Summary: Upon the death of Lily and James Potter a last prank in the form of their will leads to an unpredictable chain of events.
AU, Manipulative! Dumbledore (curses foiled again)
One Last Prank
On October 31, 1981 the Dark Lord Voldemort came to Godric's Hollow and met his downfall at the Potter home after a failed Killing Curse upon little one-year-old Harry Potter.
November 1st saw witches and wizards throughout Britain celebrating as word quickly spread. Albus Dumbledore quickly moved to seal the Potter will, intending to sequester young Harry with his Muggle relations far away from fame and where he was unlikely to grow much arrogance or too much backbone. Alas for Albus and indeed the Wizengamot – the Potters, Charms Mistress Lily Potter and Prank Master and Transfiguration specialist James Potter, hadn't wanted to take any chance with their wishes being disregarded should the worst happen. Lily knew how much her sister hated magic and its users and would have no son of hers raised in a magic hating environment.
After Albus left the sleeping toddler on the doorstep that evening (a cold November night and a toddler who had been walking for nearly three months) the will's precautionary measures activated sensing the heir was in a forbidden location and transported him to a much annoyed Gnarlfang the Goblin in charge of the Potter accounts.
Meanwhile, a press release was automatically sent to the Daily Prophet. The next morning's headlines thusly read: Wizengamot Wankers Seal Will – Potters Protest from Beyond the Pale. The following article took facts from the information sent and indicated that the heroic deceased made it very clear in their will where their child savior should dwell should the worst happen and it was clearly not where he was placed by Albus too many middle names Dumbledore.
Albus wasn't amused to find that all of his robes were flashing with the words "Interfering Chief Wanker of the Wizengamot". Anyone on the Wizengamot that had voted in support of sealing the Potter will found that their clothing flashed the message "I'm a sheep that doesn't care if my Will is followed." While the members that opposed the sealing of the will were let off with a mere "Where there's the Will there's the Way".
Albus was even less amused when his tracking charms indicated that little Harry Potter was NOT at his relatives where he left him but rather at... Gringotts? He immediately dispatched Hagrid to return little Harry to his Aunt. Sadly for Hagrid no matter how much he touted 'The Great Albus Dumbledore sent me ta take 'im tae his Aunt' it would not sway the Goblins who insisted that the young Potter heir must be placed with a guardian listed in the will not one forbidden by it.
By this time both Albus and Hagrid had kidnapper added to their clothing and Albus' hair was beginning to fall out starting with the beard he loved so much.
When Sirius Black was sent immediately to Azkaban without a trial after the incident with Peter Pettigrew the will, watched by a nervous clerk, glowed an ominous red and Barty Crouch Sr., Minister Bagnold, and Albus Dumbledore, all part of the decision, found themselves with "Thwarters of Justice" in bright flashing letters. Needless to say Dumbledore's robes were beginning to be quite the read.
Howlers were bombarding the ministry even before the second article (spurred by a second release after the incarceration of Black) appeared. "No Justice – Sealed Will Details Could Solve Black Case" read the headline. Indeed the details of the article argued that there was far more to the Black case than was being presented by the ministry and the rights of a pureblood scion were being overridden. A lucky novice journalist by the name of Rita Skeeter (fresh out of Hogwarts) even managed to get the scoop that he was jailed without a trial and him an Auror too. Citizens were horrified.
Ministry Cursebreakers were hard at work trying to crack through the spells embedded in the Will only to find that the only way to remove the spells was to unseal and carry out the reading of the Will.
Albus Dumbledore heavily leaned on his supporters when it came to another vote adding another line to his robes and theirs. "There is a Conspiracy to Thwart Our Will. Down with the Conspirators!"
Meanwhile, those who were more than a little tired of the tricks were rewarded with "Attempting to Uphold the Potter Will is RIGHT if not Easy." It was a nice little slap in the face for Dumbledore who clearly was not following his own advice to do what is right not easy.
Nearly 2 weeks, 92 failed attempts to return Harry to the Dursleys, 756 howlers and 17 newspaper articles later Albus finally consented to the unsealing of the will. By then his hair was completely gone, his lemon drops vanished every time he reached for one, whenever he would sit he would be hit with a flatulence curse, had several more sayings (none flattering) covering both front and back of his robes, and none of his staff would speak to him. He had been hit no less than twelve times and was suffering under a combination insomnia and nightmare curse that rendered any sleep he was able to get nightmare filled and rendered dreamless sleep potion ineffective.
The final words to appear on his robes read, "Just follow the Will and get over it you Stubborn Old Goat".
Even the Dark families (some of whom had been opposed to sealing the Will in the first place due to a reluctance to set such a precedent when it came to an old Pureblood family like that of James Potter no matter who he married) were more than ready to unseal the Will when Dumbledore finally gave in.
Finally, the Will was to be read. As required the major beneficiaries were brought in to hear the Will reading. Barty Crouch, having been demoted after his son was caught with the Lestranges for the torture of the Longbottoms, was replaced with Amelia Bones who was not at all amused to find that Albus Dumbledore had witnessed the Will and knew very well that he was going against it.
She was even less amused as the list of beneficiaries indicated that Sirius Black was not the Potter's Secret Keeper and that Peter Pettigrew was. That Black was caught involved in a confrontation with a very much alive at the time Pettigrew suggested something rotten in that scenario. Black should have been questioned under Veritaserum not arbitrarily thrust into Azkaban. Orders went out immediately to have him brought to a holding cell in the Ministry. The Will, approving, gave Amelia a 'Putting the JUST in Justice' on her robes. She may or may not have appreciated the compliment.
Finally, all who were alive and able to attend, the Longbottoms sadly ensconced in St. Mungo's, and the Will having had to defend its reading required it to be in front of the Wizengamot rather than at Gringotts' where it would have been if they had merely followed it in the first place. Baby Harry was the subject of much scrutiny having remained in the care of Gnarlfang who was looking surly yet protective of the young heir.
The Will, having been unsealed finally, after the attendance of those required and able was confirmed began to play, an image of Lily and James Potter floating above it.
"This is the Last Will and Testament of Lily Evans Potter and James Charlus Potter." The pair intoned seriously.
Harry squealed upon seeing his parents, "Mama! Da!"
Only an imprint but the parents perhaps anticipated such a reaction. They blew the little boy a kiss. "We love you, Harry. That is why we've taken precautions to make sure you are in a loving home that we approve of. Any and all attempts to place Harry in the home of Petunia Evans Dursley or in a home not approved of by this Will shall fail. Petunia Evans Dursley is a magic hating Muggle and should never have custody of a magical child."
Harry blew kisses back looking adorable and causing more than a few people in the Courtroom to become teary eyed over their young Savior.
"If our death came at the hands of Lord Voldemort – it's just a name people – then the matter of our Secret Keeper must be looked into. Sirius Black, best mate, brother, was not our Secret Keeper. He was a decoy to keep attention away from Peter Pettigrew."
Predictably when the name of the Dark Lord was mentioned there were gasps throughout the chamber followed by more gasps when the real secret keeper was revealed. Sirius, sitting surrounded by Aurors and in magic suppression shackles was in tears, murmuring, "We should never have switched. Bloody rat was the traitor," over and over again.
"Remus Lupin, dear friend, forgive us but we thought you had enough of a burden to carry without the added responsibility. To you we leave 500,000 galleons. Don't let a furry little problem ruin your life. You are always welcome to visit Harry. We hope you'll continue to be his Uncle Moony."
"Sirius Black, you are our son's Godfather and you are our first choice to raise him. We know that you'll keep Remus involved and raise him to be a strong little boy as he needs to be and most of all you'll raise him with love. We know you don't need the money, Sirius, but there's 100,000 galleons for you anyway and my box for the Puddlemere United games so you can take Harry once he's old enough. Find a nice girl yourself when you're ready."
"If for some reason Sirius is unable to raise Harry our second choice is placement with his Godmother, Alice Longbottom's family. Harry and Neville already love to play together so we would be more than happy for them to be able to grow up as brothers."
"If both Sirius Black and the Longbottoms are unavailable Harry is to be placed in the following order of preference with the following as available: Amelia Bones, Andromeda Tonks, Grace Diggory, Selene Lovegood, Hector Greengrass, Horatio Abbott, Filius Flitwick, Demetrius Zonko, or Garrick Ollivander. If none of the above named is available then a light or neutral family will be chosen by Gnarlfang and an approved committee of advisors using criteria established for guardianship by ourselves. A stipend will be provided to the guardians for the raising of our heir. Expectations will be delivered to said guardian once custody is settled."
Throughout the reading Harry was quiet, staring intently at the images of his parents. He was too young to really understand but he hadn't seen them at all since the scary man came and though it was only their image he was captivated by them and listening to Mama and Da speak.
"We leave a bequest of 100,000 galleons to our friends the Longbottoms and 50,000 galleons to our beloved godson, Neville."
"All estates, properties and monies go as is proper to our only son and heir, Harry James Potter with our love and affection. We know you will grow up to be a fine man."
"Any belongings of the late Potters will automatically return to the Potter vault in 7 days time. Any attempting to keep belongings of the late Potters will be charged with thievery and a statement as such will be sent to the Prophet. By now you should know we aren't joking."
Albus frowned. He wanted to keep that cloak longer to study it... it was hard enough to get James to let him borrow it in the first place. His mind started whirring with ideas of how to keep it, missing the glare being sent his way by Gnarlfang who was well aware that he had more than one piece of Potter property.
"Finally, our research on the Killing Curse is even now being sent to certain trusted personnel, you know who you are, within the Department of Mysteries in hopes that more lives can be spared from the petty terrorist with the fake name that is low enough to come after children. While we may not see the war end we die in hope that our son will be able to grow up in peace. Here ends the Last Will and Testament of Lily Evans Potter and James Charlus Potter. Mischief Managed."
Teary eyed or not, the two figures smiled and gave one last wink before disappearing having accomplished their mission.
Silence reigned as more than one member of the Wizengamot and those mentioned in the Will became teary eyed. It was as much a moment of respect for the dead as it is a long moment of processing all that they took in. When the silence broke it became something of an uproar as the demand to question Sirius Black immediately prevailed.
Dumbledore inwardly cursed, there would be no getting around it now and clearly no sending Harry back to the Dursleys. He banged his gavel looking sour enough that one would think his (vanishing) lemon drops were missing their sugar. "Order. Order."
Finally the Wizengamot settled down. Those mentioned in the will remained in the viewer's gallery and certainly none of them wanted to miss the trial. Remus was in shock having been told by Albus that Sirius was the Secret Keeper. The Press, having eagerly attended the Will reading (the better to get a juicy story now that the Will was finally unsealed though sworn not to mention the amounts of money left to recipients) were thrilled to get a double scoop. This could be the end of more than a few careers and needless to say the sharks in the audience smelt blood.
"Aurors bring the prisoner," Dumbledore ordered.
The Aurors, using far more care than those who first brought him from Azkaban, settled Sirius into the chained chair. If the Will cast doubts on the guilt of Sirius Black the behavior of the chair only added to them. The chains seemed most reluctant to restrain him, not the reaction commonly found when the accused is guilty.
Madam Bones stepped up once Sirius was seated. "Sirius Black, you were brought here before the Wizengamot accused of the following crimes: betraying the secret of the Potters' to Lord Voldemort, suspicion of being a Death Eater, and the death of Peter Pettigrew and ten Muggles. How do you plead and do you consent to Veritaserum during questioning?" she asked with an air of professional detachment though she was far from unaffected by this case. She was always fond of Black and Potter from the time they were mere trainees. It was a blow to the whole department when the Potters died and Black was thrust into prison.
"Not guilty to either charge and I insist upon Veritaserum. I am also willing to give pensieve evidence if the court wills," Sirius replied.
"Let the record show that the accused has agreed to be questioned under Veritaserum and has offered to provide memories to be presented via legal pensieve." Amelia stated to the Court Scribe.
Alastor Moody, to Sirius' relief, immediately provided the sealed vial of Veritaserum. With how paranoid his mentor trainer was at least he knew that he wouldn't be given poison instead of the truth serum.
He immediately stuck out his tongue when the Auror came over with the serum for the three drops. After a moment his eyes took on the glazed look common to those under the truth serum.
"What is your name and occupation?" Amelia questioned.
"Sirius Orion Black, Auror" Sirius replied dully.
"Are you or have you ever been a supporter, sympathizer or follower of the wizard known as Lord Voldemort?" Amelia asked.
"No," Sirius replied.
"Were you the Secret Keeper of the Potters at the time of their death?" Amelia questioned.
"No," Sirius replied.
"Who was, and why?" Amelia asked, realizing that with the limits of Veritaserum questions needed to be clear to get more detailed answers.
"A week before Halloween, we switched to Peter Pettigrew. We realized I was too obvious, and none of us thought anyone would believe Peter was the one chosen. It was supposed to be the perfect bluff. We didn't know Peter was the traitor," Even through the dullness of the potion, some bitterness and pain comes through in Sirius' voice.
"What happened leading up to and during your confrontation with Peter Pettigrew?" Amelia asked.
"I'd gone to check on Peter, and found him gone with no sign of a struggle. I thought something was fishy about that, and went to check on James and Lily. The house was in ruins, and Hagrid was insistent on taking Harry, so I let him borrow my bike, and went looking for Peter. It took a while, but I finally found him on a Muggle street. He started yelling that I betrayed Lily and James. I tried to stun him, but the bloody rat tricked me. He cut off a finger, and he sent a blasting hex at the street, and scurried off in his animagus form of a rat. He must have hit a gas pipe. I was in shock. I couldn't stop laughing at the unreality of it – Peter, the one we had to defend all the time, had betrayed us all." Sirius' voice sounded hollow.
"Give him the antidote," Amelia ordered.
"Show of wands, all in favor of clearing the accused of all charges?" Amelia asked, though it was merely a formality under the circumstances. Other than a few stubborn dissenters nearly all the wands lit up in his favor.
"Sirius Black, you are hereby cleared of all charges against you, and compensation will be arranged for the failure to follow procedure after your arrest. The Ministry will also foot the bill for a full examination, and any treatment necessary at St. Mungo's due to your recent incarceration. The Auror Department would appreciate a copy of the encounter with Pettigrew to aid in apprehending him." Amelia announced. Dumbledore tried to look pleased, eyes failing to twinkle. He was about to speak up when Amelia cut off his chance.
"Dowager Lady Longbottom – are you willing to take custody of Harry Potter until such a time as his godfather, Sirius Black, has been given a clean bill of health from St. Mungo's?" she asked.
"I will. It will do Neville and Harry good to be together, and visit family together," Augusta said in a dignified manner.
Sirius looked relieved that Harry would still be allowed to visit him, even if it did look like he was going to be trapped by a whole hospital full of the likes of Poppy Pomferey. He'd never seen Remus look so horribly apologetic and silently sent his friend a forgiving look. He owed Remus an apology anyway for thinking that he was the spy, so how can he blame Moony for thinking the same of him.
"Very well then, interim guardianship will be given to the secondary choice of Lily and James Potter, the Longbottom family until their first choice guardian is available," Amelia stated looking to Gnarlfang who merely nodded approvingly and looked almost happy as he immediately walked over and passed the Potter heir into the arms of Lady Longbottom right there in her Wizengamot seat.
Harry giggled and waved at Gnarlfang. Not so incidentally when Dumbledore (hair growth potions only did so much for returning his hair to its former 'glory') caught his attention his little nose wrinkled. "Dumb bee," he huffed, the Headmaster having made him a very cranky little guy recently with all of his attempts to take him back to the Dursleys. It made more than a few Wizengamot members wonder at how accidental the accidental magic was when following his words the Headmaster's hair and beard became yellow and black striped just like a bumblebee.
Sirius and Remus both started laughing hysterically when they notice, brought almost to tears as they think how proud James would be to see his son pranking the Headmaster.
It would be a few months under the care of Mindhealers before St. Mungo's deemed Sirius recovered enough to stand guardian to Harry though he didn't have to spend the entire time in the hospital.
Remus and Sirius shared apologies and grieved together for the loss of their 'brother and sister' and the close friends they'd lost in the war. Both spent time with Harry and Neville as often as possible, and made visits to the closed ward to see Frank and Alice.
Neither was as willing to listen to Albus Dumbledore these days. His reputation took a severe hit, especially after he became one of many listed as thieves after the week was up for the return of Potter belongings. He lost his role as Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, though he held onto his role as Headmaster of Hogwarts. Augusta Longbottom eventually won the post as Chief Witch from among other candidates.
Peter Pettigrew, having thought that Sirius was safely locked away in Azkaban, had no idea of the precautions the Potters took with their will. Thus when young Percy Weasley found him in the garden of the family home and took the rat to his father asking if he could keep him as a pet, Arthur stunned the rat. As a Ministry employee he had seen the wanted pictures of Peter Pettigrew, which featured both the plump young man and a picture developed from the memory given by Sirius Black of his rat animagus form with the information that the rat would be missing a toe on one of its front paws. Arthur gently explained to his son that there was a bad man pretending to be a rat, and that he had to get the rat checked out before making the decision. Percy was a little upset, but said that it would be scary to find out his pet was a man if he kept it. Arthur stunned the rat a second time to be on the safe side, then took the family floo to the ministry.
Upon bringing the rat to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, he explained the situation to the Auror on duty at the desk, and waited patiently before being brought to Amelia Bones' office. The Aurors, taking no chances, stunned the rat before performing the animagus revealer spell forcing Pettigrew out of his form. Magical suppression cuffs and an animagus blocking bracelet were quickly applied and Pettigrew was revived though clearly out of it from the number of stunners. An emergency session of the Wizengamot was called and after questioning Pettigrew under Veritaserum he was sentenced to life imprisonment in Azkaban. Due to his animagus form he was forced to continue to wear the suppression and animagus blocking bracelets. He died in prison five years later.
Arthur Weasley was granted the reward money for the capture of Peter Pettigrew. The 75,000 Galleons (most of it provided by Sirius Black) went a long way toward helping provide for his large family. His first purchase from the reward money was a pet for Percy, who selected a dignified-almost-to-the-point-of-stuffiness owl that he named Archimedes. To his dismay all of his siblings insisted on calling it Archie and the owl oddly wouldn't respond to anything else.
Barty Crouch Sr. was caught some weeks later trying to smuggle his son out of Azkaban while leaving his polyjuiced, dying wife behind. He ended up instead in a cell beside his son until after his son's questioning at which point he remained in Azkaban alone.
Minister Bagnold was removed from office after the Sirius Black case. Strangely enough Alastor Moody, who wanted absolutely nothing to do with the post, became the Interim Minister. He was surprisingly popular during his short term proclaiming, "There will be none of that nonsense of no trials and spending galleons to claim the Imperius on MY watch. Let's get this Death Eater mess cleaned up so decent people can sleep at night and I can go back to scaring the Auror recruits into competence."
Moody and Bones made an extensive review of all cases and required Veritaserum questioning of all marked Death Eaters. Thus the crimes required for obtaining the mark and culpability were assessed and more names obtained. For the truly repentant lesser sentences and fines were levied while the hard core followers were given harsher penalties both monetarily and in Azkaban terms. After the questioning of Barty Crouch Jr and the Lestranges it was found that Bellatrix, Rodolphus and Barty were the main perpetrators in the Longbottom torture. Ironically Rabastan was forced into servitude by his brother and sister-in-law as well as his father and was given a reduced sentence. The Wizengamot, sickened by what the Veritaserum revealed, voted almost unanimously to have the Dementor's Kiss performed on Bellatrix and Rodolphus Lestrange and Barty Crouch Jr.
Sirius, upon becoming Head of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Black, requested and won the contents of Bellatrix Black Lestrange's Gringotts vault arguing successfully that her dowry should be returned to the House of Black. This would eventually prove very useful when a certain Cup was discovered by Sirius upon inventorying the contents – finding the object more dark than even he was familiar with he requested the services of the Gringotts curse breakers and found out it was a horcrux. With its destruction Kreacher, having sensed the kinship between the evil Cup and the locket he guarded in Regulus' memory, brought the locket to his master begging him to destroy it and cursing himself for failing to carry out Master Regulus last order.
Having found two of the accursed bits of Voldemort Sirius asked for a meeting with the head of the Department of Mysteries, Madam Bones and the goblin liason that handled the matter when he found the Cup in Bellatrix' vault. The goblins were furious that she'd kept such a thing there and seized fines from the main Lestrange vault. This would eventually lead to the procurement and destruction of the remainder of Voldemort's horcruxes.
It was at the end of Harry Potter's first year of Hogwarts that the final Horcrux was destroyed. An accidental horcrux, it was both the hardest and the easiest to dispose of, for Harry Potter grew up knowing how loved he was. He had his godfather, Sirius, Uncle Moony, his 'practically a brother' Neville, Auntie Amelia and Susan (who was pretty fun for a girl), and all the wonderful stories his 'family' and extended friends like Professor Flitwick and McGonagall and even (though they weren't particularly fond of each other) Professor Snape would tell him of his parents. Professor Snape always looked bitter and sour if he mentioned Harry's dad but he had some of the best stories about his mum and so that's who he asked about. And so when Albus Dumbledore made his final error and hid the Philosopher's Stone in the school and tempted the wraith Voldemort into his school with the possessed Quirrell the final horcrux was destroyed when Voldemort attempted to possess Harry after his host was destroyed. There was too much love in the boy and with his final anchor gone so was Voldemort. Harry had a three day stay in the infirmary and missed the last quidditch game (thank goodness they had a reserve seeker!) but woke up feeling better than ever and having unknowingly fulfilled the last of the prophecy.
Having endangered the students and taken the Flamels' Stone without their permission Albus Dumbledore lost what remained of his positions of authority and was forced to retire still convinced that the 'Greater Good' required his management and still expecting Voldemort's return. He died in his sleep four years later still expecting to see the return of Voldemort, unaware that Tom Riddle had already been vanquished.
The Chamber of Secrets was never opened as the Diary was destroyed after a raid on Malfoy Manor shortly after Lucius Malfoy was sent to Azkaban for life after Veritaserum questioning when a surprisingly cooperative Narcissa Black Malfoy revealed his hidden cache of Dark Arts and illicit materials under the Drawing Room floor. She was amply rewarded by keeping the Malfoy money and retaining sole custody of the Malfoy heir. Without Lucius' influence Draco, while still a snob, was much more mannerly and was forced by his mother to develop a backbone. The Malfoys developed a fairly cordial relationship with Sirius and Draco occasionally played with Harry, Neville and Susan.
Though Harry and Neville were Gryffindors, Susan a Hufflepuff and Draco a Slytherin, the four managed to demonstrate and promote how strong inter-house friendships could be. Over their years at Hogwarts House rivalry weakened into a friendlier standing and House Unity was promoted.
Of course that didn't always make things easier for the teachers – the pranksters utilizing traits from multiple houses always kept things interesting. Harry was thrilled when Gryffindor's resident pranksters the Weasley twins gave him his dad's old map in his 3rd year. He'd suspected almost from the time he met them that they had it but sneaky twins that they were it took until 3rd year to catch them with it. Once they realized he was one of the Marauders' sons and godson/nephew to two of the others they decided it was only right to give it to him. He more than made up for it by inviting them to meet the remaining two of their idols. This would eventually lead to funding and a collaboration with them when the twins would open their joke shop (though Molly would be proud as Sirius and Remus met them early enough to suggest which classes to focus on and it would lead to them getting more than 3 O.W.L.s each).
Aside from the bizarre and dangerous happenings of his first year Harry Potter's years at Hogwarts would be filled with fun, learning, quidditch, pranks and friends just as they should have been and of course the natural teenage romance when the time was right. Despite the fame he was a remarkably unspoiled boy, kind, mischievous, good looking, cheerful and intelligent – those that knew his parents best often said that he showed the best of both. He was a leader without being arrogant about it and protective without taking things too far (Remus would never have let him become a bully knowing how Lily felt about it and how James felt about it once he did some growing up). He was a fine young man and was both Quidditch Captain and Head Boy in his final year. He liked a girl that was 'the whole package' like his mother was – beauty, brains, loyalty and a lovely personality. Now he just had to get up the nerve to ask her out since she was finally single again.
Lily and James Potter were able to rest easy as they watched over their loved ones – they got many a compliment from other deceased pranksters (or loved ones of pranksters) who were most impressed with the far reaching consequences of their one last prank.