Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, nor do I make any profits from posting this fanfiction.
Summary: Non-Epilogue compliant. After the war groups of disgruntled Wizards and Witches terrorise England's magical nation, sending them to the brink of civil war and a war against the Creatures. Harry is in Gringotts when one terrorist faction attack causing Harry and other survivors to go into hiding. There is an interested repercussion of te potion they use to hide themselves and now Harry finds himself stuck in a foreign country, with people he doesn't know and living in a style he has never even dreamed to imagine.
Warnings: Gender change. Fem!Harry…after a potions accident. Name changes for characters. Hurricane Sandy (use of artistic licence over the damage it wrought)
Pairings: LM/HP. DM/AG. RW/HG.
"…and finally, to Harry James Potter I so bequeath the title Lord Black and all the monies and estates owned by the most Ancient and Noble House of Black, excluding the Black trust fund in my son Draco Lucius Malfoy's name, but including my dowry fund which is given back to my birth family name in the event of my death being before that of my Husband."
Harry breathed a sigh and rubbed his forehead feeling the headache that had been threatening him for the last hour come in with a vengeance. He shut his eyes and nodded his acceptance when the Goblin in charge of Narcissa's will reading asked if he accepted.
"I accept." Harry murmured and risked a glance up to the remaining Malfoy family. Draco sat stock still, eyes wide but sight unseeing as he stared blankly forward. Next to him was his fiancée, Astoria Greengrass who held one of his hands clasped tightly in both of his. On Draco's other side was Lucius Malfoy with huge black bags beneath his eyes and a haunted look on his face. He looked weary and grief stricken, his face was a pale colour of turned milk now though and a few silent tears had dripped from the eyes of the proud aristocrat. Lucius had been a lot healthier in recent months, recovering really well from his brief but horrible stint in Azkaban, now with the death of his wife two weeks ago his health had declined with his grief.
"And so concludes the will reading of Narcissa Galatea Malfoy. You shall be given thirty minutes continued use of this room then we at Gringotts bid you to leave."
That demand was actually quite polite considering the current political climate. Sure the war with Voldemort was long over with and the world was recovering from that. But seven months later Minister for Magic Kinglsey Shacklebolt had been assassinated and a group adamantly against Creature equality had pointed the finger at the Goblins since Kinglsey had been murdered in the bank…or at least he had died in the bank but nobody knew who threw the killing curse.
Since the assassination the world seemed to have gone crazy. Harry had nearly been forced to quit auror training because he hadn't passed his final year despite the waiver from Kinglsey saying he didn't have to have his NEWTs to start training. Ron nearly had to pull out too. Thankfully the press got wind of the story and for once spun things for their benefit so they got to keep their training positions. Hermione wasn't so lucky and had been demoted but had started private study to get her NEWTs. Ginny had gone back to Hogwarts to complete her final year without Death Eater disruption. Ginny had asked to take a break from their relationship while she went back to school too, something Harry had quickly agreed to. While he loved her, he was having doubts about them as a couple and wasn't sure he could manage to have a relationship while he got over the emotional upheaval the war had put them all through. Even Ron and Hermione were taking their relationship very slowly, thank goodness since they were sharing a house with Harry still.
Harry sighed again. He had better go soon; he had only come because he had been summoned to the will reading. He had to get back to the Ministry. Auror trainee or not he was in the team guarding the voting stations for a new Minister for Magic, he had needed to calm down more than a few angry voters and protesters trying to persuade others to vote their way at the electoral buildings. It was a nightmare.
Harry stood up and wandered over to the Malfoy family. They were still sat there quietly, doing nothing.
"Lord Malfoy? I wanted to say again that I am sorry for your loss. You too Draco." Harry said carefully and quietly. Draco nodded sullenly but made no eye contact with Harry; he just looked to Astoria and his clasped hands and gripped tighter. It was the most Harry had seen him do in over an hour. Lucius however cleared his throat gruffly and stood up.
"Th-thank you Mister Potter. Your sympathies are most welcome. My wife held you in very high esteem." He said gruffly, his voice tight and it sounded like his mouth didn't want to cooperate at first to form words.
"She was an amazing woman sir. I owe her a great deal. If there is anything I can do for you and your family, please ask me." Harry said humbly, offering what he knew was a dangerous boon but at the same time he wanted to put his offer out there. The Malfoy's were still shunned in society because of their involvement during the war; Harry had stood up for them during the post-war trials and had remained civil and amiable to them which had helped with some of the stigma. Mostly though Harry had interacted with Narcissa, they got on rather well during their time together at Andromeda's house with little Teddy babbling and enjoying changing his appearance between his Godfather Harry and his Aunty Narcissa's looks. Harry genuinely liked the woman. She was everything Harry imagined a lady to be but with a generous softer side of a caring mother all rolled into one powerful witch.
"You are most kind. Any debt you owed us is fulfilled though Mister Potter, more than fulfilled."
"I know sir. But still, if there is anything else I can do I would like to help as best I can." This time Lucius just nodded to Harry's words and held out his hand to Harry. Harry accepted the handshake, the larger hand of Lucius almost swallowing his hand but the hand shake had very little power to it. There was enough firmness there to suggest cordiality and confidence, but it was a gently hand hold that spoke wonders of Lucius' weariness.
"Good day then Mister Potter."
"And you sir." Harry took his hand back and left the Hall of Wills in Gringotts. He had loads to do today it was just a shame that he was stressed already. He still hadn't done his Christmas shopping either and he had only a few days to manage all that around work.
A few months later – 24th July
Harry swore as he grabbed his Gringotts keys from the key hook in the kitchen and shoved it in his pocket.
"Blimey mate, it's not as bad as all that!" Ron laughed. Harry shot the red head an evil look over his shoulder.
"Then you go!"
"No bloody way." Ron scoffed. "I'm not going to that parade. You're on your own mate."
"Yeah, thanks a heap." Harry grumbled giving the letter on the table a baleful look. The new Minister for Magic, the third since January, had decided to hold a Celebration in honour of Harry Potter and Harry had received a letter that demanded he attend, followed by another letter from his boss ordering him to attend. Harry wasn't happy. He hadn't planned on celebrating his 20th Birthday that way at all. Now, it seemed, he had no choice and since his friends weren't invited he'd have to go alone. He'd also have to go and buy dress robes, summer dress robes too because he only owned winter dress robes and it was far too hot at the moment to eve hold those robes let alone wear them.
"Any time. So you off shopping then?"
"Yeah, I suppose I'd better get it over and done with. I need to pick up some things for Andy too. She said she was out of Pepper-up potions and some other things. I wrote them all down. I can do that today; kill two birds with one stone."
"Sure. In that case I'll see you later. Oh, by the way. Hermione and I are going on a date tonight. Do you think when we get back you could maybe make yourself scarce, you know? Please?"
Harry laughed at the awkward question but nodded his head. Ron and Hermione were having a lot more date nights recently and they were having a lot more intimacy around the house. Ron had taken to warning Harry in advance since Harry had accidentally walked in on them a month back having intimate relations in the lounge. Harry had also taken to storing his invisibility cloak in his pocket so that if he did arrive home during their date night he could don the cloak and get up to his room without destroying their 'mood'.
"Will do. I'm off then. See you later. Good luck with work."
"Yeah, you lucky bugger having today off."
"Hey, you get weekends off!" Ron just waved off his complaint and took a long slurp of his coffee. Harry hid a grimace, he might not have a lot of table manners but he knew slurping wasn't good. Harry turned away and walked to the floo. The pot of floo powder was on the edge of the mantle and Harry took a deep breath before grabbing some and tossing it onto the embers. Fire leapt up immediately and then crackled into a bright green flame. Harry stepped into the fireplace, thankful that unlike Ron he didn't have to stoop to get into the hearth.
"Leaky Caldron!" Harry demanded clear and concisely. Rooftops, chimney pots, rooms, fireplaces all flashed in front of his eyes, green light tinting every view and swirling soot casting shadows and obscuring his vision. With a bump Harry landed and tumbled forwards landing flat on his stomach. Laughter started, as usual, accompanied by some sneers and mocking calls. One large group of people all dressed in black or brown robes and eating a sloppy porridge breakfast in the back corner were especially enthusiastic with their jeering. Harry flushed with embarrassment and got to his feet rubbing the back of his neck. He had, after all the adventures over the years, mastered apparation. Floo travel and portkeys on the other hand were still hard and Harry often lost his balance.
"You and those clumsy feet are gonna get you into trouble one of these days Mister Potter." Tom's broad Yorkshire accent was filled with humour. Harry gave him a rueful glance but couldn't stop the smile.
"I'm never going to get the hang of the floo."
"Ah, you will one day. It just takes practise." Harry winced and Tom shot him a knowing look.
"Yeah well, I'll just stick with apparition and flying thanks." Harry grumbled and made his way through the patrons at the pub and out into the courtyard. Tapping the bricks to open Diagon Alley was Harry's favourite method of entering the alley. It brought back only good memories and as the wall opened Harry felt himself smile a little. The wizarding world might be under a lot of stress at the moment with the constant change in leadership and the minor acts of terrorism, the, unstable relationships between wizards and creatures and he various groups running for election shouting and rallying abuse at opponents…all that might be happening but Diagon Alley was Diagon Alley and the hustle and bustle of shoppers rarely changed.
Harry darted around the various groups of teenagers gathering with their friends for shopping trip and to catch up on what happened since Hogwarts. Some were already eating ice cream at nine o'clock in the morning. There were parents taking young children to get their Hogwarts equipment or just to shop in the magical alley. A street vendor muttered with a group of four men dressed in leather outer robes. They were talking low and their heads were bent together. Harry frowned at them as he passed and the vendor accidentally met his eyes. Harry thought it was suspicious the way the vendor pulled back from conversation and gestured to Harry catching the other men's attention. Harry frowned further as the other men turned and saw him there before standing tall and giving him a half-hearted bow and tip of their heads. Harry sighed, maybe they weren't so suspicious after all, that was typical behaviour of many proud men who felt they should acknowledge the presence of the Saviour! At least the half bows were a damn lot better than the group of giggling teenager's reactions. The gaggle of girls were giggling and talking in high pitched voices as they pointed rudely at him. Harry rolled his eyes, and Ginny wondered why Harry had never even thought of dating after they had broken up.
Gringotts loomed up ahead. The huge marble white building was imposing and impressive but the presence of armed goblins at every entrance and window spoke volumes of how Gringotts was unsettled. They still continued their business with the Wizarding world, guarding money and other duties, but relations were incredibly strained and tensions were high.
Harry waited patiently in the short line to get to the goblin he needed to talk to about visiting his vault. In the line next to him were the Malfoy family. Draco Malfoy was gallantly escorting his bride Astoria on his arm, both of them dressed regally. Lucius Malfoy stood behind them, head held imperiously high and dressed head to toe in black formal robes that looked stifling though Lord Malfoy didn't seem like he was too hot. Harry supposed the Lord was a lot better with cooling charms and charms for his appearance than Harry was. Draco was dressed in formal robs too but they were looser and lighter in colour, an imperial blue colour with elaborate stitching in a weaving pattern around his neck line and cuffs. Astoria Malfoy, nee Greengrass as of four weeks ago, was dressed in light blue robes, summer sky coloured blue with the glimmer of sequins or, Harry supposed being that it was the Malfoy's they were talking about, diamonds.
Harry wouldn't be surprised if the Malfoy's had robes made with gold, diamonds and precious gems. They were absurdly rich still, the war doing nothing to affect their gold as a vicious newspaper article had pointed out. They had listed all the wealthiest people in the wizarding world for the month of May. Some potions maker was top of the list, followed by the maker of Bertie Botts every flavour Bean. The Malfoy's came afterwards only a hundred galleons short of the sole descendent of Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel. Ollivander was on the list next as were several members of different Pureblood families like the Bones', Greengrass' and the Selwyn family as a whole. Harry was listed next on Britain's most Wealthy Wizards list. Because of war reparations, which Harry had tried to refuse with no success, inheriting the Black family fortune which also included all the Lestrange gold, Harry had also received gold from the Potter family.
"Keys." Harry corrected as he fished in his pockets to find where he shoved his keys. He hoisted them out of his pockets and was raising his eye line to the Goblin again when his eyes caught Draco Malfoy's gaze accidentally as the blonde passed around a corner following a Goblin to a cart to get to their vault. Draco gave Harry a smile, which Harry thought was odd, but Harry did return it. Happiness suited the Malfoy's and lord knew they deserved some.
"Mister Potter? Key!" The goblin demanded once more.
"Right, er, sorry." Harry handed the key over to the goblin who took it, inspected it closely then nodded and scribbled something with his quill on the book before him.
"Yes. About one hundred galleons." The goblin arched a large, hairy brow and pursed his lips.
"Specific amount?" Harry could have rolled his eyes.
"I'll take one hundred galleons." The goblin looked at the three keys held in his hand and Harry knew what was going to come next. Hurriedly Harry spoke again. "I'll take it from the Potter vault, from my vault specifically."
"Very well. Follow me." The goblin got down from his desk and made to the platform where the carts were. The goblin climbed in first and Harry carefully climbed in afterwards. A warrior goblin got in immediately afterwards holding his axe threateningly. The bank goblin turned to Harry with a stern look. "I must remind you that your wand will remain in its holster at all times, any attempt to pull your wand will result in your immediate death. Do you understand?"
Ah yes, new goblin rules. Harry nodded his understanding and showed the warrior goblin next to him where his wand was stored. The warrior goblin nodded once and narrowed his eyes on Harry, keeping the intense stare piercing Harry as the cart took off at ninety miles an hour down the tracks and into the vaults.
The cart came to an abrupt halt a few minutes later outside Harry's vault and the goblin waved Harry off the cart to see to his vault. Harry slid the key into the lock and turned it carefully then pulled it out and waited for all the magical mechanisms to finish their processes to open the door. The door creaked open and Harry stepped inside his personal vault. There weren't stacks of gold like there were in the Black vault, nor were there many special possessions or heirlooms, any of those were in the Potter family vault or in the Black vault, not in Harry's vault. Harry dropped down to his knees and started piling up the galleons into stacks of ten, after collecting eight stacks of ten Harry started counting out the right amount of sickles and knuts to make up the rest so he had plenty of change should he need it.
Harry bagged up his money into the money sack he carried with undetectable extension charms on it and weightless charms, and attached the sack under his robes. He left the vault and was just about to push the door closed when there was a tremendous screeching alarm. Harry spun around to look at the goblins he had come wit. They were both looking upwards, up the enormous cliff of rock and up in the direction they had all come from.
"What was that?"
"Security alarm!" The warrior goblin spat out angrily. He gave a sharp wave to the banker goblin who quick as a flash hit the control lever on the cart.
"Hey! Wait for me!" Harry ran forward.
"Filthy wand bearer! You are probably the cause of this!" The banker goblin spat and the cart took off zooming along the tracks. Harry ran after it as far as he could on the small ledge outside his vault.
The ground rumbled, stones fell and the whole cliff face Harry was on shuddered and shook. Harry was lurched forwards, barely managing to grab the cliff wall next to him to stop himself falling down the ravine. The two goblins on the cart weren't so lucky. The sudden, violent tremble the ground had jolted the tracks and the art. The banker goblin was thrown from the cart and fell with a deafening scream down the ravine. The warrior goblin nearly fell too but held the cart as it continued to speed away.
Harry held desperately to the cliff wall as he heard the second boom, it sounded worse than the first. The screech that came after sounded suspiciously like a …
A horde of dragons with jets of fire bursting viciously from their lips soared up from lower down the cliff.
"SHIT!" Harry swore and threw himself backwards. There was nowhere to hide! He was going to be dragon food if whatever causing those booms didn't get him first!
"SCREEE!" There was a crunch and a scratch. A crack followed the sound of rocks falling against each other. Another screech. Harry's heart beat was in his throat. What was causing that sound? It sounded like…it sounded like something heavy on the cliff. Harry edged forwards and peeked over the side of the ledge carefully.
"Merlin!" Harry cursed and threw himself backwards again. A dragon with a damaged wing and welts, cuts and damage all over its body was climbing the wall of the cliff right below him. Those horrible black eyes pinned on Harry when he saw movement.
"Scree! Scree! Scree!" The dragon screeched and the sound of scratching claws on rock and rocks crumbling filled Harry's ears. Oh dear god he was going to be dragon meat!
Harry looked around for a place to hide. He was on a ledge outside his vault! There were no big rocks to hide behind, no caverns…nothing!
"Scree!" A burst of flame jet up behind him. Harry jumped and spun around, drawing his wand from its holster. Who was he kidding! He couldn't stand up to a dragon alone! Injured or not you couldn't kill a dragon alone! A white jaw slowly appeared over the ledge, rising slowly but surely. Black eyes peeked over the edge and pinned on Harry. Harry clenched his fist around his wand, frantically thinking through spells he could use.
The noises made Harry jerk. The ground beneath his feet crumbled and shook tremendously. It was like there was something in the ground banging and smashing its way through the very stone beneath Harry's feet. Dust and small stones shook and vibrated along the floor by his toes, some vibrating so much they travelled and toppled off the edge of the platform. Stones fell above him and Harry threw up an arm to protect his head while keeping his wand poised out in front of him.
The dragon wailed as some larger stones fell on top of it and the claw that had reached over onto the platform Harry was standing on scratched at the earth in a desperate attempt not to fall. The ground groaned again and jerked so hard that Harry tumbled to the floor. The stone beneath the dragon's claw started crumbling, cracking and breaking. The dragon wailed again. A stalactite fell and crashed to the floor just next to Harry's right foot, the collapse of the minerals as it hit the ground sent sharp rocks and shards shooting off in different directions. They tore through Harry's trouser leg and some stabbed into his shins and foot. Harry gritted his teeth against the pain and looked up to see if he was in danger of any more falling near him or, worse, on him. The ceiling was littered with enormous stalactites, all shaking and juddering in time with the grinding of the earth.
Harry searched for a safer place to go and his eyes fell on the vault door. He darted towards it, fumbling with his keys trying to get the right key out of the ten on his key ring. He dropped the keys twice and heard a screech behind him once more and a frantic scratching against rock. The dragon was coming, the ground was still quaking and there were massive spikes about to fall and impale him at any Merlin given minute. Harry prayed for his usual luck when it came to getting out of scrapes, he begged for a steady hand to unlock the bloody freaking stupid door!
Finally Harry wedged the key in the lock, hurriedly turned it and yanked it back out waiting impatiently for the door to unlock and open. The ground shuddered and creaked again, the groaning from the earth and stone as it was forced to deal with whatever strain it had been faced with echoed around the ravine.
A jet of heat threatened at Harry's back. Harry gasped then shouted out his panic as he saw the dragon behind him pulling himself up onto the platform. Blood oozed profusely from its wounds, a gouge was taken out of its eye and the side of its face. It had a frantic look in its eye, a ravenous look and tortured look of a starving and hurt dragon seeing a meal. Harry grabbed at the handle of the door trying desperately to open it. He could still hear the mechanisms working behind the door though; it wasn't ready to open yet. The dragon took a step forwards, its eyes pinned on its meal. Harry yanked at the door again, it was no good.
There was a loud crack. Another loud boom tore through the air followed by loads of high pitched, pain filled screams, screeches and shouts. Behind the dragon Harry saw an avalanche of rocks fall but not just rocks, people too. The dragon reared back and smashed the falling rocks with its spiked head and claws. It caught something in its teeth and Harry stared in horror as he saw a young child there. It had gash on its head that was bleeding profusely into long wavy red hair and the bone in its leg was sticking out of the skin. The child let out a pain filled whine as the dragon's teeth clamped down on its arm.
"Let go!" Harry, uncaring of the vault door now opening, dashed forwards. "Conjunctivus! Stupify! STUPIFY!" Harry roared. The child's terror filled eyes snapped to Harry and he choked out a sobbed cry. Huge tears sprang from the girl's eyes and he reached out to Harry beseeching and frantic. Harry threw as much power into his spells as he could, angrily jabbing his wand around. He was careful not to hit the child and he didn't want to just summon the child from the Dragon's mouth in case he left the child's leg there.
"Stupefy!" Harry yelled again, getting the spell right in the dragon's eye. The dragon roared and shook his head around, shaking the child making him scream so loudly the sound pierced Harry's ears and heart. What could Harry do?! What could he do?! Harry's eye fell on some large rocks that had hit the platform and stayed there. Harry jerked his wand to them and banished them towards the dragon. The dragon roared at the attack from its side and opened his mouth wide and turned his head to see what was attacking him. The child fell in a heap to the floor.
"Accio!" Harry called, pointing his wand at the child. The girl flew through the air to Harry and he caught her and held her tightly. The dragon, seeing that the attack had finished on its side turned back to look at Harry and the child angrily.
"Bugger." Harry groaned and spun to the vault door again. Thank Merlin it was open. Harry yanked it open some more and threw himself and the child inside it. The dragon let out a furious screech and a plume of white hot flame billowed towards Harry. Harry screamed as he pulled the door shut, barely getting it closed before the flames hit. The angry fire licked around the edges of the door for a moment, the rock and metal of the door turning red hot. Harry backed away crouching down to clutch the child to him.
The child clutched at Harry's shirt holding urgently at him and blubbering out her fear. Harry shushed her and murmured nothings to her as he stared with dread at the vault door. It should hold. It should keep anything out. The door was made of metal, around it was metal and rock and a whole heap load of magic!
Another crack broke through the earth and the tremors became a constant ferocious vibration beneath them. The child whimpered and cried out again and Harry held her tighter hoping that the ground wouldn't give way beneath them. The gold in his vault tumbled and fell over them, nearly swallowing them up in a sea of gold, silver and bronze. The child's blood, and blood from scratches on Harry, covered the money with liquid life and made Harry swallow heavily.
"I think we'll be okay. Shh, shh, we're okay. I need you to let go."
"No! No! Mama! No!" Harry's heart clenched as the child gripped him harder.
"I won't let you go completely but I need to stop your bleeding. Please, if I don't stop the bleeding then…"
"Ooooh…" The child whimpered and sobbed but nodded carefully. Harry pulled back a little and the girl started crying wretchedly. Without pulling away from her completely Harry looked over her injuries. Her leg was completely snapped, the bone sticking right through the muscle and the skin in a jagged point up to the sky. The teeth marks in her arm were deep but thankfully appeared to have missed her artery though that didn't mean they were any less deadly. The cut on her head was large and went back into her hairline, already it had swollen up to the size of an egg but Harry could have kissed Merlin for small miracles. The swelling was on the outside and not on the inside.
"I need to set your leg. It's going to hurt a lot and I am so, so sorry that it's going to hurt." Harry apologised. If he could get the bone back in place then he could use the dittany he always carried on him to heal the skin, that along with different minor wounds healing charms he had picked up while camping with Ron and Hermione and the few simple first aid spells he had learned with auror training should ensure the child wouldn't die from her wounds.
"No. I don't want it to hurt!" The child sobbed. Harry blinked back tears.
"I'm so sorry, I've got to. I don't want you to die. I need to lay it as flat as we can get it before I cast the spell." Harry took hold of her leg carefully and the girl screamed. Harry gritted his teeth as she started scratching and hitting at him. Taking a deep steadying breath Harry carefully tried to get her leg as flat as it would go with the broken bone. The girl threw herself back and screamed out in agony. Harry felt his tears slip down his cheeks at the pain he was causing the child. She screamed and screamed an as Harry took out his wand she fell silent.
Harry jerked to stare at her face. Her eyes were closed, her face was lax. Harry quickly put a hand on her neck, had he killed her? No…her pulse beat was erratic but there and she was still breathing. She had fainted. It was a blessing in disguise. Harry steeled himself up and pointed his wand at the broken bone. Madam Pomfrey all those years ago had been right about mending broken bones only taking a moment. As Harry intoned the spell the bone gave a nauseating series of cracks as it sank back into the mutilated skin and muscle and then another sickening crack as it snapped back into place. Harry tore his eyes away, shutting them and holding a hand over his mouth. He couldn't afford to be sick now, as grotesque as that was he couldn't afford to lose his nerve.
Harry pulled his wand holster off his arm and pulled out a bead he kept there. Enlarging the bead made it turn back to its original shape, a small hard circular case with extension charms on its inside. Since the war Harry had taken to practising his extension charms and shape changing charms for objects so that he could always have emergency supplies just in case he found himself in need of them. Inside the case were a few books on healing, some books on various counter charms, some potions, dittany, a tent, an emergency pouch of gold, a change of clothes. Harry pulled out of the case the dittany, a blood replenishing potion and a potion to help with the pain the girl was probably in. Harry went over the various cuts casting 'episkey' and 'vulnera sanentur'. To clean the girl up he cast a few 'tergeo' spells and then a 'ferula' spell to bind the girl's leg to give it extra support while the bones knitted. Then Harry carefully poured some of the potions in the girl's mouth, massaging her throat to encourage her to swallow. Finished with that Harry applied some dittany over the slowly mending cuts so the girl wouldn't have many scars.
Then Harry turned attention to himself. His leg and foot were pretty torn up by the falling rocks and stalactites. Harry had to pull some sharp shards of rock from his skin where they had embedded themselves without Harry noticing. Now the adrenaline was wearing off though Harry was beginning to feel pain from them all. He cast his healing spells and stingily put dittany over them, he didn't know how much more of the dittany he would need later in case he found any more survivors from whatever the hell happened at Gringotts.
"Hey. Hey, you're okay." Harry said quietly to the girl who slowly came around. She jerked awake at his voice and let out another whimper.
She looked herself over for a moment and looked around before looking back at Harry. Harry slid a little closer not wanting to alarm the girl in case she was scared of him for the pain he put her through so he could mend her leg. The girl let out a sharp cry and threw herself forwards again clutching Harry into a fierce hug.
"Hey, I've got you. It's okay. We are okay."
"Wh-what's happening?! Where's Mummy? I'm scared!"
"Sh, sh, sh. I know you're scared. I've got you, you're safe for now." Harry murmured and rocked the small girl in a similar way to the way he rocked Teddy to sooth him. "What's your name?"
"Laurel Phillips-Wright. Mummy calls me Lulu. What's your name?"
"Oh!" Laurel's eyes went wide as she pulled back to look Harry in the eye. "Mummy told me about you. You're a super hero!"
"I suppose I am, sort of. How old are you?"
"I'm six. Mummy told me you got rid of the bad wizard." Harry nodded absently.
"I did. Tell me, what you were doing at the bank today. Who have you got in your family?"
"Mummy said we had to get money for more furniture. When the bad wizards killed Daddy they put fire in our house. We live somewhere else now and Mummy wanted to get a new bed for me!"
Right then. Harry frowned trying to think it over. Laurel didn't have a dad, but what about her other family?
"What happened to you and your Mummy do you remember?" Laurel shuddered at the question and pushed herself back in for a hug.
"We were going to the cart. I hate going in the carts, they go too fast. There was a big noise behind us and lots of air pushed me and mummy. We started falling down and something hurt my head. Mummy let go of my hand. I don't know where she is." Harry knew. He would bet anything that Laurel's mum was one of the bodies that fell down the cliff. Laure was lucky to have been caught by the dragon…not that it was very lucky but at least she was alive. "Can we go and find mummy?"
"I think…I think your mummy fell all the way down to the bottom."
"Huh!" The girl gasped loudly. "But that's where the dragons live!"
"Exactly, that's where the dragons live."
"Did-did a dragon eat my mummy like one tried to eat me?" Harry had a little dilemma now. Should he tell her the truth that her mum probably died when she hit the floor or that she was eaten by a dragon? Either way it wasn't a nice thought.
"She might have been Laurel. Or she could have gone all the way to the bottom without being eaten."
"But she'd be really hurt because it's a long way down." Harry swallowed at the naïve little child's words. Perhaps letting her believe that her mother was eaten was the preferable scenario.
"Yes she would be really hurt. But…but I don't think she will feel anything. I think…I think your mum has gone to be with your dad now." Laurel said nothing for a moment then Harry heard a sniffle, then another and then gut wrenching, desolate sobs. Harry held her close. He let her cling to him as she sobbed.
The shuddering of the earth slowly calmed and everything became still and silent, but for the crying of Laurel. Harry looked around. The gold in his vault was littering the ground beside them and was pooled in his lap. The vault door was still shut and undamaged from the looks of things. Harry was desperate to know if it was safe to leave the vault, they shouldn't stay locked inside it for too long because there wasn't any air vents or anything and they would suffocate. Harry also had to get to the surface somehow and find out what had happened. They would have to wait it out a little while though. Laurel couldn't be moved yet anyway.
A while later Laurel had cried herself to sleep and Harry cautiously ventured out of the vault. He stood next to the crushed corpse of the dragon and looked as far around as he could with the limited light his wand provided. Even with 'lumos maxima' the darkness in the ravine seemed to swallow any light. Not a sound could be heard except for the occasional crumble of rocks giving into gravity and Harry's breathing.
The platform he stood on did not have a very good look up and around to Gringotts, the only way out was now to fly or to climb. The cart tracks were half fallen from the Cliffside and other parts still hanging on were distorted and impassable because of the rocks that had damaged them or stacked upon them. Harry didn't have a broom unfortunately so flying was out. Harry would have to climb and use as much of his poor transfiguration skills as he could. Its funny how school was supposed to teach you how to survive in the real world yet Harry couldn't recall a single transfiguration lesson where they taught you how to make a cliff face climbable or how to make a ladder out of rock. Harry could only do his best but how could he get the little girl out? She wouldn't be able to climb, not with her bad leg. She was too young for Harry to leave and come back to collect her as well. The only way Harry could do it was to magic her up to safety or carry her. Harry didn't know what kind of situation he would be levitating her into though and he didn't know if there would be any ledges for her to land safely on. They'd be safer climbing with her on his back but if he fell then they'd both be hurt or die.
"Harry? HARRY! HARRY! HARRY!" Harry spun around at the voice and raced back into vault. Laurel was sat up crying and frantically looking around.
"I'm here Laurel. I'm still here." Harry knelt down next to the girl and she took some steadying breaths as he smoothed back the hair from her face. "Okay? I'm still here, don't worry."
"You were gone."
"Yes I was. I went to see how we could get out of here."
"The dragon!" Laurel cried and fidgeted anxiously.
"He's dead. Rocks crushed him. How do you feel though? Does anything hurt? I did my best to heal you earlier but I don't know if I fixed everything."
"My head feels bad and my leg hurts lots. I'm sleepy but I'm really, really scared. I want my mummy."
"Right okay." Harry bit his lip. They really should get out of this place. Harry didn't know how stable it was. "Listen Laurel. You have been a really brave girl so far, I'm really proud of you and I'm sure your mum and dad would be proud of you too. I know you are tired and I'm sorry that you are still hurting but I'm afraid I need to ask you to be really brave once more. Can you do that?"
Laurel bit her lip but nodded carefully, obviously reading the imploring and serious look on Harry's face. Harry smiled at her.
"Good girl. Now we need to get out of here and there's only one way out. We are going to have to climb. I know you have a bad leg so what I am going to do is have you hold onto me and I will do the climbing okay? Now you'll need to trust me and hold me really tightly. This is going to be very dangerous but I think it would be worse if we stayed here. Can you do that for me Laurel? Can you hold onto me while I climb us out of here?"
"Yeah? Good girl. Come on then. We'd better get moving." Harry turned around and tried to help the girl climb onto his back. Laurel tried, she really did but when she put her leg on the ground she screamed out in pain ad collapsed to the floor.
"No. No I can't do it." Harry frantically tried to think of something else they could do but he couldn't think of anything. They had to climb with her holding onto him. But maybe…maybe she wouldn't have to be on his back.
"Okay, okay come here." Harry turned to face her and lifted her up cuddling her to his chest. "Wrap your legs around me and lock them as best you can. Hold onto my neck like this. Hold tight." The girl held him tightly and carefully wrapped her legs around his waist before squeezing tightly. "Good girl. Right, let's go climbing then."
Harry walked out onto the plat form and tried to spot the best way to climb up. It would involve some dangerous manoeuvring at first but there was an easily climbable bit of wall not too far away. Harry pulled out his wand and case a few charms to make some foot holds appear in the rock then began to climb. He made it carefully up the cliff face about twenty meters before his arms and legs got tired and strained against the weight of him and Laurel. Laurel was still being good, was holding on tightly as she was told to do but Harry could feel her trembling and crying. His shirt was wet with her tears and his own sweat.
"Shit! Damn it!" Harry cursed as his hand slipped off one of the rocks he was holding on to, slicing open a huge cut across his palm and making him nearly slip off the wall. Gritting his teeth Harry searched for somewhere else to hold on to, the blood from his cut making any grip he found too slippery. He didn't have a spare hand to heal himself though. Harry grasped tightly to the rock and pulled himself up, settling another foot hold and pushing himself up further.
Harry tried to find a rhythm in his climb, to make it easier and to keep a regular pace. At one point he had Laurel sing some songs to him, the quivering notes of nursery rhymes and silly songs sounding haunting in the dark, dank ravine. Still, it took Harry's mind off of his growing collection of cuts, scrapes and punctures from the rock on his climb. On and on he went, up and up. Sometimes he went across to avoid a large piece of rock jutting out from the cliff. At one point the cliff face bowed out and Harry found himself having to not only climb up, but to cling on tightly as the climb forced him to go nearly horizontal backwards. Harry didn't know how they got past that terrifying part of the rock. It was pure force of will, desperation and adrenaline that drove him on, a mantra of not wanting to die repeating itself over and over in his head as he forced his tired body to climb and to hold on for dear life.
Eventually they came to another platform; this one was wide and long and seemed to have arched passages on to other vaults. Harry pulled him and Laurel up onto the platform and collapsed onto the ground with exhaustion.
"Harry? You okay? Harry?"
"I'm fine Laurel. I'm just tired. Give me a moment." Harry panted as he lay there on the ground waiting for the vicious burning of his muscles to stop and for some energy to travel back into his body.
"I'm thirsty." Laurel whispered, the sound of her voice nearly not travelling to Harry's ears. It was like she thought it was an inappropriate time to say that but still could not hold the words in. Harry sighed. At least she hadn't said she was hungry because there was nothing Harry could do about that. Water on the other hand was something he could do. He pulled out his wand and forced himself to sit up.
"Here. Aguamenti." A stream of water spilled form the end of his wand and Laurel shifted closer to sip from the fountain. She drank for quite a while before smiling her thanks. Harry nodded and took a drink himself before looking around their new surroundings. He heaved a sigh and pushed himself up to stand again. "We better move. Come on."
Harry carried Laurel along the passages, these vaults were in the four hundreds and Harry took a guess in which direction to go in by following the numbers counting down. When the ground started sloping upwards Harry was relieved that he had chosen the right way to go. It felt like he had been walking for hours, he was covered in dirt and sweat as well as blood. Laurel's hold on him kept getting lax then she'd jerk and hold on tighter. Harry guessed the young girl as having trouble staying awake despite the situation.
They made it to the vaults labelled 300 and something when Harry saw a light in the distance heading towards them. Harry was just about to turn off his light and hide in case the light was carried by something suspicious when a voice called out.
"Hey! Hello! You there! Do you know the way out?!" Harry recognised that voice.
"Potter?!" Harry increased his pace; if it was Malfoy then at least he wasn't alone in the mines. Eventually Harry came upon the Malfoy's and found Draco leading the walk with Astoria clinging tightly to his hand while Lucius trailed behind a little covered in cuts, blood and bruises.
"Bloody hell! What happened to you?!" Harry blurted.
"Avalanche. Father saved us but he got hurt in the process. Do you know what happened? We were escorted to out vault but when we got there an alarm went off and the goblins in the cart with us bodily threw us out before abandoning us at the vault. We have been walking for hours."
"The same thing happened to me, or rather I was in the vault and just finishing up when the alarm went off and the goblins in the cart just left. They didn't get very far because he earthquake threw one from the cart and he fell down the cliff." Harry explained. Then he indicated at Laurel who was still clinging to him. "Laurel here was up at Gringotts itself when she got blown back down the cliff apparently. A dragon that was after me caught her but I managed to get her out. We hid in the vault for a while and when I came out the dragon was dead. We've climbed up here hoping to find some way out."
"That's what we were hoping for. There's nothing back behind us though, from what father remembers anyway Gringotts mines for the vaults span the whole of London city. If we want to find the way out we've got to go up and walk along the top as much as possible." Draco explained. Astoria leaned against the rock wall and slid down it to the floor looking thoroughly exhausted. Draco saw her sink down and tried to encourage her back up. "We can't afford to stop now Astoria, we have got to keep moving."
"I agree. We do not know how unstable this whole area is. We had best find out way out as soon as possible." Lucius toned, breathing hard but trying to stand up straight. Harry frowned, the Lord Malfoy seemed to be holding his side a lot and blood was staining through his shirt and robes.
"We can afford a minute or two." Harry said and lowered Laurel to the ground near to Astoria. The girl blinked at Astoria then wiggled closer. Astoria gave her a careful look as if judging her before she sighed shook her head, pulling the girl carefully to her in a hug. Harry heard a low murmuring and knew Astoria was talking to Laurel from the way the girl tried to smile but it wobbled on her lips. Draco started pacing around a little expending more energy than Harry thought wise in the unnecessary movements but Harry didn't want to say anything. He had bigger fish to fry. "Lord Malfoy you're hurt. I know some basic first aid so I can help you."
"If you know first aid then I would wonder why you did not take the time to heal yourself. Unless of course you knowing first aid and being able to perform it are two separate things." Harry rolled his eyes at the tone.
"I haven't got around to it yet. I could heal myself now if that would make you feel better." Harry started casting numerous 'episkey' spells over all his cuts and cleaning up the blood on him.
Once he had healed most of the cuts he sent an enquiring look to Lucius who gave a weary nod and tiredly leaned against a wall. The man took his hand away from his side and Harry saw, through the robes, waist coat and undershirts, that the man had a huge puncture to his side that was leaking copious amounts of blood.
"Merlin! What happened?!" Harry gasped and flew into action with a 'tergeo' and 'vulnera sanentur' spell. The wound knitted up slowly and Harry quickly enlarged his emergency kit and pulled out his dittany, a pain potion and a blood replenishing potion. Lord Malfoy downed his two potions willingly and hissed as the dittany did its work. Harry then started casting on the Lord's smaller and less life threatening cuts.
"My thanks Mister Potter."
"You are welcome." Harry said when he'd finished and put everything away.
"Finished?" Draco enquired none too politely. Harry scowled and went to say something only to see Draco giving his father a dirty look. Harry looked between the two Malfoy men in confusion wondering what the hostility was for. "We need to get moving."
"I quite agree." Lucius nodded and looked around carefully but making no further attempt to speak. Harry blinked and frowned in confusion, he had actually expected for Lucius to start directing them on what to do.
"So, up then." Harry said more as a way to break the awkward silence than anything else. Draco nodded and opened his mouth to speak but Lucius was already casting spells. Harry watched in amazement as from the rock sprung steps travelling up and up the cliff. "Blimey! I really need to learn that spell. I had to climb up with Laurel because I didn't know any spells to help."
"Should we survive this ordeal Mister Potter then I would be more than happy to teach you this spell."
"Yes, yes, Father is superior with magic. Look, can we just go?!" Draco snarled and helped Astoria up to her feet before leading his new wife up the stairs. Harry frowned after him and then frowned at Lucius who just sighed and followed after the pair. Harry looked to Laurel who held her arms up silently to him. He offered her a smile but picked her up and held her close.
"Well this is an easier way of getting up the cliff isn't it?"
"Yeah. Maybe I won't bump my head so much this time." The innocence in that statement made Harry wince shamefully. He hadn't meant to make her bump her head so many times but climbing with a child attached to your chest was very hard.
"Sorry about that. At least it's all over now yeah? We'll be safe soon."
Soon never came. They reached the top of the cliff and then travelled along to find the exit only what they found was a body covered ground, blood soaked stone, huge rocks and the dusty remains of the inner sanctum of Gringotts all deserted, destroyed and buried in rock. Goblins were dead left right and centre, witches, wizards and children were also littering the ground. Harry had to step carefully because there were body parts and blood everywhere.
"What happened?!" Draco gasped then turned to the side and threw up. Laurel whimpered and hid her face in Harry's neck. Harry held her close.
"Don't look. Do not look at all Laurel do you understand me? Keep your eyes shut." Harry commanded her and pulled off his outer robe to pull that over her head so she couldn't see even if she wanted to. His eyes met Lucius' from their few feet of distance and Lucius nodded once very gravely. So much was communicated in that one nod. So much and yet so little.
"I shall look around and endeavour to find somebody still living to explain what has happened." Lucius said.
"I'll look around for survivors. Though I don't think…" Harry let hat trail off as he looked over the sea of bodies. He put Laurel on the ground near the far wall still covered in her blanket.
"Mrs Malfoy, you couldn't sit with her could you please? Just while I look around?"
"Of course." Astoria nodded and hurried over, pulling Draco with her. The nauseous Draco went without a fight and sunk to the ground besides his wife who put a comforting arm around him and started petting Laurel's hair.
Harry hunted the numerous bodies trying to find somebody alive. He had no luck at all. From what he could tell from the injuries what had killed all the people and goblins was a huge explosion. Rocks and debris had killed some and certainly injured a lot but the majority were dead because of an explosion of fire and rock. If Harry didn't know any better he would say they were hit with a 'bombarda' spell from the way some had half their bodies missing. But a 'bombarda' spell only did located damage; the scope of damage in Gringotts was huge. It was one gigantic bombarda.
"All the offices are empty but unlocked. There are no floos, no fireplaces and no windows to exit from. I located the stairs to go up to the higher floors of the bank only to discover that there has been a cave in. I ran a diagnosis spell for wards and have found that all the wards are still intact despite the chief goblin Ragnok lying dead in his office. I considered sending a patronus out to seek aid however we do not know what caused all of this and sending out a patronus could be more dangerous in the long run." Lord Malfoy explained upon his return.
"I think that it was some sort of explosion. Going by the injuries and structural damage I would say a bombarda or some sorts or a bomb? A muggle explosive. I can't make sense of it though. There are a lot of people here too, more than were here when I arrived at the bank. There are well over a hundred people here, most of them are goblins. Everyone is dead."
"We need to find out what happened." Draco said trying his damndest it seemed not to gag.
"I do not think it wise considering-"
"I care very little for what you think is wise Father." Draco angrily dismissed and looked to Harry again with angry but demanding eyes. "Potter, what do we do?!"
"Um…a patronus would be good but if we got it out then who would we send it to? If this was an attack made on Gringotts then the patronus would draw attention to the fact that there are survivors and we don't know if anybody discovering that would help us. Are there no other ways to contact the outside world?" Harry asked carefully, frowning at the strange dynamic between father and son.
"As I said Mister Potter, no apparition, no floo points and no windows."
"Right so we really have no other choices…wait. I still have my mirror!" Harry cried and started rifling through his pockets. He always carried his invisibility cloak on him, a mirror and some money on him no matter where he went. The mirror was a new one that Harry had bought with Ron and Hermione so they could keep in touch without using memo-aeroplanes, owls or floo. Harry's fingers wrapped around the cool surface of the mirror and pulled it from his pocket holding it up to his face. Black filled his vision but that only meant it the other mirror was in a pocket.
"Ron! Hermione! Hello!"
Harry listened closely for a moment then tried calling out again. This time there was movement in the screen of the mirror. Light filled the mirror and Harry could make out the Weasley kitchen at the Burrow then Ron's face filled the mirror view, his face was tear-streaked but happy.
"Harry! Mate they told us you were dead!"
"Well I'm not!" Harry said with certainty. Ron gave a choked up sob and shook his head, rubbing his eyes Ron grinned.
"I can see that. Merlin mate, it's great to see you!" The mirror was snatched from Ron's hand by a frantic Hermione.
"Harry! Oh Harry! It's horrible! It's all over the news! This group calling themselves Liberty have declared themselves responsible for the bombing of Gringotts and they claimed they murdered you during their targeted attack on the bank so that you would not be a face for the rest of the wizarding world to hide behind during the upcoming war. They targeted Gringotts to bring down the Ministry by getting rid of the economy. Everybody is panicking! The Minister is dead too. Percy barely made it out of the Ministry alive, as did Arthur. Both of them have told us we have to get out of England! Neville has taken his Grandmother and Hannah already. They've gone ahead to Belgium. We were going to go to France to be with Fleur's family but France has closed its boarders so we're going to Australia instead. Oh Harry I'm so glad you are alive!"
"I'm glad I'm alive too. Why is everybody being advised to get out of England? If it's just a terrorists attack then surely it can be dealt with."
"Oh it's not just terrorism Harry. They targeted the bank for a reason and they have completely blocked off any and all entry into the bank. Nobody can get any money. Believe me, some people tried to dig through the rocks at Gringotts but they couldn't get in because they set off more explosives. The death count is up in the five hundreds if you include the goblins. The problem is because the group attacked Gringotts and killed so many goblins as well as wizards and witches, the Goblins have declared war too. So along with a complete collapse in economy, hundreds of deaths and another war this time involving magical beings…it's safer to get out of England. Normally I wouldn't leave a fight, you know me Harry, but this time there is madness everywhere. We heard over the radio that Liberty was behind the attacks on the Ministry and all the assassinations. There were also plans of theirs leaked to assassinate you and by extension Ron and I and…well…oh Harry I just don't want to go through last year again." Hermione broke down into sobs.
"Bloody hell. They were behind everything." Hermione bit her lip and tried to compose herself as she nodded.
"Yes. So we are going out of England. Arthur manage to sort out muggle passports for everyone, even Andromeda and Teddy, before he left work, they have different identities on them and everything so nobody should be able to track us. We have to dye our hair and some of us are using human transfiguration to change our looks to match our passport photos so we get through customs. There's a passport for you but I don't know how we are going to get it to you. Where are you?"
"I'm in…I'm in Gringotts."
"You're what?!" Hermione shrieked and Harry winced. Harry explained the circumstances he was in and showed Hermione the Malfoy's, Laurel and the state of the Bank. He explained that they were trapped and didn't know how to escape. Hermione told him that lots of dragons escaped from Gringotts after the terrorist bombs exploded the bank but that there might be a few dragons still left in the mines. She also suggested that Harry try going far away from London through the mines. Mines had air tunnels back up to the surface to keep air flow, goblin mines were no different so if Harry walked around keeping close to the surface he should find an air tunnel somewhere and could use that for his escape.
"Once you've gotten out though Harry you really should get out of England. Try and get to Australia, we're going to Melbourne. I'll get you the address a minute."
"No, don't give it to me Hermione. Just keep the mirror on you and if I make it out to you then we'll use the mirror."
"Right. Good idea. Listen Harry, I've…I've got to go. It's my turn to dye my hair. I'll see you later. I love you Harry." Hermione said with a smile through her tears. Harry smiled back at his friend.
"Love you too 'Mione. Is Ron there?" Hermione handed the mirror back to Ron who grinned at him though it was a wobbly grin.
"Blimey mate! This isn't what we had in mind after old Voldie is it!"
"Not at all. Listen. Tell your family I love them okay?"
"Will do. Listen mate, I don't know how long we will be out of contact just…get yourself out of England alright. No heroics, no fighting the good fight, just get out and survive this time okay? We can always come back in a while and save the day but for now just get out, survive and wait for things to settle." Ron implored Harry. Harry found it hard to agree but nodded his head.
"Promise me mate."
"Good. Now, just in case they know you are alive you are going to have to change your appearance. No glamour's. Try for the permanent stuff like transfiguration and feature altering potions. Mum is taking one for hair growth and we are all dying our hair. Just change your appearance, get a new identity. Let Harry Potter die for a while and come back later okay? Same for the Malfoy's, they stand out like a cock at a hen do. Hide, survive. I bet you those snakes have a good way to shed their skin and get away from the trouble. Just stay safe. Okay?"
The conversation continued in the same vein, Ron outlining plans and rules for Harry to follow. Harry didn't know how many times he agreed not to do anything heroic and he promised to leave the country every five sentences or so. Still it was nice that his friends cared. Eventually though they had to put the mirror down and catch their flight to Australia. Harry wouldn't be able to contact them for the next twenty four hours at a minimum. He didn't even know if the mirrors would work over such a long distance. Saying goodbye was heart breaking.
"So…what now?" Draco's tone was defeated but desperate. Harry tried to think of something but found it hard to mentally go through everything he needed to do.
"First off we need to get out of here I think. Then we have got to find somewhere to hide." Harry eventually said. "We will have to find the air tunnels or secondary tunnels up to the surface. That's going to take some work I think."
"I believe that Ms Granger mentioned something about hiding our identities, changing our appearances." That was a question marked as a statement but the perfect politeness in the words made Harry question whether or not the words came from Lucius Malfoy, despite Harry having seen the man's lips move to form the words.
"She did. She said we needed to get into the muggle world, so we would need muggle identities, paper work and such."
"I see." Lucius said and got a frown on his face as he started to look up at the ceiling. He was obviously deep in thought but didn't look like he was ready to share his thoughts yet. Harry felt a little disgruntled. They needed to help each other not keep secrets.
"Muggle! I don't want to go and be a muggle!" Astoria shrieked, eyes a little wild. Draco patted her hand to calm her. "No Draco, get your hands off me! I won't become a muggle! There has to be another way."
"Not one that is immediately available. It would be prudent to…" Lucius started but his new daughter-in-law cut him off.
"I don't care what you think would be prudent to do! You have been wrong a great many times before and it was we who suffered for it!" Harry saw something cold pass over Lucius's face and saw the man stiffen his jaw as he fell silent. Harry felt himself grow a little angry on the man's behalf. Perhaps the tension between father and son was because of the strained relationships between father and daughter-in-law. Astoria glared at him. "I will not become a muggle!"
"You will if you want to live." The words poured from Harry's lips almost without his consent. They were harsh, unforgiving and uncompromising. Astoria turned to gape at him and Draco got a familiar sneer on his face. Lucius' face remained stoic but thawed a little. Harry continued on speaking and glaring at Astoria. "Maybe you weren't paying attention or maybe you have little understanding of what it means to have to survive using nearly any means possible."
Lucius took over the stage then, not exactly interrupting but continuing Harry's angry stream of words in a more calm and collected manner which held a hint of steel beneath it. "The wizarding world is collapsing. The actions of the group Liberty have been very specific and have targeted the areas of the wizarding world which would affect us most. By bringing down Gringotts they have made access to money nigh on impossible. With no access to money the economy is flat. Should you still desire to live in the ruins of the world then be my guest but do not expect to survive long or live in anything remotely like the conditions you have been raised in. You have links to dark families and from what I knew before coming here today, and what Ms Granger confirmed, is that this Liberty group wants freedom from all magical creatures and all dark families. They would kill you. Do no mistake that. They would kill you and not think twice about such actions, consider how easily they assassinated two ministers, brought down Gringotts and incited war with goblins and creatures at the same time. Killing one witch, skilled though you are, would be no hard feat. They are insane. To survive insanity we need to disappear. The best way to do that is to become muggles. They won't look at muggles because they are being forced to concentrate on creatures and goblins. Let us hope their focus stays on the war they have instigated allowing us to slip away. Now we all face a choice. Surface in the wizarding world and face our deaths head on, something I do not find even remotely palatable. Or we can find a way to become muggles, change our appearances, hide and most likely survive. The latter choice is not ideal; it is barely palatable however it is far more preferable to me to life than to die. Make your choice."
"I…" She began.
"Astoria dear…" Draco said with a definite note of pleading in his voice.
"Alright. What must we do?" Astoria conceded. Harry felt himself relax a little at the words. Draco looked relieved but also defeated at the same time.
"Yes father, what must we do?"
"I believe Ms Granger had several ideas with merit. However, before we make plans we should pool our resources. I believe a trip back down to our vaults would be prudent."
Harry nodded his agreement but a growl tore through the air. Harry sprang up, wand drawn and ready to face whatever was upon them. He looked around quickly trying to see where the growl came from. There were no dragons. None of the bodies on the floor had any life to them so the noise couldn't have come from them. Could the noise have come from the stone and rocks that had collapsed in on the Gringotts atrium?
"I'm sorry. I'm hungry." Came a small voice. Harry turned and looked at Laurel who was holding her stomach with an embarrassed look on her face. Harry laughed and the tension that had filled him drained out.
"Well, I suggest the first resource we collect should be food." Harry joked. Laurel smiled but ducked her head. Astoria nodded and Draco looked indifferent but Harry could see the way he was rubbing his stomach.
"I believe you are right Mr Potter. Let us hunt for the kitchens. Draco, Astoria, I trust we can leave you with the little girl in your care? We shall be back shortly." Draco waved Lucius off, a rude and clear dismissal. Lucius' jaw clenched but an emotionless mask stayed present on his face. Harry frowned. He wished he knew what was going on between the father and son. He knew Lucius could be a terrible person; he had done the most dreadful things in his service to Voldemort after all. But in his core Lucius was a family man with a great love for his son and his ex-wife, they were the reason he had done what he had done and they were the reason he had turned everything around at the end of the war. He had abandoned Voldemort and looked only for his son. He had taken care of his family as best he could, paid an extortionate amount of money to try and keep Narcissa healthy and though it hadn't worked his desperation and perseverance was telling of his unreserved devotion. Why then was Draco behaving like a brat? What had happened to deserve such foul behaviour? Or was Draco just a brat all the time anyway, after all he was a vile little blighter at school.
Harry and Lucius spent the few hours trying to find kitchens or a parlour in what remained of the Gringotts bank. They found plenty of offices and storage room full of different papers, parchments and books. Lucius had paused in many of these rooms and had gathered up what looked to Harry to be useless pieces of parchment and quills. Heavens only knew what Lucius was doing. Short of getting a promise, with an amused but tired look, that Lucius was not stealing other people's account information nor was he taking anything vital to any other families Harry did not discover what Lucius had picked up. The man took everything he picked up and put it all in his money pouch which, of course, had the same internal undetectable extension charms in it as Harry's had.
They finally found what was left of the kitchen. Half of it was destroyed but since there was a parlour leading off of it which had been untouched Harry wasn't too worried about what other essentials might be underneath the rubble.
Harry went around the parlour and gathered everything that they could eat immediately; fruits, vegetables that you could eat raw, biscuits, cooked meat, glass bottles full of milk, cakes and other things that were prepared already. Lucius, Harry was shocked to witness, took absolutely everything else. He put it all inside a sack of potatoes after emptying the sack, casting multiple charms on it and then refilling it with the potatoes Obviously the sack had an extension charm on it because otherwise the entire condense of the10ft by 8ft parlour wouldn't have fit inside the sack.
Laden with food as they were they made it back to the rest of their group reasonably quickly. They had a small picnic on the floor there in Gringotts atrium then made the long trip back down into the vaults. Lucius' spells on the cave walls to create steps made the journey considerably shorter but it was still a long walk down to find the vaults. Draco, on numerous occasions, expressed his amazement at Harry's stupidity for thinking he could climb the walls of the cave. Harry had explained twice that he had managed to so stupid or not at least they knew it was possible to climb. After the two explanations Harry gave up and let Draco continue to listen to the sound of his own voice as he talked about Harry's senseless, Gryffindor lack of logic and deadly folly.
It took them hours and hours of travel, Laurel having to be given a piggy back by Harry because she was too tired to continue. Thankfully the little girl ended up falling asleep on him because after they had visited the Potter vault and emptied that, emptied Astoria's vault then discovered the vaults next to it were open too which were the Greengrass family vaults an had opened up because the remaining family members had died disabling the door Astoria was distraught and continued whimpering and crying quietly through the rest of their journey. She did empty her family vaults though and she put all the money into Draco's money bag as she did not have her own with her. They emptied the Snape and Prince family vaults which Draco had inherited, then they went deeper and deeper towards the Malfoy vaults and the Black family vaults. The deeper they went the more bodies they found. There were goblins that had fallen off carts, people who had been thrown down because of the blast, dragon carcases from where they had been crushed or gotten into bloody battles with each other and both lost their lives. The sight wasn't pretty, Harry was glad Laurel was asleep because the sight of the impacted bodies would have traumatised her.
Harry emptied the four Black family vaults into his money bag and into his hidden trunk. All heirlooms went in, not a lot of the magical items made it in though because many of them were dark. Draco and Lucius enjoyed looking through the dark artefacts while Harry dealt with the gold. Astoria seemed to enjoy looking at the old robes and the numerous mirrors around the place. Every few minutes one mirror or another would spew out praise or words of disgust at the witch. At Astoria's pleading Harry ended up packing some of the stored wizarding garments from the vault. Some were old dresses, some were robes decorated obscenely with jewels or elaborate stitching, and some were baby clothes and children's clothes.
The clothes became useful as they continued their journey. Laurel had a nightmare in her sleep and wet herself soaking both her clothes and Harry's. Harry had cleaned them both up as best he could but their clothes were ruined so he had to use the clothes he got from the Black vault to dress them both again. He felt ridiculous in his clothes but thankfully he had taken some of the more normal clothes from the vault, one of the Black ancestors having lived in the 1920's and had Hogwarts school uniform which included a white shirt, grey trousers and a woollen jumper. Harry didn't bother with a robe. Laurel was distraught because she wet herself but once Astoria helped her dress in a child's dress in a royal blue colour with tiny in-prick sized stars sewn into them Laurel cheered up.
The Malfoy vaults themselves were gigantic and numerous. There were about 25 of them in total; all were full with a ludicrous amount of gold and find things. Lucius emptied them all into his money bag and into a trunk that was stored inside one of the vaults. 3 vaults were Draco's personal vaults, one was his trust fund like Harry had, another was his inheritance vault which he had received on his 17th Birthday, the third vault was one he received upon his marriage to Astoria, it included the dowry her family paid the Malfoy's and other money gifted over to Draco from the Malfoy family vaults as a gift to the newly wedded heir. Lucius made sure not a scrap was left being in any of his vaults, even going so far as to making sure cauldrons, potions ingredients, ancient tombs and furniture were packed away.
Finally they were all done and they started the long trek back up towards the surface. Weariness had crept up on Astoria though and she kept stumbling. Draco lamented on how he was exhausted having not done so much walking in all his life. Laurel was finally walking again though she kept scuffing her shoes and tripping over because she was so tired. Harry was worn out too, his muscles ached and he had a vicious headache between his eyebrows. Still, he didn't want to stop until they were somewhere safe. Lucius silently kept walking seemingly unaffected by tiredness. Harry caught sight of Lucius' hand shaking at one point and as they climbed the stairs up to another level of vaults Lucius' legs bent unexpectedly before the man caught himself and forced himself onwards.
"Hey, we're back in the seven-hundreds." Draco pointed out. "Look, seven hundred and thirty, and seven hundred and thirty-one. If we go that way then we should be going down in numbers and I remember mother telling me that the goblins used an empty vault as a lounge. It was something like seven hundred and thirteen."
"No seven hundred and thirteen is a high security vault. Dumbledore put the Philosophers stone there before my first year. Seven hundred and eleven is one of the Black family vaults that Sirius left me. I know that seven hundred and twelve is empty though. And the door doesn't require more than a handle. I've seen goblins go into it a couple of times before. If there is a lounge then that might be it."
"Excellent. We can go there for a rest then can't we! Come on." Draco ordered. Harry sighed and looked to Laurel. He would dearly love to get out of the vaults before they found somewhere t rest. Laurel looked so worn out though that Harry reconsidered. He looked at Draco who was already escorting Astoria down the corridor. Lucius was watching them go with a set jaw and his hand was flexing on his cane.
"Shall we, Mister Malfoy? We don't know whether we will find the exit easily so we better use this time to rest while we can. It should be safe."
"Very well. We should consider having dinner as well. I believe it was past eight o'clock."
Vault seven hundred and twelve was in fact a goblin lounge, fitted with cupboards filled with food and lots of soft sofas. They ate and slept, taking turns to keep guard. Eventually though it was time to get moving, feeling grubby and rotten, despite their quick wash in the goblin sized bathroom attached to the vault, they sat down to figure out what they were going to do next.
"Before we left the Atrium yesterday I took the time to take maps of the vaults from the filing office. A few of them have the details of different air tunnels located in different areas of the mines." Lucius took out a large map on parchment and spread it out on the coffee table. Everyone crowded around it, except Lauren who was cuddling her teddy and telling it how brave it was and how Harry was going to make sure that they were safe because mummy couldn't do it anymore. Lucius pointed at about five different points marked with 'air tunnels' on the map. "Here are our possible escape routes. I was looking at this last night while I stood watch. From my understanding these three tunnels lead out to various points over London. This tunnel leads out just on the outskirts near Welwyn Garden City, a purely muggle city to the North of London. This last one however is labelled Guildford. That is a half muggle, half wizarding town located south west of London."
"So which one do you think we should head for? They both look a very long way away." Harry said trying to estimate the scale of the map in relation to miles when there was no scale visible on the map for him to calculate with.
"That would depend on what we are going to do for our escape."
"I thought the plan was to get out of England." Draco snorted, frowning heavily.
"Yes, quite. But where do we escape England to? France has closed its boarders. I have little desire to go to Germany and while I am a skilled orator I do not possess the ability to speak every language in Europe. We need to escape somewhere where we have a chance of blending in, becoming unnoticeable. Five people arriving suddenly in a foreign country unable to speak that country's language is essentially painting us as a target."
"So then where speaks English?" Astoria demanded.
"America." Harry blurted before he thought about it. "Or Australia."
"Yes." Lucius agreed, giving a nod to Harry. "However Australia is a lot harder to get to. I believe America is the more prudent choice. How we get there is another matter."
"Well I don't know how muggles travel. How do muggles travel Potter?" Draco asked. Harry thought about it. There were several ways to travel really; aeroplane, ship, and train. To get to America though they were looking at either aeroplane or ship, the problem was that both required passports and that would mean their identities would be logged leaving the country.
"Aeroplane or ship. Both mean we have to get through passport control though. I don't know about you but I don't have a muggle passport. And I don't know how to book a flight or a place on a ship."
"How long would travelling that way take?" Harry explained as best he could with his limited knowledge. In the end they decided their best chance was to get on board a ship, the best place to get a ship was probably in the south of the country or in the West. They were closer to the south so they would head there. Southampton was the first town they were going to stop at after getting out of the Gringotts mines using the Guildford tunnel.
Thankfully they weren't going to have to walk all the way there. When Draco had left the Slytherin Quidditch team he had taken with him all the Nimbus 2001 racing brooms with him. He had packed those away from his vaults the previous day so at least they had a good way to travel. Harry and Draco got into an argument about why Draco hadn't thought to share the fact that he had seven broomsticks. It would have made travelling a lot less exhausting. Draco claimed forgetfulness. Harry accused him of being an ignorant, selfish git. In the end, Lucius had broken the argument by saying even with their plans they couldn't leave the country with their current appearance.
"Glamour's then." Draco suggested, only Lucius shot him down.
"No. Upon entry into a country there are wards which strip away glamour's to stop convicts sneaking into countries to hide."
"Transfiguration." Draco fired off again, Lucius shook his head.
"Human transfiguration is possible but dangerous and it wouldn't change our colouring. We would need to use charms to do that. Both transfiguration and charms are not permanent."
"Then we are left with potions. I have Professor Snape's potions books. We could look through those." Draco pulled opened his bag and shoved his wand in summoning all the potions books from the bag. Moments later they were all smothered in hundreds of books.
"Bloody hell Malfoy! You stupid prat, couldn't you have been a little more specific so we didn't drown in the bloody books!" Harry snarled and shoved the books off of his body. Astoria escaped the books and stood up with her hands on her hips glaring at Draco. Lucius was scowling but said nothing. Draco shook his head in bemusement but said nothing, he just started looking at the titles of each of the books and set aside books that were helpful while putting the unhelpful books back in his bag. Half an hour later they were left with thirty books. They each started looking through books trying to find a suitable potion.
"I hate potions." Harry grumbled as he flipped idly through his book. There was a potion on altering hair length, one on altering eye colour depending on which type of lizard eye one used. There was even a potion to revert skin back to its natural state without a hint of a tan. Harry wondered if that was a potion the Malfoy family took regularly to look so ghostly pale.
"Potions are useful Mister Potter, they are however very complex. Severus, if I recall, had a very abrasive character especially towards you. He, no doubt, incited this hatred of potions." Lucius said quietly as he looked through his own book.
"Yeah probably. Snape could be a right bastard when he wanted to be. He was a good man."
"Yes. Yes he was."
"My godfather was…I really admired him. May Merlin guard his soul. He was the bravest man I ever knew." Draco lamented. They let conversation run dry after that and just continued studying. Laurel kept interrupting Harry because she was bored so he transfigured some toys from titbits they had found in the goblin lounge and charmed them to do silly things to keep her entertained. His concentration was shot after that though so he started to dabble with the food they had to make them a good lunch as best he could without having anything to heat the food up with.
Over lunch the Malfoy men got into an argument. Apparently Draco had found three potions that would work. One of them required some rare ingredient that Lucius said were not available any more except on the black market and since they were in Gringotts they had no access to the blank market so that potion was crossed out. The other two potions were dangerous though. Lucius was arguing that one potion was outlawed because it could cause the consumer to die during the transformation and the other one was temporary, lasting only one month before more potion needed to be taken, and that one's transformation was just as excruciating as the first potion.
The argument got so loud that Laurel began to cry so Harry had to take her out of the vault for a while. When he got back he found Draco had setup a cauldron and was going through his ingredients. Lucius was reading through the books again and Astoria was helping Draco.
"So what's happening?"
"Well, I'm seeing what ingredients we have to see if either of the potions are possible. Father is trying to find an alternative. Oh look! I have all the ingredients for the alea sanguineasaum potion, except for dragon's blood and our blood, some spinach and some iron. I have only half the ingredients for the other potion. It looks like our options are limited, doesn't it Father?" The smugness with which Draco announced that made Harry want to hex the bloke. As it was he just looked to Lucius whose reaction was to raise one imperious eyebrow.
"So it does. However, first we will need the dragon's blood, as you said. There is also the matter of getting the iron. I imagine the rocks here have iron in them but extracting the iron is not an easy task. However, in your eagerness to create this highly dangerous potion which you imagine will cure all our immediate needs, may remind you that it was outlawed for a reason. The excruciating agony the consumer will go through during transformation could kill the person as it re-writes their fundamental information, their appearance and parentage within their very blood. The girl," here Lucius pointed to Laurel, "will be unable to consume it unless you wish for her to die on your hands along with whichever of us succumb to the agonies of transformation. Should we all survive there are still the risks of whatever the potion pulls to dominance from our gene pool."
"Well what else would you suggest Father?! Huh?! There's nothing else is there!" Draco shouted angrily and threw an empty cup towards Lucius.
"Stop! Stop it both of you! You are behaving like a couple of children. Now without getting into another argument could somebody please explain to me, and to Astoria, what this potion entails?" Astoria perked up at her name and wandered over to join the group. She looked at Draco patiently while Harry split his glare between both Malfoy men. Why was it he had to play mediator again even though Ron and Hermione weren't here?
"Basically Potter the alea sanguineasaum potion, once ingested, enters into a person's bloodstream and changes their biological makeup from the information in the blood and then ultimately what they look like on the outside. The person who made it was a muggle in the 80's and they talk about taking a person's DNA, which is apparently a recipe for what a person looks like, and alters the information there which is dominant for something that isn't dominant. I really don't understand the muggle language but he explains it later in basic terms without muggle nonsense. You know how babies are made right?"
Oh dear Merlin…Harry swore. How did they get into this? HE nodded his head, not saying a thing and hoping to avoid any embarrassment. Astoria next to him had gone a very bright red. Draco nodded to them and continued talking, or lecturing considering how he had taken up pacing while he explained.
"To make babies information from both parents meet and a set of dominant traits are chosen there and then. Like say the mother had blonde hair, the father had brown hair but a grandparent on both sides had red hair. The creation of a baby would decide which hair colour was dominant, for example the blonde hair. However it would store the rest of the information like the brown hair and red hair as recessive information. The recessive information is stored away in that baby's blood so when it grows and reproduces the process starts again. What this potion has the potential to do is swap the dominant information for the recessive information, any of the recessive information. Once it has done that it causes the body to shift to match the information that is now dominant in the blood. It will alter your appearance at the most basic level entirely!"
"Right okay." That sounded like one very complex potion. Harry shuddered to imagine the pain that complete and utter transformation would cause. "So the problems with it besides the pain it will cause?"
"The problem with it, Mister Potter, is that any of the recessive information in your body could be brought forwards to be dominant. It could give you inheritable kidney problems which was recessive in your family. It could alter your height. It could give you brittle bone disease if you have a member of your family who had that. If there were any magical creatures in your family tree then that could emerge. Descendants of Veela, werewolves, metamorphamagi and so on. It could also get rid of any of the things you like about yourself now. It could change your personality, not completely because it is ingrained in you now but it can have some effects, like making you more violent or more passive, more intelligent or less intelligent. It could give you allergies. It could also alter your gender or make you infertile. It could severely alter your lifespan because you're more dominant information might dictate that you only live to ninety years old instead of one hundred and twenty."
"And this is the only potion? There are no alternatives?" Astoria muttered. Harry gritted his teeth and waited for the argument that was bound to come.
"Unfortunately not, love." Draco muttered. "Father is right that it is incredibly dangerous but it truly is our only option."
"You believe." Lucius offered with a scowl.
"No father, I know it. We have to get out of England. We have to do it in a way where nobody can track us no matter what! I might be imagining things but I don't see this new terrorist group as one likely to stick to and maintain the laws of this country. If they find out we are alive, and I have very little doubt that they won't already know, then chances are they will try to track us down. They could use the dark mark for example; this potion would get rid of the mark because it is not written into our blood. They could try to track us down using our family names. Once we have taken this potion we will adopt new names to match the appearance and our old names will essentially die out especially if we use an unbreakable secrecy charm, one of which I am sure you will be able to come up with. They could even try to use blood scrying or blood magic to find us because you and I both know that when we were arrested they took a vial of each of our blood. This potion changes the information in our blood, the blood will no longer match the vial of blood they have. They will not be able to find us. We are risking an awful lot but I don't know about you Father but I am very willing to go to the extremes to hide and be safe for the rest of my life."
"Very well then. Your reasoning is sound. How long will the potion take to brew once the ingredients are collected?" Lucius asked, defeat written in every inch of his body but determination glimmering in his eyes. He crossed the room and put the book onto the table in front of Draco, both of them peering down at the potion's page.
Harry felt a little helpless, more than a bid redundant and very out of his element. He supposed that was that really, they were having the potion. The decision was out of his hand. It did sound like a good plan, except for the pain part. Astoria didn't look too pleased, she slumped a little and lost her lady like posture crossing the room again and going back over to Laurel.
"It will take twelve hours of brewing but I need the Dragon's blood and iron for step three. Step four requires the spinach. Our blood isn't required until they very end, an hour before we ingest the potion."
"Very well. How do we extract the iron from the rocks?"
"Severus taught me a good spell but it is quite draining. To get enough iron using the spell we are all going to have to use it because alone I, regrettably, do not have enough magic to maintain the spell. He learnt the spell from Dumbledore you see." Draco boasted. Harry was surprised to hear it.
"Very well. The next concern will be dragon's blood."
"Does the dragon's blood have to be from a specific breed of dragon? Or is Ukrainian Ironbelly blood okay?" Harry asked curiously.
"Ukrainian Ironbelly blood is preferred actually. They are one of the few species of dragons who bleed red." Draco answered.
"Well then, I can go and get that blood. There are so many dead dragons around here that I should be able to get loads assuming they haven't already bled out." Harry offered.
"Excellent. I shall accompany Mister Potter here and on our travels we shall see if we can find any stones richer in iron to use the spell on. Show me the spell first Draco then we shall leave you in peace to prepare for brewing."
Fourteen exhausting hours later they were all looking down at the completed potion. It was sludgy and red, bubbling and popping and it smelt like blood. It looked like blood too, even with the sludgy parts because they just looked like blood clots that hadn't formed properly and had instead formed a thick bloody mucous. Harry shuddered. It looked horrible.
"As we planned then. Astoria and I drink it first, then Father and Potter." That order had been decided because Draco had argued that out of all of them, after seeing the first two people go through tremendous pain and agony it was Lucius and Harry who were less likely to be cowards and not take the potion. Laurel had been spelled to sleep in the corner so she wouldn't have to witness the pain the adults were about to go through.
"We remember." Harry nodded. Draco was ashen and pale. Astoria wasn't much better. She was pale and clammy, shaking and weeping and she hadn't even taken the potion yet.
"Right. And remember do not spell us asleep. If we lose consciousness that is fine but do not spell us to sleep because it will trap us."
"We know Draco." Lucius reassured and patted Draco on the shoulder. "Do not delay any further. Take courage my son."
Draco nodded and looked at Astoria. She was shaking her head now, pleading silently with Draco as she held the potion in her hand. He cupped her face and leaned forwards brushing a kiss to her lips. Harry looked away not wanting to intrude on the moment. His eyes caught Lucius' as the man turned away as well. They waited until they heard gagging and the smashing of a potions vial on the floor.
Draco was coughing and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. Astoria was gagging but had a hand over her mouth stopping herself from being sick.
"How long does it take before the potion will kick in?" Harry asked.
"About thirty minutes apparently but I can…I can feel it burning down my throat already." Draco confessed. Harry nodded.
"Oh Merlin. Oh Merlin. Oh Merlin." Astoria muttered completely panicked.
"Right let's take your minds off this then. Um…identities!"
"How the hell is thinking about identities supposed to take my mind off the pain to change my identity?!" Draco sneered then grimaced and rubbed his chest.
"I believe Mister Potter meant names for our new identities."
"Yes I did. So? What do you think?" Harry asked trying to get them to talk instead of concentrate and worry about the pain.
"Actually Mister Potter, I have something to confess. I have been…dabbling in the muggle world for many years now under a different name. Nobody saw my face so could not link me to the name, as I worked through an agent of sorts. When I set up that separate identity I also made muggle identities for my family, it was a failsafe before Voldemort's second reign. It was in case my family and I needed to disappear."
"Why is this the first I heard of this?" Draco demanded.
"It was not necessary for you to know. Only Narcissa and I knew. She deemed it below her, I agreed naturally but I am a Slytherin at heart and made arrangements never the less."
"So what names did you give to all of us?"
"I gave us the family name Mercury. As for given names, I assigned myself the name Lucas Aryan. You Draco, I named Dante Lucas. Your mother was Cassandra but that is no matter now."
"Those are weird names." Draco commented, another grimace crossing his features. Astoria was whimpering now and rubbing almost frantically down her chest and stomach.
"They are muggle names. I was assured that while they were rare they were in fact common enough to not stand out in a crowd which insured us safety along with anonymity."
"Okay then…so I become Dante Mercury. At least my initials stay the same. What of Astoria and Potter?"
Lucius paused to consider. "We should choose names similar to the ones they already possess to avoid confusion later; however it should also be something unremarkable. Astoria…I suppose variants on the name Victoria would work. Aster?"
"What about Ester?" Draco offered.
"Aster." Astoria whimpered out. Draco nodded, a sheen of sweat building up on his forehead now.
"That was easy. She has no middle name so Aster Mercury sounds good. What about Potter?" Draco asked and motioned at Harry. Lucius turned to him with a considering look.
"Your name is already muggle." Harry rolled his eyes at the implied slight there but let it go. Lucius continued appearing not to care of Harry's reaction to his words. "Your surname will have to disappear however, having a Harry Potter in the muggle world would not be wise. I believe there are many branches of the Black family who went into the muggle world, squibs and such from hundreds of generations ago. I believe the name is quite common. Perhaps you should consider using that?"
"I could I suppose." Harry nodded. "Harry James Black? Or should I change my first name too?"
"I believe that would be wise." Lucius nodded sagely. Harry resisted the urge to roll his eyes, the Malfoy Lord sounded so pompous sometimes.
"You know any names that are similar to Harry then?"
"Only two. Harrison and Henry. I believe Harry used to be a nick name for boys named Henry." Harry shrugged his agreement.
"Okay then. Henry James Black. Easy."
"After the potion has done its job I shall complete the paperwork to give you birth certificates and the like with your new names. I took the liberty of taking the various parchments and papers needed for such things from the Goblin offices however it might be prudent to return to those offices to make sure all necessary paperwork has been filled out." Lucius advised.
The conversation was over then, and it was back to waiting for the potion to take affect. They didn't have long to wait. The estimated thirty minutes for the potion to kick in was too long of an estimate. Fifteen minutes after drinking the potion both Astoria and Draco were writhing around on the floor whimpering and calling out their pain. Thirty minutes after drinking the potion both were screaming and clutching at themselves. An hour after drinking the potion Astoria was unconscious and Draco's voice had given way from all his screaming. Draco didn't last another twenty minutes conscious.
Lucius and Harry kept a close watch on Astoria and Draco for the next twenty four hours, taking turns to entertain Laurel and to sleep. They were kept fairly busy cleaning up as the potion did its work. It flushed their systems and emptied everything from inside them through any means possible. Urine and faeces was the first thing to leave their bodies followed by food from their stomachs and stomach acid. Following that was blood which leaked from every orifice and was sweated out through every pore. Harry and Lucius were constantly using cleansing charms to rid them of the blood. Hours after the blood was sweated out leaving their body's pale husks though thankfully still breathing if only faintly, their hair started to fall out. Their eyebrow hair dropped out, the hair on their heads dropped out and the fine hairs all over their bodies dropped from them. Harry guessed all their body hair had to go as it wasn't correct to their new DNA information so he and Lucius used cleansing spells again and banishing charms for the loose hair. Two hours later Astoria and Draco's skin started to drop off. It flaked of in small amounts first then the whole outer layer became loose. Harry and Lucius banished the skin only to have to cast the spells again a half an hour later when another layer became loose. Every half an hour for the next six hours were spent vanishing loose skin.
Periodically through that time certain portions of Draco and Astoria's bodies collapsed in on themselves as the bones disintegrated and new ones built. It was a horrible process to watch especially when their skulls disappeared and a new one grew in its place. They didn't dare cast any spells on the two bodies when their skulls were missing for fear that their spinal cords were missing too and they didn't know what damage spells would do to the spinal nerves.
Towards the end of the twenty four hours there were definite changes to both the young adults. Draco's facial features had changed, softened so they weren't as sharp and angular. He still had high proud cheekbones and a shapely nose but they weren't as spiky as they had been before. His face shape was no longer the inverted triangle shape it had once been which had added to his spikiness and sharp features, it was still triangular but his jaw and chin made the base of the triangle now. Harry couldn't see the colour of Draco's eyes because he still had them shut, nor did he know the hair colour he'd have now as both bodies were completely bald and hairless. Draco was taller, however, Lucius had commented on how Draco had grown out of his trousers by about two or three inches. Astoria had also grown but by only an inch or so. Her features were still soft but her cheekbones were sharper, her chin narrower and her head seemed smaller and more oval shaped too. Her skin tone had darkened a little too, like she had a light tan compared to Draco's still pale white skin.
When Draco and Astoria woke up Harry was interested to notice that their eye colours had changed. Astoria no longer had brown eyes. They had changed to an olive green colour with more brown around the edges of her iris. Draco's eyes had gone from grey to light blue, almost sky blue in colour with a ring of silver close to his pupil.
"Oh good merciful Merlin! We have no hair." Draco gasped as he touched his bald head. Astoria touched her own head, screamed and proceeded to grab an abandoned robe from the sofa to put over her head.
"Hair lengthening potions would be sensible." Lucius drawled out, his tone casual and holding plenty of amusement. Draco scowled.
"Of course. I should have thought of that. Well, I can do that while you undergo your transformation."
"Tell me, do you feel any different?" Lucius enquired.
"Not really. Except for the draft on my head I feel the same. Why? Were you expecting me to feel dreadful? I admit the pain after taking the potion was horrific but now I feel fine if a little…well…raw. My skin feels itchy but I suppose that's because we grew new skin?" Came the confession from the very bald and new looking Draco. Harry could see a slight resemblance to Sirius and Bellatrix actually, Draco's new look definitely had lots of Black family influences. Except for the lack of hair. He looked decidedly alien with no hair and no eyebrows.
"You did indeed. Your bodies ejected everything, urine, faeces, hair, skin and your bones dissolved inside you before new ones grew. It was a fascinating if nauseating process to watch. I hope you are skilled with cleansing charms for I expect you to keep Mister Potter and I as clean as we endeavoured to keep you while you underwent your transformation."
"Yes father. Well, go on then. Take your potion. I'll start collecting together the ingredients for hair lengthening potion. I really hope we have the ingredients." Draco muttered.
Harry sighed and removed his outer robe before taking position on the floor where he and Lucius had discussed they should lie after seeing the mess Astoria and Draco's transformations made.
"I am definitely not ready for this." Harry muttered. Lucius shot him a look as he lay down too.
"Neither am I however my son braved this and so shall I. My hope is that I do not remain conscious for long."
"Yeah, live in hope eh? My pain threshold is quite high thanks to Voldemort. I wish it wasn't now that we are facing this. It looked like being under the cruciatus for hours without break!"
"Thank you for that vivid comparison. You have sufficiently boosted my anxiety." Lucius growled out with displeasure written clearly over his face.
"Sorry. If it's any consolation I' scaring myself more too. Right then…well...bottoms up!" Harry snatched his potion from the table and downed it in one go, squeezing his eyes shut and holding his breath till he'd swallowed the lot. After his first inhalation Harry gagged and spluttered. "Urgh! That's vile!"
"Quite." Lucius forced through a grimace, his voice strained.
"Not long to go then…did you want to talk while we wait?"
"I believe we have talked enough this last day however if you can think of anything to say to alleviate the tension of waiting then I look forward to hearing it." Lucius offered.
"Oh. Well, no I can't think of much really. I'll contact Hermione and Ron after the transformation, see how they are. They should have reached Australia by now surely?"
"Yes I would have thought so. I know little of muggle transport however I am sure two days is long enough to travel to any place around the world."
"YES! We've got enough ingredients for hair growth. I've even got enough to make three batches for all of us! I'll make them all up so we've got spare potions so we can adjust our appearances to fit in better." Draco blathered on and on about which ingredients were needed and soon the sound of chopping and slicing filled the air.
"Harry? Are you okay? You look bad." Came a small voice. Harry squashed down his focus on the cramps in his stomach and chest and focused on the little girl who was carefully, cautiously coming towards him.
"Oh no. Laurel sweetheart you need to go to sleep. Draco, Astoria, don't let Laurel see!" Harry yelled. Laurel backed away alarmed, scared and hurt. Harry shot her an apologetic look. "I'm sorry but I don't want to scare you and if you stay here you will be scared."
Astoria came rushing over and pulled Laurel away, cuddling her close as if to comfort her while discreetly casting the sleep charm on the girl. Laurel went lax in Astoria's arms and the woman put her on the sofa.
"I'm so sorry, I forgot about her." Astoria apologised.
"So I see, you were too busy worrying over your appearance to be concerned with the mental welfare of tat little girl!" Lucius snarled then doubled over clutching his stomach.
"Father! Don't snap at Astoria!"
"She should have been more consider-AH!" Lucius gasped out and took some deep gulping breaths. Harry sucked in large lungful of air too as fire started to flare up inside his chest. Something was burning all down his chest and into his stomach. It seemed to flare at sudden random intervals to burn somewhere else, then further out. It spread and spread, first burning then scorching as it moved on to burn somewhere else. It felt like fire was consuming him from his core outwards, like he'd eaten lava. Harry tried to get more air, to suck in more cold air to cool the burning. The burning, scorching inferno continued till it blazed through every part of his body. Then the pain from the scald increased.
Harry felt something vibrate in his throat and knew he'd made a noise of discomfort. He breathed again, he could hadn't it for a while he could. He clamped his mouth shut and breathed. His breathing sounded harsh, loud and too quick to him even over the roaring in his ears. The raging inferno grew worse, a loud shout pierced through the air. Agony in a voice penetrated through Harry and he felt his own instincts scream at him that someone was in pain like he was, that the torture was going to get worse.
Harry felt his thoughts grow a little crazy. Where was the scream coming from? Who was doing such evil torture? Voldemort? But he was dead! Harry had killed him! He was dead! He had to be dead! ARGH the pain was too much. The inferno grew worse and worse, the fire was trying to consume him! It was like the fiend fire in the room of requirement! Had it got him? Was he dying?! It was inside him, liquidating his organs and limbs. It was excruciating! Make it stop, make it stop!
Another scream pierced the air and Harry felt the scream amidst the blaze. It didn't make it go away but the screaming gave him hope that if he was loud enough somebody would help. He'd help a person if they screamed like this. Why was nobody helping? Why was nobody stopping the pain? Why did Voldemort keep him under the cruciatus so long? Why was he so evil he liked to torture people? Why didn't he just kill him?! Why torture him?!
It was excruciating. It was so much worse…the torture was so much worse than the cruciatus! How did Voldemort learn it?! It was agony in every vein, in every pore, in every cell of his being. It was agony in his soul!
It hurt so much! Why couldn't it stop?!
Dying hadn't felt like this! Dying had been easy…oh so easy. How could he be feeling so much overwhelming pain but still be alive?! Why did he have to still be alive?!
The agony became the centre of Harry's universe. It incorporated every part of him and gave him more and more torment. The pain was never ending, never abating. It tortured and tortured and tortured!
Blackness eventually swam in front of Harry's eyes. Harry welcomed it, begged it to come. Adrenaline kept him present in the torture. Instinct screamed danger to him and demanded he find a way out of the pain to defeat the person who was torturing him. It grew and grew, there was no escape! He had to be dying! A slow, painful, inescapable death! Why couldn't it come sooner? Why did it have to hurt so much?! Why couldn't the black come closer? Why couldn't he go into the black? It was so close, he wanted it.
Please, please, please. Make it stop! Take him away!
He didn't want to be in pain any more. He didn't care about stopping the person hurting him. He didn't want to fight any more. He just wanted it to stop.
He just wanted everything to stop.
Consciousness returned slowly to Harry. He remembered what had happened immediately after he took in the feeling of cold stone beneath his back and the musky smell of dirt, blood and other things lingered in the air. His skin felt scratchy, very scratchy, which could have been from the cleansing spells or from the fact that new skin was always very sensitive. Since the potion would have made his old skin fall off and new skin grow to replace it Harry guessed he was itchy because of the new skin.
Eventually Harry managed to get his eyelids to open and forced his body to sit up. Something felt different as he sat up straight. His body felt tired and worn out but there was no residual pain, thankfully. Everything just felt a bit odd to move. It was sluggish, almost as if his body was unused to making certain actions. Harry supposed that was possible, after all if he'd grown more skin then it stood to reason that he grew muscles from scratch too.
"Ah Potter, you're awake." Harry blinked at the voice and looked around. The man Draco Malfoy had turned into was looking at him steadily with light blue eyes. His image was blurred slightly but Harry could make out the man's lips were moving so it was definitely him talking. "You've had a rather…interesting change."
"Huh?" Harry croaked out then cleared his throat. His voice sounded squeaky and higher pitched than normal, like it used to sound before puberty hit and his voice broke. Harry rubbed his eyes, making his glasses rise up. Oddly he could see better without his glasses than he could with them. Harry blinked and tested out seeing with glasses and seeing without before shrugging, smiling and taking his glasses off. "That's brilliant! I don't need my glasses anymore."
"Yeah and that's not the only thing you don't need anymore." Draco said sardonically.
Harry frowned at him. "What do you mean?"
"What I mean, Potter, is that the potion made more changes to you than it did to any of us. You don't need your glasses anymore, you don't need to worry about being recognised as Harry Potter or any Potter in fact, you don't need to stand up to urinate either." Draco gave Harry such a significant look as he finished talking that Harry felt a little confused as to what he was missing in the conversation. No glasses, no being recognised, no standing up to…
"What?!" That came out as a yelp, high pitched and everything. Harry snapped his head down so he could look at himself and nearly fainted. "Oh shit!"
"Yes." Draco agreed with a straight face but pinched features like he was trying not to let another expression be seen.
Harry felt disbelief and shock pound through him like a storm. He lifted his top up and looked down the neck hole only to drop the shirt again feeling vaguely nauseous. He had seen what he thought he saw hadn't he? He could be mistaken about his vision…it might not be as perfect as he thought. There was another test he could try…Harry hesitated and trembled but forced his hand to slowly venture towards his groin. He indiscreetly pressed down on his groin hoping to feel what he'd felt there for the last nineteen years of his life. He pressed down and down and…nothing. Nothing was there. He pressed down some more…maybe it had just gotten smaller, Harry could live with that. But no…he didn't find anything until he pressed skin next to bone, flat and void of any lumps and bumps right where his genitalia should be. Harry slammed a hand over his mouth, shot up and sprinted to the bathroom.
Laughter filled the room behind him then a loud slap before silence reigned. All Harry could hear was a pounding in his ears, a buzzing in his head and the rush of vomit speeding up his oesophagus and out his mouth.
This could not be happening?! How could the potion go so wrong for him?! He knew they had mentioned what the potion was capable of but he never thought it would actually happen!
The vomit slowly stopped and Harry slumped sideways against the bathroom wall. He pulled his hand back from the porcelain bowl and shut his eyes. His breathing was rapid, disbelief bordering on panic.
"Hey…hey shhhh. It's alright. It's fine. We knew it was a possibility. We were all aware of the facts going into this. Being a girl can't be a bad thing really. Calm down, you'll get through this….. You'll be fine." Harry glanced up at Astoria's voice. She was approaching him warily, as one would a cornered animal, as she stepped into the bathroom. "Being a girl isn't that bad."
"Oh yeah?! And what if you had turned into a boy!" Harry demanded, wincing at his high pitched girl's voice. Astoria's grimace was telling enough. Harry scowled at her, angry for her attempt to pacify him and patronise him when had the situation been reversed she would have been just as sickened. "That's what I thought!"
"I see my son has indelicately informed you of your situation." Harry twisted his head to scowl at the next newcomer to his bathroom retreat. The man in the doorway was a stranger, completely and utterly different. Logically Harry knew it must be Lucius Malfoy, his posture screamed Lord and rich pureblood however his looks were so altered there was no resemblance left at all. Lucius' features had smoothed out a little, much as Draco's had. His sharp and angular features had softened though he still kept high cheekbones and a strong straight nose. His jaw was squarer now, less pointy than it had been before. His forehead wasn't as long as it had been and his face was a more rectangular than triangular. His bright blue eyes gave the man a warmer look too, less icy. The bald head was strange but then again it wouldn't last too long.
Lucius' voice had changed a little too. It was no longer like cold stones growling over the world, it was more silky now though it retained its deep pitch, a humming vibration that made you listen closely, and that snobbish 'I-am-your-better' tone that Malfoys seemed to master from birth. The man continued talking.
"My son performed badly in his task to inform you of the changes that befell you. His obscene lack of manners, subtlety and verbal preparation for bad news nevertheless alters the fact that you have been altered severely by the potion."
"And your method of reminding me is more subtle is it?" Harry demanded angrily, eyes blazing hot with his temper. Lucius shook his head.
"I was not attempting to be subtle. You know what you have become; reminding you need not be hidden in any way."
"Great. Well why not say it completely bluntly then?! I'm a girl! I'm a bloody girl. I no longer have half the genitalia I used to have for the last nineteen years of my life!" Harry shouted. "And it's all because of that bloody potion, because we had to hide our identities and this was the only way we could do it while we were stuck down here! Why does everything have to happen to me?! Why couldn't something have gone smoothly for me, for once! I thought my bad luck would end now that stupid Voldemort was dead. But oh no! Not for Harry Potter!"
"The circumstances are unfortunate-."
"Unfortunate?! Screw unfortunate! This is a disaster! Get out of my way!" Harry stood up and stalked out of the bathroom, past the bald new-Lucius and into the main lounge where he rounded angrily on Draco. Prodding his finger viciously in the air before Draco Harry snarled out his demands. Only one thought was going through his head now and that was that he didn't want to be a girl! "Where's the rest of that potion? Give me another dose!"
"Another dose? Are you mad?!" Draco spluttered, shocked and wide eyed. He nearly spat as he spoke because he was so shocked his facial muscles had gone lax in his mouth and jaw area.
"Yes, yes I am. Now give it to me!" Harry yelled, holding his hand out.
Draco backed up a step and shook his head holding his hands up with his fingers splayed in a signal for being empty-handed. "I don't have any."
"What do you mean you haven't got any?" Harry's voice was dangerously low, nearly back to his old pitch from before he was turned into a girl.
"I mean I don't have any. When we saw the transformation was complete we got rid of the rest of the potion. We didn't see that you were a girl until Astoria pointed out that you had developed…um…" Draco trailed of. Harry's magic lashed out violently, swirling around the room and rustling clothing.
"You got rid of it?!"
Draco swallowed with great difficulty. His adams apple, something Harry now missed completely, bobbled uncertainly. "Yes I did."
"You! You bastard!" Harry yelled and shoved Draco hard away. Draco stumbled as he fell backward onto the floor landing awkwardly. Harry's wand was somehow in his hand and pointing at the ex-Malfoy, soon to be ex-living.
"Miss Potter you need to calm down!" Harry whirled at the words and sparking emerald eyes met the sky blue eyes of the stranger Lucius had turned into. Harry felt his anger crank up another notch.
"Don't call me that! Don't say it! Splingo! Stupify! Petrificus Totalus!" Harry shot the spells at Lucius, pausing only momentarily to shot a stunner at Draco who was scrabbling for his wand. Lucius dodged everything, pulling out his wand as he went and taking aim. Harry shot off a few more spells. "Expelliarmus! Stupify! Afflingo! Pependi! Reducto! Stupify! Petrificus Totalus!"
"Damn it!" Lucius yelled as the last spell caught him and sent him tumbling to the floor. Harry felt a wave of pride flare up through him at having hit the great Lucius Malfoy with a first year spell when a scream tore through the air.
"AHHH!" Harry spun around, wand trained ready. He nearly dropped it when he saw Laurel screeching and hugging her knees as she cried in fear. Harry felt his pride and rage melt away like ice beneath a vivacious flame.
"Oh Laurel." Harry sighed and quickly slid his wand away. The girl shrunk in on herself as Harry rushed over. Harry felt guilt and anguish tear at his heart, he had terrified her. "I'm so sorry Laurel sweet heart." Harry knelt next to the girl and gently, carefully, reached out and pulled her into a hug. She gave a great sob and relaxed into the hug for a moment before turning and wrapping herself around Harry.
"Why were you so mad?" She whispered and Harry felt a stab through his heart.
"I was…I…I'm angry at being a girl now." Honesty was best but Harry didn't count on the girl's naivity.
"Why? Being a girl is okay."
"Not when I used to be a boy. I don't want to be a girl." Harry sighed and felt some tears of frustration and sadness well up in his eyes.
"Being a boy is fun. But being a girl is fun too!" Harry rolled his eyes making some tears drop from them and drip down his cheeks.
"Oh yeah? And you know that how?!"
"I play dress up all the time! I get to climb trees when I'm a boy and get muddy and stuff. But when I'm a girl I get to play princesses and get people to do stuff for me and I get to have lots of fun with my friends!" Harry bit his tongue to bite back an inappropriate respons to the little girl's enthusiasm.
"It's not the same thing Laurel."
"Yes it is. You were a boy but now you are a girl. It'll be like playing dress up. Didn't you play dress up as a kid?" Laurel pulled back to look questioningly at him and Harry could see the fact that Laurel thought that he must have played dressing up when he was a child. Should he tell her the truth or not?
"I…I was not allowed to play dressing up when I was little."
"Why not?" Laurel asked frowning. Harry bit his lip this time in an attempt to push back his immediate response and tame it down to give the girl an answer she could understand and wasn't terrified by.
"My aunt and uncle wouldn't let me." He settled on saying and hoped that would be the end of the story. But oh no, Potter luck struck again and damned Harry with another question.
"What about your mummy and daddy? They let you right?"
"No Laurel. I don't have a mum or dad. They died when I was a baby."
"Oh. What did you play when you were little then?" Oh for the love of Merlin! How did he answer this one? He didn't play anything as a child, not even in the school playground because he had to get away from Dudley and the other bullies. He didn't have any toys at home except for one or two army men and he wasn't allowed to go outside unless it was to do gardening. How could he explain to Laurel that he lived in a cupboard and was made to work around the Dursley house and gardens? How did he explain that he was never allowed play time, he was only allowed rests from working. The answer was he didn't tell her. Harry settled on one thing that was close enough to play as an answer.
"I played hide and seek and did lots of running."
"Well girls play that too! And girls always beat the boys because boys are rubbish at playing hide and seek!" Harry shut his eyes and refused to look at the girl. She was just too young to understand and everyone old enough to understand didn't care. Harry felt so alone. He had to abandon his friends to their adventure away from Britain because he was stuck in a mine with his once hated rival and that rival's family. He had no family except his best friends who were leaving to go to the other side of the world. He was a girl when he'd always been a boy. He was the only Gryffindor in the room and the only person to have his whole gender be changed!
"Can you…can you make the potion again?" A Harry stuttered out then clenched his teeth together as he waited for somebody to answer.
"No." Harry felt anger rise up but also a crushing heart-breaking disappointment. "And even if I could Potter I wouldn't. We have wasted three days on the potion, one day to make it and another two days for us all to go through the transformation. Taking another potion this close to taking the last one is also incredibly risky, we were all lucky to make it through alive after taking the first potion. Also, taking the potion again does not guarantee you would turn back into a male. There was only a one in a couple of hundredths possibility of you changing gender, there can be no telling if the potion would change that part of your DNA to swap next time. Back to my original points anyway, we cannot afford to spend that much time making numerous potions so you can keep taking it until you either die or turn into a male again. It's selfish, irresponsibly and frankly it's a ridiculous idea. You have my sympathy of course but you need to stop focusing on the bad hand you have been given and start focusing on the next part of the original plan."
Harry took a deep breath and held it. He tried to be reasonable, he tried his damndest. The best he could manage though was to tighten his jaw and talk through clamped teeth.
"Fine. What is the next step?"
"You should take these. They are hair lengthening potions. Astoria will then help you to trim it into a reasonable look. You should then shower and change. Here." The man Draco had become handed Harry two potions. Harry grasped them tightly.
"Why are there two?"
"Well…you're a girl now. Girls have longer hair so you need two doses." Draco said that a little nervously, rubbing his palms against his trouser leg. Harry felt his hand twitch for his wand but two little hands pressed against his cheeks and Harry instead turned his eyes to the little girl in his lap.
"You'll look just like a princess! Princesses have long hair!"
Harry had to shut his eyes and breath for a moment so he didn't lash out. As it was he barely managed to reign in his temper. He gently dislodged the girl's hands, lifted her out of his lap and placed her on the floor. Then all without saying a word Harry stood and marched back into the bathroom downing both potions quickly en route, throwing the potion vials against the wall before finally reaching the bathroom. There he slammed the bathroom door shut, locked it and fired as many locking spells, privacy charms and wards on the door as possible.
Harry then shoved the toilet seats down and threw himself angrily on top of them putting his head in his hands.
How could this have happened?! Why did it have to happen? Why did he have to be a girl?
Harry lifted his head a little and caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror stretching the length of the opposite wall. It was a floor to ceiling mirror, Harry supposed it was so that the goblins could see their reflections too. Though why anybody would want to see themselves as they sat on the toilet baffled Harry. Still, Harry finally caught a glimpse of himself in his new body.
He was shorter than he remembered, and slighter too. Harry supposed that was part and parcel of being a girl. Smaller, weaker, helpless, powerless…no. Harry shook his head. That wasn't true. Never once did Harry doubt Hermione's strength, both physically and magically that girl was a warrior. He couldn't be sexist purely because he was a girl, he wouldn't do himself any favours. So fine, he was shorter. He had always been short. He had a slight frame. He had always been skinny, it came from eating very little at the Dursleys' house. He still had muscle tone though, that was not something the potion could take away because muscle tone was influenced by the environment and what he did as opposed to what was written in his body information. He still had all his magical power too. It still spiralled out of control and became wild when he was angry and had effects on the physical world during times of high emotion, that had been demonstrated already.
Hair sprouted slowly from the top of his moments-ago bald head. It was black and thick. Harry ran a hand over it. It felt the same as always. His head was the same shape as before only his cheekbones were a little higher, his lips a little more plump and his nose was smaller too. His facial structure was one he didn't recognise, it differed completely to both of his parents. His face was still slightly like James Potters but not the long circular that his father's had. He definitely had Lily's nose only smaller but he didn't have the rectangular face shape she'd had. His cheek bones, jaw shape and length of his face was different though. I looked squarer in shape and he had kept his strong angular jaw. Yeah…square. He now had a square face and…well…had he been a guy looking at a girl who had a face like this he would have said she had a pretty face. He supposed that was a point. At least he was managing to find something positive.
Harry turned his gaze to his eyes and nearly smiled his relief at the bright emerald orbs that stared back at him. He had kept his mother's eyes. Long eyelashes also seemed to be something he had kept and now with the help of that potion they were growing back, it was probably a good thing because Harry had singed some eyelashes off in training a few weeks back.
His eyebrows were getting a little too long now though. Harry could see now why he might need to have Astoria help him sort his eyebrows out; he'd never had to deal with shaping eyebrows back into a normal eyebrow shape. As for his hair, the stupid hair had now grown to the middle of his back and some of it was trapped inside his clothes sliding down. How long was it going to grow to?! Harry had never had long hair before and this was…well…this hair was wavy and think black locks. It was a complete switch from having short messy black hair. The waves were loose and seemed rather tame, not at all wild. Harry supposed he had his mother's type of hair now though he had kept his father's hair colour, that dark blue-black hair that was inherited through generations of Potters. It stood to reason that black would still be the dominant colour for his hair.
He didn't seem to have done too badly in the looks department. He had good luck there it seemed, despite having turned into a girl. At least he didn't inherit any Durlsey looks…imagine turning out to look like Petunia?!
"Urgh!" His trousers felt uncomfortable now and his hair was so long it was brushing his stomach. He'd have to cut it but it was still growing. And why did his arms feel uncomfortable staying by his sides? It was like something as pushing them out…oh dear Merlin no!
Harry threw his top off quickly and, without even glancing at the two monstrosities growing on his chest Harry saw what he dreaded to see. Arm pit hair growing out of control.
Harry muttered a few horrible curses and stripped the rest of his clothes off. He undid his wand holster and pulled out the bead and enlarged it so it was his trunk once again. Inside it he found his razor and shaving cream. He also raided his Quidditch Broom Servicing kit for a pair of scissors. Using scissors, a razor and various spells Harry trimmed and cleaned up the excessive hair growth over his body. Thankfully his hair didn't grow excessively in any other places than on his head, his eyebrows, arm pits and…down below in a place once he had finished shaving he really would rather not look at again. His leg hair was left, that was normal right? He knew Ginny used to go on about shaving her legs but that wasn't a girl thing was it? That was just a Ginny thing? Shit, Harry didn't know. He knew Hermione shaved too but he just assumed she did her arm pits or something because he'd seen her do those with an electric shaver once. Maybe she did her legs too. Crap. Harry at least knew the spell to shave his legs. Ginny had always used spells.
"Tondesco crūs!" Harry spelled, pointing his wand at his right leg. Instantly all the hair on his leg disappeared. Harry repeated the process on the other leg. All shaved Harry wondered briefly whether girls shaved down their arms too. Harry couldn't see anything other than faint nearly transparent hairs on his arms but he didn't know if it was better to have no hair there at all. He decided to leave it. His down below area shaved, his armpits shaved and his eyebrows trimmed carefully using a razor Harry tried to decide what to do about his now hip length hair. At least it had finally stopped growing now. It was like a thick curtain though, he felt like he could drown in it or that it would strangle him. He didn't know how to cut hair though and he couldn't just shave it all off though admittedly that would be easier.
Harry groaned and decided he'd have to just have a shower and hope that Astoria wouldn't mind doing something with his hair.
One shower later, and a change of clothes, Harry felt a bit better about himself though still vaguely nauseated at his female body that he had just had to clean all over. It was strange. Getting dressed was stranger and very uncomfortable. Without his manly parts his boxer shorts now had plenty of places to ride up. 'Up' was highly uncomfortable too. Harry, in the end, had tried to forgo them only to discover that trousers went up to. So he put the boxers on again and pulled his trousers over the top. He had no bra and so could do nothing about his female chest other than cover it in a shirt, another shirt and another shirt and then a robe. He was a bit hot but that was what cooling charms were for…and denial.
Finally dressed and clean and sorted out Harry took down all the wards and the locks on the bathroom door and exited the room. There he was met with everybody else who was apparently waiting on him. They were all stood together and next to Astoria were some articles of clothing. Harry noticed with disgust that some of those clothes were pink. One article of clothing was pink and had what looked like a floral design on it. No way in hell was he going to touch those clothes let alone wear them.
"The potions worked then." Draco was an insufferable git.
"Yes. Astoria can you do something about this mop?" Harry gathered his very long hair together and shook it at the woman. Harry noticed that everybody had grown their hair out too either before or while he as in the bathroom.
Astoria's hair was all the way down to her waist still and fell in straight dark brown strands. Draco's hair was blonde and in tight blonde curls that he had cropped very short. The blonde curls made him look even more like a Black, more specifically like Bellatrix Lestrange, only a blonde version. Had his hair been black it would have given him Bellatrix's complete image. Still at least the facial structure was different to that vile woman', and Draco was a man not a woman. Lucias' hair was also grown now and oddly it was a curly honey blonde that curled around his ears and onto the inside of his collar. Coupled with those sky blue eyes it gave him a radiant warm appearance, it was only if you read the setting of his jaw, tightening of his lips and narrowing of his eyes that you would know that judgement from initial looks were deceiving.
Astoria rushed forwards and started spreading out Harry's hair between her fingers.
"Why do you want to do something about it? It looks great long."
"Yes Potter. Long hair is a sign of high status amongst women and girls." Draco aid, a half smirk on his lips making Harry's temper lunge to the forefront.
"Well that explains why your father had long hair then doesn't it."
"Why you-!" Draco snarled. Lucius put a hand up, palm facing forward, in a noiseless demand for silence.
"Now Miss Potter, I understand your frustration however lashing out at everybody around you is not helpful. Draco, do refrain from provoking Miss Potter. It does you no credit to bait her, nor does it show any strength of character or nobility to bully as a child does." Lucius scolded and Harry was gratified to see that Draco looked slightly repentant if not sour at being reprimanded. Lucius then turned his attention back to Harry. "Your hair is best kept in a feminine style however concessions must be made for personal preference and present circumstance. Astoria has chosen to keep her hair at its current length however I am sure she will help you style your hair to better suit you."
"Well I…" Astoria started to say with a stubborn and disagreeable look on her face. Lucius pinned her with a hard glare though and it seemed to cow the young woman. She nodded and drew out her wand. "Very well. I refuse to cut it any shorter than her collar bone though."
"Fine. Cut it to my collar bone." Harry said and she harrumphed. She started muttering the hair styling spell she seemed to know off the cuff and long foot and half long strands of black hair started to fall to the floor. It only took a few moments but it felt like an awfully long time considering how Astoria was in his personal space and casting spells on his person. Finally though Astoria was finished and she summoned a mirror holding it out to him so he could see. His hair was shorter, she'd left it a little longer than his collar bone but since it had bounced up into more zig-zag waves it shortened the length a little. Harry didn't really know what he was supposed to say about the haircut so he gave a shrug. Astoria huffed at him, tutted and banished the mirror. Harry didn't really care what she thought really, especially not when he could perfectly recall the spell Ginny used to get her hair up into a pony tail. Harry pulled his wand, pointed it at his hair and muttered the spell feeling far happier when his hair was tied up and well out of his way. That was far more practical. He also banished the hair on the floor.
"What's next then?"
"You getting changed." Astoria said and pointed to the pile of clothes. Harry gave them a cursory glance then shook his head.
"Next Miss Potter is Laurel going through a blood adoption so that her blood is altered too therefore leaving her untraceable and as an unknown. Then we should see about filling in those birth certifcates for our new identities. Draco and my birth certificates are already filled out. I have recently discovered that there was a mistake on the birth certificates which state that both Draco and I were born in Greenwich Villiage. While not ordinarily a problem, the Greenwich Villiage it refers to is an area within a muggle American town in New York City somewhere on the East Coast. Since we were considering the Americas as a destination I can only say that this hiccup is a boon in our favour. It entitles us to stay in America I believe as we were born there."
"Okay. So we are going to New York?" Harry asked uncertainly. Lucius nodded
"I believe so. I also think it prudent to begin travelling there as soon as possible. We should carry out the blood adoption, I will fill out the papers and we shall make our escape. I would suggest you reconsider the name you chose for your new identity, given your recent transformation the name is no longer appropriate." Lucius indicated towards Harry as he spoke, a subtle reminder that felt very much like a bludger to the stomach.
"Right. Well I'm clear out of ideas."
The ground rumbled.
It jerked and lurched beneath Harry's feet nearly making him loose his balance. He bent his knees, set his legs apart and lowered his centre of gravity as he whirled his head from side to side trying to see what had caused that earthquake. The furniture vibrated and travelled across the floor a little. Glasses, plates and cutlery jangled against each other from their places on the goblin high tables. Some went hurtling to the floor, smashing and making a mess.
"What's going on?" Harry asked, not really expecting an answer but receiving one anyway.
"When you had taken the potion these earth quakes started happening more and more frequently." Draco shouted over the noise of the grumbling earth. "I went out to take a look. There are explosions happening in the atrium. I couldn't tell where the blasts originated from but I thought they came from the other side of the wall. I left as quickly as I could. I think people are trying to blast their way into the bank. It wouldn't surprise me if it were the terrorist group."
"We should get out of here. We can't let them find us or all of this would have been for nothing!" Astoria cried and Harry was loath to agree.
"The blood ritual! We should do that first then leave. We do not know when we will get another chance." Lucius intervened and thankfully the ground stopped shaking them around.
"What does it entail?" Harry asked not willing to argue. They did after all have to hide Laurel.
"It will not take long. There is a spell that both parents have to say, then collect their combined blood in a cup. We make a small incision on the girl's right wrist, pour the content of the cup over the cut while saying the rest of the spell. It will be over in about six hours and the girl will be unconscious the moment the final words of the spell are said." Lucius explained in a patient and reasonable tone. Harry had been warned of the dangers and the darkness of blood magic. This one didn't seem horrific at all, and, to be honest, it was more out of desperation that they even considered using it.
"Astoria and I shall adopt the girl. We are the only two married here and it would make the adoption absolute because she would have two new parents." Harry didn't like that idea so much but before he could say anything Laurel was throwing herself at Astoria with a smile. Astoria hugged the girl close and smiled back at her. Harry decided it was better not to argue, after all Laurel's actions had basically just made his argument redundant anyway.
"Very well. Draco you get started on the ritual. Miss Potter if you could handle wiping any trace of our presence from this room that would be a tremendous help. I shall start on those certificates."
It was strange having somebody else take the lead, but it wasn't entirely unwelcome. Harry knew he wasn't always the best strategist. He had more raw power and the bravery to rush in and deal with whatever came. Ron was always their strategists and Hermione was the brains behind the operations. Lucius Malfoy was a skilled strategist as well and he had many more years of experience than Ron.
Harry began tidying up. He removed all of their extra clothes that had been left lying around and he made sure to clean up their bed areas by fluffing up the pillows and removing magical traces. He left the destruction caused by the earthquake as that would be suspicious if there was no damage done. Once everything was done Harry turned to see how everybody else were getting on. Laurel was slumped in Draco's arms, he was cradling her in his arms as she slept or was unconscious. Astoria was fussing but banished the cup and any spilt blood. Lucius was scribbling away frantically.
Another quake shattered through the cave. Draco fell to his knees. Astoria tumbled too. Harry managed to barely keep his balance and had to grab hold of the sofa back to stay upright. Lucius tipped to the side, quill scraping along the parchment he had been writing on. The man cursed, drew his wand and banished the parchment.
As the quakes stopped Lucius stood up and started shoving the parchment and quill back inside his bottomless bag.
"I believe we should make our move now. The paperwork will have to wait. I cannot write plausible certificates of birth when the very ground is moving beneath my feet. Magically filing the papers will have to be sufficient since we can no longer travel back up to the offices but since our safety is threatened something like paperwork is best delayed. Come. Are we ready to leave?"
They wasted no more time. Draco got out several broomsticks from his trunk and they all took one to ride. Draco still held Laurel as she was unconscious and could not hold on herself. They flew from the goblin lounge down deep into the ravine. They hoped that down would cast them in more shadow so that anybody who got into the Goblin mines would not be able to see them.
AN: This is a monster of a chapter! 66pages in total. It had to be that long because I needed you to see what caused the change and to actually straight away have Harry change to a female. I understand not everybody likes a female Harry...and to be honest I tend to dislike it most of the time. However the mood has struck me lately to write this. Considering it is currently 248 pages long and 93000 words the mood has stuck around for quite a while.
This is nothing like my Dragonette stories...though you will notice I did include a dragon! Haha. I hope you like it, though I do understand it is different. Thank you for reading.