Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
A/N: Inspired greatly by a story written by Sakya called 'Veela Inheritance Problems', with the authors permission and encouragement for plot borrowing. This was previously posted on Forever Fandom and my Yahoo group. I know its been awhile, but give it a go.
Engagement Season; Chapter One:
Harry stood up and made sure the small blanket that he was allowed, was bundled up with the things that he usually hid under the floorboards. Midnight was coming, and with it his 17th birthday and a rescue. Harry had finally received a note via Fawkes after two months of no communication, letting him know that Severus was coming to pick him up, and that the only way they could bypass the wards was to apparate in and out immediately on the stroke of midnight of his birthday. He wasn't sure what was going on, or why communication had been cut they way it had, but he figured it had something to do with the fact that he couldn't get any messages out, Hedwig could bypass the wards but only if she wasn't carrying anything so he'd let her out earlier and told her to meet him at Grimmauld. He'd also tried muggle post, but when the letter to Hermione kept ending up back in his room, he'd given up. Whenever he had tried to leave the warder area, a strong, almost electric shock, had kept him in. It hadn't ever been this bad even when Moldypants had been alive and kicking; which frightened Harry even more. He had a lot of questions, and he hoped that they would be answered tonight, er… this morning.
Harry rubbed his stomach and tried to hold back the nausea. He'd been feeling sick all day, kind of off all week if he was truthful with himself, and assumed that it had something to do with his magical maturity; though he hadn't read anything about feeling nauseous in any of the books that Hermione had given him. Fifteen seconds; Harry moved back out of the center of the room and waited. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one…
A loud crack a moment later and Severus Snape appeared in the middle of his bedroom. "Are you ready?"
"Yeah, I'm ready." Harry stepped into the man's arms and braced himself for the uncomfortable sucking sensation that accompanied side-along apparition. With only a muttered count as warning, Harry was suddenly pulled into a swirling vortex before abruptly landing directly inside of a boardroom in Gringotts.
"Good," Albus Dumbledore stood up walking over to hug the newly turned 17 year old. "I was hoping that this would work, that Fawkes would be successful where an owl was not; he came back without the letter or a message from you, so we were…"
Harry nodded. "I only just managed to get the note from him before the wards kicked him out. Sir, I don't understand why we're here, not that I don't appreciate you getting me out of there," and he turned to smile at Severus, his bruised cheek and blackened eye pulling uncomfortably with the action, "but why couldn't we meet at Grimmauld? Why are we in Gringotts in the middle of the night and what is with the crazy wards around Privet Drive? I couldn't even use the muggle post!"
"Because Lord Potter," said Ragnok, an old goblin who had just stepped into the room. "As an orphan from the Line of an Old and Powerful House, if you do not claim your title and assets before the end of the first hour of your coming of age, everything reverts back to your magical guardian until you are 21 years old; the wards, I assume, were meant to ensure that. I'm sure that you must have even more questions, but they will have to wait, we are operating in a severe time constraint."
Harry raised an eyebrow, wincing as the action again tugged on the skin around his blackened eye. "Isn't Albus my magical guardian?" he asked dismissing his other questions for now.
"No Lord Potter, he is not. Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge is."
"Wait, but I thought-"
Ragnok held up one hand, "Please allow me to explain. It starts with your parents will, and ends with Fudge blocking our attempts to get in contact with you regarding your coming of age and the claiming of your title and assets. Had it not been for William Weasley, we would not have known who to contact in order to get you here." Ragnok paused sticking his head out the door, and a few minutes later a large tea service was brought in. "Your godfathers should be here momentarily."
Harry nodded and sipped his tea only after seeing Severus sip his, then downed the potions Severus handed to him as well. "Thanks Sev."
Severus raised an eyebrow. "What happened?"
"Dudley," Harry rolled his eyes. "He seems to think that since he's bigger, much bigger, than I am that I would be an easy target."
"I assume that you disabused him of this notion."
Harry grinned, "Surprised the hell out of him Sev. Got locked in my room for my efforts, but it was worth it."
Severus nodded in approval. "Good."
"So… what's going to happen next?"
"The first thing we must do is confirm your claim to the Potter title; we need to ensure that that is done within the hour. Questions can be addressed after that." Ragnok told the teen.
"Happy Birthday Cub," Sirius startled Harry when he walked into the room, Remus following.
Harry turned at his voice and launched himself into his godfather's arms. "Oh, I've missed you Siri," he buried himself into the man's chest, gripping tightly to his robes, relishing in the feel of family, affection, and warmth.
"I've missed you too Cub," Sirius held the small teen tightly. "Have you shrunk?"
Harry laughed, his voice muffled by the chest he was hiding his face in. "No, not that it matters much. I wasn't very big before, though it certainly came in handy; all those corpse chewers underestimating me." Harry giggled.
"Yeah," Sirius laughed, "the expression on Avery's face when you tackled him physically is a site I have preserved in my pensieve for those rainy days. But… that doesn't matter right now, let's just take care of claiming your title and assets and figure out things after that. This is very important Harry."
"Ok," Harry turned his head to look at the others in the room. When Sirius called him by his name instead of Cub, it was an indication that he really needed to listen. "What do I have to do?"
Ragnok stood and moved to grab a tray that was resting on a sideboard. He brought it over to the table and placed a large ornate knife on the table, and a ring bearing the Potter crest. "Please have a seat Lord Potter."
Harry refused to let go of his godfather, so Sirius moved to the indicated seat and sat keeping Harry in his lap. Severus rolled his eyes, his lips twitching in an amused smirk, while Albus just sat there twinkling at all his boys in the room, as Remus moved to sit beside Sirius and Harry.
"All I need you to do Lord Potter, is use the knife to draw blood, from your fingertip will suffice, and then place a drop of your blood over the crest on the ring. The ring will judge you, making sure that you are of the Potter Line and that you are worthy of becoming head of House and Line. After that it is as simple as signing a few forms to officially claim head of House and Line as an -of age- adult."
Harry glanced up at Sirius for reassurance, then to Remus and Severus as well. "It is quite alright Potter, all of us whom are from old houses with titles must to go through the same thing, though usually it is an heir claiming head of House until their elder dies, then head of Line," he held up his hand to show the ring on his finger that Harry hadn't recalled seeing before. "I have to take it off while working, the metal of the ring can sometimes interact with certain, more volatile ingredients," Severus explained.
"Its fine Cub," Remus said reaching out a hand to stroke Harry's fringe back from his face. He gasped upon seeing the large bruise on his cub's cheek and the swollen eye and split lip which were slowly healing thanks to the potions Severus had given him.
"S'ok," Harry smiled at the werewolf. "Not so bad this summer in fact. I think that they were scared of me because I killed off ole Moldypants; well except for Dudley, but then again he's never been very bright." Harry shrugged nonchalantly.
Sirius let out an inappropriate giggle. "That's our cub, now let's get started, we only have a half an hour left before we're too late."
Harry leaned forward and taking the knife, cut along the pad of his thumb, turning his hand to let a drop of blood splash along the Potter crest emblazoned on the face of the ring. The ring reacted immediately glowing a bright white then flying at Harry. Startled he threw his hands up in front of his face, dropping them in shock when he felt the weight of the ring settle around the ring finger of his right hand. "Wow."
"Well, I've never seen a ring get quite that excited before," Ragnok commented. "I believe it's safe to say that the ring has recognized and approved of you. Now if you could please sign these and then your family can get around to answering your questions." He slid two long parchments over in front of Harry. "You'll place the crest of our ring on the parchment after your signature to validate the documents." Ragnok instructed.
Harry shrugged and grabbed the quill, looking around for the ink.
"Oh, I forgot about that," Albus muttered. "I'm sorry Harry, but that is a blood quill," Albus paused when Harry dropped the quill and shoved it away. "Unfortunately just as you need your ring to validate the documents, you need to sign in blood for the same reason. That is all a blood quill is supposed to be used for, not what Madame Umbridge did to you."
"What did she do," Sirius twisted an arm free to grab Harry's writing hand reading, 'I must not tell lies', "That fucking bitch!"
Harry yanked his hand away and burrowed his face into his godfather's chest once more, letting out a frightened whimper. He'd always been a bit sensitive, something that he had had to keep hidden with the Boy-Who-Lived persona, except from the people he loved and trusted; but recently, just this past week, it had gotten… worse. The need to be held, to be close to his godfathers, the urge for family, affection, and approval was sometimes overwhelming in its intensity. Add to that the discomfort in his stomach, and Harry was really beginning to feel alarmed.
"Harry," Sirius rubbed a hand up and down his godsons back, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to yell."
"You're not upset with me?" huge green eyes peeked up from beneath messy fringe.
"Of course not cub, it just startled and upset me that someone would use a blood quill on you, on any child. I know you don't want to use that quill Cub, but it needs to be done."
Harry nodded resignedly reaching for the quill. "What am I signing?"
The first document," Ragnok pointed, "is claiming that you are an of age orphan, and therefore are claiming head of House and Line, and negating any standing orders: withdrawals etcetera, until as such a time as you have reviewed them. The second is to claim your seats on the Wizengamot and the Board of Governors of Hogwarts."
"I have a seat?" Harry asked clearly confused.
"Like muggle politics Cub," Remus answered. "You have a voting seat in the wizarding version of parliament."
"Oh," Harry blinked. He reached over and quickly scrawled his signature at the bottom of the two parchments where indicated, and placed the crest of his ring after his signature watching fascinated as the Potter crest was burned into the documents. "Cool." He sat back leaning comfortably into his godfathers embrace. "So… now what?"
Ragnok turned to bow himself out, "I will take my leave and file these. You may have the room as long as you need. Everything else regarding your assets can be gone over another time not in the middle of the night."
"Thank you," Harry returned the bow. "May your gold run like the rivers of old, filled with your enemy's blood."
Ragnok blinked in surprise, "And may your coffers always be full, and your life and line long lived."
Harry grinned turning back to the others. "How did you know the proper greetings cub?" Remus asked curiously.
"Bill told me."
"Ah, Mr. Weasley," Albus smiled. "He is the reason we were able to find out what was going on in time to prevent further damage, and to hopefully reverse some of it."
"Ok," Harry prompted.
"As it came closer to your birthday, the goblins began sending letters to arrange your meeting to claim your head of House and also in your case as an orphan, head of Line. None of them were answered and the goblins became concerned, calling in Bill, because they knew he was acquainted with you, to see if he knew of a reason why you were not answering your letters or if there was an alternate way to contact you. Bill then contacted me," Sirius paused to sip a cup of tea Severus handed him and Remus. "We," he pointed to himself and Remus who had moved into Grimmauld with him, "hadn't heard from you either and were already worried, so I got in touch with Sev, Albus, Hermione and the rest of the Weasley's."
"So I wasn't just being ignored again," Harry sighed in relief.
"No Harry," Albus said, past regrets coloring his voice. "At the time I thought I was doing what was right. I didn't take into account how it would feel to you. I'm sorry."
Harry nodded at the headmaster, he had forgiven the aged and war weary man a long time ago.
"It was actually Hermione who came up with the theory of what could be going on after she found out that Albus was not in fact your Magical Guardian. You know she is planning on going into the Ministry after your final year, and she had been doing a lot of reading. Short story is, she read about the Wizengamot, Lordships and old Houses and Lines, laws pertaining to orphans and what not, and the coming of age claiming meetings. None of us had ever thought that you wouldn't know about coming of age and the claiming and everything. We take it for granted you see." Sirius explained. "After that is when we really began to worry that something or someone was deliberately blocking you. We discovered that Privet Drive had been placed under a fidelius. While we were working out a way to reach you, Hermione suggested that we get someone in the bank to look into your vaults, and someone in the ministry to look into your parents will and your status as an old Line orphan."
Remus picked the story up to give Sirius a break. "Bill found out that someone has been making monthly withdrawals from your vaults, in fact, they're almost sucked dry. Over 500 million galleons; luck was that the rest of your net worth is sunk into investments and properties. So all the person could get at was the actual vault contents. The bad luck in that many of your family heirlooms have disappeared. Bill said over half the inventory is missing, about another 300 million worth."
"Holy fuck," Harry whispered. "I thought that I had only the one vault."
"As Hermione pointed out to us, she figured you would have been all over your vaults if you know they contained things from your family," Remus agreed. "That one vault is just your trust for school. It couldn't have anything taken from it without alerting someone to the fact that your magical guardian was draining you dry. Bill was able to find out that it was Fudge who has had his hand in your vaults, since your placement with the Dursley's in fact."
"I don't understand how we couldn't have known this?" Harry looked around confused. "I mean I figured something was up when I was sent back to Privet Drive, and I figured that it had something to do with the Ministry and that Professor Dumbledore didn't have any other choice, but shouldn't we have clued into this much earlier? Especially if that man has been making free with my money?"
Albus shook his head. "I never found out what was going on because I didn't know to look. Your tuition was already set aside, and all we needed was the key to your trust for your school supplies and other little things. As it was no problem to get a hold of your key…" he trailed off "And you were right about having no choice but to send you back to Privet Drive. Cornelius blocked Sirius' attempt to claim custody on the grounds that a wizard who had spent twelve years in prison probably wasn't the best person to take care of the Boy-Who-Lived. As for magical guardianship, I have never had magical custody or otherwise you. At the time of your placement with your Aunt and Uncle, it was agreed upon by Cornelius and I, that simply keeping you in the system would be safer. He agreed to bury the paperwork, that way no one would be able to contest your placement." Albus sighed and rubbed his hand over his face. "This is just another thing that I didn't 'see', and I am so very sorry my boy." He turned bright blue eyes on Harry.
Harry waved away the remorse with a smile. "So this whole voting parliament thingie, how does that work?"
"Ah," Severus sat forward. "That brings us to another thing of yours that has been… utilized inappropriately. Our ministry contact, Lucius, has found out that Fudge has been using your votes to pass his legislations."
"I don't understand, wouldn't someone have noticed if he was using the Potter vote? Wouldn't that be kind of obvious?"
Albus sighed. "Many old families have what is called a standard voting tide, in case the head of Line cannot be present for the vote. Not all families use it of course, but as I did not know what Cornelius was doing, I had mistakenly assumed that the Potter tide was recorded before James' death."
"Which is exactly what Fudge was counting on," Sirius added. "Votes are not taken by holding up a paddle or something equally as silly. They are recorded magically, so no one actually saw Fudge actively casting your votes, just the votes showing for one side or the other; therefore the ministry wouldn't know to look into it."
Severus nodded in agreement. "Once Lucius knew about the votes, he knew where to look for the rest of the ministry records pertaining to yourself, and that is how we found out that Fudge had gone as far as signing magical guardianship of you over to himself, which included access to your vaults to pay for your care. Had there been a voting in tide in place, Fudge would have been unable to use your votes, your seats."
"How much damage can one vote do though? Wait, you said seats, as in more than one?" Harry asked curiously, had they mentioned seats before?
Severus laughed. "Lucius also stumbled across the fact that the Potter line was originally started by the youngest of the Peverell's, a man named Ignotus. When his two older brothers died before having heirs, the title of Lord Peverell came to him. And to answer your first question, two votes, or even just the one can make a world of difference. It's the name behind the vote. People see that the Potter's and Peverell's are voting one side, and make their decision based on that."
"I don't like politics," Harry whimpered rubbing his forehead.
"It's ok Cub," Sirius soothed the teen in his lap. "You will have plenty of people to help you. I also have a seat, and eventually Cub, its coming to you as well."
"Harry turned big green eyes on his godfather. "Do you hate me or something?"
Sirius laughed and squeezed Harry until he squeaked. "No, I just don't have a child or another godson, sorry Cub."
Harry rolled his eyes. "You could always fix that," he grumbled, causing the others to laugh. "So anyway, what happened next?"
"Lucius," Severus explained. "He managed to 'find' the information we needed to get you as well as slip that note to you telling you to be ready, while Bill set up the meeting, and here we are."
"So what now then?" Harry yawned tiredly.
"Now," Sirius stood up Harry's small body in his arms. "We get you home to sleep. You still have a little bit of changing to do. Feeling especially tired and achy?"
"Been feeling weird all day," Harry nodded.
"Magical maturity," Sirius explained. "That's why 17 was chosen as the age you become a consenting adult, because that is when your magic fully matures, and in some cases forcing your body to physically change to accommodate the magical changes as well."
"Yeah," Harry agreed. "Hermione gave me a book when we found out that I wouldn't be with you this summer. I hope I get taller."
Severus, Sirius and Remus laughed, the latter reaching out to ruffle Harry's hair. "That's always a possibility, so maybe you will get taller."
"We will see you tomorrow afternoon Harry," Albus reached out to pat Harry's arm. He and Severus both turned on their heels and apparated away.
"Home and bed," Sirius said, apparating away Harry half asleep in his arms, Severus and Remus following close behind.