Heirs of the Founders

Obligatory blah blah blah:

I do not now, nor have I ever and only will if I'm the last person on Earth (at which point the whole concept of rights, royalties, etc, etc. . . becomes moot, to say the least) own Harry Potter or the characters therein, they belong to J. K. Rowling; I'm just playing with them.

Chapter One

Sitting quietly in a compartment, near the middle of a train pulled by an old-fashioned steam locomotive no less, an eleven-year-old Harry Potter raised his eyes from a textbook sitting casually open on his lap. He glanced out the window through glasses painstakingly repaired with tape, at the platform that remained relatively empty of passengers, staff or crew: it was—after all—nearly two hours until The Hogwarts' Express departed. Harry sighed with the unfamiliar feeling of impatience that had grown from—for the first time in his memory, anyways—a positive anticipation that made him acutely aware of time. This was unusual for young mister Potter because time, for as long as he remembered, had always revolved around chores or his relative's whims and when, otherwise, he wasn't so occupied he was expected to remain quietly nonexistent but today: today it was about him and the platform clock seemed bent on taunting his usual forbearance. Mockingly slow, the clock flipped another minute; it made Harry think it was secretly allied with his Uncle Vernon.

Vernon Dursley, Uncle Vernon, brother-in-law—extraordinaire—to Lillian and James Potter and all 'round nasty git, Harry silently fumed. I'm not surprised the rotund bastard went out of his way to make life miserable one last time before school started: had to get me here almost four hours early and without breakfast too boot—at least it allowed me to be free of my 'loving' relatives all the sooner, he thought with venomous sarcasm. "Hope you're right about that platform nine and three quarters, freak, because I'm not wasting my time waiting to see you off to that freak school of yours," he remembered his uncle had sputtered with self-assumed wit. "Don't call me if you can't find your train, you're on your own till June." With those encouraging words, Uncle Vernon abandoned Harry at the curb with his trunk and a caged snowy owl two blocks from King's Cross Station as the unpleasant man drove off.

With the platform clock counting another measly minute, he looked back at his book, only to close it in frustration. Harry yawned, rested against the headrest and closed his eyes; welcoming his memories of the previous month. Harry Potter smiled. Reminiscing was a luxury and habit that Harry Potter had only recently acquired because before his eleventh birthday yesterdays were merely bleak predictors of tomorrows; dwelling on either was nothing more than an unpleasant exercise in futility and frustration: why should I do that to myself, he had asked himself. This unchanging future changed in the days leading up to his birthday when he began receiving strange letters. Those letters, hastily intercepted by his aunt or uncle before he could see whom they were from, increased in frequency and numbers—daily—until his Uncle Vernon, in fear and frustration, bundled up his family and Harry and fled four Privet Drive. Their impromptu road trip ended in a run-down shack on a storm swept island a kilometer or so from shore.

Why that hovel existed was anyone's guess but for Vernon Dursley it offered a safe and anonymous refuge for his family to go to ground. That his nephew's face had glowed with unbridled amusement—as the Dursleys blindly panicked—was ignored by Vernon in favor of wallowing in self-misery. For Harry Potter, though, it was as if Fate had glanced at a skinny shortsighted child in shaggy oversized clothes, at last; and realized an appalling oversight on her part and chose to make amends. Fate's failings aside, a happy Harry had watched his cousin's wristwatch count away the last remaining minutes of his eleventh year and, if recent events were foreshadows; his twelfth year was looking surprisingly upbeat: he was right. Harry's eleventh birthday began with a bang, literally, as the Dursley's attempt to flee the long arm of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was, at last, thwarted by the arrival of its Keeper of Keys and Grounds, Rubeus Hagrid.

To suggest that Hagrid was 'normal' was like saying the Sun rose in the West and to Harry's aunt and uncle—not to mention his cousin—the extremely large man was the epitome of the freakiness, which they so feared. Subsequently and after a brief exchange of 'pleasantries' and Dudley sprouting an all too real pig's tail, no less; Harry and Hagrid slept for the remainder of the night before leaving the drafty, dusty and damp shack early the next morning: neither the boy nor large man said goodbye.

After overcoming a few minor logistical issues (public transportation had not been built with Hagrid in mind), they made their way to London and a grubby disreputable looking pub called The Leaky Cauldron, 'a famous place' according to Hagrid. A crowd of overfriendly witches and wizards—all vying to be Harry's best friends—excitedly greeted the two and, after, shaking hands with the lot; Harry and Hagrid escaped through the tavern's rear door. Harry found himself in a small courtyard walled with weather beaten bricks and standing beside Hagrid who then tapped one non-descript brick three times. The giant man with the shaggy and long bushy hair and beard stood aside; Harry looked on with questioning confusion.

"Welcome to Diagon Alley," Harry remembered Hagrid declare after the once solid wall had amazingly re-arranged itself into a brick archway.

This wonderful feat of magic that Hagrid accepted so casually was Harry's first exposer to the world he had been ripped from as a baby and for the remainder of the day he followed his escort through a magical place that his uncle would declare could not exist; even if he had seen it. Their first stop was Gringotts (a wizard's bank run by a brusque looking horde of unfriendly creatures called goblins) and then through various stores until, at last, Harry found himself in Ollivander's (Maker of fine wands since 382 BC, or so the sign claimed) with a caged snowy owl, an armful of school supplies and his first real friend.

"Good afternoon," Harry remembered a soft voice address him; he replied with an awkward hello. "Ah yes," he distinctly recalled Mr. Ollivander say. "I thought I'd be seeing you soon, Mr. Potter." Harry recalled the older man say before the unexpected comment, "You have your mother's eyes."

Ollivander had maintained the professional banter throughout Harry's wand fitting and after trying and rejecting one wand after another the young wizard had begun to think 'his' wand didn't even exist. I'm having more luck creating the leaning tower of wands than I am finding one that wants me, he had thought with growing exasperation until—at last—the right combination of wood and core found Harry's hand. After the master-craftsman explained the dubious distinction that the young wizard's wand held Harry and Hagrid left Ollivander's, returned to the Leaky Cauldron and muggle London. From there, Hagrid had accompanied Harry to Little Whinging and the house at four Privet Drive. Hagrid and the Dursleys—who had thankfully returned earlier that afternoon—exchanged a few more 'polite' words before the large man bade Harry a fond farewell and a cheery 'looking forward to seeing you at Hogwarts' and left the young wizard with his scowling relatives.

Hedwigs's soft hoot drew Harry from his musings and his attention returned to the here and now. He opened his emerald green eyes and looked at his snowy-feathered friend.

"I know . . . I know, I'm bored too, girl," Harry said to the caged owl. "I'd love to let you stretch your wings, Hedwig, but we don't even know where we're going—the name Hogwarts or the letters didn't really tell me where the school is: we can't afford to be separated."

Hedwig replied with a resigned yet understanding hoot and closed her big eyes; she was asleep before they were completely shut. You've got the right idea, girl, Harry thought affectionately as he looked out the window and at the platform clock: only five minutes? The young wizard mentally lamented the geological, subjectively speaking, passage of time. A watched pot never boils; Harry remembered the old adage, took his eyes from the clock and joined Hedwig for some shuteye. A few pleasant dreams should help pass the time, he whimsically thought. Maybe mom will be there again, like she was after spending my birthday with Hagrid, Harry reflected warmly on the dream that had opened his eyes.

"My dearest son," Harry remembered a woman's vestige say in the dream that night; she had his emerald eyes. "If you're having this dream then your dad and I are most certainly dead and our final instructions for your care have been ignored. Whether this was by accident or design, I can't say, although—unfortunately—I suspect the latter. It also means that you're currently living with my sister and her family: the one place we expressly forbade in our wills, which we duly filed, I might add, with The Ministry of Magic. Furthermore, I suspect you've grown up without knowledge of your heritage or of the world you were born to because of my sister's loathing of anything to do with magic or that 'GOD DAMNED FREAKINESS!' which my 'dear' brother-in-law Vernon calls it." His dream mother had mirthlessly chuckled before she continued. "It is because of them that I now implant this memory and program it to play at the beginning of your twelfth year. Also, since we're not there to do it properly your dad and I wish you a very happy eleventh birthday and we promise that you have a very special year ahead but before you depart for Hogwarts—very unprepared I'd guess—we've made some plans: consider them a gift from your loving parents.

"To begin," the dream woven image of his mom continued, "you'll need to go to Gringotts—the wizard's bank on Diagon Alley in London and to get there you'll need to go to a pub called The Leaky Cauldron. Unfortunately, I can't remember its address—it might be protected by something like a Fidelius Charm, which would explain my shoddy memory of its location—but I do remember it was between two muggle stores: Mystic Music and Reader's Magic. Those shops shouldn't be too hard to find; they're the only stores in London so called but you'll still need to pay attention when you get there—Harry dear—because I know that The Leaky Cauldron is under a Notice-Me-Not charm. Once inside, speak to Tom, he'll pass you through to Diagon Alley and then go to Gringotts; ask for Vaultlord Goldenfang when you get there and introduce yourself: Goldenfang has a certified true copy of our wills, our final instructions and oversees The Potter Family vaults and accounts. Harry, be polite but firm with Gringotts staff and don't let them intimidate you but—remember—you must control your temper; a goblin's ire is unpleasant to say the least. You also need to know, dear, that while goblins are surly, officious and legalistic beings they're never dishonest. If you keep these points in mind, your relationship with The Goblin Nation will be rewarding and profitable. They'd also be your best source of objective information about magic and The Magical World and a good place to receive some introductory instruction, for a nominal fee of course." Harry remembered his mother's little amused and whimsical smile when she had said that—he understood why now. "You'll need to go to and from Diagon Alley for tutoring but once you get your wand, this'll be easy: all you do is raise your wand and summon The Knight Bus, it'll take you where you want to go for a few Sickles.

"My dear," Harry's dream conjured mom became very serious, indeed; he recalled. "Since you're dreaming this, we can assume that Fate has been a very cruel mistress to our family and we can only hope that Fortuna will soon smile upon you; you need all the help you can get. The reason I'm telling you this is because at this time—as I implant this messages—your father and I are in hiding and our world is in the midst of a civil war. This war is between the pureblood supremacists called Deatheaters—think Nazi Einsatzkommandos and you get the general idea—led by Lord Voldemort against The Order of the Phoenix led by Albus Dumbledore. I hope that, by the time you're having this dream, the war is over and that Voldemort and his Deatheaters are history. I also prey that our society has taken steps to address the root causes behind the bigots, which have been allowed to fester under the stupid and backwards conservatives who dominate The Wizengamot. Another thing, do not blindly trust Albus Dumbledore, Harry. It's not that he's evil per se but I've found him fearsomely amoral and plays his cards too close to his chest and, like many intelligent people, thinks he knows better than everyone else; he neither listens to nor seeks another's council. While Dumbledore has rightly earned his fame, he has a shadowy history and seems to have his own agenda for The Wizarding World; whenever I hear him say 'The Greater Good' (I hear the capitals when he says it, too) it makes my skin crawl.

"I wish I was telling you this in person but, alas, it's not to be. Your dad and I hope things haven't been too bad for you as an orphan but that's likely wistful thinking on our part. I hope my sister and her family have overcome their hate and intolerance and had their hearts thawed a little towards me and your dad and provided a decent childhood: hopefully not more wistful thinking on our part; I have my doubts about that too. I wish I could see the young man you've become but all I see is my sleeping thirteen-month-old son and his little whimsical smile. Harry dear, your father and I loved you very much. I hope we've been able to watch over you from beyond and, if not, we've always be in your heart. Learn about us dear and learn about your heritage; you will wield great power and influence when you come of age: use it wisely and prepare yourself for your place as the next head of Family Potter but don't forget to have fun. Find yourself trustworthy friends and a worthy woman—I'm sure she'll be wonderful—and make us proud grandparents. Live long, live well and live happy and at the end of your days pass to The Next Great Adventure with the knowledge that you've led a laudable life.

"We love you son," Harry remembered his mom saying with tear filled eyes as the dream faded.

On The Hogwarts Express, Harry Potter woke with the dream of a dream still fresh in his memory; his eyes misted and his cheeks stained. He hastily wiped away the salty residue of sorrow, panicked briefly when he failed to recognize his surroundings and then smiled once his mind reconnected with reality. That's right, I'm on the train that'll take me to school, he remembered as he unconsciously shifted his gaze to the platform clock, again. Great! He thoughtfully shouted when he saw the time.

"Hey girl!" Harry exclaimed and the abrupt sound woke Hedwig with a start; her feathers puffed in apprehension. "Less than an hour to go, I can't wait!"

"Hoo," Hedwig replied in manner suggesting: That's nice, next time allow me to wake with the dignity befitting my station. She balefully stared at Harry before turning her attention to her mussed feathers; the snowy owl began to proudly preen.

"Stuck up feathered princess," Harry teased playfully as he dug through his pockets for the package of beef jerky he suddenly remembered should still be there and shared a piece with the owl as a peace offering. "Sorry Hedwig, I didn't mean to startle you; I'm just so excited, I can't help myself."

Hedwig blinked and offered a forgiving hoot, after enjoying her portion of the dry salty snack; she went back to sleep.

If you weren't a bird, I'd swear you were a cat the way you fall asleep, Harry thought as he closed his eyes for some more peaceful woolgathering and instantly his memory dropped him into his first return to Diagon Alley.

"All you do is raise your wand and summon The Knight Bus," Harry remembered his mother's dream voice, still fresh in his mind, had said. With his daily chores finished, he had approached his aunt—she was in the sitting room; engrossed in a daytime television drama—and told her he was going out. She had dismissed him with a nonchalant wave of her and, with an uncommonly happy smirk; Harry had left his aunt alone to pursue her favored intellectual pursuits. Leaving the house, he stepped into a gorgeous summer's day and had warily glanced around, happy to see that neither Dudley nor his gang of brainless thugs lurking about: Harry had smiled—wickedly—when he remembered his cousin's newly acquired appendage and how uncomfortable it must be under the boy's pants. I wonder what Piers would say if he knew that his best bud was sporting a pig's tail? Harry remembered thinking with merciless humor. Maybe I should 'accidentally' let that slip, he remembered considering but the thought of his uncle's rage made Harry hastily reevaluate his sense of humor. Still, happier than he had ever remembered being, he stepped away from four Privet Drive and walked down the road. He continued for a few blocks, found a quiet stretch of road that was kind of out sight of the neighbors and raised his wand like his mom had said.

Harry Potter had not known what to expect and holding a stick at arm's length over his head made him feel self-conscious and sort of silly. Those feelings instantly vanished when a very loud bang announced the arrival of the strangest bus Harry had ever seen.

"Welcome to the Knight Bus, emergency transport for the stranded witch or wizard. Just stick out your wand hand, step on board and we can take you anywhere you want to go." Harry remembered the young man in the 'fetching' purple uniform had said. "You coming or just gawking, we can't hang around here all day until you make up your mind." The bus' conductor had said, sounding impatient. Harry had replied with a muttered sorry and stepped on board. "Where to, mister . . ." The young man had begun asking. ". . . Muss," Harry remembered he had interrupted cagily. "A. Nomy Muss; I'm going to The Leaky Cauldron, in London." Harry had told the conductor. "That'll be eleven sickles Mr. Muss," Harry had wondered if the man was being discrete or just a little dim. Harry settled on the second as he counted out eleven silver coins. "Please take a seat Nomy," the conductor invited and Harry chose an overstuffed Queen Ann Style chair with a hideous floral print. He sat just as The Knight Bus departed as it had arrived; with a bang.

The trip to London and The Leaky Cauldron may not have been smooth or particularly comfortable but it was fast and, in less than twenty minutes, Harry Potter had found himself on the sidewalk in front of the pub. He hesitated briefly, remembering the welcome he had received on his birthday, before taking a deep breath and pushing open the door: various pedestrians scurrying to and fro ignored the scrawny boy with the black messy hair entering a grubby pub they didn't notice. Harry had stepped across the threshold—the smell of old lager and age assaulted his nose—and waited for the unwanted attention he had expected to receive: thankfully, only Tom had noticed the young wizard and smiled a warm welcome. Skirting the pub's patrons by staying by the wall, Harry reached the counter. "It's a lot easier to stay anonymous when you don't enter a room with a man the size of Hagrid, Mister Potter." Tom had said with a smile. "I'd say," Harry had replied with relief. "Have you had lunch?" He remembered Tom asking. "No sir," Harry had answered politely. "Let me get you something then; what would you like?" "I fine, sir, but thank you for your kind offer; I'm only passing through today." The young wizard had replied. "Please don't call me sir, Mister Potter, I'm Tom," the barkeep had said. "Then please don't call me Mister Potter, I'm Harry." Harry smirked when he had answered. "I really need to get moving, Tom, I have to go Gringotts and I don't know how long it'll take to finish my business there." "At least let me give you a couple of sandwiches to go; you're too scrawny to not eat properly, Harry." Harry had felt tears in his eyes, he had never heard an adult actually sounding concerned for him, it was unexpected; Tom had adeptly noticed the boy's response. "I'm not one to pry but if you ever want to talk; I'll gladly lend you an ear—goes with the territory you might say. Now let me get you those sandwiches and see you on your way. Have you got a wand or do I need to pass you through?" "I've got my wand, thanks Tom." Harry had replied warmly as two wrapped sandwiches appeared on the counter. He had picked up the sandwiches, bade Tom a fond farewell and thanks and then went to the courtyard. Tapping the appropriate brick, he had watched the bricks magically re-arrange themselves, like before, and then Harry Potter stepped into the hustle and bustle of Diagon Alley.

Harry Potter was almost overwhelmed by Diagon Alley. Granted he had been there with Hagrid on his birthday but he had been in a bit of a state of shock that day and a little numb from all the prior revelations so the alley had been pretty much a blur: not today. He had unwrapped one of the sandwiches and nibbled as he made his way to Gringotts, everywhere he had looked had brought new surprises or questions and Harry was glad when he reached the austere edifice that was the wizard's bank. The doormen (door-goblins? Harry had corrected himself) had bowed him in and he found himself in the cavernous banking hall, once more; Harry felt small, nervous and non-important in face of the task his dream mother had given him. Spying the goblin that Hagrid and he had met the other day, he warily approached its station at the counter: Harry cleared his throat and was about to speak when the goblin looked up from his ledger and gruffly spoke. "What can I do for you young human; have you already foolishly spent the Galleons you took out the other day?" "Um . . . no sir," Harry replied as politely as his anxiety allowed and noticed that the goblin sneered at the word 'sir'. "Then why are you wasting my time?" "My . . . my mother told me to speak to Vaultlord Goldenfang, Mister . . . um, Goblin." "That's Razerclaw young wizardling but at least you are trying to be polite but—believe me—Vaultlords don't take kindly to children and I'm not even going to ask, I like my head where it is: attached to my shoulders." "B . . .but my mom . . ." "Vaultlords don't take kindly to witches either; I have no intention of dignifying such a request. Now be gone, child, I'm very busy."

Dejected, Harry had turned away from Razerclaw whose nose was once more buried in the ledger he had been balancing. Mom said to be firm but polite, so what should I do now? Harry had thought as he looked around for a friendly or, at least, helpful face; all he saw were goblins and they all looked neither. He walked away from Razorclaw's station and tried to plot his next move, when he walked into one of the bank's goblins and knocked him down. "Watch where you're walking, boy!" An angry goblin accosted the young wizard. "Boy!" Harry had repeated with icy rage; hearing the creature calling him 'boy' had reminded him of his uncle. "My . . . name . . . is . . . not . . . boy!" Harry had hissed and his magic did something generally frowned upon in Gringotts; it manifested in the crackle of blue static dancing through his hair. Immediately aware of his unwelcome outburst, he knew he had to rein in his anger or risk his nascent relationship with the Goblins; Harry hastily had drawn a deep calming breath and re-addressed the goblin he had walked into. "I'm very sorry," Harry had begun and reached out to help the creature to his feet; he surprisingly recognized the goblin, "Master Griphook?" "Ah, if it isn't the young Mister Potter. I'm surprised to see you so soon; you didn't look like the type to waste money so quickly: so what brings you by this profitable day?" "Um . . . you see my mom told me to come see you," Harry replied meekly. "I don't think she told you to see me, particularly," Griphook had replied but, not being familiar with goblin sarcasm or humor, Harry didn't recognize the tone. "Well not you actually, my mom told me to see Vaultlord Goldenfang. I'd understand if he can't see me today but I'm willing to make an appointment for another day." Griphook had made a sound that Harry would later know was goblin laughter. "An appointment with a Vaultlord; do you even know what you're asking?" "Not really but if I give you a galleon will you speak to him for me?" Harry replied innocently as he drew a Galleon from his pocket and offered it to the goblin. "Keep your money Mister Potter, I'll speak to his assistant—against my better judgment—but I can't make any promises, you understand." "Yes, thank you," Harry replied. "Please wait here," Griphook said and then Harry had thought he heard the goblin mutter, "Why am I doing this, for this wizardling; it may be the most foolish mistake I'll ever make." Harry had watched the goblin walk away and pass through an ornate set of double doors; the young wizard waited.

Fighting an urge to fidget, Harry had nervously waited for Griphook's return. He had felt a set of eyes critically boring into him and when he looked he had noticed Razorclaw staring at him with a scowl, he smiled and childishly waved at the surly goblin; who had quickly looked back to his ledger. Soon, a loud ruckus had drawn the attention of every witch, wizard and goblin in the banking hall towards the doors that Griphook had—mere minutes before—passed through. The doors slammed open with a bang that echoed through the hall and six well-armed and dangerous looking goblin guards—each wearing a complete set of ceremonial armor and arms—filed into the cavernous chamber. With wary and suspicious eyes they had surveyed the bank before one had uttered a guttural sound that Harry would soon learn was Gobbledegook, the goblin's language. A moment later Griphook had escorted an older and very distinctive looking Goblin to Harry Potter.

"Milord Potter," Harry remembered Griphook had said very differentially, with his head bowed. "Allow me to present to you The Venerable Vaultlord Goldenfang; Keeper of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter family vaults and accounts—you grace us with your presence, this day, young Lord." "Um . . . thank you . . . I guess." Harry remembered his stunned reply as his eyes darted around the hall; everyone was looking at the unfolding spectacle and the only movement had been the scurrying Razorfang, hastily making his way to his side.

Harry recalled the sidelong glance that the goblin called Vaultlord Goldenfang had given to the uninvited Razorclaw before he had addressed the young wizard and said, "Welcome to Gringott's Lord Potter-Scion Black, designate," the distinguished goblin had greeted in a manner that confused the fledgling Mister Potter even further. "How may The Goblin Nation assist you this profitable day?" Harry remembered the eruption of whispers, which had filled the bank after Vaultlord Goldenfang's salutation to a young wizard that no one recognized, on The Goblin Nation's behalf. "My . . . My mom sorta sent me . . . um . . . Vaultlord," Harry had replied, flummoxed by the formal protocol he had found himself suddenly immersed in: he had felt like he was going to drown. "Your mom?" Goldenfang had repeated softly as he had thoughtfully examined the scrawny young wizard before him. "Perhaps we should retire to my office, Lord Potter."

"I'll close my station and accompany my Lords," Harry had remembered Razorfang saying in self-invitation and an air of self-importance. "Why?" Vaultlord Goldenfang had asked imperiously. "As Lord Potter's first liaison with The Goblin Nation I feel he'd be most comfortable with the goblin he's known the longest, Vaultlord." Harry had remembered the surly goblin had 'altruistically' offered as he tried to worm his way between the distinguished goblin and young man; Goldenfang had glanced at him, inviting the young wizard to say something: remembering his mother's words, Harry carefully considered how to word his response. "Master Razorfang," Harry had cautiously begun. "While I gratefully appreciate your selfless offer, I'd feel very guilty monopolizing the time of one who is so busy," Harry had surprised himself with his outwardly sincere sounding rebuttal: inside he had felt exceedingly nervous and a little angry with the goblin 'he's known the longest'. "Perhaps Master Griphook has time to assist me?" Harry had suggested politely, to Razorfang's displeasure and he had felt a surge of resentment from the goblin: Vaultlord Goldenfang had looked on with the goblin equivalent of amused disdain and silently dismissed the unwelcome interloper by means of an annoyed glare. "Lord Potter; Vaultrunner Griphook let us retire to my chamber," Vaultlord Goldenfang invited with professional sincerity.

"Vaultlord Goldenfang I'm a little . . . no, make that a lot confused," Harry had said, nervously, as he and Griphook followed the older goblin from the bank hall: the goblin guards that had followed them were not helping his apprehension. "This is not the best place to discuss sensitive matters, Lord Potter," he remembered Goldenfang had said. "Please wait, once we arrive in my chambers I'll answer all of your questions—at least the ones I have answers to." "Thank you, Vaultlord; I appreciate the gift of your time." "Nonsense Lord Potter, my time is yours and we should've already met—under the usual circumstances we would have–but that is a matter for another day." Harry remembered the courteous tone the goblin had used. "Vaultrunner?" He remembered the older goblin had addressed Griphook. "My Lord?" "Summon Vaultlord Diamondwill; tell him that the Scion-designate Black is in my office and that we require his presence. Afterwards, retrieve The Potter Family file from The Hall of Succession." "Yes My Lord." "Also, bring The Black Family file as well—you'll need Vaultlord Diamondwill's sanction to withdraw it don't forget." "No My Lord." "Can you scribe Vaultrunner Griphook?" "Yes My Lord I'm a duly trained chronicler but only hold a provisional Level Two Negotiations License." "Consider yourself promoted to Level Three (provisional pending review) Chronicler." "Yes Vaultlord, thank you Vaultlord." Harry recalled Griphook's none too subtle surprise and joy. "Return with the files and attend with us in my chambers." "As you command: by your leaves Lord Potter, Vaultlord Goldenfang." Harry recalled Griphook say, respectfully; the goblin had then bowed and left. "Let us continue to my chambers, Lord Potter."

Harry remembered following Vaultlord Goldenfang through a labyrinthine series of white (streaked with golden rivulets) marble corridors, which had completely overwhelmed his sense of direction. At last they had arrived at what appeared to be an antechamber furnished with a sofa, coffee and end tables and a desk. "Silkenrobe, do I have any other appointments today?" "No Vaultlord," a goblin sitting at the desk had replied with a distinctly higher and less gruff voice: Harry hadn't known at that time but he had become one of only a few witches or wizards to have ever seen a female goblin. "That's good, I'd rather not have to be disrespectful and reschedule a prior appointment. When Vaultlord Diamondwill and Level Three Chronicler Griphook arrive, send them in immediately." "Yes Vaultlord" "After you Lord Potter." Goldenfang had opened a door and invited Harry in. "Have a seat Lord Potter while we wait for the others. Would you like some tea or juice, Milord?" "Some water would be enough for me, Vaultlord," Harry remembered replying as he took a seat at a round table; the goblin waved his hand and a glass and a pitcher of water appeared on the table. "Thank you," He had said as Goldenfang took one of the seats beside him; he remembered how the goblin had intently looked at him: Harry remembered he had felt quite naked under the goblin's gaze.

"Where do you live, Lord Potter?" Goldenfang had suddenly asked, Harry remembered. "Um . . . Surrey, with my aunt and uncle and cousin—the Dursleys," he remembered how the goblin had scowled at his reply. "Let's wait for the others, Lord Potter." "I don't know if it'd be rude to ask but could please call me Harry, Vaultlord, I'm not comfortable with this whole 'Lord' business," Harry remembered having asked. "If you insist Lord . . . I mean Harry. Please call me Goldenfang; the titular title of 'Lord' is meaningless between peers, even when we are of different nations." "Thank you Goldenfang." "You're welcome Harry and I wonder if you can answer a question?" "I'll try Goldenfang but please understand that before my birthday I knew nothing about anything to do with magic or the magical world and the only things I'd thought I'd known about my parents was that they'd been unemployed and had been killed by my drunkard father in a car crash." Harry remembered the room had suddenly felt very cold under the seething but well concealed wrath coming from Goldenfang. "I'm sorry Lord . . . sorry, Harry . . . I shouldn't have let my anger show." "It's alright Goldenfang, I felt at least as angry when Hagrid told me the truth." "It was still unseemly of me but I digress; what I wanted to ask you was how your mother told you to see me: your parents were murdered almost ten years ago." "I don't know how she did it but she had somehow implanted a memory that I would dream if things did not go as planned if something happened to them." Harry remembered the thoughtful look that had appeared on Goldenfang's face when he had answered. "Lady Lillian was an uncommonly gifted and kind witch and Friend to the Goblin Nation, Harry. We were greatly saddened by her passing; especially considering the circumstances of your parent's untimely demise." Goldenfang had said in a manner, which was as close to humanly sympathetic that a goblin could muster: the heavy air that sadly hung over the room was swept away by the sound of someone's knock.

"Enter," Goldenfang had said rather brusquely Harry remembered before the door opened and another distinguished looking goblin stepped into the room; Harry and Golden had risen to their feet automatically. "Venerable Vaultlord Diamondwill," Goldenfang had begun in introduction, "may I present Lord Harry James Potter of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter and the Scion-designate of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black." "My pleasure Lord Potter-Scion Black." Vaultlord Diamondwill had said. "The pleasure is mine, Vaultlord." "What a polite young wizard you are Lord Potter; far different from the self-important and rude wizards and their vain spawn I must regularly entertain." "Thank you Vaultlord Diamondwill, please call me Harry." Harry recalled that Diamondwill had glanced inquisitively at Goldenfang. "I'll explain once Chronicler Griphook returns."

Vaultlord Diamondwill, Harry remembered, had joined them at the table and had taken the other seat beside him; the three sat and waited for Griphook. A loud silence had permeated the room until another knock echoed from the door. "Enter," Goldenfang had invited, less brusquely than before, and Griphook entered with two large leather bound and ancient looking portfolios. "Ah, Griphook congratulations on your promotion to Level Three Negotiation Chronicler; you make your father and family proud this day." Vaultlord Diamondwill had said, Harry remembered. "Thank you, Vaultlord Dimondwill; I am honored by your consideration." Griphook had bowed and said with deep respect to Diamondwill. "Very good, please join us." Goldenfang had invited as he pointed to the chair opposite to Harry. The younger goblin had bowed to Goldenfang, hastily took his assigned place at the table and slid the portfolios to the distinguished Vaultlord. Harry had watched with curiosity as Goldenfang pricked his thumb on a pin, which protruded from the hasp securing the top portfolio. A small drop of goblin blood oozed onto the hasp and it glowed. Harry had heard a very distinct click, saw the hasp spring unlocked and then Goldenfang withdrew a file from the portfolio; the goblin quickly perused its contents.

Harry remembered he had sat, smothered by the heavy atmosphere that had steadily built as Goldenfang read through the official looking yellowish documents in his hands and waited for the goblin to resume speaking. After what had felt like hours and numerous penetrating gazes that occurred as The Vaultlord glanced over the documents under his review, Harry remembered the goblin finally closed the file and laid it before him. After one more long penetrating gaze intent on boring into him, Harry had remembered Goldenfang say; "Would you like me to read this to you, Lord Potter—these are your parent's wills by the way—or would an abridged version suffice for now?" "Abridged?" Harry had replied; he was uncertain what Goldenfang was asking. "I'll summarize then," Goldenfang had replied politely to the young wizard's youthful ignorance. "Thank you, sir," Harry remembered having said. The goblin had given him a toothy grin before he said, "As you, Lord Harry, are the only living heir to the late Lord and Lady Potter all monies, rights, properties and privileges—ceded and held by virtue of the Crown for the use of, for and by, the Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter—fall to you." Harry remembered the feeling of stunned confusion he had felt over this revelation and hadn't known what to say. "Furthermore—if I may Vaultlord Diamondwill," the goblin had glanced at the other and received a nod, "attached to you parent's will is a letter of intent signed by Lord Sirius Black of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black; designating Harry James Potter as his heir. As the current lord is residing in Azkaban as a guest of the Ministry for Magic and Her Majesty's Government; the regency of House Black falls to his heir if one has been named. As such, Lord Potter, you are also Lord Scion-designate of The Family Black." After hearing this, Harry had felt like he had been thrown under the Knight Bus and felt rightfully stunned; heavy silence had fell upon the room.

"hoo . . ."

"Hoo . . ."

"HOo . . ."

"HOO!" Harry's eyed snapped open and turned to his insistent friend who, after another piqued glare, looked towards the compartment's door; the young wizard's eyes followed: a gentle and hesitant rap came from the door.

"Come in," Harry invited.


As Harry Potter waited and reminisced in his compartment, a girl—as excited as he about a place called Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry—was having a less than perfect day. It had started well (but for the lack of proper sleep, which was to be expected after all) and the trip to King's Cross Station had not been overly arduous (except for her acute and incessant worry—regardless of her mom's constant reassurances—that she had forgotten something) but had went South as soon as she crossed the barrier to platform nine and three quarters. It began when—after a final hug with her parents and promises to write regularly and frequently—she had just stepped onto the platform and the luggage cart she was pushing bumped into another's.

"I'm sorry," she had sincerely apologized to the older girl who'd been pushing the other trolley.

She hadn't expected the teenager before her to be all sugar and smiles but the sheer loathing look she received was unexpected and unwarranted.

"Watch where you're going, firsty!" The girl had replied with rancor and a glare so icy that it felt as if the temperature had plunged several tens of degrees.

Stunned; the younger girl looked down and inwardly shivered as anxiety, clawing like a small animal trying to escape from her chest, threatened to send her running back to her parents but she managed to repeat, "I . . . I'm s . . . so sorry."

"Whatever," the older girl sneered haughty and dismissive before turning from the 'firsty' and walked away.

With her heart beating furiously in her mouth, she watched the teenager walk away—carrying herself as if she were the Queen of Sheba—and looked around with far more trepidation. Everywhere she looked; it seemed as if she saw similar airs and the few that looked otherwise were part of groups, which seemed exclusive to all but friends and associates. Struggling against her fear of being all alone, again, she pushed her cart through the crowd—carefully—feeling as if everyone was looking and making fun of her. Fighting tears, she reached the luggage handlers and waited in the queue.

"Everything properly labeled, love?" A man in his twenties asked, he at least sounded friendly.

"Yes sir—I think so sir," she replied.

"Muggleborn?" he asked unexpectedly.

"Muggleborn? If you mean, 'are my parents non-magical' then yes sir." She hesitantly replied.

"I remember my first trip to Hogwarts, so I sympathize, I'm muggleborn too and found it all very daunting but you'll be okay but—a simple word of advice—avoid the snakes as much as possible: they tend to be a foul lot of bigoted gits. Thankfully, a good lot of them are kinda dumb and incompetent too, it's kinda funny actually—in the whole twist of fate way," he said and smiled at her reassuringly. "That aside, I think you'll really enjoy yourself—I know I did—and it's nice to be around people who understand your difference: I didn't have any friends until I started Hogwarts, everyone at my muggle school thought I was some sort of freak or worse."

The young witch smiled.

"Is there anything in your trunk you might want on the train ride, love?" he asked.

The youngster shook her head and replied, "No sir, thank you sir."

"Off with you then, your trunk will be in you dorm room by the time you try to go to sleep tonight," he told her.

"Thank you," she said with a meek smile before walking away.

"Good luck, love," he called after her, encouragingly, before a brief wave of cold dread washed over him from out of the blue. With an unexpected and baseless shiver, he watched the girl board the Hogwarts express.

The girl felt much better after the luggage handler's friendly reassurance as she boarded the train near the baggage car.

"What are you doing here, firsty?" demanded an older teen wearing a green and silver ascot.

The young girl tried to put on a brave face and answered hesitantly, "I . . . I'm going to Hogwarts, you see."

The older girl rolled her eyes.

"Where else would you be going, dear?" Another older girl who wore a yellow and black ascot said warmly. "This is the Hogwarts Express after all, where else would you be going?"

The young girl with bushy brown hair blushed furiously on hearing that.

"Soooo . . . cuuuute, I just love firsties; they're so adorable." The older girl exclaimed as she unexpectedly drew the young brown eyed girl into a crushing hug.

"Estelle, are you sure you're not a closet Slytherin because if you continue to constrict the firsty—like that—she'll pass out: not that it really matters too much; her blood looks a little muddy from where I stand."

Shocked indignation froze on the face of the teen hugging the younger girl as she faced the other, less than pleasant, student, "You're a prefect, Gunhilda, how can you say that!"

"I'm not at Hogwarts, yet, and once there I have to be ever so fair to those below me, regardless of how their blood reeks—give me a break: I'll be good once we get there; besides, we're still at King's Cross and we're not 'officially' on duty until the train leaves the station."

"Still . . ." Estelle began with an angry plea.

"Whatever, just get it out of here."

The young bushy haired student with brown expressive eyes felt her cheeks dampen. It's just like always, she thought with sorrowful anxiety.

"There, there dear it'll be fine but I guess it would be better if you left; this is the prefect's car, you know." The teen named Estelle said as she turned the young girl to the back of the car and gave her a little push. "Off you go dear, there's plenty of space at the back of the train I'm sure."

She exited the car and, as she passed between carriages, the brown eyed girl wiped her eyes with her fists; hoping her tears wouldn't be too obvious. She stepped into the next car and was immediately assaulted by the chaos that a group of students could create when left unsupervised and tried to think positive thoughts; it wasn't very effective. Fearing the worst but hoping for the best, she continued her trip past compartments that were either full or were reserved for friends and none seemed friendly or welcoming to the busy haired girl. Further and further back—from one carriage to the next—she found herself nearing the end of the train until she glanced through a compartment door window and saw a boy—about her age—fast asleep; beside him, in a smallish cage, a beautiful white feathered owl perched majestically and slept like its master. So enthralled by the beautiful animal, the girl with the bushy brown hair and brown eyes almost forgot her manners as she reached for the compartment's sliding door. She stopped herself, surprised by her unthinking rudeness, and with gentle hesitance knocked on the door. She knocked a little harder and then harder again before her efforts were rewarded by an answering hoot from inside the compartment.

"Come in," a sleepy voice invited.

The young witch slid the door open on invitation and stepped inside. Entranced, the brown eyed girl was unable to take her eyes from the snowy owl.

"Would you please stop that," Harry said with a touch of humor. "Hedwig's ego is big enough already; I'd hate to see it grow anymore and find myself unworthy of my friend's affection."