nail on the head as usual. Eh dad?"
Ragnok shook his head in disbelief. "I don't know how you managed to work out what's happening on such little information" he said.
"Well dad it so happens that I have a lot of contacts both in the magical and muggle world, particularly in law enforcement and the military, so I visited a few people last night, including Mad-Eye Moody, before I went to see gran and heard some interesting things" said Astrid. "For example, did you know that Harry Potter's muggle uncle was arrested yesterday evening by the muggle police for assaulting Harry, his cousin and his aunt?"
Ragnok's jaw dropped in astonishment.
"And Harry, according to the ministry, appears to have gone missing after being taken away for medical treatment along with his aunt and cousin."
Ragnok's eyes almost popped out of their sockets.
"And Albus Fumblebum has been running around like a headless chicken trying to find out where his "Chosen-one" has disappeared to and has called a meeting of his fried turkey squad tonight in Hogwart's. Kingsley Shacklebolt was ensconced with Amelia Bones for several hours last night after attending Harry's home when his uncle was being arrested and his Met. Police buddy Julie Brooking was involved in the arrest despite Little Whinging being in the Surrey Police jurisdiction. I do believe someone or a group of some-ones are trying to get Harry out from under the influence of a certain headmaster and if so we need to get moving to help in case Tom Riddle and his arse-lickers try to get in on the act as well. That's why I went to see gran and she agrees with me that we should ally ourselves with Harry as soon as possible. So, back to where I came in. Yes I will support an offer of allegiance with Harry and his friends and so will the Goblin Nation." Astrid smiled at her father and leant across the desk to pat his arm.
"But Where is Mr. Potter now?" asked her father.
"No one knows, allegedly, but if I had to put money on it I'd bet Harry is somewhere safe with Remus Lupin, Mad-Eye Moody, Kingsley Shacklebolt or, more likely, Dora Tonks. The four of them were hanging around together at King's Cross yesterday when the Hogwart's Express arrived and disappeared shortly after giving Harry's uncle a telling off; and Shack definitely knows something he's not telling Bumblefuck. Come to think about it, Dora's mum is Sirius' cousin. If she's mentioned in the will she should be coming here on Tuesday."
Ragnok looked at his daughter with growing admiration. "I'm impressed dear. From a brief conversation with Griphook and a few visits to your contacts, you've managed to put together probably the most accurate scenario of what has happened. I also noted that you seem to be somewhat disparaging about a certain headmaster but how can you be so sure about Harry Potter's safety?"
Astrid laughed. "Remember January last year when I was away for a month?" She waved her hand across her face applying a glamour spell. Her skin colour faded to a pale, almost ivory pink, her hair shortened and turned jet black and her eyes became a piercing cobalt blue. "Meet Rannsóknarlögreglumaður Ásfriður Ragnarsdottir of the Greiningardeild Ríkislögreglustjóra(‡); just call me Trudi. I was on a joint Interpol/muggle/magical training exercise where I met Tonks. We got on like a house on fire, so much so that I was sure enough of her to let her know my true identity before the end of the exercise. I learned a lot about Tonks too over that month. Firstly, don't call her Nymphadora if you value your life. Next, she's a metamorphmagus, which makes her one of the best operatives around for close covert survelance and finally she's got the hots for Harry in a big way. If anything happens to him goddess help whoever is responsible. So, since Harry was injured last night and needed to disappear my money's on Tonks looking after him. As for dear old Albus that man is so full of his plots that he is unable to trust anyone except himself and his pet Death Eater and why he trust Snape I have no idea."
Ragnok smiled. "My dear your analysis is brilliant as usual. I will trust that you are correct in saying that Mr. Potter is in safe hands so the only thing we need do now is prepare for Tuesday. Regarding the notification letters, how will we contact Mr. Potter."
"If I were you I'd send Harry's letter to Tonks. If he's not with her she will know where he is. A secure Gringott's Gyrfalcon will get to her without any problem and the Ministry won't be able to track it" replied Astrid.
"Very well then" replied her father. "I'll ask Griphook to send the letters today. Oh just one thing about Tuesday. Are you planning for your Guard to wear ceremonial or battle dress?"
"Considering the threat to Harry, I'm opting for battle dress" Astrid replied.
"Is there any chance that you might reconsider?" asked Ragnok.
"Why would that be, dad?" came the reply.
"Well I suspect that young Mr. Potter may become somewhat distracted if he sees an entire female goblin Guard company effectively naked from the waist up. I doubt that he has had much opportunity to experience that sort of view" said Ragnok.
"Well I suppose we can wear our leather bandeaux but I'm not getting my girls loaded down with that ceremonial ironmongery that pertains to be armour. If we need to respond to any threats quickly, we can't afford to be lumbered with that sort of restrictive weight" replied Astrid.
"Very well dear. You know what's for the best" her father replied. "Thank you for dropping by. It has saved me a lot of time and worry. I'll pass your advice on to Griphook about contacting Mr. Potter for the will reading. Meanwhile I have a lot to plan before Tuesday."
"Oh, just a couple of things before I go. I expect the bank will shortly receive a communication from a group of wizards to ask if Gringott's would act as go-between for a meeting with Harry if he gets emancipated and becomes the next Lord Potter" said Astrid. "It's an interesting group as well; Philip Parkinson, Hector Davis, Daniel Greengrass, Michael Edgecombe and Rajesh Patil. I'd like to be a fly on the wall for that meeting. I'd also run a check on our loans department. Someone seems to have been playing fast and loose with our loan accounts. I also promised Mad-Eye that I'd try to get him a prime seat at the will reading. Any chance, dad?"
"He's got a mention for a minor bequest so that won't be a problem" replied Ragnok.
With that Astrid stood up and leant over the desk to kiss her father on the forehead. "Thanks dad. I'll catch up with you later" she said and left the office.
Ragnok sighed and picking up his empty goblet went to refill it from the tantalus. He sat down once more and sipped sparingly at the rich earthy wine before setting the glass down on the desk and rubbing the bridge of his nose with his fingers. "Curiouser and curiouser" he thought as he replaced his spectacles. Then taking a sheet of blank parchment from the top drawer of his desk, picked up his goose-feather quill and started to write. It was going to be another long day and he had barely slept for the past week.
A.N. (*) I know Jakey uses the expression gobbledygook for the goblin language but I find it a somewhat demeaning word to use for the language of what comes across in canon as a proud and shrewd people. I have used the Icelandic for "language" in this instance since I always get the impression that there is a Nordic feel to the Goblins.
(#) The quote is from the conversation between Marcellus and Horatio in Hamlet, Act 1 scene 4.
(~) Ástriðr is an Old Norse female name meaning divine beauty. The modern day Icelandic equivalent is Ásfriður. For simplicity I will use the anglicised form Astrid. The letter ð and its upper case form Ð ("eth" as it is known in its anglicised form) is pronounced with a soft th sound as in then, the, etc. and not the harder sound as in third or thrush which is depicted in Icelandic as the letter "thorn" þ (lower case) Þ (upper case).
(‡) Detective Inspector Ásfriður Ragnarsdottir of the Icelandic Police National Security Unit.
So now you know who Moody's cloaked companion was.
Next chapter will probably be posted in a week or so.
Thanks for reading. T.