No Light Without Shadows
See Chapter One for disclaimer and details.
The goblin teller led Harry to a sumptuously accoutered room – highly polished macassar ebony wood floors, the victorian style furniture upholstered in tastefully understated brocades, the marble walls broken up with drapes of silk velvet and Chinese tapestries – and then called for tea and a tray of assorted biscuits before he left to fetch a higher official. Harry was hard pressed not to gape. Draco would have approved, he thought. However, Draco had decided at the last minute that he couldn't leave Mrs Caratauc behind, nor risk being seen with her in public. That wasn't the reason his husband had given, of course; he had pled an overload of schoolwork. Harry knew better, but let it slide.
"Mister Black," a goblin said from behind Harry, announcing his presence.
Harry jumped, startled. Damn. I'm going to have to remember not to leave a known entrance at my back, Harry thought, as he turned to greet the newcomer. If he had chosen to attack . . .
"Greetings," Harry said politely, with a small bow of his head, his eyes never leaving the goblin. "May your treasures become many."
"My name is Gutsmasher," the goblin said, ignoring Harry's greeting. He was a little jaundiced with wizards trying to sway goblins through such greetings, but slightly impressed that the boy had made no mention of gold. Although goblins were good with gold – money, or anything valuable – it was not, for many of them, their life's passion. A treasure is anything that a being holds most important.
Gutsmasher was quite obviously taking in every detail of Harry's appearance. "I am a senior account manager here at Gringotts. Would you mind removing the illusion on your person, please?" he continued. "Our guards inform us that it is quite an advanced charm."
"How in . . . the world . . . could you know?" a rather gobsmacked Harry inquired, ignoring the request for now.
"Our guards are trained and bespelled to be able to see through any deception – any attempts at invisibility or disguise, whether magical or mundane," Gutsmasher replied. "Gringotts reputation for safety and security must be maintained. However, for their failure to inform bank personnel of your presence, they will be . . . reprimanded."
"Why?" There was something rather . . . bloodthirsty about the tone the goblin had used.
"You are of the line of the Dark Ones, are you not?"
"Ah," Harry said, understanding. Then he frowned. "Nothing too severe, I hope. If Dark Elves are as rare as the books at Hogwarts claim they are, I'm sure they couldn't have been expecting to see..." Harry trailed off, floundering for words. He didn't feel he could honestly claim to be a dark elf, since he hadn't the slightest idea what percentage of his heritage they entailed. At the same time, he did have the physical characteristics . . . On the third hand...
Alright: too many hands. Harry shook himself from his temporary loss of concentration.
"You are, then?" Gutsmasher made no indication as to whether or not Harry's request for leniency would be taken into account. It would be passed on to his superiors, however.
"Only partially," Harry informed the goblin. "Are there . . . other Dark Elves?" he asked. Frustrated, Harry decided it was easier to talk as though he was a full dark elf, rather than stumble around with equivocations.
Gutsmasher eyed Harry measuringly. "If so, they have not made themselves known for at least two centuries," he finally replied. "So the question becomes how you are one of them, when we have seen no sign of it before now."
"And again I request that you remove the illusion on your person, Mister Potter," Gutsmasher insisted.
Harry considered how to answer the goblin's question while he removed the illusion. He had been into Gringotts less than a handful of times before this past summer, but he could understand the goblin's misgivings. He was loathe to divulge the information, but from the reactions of the goblin guards it might give him more sway with the goblin nation if he did.
"May I have your oath not to divulge the information to any but your superiors?" Harry finally asked.
The goblin sneered. "One of your wizard oaths?"
Harry mentally kicked himself; it was what he had been thinking, but he should have known that such an oath would mean little to another species. Thinking quickly, he said, "No. One that would mean something to you and yours."
"You would trust such an oath?" Gutsmasher inquired, still sneering.
Harry looked at the goblin, his head tilted as he regarded the small-statured being.
"As a nation of warriors, I would assume that you held your honour in high esteem," Harry said, hoping he was right.
"We are bankers in these modern times," Gutsmasher replied obliquely.
"And yet few are brave enough to deliberately offend a goblin," Harry retorted delicately. He almost felt as though he was walking on eggshells, or walking through an unfamiliar, unlit room at midnight. "Even if open revenge may be only a very rare option, I misdoubt me that any who do offend go unpunished." He was going on nothing but instinct, but it sounded reasonable to him.
Gutsmasher gave a slight nod in acknowledgement. There were a few wizard-kind who, if not immune to retribution, could not be 'reprimanded' as honour demanded, but even those occasionally found themselves with political or financial difficulties, as the opportunity arose: no matter how long it took. He studied the young man before him a few more moments, then gave a decisive nod. Crossing his arms across his chest and bowing slightly, his eyes riveted on Harry's, he said, "Upon my weapons, my gold, and my honour, I swear that I shall keep the confidences of Harry James Potter, provided doing so endangers not the honour, wealth, or lives of my clan."
Harry hadn't expected the caveats, but had to acknowledge that they were wise ones. At the same time . . . "Was that really necessary?" he inquired. At Gutsmasher's blank look, Harry elucidated: "The 'provided' stuff. What sort of circumstances would give you cause to violate my confidence?"
"I can think of none, but it is always wise to make provisions for the unexpected," was the reply.
"Now," Gutsmasher continued, "the circumstances which revealed your ancestry?"
Without preamble, Harry explained the little he knew. "It happened when I removed the blocks on my magic," he said. "It was rather violent. When I awoke, I was like this."
Gutsmasher looked at him, awaiting further explanation. When it was not forthcoming . . . "And you have no idea from whence it came?" he asked.
"I'm afraid not."
The dwarf regarded the boy curiously, then decided to make the offer. "With your permission, we might be able to trace your ancestry back to find whence your legacy originated."
Harry frowned nervously. Not having had more than a very few casual contacts with goblins, he had no idea of what they might be capable. "What does it entail?" he inquired.
Gutsmasher rose to his feet. "If you will follow me, Mister Potter?" he said.
Gutsmasher led Harry to yet another room, one wall of which was completely draped. The goblin drew the drapes aside, revealing a wall which had been carved to show two shallow rectangles stretching from floor to ceiling, with a three inch border. A bit over a metre from the floor, between the two rectangles, was an inset in the shape of a hand.
"By placing your hand in the inset, you would trigger the wall to take a sample of your blood. That will result in your family tree being drawn out on the wall: your father's ancestry on the left side, your mother's on the right."
Harry frowned slightly, then he strode up to the wall. To his surprise, the hand shape rose to a level where it would be more comfortable for him to access it. Harry glanced at Gutsmasher, but the goblin didn't reveal any reaction whatsoever. He placed his hand in the recessed area, and waited. A couple of seconds later, he flinched as the wall took the blood sample, even though he had been expecting it. It did hurt, after all.
"Would you like a seat while you wait, Mister Potter?" Gutsmasher asked.
Harry looked around, and was surprised to find a couple of rather comfortable-looking overstuffed chairs just a couple of metres behind him, a round accent table between them, and a silver tea set on that. It hadn't been there when he'd come in.
"It can take awhile," the goblin explained.
"Thank you," Harry said, making his way to a chair and sitting down.
A few minutes later he noticed that the walls inside the rectangles had darkened considerably, and his parents' names had appeared in glowing letters – at the bottom of the wall. Slowly, lines appeared above those names, and then more names, more lines, and so on, the writing getting smaller as space became a premium the nearer they got to the top of the wall.
A bit over two hours after initiating the process, the wall ran out of room to write more names, although by that time the names were singular – no surnames – just names like 'Aonghasan, son of Oisean', and 'Malamhin, daughter of Beathag' (the 'son' and 'daughter' portion having been translated into modern English). Of course along with the Gaelic ancestors were a couple of Roman and Anglican names, as well as other names here and there from other invaders.
As Harry slowly traced another line up his father's family tree, Gutsmasher's voice broke into Harry's concentration.
"Ah! I believe this is what we've been searching for, Mister Potter."
Looking, he was surprised to see Gutsmasher poring over – not James Potter's family tree as he had been doing, but his mother's.
"But she was muggleborn!" Harry protested.
Gutsmasher raised an eyebrow at the young wizard. "I believe that is not the case, Mister Potter," he calmly related, "as you can see for yourself."
As Harry perused the wall holding his mother's progenitors, he found that while she and Petunia were related, it was four generations back, Harry's grandmother three times removed having married a squib who was from a long line of squibs. It was in that line of squibs that an unusual name made its appearance, nine hundred and sixty-seven years prior.
"T'Keltri?" Harry said questioningly.
"An elf name," Gutsmasher acknowledged.
"Dark elf?" the young man inquired.
Gutsmasher shrugged. "It's impossible to know merely from the name, but given your present appearance..." he said, letting the facts speak for themselves. He made a snapping noise with the fingers of one hand and within a minute three other, junior goblins joined them in the room.
"My staff," he said to Harry, by way of introduction.
"Make copies of this for Mister Potter's file," Gutsmasher said, turning to his staff and gesturing to the wall, "and search our records for any additional information and holdings to which Mister Potter may be entitled."
The three goblins bowed first to Gutsmasher, and then again to Harry, this time the bow being fractionally deeper.
"I assume copies will also find their way into the bank's own records?" Harry said, a rather sly, teasing smirk finding its way onto his face.
Gutsmasher refused to rise to the bait. "To facilitate our services to you," he said. "We pride ourselves on providing the best service to our more affluent clients."
"And your less affluent clients?" Harry asked, verbally poking at the goblin, who again refused to acknowledge the effort.
"We strive to always be efficient and accurate, Mister Potter," he replied. What was not said was that extra services were only offered to those who could pay for them, and weren't offensive in their manner.
Harry remembered his first year at Hogwarts, and decided to ask: "I know that nothing was stolen at the time, but a few years ago someone broke into one of your vaults, here."
Gutsmasher's face reflected a fierce anger before he controlled it and answered the question implicit in Harry's statement. "Betrayal," he said with a sneer he couldn't quite repress, although Harry rather thought the anger reflected by the goblin's expressions weren't aimed at him. "Those responsible are no longer wasting the air we breathe."
Harry's short, swift intake of breath was his only visible reaction to that statement. These beings played for keeps! On the other hand...
"An apt warning against someone else attempting the same," Harry said approvingly. He was a bit aghast, but he could also almost understand their motives. After all, he had done almost the same in regard to Kreatcher.
Harry went back to perusing the wall. A few minutes later one of Gutsmasher's assistants came in carrying a leather folder, of which Gutsmasher relieved him.
"Here is a personal copy of your family tree, Mister Potter," Gutsmasher said, holding the folder out to Harry. "When we've completed our research would you like us to send it to you, or would you prefer to come in?"
Harry was stumped. "I've many things going on in my life at present," Harry said. "Could you send me an owl when you have the information? It would be better for me to make that decision at the time."
Gutsmasher gave Harry a shallow bow. "As you wish, Mister Potter, " he said.
Harry watched as the usual flock of owls (and the occasional other mail bird) delivered the daily mail at breakfast.
"It's rather odd, isn't it?" he remarked to Draco.
"What's that, then?"
"The wizarding world thinks of me as a hero or their whipping boy at any given time, and yet I rarely receive any mail," Harry replied. "One would think I'd get far more howlers than I do, anyway. And I never got any mail before my Hogwarts letter."
Draco's chewing slowed considerably as he considered this. He'd never thought much about Harry's life or circumstances, even after their lives had become inextricably entwined. "You're right," he said slowly. "You should have been receiving offers to attend both social and political affairs, proposals of alliance and marriage . . . Not to mention updates from your Gringotts account manager, estate letters and—"
"Alright!" Harry broke in with a grin. "I get it!"
Draco smirked at him. "So what are you going to do about it?" he asked.
"I suppose I shall have to retain a solicitor to look into all of it for me."
"Which could take years," the blond dryly replied.
"What would you suggest then?" Harry inquired.
"Since some of the correspondence affected came from Gringotts, why not put them on the case?" Draco shrugged self-deprecatingly (or tried to, at least), and continued. "Solve one mystery, solve them all, don't you think?"
Harry stared at his co-husband, then nonchalantly turned back to his breakfast. "I truly wasted the five years I spent in Gryffindor," he calmly said a minute or two later. "Just threw them away. And here I could have been learning to truly think!" He shook his head sadly at the folly of his youth, then took a sip of his coffee before casting a tempus. It was almost time for Charms.
"It may have helped, but somehow I doubt it," Draco replied with a smirk.
Harry smacked the back of Draco's head, before grabbing him and giving him a kiss.
"Thank you," he said, when Draco reluctantly broke off the kiss. "Although not for the insult," he added with a smirk.
Harry flopped down on an overstuffed chair, whilst Draco gracefully settled himself on the sofa.
"So what do you think?" Harry asked. They had just come from another Hogwarts Board of Governors meeting where the most important topic had been possible candidates for headmaster of the school, should Dumbledore be unable to fulfil his duties – for whatever reason.
"I don't think any of them are quite right for the position," Draco opined.
"Mm," Harry said noncommitally.
"I favoured Flitwick, actually," Harry admitted. "Who knew he was so old? I can understand him turning it down."
"She would be a good choice. She has a lot of experience. But as independant as she is in all other areas, I'm not sure she could disregard any 'suggestions' Dumbledore might give her."
"Then it's a good thing you brought that up," Draco said, and then began reciting the little speech Harry had given on the subject, capturing Harry's tone almost perfectly. "'I believe Professor McGonagall is very competent, but she has been under Dumbledore's influence for so long that I believe-'"
He was interrupted by the pillow that Harry had conjured and thrown at him. Draco looked shocked for a second as Harry stuck his tongue out him, and then both boys broke down laughing.
"But if a good candidate can't be found," Draco continued once they'd sobered a bit, "we might well end up with a Ministry-appointed lackey."
"It's too bad Remus is a werewolf. The governors would never approve him."
"He hasn't enough experience, anyway." Draco wanted desperately to sneer at the very suggestion of Lupin, but as it was a moot point, he held his tongue.
"Dumbledore isn't the only one wanting replacing," Harry said, going off on a tangent. "Binns is long overdue. Someone is needed there who can, if you'll pardon the expression, bring some life to the subject."
Draco snorted: delicately, of course.
"Professor Snape is brilliant!" Draco protested.
"Perhaps for Slytherins, although I don't know how, but he makes it damned difficult for everyone else in the school. He gives absolutely no grounding in the subject. Sink or swim, no instruction given, and the textbook doesn't go into enough detail."
Draco looked a little guilty, but didn't say anything. Harry noticed, anyway.
"Draco?" he inquired.
"There is an instruction manual for brewing and preparation of ingredients, and a compendium of ingredient interactions that first year Slytherins are advised to send for as soon as possible," Draco admitted.
Harry's face froze as he restrained his sudden anger. "I knew Snape was sabotaging the education of most of the kids in the school," he said quietly, his tone strained, "at least in his subject, but I had no idea it was so deliberate and premeditated."
His face hardened. "And you want that to continue?" he asked.
"It has meant less competition for us after school," Draco replied, somewhat shame-faced. He was too used to relaxing around his husband: allowing his honest reactions to show. It was hard, now, to hide them when they were alone. Not that Draco didn't do it; he was just uncomfortable with it – but only with Harry. He was still a Slytherin, after all.
"No wonder NEWT-level potions has been so Slytherin-heavy the past few years," Harry muttered, ignoring Draco's reply. If he didn't, he was afraid he'd snap at his husband, and that would only lead to a verbal brawl. It wouldn't be their first, but there was no good reason to have this one.
"What are the titles?" Harry demanded.
"'So You Want To Brew a Potion' by Ima Starr, and 'What Not To Mix, and How to Fix It If You Do', compiled by Correta King," Draco revealed.
"I've never even heard of those," Harry admitted, his cheeks flushed with anger, though not at his husband. He determined to put a bug in Hermione's ear, and let her spread the word. The fireworks should be splendid, when it got to the ears of the other heads of house. In the meantime, he had a bone to pick with his husband. Why hadn't Draco informed him of these books after they'd got together?
And they'd finally found the main entrance to the Chamber of Secrets – or at least Salazar had – hidden almost in plain sight. As one entered the huge double doors of the castle entrance, one was greeted with a spectacular sight: a huge foyer, the walls covered with Arabescato marble, and floored with Amadeus granite1, at the far end of which rose a double staircase, connected by a balcony. On the left, about ten feet before you got to the stairway, was an arched corridor that led, among other destinations, to the Great Hall. Directly opposite it was another arched corridor that led to classrooms, the headmaster's office, and the stairs to the dungeons. Below the balcony . . . Centred between the twin staircases was what looked like a white marble altar. It could actually, at one time, have been used as one. It was three feet tall, four feet wide, and two feet deep. Behind it, seemingly carved into the wall of the alcove, was the Hogwarts shield, and there was a suit of armour on either end, about three feet away from the altar. On the altar itself were two huge vases filled with flowers, branches of leaves, or anything else of the season which was decorative.
The entrance to the Chamber of Secrets? In the wide alcove behind the armour and altar, hidden by a thin marble facing. People stared at it all the time, not realising it was there.
But until the Chamber was drained, the entrance couldn't be revealed. Dobby was working on that now. After much research, he'd come across a mention of a drain system for the two pools used to teach swimming – a must at the time, when drowning was used as a means of determining whether one was a witch or not. He had yet to find the activating mechanism however, whether magical or mundane.
1. Both from Italy
A/N: Yes, this the last of what's been written, and as per the warning in the first chapter, this story may never be updated. By the way, I'd like to thank everybody who left a review for this story. You're great!
Omake by Catwriter:
Harry followed the goblin to the rear of the bank. They entered a room that had large double door with in laid gold filagree pattern. In the room was a large ornate desk with a large leather wing back office chair with its back to the door. The chair swung around and there sat the largest goblin Harry had ever seen. He had to be four and half to five feet tall. He had the build of triathlete, and looked to be middle aged if that term applies to goblins. The Goblin stood walked around the desk and stood in front of Harry who had walked a dozen paces into the room.
They stared at each other for a second before the large goblin dropped to his knees and placed his forehead to the floor.
"My lord, we thought you all have left us. We are please to see that you have returned."
Harry stood there shocked, 'What was the goblin talking about?' "Um, who are you?" Harry asked confused.
"I am sorry my lord, I am Ragnarok, Chieftan of the Goblin Nation and President of Gringotts." The goblin said without looking up at Harry keeping his face to the floor.
"Sweet Jesus." Harry said, "Up man, stand up that is no place for the leader of a nation."
"Nay my lord I'm not worthy, I doubted we would ever see you again." The goblin wimpered.
"What?" Harry said, then he thought, 'Oh no, please don't let this be what I think this is...'
"Chieftan Ragnarok, um, would your race happen to think dark elves are deities?" Harry asked nervously.
"Of course, my lord, we are the children of the earth, we have long known of the Gods. Some call you Dark Elves but we know you to be our gods. The keepers of the earth, the bringers of the rain, the lords of the fire, and the guardians of the winds and the masters of lightning. All hail the lords of the Earth." Ragnarok said his head never leaving the floor, his voice filled with reverence and awe.
"I really couldn't be normal if you held a wand on me." Harry muttered to himself.