Title: Godric’s Arrival
Author: Keira Marcos
Beta: Ladyholder & Chris King
Series: Harry Potter & the Soulmate Bond
Fandom: Harry Potter
Word Count: 12,551
Warnings: Off-screen child abuse, discussion of child abuse and violence against a child, bigotry, passing mention of rape, sexual harassment, and explicit language
Author’s Note: You know I hate Ron and Ginny Weasley, right? See Series page for further author notes, warnings, and ratings.
Bill shoved his brother into a chair in his private quarters. “If I hadn’t silenced you—you’d have probably spent the rest of the bloody day in the infirmary.” He ended the silencing hex he’d put on his brother the moment they’d walked in and found Harry Potter kissing Hermione McGonagall like he was half a tick from taking her to bed.
“She’s a whore!” Ron shouted. “She has no business letting him touch and kiss her like that.”
“I know you’ve been told that you won’t be allowed any sort of romantic relationship with Hermione. I know, because I discussed it with Dad and I discussed it with Professor McGonagall upon my arrival. She made it very clear to me, Ron, that you would never be welcome in her daughter’s life than anything more than a friend but that she doubted that even that would happen because of your insulting and degrading behavior.”
“She’s acting like a slag and I’m the one being punished,” Ron hissed. “I missed Quidditch try-outs because I was in detention with the headmaster. They gave the Keeper position to a bloody third year!”
“Hermione McGonagall is an exclusive courting period with Lord Potter. She has permission from her mother to engage in a full, adult relationship with a suitor that her mother whole-heartedly approves of. The fact that he asked for a courting period means that he fully expects to marry her. I imagine that he’ll have a promise ring on her finger by Christmas and a betrothal ring by their seventh year.”
“Hermione is a Muggle-born. She’s not going to tolerate this arranged relationship for very long,” Ron said lowly. “She’ll rebel against it besides he’s going to push her too far. She’s a virgin. She told me in her third year that she wanted to get married a virgin.”
Bill glared at him. “And you didn’t tell mum? Do you know how bloody dangerous it is for a witch of Hermione’s magical power to remain a virgin? Even worse—the fact that she was Muggle-born increased the likelihood that she’d be targeted.”
“She’s still a Muggle-born.”
“Do you have any fucking idea how magical adoption works?” Bill demanded and waved hand. “No, obviously you don’t. Let me tell you—Hermione was taken into a ritual circle and given the magic of the House of Ross and any other family magic McGonagall had access through marriage or inheritance. Then she was given a blood magic potion that literally made her the biological off spring of Minerva McGonagall. If she went to the bank and took an inheritance test—the dverger would not be able to tell based solely on her blood that McGonagall didn’t actually give birth to her.”
“That’s insane,” Ron said, incredulous. “Why would McGonagall give Hermione the legacy of the House of Ross for real? I thought it was just on parchment.”
“I’m not in a position to tell you why,” Bill said tightly. “And it doesn’t matter, Ron, because she did do it and as such Minerva McGonagall has the same authority over her daughter that Dad has over you. She’s told her daughter that you’re not a possibility. Hermione accepted that and within just a few days accepted the courting period that Lord Potter requested. And from what we just witnessed—she’s very happy with the arrangements her mother has made on her behalf.”
“So McGonagall is forcing her to be with Potter and everyone is just okay with it?”
“Hermione can refuse the promise ring and she can end the courting period at any time—she can end it after a promise ring. She can end it the bloody day before they get married. This entire process is for her benefit. It is the way a titled man expresses his sincere interest in marriage without restricting a witch with a contract. In offering her a formal courting period, Harry Potter told the entire magical world that Hermione McGonagall is a proper and very desirable witch to whom he will go great lengths to win. A witch he intends to make the Lady Potter. A fact that I’m sure you are quite well aware of. After all, Dad told me that is exactly what Lord Potter told you.”
“Percy says that Potter has no business marrying a Muggle-born. He says that it’s our job as pure-bloods to put girls like Hermione in their place so they don’t get the idea they’re better than us.” Ron huffed. “Potter was raised in a different country. He has the wrong priorities and he’s a coward. Where was he when Voldemort was teaching here our first year?”
Bill glared at him. “Harry Potter is the bravest young man I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting. A coward? Who do you think eventually destroyed the spirit of Tom Riddle?”
“Percy says that’s just propaganda from the French and that Voldemort’s spirit is still out there.”
“Percy is a fucking moron,” Bill snapped. “I witnessed the final destruction of Voldemort, Ron. Potter was thirteen years old when the dverger and the French Aurors gathered up the last of his soul to dispose of him. The ritual lasted twenty-two hours and that boy didn’t even go weak in the knees the entire time he stood in the middle of that ritual circle—casting magic the likes of which I’ve never seen in my life then or since. He ripped Voldemort’s soul into a thousand pieces and cast it from this world then he banished the final soul anchor keeping him here through the Veil of Death with a single flick of his wand.” Bill poked Ron in the forehead in frustration. “Today, I watched him cast a parselmagic circle on his own and lead five other wizards in dealing with what that monster left behind. Two of us were entirely new to him magically and he had no problems harnessing our magic for the ritual. He cleaned multiple dark objects in the Defense classroom then he banished Voldemort’s soul leech.”
Ron stared at him, pale. “A soul leech?”
“That’s how Voldemort cursed the Defense position,” Bill said lowly. “Twenty minutes later, he was kissing his witch when any other wizard I know would’ve been unconscious in the infirmary. Frankly, I’m exhausted and all I did was give the ritual the magic he needed.”
“Why are you telling me this?” Ron demanded.
“Because you’ve made him your enemy,” Bill shouted. “You foolish little bastard! You’re lucky all he did was break your arm. What do you know about Greg Goyle and why he’s gone from the school?”
“He touched up Hermione… that’s the rumor anyways,” Ron said sullenly. “It was weird—Potter’s snake caught fire and was apparently protecting Hermione in some kind of ward.”
“The Goyle family has been banned from every single Potter and Black property on the planet,” Bill explained. “Shortly after Potter’s proclamation—the dverger gave them twenty-four hours to clear out their vaults. The only school that would accept Goyle in Europe was Durmstrang. His father can’t set foot in seventy-five percent of the shops on Diagon Alley because Potter owns stock in them.”
“Percy said that Potter had too much power in Britain and that he needed to be reined reigned in—controlled.”
Bill inclined his head. Then he shot a truth hex that he knew his brother wouldn’t be strong enough to fight off. “Did Percy really suggest Ginny ask Potter to open her?”
“Yes, and he was going to give her a fertility potion to make sure Potter got her pregnant and would have to marry her. Fudge is getting ready to pass a law that will give the power—financial and political—to the person in the marriage who has the highest blood status. So if Potter marries a pure-blood British witch like Ginny—they can gain control of him. They’ll never let him marry Hermione. I imagine they’ll kill her first.”
Bill stepped back in shock. “You heard Percy say that?”
“No, Percy wrote me a letter after it was reported to the Ministry that Potter seemed too interested in Hermione. They were all furious when McGonagall interfered and adopted Granger. They figured they could get her under their control and keep her away from Potter so Ginny would have a better chance of getting him. Anyway, third day of school, Percy told me that I had to get and keep Hermione’s attention and if I did the Minister would reward me.”
Bill cancelled the hex and ignored Ron who was glaring at him.
“What the hell, Bill?” Ron shouted.
“Stay away from Hermione McGonagall,” Bill ordered. “Potter will kill you if you get in his way. You ignore Percy and Ginny from now on, unless you want to be transfigured into a rat and fed to Potter’s snake.”
“No buts, Ron.” Bill turned to him and stared at him seriously. “Harry Potter is a killer, Ron. He killed Voldemort, he killed two Dementors, and he killed three dark wizards who tried to kidnap him last year. They underestimated him as a wizard and most importantly, they underestimated how much he loved his father. They attacked Black first—tried to take him out of the picture because they assumed Harry Potter was a kid. Potter put those three men down—with a single blasting hex each and left them there to die on the street while he got his father to a Healer. When the French Aurors arrived and got them gathered up for transport—they realized that Potter had rendered seventy percent of their bones to dust and crushed most of their organs. They died of internal injuries before they reached the hospital.”
“No one mentioned that in the papers,” Ron said, shocked.
“You know the Ministry of Magic here prevents those kinds of stories from being printed. They intended on sacrificing him—probably because he was a virgin at the time. He’s a powerful wizard and will become more so as he ages. He was a prime target for dark wizards seeking to boost their power.” Bill rubbed his face, tired and horrified. “I’m going to have to talk to Dad about Percy and I’m going to have Ginny tested for potions. Did Percy give you any potions?”
“Don’t lie to me,” Bill snapped.
Ron huffed. “Fine, fourth and fifth year he gave me some mild love potions because Hermione was too friendly with Krum. They didn’t work.”
“Why did you care what she did before this year?”
“Well, she’s mine,” Ron proclaimed. “I decided in third year that I was going to marry her and Percy agreed that she was a good choice because she’s smart but a Muggle-born so I’d be able to control her. Once I married her—she wouldn’t be able to do anything without my say.”
“Let me be clear,” Bill declared icily. “You will not go near Hermione McGonagall again. If you do, Ron, I will make you regret it the rest of your life. I’m going to spend the next year re-educating your foolish arse about the rights of witches and the nature of a true, equal magical marriage. You are forbidden from interacting with Percy in any shape or form.”
“You can’t be serious,” Ron protested.
“Oh, I am,” Bill said. “Not that it matters much—Dad is so furious he’s getting ready to disown him. When he finds out what he intended with Ginny’s opening, things will only get worse—to abuse a wizard’s trust like that in a ritual is a crime against magic.”
* * * *
Harry loved Hagrid but he’d found he rather hated the practical part of Care of Magical Creatures. The class was taught almost entirely outside and he couldn’t even imagine how that was going to work out in the winter. Though it did explain why three of the six uniforms he’d bought had heavy woolen slacks. He resolved to look up long-term warming charms that worked on humans because the girls didn’t have a uniform with trousers. Though he imagined they all had thick tights and the lot.
Herbology was at least in the greenhouse. His theoretical work was good but he lacked the knack to handle magical plants. Fortunately, Neville Longbottom was some kind of plant genius and he didn’t mind sharing his expertise with his house mates. Without Ron around to make nasty comments to the Slytherins, the two classes had been almost pleasant despite his growing disinterest in the subjects.
As he left the greenhouse, Hermione’s hand in his—a little rush of excitement and satisfaction rushed over his magical core. He stopped and took a deep breath to steady himself as he felt Dobby being called away from the Hogwarts grounds.
“Harry?” Neville asked. “Are you okay?”
He cleared his throat. “Fine. Just… I guess I’m a little tired after the ritual this morning.”
Neville snorted. “Yeah, just maybe.”
Hermione had told Gryffindor about what she’d witnessed at lunch. It had spread from there so by the time they were in Herbology with the Slytherins, everyone knew that Harry Potter had exorcised a soul leech from the DADA classroom. He was used to being stared at it so he ignored it and relaxed at the table when he felt Dobby return. The Fates had returned to Hogwarts. He didn’t have bonds with any of his snakes except for Rowena but he’d practiced magic with all of them at one point or another so they were connected to his magic. He picked over his food and for the first time since they’d met, he left Hermione behind in the hall with Neville and her roommates. His stomach was tight with nervous excitement and satisfaction as he considered what the Fates had surely done.
His mirror was vibrating by the time he was alone. He activated with a murmur and met his father’s gaze in silence.
“An hour ago, Aurors were dispatched to the home of Cornelius Fudge,” Sirius said. “The Head Auror had a charm on him—to monitor his life signs.”
“He’s dead,” Sirius said shortly. “Someone strangled him.”
Harry sat down on his small sofa. “Huh.” He held out his hand to Dobby who carefully put the Fates on his arm. The snake coiled beguilingly around his wrist and rested her body along the length of his arm—her heads resting on his forearm.
“Tell me what you know.”
“Fudge bad man,” Nona began. “Plot to control you. Plot to kill your witch. We kill him. We not wait—more information not worth your witch’s life.”
Harry took a deep breath. “She says that Fudge was plotting to control me and that he was going to kill Hermione so they didn’t try to gather more information.”
“Probably something to do with that non-sense bill he was trying to push through the Wizengamot. It would’ve never passed—he was trying to put pure-bloods in a position of power in magical marriages. Say for instance, if you as a half-blood married a pure-blood she would control your House because she would be superior to you. Your interest in Hermione is a known. The have been some comments but I’ve ignored them. I made it clear years ago that who you married would be your decision.”
Harry relaxed on the sofa. “I trust you’re ready for this.”
“We’re always on the same page, Pup, even we don’t talk about it,” Sirius assured. “I’ll be on the floor of the Wizengamot first thing in the morning nominating Amelia Bones. I’ve been working towards this for more than year—we have our allies lined up. Dumbledore is going to support the move.”
“And Umbridge?” Harry asked.
“She’s a twisted cunt,” Sirius said shortly. “Dangerous in her own right and not because of any magical power she might have. Just dangerous because she’s a bigot and ignorant and her father left her with a little bit of political clout.”
“Toadie bad witch,” Decima said. “We poison her.”
Harry stared at the Runespoor in shock for a second. ”How?”
“Drip our venom in her wine at lunch—act slowly that way—kill her soon. Need not bite to poison,” Morta explained.
Harry exhaled. “They poisoned Umbridge. They dropped venom in her wine at lunch today. Ingested Runespoor venom ingested has a kill time of about ten to twelve hours. She’ll be dead by morning and she won’t even know she’s ill until she loses control of her body.”
“If she’s found before she dies?”
“They’d need the snake that poisoned her to produce anti-venom,” Harry admitted. He stroked the heads of the snake carefully. “How would you ladies like to go visit Master Ito in Japan?” He grinned when they agreed. “Dobby, who is available to make a trip to Japan?”
“Eli be available. He likes Master Ito—he stay one day to rest then return home.” Dobby held out his hand to the Fates.
“Just a moment,” Harry said. He stroked their heads. “I’m going to have spell you to keep this secret.” He paused when they all three agreed without discussion. “If another parselmouth tries to break the secret out of you—it’ll kill you.”
“We keep Master Harry’s secrets,” Nona said. “Defend ourselves if some bad wizard tries to break our minds.”
Harry nodded. He pulled his wand and cast the charm. The Fates glowed brilliantly for a few seconds and returned to normal. He handed the snake off to Dobby and the elf popped away.
Harry shook his head. “No, not really.”
“Want to talk about why?” Sirius asked.
“I… when those wizards tried to kidnap me… I acted without even thinking about it,” Harry said. “They were already on the ground dying before it crossed my mind that I could even kill them with my magic. I didn’t feel guilty about it. They were going to kill you—one of them cursed you in the back. All I could think was that I had to get to you before you bled to death.” He looked away from the mirror, his eyes damp and jaw working as he tried to control his emotions. “I didn’t enjoy it—knowing that they were dead and I did it.”
“Despite what some might think—I didn’t enjoy ending Tom Riddle either. If anything I pitied him at the end.” Harry closed his eyes briefly. “I felt the Fates killing Fudge and it was exciting. But more over they enjoyed doing it—they enjoyed choking the life out of him and I liked that feeling, too. I don’t feel guilty about that either.”
“Oh, Pup,” Sirius sighed. “You have no reason to feel guilty. The son of bitch has been hunting you like a criminal most of your life. You’d never have any sort of peace as long as he was Minister and he had too much dirt on half the Wizengamot to ever be voted out legitimately. Gerald Greengrass was well on his way to manufacturing evidence against him; he was so fed up with him.”
“It excited me,” Harry repeated.
“No, it is more likely that it excited that vicious snake of yours and they fed that back to you through your magic,” Castius interrupted. He pulled the mirror out of Sirius’ grasp. “You know Runespoors are the most vicious of all magical snakes. Even a basilisk isn’t as mean spirited as a Runespoor.”
“I know,” Harry sighed. “Thank Merlin they’ve never been inclined to bond with me.”
“I’ve never seen a parselmouth with a Runespoor familiar,” Castius said. “I’d probably run in terror of one.”
Harry looked up and sat the small notification portrait that Niall Gryffindor currently occupied. “A visitor?”
“Your witch. You have the privacy charm activated but she seems quite agitated so I told her I’d ask if you were able to see her.”
Harry said good-bye to his Dad and Castius and put down the mirror. “Yeah, send her in.” He stood and stripped off his robe. Then the jumper as well. He tossed both on the sofa and had his tie mostly undone when Hermione came through the portrait.
She glanced around, her gaze hitting the piano briefly, before she concentrated on him. “There is a disillusioned snake in my bag. It crawled in after you left dinner. I figured… well… I figure he or she belongs to you or you could deal with it.” She proffered her bag and he gamely took it.
“Did anyone notice?”
“No,” Hermione shook her head. “I felt it rub up against my ankle and at first I thought it might be Rowena, so I looked down and there was nothing to see but then the opening of my bag started to move. I reached down, closed the bag, and brought it to you as soon as I finished dinner.”
Harry considered his options. The snake was silent in the bag—one of his own would’ve already started to bitch to get out. “Okay, let’s go into my office.” He sat the bag down on his desk and looked up at her. “Back up to the door and if I tell you to go—I want you to back out slowly, shut the door, grab the communication mirror off the sofa and say the name Sirius Black.”
“Okay.” She bit down on her lip. “If it’s been disillusioned…”
“There are two kinds of magical snakes that can hide like this without a parselmouth’s help. Elemental vipers and coatl.” He sat down in his chair. “The coatl is a South American spirit snake. They are rare, coveted by parselmouths the world over and they very rarely allow themselves to be captured or bound to anyone.”
“Why did it come to me?” Hermione asked.
He sent her a look. “Probably because you smell like me and he figured you’d lead him to me.” She blushed and he concentrated on the task at hand. He unzipped the bag and he watched the snake slither out—a shimmer of reflected light that no one but a parselmouth would even be able to see. He drew his blackwood wand and cancelled the disillusion spell. The snake coiled on the desk in front of him—submissive, shivering from the cold, and silent.
“Harry, that’s an elemental viper.”
“Yes,” Harry agreed. “Based on his color—I would say he’s a fire serpent like Rowena.” He stroked the snake’s scales with a fingertip. “Hermione, I’m going to have to ask you to leave. His magic is tainted and I can’t trust him to act properly. Just shut the door and wait on me, alright?”
“What if he hurts you?” Hermione asked.
“Niall will stay in his notification portrait in here and report to you if that happens,” Harry motioned towards the small frame where his ancestor was currently watching the proceedings.
“Okay, I’ll be on the sofa then.”
Harry took a deep breath and focused on the snake as she shut the door.
“He cold, Harry,” Rowena complained.
“Yes,” Harry agreed. He cast a warming charm on the snake and the viper slowly relaxed in a contented pool in front of him. “Will you speak to me?”
“Speaker, King of Serpents.”
Harry considered that and nodded. “Why are you here?”
“Ugly wizard buy me, force me to hatch, and make me work with him. I never liked him. Tonight he brought me here and ordered me to come to castle—ordered me to hurt your Queen. I regained control of myself after I entered the castle.”
“The wards on the castle would’ve negated the dark enchantments on you,” Harry explained. “Do you know the ugly wizard’s name?”
“Christopher Hutchinson. He works with short ones.”
“Oh, I know who he is,” Harry said darkly, considering the arrogant American wizard he’d barely met earlier in the day. “Do you know if someone paid him to hurt my Queen?”
“He’s jealous of you. He cast curses on me—hurt me because I wouldn’t bond with him. He isn’t worthy of bond. He’s too weak to be anything impressive—dark or light. He said you have bond with a snake and that you were nothing but a snot-nosed kid. His wife left him when he revealed he was a speaker. She was afraid of snakes and him. He said you didn’t deserve a witch who accepted you for all that you are when he lost his wife of ten years. He resents his gifts but seeks to profit from them.”
Harry huffed. “Would you like to stay with me or would you prefer to go elsewhere?”
“Keep him, Master Harry, he pretty like me,” Rowena ordered imperiously. “I am Rowena. You stay and we can be mates. We keep the Queen safe together.”
“The Queen smells nice,” the male said. “I don’t have a name. The Ugly Wizard never named me. Maybe she can name me. I will stay with the King and his mate.”
Harry drew several runes in the air above the snake and they slowly sank into him. “I have to spell you for her safety. I can’t trust that your actions will remain your own with his magic disrupting your core the way it is.”
He worked in silence for a few minutes, and Rowena started to glow with magic, as he wove several charms into the snake that would prevent him from attacking anyone. “I have a full conclave that will help me heal you once we’ve dealt with your former owner.”
“Thank you, King of Serpents.”
Harry lowered his wand and cleared his throat. “Okay, Niall, you can let her know she can come back in.”
The door opened immediately which made him think she probably hadn’t been waiting on the sofa. Harry sat back in the chair. “He wants to stay with Rowena.” He paused and looked at Hermione. “And you. He says you smell nice.” He grinned when she huffed. “I think you smell nice, too.” He rocked back in the chair and watched as Rowena slithered down his arm and onto the desk. She intertwined with the other elemental and they writhed together in way that was entirely too sexual for his peace of mind.
“Can they breed?” Hermione asked alarmed.
“No, but they can have sex of a sort,” Harry said with a laugh. “They could share magic and fire—it would be pleasurable and sexual to them in nature.”
“Oh.” She laughed. She plucked Rowena off the desk. “You two just met, Rowena, have some restraint. Besides you’re still a baby.”
“He says he’d like you to give him a name,” Harry said.
“Well, are you sure it’s a he?”
“And you’re going to keep him?” Hermione asked.
“His previous owner won’t have a need for him,” Harry said bluntly. “Besides, he was mistreated and left unnamed for years. I’d have to perform some tests to see how long and what was done to him—but his magic is tainted with some rather dark behavioral curses. Thankfully, the wards of the school negated them when he entered the castle.”
“When he crossed over the anti-Dementor ward,” Hermione said. “One of those other parselmouths that was here—brought him into the castle and didn’t realize his behavioral charms had been cancelled?”
He started to agree but found himself unwilling to lie to her. “No, the American—Christopher Hutchinson is his name—he returned to the school this evening and released this snake onto the grounds with instructions to bite you.”
“He was jealous of my abilities and wanted to hurt me. He was stupid enough to believe that he could control this snake enough to make him hurt anyone without being bonded to him.” He grimaced when she sat down numbly in a chair. “Parselmouths have a bad reputation for a reason, Mi. We aren’t all good and light. I’m a grey wizard myself and yes, the majority of the ones in the public eye are… serving the common good. It would be a mistake for you to trust one just because you trust me. We can’t practice dark or black arts and keep our healing abilities. But to be honest, very little in magic is considered dark or black by Magic herself. It’s usually ritual level dark magic that breaks our gifts.”
“I understand.” She focused on Rowena for a few seconds. “Let’s call him Godric.”
“Godric it is,” Harry said amused. “You can keep Rowena with you tonight. Don’t pick this guy up or allow him on your body for now. I want to get him healed and clean up his magic before he interacts with you. He should respect your space until I tell him otherwise.”
“I understand, Harry.” She petted Rowena for a few seconds. “Are you going to tell me what has you upset? You barely ate dinner and this was before… well… before I picked up a passenger.”
“This is one of those moments when I’m going to have to ask you to let it go,” Harry said softly and looked away from her when she looked at him wounded and shocked. “I’m just not ready to talk about it with you.”
“Because we’re essentially strangers,” Hermione said.
“I don’t want it to sound like…look,” he said a little frustrated. “I haven’t had the best life and I know you haven’t either. There are some things I don’t want to talk about and maybe some things I’ll never be able to talk about.”
“Like what?” Hermione demanded.
“Like why I made sure that Emmie kept you warm at night,” Harry murmured. He cleared his throat and walked away from her. “Like how I couldn’t stand the idea of you having nightmares.” He leaned against the window and stared out the school grounds. “Some things you don’t even want to know—no one would want to know. After I killed Voldemort, I dreamt about him for months. I don’t even talk about those dreams with my Dad.”
“Okay,” Hermione whispered. “I understand.”
“I have to leave the castle tonight. I should be back in a few hours,” Harry said shortly.
“Even if Godric had bit me—it wouldn’t have killed me.”
“It would’ve made you very sick. It could’ve done so much damage to us that I don’t even want to talk about it. It could’ve made you unable to conceive children and in some cases—the bite of an elemental viper has destroyed magical cores,” Harry explained. “And I would’ve been forced to kill him in response. I could never let a snake who hurt you live. Godric knows that—that’s why he feels so guilty and is so upset. That son of a bitch had him under a parselmagic behavioral modification curse that gave him absolutely no free will. And Hutchinson’s in my conclave, right now, Mi and that’s fucking intolerable.”
She came to him and nudged him with her hip. “Language.”
“Sorry.” He laughed and turned to face her. “Don’t you and Neville have rounds soon?”
“Yes,” Hermione sighed.
He left the office and said nothing when she followed him into his bedroom. He pulled out a dark green informal dueling robe and tossed it on the bed. Stripping off the white shirt he wore under his school jumper and the under shirt as well. He reviewed the shirt options in the wardrobe. Dobby had brought well over half of his clothing to Scotland so he had several choices. Finally, he picked a black shirt and started to pull it on as he turned to her.
She huffed. “Nothing.”
“Are you being difficult because I didn’t want to discuss my issues?”
“No,” she scoffed and crossed arms over her chest. “You just stripped half naked in front of me.”
“Oh.” He paused in buttoning his shirt. “Sorry?”
“You’ve got nothing to be sorry about,” Hermione said dryly. “You look good.”
“Dueling, Quidditch—I have to stay in shape,” he said as he finished his button and loosened his belt to tuck the shirt in. He made quick work of it and pulled the green robe on. “Escort me to the Headmaster’s office?” he asked as he retrieved Godric from the office.
He used the walk to the old man’s tower to mirror call his father and ask him to meet him at the Leaky Cauldron’s floo. The gargoyle sprung open and Harry buffed a brief kiss against Hermione’s cheek before leaving her.
The Headmaster’s office was rather busy for the hour.
“Ah, Harry, I assume your father has contacted you about Minister Fudge?”
“Oh, well, yes but that’s not why I’m here,” Harry admitted. “My Dad handles my proxy for the Wizengamot and we’re of one mind on that subject. I’m actually going to have to leave the castle on a matter involving my conclave. I could chain apparate to London but I wanted to you to know that I was leaving and more to the point—I’d prefer to use your floo.”
“I…” Dumbledore exhaled sharply. “Where is your elf? He left the castle and hasn’t returned.”
“He’s running an errand and won’t return until morning. I sent him to Singapore to meet one of my other elves who will be taking a trip to Master Ito in Japan on my behalf.” All true so he felt pretty good about that.
“I don’t feel comfortable letting you leave without an escort,” Dumbledore admitted and raised a hand when Harry started to speak. “My boy, I know you are essentially a grown man. Still, you are… precious to quite a few people and if you were to come to harm because I was careless with your welfare, again…”
Harry blew out a surprised breath. “Sir, I don’t blame you for what happened with the Dursleys. Yes, they were horrible. Yes, you should’ve checked on me. But, very few people would’ve had in your place. Did anyone in this room even ask you about me before my Dad was freed from Azkaban?”
Dumbledore looked startled for a moment—his gaze drifting over what was left of the original Order of the Phoenix. “Only Hagrid. He asked if he could bring you a birthday present. I told him no. When he found out what had happened to you—well, honestly, that’s the first time in all the time that I’ve known him that he ever raised his voice against me. I half feared he was going to toss me out of this tower through the window.”
“Right.” Harry shared a smile with the half-giant who had the grace to look a little embarrassed. “As to an escort, I was going to say that I had intended on inviting Professor McGonagall to accompany me. The matter will concern her.”
* * * *
They had to borrow a private room at the Leaky Cauldron for the conversation and by the time, it was over Sirius had been forced to threaten Minerva with a stunner before she’d calmed down. After they’d discussed their options—the four of them went to the bank. Castius had done a brief inspection of Godric to confirm Harry’s suspicions.
He’d never been in the ritual room in the London Branch but it was no different than the one he’d practiced in for years in Paris. He took his place on the calling stone, drew his blackwood wand, and summoned his entire conclave. Then he stood and he waited.
Castius Arnou took his place in the inner circle and knelt to meditate. Armand Dearing entered in just three minutes, followed closely by Christopher Hutchinson—not a surprise since both men worked for Gringotts in London. They had chambers on the premises so they were available at all hours of the day. He said nothing to Hutchinson—let him take a place in the fourth circle. Men entered in groups and individuals. He stayed still, not moving and not speaking—fury boiling in his gut as all fifty-two members of his conclave arrived and settled in around him in a series of circles.
“I have been betrayed—betrayed by a man in this room,” he began. He let Godric go and the snake flowed to the floor in a rush of fire. Unlike Rowena—Godric was fully matured at nearly three years old by Castius estimation. The difference in two snakes was obvious to anyone who had seen Rowena. “Tell me, Christopher Hutchinson, did you believe that I was given this place in a conclave among such learned and powerful men because of the a title that has nothing to do with ability and everything to do with blood and gold?” He turned to the wizard in question, eyes dark with fury. “Well?”
“I am aware that you are a powerful wizard,” Hutchinson’s gaze dropped briefly to Godric.
“Power is subjective,” Harry said. “There are all kinds of power—it can be derived from magical ability, it can be built on fear, it can be built on the back of others through subjugation, it can be stolen, it can be bought.” He inclined his head and stared intently as his prey. “You know all about that—theft, fear, subjugation. The Elemental Viper is internationally protected. They are powerful, faithful companions. You abused one. You forced the will of one through spell work. You ordered him to bite my mate.”
“I didn’t bite the King of Serpents’ mate,” Godric hissed. He writhed on the floor, lifted his body off the floor, his hood flared open and he spit at Hutchinson. “Maybe I’ll bite you instead!”
“King of Serpents?” Hutchinson asked in a shocked tone.
“You don’t have the mental facilities to understand such things,” Harry snapped coldly. “For your crimes against my house, I cast you from the Glain Neidr. You are unwelcome in Europe. You are forever more an enemy of the House of Potter.”
Hutchinson stood. “You arrogant little shit.” He pulled his wand.
Harry grinned. “This is like my birthday and Christmas at the same time.” The conclave scattered, as five different wards were erected in seconds. “And when I’m done with you, Hutchinson, I’m going to give what’s left of you to the snake you abused.”
“I’m not afraid of you.”
“That’s just dumb,” Harry said conversationally. “Really, Master Dearing, we must institute an intelligence test. Being able to speak the noble language the serpents just isn’t enough it seems.”
“As you will, Lord Potter.”
Hutchinson sent a Reductor Curse at Harry in Latin. Harry stared at his fellow parselmouth as he casually, wandlessly conjured a shield to deflect the curse.
“Let me show you why wizards all over the world fear a parselmouth in battle,” Harry said icily. He raised his wand and started to cast in his personal dialect—something that Hutchinson hadn’t been taught to do, yet. He hit him with a body bind then banished the wizard upward toward the ceiling before hitting him with a chain of low powered blasting hexes that fractured most of the large bones in his body—all before he hit the wall of the ritual chamber from the impact of the first curse.
Hutchinson slid down the wall, and his eyes rolled back into his head as he passed out from the pain. Harry stalked forward, Godric slithering in his wake. “Rennervate.”
Hutchinson groaned and tried to move away from Harry. “My Lord, please.”
“Please?” Harry asked. “You used a behavioral curse on an elemental viper. You tortured him when he refused to bond with you. You set him loose on a sixteen year old witch who has never even said a cross word to you because you don’t like me. I ought to skin you alive, you vicious, small minded bastard.” He leaned forward, his wand sparking. “The truth is—you’re not getting out of this bank alive. I just don’t want to kill in front of my future mother-in-law.”
Hutchinson started to cry. “My Lord! It wouldn’t have killed her.”
“No, it would have made her violently ill for weeks,” Harry said. “But more than that it would’ve made her fear my familiar and that fear would’ve eventually transferred to me. It could’ve very well made her infertile. It could’ve destroyed her magic.” He hit him with a silent bludgeoning curse in anger. ”Godric, what do you will?”
“He is a weak and ineffectual wizard. I wished free of him. I am free. I wished to be with a wizard I could trust. I trust you. I wished a mate. Rowena has accepted me. I need nothing from this ugly wizard.” Godric shrank in size and Harry picked him up. “I won’t bite him—don’t want to taste an ugly wizard. Let us return to our females—they smell lovely and are beautiful. This one stinks of piss and cowardice.”
Several men in the room laughed outright that. Harry dispelled the wards and stepped back from the man. “Master Armand, you know what is to be done.”
“It is my honor to handle this task for you, Lord Potter,” Armand said lowly.
“No, wait,” Minerva said. She marched across the room. “This is all he gets? For what he tried to do?”
Harry stared at her. “Aunt Min?”
“He was going to ruin my daughter’s life,” Minerva shouted. “If I could draw my wand in this bank I would kill him myself!”
Harry inclined his head. “Well, never let it be said that I’d deny the High Witch of the Rowan Circle her due.” He pointed his wand at Hutchinson and with a sweep of magic, he transfigured the man into a rat. Then cast a cleaning charm at him out of courtesy.
Minerva stared for a few seconds then smirked. She transformed and pounced on the rat before it even had time to realize it had thirty-five pounds of Kneazle animagus in the room with him. Blood and fur flew. Harry grimaced but said nothing as he watched his future mother-in-law ripped Hutchinson into six different pieces, before transforming back into a witch and stalking out of the room.
“You’re a brave man,” one wizard in the back of the room said, “to even think about marrying that woman’s daughter.”
Harry grinned. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
Godric hissed and stared at the pieces of his former master. “That works, too. He’s still ugly though.”
“He smells worse,” Castius said dryly. He stared at the still transfigured remains. “Want me to take care of this?”
Harry huffed. ”Incendio.” All of the parts burst into flame. He glared down at the small magical fire. “Master Armand.”
“No one else will be admitted into our conclave without a thorough vetting unless circumstances are dire. Send his personal effects home. I don’t care what you tell his family about his death.” He returned to the center of the room. “My new friend Godric has been misused by one of our own. Let us come together and cleanse him of the foul magic that has been used against him since he was no more than hatchling.”
* * * *
“Where is Godric?”
“He’s in a fire box recovering,” Harry said as he slid into place beside Hermione at the Gryffindor table. Rowena was wound up in his witch’s hair again. He just shook his head at the elaborate arrangement of hair and snake. “You’re going to start some weird fashion trend.”
“Oh.” She blushed and held out her hand to Lavender who gamely handed a copy of Witch Weekly over. Hermione opened the magazine to the center and where she was on display in her uniform and Rowena was entwined in her hair. “Colin Creevy submitted the picture. I’d lecture him but Rowena and I decided that we look great. It’s an article about my adoption, mostly, but Rowena is mentioned by name and they do say she’s your familiar.”
Harry took the magazine when she offered it and frowned as he read it over. “Right.” He exhaled sharply. “Don’t open any of your own mail for the next while, Mi. Give it to Dobby for processing.”
“Cursed letters,” Fay said from across the table. “You’ll probably get some pretty ugly hate mail, too. I’d let Harry’s elf handle all of your mail if I were you. Elves are adept at taking care of that kind of stuff.”
“Agreed,” Lavender took the magazine back when it was offered. “And it’ll only get worse once it’s published that you’re in a courting period. Some less developed minds are going to have a real problem with a Peer making such a grand gesture for a Muggle-born.”
Owls came in through the high windows then—delivering the Prophet. Harry accepted his and paid for it with a heavy feeling in his stomach. The dead silence in the room told him the tale even before he opened it.
CORNELIUS FUDGE AND DOLORES UMBRIDGE MURDERED!
The details of Fudge being strangled and Umbridge being apparently poisoned. A second article reported that there was an emergency Wizengamot session would already in session by the morning delivery of the paper. Professor McGonagall activated a wireless at the front of the room and a sonorous charm made sure everyone could hear it.
“I nominate Lord Sirius Orion Black to the office Minister for Magic for a period of no less than five years!”
Harry’s mouth dropped open and he exchanged a startled look with Hermione.
His father’s voice filled the Great Hall at that point. “I am, of course, honored by your faith in me Lord Greengrass, but I’m not the wizard to lead Britain. The fact is I think the lot of you need a good swift kick in the arse. The bigotry in this government is insufferable. Your backward approach to technological advancements in both the magical and Muggle world is infuriating. There are bloody Death Eaters walking around free—men and women guilty of murder, torture, and even rape. No, I say you do not want me to lead you because I would burn this goddamned place to the ground and piss on the ashes. I don’t trust any of you. I’ll never trust you with my son. I’m not sure I could trust you with a better a future. You’d have to do a lot of work to even convince me you deserve a better future.” The shocked silence that followed must have been quite a sight in the Wizengamot.
Harry ignored how everyone in the Great Hall was staring at him—as if he were somehow responsible for his father’s words.
“I second the nomination of Lord Sirius Orion Black to the office of Minister for Magic for a period of no less than five years!”
Harry exhaled sharply.
“Lord Longbottom seconds the motion. Do we have a third?”
“Thank you Lord McGregor, the motion carries,” Dumbledore’s voice thundered through the hall. Harry couldn’t imagine what it was like in the Wizengamot. “Further nominations?”
The dead silence that followed was not unexpected. Greengrass had totally pinned his father in. As a nominee, he couldn’t nominate an opponent.
“Lord Black, will you accept the nomination?”
“I need a five minute recess.”
Harry stood as soon as the recess was granted, walked to the corner of the room and pulled out his mirror even before it started to vibrate. He cast a privacy ward around him so thick that he was completely obscured from the rest of the hall. He answered the call. “I’m private.”
“I’m not,” Sirius said dryly. “I’ve got Dumbledore and that horrible traitor Gerald Greengrass with me. I take it you’re listening on the wireless in the hall?”
“Yeah, everyone is listening. McGonagall didn’t activate the class bell so I guess we’re staying put until the session is over,” Harry huffed. “This is not the plan, Dad.”
“Yes, well, we both know a plan rarely survives the first engagement.”
“Granted, I was looking forward to throwing Fudge in your old cell. It’s really disappointing that he managed to get himself murdered,” Harry said. “Dad, if this gets you killed…” He trailed off and cleared his throat. “There are only so many times I can allow a group of people to fail me before I make them pay for it.”
“So you’re okay with this? If you aren’t I’ll tell them all to kiss my perfectly tanned arse.”
“Hell yeah, go kick them all in the face for me.” He sighed when his father winked and the mirror went dark. He dispelled the ward, pocketed his mirror and sat down beside Hermione with an expression so neutral it nearly hurt.
“We thank you for patience,” Dumbledore said as the session was called back to order. “Lord Black, will you accept the nomination?”
“I want to warn you that we’re probably all going to regret this,” Sirius said dryly. “I accept the nomination for Minister for Magic. The House of Black abstains from voting. The House of Potter abstains from voting. Additionally, the Earl of Gryffindor would like you all to know that there are only so many times you can fail him before you are made to pay for it.”
“Merlin’s pants, Potter, did your father just threaten the entire Wizengamot on your behalf?” Roger Davies asked.
Harry met the older boy’s gaze unflinchingly. “More warning than threat, I’d say.”
Davies saluted him with his juice glass. “Go Lions!”
Harry flushed as his house returned the cheer to the Head Boy. Silence settled around them as the Wizengamot voted and his father was elected with an overwhelming majority.
“Lord Black, your oath?”
“It’ll have to be reworded, Chief Warlock. My duty, first and foremost, in this life is to my son. All of you come a distant second to him,” Black said immediately. “I can’t make any oaths that are contrary to that duty. I once let anger and the need for revenge come before him and we all know the outcome of that decision. I swore on my magic when he was three years old to never put anyone or anything above him in my life as long as I lived.”
Hermione’s hand settled on his and he realized his fingers were trembling. He cleared his throat and reached out with his left hand to flip over the teacup in front of him he’d yet to use. A small steaming teapot appeared before him but Astoria reached for it before he could and poured for him. He added the amount of honey he preferred and stirred it carefully as they waited.
“I, Sirius Orion Black, Earl of Blackmoor, do swear to serve the Light while in the office of Minister for Magic. I swear to seek justice for those unable to seek it for themselves. I vow to uphold the moral and ethical laws set forth in our realm by her Majesty the Queen of England to the best of my ability as long as it does not compromise the emotional and physical safety of Harry James Potter, the Earl of Gryffindor. So mote it be.”
The wireless was shut off at that point and Minerva McGonagall stood. “Classes will begin for the day with third period. Congratulations, Lord Potter, on your father’s ascension to the Minister for Magic. If you’ll come with me—I’ll see you through the floo in the Headmaster’s office so you can see him. You’ll be expected to return to school in time for your fifth period class.”
Dobby met them in Headmaster’s office with his formal black robes. The Potter crest on the sleeve. He shed his school robe but kept the jumper and tie. “Merlin.”
Minerva sighed. “I know. A little warning would’ve been nice.” She brushed off his shoulders and straightened his tie. “Do you want me to step through with you?”
“No, ma’am. I’m fine,” Harry said quietly. “If this gets him killed…” He cleared his throat and looked away. “I don’t know how I’d survive that.”
“Your father is a good wizard, a strong man, and an excellent fighter. I have every faith that he will do his duty and keep his mangy hide in one piece at the same time. I know you have every right to be worried considering the way Fudge was murdered. But Sirius Black is not the man Fudge was.”
“Good thing I have an alibi for that,” Harry said dryly. “As much as I publically hated the man—I’m surprised not to be accused of his murder.”
“I imagine they have a very large list of people who wanted to put that man down,” Minerva said. “I haven’t told Hermione what was done to Hutchinson.”
“Are you going to?” Harry asked. “I’m not sure I could lie to her if she asked me if he’s alive or dead. If I say I didn’t kill him, she’s going to assume you did.”
“I wouldn’t ask you to lie to her and I’m not remotely ashamed of my actions. It is my duty and my bloody right to defend my daughter. I won’t have her mistreated by anyone ever again if I can help it.”
* * * *
He stepped through to the central floo area of the Ministry. He hadn’t been in the building since he was eight but it looked exactly the same. Harry meandered over to the line for entrance into the main part of the Ministry but was only there for a half a minute before an Auror hurried over to him, grasped his elbow and pulled him through the crowd to the front of the line.
“Oi, Kingsley you know no one gets to cut in line,” the wizard handling the checks admonished without even looking up.
“Edgewater, the Minister’s son is not waiting in bloody line,” Shacklebolt snapped.
Harry gamely offered the man his holly wand when he looked up startled. The man took it with a shaking hand. “Good morning, sir.”
“Good morning, Lord Potter.” Edgewater cleared his throat. He put the wand through the process, returned it and handed Harry a visitor’s badge. “Welcome to the Ministry of Magic, officially, for the first time.”
Harry grinned. “Thank you.”
The Auror lead Harry through the Ministry with a firm but careful hand.
“We haven’t formally met,” the man said conversationally. “I’m the Head Auror.”
“Kingsley Shacklebolt. Yes, I watched you duel last year in Romania. Your performance was outstanding.”
“So was yours,” Kingsley said. “I was rather relieved not to have to face you due to your age. I was horrified, at first, to find out you were competing in the seventeen to thirty age group.”
“I couldn’t have competed in the younger group,” Harry said. “I had to duel two judges to prove that. I would’ve ended up hurting one of those kids if they’d forced it.”
The entered a magical lift and Shacklebolt released him.
“Is everything alright?”
“Things are a bit tense,” Shacklebolt admitted. “What with the murders of two high ranking ministry officials and Black’s appointment to Minister. Most of the employees assumed it would be Amelia Bones. We knew your father had been bolstering her political clout for years for that very outcome.” He snorted. “Black’s face when Greengrass nominated him was bloody priceless.”
“I bet. Any head way on who killed them and how?”
“Fudge was strangled—some sort of braided skin is the best bet.”
“Like a belt?” Harry asked innocently. “Dragon hide?”
“Yes, something like that.” Kingsley shrugged. “Pretty untraceable. Umbridge is worse—she was poisoned by a magical snake. Long acting, ingestion. We’re working on it. Don’t worry about your Dad—he’ll be protected. I won’t let anyone get close enough to hurt him.”
He led him through a series of offices and into a large conference room that was in chaos.
“Enough! My son was in school in bloody Scotland when Fudge was killed and Umbridge was poisoned. Your accusations are beyond the pale,” Sirius snapped and glared pointedly at John Dawlish. “Look, I realized his girlfriend embarrassed you but frankly if a sixteen year old witch with a rather unequal defense practical education can stun you—I have to wonder how you got your job.”
“He threatened to feed Umbridge to his snake and now she’s been poisoned with snake venom!” Dawlish shouted. “He’s not above the law. He should be brought here and questioned!”
“I’m here,” Harry said in the silence that followed and quirked an eyebrow when they all turned to look at him. “Do you have any evidence to back up your insulting accusations?”
Dawlish glared at him. “Your public disdain for both Cornelius Fudge and Madam Umbridge is well known, Lord Potter. I don’t think questioning you about their deaths is out of line.”
“Except for the fact that I’m sixteen and enrolled at Hogwarts,” Harry pointed out. “The paper said that Fudge was strangled around four pm yesterday—I was in Herbology—having barely escaped a devil’s snare with my dignity intact.”
“And Umbridge?” Dawlish demanded. “You’re a parselmouth. You could’ve ordered a snake to kill her.”
“I could’ve, yes. Any parselmouth could have. There are four hundred and twenty six known parselmouths in Europe right now, fifty-one of them, excluding myself, are in my conclave. I have four magical vipers that I have repeatedly used in ritual magic and as of last night two elemental vipers. The female elemental viper is a bonded familiar. The male will probably become one. A magical viper would’ve had to been milked while an elemental viper can and will spit venom on command. Kingsley told me that Umbridge ingested the venom.
“That rules out magical vipers as their venom is corrosive and she would’ve died within minutes of it hitting her stomach because it would’ve… dissolved her from the inside out. An elemental viper’s venom is not deadly to humans or even evil little toadies like Umbridge. Though Rowena does like to eat them—she doesn’t kill them first.” He smirked when Dawlish paled. “How long did it take her to die?”
“We estimate ten hours,” Dawlish said lowly.
“Hmmm, that rules out basilisk and boomslang as well. This reduces your search to a common adder or a Runespoor. Both have slow acting venoms when ingested and the common adder can be controlled to an untold degree by anyone who can conjure them—parselmouth or not. The common adder can also be compelled to spit venom like an elemental viper but their venom is almost always fatal without intervention.”
“And the Runespoor?” Shacklebolt asked.
“No one, parselmouth or not, can control a Runespoor without a familiar bond. I had a trusted teacher tell me he’d turn and run from a parselmouth with a Runespoor for a familiar. The triad personality of the snake makes for a very deadly companion. If the three heads are in harmony, which is honestly rare in nature, they are easily the most dangerous snake you’ll ever encounter. Worse than even a basilisk because a Runespoor is extremely intelligent, the heads think independently of each other, they can reason, plan, and hold a grudge. One is certainly capable of murder, especially if they felt they’d been misused or caused harm.”
“On their own?”
“Or with instruction from a wizard they are bonded to,” Harry said simply. “Worse, the snakes are easily offended and could, would, and probably have murdered without the instruction of anyone. They are known to hunt for pleasure as much as they are known to hunt for food. I know very few parselmouths who would submit to bonding with such a snake.”
“Would you?” Dawlish demanded. “Have you?”
“I have not and I would not. Runespoor are territorial. Bonding with one would require I be… essentially celibate the rest of my life. Runespoors have been known to kill the lovers of their bonded in jealousy.” He shrugged at the shock that filtered over many of the faces in the room. He pulled his wand and with a careful salute in his father’s direction, he placed it over his heart and began to speak.
“I, Lord Harry James Potter, do solemnly swear on my magic that I did not order, compel, or suggest that anyone—man, creature, or conjured snake cause the murder of Dolores Umbridge. So mote it be.” The oath sealed around him. “Serpensortia.” The snake poured out on the table in front of him in a writhing mass of magic. “This could be what you are looking for Auror Dawlish. A common adder. The venom is deadly even in a conjured one. They aren’t very smart.” The snake hissed at him. Harry shrugged. “Sorry, little one, you just aren’t.” He turned to Dawlish. “They are, however, easy to control, easy to milk, and easy to get rid of after the fact. No wizard, parselmouth or not, can conjure the same adder twice which means finding it will be next to impossible. Vipera Evanesca. Because just like that and your evidence is gone.”
Dawlish frowned at him, obviously furious. “My apologies, Lord Potter, for suspecting you.”
“Oh, no worries,” Harry said pleasantly. “I really did want to feed Umbridge to Rowena. My girlfriend wouldn’t let me.” He paused. “Also, don’t feel so bad about Hermione McGonagall stunning you—she is the brightest witch of the age.”
Sirius leaned against the wall and shoved his hands into his pockets. “Everyone can leave. I need to speak with my kid before he’s due back at Hogwarts. Kingsley, if you would stand by to escort him back to the floo I’d appreciate it.”
Harry walked to stand beside his father as a bunch of people he obviously wasn’t going to be introduced to left the room. He drew his wand and cast a room wide charm—a parselmagic spell that picked up a variety of listening and surveillance charms. He dispelled them one by one and cast the charm again to make sure he got them all. Once the room was clear, he holstered his wand and leaned against a patch of wall next to him.
“Well, this is a total clusterfuck,” Harry said dryly.
Sirius snorted. “Yes, it certainly is. Castius is going to throw a truly unbecoming fit.”
“I didn’t know about the vow,” Harry said quietly. “It that… why… Dad, is that why you’ve never remarried? Never had children of your own?”
“You are my child,” Sirius snapped. “As much as if I’d fathered you myself and I’d rather not ever hear that shite again.”
“Sorry,” Harry closed his eyes. “You know I didn’t mean it that way. I don’t even remember him… you know… I wouldn’t know what James Potter looked like if it weren’t for the pictures.” He glanced around the Minister’s office. “I love you, you know.”
“I do know,” Sirius said focusing on the toe of his fashionable dragon hide boot. “I love you. I’d do anything in my power to protect you. Die for you if it came to it. As to never marrying again, I love Castius but we aren’t on the same page, Pup. Maybe we never will be but that has nothing to do with you. He loves you and has pretty much since he set eyes on you. In many ways, you are much his son as you are mine.”
“Is it because you like witches, too?” Harry asked.
Sirius hummed a little under his breath. “He’s not interested in marriage or an exclusive relationship, Harry. The witches probably are part of it. He has no interest in women at all.”
“So he’s never going to share a house with us,” Harry asked.
“We’ve considered it in the past but we’re both pretty set in our ways and when you were younger we were both very concerned about providing you with some stability. Neither one of us were prepared to say we were going to be together long term. I didn’t want to bring a parade of sex partners through your life. Not after what happened… well, not after that incident with Julian.”
Harry huffed. “I was six.”
“You nearly killed him with accidental magic,” Sirius said dryly.
“I thought he was hurting you,” Harry said with laugh. “Is it too late to apologize for being a cockblock?”
“There is no statute of limitations on cockblocking as you well know,” Sirius said sternly. “I’ll take your apology.”
Harry grinned then laughed. “Piss on the ashes? Really?”
Sirius laughed with him. He wrapped an arm around him then and pulled Harry close. “What should I do first?”
“Contact the dverger and get the financial records of all suspected Death Eaters.”
“Hmmm, excellent choice. I was considering throwing Lucius Malfoy off the Tower of London.”
“Better, yet, give witches the right to sue for divorce,” Harry said. “Then when Narcissa is finished ruining him—have him arrested for being a Death Eater. Force him to give his title to his son and throw him in a hole for the rest of his life.”
“You trust his son?” Sirius asked.
“Rowena says he’s good people and you know Severus has always believed his godson was worth saving.”
Sirius nodded. “Alright.”
“I kissed Hermione,” Harry said.
“Good?” Sirius asked amused.
“Fantastic,” Harry admitted. “I don’t think I came on too strong, she was practically wrapped around me by the time we stopped kissing.”
Sirius laughed. “I don’t think you have much to worry about on that front, Pup. I know I spent a lot of time this summer talking to you about not pushing her too quickly but now that she knows the truth—if you are a little forward with her sexually, it won’t look like more than what it is. It’s perfectly okay to want her as long as you respect her boundaries.”
“I’d never take more than she’s willing to give,” Harry promised. “You know that.”
“I know I raised a good man,” Sirius said. “I have no doubts about your honor, Harry.”
“Be careful around here, Dad, we both know neither Umbridge nor Fudge were the brains of their operation. I’ll raze this whole fucking country if you let them kill you. Don’t use Ministry bound elves either. Call for one of mine if Celia is busy.”
Celia was the only bonded elf in the House of Black though Harry knew his father could easily support at least three magically. He figured his dad wouldn’t have bonded Celia if she hadn’t begged. After all, Sirius had transferred Dobby’s bond to Harry as soon as he could. Harry had never asked but he figured his father had some bad experiences with house elves.
His Dad led him to the door and opened it. “The house in Hogsmeade is ready. Did you want your phoenix piano moved? We’ll be staying in Britain long term thanks to today.”
“No, I’d prefer it remain in Paris. We can have Star charm it when she closes the house there. I just… well, maybe I’m coddling it but I’d be pretty upset if it were damaged because of the climate and elevation changes. Magical instruments are delicate that way.”
“I’ll make sure Star handles it personally,” Sirius said as they approached Shacklebolt and a man wearing robes that marked him from the Department of Mysteries.
Harry felt something foreign and ugly brush up against his magic. The stranger turned to them, eyes unfocused and dark. A wand snapped into his hand in a flash and Harry responded before anyone else had time to realize what was happening. Drawing his blackwood wand, he snapped out a parselmagic curse with a sharp hiss.
Everything descended into chaos around them. Harry stalked forward, kicked the man in the face and snatched his wand up which he tossed to his father. He turned on Shacklebolt, eyes shifting purple, skin darkening—face rippling as his animagus form fought to rise. His aura expanded around him, flaring with magic as he fought to rein in his temper. “If this is the kind of care I can expect from you lot, I’m going to have to insist my father hire private security.”
“Shacklebolt, get this idiot in custody before my son loses his temper!”
Shacklebolt stunned the man who was whimpering and bleeding.
“This is him calm?”Amelia Bones demanded.
“He’s not fond of Death Eaters,” Sirius said shortly. “Who is he?”
“Algernon Rookwood. His brother, Augustus, is in Azkaban—has been since 1981,” Amelia said. “Algernon was still at Hogwarts, a fourth year at the time of Voldemort’s first death.”
Harry used his wand to cut off Rookwood’s sleeve—sloppily. Blood poured out of his arm, drenching the faded Dark Mark in red.
“Harry James,” Sirius snapped sternly. “My office.”
Harry retreated into his father’s office with a violet-eyed glare towards Bones and Shacklebolt that both had enough sense to take for the reprimand and threat it was.
Sirius turned to Amelia Bones. “I want every single person employed at the Ministry checked for the Dark Mark. Any found will be arrested and interviewed at length concerning how they received the Mark, any crimes they may have committed while serving Tom Riddle, and any they have committed since his death. No one is exempt from this.” He pulled up his own sleeves. “Me first.”
Amelia Bones hesitated briefly before she drew her wand and used several charms to make sure he was as he appeared to be. She holstered her wand, displayed both arms to him, and said nothing while he returned the favor.
“I’m going to have to call in a lot of Aurors to handle this.”
“I don’t care,” Sirius said and stalked away.
He entered his office and found his son sprawled on a sofa in a snit. “You okay?”
Harry frowned. “I felt his Dark Mark. It was… talking to him, Dad. Not aloud but in his head. My magic reacted to it.” He touched his scar, which was faded and pale on his forehead. It had been since the horcrux had been removed from him. “I wasn’t going to eat or kill him. But the son of a bitch pulled his wand to use it on you.” He huffed. “Besides there wasn’t enough room for me to shift into my animagus form out there without hurting you, too.”
“I knew you weren’t going to kill him but the others weren’t so sure,” Sirius said wryly. “What’s your next class?”
“Arithmancy. Hermione’s favorite class. She’s the teacher’s pet and no one can even be all that irritated by it because she’s just so pleased to be in the class.” He looked at his father out of the corner of his eye. “She’ll bounce a little in her seat when she knows an answer which is, of course, every single time a question is asked. I spend half the class thinking about giving her something to bounce on.” He sent his father a look. “Her I could eat…”
Sirius laughed. “Well, I’d hate for you to miss it. Let’s get you through a floo and back into Minerva’s capable hands.”
* * * *
He slipped into a desk beside Hermione just as the final bell sounded and pulled out his textbook and the assigned homework. She glanced at him questioningly and he gave her a brief nod. Rowena raised her head and Harry retrieved her without comment. Hermione’s hair settled back into place without incident.
“Lord Potter,” Professor Vector said impatiently. “Are you paying attention?”
He flushed. “My apologies, Professor, the question?”
“The equation for calculating the magical power needed to charge a rune stone is determined by what factors?”
“The combined magical power of the conclave or coven doing the casting divided by the Myrddin Rating of the High Warlock or Witch creating the rune stone. However, modern magical theory postulates that a single wizard or witch of a Myrddin Rating of 1000 or higher could charge as many as twenty rune stones on his or her own. Such a ward if placed on ley lines could protect upwards of one hundred square kilometers, keyed to single caster creating a near impenetrable ward as there would be no seams where magic is blended from multiple magicals.” He inclined his head as he thought. “There is a warlock in Singapore that is rumored to have created such a ward over the summer. I wanted to go see it but ran out of time. I’ve been invited to view the ward and the structure over the Easter holidays.”
“How would you know a wizard’s Myrddin rating?” Terry Boot asked. “That charm is illegal. It’s considered dark arts.”
“Only in Britain,” Vector said shortly. “And only if you perform it on someone other than yourself. It is not a dark art. In fact, the very nature of charms prevent them being labeled dark no matter how they are used. All charms require positive intent, Mr. Boot, including the Merlin’s Orb charm.”
“Then why is it illegal?” Hermione asked.
“It was originally outlawed to protect half-bloods and Muggle-borns,” Harry said when Vector hesitated. “Pure-bloods in the UK in the 1600s were using the charm to eliminate magical competition. Forty-two children were rendered unmagical in the year before the charm was outlawed.”
“Rendered unmagical,” Susan Bones repeated. “Polite way of saying those horrible people were destroying the magical cores of little kids based on their magical potential.”
“And the charm is still illegal because?”
“Pure-bloods don’t want to admit that Muggle-borns may have more magical potential. Generation after generation of inbreeding takes its toll, Mi,” Harry said and just raised an eyebrow at Boot who was glaring. “Want to test the theory, Boot? The lack of forking in the family tree of the average pure-blood is horrifying.”
The boy sank back in his chair with a huff.
Harry turned to his professor and found Vector frowning at him. “Did I get the answer wrong?”
She huffed. “It wasn’t the original question. I was irritated with you, Lord Potter, for not paying attention so I asked you a question that isn’t covered until seventh year to catch you off guard.”
“Oh.” He blushed. “I see.”
“If you took your NEWT in Arithmancy today, what would you expect to get?”
“I would expect an Outstanding here in Britain,” Harry said without hesitation. “Perhaps an O in theory and an A in practical if I was taking the International NEWT.”
“You should’ve told me you were prepping for your International NEWT,” she admonished.
“Ma’am, I’m preparing for the International NEWTs in every subject I’m taking here at Hogwarts and two more besides,” Harry explained. “I apologize. I thought Professor McGonagall had shared my plans fully with the staff. I’d be happy to discuss this outside of class if necessary.”
“It will be,” she assured. “I won’t have you under perform in Rome on my watch.” She looked at Hermione pointedly. “Are you going with him?”
“Yes, ma’am. My mother and I have already discussed it.”
“You said two additional subjects?” Vector prompted.
“I’m set to take my International OWLS in Warding and Rune Casting over the summer. I’m considering adding Magic Theory.”
She huffed. “You’d better get to Babbling before I do, young man, and confess your sins. She has no idea either. Her Mastery is in Rune Casting.”