#12 Grimmauld place was dreary and depressing as always. Harry handed each of the group a slip of paper, with the words: ‘Harry Potter lives at #12 Grimmauld Place, London.’ As soon as they’d read the words the ugly brownstone popped into view. Harry formally instructed the house to allow unlimited access to his companions.
Hermione, of course, had departed Kings Cross with her parents after promising to see him very soon, and giving him, warm hug and a lingering kiss on the cheek. Mackenzie Granger was none too happy with Harry, considering Hermione’s injuries, and the reasons for them, but settled for glaring at the ebon-haired lad. Judith Granger felt differently. She was more than aware of the electricity between the teens. More, she was an excellent judge of character. Hermione had written of him constantly throughout the past five years, describing in detail, his tribulations and the ingenuity he showed in overcoming them. She’d also seen Harry several times before, and met him once, and had found him worthy. She smiled warmly at him as she led her child away. Hermione grinned a ‘good bye’ over her shoulder.
Moody departed to establish a secure perimeter, while Remus apparated to Little Whinging, to implant a memory of Harry’s safe arrival in Mrs. Figg’s head, and to ensure the ‘owl drop’ was neutralized. Tonks and the Weasleys remained until Harry assured them he had the situation well in hand. Tonks offered to keep him warm that night, but Harry mock-glared and threatened to tell Remus about her ‘extracurricular activities’. She pretended to pale in horror and shifted her hair from pink to pale green. Laughing merrily, she kissed him goodbye, walked out the door and vanished with a pop. Fred, George and Arthur stayed a bit longer but finally Arthur called his sons and they flooed away.
“Dobby?” Harry called. Seconds later with two nearly inaudible pops, Dobby appeared. Not surprisingly, he was accompanied by Winky.
“Hello, Winky!” Harry greeted the little elf. She looked up at him hopefully. Dobby took the initiative and announced: “Master Harry Potter sir, Dobby and Winky is wanting to be mates, but that would be muchly difficult if Winky was at Hogwarts school and Dobby was working here. Dobby was wondering if you would bond Winky as well?”
Harry grinned openly. “Dobby I think that’s a brilliant idea! In fact, since I have several properties, including Potter Castle, I will probably ask you to help me find some more elves to help out. In the meantime…Winky? May I bond you into my service?”
“Oh yes, Master Harry Potter sir. Winky will be most delighted to bond with such a wonderful wizard as you are!”
“Alright. Give me your token. Since you don’t want wages, I want you to understand, there will always be money available for whatever you need or want. The way Mr. Crouch treated you was both expected amongst the purebloods, and absolutely appalling. One doesn’t treat people like that. Here, you two will sleep in a room of your own. There is a nice little storeroom just off the kitchen that would be perfect. Oh, by the way, while you’re here, you will wear a house uniform…no tea towels! It needn’t be ornate, but it will be a standardized uniform showing your pride in serving houses Potter, Black and Gryffindor. We’ll hash out the details later. Understand?”
“Yes Master Harry Potter sir!” Winky had tears of joy in her eyes. She held out the tam that Crouch had given her nearly two years before. Since she was wearing the rest of the miniature ensemble, Harry didn’t ask her to hand it over as well. It was understood that she would surrender it, the next day. Harry spoke the formal words accepting her into his households and she sealed the bond.
“I’ll just put this someplace safe, in case you ever tire of working for me.” He intended to change the terms of the bond eventually but he would let them dictate the when and the how.
Dobby led the happily sobbing Winky to their new room to calm her down. Harry almost expected to hear the muted sounds of elfish passion coming from that little room off the kitchen.
Harry settled into his room, unpacking his few belongings and transferring his study materials to their proper places. He went down to the basement to establish the perfect spot to build the forge he needed to grow the focusing crystals for the soon-to-be-constructed lightsabers. He soon located the minor ley line over which the house had been built and decided it was the best place.
Harry set to with a will, clearing rubbish away, with sweeps of his wand. Clean appeared where only filth had been before.
An hour passed before Dobby came to investigate. When he saw Harry cleaning like a madman, he gasped. “Master Harry Potter sir, you is not supposed to be doing magic out of school! You is going to get into trouble, you is!”
Harry chuckled. “No, Dobby. Since I’m the head of three houses, I’m considered an adult. The ministry tracking charm on my wand is gone. I had Amelia Bones take it off for me.”
Dobby looked unsure, but he’d seen no owls from the ministry appear, so he reluctantly accepted Harry’s assurances.
“Dobby can help then. Dobby will do a good job here. Master Harry Potter sir does not need to do the cleaning. Dobby will do!”
“Dobby.” Harry turned serious. He knew he’d have to convince the elf to let him finish this job on the room, or he’d never hear the end of it. He sat on an old chest. Dobby looked at him with wide eyes.
“Dobby, I must clean this room by myself. It’s part of the mental and physical cleansing I must do in order to begin to build my lightsaber. When I get this room down here, clean to my standards, I can begin to build the forge for my focusing crystal. I must have the crystal for my lightsaber, and I must do this by myself. Now, you can help me, by carting off that rubbish, but I must clean and prepare the chamber myself. Do you understand?”
“Dobby understands.” Dobby nodded rapidly. “You is going to learn the things the house elf in the brown robe is showing you. Dobby is knowing of the elf named Yoda.”
“Good man!” Harry decided not to disabuse Dobby of the notion that the Jedi Master was a house elf in a robe. It would serve no purpose but to confuse him.
With Dobby removing the junk, and Harry scrubbing by hand and by magic, the room was cleaned in only a few hours. Harry was exhausted! He stumbled up the stairs, and flumped down on the settee in the drawing room. Winky appeared before him with a hot mug of tea.
“Master Harry Potter has missed dinnertime. Would master like something to eat?” She piped.
“Thanks, Winky. Just a small sandwich and the tea, please. Tomorrow, we’ll sit and discuss the things we need to make a proper household, but for now, just the sandwich will do. I’m tired and as soon as I eat, I’m off to bed.”
Winky bowed and ‘popped’ away. She returned seconds later with a sandwich and hot tea, exactly as Harry had ordered. She smiled as his eyes widened. “Dobby does try too hard sometimes, master.”
Harry tucked in, and before long, had devoured the sandwich and tea. Rising, he stretched, and climbed the stairs.
In his bedroom, the bedroom that had once belonged to Sirius, Harry pulled his clothing off, cast a few cleaning charms on himself, and fell into the bed. Seconds later, and for the first time in a long while, he was sleeping soundly.
Dobby entered the master bedroom, picked up Harry’s clothing for cleaning, and handed them to Winky. Stepping over to the bed he carefully lifted Harry’s glasses off his face, and drew the heavy quilt up to his chin. He made sure the holly and phoenix feather wand lay next to the glasses, while Winky dropped the coins and such from Harry’s pockets onto the bureau. They departed, Dobby closing the door softly behind him.
Dumbledore listened to Arabella’s report. He was satisfied that his letter to Vernon Dursley would keep Harry well in hand. If not…well, that’s what Poppy was for.
The next morning, Harry woke much rested. He left his warm bed and attended to his normal ablutions.
Dressing and descending to the drawing room, Harry found Dobby and Winky waiting for him. Together, they entered the informal dining room through a doorway, and sat to breakfast. Winky didn’t want to, until Harry explained that in his houses people ate together. She still balked, but Harry brought that to an end by telling her in no uncertain terms, “Winky, in this house, we do things this way. Now please sit down.” She sat.
Soon enough, she was happily chattering along, offering suggestions for improvements to the house. Harry grinned at Dobby as they all hashed out the mandatory uniforms, duties and allowances for each. Moneys left in the ancient bronze bowl…a priceless Shang dynasty artifact, on a side table next to the fireplace, were to be used as each elf saw fit. Explaining that any purchases should be brought to Harry’s attention for record keeping, he also handed both Dobby and Winky written permissions to access any of his vaults at Gringotts for any reason. Both elves were stunned. That sort of trust just didn’t exist in the wizarding world!
They discussed the need to completely gut the house of its dark artifacts and the dreary décor. Harry wanted to see if he could cut into the walls and place tall windows, in order to let in much needed light and air. Both elves agreed but neither had any construction experience. He would have to locate a contractor. In the mean time they could remove all the ratty old curtains and give the front windows a good scrubbing.
Finally, at just before noon, Harry decided it was time to do a dirty but necessary job. He stood in the middle of the drawing room and called out: “Kreacher, attend me!”
Shuffling along, as if fighting the compulsion to obey, the nasty house elf appeared at the top of the stairs. “New young master has arrived.” He rasped. In a dark mutter he added: “Filthy halfblood! Not worthy to carry Mistresses shoes, he is not!”
Making his way as slowly as possible down the steps, Kreacher finally presented himself to Harry. Beside the young wizard, Dobby and Winky stood silently. They both knew what was about to happen.
“Kreacher the house elf.” Harry intoned. “You have betrayed your master, Sirius Orion Black, lord and head of the noble and most ancient house of Black, to the servants of the half-blood freak calling himself Lord Voldemort, thus leading him unto his death. What is the penalty for such a heinous crime?”
“Kreacher will not answer! Kreacher is bound to the noble and most ancient house of Black, not to usurping halfbloods!”
“As former lord of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, Sirius Orion Black has bequeathed unto me, the name and title, ‘Lord of House Black’. I am the new head of the Black line as am I the head of ‘House Potter’ and ‘House Gryffindor’.” Harry showed his hand. Kreacher’s eyes goggled at the sight of the rings adorning his fingers. “Now…answer the question.”
Kreacher bowed his head. “The penalty is death…master.”
“Very well. You have always wanted to be on that wall. Behead yourself.”
Harry picked up a long bladed knife from the side table, and handed it to the demented elf. Kreacher slowly lifted the blade, as if testing its heft, then, with a shrill cry, hurled himself at the shocked Harry.
Harry jumped to one side, and Dobby and Winky leapt forward to protect him, only to watch Kreacher fall to the floor, dead, but with no visible wound.
“What just happened?” Harry asked as he rolled to his feet. He’d half expected the insane elf to attack him, but still, he’d been caught with his eyes closed.”
Dobby answered. “Master Harry Potter sir, Kreacher attacked his master, meaning to kill! To do that, means a house elf’s death.”
“But what about Sirius? Kreacher was involved in his death too…why didn’t he die then?”
“Because he didn’t personally do it.” Came a familiar voice from the doorway. Harry whirled, and dove through the doorway into the small dining room, to cover behind the wall, his wand at the ready to curse the new intruder, but held himself back as Remus entered the room, followed by Arthur, the twins, Tonks and Moody.
Harry kept his wand aimed. The two confused house-elves had popped into the dining room as well, wondering why Master Harry was acting so oddly, but knowing they would stand with him to the death.
“What form did you expect my boggart to take?” Harry demanded.
Remus smiled and replied: “Voldemort.” Dobby and Winky both shrieked in terror while most of the wizards gave their usual shudder. Harry rolled his eyes.
“Who’s the silent partner in W3?’
Both twins chanted in unison: “You are, oh great benefactor!” Arthur looked askance, first at Harry and then at the twins before saying: “We’ll be having a little chat about that, Harry!”
Harry snickered. “OK, What did you get from Molly on the auspicious occasion of my first visit to The Burrow?”
“A ringing ear.” Arthur replied wryly. Harry could agree. He hadn’t even been in the house and his head ached from Molly’s howling!
Before he could question Tonks, she morphed into first Hermione, and then Ginny before returning to her usual form. “Show-off!” Harry muttered before turning to Moody.
“What did you tell me last year about elementary wand safety and why?”
“I might have told you not to put your wand into your back pocket. I think I also told you that better wizards than you have blown off buttocks that way.” Moody growled, smiling in approval.
Harry returned his wand to its holster, and smiled a greeting to them all. Then he returned his attention to Remus. “What do you mean: ‘Because he didn’t personally do it.’ Remus?”
“Kreacher only provided the necessary intelligence, as it were, to those who actually did cause Sirius’ death. He also repeatedly refused to acknowledge Sirius as his true master, calling him ‘young master’ instead. He could use those ‘legal fictions’, as it were, to protect himself. Your showing him the ring you wear, forced him to acknowledge you as Lord Black. When he attacked you personally, with the intent to kill, he violated the most ancient tenet of the house elf bond and died for it.” Lupin explained.
Harry sighed sadly and turned to Dobby.
“Dobby. Please see to the necessary offices for Kreacher. He couldn’t help being enslaved by lunatics. He should be given a proper remembrance. When it’s time to bury or cremate him, I’d like to be there. Can you do that?”
Dobby was gobsmacked, and Winky no less so. Even after the crimes Kreacher had committed, the great Harry Potter would bestow the proper rites upon the dead elf. More, he would attend personally! Nodding, the little elf wept tears of love and joy for his new master, and swore once again, to serve Harry Potter to the very best of his ability.
Gathering up Kreacher’s body, he and Winky departed. Harry briefly bowed his head in a short prayer for the dead elf, and then turned to his guests. Nodding toward the dining room, he escorted them through the dark house.
In the dining room, Butterbeers and nibbles awaited them on the table. Harry sat at the head of the table, in the place Dumbledore normally took. Tonks and Remus sat next to each other, while Fred, George and Arthur did the same at the opposite side of the table. Moody, being Moody, scanned the room quite thoroughly before settling himself on a chair at the opposite end. Each of them helped themselves.
“All right, Potter, you promised an explanation. Let’s hear it!” Moody commanded, in his gravelly voice.
“Alright. What do any of you know about post-death experiences?” Harry asked. When he got blank stares, he began his tale.
“At 11:27 AM, on September the first of this year, I died as a result of continual beatings at the hands of my uncle…”
That afternoon, in the small graveyard a few miles behind Potter Castle, Harry stood beside Winky as Dobby set the torch to Kreacher’s pyre. Together they watched as the remains of the demented elf were reduced to ashes.
When the fire had burnt itself out, Harry cast his spell. A hole opened beneath the ashes, and embers, and when he’d lowered them in, refilled itself. He smoothed and shaped a large rock into a smallish headstone, upon which he engraved the words:
THE LAST OF THE ANCIENT AND NOBLE HOUSE OF BLACK.
He set the stone at the mound of dirt, and bowed his head again.
Before he retired, He penned letters to Augusta Longbottom and Andromeda Tonks, asking for meetings with each.
Hermione grinned broadly as she re-read the missive from Harry. She’d found Hedwig waiting for her as she arrived home from Kings Cross, so she knew he’d sent it before they’d left the school. In it, he’d apologized profusely, and thoroughly castigated himself for leading her and their friends into such danger. Then he confessed his long-held feelings for her, and told her in no uncertain terms, that she was the fittest, sexiest, most desirable woman he knew. He further invited her to his home anytime she cared to come, if she further wished to ‘investigate’ this new avenue of friendship, including in the letter, a silver pendant with a fingernail sized sapphire, which he explained was a reusable portkey.
Squealing in joy, Hermione rushed down the stairs where she found her mother in their dining nook, pouring some tea.
She’d spoken with her mother then, showing her the letter and telling her that it was time to begin her sexual awakening, and with whom. Judith had agreed, Happy that her brilliant daughter had chosen the more deserving Harry, over that boorish red-head with the horrible table manners. She cautioned her baby to ensure contraception, and they spent the afternoon chatting, planning and most importantly…shopping…for just the right outfit. She wanted to look touchable, but not slaggy. Together, they chose a pale green summer dress with a wide skirt, and some strappy sandals.
That evening, Hermione sent the very patient Hedwig back with a note telling him she truly wished to ‘introduce their ‘best friends’, but as Dobby had said on the train, they would have to wait another week for her injury to heal.
She sent her intention to arrive on the evening of the full moon, on the first of July when Remus, who could be unsportingly responsible at times, was unavoidably detained in the forbidden forest by his ‘furry little problem’. Harry could see absolutely nothing wrong with her plans.
That night, thinking of Harry, she pleasured herself until she collapsed, sated and exhausted.
For nearly a week after his arrival, Harry had sat alone in the basement of the ugly brownstone, working diligently on the focusing crystal of his soon-to-be lightsaber. The morning after he’d attended Kreacher’s immolation, he’d built the forge and seeded the two gems, one inside the other and for the next five days, had held them in place with the force, while they grew to their final shapes. This unique arrangement allowed the superior focusing of the emerald and the power carrying capability of the diamond to combine…if it didn’t explode.
It didn’t. Harry removed the gem from the forge and examined it carefully for the slightest of imperfections. Opening himself to the force, He carried his examination further, delving into the crystalline structure of the composite gem. Hours later, and finding no defects, he laid the completed crystal on the bench-top.
He’d gone to bed then, and slept for the next nineteen hours.
Waking for breakfast, he ate ravenously and then, after checking that the things he’d ordered had arrived and the improvements to the old house had been at least begun, Harry Potter went shopping. He bought an entire new wardrobe for himself, some nice things for Hermione and the materials for Dobby and Winky to make their uniforms. Returning to #12, he dropped his packages on his bed and went into the adjoining bath for a hot shower.
The Dursleys would only ever allow him to use the cold water and limited his time to under two minutes, so hot showers were a blissful experience to him. Harry reveled in the feel of nearly scalding water cascading over his body, until Winky told him Hermione had arrived. He hurriedly dried himself and donned a pair of soft grey slacks and a light blue shirt. Leather sandals rounded out his ensemble as he descended the stairs, where Hermione waited.
Harry gathered up his love in a welcoming hug. He whispered: “You look great!” into her ear before joining his mouth to hers in a passionate kiss.
Hermione returned the kiss with equal fervor, and neither made it to the table that night as they introduced each other to the pleasures of the body.
In northern Scotland, an alarm sounded shrilly in the headmaster’s chambers as Harry lost his virginity. It was heard only by Fawkes, who picked the device up and dropped it into the lake before removing himself to southern Japan to visit a nice lady Phoenix he knew.
Albus Dumbledore returned from the French ministry two days later, he found a rather smug looking phoenix awaiting him. He never noticed the loss of one of the many silver trinkets from his shelves.
The next morning, after breakfast and having escorted the happy, tired and rather tender Hermione Granger to her home in Crowley, Harry stopped by Gringotts.
Harry walked up to the counter. Addressing the teller in gobbledygook, he said: //Greetings Snatchcoin. May you find gold at your feet.\\
The shocked goblin automatically replied with: //May your vaults never empty, honored sir. \\
//I would that I may speak with Graswold, most honored Dak of the Unified Goblin Hordes. \\
//And who are you, that the most honored Dak would deign to speak unto you? \\ Snatchcoin sneered.
“Harry sighed, and lifted his fringe. Instantly Snatchcoin understood. He summoned a messenger to inform the Dak, with all haste, that he had a most important visitor. At the same time, he wondered if he could fetch some gold for himself, as the ancient sorcerer had promised a reward for information on this one. Harry’s next move stilled the air in his lungs. The human dropped a double handful of raw gold nuggets on the counter. //Tell no one of my presence, and this is yours. \\ Then, slicing his palm, he squeezed out a trickle of blood to stain the gold.
Snatchcoin knew that to accept this gold meant he swore he would not betray Lord Potter. If he did, his own life would be forfeit.
A presence beside him decided the issue. Snatchcoin knew the Dak stood next to him, and to refuse the gold now would be an insult to the wizard, an embarrassment to the Horde, and a stain upon his own honor.
He used a thumbnail and opened his own skin. His purplish blood mingling with the rich red of the wizard’s.
Seconds later he was mortified to see the Dak’s blood dripping down on top of his. The pact was sealed. He divided the gold in half and offered it to the Dak, as half the goblin’s side of the deal was his.
To his surprise, the Dak closed Snatchcoin’s fingers around the gold, then turned and held out his hand, palm up, for Harry to grace. Harry did so, placing the tips of his blood-touched fingers in the bloodied bowl of Graswold’s palm. //I greet you, Graswold, most honored Dak, of Clan Gringg, of the Unified Goblin Hordes. \\
Blood mingled and magic flared between the two. //And I you, Lord Gryffindor.\\
Snatchcoin stumbled back in shock and before he recovered, they two were walking side to side from the room...as equals. Somehow, Snatchcoin felt…lessened. He held two heaping handsful of gold, but what had it cost him?
In Graswold’s den, they set to business immediately. When Harry explained his limited knowledge of Gobbledygook had been exhausted, Graswold grinned and switched effortlessly to English.
“How may Gringotts serve you, Lord Potter?” Graswold’s sounded like he’d been chewing on gravel.
“Dumbledore has been manipulating me since before I was born. He has withheld both my parent’s will and all accounting of my family’s estate. That stops now. I also seek the life of the goblin who has abetted his perfidy.
And that goblin would be?”
//Griphook!\\ Harry spoke the young goblin’s name like it was a curse.
Griphook was happily counting the pile of gems before him when a mailed fist slammed down on the countertop, scattering the stones.
Snarling in rage over his lost count, Griphook reached for his blade. A halberd at his throat stilled his hand. Behind the halberd was a goblin in armor. Beside him, were three more. None of them looked very happy.
//Griphook, you are ordered to attend Graswold…now!\\
Shocked at the preemptory summons, Griphook, still retained enough of his banking acumen to snap his fingers for a replacement. Instantly another goblin stood beside him.
//Watch this. I shall return anon. \\ He growled.
The six goblins walked quickly down the hall of heroes. Portraits and statues of the truest goblins frowned down upon him, and not for the first time, Griphook wondered if it would have been safer to decline the Dak’s ‘generous invitation’.
When he entered, he was certain. There, standing beside the Dak, was the wizard Harry Potter, and he did not look happy at all.
Before he could even offer his obeisance to the leader of the goblin nation, Graswold spoke.
//Griphook, serious charges have been leveled against you. Perfidy, graft and corruption we can accept, as long as it does not grow too onerous, but the outright betrayal of a major depositor can not be sanctioned. \\
//Most honored Dak, I do not know of what you speak. I have been a faithful servant of Horde Gringg...\\
//Lies.\\ Snapped Harry Potter, before reverting to English. “Griphook, you have betrayed my parents, and you have betrayed me. You helped Dumbledore to conceal their wills. You prevented my parent’s selected guardians from being made aware of their deaths, until I had been placed in the hands of my aunt Petunia, a woman that my mother decided was a poorer guardian than Ong the troll! You helped him to hide my heritage. You have given my gold to those who would use me: Petunia Dursley, fourty galleons per month…Albus Dumbledore, five hundred Galleons per month. Severus Snape, fifty Galleons per month. Molly Weasley thirty Galleons per month, starting in my second year at Hogwarts, but she actually earned hers. Cornelius Fudge, one hundred Galleons per month. Lucius Malfoy, one hundred Galleons per month. I could go on, but you get the picture. But that’s not the worst of it. No…no, not at all. Far worse indeed, is that you have taken my gold from the active and quite lucrative investment scheme my parents insisted upon and instead, thrown it into a hole in the ground…to collect a pittance in interest!
The goblins all gasped in horrified shock, at that. To not invest a client’s gold to the best of one’s ability, was as heinous a sin in the goblin’s eyes, as murdering one’s parents!
In short, Griphook knew he was screwed.
Harry’s words as he left the office, were chilling. More-so, because they were uttered in Gobbledygook. //I await you in the arena.\\
As the door swung shut, Graswold snarled his displeasure. //Griphook, you have dishonored us all! Before I summoned you, I had Lord Gryffindor’s claims thoroughly investigated. You were careful, yes, but not careful enough. You left enough loose threads, to unravel your crimes. Were it me, I would have your head on a pike, but for some reason, Lord Gryffindor is more generous than I. You are offered the chance to die honorably, in single combat with blades. Do you accept, or will you be hamstrung and fed to the dragons below?>\\
//I will accept the challenge!\\ Griphook snarled. //And when I win, I shall claim all Potter’s assets!\\
//So let it be written, so let it be done!\\ Graswold flicked his hand and a parchment appeared. He marked his sigil, and blood-printed it. Griphook did the same. Three witnesses followed.
Harry entered the chamber, naked but for a breechclout. He was armed with the traditional goblin’s shortsword and buckler. Griphook entered from the other side, armed and clad in the same manner. The doors behind them slammed closed, and they sprang to the attack. Above them, they could hear the goblins making and taking wagers.
Griphook was skilled with the short blade…more than Harry, and fast as sin, but Harry was nearly as fast, and far more agile. He also incorporated an aerial aspect to his combat that the goblins had never seen before.
Griphook swiftly scooped up some sand and flung it at Harry to distract him, then slashed low, hoping to cut Harry’s knees. He missed. By that time, Harry was above him and upside down. Harry sliced downward, scoring a stripe across Griphook’s shoulders, then alit behind the goblin, spun on his toes, and slashed. The tip of his blade graced his opponent’s back, and a second line of purple appeared.
Cheers erupted from the gallery, and the betting increased in fervor. This human was offering sport they’d not seen in far too long! Word was passed and the gallery began to fill.
Griphook screamed in pain, whirled and slashed, only to meet Harry’s blade in an inverted parrè. Blade locked with blade. Griphook used his greater strength to advantage and twisted his blade, hoping to break Harry’s. His ploy failed, for the blade he faced was Graswold’s own. Harry, flung himself over Griphook’s blade, and rolled across the sand. He stood up right into the tip of the charging goblin’s sword. The thrust was painful, but not fatal. Harry thrust out his own blade, and Griphook, seeing death heading his way, stepped aside, right into Harry’s foot. The blow flung the goblin across the circle, but he recovered to see a slashing blade descending. A quick upward block and a tumbling roll and he was on his feet again.
Griphook thrust, to be met by a flash of steel. Blade rang against blade as they traded slashes and blocks, thrusts and parrès. Griphook earned another deep stripe along his right bicep, when he got careless. That had hurt him, greatly diminishing his sword arm.
Another flurry of blows, and blocks, and Harry cried out, as Griphook stabbed through his chest. The blade pierced through his lung, but surprisingly, he did not fall. Instead he stumbled backward and when he stood again, he chuckled quietly, thinking: ~Damn! If I survive this, Hermione’s gonna murder me!~
The goblins, Griphook included, were shocked to silence, for long seconds, before the gold began to change hands again! More goblins joined the crowd and the odds began to drop.
Now more cautious, Griphook wavered. Blood and sand coated them both, though Harry’s wounds seemed much the more serious.
Watching his enemy, for that was what Harry had proved himself, Griphook evaluated his own position. He had a not-insignificant gash on his flank, one slighter but still damaging across his shoulders, a neat slice along his sword arm, both reducing his combat value to his clan, and a number of small cuts and scrapes.
The human, on the other side, had but the two serious wounds, one of which would have killed any goblin, and fewer minor ones, but he was in agony, and Griphook was certain he’d won.
Griphook darted forward, for a clean thrust through his opponent’s heart, only to find his blade knocked aside by Harry’s buckler, and the pommel of the wizard’s sword in his face. The impact crushed the long, delicate nose he was so very proud of and sent him staggering backward to fall on his arse.
Picking himself up off the sand, he touched his now-crooked nose and saw rage! To insult another’s nose was deepest of offenses, often calling for a blood duel! To harm another’s nose, was literally begging for death!
Griphook had been deeply, and worse, publicly humiliated. Even if he won, there was no way to repair the three delicate pieces of cartilage in a goblin’s nose. He’d be forever consigned to the outer ranks, regardless how much gold he had. Better to die!
Enraged, he bellowed in fury and threw aside his buckler, and watched as Harry, honor-bound to keep only the armament his opponent carried, did the same.
He roared a battle cry and flung himself forward. A solid heel smashed into his chest and once again, he flew across the arena to slam against the wall and tumble down to the sands on his arse. Loud hurrahs from above told him his fellows had begun to bet heavily against him!
Harry sank slowly to his knees, in sheerest agony. He reached into the force for the strength to finish this battle.
Now blind with bloodlust, Griphook charged forward to strike his opponents head from his body.
Harry was a’kneel on the hot sands; nearly fainting with pain as he pressed his hand against the deep wound the goblin had given him. It was only at the last second that the warning came. He 'knew' what Griphook was going to do. As if of it’s own accord, Harry’s arm pinioned out, stiff and rigid as a steel bar, and Griphook ran straight into Harry’s outthrust blade.
Griphook gaped soundlessly, as he felt the sword slice into his hearts. Harry struggled to his feet, and most gently took the goblin’s sword from his nerveless hand. The blade fell to the sands.
Griphook knew what was coming, and lived just long enough to feel Harry grip his hair, withdraw his sword from the lethal wound in his chest, and slice off his head. The last thing he heard was Harry’s quiet: “I’m sorry.”
Harry held Griphook’s head in the air and turned in a slow circle.
The crowd in the gallery went crazy. Cheers, jeers, whistles and hoots, fell upon the blood-drenched Harry. Many clever goblins made fortunes that day, betting on the long shot, and the human had come through for them.
In the bank above, many goblins would later discover that ofttimes, attention to one’s duty could be onerous, as they had not witnessed this epic battle, and therefore had no chance of profiting from it’s outcome.
Many of the witnesses were aghast at the message Harry had presented. There was at least one wizard who had fought a goblin…as a goblin…and had vanquished! This battle would remain in the minds, words and songs of every goblin present, for decades, even centuries after. Many a newborn mup would even be named HaihRiegh, which meant: ‘fire-touched’.
Instead of throwing Griphook’s head into the crowd, or dropping it back onto the dueling sands, he approached Graswold, bowed slightly and held out Griphook’s head to him.
“His actions were base…” He gasped out. “…but he fought well. Honour that.”
Graswold was stunned. While he had been certain that Harry could defeat Griphook, he had never expected the rite of absolution. Fortunately, Griphook was too young to have taken a mate and his own parents had died in the previous war, therefore none of his kin need die for his crimes. With the appropriate bow of equals, he accepted the junior goblin’s head, and carefully handed it to an aide, before stepping forward to attend Harry’s most serious hurts, personally.
Harry wavered as Graswold healed his major wounds. “You must remain standing, Lord Gryffindor…” Graswold hissed. “…else this is for naught. Your victory must be complete, which means you will walk out of this arena unaided. Do you understand?”
“Yeah, I get it. Hurts like a bitch, though!” Harry gave a painful laugh. The watching crowd was still celebrating Harry’s unexpected victory.
“I’d expect it does.” Graswold chuckled. “There. The worst are done. The rest can wait. You will not die from them, but you’d best see a healer.”
“My thanks.” Harry returned.
As expected, Harry picked up Griphook’s sword and walked from the sand.
As the door swung shut, he sagged against the wall, gasping in pain.
A healer met him immediately. “Lord Potter, I’m Masterhealer Marcus Caduceus. Dak Graswold has asked me to attend you while you are with the goblins. I have sworn oaths of privacy to the bank that I can only violate for life and death situations.”
“Thank you Masterhealer. I place myself in your capable hands. Please leave the scars.”
With that, Harry fainted.
When Harry awoke nine hours later, a scarred goblin stood guard near the door.
“Ah, Lord Gryffindor. You’ve awakened. I am ordered to escort you to the most honored Dak.”
“Umm…Of course. Thank you.
“It is we, who should thank you, Lord. You have uncovered betrayals of a heinous nature. You have fought honorably and have won against all odds.”
“What were the odds?” Harry smirked.
“They started out at eighty to one. The goblin replied with an equally nasty grin.
“How much did you win?”
“Over a hundred thousand galleons.”
Harry burst out laughing. “Well, I’m glad to have made you richer.” He instantly became serious and added: “I only wish it hadn’t been necessary.”
“Waste no tears over the betrayer. He knew what he was doing and he did so anyhap. You gave him a chance he did not deserve, to redeem himself. He died well.”
“He did.” Harry agreed quietly.
“So, Tell me. How should I call you?”
“I am Slashsack.” The goblin announced proudly.
“Slashsack?” Harry was puzzled. “How did you get a name like Slashsack?”
“Trust me…” The goblin returned with a feral grin. “You don’t want to know!”
Harry paled in sudden understanding.
Slashsack led him out of the warren and down and down a low, cramped and winding tunnel, hewn from the living rock. At the end, Harry could see the reds and oranges from many fires. Trusting Graswold’s word that he would suffer no harm here, he followed.
At the end of the tunnel, was a large cavern, with many fires around. The heat was truly oppressive! Harry immediately began to sweat. Smoke and ash floated in clouds overhead, but never reached them. Harry assumed the smoke was drawn through a hole in the top of the cave. The sounds of hammers shaping metals, resounded throughout the cave.
Slashsack drew him to one of the biggest, ugliest goblins Harry had ever seen. The goblin wore a leather apron over his bare chest, which showed heavily thewed arms to their greatest advantage. He waited, looking at Harry like a bug that had been smashed underfoot. He wordlessly held out Griphook’s blade. Ironbender sighed in disgust, and flung it across the cavern, where it landed with a splash in the huge melting pot.
Returning his calculating eyes to Harry, he demanded: //This is the hoomon who defeated the dishonored one? \\ in a voice so rough, Harry was certain he’d been chewing granite.
“He is, Master Ironbender” Slashsack replied in English, bowing deeply to the smith. Unsure of protocol, Harry followed suit.
A thunderous laugh erupted from the goblin, who looked to have had all too few in his life. He roared out his humour for nearly a minute until he leaned up against his hot forge, burning his arse. The laugh turned into a bellow of pain as the red-hot coals burned right through his breeches.
Harry snickered as he grabbed a wooden pail of water and cast it at the dancing goblin, effectively killing the flames.
Instantly Ironbender jumped up on his anvil, and snatched Harry up by the neck and snarled: “You think that funny, hoomon?”
“Harry lashed out his fist, catching the goblin between the legs. As any male would, Ironbender folded.
“Yeah. I did.” Harry shot back. “You did something stupid…something that as a master smith, you knew not to do, and you were punished for it.” He held out his hand to the downed goblin.
“I offer my hand in friendship.”
Ironbender grudgingly took Harry’s hand, and levered himself up.
“You are an honorable wizard. I’ve never seen your like before.”
“We are more than you’d imagine, it’s just that those who are not so honorable, control the wizarding world.”
“I agree.” Ironbender growled. “Tell me then, young master wizard, why have you come here to my domain?”
“To be quite honest, I haven’t a clue.” This set Ironbender to laughing again, though this time he was more careful where he sat.
From behind, Slashsack spoke. “Fit him with a plate and belt. He has earned a sword.”
This brought any pretence of ignoring the conversation to a halt. The goblins around them, drawn by Harry’s presence in their hallowed halls, gaped openly. The last wizard who rated a goblin sword was Godric of Gryffindor! His sword had been fashioned by the master swordsmith Ragnuk himself!
“A sword? For a hoomon?”
“The most honored Dak orders it!” Slashsack handed over a leather tube. Ironbender opened the tie and read the missive inside. A wide grin stretched across his face.
“So! Lord Gryffindor returns. What kind of sword would you like?” He asked. The goblins around began to whisper about the return of Gryffindor.
Harry was unconcerned about ornamentation, and so, unknowingly gained stock by replying: “The same kind that you would use, but weighted and balanced for me.”
An hour later, Harry once again stood in Graswold’s den. His victory over Griphook had elevated his stature in the goblin’s eyes, and he now wore the sword and breastplate that was every Goblin warrior’s right.
“…and I want complete access to all my assets. Furthermore, you must cut off any and all access Dumbledore and his order of the flaming chicken has to my vaults.”
“Make sure that Sirius’ will is read quickly. Dumbledore will try to claim my inheritance ‘in my stead’. He may even have some sort of documents allowing him to do so. Play along. Don’t let him know I've already claimed it. Go ahead and tell him that I’ve been named head of the Black line, inherited the house at 12 Grimmauld and a…‘reasonable’ amount of gold. Nothing else. I want him in the dark until Fudge goes up against the Wizengamot in three weeks.”
“As you wish.”
“I want a goblin warding team to set up a full array of wards around over and under Potter Castle and it’s environs, including your equivalent of the Fidelus, to be activated when I decide to do so, and another team to protect Hermione’s home and her parents business, with the strongest set of wards you have, and emergency portkeys for them all. The portkeys must be usable by both muggle and magical.”
‘Goblin wards? Why not human?”
“Have goblin wards ever failed?
“Not that I am aware of.”
“That’s the first reason…and the best. Trust those who have displayed a skill for your requirements. The second reason is this: If I have a wizard create the wards, he’ll have to file the type of wards and the location with the ministry. As the ministry is overrun with Death Eaters, the ward-specifics would be in Voldemort’s hands before nightfall. The treaty of 1547, exempts goblins from the mandatory reporting due to the sensitive nature of the wards under Gringotts. It was meant to keep the purebloods’ gold safe. Now it’ll protect something far more precious.”
Both Goblins grinned widely. “As you wish. What are your plans, if I may?”
“I intend to form and train a cadre of warriors to face and hopefully destroy this monster. We’ll be training at Potter Castle, which is why I want those wards and concealment charms there. In just under a year, I intend to take twenty of my best, seek out Tom Marvolo Riddle, who most know as Lord Voldemort and destroy him. Before I do, however, I intend to file ‘Writ of Conquest’ against Voldemort, and all his Death Eaters. Thirty percent of their estates will go to Gringotts, twenty to myself and the remainder to a fund to care for all the victims this war has created…most especially an orphanage for magical children. Never again, will a magical child be subject to what I was. I want you personally, or someone you trust with your children’s lives, to oversee my affairs until this is over. After that, we’ll get together and work out another arrangement.”
“As you wish. My fee is an additional ten percent.”
“I’m giving you one third of the gold I take, at no cost or risk to you and yours. I’m certain we can come to a ‘better’ arrangement.”
“One!?! Outrageous! My simply being involved should require at least five.” Graswold blustered in feigned offense. Truth be told, he’d have done it for free.
“Well, I suppose you are kind of important, so how about one and a half? That’s still a sizable chunk of gold.” Harry grinned in return.
Both settled into a long and detailed argument, adding and removing values and accounting for and discounting personal, family and racial prestige.
They settled on three and a quarter percent of anything Harry took in, on top of the thirty percent he already promised to the goblin nation. He didn’t care, he had enough to live in grand style for the next six or seven hundred years. Still their negotiation did almost as much good as Harry’s defeat of the betrayer Griphook, in fomenting a relationship between the wizards and the goblins.
At the end, Graswold spat into his hand and held it out. Harry did likewise and joined hands with the goblin. Magic flared once again and sealed the deal.
“These are the forms you’ll need f0or the ministry. Fill them out and return them when it’s is convenient.”
“Thank you. May your vaults never empty.”
“May your enemies flee in terror!”
“Oh, I hope not!”
“Why?” Graswold was stunned.
“Cause then, I’d have to go hunt them down, and that takes time, and I have many things I’d much rather do!”
After a moment of shock, Graswold began to laugh. No mere chuckle was this. No, instead, like Ironbender in the caverns below, it was a great, bellowing laugh that shook his body with mirth.
Harry took his leave then, to find an escort of seven goblins waiting at the door. They all snapped to attention and made a spot for him. Harry grinned widely and assumed his position in the front-right position of the honor guard before marching to the lobby.
As Harry entered the lobby, all the goblins stood and thumped their fists against their hearts thrice, shouting: “HaihRiegh, HaihRiegh, HaihRiegh!”
Those bearing halberds or spears, thumped the butts against the tiles, with the same cheer. Harry stood tall and banged his own fist against his heart, acknowledging the tribute given him.
The humans present gaped in astonishment and watched as Harry calmly left the bank.
At the leaky, he handed the requisite sickle to Tom, whispered his destination, and flooed away.
Dobby was ecstatic to have ‘the great and wonderful Harry Potter’ home again. Winky served them a hearty supper, and as they all ate, they discussed the day and what Harry could expect over the next few.
Augusta’s letter had arrived while he was asleep and Andromeda’s came during his meeting with Graswold. Both agreed to meetings at his convenience. Flooing from his office, he called on Augusta first, but Nipsy, the Longbottom’s senior house-elf informed him in a snooty tone that Madam Longbottom was not available and would he like to leave a message?”
Harry did so, making an appointment for the following morning at ten, and then called Andromeda. She was home and invited him to come through.
The brown haired woman greeted him with a cautious smile. Harry could instantly see the resemblance to both her sisters, though quite clearly, Bellatrix was no longer the beauty she once was.
“Welcome, Lord Potter.” She spoke in a melodic voice, with a grace and poise, so unlike her daughter’s.
“Thank you for having me. Mrs. Tonks.” He returned with a grin. “This is for you.” He handed her a heavy envelope.
“Well, You certainly aren’t what I was led to expect. Nymphadora adores you, but Albus tells me you’re a spoilt brat who doesn’t know what’s good for him. Which is it?”
“A little of both, actually. You see, Dumbledore has always tried to control my life, to the smallest detail, and he’s gone out of his way to ensure those adults he knows, can sympathize, or at least agree, with his decisions.”
“What do you mean?”
“Oh, God! Where to begin? OK, I’ll make it as short as I can, and we can discuss it in further detail later. How’s that sound?”
“Harry’s face fell. “Yeah.”
“Harry, what happened wasn’t your fault.”
“In many ways it was, but as an old wizard told me recently, “There is shame enow to share ‘mongst several others as well, m’self included…”
“Not hardly! He went out of his way to make me feel as guilty as possible over something that he could have prevented if he’d only been doing his bloody job!” Harry spat angrily.
Andromeda stepped back in fear of the nearly visible magic roiling around Harry.
It was this, which made Harry pause and regain his control.
“I do beg your pardon, Mrs. Tonks. That was uncalled for.”
Understanding his anger was directed elsewhere, and that she was in no immediate danger, Andromeda replied: “Why don’t you give me the short version.”
“Short version, huh?” Harry smirked. “OK. Dumbledore is a manipulative old bastard who’s controlled my life since before I was born in order to make me his pawn. My parents are dead and Sirius spent twelve years in Azkaban because of him.”
Andromeda was shocked and rather fuddled by Harry’s quick explanation, factual, and utterly useless explanation.
“Oookaaay! Why don’t we have some tea and you can tell me the longer version?”
Chuckling, Harry joined her at the table.
Over the next two hours and several cups of tea, Harry explained exactly what Dumbledore had done, and why. To say Andromeda was incensed would be an understatement of nearly biblical proportions. She was ready to flay the skin from the old bastard with a piece of rusty barbed wire!
Reining in her anger, she asked: “So what do you intend to do?”
“As head of three houses, I’m legally emancipated. Dumbledore doesn’t know that…yet. When he does find out, he’s gonna try to find or invent some way to force me back into his control. I can deflect some of it, but I want a good solicitor. One neither he nor Voldemort can influence.” Harry was honestly surprised at her lack of shudder.
“You’re going to spit in Dumbledore’s eye and Voldemort’s at the same time? You’re insane!”
“That’s been said.” Harry replied with a sad smile. “Quite frequently, in fact. Just now, I’m ‘the lone voice of truth’…” Harry made air-quotes. “…or some such rubbish. It seems to have fallen to me to rid the world of this particular pest, and so, if only to preserve my own hide, I’m going to do it, but I’m going to do it my way. If I follow Dumbledore’s ‘grand plan’, I’m likely to…” Harry paused to think up something really ridiculous. “I dunno…walk into the forbidden forest and allow Voldemort to kill me in hopes he’ll somehow die too.”
Andromeda snorted in a most unladylike fashion.
“Yeah." Harry agreed. “What I need now is a solicitor who can work in both worlds. Someone who’s also a barrister would be best, but it's got to be someone who will work for my good…not Dumbledore’s, not the ministry’s and most certainly not Voldemort’s.”
“Chapman and Associates.” She replied immediately. “They were both the Potter and Black family solicitors. They’re expensive, but they’re damn good. Not even Dumbledore has been able to win against them, and that’s even using his underhanded methods, and believe me, he’s tried. That’s one reason why he hasn’t gotten more control of the Potter fortune.
Voldemort won’t touch them either. Every Death Eater he sent to intimidate them would meet up with a rather gruesome demise. In fact, I understand the last one was returned by owl post. Apparently it took whole flock of them to ‘get the message across’.”
Harry laughed out loud. “That sounds perfect! Will you ask them to meet with me?”
“That shouldn’t be necessary, Harry. Like I said, they were your family’s solicitors. I understand Carolyn was a junior associate in her father’s firm, working for your grandparents, when they were killed.”
“The problem is, I don’t know them, and they don’t know me.”
“Very well. I’ll owl them tonight for an introduction.”
“Thanks. Be sure to give Nimmy my love!”
When Harry left, Andromeda opened the envelope Harry had given her. She gasped in shock. Inside was a full and legal renunciation of her expulsion from the Black family. Another page held a Gringotts draft for the entirety of her dowry, which Walburga had confiscated, and another like it for Nymphadora.
Ted Tonks came home at eleven, to find his wife weeping. Instantly alarmed, he swept the house for threats before cuddling Andromeda to him.
“What’s wrong, sweet?”
She just held out the sheets of parchment.
A/N: I stole the fight scene between Harry and Griphook from one of my other incomplete stories, ‘Dirty Harry’. You’ll see it again when I post that fic.
Swordfights (and gunfights, for that matter) are over very quickly. Hollywood has idealized them, into something that would exhaust the strongest man.
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