Survival of the Fittest by Marcielle's Musings
by Marcielle's Musings
Previously in Survival of the Fittest
"Good. I wish to set up a meeting with the boy, preferably here at Gringotts so that I can discuss with him some of the matters regarding his new status and perhaps apologise for attacking him in the past..." Tom replied.
Ragnok leaned back in his high-backed chair and sighed, "Knowing your past together, do you think the boy will even come to the meeting if he knows you will be there?"
Tom ran a hand down his face and sighed, "Possibly he might, just in a show of Gryffindor bravery. However, I think it would be best if the letter was worded as if the meeting was merely about his status as the Heir of the Slytherin line."
"I believe that would be a much wiser course of action," Ragnock nodded. "I will prepare the letter immediately and organise for this room to be empty of whichever day you choose to have this meeting."
"The boy will be going back to Hogwarts soon, so perhaps the meeting could be held three days from now?" Tom mused.
Ragnock nodded, pulled out a piece of parchment and began writing, "was there anything else you wished to discuss, Lord Slytherin?"
Tom rose from his seat, "No, that is all. Inform me as soon as you get a reply from my Heir."
And with that, Tom walked out of the room.
Chapter 19 – Mail, Meetings and Libel Laws
Harry yawned and blearily blinked open his eyes. Glancing around from underneath the covers of his warm comfy bed, he tried to find what had woken him. When nothing immediately jumped out at him Harry groaned and buried his face into his pillow. Maybe if he just rolled over he would be able to fall back asleep. The horizon was just beginning to lighten into a smoggy orange so he probably had like an hour before Baird would come and bang on his bedroom door. But then he heard a strange flapping sound coming from the living room.
With a groan, Harry pulled himself up to sit against the headboard and snapped his fingers, "Tempus,"
A glowing '5:30am' appeared hovering above Harry's hand, "So much for more sleep," Harry sighed. He might as well get up now and find out what the sound was because there was no way he was falling back asleep.
Harry glanced over at Cihuacoatl's tank where she was still fast asleep before running his hand down his face and then scratching his stomach. Clad in nothing but his red tartan sleep pants, Harry opened his bedroom door and plodded out to the living room.
In the middle of the living room, balanced precariously on top of the coffee table, was a huge wooden crate.
"The hell is going on?" said Harry as he plopped himself down on the couch in front of the crate, "Ah, forget it. It's too early for this." Harry grumbled while throwing an arm over his face and burrowing down into the cushions of the couch.
"Well, if you don't want your mail, then I'll be happy to burn it for you," a voice sounded from right above Harry's head.
Harry jolted upright, his arms and legs pin-wheeling as he lost his balance and fell off the couch with a 'thump'.
"Well that was graceful," Baird smirked down at his ward who was now flopped down on the rug like a pancake.
Harry rolled over and glared up at Baird. "Shut up," Harry grumbled as he climbed back onto the couch, "and would you please stop doing that to me?"
Baird continued to smirk, "And why would I do that when your reactions to being startled are so entertaining?"
"I'm so glad you find enjoyment in my pain and suffering," Harry muttered under his breath.
Baird ruffled Harry's hair, making it into even more of a bird's nest than it normally was in the mornings, "You're welcome."
Harry swatted at Baird's hand but the man was already walking over to the kitchen to probably make their breakfast, "Wait? Did you just say that this crate was full of mail? For me?!" Harry asked aghast as he shot a look at the wooden crate on the coffee table. "That's- how?!"
Baird didn't even bother to look at Harry over his shoulder, "I sent Bartholomew to the UK Owl Office as soon as I woke up. The mail sent to either Obscurus Books or myself was a much smaller pile. And also, I was right; Dumbledore had been blocking your mail except for letters from a few select people that he personally approved. This is all of the mail that you've been sent since Dumbledore took over as your magical guardian."
Harry looked back at the crate, "You mean people may have been sending me mail for years and been expecting a reply... Holy crap."
"Yes, well that's why I'm giving you the day off to read all of that mail and to write replies to those you wish to," Baird conceded as he sat down at the kitchen table to eat.
"Thanks," Harry mumbled while shuffling over to the kitchen table to eat his own breakfast.
"Oh and before I forget, I set up a meeting for you and Lord Charles at 10am to discuss your issue with the Prophet."
Harry nodded and dug into his breakfast.
By the time ten rolled around, Harry was well and truly sick of reading letters. Thankfully, a wonderful person at the Owl Office had separated the letters by the year in which they were sent.
The most letters addressed to him had actually been sent just after the fateful Halloween when Voldemort had murdered his parents and he had been proclaimed The-Boy-Who-Lived. It must not have occurred to the people sending the letters that he had only been a year old when these letters would have been sent and therefore unable to read the letters let alone write a reply. But now, he had spent the past few hours reading thank you letters for vanquishing 'He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named' and mixed in amongst the thank you letters had been presents, birthday invitations, betrothal offers and even letters of inheritance.
It turns out that quite a few people who had been the last of their line had bequeathed him their estates upon their death as yet another 'thank you' to 'The-Boy-Who-Lived' for giving them the opportunity to see peace before their deaths. Along with the bequests were a summary of the contents of each estate, which he would have to take to Gringotts in order to formally claim them.
Most of the letters of inheritance had contained only galleons. However, one had included a townhouse just outside London and another, a small cottage in the Scottish Highlands. The one with the cottage also included all of the effects within the house, while the items within the townhouse had been sold off.
Various other wizarding schools around the globe had sent him letters, prior his attendance to Hogwarts, offering him a place in their schools. There had been invitations from the Salem Institute, Avalon Academy, Beauxbatons Academy, Durmstrang Institute, New Zealand Wizarding College, and even the Egyptian Academy of Magick. Harry had never even known these schools existed.
Were they like Hogwarts? Were they better? Worse? Did they teach the same things that Hogwarts did? Every year at Hogwarts something happened. Every year someone tried to kill him. Maybe attending one of these other schools would be a good idea. After all Hogwarts wasn't exactly living up to its reputation as the safest place on earth. Even though he's decided not to interfere with the war... all of his friends are at Hogwarts. So he can't just leave... and at least now he has Baird to teach him and help him.
As he sifted through letter after letter, Harry began to think that perhaps this might be the reason why people in the wizarding world were so quick to think the worst of him, even though they've never met him; all of these people had sent him letters... and had never received a reply.
They must think him a snobbish, standoffish, spoiled little brat, like Professor Snape does; too good to send a simple reply.
Despite not replying to the letters, people had also sent him a surprising amount of presents over the years. Thus far, there was a small pile of wizarding children's toys in front of him that had been sent to him either as birthday presents or as thank you gifts. One wizard had even sent him a children's broom that hovered only a foot above the ground and could go as fast as a children's bicycle. Another witch had sent him a book of wizarding children's tales and a stuffed lion. Within the book of tales from the witch had been a letter inscribed on the first page:
Happy Second Birthday Harry!
Today you will be turning two! I hope that as your relatives read this to you, you are enjoying playing with the animated stuffed lion and perhaps later your relatives will read these tales to you.
When you are older you will wonder why a stranger has been sending you presents. Well it's because I was in your parent's year at Hogwarts. Your mother, Lily, was even my dorm-mate! So I know that even though she is gone and that you are happy and safe with your relatives in the Muggle world, she would have wanted you to have these.
When your mother first came to Hogwarts we would always find her sitting on her bed in the evenings reading old children's stories. When asked why she was reading children's books instead of theory textbooks as she was known to do during the day, she replied that 'True magic is within these books'.
It wasn't until years later, when trying to decide what to get you for your birthday that I understood what little eleven year old Lily had meant. These children's tales teach morals and magic to young wizards and witches – which most of our society has forgotten. Enclosed within these old books are hints at Fey Magick and Old Magick as well as guiding morals to make us all great witches and wizards.
I hope that as you read these books and learn this Little Magick, you experience the same wonder that your mother felt when reading them.
By the time Harry had finished reading the inscription his eyes were wet. People always told him how he looked just like his Father but the only thing from his mother was her eyes. No one had really told him much about his mother. I mean, Ollivander had told him that his mother's wand had been particularly good for charm work and Remus had told him that his Mum had the habit of seeing the best in others, even though they might not see it themselves. But most people told him about his father and his adventures at Hogwarts.
He practically knew nothing about his mother, even though he had lived with her sister for fourteen years. The only memory he had of her was of just before her death. But just months ago, in that cursed graveyard, when the Priori Incantatem had happened, his mother's spirit had come out of Voldemort's wand and he had been able to speak to her – if only for a moment.
So to have this – a copy of a book that his mother had cherished as a child, from one of her year-mates was a huge thing.
Quickly, Harry summoned a piece of parchment and a self-inking quill from his room and began to write a letter to Annette Brown.
Dear Ms. Brown,
You may not remember me, but for my second birthday you sent me a copy of a book of tales that my mother had loved reading as a child and an animated stuffed lion. I know it is quite late, but I would like to thank you for this amazing gift. The reason I am only now sending this letter is that I just received your gift.
You see, up until recently Albus Dumbledore was my magical guardian and had been blocking any mail intended to come to me. Now that my Guardianship has been removed from my relatives and Dumbledore, I have finally been able to access all that has been kept from me.
So, even though I am much older than intended, I still cherish the gifts you have sent because they are a link to my mother.
With all my thanks,
Harry James Potter
"Hedwig?" Harry called, out of habit, before he remembered that Hedwig was with Hermione somewhere. With a sigh Harry called out for Baird's temperamental owl, "Bartholomew?"
With a loud hoot, Bartholomew flew out of Baird's room and landed on the back of one of the kitchen chairs.
"Um, do you think you could take this to Annette Brown and then bring Hedwig, my owl, back here?"
Bartholomew continued to stare at Harry balefully until Harry began to start thinking that the owl was mocking him. Then, without any warning, Bartholomew swooped off the back of the chair, swiped the letter from Harry's hand and flew out the open window above the kitchen sink.
Harry stared, open-mouthed after the owl before his attention was drawn to the fireplace which had flared to life with emerald green flames. Out of the flames stepped Lord Charles who stopped still at the piles of letters and gifts scattered across the living room and then stared at Harry, "Did something explode?"
"Something like that," Harry muttered as he walked forward to clasp Lord Charles' hand in greeting. "This," Harry gestured to the piles of letters and gifts, "is all of the mail that has been kept from me since my parents died."
Lord Charles eyebrows rose, "Really?... However, I assume that this," Lord Charles gestured to the piles of mail, "is not why I'm here."
"Yeah, no, it's not," Harry rubbed the back of his neck, "You know how the Daily Prophet has been writing about me... Well I wanted to know if there was anything I could do... to you know, stop it?"
Lord Charles pulled out his wand and gestured to the piles of letters, "Do you mind if I move these?"
"Uh, yeah. It's just- they're sort of sorted into piles; unread, read with gifts, read without gifts, and hate mail." Harry indicated each of the piles as he listed them.
"Colour coding might be the best option then," Lord Charles nodded and flicked his wand at the piles, changing their colour and then levitating them into piles next to Harry's bedroom door.
Harry summoned the copy of the Daily Prophet that he had been saving from his bedroom and sat down on one of the couches, leaving the other free for Lord Charles to sit down.
"Here," Harry passed across the old copy of the Prophet, "This is just one example of many. I just-"
Lord Charles didn't even stop to read the article, he didn't need to "You want to stop the Prophet's slander of your name. Quite understandable, really. Now, as I anticipated that this would come up sooner or later, either by your hand or Baird's, I have already set in motion a variety of options."
Harry nodded, "Okay."
Lord Charles pulled a billfold from his inner robe pocket and enlarged it with a flick of his wand. The billfold grew to the size of a standard piece of parchment and when opened contained three manila folders; one blue, red and yellow "Good, well option one is to sue the Daily Prophet for libel," Lord Charles gestured to the blue folder. "This would be a long and lengthy process, however it would demonstrate that you are willing to stand up for yourself and your family names in the face of the public. It would also be a case that could effortlessly be won, as it is quite easy to prove that the Daily Prophet has no proof for majority of their claims."
Harry nodded following along easily, "And the other options?"
Lord Charles lifted up the red folder, "Option two is more of a long term project than an immediate solution. With your family's wealth at your disposal, the option to buy up shares within the Daily Prophet either under your name or shell corporation becomes a viable long term option. You see, if we take the option to sue the Daily Prophet for libel and defamation of character, there is always the possibility that they will do it again, and again and each time we would have to counter them until they are pressed with so many law suits that it becomes unviable for them to continue to slander your name. As I said earlier, if the Prophet chooses to continue even after being sued for defamation then it may become a lengthy process. Which is why, option two, though it may not provide an immediate solution, will eventually provide you with controlling shares in the most influential paper within the Magical United Kingdom. This would allow you to change the manner in which the Wizarding press is conducted, because let's be honest – at the moment the Prophet is more of a sensationalist rag than a paper."
Harry was grinning at the thought of slowly taking over the Daily Prophet, "I like that option a lot actually. I mean Rita Skeeter brings shame to the journalism profession but, like you said, this option doesn't really solve my problem..."
Lord Charles held up the third folder, "This third option could be combined with the first option and, if we succeed will be a great asset to you in the future. However, it would require more work than any of the other options but also more reward. Our final option is to start up a rival newspaper to the Daily Prophet and invite journalists worldwide to submit articles from their countries. As I said, this could be combined with the first option to stop the Daily Prophet from slandering your name while using the funding to start up the rival company."
Harry leaned forward and clasped his hands under his chin, "I- every single one of these options is great but I don't know the first thing about running a company or journalism for that matter. So how-"
"You could always hire someone to manage the company in your name," Lord Charles interjected. "As you are still in school, I expected that to be the case. Since, with either option two or three, you would be the owner of the business you would have the final say in hiring, firing, and the content covered in the articles."
Harry was a little bit dumbstruck. He had no idea- He hadn't even thought that any of this had been an option and both options two and three would give him an edge in the Wizarding business world but "These all sound amazing but I don't really want to manage a company... Not at my age – I don't even think I can. I don't know the first thing about business... I just want to be a normal Hogwarts student without having to worry about Dark Lords or the sheep of Wizarding Society deciding that I'm public enemy number one."
Lord Charles nodded slowly, "I can understand your hesitance. I mean you are only fifteen. However, this is a great opportunity to not only stop the slander against innocent people such as yourself but also to change how journalism within the English Wizarding World is conducted. You would also not be alone in your endeavour. You would have continual legal and business advice from a member of the legal team whenever you meet with the manager that you hire. I'm sure Alexander would appreciate the opportunity to work with you while I cover the defamation cases against the Daily Prophet."
Harry dropped his head into his hands, "Thank you, I mean all of these options are great but... I don't want to run a newspaper. I'm just fifteen! Maybe when I'm older but... I'm just starting to learn about the Wizarding World – and not just the stuff they force down our throats at Hogwarts. I'm learning the actual history of magic and how wizards started using it. I'm learning about various types of magic, cultures and religions and it's great. I'm apprenticed to Baird and I'm learning all about my magical gifts... I'm sorry but even if I did want to own a newspaper, it would not be for a very long time."
Lord Charles studied Harry's face for a moment before sighing and proceeding to put away the red and yellow folders, "I'm sorry if it seemed like I was pressuring you, Harry. I was not intending to do anything of the sort. It's just that sometimes, I find it hard to remember that you are in fact still a child and are entitled to a childhood – of which you have been robbed of until recently. It's the way you act – if I may say so. You act like a confident, powerful young man ready to seize the world and all of its opportunities and thus I have begun to see you as such."
Lord Charles picked up the blue folder and rose from his seat, "Like Baird, I have begun to strive to ensure you achieve all you set out to do."
Harry stared rather dumb-struck at Lord Charles who smiled at him and then moved forward to ruffle his hair, "You're a good kid, Harry, and you deserve to be free to make your own choices. I will assume then that we will be going ahead with option 1: sue the Daily Prophet for libel and defamation of the Potter name?"
Harry nodded, "Um yeah, that would be good- I mean yes, thank you. When do you think it will be done by?"
Lord Charles smirked at Harry's change in manner, "At a guess, I would say by mid October the proceedings will be in place. However, I'll be sending you a letter every week with our progress on the case. Will that be all?"
"Yes, and thank you once again for your help, Lord Charles," Harry bowed to Lord Charles who returned with a similar bow.
"Happy to help, Harry," said Lord Charles before he strode towards the fireplace, grabbed a handful of floo-powder and disappeared in a flash of emerald flames.
By the time Baird finally came up from locking up the shop, Harry was only half-way through sorting through the crate of letters. And so, when Baird walked up the stairs to their apartment it was to find his young apprentice surrounded by colour-coded stacks of letters and presents. "Having fun?"
Harry wearily looked up at Baird, and then looked out the window where dusk was now falling, "Oh... I didn't know that it was already... Have I really just spent a whole day opening mail?"
Baird gave the room another glance, "By the looks of it. Did you at least remember to have lunch?"
Harry climbed out of his cocoon of letters and flopped face-first on the couch, "Can' 'emember," came Harry's muffled reply.
Baird rolled his eyes, "It astounds me how you can go from acting like a mature young adult one minute to a typical teenager the next."
Harry lifted his head from the couch cushion and shot Baird a baleful look, "And it astounds me just how often you forget that I am a teenager. And I guess you could say I am extremely good at acting under pressure."
"That's an understatement," Baird scoffed as he moved about the kitchen, "Now do you plan on introducing the lovely Snowy Owl that's staring at you from her perch on my couch or am I to assume you have no idea what she's doing here?"
Harry rolled over and stared at the top of the couch, a grin spreading across his face, "Hedwig!"
That seemed to be a signal to Hedwig, for as soon as he called out her name she hopped down from the back of the couch and landed on Harry's stomach.
"Oof, watch were you land, girl," Harry smiled at his faithful companion, "It's good to see you girl."
Hedwig walked up his chest and nipped his chin with her beak.
Harry laughed, "I'll take that as an 'I missed you too'."
Baird walked over to the two and stroked Hedwig's head, "So I'm assuming that the lovely Miss Hedwig is the one responsible for keeping you out of trouble all these years."
Hedwig preened under the attention and Harry laughed, "Yep, Hedwig's taken good care of me. Haven't you Hed?"
Hedwig's gold eyes fixed on him before she leaned down and nipped his nose – none too gently either.
"Ow, gee thanks Hed. I can really feel the love," Harry muttered while rubbing his now sore nose. "I'm sorry I sent you away but it was for the best," Harry apologised while petting his friend's soft downy feathers.
All the while Baird was chuckling at the pair's antics, "I can see just who rules this roost."
Harry laughed and moved to stand, "Oh, I know my place." Meanwhile, Hedwig quickly flapped her wings to land on Harry's head. Harry glanced up at his feathered friend, "Comfy?"
Hedwig just nestled down further down into Harry's hair.
Baird shot a glance at the pair and laughed, "At least now I know why you used to have a perpetual bird's nest for hair. You'll have to pick up an owl perch when you visit Cassandra this weekend."
Harry carefully walked into the kitchen, transfigured a chair into a temporary owl perch, carefully placed Hedwig upon it, and moved to help Baird with dinner.
Dear Mr. Potter,
Heir to the Houses of Potter, Slytherin and Gryffindor,
Your presence is requested at Gringotts Wizarding Bank on the 23rd of August at 10am in order to discuss your new status as Heir to the House of Slytherin and the obligations of this position.
Slytherin Account Manager
Gringotts Wizarding Bank
Harry re-folded the letter and glanced between at the coffee-table and then back at the envelope the letter had come in, "Hey Baird?"
Baird looked up from the book he was reading on the other lounge, "Yes...?"
Harry lifted up the letter, "What's tomorrow's date?"
Baird returned to his book, "The 23rd I believe... Now why do you ask?"
"It's nothing - I just have a meeting tomorrow at Gringotts to talk about the obligations for me as the Slytherin Heir," Harry groaned and buried his face in the couch cushions. His life was just one bloody thing after another. Between working for Baird, training, dealing with his mail and the Prophet he hadn't had a moment to just relax. Now he had a meeting with some goblin called Ragnok Ironclaw about his new status as Heir to the House of Slytherin – as if he didn't have enough on his plate!
"Well be sure not to act like this when you're there," Baird scoffed. "Oh, and make sure you don't look like Evan when you go there."
Harry rolled over and stuck out his tongue at his mentor.
"Yes, very mature. I can see you're going to be an excellent Lord one day. Bravo, well done," Baird guffawed.
"So glad you approve," Harry drawled before laughing silently to himself. "Well I'm off to bed before I have to look at one more bloody letter – Night Baird," Harry yawned.
"Goodnight," Baird replied. "And remember, you're working down in the shop tomorrow morning before you meeting."
Harry waved his hand dismissively. He had known Baird wouldn't give him the morning off. Sleepily he shuffled over to the owl perch he had transfigured earlier for Hedwig.
Upon his approach, Hedwig lifted her head from under her wing and cooed.
"Hey girl," Harry sleepily smiled. "Wanna sleep in my room or do you want to go hunting?"
Hedwig vigorously flapped her wings so she could land on Harry's shoulder.
Harry smiled and began walking towards the door to his room, "Looks like you're coming with me then."
A/N: First let me just say thank you to all of my loyal readers who have stuck by this humble story even though I have been sporadic at best with my updating. Second of all I want to thank my sister for pushing me to update this chapter (I wasn't quite happy with it and I felt it should be longer but I wanted Harry's meeting with Tom to be a chapter all on its own). Nonetheless, another chapter down with probably forty or so still to go. I hope you enjoyed reading this new instalment. I know I enjoyed writing it.
I know after all this time you deserve so much more but between work, uni and my placements in schools (I'm training to be a teacher!) I've barely had any time to watch my favourite TV shows let alone sit down and write. So thank you once again for your patience and if you want to message me either send me a message on my tumblr, AO3 or fanfiction account :D