Title: Lord of the High Elves
Author: Keira Marcos
Fandom: Harry Potter
Summary: The night he was to be sorted, Harry Potter discovered he was more than just a wizard and that his father was alive.
Harry hesitated but moved forward at Ron Weasley’s not so gentle nudge. The sudden quiet followed but a rush of whispers was disconcerting to say the least. McGonagall settled the Sorting Hat on his head and Harry blinked at the sudden darkness.
“Ah, a Potter…hmm…unhappy home life, I see. It’s surprising to find you so well-adjusted, young man.” The hat made a humming noise that resonated in the suddenly quiet room and then continued inside of Harry’s head. “Your magic is very strong but not quite what is to be expected for a wizard of your age.”
Was there something wrong with him? Had the Dursley’s cruelty damaged his magic?
“No, lad, you are not damaged magically. You aren’t quite as you should be physically, however. I’ll send a report to Poppy—you need a full physical and some potions to correct a few things. Magic is a wonderful thing for that—unfortunately it’s not uncommon for muggle raised or muggle born children to have nutritional problems when they arrive here—magical children require a great deal of food as they grow. Though you had even less food than is to be expected.”
“Aren’t you supposed to sort me?” Harry demanded silently. “I’ve already gotten enough attention because of this stupid scar—now I’m probably going to go down in a history book as having the longest sorting on record.”
The hat laughed out loud and teachers at the table behind them relaxed a little.
“The longest sorting on record took three hours, lad, you are far from needing that kind of attention from an old Hat like me. You would do best in Slytherin, of course, but… there is something quite different about you… I can’t quite… oh. Oh dear.”
“What?” Harry demanded out loud. “You’ve got to be the most… annoying… thing I’ve ever talked to!”
“Mr. Potter!” Minerva snapped. “The Sorting Hat is a revered and ancient magical construct.”
“It is an annoying git,” Harry muttered under his breath.
“I’m afraid I cannot sort you.”
Fear and betrayal shifted over his mind so quickly that his vision darkened. “No, no, I’ll take Slytherin. Just… I can’t go back to the Dursleys so soon. It’s bad enough I’ll probably have to go back in the summer. You saw how horrible they were to me. Please!”
“Hush, child, you will never see those horrible muggles again.” The Hat promised. “Just be still and silent for the moment.”
Harry let his hands fist on his thighs and he tried to calm down—to believe that this old hat really wasn’t going to send him back to his Aunt and Uncle. He would’ve gladly lived with Hagrid to avoid that—worked for the school if he couldn’t attend classes. Hogwarts had been a beautiful promise in his mind—it had promised safety and acceptance. Now that promise felt broken and it hurt more than anything else he’d ever known.
“Terrance.” Harry stiffened at the sound of Minerva McGonagall’s questioning tone. “Is there an issue we need to be aware of?”
The Sorting Hat wiggled his tip and seemed to settle more firmly down on Harry’s head. “I’ll see to my business, Deputy Headmistress, and I suggest you see to yours.”
Harry’s eyes widened under the hat and he swallowed hard. He was so afraid to admit that the Hat wasn’t going to sort him that when a burst of song sounded right in front of him—he was so startled he almost fell off the stool. He flinched at the hand that settled on his shoulder and bit back a moan of distress as the woman’s fingers unknowingly dug into a bruise his uncle had left on his shoulder.
“Release him!” The Hat snapped.
Harry gapped when the hat was suddenly jerked from his head by a very irritated Deputy Headmistress. He turned to stare at her and shrunk back at the look of anger on her face.
“What is the meaning of this, Terrance?”
The Hat wiggled in her hand but Harry was forced to put his attention directly on the bird that was hovering right in front of him. He’d never seen anything like it and after a few seconds—it flashed away in a snap of flame and heat. Harry rubbed his shoulder where McGonagall had steadied him and glanced towards the woman and the Hat that was doing its level best to ruin his life.
“You will sort him!” Minerva shook the hat and put him back on Harry’s head.
“Are you supposed to be so rough with an ancient and revered magical construct?” Harry asked from within the hat much to everyone’s amusement.
“Mr. Potter!” Minerva huffed. “Do you want to earn a place in Hogwarts: A History as the most contrary little boy to ever be sorted?”
Harry laughed and slouched a little on the stool. He figured he was going to go down in the history books as the Boy-Who-Couldn’t-Be-Sorted. He peeked under the brim of the hat as the large double doors of the Great Hall were thrown open. His mouth dropped open at the appearance of seven hooded figures. The leader of them strode down the middle of the hall toward him. Harry let the hat drop back into place. He didn’t even want to know what was going to happen next.
“Who are you?” A male voice demanded.
“Really, Albus, it hasn’t been that long since you’ve seen me.”
The hat was pulled from his head once more and Harry found himself face to face with a man he’d never seen before but seemed to instantly know. He swallowed hard.
“Your name?” The man asked gently as he passed the Hat to Minerva McGonagall.
“Well, Harry, I am Arer Gilianali, Lord of the Third Elven Realm known as Ilduloth.” He pushed back his hood—revealing raven black hair that fell around his shoulders and delicately pointed ears.
“You’re a High Elf.”
“Yes,” Arer inclined his head in agreement. “We have not traveled in the wizarding realm in over ten years—so you can imagine my surprise when a phoenix came to me and requested that I claim a lost elven child.” He touched Harry’s face with gentle fingers and tilted his head gently. “Your eyes.” He cleared his throat. “Tell me your mother’s name, child.”
“Lily Marie Potter nee Evans.”
Arer’s paled dramatically and he sat back on his heels. “And your father?”
Harry opened his mouth and tried to say… tried to tell the highly magical being in front of him his father’s name and found he couldn’t. “I…my father’s name is…” He frowned and tried to remember if he’d ever claimed James Potter as his father and couldn’t.
“James Michael Potter,” Minerva whispered. “Your father’s name is James Michael Potter.”
Harry opened his mouth to say it… to claim the man but he couldn’t. He blinked rapidly to keep from crying. Why? Why couldn’t he say it?
“Calm down,” Arer whispered gently. “It’s okay, Harry. Try this—my father by magical adoption is James Michael Potter.”
Harry’s gaze widened. “My father by magical adoption is James Michael Potter.”
“My father by blood and magic is Arer Gilianali, Lord of the Third Elven Realm,” Arer said carefully. “Can you say that Harry?”
“An Elven child is incapable of denying the blood of his true father,” Arer explained. “Can you say it, Harry?”
“My father by blood and magic is Arer Gilianali, Lord of the Third Elven Realm,” Harry whispered and his hands started to shake as everyone in the hall started talking at once.
“Silence!” Harry jerked at glanced around to see Albus Dumbledore standing. “Lord Gilianali, if we could speak in private while Mr. Potter and the rest of the first years are sorted?”
Gilianali raised one eyebrow at the elderly wizard and stood—the elves behind him lowered their hoods and stood as he did. “My… my son will not attend Hogwarts. It is a violation of your Ministry’s law, Dumbledore. No werewolves, no centaur, no full blooded Veela, and no child of any elven blood can attend Hogwarts. It has been this way for two hundred years—since your ministry saw fit to exclude magical creatures from your education system.” Arer held out his hand for Harry. “I’m very sorry if you’re disappointed, Harry.”
Harry slipped off the stool and with careful hands pulled off the wizarding robe. It felt wrong to wear it—in front of his father. He didn’t know why. He dropped it on the floor in front of the stool and took the hand he was offered. “I’m used to disappointment.”
Several of the elves around them made disapproving sounds and Harry shuddered and shifted closer to Arer. In response, his father picked him up and turned to leave the hall.
“Wait!” Dumbledore shouted. “Lord Gilianali, he was magically adopted by James Potter. He can attend the school on those grounds despite his magical heritage. There is a precedence for it. We’ve had cases in the past—where those of mixed blood could attend classes due to adoption. Special cases require special handling.”
Arer glared at him then, his fingers twisting in the rough wool trousers his son wore. “My people’s children are not welcome at Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore, and therefore neither is my son.”
Harry had time to look over the other children just once before his father strode from the Great Hall and towards the exit of the castle. The worry that had burrowed down in his stomach started to ease as he was carried away from the broken promise that represented Hogwarts. He looked back at the castle—sad and hurt that he wasn’t going to spend the next seven years of his life with the children he’d met on the train.
“Wait!” Harry tried to wiggle free.
His father stopped and set him down just outside the school gates. He knelt on one knee. “Harry, I’m so sorry, but I can’t leave you here. I wouldn’t leave you here even if the ministry law allowed it.”
“It’s not that,” Harry pointed towards a tower as several owls disappeared into it. “I can’t leave my Hedwig behind. Hedwig!”
Arer raised an eyebrow and then frowned slightly. “Who is Hedwig? I can’t… take another child from here, Harry.”
Harry held out his arm as a snowy owl landed on his forearm. “This is Hedwig.”
Arer relaxed. “Ah, I apologize. I didn’t even consider your belongings. Thanoa, return to the castle and retrieve Harry’s things.”
“I don’t have…” Harry blushed furiously when they all turned to stare at him. “I don’t have much.” He rummaged through his pants pocket and pulled out a small gold key. “I have a vault at Gringotts that… that the Potters left me. There are books and uniforms in the trunk but that’s all. The muggles who raised me never gave me anything of my own.” He offered the key to his father.
Arer took the key with trembling fingers. “I see.” He stood and slid the key into a pocket in his cloak, anger darkening in his face. “I see very well.” He turned and saw Albus Dumbledore approaching them at a rather hurried pace. “Cythus, take my son and his owl home—immediately.”
Harry barely had the chance to utter a word before the elf named Cythus took up his hand. His world went dark an instant later.
Arer turned to look at the old wizard as his son and his most trusted man disappeared in a swirl of colors. The shock on Dumbledore’s face would have been amusing in different circumstances. “I haven’t bothered with the matters of wizards since…” Since Lily Evans had turned from him with no explanation. She’d refused the elven gift, something rarely offered, and turned her back on the love he thought they had shared. Even now, it hurt to think about the day she told him to leave and to never return. “Did you know that Lily Evans gave me a son?”
Dumbledore shook his head. “No, of course not, I don’t believe anyone but James and Lily knew that Harry wasn’t… that Harry had elven heritage. They certainly didn’t mention it in their will or share it with me before they were killed by Voldemort.”
Arer frowned. He didn’t know if he believed the old wizard but in retrospect, Harry didn’t feel like an elf at all. Whatever Lily had done—she had well and truly hidden their child from everyone, including him. “Who took care of him after her death? A relative of James Potter?”
“No,” Dumbledore shook his head. “James was the last of the Potters… perhaps that is why he went through the magical adoption with Harry, to insure his family line and name would continue if he died.”
Arer nodded. “My son will know and understand the choice that James Potter made. We will both honor his decision to gift Harry with the Family magic of the Potters. My word on it.”
Albus took a deep breath. “Lord Gilianali, Harry Potter is beloved by the people of magical Britain. He is revered as the Boy-Who-Lived, the child that vanquished Voldemort. Many will be heartbroken to see him removed from the wizarding world entirely. I beg of you to consider that and allow Harry to attend Hogwarts.”
“Let your ministry know that if they will allow the attendance of the children in the elven realms—that Harry Potter will come to Hogwarts next year for his second year education.”
Albus’ gaze widened. “My Lord, I’m sorry to say that while we do have a healthy scholarship fund for those who are in dire need—we could not support more than three elven children on the fund.”
Arer laughed suddenly. “Dumbledore, none of my people are in what you would consider dire need. There are perhaps, less than twenty children who would be eligible to attend Hogwarts. Far fewer than that would even be interested. It is up to you—my son will not attend a school where the rest of his kind are unwelcome. It’s not open to discussion or debate. Change the rules, invite elven children from all the realms to attend if they can pay for it and let the rest sort itself out.”
“Your word that Harry will join us next year?” Dumbledore demanded. “If I have your word—I can put pressure on the ministry to change their rules.” He paused and inclined his head. “It would also be a good time to pressure them to consider their stance on werewolf and centaur children. In the past, I’ve been able to sneak a few werewolf children in—but the secret of their condition was often a heavy burden.”
“And the Veela?”
“I’m not honestly sure we could protect full blooded Veela females after they go through their magical maturation.”
“Granted, but most full blooded Veela do not venture out of their own enclaves once they mature unless they are mated.” Arer looked out over the grounds of the school. “But, they could attend through their fifth year safely. It is something to think about. Hogwarts hasn’t been at capacity since the ministry changed the rules, Dumbledore. We’re all aware of that and perhaps the Board of Governors wouldn’t be adverse to the extra wealth that could be accumulated.”
“The centaurs have no need for gold.”
“If you can get a centaur child to attend your school, Dumbledore, I will pay their way myself. I would also be willing to add annually to your scholarship fund.” Arer laughed to himself. He would love to see that. “And my word, if you change the rules so that all the children of my kind are welcome—I will enroll Harry for his second year. As far as the ministry is concerned, make them think I asked for the werewolves, Veela, and centaur as well if you think it will work. If not, I will pretend to negotiate for my own people.”
Albus nodded, his eyes twinkling. “I believe we have an accord, Lord Gilianali.” He cleared his throat. “May I correspond with Harry this coming year? He may have made friends on the train as well…”
“Tell any of the children they may contact him through Fawkes. I’m sure Harry will be pleased to learn about the school this year. When he returns next year, provided your successful in your quest, he will be fully prepared to take classes as a second year student.” Arer turned to leave.
“Lord Gilianali,” Albus began and then paused when the High Elf turned to look at him. “On my magic, I swear I did not know that Harry Potter was of elven blood. I never once considered that he might be your son. So mote it be.”
Arer watched the oath, saw it ripple through Dumbledore’s aura and settle. He nodded as he accepted the oath as truth. “I will not hold you responsible for the fact that he was kept from me.” He paused. “You never said—who has taken care of my son all these years?”
Dumbledore visibly blanched. “Petunia and Vernon Dursley—Lily’s sister and her husband. I used her to anchor blood wards to protect Harry from the remaining Death Eaters. I cannot say he had a happy childhood but he was safe from the worst the wizarding world had to offer.”
Arer nodded, his expression thoughtful. “Time will tell if I will hold you responsible for his time among muggles. Should I find that my son has been abused by them—we will have this discussion again.”
“The blood wards…”
“There are other protections—just as powerful,” Arer returned evenly. “Do not treat me as if I’m uneducated, Dumbledore, I’ve forgotten more about magic than you will ever know.”
Arer dropped down to his knees and stared out over the valley that was his. He’d come to the land of Ilduloth nearly five hundred years before—young, idealistic, and prepared to make the most of the task his father had given him. Creating a third realm—had seemed like an impossible task but he had worked hard and the reward had been great. Elves had followed him—young and old. They had made their homes on his land.
He turned and looked at Cythus, the Captain of his Guard and the man that often graced his bed. The temptation to mate—to bond had left him after Lily Evan’s rejection. He didn’t know if it would ever return. “I never knew, Cythus.”
“I have no doubts that you would have never allowed your child to come such harm had you known he existed.”
“Harm?” Arer demanded.
“He is… damaged, Arer. Malnourished to the point where he must have been starved periodically the majority of his life. He fainted when I activated the portkey to return to our realm. I took him to the healer—she is requesting your immediate presence.”
Arer stood and took a deep breath. “Find the muggle home of Petunia and Vernon Dursley, Cythus. Analyze the wards that protect the home and then return to me.”
“May I know why?”
“Dumbledore claimed that he left Harry with them because of the protective blood wards he was able to erect. I want to know exactly what they are—if they’ve ever been breached and if they’ve ever been tested. I want to know if the protection he was given was worth what he suffered.” He stalked away towards his home – he couldn’t imagine any protection being worth habitual starvation.
He hurried up the stairs, following the trail of son’s magic until he reached a guest room. “Isilwen?”
“My Lord,” the healer began and then stopped. She took a deep breath to steady herself. Her fury was thickening in the air. “He is severely malnourished—elven children require even more nourishment than a magical child as you well know. His body has been feeding on his magic for years as a result his magical core is quite large for someone his age. He has bruises… mostly on his back and upper arms. It appears as if someone beat him quite badly. There are scars… strap marks the likes of which I have not seen in hundreds of years. He’s obviously been whipped.” She paused and took a calming breath. “There are old injuries—bones that healed badly that have never been treated, not even the muggle way.”
Arer felt his knees go weak at that. He caught the bedpost to prevent himself from falling and sat down on the end of the bed while fury boiled in his gut. That Lily’s son… his son had been treated so badly made him want to exact a blood price on all those who were involved in determining his care.
“How did Lily hide his elven blood?” He finally asked in a subdued voice.
“He was adopted through ancient magic as far as I can tell. In order for the adoption to be as complete as it is—James Potter must have given up the ability to sire more children. There is a price to be paid for the more complex adoption rituals.”
Arer’s gaze widened and he exhaled sharply. “Why would he have done that? They could have used glamour charms to hide him—even a potion could have done it at least short term. Nothing, not even the magical adoption will hide his heritage after he goes through his first maturation.”
“They only hid his heritage physically,” Isilwen finally said. “I performed a paternity charm. Both you and James Potter are indicated as the father—by magic.”
Arer took a deep breath and a part of him relaxed. He knew that after he left Lily as she instructed that she would have had no way to contact him. He’d sealed his realm and restricted his people’s ability to travel out of their world in an effort to heal himself and protect them from the war that the wizarding world had been embroiled in. He had long thought that his refusal to join the fight against Voldemort as the reason that Lily had turned from him.
“What about the scar on his forehead? His aura seems tainted by it.”
“He was struck by a dark curse and that is what was left behind. We can perform a purification ritual after I correct his nutritional issues and… I’m going to have to remove several ribs, bones from his left arm, and right leg.” She paused when her Lord began to swear under his breath. “I will render him unconscious for that process. Regrowing the bones will be horrific. I should warn you that due to the development of his magical core—that he will probably go through his first magical maturation within the next year.”
“Even being half-wizard…” Arer trailed off. “He shouldn’t began his first maturation cycle until he is fourteen.”
Isilwen huffed. “I’m very aware of that fact, Arer. In fact, if anything his wizard blood should slow his maturation down quite a bit. I’ve certainly treated my share of children who began life as a mixture of the two. He’ll enter his first maturation within the next year and when he does—his elven heritage will burn his wizarding blood away. Due to the adoption by James Potter—he will retain the Potter family magics. It wouldn’t be true for most adoption rituals but I can see, quite plainly, that the Potter magics are part of his core. His paternity results will not change as a result. I wanted to warn you in advance.”
“I just don’t understand why James Potter would have taken my son for his own when Lily could have given him an heir,” Arer finally said. “I’m glad… sincerely glad that he apparently loved Harry to follow through with a complex adoption ritual.”
“One based on love,” Isilwen murmured. “It would certainly explain the strength of the familial bond I’ve detected. It is unfortunate that we cannot discuss this with them. I would be interested in hearing about the ritual and why they chose to do it.”
“The British Ministry of Magic… they would have used my child against me, Isilwen. If Lily had let anyone know that Harry had elven blood—they would have tested his paternity and known he was mine. My refusal to send my army into their world to fight their Dark Lord upset many within the ministry. He would have been helpless.” Arer looked at his son and closed his eyes against the innocence he saw on Harry’s face. “He shouldn’t have vision problems.”
“His magic will correct that after we’ve finished healing him,” Isilwen murmured. “The weakness in his eyes is a direct result of malnutrition.”
Arer nodded. “You’ve got him under a sleeping charm?”
“Yes, I didn’t think it would do for him to wake up and you not be here.” Isilwen went to her satchel and started to retrieve potions. “I will need to brew some potions just for him.” She took an empty vial from the bag and went to the bed. She waved her wand over Harry’s arm and the vial began to fill with blood.
Arer frowned at the blood sample. “Isilwen.”
“My Lord, I swear on my life that I will use your son’s blood only in the effort to heal him and will destroy it all once I’ve finished with my tests. I will not use it or him in any ritual without your permission. So mote it be.”
He relaxed. He trusted Isilwen but the protective instincts stirring in him now were foreign and difficult to ignore. A child’s blood could be used in a thousand different ways and none of them were particularly good if he were going to be honest. “Thank you.”
“I understand, perhaps better than you do, what you’re going through my Lord. There is no greater responsibility than parenthood. To have it thrust on you in such a manner… I suppose no one would object if you took yourself outside and pitched a fit of epic proportions.”
Arer frowned. “Considering my son’s condition, I do not believe it would be wise to indulge myself in such a way. I don’t want him to afraid of me.”
– – – –
Harry woke and braced for the worst. He kept his eyes tightly closed and waited… waited for his aunt’s screeching voice demanding he get up and fix Dudley’s breakfast. The flimsy dream of Hogwarts had burned away in the first peaceful night of sleep he’d gotten as long as he could remember.
Something touched his wrist and he couldn’t help but stiffen. It was familiar—the weight of those fingers on his skin and completely unlike the bite of Vernon Dursley’s stabbing digits. He couldn’t remember a time when the man he’d been forced to call “uncle” had ever been kind or gentle with him.
He opened his eyes and blinked when he saw the man from the hall. The High Elf who had taken him from Hogwarts. His hair was tied back, pointy ears prominently on display. The dark green tunic he wore looked well-made and expensive. Small silver leaves were embroidered around the cuffs and neckline.
“I read about High Elves in the History of Magic book I bought for… Hogwarts.” Harry glanced away from the man and sighed. “I saw pictures. I didn’t think they were real, to be honest. Magic just seems to be… too good to be true.”
“Magic is both beautiful and ugly,” Arer murmured. “We are capable of many great, wonderful things, Harry.”
Harry nodded. “Voldemort used magic to kill my paren.. my mother.”
“It’s okay,” Arer said. “I won’t be offended if you consider them both your parents. James Potter gave you his name, the inherited magic of his family, and his love. In all the important ways, he’s been more of a father to you than I have. He sacrificed his life for you.”
Harry nodded. “I don’t know much about that. A girl on the train said I was in the history books because of… well what happened to the Potters. My aunt and uncle told me that they were both drunks and that they died in a car accident.”
“But you know that’s not true.”
He nodded. “Yes, I think I always knew it couldn’t be true. I’ve had dreams… about things.”
“About what happened to your mother? Do you remember that, Harry?”
Harry shuddered and turned on his side. “I hear a mean laugh in my dreams and see a green light. I dream about it a lot – I always have. I don’t remember anything about my parents except the sounds of their voices. I’ve never even seen a picture of them.”
Arer’s jaw tightened with fury. “Harry, I… I don’t suppose you know your whole name do you?”
Harry frowned slightly. “Hadrian James Potter.”
Arer smiled then. “Hadrian is your grandfather’s name. He is the Lord of the First Realm. I haven’t…”
“Fessed up to having a kid you didn’t know about?” Harry supplied. “I think that’s the kind of conversation you have face to face. Man to man.” He waved a hand. “High Elf Lord to High Elf Lord.”
Arer laughed despite his best intentions. “It’s good to see your circumstances haven’t robbed you of your sense of humor.” He grew serious then and sighed. “I need to talk about… your life, Harry. I need to understand where you’ve come from so that I can help you be the man your mother would have wanted you to be.”
Harry bit down on his bottom lip. “My uncle hit me sometimes—whenever he was angry. He blamed me for every bad thing that ever happened. They made me… sleep in a cupboard under the stairs until I got my Hogwarts letter.” He stilled when Arer started to rearrange the covers. “Are you okay?”
Arer looked at him, clearly startled. “No, Harry, I am far from okay. I am… extremely upset to know that my son was treated so poorly. Your mother and James Potter performed a very powerful adoption ritual that shielded you, hid your elven heritage. They did it to protect you and it was a wise decision but unfortunately they died.” He turned his face and exhaled sharply. “If they hadn’t done it – I would have known you were being hurt. My magic would have found you long before now.”
“Are you mad at me?”
“No!” Arer reached out and touched his hand carefully. He relaxed when Harry didn’t pull away. “No, I can’t even blame James and Lily—they only did what they could to protect you. In the end they sacrificed everything for you and I won’t disrespect that—not ever.”
“I won’t either,” Harry murmured. He frowned and looked rubbed his face against the pillow. “I think I knew about you—somewhere deep inside. A part of me didn’t think my Dad was dead. Maybe I wanted to believe that someone would save me.”
“I am so sorry,” Arer whispered.
“It’s not your fault,” Harry said and reached out to touch his father’s hand. “I don’t… I can’t blame you for it.” He curled his hand around Arer’s fingers. “I saw how shocked you were when you realized… that I was your son.”
“My son,” Arer whispered. The words were probably the most powerful and magical he’d ever said. Unaware of even doing it, he tugged Harry from the bed and into his lap. His breath caught when the boy threw his arms around his neck and rested against him. “My son.”
Harry swished his wand around and sighed. A stack of letters from Hogwarts lay abandoned on the desk in his room. He’d received letters from every first year student at Hogwarts the first few weeks. He’d answered them all—surprised by their interest and reluctantly amused by their questions. The ones from the Muggleborn children had been the most entertaining. As they had immediately made all the wrong connections and asked entirely too many questions about the Lord of the Rings.
The letters from his friend from the train were entertaining but shallow—mostly telling Harry all about the wizarding sport, quidditch. He found the idea of the game fascinating but that was probably because his father had recently gifted him with a broom. He flew the thing every single chance he got, which was often since he’d yet to start any lessons.
He ran his fingers along the books he’d pulled out of his trunk after he’d finally been released from the healer’s custody. The elven woman had been strict and the healing hadn’t been comfortable but he felt so much better than he could ever remember. His body was stronger, the scar on his forehead had stopped hurting after the cleansing ritual. He’d grown almost four inches over night which had lead to the visit of a tailor of all things. He had an entire wardrobe clothes made of fine, soft materials that were just his size and even magically adjusted themselves so that he was always comfortable.
His grandfather had arrived an hour before but Harry had been ushered into his suite of rooms before that had happened. He knew that Arer had a lot of explaining to do when it came to him. In the three weeks that he’d been in Ilduloth, Harry had learned that his father had kept his relationship with Lily Evans a secret from almost everyone including his father. Now, he had to admit to having an affair with a young muggle born witch and to fathering a child he knew nothing about.
He rubbed the bridge of his nose in frustration. He didn’t miss his glasses, per say, but had noticed after he could stop wearing them that he’d often played with them or touched them. He swished his wand again and sparks flew out of it. He glanced towards the pile and wondered if Hermione Granger had included the weekly assignments and copies of her notes in her letter.
The little witch was determined that Harry wouldn’t suffer academically because of his exile as she called it. Apparently, she’d even circulated a petition around Hogwarts and sent it to several wizard newspapers protesting the ban on elven children from attending the school.
Finally, he picked up the pile and started to sort them. He put the letter from Ron and several other boys that he couldn’t remember actually meeting in one pile, Hermione’s packet was set with his books, and then he came to the final letter. He sighed heavily and opened it.
Things are going well here at school and the classes are good, especially Potions. I heard that Granger is making sure that you hear all about our classes so if you have any questions about potions, please feel free to send them to me and I’ll get the answers for you from Professor Snape.
We had flying lessons today and Neville Longbottom, from Gryffindor House, managed to fall off his broom and break his arm. He’s alright, of course, but it was rather surprising to find a pure blood who’d apparently never ridden a broom. He’s the heir of a substantial fortune so the cost of a broom would hardly be an issue for his family.
My father is part of the Hogwarts School Board and he has petitioned the Ministry along with several others to change the rules about elven children so that you can attend Hogwarts next year. He says that it is a tragedy that you are not with us now.
I have no frame of reference what it must have been like for you to realize that you still had a living parent. You looked so shocked in the hall when… well when your father retrieved you. Not much is known about Lord Gilianali but I hope he is a good person and he’s treating you well.
I have to finish this letter and get it to the box in the hall so that the Headmaster’s phoenix can deliver your weekly package. Perhaps you can visit the school and attend the quidditch match? The teams have been having practice games and scrimmages for the last few weeks.
Also, I wish to thank you for responding to my first letter—I realize how our first two meetings were not the best. I guess I was trying too hard and I ended up being a complete prat. Thank you for the third chance at friendship.
Heir, House of Malfoy
Harry set the letter aside and considered the contents with a frown. It was true that he hadn’t developed a very good opinion of Draco Malfoy but their correspondence had allowed them both some room to control their tempers. It was difficult to reconcile the fact that perhaps Draco had been just as eager to make friends as he had and had tried to behave the way he thought would secure him those friendships.
The door to his bedroom swung open with a bang and Harry jumped from his chair, his wand pointed towards… he lowered it slowly as Lord Hadrian Gilianali lifted one eyebrow at him. The man snorted. “He has your ridiculous hair.”
Arer laughed. “Yes, I suppose he does. Though I believe most people would assume it was due to James Potter’s influence.”
Harry flushed and let his hand slide into the holster his father had given him. “My apologies, you startled me.”
Hadrian inclined his head. “Yes, my apologies for invading your space with no warning. I was just… in quite a hurry, actually.”
Harry nodded. “That happens a lot around here. It’s totally ruined my expectations of High Elves being peaceful and sedate and….” He trailed off with a grin when his father started to laugh. “The pointy ears, however, are never a disappointment.”
Hadrian’s gaze narrowed but he stepped forward and then with a small huff picked Harry up and set him on his desk with one swift motion. He sat down in the chair Harry had abandoned. “I’m kind of put out.”
“We expected you might be,” Harry said dryly. He brushed imaginary lint off his pants and sighed. He turned to his father. “Why are people all the time picking me up and putting me places?”
“Because you’re small,” Hadrian said with no apology. He crossed his legs and stared for several seconds. “I’m not really sure what to say.”
Harry lifted an eyebrow. “Chalus likes to point out how human I look.”
Hadrian raised an eyebrow. “I’ll be sure to tell Chalus how rude I find that.”
“I did let him know how rude I thought it was,” Harry offered. “But he said that my opinion didn’t matter too much. Then Dad invited him to spar in the courtyard with him and after that he apologized.” He paused and shrugged. “The blood was pretty cool.”
“I bet,” Hadrian said dryly. “Very well, perhaps I’ll keep my opinion about his rudeness to myself for the time being.”
“At least until he stops limping,” Harry advised. He swung his legs and picked at the hem of his pants. The day before he’d managed to pull the thread lose only to watch the pants he was wearing mend themselves. It’d been the damnedest thing he’d ever seen. “Are you angry?”
“Unspeakably,” Hadrian admitted. “Your father told me about the things you suffered while you lived with the muggles. I feel powerless and that is not a situation that is normal for me.”
“Yeah, being all powerful and all of that,” Harry said with a casual wave of his hand.
Hadrian snorted. “Right, something like that. You have a wand.”
Harry flicked his wrist and it appeared in his hand. “Yes.”
“You are aware that our people were banned by the ministry from buying wands made by wizards.”
Harry shrugged. “The guy in the shop didn’t hesitate to sell it to me.” He paused and sighed. “He said it was the brother wand to Voldemort.”
“Your father said as much,” Hadrian said as he held out his hand. He visibly flinched when Harry put the wand in his hand. “Do you know why the ministry doesn’t want us with their wands?”
“I read the laws that they passed in an effort to control the High Elves. They were also very surprised when you closed the realms and basically told them to kiss your arse.” Harry grinned when his grandfather laughed. “I don’t suppose they thought you’d turn your back on them completely when they tried to exert their limited power on you.”
“Over the years, we’ve ventured periodically into the wizarding world to review our policy—such was a time when your father and mother met.” Hadrian cleared his throat. “Had James Potter not adopted you—I would have known of your existence the first time your magic manifested.”
“I don’t know when that was,” Harry admitted. “If it happened before… well the first time I remember making something weird happened—I turned a teacher’s hair a different color because I was irritated with her.”
“It would have happened within a few weeks of your birth,” Hadrian said then. “Even being half-blood, you’re elven magic would have manifested as soon as your magical core stabilized. Considering the size of your core—you must have been very powerful as an infant.”
“Apparently I vanquished a dark lord,” Harry said dryly.
Hadrian inclined his head thoughtfully. “Your father explained about what a horcrux is?”
Harry touched his scar with slightly unsteady fingers. “Yes. I’m glad it’s gone. I didn’t know… I just thought all scars hurt that way. Do you know why he didn’t kill me when he tried?”
“What do you know about the Killing Curse, Harry?”
“It’s considered an Unforgiveable by the British Ministry of Magic… as well many other magical governments around the world. In some places, using an Unforgiveable is a life sentence in a magical prison and in others—it is punishable by death. The British Ministry hasn’t killed anyone, at least in a documented way, since the 70’s when they put several Death Eaters through the Veil in an effort to discourage others from joining Voldemort.”
“They were unsuccessful,” Hadrian said. “Wizards aren’t… particularly rational to be honest. They have repeatedly throughout their history made mistakes when it comes to the handling of the criminals of their world and with powerful magical beings.”
“Like us,” Hadrian corrected gently. “You’re more a part of our world than you ever will be theirs, Harry. It is important that you realize that. I know your father told you what would happen to you physically when you go through your first maturation.”
Harry snorted and then bit down on his lip. “Can you imagine what those muggles would’ve thought if I was still living with them when that happened?”
“They would have found themselves with a very dangerous magical creature in their home that they had habitually abused for years,” Arer murmured. “It would’ve likely been a blood bath. Of course, the moment you emerged—I would have felt you.”
“And found me bathing in the blood of my muggle relatives,” Harry grimaced at the image and he raised an eyebrow. “Wouldn’t that have been an interesting moment.”
“You’re anger would’ve been righteous,” Arer allowed.
“Should I get a wand made by a elven wand maker?” Harry questioned.
Hadrian tested the weight of the wand in his hand and conjured a glass of water. It spun in the air gently and then popped away with a small sound. “I believe it would be best. Are you concerned about it?”
“It was difficult to find a wand that worked with my magic,” Harry admitted roughly. “The wandmaker must have put a hundred in my hand before that one.”
“Wands aren’t made wholesale among our people,” Arer explained. “Your wand would be made specifically for you—a perfect match to your magic and magical core. It would grow and mature with you.”
“That sounds pretty cool,” Harry said and then nodded. “I want… when I return to Hogwarts, I would prefer that there be no question as to where my loyalties are.” He looked up from his hands. “The wizarding world let my mother be murdered by a mad wizard because they were too afraid to fight him. Then they abandoned me the muggle world without a thought or care to how I was being treated. I was kept ignorant of my familial legacy, ignorant of magic, and I can’t even be certain my adopted father’s estate hasn’t been completely pillaged because I have no idea who the regent is for my inheritance from James Potter.”
“Harry.” Arer reached out and touched his arm. “You can speak your mind—never fear that. I told you in the beginning that I don’t have any room whatsoever to resent James Potter. He made an honorable and truly selfless sacrifice to protect you. He is, eternally, a brother to me.”
“Dumbledore did nothing to indicate that he honored their sacrifice,” Harry whispered fiercely. “I grew up thinking they were drunks who died in car accident. I know nothing about the Potters—not even the names beyond James’. How is that right?”
“It’s not right,” Arer murmured. “We’ll do what we can fix it, Harry. I promise.”
– – – –
Arer lowered his hood as he entered Gringotts. He hadn’t been in the bank in a hundred years, his son paused beside him. Harry’s fingers curled into his cloak, hidden from view put a steady pressure against his thigh. After a few seconds, Harry reached up and lowered his hood as well. His hair was still wild but the scar that had made him stand out so much… was lighter, less noticeable. Without the glasses, Arer thought he might even escape identification.
He was wrong.
Harry lurched beside him and burrowed against his side as two elderly witches approached at a surprising speed for their age. Arer held out a hand as they approached and both got a hold of themselves in an instant.
“I would ask you to respect my son’s privacy and his space,” Arer said coolly. “We have personal business in the bank today. I trust you will have care in discussing the fact that you saw him here.” He took Harry’s hand from the folds of his robes and curled it into his. He heard the words ‘dark creature’ muttered and one of those witches questioned whether it was true that their savior was half-High Elf. Even if it was true, he shouldn’t be left with the thing.
Harry frowned back at them, his eyes darkening with fury. “What did you say?”
His question, though relatively soft in its delivery, brought every being in the bank lobby to a halt. Harry’s fingers tightened around his as he glared openly at the two witches.
“How much do I have to give up before it’s enough for you?” Harry demanded.
“I…” The older of the two witches paled dramatically as the air around Harry started to shift his cloak around his legs.
“You shouldn’t speak of things you don’t understand,” Harry said lowly.
“Lord Gilianali,” a goblin began as he appeared at their side. “I am available to you and young master Potter as agreed.”
“Ragnok.” Arer offered the Chieftain of the Goblin Horde a practiced bow and smiled briefly when Harry turned and tried to copy him. The goblin returned the bow and offered Harry a toothy grin. “We are, of course, at your disposal. I thank you for taking the time to see us personally.”
Harry glared at the two witches briefly but didn’t protest when Arer pulled him towards the back of the bank. He knew that his son’s anger in relation to his situation had been slowly coming to a boil since after he was healed. The more he learned—the more realized what he’d been denied—the angrier he became.
They followed the goblin down a wide, marble hall into a finely appointed office. It amused Arer that the goblins catered to the aesthetic tastes of wizards all the while actively disdaining their very existence.
“My son has some concerns about his estate,” Arer began coolly. “I wanted to assure him that the goblins take the security of their bank. However, I am aware that the regent of the Potter accounts would’ve had unfettered access to the estate.”
Ragnok snorted. “Had the Regent of the Potter estate been a Potter, that would have been true. However, since your son is legally and magically the last of the Potters—his entire estate was suspended in the very instant that James Potter died.” The goblin put a gleaming rosewood box on the desk in front of him. “The Regent of the Potter estate was Albus Dumbledore. The recent development in young Harry’s paternity has ended that relationship. Dumbledore has already been in this office relinquishing key to the main Potter vault.”
“How many times did Dumbledore enter the vault?”
“He entered the trust vault when it was established to insure sign off on the transfer of funds on behalf of Mr. Potter,” Ragnok explained. “He removed nothing from either vault in all the time that he was Regent. He approved the removal of tuition for Hogwarts for September 1st but it has since been returned to Mr. Potter’s Trust vault.”
“Nothing was removed?” Harry questioned, his voice small and disbelieving.
Ragnok paused and then inclined his head. “You don’t have many reasons to trust wizardkind, Mr. Potter. I hope that one day you will have trust in me. Your father, James Potter, was a good man—a strong wizard. He brought you into this office shortly after your birth.”
“You saw him before the adoption ritual then,” Arer surmised.
“I performed the adoption ritual with Lily Potter’s approval. The mediwitch from Hogwarts delivered young Harry and took a Witch’s Oath to never discuss his birth with anyone but Harry himself. I, on the other hand, took another oath.”
“Can you speak of your oath?” Arer questioned carefully.
“I swore that the week before Harry Potter’s fourteenth birthday that in the event of the death of both James and Lily Potter I would do everything in my power to reunite him with his father by blood and magic –Lord Arer Gilianali of the Third Elven Realm.”
Harry slumped back in my chair. “For my first elven maturity?”
“Due to his maltreatment while he was in the muggle home of his mother’s sister has caused his magic to gather much faster. We believe he will enter his first magical maturation within the next year. I’m afraid if that had happened while he was with the muggles the consequences would’ve been quite unfortunate.”
“Well, some muggles get what’s coming to them.” Ragnok waved a hand elegantly and a large book appeared in front of him. “The Potter estate is not as large as it once was due to the war and due to the fact that the account has been largely inactive. Interest has accrued generously but investments have been stagnate. The account manager for the estate has kept track of investment income to make sure that everything due to the Potters was collected.”
Harry’s gaze dropped to his lap and he sighed. “So what do I do with it?”
“Your father is your regent until you come of age—he will handle your investments and teach you the responsibilities of your title.”
“Title?” Harry demanded, horrified.
“Yes, I believe you have two,” Ragnok said clearly amused. “As to the one that pertains to the Potter estate, you are the Last Scion of the House of Potter and future Lord Potter.”
“Oh my God,” Harry muttered and let his head thud back against the chair. He glanced towards his father out of the corner of his eye. “And my other title?”
“When you come of age… you will be tasked with creating and protecting a Fourth Elven Realm,” Arer admitted and smiled when Harry’s mouth dropped open. “However, you won’t be considered of ‘age’ by our standards until your 100th year.”
– – – –
When they exited the private area of the bank the lobby was overcrowded to the point that Arer immediately understood that news of Harry’s presence in the bank had spread throughout Diagon Alley. Fortunately, being a dark creature was something of a boon in this particular circumstance. He glared pointedly at anyone who got in his way and within seconds they had crossed the room.
At the doors, his son was suddenly jerked from his hand. Arer responded immediately lashing out with his magic—sending witches and wizards sliding across the gleaming marble floor. Harry stood in the middle of the maelstrom of his father’s magic—unharmed and still even as his clothes rustled in the flowing wave of magic.
Ragnok stepped forward and cleared his throat but Arer was focused on the man who had touched his child. “Who are you, wizard?” He stalked forward even as the rotund little man tried to scramble backwards on his arse away from. “Who are you to lay hands on my son?”
“I’m the Minister of Magic and I’m taking custody of Harry Potter until a proper wizarding guardian can be arranged,” Cornelius Fudge stood and tried to stand tall. Arer had nearly a meter of height over the short, fat wizard.
“My son is half-elven. I would suggest that you put any ideas about what you consider to be a proper guardian out of your head, wizard. We leave your kind alone because you are boring, ineffectual, irrational, and often ridiculous creations with the survival skills of a half-dead fly. You should pray to whatever higher force you worship that our circumstances remain as such.” Arer held out his hand and Harry immediately went to him and took it. He gathered his magic and let it settle on his skin—giving him an unnatural, other worldly glow that his kind was famous for displaying during battle.
“He is half-wizard and we demand…”
“Shut up!” Harry shouted. “You demand? What right do you have to demand anything from me? None of you ever bothered with me before! No one came to check on me. No one made sure those horrible muggles were even feeding me! None of you came for me when my Uncle broke my arm for being smarter than his cow of a son! You let a monster murder my mother! You relied on a baby to protect you from him. Then you left me to starve and be abused by muggles who hated me because I was magical. Well, you can all rot for all I care!”
Arer snatched his son up, aware that his fragile control on his magic was close to the breaking point and then he did something that was supposed to be impossible. He apparated out of Gringotts—through one thousand years of goblin wards in the blink of an eye.
They appeared in the middle of a field deep within in the First Realm, far from the main village. Harry was trembling in his arms and Arer realized that his son’s temper, which had been near a boiling point for weeks, had finally gotten the best of him. He pulled him close, letting his back rest full against his chest. He wrapped an arm around him and shuddered through the first breaking wave of magic.
“Father.” He turned his head slightly. “I don’t believe his heritage will be denied a moment longer.”
“It is too soon,” Hadrian whispered, clearly horrified even as he pulled them both into his embrace. He sighed when Arer tucked his face against his neck. Harry was writhing in his father’s arms, eyes dull and unfocused even as his magic snapped full and bright around them.
“I shouldn’t have risked him like this. It was stupid!” Arer shuddered as another wave of magic burst from his son’s core.
“Just hold onto him,” Hadrian snapped. “He needs an anchor.”
There was a reason, Arer thought dully, that there were so few elven children. His father was a rarity, having fathered not one but three sons. Elven couples rarely had more than one child—because the rearing process was a lengthy one. From their first breath in the world well into their one hundredth year—elven children were a burden on their parent’s magic.
Arer was already pushing at least ten percent of his magic on Harry—shoring up his control and shielding him from the damage his core was wrecking on his body as he fast tracked towards his first maturation cycle. He gave him more, unable to risk the death of the child he’d only recently discovered and barely acknowledged the additional surge of energy when his own father began pushing magic into him. He knew it, intellectually, felt a magical touch he had not known in hundreds of years pressing into his magical core.
The screaming was unexpected as it was horrifying. Harry’s feet kicked against the earth they knelt on and his body seized, jerked as the dark light of high elves brushed over his skin for the first time. Blood started trickle from his nose, eyes, and ears even as he stopped screaming. The dark light fled into Harry—sinking into his magical core swift and as dangerous as a summer storm.
The silence that followed was deafening. When Arer lifted his head and looked down at his son—the changes were so apparent that his mouth dropped open. Harry’s first maturation had stripped away every ounce of humanity—everything that Lily and James Potter had given except for his eyes. They were still vivid and green, just like his mother’s.
“Rest, Harry, you… well… you needn’t worry about your first maturation any longer.”
“Right, it’s going to be a disaster.” Harry shifted and frowned. “Not that I don’t appreciate the family bonding and all but why are we all laying in the grass.”
Arer laughed weakly and let Harry sit up and away from him. “I mean to say, that you’re first maturation is over, Harry. It just happened.”
Harry frowned at him and then hesitantly lifted one hand to touch his left ear. He fondled the point carefully and then bit down on his bottom lip. “Well, if I’m going to have that kind of reaction every time I encounter the Minister for Magic—perhaps it would be best if I didn’t talk to him much in the future.”
“I don’t disagree with that,” Hadrian said dryly. He looked around the flattened field and sighed. “Joidan is going to be mightily irritated. You had to pick his field.”
Arer had the grace to flush. He always appeared in the middle of Joidan’s wheat field whenever he travelled to his father’s Realm. He winced at the destruction around them and sighed. “I’ll make restitution.”
“Yes, you will,” Hadrian agreed. “The last time someone damaged his bloody fields I had to send him half a garrison of men for harvest time for sixty years to satisfy his sense of justice.”
“This isn’t damage,” a voice said dryly. “This is wholesale destruction.”
Harry flushed and turned to look at the source of the building ire with a wince. “Hi.”
The elf raised one eyebrow at him and snorted. “He’s got your ridiculous hair, Arer.”
Harry frowned and ran his hand through his hair. “I’ll have you know that famous people in the muggle world spend a lot of money trying to make their hair look this awesome!”
“Well, muggles can’t be held accountable for their own foolishness. They are practically infants,” Joidan said airily. “I suppose you’re responsible for this?”
“No, actually I choose to blame the Minister for Magic for Magical Britain. His name is Cornelius Fudge. You should send him a bill for your losses. Had he not been a fool—I wouldn’t have lost my temper and thrown myself into my magical maturation by accident.” Harry stood and dusted himself off with an air of put upon so exaggerated that his grandfather started to laugh. “Might want to blame Voldemort, too, but I’m sure you’d have a hard time getting him to settle his bill… seeing as how I vanquished his weak arse when I was a baby.”
Joidan smirked. “You.” He pointed a finger at Harry. “You, I like but that is no excuse for such poor self control. Since your father appears to be incapable of teaching you—I will handle the task myself.” He turned to Arer and glared. “I expect you to send some people here to take care of my land while I instruct your child, Arer.”
Arer stared after the other elf as he stalked away and looked at his father who looked just as stunned as he was. Joidan hadn’t taken on a student in nearly a thousand years. He looked at Harry who was fondling his ears again.
“Don’t do that—you’ll go blind.”
Harry sent his father a sly look. “My muggle aunt said that only happened if you wanked.”
“I’m thrilled to tell you that she is a liar,” Hadrian announced. “You can wank as often as decency will allow.”
“Father!” Arer frowned at him and Harry fell back on the ruined wheat with a laugh.
Harry set aside the History of Magic textbook with a frown. Wizarding kind certainly wrote history to suit themselves rather than the facts. Even some events in muggle history had been… sort of reorganized to better suit the magical world’s preference. His father called them lemmings, but Harry thought perhaps they were like those big weird birds from Australia that stuck only their heads in the ground to hide.
The small ebony snake that had been sunning itself in the grass a short distance away from him slithered across the path and onto his blanket. Harry held out a hand and the little snake coiled beguilingly around his fingers. “How goes your day, little one?”
“Any day in the sun is a good day, Speaker. I’ve chosen a name. You may call me Naava. It is the most interesting of all the ones you provided yesterday.”
“Very well, Naava.” Harry stroked the small snakes head and then lifted his hand until it could coil around his throat.
He turned and found his father staring at him—pale and as still as a ghost. “Hey, Dad, I finished the reading from the magical history book.” He paused and inclined his head. “Is something wrong?”
“Harry… you have an extremely poisonous creature curled around your throat.”
“Oh.” Harry touched Naava and the snake immediately uncoiled and slithered around his fingers playfully. “This is Naava. She’s… my friend.”
“Friend,” Arer repeated weakly. “How… how do you know that?”
“We came to agreement,” Harry said simple. “I agreed not to try to kill her and she agreed to the same. She likes to lay around my neck because it is warm and she’s not… from around here. I don’t know how she came to be here but he believes he should be somewhere warmer.”
“She’s a Ryūda which is a Japanese dragon-snake. But she’s very young you’re right and immature. While she would not kill a magical person her venom is highly poisonous to our kind,” Arer murmured. “I imagine she has escaped the potions lab.”
“Oh, well she’s terribly small. Perhaps she is a baby.” Harry stroked the scales of the snake carefully. “She doesn’t remember anything beyond waking up in the garden… but then she forgot who I was the first three times we spoke. I believe she’s mature enough now to retain information.”
“How are you communicating with her?” Arer finally asked.
Harry reached out and picked up a book from his blanket. He thumbed through it quickly. “I was looking magical gifts and found this.” He held it out to his father. “I’m a Parselmouth. Wizards consider it a gift of a dark wizard but I don’t suppose it matters much since I’m a dark creature anyways.” He shrugged as his father carefully knelt on the blanket and read the entry. “This is not a gift we share then?”
“No.” Arer shook his head. “I’ve never known an High Elf who could speak with serpents. It is a rare and very intriguing gift. Perhaps you’d like to speak with an older snake? One with more experience?”
“They don’t really differ, honestly. Snakes are fairly simple creatures. They like to sun themselves and they like to eat. Feeling safe is important and they don’t like anyone—sometimes not even other snakes because they feel that no one is trustworthy. But Naava is a little different already to me—she’s very interesting.”
Arer nodded and exhaled sharply. “And it won’t hurt you?”
“I’m immune to her venom,” Harry admitted. He pointed towards the book. “I’m also immune to the stare of a basilisk and all of that rot. The last acknowledged Parselmouth in magical Britain was Voldemort.”
“Does this disturb you?”
“No, I mean—if he was the only one ever I might be concerned. But Parselmouths are actually very common among wizarding populations in the Americas and Africa. There is even a field of study called Parselmagic—spells designed for people like me.” Harry stroked Naava as he explained. “I told Naava that I would prefer that she not bite anyone because she’s dangerous. I could tell she was poisonous. She doesn’t understand death like we do by the way. You either exist or you don’t as far as snakes are concerned. You’re food or you’re the enemy.”
“Simple life,” Arer murmured. “Perhaps we should return her to the potions lab?”
Harry frowned and shifted the snake closer to him. “I… I’d rather not. Can we find some way to compensate the Potion’s Master for her instead?”
“It will depend on whether or not he has another snake like your Naava,” Arer admitted. “Do you feel as if you’ve formed some kind of connection to him, Harry?”
“I don’t… you mean like a familiar?” Harry questioned. “The first time I saw her—I desperately wanted to touch her and that doesn’t normally happen with snakes. I mean, I’ve been talking to them for more than a year but I’ve never had any desire to pet one before.” He lifted his hand back up to his shoulder and Naava slithered back around his neck. “I feel like she is mine.”
“Like your owl?”
“No.” Harry shook his head. “She is my friend—the first bit of magic in life that I could touch and talk to but it is different with Naava. I don’t always know where she is but since that first day two weeks ago when I touched Naava… I always know where she is.”
Arer pursed his lips. “Then, yes, Harry you’ve formed a familiar bond with the creature. Chalus will simply have to accept the situation.”
“Chalus.” Harry frowned. “I don’t want to owe him any favors. He’s such… a git.”
Arer laughed. “He’d be horrified to bear such a muggle insult.”
“Doesn’t make it any less true,” Harry muttered as he stacked his books. “Can we go talk to him now? I can tell him how Naava has been escaping—maybe that will settle our debt.”
“I doubt it,” Arer admitted. “But between the two of us I believe we can see you free of owing Chalus anything.”
“He doesn’t like you either—why does he live in your realm?”
“He followed his son who married a woman who has always lived here and he is valued in the realm despite his temperament but you are my son, Harry, and I’ve already made it clear that I won’t tolerate his disrespect of you.”
“At least he finally stopped pretending to limp,” Harry said and raised one thin eyebrow in a direct imitation of his grandfather. “So you can kick his arse again if he’s unreasonable.”
“Worth doing,” Arer agreed. He paused. “I should probably talk to you about your language.”
“It’s deplorable, I know.” Harry nodded. “But I had a difficult childhood and I was exiled from Hogwarts and all the muggle born kids think I’m practically a direct descendent of Legolas.”
“Right.” Arer stood up and offered him a hand. “Just try not to curse in front of anyone else—people might start questioning my parenting abilities.”
“Then we can remind them that the last time that happened—I got so irritated that I literally threw myself into my first magical maturation cycle and flattened six square bloody kilometers of wheat.” He shouldered his bag.
Arer glanced at Naava. “He won’t bite me?”
“No,” Harry said with a frown and touched the snake. “He’s not dangerous to anyone as long as he’s not provoked and he would try to escape before resulting to attacking anyone. Just don’t pick him up while he’s sleeping or whatever—he might respond out of instinct.”
“I won’t be picking him up at all,” Arer said dryly. “I don’t like to play with dangerous things.”
“I don’t know if I believe that,” Harry confided as they left the garden. “Cythus is pretty dangerous and you play with him quite a bit.”
Arer blushed furiously. “Harry!”
He laughed. “Well, I didn’t mean it quite like that but I suppose that holds true as well. I only meant that you bait his temper a lot—some might even say to the point of excess.”
Arer sighed. “He’s rather attractive when he’s angry but you’re right—I do probably get him angry on purpose far too often.” He cleared his throat as they rounded the house they shared and headed down the path towards the main village. “What about the other. Does it bother you that I have a personal relationship with him?”
“I know that muggles have… opinions about relationships between two males.”
“My uncle Vernon says it’s a crime against God and nature,” Harry offered. “But, I’ve always been rather certain that he was the real crime against nature. I don’t have a problem with it. In school, we learned about homosexuality but that really doesn’t apply to you since you managed to father me. I guess you like both?”
“I like intelligence and strength and bravery. The package it is wrapped in really doesn’t matter to me much. I’ve been romantically involved with both males and females all of my adult life. But you’re mother was special.”
“She’s the reason you aren’t mated,” Harry surmised. “Or perhaps—I am the reason you aren’t mated. I read in the biology books that once the male of our kind procreates—that the urge to mate is dramatically decreased.”
“It is certainly possible,” Arer admitted roughly. “Though it never occurred to me that was the reason.”
“She hurt you,” Harry said.
Arer winced and sighed. “I don’t know why she did what she did, Harry. We had different views on the war. In the end, she had a great deal in common with James Potter. They were both invested in fighting Voldemort.”
“And you weren’t.”
“I…” Arer guided Harry to a bench just off the path. He sat down beside him and sighed. “There are many things I would say and do differently if I had the chance to do so, Harry. Voldemort was a powerful wizard but he was just a wizard. He dabbled in the Dark Arts and fashioned himself a lord when he was nothing more than a terrorist.”
“I read about terrorism in muggle school.”
“Wizards and witches came to fear Voldemort so much they refused to even speak the name he’d given himself,” Arer said. “My father had removed our kind from the affairs of the British and French Ministries hundreds of years before Voldemort was ever a problem.”
“I read about it. Though, the wizarding history book painted the elves as isolationist, dark magical creatures without a great deal of power. They must have been completely horrified when Grandfather sealed the Realms.”
“Until that point wizards and witches were welcome on our lands,” Arer admitted. “We grow many of the ingredients they once used in medical potions. They had to make vast changes in their potions after the Realms were closed to them.”
“They used us, our land, our medical and technological advancements. Then they tried to control us for their own gain,” Harry said. “I understand why he closed the Realms. It is his duty to see that our land and our people are protected. Besides, he only closed the Realms to wizards and witches—everyone else is still welcome.”
“Very welcome,” Arer agreed. “As to your mother and I… she asked me to turn my back on my realm and on my father to stand against Voldemort. All the while the British Ministry was legislating itself into the losing side of the war. They were cutting funds to the Auror Corps. Death Eaters with enough money bought their way out of criminal charges.”
“The corruption was pretty bad—even the wizarding history books really don’t conceal that.” Harry scuffed the ground underneath his boot. “They would have wanted you to fight their war for them and then they would have used it against us.”
“Yes, they would have used it as another reason to discriminate against us.”
“Grandfather never said why I survived the Killing Curse,” Harry murmured. “Are we immune to it?”
Arer shook his head. “No, not exactly. We are highly magical. The Killing Curse rips the soul from the victim. There is no defense against it but to simply not be hit by it.”
Harry nodded and touched his scar. “But I was hit by it.”
“You were,” Arer agreed. “Do you know the difference between the dark and light Elf clans?”
“Grandfather is a Light High Elf. Your mother was a Dark Elf and in turn—you and I are Dark. Your brothers—they are all Light like Grandfather.” Harry frowned down at his hands. “We have an affinity for the high magical arts—what the wizards call Dark Arts.”
“Why do they call them Dark Arts?”
“Some of the rituals and spells labeled Dark Arts by the Ministry require more power than the average wizard or witch is capable of. Did they do it out of fear?”
“Yes.” Arer nodded. “If the average person can’t do it then it must be dark. Some curses and rituals truly are evil but everything labeled dark by wizards and witches actually aren’t.”
“The Killing Curse is.”
“Yes,” Arer said. “It is evil and dark. To cast the Killing Curse is to cause a corruption within your own soul. Because it requires anger and a deep hatred. That is the true darkness of the Killing Curse.”
“I understand,” Harry nodded. “What aren’t telling me?”
Arer laughed. “Right, I kept waiting for you to ask again but you didn’t. Dark clans within our race are not immune to dark curses but they don’t respond with our magic in a traditional way. It is the reason the British Ministry was so interested in me personally. I was the first Dark High Elf in over five hundred years to venture into the wizarding world. They were fascinated by me and more importantly how they felt they could use me and those like me in the war.”
“How does it interact with our magic?”
“Some dark rituals and curses like the Killing Curse and those designed to modify behavior burrow into the magic of the victim. Even muggles have a small bit of magic in their bodies, Harry, it is everywhere and in everything.” Arer sighed. “You reflected the Killing Curse, Harry. It is uncertain how other such dark curses would react to your magic. Each of us is different, I absorbed an extremely dark curse during a fight at Hogsmeade when I was visiting with your mother. I don’t know how the Killing Curse would react to my magic.”
“And someone told the ministry.”
“Yes,” Arer hesitated and then sighed. “James Potter did, I’m sure. He was already an auror and my relationship with Lily Evans infuriated him. That she’d chosen me, a dark creature, over him hurt and angered him.”
“Why did…” Harry frowned and glanced away. “He must have loved me… I read about the adoption ritual they did. It couldn’t have happened unless he loved me.”
“He loved your mother a great deal,” Arer offered. “Far more than she even realized.”
“My mother turned you away after that battle then. After the ministry started to get interested in you. She told you to leave and never return.”
Arer nodded. “Several weeks later when the Minister of Magic told the aurors to ‘capture me for study’. I asked Lily to come with me… to become one of my people.”
“Could she have… is that ritual possible if the witch is pregnant?” Harry asked softly. “Would I have survived her transformation?”
“No,” Arer took a deep breath. “She was teaching at Hogwarts when I met her for the first time—working as an apprentice for two different teachers. Lily often spoke of having a large family. She would have never risked you if she knew she already…” He stood abruptly and walked away.
“She kept you from me on purpose!” Arer shouted and his magic lashed out along the lane. It swept gentle and harmless over his son even as it tore leaves from the trees and pushed against the high grass in the field across from them.
Harry hurried to his father’s side and grabbed his hand. “Dad!”
Arer took a deep breath and forced his magic down. It hurt—it hurt so much to know that Lily had kept his son from him. But it made sense—it made more sense than anything else. She wouldn’t have been able to come into the realm as a witch and he was being hunted by the ministry.
“What’s done is done,” Arer finally said. “Come, let’s go ask Chalus about your snake.”
– – – –
Albus Dumbledore had been under siege for the better part of six weeks and Harry Potter’s abrupt disappearance from Gringotts three weeks before hadn’t helped matters. Fudge had been in his office everyday attempting to get the case brought before the full Wizengamot but he knew better than to poke a hornet’s nest. There were some things even magic could not protect him from. An irritated Dark High Elf was one of them.
Fawkes flashed into his office with a deceptively slim wooden box. Albus sorted the letters—found the answer to his own and called a house elf to come deliver the rest. Harry Potter had proven to be an interesting conversationalist and he was glad to see that the ordeal at the bank hadn’t soured the lad on corresponding with him and everyone else at Hogwarts. He eyed the stack of homework that Harry had sent – the first time the assignments had appeared in the box, he’d been startled. Now the professors – even Snape were quick to arrive to collect their individual packages from Harry.
Severus, in fact, had grown quite excited the week before when he’d opened the box with his name on it and it had expanded to reveal nearly twenty vials of carefully prepared potion ingredients the likes of which hadn’t been seen in the wizarding world since the elven realms had been closed to them.
The boy had also sent cuttings of plants for Professor Sprout with strict instructions that the plants could only be grown at Hogwarts and that the proceeds of selling the ingredients would be used to for the scholarship fund and to regularly supply the school with good brooms. Albus had found the broom codicil in the contract quite amusing, and wondered if his students had lobbied for it with young Harry, but he’d had no problems co-signing the agreement with Sprout.
He broke the seal on his letter and folded it out carefully in front of him.
My father has asked me to inform you that I’ve recently completed my first elven magical inheritance. My second will come much later in my life and won’t have any bearing on my school years if I’m able to attend Hogwarts as a regular student. My tutor has questioned to whether or not you have a pensive available for Professors McGonagall and Flitwick? If so, we can send memories of my practical lessons for their review.
I am doing the theoretical work for DADA but my father has requested that I not do any practical work in that class for the time being due to the surges in my magical core because of my early maturation. He feels that I will settle sometime in the next eight months. Therefore I should avoid hexes and spells that involve intent and the direction of magical power.
I’m sure you head all about what happened at the bank. I’m very disappointed in Minister Fudge and I hope you don’t mind but I’ve requested that Fawkes return early so that he may carry a letter directly to the minister from me concerning my future participation in the wizarding world. If those in authority cannot respect the rights of my only living parent—I feel I will have no choice but to remain within the safety of my father’s realm.
I spent my entire childhood being lied to about who and what my parents were. My Aunt and Uncle lied and told me that James and Lily Potter were drunks who died in an accident. I was verbally abused for any perceived lack of “normal” behavior. I was beaten by my uncle when I performed better than his son in school because of his bigotry. My aunt barely fed me because she said I didn’t deserve to eat. No one in the wizarding world cared. No one in the wizarding world checked on me.
Now, the lot of you act as if you own me. I don’t know if I can even trust the wizarding world at this point.
Heir Regent, House of Potter
Dumbledore carefully placed the parchment on his desk and sat back to think. He was very interested in pensive memories of Harry’s practical work so he would certainly make his pensive available to Minerva and Filius. His fire flashed and he suppressed a sigh when Fudge stepped out.
“Cornelius, I am not going to endorse any attempt on your part to separate Harry Potter from his biological father. The very idea is extremely repulsive. Had I known he was the child’s father, I would’ve never left him with his muggle relatives.”
“He’s a dark creature!” Fudge snapped.
“The current British Ministry of Magic does in fact consider High Elves dark no matter their magical affiliation and Harry Potter just went through his first magical inheritance,” Albus snapped in return. “He has written to me—extremely concerned by your lack of respect for his only living parent and fears returning to our world because of your actions in the bank. Think carefully, Cornelius, because no matter his heritage, Harry Potter is the Boy-Who-Lived. Being the reason he refused to be a part of our world is political suicide for you.”
“I’m getting howlers!” Fudge shouted. “My office is receiving hundreds of owls a day demanding that something be done about this situation.”
“There is no situation,” Albus returned—his tone short and hard. “Call a meeting of the Wizengamot as I requested and reverse the rulings regarding the policy on allowing magical creatures to attend Hogwarts. I will send Harry Potter a letter with the rest of the second years in July and we will invite any other magical children that appear on our enrollment list to attend as well. At this point, due to the fact that he has received his magical inheritance… we could not even bend the law to allow him to attend because of his magical adoption.”
“He won’t even look like a wizard, Cornelius!” Albus frowned. “Leave my office, you’re upsetting Fawkes.”
“He’s pissing me off, too!” The Sorting Hat offered from his shelf.
Several portraits around the room started nodding their agreement.
“You should lock him out of your floo, Dumbledore,” one former headmistress offered with a swish of long dark hair. “He’s a pain in the arse waltzing in here anytime he likes. I never would have tolerated it in my day.”
“You would have hexed him.”
“I certainly would have,” she brandished her wand with a small sigh. “Albus, hex him for me. Just a little stinging one…”
“Esmeralda,” Albus admonished though his heart was not in it. “Cornelius, if you do not cease with your interference we may never see Harry Potter again. It isn’t like he needs us. The Elven Realms have been closed to our kind for two hundred years due to those stupid, repulsive, backward laws. They don’t suffer for it, we do!”
“No, buts,” Albus said firmly. “You’ve alienated the Boy-Who-Lived, pissed off the elven Lord of the Third Realm and may Merlin help you if his father gets involved. I’d rather not have a thing to do with Lord Hadrian Gilianali.”
“Ah, Dumbledore, the muggles are fond of saying that if you speak of the devil he shall appear,” Hadrian Gilianali disillusioned himself and stood from the chair by the fire he’d been sprawled in. “Sit, Fudge. You’ve pissed off the Sorting Hat, the only living Fire Phoenix to regularly travel outside the elven realms looks ready to eat you, and you’ve upset my grandson so much he destroyed six square kilometers of wheat in a temper.”
Cornelius Fudge was by all accounts a stupid man but he was also a coward. He immediately sat. “Lord Gilianali.”
Hadrian snorted and shared a long look with Dumbledore before continuing. “I personally do not care if you invite our children to attend Hogwarts or not—it has been many years since it was a dream for my people. Your kind broke the hearts of many young elves when you passed your laws trying to restrict us but we survived very well without you. My grandson, however, was allowed to dream of Hogwarts. He was allowed to see the castle and to sit with other children on a long train on the way to this beautiful magical place. He yearns for it—for the dream the lot of you taunted him with. I could gut half your ministry for disappointing him.”
The death threat was so casual that Dumbledore blinked in surprise. “I’ve already drafted a new law to replace the previous one, Lord Gilianali. I sent a copy to your son, Arer.”
“Yes, he showed it to me. I appreciate the clauses you put in about equal rights within the confines of the school for all students. It is a refreshing change considering all of the bias language in your laws concerning pureblood wizards.”
“There is nothing wrong that!” Cornelius said and then shrunk low in his chair when Hadrian glared at him.
“As far as I’m concerned not a wizard or witch alive is a pureblood magical. The entire lot of you are tainted beyond the measure of it by humans.” He smirked when both Dumbledore and Fudge’s mouths dropped open. “I was relieved to find that my grandson’s wizarding and human blood was entirely eradicated during his first magical inheritance. I adore the child—fiercely—no matter his heritage but now that the impurities have been purged from his body I no longer have to worry so about his health and life span. I feared I might even outlive him and that is a wretched thing for a grandfather to have to contemplate.”
Dumbledore snorted. It was rather amusing to watch Fudge’s pureblood snobbery rubbed in his face by one of the purest magical beings to exist. No one could dispute that with any kind of intelligence. He plucked a lemon drop out of the bowl in front of him. “Is there anything specific I can do for you, Lord Hadrian?”
“Oh, indeed,” Hadrian murmured his blue eyes glinting dangerously. “Fudge, leave us—your magical core is so small it might be damaged by what comes next.”
Albus raised an eyebrow as Fudge all but dived into the floo. “Have I angered you?”
“Angered me?” Hadrian questioned. “Wizard, you have much to answer for. Arer wanted to come himself but we agreed he’d probably murder you and that it would be political untoward to have such a circumstance come to pass.” He glanced towards Fawkes. “Additionally, despite your failings and short-sightedness, Fawkes assures me that you are in the Light.”
Albus glanced towards his familiar and then slouched down in his chair. “I have felt like a very old man, Lord Gilianali, these last few months—since I saw your grandson for the first time. The fear that poured off him during the sorting when he realized the Hat wasn’t going to sort him was… agony. I saw it and could do nothing to stop it. I wanted nothing more than to tell the Hat to shut up and to sort the child—to end whatever situation was distressing him so.”
Hadrian nodded. “Harry has a developed empathy—he can project it rather adeptly without even trying. During his maturation last week, he not only destroyed six kilometers of farmland – he put half my standing army on alert due to his emotional distress. We are working on getting that under control before he ventures out of the realms again.”
“I should have checked on him,” Albus murmured. “I should have—done many things. I invested so much of my power in the wizarding world to hiding him from the threats here that I overlooked the fact that he could face many dangers in the muggle world.”
“Is it the failing of wizards to underestimate just how dangerous muggles can be,” Hadrian said coolly. “It is unfortunate that Lily and James Potter picked the ritual they did for the adoption. It suppressed his elven heritage to the point that it took all these many years for it to break free. If they’d abused him as they did while his heritage was free—he would have killed them all.” He waved his hand negligently, displaying the kind of wandless magic that most wizards faked very well. His clothes rippled and changed into a tailored muggle suit. “You will take me to their home. I will meet this Petunia and Vernon Dursley.”
“I’m not sure if Vernon is home at this hour of the day…”
“The guards Arer placed to monitor their house shortly after he retrieved Harry from Hogwarts has already confirmed that the fat muggle returned from his job an hour ago. I will not be dissuaded from this Dumbledore. I’m not asking you—I’m telling you. Get up and join me on my visit with these two disgusting muggles and count yourself fortunate that their whale of a child is away at boarding school and that I don’t normally make war on children.”
– – – –
Albus huffed when the door to Number 4 Privet Drive opened and Hadrian strolled right in without knocking. Even he knew you were supposed to knock on muggles doors before entering. “Lord Gilianali, we should have knocked.”
“I owe these two muggles no courtesy,” Hadrian said coolly.
Vernon Dursley came storming around the corner from the kitchen shouting at them. “Get out of my home! Who are you to just…” He trailed off when Hadrian casually waved his hand and pushed him against the wall.
“You and your wife would do well to sit and shut up,” Hadrian snapped.
“Who are you?” Petunia demanded.
“I am Hadrian Areronius Gilianali, Lord of the First Elven Realm, father of Lord Arer Maethon Gilianali and grandfather of Hadrian James Potter as you know the child,” Hadrian responded as he jerked open the cupboard door and glared at the small space his grandson had been forced to live in. “Dumbledore.”
Albus moved to stare into the small cupboard, his face clouding with fury and guilt. “Petunia Dursley! How dare you! Harry is your sister’s child!”
“He’s a freak and a monster and I never wanted him in my house,” Petunia said with a glare. “But you didn’t give me a chance to tell you that and nothing I did to get rid of him worked. I couldn’t even give him away—I tried.”
Albus looked flustered for a minute and then sighed when Hadrian only stared at him. “I left a letter with Harry—it contained charms that once they read it, it prevented them from abandoning him.”
“It is unfortunate that you did not charm it to keep them from abusing him,” Hadrian returned. He strolled back into the front room, conjured himself a chair and stared pointedly at Vernon. “You beat my grandson.”
“I… the boy is a liar! I never did anything of the kind.”
Hadrian’s face darkened while his eyes only brightened to the point that they practically glowed. His glamour fell away completely, displaying his elven clothes and delicately pointed ears. “You broke his arm. You broke his leg in three places by kicking him down the stairs. You broke several of his ribs more than once because he proved himself smarter than your own wretched off-spring. You are fortunate we found out who he was when we did—had he returned to your care after a year at Hogwarts he would have probably killed you all in your sleep. My kind do not tolerate such abuse on their person with any kind of patience, acceptance, or forgiveness. That you would dare put your filthy hands on my grandson at all makes me want to rip you limb from limb.”
“What are you?” Petunia demanded wide-eyed with horror. “You aren’t even human.”
“Of course not, why on Earth would I want to be human?” Hadrian said with a sneer. “I do hope you aren’t the prime example of what a muggle is—I fear for your entire race if that is true. You starved and physically abused a child. There is nothing normal or acceptable about that behavior.”
“He was never a child—just a freak!” Vernon shouted.
“He was a helpless baby that I put in your care because I trusted you would take care of your own family,” Albus murmured. “Petunia, the fates will not be kind to the likes of you for what you’ve done.”
Hadrian stood. “I’d kill you both outright but I’d prefer that you suffer. My grandson was hungry and in pain the entire time he lived with you. He was cold at night in that wretched cupboard. He never had clothes that were comfortable. Even now, weeks later after all the work our healers have done he can barely eat an appropriately sized meal without feeling sick afterward because of the damage you caused. All of his organs had to be repaired because of the abuse and the habitual starvation.
“As you’ve grievously injured my only grandchild and my son has given me leeway to punish you as I see fit… your punishment is thus… for the next twenty years you will suffer as my grandson did in your care. No matter how much you eat—you will always be hungry. At night, no matter how much you try—you will always be cold. Your body will hurt as if you’ve been beaten and no amount of pain medication will make it better. Your clothes will never fit you properly—no matter what you do. You will be unable to end your own suffering by killing yourselves, so don’t bother. Thus—Petunia and Vernon Dursley—you are cursed to endure the bad karma of the life you’ve lead for the next twenty years.”
“You can’t do this! It’s against your laws to use magic on muggles!” Petunia shouted.
Albus winced. “I’m afraid that Lord Gilianali does not answer to the laws of the British Ministry of Magic. Additionally, as he is a High Elf, no wizard or witch alive will have the magical ability to undo what he has done.”
Hadrian smirked and apparated with a thunderous sound that Albus knew was on purpose.
“You said we would be safe from magic if we took that freak in!” Vernon shouted. He rubbed his arm with a frown and tried to stand up from the couch. “You promised!”
Albus glared at him. “You did not hold up your end of the agreement, Vernon. There is nothing I can do for you. Additionally, you should be prepared to move. As this residence no longer is considered home by Harry Potter—the blood wards I had in place to keep you safe will fail within the year. There are many in the wizarding world who would see you dead for what you’ve done to our savior and they would not care about the laws either.”
One Year Later
Harry kept his hood up as he and the seven elven children that had come with him to Hogwarts entered the Great Hall. He supposed that he never expected to return to Hogwarts despite the effort he’d put into learning from the books he’d bought for his first year. He held out his hand as Hedwig sailed in from one of the windows and she landed gently, her claws curling delicately around his fingers. The Potter Lordship ring glinted on his hand in that moment and everyone in the room hushed at the sight of it.
The elves, all male, spread out behind him and Harry stirred his magic, causing his hood to drop. He ignored the gasps and the rush of whispers the students. Many remembered him from the year before—remembered how human he’d once looked. Harry inclined his head. “Headmaster Dumbledore. Our people thank you for your invitation to join you this year.”
Dumbledore smiled grandly. “Minerva, I believe these young men should be sorted.”
Minerva cleared her throat and nodded. “Filius, the hat.”
A older blond elf stepped forward and offered her a bow. “Madam, we must insist that our Lord’s son be sorted first. It is our way. He comes first.”
Minerva nodded. “Very well, Lord Potter if you will sit, again.”
Harry lifted his hand and Hedwig hopped from his hand and settled on the hand of Rigel, his best friend among the children he’d brought with him. Harry untied his cloak and it was immediately taken from him by one of the older children. “Perhaps we’ll accomplish it this time, Professor.”
She smiled unexpectedly. “One may only hope, Lord Potter.”
He sat down on the stool and took a deep breath as the hat once more settled on his head.
“Thank you, Terrance, you’ll never know the great service you have done me.”
“You are most welcome, Lord Potter. You have changed—for the better. You would, of course, do well in any house. Which do you wish?”
“My father and I agree that I would do the most good in Slytherin. Sort one of my brethren with me and distribute the rest through the houses evenly. We must give everyone the opportunity to interact with us they will not fear us when war returns to this land.”
Harry shifted off the stool when the hat was removed, accepted his cloak with a smile. “Hedwig, I’ll see you in the morning.” The owl barked at him and lifted off of Rigel’s fingers with a sweep of wings.
At the Slytherin table he took the place Draco Malfoy had made for him with a wry grin. His correspondence with the wizard had proven to be the most entertaining of anyone else. He’d at least had more to talk about than quidditch. Rigel joined him shortly, who was also a second year. He watched the rest of his entourage distributed evenly among the houses, each turning to him as they were sorted and offering a short bow before going to their assigned tables.
“Most thought you’d come alone,” Draco murmured.
“Lord Arer would’ve never allowed him to return alone,” Rigel said from across the table. “Humans have already proven that they cannot be trusted with the care of our Lord’s son.”
Harry grinned at Rigel as food appeared between them. The look that crossed the elf’s face was hysterical. “You call me that one more time, Rigel, and we’ll have words on the field in the morning.”
Rigel grinned back at him then frowned at the food. “What… is all of this?”
Harry frowned. “Oh.” He blew out a long breath and turned to Draco. “We don’t eat meat. It’ll make us sick.”
“Oh,” Draco bit down on his bottom lip. “Like intellectually sick?”
Harry laughed. “No, I mean like physically ill. Our biology can’t handle meat or really anything with meat flavoring in it. Like broths, fats, etc.”
“Okay,” Draco nodded. “You can eat this and this,” he pointed out several dishes. “The kitchen will send up vegetables if you tap your plate and ask for them. And the bread should be fine, of course.”
“Right.” Harry slipped off the bench. “I need to speak with the others.”
Severus watched the newest and most famous member of his house drift from table to table in the hall, speaking to his own—greeting several wizards and witches easily as he did so leaving relief on the faces of several young elves who began to fill their plates as he left them. He cleared his throat. “Higgs.”
The fifth year Prefect for Slytherin stood immediately and went to the head table. “Sir.”
“What is Potter doing?”
“The elves… can’t eat meat, sir. Lord Potter is making sure they all know what is safe to eat.” Higgs inclined his head. “He told Malfoy they’ll get physically ill if they consume meat or meat products of any kind. They can’t even have a broth that is meat based.”
“Ah,” Severus leaned in and told Minerva who passed the information do Dumbledore who relaxed and nodded. “Lord Potter.” Severus motioned him to him with a few fingers. He took note that the young elf no longer even bore the slightest resemblance to James Potter. “Higgs tells me your kind can’t consume meat?”
“Yes, Professor, even before when I was half-wizard I often had difficulty consuming meat. I’m embarrassed to admit that the issue didn’t cross my mind until the food appeared in front of me this evening or I would’ve informed the Headmaster before. And I don’t recognize most of what is on the table as I’ve never been exposed to wizarding fare.”
Severus nodded. “Very well, which of the elves you brought with you is the most knowledgeable concerning the nutritional needs of your species?”
“That would be Casteus. He was sorted into Ravenclaw,” Harry turned slightly and raised a hand. Every elf in the room immediately stopped what they were doing and gave him their full attention. “Casteus, join me please.”
The oldest of the elven children to come to Hogwarts stood immediately and made his way to Harry’s side. “My Lord.”
Harry exhaled sharply and frowned at him. “We talked about that Casteus. And we agreed you’d all call me Harry when school started.”
“I do remember, my Lord,” Casteus said, amusement glinting in vivid blue eyes. “I believe school officially begins tomorrow.”
Harry huffed and turned to his head of House. “This is Professor Snape, he wished to speak with you about our dietary requirements.”
“The Head House elf for the castle will meet with you this evening after the meal to discuss the dietary requirements of your kind. Do make time for her before you retire.”
“Of course, sir.”
Harry waited until the boy left before frowning. “I apologize for the… unexpected complication. My father and I thought we’d handled all of the details in our correspondence with the Headmaster.”
“It’s quite all right, Lord Potter, these things happen.” Severus watched the boy give him a small nod and walk back to the table. He slipped back onto the bench beside Draco Malfoy with easy grace.
The hall doors opened again and another elf appeared. Severus huffed in surprise. “Is that Hadrian Gilianali?”
“Yes, Merlin, the boy hasn’t even managed to eat yet.” Albus stood.
Hadrian offered the head table a wry grin before settling his attention on his grandson. He approached the Slytherin table and the children shifted around in awe and no small amount of fear. It wasn’t often anyone was in the presence of a ten thousand year old magical being of any kind.
“Sir.” Harry stood. “Is there…”
“You forgot someone, young man.” Hadrian held out his hand and opened his fingers. Naava flicked her recently developed red wings at Harry in ire.
“Oh,” Harry flushed. He took the Ryūda from his grandfather and the Japanese dragon-snake curled around his hand. “I’m sorry, sir, I packed her firebox. She didn’t stay in it like she was supposed to. I should’ve checked.”
“Fortunately for you, she came to me and allowed me to bring her,” Hadrian said. “She’d have tried to find you by herself otherwise which would’ve been dangerous. She’s very delicate right now at this age and defenseless without you.”
“I’ll take more care.”
“I know you will.” Hadrian’s gaze drifted around the room and every elf stood. “Gentlemen, remember your duty.”
They all nodded and offered a short bow.
Hadrian settled his gaze on Dumbledore and smirked. “Albus, I entrust you with my only grandchild. If you disappoint me, I’ll raze the entire country. Do keep that shite in mind.” He apparated without another word.
“That was really impressive,” Draco said aloud and flushed. “I mean, you’re not supposed to be able to apparate out of Hogwarts like that.”
“He’s a show off,” Harry said and focused on Naava. “Honestly, you never stay where I put you. It’s like you’re addicted to danger and that’s really unfortunate since you’re at least a whole year away from being badass enough to handle your own business.”
“Merlin, kid,” one of the older boys said. “Just come right out of the parselmouth closet swinging.”
Harry turned to the boy as Naava slipped up his arm and disappeared into his collar. “I’m already a Dark Creature according to the Ministry of Magic.” He started to say more but Dumbledore had come down from the table. He turned to the older man. “Sir?”
“Lord Potter, what did your grandfather bring you?”
“Oh, this is Naava,” Harry began and slipped his fingers into his collar. He pulled Naava out of her hiding place and the dragon-snake perched on his palm, tiny claws curling around the edges of his hand. “She’s just eighteen months old. When she shed her skin the last time, her legs dropped and her wings unfurled. It was pretty amazing to watch.”
Dumbledore hesitated when Harry offered him the creature. “Right then. She won’t… bite me?”
Harry laughed. “No, sir, even if she did her venom sacs are currently inert due to her recent maturation. She’s just in her second stage of growth.”
Dumbledore accepted Naava and hummed under his breath. “I’ve not seen an immature Ryūda in fifty years. You realize she’s an endangered and international protected species?”
“Endangered?” Harry asked with a frown. “There are… well… there are many thousands in the realms, sir. They are a common addition to our potion labs as they shed their skin quarterly and it’s a valuable ingredient in potions. Is she going to be a problem? I’ll have to put her in a magical stasis to keep her away from Hogwarts if it is. She’s my familiar.”
Dumbledore blinked in surprise. “Oh, no, Lord Potter, no problem at all. No magical law can separate a wizard from his familiar.”
“As many would point out, sir, I’m not a wizard.”
Albus grinned then and returned to Naava to him. “Then you should point out that you are not bound by any of the Ministry’s silly little laws as they are all clearly about witches and wizards.”
Harry laughed. “Yes, sir.” Naava tucked herself back into his collar and rested her head just above his tie.
Dumbledore went back to the front of the room and activated his podium with a tap of his wand. “It behooves me to point out that Lord Potter’s familiar has also joined us. Her name is Naava and she is a Ryūda. The Ryūda which is commonly known as a Japanese dragon-snake is endangered and internationally protected. To cause the injury of a Ryūda either by mistake or design is an international crime against magic. They are inherently light creatures. In fact, among the Japanese they are viewed much the same way we view unicorns. In Britain, killing a Ryūda even in self-defense is an automatic twenty-five year sentence in Azkaban for adults. An underage witch or wizard’s family would be fined at least a hundred thousand galleons which is how much a Ryūda would sell for in the open market.”
The Headmaster sat down with that and dinner resumed.
“You’ve got a hundred thousand galleons wrapped around your neck,” Draco said.
“Two hundred thousand actually,” Harry admitted. “Naava is a breeding female.” He reached out and picked up a piece of chicken. He paused when Draco wrapped slim fingers around his wrist. “Relax, it’s not for me.”
Draco flushed and released him. “Sorry.”
“No, it’s quite all right to point it out to me if you think I’m about to make a mistake. I ate meat for over a decade and it still smells great to me. I’d rather not be sick. I ate bacon just once after my maturation. No one had thought to tell me it would hurt me and the elf who had been feeding me since my arrival in my father’s realm had seen me eat it before with no problems as it was one of the few meats I could eat before… when I was mostly wizard. I thought I was going to die. I might as well have eaten poison.” He reached out and grabbed a small saucer. Then picked all the meat off the bone. He pulled his wand and cast a silent spell on the bone.
“What’s the bone for?”
“Ryūda have… teeth like a dragon and retractable fangs like a snake. Naava is teething,” Harry explained. “If I don’t keep something for her to chew on, she chews on my stuff instead. She’s already ruined two belts and a pair of boots. You can’t repair her chew marks with magic. She also refuses to listen to reason as apparently it’s my duty to find her something to chew on.”
He cut the tip of his finger and smeared blood in the center of the saucer where he’d placed the meat, drew a single rune in it then set the blood and chicken on fire with his wand before healing the small cut he’d made. Harry glanced up at the choked and horrified noises half the table made in the wake of his action. He turned to Draco and found the boy pale as a vampire.
“Harry, you can’t just…” He huffed as the fire extinguished itself. “You just performed a dark art in the middle of the Great Hall.”
“Oh, because of the blood?” Harry asked rhetorically as Naava slithered down his arm and started to eat the charred meat. “You realize that’s silly, right? Most of the high magical arts in the elven world require blood and only a handful of them would be considered dark by any reasonable standard. Stop looking at me like I sacrificed one of you. It was just a purification spell. Naava has a delicate system and all of your food is contaminated by Muggle chemicals and hormones. I can’t give her daily purification potions like the ones we’ll have to drink to eat the food here at Hogwarts.”
“In no way is this world prepared for you,” Draco said softly. “I’m glad you brought bodyguards. You’re going to need them.”
“Our Lord’s son is quite capable of taking care of himself,” Rigel said. “You should worry about our peers instead. There is little in this wizarding world that can truly harm a Dark High Elf. We aren’t his bodyguards at any rate.”
“What are you then?” A large boy down the table asked.
“We are the Lord Potter’s retinue. Eventually we will join him in his task of creating a fourth elven realm in whatever roles suit him best. I’m being groomed to lead and train his army,” Rigel said coolly. “As I am a Dark High Elf as well and we are best suited to the wages of war.”
“But you haven’t had a war in thousands of years,” Draco protested.
Rigel and Harry exchanged a look and Harry shrugged. “Their isolation is one of things we’re here to correct.”
“Right,” Rigel sighed.
“Draco, what would you say if I told you that the reality you hold dear is just one of many within my grasp? The elven realms exist on one plane of existance while this world exists another.”
Draco swallowed hard. “How many… planes are there?”
“Our people have explored over fifty,” Rigel said. “Each different but similar to the ones both your species and mine live in. As for armed conflict, the High Elves waged a full scale war as little as five years ago to prevent the invasion of our plane and yours. We may have divorced ourselves from your world but we still protect you as on the whole you are entirely incapable of protecting yourselves. You can’t even truly protect yourselves from muggles. It is our magic that keeps your enclaves, homes, and even this school safe from discovery through muggle technology. It is our magic that fuels the magical forests around the world.”