With a Little Help From My Friends
Summary: When Hagrid brought Harry to Diagon Alley, someone noticed something odd about the child and vowed to solve the mystery...with a little help from his friends.
Disclaimer: If you recognize it, I don't own it. If I have borrowed from something that belongs to you, please let me know so that I can either credit you or remove it. No infringement is intended.
AN: I am a retired special education teacher who likes to play in JKR's sandbox and hope you enjoy what I write. I do apologize though, I don't use a beta but I am visually impaired and physically disabled so sometimes I don't catch all of the typos, particularly if it is an actual word so spell check doesn't find it, so please bear with me.
Chapter One: Discovering the Mystery
It had been a long, long year but finally the assignment was complete. The crates were sent on to their proper destinations, the bags packed, the paperwork completed with the last 'I' dotted and 't' crossed, and all that was left was the nauseatingly long international portkey and turning in the mound of paperwork to his bosses, before he could begin a gloriously long month of vacation with nothing to do but relax and wait for his next assignment. He hefted the deceptively light muggle style leather pack over one strong shoulder, checked to make sure his long red hair was still safely trapped in its rubber band, and took a couple of deep breaths before grabbing hold of the silver ring and nodding at the young goblin standing impatiently in front of him.
With the guttural sound of the activation word ringing in his ears, Bill spun and spun, waiting patiently for the long journey to finally end. As the sight of London grew below him, he flipped to right himself, began walking on the air and landed gracefully, taking a couple of long steps to get rid of the momentum so he didn't fall flat on his face like so many others did. He chuckled as he recalled his first mentor making him spend an entire afternoon learning how to keep upright when using a portkey, of course he hadn't been laughing the first couple dozen times as he landed on his increasingly sore face and chest, but he could look back now and laugh. Maybe he would spend some time teaching his younger brothers the trick this summer...no, he thought, it was too much fun watching them tangle into a heap of arms and legs, besides, they seldom took portkeys anyway. He shook his head ruefully, perhaps he would wait a few weeks before letting his family know he was back in England anyway, he really needed to relax and unwind after 17 months of near non-stop work in Egypt. He could already feel his ears start to ring as he imagined his mother's reaction to his now much longer hair and the dragon fang earring that dangled from his ear and added a rather rakish appearance to his bronzed tan. 'Yeah' he agreed to himself, 'no need to let them know how long this break is until I have to. A week at the Burrow before the boys head off to Hogwarts will be enough.'
As he settled his bag back on his shoulder and stepped out into Diagon Alley from the portkey arrival point to head to Gringott's Bank and his bosses, he had to stop and wait for an unusually large crowd streaming out of the Leaky Cauldron onto the street. He saw the furry head and shoulders of Hagrid looming above the crowd and started to yell out a greeting to the friendly giant of a man, before he stopped and furrowed his brow in confused concentration. His senses were still highly tuned from Egypt where a second of inattention might be your last one on Earth, and so he scanned the crowd for the signature touch of dark magic he had felt wash past him. No, he thought, not just dark magic but some of the most evil, dark magic he had ever felt, even in the depths of the cursed tombs he was called in to clear. He followed Hagrid and a small dark haired boy as they shed the crowd, Hagrid turning to the last stragglers and shooing them off like a bunch of first years until just the two were left heading straight down the crowed street, directly towards the tall and imposing white edifice of Gringotts.
Even in the bustling and milling crowds of Diagon Alley during their back to school rush, it was impossible to miss the imposing figure of Hagrid, so Bill easily kept the duo in sight, well, at least the much taller one of the two. His confusion deepened as he realized the scent of evil was emanating from the small boy and not some older wizard in the crowd around them. He doubled checked and made sure that Hagrid hadn't picked up some spell on him or a trinket that was cursed, but no, the evil was coming from the excitedly talking little boy. As they stopped before climbing up the white marble steps of the bank, Bill discretely cast a complicated detection spell at the back of the small boy. His deep tan blanched as the results flashed back to him and he grabbed his ever present small muggle notebook out of his shirt pocket and placed his wand tip to a blank page. The spells that he had discovered placed on that one small frame staggered the experienced curse breaker, and though most of them were benign even though illegal, there were a couple that could seriously affect the boy, maybe even kill him if left on him any longer, and even a couple that he didn't even recognize. Bill had to turn to a second page to continue his wands listing of the spells, and then finally half of a third page.
This couldn't continue, so Bill made a silent vow to himself to further investigate why this boy, who looked about eight or nine years old, should have so many spells and curses placed on him. And exactly who and why they had been placed. As he shook his head in frustration, he lengthened his steps to catch up to the two who were just now entering the bank.
"Hagrid, Hagrid, wait up a second!"
The tall bushy haired man turned around at hearing the hail, one huge hand nearly dwarfing the small shoulder it held.
A large grin showed through the massive unkempt beard as Hagrid's whole face lit up in recognition.
"Bill, why i's been a dog's age since I seen ye! When'd ye ge' back?"
Bill had to brace himself for the squeezing hug the man gave him before the two separated and he could look down at the small boy practically glued to Hagrid's side. He took an involuntary gulp in as he recognized the small face turned up so trustingly toward him. That lightening bolt shaped scar on his forehead was unmistakeable, and would shout out the boy's identity to anyone who saw it. He took note of the boy's involuntary flinch and frowned at the sight of a large bruise that briefly showed as his oversized and scruffy shirt shifted under Hagrid's grip.
Muttering some inane small talk with Hagrid as he observed the boy with his professional eye, Bill noted quite a few more mysteries about the boy. He would have to bring this up with his boss and see if the goblins knew what was going on. Bill was familiar with hand me downs and certainly had his share of bruises from rough-housing with his brothers but something just didn't add up. It was too massive and in the wrong spot for playing. And the boy was much to skinny, he had seen many poverty stricken children in his line of work, and this child just screamed of starvation. He knew that the Potter's had been an old and very wealthy family so Potter shouldn't have been dressed in rags that his mother wouldn't have used to polish the counters with, and he most certainly shouldn't look like a child from a refugee camp. And while many magical folk would have dismissed his clothes with a vague mutter about strange muggle fashions, Bill had spent the last year and a half amongst muggles on a regular basis, he knew grunge style and this wasn't it...this was plain, old fashioned rags.
Hastily saying his farewells to the two, Bill slipped though the lobby and in through the employees entrance at the back, flashing his identification amulet that he kept on a leather thong around his neck at the watching guard. He stopped at the first desk and asked if Sharpfang was available for consultation. At the clerks nod, he took off down the long marble corridor, his long strides almost running.
He stopped and took a deep breath before knocking loudly on the polished brass door.
He entered, bowing respectfully at his boss and waited to be recognized and called forward.
"Ah, Weasley you are back. Good profits?" On a human, the smile that showed would have scared even grown men, but Bill knew the old goblin was pleased to see him, and not just for the massive profits this particular job had found.
He smiled back, being careful not to show his teeth as a sign of respect. "We did very well, sir. Over ten times the amount that we expected to find. There was a second tomb buried under the one we knew about and the second one had never been opened before." He handed the large folder over to Sharpfang and waited while the goblin skimmed the summary page on top, before he shuffled through the detailed inventory that followed. It took almost ten minutes for the goblin to read through the folder, and Bill knew that Sharpfang wasn't going into detailed analysis, just familiarizing himself with the basic details. A massive sigh let Bill know he had finished, as the goblin folded the file neatly and placed it on his desk. He looked up at the silently standing wizard and tipped his head questioningly.
"You have something else on your mind, young Weasley. What is troubling you so, you should be pleased and ready to celebrate your success, Master Cursebreaker."
Bill allowed himself only a small smile of satisfaction at the promotion he had just been given, but then focused on the mystery of Harry Potter once more. He had been organizing and detailing his observations mentally as he waited for his boss to read the file, and he began by just handing his notebook to the old goblin to read.
Bill watched as Sharpfang's eyes glittered with anger as he continued to read the results of the diagnostic spells that Bill had cast.
"Who?" the question was harsh and guttural with anger.
"I don't know who cast them or why but they are all on Harry Potter. He was in front of me when I entered the bank just now, and I felt the evil from the curse scar. He is here with Hagrid right now." Bill stood with his arms behind him, unwilling to show his clenched fists.
Sharpfang slapped a clawed hand onto the large red button beside him and started spewing out commands in gobbledygook, too rapid for Bill to catch more than a single word here and there.
He turned to Bill and motioned towards the door, "Go catch them and stall them, you have permission to run if necessary."
Without waiting for further instructions, Bill turned and pulled the heavy door open, taking off at a run down the corridor without even waiting to stop and shut it. Sharpfang must have alerted the guard because he didn't try to stop Bill's mad dash and even held the door open for the rapidly traveling wizard.
As he bent over slightly to catch his breath, Bill saw his quarry just exiting the tunnels, Harry jabbering a mile a minute, while Hagrid had a decidedly green caste to his normally robust complexion.
"Hagrid, wait up a minute..." Bill was already hurrying over to the two, desperately trying to think up some reason for having halted the two. He listened to Harry's chatter and came up with a brilliant idea.
"Hey, Hagrid, I need to do some shopping myself, after all I just got back from the desert and need to replace most of my stuff. How about I take young Harry here and do his shopping with mine. I can take him back to his house when we're done so you don't have to stick around. I know you have a lot to do to get ready for term and I'm just starting my vacation. I've done a lot of shopping for school, both my own and my brothers and I know exactly what he'll need and where to get it." He smiled his most innocent smile at the large man and hoped his gambit worked.
Hagrid took out an enormous bright yellow handkerchief and mopped his sweating brow as he thought over the suggestion. His eyes lit up as he came to a conclusion.
"Don' see why no'. Dumbledore jus' axed me to make sure he go' his stuff all ri'. You'll make sure he knows abo' the 'Xpress and all?"
"Sure Hagrid, you just leave it all to me. I'll take care of him just like one of my brothers."
Bill noticed that Sharpfang had exited the employees door with several other goblins and were waiting for them to finish. He nodded just barely in their direction and was pleased to see understanding. Hagrid hadn't noticed anything and just shook Harry's whole arm as he told him, "Now you be good fer Bill. He's go' five bruthers so he knows whats what. I'll be seein' ye on the firs. Thankee Bill, 'mit them carts do me in somefin' fierce." With another swipe of the huge cloth across his face, he turned and lumbered out of the bank, no doubt headed toward the Leaky Cauldron for something to settle his nerves.
Bill leaned down to look Harry directly in the face. "Hi, I'm Bill Weasley and as Hagrid said I have five brothers and a sister, all younger. I work here at Gringotts and I have a couple of goblins that I'd like you to meet." He put one hand protectively on the skinny shoulder, noting the slight flinch and tremor the contact caused before leading the boy over to the waiting group.
"Harry, this is my boss, Sharpfang. Sharpfang this is Harry Potter."
"I am pleased to meet the Potter heir and welcome to Gringotts bank. Though I must confess, we at the bank expected you to come here much earlier. Could you come with us to my office and we can discuss some things that your mother and father wanted you to know and have."
Harry's whole face lit up with a beaming smile. "My mum and dad? Did you know them? What were they like? My relatives" the word was spit out with venom, "told me they were unemployed bums who died in a drunken car crash, but Hagrid told me that isn't true. He didn't tell me very much about them though...can you tell me more?" he finished wistfully.
"Why yes I can...and in fact their account manager is waiting for us in my office right now. Shall we?" Sharpfang led the small party back through the employee door and down the long corridor, a small excited child bouncing right beside the staid goblin, making Bill stifle a chuckle as he followed closely behind them.
Sharpfang led them down to the door just past his office and one of the two guards flanking it opened it with a low bow, firmly shutting it behind the group. Bill masked his astonishment when he found himself in an almost cosy looking sitting room. There were a couple of comfortable looking armchairs facing the more normal hard looking high backed stools that the goblins preferred and Bill ushered Harry over to one of them before glancing at his boss for permission to sit himself. At Sharpfang's perfunctory nod, he sat down gingerly on the front of the seat, not willing to completely get comfortable until he knew who the other goblins in the group where and what they would be discussing.
"Master Potter, I am Sharpfang and my associates are Griphook, whom I believe you met, this is Ironfist, who is your account manager, and these are Longtooth and Bentnose." Sharpfang's introduction complete, he got right to business, as was the goblin's way.
"Mister Weasley is a Master Cursebreaker here at Gringotts and he noticed a fair number of spells on your person. I would like your permission for him and the others here to diagnose and remove them from you. Then I would like one of our human healers to fully examine you. After that work is complete, we can discuss business. But the monitoring and tracking charms upon your person must be removed before we can proceed."
Harry looked hesitantly over at Bill, confusion and uncertainty clear upon his young face. Bill smiled in encouragement and leaned over to whisper so that the goblins couldn't overhear.
"I don't know all of the spells upon you, but if they were on me or one of my brothers or sister, I would want them off. And I know that my mum and dad wouldn't allow any of them to be on one of us either. They are interfering with your magic, and some of them could hurt you if they stayed there. And the scar on your forehead needs to be examined closely to see what is left of the curse that hit you. There shouldn't be anything there and yet there is."
With a quivering lip and a slight hesitation, Harry whispered back, "Will it hurt?"
Bill couldn't resist any longer and scooped the lad into his lap so they could talk and he could reassure the boy that he would help him through it. Harry stiffened automatically and then seemed to melt with a long sigh, almost molding himself to Bill as he scooted all the way back into the chair.
"The diagnosis won't hurt at all, and if the removal of any of them do hurt, I'll let you know first and get you a pain potion as soon as I can. Will that be okay?"
Harry nodded his head against Bill's strong shoulder, reveling in the feeling of being held and touched by someone who appeared to like him. It was a totally new feeling and he would take any amount of pain to just be able to stay on the older wizard's lap and feel like a normal boy.
"Okay, Mr. Sharpfang, go ahead."
The five goblins all stood up and formed a circle around the two wizards, Harry couldn't take it any more and turned just enough to bury his head into Bill's chest. A sharp crackling sound echoed as the goblins laughed at the sight and then a low rumbling chant began. It seemed like forever to Harry but it actually only lasted about five minutes before the five goblins sat down wearily and Sharpfang began to speak again to the two.
"You did very well, Master Potter.." he began as Harry interrupted with "Just Harry, please." with a nod, Sharpfang continued. "We have found over two dozen spells laid upon you, several blocks on your magic and a small fragment of the evil wizard that tried to kill you embedded in the scar upon your forehead."
Harry gasped sharply and stiffened as he asked, "How, what happened...can you get rid of it?"
Bill clutched the small trembling frame tight to his chest with one hand, and rubbed his other hand up and down the skeletal back, feeling every sharp vertebrae as he did.
"Yes, Harry, we not only can, we must before they harm you and damage your magic. It is very good that they were found before you began your formal magical education or it could have caused irreparable damage. Now I want you to relax here with Mr. Weasley while we go and set up a ritual room to remove them. I will send in the Healer while you wait, and perhaps some refreshments as well. Mr. Weasley, a moment please."
Bill stood with Harry still in his arms and turned gently putting the boy down in the chair they had been sharing. He went over to Sharpfang on the other side of the room and waited while the old goblin cast a privacy spell on them.
"We found three blocks on his magic, several old obliterations that left scars, tracking spells, monitoring spells and a repulsion spell. There is also a mail blocking spell, spells to hide him from wizards, house elves and even werewolves. But the most damaging are a soul fragment and someone has tied his magic into an illegal blood ward, both of which are draining magical energy from the boy at all times. They must be removed or else the boy might end up a squib or even dead."
Bill couldn't contain the involuntary gasp he made as he asked, "Can you tell who cast them all on him?"
Sharpfang snarled as he answered, "I am almost positive that all of them were cast upon the boy by your Albus Dumbledore, who also had his parent's wills sealed before they could be executed. We have the originals here at Gringotts of course, but we were barred from opening them by your Wizengamot. Of course, if Master Potter were to demand them to be unsealed and executed we would have to follow his orders of course. It's in our treaty after all, wouldn't want to break the treaty now would we?"
At that moment, Sharpfang looked very much like Professor Severus Snape as he swooped down on some unsuspecting soul about to be verbally eviscerated in potions class. A shiver went down Bill's back and he gave a silent prayer of thanks that the goblins weren't angry with him.
Sharpfang continued without pause, "We will be sure to record the magical signature of each of the spells as we remove them and make sure that no one will be able to mistreat the boy again."
Bill nodded as he looked back over at Harry. He started forward when he noticed Harry was now all alone, his knees drawn up under his chin with his head down, rocking back and forth trying to comfort himself. Bill looked back at Sharpfang for permission and then strode forward, scooping up the ball of boy before sitting down once more and holding Harry while he silently sobbed.
By the time Bill had Harry uncurled and comfortable with his head on his shoulder, almost ten minutes had passed. He looked up at a soft knock on the door and then looked down at the boy when he recognized Misty Harper, the mediwitch that Gringotts used for their human employees. Harry had finally relaxed enough that he had gone to sleep on Bill's chest so Bill made a quiet motion with his finger against his lips.
Misty nodded and turned to shut the door quietly behind her. She softly moved over to the two sitting together on one chair and took the other chair beside them. She spoke just above a whisper, "Sharpfang filled me in on what you found. Just let him sleep, it's better if he's relaxed for the physical and I don't have to touch him unless I find injuries that I need to treat."
Bill simply pulled the shoulder of the huge shirt down and Misty cringed, "Well, I better do a full history then as well. We might be needing it to file charges with everything else we've found."
He simply nodded and moved Harry more comfortably across his lap, cradling his head in the crook of his elbow so that Misty could see his face as well.
The mediwitch took out a file folder of parchment from a pocket in her robe and expanded it back to full size before setting it on a table she conjured. She set a dictation quill up on the first sheet and began to cast spells on the sleeping child draped across Bill's lap.
By the time Misty had finished her full history and physical, she looked exhausted and a house elf had brought in a large tray of refreshments and sat it up on a table in the corner of the room. She stood tall, stretching the kinks out of her back and then sat down once more to read the thick stack of parchment that the quill had meticulously filled. She passed each sheet to Bill as she finished with it. He moved Harry's legs so that his head was on his left arm and his legs draped over the side of the chair with his bum on his lap. His face lost all color as he began to read about the long history of bruises and even broken bones beginning at the age of two, the long term malnutrition, the lack of medical care and the several obliterations done over the years.
As the two were reading the last of the parchments, the door opened once more and Harry began to stir with the arrival of the goblins. Bill helped Harry to sit up on his lap again, as he handed the last of the parchments over to Misty and then hastily stood up, catching Harry and putting him on his feet as he noticed the venerable old goblin being escorted into the room, his phalanx of goblin guards peeling off and standing on either side of the room, their faces emotionless but alert.
Sharpfang's gravelly voice held awe as he introduced Ragnok, the leader of the goblin nation and director of Gringott's Bank to the wizards and witch in the room. The ancient being sat down on one of the stools and looked at the boy now bowing before him. A gnarled hand reached forward, the claw careful not to scratch as Ragnok forced Harry's face up to look directly into the boy's startling green eyes.
His deep gravelly voice filled the chamber, sounded like nothing so much as rocks grinding together. "Master Potter, on behalf of the Goblin Nation, I welcome you back to the magical world and vow to you that our nation will right the wrongs done to you and avenge you upon all who would do you harm. Too long have the affairs of wizards been allowed to fester without our notice, but now we will stand together with you."
Both Misty and Bill were shell shocked. Never had the goblins taken any notice of wizarding affairs, except for banking matters and treasure hunting. For the leader of the goblin nation to vow allegiance to any wizard, especially an eleven year old untrained one was unheard of. Ragnok looked at his two human employees and searched deeply into their eyes. Apparently satisfied at what he found he spoke directly to them, "Your vows to Gringott's will cover this but now, I require another vow from you. An unbreakable vow that you will support this child in his endeavors and stand beside and behind him before we continue."
Bill had had many shocks that day, none of them pleasant and he would never look at his old headmaster in the same way again but he didn't hesitate to speak, "I, William Arthur Weasley, do swear upon my life, my soul and my magic to keep Harry Potter's secrets, to stand beside him and to protect him, even if it cost me my life. So I do swear, so mote it be." A glow of bright white light left Bill's chest and entered Harry who looked gobsmacked. Bill leaned down and whispered, "Say so mote it be, Harry."
"So, so mote it be." Harry slightly stuttered as he said the unfamiliar words, astonished when the light sunk into his bony chest and disappeared from view.
Misty vowed as well, a look of bewilderment on her face as she didn't know exactly what was going on. Of course, Bill didn't either, he just hid it better. And Harry was obviously clueless.
Ragnok stood once more, regally nodded at all in the room and swept out, saying, "Continue Sharpfang." as he left the room.
"Let us sit and have some refreshments before we get down to business and I will try to fill you in on a little of what we have planned for our young friend."
As the group ate, and Harry stared with mixed horror and fascination when he noticed that the goblins refreshments were moving in the dishes, Sharpfang outlined the plan of events.
"We know of the wizards prophecy concerning Harry, and I am sorry child but we don't know the wording of it, just the generalities that we were given by your parents, but we have discerned that the goblins have another prophecy concerning him and that one we are bound to help occur. I do not know the exact wording but I shall share the general idea of it. There will be a child marked by the ancient rune of power who shall rid the world of darkness but he will have to overcome adversity and the machinations and manipulations of the wizarding world to do so. This child will re-unite all the sentient races into a millennium of peace and prosperity. But he shall need help and guidance to traverse the maze and obstacles placed in his path. We, child, with the help of others, intend to help you achieve this unlike the ones who would bind your powers and hurt your magic."
Bill was liking Dumbledore less and less the more the day went on and he thought that Misty would likely feel the same way, if she didn't already.
"Now if you are finished, we shall retire to the ritual room and remove the spells and curses that are hindering you, young Master Harry." Sharpfang led them out of the room and down a maze of corridors deep into the bowels of the bank. Harry was visibly flagging before they reached their goal, so Bill swung him up on one hip and carried him.
As they entered a round roughly hewn cavern deep below the earth, far away in Scotland, several whirling, twirling gizmos screeched and smoked, finally falling silent but no one noticed for the manipulative old wizard whose office they resided in was out of the castle for the evening and wouldn't be back for several weeks.
AN: I have not abandoned my other stories, I have just had a really rough time in RL for a while. I though doing this one might get me back in the habit of writing and so I will continue with the others soon. Thank your for your patience and as always, a special thank you to those who take the time and effort to leave a review.