Roses Have Thorns
Notes: This is being written during my senior year. I have no beta, and I have limited time. Updates will be erratic at best. I probably shouldn't be posting this until I finish completing it, but I hope you all enjoy. Pairing is undecided, though it will be slash. I will not be persuaded otherwise. Please let me know if there are any grammatical/plot issues, and I will try to right them. Constructive criticism is liked; unnecessary flames are not. But whatever floats your boat.
Long note, but there shouldn't be many notes in future chapters. I'm trying to get this out of the way now.
Harry will also be called Hadrian later on and be referred to as such permanently throughout the story with 'Harry' as a nickname if anything, rather than his name. I suppose I can be persuaded to change this before chapter two comes out if there are too many issues with this.
And I'm done. Carry on as you are.
Summary: AU Slash. Broken and battered, Hadrian relocates to French soil. Forging international bonds, he finds himself spiralling into a dark relationship with an even darker man. Determined to fight the path that has been set by Dumbledore he forges his own path, aided by Zahir Institute of Craft. The mission set for him: overrun Hogwarts from the inside out. It's an offer he can't refuse.
Warnings: Massive AU. Slash. OMC/HP, canon!males/HP, anti!Dumbles, Molly and Ginny. Abuse. Implied almost rape. Creature!Harry, Grey/Dark!Harry. Vaguely effeminate! Harry. This story looks to be a slow moving ship…
Disclaimer: I own naught but the plot and my own characters. J.K. Rowling owns all else.
The beatings didn't stop.
A fist, a foot – spit. Harry could no longer identify the difference between them.
The blows rained down upon his prone form even as he lay curled into a ball, tears slipping past tightly closed lids.
His face was simply awash with salty teardrops and blood, lip split and one of his eyes tightly swollen shut.
"You freak! What did I tell you about cheating on your tests?"
The child in question was flung into the wall like a ragdoll.
"The teachers asked today why Dudley wasn't as good as you! You wasted my time. I had to explain to the teacher that you were nothing but a no good lying brat!"
Accidentally, Harry bit his already split lip, the tang of metal, liquid thicker than saliva and hot flooding his mouth.
"You should have seen her face. The disgust she felt when she realised she had tried defending your lost cause. She hates you too, you know. Hates your guts, your freakish results – you!"
Harry had liked this teacher. She had been the only one to smile at him, the only one not cowed by the name 'Dursley'. But no longer. He dreaded going back to school come Monday morn.
Tonight Vernon had been worse than usual. His speech had been slurred heavily during dinner, and his Aunt had been quick to decide an impromptu visit to one of Dudley's friends was in order for her and her son. Harry was not included in her plans. If anything, he was going to be the punching bag that assured Vernon's stay at home was relaxing. He was also the manacle that would tie Vernon to the house rather than the streets.
Usually the man left blows where they were not visible – on his back, his stomach; never his face. But tonight the man had no such qualms. His hand had was heavier than usual, and his steps were slow, prone to faltering.
Vernon laughed hollowly, and Harry couldn't contain his cringe at the manic ring in his voice.
There was a clink of metal and Harry realised with horror the man was undoing his belt and advancing on him, a dark look in his eyes.
"I thought I'd wait until you were a little older. But I suppose this will hurt you more now."
A shrill scream tore through Harry's lips, his pupils dilating to pinpoints as his irises flexed widely – large, blazing green emeralds fixed on the ceiling.
Glass shattered, even as Vernon roared. "It's time you learnt your place, freak!"
An endless litany of babble left Harry's lips as he stared unseeingly upwards. Around the child, bright, almost golden light flared, blinding the once predator of a man.
Vernon shielded his eyes with his hand, his saliva-slicked moustache trembling with anger. What was the freak doing this time?
The voice reverberated throughout the room, strikingly deep. The walls trembled. Vernon quaked.
Your transgressions against my master will not be forgotten, nor will they be forgiven.
Every blow you landed on him tonight and in the past will haunt you until your grave is lowered into the dust, and even then you will not forget your actions.
Vernon squealed as his shoulder began burning, hands seeking the sore spot and attempting to put out the flame. Rather than supress it, the pain intensified. His jaw wobbled as his gaze darted around the room, trying to find the source of the voice – of his agony.
You will experience the pain your charge has experienced. You will feel your blows against him like the sun against your back, and the moon against your face.
Cold laughter swept through the room, even as Vernon stared red faced at the slumped over boy who too, did not know who was speaking.
I give you tonight to run; to escape. But let it be known that no matter how far you travel, how deviously you cover your tracks – I will find you.
You will not be forgiven. Your errors will not be forgotten.
You will live in horror, just like my master has.
Vernon ran from the room, the seal on his shoulder pulsing.
But remember, Dursley. Predators love the chase.
Harry passed out, even as the golden light around him dulled to burning embers.
Severus Snape was not a happy camper. He rarely was, and it could be attributed to the fact he sat across from a visibly benign old man whose beard, in ratio to the man's body size, was unequivocally larger than Snape's own nose to face ratio. This, to Snape and those who had seen Snape's nose, said something.
"Now, Severus my boy," the jovial old man ignored the snarled 'I am not your boy', and continued boisterously. "It has come to my attention that our dear Harry's alarms have gone off."
"They always go off, Headmaster," hissed Snape. "He's the spawn of Potter, of course he's wreaking havoc with his magic. He probably thinks he's the king or something equally as stupid."
The wrinkled face looked deeply saddened by the venomous words. "Now, Severus. I am hoping you will be able to put your silly little childhood fights aside and check up on Harry." He held up a hand to stop the crusade of vicious remarks. "There have been the expected bursts of accidental magic pulsing from number 4 Privet Drive—"
Albus Dumbledore stopped at the frozen look of horror on his resident potion master's face.
"The Durselys?" Snape choked out. "Are you out of your mind? That wench hates magic." His mouth clicked shut at the disapproval on Albus' face.
"Now, Severus. Petunia is a lovely lady who has lovingly taken her nephew in." Airily, almost, Albus gesticulated wildly. "I am sure the power of love runs strong within her. It is the reason why the wards around the house hold, after all. But I digress, we have gone off topic once more, my dear Severus."
Crossing his arms, Snape stoically settled into his chair, mind whirling.
"As I was saying, disregarding the usual bursts of accidental magic, there was a very large, concentrated wash of magic around an hour ago. One of my sources says he noticed a bright light from beneath the front door." Gnarled fingers tapped against the table, the only visible sign of his agitation at the situation. "I do not trust Remus to keep his head, he is far too attached to the boy to take in the situation rationally," Albus' eyes lit there, and Snape forced himself to nod, as if he understood what the other was hinting at. "Therefore I want you to check on it."
"Yes my boy. If need be I want you to have a word with Vernon." Albus slid a letter across the table. "Pass him this, too."
Snape stared at the letter incomprehensively before snagging the sealed envelope off the table.
"It will be as you wish," he sneered, cape billowing behind him as he slunk out.
Behind him, Albus turned to Fawkes. "I want you to follow Snape and report his movements."
Fawkes stared at him for a moment before spreading his wings with a dull trill. He too, vanished, but in flash of fire.
Snape paused at a scrubbed clean number four mailbox, his dark eyes scanning the pathway and eventually the house before him.
Everything was silent. There were no lights on in the house.
Sniffing disdainfully, he toyed with the thought of apparating home and informing Dumbledore that no, there was nothing wrong with his wayward chosen one, and that yes, the kid was just doing it for attention. But Merlin, it was the Dursleys.
Pinching the bridge of his nose he exhaled loudly. Walking up to the front door, he froze upon reaching to knock.
The front door swung lightly on its hinges, blown back and forth by the wind.
Surreptitiously drawing his wand, he toed the door open, silently sliding in. His eyes darted around, noticing the blood that stained the doorknob and bolt, and the way the house was silent. It seemed a standstill.
Usually, regardless of the fact all the residents in a house were asleep, there would still be noise. The sound of breathing or of sheets rustling echoing through the halls. Perhaps even the occasional sleep-garbled trash Snape was used to hearing after his years in a shared dormitory. But here, there was nothing.
The floorboards beneath his feet creaked, and his wand sparked with white light. He used it to navigate his way around. It was a moonless night.
Tracing the trail of blood drops he stood, silent, outside a heavily guarded closet door. Deadbolts, padlocks, chains stretching from the door to the wall, Snape ran out of knowledge of the different types of locks as he stood there, staring.
Sweet Merlin forgive him for never having asked for more details on sweet Lily's baby boy.
Sweeping his hand down the line of locks, he watched as they slid back, clearing entrance past the rickety doorway.
Gripping the handle tightly Snape yanked the door back, breath catching as he noticed the bloody patchwork of a boy that lay, beaten and broken, in the corner of the tiny cupboard.
He closed his eyes tiredly, feeling much too old – much too weary of the world, for this.
Tentatively he slid forward; well aware of how large his boot looked next to the fragile boy, and bent down. His presence was felt by the other, if the terrified, doe like eyes aimed his way was any indication.
"No, Uncle, stop! I'm sorry!"
The eyes were glazed over, face nothing more than a canvas of violent blues and purples, beaten to naught more than a pulp.
His voice quiet, soothing as though he were speaking to a cornered animal, Snape spoke slowly. "It's okay, Harry," Potter just wouldn't cut it right now, "You're safe."
Full blown pupils stared at him. "Safe," scoffed the voice. Snape fought back his flinch at the crushed, broken tone. "There is no safe from Vernon. Are you mad?"
Almost instantaneously the boy slapped a hand over his mouth, ignoring the way his split lip burst open, a fresh wave of blood spilling down his chin.
Snape sighed, gently pulling Harry's hand away. Merlin he felt too much like a softie.
"I will not be speaking to your Uncle about this. Now, I want you to sit there and close your eyes. You may speak only after I have healed your lip." At the easy acceptance of the other Snape wanted to sigh again. After his preconceived notions on how the boy would be like James Potter, Snape did not know how to react to the utter submissive nature before him. "Good."
Drawing his wand, Snape pointed it at Harry, muttering "Episkey", followed by a "Vulnera Sanentur".
Wincing, Harry sat there as the strange man with the stranger stick made him feel better. At the tingling in his lips he lifted his hand, marvelling at the way the skin on the palm of his hand seemed to knit itself together before his eyes.
Obediently Harry tilted his head back, pulling a face at the taste. He had been forced to eat scraps before, and the taste of it wasn't that bad in comparison he supposed. Gulping it down he wiped his lips against his arm. He drank the next thing passed to him.
This went on for a while, the man ordering Harry to consume various, bad tasting (what Harry assumed was medicine) liquids while Harry sat there, basking in the fact that someone cared and was there and helping him.
After about his fifth swig of something new, the man helping Harry stopped passing him more, simply kneeling as he watched Harry drink. Harry couldn't help his amusement at the way the man's head touched the top of his cupboard, looking painfully uncomfortable and claustrophobic.
Stretching to his feet, Snape stared at the little slip of a boy staring at him. He looked far too much like Lily for Snape's taste. Holding out a hand for Potter – no, Harry now, Snape lead the boy to what he supposed was the lounge.
Pushing the boy into one of the plush loveseats, he sat himself into one of the single seats.
"I want you to answer me honestly, Harry."
At Harry's furious nod, Snape looked pleased.
"Why did your Uncle beat you, and how often?"
He stared at the little boy who looked far too small for the age of nine. The seat veritably ate up his tiny form.
"Uncle," whispered the voice, "Uncle Vernon was not pleased with my grades…" Snape couldn't help the small feeling of distaste, realising the boy had inherited Potter's penchant for stupidity. "He said I cheated, and he was…unhappy to have to explain to my teacher that I was nothing more than a freak who had to resort to cheating to pass." Or not. "It doesn't happen too often," the boy was staring studiously at his hands, or at the wall, or at the clock – anywhere but Snape, really. "Maybe only once a day." At the growl he hurried on, "I mean, it could be worse," Harry didn't want to seem like an ungrateful brat. "He could be beating me whenever he saw me, but he tries to only do it when Petunia isn't home. She doesn't like blood on her carpet."
Snape had been about to revaluate his thoughts on Petunia, and didn't know whether to be pleased or not at the fact he didn't have to at Harry's last sentence.
"When did they start?" he asked quietly.
Hands screwed back messy black hair. Snape didn't feel the hatred he once did whenever Potter had done that. "I…I don't know. The beatings weren't until recently…maybe four or five years ago?"
Four or five years ago? That was preposterous, the boy was only nine. Did he mean as soon as he had been able to walk and talk he was beaten?
"Harry, I want you to be honest with me." Carefully looking into scared eyes, Snape carried on at the almost imperceptible nod. "Did your Uncle ever assault you sexually?"
Harry stared at him, mind slowly catching up. He flushed deep, burning red. "No," he whispered.
Snape stared, a dark fire flickering in his eyes as he noticed the signs. His own snakes showed the same signs whenever they lied – trembling hands, biting of their lip, aversion of eye contact. Rage rocked through him as he made his decision.
"He tried, but—"
Decisively, he stood to his feet, striding towards the cupboard. He froze at the whimper behind him.
"But he didn't succeed! Please," begged the boy. "Please don't tell my Uncle what I told you. Please don't hate me. Please, sir, please!"
Snape felt sickened, even as he hushed the child. "I am neither leaving you nor planning on speaking to your Uncle. If anything, I am removing you from their care." He spat the last word, almost as though it sickened him to even use it when speaking about the Dusleys. He flung the cupboard door open.
"You are taking me away?"
"To safety, yes."
Well aware of the wide eyes focused on his back, Snape flicked his wand. A lumpy bag, barely filled, thumped into his outstretched hand.
Harry stared at him in awe, and Snape's lips quirked upwards slightly.
"Is there anything else?"
The boy shook his head.
"Very well. Hold on tight." Hugging the boy to his body, Snape apparated out of that hole with a crack. He didn't notice the blood that drenched through his robes until they landed.
Upon landing, Snape barely stifled his gasp. In his arms, Harry had passed out. He felt sick to his stomach knowing that the boy was so used to hiding his pain, so unused to trusting, he hadn't told Snape about the worst of his wounds.
His fist knocked rapidly on the door before him, sound akin to that of a machine gun going off. He kept pounding, almost smashing his fist into the surprised face of one Amador Desmarais. The inky haired man, with his darned Auror skills, managed to duck the blow.
"Severus," said the man with a bemused grin. "As much as I know you love my face, it would be nice to know when you planned on feasting your eyes upon it." He stepped out of the way as Snape charged past, ignoring him.
"Where is Strom?"
Amador, upon noticing the pale youth in his old friend's arms, gestured for Snape to follow him.
"Strom," he called as they bypassed a wide hallway, brightly lit by an overhanging chandelier.
The trio entered into a large lounge, wherein a snowy haired male lay passed out on the couch. Understanding the emergency of the situation, the bond between the two flared, and Strom woke up with a jolt.
"Amador?" Blurry, violet eyes scanned the room, before stopping on the two men. "Sev? What's—" he stopped short. Darting to his feet, Strom was next to the potion's master, ordering him to lay the boy down on the couch – 'gently, for Morgana's sake'.
Gasping and spluttering, feeling for the life of him as though he had been drowning and that this was his first breath of air.
Cold sweat rendered his hands clammy, and his shirt stuck heavily to his back.
Somewhere on the brink of it all he could hear the muted, "Amador, Sev, he's awake", but he couldn't react.
He couldn't see anything. It was dark – and he was alone.
Rising to what he considered his feet; he hobbled along blindly, hands out in front of him as he took tentative steps.
The voices around him grew louder.
"Goddamnit, Strom, aren't you meant to be a healer?"
A tense moment.
"I will let that insult against my husband slide, Severus, if only because I can see that you're worried."
Harry gazed unseeingly from left to right. Where were the voices coming from?
Nevertheless, onwards he went, his steps unsure at best.
His heart lunged to his throat as he stepped forward and could not feel anything solid beneath his feet. There was no ground, and he was sent tumbling down into nothingness, the cold void swallowing him whole.
A blinding flash, that had his hands scrambling to cover his eyes, interrupted his fall, and even as his body continued to fall down towards his impending doom, he stared, awed, as psychedelic colours seem to stream in a column around him, with himself as the centrepiece.
Slowly the colour merged into pictures, and the pictures began to move.
Harry stared at another man, his eyes narrowed and his teeth bared.
"Don't you bullshit me. Stop trying to avoid it, we both know I'm needed now."
The one speaking was him. He had green eyes, right? But he looked older.
Dark eyes stared back at him, a harsh hand shoving him into the wall as furious lips claimed his own hotly. Blood and spit dripped down Harry's chin, but all he could feel was the other man. Their body pressed up against his own, their hands yanking his hair back even as his mouth was plundered.
"I can't lose you," snarled the other. "I can't, Hadrian."
Harsh breaths rained against Harry's lips, the man's forehead pressed against his own.
"You won't. Trust me on this, love."
Dark eyes glared at him fiercely. "At the first sign of anything going wrong, Hadrian, you will be back here—"
"In your arms and unable to leave them for at least a century," smiled Harry impishly. He winced at the heavy glare levelled his way. "I understand, love. Now, you do understand that I'm that easy either, right?"
A sinister smile painted the other man's lips, softened only by the tender glint in his eyes. "I beg to differ," he hushed, leaning in towards Harry and tugging on the smaller's ear with his teeth. "I happen to find you very easy."
Eyebrows knit together, Harry pushed the man away. "Yeah well that won't be the case if you keep talking – hey! Put me down!"
Laughing, Harry found himself being carried towards their bedroom. "Love, I need to prepare, it's tomorrow!"
"Hadrian, love, I really don't care."
Slowly the scene around him splintered, like glass being smashed and replaced from behind – a figure, unlike that of an ethereal being and larger than a building knelt before him. It – or he, was garbed in white, swan like wings stretching from his back endlessly.
My master, Hadrian Cygnus Peverell Desmarais. There is not much time.
The voice was like the roar of thunder.
Your mind has been tampered with, and it has taken much energy to speak to speak to you so soon. Slowly, the bonds on you are breaking. The wizened man grows weary – he hunts you as we speak. To him, you are a weak link, an unfinished end that needs to be taken care of. Be wary.
The large, silver band that covered the beings eyes tilted downwards until it was resting against Harry's own forehead.
Only you are my chosen master. When the dawn arrives that you are ready, I will be there to greet you.
He hit the ground.
Bright light splattered from where he landed, stretching up the walls of the column until he was swallowed up from beneath the light and engulfed in warmth. He could feel his shoulders being shaken and shuddered with relief.
Clearing dark spots from his vision, he started as he stared into three pairs of eyes.
"H-Hello?" he whispered.
Amador Desmarais and Strom Desmarais nee Delacour were French.
He, Harry, was in France.
Never mind him being overseas for the first time, but he was in France and was away from his relatives.
So here Harry was, staring up at the enchanted ceiling which had been charmed to show what the sky would have looked like beyond his walls.
It had been two weeks since he had been relocated from Surrey, two weeks since he had first met Amador, Strom and Sev (who he called Professor Snape to his face, or occasionally Severus depending on the man's mood), and a week and a half since he had begun learning bits and pieces about the magical realm.
"Harry," snuffed Amador, his face buried beneath a pillow. "Come back to bed, the gap you left is allowing a breeze."
Harry snorted, shuffling back beneath the covers and making sure to cover Amador's neck.
Ever since Harry had begun to live with them, they had taken to sharing his bed, saying they Harry was almost past the mothering stage and that they had missed so many years of doing it. Apparently, they were fighting for time to make up for it.
Strom's voice was gentle. "What's wrong, Harry?"
He snuggled slightly into the sheets, hair making a mess on his pillow as he turned to face the healer.
"Why do you let me live here?" he wondered aloud.
"Sev is a good friend of mine and Amador's." Soothingly, Strom carded his hand through Harry's hair gently. "He rarely asks for a favour or relies on others; it is even rarer for him to do so on another's behalf." His voice dropped to a murmur, lilac eyes boring into apple green. "You need to understand, that, Harry. He truly is not in the practice of asking for help."
"It's because you are special."
Harry shut down visibly.
"Special," he muttered to himself. "Like a freak."
There was a rustle of fabric and Harry found his back plastered with warmth, dark strands of hair that didn't belong to him clouding his vision. Amador stared at him seriously.
"Don't ever say that," husked Amador, voice heavy with sleep. "You are not a freak. Never a freak."
"But my Uncle and Aunt said I was," hissed Harry confusedly. "I thought freak was my name until I attended classes for the first time!"
The temperature in the room plummeted.
"Your relatives said what?" snarled Amador. "Mordred forgive me for using the term 'relative' so lightly – they are nothing of the sort." A litany of French left Amador's lips; words that Harry felt were colourful and strong. He was unable to listen for long though as gentle but firm hands cupped his ears, cancelling out all sound.
Glancing at the owner of those two hands, he couldn't help the grin that split his lips at Strom's eye roll, nor the way the gentle man head butt Amador.
Slowly, the hands dropped away from his ears, and Harry was dragged into another sandwich of a hug as Strom repeated like a mantra "never again, Harry, never again."
Unable to contain his curiosity, Harry wriggled around to face Amador.
Childishly, he asked "why am I special?"
A wet kiss was pressed against his forehead, and Amador snorted at the way Harry wrinkled his nose.
"On your back is the mark of Raphael."
Harry knew which mark Strom meant. It was like a crescent moon with the sun in the middle of the curve, and directly beneath the orb, connected to the curve was a vertical line. He hadn't looked terribly closely at the details of it though, since it was kind of hard to study his back in the mirror.
"It marks you as a Nephilim – generally the offspring between an angel and man." Quietly, Amador continued, heart thumping against Harry's ear. "However your case is more curious, as though half of you is an angel, it appears one of your parents was not human. Not entirely, at least." Thin fingers rubbed the creases between Harry's eyebrows away. "Through your veins runs not only the blood of an angel and man, but also, if what we suspect is true, of an elf."
"Is this…is this why you're nice to me?" whispered Harry.
Strom frowned severely. "No, never. True, at first we only accepted you into our home because of Sev, but we have fallen for you, Harry, during these past few weeks of getting to know you."
Amador butt in cheerfully. "It does help you were terribly cute when you came here." He fluttered his lashes, something that looked utterly wrong to Harry. "Crying, clinging to us, teardrops dripping from your las—"
"Stop!" yelped Harry, flushing. "I did not cling."
Amador raised a brow. "Really now, I do recall nail marks in my skin that night."
Huffing, Harry pushed Amador's face away.
Amador's laughter vibrated along his back. "Tomorrow, if you'd like to, we can take you to the wizarding marketplace to get things sorted out. Do you…would you…"
Strom sighed and pressed his hand against slowly encroaching face. "What this buffoon is trying to ask, Harry, is if you would like to live with us. As a family."
"A-Adoption?" whispered Harry in awe, his voice wavering. At the end of the word, his voice dropped. There was no way they meant to adopt him.
"Adoption." Firmly gripping Harry's chin, Strom stared into the tearing child's eyes. "This isn't a prank, Harry. We truly wish for you to be a part of this family."
Harry was silent for a moment, and Amador and Strom squirmed uneasily.
Then he flung himself at them.
The walkway was bustling with people. Overhead, the sound of joyous laughter and chatter bubbled alongside cheery music.
Wide, childlike eyes stared around in barely hidden glee, as Harry walked side-by-side Amador and Strom.
Earlier that day, Strom had explained to Harry briefly about their social standings, and how although they weren't pompous gits, they still had to retain their dignity alongside their pureblood masks. His words, not Harry's. It was okay to drop the pretences around family and people they trusted implicitly, but rarely any other time.
Harry followed them silently, the hand on his back guiding him along as they veered left, and Harry was greeted with the majestic sight of a beautifully structured building, something not unlike that of a Pantheon.
"This is Gringotts, it's one of the main banks for the…Wizarding realms. They also have ties in the Muggle world. It's run by goblins, and it is highly advised to stay on their good side."
Nodding in acceptance, Harry forced his eyes to not visibly wander once they entered, following closely behind Amador as he lead the way to one of the free goblins.
The goblin was an odd creature with a fierce scowl, peach coloured skin and black eyes. His expression lightened minutely as he noticed Amador and Strom, before staring at Harry in what Harry mused was confusion.
It was the nine year olds turn to be confused when Amador started talking to the goblin in another language.
"Gobbledegook," said Strom. "It is the language of goblins, and very few humans learn it."
The goblin looked up. "Very few see the point, Delacour." The creature stared at Amador, then at Harry. "There are very few who bother, but those who do are prized."
Harry forced himself not to shrink back beneath the weight of the stare.
Thick lips upturning in what Harry assumed was a goblin smile – though to him it looked much more like a manic smirk. The goblin said, "A blood test for the youngling followed by an adoption." He was about the same size as Harry once he stood next to them, leading them towards a back room. "Right this way. Mind yourself, youngling," his stare pierced Harry, "Gringotts does not take kindly to thieves."
Harry couldn't help but notice that the mosaic on the walls depicted various, creative ways creatures other than goblins, and goblins themselves, were being killed. He shuddered and shoved his hands into his pockets deeply, much to the amusement of the goblin who cackled.
"Wise of you, youngling."
They swept into a large room after being lead down many a winding staircase and earthen path. There was a cold draft despite there being no windows, and Harry smiled gratefully at Amador who tapped his head, causing heat to rush down his spine.
"Heating charm," smiled the elder.
"Sit," indicated the goblin, walking around to the opposite side of the wide table. It was ornately crafted from pure gold. He rifled through some of the papers on his desk, retrieving a ragged rock that looked much too mouldy to have yet to crumble, and a glass pewter. "Hand."
Harry, wide eyed, held out his hand, wincing as the rock sliced down the palm of his hand and his blood dripped into the pewter. Used to the sight of blood, Harry looked at the goblin who noticed his focus.
Despite the harsh tone, Harry couldn't help but think that the name for him was somewhat meaningful.
"What is your name?" He blurted out accidentally; eyes wide as he suddenly shook his head furiously, blushing. "S-Sorry, if you don't wish to share you don't have to!"
The gnarled hand holding his steady tensed, and Harry, afraid that he had somehow offended the goblin, met black eyes. They looked amused.
"Curious child you have brought, Amador. It is to be expected he is as loose tongued as you."
Harry glanced furtively at Amador and Strom, his shoulders sagging as he realised none of the three were angry at his mistake.
"I am Ragnok, many a great-grandson of Raguk the First, founder of Gringotts."
Mouth formed firmly in the shape of an 'o', Harry asked quietly, "don't you have better things to do than help a freak, Sir?" He froze, realising his blunder. "I mean, don't you have more important people to help than a kid?" His awkward smile and scratch of head did nothing to dissuade the cold air that settled over them. He looked down in shame, only then noticing the way Amador's fists had tensed in his lap. Harry had caused that. He felt like the biggest disappointment on earth. His hand dropped back into his lap as Ragnok let it fall.
"Don't cry," said Strom firmly. "Don't cry, Harry."
Sniffing his tears back up, Harry nodded firmly, eyes downcast.
"No, look up. You have nothing to be ashamed for, Harry. If anyone is to be ashamed, it's those muggles. Merde, if I ever get my hands on them…"
Ragnok had no such qualms about mothering him or having a soft voice. He roared, the candles in the room flickering at the force, "youngling, who called you a freak?" Even as the goblin glared and snarled, he handed the dish of blood to another goblin who quickly left the room, his own face a mask of fury. A fist slammed into the desk, sending everything rattling.
Harry, feeling the warmth of two different hands against his back smiled softly at the goblin, "it's okay, they'll get what they deserve sooner or later."
The goblin met his eyes squarely, and Harry could almost feel the black fire burning in them. He seemed to approve of something, for he nodded. "Good."
They sat there quietly, the four of them plus six armoured guards who stood at attention at the entrance of the doorway. Harry found his hair being flicked back and forth and stared balefully at Amador who grinned catlike back at him.
The child couldn't help wonder just how close Ragnok and Amador were if Amador was so comfortable around the goblin that he dropped his mask.
There was a quiet clack as the door was shut, the goblin from earlier having returned with a sheaf of papers.
Ragnok spread the papers across his desk, a glimmer of something evil beginning to grow in them. Harry couldn't help but stare wide-eyed as suddenly the goblin threw his head back and absolutely howled with laughter.
Amador gazed inquisitively at Harry, "he has never reacted that way before. You should be proud to have sent a goblin to the edge of hysterics, Harry."
Ragnok paused in his laughing long enough to glare at Amador, spinning some of the sheets on the desk so that Harry, Amador and Strom could read them.
"Read them and weep," snickered the goblin.
Name: Hadrian Cygnus Peverell Potter
Vaults: 687, 1066, 982, 2583
Name: Lilith Potter nee Evans Amadis*
Name: James Archaic Peverell Potter
Bloodline: Royal elf of the Unseelie Court, Human
Vaults: 687, 1066, 982, 2583**
*adopted by the Evans family, previously Lilith Caevas Amadis
** Vaults 982 and 2583 unclaimed by others, falls to Potter line
'My name is Hadrian.' Thought Harry quietly. 'Not Harry – Hadrian.'
"Vaults 982 and 2583," questioned Strom, "to whom did they belong?"
"Lord Gryffindor and Lady Ravenclaw respectively," smirked Ragnok. "As they had not been claimed for over five centuries by one of direct lineage, it fell to the Peverells. It was claimed by James Archaic Peverell Potter before his five centuries passed and hence he retains ownership of them."
Ragnok stared at Harry for a moment. "If you are to blood adopt the youngling, his human blood - his Potter blood - will be erased and replaced as it is the weakest of his blood composition. Once his Potter blood has been erased, he will lose his status as a Potter. As the last of his line, all his vaults, lands, belongings and monies will fall to the closest relatives – the Peverells, which the youngling just so happens to be. Essentially he will not lose anything."
Strom looked at Harry carefully, "Harry, you don't need to accept this if you don't want to. There's always another time, too, if you want to put it off."
Harry's smile was small but true. "I would like to do it. You're offering me a family, and as much as Lilith and James are my parents, you are, too."
Strom was still concerned. "Harry regardless of our blood you will still be our family, if you're unsure at all—"
"Do you not want me?"
The beautiful snowy-haired male backtracked immediately. "Of course we want you! H—" he broke off at the laughter that was causing Harry's shoulders to shake. "You're evil, stop learning from Amador already, Harry," said Strom, frowning petulantly. It was Harry's first time seeing the man look anything but refined.
Grinning, Harry looked at the goblin cheerfully. "I'd love to be adopted by these two." His grin grew. "Or is it adopt them?"
But he who dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose.