Chapter 23: Revelations
Harry gaped at the two little creatures that had appeared in front of him. Behind him, Tonks whistled.
"I didn't know you had house-elves, Harry."
"Neither did I," Harry answered slowly, still slightly overwhelmed.
Both house-elves had stopped bowing by now and the one on the right started talking.
"Tink is very sorry that we could not come and look for master, but all Potter elves are bound to this house as long as master doesn't call," it explained and Harry wondered absent-mindedly if Tink was a male or a female. The voice did not sound as high as Winky's, but if that was any indication for a gender Harry didn't know.
"It's alright. So... you two belong to this house?" Harry asked, wondering if there were more surprises waiting.
Both elves nodded and now the left one spoke.
"We serve master's family for generations now. Tink and Lettie are the main elves. But there are two more. We are proud of working here."
She - and Harry was pretty sure that 'Lettie' was a female name, apart from the fact that her voice was much higher than Tink's - seemed to say the truth and Harry belatedly noticed that both house-elves wore black aprons with the crest of the Potter family on them. They didn't look anything like the rags Dobby and Winky had worn... but didn't clothes set the elves free...?
Tink must have noticed Harry's gaze because he - for now, Harry would think of him as a 'he' as long as he wasn't proven otherwise - hastily spoke. "Master Charlus has ordered to wear these uniforms, if master Harry is wanting something different Tink will-"
"No, no, it's alright!" Harry interrupted the elf and Tink bowed again. "Would you like to show me around? I've never been here before..."
Both elves nodded. "Would master like both of us to show him and his friend?"
Harry shrugged. "Only if you want. You may, um... do whatever you're normally doing if that's more important."
Both elves looked at each other for a second, before nodding, as if they had a silent conversation between each other.
"We can start with the ground floor," Lettie said, pointing at one door on the left.
"Tink and Lettie will answer any question you might have," Tink continued and both of them started walking into that direction, with Harry and Tonks following them, looking around curiously.
Minerva McGonagall was horribly disappointed and quite agitated as she made a floo-call to Grimmauld Place. She couldn't believe what she had heard just now and even though she didn't want to disturb Harry's holidays with his godfather he needed to know this.
Kreacher was the first to notice her, basically living near the kitchen, and was surprisingly obliging in notifying Sirius that she wanted to talk to him.
And though the man looked slightly dishevelled he greeted her jovially.
"Good morning Minerva. Is there something wrong?" he asked, probably having noticed the frown on her face.
"May I come through? There is something I'd like to discuss in person," she answered, doing her best to keep her anger out of her voice as it really wasn't Sirius' fault.
He frowned slightly but shrugged. "Sure, feel free to do so."
"Thank you." She pulled her head out of the flames and stepped through the fire, easily forming the words that would bring her to the base of the Order of the Phoenix.
Once she had stepped out of the fireplace, cleaning up the soot on her clothes with a wave of her wand, she looked at the door that had just opened, revealing Remus who looked much more decent than Sirius did as he greeted her himself.
She replied accordingly before turning back to Sirius.
"I know that I probably do not have the best timing, considering that holidays have just started, but I really need to talk to Mister Potter. I have found something quite... astonishing that directly concerns him," she explained, coming straight to the point as she liked to do.
Though she wondered what was going on as both men looked at each other, Sirius - having the worse poker face - looking almost panicky. But it only lasted a second before Sirius got his features back under control.
"Um... sure, I'll go get him, just wait a second," he said and walked up the stairs, leaving Minerva to wonder what the boy was doing... Still, it couldn't really be bad, Harry had actually behaved less hot-headed and impulsive this year and his grades had gone up quite a bit, making her wonder if Miss Granger's efforts finally worked out.
A few minutes later, Harry walked down the stairs, looking almost as bad as Sirius, making her wonder if maybe his godfather was a bad influence... If she remembered Sirius from his own schooldays...
Especially once she noticed that Sirius hadn't come back down with Harry. But oh well, it wasn't her business, she had more important things in her mind right now.
"Professor?" Harry asked confusedly.
"Mr Potter, I know it must be surprising to see me here outside of any kind of order business or anything, but just a few hours ago I learned something that you should know. Maybe you should sit down?"
Harry frowned but obliged, sitting down at one of the chairs of the small table, just as Remus moved again, pulling out another chair for her, acting like a gentleman.
She nodded at him and sat down herself before turning her gaze back to Harry, who looked quite uncomfortable and also a bit nervous. Well, maybe it was understandable, considering he didn't know what she was about to say.
"Should I leave the room?" Remus asked politely, looking worriedly at Harry but she just shook her head.
"As long as Mr Potter doesn't have a problem with it it's not necessary." it would be easier if Harry had someone nearby who was close to him. And since Harry just shrugged Remus stayed and Minerva took a deep breath before starting to explain what was going on.
"Alright. I will start from the beginning. This morning, I had a meeting with Professor Dumbledore in his office. It was perfectly normal for him to do so and it doesn't matter what it was about. But when we were almost finished a few owls arrived. That, in itself, would not have been that surprising either, the headmaster does get his fair share of mail every day, but the weird thing was that it did not stop. More owls arrived, almost flooding his office and after at least twenty birds dropped a letter on his desk I could not help but see the recipient written on one of them. And I must say I had not been prepared to read your name, Mr Potter."
Harry stared at her, obviously still confused as to what she was trying to say, though she was sure his mind was rushing through all the possibilities these words entailed.
"Of course, I asked him about that letter," she continued. "But before he could answer I saw even more letters with your name on it. Of course, that led to me interrogating him for a bit and while I can fully understand his initial idea of taking care of your mail - since the muggles you have lived with wouldn't have liked all the fanpost you received as a baby - I cannot fathom why he never lifted the spell. Instead, he has added exceptions for the Ministry and your friends."
By now, Harry was staring at her in shock after understanding had dawned on his face.
"I know it's a lot to take in. But you can be relieved: I made him cancel that spell on the spot and took every letter he had collected for you with me. The seals are unbroken, so he never read them or anything, he just collected them to give you 'once you are ready'."
She almost snorted before taking out quite a few matchbox-sized boxes that expanded with a wave of her wand.
Harry - and Remus too for that matter - gaped at the boxes.
"That's... All of that is H-... my fanmail?" Harry asked in a disbelieving tone.
Minerva nodded. "The headmaster has put all of it away, only destroying the ones that brought harm to you, but other than that, it's the complete collection from letters since you were born."
"Merlin's pants... that's... a lot to take in."
"I know. And I am sorry that I am dumping it on you in such a way, but I thought it would be best to tell you as soon as possible. At least you can be sure now that every letter addressed to you will reach it's destination for now."
Harry nodded slowly and she stood up.
"So... any other questions? Otherwise I would leave you to sort through your mail now, especially since the job of Deputy Headmistress is pretty time consuming."
"No, but... thanks," he said. "For letting me know about it. I... have never really thought about the whole mail thing, but... it's good to know."
Minerva nodded once. "You're welcome, Mr Potter. Goodbye, both of you," she said, by now addressing Remus too, who had stood in the background listening without saying anything, and walking to the fireplace. "Give my goodbye to Sirius too and have a nice remaining holiday. And don't forget your Transfiguration essay."
With these words, she threw floo powder into the fireplace, before vanishing with a clearly uttered "Hogwarts!" from the kitchen in Grimmauld Place, leaving Harry and Remuslooking at each other, wondering about what had happened right now...
All the while, Harry and Tonks had a lot of fun at Potter Manor. The house-elves had shown them the whole property, the many rooms including a few bedrooms, guest rooms and bath rooms, study rooms, a dining room and a huge library which was filled to the brim with books about Light Magic. Completely mesmerizing, Tonks had to almost physically pull Harry out of that room to stop him from sitting down right then and there to read.
Also, they now knew all four house elves belonging to the Potters and how Harry could key in other people onto the property. Though Remus and Sirius were already keyed in, Harry had time to lock out Pettigrew again, since he had been keyed in too, having been a friend of the family.
Afterwards, Harry and Tonks sat down in the dining room to talk while the house-elves prepared lunch for them. They had insisted on doing so and Harry had not been able to politely decline their offer since they had sounded so overjoyed to be able to make lunch for their master again.
At first, there was silence between them, as both obviously didn't know a good topic to talk about, before Tonks opened her mouth.
"So... how's your love life?"
Harry stared at her as his cheeks warmed up a bit. "Huh?"
"Well... It was the first thing that came into my mind and since you're the Boy-Who-Lived and stuff, you've probably a lot of admirers, don't you?"
"Uhh... probably? I've never really noticed, you know?"
Tonks frowned. "Honestly? How boring! Is there no one that strikes your fancy? Not even a bit?"
"Uhh..." Harry thought about it, but he honestly couldn't think of anyone. Sure, he was pretty sure he had had a small crush on Cho Chang last year, but that was over. And the only other people he found even remotely interesting - not counting Ron and Hermione since they were his best friends and he wouldn't want to get involved with them romantically in any way, thank you very much! - were Luna and his mysterious writer. And he was pretty sure his feelings for Luna weren't romantic at all, while he didn't even know the name of the writer... and was pretty sure that he actually hated the person, considering what they wrote. And having romantic feelings for someone like Snape? Not before hell was freezing over!
He shivered in disgust and made a face, causing Tonks to laugh.
"No one, huh? I always thought that boys these days were faster in finding a girlfriend, but oh well... take your time, can't be that bad."
Harry rolled his eyes, still blushing. "Come on, I don't want to have a girlfriend who only likes me because of what happened when I was a baby!"
She nodded. "Yeah, I guess I can understand that, I just wanted to tease you a bit, sorry." Though she didn't really sound sorry, causing Harry to roll his eyes again.
"Liar. Is your love life so much more interesting?"
That had Tonks actually blinking in surprise, probably because she hadn't expected that question form him - and to be honest, he himself hadn't excepted that question but didn't want to take it back now - before she smiled. "Well, more interesting than yours? Definitely. But your non-existing one is probably happier."
That caused Harry to frown. He certainly wasn't an expert - actually, he felt like anything but - but that didn't sound good and he knew from experience that it helped if one talked about his problems. "What's wrong?"
Tonks shrugged. "I'm obviously not very good with falling in love. Always the wrong ones."
"The wrong ones? ...If I'm allowed to ask."
"Sure, feel free. I don't think you're the gossiping type, and I know enough secrets of yours to stop you from telling anyone anyway if I'd need to. Which I don't, do I?"
He raised an eyebrow. Did she think that badly of him? But she had obviously meant it as a joke, because she continued without waiting for an answer.
About two hours later Harry had a full stomach after a wonderful dinner courtesy of Muffy, the house-elf who prepared their meal, and more information he had ever wanted about Tonks love life.
It turned out she had first gotten a crush on Remus once they had started working together in the order, but since he was taken (a fact Harry couldn't quite believe as he had never seen Remus with any woman but Tonks had been absolutely sure) she had never pursued him and tried to focus her interest on something else. And now, she had taken a liking to none other than Bill Weasley, who certainly was good-looking enough for Harry to understand what she was talking about, though the other Weasleys - especially Ron, Ginny and the twins - were gossiping about him and Fleur Delacour, who had taken up an apprenticeship in Gringotts, supposedly to improve her English.
But there wasn't anything known about them officially, so Harry did his best to encourage Tonks to pursue Bill anyway. After all, where had hesitating brought him with Cho? Cedric had asked her out first, even though she might have went with Harry too, had he been a little bit more confident.
And at least it had managed to cheer her up a bit, so both of them could leave Potter manor in a light mood, promising the house-elves to return soon before apparating into Diagon Alley after a bit of thinking. It would be the easiest way to get Remus and Sirius some Christmas presents, as well as something for Harry's other friends.
The mood had further lightened as they arrived back at Grimmauld Place. Shopping with Tonks had been surprisingly fun, especially considering that Harry had to somehow disguise himself so that no one would recognize him. For Tonks doing that was easy but Harry had gotten quite a few different glamours until they were both content with his appearance. But at least he had gotten a few nice presents.
For Hermione he had gotten a very interesting book about house-elves and their rights and history - although she had not announced her protest very openly after a small hunger strike at the beginning of the year he knew she was still thinking thoughts of slavery and he wanted to make her understand what almost everyone else could see: that house-elves liked their work as long as they weren't treated as scum. For Ron, it was brand-new chess set for wizarding chess which could be easily shrunken by a tap of the wand ("No magic required to make it fit you trousers' pocket! Perfect for minors!") and Neville would get some kind of rare plant. Harry had already forgotten it's name again, but the shop owner of the Herbology store in Diagon Alley told him a little bit about it and since it was neither particularly dangerous nor completely boring it sounded fine for giving it to Neville. At least he would be able to do something with it as Herbology certainly wasn't Harry's favourite subject. And for the last of his Hogwarts friends, Luna, he had decided to get a bag made of mokeskin. He had noticed how more often than not a few things of her suddenly got lost and Ginny had mentioned a few times in passing how Lunas homework seemed to miraculously vanish sometimes. At least a bag like that would make it impossible for other people to take something out of it. Sure, it was a pretty expensive gift for someone he only knew since September, but it was also a thank you gift for that wonderful interview. Harry sure hoped she would like it.
The gifts for the few adults he wanted to give a present to were more difficult though and they had went to almost every store Diagon alley had to offer before Harry remembered his last visit of the Alley and promptly bought both Marauders a wand holster after checking with Tonks that they owned nothing like that. Tonks herself would get a book about goblins, their customs and language. Harry had had no idea at all if she would like it, but maybe knowing a bit about goblins helped breaking the ice between her and Bill as they had something to talk about. Though it had been quite difficult to purchase the book without her noticing.
But then, they were done and talking happily about this and that as Tonks opened the door of the Black family home and they made their way into the dining room.
Only to see Sirius and Remus sitting in the kitchen, with a few big boxes around them, talking. Though they stopped once they heard the door and Sirius looked almost ashamed as he turned around to look at Harry.
"We're back, what's going on?" Harry asked, looking at the boxes confusedly.
"Welcome back," Sirius said, sounding more uncomfortable than enthusiastic. "I think there's something I need to tell you..."
First of all: A big thank you for everyone who waited patiently for this update! I'm so sorry that I wasn't able to update any earlier, but real life was really hard on me and I had no time to write anymore. But it should be over now and I think I should be able to write more again, so I sure hope the next chapters won't need as long as this one did!
Also, I hope it's alright, as I'm slightly self-conscious about my writing style after so much time without practise... but I did my best. :)
Thank you for everyone who favourited or followed my story even though the last update has been a while ago and special thanks to all reviewers who helped me to never forget that there are people who want to read my fanfiction! I could never stop writing knowing that. :3
Harry potter doesn't belong to me and never will, instead it's J.K. Rowling's.