DISCLAIMER THE FIRST: It is by JKR's writing alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the grace of coffee that thoughts acquire speed, the back acquires strains, the strains become a warning. The warning is that I make no money from this. It is by JKR's writing alone I set my mind in motion.
PITHY STATEMENT RELATING TO THIS CHAPTER: "Those who have wrought great changes in the world never succeeded by gaining over chiefs; but always by exciting the multitude. The first is the resource of intrigue and produces only secondary results, the second is the resort of genius and transforms the universe." – Martin Van Buren – Eighth President of the United States (and first to be born a U.S. citizen) – 1782-1862
LAST UPDATED ON: 01-08-2014
CHAPTER TWELVE – BACK IN BLACK
HOGSMEADE STATION, SCOTLAND – OCTOBER 4th 1996 – LATE AFTERNOON
Harry watched as Narcissa talked to a group of girls who looked like they were either Second or Third years. After finding their names on her list, the older witch checked them off. The girls all looked at Harry and giggled. He gave them a happy smile in return. So far except for a few mock grumbles about having to go back to school, the Muggleborns were all very happy to be going back to Hogwarts.
Harry looked out at the group. He had been surprised how many had needed the Potter Fund to afford Hogwarts. Luna had told him that even the regional Saint Schools could be a bit pricey. Harry marveled again at how little he had learned about Magical Britain while at Hogwarts. He had known there were other schools since the incoming NEWT students were sorted before the First Years were brought in. But somehow Harry had missed there were six other school one could go to get one's OWLs in education. He and Hermione, Harry had found, could have gone to St. George's Magical School of England had they not both been accepted at Hogwarts and could pay the high cost of tuition.
Maybe he'd been made to not think about the other schools so he wouldn't be tempted to transfer, Harry couldn't help but think darkly.
It amazed him that with all the Pureblood's complaining about Muggleborns bringing in cultural contamination from the Muggle world, Hogwarts certainly did a piss poor job of teaching them about the magical world and its customs. Luna had simply shrugged when he had mentioned this and had told him most Muggleborns ended up migrating to places like Australia or the Americas rather than stay in the UK. Her father felt this migration might even be the reason culture classes weren't taught at Hogwarts. Lilith, who had been visiting that night, had chimed in and said she knew quite a few Muggleborns who were planning on doing just that after graduation.
Harry had to wonder if this might be one of the reasons so many Pureblood families were so weak in magical power in addition to having so few children; any potential infusion of new blood from Muggleborns didn't happen for cultural reasons as well as the simple fact most of the Muggleborns left the country. It could explain why Hogwarts was built for such a large student body but was barely being used; the Pureblood's pursuit of purity was leading them into extinction.
Harry looked over to see a girl with brilliant ginger hair talking with Sally while Lilith was watching baby Jacob nearby. She was obviously a Firstie and probably was quizzing Sally about Hogwarts. Sally had already commented to him earlier how her baby drew people to her which inevitably led the Firsties to ask her questions. So Sally had become the de facto information desk in a way; a job she seemed to relish.
Harry was happy she had seemingly recovered so quickly after being rescued from her parents. The very next day she and Harry had gone to see Martin Creswell where, after a quick blood check, she had been legally recognized as a Black. She even had her name changed to Sally Anne Black because her original middle name had been Esther after her mother. Sally had told him her mother had always insisted she be called Sally-Anne but she herself had felt it sounded too folksy.
The hair color of the girl talking with Sally reminded him of the Weasleys. Harry had been amazed to find out how many of them there were in England. Narcissa had told him with more than a hint of her typical aristocratic disdain how if every Weasley child in England went to Hogwarts, there probably would be about four to six extra kids per year, all gingers. Apparently Arthur Weasley had been the first Weasley of the clan to go to Hogwarts since 1802. Most Weasleys lived as scrub farmers eking out an almost subsistence living in the backwaters of Britain. Many never went to any of the magical schools of England but were tutored at home.
Harry felt this was something to look into considering the Prewitt family hadn't been very wealthy so how had Mr. Weasley manage to send seven kids to Hogwarts? It would have been far cheaper to send them to the St. Michael's School of Wizardry near Exeter. That way Mr. Weasley would only have to pay for two years of Hogwarts if any of his kids showed promise (or the desire) to get their NEWTs. Considering how much his life and the Weasleys intersected, Harry was resolved to look into the matter. He couldn't help but wonder how much gold from House Potter might have paid for the various Weasley's education.
This bothered Harry. If a Muggleborn was expelled prior to their OWLs, their wand was snapped and they were thrown out of the magical world. Yet if one didn't go to Hogwarts, you could be barely functional in magic and no one seemed to care. It was just another one of the ways things were stacked against the Muggleborns. Harry resolved to check the expulsion records of Hogwarts. He'd bet his Firebolt the bulk of them were Muggleborns who didn't have a House to back them up. He doubted if the Marauders had all been Muggleborns that they would have made it past their Third Year considering all the havoc they caused.
A few more pops announced some more students had arrived by portkey. It had been far easier to give all the students portkeys than have them travel to London only to take the train to Scotland. Harry directed them to Narcissa after he got them all calmed down. Almost every student had been very enthusiastic in thanking Harry for the chance to go back to Hogwarts. The students had either struggled trying to adapt to a Muggle school or had stayed home. For some reason none of the Saint Schools had accepted the ex-Hogwarts students. This smelled fishy to Harry and it was on his long list of things to check out.
Narcissa glanced over at him and nodded after she had finished up with the newcomers. He nodded and cast a Sonorous spell on himself. "Can I have everyone's attention? It looks like we are all here. As I'm sure you all know by now, I am Lord Harold Black. As your benefactor I would like to welcome you to or back to Hogwarts. Before we leave I would like to apologize to all you First years. Due to the inclement weather you will not be taken via boat up to the castle like all First Year classes traditionally are."
Harry could see that while the few Firsties didn't seem too put out, the older students seemed sad as they were obviously remembering their first time in the boats looking up at Hogwarts lit brilliantly against the dark Scottish sky. It made Harry sad as well but he'd rather not lose any of 'his' students to the choppy and frigid waters of the Black Lake especially with the wind which had been steadily picking up since they had begun to arrive.
"So I would like all you First Years to follow Genevieve Walker; Gina could you raise your hand?" The seventh year Slytherin raised her hand. Harry had been surprised she had been a prefect considering her mother was a Muggle. That she was a prefect with that strike against her in Slytherin House certainly was something Harry could respect.
"Second Years please follow Lucinda Urquhart." The Fifth Year Slytherin waved the other group of younger students over to her. Harry was sure he was raising some eyebrows by having two Snakes be the ones shepherding the younger students but he want to make a point to the blood conscious Slytherins as well as one about inter-house cooperation to the rest of the school.
"Also for those of you who don't know, the carriages we'll be taking up to the castle are drawn by thestrals. Only those who have actually seen somebody die can see them. I tell you this because no one ever told me and I thought I was going crazy last year when the carriages I had always thought had been moving by magic were being pulled by these scary looking critters. I figured I'd spare you all the headache of thinking you have gone mental if you can see them!" Harry said.
Harry smiled at the laugh this generated. Harry watched as Gina and Lucinda led the First and Second Years off to where the carriages were. The rest of the group followed; they were all laughing and joking with each other which made Harry happy. Narcissa, Lilith and Sally came over to him as he watched them leave.
"I am really surprised Hagrid isn't here to lead the first years even if they aren't going by boats to the castle," Sally said.
Harry shook his head, "Luna told me he hasn't been at school all term. I would bet he's off trying to gain allies against Voldemort for the Order of the Phoenix. Hagrid does seem to get along with a lot of the races most wizards barely acknowledge."
Harry looked over at Narcissa, "Thanks for all the help Cissy but just remember I really want you to be careful and keep your emergency portkey on you at all times. It was a real gamble in retrospect having you go to Hogwarts to set all this up. I mean between the Ministry, the Death Eaters and Dumbledore there are certainly enough people who probably want you either dead or spilling your secrets."
Narcissa face broke into a predatory smile, "Oh I did take the precautionary measure of reminding Dumbledore and the Board of Governors of certain embarrassing secrets which just might find their way into the hands of the Daily Prophet, the Quibbler and various international papers if I should have failed to return to Grimmauld Place. I did tell you, my lord, I do know many secrets."
Harry smiled, "Great! I want you to keep up the good work or I'll have to punish you again."
Sally looked up from rubbing Jacob's tummy which was causing the baby to happily coo and giggle, "Well can you make sure you punish her someplace other than on the kitchen table next time? I thought my eyes were going to catch on fire when I came down to breakfast the other day!"
The group all shared a wicked laugh at that image. Harry and Narcissa had been properly embarrassed by being caught having kinky S&M sex. Luna, however, had serenely pointed out to Sally that house discipline had to be maintained and Narcissa had been bad. Sally had marveled at how calm Luna had been while explaining this considering she was naked and busy using a cat-o-nine-tails made of knotted silk on Narcissa. That Luna could do this so calmly while Narcissa was busy impaling herself atop of Harry (while practically screaming in lust) was something Sally still couldn't fathom. Sally herself had been torn between running away from embarrassment and joining in considering the erotic feelings which suddenly had begun to wash over her.
Of course the trio's embarrassment hadn't stopped them from continuing and Sally soon found out why she was alone on the second floor. After the orgasm ripped through her, Sally was at once sad for missing out on more but was grateful her son wouldn't be subjected to it. Who knows what a rush of such emotion would do to her little angel!
"Yeah, what is up with you and kitchen sex, Harry? Going to try and break in all the tables in the Great Hall?" Lilith asked with a grin. After hearing the story from her best friend Lilith had cursed up a storm in private that she hadn't been there to participate! After their time in the shower, Lilith wouldn't mind another round with Narcissa. Plus Luna's bit of kink sort of intrigued her!
"I doubt the house elves would allow it so I don't think you have to worry." Harry said easily.
"I don't know Sally; we might want to wipe down the table a bit before we eat. Who knows where the adventurous Lord Black might have been the night before?" Lilith said to her friend. Both girls giggled and Narcissa couldn't help but give an amused snort.
Harry gave Lilith a light swat on the bum, "Trying to outdo Luna for being a smart aleck, dear?" Harry leaned in and gave Lilith a quick kiss on the cheek to ensure she knew he was kidding. He looked over to see they were alone in the station. "Well let's go find ourselves a carriage and go face the music, shall we?" The group made their way to over to find the last few carriages leaving. Harry helped the witches in and patted the thestral on its flanks before joining them.
Ginny squirming in the seat next to her was starting to get on Hermione's nerves. The Headmaster had made a surprise announcement during breakfast about a special feast being put on for the evening and all had to attend. Ginny was sure it had to do with Harry coming back. Hermione wasn't so sure since she couldn't see Dumbledore wanting to make a big deal about Harry after keeping him locked up after the incident on the train. Of course there was the fact that Harry was an emancipated adult and head of three Houses so there might not be anything the Headmaster could do about it.
Hermione had stayed up well past curfew after they had been unable to see Harry the night he was attacked by Death Eaters. She had reviewed the possible genealogical ties regarding Harry as well as trying to find all she could about House Peverell. She had also continued to try to get more information out of Luna. So much so that even Parvati had commented she was practically badgering the poor girl.
Hermione snorted to herself; as if the blonde girl seemed to even acknowledge any of her questions when Hermione had been able to track down the elusive Ravenclaw. Luna, Hermione had found to her sorrow, had an effective way of turning questions back upon the asker. In trying to find out more about Harry and possibly how exactly Luna knew Harry's bed was so lumpy, Hermione felt afterwards like she had been the one being interrogated. Luna continued to tease her over her obvious desire for Harry because of her continued probing for information which Hermione felt was downright ludicrous. Harry was her best friend and that was that!
The sound of the doors of the Great Hall opening and the collective gasps of the students brought Hermione back to the present. As she stared at the sight of Harry leading a large group of students into the Hall she struggled to categorize what she was feeling. It was Lavender who voiced what a lot of the girls at the table seemed to be thinking if the looks on their faces was any clue.
"Oh my…now there is one tasty dish!" Lavender said with a catch in her voice.
Hermione noticed how many of the girls in the hall seemed to be looking at Harry like they wanted to eat him. She wasn't surprised all things considering. His school uniform was obviously professionally tailored out of the finest material which was framed by a robe that bore the crests of his three Houses instead of that of Gryffindor. Only his tie showed his Hogwarts House affiliation. He wore stylish new glasses and his shoes practically shone. His previously unruly mop of hair was gone and in its place was the long luxurious hair Hermione had seen that night in London. What a difference there was seeing him clean and rested though! Harry seemed to radiate an air of confidence as he strode up to the head table.
Behind him Hermione saw two girls in Slytherin robes herding a group of what were obviously First Years to the front of the group. Hermione realized that the rest of the group was all the students who hadn't been able to return this year to Hogwarts because of the problem with their scholarships. Among them were Lilith Moon and Sally-Anne Perks. The latter hung back with Narcissa Black with a baby in her arms. Hermione couldn't help but notice the tension that flashed between her and Draco Malfoy sitting at the Slytherin table as they made eye contact. Hermione quickly looked away as she saw the Headmaster stand as Harry stopped before him.
"Headmaster Dumbledore, I bring to you the students as promised," Harry's voice rang out clearly above all the widely muttering students.
Dumbledore inclined his head. "Thank you, thank you indeed." The old wizard looked out and motioned for Professor McGonagall who was waiting in the wings with the Sorting Hat. "If those returning students could take their seats, I believe we can welcome our newest students into their new Houses."
While the Sorting Hat sang a repeat of this year's song and then proceeded to sort the new arrivals, Hermione found herself rather cross that Harry hadn't come and sat with the rest of the Gryffindors. He merely had stood to one side of the head table and did nothing more than watch and make some covert comments back and forth with Professor Slughorn. Hermione remembered Harry telling her about how Dumbledore had him help recruit the new potions professor before boarding the train back in London.
After the last new student was cheered and applauded into their new Houses, Dumbledore rose and raised his hand for silence, "This truly is a momentous day and one well worth having the elves prepare another Arrival Feast. I wish I had the words to describe how happy I am but I'm sure the wonderful food will have to do it for me." Around the Hall, the feast food began to appear on all the tables.
"Pardon me Headmaster, but might have a few words before we all tuck in?" Harry's voice again cut through the noise in the hall.
Dumbledore blinked at the request and most of the other professors looked a bit taken aback. All except Snape, Hermione noticed. Compared to his normal sneers, the one on his face could probably win a trophy for most disdain shown in a single expression. However the rest of the staff was clearly intrigued by what Harry wanted to say. Dumbledore hesitated and then motioned for him to speak.
Harry moved up in front of Dumbledore's podium. Hermione noticed how his head was mostly level with the animated owl on the front of it. It reminded her that even sitting on the stool while being sorted their First Year, Harry's head hadn't been that high. He had certainly grown into himself in the time since then!
"Fellow students of Hogwarts, I just would like to clear up some things. I'm sure the Hogwarts rumor express has been busy since the fight in London the other day hit the papers." This comment brought an undercurrent of murmured comments back and forth since the official story had not mentioned Harry being present at the ambush but there had been plenty of unofficial comments off the record that placed him there. It had been a hot topic of conversation at Hogwarts ever since. Professor McGonagall had warned the group she had taken to say nothing of what they had seen and for the most part everyone but Ron had complied.
Harry paused till the murmuring died down. "In my time here at Hogwarts the winds of public opinion have blown this way and that in regards to me. One year I'm a good bloke and the next I'm the next Dark Lord to come. So I wanted you all to hear the truth from the source."
Harry gaze went from table to table and almost everyone seemed to feel he was looking right at them. "So you all know I am Lord Harold James Potter-Peverell-Black. I am a fully emancipated adult now and all of the students who came with me tonight did so because I paid for them to be here. Because they are coming to school late, they will be having tutors made available to help them catch up especially the Fifth and Seventh years who are facing their exams. I don't want to hear how they are somehow getting any preferential treatment because of these tutors. In fact if any of you feel you are having trouble with class, feel free to come see me and maybe we can work you into the tutoring cycle."
Harry turned his gaze to the Slytherin table. "Since I am now an emancipated adult as well as a Lord I shall be staying in my own room. This isn't me being pampered. Historically this has been done for all emancipated Lords and Ladies. It also allows my previous dorm mates to avoid any hint of being favored because they were bunked with me. I would like to stress again how I am a legal adult now and one not bound by the waiver NEWT students have to sign. Please do not forget this."
Harry paused while he gazed around the hall briefly with a very serious look on his face. "Circumstances have forced me to become an adult early and take on adult responsibilities and I take those duties seriously. So I would ask you all to forget the Harry Potter you thought you knew. I also ask that some of you need to think very carefully before you act around me since I am now a Lord. Your actions towards me will not only reflect on your House here but your family House as well. Don't think things are the same as they have been in regards to me. Do not test me on this."
Hermione almost gasped at the sudden menace in Harry's voice. However there were plenty in who didn't have her willpower and again the hall was filled with excited whisperers. Quite a few took noticed at the look of utter hatred on Draco Malfoy's face as well as some of the others at the Slytherin table. Interestingly Gregory Goyle just looked sad which surprised Hermione considering his dad had been identified as one of the Death Eater killed in London.
This surprise quickly turned to annoyance as Ron chuffed next to her and whispered loudly to Seamus, "I told you Potter would show his true colors! Poof's got himself his sweet ride at last. We'll never see Colin in the dorms again!" Ginny elbowed her brother hard in his ribs to shut him up as Harry continued.
"So again I think it best if you all just think of me as Harold Black or Lord Black if you need to be formal about it. I would also like to announce I will be continuing the training I was conducting last year as a sanctioned club. If any of you are interested in joining the Defense Association, please come see me." Harry turned back towards the staff table with a bit of an ironic smile, "I would like to stress this club formation is in no way a reflection on the current Defense teacher."
Snape face was a reflection of the hate on Draco's face, Hermione saw. The fact Harry hadn't told people to see her about being in the new D.A. worried her. Did this mean he was angry with her about stopping him on the train or was he allowing for the fact she might not want to join?
Harry turned back to the group, "I've kept you from the feast long enough. Thank you for your attention." With a formal bow, Harry purposefully strode down the center aisle with a slight pause to give a wink, a friendly point of his finger and smile to both Luna and Lilith as he passed between the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff tables. Hermione watched as he walked over to where Narcissa waited with Sally-Anne. After a few words he and Narcissa left the Hall with the baby. Sally-Anne, however, quickly walked towards the Gryffindor table.
Before Hermione could even form the words, Ginny called out, "Sally-Anne! I have a spot for you!" Hermione had to admit that not only had Ginny been right about Harry, saving a potential seat for him had been a smart move on her part. Now they'd finally get some answers!
"Thanks Ginny but all of you please just call me Sally," she said as she sat down. She leaned forward and inhaled deeply at the aroma from the food which appeared before her. "Oh how I've missed Hogwarts food these last few months! Especially since I couldn't eat a lot of things in the month or so before Jacob was born!"
Questions poured in from around the table with everyone practically shouting over each other. Finally Neville did shout, "Enough! Let the poor girl eat! You have the rest of term to put her on the rack and interrogate her for Merlin's sake!"
Sally smiled at him, "Thanks Neville!" She looked at the rest of her classmates, most had the decency to look a bit embarrassed. "Look guys I will be more than happy to answer your questions after I get some food in me. It's been awhile since I've had a chance to eat without Jacob interrupting me. I swear that boy is hell bent on keeping me thin the way he makes a fuss every time I want some food."
Ginny piped up, "Sure thing but why just Sally? You've always been pretty constant about reminding people you wanted to be called Sally-Anne."
Sally laughed and then took a long drink of pumpkin juice, "Yes I know. Well my mother was always going on about my name being Sally-Anne. Well she's dead and I legally changed my name to Sally Anne Black the other day."
Hermione went white, "How did that happen? Did you…" Hermione quickly looked down at Sally's hand expecting to see a ring from Harry on it. Quite a few others had the same thought and many gasped at the implications.
Sally looked at Hermione in confusion before it dawned on her why Hermione was so shocked. "Oh Hermione you are so silly! I didn't marry Harry although he is the reason for my name change. When he got me away from my abusive parents, he found out as head of House Black that my great-grandfather Martin Perks was really Marius Black so I'm not really a Muggleborn even if Marius was a Squib. Since my parents died when my dad ran a red light and got hit by a lorry, well I figured I'd do better in the magical world as a Black than as a Perks."
Hermione noticed quite a few witches let out a relived sigh, Ginny and Katie Bell being the two most obvious. Little did she realize everyone else heard that her own sigh of relief was the loudest of them all. Ignoring the knowing looks that Lavender and Parvati were giving her, Hermione pressed on, "So where did Harry and Ms. Black go?"
"Oh they have to talk some school business with Professor McGonagall after the feast so they felt it better to eat in Harry's suite where they can also look after my little angel," Sally replied. "Harry said he'd rather put off seeing you all till he doesn't have a meeting to go to."
Neville looked over to where Lilith was joking with Hannah Abbot and Megan Jones while Susan Bones listened with an intent look on her face. "When did Harry hook up with Lilith? My Gran has it on good authority she was the other witch besides Auror Tonks who Harry was with the night of the ambush."
"That and she was supposedly 'giving my Lord Black some needed comfort' that night according to Narcissa Black." Hermione said. She failed to keep the peevish tone out of her voice.
"Oh he bumped into Lilith at the cloak store I was going to work at over the summer before I found out I was pregnant. After Lilith's parents got killed in their own car accident last June, she got hired there instead of me. She says after he was made Lord Black, Harry went on a quite a shopping trip and hers was the last shop on his list."
"I'll say! He certainly cleaned up nice…and with that hair!" Lavender practically gushed. The girls all nodded at the sentiment.
Sally shrugged, "Blame Lilith and Draco's mum for the hair. It was Ms. Black's idea but Lilith talked him into keeping it. Who knows how long it will take him before he doesn't need to use a lengthening charm on it? I mean I never saw his hair ever get longer the entire time I've been at Hogwarts."
Sally dug into her food a bit and everyone else belatedly realized they had barely touched their own food. Of course they found Ron had already snagged a goodly portion of all the food while they were intent on Sally. Hermione couldn't help but wrinkle her nose in disgust as Ron shoveled food in his mouth like he was shoveling coal into the boiler of the Hogwarts Express.
Finally when everyone had eaten their fill Sally was again bombarded with questions. Sally tried to answer them the best she could (without revealing certain things she felt best left unsaid) but she found her answers seemed to just aggravate everyone since she really didn't have answers to give.
Finally she got a bit cross, "Look guys, I wish I could answer your questions but I really didn't see much of Harry. I do have a newborn to look after you know and Harry was usually gone to setting up things for the other Potter Fund students. I think another reason Harry decided to see you all tomorrow is apparently he and Professor McGonagall aren't getting along. So I doubt after his meeting he'd be really good company tonight."
Hermione had to ask, "Sally, did he say anything about the Defense club?"
Sally nodded as she spooned some pudding onto her plate. "Yes he did and I think he's going to call a meeting soon of all the previous members. I heard him mention to Luna how he was going to try to get some of you as additional teachers since he expected more people to join and he couldn't be everywhere at once."
"I hope he doesn't expect me to do anything! I've got enough to do with Quidditch! In fact, he better not think he can just waltz in and expect to have his old position as Seeker back. Ginny is doing a bang-up job!" Ron said through his mouthful of pudding.
"I think, Mr. Weasley, that Harry's position on the team is my decision," Katie said with a frosty edge in her voice. "In fact it is you who needs to do some serious thinking about your place on the team considering how much hassle you are in the locker room. Quidditch is a team sport and you seem to consistently forgot what happens with the team stays with the team."
Ron merely shrugged as he obviously blew off Katie's words but the rest of the Gryffindor team looked anywhere but at their classmates. Ginny blushed especially hard and seemed to shrink in her seat. There were plenty of rumors as to why Ron was being such a git in the locker room floating around the halls of Hogwarts. Hermione was reminded of how the only reason Ron was still on the team was he was only slightly less of a berk than Cormac MacLaggen.
Hermione suddenly gave out a gasp and turned to Sally, "How do you overhear Harry and Luna talking? They haven't seen each other since the day before the fight in London."
Sally shrugged by was cursing herself internally. She'd certainly put her foot into it now! "Well if you must know and please keep it a secret but Luna has been sneaking into the Infirmary and using the Floo network there to go see him. I think she's been there the last few nights. Luna is helping Harry with some big plans of his. I know Harry is going to help Lilith with a dream project of hers which has got him excited. Luna is very interested in helping out on this project as well."
Ginny spoke up, "Wait, how did Luna know the Floo address to Harry's house? It's hidden so how did she find out? Hedwig is still stuck in the Owlery even after Harry's threat to sue the school!"
Sally shrugged again, "Don't know and I didn't pry. Most of the time I was either busy dealing with my baby or talking with Lilith when she visited. I've never really been all that interested in a lot of the theories Lilith thinks up so I never really hung around when they were discussing it. She is my best friend and all but I just want to design clothes not study magical biology."
Ginny and Hermione shared a look. Suddenly it was looking like not only had the pretty Hufflepuff spent the night at Harry's but also Luna! Hermione shook her head; she was just overreacting. This was Harry after all. He could barely summon up the nerve to kiss Cho last term so he probably wasn't snogging either Luna or Lilith right? Hermione bit her lip in annoyance at how she couldn't seem to convince herself of this.
"Okay give it a try now," Harry told Narcissa as he rolled up the tape measure and got up off the floor. The stones he'd been meticulously getting into position had all started to pulse red. He stepped back as Narcissa gave him a nod and disappeared in a pop. After a few minutes she reappeared.
"Oh my!" Narcissa exclaimed. "That trip certainly takes a lot out of you! There is no way I could normally make a jump that far."
"So everything okay back at Grimmauld Place?" Harry asked.
"Yes, Winky was waiting and she said she's made sure the door to the room is locked so no one can disturb the stones. She also said either she or Dobby will check it twice a day to be sure the alignment is still good. The bell tone you set up worked as well." Narcissa replied as they walked out of the small anteroom and back into Harry's office where she sat down. She seemed like she was winded after a long run.
"Great! Using the Shrieking Shack sounded like a good idea at first but too many people know the entrance. I would rather not take a chance with you, Narcissa. I'm just glad you knew about these portal stones." Harry said.
The stones in question could be seen through the open door where they softly glowed on the floor forming a pentacle. Narcissa had remembered one of her uncles telling a story about them and had the house elves seek them out. Luckily Kreacher knew of them and was more than happy to tell Narcissa where they were stored.
The stones created a portal keyed to those with the blood of House Black. It allowed one to apparate from one set of stones and appear at the other no matter the distance involved. Of course the 'no matter the distance' had never really been tested but it had proven to work within the area encompassing the British Isles.
The beauty of the magic was it by-passed wards so now when Harry or Narcissa wanted to leave Hogwarts secretly they could simply apparate to Grimmauld Place and then off to wherever they wanted to go. Even better anyone could use the portal if in skin contact with one of the Blood. Now Harry wouldn't have to walk out past the anti-apparition wards or use the Floo to leave Hogwarts. Keeping people ignorant of his coming and goings was central to Harry's budding plans.
Harry had been quite surprised, however, to find Kreacher was still alive. When he asked Dobby about it, the house elf had shrugged and said Kreacher's crimes didn't mean his duties to House Black were done. So Dobby kept him trapped in a form of magical stasis so Kreacher was available to be questioned as needed. Even Narcissa had been impressed with Dobby's forethought and complimented the elf. Harry noticed Dobby was getting better about being around Narcissa which was good considering she'd be mostly staying at Grimmauld Place.
Narcissa took a drink of water and leaned over the crib to check on the baby who was still fast asleep. "Well I do think your original plan to clean up the interior has merit if only as a place to meet with people you don't want to bring to Grimmauld Place. You can easily have the Goblins create portkeys to it since you are going to have them clean up the tunnel to the Whomping Willow as well as putting those security wards and traps."
Winky popped into the room, "Does Lady Blackness bez wanting some tea or snacks?" She didn't seem fazed by the trip at all. Harry had already noticed how house elves could pop to and from Hogwarts and never seem tired. This didn't seem to apply to other trips. Dobby, for example, had actually looked tired after returning from a trip to the Samuel Smith's Brewery up in Tadcaster from London. So much so Harry had regretted having him hand deliver the letter to the desk of the CEO instead of sending it normally via the Royal Mail. Since Tadcaster was about half-way between London and Hogwarts the reason for Dobby's fatigue confused Harry. Just another thing added to the already growing list of things Harry wanted to check out.
Narcissa shook her head, "Just some tea Winky, thank you."
Winky turned to Harry, "Lord Blackness, you bez needing to bez going to your meeting! You bez wanting Winky to bez reminding your lordship!"
Harry smiled at how Winky could be a house elf version of Molly Weasley. "Thank you Winky, I'll be on my way." The house elf popped away to fetch the tea. Harry looked at his watch and noticed Winky had given him plenty of warning. He also took another moment to admire his new watch again. For some reason Harry had always kept his cheap electric watches on while at Hogwarts even after they had stopped working after about a week or two. It was his own touchstone to his Muggle heritage; a reminder that the 'real' world was still out there when he was at the castle.
His new watch was a marvel of Swiss craftsmanship. Since it was all mechanical there was nothing for the ambient magic of Hogwarts to bollix up. It had cost him many a pound but he had been glad to pay it especially since it had the self-winding feature using the motion of his arms as he walked. Now he could check the time without having to go through the three second Tempus charm that required a lot of wand waving for such a simple spell.
Harry looked back to Narcissa who was looking down at the baby. "You seem pretty entranced with little Jacob."
Narcissa continued to gaze at the sleeping child with a look of longing, "Well it took a long time for me to get pregnant with Draco and that after two miscarriages. I never was able to get pregnant again…not that Lucius tried that often. Believe it or not but Draco was a wonderful baby and a sweet boy before he grew old enough to be tainted by my mother and Lucius."
Harry sighed, "I'm sorry you won't have any more kids."
Narcissa snorted, "My lord you really need to stop thinking like a Muggle. You average witch can have children up to age 65 and a few have had them as late as 80. True, the older the mother the more problem bringing the baby to term. However my problem right now will be finding a new husband. Considering how many people want me dead or captured I might as well be a wanted criminal like cousin Sirius was. Thus the dating prospects for me are a bit low at the moment."
Harry nodded this. What Narcissa said dove-tailed with Lilith's theory since if witches could breed for so many years, why didn't they? Whether Lilith was right and this might be eased was another question for a later time however. "So are you sure you don't want to come to this meeting?" Harry asked.
Narcissa shook her head, "I would like to but I think it is important that Dumbledore and McGonagall see right away how you are an adult and can act like one. While I should be there as your personal aide I believe it would lead them to think you are just using ideas I came up with. Give a good showing tonight and I can ease back into the meetings."
Harry stood and put on his robe, "Okay that makes sense especially since I could wager a hundred galleons Dumbledore calls me 'my boy' at least four times tonight. I guess I don't mind when Slughorn says it considering I heard him do it to Snape tonight but it does grate on me when Dumbledore does it."
"I'd take that bet if only to get some petty cash," Narcissa grumped.
"Yes, I guess I do need to start pay you now don't I? Hmmm…I wonder has the sex been in lieu of pay or simply for services rendered?" Harry laughed at the glare Narcissa gave him. "Don't worry Narcissa, I'm sure we'll figure something out about your dowry. If anything I'll sue Malfoy for breach of contract considering he allowed himself to become a marked Death Eater. While they might not have seen it that why, I certainly feel subjecting you and Draco to Voldemort's whim goes against Lucius promise as a husband to protect you."
"Well I had better get going before Winky comes back to nag me. No rest for the wicked I guess," Harry pulled on his invisibility cloak. He had no desire to be ambushed by his friends who were probably lurking about. He wouldn't put it past Hermione to already know all the possible rooms he could be in. From the look on Hermione's face during the Sorting, Harry didn't need Luna's fey nature to predict a bone-crushing hug and then a lecture in his future! Harry was looking forward to it, lecture and all!
Harry carefully made his way to the Headmaster's office. Harry had been informed while he ate with Narcissa how Dumbledore had decided to have the meeting with McGonagall moved to the Headmaster's office. Harry smiled to himself; the Old Man might be worried what would happen between Harry and McGonagall considering the last time they'd been alone together.
His smile grew a bit wider as he saw Sally being followed by a gaggle of Gryffindors. It was obviously she was still being asked about him because it seemed Neville was trying (and mostly failing) to run interference for her to allow her to get back to her room in the Derwent House dorm. Of course since she had to go grab Jacob first meant his room location would be widely known by the end of the evening.
Harry sighed; it was probably stupid to think his private room would stay that way for longer than one night. Of course Sally's room in the Derwent dorms weren't that far down the same corridor as his suite.
It was good thing he had found a portrait of Isla Black in the Black vaults to use as a door guardian like the Fat Lady did for Gryffindor House. His ancestor's portrait had told him her mother couldn't bear to have her daughter's portrait destroyed after the real Isla had run off so she hid it and only moved it to the Black vaults after her husband had died. He even found a smaller table-top portrait which he had in Narcissa's office back at Grimmauld Place so Isla could hop between them.
He had also found quite a few interesting portraits for his suite. He especially liked the painting of a waterhole were many magical animals were drinking from . This would allow Isla to enter a portrait in any room to announce guests without Harry having to us a Hogwarts portrait. He didn't trust anything which might be used to spy on him. Harry was, however, looking forward to learning more about his 'other' family from Isla.
Of course when he thought about it, Harry knew more about his Black heritage than his Potter one! Perhaps this would change when he finally got a chance to see what the goblins had saved from the Potter vaults. He would hope there would be some portraits among the artifacts.
Thinking about how he needed to learn more about House Potter kept Harry's mind occupied till he stood before the door to Dumbledore's office. He smiled; he could hear Snape angrily complaining about how Harry was supposedly being giving preferential treatment. Obviously Snape's ears didn't work while he was sneering since Harry's words at the feast hadn't penetrated. Harry knocked twice before coming in unasked. He figured Lucius seemed to make a big splash by being a Lord who didn't wait on others so Harry figured he probably should do the same. Harry was surprised to see Professor Sprout and Flitwick besides Snape and McGonagall.
"I am terribly sorry Headmaster, I didn't mean to interrupt a staff meeting but your message did say to meet you here at this time." Harry said with fake sincerity.
It was obvious by the angry looks on Flitwick and Sprout's faces they hadn't been warned of Harry's actions tonight. He wondered if the rest of the staff was angry about it as well. He wasn't sure why Dumbledore and McGonagall would keep the return of the Potter Trust students a secret but both Sprout and Flitwick looked quite agitated.
Dumbledore raised his hand to cut off any further words from Snape, "Come in my boy and please take a seat. I'm sorry you thought this was a private meeting but all Heads need to be here tonight."
That's one, Harry thought wryly as he sat in one of the unoccupied chairs.
Before Snape could go off on another tirade (which he obviously had ready) Flitwick spoke up, "Yes we are all here tonight but what I want to know is why we found our wayward students were returning when they walked through the door of the Great Hall! Never mind how much extra work this generates that could easily been prepared for but I for one would have like to have readied my Ravens for a celebration." Flitwick glanced over to Sprout, "I'm sure the Badgers feel the same way."
Sprout leaned forward, "They do and I for one am wondering why all the secrecy? Don't you always say how Hogwarts is the safest place in all Britain, Albus? Any threats to the students would come from outside the school. Keeping the news out of the Daily Prophet I can understand but why keep it from us? What possible reason could you have to keep us all in the dark?"
"Maybe the Headmaster didn't want to give some…slithery students the chance to plan mischief before I arrived," Harry put in. The venomous glance he got from both Snape and McGonagall made him want to grin. He could see McGonagall was still angry with him which proved Harry's earlier feeling about the change in the meeting place.
Again before Snape could explode, Harry pressed on, "Professors if I could be so bold but I was called up here for a reason and I would like to have that business attended to as I have many things on my plate right now. I'm sure you all have much to do in regards to the returning students as well."
Snape finally could take no more, "You arrogant little cock-a-whop! You think you can just walk right in here like you own the place and start dictating terms?"
"Why yes Professor, yes I do," Harry replied genially. "Considering how things seem to run in magical Britain, I figure my wealth and votes in the Wizengamot guarantee me all that and more. I mean if Lucius Malfoy can try to kill me and five other students in the very Ministry itself and be out of Azkaban in less than four months, my interrupting a meeting when I was invited is within the scope of reason."
"Severus, please, Harry is here at my request. Considering his rank and recent contributions to the school I implore you to restrain yourself." Dumbledore interceded.
"Yes, my rank indeed, Headmaster; I would ask if you would refer to me by Lord Black or if you must be informal than please call me Harold. Harry is a name I wish to reserve to those I consider close friends." Harry said with his earlier forced sincerity.
Dumbledore blinked in surprise behind his half-moon glasses and even Fawkes trilled a surprised note. McGonagall, however, severe frown only deepened. "Mr. Potter, regardless of your change in status you will show the Headmaster the respect he deserves. I will not have one of my house be so rude and disrespectful!"
Harry turned to the head of Gryffindor, "Professor McGonagall, I would say 'the respect he deserves' is a relative concept. To you perhaps he is worthy but considering what I have learned recently I do not feel inclined to be that polite. However, as a Lord I will abide by our culture's customs. That is to say I will abide about what I've been taught which sadly is very, very little. Plus, on the subject of customs, Professor McGonagall, I would ask that you also refer to me as either Lord or Mister Black."
Harry's eyes bored into the cool blue eyes of the elder witch. Before McGonagall could reply he went on with winter in his voice, "I think we all know there is not a lot left for me to claim of my Potter heritage."
The diminutive Flitwick cleared his throat to break the uncomfortable silence that followed Harry's comment. "Headmaster, if there is business to be had let us be about it. As Lord Black pointed out, he is not the only one who has much on his plate. I, for one, would like to welcome back the students Lord Black was so generous in returning to us."
"Yes, however this generosity already puts Hogwarts into a difficult position. I floo-called the Board of Governors and they have already refused to pay for the tutors you promised during the feast, Mr. Pot…Black," McGonagall said with a hint of irritation. "I cannot fathom why you did not have Ms. Black bring this up to me when she visited earlier so I could work the problem. Now we are left with a situation of students who are a month behind in their studies with little in the resources to catch them up."
"Really, Professor?" Harry asked with a hint of mockery in his voice. "I would have thought if asked by their House Heads there would be plenty of volunteers to help their housemates catch up. This would allow the staff to concentrate on the Seventh Years. Plus, why limit it to one's own House? Hasn't the Sorting Hat been warning us to unite as a School? I am thinking an inter-house study group would go far towards that."
"Indeed it would," the Sorting Hat said from the shelf, surprising everyone in the room.
Harry leaned back in his chair, turned towards McGonagall and smiled, "The reason I didn't have Ms. Black tell you about the tutors earlier, Deputy Headmistress, was precisely because I wanted to see what the Board of Governors would do. I had hoped they would have jumped at the chance to help students meet the educational standards they have stipulated. Is not the purpose of the Board to ensure that Hogwarts educates students to standard?"
Harry looked around but no one answered. With a small shrug he went on, " I had Narcissa, who by the way is now my personal aide, do some checking and there is plenty in the discretionary budget to cover the cost of the tutors. One can only guess why the Board doesn't feel the need to spend the money. I, for one, guess that perhaps the blood status of the students in question is the only limiting factor."
Harry stood and walked over to a Wizarding picture of the Tri-Wizard champions taken prior to the First Task. He tapped his finger on the picture. "I was rather amazed to find that even with Hogwarts hosting the first Tri-Wizard Tournament in over a century that none of the monies to pay for it came from the budget overseen by the Board. Further digging found not a galleon came from any source in the Ministry."
Harry turned and glared at the Headmaster, "I must applaud you Headmaster on your financial skills considering you were able to hold the entire tournament without tapping into any known source of income. I would go so far to say you might give the goblins a run for their galleons."
Snape spoke up with his characteristic sneer, "Headmaster, I ask what all of this has to do with us? I have far better things to do than listen to Mr. Black cast aspersions against you or the Board."
Before Dumbledore could speak, Harry quickly closed the distance between him and Snape. "Yes I'm sure you are busy collecting information and making reports back to your Master."
Harry suddenly reached out and grabbed Snape's left arm, jabbing his right index finger into the startled man's forearm and hissed out a command in Parseltongue. Both Snape and Dumbledore went white as the rest of the professors looked on in confusion.
Harry's green eyes bored into Snape's. "Just so you know where I'm coming from, Professor, I know exactly what it took to get your little bit of body art." Harry leaned forward and whispered into Snape's ear, "Do you still think fondly of the screams Sarah Underhill made as you raped her before your Dark Lord? Do you remember all of her blood on your hands after you killed her? Do you wank off to the memory, you sick bastard?"
Snape leapt to his feet with a curse, knocking his chair down in the process. His wand was out and centered on Harry's chest although it was shaking so hard a spell would have been hard pressed to actually hit Harry.
As he had done at the start of term, Flitwick's wand was out and with a flourish Snape's wand was in his hand. "Severus…Lord Black…what is the meaning of this? Can you two be in the same room without trying to kill each other?" the Charms professor cried out.
Harry turned to Dumbledore who as still very pale and staring at him like he was a Muggle who had seen a ghost. "Professor Flitwick makes a good point; I can hardly duel Professor Snape without my wand. I certainly won't do very well in class Monday morning without mine. I think it is high time you give it back…and my owl."
Harry had managed to convince the aurors after the Death Eater ambush that he had been using Narcissa's wand since he didn't want it know he had a Peverell wand. Considering Narcissa had been married to a Death Eater, the aurors accepted the idea Harry would feel more comfortable with her not being armed.
In the few seconds that followed no one spoke. Harry merely shrugged, "Okay since this meeting has gone pear shaped let me bring my portion of it to a close. One, I want my wand back and my owl released. For that matter I want you to stop screening my mail or the next letter you receive will be from my solicitor. Two, I have no intention of dueling Professor Snape; I was just making sure he and I had a certain understanding. Three, the tutors will be paid hired through my company, the Isis Foundation. In fact, while they are indeed students, I wanted to come here tonight to let you know all that all of those students I brought in tonight are my hired employees."
The silence continued before finally McGonagall spoke up, "Your hired employees? I dinnae understand."
Harry smiled to himself. McGonagall's Scot accent only came out when she was confused or really angry. "It is very simple Deputy Headmistress, they are my employees. Currently they are being paid to continue their education so they can be of better use to my Foundation. If you read the Hogwarts charter, companies are allowed to do this as long as they pay for it. While I felt it more traditional to keep them in their previous Houses, my employees can if I wish be moved to their own house. According to Narcissa, there was Jiggers House for quite some time during the various wars with France due to the need for more NEWT level potioneers."
Surprisingly Dumbledore nodded at this and said reminiscently, "Yes indeed. I was a Fifth year when the House was dissolved. They never did like having a slug for their mascot I'm afraid."
Harry smirked, "I'm thinking a Grim would be an appropriate symbol for that house in honor of Sirius' memory. However I feel pulling them out of their current Houses would further alienate them from the Wizarding culture we are here to learn. I would ask, however, since they are my employees if there are discipline problems to be addressed that I be informed. I'd rather have a chance to work the problem before a potential expulsion happens."
Harry turned to Professor McGonagall, "Now normally I would be expected to also pay for this privilege. However considering the current level of finances available to the Board I will take the matter up before the Wizengamot if they try to force the issue. I checked and all the resources needed to feed, teach and house my employees were already budgeted prior to the end of last term so it is obvious they won't be a burden."
Harry returned his gaze to Professor Snape, "I will, however, not take kindly to any harassment of my employees relative to their blood status. I have already briefed my employees to come to me with any complaints. I will take such complaints up with the Head of the House of the offender. However, if the situation is not resolve to my satisfaction, I shall take matters into my own hand." Harry turned to the Headmaster, "I would hope that my performance in London both in June and last week shows that I do mean business."
Harry looked at his watch and exclaimed with obvious fake surprise, "My word, look at the time! I'm sure you all have much to talk about. So Headmaster…my wand?" Harry asked with his hand outstretched.
Silenced reigned again as Harry continued to gaze at the Headmaster. Dumbledore gave a quick glance to McGonagall before closing his eyes for a moment before sighing, "My boy, you put me in a delicate position."
That's two! "How so Headmaster? You have my wand. It is my property taken from me as a minor. As an adult I would hope I wouldn't have to bring legal actions to have it returned. Besides I don't believe Professor Flitwick would accept my excuse come Monday morning that I cannot do my in-class work because I didn't have a wand."
Dumbledore sighed again and reached into a drawer in his desk and pulled out Harry's holly and phoenix feather core wand. Harry felt a bit of a thrill of magic as he took it from the old wizard. Of course the beauty of it was he'd only use this wand for class and his other wand for other purposes so a Priori Incantatio spell would be useless.
Dumbledore seemed to be trying to regain his composure and some semblance of control of the meeting. "I'm sure the Board will give you no trouble, my boy. I for one am very grateful you have brought our wayward students back to school. I do hope, however, you shall restrain yourself from any theatrics. After the incident on the train we've had some problems between Slytherin and Gryffindor Houses."
Three! Harry bowed his head, "Headmaster regardless of what your Defense teacher might think, I have never sought the limelight and wish nothing more than to be left alone. If trouble does not seek me out, then there will be no trouble at all."
Harry turned to Professor Flitwick, "I would ask, however, that perhaps later in the term Professor Flitwick could help with dueling customs for the Defense Association. I'd rather have the club learn from someone who has been formally taught these rules than by me who only has read about them."
Dumbledore nodded, "I'm sure we can see how it can be worked into the schedule my boy."
Harry bowed, "Then I believe I shall take my leave." Harry walked to the door, "Oh and Headmaster?"
Dumbledore looked at him suspiciously, "Yes?"
Harry's face broke out into his usual lop-sided grin, "I am not your boy and if Narcissa had any money to her name she'd owe me 100 galleons given how you managed to call me that four times instead of the three she bet on. Good Night!"
All over Britain the marked soldiers of Voldemort felt their Marks burn in summons. They quickly began to prepare for the jump to wherever their Master had called them from. Before any could actually get into their Death Eater robes and masks, they were surprised to feel another call.
As the Death Eater's jumped to the second coordinates and gathered in their masters sanctuary they all wondered why they had been summoned and why the two summons? None of them were comfortable over the obvious rage in Bellatrix's face as she paced close to Voldemort's throne. Worse was the look of absolute fury on the Dark Lord's face when he entered the room a bit later.
What had happened to make the Dread Lord so angry?
Chapter Thirteen: Harry runs into member of the D.A. and matters are discussed. Then all hell breaks loose as is typical.
A/N: For those thinking Harry is acting a bit to 'on-the-ball' remember he does have access to a lot of Voldemort's memories. Additionally, readers of my fic Paging Dr. Bell will know that Harry is also starting to get subtle, subconscious help from his various family magicks.
Saint Schools: This is a fanon thing I've seen in many fics. Not only does it give magical kids a place to go if they can't afford Hogwarts, it explains where magical kids go to primary school if they are not home schooled. Each school is named for the patron saint of that region.
* St. George's Magical School of England: Located in the Epping Forest bordering London and Essex.
* St. Edmund's Secondary School of Magic: In the Lake District in North-West England.
* St Andrew's Academy of Magic: Located in the Glencoe region of Scotland.
* St. Michael's School of Wizardry: Located near Exeter and covering the South West region of England.
* St David's Secondary School of Magic: Near the Ogof Agen Allwedd cave system in Powy in Wales.
* St. Patrick's Wizard's Academy: Located in the Slieve Bloom hills near Magherbane, Ireland.
Original Characters: Many of the names of the original characters are taken from other fics. Genevieve Walker is from Clell65619's Harry Potter and the Sun Source, Lucinda Urquhart is a Slytherin fifth year prefect in Radaslab's story, Life Sucks Then You Die. Sarah Underhill comes from JBern's The Lies I've Lived. Plus the reason JBern's gives for having Sarah being the one Snape kills to earn his dark mark is probably one of the better explanations why Sirius "pranked" him in a way which would have earned him a messy death at the hands of Remus as related back in Book 3. So I'm going to go with that as part of Snape's back story.
The Isis Foundation: While I do watch Smallville, I had picked the name Isis due to the Goddess' connection to the moon and magic. The Isis Foundation sounded better than the next runner-up name which was the Isis Project.
NEWT Students: As previously explained, I've changed the age of entry to Hogwarts. This also allows adults in the magical world to be 6th Years. To me this doesn't present a problem given how NEWTs are not a requirement. So pretty much once you've got your OWLs, you are free to do whatever.
However I found it odd that the canonical 7th Years were all adults but we didn't get a hint that they get any special privileges. So I came up with the idea they sign a waiver that limits many of their rights. Otherwise you'd expect them to be able to do what they can do in The Marriage Contracts Redux where once school lets out on Friday, 7th Years could go and do anything a regular adult witch/wizard could do.