Chapter 03 - First Contact
Alyx took her seat in the front row next to Bob and she looked expectantly at the stage. Around them, the audience filed into the theater and took their seats. Bob sat placidly, eating some popcorn and watching.
Confused, Alyx scratched her head and leaned over to whisper at her husband. "What are we waiting for?"
"The disclaimer," Bob replied with surety.
Alyx looked around uncertainly then leaned closer. "Ummm, did you write the disclaimer?"
Bob blinked and turned to look at her. "No, I thought you were going to write it."
"And I thought you were going to!" she exclaimed.
"Oh shit!" they both chorused. They knew they were in deep doo doo. Without a disclaimer the story couldn't be started and the audience would turn into a rampaging mob and lynch them.
"What are we going to do?" she hissed at him.
"Ummm hide!" Bob said, then slid under his seat.
Alyx rolled her eyes and bent over to look at Bob who was curled up in a ball and trying to pretend he wasn't there.
"Hide? Is that the best you can do?" she said disdainfully.
Bob looked at her, then he gestured with his hand. "Um no, since we forgot the disclaimer we need to do something to tell the audience that we don't own Harry Potter or the Potterverse. Or give the audience a scape goat."
Alyx sat up straight her said and never noticed the glowing sign over her head which said "SCAPEGOAT" in fourteen foot tall neon yellow letters.
"They wouldn't go that far, would they?" she asked herself. Behind her, the audience started to growl and several people started handing out pitchforks and torches.
Xavier's School for Gifted Children, Westchester County, New York (July 15th)...
Harry stumbled into the kitchen and flipped on the light. His nightmare had been especially disturbing and he was in no mood to try to go back to sleep.
Hagrid had returned to Hogwarts yesterday, and Harry had gone to bed depressed about seeing his friend leave. His nightmare was a mix of the usual; Voldemort killing people he knew, and the people he had lost accusing him of being responsible for their deaths.
He shivered, but he wasn't sure if it was from the nightmare or from his bare feet on the cold kitchen floor. He conjured a hot cup of tea and rooted around in the pantry until he found a box of cookies. Cookies, he mused. These Americans are a strange lot. They sure call things by some strange names. Cookies, mail, trucks. What's next? Oh, and we mustn't forget the subway, he thought with a wry grin.
He opened his flight manual, hoping to lose himself in the hundreds of minute details and fight off the sleepiness he felt, but a noise interrupted him. He looked up to see a tall black woman with white hair enter the room.
She paused in surprise, seeing him there.
"Hello," Harry said with a slight smile.
"You must be Jean's nephew, Harold?"
"Harry, actually. Just Harry," he replied.
"I am Ororo Munroe, otherwise known as Storm," replied the woman.
Harry's smile broadened. "I've heard about you. Would you like to join me?"
Storm nodded and sat down at the table. Harry waved his hand, conjuring a cup of tea for her. He was working on his wandless magic more and more. Logan had correctly pointed out that he needed to avoid making gestures, so he was trying to break himself of that particular habit. It wasn't easy. Even more frustrating, some things were easy to do wandlessly and other things were extremely hard to do.
"That's a handy talent to have," she commented, then she picked up the cup and sipped. Her eyebrows lifted at the taste and she saluted him with her cup.
He shrugged. "It is. I'm still learning to do things without my wand, and it's a good ability to have in a fight, but it's not easy."
"So, that isn't your mutant talent, then?" Stormed asked in surprise.
He grinned and shook his head. "No, I'm a teleporter," he replied. "I could conjure the tea cup because I'm also a wizard. I can do magic."
"I remember now. The Professor told me about you. You've been teaching Jean to do magic, haven't you?"
He nodded. "She's pretty good, considering she hadn't received any training before I came along. If she's as smart as my Mum, she's going to be a great witch."
Storm nodded. "So why are you up so late?"
He looked down at the table. "I had trouble sleeping," he said softly. He didn't want to think about how Hagrid's departure had affected him.
"Another nightmare?" asked Jean from the doorway.
Harry nodded and refused to meet her gaze. She sighed and walked over to sit next to him.
"I don't get them every night anymore, Aunt Jean," he said.
"Harry," she replied, lifting his chin so she could look at him. "You could have come to me, you know."
"I didn't want to disturb you and Uncle Scott."
"We're here to help you," Jean replied with a sigh. "Now, I want you to finish your tea, then go back and try to get some sleep. If you continue having problems, I'll prescribe something very light to relax you. It won't be a sleeping pill, but it will help you relax and fall asleep easier."
"All right," he replied. He closed his book and took another sip of his tea before banishing the cup, then he stood. "Good night, Aunt Jean. It was nice meeting you, Storm."
The two women watched for a moment while Harry left the room, then Storm turned to Jean. "He has your eyes," she said.
"They're my sister's eyes. How much has Charles told you about him?"
"Just the basics. It's a common thread, isn't it? A badly treated mutant that we find only as they're coming to the end of their rope? He seems like a good boy, however; very polite and he makes a wonderful cup of tea."
"He does, at that. And according to Scott, he's a natural pilot." Jean smiled, then shook her head and looked at Storm carefully. "So, how was Hong Kong?"
Storm shivered slightly and her eyes grew distant. "It was ugly. The trail for Magneto ran cold among the docks of the harbor. I was making no headway there so I decided to come home."
Jean nodded. "It's good to have you home, Ororo. I could use another woman around here. The place is drenched in testosterone; it's enough to overwhelm a girl."
Storm laughed. "As if you couldn't handle them." She smiled at her friend, then cocked her head to one side. "How are you taking to becoming a parent overnight?"
"It's both easier and harder than I thought. I mean, Harry's nearly an adult, but in a few ways there's still a little boy there, looking for someone to hug him. He's been badly treated, but he's coming to realize that there are people who care about him. It's something he isn't used to.
"Scott surprised me the other day by suggesting we adopt him. We've already filed the paperwork," Jean said, smiling broadly.
Storm looked at her friend and shook her head. "You, a mother. That is something I can see. But Scott as a father? That is almost as bad as asking Logan to play clown for a child's birthday party."
Jean chuckled. "He's not that bad. It's just taking some getting used to, but we'll get there."
Storm nodded. "I think you two will do well." She stood up and stretched. "However, as I'm about to fall asleep, I'm going to bed. I need to talk to Charles in the morning, then I think he wants me to visit Capetown next."
"Sleep well, Storm."
"Thank you. Good night, Jean."
Jean waited until Storm left the room, then she pulled out her wand and pointed it at the conjured cups. "Evanesco!" she intoned, waving her wand. The cups vanished, to her amazement, and she laughed. Magic was just so much fun!
On the way back to the bedroom she shared with Scott, she paused outside of Harry's room. She nodded in satisfaction when she sensed him sleeping peacefully inside.
Xavier's School for Gifted Children, Westchester County, New York (July 17th)...
"Come in, Harry," Xavier called from his desk.
Harry walked into the room and placed his books on the coffee table.
"I'd like to do something different today. However, before I begin with that, Hank asked me to give you this. He seems to think it will work," Xavier said, passing over a small box.
Harry opened the box and grinned seeing the cell phone waiting for him. "That is a combination cell phone and X-Man communicator. With it, you can place a regular phone call, or contact us without having to dial anything. Hank says he's shielded it. If it works, he said all he needs to do is provide shielding for other items. He's already spoken to several people at some manufacturing facilities I own about shielding our equipment.
"Hank also mentioned that you had worked out a way to power the electronics?"
Harry looked up from examining the tiny phone, pleased to note the built in camera and small color display. "What? Oh, yes, I did. The proper runes carved onto the surface of a battery will allow that battery to run forever. I found the notes of someone who was working on providing everlasting power among the books I removed from London. The person hadn't completed the work, but it was easy enough for me to take it to through the final steps. I dare say, if it can be powered by a battery, I can make it run forever."
Harry raised a hand and levitated the phone out of the box. He flipped it open and grinned when the keypad lit up and he heard the dial tone. "Brilliant," he murmured, then he looked up sheepishly at the Professor and closed the phone.
Xavier chuckled. "Not to worry. I was young once myself and remember getting something new and being eager to try it out.
"Your Aunt and I are very pleased with your progress," he continued as Harry sat down. "You've worked hard on catching up with your studies, especially in the areas of science and mathematics. Your progress has been nothing short of remarkable. Just remember, if you get stuck, we're here to help you.
"And that brings me to another topic, something important that I want you to understand. Your aunt and uncle are your family, but we X-Men are all family. Even if something were to happen to Jean and Scott, you would still have us."
He placed the phone on the coffee table next to his books and looked at Xavier. "Sir?"
"I want you to understand that we X-Men are as much a family as you and your aunt and uncle will be. It's something you need to know and believe in, Harry. It's your safety net. We will always be here for you."
Harry leaned back and nodded. "I think I am coming to understand that, sir. But sometimes what my head knows and what my heart believes are two different things. Sometimes I get so angry."
Xavier nodded and poured himself a cup of coffee. He was aware of the problem Harry had controlling his emotions. At first, he'd thought it might be a result of his upbringing, but now he was convinced that somehow, his ability to control his emotions had been recently damaged. Helping Harry learn to bring order to the chaos was a difficult task.
"Mark Twain, a famous American author, once said, 'Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured'. Think about that for a moment."
The office fell silent while Harry considered the words carefully. He was used to conversations like this from Professor Xavier and he knew that the man liked to sneak little semantic traps on students to make them see his points. Xavier often used part of these lessons to augment the counseling he was giving Harry.
"My anger hurts me more than it hurts the people I'm angry at?" he asked.
Xavier nodded. "Indeed. Anger creates stress and stress can be measured; blood pressure increases, adrenalin flows. But more importantly, in Twain's time, all he knew was that being angry caused more problems for the angry person, not less."
Xavier moved around his desk to the nearby window "When you're angry, you lose control of your magic. Do you remember when you first arrived? Even the mention of Dumbledore's name made you very angry. Your magic flared, destroying the medical cart and shaking the house."
Harry remembered that fateful night, the night he talked to his aunt for the first time. Living in the mansion had made him very aware of what his emotion could do to his magic. With so many electronics around, both he and Jean were constantly checking to see if they had fried something.
"But what am I to do, Professor? When I think about some of the things done to me, I get very angry," Harry protested.
"You wouldn't be human if you didn't. Considering what was done, you have every right to be angry. However, you now know that anger isn't healthy. So what can you do about it?"
Harry's expression became confused. "I suppose I could forgive them..." he said dubiously.
"Forgiveness comes after you have resolved your anger, not before. What's more, some of them truly don't deserve your forgiveness. Why don't you channel that anger and the energy it creates into something more positive? For example, you could channel that anger into your determination that no one will ever abuse you again. Or, you could put that energy into something constructive, like your enchanted batteries or your studies. Anger is power untapped and out of control. Tap that power and use it to your advantage.
"I'm not here to tell you what to do. That's something you need to figure out for yourself. All I can do is help guide you to your goal and point out when you need to change goals."
"I appreciate that sir."
Xavier smiled at him. "Good, because starting today, I want you to spend a little time each day thinking about the people who have hurt you and instead of getting angry, try to focus your energies on something positive."
Harry looked at him for a moment before nodding. Then a thought occurred to him. "Sir? Should I forgive them at all?"
Xavier moved his chair closer to Harry.
"Only you can decide that, Harry. The trick is to examine each person and try to figure out exactly what they did and why. Take your friend, Hagrid. He obviously had a clue about what your home life was like. What about him?"
Harry frowned. "Hagrid never hurt me! He's my friend," he said angrily.
Xavier looked at him with an arched eyebrow and Harry flushed. The Professor had a way of making him feel ashamed, without ever saying a word.
"Hagrid might have known about the Dursleys, but there was nothing he could have done about it," Harry protested, trying to channel his anger into seeing Hagrid from a new angle.
Xavier nodded and motioned for him to continue.
"Well, he's a half giant, nearly classified as a dark creature. If he hurt the Dursleys, the Ministry would have sent him to Magical Animal Control for disposal. As much as I like Hagrid, and respect his knowledge of animals, he's like a kid in some ways."
Xavier nodded. "So, he knew about the Dursleys, but he couldn't do anything about it. How about when you were at school?"
Harry smiled. "His cottage was always open to me. We'd sit and drink tea and talk about Quidditch or what new animals he was going to be showing off next."
"So he did everything he could to make you feel welcome and safe while at school, but there was nothing he could have done for you at the Dursleys. This is what I mean by analyzing what each person did. What about your friends?"
"They lied to me," Harry said darkly. "They followed Dumbledore's orders again without question. I'm not even sure that's all they've done."
"Do you have reason to suspect they've done more than just lie to you?" Xavier asked curiously.
Harry shook his head. "No, just a gut feeling, Professor. Something tells me that my being a Mutant is going to be a problem with them. Hagrid hinted around it a few times while he was here."
Xavier frowned slightly. "All right, gut feelings are important, but not always correct. So put them off to the side and do nothing until you can resolve that feeling. Dumbledore? What about him?"
Harry's expression darkened and his fists clenched.
Xavier watched carefully as he slowly mastered the surge of anger that rushed through him.
Harry took several deep breaths with his eyes closed, then he turned to look at Xavier. "Some wounds are too deep to heal easily, Professor," he said softly.
Xavier nodded. He knew it was too soon for Harry to be thinking of forgiving Dumbledore, if he ever did. Xavier wasn't sure of the older wizard's motives, so he couldn't nudge Harry into trusting the man again, when he didn't trust him himself.
"You're right. But make sure you examine the issue dispassionately. Don't let anger cloud your judgment and don't think that it's wrong to come to a conclusion that some people can't be forgiven. The different between justice and revenge is that one is done without anger, while the other is driven by it. Don't let your anger drive you."
Harry leaned back thinking about what Xavier had said.
"There is nothing to be done about it today. Consider what I've told you. Now, let's break out the textbooks. We're going to start by looking into Newton's laws of Motion. Newton's first law states that every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it. We can interpret that to mean..."
Harry pulled out his notebook and started writing. The sciences and mathematics were quickly becoming favorite subjects of his. His classes with Scott and the Professor were some of the best points of his days.
Salem Massachusetts (July 25th)...
Harry looked out the window of their hotel and smiled broadly. For the first time in his life, he was going on a little vacation of sorts. The only sour point in the whole deal was the fact that Scott had been sent away with Logan at the last minute. Harry hoped that the two of them would be able to catch up with them sometime in the next six days, but he understood.
Jean had the room adjoining his, with a connecting door that they left open during the day.
For Jean, it was a kind of working vacation. In two days time they would attend a three day course to learn to Apparate. Both of them were eager to start, and they decided to arrive a few days early so they could see the sights and visit the world famous Salem Institute of Advanced Sorcery. The Institute also ran the more common Academy of Magic that so many of the American wizards went to.
Jean also wanted to visit Witchway, the local version of Diagon Alley. She was keen to do a little shopping to get a fitted wand, and enough ingredients so she could start making potions, though that was one area Harry said he couldn't help her with, claiming he didn't know enough about the topic.
Harry had learned that there was a Gringotts branch on Witchway and he hoped to be able to get some galleons from his account there.
Jean stepped into his room and moved to stand behind him.
"What are you thinking about?" she asked softly. She could sense his excitement, but with his new shields in place, she couldn't get much from him unless he lowered them.
"I was just thinking how I've never been on a vacation before. I'm not sure I even know what to do," he said, smiling at the view. They had two large rooms in the Hawthorne Hotel and the view overlooked the Salem Common. "It almost seems sinful to stand here and know there's no chores, no studying to be done. Nothing."
Jean chuckled. "There isn't much to do except to relax and have fun. Did you pack away the jet?"
Harry nodded. Since it was only the two of them, he had been allowed to fly from New York to Salem, using his favorite jump jet. Unfortunately, he had to promise Jean that he'd not perform any acrobatics during the flight. When they returned to Westchester, the jet would be sent back to Xavier's factory, where it would be modified to work around magic.
"So, what do you want to see first?" she asked.
"I think we need to deal with Witchway first, Aunt Jean. From the information sent to me by the Academy, there's a branch office of Gringotts there and I may be able to access my account. That would make things so much easier."
Jean's eyes lit up at the thought of shopping and Harry started to laugh. "Uncle Scott was right. Even you can't resist the idea of shopping."
Jean's eyes sparkled. "Oh, hush, you. You're looking forward to this as much as I am. Now, do we know where Witchway is?"
"According to the letter from the Academy, it's on the south end of Mall Street," Harry replied. "It's only a few blocks from here. We can walk it, or I can teleport us."
Jean glanced out the window. The sun was shining brightly with only a few overhead clouds. "Let's walk it."
With a little searching, they found the entrance to Witchway about twenty minutes later. They found it behind a small shop that sold Wiccan supplies to Muggles.
"Does Wicca work?" Jean asked Harry in a hushed tone.
Harry frowned. "I'm not sure, to be honest. There are many different types of magic, Aunt Jean. The wanded kind is just one example. Considering some of the things I've seen and read, I wouldn't be surprised if Santa Claus was real." He shrugged. "Most of the wizards I know would scoff at the idea of wandless magic, but I'm doing it. I guess what I'm saying is there are more types of magic out there than I've learned about."
Jean laughed and entered the door he held open for her. She stepped inside and gasped. Harry stopped next to her, also surprised by what he saw. Witchway was huge, far bigger than Diagon Alley. He looked around for a moment before he spotted the large white marble building leaning to one side.
"That way," he said, pointing and urging her forward. "That's Gringotts. Watch what you say there. The goblins can be a little touchy."
Jean skidded to a halt. "Goblins?" she exclaimed.
Harry laughed and grabbed her by the hand. "Come on," he said, pulling her forward.
He dragged her into the building and over to a goblin sitting at a desk counting robin's egg-sized gems. Jean's eyes bulged at the sight, then she shook her head.
"Yes?" the goblin asked.
Harry recalled the proper greeting from a book he had read. He held both hands outward, palm up to show he was unarmed. "Peace, health and prosperity unto you and yours, noble goblin. I would ask for your assistance."
The goblin sucked in a breath and stared at Harry, who began to worry. The goblin was supposed to provide the ritual reply, but he hadn't.
"My clan is honored to assist you, young wizard. With our help, may your gold flow freely," the goblin finally said.
The room fell silent as all the bank employees turned to stare at Harry. Several senior looking goblins hurried over from their counting stations.
Harry produced his key, offering it to the goblin. "My account is based in Diagon Alley, but I am wondering if it is possible for me to access it from here?" he asked in a hopeful tone.
"Name?" asked the goblin. He took the key and examined it carefully.
"Harry James Potter," Harry replied.
The goblin jerked and stared at Harry. "Potter? I think you had best see the branch manager, Bagger. I will take you to him."
Harry and Jean were ushered into a large, expensively furnished office. Behind the mahogany desk sat a regal-looking goblin. At their guide's urging, they sat in two lushly appointed chairs facing the goblin.
"Mister Potter, I am Bagger, director of Gringotts, North America," he said in a surprisingly deep voice, then he looked at Jean.
"Oh. May I introduce Mrs. Jean Summers, my maternal Aunt and guardian, soon to be my adopted mother," Harry said softly.
Bagger raised an eyebrow and stared at Jean for a moment. "We were unaware that Lily Potter had a sister other than Petunia Dursley."
Harry's expression darkened. "Yes, Dumbledore performed a number of illegal memory charms, wiping out all memory of my Aunt. I am, however, willing to submit to a blood based genealogical test to show the relationship."
Bagger grinned at him and shook his head. "Your word is sufficient for us, Mister Potter. However, if you would indulge us, I would like to send our London branch proof that you here and wanting to access your accounts."
Harry started at the word accounts.
Jean touched Harry's arm, stopping him from speaking. He glanced at her and nodded. "Director Bagger, I am a witch, but only recently introduced into this world. Even with that, I can tell you are withholding information from us. What has happened that requires proof that Harry has been here?"
Bagger leaned back in his plush leather chair for a moment. "You are quite correct, Mrs. Summers. The British Ministry of Magic has been trying, unsuccessfully mind you, to confiscate the Potter family accounts and properties. They seem to feel that, by doing so, they will draw Harry out into the open where they can capture him.
"No charges have been levied against him, you understand. They merely said that they want to bring him in for questioning and to keep him safe. While we were able to stonewall the Ministry on the family accounts, they were able to seize his trust vault, taking all of the money contained within it."
Harry sat rigidly in his chair for a moment. "They stole my money?" he asked quietly. The air around him began to glow slightly and the smell of ozone filled the office.
"Harry, control your temper," Jean said sharply. "We'll fix the problem."
Harry blinked and closed his eyes. He took a few cleansing breaths before opening his eyes again.
"Director, you wouldn't be telling us this unless Gringotts had a way of fixing it," Jean said. She stood and walked behind Harry's chair and placed a calming hand on his shoulder.
Bagger grinned, impressed by the pair. She had effectively calmed Harry and Harry had shown an impressive amount of magic.
"There is an old British law still on the books which dates back hundreds of years. The law was enacted to prevent the Ministry from illegally seizing assets they had no right to. Called the Fiscal Vendetta Law, it allows us to recover double the amount that was seized from each party involved until the original sum has increased tenfold.
"That means we can recover double from the Ministry coffers directly, then double from the Minister or Department Head that ordered the seizure, then double from the department that performed the seizure and so on. The law had been passed because there was a time when the Ministry would take someone's money and that person would call for a vendetta against the Ministry, killing dozens or more before it was over. This law relieved the need for killing people."
Harry grinned. "I like it. Let's do it."
"Wait a second," countered Jean. "This was just a trust account. Doing this will make a lot of enemies for little gain."
Harry leaned back in his chair and nodded to Bagger. "Most of the Ministry are already my enemies, Aunt Jean, but we're not talking a small amount of galleons either. Director, would you please tell my Aunt how much was in my trust vault?"
Bagger opened a large book and flipped some pages. "As of the end of June and the last interest period, your trust account had just over 1,116,000 Galleons."
Harry's expression turned to one of astonishment. He knew he had a lot of money in that account, and he had heard rumors of his family being wealthy, but he never suspected his vault contained so much money. His own guess was much closer to twenty thousand galleons than the actual amount.
Jean's jaw dropped open. "How much is a galleon worth again?"
"At today's rate, a single galleon will exchange for ten dollars and sixty eight cents. United States currency, of course," Bagger replied.
"Harry," Jean said in a breathless tone. "You're rich!"
"No," he replied after shaking himself from the shock. "We're rich. Family, remember? So, shall we spank the Ministry, Aunt Jean?"
Jean nibbled on her lip for a moment, then nodded. This wasn't a case of a few thousand dollars. They had stolen real money from Harry.
"We'll do it, Director. Please prepare whatever paper work you need and tell me where to sign."
Bagger nodded and scribbled a note, which he then tossed into a tray. The note vanished. "It is a shame you don't have your custody papers with you, Mrs. Summers. We could kill two birds with one stone and shut up the British Ministry for good on this."
Jean looked at Harry speculatively. "Do you think you can?"
Harry blinked in surprise. "You want me to go get it, or to bring it here?"
Jean thought about it for a moment. "Bring it here. Wait! What about..." Her eyes darted towards Bagger, who was watching them with interest.
"That is very true, Mrs. Summers. What happens in Gringotts, stays within Gringotts."
Jean looked relieved as she turned to Harry. "Under my bed is a gunmetal gray lockbox with a handle on the lid. There is a sticker on the box of a unicorn and a naked woman." When he smirked at her, she blushed. "Scott put it there," she mumbled.
Shaking his head, Harry closed his eyes and his hands blurred as he reached for something. There was a slight puffing sound and the box appeared in his hands and he gave it to Jean.
She took the box and fished a set of keys out of her pocket. She went back to her chair and sat down, the box in her lap. A moment later, she gave the astounded Bagger a complete set of documents, including Harry's passport showing his dual citizenship, as well as a note from the American Department of Magic instructing any U.S. Embassy worker to treat Harry as a VIP. She also handed him copies of the adoption filing.
Bagger thumbed through the documents for several minutes before looking at the pair again.
"I see there is truth to the rumors about the Boy-Who-Lived. But I am curious, why are you going through the trouble to adopt him in the Muggle courts? We can handle that for you right now if you're both willing," Bagger said.
"We weren't aware of that option, Director," Jean answered. She glanced at Harry, who seemed to be as surprised as she was.
"The Muggle process will take a while. They can't move as fast as we do."
Jean looked at Harry, who looked undecided. He was still having trouble understanding that someone really wanted him.
Bagger waved a hand, duplicating the documents Jean gave him, then the door opened and another goblin entered, carrying several parchments. He handed them to Bagger, who spoke to him for a moment in Gobbledegook. The goblin bowed and hurried from the room.
Bagger looked at the two. "Why not do both, then? No magical Ministry in the world would dare contest a goblin adoption contract, and the Muggle adoption would make it legal in the Muggle world."
Jean looked to Harry. "Well?"
Harry suddenly felt very embarrassed and shy. "You don't have to do this," he whispered. He could feel her gaze on him and he couldn't look her in the eye. All his life he wanted to belong to someone. It had been his dream, his fantasy. More than anything else, he'd wanted to be part of a family, a real family. He'd wanted someone to want him.
"Yes, I do." She took his hand between both of hers. "Lily would do this in a heartbeat for a child of mine. And in a very real sense, I've come to think of you as mine. Half of the blood that flows through your veins is my blood," she said softly. "You've been alone for far too long, and if our friends here can end that, then it ends today."
Harry's eyes grew moist and he nodded, unwilling to trust himself enough to speak.
Jean squeezed his hand gently, before letting it go and turning to Bagger. "We'll do it."
"Excellent! Mr. Potter, if you would just sign these papers and let your guardian countersign them, we'll start dealing with the trouble over your trust account. Once they're signed I'll send them to London. Before you know it, your trust account will be reopened with funds available. We charge a one percent fee for collecting the penalties, but I don't see that as a burden to you. We only charge on what we collect, not the theoretical maximum."
Harry and Jean quickly signed where Bagger told them, then he collected the documents, placing them in an ornate box with an engraving of Big Ben on it. He placed the box on a table behind his desk and it slowly faded from sight.
"I would strongly suggest that you visit our London branch in the foreseeable future, Mr. Potter. The trust account issue is but one of the issues you need to attend to. Your Godfather's will still needs to be probated, but it cannot be executed without you present. Also, your parents' will needs to be re-examined, as it was not properly probated."
Jean's eyes bulged. "How much are we talking about here?"
"I'm afraid I simply don't know the answer to that, Mrs. Summers. We aren't the branch maintaining the accounts. But I do know this; the Blacks were the fourth largest depositor in Britain and the Potters weren't far behind them. It is a substantial amount, not counting less liquid assets such as estates and stocks and so forth."
Jean looked at Harry. "Did you know about this?"
He shook his head. "I had a few clues, but no real idea. A couple of my mates told me that my family was well off, but Dumbledore controlled my access to my account and to Diagon Alley. I thought there was only about 20,000 galleons in my vault."
Jean was about to reply when the door opened and a goblin entered, holding a scroll and a large silver chalice. Bagger unrolled the scroll and quickly filled it out. Then he turned it to face Jean and Harry.
"Mrs. Summers, if you would sign where I'm pointing please?"
Jean took the quill and signed the parchment, then handed the quill to Harry, who stepped up and signed.
Bagger reached into a drawer in his desk and pulled out a small flask. He poured a clear fluid into the chalice, then he produced a knife.
"One drop on the contract, then another in the chalice, Mr. Potter," he said, handing over the knife.
Harry nodded and sliced open his finger, placing a drop of blood on the contract. Then he moved and placed a drop of blood into the chalice, mixing with the fluid. A minute later, Jean copied Harry's actions, though she was a bit unnerved by the process, and surprised to discover the wound healing all by itself.
The parchment with the blood glowed a blinding white.
Bagger handed Harry the chalice. "Drink some of this, then give it to your Aunt."
Harry took a swallow and found it surprisingly tasty. He handed the cup to Jean, who also took a swallow. She swayed a little and there was a bright flash of white light. She felt a massive surge of energy pulse through her and there was a sensation of warmth, then it faded away. A second later the light was gone and Harry and Jean were left blinking back tears.
"Congratulations, you are now mother and son by blood rite. You will be given a copy of this parchment. No Ministry on Earth would dare deny its validity."
"What happened to me?" gasped Jean.
Bagger grinned. "The basis of the adoption rite is a blood-based power sharing ritual. Mr. Potter is a very powerful wizard. Because of that, your own core has been adjusted, increasing your own power levels to something appropriate, had you been his real mother. You are not as powerful as your son, but your power has been boosted to something close to what your sister had.
"Now," he said in a more business-like tone, "the appropriate paperwork will be sent to all Ministries worldwide. By the end of the business day, our collection agents will be calling on the Ministry to collect your funds from the individuals. The money taken from the Ministry coffers should be available any moment."
Harry's key began to glow and made a small chiming noise.
"Ah, there it goes now," Bagger said with a grin. "Now then, is there anything else that Gringotts can do for you today, Mr. Potter?"
"My money is available again?" Harry asked.
"Good, can we get two five thousand galleon purses and five thousand dollars in American Muggle currency?"
"That's a lot of money, Harry," Jean said disapprovingly.
"The purses don't really hold that much, Aunt Jean. That's just the maximum you can spend from one in a single day. Basically, it's a connection to the vault. You open the purse while thinking how much you want to spend, then tip it over and the correct amount comes out."
Jean shook her head. She was coming to learn that the wizarding world had its own versions of Muggle things like credit cards, but the way they implemented those things were pretty off the wall.
Ministry of Magic, London (July 26th)...
"Percival Weasley?" asked the goblin.
Percy blinked in shock at seeing a goblin standing in front of his desk. Behind him were six others, all heavily armed.
"Yes. What is it you want? I'm a very important person!" Percy said haughtily.
"You authorized the confiscation of vault 678, owned by Harry James Potter?" asked the goblin.
Percy looked at the goblin in confusion. He was beginning to get a bad feeling about this. "Yes. We did it to lure Harry into the open. The Minister needs him," he stammered.
"Of course, Mr. Weasley," sneered the goblin. He pulled out a scroll and began to read. "Percival Weasley, by order of the owner of that vault 678, you are remanded into indentured servitude. The owner of the vault is invoking his right of financial vendetta. Since you lack the means to pay the fine, you are ordered into indefinite servitude. All wages and or salaries you make from here on are the property of Harry James Potter."
Percy stared at the creature in horror. Several of the heavily armed goblins rushed him, pinning him behind his desk. Another goblin stepped up and placed a collar around his neck. The collar snapped shut with an audible click, then they released him.
He struggled with the collar, but was unable to open it.
Percy stood and glared at the goblins. "You can't get away with this! I'm the special assistant to the Minister of Magic! I demand you release me!" he cried.
Percy pulled his wand and attempted to cast a spell, but it failed. He paled and faced the lead goblin again. "I will have you put in jail! You and Potterrrrrrahhhhhh!"
He pitched to his knees. The pain was incredible!
"The collar binds your magic and prevents you from even thinking about hurting your lord and master," sneered the goblin. "Only Harry Potter can free you from it. You belong to him, until you pay off your debt of 2,232,000 galleons. As for your magic, you can only use it to earn Mr. Potter's money."
Percy slumped sideways on the floor. With a salary of just two hundred galleons a week, he'd be a long time paying off that debt.
The lead goblin turned to the others. "Come on, we still have to find several others."
The goblins never looked back as they left the office. On the floor, Percy Weasley wept and cursed his fate. He had been sure the Minister would protect him!
Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix (July 26th)...
Dumbledore looked up from the kitchen table where Molly had been laying out diner. "Arthur? In the kitchen."
Arthur rushed into the kitchen looking disheveled and a little wild eyed.
"Albus! The Ministry... Percy! goblins! Harry!" he panted.
"Goodness, Arthur, catch your breath and then tell us what the emergency is," Molly said.
Arthur bent over and breathed deeply while everyone waited impatiently for him to be able to speak. Finally he straightened up and looked around.
"It seems the Ministry decided to confiscate the trust vault assigned to Harry Potter. They tried to take away his family vaults and the Black vaults, but the goblins prevented that. I only heard about it today when a goblin war party entered the Ministry building."
All of the adults shivered. None of them wanted to cross a war party! It had been more than a hundred years since the last goblin rebellion and people still had nightmares about them.
"Harry learned of the confiscation and he invoked an ancient punitive law that allows him to recover the money several times over. Percy was one of the people instrumental to the Ministry plan, so the goblins placed a collar of servitude on him, since he doesn't have the two million galleons needed to pay Harry," he said.
Molly sat heavily in her chair staring at Arthur in horror. "Oh, Arthur... our baby!"
"Damn Harry!" shouted Ron. "How dare he do that to Percy?"
Hermione and Ginny sat silently, neither interested in admonishing Ron for his outburst. Dumbledore bowed his head. Things were spiraling our of control and Harry was causing a lot of damage.
"I will try to contact Harry tonight and see if I can get him to change his mind," Dumbledore said softly.
Molly looked at him hopefully.
Dumbledore turned back to Arthur. "Who else has been hit with this law?"
"The Ministry, of course, and Fudge, the Malfoys and the Zabinis as counter signers of the original order," Arthur replied.
Dumbledore shook his head. "Harry is making powerful enemies," he murmured.
"Including the Weasleys. That damn mutant," muttered Ron angrily. No one bothered to correct him.
Salem Academy of Magic, Salem Massachusetts (July 27th)...
Jean entered Harry's room, carrying an open text book. "Harry, did you read that section about splinch..."
She stopped. Harry was sitting on the floor, giggling. On the table was a beautiful red and gold plumaged bird eying him with disapproval. Jean shook her head at the sight. If she didn't know better, she could have sworn the bird was unhappy about Harry's laughter.
He spotted her and waved before standing.
"What's so funny?" she asked.
Harry pointed to an unrolled parchment on the desk. She picked it up and started to read. Her expression darkening almost immediately. Finally, she put the parchment down and stared at him. "You can't allow this to continue! It's slavery!"
"But, Aunt Jean, I could make him run naked through Diagon Alley, shouting Fudge's praises while smearing lime Jello over his body. Cold lime Jello," he said, his eyes lighting at the prospect. "Trust me, Aunt. You don't know Percy Weasley. Making him do something like that would be worse than asking him to cut out his own tongue. His pompous, stuck up attitude would take such a blow, he'd likely never recover!"
"Harry," Jean said repressively.
"I could make him wear a monkey costume and have him reenact the climbing of the Empire State Building," Harry added, losing himself in his dream.
"No! I could make him sing 'I'm a little Teapot' over and over while wearing a ballerina outfit. Perhaps I could charm him to follow Hermione around, picking at her hair... or he could play connect the dots with Ginny's freckles."
Harry turned to look at Jean. "Yes? Did you want something?" he asked mildly.
"You are not going to do any of this. You need to put a stop to it!"
Harry looked down at the floor and scuffed the carpet with one bare foot. "But he's a pretentious git!"
"I don't care if he's the right hand of Satan, you need to free him."
Harry sighed. "Oh, all right. But I hope you realize that you're taking all the fun out of this," he muttered, then he went over to the table and pulled out a sheet of parchment and started scribbling. When he was done, he showed the parchment to Jean.
She quickly read it, frowning slightly. "This is a little harsh, don't you think?"
"No, I don't," he replied with conviction. "My own feelings aside, he's hurt and alienated his family, opting to follow the Ministry. I know this sounds harsh, but believe me, it will work. You don't know Percy like I do."
Jean sighed and one hand reached up to twine in her hair. Harry recognized the signs of her thinking hard. He wondered if his mum had had the same habit. Finally, she turned back to him. "All right, do it your way."
"My way? If I'd had my way, the name Percy would be synonymous with lime Jello. But this is a good compromise," he said, then quickly cast charms over the letter.
When he was finished, Fawkes hopped from the back of the chair to the table. He pushed at Harry, nudging him to towards the second letter he had brought.
"Harry? What's wrong with the bird?"
"The bird's being cheeky. He wants me to open the second letter he brought with him," Harry replied, then he turned to Fawkes. "I'll get to it, Fawkes, just let me finish with these charms first."
"I'll open it. And if it's notification of another person taken into slavery, I'm going to personally pin Bagger's ears to the wall. He should have explained this better," Jean said, reaching for the sealed parchment.
Here are your O.W.L. examination scores. Please inform your Head of House of your course selections (see attached parchment) before the start of school.
Transfiguration — Outstanding.
Charms — Outstanding.
Potions — Outstanding.
Defense Against the Dark Arts — Outstanding (Highest Recorded Score).
Herbology — Exceeds Expectations.
Astronomy — Acceptable.
Care of Magical Creatures — Outstanding.
Divination — Acceptable.
History of Magic — Dreadful.
Congratulations on such excellent results. Your score in Defense qualifies you for the Governor's Award in Defense. You are ranked 5th overall in the school and 2nd in Gryffindor House.
Wizarding Examination Authority.
"You failed History?" Jean exclaimed.
Harry's head whipped around from charming the parchment. "What? My O.W.L .results are here?"
"You failed History?" Jean repeated.
Her words sunk in and Harry suddenly paled. "Voldemort sent me that vision of Sirius being tortured during the exam," he whispered. His eyes widened and he backed up a few steps. "I'm sorry, I'll try to do better. Maybe I can make it up or something."
He trembled and Jean dropped the parchment. She rushed to his side and wrapped him in a hug. "Oh, honey, I was only teasing. Relax, breathe slowly."
Harry slowly fought off the panic attack. He hadn't had many of them, but both his aunt and uncle had been witness to them enough to recognize the onset of one.
Jean mentally kicked herself. What she thought would have been accepted as gentle teasing nearly pushed him into a panic attack. She would have to be more circumspect in her comments until he knew her better.
"Better?" Jean asked worriedly.
Harry nodded slowly. "I'm sorry, it just snuck up on me..."
She handed him his scores. "It's all right. You're getting a lot better with them. Trust me when I say there will come a point when that won't happen anymore."
"I hope so," he said wearily. He glanced down at the parchment, then he read it through. "I passed Potions," he whispered.
"You did really well," Jean said with pride. "Fifth ranked? That's really great. I'm very proud of you."
Fawkes trilled in agreement.
"Oh, hang on, Fawkes, let me put one more spell on this letter," Harry replied, then he placed his O.W.L. results down and walked over to the table again. He waved his hand, watching the letter glow blue for a moment. Then he rolled it up and sealed it.
He handed the parchment back to Fawkes. "Take this straight back to the old meddler. No stopping for sightseeing and don't talk to any strange American Eagles," he said.
Fawkes trilled a sound that sounded like laughter, then he grabbed the parchment in his talons and vanished in a flash of flame.
"Interesting bird," Jean commented.
"He's a phoenix. He saved my life and the life of Ginny Weasley back in second year."
"From that Basilisk, right?"
Harry nodded. "That's right. Ginny was being controlled by a memory of Voldemort from when he was Head Boy."
Jean shook her head at the thought of the events of his school career. It was a wonder he had gotten as far as he had.
"And you're sweet on this Ginny? You've never said anything bad about her, unlike your friends Ron and Hermione."
He looked at her in surprise. "Sweet?"
"You like her?"
Harry mumbled something.
"I'm sorry. I can't seem to hear you," Jean said with a grin.
"I said, I don't know. She didn't lie to me about receiving training from the Order, but that could be simply because she didn't write me. Besides, she has a boyfriend. He's one of my dorm mates, actually, named Dean Thomas," Harry shot back.
Jean laughed and decided to change the topic.
"So, Scott and Logan will be arriving here on your birthday. I thought we might do a little more shopping, and then celebrate that day. After that, we're heading for Britain, if you want."
Harry looked down at his feet for a moment. "I see the logic in it, but I still have my doubts." He shrugged. "I suppose so."
"Don't worry so much. Scott, Logan and I will be with you most of the time, and other X-Men will be dropping by once we figure out where we're going to be based," Jean said, trying to cheer him up.
He nodded and smiled weakly at her.
"Good! Now, let's talk about that spell for correcting a splinching," she said, summoning her text book to her.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Office of the Headmaster (July 30th)...
Dumbledore reread Harry's letter and shook his head. If nothing else, Harry still had his sense of humor. He had examined the charms on the letter carefully and the one that would cause his underwear to catch on fire if he talked about the letter early was particularly amusing. It was an impressive array of spells, worthy of the son of a Marauder.
The Floo flared to life and Molly and Arthur stepped through. Molly cried out, seeing Percy kneeling next to a goblin, looking pathetic and miserable.
Dumbledore held up a hand. "Please wait until everyone arrives before we begin."
Molly and Arthur nodded and moved to stand not far from Percy, who looked at his parents. His face burned with shame.
The Floo flared to life again, and this time Fred and George exited the fireplace. A moment later, Ron and Ginny, then Bill arrived. Charlie was still in Romania and not needed at this meeting. Fred and George stared at Percy incredulously, but they still thought that Harry wouldn't leave Percy in bondage like this.
"As everyone's here, let's get this moving, Dumbledore," said the impatient goblin.
"Yes, well, a few days ago I received a reply from Harry, but due to the charms on the letter, I was unable to reveal its contents. Until today that is. I will read the letter as it pertains to all of the Weasley family."
Dumbledore picked up a piece of parchment.
"My dear Weasleys,
"I have to admit that I was surprised when my move against the Ministry snapped up Percy as well. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised, however. Percy's been actively trying to stab me in the back since fourth year. Percy, your brothers have said it many times but you don't believe them. You're an arrogant arse and quite frankly I don't want your money or your servitude.
"Unfortunately, under goblin law, I cannot simply free you. Instead, I have to sell you to someone. Only your new owner may decide to free you.
"So here's the deal, you insufferable git. Your father may buy you for the bargain basement price of one knut, but only after you've done the following. You will quit the Ministry and take an oath on your magic to never work for them again. Once he's freed you, you will apologize to your family, individually, and collectively. Finally, you will allow Fred and George to use you as a test subject until your father thinks you've learned your lesson. Be very grateful, Percy. My original thought was to sell you to Fred and George.
Fred and George began to chuckle and each looked at Percy with devilish delight. Harry had once again come through for the Weasley family.
"The Ministry is full of fools, Percy, but you are not going to be one of them. The few rare competent men, like your father, only make the others look that much worse in comparison. I owe it to your mum and dad to see that never happens to you. You gave up the most important thing in your life, for what? Blind ambition and a willingness to lick the boots of people like Fudge and Umbridge. And in doing so, you hurt two of the best people I know.
"I used to envy the Weasley clan. You may not be rich in money, but you have love enough for your entire family and still had a little left over for an orphan who never knew love before.
Molly broke down in soft sobs. It was clear to her what was happening. If Harry had been present, she would have hugged him tight enough to threaten his ability to breath.
"I hope the past week has taught you a lesson, Percy. Learn from it. Family is more important than a job. Your father and mother are the richest people I know.
There was a moment of total shocked silence, then Fred and George broke out in peals of laughter. Ginny followed a moment later, greatly relieved that Harry had provided this loophole for Percy. Ron stared open-mouthed at Dumbledore.
Arthur grinned and walked over to Percy. "Well?"
Percy dropped his gaze again. His relief was evident. "On my magic, I swear I will never work for the Ministry again," he said softly.
Arthur nodded and turned to the goblin, passing him a knut. The goblin scowled and took the coin, then he waved his hand at Percy's collar. The lock on the collar glowed blue for a moment, then it made a clicking sound as it unlatched.
"There! Now you can open it, or leave it closed and make him work for the rest of his life!"
Several Weasleys flushed angrily at the goblin's comments. Arthur held up a hand, shushing any reply anyone might make. "Thank you, noble goblin." he said.
The goblin nodded, then walked over to the Floo and left the room.
Arthur watched for a moment then turned back to his son. "You've been given a second chance, Percy. Harry could have had you work for him your entire life and nothing would have been yours. Considering all that has happened this summer, I am shocked and humbled that he'd do this for us."
Arthur stepped forward and removed the collar from around Percy's neck and looked at it in disgust.
Dumbledore took the collar from him. He placed it on the floor and incinerated it. The collars were a hold-over from a darker time and each one destroyed was a blow against the system that developed them.
Percy stood, feeling his neck and looking at his family, afraid of their reactions. The room remained tensely silent and then Molly swept Percy into a hug, crying all the while. A second later, Percy was weeping on her shoulder.
"But I don't understand!" Ron protested. "Why would that mutant do this?"
Arthur scowled and angrily turned on his son. "That mutant has a name, Ronald. And with what he's done today, he's proven himself a friend of the Weasley family forever. Remember what the letter said? He didn't know Percy would be caught up by the law, but when he was, Harry did what he thought was best. He let Percy stew for a few days before giving him back to us. Harry would have been within his rights to keep Percy indefinitely!
"Instead, he gave Percy nearly a week to consider all that he's done and what was wrong with it. Then he used the same law to free Percy in the only way he could. And in doing so, he brought Percy back to us. I'm very disappointed with you, Ronald. 'That mutant', as you call him, used to be your best friend. The very same friend who nearly lost his life saving your sister. He also saved my life, and now Percy's! The twins owe their business to Harry's generosity. What more does Harry have to do before you grow up and stop being jealous of him?"
Ron stared at his father, his mouth opening and closing, but saying nothing. Finally, he turned white with anger and he walked out of Dumbledore's office, slamming the door behind him.
Muttering to himself, Ron exited the school, taking the road to Hogsmeade. He had a lot to think about, a lot to consider.
He was angry. He wanted to hate Potter for being a mutant, for being rich, for coming between him and Hermione. He wanted to scream at him and hit him for releasing Percy. He was doing all the things that made him special in the eyes of his family, while he was still plain old Ron.
The issue of mutants brought up another problem he was forced to face. Despite his vocal statements, he was coming to realize that he lumped Muggles and mutants into the same group; people unworthy of his attention. He didn't have a problem with Muggle born, as long as he didn't have to deal with their Muggle parents. Unlike his father or his sister, Muggles held no particular fascination for him.
He wandered aimlessly for several hours around Hogsmeade. Finally, he found himself in front of the Hogshead bar. Shrugging, he pushed the door open and found an empty table in the back of the room.
"Fire whiskey," he said, placing the galleon coin on the table. The server arched an eyebrow and then nodded, sliding the coin into her pocket. The server walked over to the bar, where a woman stopped her and whispered something at her. She nodded and grinned at the woman.
When the server placed a fourth glass of fire whiskey in front of him without asking for more money, he became firmly convinced that the bar had the cheapest drinks in the country.
"Well, if this isn't a surprise. Ronald Weasley, whatever are you doing in a place like this?" asked Rita Skeeter as she slid into a seat across from him. She nodded slightly to the server who placed another drink in front of Ron.
"Drinking," replied Ron. "Drinking n'thinking."
Rita smiled winsomely and she reached out to touch his hand lightly. "You must be thinking really hard, hmm? I mean, best friend of Harry Potter, you must have an awful lot to think about."
Ron frowned at Skeeter. "Potter," he spat. "That damn mutant! I'm tired of being in his shadow. First, I'm in the shadow at home, then at school. All because of Potter... poor little orphan boy. Who cares if his Muggle relatives beat him. Serves him right, if you ask me. He's even lower than a Muggle."
"Harry Potter is a mutant?" exclaimed Skeeter. Oh, god, I've hit the mother lode she crowed to herself.
Ron nodded drunkenly. "So you heard about that, too? Shhh it's a bloody secret, isn'tit? No ones s'posed to know 'bout it. 'Course it'll get out sooner or later. Always does with Potter. He always finds a way to make the papers. His mother was a mutant, and his aunt too."
"The Dursleys?" Skeeter exclaimed.
"Nah, not those Muggles. His other Aunt, the one that Dumbledore hid from everyone, including Harry. She has custody of him now. Who cares if he's the only one that can kill You-Know-Who? He's a mutant, for Merlin's sake! He's not a wizard, he's a thing!"
Skeeter leaned across the table smiling at him. "So, tell me about this Aunt of his, the mutant?"
The server came by to drop another drink off for Ron.
Ron peered at Skeeter for a moment, then nodded. "All right, maybe people do need to be warned about their precious Potter."
Two hours later, a very drunk Ron staggered out of the Hogshead and activated his Portkey to Grimmauld Place, there he wandered into an empty bedroom and collapsed on the bed.
The Leaky Cauldron (August 2st)...
Harry stepped into the Leaky Cauldron, followed by Jean, Scott and Logan. They had just arrived in Britain a few hours earlier, landing at a private airstrip. Professor Xavier would arrive later in the week.
Harry wore a sweat shirt with the hood pulled up and a Yankee's baseball cap to hide his scar. Scott had introduced him to baseball and once the rules had been explained to him, he found it rather enjoyable. Scott was a die-hard Boston fan, but Logan had turned him on to the Yankees. Harry never looked back from that point. It didn't hurt that the Professor had season box seats at Yankee Stadium.
Harry walked over to the counter where Tom was busy drying some glasses. Tom looked up and eyed him warily. Couldn't hurt to be too careful, he thought.
"We need three rooms for the night," Harry said, pitching his voice lower than usual.
Tom eyed him and the three people behind him cautiously. "Do I know you?" he asked.
Jean stepped forward. "I'm Jean Summers, my husband, son and our friend just arrived here today from America. We're here on some business and maybe a little sightseeing."
Tom eyed Jean for a moment, there was something very familiar about the woman, but her American accent clearly showed she wasn't a local and he didn't recognize the name. Tom nodded finally. "Can't be too careful these days, not with You-Know-Who on the loose," he muttered.
"Quite," Harry replied in a droll tone. Tom peered at him; his accent was British, unlike the woman's.
Harry reached into his pocket and slid several coins across the counter to Tom, who caught them expertly.
"Bert!" he shouted. "Show these nice folk up to rooms two, three and four."
Harry tossed a few more coins to Tom. "Send up diner for four, plus some extra butterbeers."
Tom nodded, suddenly not caring that the boy spoke like a native. These were paying customers! Considering how few of those he had of late, he wasn't going to complain. With the announcement that Voldemort was back, people were staying closer to home this summer.
Bert showed them to their rooms. Once he was gone, they all met in room two, the largest of the rooms, where Scott and Jean would be staying.
"You're in the Wizarding world now," Harry said after casting several privacy charms. "Be careful of what you say and who you talk to. The people in the red capes with feathered caps are Aurors; they don't have a badge that is visible, but the uniforms are obvious."
A knock came at the door and Scott rose to answer it. A moment later Bert floated in meals for all four of them. Harry turned away from Bert, pretending to examine a painting. After Bert left, Harry eagerly reached for a butterbeer, then his expression changed. He snapped his fingers.
A small elf appeared, staring up at Harry with soulful eyes. "What is the young master needing?"
The others jumped to their feet and stared at the elf in astonishment. Harry dug into his pocket and pulled out several galleons. He handed the coins to the elf.
"Would you please bring each of my companions a Fire Whiskey?" he said softly.
The elf nodded and vanished, a moment later he returned carrying a tray with a bottle and three shot glasses.
Harry took the tray from the elf. "Thank you," he said. The elf stared at him in surprise then nodded and vanished again.
He placed the tray on the table. "I've never tasted this, and I'm not sure I want to. But this is a favorite Wizarding drink. I'll stick with my butterbeer, while you guys try this."
He sat down and took a long satisfying gulp of his drink and started to pile food onto his plate. The others exchanged a glance, then Scott shrugged and poured three shots of fire whiskey, while Harry watched expectantly.
"To finding a place to base here in Britain!" Scott proclaimed, raising his glass.
The other two raised their glasses and Harry raised his bottle. Then they drank.
Jean turned a shade of fire engine red and fell off her chair. Scott burped, emitting a cloud of steam that shot across the room. Logan smiled and reached for the bottle; the only impact the drink had on him was to turn the tips of his ears red.
Harry laughed himself silly.
Several moments later, Jean lifted her head from under the table and her hair was practically standing on end. "What is that stuff?" she said hoarsely.
"Fire Whiskey," Harry replied, still chuckling. "But if that's too strong, try a butterbeer instead."
Harry passed her one of the chilled bottles and she hesitantly took a sip, then her face lit up with delight. "Now this would put Coke out of business!" she said with a smile.
Harry nodded and looked over at Scott, who was staring down at a fresh shot of Fire Whiskey that Logan had poured for him. "Here, One Eye, this will make your lashes grow all curly and girly."
"Logan, stop trying to get my husband drunk!" Jean said angrily.
He grinned at her in reply.
Scott wisely pushed the drink away and reached for a bottle of butterbeer.
"Tomorrow, we'll talk with the goblins at Gringotts. Hopefully there will be a property that Professor Xavier can use," Harry said softly.
"Harry, even if there isn't, you need to know the extent of what you own," Jean replied.
"Yeah kid, listen to the red head," Logan said, sipping another glass of whiskey.
"What we own," Harry grumbled.
Scott turned to face him. "We really appreciate the idea that you'd want to share with us, but this is what your family left for you. We're not going to take that from you."
Harry sighed in defeat. He'd never get them to understand.
Ministry of Magic, Office of the Minister (August 3rd)...
"Minister, Rita Skeeter from the Daily Prophet is here asking if you can spare a few minutes to answer a few questions," said a voice.
Cornelius nervously straightened his tie. "Send her in!" he replied. According to the latest polls, he had less than a twelve percent approval rating. Talking to Skeeter might help reduce the increasing calls for a vote of no confidence.
Pasting a smile on his face, he waited patiently.
The door opened and Rita stepped in, followed by Bozo, her personal photographer. Fudge stood, holding out his hand. "Rita! What a wonderful surprise! How good it is to see you again."
"Minister, thank you for taking the time out of your inordinately busy schedule to see me," Rita lied. She knew Fudge spent most of his time these days calling people and begging for their support.
"Nothing is too good for the press. After all, the people must see their government at work, right?" Fudge said jovially while Rita sat.
Bozo snapped off a few obligatory photos and Rita rummaged through her bag
"Minister, rumor has it that the Ministry tried to appropriate the Potter family vaults, and that the goblins prevented it from happening?"
Fudge frowned at the question. The goblin actions and follow-up actions had prevented him from finding Harry Potter and cost him personally over two million galleons. "Yes, well, the simple fact is, Harry Potter has been missing since the tragic death of his beloved family. We thought that if we were to confiscate the monies, he'd be forced out of wherever he is hiding."
Rita nodded and waited for her quick quote quill to finish writing. "Sounds reasonable to me, Minister, but were you aware that Potter isn't a full wizard?"
Fudge looked at her like she was insane. "Really, Rita, it's common knowledge that Harry Potter is only a half-blood. His mother was a Muggle-born, you know."
"And a mutant," she added dryly.
Fudge stood. "WHAT?"
Rita leaned back in her chair, enjoying the scene. "You mean you didn't know? My source tells me that Lily Potter was not only a witch and a mutant, but she had a twin sister who attended a mutant school in the United States. I've since learned that she has been given full custody of Harry Potter by the British Muggle Government. I understand she is also a witch, but hasn't the formal training of one."
Fudge sputtered some more, his face turned several colors.
"My source also revealed that the whole purpose behind You-Know-Who's attack on the Ministry last June was to obtain a prophecy, which named Harry Potter as the only person capable of killing him. And..."
Fudge held up a hand. "Rita, no matter what a prophecy might say about Harry Potter, the Ministry position on mutants is quite clear. When Mr. Potter resurfaces from wherever he is hiding, he will have to register with the Department of Magical Creatures as a Dark Creature."
Rita's quilled scribbled furiously.
"Would you care to add anything to that, Minister?" she asked in a silky tone.
"Yes, tell your readers that the Ministry will continue to protect them at all costs. I will alert the Department of Magical Law Enforcement today that Harry Potter is to be taken into protective custody if spotted. After all, the public must be protected," Fudge said pompously.
Rita stood, having gotten what she came for. "Thank you, Minister. I appreciate your allowing us some of your valuable time."
Fudge nodded and watched her and Bozo leave the office before he turned back to trying to drum up more support for his position.
Gringotts, Diagon Alley...
Harry, Jean, Scott and Logan set off that morning after a heavy English breakfast. Harry continued to wear his disguise and Jean continued to draw the occasional stare.
Harry stepped into the Gringotts lobby and frowned, seeing the face of Bill Weasley. He didn't want any entanglements with the Order today if it could be avoided. He walked over to one of the goblin counting stations and asked to be taken to the estates division.
"Name?" asked the goblin.
"Harry Potter," he replied. Nearby, Bill Weasley looked up hearing Harry's name.
"Come with me, Mr. Potter," the goblin said.
When Harry and his party followed the goblin, Bill Weasley made a beeline for the exit. The Order would need to know that Harry was back in Britain.
The goblin stopped at a door and turned to the group. "Senior Manager Pageknock will help you, he has been the Potter estate manager for the past forty years," he said, then he opened the door.
Harry and the others filed in to the empty office and sat at the large conference table. A moment later, another door opened and an older goblin entered. He fussed with some documents on his desk before approaching the conference table.
"Mr. Potter, we received the paperwork concerning your adoption by the Summers. As your legal parents, until you turn seventeen, they have final say in what happens to your estate. You will not come into your full inheritance until you turn seventeen, however your adopted parents can access selected parts of the estate and the properties in your name."
Pageknock paused and looked at Harry. "Your signature is required on all transactions. For any transaction over ten thousand galleons you are required to provide an oath stating you are free from compulsion and/or any form of coercion," he said pointedly. He turned to the others. "Please understand this is done merely to protect Mr. Potter and his inheritance until he is of age to handle his financial matters himself."
Jean leaned forward slightly. "We understand, Manager Pageknock. We want to see that Harry gets what his family left him also. Can you tell us the size of the estate you're talking about?"
Pageknock rifled through several papers. "There are actually two estates; the Potter estate and the Black estate. The Black family estate is available to him now in its entirety and doesn't need your approval for him to access. That includes roughly twenty four million galleons of liquid assets and another fourteen million galleons in properties, stocks and securities. The Blacks were a wealthy family and when combined their fortune with the Potter fortune, Mr. Potter here stands to become one of Gringotts largest depositors."
He pushed a parchment across table to Harry. "That parchment contains a list of all properties owned by the Blacks and the Potters, which includes the Black family manor, which has gone missing, and their family castle, which we hold the secret to. There are also four Potter properties listed, although the home in Godric's Hollow was destroyed and never rebuilt."
Harry winced at the mention of Godric's Hollow and glanced at the list for a moment.
Jean placed a hand on his shoulder, knowing that he was having trouble dealing with these inheritances.
"The Black castle is under a Gringotts Fidelius charm?" Harry asked suddenly.
Pageknock blinked. "Yes, Mr. Potter, it is, and Gringotts holds the secret in one of our most secure vaults."
Harry looked at Scott and Logan for a moment. "The Fidelius charm makes the castle hidden from anyone who hasn't been told the location by the secret keeper. In the case of a Gringotts held secret, the owners are issued special Portkeys, disguised as rings or necklaces, which allow them access to the property without really knowing where it is. A Gringotts-held Fidelius means no one knows where the property is, not even the owners.
"That wouldn't be a problem for us. If the castle is serviceable, the Blackbird's GPS, or even a portable GPS unit should tell us where it is without breaking the charm. The goblin charm acts differently than a human cast Fidelius."
Scott looked intrigued. "Maybe we should check it out today?"
"It's a good idea," Harry replied, then he turned back to Pageknock. "Can you supply us with Portkeys to the castle?"
Pageknock nodded and scribbled down a note which he tossed in a basket. The note vanished from sight. "They will be available shortly. Now, if you're ready to continue, I'll outline your Potter family inheritance."
Harry leaned back in his chair. "Please."
"The Potter fortune has always been difficult to put an exact value on. In terms of liquid assets, the Potter family has only fourteen million galleons on deposit and another six million in various properties, stocks and securities. Mind you, this doesn't include the nearly eight million galleons collected by the recent financial action. However, the real wealth of Potters stems from a cache of True Silver, which the family has kept for nearly eight hundred years. The last inventory of the vaults revealed some fourteen tons of ingots, more than half of the world's known supply of True Silver. The current market value fluctuates, but as of this morning's commodity postings, one troy ounce of True Silver was going for eighteen hundred and sixty four galleons."
Harry stared at the goblin in shock. He tried to do the math and his mind shuddered back from the numbers.
Jean gasped. He had enough to buy whole countries!
"That's a lot of dinero, Wiz," muttered Logan. "I didn't think silver was all that valuable."
"Not silver," Pageknock said, correcting Logan. "True Silver. It doesn't exist at all in nature. It took a master alchemist his entire lifetime to make twenty tons of the material. True Silver is like metallic magic. You can enchant an object made from True Silver and it will remain enchanted forever. It's very strong, very lightweight and a highly valued commodity.
"It was a Potter family member that came up with the recipe for creating True Silver. Unfortunately, he died in a tragic accident and he seems to have taken the recipe to the grave with him. This was the initial source of the Potter family's wealth, and it is one of their most closely guarded assets.
"It is the sole reason why it is so difficult to put exact figures to the Potter estate. The True Silver can be sold, but only in minute quantities. Selling too much would radically devalue its worth."
"I think another time I'll come back and get a sample of that stuff. The Professor says he wants Hank to start tutoring me on chemistry next year. It would be interesting to see if we can figure out what's in it," Harry said slowly.
Jean gave him a broad smile. She loved how motivated he was to learn things. But his comment also reminded her of something.
"Pageknock, I am told that Gringotts provides a variety of services to their depositors. I am wondering if you can help us in another matter?"
"What would that be, Mrs. Summers?"
"It has come to my attention that the Potions Master currently employed by Hogwarts is less than adequate. Could you assist us in finding someone capable of tutoring Harry in N.E.W.T .level potions, so he can take his exam?"
"Gringotts would be pleased to assist in that matter. Shall I charge the job search to the estate?"
Harry nodded at Jean, pleased that she had remembered. He hadn't remembered it at all. Jean nodded at Pageknock, who made a notation in a small ledger.
The door opened and a goblin entered, carrying a leather pouch and several parchments. He handed the parchments and pouch over to Pageknock, who glanced through them before passing them to Jean.
Pageknock waited until the other goblin left, then explained. "As his guardian, I feel it only proper that you should keep these copies of the Potter Wills, as well as the Will of Sirius Black. There are certain... ah... discrepancies in the Potter Wills, which you might find interesting. Perhaps it will lead to a conversation for another time," Pageknock said, then he opened the pouch and extracted four rings, one more ornate than the others.
"Under the terms of Sirius Black's will, he named Mr. Potter his heir. As such, he holds the title of Lord Black of Blackmoor. This is the Black family signet ring, only to be worn by the current Head of that family, in this case Mr. Potter.
"The other rings are Portkeys to Blackmoor Castle. To activate the Portkey, twist the ring on your finger. The ring can only be removed by the wearer or by Lord Black."
Harry took the signet ring and placed it on his finger, then handed out the other three rings. Pageknock handed him the leather pouch with additional rings.
"I will owl you with resumes for possible Potions tutors when I have them," Pageknock said.
Jean nodded and stood.
"Wait, don't we need keys to the vaults?" Harry asked suddenly.
Pageknock grinned and shook his head. "No, Mr. Potter. All our top level vaults require blood keys. The first time you visit them, they will require a sample of your blood. After that, they will open for you every time you visit. No key is necessary."
Harry grinned in return and stood. "Thank you, Pageknock, your assistance has been invaluable. May your gold flow freely."
Pageknock bowed from his seat, then turned back to the paperwork on his desk, while Harry and the others left the office.
They paused in the lobby to talk for a moment.
"Where to now?" asked Harry.
"I want to stop at the bookstore," Jean said eagerly.
"And I need to check in Ollivander's for holsters. These American made holsters aren't all that great. The wands are excellent, but I was surprised by poor quality of the holsters."
"Meet us at the bookstore when you're done, then, Harry," Jean replied.
Harry turned to Logan. "Want to tag along?"
"Sure thing, Wiz," Logan replied.
The group split into two pairs, each picking a different direction.
Harry led Logan to the wand shop, wondering idly what the strange wand maker would make of his surly friend.
The bell on the door chimed as they entered. Almost instantly, Ollivander appeared. "My word, Mr. Potter. I thought you were missing."
Harry grinned. "Nope," he replied cheekily. "I've always known where I was."
Ollivander arched an eyebrow, then he turned to look at Logan. His eyebrows rose up into his hairline. "If I didn't know better, I'd say this was an animagus gone terribly wrong, but I sense no magic around you."
"This is a friend of mine, Mr. Ollivander. He knows about the wizarding world," Harry replied before Logan could get his ire up.
Ollivander turned his attention back to Harry. "Well, he is different. But I'm sure that's not why you came here. How can I help you, Mr. Potter? Do you need some wand polish, perhaps?"
"Oh, I'm sure he needs help polishing his wand, but you're really not his type," Logan said with a smirk.
Ollivander glanced at Logan disapprovingly, while Harry blushed.
"Actually, Mr. Ollivander, I'd like to purchase some wand holsters. The ones I own now are all right, but they don't have anti-summoning charms on them."
"Very well, wrist, back or ankle?" asked Ollivander.
"Wrist and ankle, and I need the woman's version of the same."
Ollivander turned to stare at him. "Why would you need two holsters, Mr. Potter?"
Harry sheepishly lifted one pant leg exposing a second holster and a wand made of pine.
Ollivander frowned. "I didn't sell you that wand. American, isn't it? I do hope you didn't buy one of their cheap mass-produced wands."
"No, I didn't go to McWands. This is an Iverson wand, custom fitted and made. Mountain Pine with a Sasquatch hair core."
"Iverson? Why, he's only been in the business for two hundred and forty years. I don't know if I'd trust any wand made by someone with so little experience," Ollivander said with a sniff as he reached under the counter for the requested items.
Muttering to himself, Ollivander eventually found what he was looking for, and placed the holsters on the counter. "You do know that the Ministry has prohibited all British subjects from owning a foreign import wand, Mr. Potter?"
"Good thing I'm an American citizen then, wouldn't you agree, Mr. Ollivander?" he replied with a tight smile. He'd just realized that his second wand was untraceable in Britain.
Ollivander blinked in surprise, then he nodded with a grin. "Yes, quite a good thing, Mr. Potter. That will be forty-two galleons."
Harry paid for his purchase, then he turned to leave the building. Something caught his eye and he froze. Logan bumped into his back.
"Wiz, what did you..."
"Quiet, Logan," Harry said tensely. "There's a group of Aurors waiting outside the bookstore. I think we need to be careful."
"Good spot," Logan answered.
Harry pointed at an alleyway. "Go wait over by the mouth of that alley. I'll try to get my hands on Aunt Jean and Uncle Scott and teleport all three of us to you. From there, we can Portkey to the castle."
Logan looked at Harry appraisingly for a moment. "Who put you in charge?"
Harry looked at his feet for a moment. "Ummm, no one?" he said, suddenly feeling foolish.
Logan nodded. "All right, here's what we'll do. I'll wait in the alley while you grab Scott and Jean and do your mojo."
"What a wonderful plan!" exclaimed Harry sarcastically.
Logan grinned at him, then walked away quickly, though calmly.
Harry turned and frowned. Scott and Jean had just exited Flourish and Blotts and the Aurors were moving in. He hurried in their direction.
"Halt!" said an Auror.
Jean and Scott skidded to a stop in front of the store and stared at the man in confusion.
"Keep your hands where I can see them," growled one of the men.
Jean and Scott realized they were surrounded by Aurors.
"What is the meaning of this?" Jean asked angrily. "We've done nothing wrong!"
"You were seen with Harry Potter today. He is wanted by the Ministry," replied one of the Aurors. "I'm afraid you'll have to come with us."
Just at that moment, Harry strode up to stand in between Jean and Scott. He placed a hand on each of them.
"Auror Dawlish, I'm surprised they didn't fire you last year. The Auror corps must be really hard up for people if they keep a near-Squib like you on the force," Harry said scathingly. He spoke loudly in order to draw a crowd.
Dawlish flushed and whipped out his wand. A second later, the other three Aurors had pulled their wands, as well. Nearby, a flash bulb went off, capturing the moment on camera.
Harry noticed Rita Skeeter and grinned. "I'm afraid we won't be going anywhere with you today, Dawlish. Perhaps this failure will be the last one and you'll finally be fired."
Harry concentrated for a split second and every Auror wand pointed at them vanished. "Imagine that, Aurors without wands. What kind of fool sends Aurors out unarmed?" he said with a bit of a laugh, then he teleported them away from the scene.
There was a moment of stunned silence and then the crowd that had formed started booing the Aurors and throwing things at them.
"Bullies!" shouted one person. "Leave Potter alone!"
"Fudge fuck-ups! Down with Fudge!" shouted another.
Dawlish ducked a conjured tomato someone had thrown. Surprised, the Aurors made a hasty retreat, apparating back to the Ministry building, while Skeeter walked away gloating. She was already writing this up in her mind, combining it with information gained from Ron Weasley and Fudge. It had taken her a few days to confirm some of the things she had learned. For once she was trying for accuracy in her writing.
If she hurried, she could still make the today's afternoon edition and the morning headline.
In the alleyway across from Ollivander's, Harry reappeared with Jean and Scott. He turned, looking for Logan, when a reddish brown light arced down the alley. Harry instinctively ducked and wandlessly cast a shield but before the shield could form, Jean fell from the bludgeoning hex.
"Dammit, Shacklebolt, no one told you to shoot!" Remus Lupin all but growled at the Auror standing beside him.
Harry's eye's flared with anger and he whipped out his wand. The mouth of the alley was blocked by Bill Weasley, Remus and Kingsley Shacklebolt. Logan lay unconscious at their feet.
Harry chanted, laying down a precise and deadly fire of high powered bludgeoning hexes. Bill Weasley fell screaming, his leg broken in several places. Kingsley managed to shield himself and Remus, but the spell shattered his shield and threw him out of the alleyway. He flew thirty feet, landing in a store after crashing through the front window.
"Accio Logan!" Harry shouted.
Remus ducked out of the way, rolling to one side. "Harry! Stop! We're not here to fight you!"
"You have a damn strange way of showing it, Werewolf! You want a war? You've got it!" Harry shouted.
He glanced over at Scott, who had caught Logan. He looked to be stunned. "Hold onto him and twist your ring, Uncle Scott. I'll bring Aunt Jean."
Scott nodded and, with a twist of his ring, vanished, with Logan in his arms.
He looked up and gestured. Suddenly, the sides of the buildings near the mouth of the alley began to collapse, closing off the alley.
Remus cursed and retreated, covering his head to protect himself from the falling bricks.
Harry grabbed Jean's hand and gave her ring a hard twist.
Harry landed next to Jean and fell to his knees. He shook his head groggily and looked around warily. Nearby, Scott had laid Logan down on the ground and was now kneeling over Jean.
Harry moved to her side and cast a simple healing charm on her. "Come on, Mum, don't do this to me," he whispered in anguish. Scott stared at him incredulously for a moment, then he turned his attention back to Jean as she opened her eyes.
"Oh, what hit me?" she moaned.
"Bludgeoning hex, Mum. Are you all right?" Harry asked anxiously.
Jean's eyes widened and despite her pain she smiled broadly. "You called me Mum!"
Harry leaned back on his heels. "Is that all right?" he asked tightly, unsure if he's made a mistake.
She reached up and touched his cheek. "I'd hoped you'd get around to it sooner or later."
He returned the smile, then he moved to Logan and revived him.
As the surly man came around and began to curse viciously, Harry looked up at the imposing building before them and frowned.
The castle wasn't quite as big as Hogwarts, but it was still huge and seemed nearly as old. "I think we're going to need help with this," he murmured.
Erm... well Alyx wouldn't write the author's notes and I'm seriously pissed off! I mean really, here I am slaving over a hot word processor and She refuses to write the Author's notes.
I thought about copying some notes from another story but... wait.
(Bob, spotting the double barreled shotgun tracking his every move, backs up the cursor and deletes what he had written)
What I'd like to say is I'm perfectly fine with the fact that there's no author's notes and I hope you are too!
And if anyone reads this far down in the file. SEND HELP!
One final word I'd like to add here, just to head people off at the pass. I've said many times before we started publishing this that Ron's position within the trio is going to change. He needs to
hit rock bottom before he can start to climb out of the hole he dug for himself. Well this chapter puts him nearly at the bottom of his slide downwards.
He won't be the massive git that myself and others have portrayed him as in the other stories. But he needed a good kick in the pants to make him grow up. Ron will get better soon, I promise.