Harry woke on his birthday with a sense of purpose he’d rarely known in his young life. He was going to take care of his future and by the time he finished a few people were going to be answering to him. He was half-dressed when the door to his room was thrown open and Dudley leaned in the doorway.
“We’re going on a trip and you aren’t invited.”
Harry finished buttoning his shirt before tucking it into the fitted black slacks. It was one of the few Wizarding outfits he owned that wasn’t a school uniform. He would fix that, too. He’d always been very careful about his spending but now that he knew he was richer than the Queen he planned to at least update his wardrobe.
He pulled a box from his trunk and took out the ruby cuff links he’d bought for the Yule Ball. “I’m kind of busy, Dudley. Didn’t your parents tell you that I’d prefer you never speak to me again?”
Dudley huffed. “Since when do I listen to them?”
“Right.” Harry nodded and shook out his formal robes. He frowned at the wrinkles. Then sighed. “Dobby.”
Dobby appeared abruptly be his side. “Yes, Master Harry?”
“My robes are wrinkled and I don’t want to risk doing using my own magic until after the meeting today.”
“Is my job to takes care of the robes, Master Harry,” Dobby admonished and took the robes. He carefully laid them out carefully on the bed and then threw a series of charms at them. “Theys too short, sir. I added a tailoring charm. Should I do this with all of your clothes?”
“Just the Wizarding stuff, Dobby. Throw out the Muggle clothes. I won’t need that crap anymore. I want to buy some new stuff.”
“Of course.” Dobby practically dove into the trunk and started to make two piles.
Harry rescued his boots and looked at Dudley who was staring at Dobby in a mixture of fascination and horror. “What?”
“What is he?”
“He is a house elf and my bonded servant. He’s also capable of powerful magic so I don’t advise you mess with him.” Harry pushed his feet into his boots and frowned when Dobby immediately came to help him button them up. “Remind me to get some boots that don’t have buttons, Dobby.”
“Yes, Master Harry.” Dobby went back to the trunk, flicked his hands over the Muggle clothes and they disappeared. “Will yous be returning to this no good Muggle place, Master Harry?”
“Not if I have a single thing to say about it.” He glanced towards Dudley who was frowning now. “What?”
Dudley started. “I heard my Dad say you’re really rich.”
“What of it?”
“If you’re really rich why have we been living in this house instead of a mansion like we deserve?” Dudley demanded.
“Because your parents couldn’t get to my money—else I probably wouldn’t have a pound to my name. They already stole the trust fund that was supposed to support me until I reached the age to go to Hogwarts. And I’m paying for that trip you were just bragging about.” Harry picked up his robes and put them on with practiced ease. “Dudley, go away before I have Dobby castrate you.”
Dobby looked up hopefully. “I needs the practice.”
Harry laughed softly as Dudley darted away as fast as his chubby frame would allow. He looked down at his trunk and frowned. “Dobby, can you shrink this so I can put it in my pocket? I don’t want to leave it here with them.”
“Yes, Dobby can!”
Harry watched the trunk shrink with a blink of light and smiled. He picked up the tiny box and slid it into his trouser pocket. “Can wizards do wandless magic, Dobby?”
Dobby inclined his head. “Only the very powerful, Harry Potter.” He paused. “Like you.”
“I’m not that powerful, Dobby.”
“Yous very powerful, Harry Potter. Very powerful, indeed.”
Harry glanced towards the alarm clock on the small nightstand beside his bed and then went to Hedwig. He opened the window and offered her his arm. “Okay, girl, if I have my way I’m not coming back here but I don’t know where I’ll be staying at the moment. Can you go to Hogwarts for a few days until Dobby comes for you?” She nipped his finger in reply and then flew away. Harry watched her for a moment. “Dobby, please make sure she eats well while she’s there.”
“Of course, Master Harry.”
Harry nodded and then lifted his wrist so he could stroke Mehen. In Parseltongue, he hissed, “Galleon.” The tug at his naval was his only warning before he left Privet Drive behind.
Dobby appeared at his side in front of the bank and steadied him before he could fall. Mr. Riser was waiting on the steps and moved to stand with him.
“Lord Malfoy and his mother are already within. They were attracting a rather large amount of attention.” Riser guided him into the bank with a spare glance at Dobby. “Do you intend to make this house elf your Vassal?”
Harry paused. “I’m afraid I don’t understand the question.”
Riser made an impatient sound and then flushed when Harry stepped away from him. “Pardon me, Mr. Potter, I’m not angry with you. I am, however, extremely irritated that you haven’t been educated in the customs and traditions of your place in our society. Albus Dumbledore has much to answer for in that respect. A Vassal within the Wizarding community is almost like a manservant in the Muggle world. House elves are bondservants but to elevate one to the status of Vassal is… well… an honor and creates a protective magical bond between you and the Vassal.”
“I can protect him better with this?” Harry questioned and blushed when Riser’s mouth dropped open and Dobby started to sniffle loudly. “What’s wrong with him?”
Riser’s teeth clicked together briefly. “I believe your humble and honest affection for those around you is just too much for a house elf, Mr. Potter. The status of Vassal would give Dobby leave to enter into combat on your behalf and on behalf of your children should you choose to have them. It’s an honor rarely given to elves in this day and age. It would protect him legally as he could do defensive magic that he’s normally prevented from doing in your defense.”
“Ah.” Harry considered that for a moment. “But I could order him from a situation if I felt it were too dangerous for him?”
“Then, yes, that is exactly what I’d like to do. I brought Dobby here to witness my title being conferred.” Harry blushed when Riser raised an eyebrow. “He seemed thrilled… is that wrong?”
“No, Mr. Potter, it merely speaks to your incredible character.” Riser prodded him across the large marble lobby of the bank and towards a large goblin. “We’ll be meeting with Director Ragnok today. I realize you probably didn’t have a lot of time to brush up your etiquette skills with the text I provided—but do be careful with your words. It is terribly unwise to cross a Goblin or to anger one on purpose.”
“Understood and I did read the chapter on Goblins last night before I went to sleep,” Harry muttered under his breath just before they crossed under a doorway and the rest of the bank disappeared behind them.
He glanced back briefly but managed to keep his astonishment at bay. Magical places, even after years at Hogwarts, simply amazed him. He glanced down at Dobby and was relieved to find him looking a little awed as well. Harry figured Dobby had rarely been allowed to see much of Gringotts before.
When they entered the office, Narcissa and Draco Malfoy were already settled in with tea. Ragnok was ranting about Fudge in such a way that Harry couldn’t help but smile warmly at the goblin. He buried the smile quickly and schooled his expression so neutral it felt unnatural as Ragnok trailed off and gestured wildly with his tea cup.
“Mr. Potter.” Ragnok stood and set aside his tea cup. “I was just informing Lord Malfoy of my position on Minister Fudge’s job performance.”
“It is extremely poor and he is very foolish,” Harry agreed and bowed slightly. “It is my honor to meet you, sir. May your gold always flow like the Nile and your enemies die wretched painful deaths at your feet.”
“So mote it be.” Ragnok returned the bow and then motioned him to sit. “Mr. Riser has done much of the work in preparation for the conferring of your title, Lord Potter. In fact, all that remains is to present you with your ancestral ring and sign your name. Lord Malfoy is ready and prepared to act as your Noble Witness.” The goblin paused. “And then we have another matter to attend to at the behest of Lord Malfoy.”
Harry nodded and glanced briefly at Draco before he began to review the parchment in front of him. “I currently do not have an heir.” He noticed the empty spot for the naming of his heir on the document and lifted his head. “I believe that Neville Longbottom is my closest living male relative?”
“Yes, this was verified this morning,” Ragnok confirmed. “When you sign the parchment, magic will fill in the name of your heir and the document will update automatically when you claim your first male child.”
“Understood.” Harry accepted the quill when it was offered and signed his name. Beside him, Mr. Riser opened a small box and revealed his Family Seal. He melted the end of a narrow block of black wax and then pressed it under Harry’s signature before offering the Seal to him. Harry took a deep breath and pressed the Seal into place. It had taken only a few minutes the night before to realize that his Seal was actually just as important as his legal signature when it came to magical contracts. Both were required due to his title. A bright white light swept briefly over the document and Harry moved out of the way so that Draco could complete his part.
He tried to avoid paying too much attention to the other boy but it was exceedingly difficult. At fifteen, Draco was already four inches taller than Harry and taking on the lean form of an athlete. He was dressed stylishly with the finest robes that Harry had ever seen. The Slytherin was always well turned out so it wasn’t a surprise. A soft gold light flashed over the document as Draco applied his own Seal and then stepped back.
Ragnok placed a polished wooden box on top of the parchment. “It’ll only open for you, Mr. Potter. Upon the death of your father, the Family signet ring was shrouded in this box and returned to your Family vault.” The goblin paused. “I’m afraid I don’t know the condition of the ring and considering how your father lost his life…”
“Yes.” Harry swallowed hard and picked up the box. “What are the possibilities that the ring was cursed by Voldemort before it could be returned to the vault?”
The Goblin stilled at Harry’s casual use of the Dark Lord’s name and then shook his head. “Family rings such as this are impervious to such things. Your ring has protective charms and blood magic wards on it from at least ten generations. It won’t be cursed.”
“Blood magic,” Harry murmured. “Do all pure blood families practice what most would consider Dark Arts?”
“Yes,” Draco admitted roughly. “Even your Weasleys, Harry. I’ve heard they have some of the strongest wards possible around their… home.”
Harry nodded. “Bill’s work. They even have wards built with Goblin magic.” The box unsealed with audible pop and he relaxed. The lid flipped open easily revealing a platinum ring set with a large emerald. The Potter crest was on one side, and the other side was blank. “What will…?” He sighed and rubbed his face with one hand in a show of frustration.
“In most circumstances, a witch or wizard waits until they are seventeen years old to receive their Family magic. This happens during their magical maturation,” Narcissa began. “In taking the ring early, your Family magic will settle on you and more over—the role of Patriarch of your Family magic will be yours to bear as well. It can be seen both as a burden and an honor.”
Harry nodded. “The last scion of the House of Potter.”
“Indeed.” She touched his shoulder carefully. “You will accept the full brunt of your Family magic but you are a strong wizard and I believe it will serve you well in the years to come.”
“It will start my magical maturation?”
“No.” Narcissa shook her head. “You’ll still go through a maturation period after your seventeenth birthday but since your Family magic will have already settled—it won’t be as dramatic as it might have been otherwise. Draco experienced much the same when he accepted the lordship ring shortly after we buried his father.”
“Your name will appear on the blank side when you put it on,” Draco murmured. He held out his hand and smiled when Harry put the box in his hand. “I’ve grown past the point where I believe that blood or magical ability can create equals, Harry. I also realize that part of you simply has no idea what this ring represents. It’s not the fact that you’ll wear this ring that makes you my peer, my equal in all matters – it is the fact that you would choose this responsibility without hesitation. That you accept your station in the Wizarding world regardless of the wishes of others is rather awe inspiring.”
Harry flushed. “If you get down on one knee and ask me to marry you, Draco, I’m going to be put out.”
Draco laughed. “Why?”
“Because frankly, it would be rather cheap of you to use my own ring to do it,” Harry said dryly. “I entirely certain I’d be entitled to something new with lots of diamonds.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” Draco cleared his throat. “Take the ring, Harry.”
Harry plucked the ring easily from the box and slid it into place on his right hand. The ring vibrated against his skin, lit with silver light, shrank to fit, and the light washed over him from head to foot.
“Do you, Harry James Potter, solemnly swear to hold the honor of your Family in the highest of esteem regardless of personal strife or peril as long as you breathe?”
“I do.” Harry swallowed hard considering all of the people who had come before him—his parents specifically.
“Now, the Oath,” Draco prodded softly.
“I, Lord Harry James Potter, swear on my magic to act with honor and conduct myself as a peer of the Wizarding realm in all matters.”
Draco closed the box gently. “May I be the first to greet the new Lord Potter properly.” He held out his hand and Harry took it without hesitation. He glanced down at Dobby who was clapping cheerfully and smiled indulgently. “Only you, Potter.”
“He likes this kind of thing,” Harry defended with a small laugh. He reluctantly released Malfoy’s hand and stepped back. Then he shot another look at Dobby and frowned. “Your clothes…”
“It is a measure of your esteem,” Ragnok murmured. “House elves dress as well as their bonded Masters wish them to within the confines of the House Elf Accord.”
Dobby’s outfit was clearly made out of pillow cases, except for the socks and sturdy shoes. The pants and shirt were sharply pressed and black. The Potter crest was on one pocket. Dobby patted himself briefly and smiled brightly at Harry.
“You look quite smart, Dobby.” Narcissa offered him a little smile and inclined her head towards the chair that Draco had abandoned. “Come join me. We have ring side seats for the next part.”
“What next part?” Riser questioned. “Lord Harry’s duties are fulfilled here.”
“I beg your indulgence, Mr. Riser,” Draco fiddled with the sleeve of his robe briefly. “I’ve requested a favor from Director Ragnok and he has granted it.”
Harry raised an eyebrow. “I told you, Malfoy, I expect diamonds.”
Draco laughed softly and relaxed. “I didn’t even know you had that tone in you, Potter.” He turned to Ragnok. “Sir?”
Ragnok inclined his head. “There are many sorts of Oaths a magical being may make on behalf of himself or in some cases his entire Family. Some can be done without the assistance of another but others require the magical power of a magical being such as myself. Lord Draco Malfoy has requested that I oversee a Liege Oath on behalf of his family, Lord Potter.”
“What is a Liege Oath?” Harry questioned, hesitating only briefly to reveal his ignorance on the matter.
“It is ancient magic but it is not Dark,” Ragnok assured. “Lord Malfoy wishes to swear the loyalty of his entire Family to you.”
Harry’s eyes widened briefly. “Draco.”
“Your trust is required and I realize that while my father may have sacrificed his life for you, Harry, that I’ve truly done nothing in the years that we’ve known each other to inspire your trust or your regard. The next few months will be difficult for you and Merlin knows how you plan to survive the next few years now that the Dark Lord has returned.” Draco took a deep breath. “In order that I may be at your side, your trust in me must be absolute.”
“What about your trust in me?” Harry questioned. “How am I to earn your trust?”
Draco eyes darkened. “You will have to take it on faith.”
“No.” Harry shook his head and looked away. “I can’t accept such an uneven arrangement, Draco. It’s…”
“Our way,” Draco returned dryly. “It is the way of our people, Harry. I am a Death Eater’s son—this is the only way most people will ever accept me at your side.”
Harry offered him a mild glare and would have continued had Mehen not tightened on his wrist and started hissing at him. He held up his wrist and stroked the snake’s head thoughtfully. “Mehen?”
Mehen hissed his response. “It is foolish to refuse such an offer of friendship and support. He is sincere. Stop thinking like a Muggle.”
Harry blushed furiously and responded in Parseltongue. “Is it anything like what Voldemort requests of his followers?”
“No, he won’t be your slave—not in thought nor in body. He won’t bow to mindlessly your wishes or agree with you when he thinks you’re wrong.” Mehen slid over the top of Harry’s hand. “The goblin wishes to examine me but doesn’t want to admit to the curiosity.”
Harry turned his hand slowly and let Mehen pool into his hand. “Very well.” He turned to Draco and found the blond looking at him stunned. “What?” He asked in English.
“I realize you might not have ever heard this from your Gryffindor buddies but being a Parselmouth is really sexy.”
“Hear, hear,” Narcissa said with a laugh. “But perhaps that is just our House pride talking, Draco.”
“Perhaps,” Draco admitted.
Harry flushed and wondered if he should admit that he’d been known to hiss when he got really excited. He figured the room wasn’t quite the appropriate one for that comment so he turned slightly and let Mehen slide onto Ragnok’s desk. “Ragnok, may I introduce you to Mehen? He wishes to interact with you.”
Ragnok stared at the silver snake as it slithered across his empty blotter and coiled up in front of him. “It would be my pleasure but I do not speak his tongue.”
Mehen hissed out his consent to be examined in Parseltongue and Harry was surprised that he hadn’t switched to English but he kept it to himself. “He has consented to be examined by your magic.”
Ragnok held out one large, bony finger and Mehen curled around it and raced up his hand without hesitation. The Goblin’s gaze widened briefly. “Fascinating. I’ve never seen anything like this. He is… crafted from pure wild magic, you realize?”
“He said as much,” Harry admitted.
After a few silent minutes, Ragnok lowered his hand and let Mehen return to the desk and then watched carefully as the snake returned to Harry’s fingers eagerly. “May I ask where you purchased it?”
“Mehen was a gift,” Harry murmured and glanced at Narcissa. “From an old family friend.” He focused on Draco then. “I will accept your Liege Oath but I want you to understand that I would never ask anything from you or anyone who shares your blood that I wouldn’t readily do myself.”
“I know. You’re entirely too Gryffindor for your own good.”
Harry smirked. “Then it might interest you to know that the Sorting Hat wanted to put me in Slytherin.” He laughed when Draco’s mouth dropped open.
“Lord Malfoy, Lord Potter—if you will join me here by the fire.” Ragnok motioned towards the prepared space and said nothing until both wizards nodded and took the places he pointed them to.
Harry knelt as Draco did with one glance in Riser’s direction who nodded encouragingly. “I hate to admit it but I’m not entirely sure…”
“Mr. Riser did inform me that Dumbledore has neglected your education on certain matters,” Ragnok acknowledged. “It is hardly surprising—he’s not educating you for life, he has been educating you for war.”
Draco flushed with anger and lowered his gaze briefly. “Harry, you will offer me the hand you wear your ring on and I will touch the stone of the ring with my wand while I speak the Oath. Ragnok will seal the Oath with Goblin magic. This oath will be unbreakable—stronger than any vow or oath a wizard could create on his own.”
“Why do you want to do it this way?” Harry questioned.
“Because you deserve someone you can trust implicitly,” Draco said simply. “And if I make this oath to you in this way with Goblin magic… the Dark Lord will be unable to force me or anyone in my family to act against you or accept his Mark as long as you live.”
Harry stared for a few seconds and then nodded. He held out his hand and presented his ring. “Lord Malfoy, at your leisure.”
Draco withdrew his wand and took a steadying breath before he began. “On the blood and magic of my Family, I, Lord Draco Lucian Malfoy, solemnly swear I will be to Lord Harry James Potter faithful in my duty, and I will respect all that he loves, and shun all that he shuns, his battles will be my battles, his enemies will be my enemies, and according to the Wizard Principles, I will never by will nor by force, by hand nor by wand, by word nor by work, by willful ignorance or with knowledge do him harm. I, without stipulation, pledge the loyalty of every living soul who shares my Family magic and those who would call themselves my Family now and in the future to him and him alone. So mote it be.”
Harry gasped as they were both enveloped in a dark green light so heavy with magic that it was hard to breathe. Then it was done—the room smacked back into place and Draco was steadying him with both hands.
“Don’t you dare faint, Potter. I would sincerely hate to make fun of you.”
Harry laughed and closed his eyes briefly. “That was really intense.”
“Yes.” Ragnok agreed. “Your magical signatures are uniquely compatible and it allowed for the creation of a strong Liege bond. Do not be surprised if you find that you can sense when the other has found himself in a difficult situation as you both grow and mature into this bond.”
– – – –
Harry accepted the tea that Narcissa offered as he was prodded into a chair. “I have an appointment in an hour.” He glanced towards the door that Ragnok and Riser had disappeared through and then frowned into his tea. “I’m considering suing the Minister of Magic for slander.”
Narcissa laughed and set aside her cup. “I see.”
“Do you believe it is a poor choice?”
“I would be thrilled to see him sued for his slander of you,” Narcissa admitted. “But it would require proving that you… we could have you questioned by the Goblin Court under Veritaserum and a variety of Truth Spells that most wizards have a difficult time surviving with their magic intact. They would provide an account of the interrogation and certify your honesty. No one would dare question your honesty after it was done. The goblins would publish it widely and the Ministry couldn’t stop it.”
Harry nodded. “I’ll think about it. I don’t want anyone to doubt what your husband did for me. I know he was a Death Eater but he made an incredible sacrifice for me and Cedric and I. I won’t ever forget it and neither will Cedric if he ever wakes up.” He paused and cleared his throat. “I think Fudge is responsible, somehow, for Cedric’s continued condition. I’d like to see him put in a private hospital out of the Ministry’s reach but… the Diggorys don’t have a great deal of money and they refused to take my winnings from the Tri-Wizard Tournament. I don’t know that they would take money from me even now.”
“I will see to the matter,” Narcissa murmured. “I don’t disagree with you and I believe I can convince his parents to transfer him to a clinic which specializes in spell damage like his.”
“I would like to contribute financially, if only in secret.”
“Because you feel guilty?” Draco asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Because he’s just seventeen and he’s brilliant and he’s stupidly brave and he’s beautiful and doesn’t deserve to spend the rest of his life the way he currently is,” Harry murmured and then took a deep breath. “And yes because I feel guilty. It was my idea for us to both to grab the trophy. I was just trying to be fair. I never should have been forced to participate in that tournament to begin with. I didn’t submit my own name to the goblet but… Dumbledore made it seem as if I had no choice.”
“You can’t seem to catch a break,” Draco muttered. “Every year—you’re faced with one seemingly impossible to survive situation after another.”
Harry shrugged. “Ragnok said I was being prepared for war.” He set aside his tea and looked at Dobby who was standing just to his left staring at a piece of art on the wall. “Dobby.”
The elf moved quickly to his side. “Yes, Master Harry?”
“Were you paying attention when Mr. Riser and I were talking about Vassals?”
Dobby averted his gaze. “I would never presume to earn such a place in your service, Master Harry.”
Harry grinned because the little house elf was practically vibrating with excitement. “If I were to be interested in offering you such a thing—how would it work?”
“You would present your ring,” Draco murmured and then paused when Harry did as instructed. He almost laughed at Dobby’s shivery reaction. “And he would place one finger on the stone… then you would say the words ‘On the magic of your Ancestors and mine, I grant you the place of Vassal’.”
Harry watched Dobby place a trembling finger on the emerald of his ring. “Dobby, on the magic of your Ancestors and mine, I grant you the place of Vassal.”
Dobby’s ears quivered. “Lord Harry Potter, on the magic of your Ancestors and mine I swear fealty in peace and war. So mote it be.”
“So mote it be.” Harry felt his magic gather, his eyes fluttered shut, and then it was released. When he opened his eyes, Dobby was standing in front of him dressed in robes much like his own made of the same material of a tea towel. “Oh.”
Dobby patted his robes with excited hands. “No elf in my family has ever had such honor granted to them by a wizard.”
“He’s going to brag for the next century,” Draco murmured and then reached out to straighten Harry’s collar. “You take any opportunity to get mussed, Potter.”
“So, do you think Dumbledore is here?” Harry questioned.
Narcissa inclined her head. “If you were his magical ward he would have felt the shift in his guardianship the moment your title settled. He was probably also alerted to your escape from your Muggle relatives. The wards around the home would have told him of your portkey assisted exit.” She glanced towards his left wrist and he held out his hand. She smiled and stroked the bracelet. “Did I choose well for you, Mehen?”
Mehen tightened around Harry’s wrist briefly and answered in English, “Yes, Beautiful One, you did well.”
Narcissa blushed and patted the little snake’s head before settling back in her chair. “Good.”
– – – –
Harry reluctantly followed Mr. Riser out of the private area of Gringotts after speaking briefly with Ragnok about a Goblin Court hearing on his behalf. Dumbledore and Molly Weasley were waiting for him. He’d be warned in advance but wasn’t exactly prepared for the worry, and concern and irritation both of them were putting off. He figured that Dumbledore had brought Molly along to manage him and heap guilt on him for whatever worry anxiety he might have caused.
Harry held out a hand when Dumbledore started to speak. “I believe that we’d all be better served to have this conversation in private, sir.”
“Yes, my boy, of course.” Dumbledore glanced briefly at Riser. “Unfortunately, you’ll have to part ways with your solicitor at this time.”
Harry checked his watch and then sighed. He turned to Dobby and pulled out his vault key. “Dobby, please retrieve the following things from the Family vault.” He handed him a rolled up list. “There should be a charmed pouch within the vault for you to use but if there isn’t, ask Griphook about purchasing one from the bank. I need thirty minutes with Professor Dumbledore and Mrs. Weasley and then we’ll go to our next appointment.”
“Of course, Master Harry.” Dobby glanced briefly at Dumbledore and Molly before bowing slightly and leaving.
“Harry, I must insist you come with me,” Dumbledore said with a small frown.
“Lord Potter is not required to go with anyone,” Cecil Riser said dryly and lifted an eyebrow at Dumbledore’s obvious shock. “Good. You understand that the matter has already been fully settled. Director Ragnok has provided us with a private, warded office for a brief discussion. As Lord Potter as another appointment this afternoon that he cannot miss… thirty minutes is all he can give you at this time.”
Harry said nothing as Riser prodded them all into the small office. He realized part of it was so that Draco and his mother could leave without Dumbledore seeing them. Harry leaned against the desk and offered Molly a smile. “It’s good to see you again, Mrs. Weasley. How’s Ron?”
“He’s good. He’s looking forward to seeing you,” Molly sat down in the chair closest to Harry. “We’d hope to retrieve you this evening but Headmaster Dumbledore has insisted we wait another week which means you’re birthday celebration will be delayed.” Molly frowned down at her hands. “Harry… I’m not certain what has happened here?”
“I claimed my father’s title,” Harry explained gently. “The Potter House is Noble.”
“Yes.” Molly nodded. “But you’re just fifteen. That is just too much responsibility for you.”
“And entitled to claim his father’s title on his fifteenth birthday,” Riser explained. “This was not forced on him, Mrs. Weasley, the old magic that governs such things make force impossible. This was entirely his choice and it is an honorable one.”
Molly sighed and frowned. “I’ve never doubted Harry’s ability to act with honesty and honor no matter what some might say.”
“This was a mistake, Harry,” Dumbledore finally said, his tone firm. “You don’t have the time or the resources to deal with such matters. You’re also required to live with your Aunt Petunia under the blood wards at least until you’re seventeen.”
“Those blood wards don’t protect me,” Harry interrupted. “They might have protected me before Voldemort returned but they’ll be useless now. If and when he finds me—the only thing that will protect me is knowledge and ability.”
“He used my blood to resurrect himself!” Harry snapped. “My magic, my blood—it’s in him and that means those blood wards are useless against him. It might protect me from Death Eaters but then most protective wards would but they’ll be useless against that monster.”
Molly paled. “Harry.”
“I realize it is difficult, Mrs. Weasley… but these are my circumstances. You didn’t see that thing rise up… I did. Voldemort isn’t even remotely human anymore.”
“Be that as it may, I believe you’ll be safest with your relatives,” Dumbledore said. His firm tone left little doubt in Harry’s mind that he would try to force the issue.
“I’ve never been safe with them,” Harry returned evenly. “The only reason I’m alive today is because of my own magic. I was three years old the first time my Uncle beat me and thirteen the last time. I’ve lived on one small meal a day for the past month and I was fed even less than that last year. They hate me and they have told me my entire life that I’m a freak.”
Riser was barely able to keep Dumbledore on his feet long enough to prod him into a chair. “Would you like some tea, Albus?”
“No, Cecil.” The elderly wizard shook his head. “I… Harry… why didn’t you ever tell me?”
“I was ashamed of it,” Harry admitted and averted his gaze. “Besides I figured you knew. After all you knew I lived in the cupboard under the stairs for the first eleven years of my life.”
“I did not!” Dumbledore exclaimed. “What makes you think…”
“My letter for Hogwarts was addressed to The Cupboard Under the Stairs.”
Dumbledore took off his glasses and shook his head. “The house elves handle that correspondence as it’s not particularly personal. I never knew…”
“You should have,” Harry murmured. “You were my magical guardian after all. You should have known about the starvation, the physical abuse, the broken bones, and the verbal hatred they threw all over me at every opportunity. You left me alone with them and they spent ten years trying to beat the magic out of me. Frankly, you’re fortunate that I’m as powerful as I am considering the malnutrition and abuse. It’s a surprise they didn’t kill me with neglect.”
Molly turned and glared at Dumbledore. “Albus!”
“She is Lily’s sister! How could I have anticipated…”
“You might have realized that my Aunt Petunia resented her sister for being magical and that Vernon Dursley thinks magical people should be destroyed,” Harry said dryly. “Instead of threatening her and forcing her to accept the guardianship of me when she clearly didn’t want it. They told me my parents died in a car crash and that my father was jobless alcoholic.” He checked his watch. “I need to go, I have an appointment.” He stood away from the desk. “I’m not going back to them, Headmaster and frankly you can’t make me. Mr. Riser has assured me that your magical guardianship over me has ended and while I may have to follow your instructions when I’m in school—I’m not currently in school and I am prepared to find an alternate educational situation if you I find you can’t respect my independence.”
“Harry.” Molly shifted forward in her chair. “May I go with you? And then when we’re done we can visit with the family and have a birthday dinner with Padfoot.”
“That sounds good actually.” He went to the door. “I have to go rescue the goblins from Dobby’s enthusiasm and then we’ll be ready to leave.”
– – – –
The Healer was an older man who greeted Dobby with a warm smile. “Lord Potter, it is an honor. I am Adam Daniels. I’ve already given a privacy oath to your Dobby before he would divulge his Master’s name.”
Harry smiled. “Yes, he informed me, Healer Daniels but I hope you won’t be offended that I ask you to take a Wizard’s Oath with me regarding my private medical information.”
“It is my privilege to do so,” the man pulled out his wand and recited his oath quickly without hesitation. “Now, how may I assist you.”
“I believe if you do a full medical diagnostic you will answer your own question.” Harry glanced towards Molly and then opened his robes with a blush. Dobby immediately took the robes, leaving Harry clothed in dress slacks and a simple button down black silk shirt. He sat down where he was instructed and tried not to flinch over much when the Healer started running diagnostics.
The man’s quick smile faded so quickly that it made Harry’s stomach go tight with anxiety. He noted that Molly had taken a seat abruptly and he wondered how much of the diagnostic she understood. Harry figured she knew a few of the charms just in by being the mother of the twins. George and Fred must’ve made getting hurt or broken an art form as children.
Healer Daniels sat down in a chair in front of Harry and took a deep breath. “I see. I will need to repair the bone and organ damage caused by the malnourishment. You’re also suffering from the after effects of the Cruciatus Curse and you’ll will need a series of nutrient potions for the next year. And your curse scar… you do realize that you’ve spell damage from a Dark… the Killing Curse. There is a shadow on your magical core. I’ve never seen anything like it. That will require more work than I can do today. I will need to seek out another Healer, a specialist in such matters. It will be anonymous research until I can find a Healer to help us—then we’ll have to require them take an Oath as well. The spell damage is beyond my ability to repair.”
Dobby made a small sound of distress.
Harry bit down on his lip. “Healer Daniels, if you would provide that list of potions now I could send Dobby out to retrieve them for me.”
“Certainly,” Daniels said immediately and stood. He went to his desk and made a list that Dobby snatched the moment he could.
Dobby reviewed it and frowned and then stared at the Healer. “His magics need healing, too!”
Daniels flushed and took the list which he read and then hastily added to it. “You’re right, of course.”
Harry shared a look with Molly and then laughed softly. “Dobby, come here.” The elf immediately came to him and Harry made of show of straightening his collar and brushing off the shoulders of his robes. “First, I want you to glamour your appearance to hide my family crest and change your face. I would prefer that no one know who you are buying these potions for. Second, buy enough to get me through the summer and I will ask Professor Snape to brew more for me once I return to Hogwarts. Third, I would like you to ask the Beautiful One which apothecary you should purchase the potions from.”
“Yes, Master Harry.” Dobby disappeared with a barely audible pop.
Daniels returned to sit in front of Harry. “I’d like to repair your vision first, Lord Potter. It is a complex and expensive procedure but your status requires a certain appearance.”
“So I’ve been told and please call me Harry.” Harry pulled of his glasses with no regret and dropped them into his shirt pocket. “Your bills can be sent to my solicitor, Mr. Cecil Riser.”
“Yes, I was already informed of the financial procedure. Your Dobby left very little to doubt.”