By right of conquest
Chapter the First
By right of conquest
Chapter the First
Part 1 - Prologue
August 1997 – a public garden near Perth
Lucius Malfoy thought himself a patient man, except for instances like the present when he was sitting alone, waiting. The Lord’s instructions were quite clear: arrive early, come alone, appear to be unarmed (his hidden wand in the sophisticated walking stick not counting) and wait at the parley point. He was sitting in a public garden; there were benches arranged in a semi-circle surrounding a formal arrangement of what he believed to be Lisianthus. At the center of the flowers stood a weathered brass sundial, which might or might not be accurate, as the mildly inclement weather did not allow the late day’s sunlight to cast sufficient shadows to tell if it were functional. He steeled himself; he would not fidget, he would not pace, he would not repeatedly scan the horizon like a nervous soldier waiting for his first engagement with the enemy. He took a deep breath, holding it for a counted period, and then exhaled through his nose.
The emissary appeared on the opposite bench. No crack of apparition, no Portkey, no fading disillusion; one moment he was not there, and then he was.
“Malfoy,” the emissary stated.
“You have the advantage of me, sir,” Lucius replied.
The emissary pulled back the hood that was obscuring his face. Lucius smiled, he did not expect to be dealing directly with the Patriarch; perhaps the negotiations would not take forever.
“What is your reply?”
“The grimoire exists, in fact there are several copies, but it will not do him any good,” the emissary stated.
“Shouldn’t he be the one to determine that?” Lucius asked.
“Suit yourself,” he countered, with a negligible flick of his hand.
An old leather bound book appeared on Lucius’ lap. He could feel a thrum of magic as he touched the cover.
“A wizard who is extremely powerful could open the book,” the emissary began “but unless that wizard is of the blood of my family, the book cannot be read.”
“You could dictate it,” Lucius suggested.
The Patriarch stared at him patiently.
“I could not,” he said, followed by a period of silence.
“You could threaten me with dismemberment, you could torture and then murder those I hold dear before my eyes, it would not change the fact that I cannot reveal what is in the grimoire to someone who is not of the blood. Cannot, not will not; there is a difference,” the Patriarch explained patiently.
Lucius nodded slowly. While he was not the master Legilimens the Lord was, he was able to discern that the Patriarch was telling the truth.
“My children are similarly bound.”
Another period of silence.
“It appears that we are at an impasse, but not one of my own making. If you wish, you may take that copy back with you as an earnest of my good faith. I suspect that he is powerful enough to open the cover.”
Lucius inhaled again, moving his hands to the top of the walking stick. There was yet another long silence; it seemed to be the mark of this meeting. He racked his brain for an answer; the Lord rewarded success and did not tolerate failure.
“Your daughter,” he began, “your oldest daughter.”
“She is of marriageable age?”
“Are we negotiating something different now?”
“Perhaps; hear me out,” Lucius said, trying to keep the tension from his voice. “If one of our nobles were to marry into the family, would that suffice to become one of the blood?”
A longer silence.
“Perhaps – it would have to be a real marriage, and there would be conditions imposed in the terms of the betrothal contract. That is academic; however, as I am fairly certain that none of your eligible, unmarried nobles have sufficient power.”
“What of the Lord?”
“Are you authorized to negotiate on his behalf?” the Patriarch said with a wry smile.
“I don’t see him as the marrying type.”
“We shall see,” Lucius said, standing quickly, moving the grimoire under one arm as he moved the walking stick to his dominant hand. “Three days?”
“We can meet again in three days.”
“Good day to you, sir,” Lucius said, giving the emissary a nod before stepping smartly away from the garden.
Several minutes passed, and then another cloaked figure appeared on the bench.
“Father, are you out of your mind?”
“Patience, lovely girl, Lucius is even now spinning a tale in which he came up with this masterly stratagem. Traps are so much more vicious when they are built by the victim.”
Chapter the First
Part 2 - Handfast
Queenie’s diary – August 1997 – enciphered entry
I cannot believe this is happening. The Dark Lord somehow learned of the family grimoire and began to “negotiate” for its purchase this week. Some rough thugs waylaid Father before the negotiations began as he was visiting some of our tenants. He quickly took their measure and sent them away with a reminder why it is good to not annoy our family. I’m not entirely certain as to why it’s important to the Dark Lord, but Father assures me that it contains centuries of magic accumulated, developed, and perfected by generations of our family.
End enciphered entry – checksum 887
“Why does he want it?” Queenie asked her father, Malcom. She’d found him outside splitting wood. The elves could have easily done it, but Malcolm insisted on doing some of the chores himself, the old fashioned way.
He sighed as he picked up a piece of firewood, placing it on end for splitting.
“The self-styled Dark Lord cares nothing for the purebloods. Pius Thicknesse is an idiot if he thinks that he is on his side. The Dark Lord wants power. Our grimoire contains a wealth of magic that has been kept in our family for centuries. What does he gain if he truly has the grimoire?”
“He gains magics that no one else knows,” Queenie answered.
“Exactly,” Malcom said as he deftly swung the ax into the standing piece of wood. “Magic is power – Grindelwald was quite clear on that, and the Dark Lord learned a lot from him before the last Great War.”
Reaching for another unsplit log, Malcom asked, “What happens if he doesn’t gain the grimoire?”
“We have power that he does not have,” Queenie answered.
“Which makes us what?” Malcom queried.
“Which makes us a threat,” Queenie said.
He brought the ax down again.
Queenie’s Diary – September 1997 – enciphered entry
I would have thought that without Malfoy, life at Hogwarts would be bliss. It appears that I was wrong. On the plus side, Snape is no longer our head of house, so the other houses no longer have quite as much reason to hate us. Slughorn is a suck-up, but he’s not petty. Snape does not make a bad Headmaster, but the Carrows are just plain crazy. They apparently buy into the lie that the Dark Lord is the champion of the pureblood world.
On the home front, Mum writes that progress is being made on the betrothal terms.
If I wasn’t the cow being sold, I’d find this quite interesting.
Father is most clever, but there are days that I worry that he will be too clever.
The basic terms:
· I become betrothed to the Dark Lord.
· Once betrothed, neither the Dark Lord nor his vassals nor his hirelings can do anything by omission or commission to harm me or my family, including any use of potions or mind magic. The Dark Lord and his vassals must do all within their power to keep me and my family safe.
· This offer of protection extends to any of Father’s tenants or trading partners, provided that they do not take up arms against the Dark Lord.
· Once married, the Dark Lord will be “of the blood,” and thus able to read the family grimoire. (I am dreading this…)
· The Dark Lord is not bound by the usual restrictions of the grimoire, and will be able to share the magics therein with others beyond the blood.
· The penalty of breaking the betrothal is loss of magic.
· Once betrothed, the betrothal contract must be executed by the Summer solstice.
The last two points took two weeks to negotiate. The original penalty for breaking the betrothal was loss of life and magic, so I guess that’s a step in the right direction. The last point about the solstice was added at the last moment at the Dark Lord’s request. I suppose that was so we didn’t go ahead with the handfasting and then disappear into the shadows, which would have the benefit of protecting my family without making me the Dark Lord’s bride.
I swear there are days that I loathe the old ways.
End enciphered entry – checksum 991
Queenie’s diary – Autumnal Equinox – 1997 – enciphered entry
Well, I guess it is official now. We met by the standing stones on the moor. It’s not as famous as Stonehenge, but it’s also a lot easier to get to. There are three tall stones forming a triangle which points more or less east if you were to map the area. In the middle of the triangle marked by the standing stones is a lesser, rocking stone. Father says that the rocking stone wasn’t used as an altar by the Druids, but I have my own opinion on that.
We arrived in the shadows before making ourselves visible. The Dark Lord was within the triangle; another person was outside the triangle. Given the height and shape of the other, I think it was a woman, but her face was obscured by the shadows of her hood. Making our entrance, I walked into the triangle and then put my hand on the lesser stone. The stone had a prickly feel, notwithstanding that the top was rubbed smooth by time. The Dark Lord pulled back his hood and then placed his hand on mine. Father opened the ceremony with the negotiated words, followed by the woman, reciting the preamble terms to the betrothal.
Then we each spoke our part.
With each promise I could feel magic, from the stone, from the Dark Lord’s cold, waxy hand, from my own being, buzzing through my hand.
In the early rounds of the negotiations, the Dark Lord insisted that his name was Lord Voldemort, as if his mother had named him “Lord” and he were born into the Voldemort family. Father insisted that if the magic were to work, it had to be done under our given names. So, as I recited my promises in my own name, the Dark Lord gave his name as Tom Marvolo Riddle, just as written in the Quibbler article.
When we finished the promises Riddle (I’m not going to refer to him any more as “the Dark Lord”) moved to pull his hand away from the stone, but was stuck fast by the magic that we’d just invoked. A brief smile crossed his pale nose-less face and he bent down to kiss my cheek, whispering, “Well, it wouldn’t do to not honor the customs,” into my ear before pulling his now freed hand away from the lesser stone.
My hand, however, was still stuck to the blasted stone. I curtsied to him and spoke my last promise.
“I am yours – we will wed by the Solstice.”
Mustering the last shreds of dignity I pulled my hand from the stone, and then walked out of the triangle with what I thought was a serene grace, which meant that I didn’t trip over anything or step on the hem of my robes.
Riddle pulled his hood back up and walked to the woman. They dissolved into oily black smoke and then disappeared.
Closing out this entry, I’m very glad that the family is now protected from Riddle and his band, but I’m not particularly enthused about being the sacrificial lamb.
End enciphered entry – checksum 991
Chapter the First
Part 3 – Conquest
(adapted from Deathly Hallows – Chapter 36 – Flaw in the Plan)
May 2, 1998 – Great Hall - Hogwarts
"It's your one last chance," said Harry, "it's all you've got left. . . . I've seen what you'll be otherwise. . . . Be a man. . . try. . . Try for some remorse. . . ."
“You dare --- ?” said Voldemort again.
“Yes, I dare,” said Harry, “because Dumbledore’s last plan hasn’t backfired on me at all. It’s backfired on you, Riddle.”
Voldemort’s hand was trembling on the Elder Wand, and Harry gripped Draco’s very tightly. The moment, he knew, was seconds away.
“That wand still isn’t working properly for you because you murdered the wrong person. Severus Snape was never the true master of the Elder Wand. He never defeated Dumbledore.”
“He killed --- ”
“Aren’t you listening? Snape never beat Dumbledore! Dumbledore’s death was planned between them! Dumbledore intended to die, undefeated, the wand’s last true master! If all had gone as planned, the wand’s power would have died with him, because it had never been won from him!”
“But then, Potter, Dumbledore as good as gave me the wand!” Voldemort’s voice shook with malicious pleasure. “I stole the wand from its last master’s tomb! I removed it against the last master’s wishes! Its power is mine!”
“You still don’t get it, Riddle, do you? Possessing the wand isn’t enough! Holding it, using it, doesn’t make it really yours. Didn’t you listen to Ollivander? The wand chooses the wizard . . . The Elder Wand recognized a new master before Dumbledore died, someone who never even laid a hand on it. The new master removed the wand from Dumbledore against his will, never realizing exactly what he had done, or that the world’s most dangerous wand had given him its allegiance . . .”
Voldemort’s chest rose and fell rapidly, and Harry could feel the curse coming, feel it building inside the wand pointed at his face.
“The true master of the Elder Wand was Draco Malfoy.”
Blank shock showed in Voldemort’s face for a moment, but then it was gone.
“But what does it matter?” he said softly. “Even if you are right, Potter, it makes no difference to you and me. You no longer have the phoenix wand: We duel on skill alone . . . and after I have killed you, I can attend to Draco Malfoy . . .”
“But you’re too late,” said Harry. “You’ve missed your chance. I got there first. I overpowered Draco weeks ago. I took his wand from him.”
Harry twitched the hawthorn wand, and he felt the eyes of everyone in the Hall upon it.
“So it all comes down to this, doesn’t it?” whispered Harry. “Does the wand in your hand know its last master was Disarmed? Because if it does . . . I am the true master of the Elder Wand.”
A red-glow burst suddenly across the enchanted sky above them as an edge of dazzling sun appeared over the sill of the nearest window. The light hit both of their faces at the same time, so that Voldemort’s was suddenly a flaming blur. Harry heard the high voice shriek as he too yelled his best hope to the heavens, pointing Draco’s wand:
“ Avada Kedavra! ”
“ Expelliarmus! ”
The bang was like a cannon blast, and the golden flames that erupted between them, at the dead center of the circle they had been treading, marked the point where the spells collided. Harry saw Voldemort’s green jet meet his own spell and then rebound. He saw the Elder Wand fly high, dark against the sunrise, spinning across the enchanted ceiling like the head of Nagini, spinning through the air toward the master it would not kill, who had come to take full possession of it at last. And Harry, with the unerring skill of the Seeker, caught the wand in his free hand as Voldemort fell backward, arms splayed, the slit pupils of the scarlet eyes rolling upward. Tom Riddle hit the floor with a mundane finality, his body feeble and shrunken, the white hands empty, the snakelike face vacant and unknowing. Voldemort was dead, killed by his own rebounding curse, and Harry stood with two wands in his hand, staring down at his enemy’s shell.
There was pandemonium after that, but Harry didn’t hear it. He walked towards the husk that had contained Tom Riddle’s soul. A quick cutting curse separated the head from the lifeless body. Harry then picked the yew and phoenix feather wand from Riddle’s waistband.
“It’s mine now,” he said to no one in particular, before falling into the scrum of wizards and witches that pressed forward.
Riddle’s body burst into flames.
When Harry woke up he was staring into protuberant blue eyes.
“Hello, Harry Potter,” Luna intoned gravely.
“Hello, Luna Lovegood.”
“You collapsed as you came out of the Headmaster’s office. Madam Pomfrey said you were merely exhausted, but I thought that your soul was fuzzy around the edges and not quite sticking to your body. You’ve been sleeping here for 20 hours,” she reported.
“Where is everybody?”
“I’m not quite sure where everybody is,” Luna replied with a smile. “The morgue has been moved from the Great Hall to the antechamber. Families have been coming to claim the dead. Ronald and Hermione have been transfiguring the bodies that haven’t been claimed into little bricks.”
“How’s the DA?”
A blank mask fell over Luna’s features.
“Fred Weasley is dead; so is Ginny,” Luna answered in a monotone.
“Fred died before you got to the Great Hall, Hermione, Ginny and I were fighting Bellatrix,” she started.
“Yeah, I saw that part,” Harry interjected.
“When Molly took over our fight, Bellatrix shot something past Molly,” Luna explained. “I think she was aiming at Hermione, but Ginny pushed her out of the way before we were all knocked off our feet with some sort of explosion. We never knew that Ginny had been cut in the leg and bled out; we didn’t even know she was wounded. Madam Pomfrey has most of the Weasleys on calming potions. Without them, well, let’s just say that they’re not very functional without potion support.”
Harry closed his eyes. He wouldn’t cry now, not in front of Luna, but he knew the tears would come.
“Tonks and Lupin are dead,” she began, still in a monotone.
“I know, I saw them,” Harry said, eyes still closed.
“Do you want to be alone, Harry Potter?”
“I don’t know,” Harry said, looking up to see tears flowing down Luna’s face.
Harry heard a rustling beside him.
“Master Harry,” Kreacher croaked.
“Kreacher,” Harry acknowledged.
Luna wiped her face on the back of her sleeve.
“Master Harry’s friends, who Kreacher will not call ‘blood traitor’ or ‘Mudblood’, are coming back with some food.”
“Okay,” Harry said, trying to hold in a snort at Kreacher’s attempt at manners.
“Former Mistress has invited you to stay at her home. Kreacher is sad to report that Death Eaters have made the Black home not fit to live in.”
“The former Mistress Andromeda who was cast out of the Black family when she married someone Kreacher is carefully not calling a Mudblood.”
“Thank you, Kreacher.”
Kreacher sniffed, wiped his nose on the back of his hand, and disappeared.
There was a click as the door was pushed open. Ron was carrying a paper sack with two hands. Hermione’s hands were pulling a cloak close to her as if she were cold. Both of them looked as if they’d been crying.
“We got you some food,” Ron said blandly. “Hello Luna, there’s enough for you too.”
“Thank you, Ronald, Hermione,” Luna said as she opened the bag enough to peek in.
Ron passed out sandwiches wrapped in brown paper and bags of crisps. From the bottom of the bag he pulled four bottles of butterbeer. Ron’s motions were sluggish, possibly a side effect of the calming potion.
“I guess I’ve been out of it for a while,” Harry said, hoping to break the awkward silence. “Anyone seen Malfoy?”
“What do you want with that git?” Ron asked.
“I thought he’d want his wand back,” Harry replied.
“Oh,” Ron said, biting the last of his sandwich. He then reached into the bag for another.
“I think the Malfoys left last night. They took several bodies back to their families,” Hermione said.
“I wonder if Malfoy Manor is as messed up as Grimmauld Place?” Harry said.
“Why’s that?” Hermione asked.
“Kreacher said that it wasn’t habitable, which coming from him means something,” Harry answered.
“Dunno,” Ron said. “Check if the Floo is back up later today. It’s been out for a while, but Kingsley said it’s one of the first things to get fixed. It seems that he’s the Acting Minister of Magic right now. The new crew that came in with Pius Thicknesse seems to be pretty scarce – probably all rehearsing their ‘I was under Imperius’ speeches.”
“Kingsley said that they were going to have a Truth Commission, just like in South Africa,” Hermione said.
“What happened in South Africa?” Ron asked between bites of his second sandwich.
“Oh, Ron, honestly, don’t you follow anything happening in the Muggle world?” Hermione asked.
“Daddy wrote an article about it in The Quibbler,” Luna said. “He found it fascinating.”
“South Africa had a government that treated black people the way the blood purists treated Muggles and Muggleborn,” Harry explained. “Old government fell, new government tried to do better.”
“That’s pretty concise,” Hermione said. “At least you’ve been paying attention.”
“What are we going to do now?” Harry asked.
“I need to go find Daddy,” Luna said promptly. “Kingsley said he was probably at Azkaban. Wherever he is, he’s not at home.”
“I need to go back to Australia,” Hermione said. “I don’t know if Mum and Dad will forgive me.”
“I’m sure they will,” Ron said.
“But what if I can’t reverse the Obliviation?” Hermione whinged.
“Nonsense, I’m sure you’ll do it right the first time,” Ron encouraged. “Want some company going to Australia?”
“Oh, Ron, would you?” Hermione said, reaching out for his hand.
“What about you, Harry?” Luna asked.
“Dunno,” Harry said. “I thought I’d go to Grimmauld Place, but Kreacher says it’s not fit to live in. The Burrow’s gone; the house on Privet Drive has been sold, so I haven’t a clue. I might visit Mrs. Tonks; start to get to know Teddy. I’m his godfather. I haven’t a clue what godfathers are supposed to do beyond breaking out of Azkaban. Speaking of which, how’s your mum and dad?” Harry asked Ron.
“Mum kind of fell apart when she found out both Fred and Ginny died,” Ron replied. “Madam Pomfrey sedated her for a couple of hours. Dad was holding her all the time. A couple of big holes in the family, but Percy’s back again.”
“Hey, change of subject,” Harry said. “How does someone get reinstated back into a Magical family?”
“It would be done by the Head of the family,” Ron answered, “but I don’t know the particulars.”
Ron and Harry then looked at Hermione.
“Why are you looking at me? I’m the Muggleborn here!” Hermione exclaimed.
“Well, don’t you have a book on it?” Ron asked.
“I didn’t have room for everything , Ron,” Hermione huffed.
“The Head of the family has to say that they are reinstated in the presence of another member of the family – it could be anyone, really,” Luna said.
Harry stood up, slowly, and then gathered up the debris, putting the empty crisp bags and bottles back into the paper sack which he then dropped into the bin next to the door.
“I could do with a shower,” Harry said.
Ron and Hermione took that as their cue to leave, walking out of the room hand in hand. Luna unfolded herself from where she’d sat at the foot of the bed next to Harry’s.
“I have something for you, Harry Potter,” she said gravely. “Hold out your hand.”
Harry did so and Luna dropped a cold, black stone into his palm; he knew without looking that it was the Resurrection Stone.
“You really shouldn’t leave your belongings out in the Forbidden Forest, Harry, you never know who might pick it up,” she said with a small smile, before walking out of the room.
For some reason the sight of her walking slowly with her head down broke his heart. Two emotions battled inside him – anger and pain. He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. It didn’t help.
He took another breath and concentrated on what he needed to do, and not what had happened.
Harry’s stomach was cramping as he approached the gate leading to the Tonks’ house. It was a handsome Georgian style home made of red brick, larger than a townhouse unit but much smaller than the manors some of the old magical families called home. The neighborhood was definitely Muggle; automobiles were parked in the street or in off-street parking in the mews between houses. Opening the gate he walked past the pond where he’d crashed less than a year ago. There was no evidence that it had ever been the impromptu landing site of a flying motorcycle.
He walked up the brick pathway to the front door and lifted the large iron knocker, a whimsical rendition of a wyvern, the only hint that this might be a magical residence. With three brisk knocks, Harry stepped back from the door, waiting. He heard a rustle within and then the door opened quickly.
“Quiet,” she hissed. “I’ve just got him down.”
She then stepped back, looked at him and then lunged forward, wrapping him in a hug.
“Oh, Harry, thank goodness you ended it,” she exclaimed. “Let me look at you. I’m not going to lie to you, Harry, you look terrible.”
“Hello, Mrs. Tonks,” he began.
“Andi, please. Would you like to come in? I’ll make some tea.”
“That would be nice, Andi, thanks.”
“ You’re going to live here until 12 Grimmauld Place is habitable. I’m not going to take no for an answer.”
“Thanks,” Harry said, finishing the last of the biscuits on the plate.
“So, why are you here, Harry?”
“I wanted to see Teddy. I don’t know what all a godfather is supposed to do, but I thought I ought to get to know him if I’m going to do my job,” Harry explained.
“You’re not taking Teddy,” Andi said tersely. Her tone indicated that the point was not negotiable.
“I think that Teddy’s in the best place possible for him – what do I know about kids?” Harry said.
The balance of May fell into a predictable rhythm.
Harry would rise and make breakfast for whoever was in attendance at Andi Tonks’ house and then Kreacher would clean up. Harry and Andi would take Teddy outside and then once Teddy went down for his morning nap, Harry would return to Grimmauld Place, working with Kreacher to make it habitable again.
At first the work was mainly cleanup, but after hauling what Harry estimated would be several truckloads of trash from the ground floor into the rear garden, the work of repair began in earnest. While “Reparo” had its use, the earnest work of carpentry and painting remained, which meant purchasing materials, which meant visiting Gringotts.
Worrying about the goblins had always been somewhere at the back of Harry’s mind, ever since Bill Weasley had cautioned him to honor his agreements with the goblins to the letter. They hadn’t yet tracked him down and slit his throat while he was sleeping, but he knew that as a race, they were rather patient and had long memories.
A quick Floo call to Bill Weasley at Shell Cottage that night let him know that at least there wasn’t a public warrant for Harry’s arrest at Gringotts, so after making arrangements for Teddy’s care, Andi planned a morning visit to Gringotts for the following day.
The trip from Andi’s house to Diagon Alley was mostly muggle – the plan was walking to the tube, then walking from the station to the Leaky Cauldron and then into the public gate that Harry had visited when he was reintroduced to the Wizarding world. As he was leaving the Underground he felt a small weathered hand brushing against his palm. Harry curled his fingers around the note he knew he’d find there.
Master Harry, you are being followed by a man wearing a red banded black hat. K
Leaning over to Andromeda, Harry said quietly, “Andi, I don’t mean to startle you, but do you see a man with a red banded hat following us?”
Andromeda kept walking as if she’d heard nothing; adjusting the straps to the oversized purse she carried everywhere when she was outside the house.
“Yeah, looks like it,” Andromeda said. “Tall man, muggle suit, black fedora with a red hat band. I saw him when we were on the tube.”
“Okay,” Harry replied. “If he follows us into the Alley we may have to hustle.”
The pair ducked into The Leaky Cauldron without incident and then through the public access gate into the Alley. Harry smiled as he looked about; the Alley was buzzing with activity, storefronts showing fresh coats of paint, windows full of items for sale.
“We seem to have lost our friend with the hat,” Andromeda said quietly as they turned the corner and walked towards Gringotts. Harry wasn’t sure what he’d expected, but the building looked just as it had before Harry had ridden a dragon out the building. Evidently the repair process included depositing a new layer of grime on the façade.
The entry to the bank was dark, quiet and cool, in contrast to the bustling street outside. The counting tables were empty and there was but one teller window open with a short queue. Harry and Andromeda stepped into the queue and after two other customers concluded their business, stepped up to the teller. “I, uh, would like to make a withdrawal from my vault,” Harry said as the teller stared at him keenly.
“Name?” the teller barked.
“Uh, Harry Potter,” he answered.
“Huh,” the teller grunted, shuffling through tabbed cards in a drawer.
“It says here that you need to see a manager,” the teller said, after staring at the card for almost a minute.
“Mr. Rufus,” the teller called.
The bank lobby was now silent and empty of customers. A smartly dressed human appeared, wearing a black fedora with a bright red hatband. He looked at Harry and Andromeda.
“Mister Potter, we’ve been expecting you. I’ll take you to the Director,” the man who might have been Mr. Rufus said. When he smiled, his mouth looked slightly wider than a human mouth ought to look.
As he led them down the hallway he seemed to shrink until he was half of his former size. He appeared to be goblin now, but the tallest goblin that Harry had ever seen. He stopped at an unmarked door, listened for something, and then opened the door.
The office was tasteful, but cluttered with a side table, a conference table and a desk.
The large wooden desk sat next to a window. Behind the desk was a chair that resembled the throne of some up and coming monarchy, upon which sat a goblin in suit and waistcoat.
“Ah, Mr. Potter and Mrs. Tonks,” the goblin said in a friendly manner. “We’ve been running wagers as to when you’d come visit us. It appears that I am not going to win that pool. Mr. Rufus, if you could be so kind as to ensure that we are not disturbed? Thank you.”
The goblin in the fedora nodded his head politely and withdrew from the office. As he closed the door Harry listened for the sound of a lock, but heard nothing.
“I am Ragnok, the director of Gringotts in this country.”
Andromeda dropped a polite curtsey. “It is an honor to meet you, Director Ragnok,” she said, placing a slight emphasis on “Director.”
“I am puzzled, Director Ragnok,” Harry began “that you would be concerned about a withdrawal from my vault.”
“Oh, your vaults are fine,” the director said. “We do have other business today. Please, sit down by the table, I will join you shortly.”
Andromeda and Harry took seats at the table, being careful to leave empty the higher chair that was obviously meant for a goblin.
“I am so pleased to finally be able to meet you, Mr. Potter,” Ragnok said, effortlessly mounting into the chair. “I knew your father, and his father before him, but before I could meet you, two bloody wars erupted, excuse my language please. Although everything has opportunity, war at home is generally bad business. My condolences for your losses, both of you.”
“Thank you, Director,” Andromeda said formally.
“Your actions in the war have made things difficult – I believe the human idiom is ‘placing me in a pickle’ although that idiom never made any sense. Gringotts is a bank, and I am the director. Mister Potter, the goblin nation however is not nearly as organized and there are competing factions and clans, some of whom wish to laud you, and others would like to slit your throat. I’ve had Mr. Rufus keeping an eye on you for the last month. Prior to today his instructions were to not be seen.”
“And today?” Andromeda asked archly.
“Today, he was to be obviously seen. Mr. Rufus works for me, and is allied with my clan.”
“I’d be honored, if only I could figure out why anyone was interested,” Harry said.
“Ah, Mr. Potter, modest as always. Tell me, Mr. Potter, how many wands are you carrying today?”
“I’m carrying my wand,” Harry said firmly.
“And I’m carrying the brother to my wand, which I took from Tom Riddle,” Harry said in a slightly softer tone.
“And the Death Stick?” Ragnok asked.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Harry said glibly.
“Of course not,” Ragnok stated in a matter-of-fact manner. “Let me try to explain some of the competing interests.”
“Please do,” Andromeda said.
“There are factions in the goblin nation that call you ‘Potter the thief’ and wish to see your head on a pike outside the bank’s doors. There are other factions that want to seize your money and property to pay for damage to the bank facilities, including one very irate dragon keeper who has been struggling to replace the magnificent dragon you rode off on at the beginning of the month.”
“Yeah, if it’s any help, I didn’t plan on stealing a dragon,” Harry said.
“Of course not,” Ragnok said convincingly.
“Where do you stand, Director?” Harry asked.
“We will get to that. What do you know of the legal principles behind ‘right of conquest?’” Ragnok asked.
“Um,” Harry began.
“To the victor goes the spoils,” Andromeda quoted.
“Exactly,” Ragnok replied. “By example, if France invades Britain and Britain repulses the invasion, France may well lose territory. The victor would keep the captured land by right of conquest. As a historical aside, they call that stretch of land ‘Brittany’ for a reason. What, pray tell, did you do with Mr. Malfoy’s wand, Mr. Potter?”
“I, uh, returned it to him,” Harry began.
“Why?” Ragnok asked.
“Because it was his, he needed it,” Harry answered.
“So you defeated him in battle, but you did not keep what you’d captured?” Ragnok suggested.
“Yeah, something like that,” Harry said.
“So, why do you still have Tom Riddle’s wand?” Ragnok asked.
“I figured he didn’t need it any more. At the time I didn’t know if my own wand could be repaired and I figured that I could always use the brother wand,” Harry explained.
“As was your right,” Ragnok said, “you were the victor, he was the vanquished. Your act in taking Riddle’s wand was magically significant, Mr. Potter.
“Let us now talk about property. Gringotts is banker to the Wizarding world – we also deal with matters of inheritance. When your parents died, Harry, their wills were simple, each parent bequeathed everything to the other, and if they both died, except for a handful of specific bequests, you inherited everything. You, however, were a minor and Dumbledore spirited you away shortly after your parents’ demise, so at Gringotts we bided our time until you reached your majority, at which time, unfortunately, you were a fugitive from your own government. Not exactly a propitious time to settle the Potter estate, or the Black estate, for that matter.
“Now we fast forward to this month. There were many, many deaths, which meant many, many inheritances. One wizard by the name of Rabastan Lestrange died, leaving everything to his brother Rodolphus, who died an hour later. Rodolphus left everything to his wife Bellatrix, who was a member of the Black family. Bellatrix Black, as you know, is also dead, without issue and without a will, which means that everything she owned was inherited by the head of the Black family, who happens to be seated in front of me. At this point, Mr. Potter, you should be very thankful for this turn of events, as the head of a family cannot be charged with breaking into a Gringotts vault that he now owns. In the eyes of Gringotts, you may be a burglar, but you are not a thief. I’ll have you know that ‘burglar’ in Gobbledygook is an honored title.”
“So that’s good?” Harry asked.
“For you, that is exceptionally good.” Ragnok replied, taking the moment to pull a scarlet handkerchief from his waistcoat pocket and dab his very sweaty eyebrows. “As you leave today, I will present you with a statement as to your current holdings. You have inherited the Black estate, including the rest, residue and remainder of the Lestrange holdings, the Potter estate of course, and the Gaunt estate.”
“Gaunt?” Andromeda asked.
“Tom Riddle, the self-styled ‘Lord Voldemort’ was the last member of the Gaunt family, through his mother. The Gaunt family in turn was all that remains of the Slytherin line. By right of conquest you own everything that Tom Riddle owned at the time of his death; which means at the end of the day that you are indeed, now, the heir of Slytherin.”
“Okay, I think I follow you, but what’s that mean?” Harry asked.
“The Black coffers have been enriched by the Lestrange inheritance. From the Gaunt line, a trifling amount of money – the Gaunts had no vault at Gringotts, but there were various tools and books owned by the late Mr. Riddle, including an impressive collection of grimoires,” Ragnok explained.
“The man had a passion for collecting knowledge at any price. In most instances the original family owning the grimoire no longer exists and the family usually died by his hand. The one salient exception is the Bones grimoire. You may be contacted by Miss Susan Bones concerning the return of the grimoire.”
“Anything else?” Harry asked.
“We’re getting to that,” Ragnok said. “The property at Spinner’s End formerly owned by Severus Snape, the last of the Prince line, is now yours along with a meager amount of money. His library was held in a trust for Hogwarts, which will certainly accept the bequest.”
“Wait, how did I end up inheriting from Snape?”
“Again, by right of conquest – Snape died at Riddle’s hand. As a quibbling legal matter there’s also the question of whether or not the lord/vassal relationship among the former Death Eaters could be recognized either by Gringotts or by the Ministry of Magic, but we do not have to settle that question as it’s easier to deal the property by regarding it as spoils,” Ragnok said. “The expenses incurred for damages to Gringotts when you rode a Gringotts dragon out of the bank have been already been deducted from the Lestrange vault. If you will execute a draft to purchase a suitable dragon from the Romanian reserve, I think the Gringotts dragon keeper will be mollified. I believe he has been negotiating for a dragon named ‘Norbert.’”
“Small world,” Harry said. “Assuming that I can afford it, that shouldn’t be a problem.”
“It is indeed a small world,” Ragnok said. “I smiled when I remembered the report of how you spirited the young dragon out of Hogwarts, but that is for another time. The expense for purchasing ‘Norbert’ or a comparable dragon is quite reasonable.
“You asked about my position. As Director of Gringotts, it is my duty to safeguard the interests of the bank. The bank declared that it was neutral in both wars. As head of my clan however, it is my duty to protect the interests of the clan. In the first war, Tom Riddle and his vassals murdered a family of goblins in Nottingham. The matriarch of that family was my granddaughter, who happens to have been the mother of Mr. Rufus. Had your assets not been sufficient to cover the property damage to the bank, I would have made good the difference from my own vaults, as I am indebted to you as head of clan. And so, Mr. Potter, I will now shake your hand and thank you for the service that you have rendered to my clan.”
Ragnok then stood and with great dignity extended his hand to Harry. After the solemn handshake, Ragnok sat down again at the table. He dabbed at his forehead again and took a deep breath. “This leaves us with one remaining issue.”
“Which is?” Harry asked.
“At the time of Tom Riddle’s death, he was betrothed to one of your classmates. By right of conquest, she is yours,” Ragnok said.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Harry exclaimed.
“I assure you that I am not kidding,” Ragnok said gravely.
“I don’t want his bride,” Harry objected. “Who are we talking about anyway?”
“You are not required to take her, Mr. Potter; that is purely up to you as victor, but the woman in question has asked that you entertain the notion,” Ragnok said gravely. “As to who, I will allow the young lady to introduce herself.”
Ragnok slid his chair back and reached for a trinket on his desk. “Mr. Rufus, could you please bring the young lady into my office now? Thank you.”
A different door opened and a veiled woman, dressed from head to toe in black entered the room. Mr. Rufus stood next to the now closed the door.
“Hello Mr. Potter,” the woman said, lifting the veil from her face. “I’m Daphne Greengrass, but my friends call me Queenie.”
This is a creative writing exercise under the US Copyright law doctrine of fair use - Copyright 2014 Kokopelli - all rights reserved - firstname.lastname@example.org - write to me, I write back.
It's been a long time. I'm now an empty nester, and I started playing with this story to get my writing muscles back in shape. Jeepers, I'm rusty!
The vast herd of fanfic writers steal from each other shamelessly. Susan Bones is nowhere described in canon, but in some fanfic a scribbler describes her as a buxom redhead, and thereafter she's a busty red haired siren in fanfiction. While this reuse of ideas is efficient (think open source code) it's not very clever.
The first writer to add a hand to the Weasely clock for Harry was clever - the hundreds that followed thereafter were not. Likewise the obligatory shopping trip, the obligatory emancipation during the will reading for Sirius Black (which was brilliant when first done by Full Penseive) etc.
Jeconais first wrote Daphne Greengrass as the beautiful Slytherin Ice Queen (to his credit, she's had both blonde and black hair) and thereafter she's the Slytherin Ice Queen and Tracey Davis is her best friend. News flash - all of that is fanon, not canon.
My Daphne Greengrass is a plain looking girl (or at least that's how she would describe herself) who plans on getting what she wants in life by clever plans and hard work, not looks and luck. She's also found herself in a terrible situation that presents wonderful opportunity, if only she could make just one thing work.
You won't see much of Ron or Hermione, and they don't end up together, although that's not germane to this story. Ron is Ron, impulsive, jealous, narrow-minded.
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