Book One of the Heritage Series:
Harry Potter and the Return of Heritage
Harry sat down on the hard mattress in his bedroom, his mind was whirling at an alarming pace. What were dementors doing in a muggle suburb? He was certain that he was the only person with magic within five miles of Little Whinging. Remus had told him that all dementors in Britain were monitored and highly controlled by the Ministry of Magic, so what were they doing in Little Whinging?
He was shocked that Aunt Petunia also knew what a dementor was, but what shocked him more was the fact that she had mentioned them. For all of his life, she had denied the existence of the Wizarding World, but tonight, she had volunteered a piece of information.
He tried to get his mind focused on something else, but the Ministry owl was causing him to start to panic. The Ministry wanted him to attend a hearing about his use of magic in front of a muggle, and he was terrified of being expelled from Hogwarts. Would that mean he would be forbidden from ever using magic again, or would he would need to attend another school or be home schooled? He knew that it was common among wizards to have your wand snapped, and the thought was terrifying. Would that happen to him?
Harry got up, walked over to his desk and sat down. Taking out a sheet of parchment, quill and ink, he began to write a letter to Sirius.
What is going on? I was attacked by dementors and now I am facing expulsion from Hogwarts for saving myself and my cousin! When can I leave this house?I am going mad and need decent company!
Looking at his open window, Harry saw that Hedwig was out hunting; she would often sit on the metal mechanism and watch the neighbourhood. He supposed it must remind her of the owlery at Hogwarts, so he indulged her. At least it was better than being locked in a cage for the entire summer.
He couldn't help but feel slightly betrayed by Dumbledore, he had stationed Mrs Figg in the neighbourhood at the same time he had placed him here, and Harry had used to spend days with her whilst she was babysitting him while the Dursleys were off enjoying themselves. Unfortunately for Harry, he had been forced to look at pictures of her favourite cats. Now that he thought about it, he realised that they were actually part kneazle.
Dumbledore had even set a guard to watch him day and night; he assumed that the guards were the presence he had felt a few times over the last four weeks. He had passed if off as his imagination because of his lack of sleep, which was mostly due to nightmares about the graveyard.
Harry shook his head to clear his thoughts. Dumbledore had explained to him at the end of last year that a set of magical protections had been placed around the house. He had invoked a powerful charm that meant that Harry would be safe where his mother's blood still flowed. Voldemort and his followers would not be able to come within forty miles of the house. He had briefly wondered if Voldemort would be able to cross this protection now that Harry's blood ran in his veins. However, Dumbledore said that, while he didn't know what the full effect would be, he knew enough to be sure that Voldemort would be unable to come into the vicinity of the house.
Bored of pacing around his room, he began the task of packing all of his belongings into his trunk. He was not certain when he would be leaving, but being prepared couldn't hurt, and it would mean that he could leave quicker.
Throughout the four weeks he had been at the Dursleys, Harry had been depressed and sulking, and he hadn't bothered to keep his room tidy. It had been a small act of rebellion against the Dursleys, and as petty as it was, it made him feel better.
He had just packed away his brewing bag when a flutter of wings came from behind him, accompanied by a low hoot. Turning back, he saw Hedwig standing on her makeshift perch, a dead frog from number twelve's pond in her beak.
"Right you," he said, picking up his parchment and folding it. "I have a job that only you can do."
Hedwig gave him a dirty look and quickly swallowed the remainder of her frog, not taking her stern amber eyes off him.
"Get this to Sirius as quickly as you can. Once you arrive, I want you to make sure that he comes and gets me. Cause as much trouble as you can," Harry said, tying the parchment to her outstretched leg. "And if you see Hermione or Ron, bite their fingers until they give me a decent letter, and make sure it's a long one." He paused for a moment after this speech; he knew owls were intelligent, but he had no idea if she fully understood him.
Hedwig gave him a low hoot and, with a quick nip of his finger, took flight immediately. He watched her fly off into the night sky and before long, she was out of sight.
He sighed heavily. As much as he wanted answers, he wanted company more, and Hedwig was company in her own way.
After about twenty minutes, he had his trunk mostly packed. All that was left were a few books, writing paraphernalia, his pictures of his parents, and a picture of the Twins, Ginny, Hermione and Ron from Christmas last year. The last was sitting face down on his bedside table.
Frustrated with the lack of things to do and wanting to keep his mind busy, Harry pulled out his potions books and began to read through them. He made a few notes for himself here and there on parchment, but otherwise managed to keep focused, something that was easier now without Snape lurking about.
Just as Harry was in the middle of reading about corrective potioning, a method to rectify a misbrewed potion into something salvageable, he heard a rather loud screech from out of the window. He quickly crossed to his window and looked out but he couldn't tell what had caused the noise. He went to turn away when he noticed a large white bird flying low to the right.
"She can't have delivered the letter already," he said to himself, but sure enough it was Hedwig, with his letter still attached. "Why are you back so soon?" He asked.
Hedwig flew to the top of her cage and held out her leg expectantly.
Frowning, he took the letter., "Why have you brought it back? Couldn't you find him?" He asked her.
Hedwig gave him the second reproachful look of the night and clicked her beak at him.
Opening the letter, he saw that on the back there was a new message in Sirius' handwriting.
I met a friend of yours that you sent away with me at the end of your third year. I think the time has come to return him to you. I will see you in ten minutes. You should warn your family that I am coming round for tea.
Harry's gaze tore up from the note, then he quickly crossed to the window and looked up at the sky. It was getting dark, but there was still enough light to search the sky. There was only one friend that Sirius could mean, but he hadn't expected him to arrive so soon or in person.
He quickly packed the rest of his belongings into his trunk and forced the lid down, then piled his broom and Hedwig's cage next to it. He put on a jacket and shoes and went downstairs.
Dudley was sitting in an armchair while Aunt Petunia caressed his blonde hair and spoke to him as though he were three years old. She was attempting to make him eat a small piece of cake.
"Come on Dudders, you've had a shock. You need something sugary," She said to him tenderly. "You will feel better after you eat it, pumpkin."
"Tosh, Petunia," Uncle Vernon said. "That boy and the demenabobs have addled him; he needs something much stronger than cake!" He turned and grabbed something from the sideboard. "Our boy has been unresponsive for over thirty minutes! He needs something to kick him back in to life."
Uncle Vernon poured a tumbler of amber liquid, then tried to get it past Dudley's sealed lips.
"He will be fine," Harry said.
His aunt and uncle turned around abruptly, eying Harry with surprise and a little fear. He knew Dementors could affect a person, and even though muggles couldn't see them, they could still feel the effects. He wondered briefly what Dudley would have seen, what his worst memory was, but he pushed the thought away. It was private, after all.
"You're an expert now are you?" Uncle Vernon hissed.
Harry ignored him and looked at Aunt Petunia. "He needs chocolate. Get him a cup of hot chocolate or a bar of chocolate. It will help combat the effects. He has seen his worst memories and he may not want to talk about it yet."
A mixture of emotion crossed his aunt's face, but it was soon replaced by a hard exterior.
"Vernon, do as he said. Get a mug of hot chocolate and a chocolate bar from the tin," She said quickly. "We sent you to bed. What are you doing down here?" She asked Harry as she gripped Dudley's hands with her own and rubbed them softly.
"I thought I should tell you that my godfather will be here in a few minutes."
Aunt Petunia's face lost colour and she looked frightened. "Why is he coming here?" She whispered, her eyes glancing around the room as though she expected Sirius to pop out from behind the sofa.
"I do not know why he is coming; he didn't say," Harry replied plainly. "But I am hoping that he will take me away for the remainder of the summer."
Before Aunt Petunia could respond, Uncle Vernon walked back into the room with a mug full of hot chocolate that would match one of Hagrid's massive cups. In his other hand, Harry saw a number of chocolate bars. At the same moment, there was a knock on the conservatory door.
"Who the blazes is in our garden?" Uncle Vernon exclaimed, walking towards the door. "Petunia, call the police. They're trespassing."
"Vernon," Aunt Petunia hissed. "It's his godfather."
Uncle Vernon, who had the moment before been advancing towards the door, now backtracked and nearly fell over the pouffe. He turned around with a stricken look on his face, his eyes dancing nervously between his wife and son, the conservatory door and the exit. "What do we do? Why is he here? What did you tell him?" He asked, the last part aimed at Harry.
"I don't know," Harry said.
"Vernon, help me with Dudders," Aunt Petunia said quickly. "I want you both out of here as soon as possible!"
Crossing to the conservatory door, Harry looked through the glass. He could see Sirius standing there, with what looked like a heat wave behind him. With a frown, he unlocked the door.
"Sirius," Harry said with a sigh of relief. "What are you doing here?"
"Well I would have thought that was obvious," Sirius said with a roguish smile. "I am recklessly rescuing you!" He pulled Harry into a big, heart-warming hug.
Harry had never been so relieved to see Sirius, and felt calmer than he had before the note arrived. He just felt so reassured now that Sirius was here to help him.
Gesturing for him to come in, Harry asked, "Where's Buckbeak?" Looking over the garden, his eye caught the disturbance again, but in the dark it was quite difficult to notice.
"That's him," Sirius said. "I have him under a disillusionment charm; can't be too careful in muggle areas."
"What's going on Sirius?" He asked.
"I left the moment I heard what happened, but I only had enough time to send you an owl," Sirius said, sitting down on the sofa. "I thought it was better to come and get you immediately. If you get left alone for too long, you might do something reckless."
"But you left me alone for a month!" Harry exclaimed.
Sirius raised a hand in surrender. "I know. Believe me, I know. I wanted you to come straight to me the moment you left the station at the end of the school year, but there were things happening that meant that you couldn't."
Harry frowned, but didn't comment. He could wait to hear the reason before he started shouting.
"Do you remember what Dumbledore had me do the night I left Hogwarts?" Sirius asked.
Harry thought back to that day in the hospital wing, when Sirius had revealed himself to both Molly Weasley and Severus Snape. Then Dumbledore had sent Sirius off. "Dumbledore sent you to Remus so that you could gather some old friends?" He asked.
"Exactly that," Sirius said. "I will not go into the details, but the old friends were all members of the Order of the Phoenix, a secret society that was created to combat Voldemort and his followers, but you will hear more about that later. The reason you have been stuck here for a month is because the protective magic around this house may now be tested for the first time. Lily's protection not only protects you, but your Muggle relatives as well, but you have to spend a minimum of two to three weeks every year here to recharge the protections. Dumbledore wanted you to stay longer to make sure that they were at their maximum strength as this is, unfortunately, one of the safest places for you. Even so, I have been fighting to get you out of here as soon as it was possible."
Harry nodded. It made sense. "So does Dumbledore know you came to get me?" He asked.
"No," Sirius said with a smile. "Remus is the only one who knows. They were going to send a team to collect you in two days, but I wanted you out of here now, especially given recent events. We'll be going to a safe location that I have arranged."
"How will we be getting there?" Harry asked.
"Well, you can either fly behind me on Buckbeak, or you can use that rather expensive broom that I bought you," Sirius said smirking at the mention of one of Harry's prized possessions. "I just need to have a quick word with my cousin who is outside on guard duty, so why don't you go and get your stuff?"
They walked out into the hallway where they saw the Dursley's sitting halfway up the stairs, not being able to get Dudley any higher. Dudley was staring into the mug in his hand, looking slightly better but still a little stupefied.
Sirius glanced at them with obvious contempt in his eyes, but then his eyes fell on Dudley for a long moment and his stern glare softened a degree or two. He, more than anyone else, could understand the effect of Dementors. He looked to Petunia for the first time and the intensity increased again.
"Hello again, Petunia. I have not seen you since the day James and I attempted to invite you to your sister's wedding. Do not worry: I will not be spending much longer in this house. Harry is just getting his things and then we will both be leaving." Crossing to the front door, he opened it slightly and called in a singsong voice, "Nymphadora?"
Harry heard a hiss in response, but chose to ignore it and went upstairs to get his trunk. He was surprised to see Uncle Vernon follow him to help, but then he realized that it was so Sirius wouldn't see the locks and cat flap.
When they met back in the living room a few minutes later, Sirius pulled out a set of leather straps from his pocket. "I will tie these straps around your trunk. They have a feather light charm on them. Once we are out of the area I will be able to use magic, but if I used magic now, the Ministry would know immediately."
They got into position in the garden, the trunk attached securely beneath the Firebolt. Sirius mounted Buckbeak and, from what Harry could tell, he had placed some form of riding tack on the hippogriff. Hedwig's cage was on his lap, held in place by his arms on the reins.
"You all set?" Sirius asked, looking over at Harry.
"Yes. How long will the flight be?" He asked.
"About twenty five minutes," Sirius said. "After five minutes, I will cast a spell to send your trunk and Hedwig's cage on to the location. Right, I think that's it. Let's go Buckbeak," he finished with a slight kick of his heel and the hippogriff took flight, pushing off with its powerful legs and wings.
Harry kicked off from the ground hard to follow Sirius. His trunk began to sway under him and, even with the charm in place, and he could still feel the slight drag on the broom. They shot up high into the sky, blending into the darkness now setting in.
"Harry, follow me," Sirius shouted.
Harry couldn't help but relish in the freedom of being up in the air on his broom. After being confined to Little Whinging for a month, this was paradise. Sirius seemed to be enjoying his flight too, and Harry noticed that he seemed very good at riding; he wondered if that came from practice last year. He had ridden bareback once and it had been an unsettling experience, but Sirius seemed to be at ease.
Looking down at the ground below, Harry saw that they were quite high up, but he could still distinguish the lights of houses, cars and street lamps below. The sights below changed as they flew from residential areas to the countryside, and after a few minutes they were out of Surrey. Sirius, as promised, flicked his wand at the trunk hanging below Harry, and it and the cage on Sirius's lap disappeared.
"Sirius, where are we going?" Harry called, drifting closer to his godfather as they soared across the night sky.
"I can't tell you," Sirius replied. "It's magically protected so I cannot say the address, but I will say that it's in London and that it's one of my family's houses."
"Is that where Ron and Hermione are?" He asked. "They wouldn't say where they were staying, and that made their letters a bit pointless."
"Yes, they are there and they can't speak of the place either. They have been told to keep things quiet for security reasons," Sirius explained. "Owls can be intercepted and letters are not very safe."
"But surely you have ways of communicating without owls?" Harry asked.
"Of course we do, but they all require magic, and magic could be traced to your house," Sirius explained. "I know you are angry about the lack of news, but I will explain more when we arrive. While you are underage, any magic you perform or that is performed around you will register at the Ministry of Magic. Now we are out of the area where you live, I can use magic near you. The Ministry will not know who performed it, and once we reach my house, they won't be able to trace your magic."
Harry was not exactly sure what Sirius was talking about. Underage magic detection sounded rather complex. "Was that how the Ministry knew that I blew my aunt up in my third year?"
Sirius frowned at him for a moment. "Was that the same night you caught the Knight Bus?"
"Yes, all magical children who live in a Muggle house are actively monitored. As you grow up, magic naturally occurs. It can be anything from placing a summoning charm on a toy to vanishing all the water from a bath. But when children do unexplainable things in front of non-familial members, the Ministry intervenes and applies memory charms," Sirius explained. "Children of magical parents are not as closely monitored as their own use of magic is detected by the trace, so it is basically turned off in magical homes. Purebloods exploit this rule during the holidays, teaching their children spells and such while they are home."
"So the Weasley's can use magic at home?" Harry asked in surprise.
"Of course," Sirius said with a laugh. "How else do you think Fred and George have been making their joke products?"
Harry smiled to himself at the thought; in hindsight, it should have been obvious. "I guess I thought they were just using potions."
"Oh, they use those too," Sirius said with a smirk. "But many of their products need a bit of wand work. They just keep it between themselves, though. Molly wouldn't approve of their use of magic."
Harry could only imagine her reaction at the Twins using magic. They were bad enough when they weren't using magic. Looking back down at the scene beneath him, Harry suddenly realised that it was London.
"Right, Harry, we are nearly there," Sirius called. "Fly over me so that I can reach your leg; I need to apply the disillusionment charm to you."
Harry did as directed and Sirius cast the spell. An odd sensation spread through his body, as though a cold vine was climbing up his limbs. He looked at his hands, which were holding his broom, and saw that they now blended into the wooden handle. The charm was so good, Harry actually struggled to see where his hands were, and he made a mental note to learn the useful spell.
Sirius flew down towards a residential area that surrounded an overgrown, green square surrounded by trees. Harry touched down lightly on the grass, narrowly missing a pile of what looked like dog muck before quickly shouldering his broom.
Sirius jumped off of Buckbeak's back and patted him. "Off you go then, Buckbeak. Fly on round to the garden."
As Buckbeak gave a slight shrill and took flight again, buffeting Harry with the beats of his wings. Sirius removed the charms from them both.
"Follow me. We have arrived," he said with a look of distaste cast at the surrounding area.
Harry followed his gaze and looked up at the buildings that surrounded him. They were old. He wasn't an expert in English architecture, but he would hazard a guess that these houses were Georgian, although he was sure that they had seen much better days.
Even though the square was dark, he could still see that the houses were falling into disrepair. There was rubbish piled up on the curbs and, from the light of the windows, he could see that much of the masonry was dirty and crumbling, and even the windows were mostly cracked and missing.
In the distance, he could hear the sound of drunken men walking down the road. This area may at one point in its history have been home to the elite of London society, but now he was sure that the lowest parts of society were living behind its doors.
Sirius pulled out his wand and, waving above his head, muttered, "Artolevi." The light from the street lamps dimmed. "Well, that should make sure no one sees us. This way, Harry," Sirius said, pointing up the square a little.
Harry looked up at the two houses they had stopped in front of. To the left was a house in complete darkness, the only sound of life was the boom of music rattling the windows. On the right, a house with heavy net curtains hanging in the windows, the light from the house showed that the material was grey with dirt.
The appearance of the houses was not the oddest thing; it seemed to Harry that the builders of this street had made a mistake in its numbering, as number eleven was sitting next to number thirteen. Harry frowned, obviously missing some crucial piece of information. Turning back to Sirius, he saw that his godfather was smirking.
"Ah yes, it's quite a mystery. The residents of this road have long pondered the mistake, but have decided to accept it," he said in an amused voice, then took something out of his pocket. "Now, I think that this will help you."
Harry took the proffered object and saw that it was a folded piece of parchment. Opening it, he saw that it contained a short sentence written in a narrow slanted writing that looked familiar to him. Squinting at the writing in the dim light, he managed to read it.
The Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix may be found at number twelve Grimmauld Place, London.
He couldn't help but find the street name ironic and he wondered why it mentioned a number twelve when it clearly didn't exist.
"I don't –" he started, but before he could finish his sentence, a rundown house seemed to inflate itself from between the joining of number eleven and thirteen. Harry couldn't believe that the Muggles in the houses around it did not notice this house appearing. Even after four years in the magical world, it still left him gasping like a child in Honeydukes for the first time.
"But that's –" Harry trailed off, gaping at the house.
"Magic," Sirius said simply, quickly pulling the parchment from his hand and burning it with a touch of his wand. "Come on, we shouldn't stay out here, the area has become a criminal haven since I was a youngster."
They quickly walked up the worn steps towards the recently materialised front door. Its black paint was scratched, and there was a silver doorknocker in the form of a twisted serpent with two dark green stones for eyes. Its mouth was open, ready to strike, and its teeth, while stained with rust, still looked sharp.
When Sirius touched the doorknocker with his hand, its eyes glowed for a moment, then Harry heard the sound of many chains and locks disengaging from the door. It swung inwards with an ominous creak. Harry held his breath, waiting to see what the inside looked like, but it was pitch black and he couldn't see very far into the depths of the house.
"Come on, it won't bite! Well nothing in this hallway will, anyway." Sirius said with a frown.
When Harry stepped over the threshold and into the house, the first overwhelming thing he noticed was the smell. There was an overwhelming stench of dampness and rot that the house seemed to scream of neglect. He suddenly felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up, and the house turned incredibly foreboding, darkness surrounding it like a fog.
Sirius quickly followed him into the house and the moment he crossed the threshold, Harry heard a soft hissing noise throughout the room. Suddenly, there was a whoosh, and some extremely old gas lamps flickered into life.
Glancing around the hallway, Harry affirmed that his assumption that this house was neglected was not wrong. The wallpaper was peeling and stained, the carpet threadbare and the chandelier glimmering overhead shrouded in cobwebs. Many age-blackened portraits hung crooked on the walls, their occupants indistinguishable from their background.
The chandelier and the wall sconces were shaped like serpents, just like the doorknocker. Harry remembered that Sirius said it was one of his family's houses, and he assumed they must have been Slytherin fanatics. While the furniture hinted at wealth, he was certain that this house had not had a single knut spent on in it in many years.
"Right, follow me quietly," Sirius whispered. "Don't speak loudly in this hallway. The portraits wake up and start to scream if you do."
Harry nodded and followed Sirius across the hallway. At the end of the hall, there was a large staircase, ornately carved but dirty and in need of repair. Opposite the staircase was a door that was open and led down to what Harry presumed was the kitchen, as he could smell cooking and hear voices coming from below.
Sirius went to walk towards the stairs, when he suddenly stopped. Harry walked straight into the back of him as he had not been paying attention. Sirius stooped low and grabbed a flesh coloured string that was running into the basement.
Sirius gave the string a sharp tug which was accompanied by a loud crack from upstairs, then reeled the string up and put it into his pocket.
"The Twins' newest product," he said by way of an explanation. "Now, follow me up to your room. I don't want anyone to know you are here yet."
Sirius led Harry towards the great wooden staircase. They passed a pair of long moth-eaten black velvet curtains and Harry could see the bottom of a portrait frame poking out from them. He wondered why it was covered before remembering what Sirius had said about them waking up easily. At the bottom of the staircase was a very large umbrella stand that he was certain had once been the foot of a troll.
The further Harry went in this house, the more confused he became. It reminded him of the horrors he had seen when he had accidently found himself in Knockturn Alley. The walls around the stairs had small alcoves that held the stuffed heads of House Elves, all of which had the same snout-like nose, so Harry assumed that they were from the same family.
The house was disturbing him. Sirius had never mentioned his family to him, but he knew that the Black family was notorious in the Wizarding Community, even on the continent. They were an old family with a very dark past.
Sirius continued to climb the old staircase to the top floor. Harry was about to ask where they were going when they came to a door with a nameplate: Sirius Orion Black, Heir to the House of Black.
"This was my room when I lived here as a boy," Sirius explained and he opened the door. "As you can see, I haven't decorated since I moved in."
The room was spacious and was quite handsome. There was a large wooden bed which was heavily carved and matching wardrobe and bedside table. On the other side of the room was a large desk with many papers on it and two tall windows from which hung heavy silver curtains and in front of which stood a regal looking chaise lounge.
With a flick of his wand, Sirius lit the chandelier that hung in the room. The walls, Harry realized, had silver and green wallpaper over which was hung an assortment of pictures and posters, from Muggle motorbikes to a large Gryffindor banner. There was a picture of the Marauders at Hogwarts smiling up at him, but he noticed that Wormtail was missing. Then, to his shock, he saw a Muggle picture of bikini-clad women.
Sirius sat down on the chaise and gestured at Harry to join him, then performed some very complicated wand movements and aimed them around the room. "Privacy charms," he explained. "I think it's time that I came clean to you, Harry."
Harry sat down in the offered chair, silently looking expectantly at Sirius.
"I know that you are eager to hear about Voldemort, but he hasn't done anything yet," Sirius said. "He is waiting and gathering his forces again before he makes his reappearance known."
Harry understood immediately. "That's why I haven't heard anything in the Muggle news then, but why hasn't the Prophet reported that he is back?" He asked.
"Ah, well," Sirius said as he stood and began to look through the papers on his desk, "when you reported to Fudge that Voldemort had returned, he was presented with Crouch Junior as proof, but he had a dementor kiss him on sight when he arrived. Fudge doesn't want to believe that Voldemort has returned, because to accept it would mean the end of his term as Minister for Magic."
Harry was confused. "But as Minister, surely he has a duty to protect the community?"
Sirius let out a bark of laughter. "Yes, of course, but he's a politician. Not a very good one, I admit, but he knows enough to know that this would spell the end of his term. Fudge is a peacetime Minister, and he doesn't have the backbone or the skill to combat the Death Eaters and Voldemort so he has been hiding the truth, and Crouch was his first step. The second step was having the Prophet slander both you and Dumbledore."
"But I have a subscription to the Daily Prophet," Harry said. "I didn't see anything."
"Did you read it from beginning to end?" Sirius asked.
"Well... No, I was only looking for suspected Death Eater activity," he admitted, now realised that he had been rather short sighted.
"Well, you would have to read every page to see it all. They drop your name in a lot of articles, all of which are painting you as attention-seeking and mentally unstable. Fudge's aim is to make sure people don't believe your claims, and he's already had Dumbledore's position as Chief Warlock and Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards revoked. The general consensus at the moment is that Dumbledore is old and senile and it's time that he stepped down."
"But that's mad," Harry said immediately. "Dumbledore's not – senile," He added lamely, he was about to say old but he realised how ridiculous that would have sounded.
Sirius noticed his slip of the tongue and smiled. "No, he is not senile. A tad eccentric perhaps, but otherwise as sane as you or I. Do you wonder why Fudge would have him removed? Well, just holding those positions meant that Dumbledore could voice his concerns to those with the power to do something, and if he did, Fudge would lose his own power."
Harry sat, digesting what Sirius had said. He had never truly liked Fudge; he seemed like a bumbling fool. He remembered the day he met him at the end of the last year, and the way he turned his nose up at him when he saw him with his winnings.
"So what's the Order of the Phoenix doing?" Harry asked.
Sirius didn't answer immediately, contemplating his response. "I will answer your questions, Harry, and I will disclose to you all that I can freely tell you, but at the moment I am more concerned about getting you through the farce Fudge has called a hearing. Please put aside all of your questions about Voldemort and the Order. Now is not the time."
"Alright," Harry agreed. He trusted Sirius' word, and if he said he would tell him another time, then he would. "So why are we hiding up here?"
"I have a few things that I want to talk to you about," Sirius said, "and I don't want any intervention from Dumbledore or Molly. I'm your guardian, and this is my right."
He paused and with a flick of his wand, a large jug of pumpkin juice and two glasses appeared. He poured them both a glass.
"Harry, what do you know about your family history?" Sirius asked after taking a sip of his pumpkin juice.
Harry was shocked by the question, not expecting it. "Not much," he answered honestly. He had been told a few things over the years, but it was nowhere near as much as he wanted to know. "I know that the Potters were an old Pureblood family and that my grandparents on both sides died before Voldemort killed my parents, but other than that, I know nothing."
Sirius nodded. "That's what I expected. I would have been surprised if anyone approached you about it." He paused for a moment and took another sip of his drink. He considered Harry for a minute before asking, "What do you know of the Ancient and Most Noble Houses?"
Harry paused for a moment; he wasn't entirely sure what they were. He had heard of them, but he didn't know much about them. "They were the families that founded the Ministry of Magic, weren't they?" He asked.
"That's only one of the many things they've done," Sirius acknowledged. He sighed, sounding annoyed. "Binns has a lot to answer for; this should be taught in History of Magic. Right I will start with the basics. Do you know the story of Camelot?"
"Of course," Harry said. He had read the history of Camelot in the library, but it was a very large book and he had been busy looking for Nicolas Flamel at the time. "But I don't know a great deal."
"Roughly Eleven hundred years ago, the citadel of Camelot was built. Camelot had a very dark history in the beginning, but when Arthur took his father's throne the magical persecution abated thanks to the work of the young King and his advisor, Merlin. Arthur ruled over both the magical and non-magical peoples of Britain, and he created the Knights of Camelot to protect the muggles but the question remained, how could he govern and control users of magic
"Merlin suggested that Arthur bring twenty four of the powerful magical families to court and make them his wardens, overseeing the magical communities and upholding the kings law. Arthur did as Merlin advised and created the Knighted Houses of Camelot, charging them with governing and overseeing the magical communities in the king's name. They were to stop the misuse of magic over the local muggles."
"Arthur could not use magic, but historians debate if he was a muggle or a squib. However, he was able to rule over his kingdom and was dearly loved by most of his subjects. Arthur, however, had a sister, Morgana Pendragon, who was a witch and had learned the magical arts from a priestess of the old ways. She learned all about dark magic and was seduced by it, taking the name Morgan Le Fey bringing devastation to the land. It started a great war with each Pendragon on either side.
"The war lasted many years and when it eventually ended, neither side was victorious. Arthur had been killed by Mordred, the son of Morgan, who wielded a magical sword, but with his dying breath, he managed to kill Mordred. Morgan escaped the battle injured, but she was pursued by the Knighted Houses, who banded together and caught her. She was burned for her treason.
"The Kingdom that Arthur had united fractured, leaving behind a country ravaged by war. Many magic users were driven to isolation and hid their gifts. The Kingdom fell after the death of the king, since he left no heir. His queen, Guinevere had been with child during the last battle, but she lost it the moment her husband died. She and Merlin sealed Arthur's body in a tomb and they disappeared for years.
"The Queen was said to have been ravaged by a sickness that even Merlin, in all his wisdom, could not heal and she too died, sealed in her husband's tomb. Merlin returned to Camelot after the Queen's death and forced everyone to leave. He cast a powerful enchantment over the citadel to hide it from muggles and he began his seclusion. A hundred years passed, then a summons was sent to each of the Knight's Families. When they arrived, they found Merlin sitting at the old round table with a long white beard and magical staff, and he asked them to join him and he spoke at length of the visions he had of the future.
"He gave the Knighted families a charge: To protect and defend those who practiced magic, to uphold the foundation of law that Arthur had created over their lands, and to uphold the legacy Arthur had strived to create, a place where people can live in peace without fear of persecution."
Sirius paused, taking a large gulp of his drink to wet his throat. "The families agreed to Merlin's request and took an oath to uphold their vow, and Merlin bound it to their bloodlines. And to help them, he gifted each family with a creation of his own making, a creation than enabled each family the control of a magic that was both unpredictable and dangerous."
Harry wondered at the story. It was odd to think of Merlin and Arthur and the Round Table as real, but he supposed if a dragon was real, what was to stop this old story from being true?
"But this all happened at the time Hogwarts was built. It can hardly relate to us now."
Sirius laughed. "Hogwarts was not even conceived when the citadel was built! It was only after Merlin sealed himself in the citadel and it was abandoned that the castle was built. You know Merlin actually went to Hogwarts. He was an old man at the time, but he went out of curiosity and was said to have been impressed by what the Founders created. He even asked to be sorted and was declared to be Slytherin. The Knighted Families have continued this tradition through the generations, although three have now died out in the direct line. Despite this, I am sure that they could be found again through indirect lines. They eventually became known as the Ancient and Most Noble Houses and they all hold seats on the Wizengamot, which they created."
Harry sat thinking on that. In the last twenty minutes, he had learnt a critical point in British magical history and now, more than ever, realised how useless Binns was. "I never knew how much Merlin did for our community."
"He was one of the most influential people in our history. Across the world, people have heard of him and his teachings. The Order of Merlin was created by the Knighted Families to award those who showed the qualities that Merlin encouraged," Sirius said. "You will know some members of the Ancient and Most Noble Houses, I am sure, since many of them are at Hogwarts. Your friend Neville, for example, is the heir to the Ancient and Most Noble House of Longbottom. The Black Family is also an Ancient and Most Noble House."
Harry was shocked. He knew that the Blacks and Longbottom's families were old, but he had not known just how old and influential they were. "So does that mean that you have a seat on the Wizengamot?" He asked, remembering what Sirius said about their role.
"I technically have two," Sirius said. "But obviously I cannot sit on my seat, since I am a wanted man. What you may be interested to know is that your family is also an Ancient and Most Noble House."
Harry's jaw dropped. "Why have I never been told?" He couldn't believe that his family was one of these Ancient Houses. He knew that the Potter family was old, but he had no idea how old.
"Well, you should have been taught about the Families in History of Magic but, as we have already agreed, the class is useless and taught by a ghost who only talks about goblins. I would also guess that many assumed you already knew. James sat in the seat only once to proclaim that he had taken his title, but after he had used a proxy to vote in his stead. I currently hold your family vote as Lord Regent of House Potter as your guardian," Sirius explained. "I also know some of your family history through what is taught to all children of the Families. Your grandfather, Charlus, also taught me some of it when he gave me sanctuary once I ran away from home."
Harry was about to interrupt, but Sirius stopped him. "That is a story for another day, but for now, it's not important," Sirius explained. "James also taught me more of your history when he named me your godfather, just in case he didn't make it."
"So has my family's name always been Potter?" Harry asked. It had always struck him to be a younger family name.
"No, the name Potter dates back to the twelfth century. It came from a nickname for one of your ancestors, Potterer. It was shortened to Potter over the years," Sirius informed him, thinking on the question. "But the Ancient and Most Noble House of Potter was not created until the thirteenth century when Hardwin Potter married Iolanthe Peverell. The Peverells had been the Ancient House, and the Potters had been a nomadic family. They never settled in one location for long and had made a living selling potions and plants on ships trading. However, Iolanthe's brother died of what is now assumed to be dragon pox and her father was heirless. After his death, the title of Ancient and Most Noble House passed to the Potter family as they already had a child. And so, the name was changed to the Ancient and Most Noble House of Potter," Sirius explained. "Now, the reason I am telling you all of this is because of the ancient laws written into our society, laws that the Knighted Family's wrote over the last millennia. Once the sole remaining member of an Ancient House turns fifteen, they can claim their Heritage and rise to Head of the House."
Harry sat there for a moment. "So, what does this actually mean?"
"I will take you to Gringotts and you will become the official Head of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter. It's purely ceremonial, but when you reach sixteen, you will be exempt from underage magic and at seventeen, you can claim your full Lordship over the House and take your family seat as your own," he explained. "Now the little loophole Remus found in the law states that while you cannot claim your seat as your own as you are too young and I cannot claim both the Black and Potter seats given my current status, there is no age restriction on a proxy taking the seats to vote on the behalf of the Lord."
Harry frowned and worked through what Sirius said, then blinked, wondering if he understood what Sirius was telling him. "Are you saying that I cannot vote in my seat under my own name, but I can vote in that seat if I am appointed named proxy by the current Lord or House Regent in his absence?" He asked, hoping that he had got it correct.
Sirius nodded and smiled evilly. "That's right. As I have said, the laws are old, and for the ancient laws to be rewritten, all of the Ancient Houses must vote for the change and, since four of them are no longer on the Wizengamot, not including us, they cannot be rewritten. You should have a small hearing in the DMLE, but I would bet the Black fortune that Fudge will pull you in front of the entire Wizengamot. He will not be able to resist the opportunity to try and humiliate you. But, as Head of House Potter, you have quite the advantage, and the best part is that he and no one else will be expecting it at all."
Harry couldn't believe that he had never been told this information. He had never even heard anything more than hints of that side of the community. He was well aware that there was a high level of the community, but he had always assumed the upper class was just Purebloods. He stifled a yawn, thinking that all this new information had worn him out.
"I think I've given you enough for tonight," Sirius said, noticing his yawn. "I'll show you to your room now. I know that you may want to see Hermione and Ron, as they are only two floors below, but please wait at least until tomorrow. I am trying to keep you out of sight from everyone for now, okay?"
Harry nodded, thinking it kind of amusing to think that he was now keeping things from them after a month of them doing it to him. "It's fine, Sirius."
Sirius smiled at him. "Now, I think it's time you were in bed." He led him to the door opposite to his, which had a name plate that read:
Do not enter
Without the express permission of
Regulus Arcturus Black
The room was slightly smaller than Sirius', but the décor was the same. This room was decorated with silver wallpaper and had a thick cream carpet, and the bed was made with a reddish brown spread that looked inviting. On the head board was a crest he didn't recognise and at the foot of the bed was the same crest.
"What do you think?" Sirius asked with interest.
"It's great!" Harry said looking around. "Why isn't the rest of the house like this?"
"Because this is the only room in the house that Kreacher, the family elf, has kept clean. This was my younger brother's room." Sirius was lost in thought for a moment. "Regi would never place any charms in his room because it made is easier for him locate any that I had placed. We were close when we growing up and I was extremely protective of him, but unfortunately my mother got to him eventually.
"We have a busy day ahead, so I'll come and wake you at six am. There's a bathroom next door on the left and if you need anything, just call for Kreacher. I warned him of your arrival and he will obey your orders. Just be careful with him. He's a twisted horror of an elf, but he can't hurt you or refuse a direct order," he said. "I have to go now, Harry. A useless meeting of the Order is about to start, probably to discuss you. I will see you in the morning." And with that, he quickly left the room and pulled the door shut behind him.
Harry was about to get ready for bed when he realised that he didn't have his pyjamas. He was about to get them when he had a better idea. "Kreacher," he called, and a moment later there was a small pop as Kreacher apparated in his room.
He looked very old and his skin seemed to be several times too big for him. Though he was bald like all House Elves, he had dirty hair growing from his large, bat like ears. He looked at Harry with large, watery, bloodshot eyes. With a look of contempt, Kreacher bowed, his snout like nose touching the floor. Harry noted that it was rather dirty, which was odd for an elf as they were usually rather clean beings. The dishcloth that it had used to form a loincloth looked even worse.
"Young Master calls Kreacher," he croaked, then added in an undertone, "Master's brat is in Master Regulus' room moving Master Regulus' things."
Harry frowned, remembering how Dobby and Winky acted when you spoke of their families, and tried to placate the elf. "Kreacher, I mean no disrespect to Master Regulus. I mean to honour him and the House in which he was born."
Kreacher looked at him with an odd frown. "Young Master is wishing to honour Master Regulus?" He gazed intently at him, then said, "Kreacher could be telling Young Master of Master Regulus, but Young Master be calling Kreacher to do something?"
Harry smiled at the elf. He could tell that he was devoted to Sirius' brother, and he wondered why Kreacher seemed to dislike Sirius. "I would like to learn about him, since I was not aware that Sirius had a brother, and Sirius seems very upset about him. But you are right, I did have a question," Harry said. He did not like ordering elves around, but asking for the help seemed a good compromise. "Would you be able to get my trunk and owl cage from wherever Sirius sent it before we arrived?"
"Kreacher is able, Young master. Is that all Young Master wants?" He asked with a bow.
"Would you be able to do it without anyone seeing or hearing you?" Harry asked hopefully. "I don't want anyone to know of my presence in this house."
"Kreacher is able to do as Young Master asks. Kreacher will be back in a moment," he said, then added a slight fleeting bow and, with a crack, he was gone. A minute later, he was back with everything Harry had asked for. "Will Young Master require anything else?"
"No, that will be all. Thank you very much, Kreacher," Harry said, opening his trunk to get some bedclothes. "Please do not let me keep you from going to bed if you have finished your duties for the night."
The elf bowed low and muttered, "Young Master is asking if Kreacher has finished his duties and if he should sleep. Kreacher has not done this! Kreacher is bad elf, and Mistress would not like Kreacher to be so." He then left with a crack, but not before Harry had seen the look of despair on the elf's face.
Harry got into bed, making another mental note to speak to Sirius about his family and to discuss Kreacher.
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