It Started Here
Harry sighed as he leaned against the door next to Hermione. Ron stood next to them, looking equally serious. They had just finished saying goodbye to the other schools. With only two weeks left before summer break, they were a bit at lose ends. Even Hermione didn't feel like studying.
"Everything's going to be different now, isn't it?" Harry looked at Hermione. He nodded.
"Yeah, it looks like it. But there is one thing that won't change." They looked at him in question. He smiled and put his arm around them, leading them back inside. "Us. We are together in this, right?" They gave him big smiles.
The three of them walked inside. Harry looked up as Hedwig came and landed on his shoulder. She nipped his hair affectionately. He looked at her and sighed. "Come on, we've got some planning to do."
They huddled together inside the one-eyed witch's hump. It was the perfect place as only the twins really knew about it. The other two looked at Harry expectantly, he had called this little meeting. He sighed. He had thought a lot about it while in that hospital bed.
"With Slit-face back, there will be some changes. Its about to get more dangerous and, I guess, well, its time we seriously started preparing." He looked at Hermione and Ron his face serious. "We need to learn everything we can. Not just defense, but potions, healing, charms, transfiguration, everything. Go back over all our old books. Learn them all, and learn them right. Its not just for a grade anymore. Its for our lives and the future of the wizarding world now." He looked at them in earnest. Hermione nodded, looking determined. Ron looked at him bleakly.
"We can't be kids anymore, can we?" Harry patted him on the back as he shook his head.
"No mate, we can't." Ron sighed, then looked up, mirroring his friends' determined faces.
"Let's do this!" Harry smiled. He had the best friends.
"Okay, here's the first bit of the plan. Hermione, I need you to gather all the school books you brought to school with you. If you are missing any, look in my trunk, I have all of mine, but your books have your notes in them, so they're better. Ron, talk to Neville, your sister and the twins. Ask quietly around the school. Find out who believes what. What everyone is good at, that sort of thing. I know you can be discreet when you want to be." Ron's chess strategies were because he saw connection and possibilities where most people missed them. Romance-wise, he was indeed a bit of an idiot, but once he saw this as a battle, the students as potential chess pieces, with their own strengths, weaknesses, including their beliefs, he became brilliant. They both nodded. Harry smiled.
"I'm going to pay another visit to the Chamber of Secrets." Hermione looked at him in shock, but Ron was the one who spoke.
"Why on earth would you want to do that?" Harry smiled slyly.
"Where else would three Gryffindors go if they wanted to not be found or spied on?" His friends smiled at him and they all nodded. Hermione checked the hallway and found it clear. They each left and went their separate ways, agreeing to meet up at lunch.
Harry made his way up the stairs, keeping an ear open for footsteps. He was the only one excused from finals, due to the tournament, and thus the only one not frantically studying for them between classes. If he could just avoid the teachers, he should be safe.
He was in luck on running into Hannah Abbot as she exited the girls bathroom.
"Hannah, hey, I"m hunting for Hermione, was she in there?" Hannah turned and glanced back in, before shaking her head.
"Nope, bathroom's empty at the moment." He thanked her and slowly wandered away, in the opposite direction she was trotting. He made sure to keep the door in sight as he veered back towards it. Slipping in, he found she was correct, the bathroom was thankfully deserted. He felt in his pocket for his broom and un-shrunk it. He didn't really fancy the slide down the pipes.
Hissing at the faucet, he watched as the entrance opened again. Quickly, he slide down it and halted a bit inside, looking at the entrance in thought. He had come to check the chamber out for practicality, and to fix it up a bit, but he also wanted to try to close the entrance from the inside. He couldn't very well leave the entrance open the entire time he was down there.
"Close, please" He hissed back at the faucets. At first nothing happened, but then they slowly moved together until he was looking at the bottom of the faucets. He smiled and flew gently down the pipe. He was glad it was so close to finals, so he didn't have any classes to worry about.
He evanesco'ed the rat bones and a scourgify on the rest of the chamber. He walked down the hallway, nearly tripping over the skin again. He wondered if there was any sort of preservation charm at work as the skin hadn't changed a bit. He banished it off to one side and continued, pondering the uses of a baslisk skin. He climbed back through the hole left from his second year in the pile of stone that had collapsed. He spared a brief minute of thought about Lockhart, before focusing on his footing.
The gate was as he left it and he opened it as he did before. The sight of the full baslisk enforced the idea that there was a preservation spell at work. It hadn't started to stink, or decay or anything. He gave it wide berth as he wandered into the back chamber from where it had exited. He found what must have been it's sleeping area, then further on, a study, a bedroom, and library. The library interested him as he found a portrait above it, sleeping. Harry looked around a bit more before gently approaching the portrait.
"Excuse me, sir?" The portrait stirred slightly and looked around. He yawned and stretched as he gazed at Harry.
"Well, its been a while, who are you, young Slytherin?" Harry smiled slightly.
"My name is Harry. If I may ask, who are you, sir?" He figured he best be polite until he figured out what was happening. The painting drew himself up importantly.
"I am Salazar Slytherin." Harry stared at him in amazement. Before he could get his wits about him another man wandered into the painting, wearing a big grin and poked the original inhabitant in the stomach, deflating him spectacularly.
"Yes, yes you are Salazar." Harry hid his grin at the newcomer. The redhead turned to him and smiled.
"I"m Godric Gryffindor." It so perfectly mirrored Salazar's pride, especially after the Slytherin elbowed him, ruining the boastful stance. That did it. Harry burst into laughter at that. He knew it probably wasn't the best idea to laugh at the founders of Hogwarts, but they were acting so silly. They smiled at Harry's laughing as he got himself under control.
"I'll have you know, young Harry, that very few would brave laughing at the great Gryffindor!" Salazar smiled with his companion.
"I would." Harry chuckled as the redhead frowned at the blackhaired male. Then he shook his head, grinning slightly.
"So, young Slytherin, what brings you into the Chamber of Secrets?" Harry smiled as he sat down in front of the painting. He looked at the two who sat in the chairs in the painting. Honestly, they reminded him of the twins.
"You ever hear of Voldemort?" Frowns lit both of their faces. Gryffindor glanced at Salazar as he answered. The other wizard's eyes blackened in irritation.
"Yes, that name we know. Do you come seeking knowledge for him?" Harry started, shaking his head.
"No, no way." Godric glanced worriedly at his companion before looking back at Harry.
"We will not support that person." Harry eyed Salazar.
"Either of you?" Salazar frowned. But Godric was the one how jumped up.
"Neither of us! Salazar never put any stock in that purebred nonsense so stop using him as a figurehead!" Salazar placed a hand on Godric's arm to calm him down. Harry watched with interest before nodding.
"My name is Harry Potter. And actually, I'm in Gryffindor." The two looked at him in confusion.
"You're a Gryffindor?" Harry nodded and proceeded to explain his experience with the sorting hat. Salazar's eyebrow rose in amusement as Gryffindor's look soured. He looked at what Harry was beginning to believe was his best friend.
"How can you find this funny? They are ripping your name to pieces." Salazar shook his head and with sarcasm, Harry identified as Snape's most amused, he replied.
"Yes, because my reputation will really help me get a better job now that I'm no longer the head of the Slytherin house." Godric scowled at him. Salazar patted him on the back. "My reputation is not what concerns me. The students do. So what are you here for?" They both turned back to Harry. Harry gave them a brief overview of the year. He further explained how he and his friends were going to try to prepare as best they can and this was the safest place to do so in school. Salazar nodded in understanding, but Godric shook his head.
"It's safe, provided Hilde isn't hungry." Salazar turned to him.
"Hilde is so old right now, that I doubt she could catch anything but rats. I doubt she could even understand me anymore." He smiled sadly as he turned to Harry. "Hilde is the grandchild of my familiar, Helsa. She's a baslisk." Harry winced at that. In a small voice he explained his second year. When he finished, Salazar sighed.
"She wasn't the nicest Baslisk to begin with, I doubt age made her any nicer. I'm glad no one was hurt." Harry could see that that cost the founder. He obviously missed his familiar and cared for her children greatly. Godric looked at Harry, apparently deciding to change the subject."This would be a fine place for you to study. Its even connected to all the common rooms by floo. Just say Salazar's Sanctuary in Parseltongue. We'll help you when we can." Harry nodded in gratitude. They spent a little longer discussing the topics they should be looking into before Harry's stomach reminded him of his lunch plans.
Bidding the founders a goodbye, he flooed to the Gryffindor common room, after glancing to make sure no one was there. Godric explained how floos worked in detail and Harry felt much better with that knowledge. He was a bit sick of everyone shoving him in situations or actions without telling him any more then the most basic of information, if that.
Hermione and Ron were already at the table and eating quickly, when he arrived. He nodded to them and with their return nod, he knew that their objectives had also been a success. He sat across from Neville and started up a conversation about herbology with the boy.
Later that afternoon, Harry flooed them all to the Chamber. Ron and Hermione met the two founders as Harry set up the books Hermione had gathered and set up the chalkboard she had found off in one corner. They sat down and got to work.
Sunday found them finishing up the texts from transfiguration first through third year. They had caught up on Charms, History, Herbology and care for Magical creatures. Hermione was going to teach them Ancient Runes since she was studying it and they were reviewing Divination, more for exam reasons but eve Hermione admited knowing the history of it might someday be useful. They were hoping to study Astronomy later that night. Potions was one topic they hadn't decided on the best method for study. The next day they were planning to review all the potions brewed in the first two years by rewriting them. Hermione's idea, that one.
They were to read the potion, then close the book and write it down. Then trade and review what each person missed. As they went they compiled a list of question for each of their teachers. The portraits had been helpful for some theory questions, but they were out of date and didn't want to give them the wrong information. They had been asleep since Tom Riddle had sealed the portraits 50 years ago. What little they were aware of came from hearing whispers. Godric's portrait was on the third floor hidden by the transfiguration room and Salazar's parseltongue had let him hear the snake gossip. But as far as potion questions, they hadn't exactly decided how to approach the professor.
Professor Snape had been more snappy than ever. Everyone was staying low on his radar, even Slytherins seemed subdued around him. Harry wondered if that was due to the part he was playing. He assumed that the cranky professor was spying on Voldemort and that was no easy task.
Harry placed the last book in its spot and looked at the far blackboard. He rubbed his head as he studied it. He had had a nightmare the previous night and it had left him with a mild headache. The blackboard contained the people Ron had studied, organized by belief system and then skill. Hermione and Harry had helped him un-exaggerate some of his claims, skills-wise and let go of his prejudice towards Slytherins. Some of them were not set on Slit-face's side. In fact, some seemed almost on their side. Harry and Hermione had to keep after Ron to not automatically put the Slytherins against them.
They sighed, leaving to return to the library and return two books before curfew.
Harry was sitting in transfiguration, reading through his fourth year book as McGonagall reviewed for exams. Hermione had agreed to stay behind in Charms and ask their questions if he stayed behind in Transfiguration and asked those questions. Ron was going to do the same for Hagrid. Hermione had History and Runes. Harry had Astronomy and Ron took Divination and Herbology. Of course, that left Harry with Potions if they each took three a piece. A topic he wasn't sure how to approach.
He had toyed with the idea of asking Salazar again, but the portrait had said that he was still catching up on all the changes made in potions in the last twenty years and wouldn't trust his answers quite yet. That meant he had to find a way to approach Snape.
They were finishing the second year of potions that evening when Harry called a break.
"This summer, what should we do?" Ron and Hermione looked at him in question. Harry looked at Hermione. "You know you were looking up the legality of coming to age early, did you ever finish?" He remembered the discussion from several months ago, shortly after the second task. Hermione tilted her head in thought.
"Not really. I did find out that once a wizard turns twelve they can apply to become independent. Its rarely granted unless the child is independently wealthy or has a career already. That is where they still are under their guardian's jurisdiction, but the underage magic law changes to magic secrecy law, magic can be performed when out of sight of Muggles, and they can own land of their own and receive their inheritance." She nodded to Harry. "We would need to get to Gringotts somehow though." Harry nodded. "If we send a request for a greeting of a child, the goblins will send you a portkey to Gringotts. The portkey can only be activated with the magic of your signature, so the magic you used when you were last there. You can tell it from a fake because if someone, not you, taps it with their wand and they have an account to their name, their full name will be spelled out." Harry thought about it for a moment before nodding.
Later that night Hedwig went out on a very important mission.
The problem of this summer continued to pull at Harry's mind. He felt like he didn't know enough.
"Dobby." He wasn't sure if the house elf would come, but a moment later the little guy popped in.
"Harry Potter sir calls Dobby sir? Dobby is so happy that Harry Potter sir calls Dobby. How can Dobby help Harry Potter sir?" Harry smiled slightly.
"First, by calling me Harry. My full name is way too long." Dobby bowed low at this. "Dobby, several summers ago you performed a hovering charm at my uncle's home. The ministry thought I had done it. Why?" Dobby shuffled his feet.
"Dobby wanted to protect Harry sir. Dobby conceal his presence sir. Making sure the wizards only see Harry sir's wand there." Harry put two and two together.
"So you could perform magic in my uncle's home without the ministry thinking it is me?" Dobby nodded.
"Yes, Harry sir, Dobby could sir. Dobby could so that no one knows you are even there to see it sir." Harry looked at the small creature startled.
"You can hide me from the ministry?" Dobby smiled and nodded.
"Of course, Harry sir. House elves have magic not of wizard magic sir. Wizard magic doesn't register elf magic if elves not wants it to sir. But, it takes effort Harry sir, so elves only do so if wants to Harry sir." Harry looked at him in thought.
"Dobby, why did you come when I called you?" Dobby turned slightly red at that. Harry grabbed him as he leaped for the bedpost, recognizing the punishment tendency immediately and hoping to forgo any lecture from Hermione the noise of a house elf punishing himself would most surely bring.
"Dobby is selfish Harry sir. Dobby did not ask permission from Harry sir. Dobby bound himself to Harry sir." Harry started at that.
"What? But you're free? Why would you become a slave again?" Dobby shook his head.
"Harry sir is a great wizard. Harry sir worries about Dobby. Harry sir should not concern himself with house elf. Dobby is still free Harry sir. Dobby binds himself to Harry sir, not wizard binding sir. That means Dobby can break if Dobby wish to sir. But Dobby never wish to Harry sir." Harry blinked, deciphering the elf's talk. So Dobby had bound himself to Harry, instead of a wizard binding him, so he could break the bond if he wanted to. SO it was like a friendship, in a weird sort of way. Harry could live with that.
He was interrupted by Hedwig's return. He glanced at Dobby briefly, but the elf seemed content to straighten the chamber for a moment. Harry read the missive from Gringotts.
Dear Missr Harrison James Potter
We have scheduled an appointment for you in Gringotts at noon the following day. You can discuss your emancipation at that time. Please enter the bank and seek a free goblin to help you. This letter can serve as a portkey for you and up to three of your comrades. Simply tap it twice with your wand and state your current guardian's last name.
Head Administrator for Underage Accounts
Gingrotts, London, UK
Harry smiled slightly. He looked at Dobby in question.
"Dobby, would you like to take a trip with myself, Hermione and Ron tomorrow at noon?"
Harry met up with the pair for an early lunch. They had study period afterwards so no one should miss them. Hopefully it wouldn't take too long. Dobby said he would be ready at 11:55. He would apparate them there and return to bring them back. Harry had offered to let him look around Diagon Alley, but he shook his head, saying he had work here he'd rather do.
Dobby met them right on time, depositing them in the entryway. They thanked him quietly and pulled their cloaks up and went over to a counter. Harry had been here a few times over the years, the most before his third year after he had blown up Aunt Marge. He knew many of the goblins by name and knew who he preferred. He simply had never been here for anything other then access to his accounts.
"Is Griphook available?" He moderated his tone to a polite, but commanding one. Goblins were sticklers for commands, but very few wizards were polite about them and Harry had noticed a certain pride that they had when a wizard respected them. Indeed, he found Griphook fast.
The short goblin had grown on him after his first frightening encounter with him four years ago with Hagrid. He found him to be an honest, blunt and practical goblin. In turn, Griphook seemed to find Harry a pleasant wizard to work with, not overly bearing, but not timid when the situation called for strength of character.
"Mister Harry Potter, how can I help you today?" Griphook had led them away from the lobby, knowing from the letter that Harry wanted to discuss his account, among other things.
"First, this is Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley." Griphook nodded to both as Harry turned back to him. "I would like to explore the possibility of coming of age."
Griphook nodded having expected this. He explained the forms they needed, filling most out magically. One of the forms was a bloodline form. Harry's total assets, including all bloodlines would be tested. The Ministry official in charge of the emancipation didn't get Harry's name, but his facts. His account holdings, current guardian's relations, age, grades, guardian status ect.
Harry let a drop of blood fall on the parchment for his blood test. He watched in fascination as the blood was absorbed and then writing began.
Mister Harry James Severus Potter
Father: Lord Jameson Harold Potter
Mother: Lilandra Rose Evans
Legal Guardian: Petunia Iris Dursley nee Evans
Magical Guardian: Sirius Orion Black
Childhood Account: 2864 Galleons 10 Sickles 2 Knuts
Interest: 1.04% Lifetime: 14 years 9 months
Graduation Account: 4000 galleons
Interest: 1.16% Lifetime: starts when holder emancipates
Potter: Heir Apparent (contingent on emancipation)
Evans (Non-Magical):Heir Apparent (contingent on emancipation)
Gryffindor: Heir Apparent (contingent on emancipation)
Merlin: Heir Presumitive (contingent on emancipation, and no birth in closer line)
Slytherin: Heir Apparent(contingent on emancipation, divided inheritance)
Ravenclaw: Heir Presumitive (contingent on emancipation, and no birth in closer line)
Black: Heir Apparent (after death of current lord)
Lineage in line for heir but not heir
Potter Account Total: 5,134,25 G 7S 3S
Evans Account Total: 350G
1237 Spinner's Circle
Gryffindor Account Total: 25,346,215 G 10S 4K
Merlin Account Total: 64,285,642G 9S 1K
House on the Rocks
Harry stopped reading partway through Merlin's accounts, feeling a tad overwhelmed. The list continued on for several feet of parchment. He was worth billions of galleons. He scanned the rest of the document. After the lineage accounts came the personal inheritance, things that he had been left from wills, many of which had been from admiring survivors of the war or in some cases a casualty. He looked at Griphook, a bit pale.
Clearing his throat, he croaked, "I own all of this?" Griphook shook his head.
"No, most of it you don't inherit until you emancipate. The lordships, for example, you could emancipate and take them up once you turned twelve, but you would still have to emancipate." Harry swallowed and looked at the scroll again. He saw that he inherited Gryffindor automatically and Ravenclaw for the moment. He looked at Slytherin.
"What does it mean, 'divided inheritance'?" Griphook looked at it and nodded.
"When a family becomes powerful enough they have their own magic. At this point an heir must have both the family's magic and its blood. A divided inheritance, means that there are heirs with one of these, but you are the only one with both." Harry frowned on that, but didn't argue. He didn't feel like getting into a discussion about his relationship with Tom Riddle.
"How can someone have the family's magic and not blood?" Hermione's question brought up an interesting point.
"If someone identifies enough with a family and its core beliefs, then, regardless of their birth, they can inherit the family's magic." Harry nodded. Griphook smiled as he handed Harry the papers that needed his magical signature. Harry glanced over them, along with Hermione, and then after receiving her nod, tapped them lightly with his wand. They rolled up and vanished with a poof. Griphook nodded.
"We will know in about 20 minutes whether they passed. Mr Potter, you will need to pick a manager for your estates once you emancipate. The bank can provide you with several witches and wizards of good standing if you wish. Your manager will interact directly with your accounts and Gringotts. They will be responsible for the handling of all your assets until you leave school and wish t handle them yourself. You most also specify your permanent address. This will be the place where all important correspondences will be routed, should you be un-locatable." Harry looked at Griphook a moment.
"Griphook, could you be my Estate Manager?" He could have sworn Griphook blushed as he saw a speechless goblin for the first time in his life. He ignored Ron's sniggers and Griphook's sputters a moment as a paper airplane whizzed in. Harry grabbed it as it started tapping him on the nose repeatedly.
Congratulations Young Lord! Your application for emancipation has been approved as of four weeks from today. All properties to come to you upon your emancipation are released to you. Enclosed is your certificate with all the normal protective spells. Please keep this for your records. The tracking spell on your registered wand has been altered to alarm only if magic is performed in view of a non-educated muggle. It is noted that your guardians are muggles, remember that the guardians you are blood related to, or the primary adoption guardian are the only educated muggles in your nuclear family. Harry frowned, that meant that he couldn't perform magic in front of Vernon. Please remember to be responsible and come to either your guardians or your representative in times of need.
England Ministry of Magic
Harry smiled and showed it to his friends. It didn't matter that he would be required to live with his relatives for two weeks. Then he would be free. Griphook had regained his tongue by now and spoke while Hermione examined the paper in greater detail.
"Mr Potter, it is highly unusual for a wizard to trust a goblin with a task as Estate Manager. It is a high paid, highly respected position." Harry looked at him, eyebrow raised.
"Does that mean you do not want the job?" Griphook hastened to shake his head.
"I did not say that, simply feel the need to inform you that other wizards will...not view it calmly." Harry had never heard a goblin searching for words before either. He looked at Griphook with a sly grin.
"You have taken care of me for the last four years, I know you, I trust you. I'm offering you the job." Griphook stared at the boy a moment before nodding slyly.
"Yes, I'll take good care of you." Harry relaxed, recognizing the return of the goblin's normal behavior. He sat down and together with Hermione, they outlined Griphook's position and tasks to be completed. It didn't take long. Once that was completed, Harry had a few minor requests he needed.
"Is there a way we can keep in touch with each other, aside from meeting face to face?" He gestured to him and his two friends. Griphook thought a moment before nodding.
"A communication mirror would do it. Find enough mirrors. Touch them together. The spell is Facium Loqui password. The password will activate the mirrors. To add more mirrors to the network simply touch the new mirror to a current one and repeat the spell." Harry nodded.
"For the moment, do not change my permanent address. I would like you to discreetly get in contact with Bill Weasley and ask him to check the wards on those places for a large sum of money. Have his oath on secrecy though." Ron glared slightly at Harry for the slight against his brother but, Griphook just nodded. He handed a small compact to Harry.
"This will allow you to connect with me. Until you assume your Lordships publicly I shall continue to work at the bank as normal and no non-goblin shall be aware of my change in status." Ron and Hermione stared in awe as Harry smiled. He knew Griphook was cunning and figured most of it out on his own. Harry nodded to Griphook and said his goodbyes. They all had classes to get to.
Griphook smiled and requested to see Harry for five or six hours soon to outfit him with the rest of his lordship inheritance. Harry waved as he called for Dobby. They had Potions to get to and could NOT be late.
They were still smiling when they entered the dungeon. Even Malfoy's sneering face didn't dampen Harry's mood. He was free! For years the Dursleys had starved, beaten and humiliated him. He wasn't coming back next year with bruises and malnourished. Dumbledore had explained to him that he needed to live a few weeks at the Dursley's to consider it home and keep up the protection. That suited him. He needed some time before the manor was ready. Then he was out of there. He couldn't wait to explain all this to his Aunt.
He was so busy daydreaming that he failed to notice his professor stalking up behind him as he automatically set his ingredients out and in order.
"Potter! Pay Attention!" He jumped a foot in the air, nearly spilling his Mongoose Blood. He glanced back at his smirking Professor in amused annoyance, not even Snape could dampen this feeling. Though the amusement had probably not been the best idea.
"Is something amusing, Mr Potter?" Snape's silky reply set off warning lights in everyone's minds that he was NOT in the best of moods. Harry looked at him a moment, really looked, forgetting to be annoyed. Usually when he looked at his professor it was only to gauge his mood, how far he could be pushed. After four years, he knew what Snape looked like, of course, but he hadn't really ever taken the time to look at him.
"I apologize Professor, just happy I didn't spill the Mongoose Blood. It is kind of important today." He kept his tone light, mildly deferential, hoping to placate the prickly man and not lose house points so close to the end of the year. Snape's eyebrow rose. Uh oh
"Oh really, and why is that, Mr Potter?" Harry frowned slightly, confused.
"I am happy I didn't spill the blood because I need it." He thought he had just explained that. Snape sneered at him.
"Why is the blood important Potter?" Ah, that made more sense. Harry relaxed, understanding better that the man had been asking him a potion's question.
"'Mongoose Blood is needed in the Skele-gro potion so that it has the correct consistency to enter the bloodstream of the patient.'" Harry recited in monotone. Hermione had ground this into Ron's head multiple times last night, that Harry could help but remember the line as well. Snape looked at Harry a moment. Harry realized that the Professor wasn't sure what to do. There was nothing wrong with the statement, but it would be too strange for Professor Snape to praise Harry Potter. At last he turned to the board.
"Indeed, and don't any of you dunderheads forget it. Get started!" Harry sighed as he settled in to working with Neville.
After class he watched all his classmates file out. He discreetly knocked over his powdered sandalwood and sent Neville on with Ron and Hermione. He had done this once before to stay behind to spy on his professor. He looked up over at Snape as the last of the students left. The man slumped a moment, the shaking Harry had noted earlier coming on strong. Snape lunged up, haphazardly making his way to the potions cupboard. Harry silently walked up behind him. It wasn't exactly intentional. It was simply habit to tread silently around unpredictable adults for Harry. He saw the man grab a vial and try to open it. His hands were shaking so bad that he couldn't keep his grip and the vial clattered on the desk in front of him.
Snape leaned over the desk wearily, breathing heavily, glaring at the vial, hands braced on either side. Harry prayed to Merlin he wasn't about to make a huge mistake and reached over and picked up the vial. If he hadn't needed to ask the professor questions, he would have been long gone by now, or at least hiding. Snape lunged away from him, snarl coming out full force.
"Potter! What are you doing here?" Harry slowly lifted the vial, opened it and slowly held it out to his professor, ignoring the question. He then took one even step at a time, keeping his face bland. This was is normal approach to his uncle when the massive man had been drinking and wanted him to actually do something. When Vernon was drunk the more invisible Harry was the less bruised he became. He didn't really expect Snape to strike him, but the reaction was ingrained and he had rarely been alone witht he professor when not in detention. He hid his concern for his professor and his mild terror at being so near an enraged adult. There was one big difference from when he did this with Vernon, he held his professor's eyes the entire time. When he was less then an arm length away he stopped and waited to see if the Potions Master would take the potion. Snape's glare hadn't softened. He reached a trembling hand forward, but Harry could already see that it wouldn't work. Even if the hand could grasp the vial, he wouldn't be able to drink it, his hand was too unsteady. Swallowing every instinct that said he was crazy, Harry slowly moved closer, not really daring to breath. Snape's hand did attempt to grasp the vial but it didn't take it away. Rather it guided Harry's hand to the man's mouth and together Snape drank the potion.
Once empty, Harry retreated a step and waited. He saw the tremors in his teacher fade and Snape's breathing slow as the dark eyes bore into his. Harry was about to sigh in relief when Snape drew himself up abruptly. Harry automatically flinched as the dark man towered over him, eyes going to the now fisted hands. He regained control of himself a moment later and looked at his professor blandly again. Snape was simply frowning at this point.
"Mention this to anyone and you will return to your summer residence in pieces." Snaped snarled at Harry softly. Harry nodded stiffly, trying to relax from his flash to his uncle. "Was there a reason you remained behind, other then to spy on me?" The question was genuinely curious, lacking the rancor Harry was used to. Snape was looking at him as if attempting to figure out a potions experiment. He wasn't sure he liked this look any better that the vicious glare he had gotten used to seeing.
"Err, aside from cleaning up my sandalwood, some of us were reviewing the other night and came up with some questions...er...well...about potions, sir." Snape's eyebrow rose in question. Harry flushed and handed the parchment with all their questions on it to him. Snape took it and, finally looking away from Harry, read it quickly. Glancing back at Harry.
"Some of these questions are about potions completed in your first year." His soft statement seemed to ask for a response. Harry looked away in confusion.
"Well, some we just came up with, but a few I've wondered since we did the potion." Snape's eyebrow went up again. Harry wondered if those muscles ever tired.
"Why did you not ask when we were brewing them?" Harry glanced at his teacher, rubbing the ground with his toe. He mumbled under his breath making Snape growl at him.
"A bit more coherent if you please Mr Potter." Harry glared at him straighten his shoulders at the familiar challenge.
"Because I didn't think you would answer, Sir." He glared a moment before looking away again, shrugging slightly. "Sometimes someone else would ask my question, but not always." He stopped talking before he started mumbling again. He looked up to see Snape studying him even closer. Getting annoyed himself he looked up.
"Look, we want to know the answers, and you're the person we're supposed to ask, so..?" He petered off waiting, trying to bite his tongue to keep from annoying the professer when they wanted his help. Snape looked at the list.
"Return after you have completed your dinner." The man snapped as he turned and sat at his desk, taking out some parchment. When Harry didn't move he looked up.
"Anything else Mr Potter?" The question spat at him seemed to wake Harry up and got him moving. He grabbed his things.
"No, thank you sir." He went to the door and halted. Without turning around he spoke once more before he hurried out the door.
Snape stared after the brat. He had just found a few inconsistencies to figure out when it came to this child. He had always disliked Potter's arrogance and lack of care in his class. His rule-breaking had driven him to distraction. How the hell do you protect a child who attracts trouble and goes looking for it? But here he had a few contradictions that made him uncomfortable. When they had met eyes, he had let his mind passively float over Potter's. Not something he had ever done before, nor would normally do, Albus would kill him. He blamed it on the prolonged Crutiatis from the previous evening. There was little there, as if he had emptied his mind. Very well, in point of fact. Then there was his reaction when Snape had regained his posture. He knew he had startled the boy, that was a fairly simply matter. He did that on a weekly basis. But never before had the reaction been a flinch. Usually it was the comical jump from class, sometimes a squawk, followed by a scowl. But a flinch implied subconscious fear. He also noted where Harry was looking when he flinched away. It was as if for a moment the boy actually thought he was going to strike him.
Snape scowled at that. He had never in his life struck a child younger then him, even when he was a child. Even those cretins he went to school with, they had never descended into fisticuffs. Now, he was the person the heads of houses went to when they suspected child abuse. All four knew of his own childhood, or as much as he was willing to share. He never condoned child abuse and when the Dark Lord tortured child, Snape had managed to get himself excused from the activities. His snakes knew that he wouldn't hesitate to spank them if that was what he deemed necessary to keep them safe, but they had never feared his hand. Only his ruler.
He looked at the parchment in his hand. The questions on the paper were clever, and not all of them in Miss Granger's pedantic style either. He rather thought that Potter was being truthful when claiming that they were his questions. They were intelligent questions. He was looking forward to answering them, provided the feeling wasn't ruined by the audience. Then again, he brought himself back to the last phrase from the boy as he left. The brat truly felt like being an annoying puzzle today.
"I won't say anything"
Harry sighed as he dropped off his bag in the tower and discreetly flooed to the chamber. He was so glad he had this place. Ever since his return from the graveyard, the level of excitement in the school had grown to a frenzy. If he thought people had whispered about him before, this was a whole new level of gossip mongering. An official explanation wasn't being released until mid-finals week, in eight days, but that didn't stop the wondering. Rumor had it that the ministry didn't believe Harry.
He sighed again as he nodded to Ron upon entering the room. Salazar looked up from his potions book. He was still playing catch up. Godric was as well, but he was doing so elsewhere today, though Harry wasn't sure where. His attention returned to his friends as Hermione put down her book, most likely finishing the sentence she had been on. They had limited time until dinner.
He told them that he was meeting Snape after dinner for the answers. He wouldn't explain the rest of his interaction with the professor unless absolutely necessary. They nodded and Ron then started explaining some of the people he thought they should include in their 'study' group. They weren't going to talk to any adult quite yet. It wasn't as if they were going on missions or anything dangerous, just learning.
They all agreed to talk to Neville, Ginny, the twins and a Ravenclaw Hermione often studied with, Luna Lovegood. They discussed others, mainly Cho, Susan, Dean, Colin, Terry, Padma and Seamus. In the end they decided to wait a bit. Susan Bones seemed like good ideas, and Ron liked her reaction to the news, both this year and previous catastrophes dealing with Harry. Hermione would talk with Luna discreetly, while Harry would talk with the twins and Ron would talk with Neville. They wanted Harry to do the talking with Ginny, but he argued that it would be better that Hermione talk girl to girl. She rolled her eyes, but nodded for expediency's sake.
Harry also wanted to talk to Malfoy. He wanted to get a feel for where the Slytherin stood. Ron disagreed with this idea heavily, but in the end Harry would try to find Malfoy and talk to him alone. They did manage to convince him to wait until after he had asked Snape their questions. No need to annoy the head of Slytherin when they wanted answers from him.
The other task they had was to talk to Dobby. They had discussed it and thought that having a few house elves around would be a good idea, minus the slavery thing. Hermione wasn't happy with it, but Harry wanted to hear Dobby's side first.
"Harry sir is calling Dobby?" Harry nodded and knelt in front of his friend.
"Dobby what happens when a wizard has a house elf? What is the wizard supposed to do for the elf?" Dobby cocked his head in confusion, but spoke.
"Wizard master is supposed to take care of house elf. Wizard master give elf home and food. Master's family is house elf's family. Master is part of House Elf's Family" Harry nodded glancing at Hermione. She knew what kind of Wizarding Master Harry would be, what kind of person he was especially with her around to remind him.
"How does a wizard find a House Elf?" Dobby looked at Harry as he answered.
"Wizard can adopt lost elf. Lost House Elf can bond with wizard." Harry looked at him in question.
"Lost? Bond?" Dobby nodded.
"House elf that not wanted to be freed, but is free is called lost. When a house elf bonds with wizard master, house elf has home. But not like Dobby. Dobby bonds himself to Harry sir." Harry nodded, glancing at Hermione. She still looked sulky, but less so then before Dobby's explanation. He supposed that Dobby's had simply been a terrible example of a house elf's situation like Voldemort was a terrible example of a wizard.
"Dobby, I would like to find some lost house elves." Dobby looked up at the boy.
"If Harry sir will tell Dobby what Harry sir is looking for, then Dobby will find a few house elves that Harry sir can choose from." Harry nodded.
"Okay, Err, well, we're looking for one house elf to help us keep track of books and work in the library we're practically building in the Chamber of Secrets. Another elf to help us keep track of news and people. Also, I am told that I need a personal house elf now that I'm a lord." He glanced at Dobby in question, but Dobby just nodded happily.
"Dobby will find good House elves for Harry sir." He shuffled a moment. "Dobby has a request for Harry sir." Harry nodded to him, pleased Dobby felt comfortable enough around him to make a request. "Dobby would be honored to call Harry sir, Master." Harry looked at him in askance.
"But you're free." Dobby nodded.
"Dobby is free, but Dobby does miss family, Harry sir, and to house elf, Master is family." Harry thought about it. He tried to see it as akin to asking someone if he could call him cousin or uncle. Not that he personally would ever want to give the term uncle to anyone, but he thought he understood a bit.
"Dobby, you may call me whichever you wish, as long as you are happy doing it." Dobby smiled widely.
"Thank you Master. Dobby is happy Master. Dobby will find good house elves for you Master." He popped out enthusiastically.
"Well...cough..that went well..cough cough" Ron's strained joke notwithstanding, as they waved their hands to dispel the smoke after Dobby's apparation, Harry was excited. Everything seemed to be working out.
After dinner Harry made his way to the dungeons. He left Hermione and Ron to go off and talk to Luna and Neville. He took a calming breath as he knocked on the door to Snape's office.
After Snape bid him to enter and directed him to a chair in front of the fireplace, he sat, waiting as the potions master finished grading the paper he was focused on. Harry had sometimes wondered if that was all teachers did at their desks. He supposed it was a lot. With all the time the student spent doing the homework the teachers had to read it, for every student. They probably shouldn't assign so much homework then.
Snape came over with the list of questions, which Harry noted, had red ink on them. Did he correct my questions?
"Some of these questions are answered in chapters other then the original potion chapter. I've marked those." He glanced at Harry for confirmation. "In the Boils Potion, what does the Salamander tongue do?" Harry looked at him in confusion, but answered hesitantly. Snape asked another question. They did this question answer exercise until the question, "If the Salamander tongue and Cactus oil react in that fashion, what would you add to correct the consistency?" Harry halted as the answer froze on his tongue. Batbasil leaves. He remembered a question on their list. Why does the Boils potion need Batbasil? Snape had just gotten Harry to answer his own question.
Snape started on another line of questioning. They continued in this fashion, answering all of Harry's questions. During that hour, Snape had sat in front of the fireplace with Harry and relaxed a bit. Eventually he was posing questions about the more recent material. He had frowned when, upon looking down, he realized there were no more questions and he had actually enjoyed an evening with Potter. Eventually he sent Harry away with a snarky good evening a half hour before curfew. Harry shook his head after the door closed. That ending had lacked Snape's customary bite.
"Excuse Dobby." The witch looked over her counter at the small being. "Dobby's Master is looking to bond with three lost elves." She nodded.
"Could you be more specific?" At Dobby's confusion she clarified. "Age, background, education, something to lower your number of elves to look through." Dobby nodded and thought over his Master's request.
"Master wants lost elves, who wants a master. Master wants elves who can read, not younglings. Elves for organizing things." She nodded and, waving her wand, a stack of papers appeared next to her.
"These are the elves that fit your needs. Tap the seal to interview them yourself. Have your master tap the seal with his wand to interview them. This contains their name, last position, reason let go, and current education. Either the elf must come here and request the papers for your master or he must come himself with the elf. We will ratify that willingness of the elf and send them over to Gringotts, who will ratify the wizards willingness and then add the elf to the wizards portfolio." Dobby nodded.
"Dobby thanks nice witch." The witch looked over her counter at the elf.
"Dobby, are you bound now?" Dobby looked at the witch in confusion. "I need to take you off the 'lost' list if you are." Dobby smiled and nodded.
"Dobby is not lost." The witch nodded and Dobby wandered into the indicated conference room. He had a few elves to contact. He was glad he was not on dinner duty.
Harry stopped when he saw Malfoy. He was staring out onto the grounds from the side window at the entrance. Harry could see the boys reflection under the full moon. He briefly wondered where Remus was spending the night tonight.
"Potter! What are you doing here?" He snapped back to present as Malfoy spat at him. He shrugged, keeping his voice nonchalant.
"Walking." He stopped and waited. He had really wanted to plan out his talk with Malfoy a bit before actually doing so. Plus, the blonde brat didn't sound like he was in a good mood. He was about to leave when Malfoy spoke again.
"You fought Him?" The question was dull, as uninterested as Malfoy could get. Harry's eyebrow raised subconsciously.
"I fought Voldemort, yes." Malfoy flinched at the name.
"So you were a good little Golden Boy!" Harry bristled at the title. He growled to himself and started walking down the steps onto the grass and away from the irritating pureblood.
"That is not why I fought Him." He heard Malfoy stomp after him as he sulked over the wet grass.
"Sure it is, Golden Boy Potter had to fight against the Dark Lord. The Boy Who Lived couldn't side with Him afterall." Harry turned, snarling at he boy.
"Wouldn't that be right daft, since he tried to kill me already? And I didn't fight Him because I'm Harry Potter!" Malfoy's challenging glare was returned in full force.
"Oh? Maybe it was to gain favor with those worthless guardians. So that they'd pamper you even more!" Harry's breath shortened as he refused to think about Vernon and his 'pampering' of Harry.
"Shut up!" Malfoy was still glaring at him.
"Or maybe the Boy Who Lived wants even more fans? Be loved by the wizarding world. Family not enough for you?" Harry dropped his school robe to the ground with his bag, left in only his shirt and pants and threw himself at Malfoy at that comment. Malfoy didn't even raise his wand, leaving it forgotten next to his own school robe. It was warm out and those robes could get hot, even in the evening.
Both boys were holding each other's collars tightly, rolling in the mud among the sticks and grass. They might have been shouting at each other, neither were sure as they gripped the shirts tighter in anger. When they rolled away from each other, all they heard was a great rip as both shirts tore down the back. Harry was facing away from Malfoy after the roll, but quickly turned to face his opponent again. Malfoy was just staring at him in confusion.
"What the hell?" His low, angry voice penetrated Harry's anger as he scrambled to understand this new attack. "What happened to your back, Potter?" Harry's rage flew again. So much so, that his next words were clearly spoken without thought.
"A testament of the 'pampering' I received at home for the last thirteen years. That's what happened to my back!" Malfoy paled slightly as Harry screamed at him roughly. That made Harry's mind catch up with his mouth. Shit! He gritted his teeth and looked away. "What the hell do you care?"
"I don't!" The response was quick and probably automatic. Harry had been expecting it. He knew people didn't care about this. Most of the time he had deserved it anyway. "Why?" Harry looked at the confused Slytherin in front of him.
"You want a blow by blow of my wrong-doings for each punishment?" He spat at the blond sarcastically. Malfoy frowned as he flinched. He sat back down.
"Why would the Boy Who Lived have those scars?" He question was still sneering, but less combative. Harry figured the question was rhetorical.
"I hate that name." He was muttering to himself as Malfoy's eyes widened. Harry sighed looking at his robe. "Its stupid. I'm a boy and I'm still alive so I obviously lived." He growled as Malfoy rolled his eyes slightly. Harry looked away. "Plus its referring to the one event that took my chance at a family away. Why the hell would I want to be reminded of that?" Malfoy looked at him in amazement.
Draco hadn't thought about it that way. Every time someone called Harry the Boy Who Lived, they were reminding him of his parents death. And the scars on his back didn't say much for his home life now. He turned away from Harry slightly, letting the other boy see his own back. It was also littered with scars, though none as bad as Harry's. He heard Harry's soft gasp.
"My father doesn't like it when his principles are questioned. We are Malfoys. We follow the Dark Lord and practice Dark Magic." Draco's line was spit out in disgust. He looked back up, locking eyes with Harry. "This was my punishment for wanting to remain neutral." Harry's eyes widened as he took in what Draco was saying, letting earlier comments snap into place.
"I don't fight Him, because I'm Gryffindor, or the Golden Boy or whoever. I fight Him because if I don't He will hurt people I care about. And because He's trying to kill me." Draco stared at him, seemingly lost in thought.
Harry shivered and rose, going to his robe. It wasn't quite warm enough to be out without any shirt on, and his previous shirt was in rags hanging by the collar. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Draco do similar. They silently walked into the castle.
They got about five steps into the castle when they met with a mildly scary sight. Their Potions Master had his arms crossed.
"It is past curfew, boys. Is there a reason you were on the grounds past curfew. And are covered in mud and without your shirts?" His mild rebuke made both boys flush. They had pulled their robes closed, they were still covered in mud. They weren't even aware it was after curfew.
"Well, sir...Y-you see I-I-I slipped and th-then Malfoy here, he-" Harry's stuttered response was interrupted by Draco.
"What Potter is trying to stutter out is that we encountered a series of unexpected and irritating accidents, leaving us lacking in our appearance." His tone was perfectly modulated into what Ron usually referred to as his pureblood voice. He had also managed to explain their appearance, tardiness and discomfort without actually explaining anything at all. A true Slytherin there.
"Five points from each house for being out twenty minutes past curfew." Snape didn't seem to believe Draco's explanation wholly, but seemed to be letting it go. He turned them both towards the hallway and marched them towards the great hall. He met up with McGonagall there.
"Mr Potter, what on earth happened to your uniform young man." He flushed red as Draco repeated their excuse. His head of house didn't look anymore impressed with the excuse then Snape had, but similarly let it go. "I assume you have already removed points for their tardiness to curfew?" Snape nodded curtly at the question directed at him. She looked down at the boys then. "Come Mr Potter I shall escort you back to the common room." Harry automatically stepped forward to go with his head of house. They had only taken a few steps when Draco spoke up.
"Potter!" They turned to look at the blonde. "They are not always right." Harry stared at Draco a moment. Then he nodded.
"Agreed Malfoy, they are not always right." Draco's eyes lit in understanding as Harry's had a moment earlier. They both nodded and turned away, much to their Professor's confusion and annoyance. He was sure they both were in for some interrogating. He was equally sure neither of them would explain who they were referring to or what exactly had happened. That phrase had given both of them confidence.
Guardians are not always right.
I couldn't figure out where to break the chapter so... Tell me your thoughts. I have quite a bit of this written that i have to translate into fanfictionese (chapter titles, proofing, ect..) I'll update in a few days.
I'm so fucking pissed right now. My apartment was broken into and my netbook was stolen! if you review could you include the name of a really angry rock song for me, i dont know any,but right now i really need one.