Posted: 23 September, 2010
Disclaimer: I do not own anything in this story that is recognisable from the Harry Potter books, movies, etc. Everything else however (eg. story plot, original characters, etc.) stems from my own imagination and belongs to me. No copyright infringement is intended and I am not profiting financially from this story in any way.
An Unwise Conspiracy
Harry sat behind a desk in an office at Gringotts, facing a surly looking goblin. Of course, that seemed the default mode when goblins were dealing with wizards. He had come to visit the bank after receiving a letter from them on his seventeenth birthday, informing him that he had financial business to take care of, and he was required to present himself post-haste.
"You have a sizeable inheritance Mr Potter," said Boneclaw, the goblin who had asked to meet him.
"I know," he said, blinking in confusion. "I found out about my vault when I was eleven."
Boneclaw sneered. "I'm aware of that, wizard." He spat the last word as though it were a vile insult. "In addition to the vault left you by your parents however, there are a few others you are eligible for."
"What?" Harry asked, still no less confused.
"Most are from nonextant wizarding families that you have the closest blood claim to, and one was willed to the 'Boy Who Lived'."
"Extinct," the goblin explained, before continuing impatiently. "Do you wish to claim them then? I haven't got all day, wizard."
"What's in them?"
"Most Gringotts vaults contain money, heirlooms, that sort of thing. I'm not able to tell you exactly what the vaults you're eligible for contain. Gringotts takes account confidentiality very seriously. Once they're in your possession, I'll be able to access a summary. Now, and answer if you will. Do you wish to claim them?"
Harry considered. He didn't like the idea that someone had left him their worldly possessions because he was the Boy Who Lived. Still, it couldn't hurt to claim the vaults; he didn't need more money, but there might be other interesting things to be found. And so he agreed.
What followed was what seemed to be a veritable mountain of forms. Harry signed and signed and signed, till he felt as though his hand would drop off. Finally though, he reached the last form. Once he'd pushed the last parchment over to Boneclaw, who then filed it all away, the goblin did something quite unexpected: he smiled. It was a very disturbing expression, which seemed to convey dark satisfaction and wicked amusement.
He shifted uncomfortably in his chair, wishing that goblins hadn't such sharp, pointy teeth, as Boneclaw summoned a folder.
"What's that?" he asked.
"The summary portfolio of the newly expanded Potter estate," the goblin replied, looking uncharacteristically unbothered by his questioning.
"Oh," Harry said faintly, a feeling of foreboding settling over him.
"Let's see then," Boneclaw said with a smirk. He dragged one sharp talon down the parchment page as he read, whilst his other hand clutched at an ominous looking black quill. "Vault 687, the one you are familiar with, has a current balance of approximately 200 000 galleons. Then we have your new acquisitions: vault 542, previously belonging to the Ducard family; vault 212 of the Nethercott family; vault 369 of Gibson; and 787 of Yurich."
"And what's in them?"
"Combined non-liquid assets include twelve family portraits, an extensive wardrobe of wizarding garments, a collection of antique broomsticks and other Quidditch memorabilia, a veritable library of books, a Pensieve and some worthless bric-a-brac."
Harry's eyebrows rose at the list. He was quite exited about the Quidditch memorabilia, and especially the Pensieve, which he knew was a very rare and expensive magical device. He just knew Ron would love the Quidditch stuff too, and Hermione was going to be enthralled with his new library. He'd have to be careful or she'd disappear into his books and forget to eat or sleep.
"Now, in terms of funds," Boneclaw continued, "as you may not be aware, vaults are frozen when unclaimed, thus negating interest, though they still pay vault fees. This has eaten into the accounts a fair bit."
"How much?" Harry asked, not overly worried. His parents had more than provided for him, so money wasn't really a concern of his.
"Well, the cumulative balance of the four new vaults comes to approximately negative 350 000 galleons."
"What!" Harry asked, surprised. "I'm sorry, but can you repeat that. I thought you said negative 350 000."
"That's right Mr Potter," Boneclaw said, grinning ferally, "negative. The outstanding debt will of course have to be charged against your original vault." He ignored Harry's squawk as his black quill scratched rapidly over the parchment, making calculations. "Plus costs of reactivating the vaults and merging them into the Potter account, a small fee for this account summary folio, fines for the overdue debts …. Hmm yes … it seems we shall have to seize some of the items for liquidation to cover costs … and … done! Mr Potter, your account as it stands contains a book titled 'Caring for Flobberworms', one portrait of a wizard doing unmentionable things with a goat, two Sickles, and four Knuts."
Harry's jaw had fallen open. He just sat there, for several long seconds, shocked into silence. What had just happened here? Finally, he reacted.
"What the hell are you talking about! How could this happen!" he shouted angrily.
"Perhaps," Boneclaw, with a smirk, "you should have ascertained the contents of the vaults before claiming them, wizard."
"You said that there was no way to tell, because of account privacy and all that!"
"And that was all entirely true at the time," the goblin said silkily, a malicious twinkle in his eyes. "As someone with rights to dormant vaults however, you had every right to petition the Ministry for an accounting of said vaults prior to claiming them. If you had done so, and returned with the correct paperwork, then I could have told you. It's hardly my fault, wizard, that you chose to sign away your fortune without taking precautions."
"But how was I supposed to know that?" Harry asked, incensed at the way he had been manipulated by half-truths.
Boneclaw chuckled. "Ah well, I admit that whilst most wizarding raised customers would be aware of such things as a matter of course, Muggle-born wizards – and Muggle 'raised' ones such as yourself – tend not to be. It has proved quite … advantageous over the years, in clearing outstanding debts owed the bank. Yes, quite profitable to Gringotts indeed."
Harry felt his fiery anger slow and sharpen, into something much more dangerous.
"You've done this before," he asked quietly, coldly, voice like ice, "to Muggle-borns who couldn't possibly know better?"
"Oh yes," was Boneclaw's cheerful reply. He seemed not at all guilty, and grinned another sharp-toothed grin. "Some of the smarter or more curious, they trace their family tree only to discover themselves of squib and thus of wizarding descent. The turn up at our doors, so proud, wondering if they have any claim to inheritances and such, only to leave devastated."
Harry was furious at what has happened to him, and clearly had happened before to others. He gritted his teeth to control himself, as his magic flared in response to his emotions. At the flare of his rather impressive power, Boneclaw looked, for the first time, less than smug with his victory.
"Are you sure," Harry asked very seriously, very coldly, eyes piercing the goblin in place, "that this is the course of action you wish to take?"
Boneclaw hesitated only briefly. "What's done is done." And he smirked again, regaining courage. "You may be someone important in arrogant wizard circles Mr Potter, but that means nothing to goblins. As far as I'm concerned, from your mistake here today it's clear that you're little more than a gullible boy."
Silence a moment. "Very well," Harry said, and his tone was grim. "On your head be it."
A small voice in the back of Boneclaw's mind felt very much like he'd just heard a death knell, but he pushed the thought aside. He couldn't wait to tell his fellow workers of the coup he'd scored today. And against the blasted wizards' own boy hero no less!
Harry left the bank, his mind whirling and spinning, planning and plotting. No way would he take this lying down. No, he was almost Slytherin for a reason. He would get his revenge.
Over the next few months and years, Harry Potter used all his considerable power, reputation and leverage to start making things difficult for the goblins. He personally gave interviews to the paper, painting the goblins in an unfavourable light, to sway public opinion. More importantly, he worked to have more and more restrictive anti-goblin legislation passed by the Wizengamot.
Hermione was not at all happy with his newfound anti-goblin views, calling him bigoted and racist. Harry though, would not be deterred from his path, and so he and Hermione were soon barely on speaking terms. Things were awkward with Ron too, since he was seriously dating Hermione. Harry didn't care though. He would have revenge if it was the last thing he did.
His campaign was ludicrously successful, his views finding fertile ground in the already bigoted wizarding public's minds. Eventually, the goblins felt it had gone on too long, and too far, and they rebelled.
When Harry met Boneclaw once again, it was on a battlefield.
"Are you pleased with yourself, wizard?" the goblin asked with a growl. "Is your petty revenge worth it now that the goblin nation is fighting back, and your filthy wizards are dying as well?"
"Oh yes, quite," Harry said, and Boneclaw was clearly surprised by his happy smile. "The losses on the human side are unfortunate of course, but sacrifices must be made. The important thing is that your people played right into my hands."
"What?" Boneclaw snarled suspiciously. "What do you mean?"
"I didn't defeat Voldemort by accident Boneclaw. Whatever your species' view on us arrogant wizards, the fact of the matter is I'm powerful and extremely adept at combat. I wanted revenge for what you did to me and others, swindling from those who didn't deserve it. I wanted to tear you apart. But of course, whatever my kind thinks of goblins, random killings are not looked kindly upon. Not even with the changes I had made to the laws."
"Get to the point, human," he said, beginning to look concerned.
"Of course. You see, that assumption – that killings wouldn't be pardoned – was based one very important condition: … peacetime conditions." He saw Boneclaw's eye begin to widen, but continued on. "But since you've rebelled … well, the rules have changed now, haven't they? Casualties are expected in war, after all."
"You mean to say," the goblin spluttered, voice laced with disbelief, "that you planned all along to drive us to rebellion, just so you could kill us without repercussions."
Harry smirked. "Still think I'm 'little more than a gullible boy' then?"
Then he whipped his wand and Boneclaw slowly melted into a puddle of flesh and blood, screaming painfully as he died.
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