- Character Bashing
- Explicit Sex
“The best way to claim the ritual circle is to claim the title,” Godric said as he leaned back in his chair. The same chair, Harry thought, that Dumbledore had sat in at Hogwarts for meals.
“I can’t go to the bank to handle that, sir,” Harry explained and looked up from the grimoire.
“Why on earth would you need to go the bank to claim the title?” the portrait asked roughly. “You’re standing in the middle of your own land, lad, my blood running in your veins! Take the oath, swear yourself to the family line and you’ll be the Earl of Gryffindor. Simple as that.”
“Don’t I need the ring?”
“The ring is a symbol built on family magic. It will come to you if your claim is legitimate and it is.” Godric frowned. “Who told you that you’d have to go the bank to retrieve the ring?”
“Dumbledore.” Harry ran a hand through his hair. “We only ever discussed it once at the end of third year because I asked him if the title would help me in regards to my godfather’s situation. He said no that it was largely ceremonial and offered me no legal recourse regarding my own guardianship. Which is a lie because I could’ve claimed the title that summer and been emancipated per Hermione.”
“Dumbledore truly was an enemy of the House of Potter,” Gryffindor said with a frown. “Ceremonial is one way to put it, but your title also guarantees you a seat on the Wizengamot, Harry. And you certainly could’ve lobbied to have your godfather, the pureblood heir of the House of Black, put on trial and cleared of wrongdoing. Had he been a peer when it happened, they’d have never been able to put him in jail without a lengthy public trial. I tried to tell Dumbledore this, and he took my portrait down from his office and told me to mind my own business. I was put in storage, and I can’t leave that storage room except to come here to my own remote portrait.”
“We should figure out a way to get your portrait out of that storage cabinet so you can spy for us,” Harry said thoughtfully. “Could a house elf get to it?”
“Yes, especially one who already works at Hogwarts but they are bound to obey the current headmaster. Hermione said that bastard Snape is the new headmaster.”
Harry grinned then. “Well, not every elf who works for Hogwarts is bound to it.” He stood and offered the portrait a nod before he went to find Hermione. She’d dragged a chair from the tent out to the work table and was steadily making her way through the stack of parchments and research his parents had left behind. “I need to go have a conversation with a certain sock wearing house elf.”
Hermione looked up. “Hmmm, why?”
“To liberate Godric’s portrait from storage at Hogwarts so he can spy for us.”
She nodded. “Well, do you think you should go back to the forest and see if Ron returned?”
“Only if I get to curse the shit out of him while I do it,” Harry said.
Hermione shrugged. “Disillusion yourself before you apparate and don’t be tempted to engage him in a conversation. You know he’ll have nothing but empty promises and insincere apologies to offer anyway.”
Harry nodded, kissed the top of her head as she returned to her reading and went into the tent to pick up his jacket. He paused briefly at the kitchen table where the locket lay. They’d decided due to the extra security they now enjoyed to not wear it at all, and he was immensely grateful for that. The thing was getting more disgusting by the day. He pulled on his jacket, disillusioned himself with a tap of his wand, and apparated to the patio. Walking around to the front of the cottage, he paused to survey the street. Bagshot hadn’t come back it seemed. He resolved to set some proximity charms around the property after he returned since he wasn’t magically connected with the wards Dumbledore left behind. Though he should figure out how to claim those wards so he could control them. That decided, he apparated back to the forest.
It had been three days since he’d stolen the deluminator from Ron and thus prevented the tosser from finding them using it. He wondered just how big of a tantrum Molly had thrown when he’d confessed to losing the tracking device. Or if he’d even confessed at all. It was certainly something that Ron would keep to himself if given a choice in the matter. The forest was too quiet, so Harry put silencing charms on his feet with a subvocal spell and walked a few feet down the path from the place where they’d placed the tent.
It really shouldn’t have surprised him at all to find Ron sitting on a fallen tree eating lunch. It was a bit of a shock to see the twins with him. Neither Fred nor George looked particularly happy. They were both watching their younger brother eat.
“Would you stop glaring at me?” Ron demanded. “It’s not my fault I lost the deluminator. It must have splinched or something when I apparated.”
“It is your fault you abandoned your friends in the first place,” one twin said darkly. “It’s pretty fucking telling, Ronald, that our mother gave you a way to keep track of them, to begin with. She knew you were too weak to really be the kind of friend Harry needed during the war. Merlin, I don’t know why we’re bothering with this at all. If I were Harry I’d never speak to your dumb arse again. All you know how to do is turn your back on him when he needs you most.”
“Shut up,” Ron snapped.
“Fred’s right,” George interjected. “You’re a shite friend, and I hope neither one of them forgive you for this. If they are even alive.” He stood up and stalked away from them. “This is pointless. We’ve been searching this forest forever, and they’ve clearly moved on.”
“If we could find the deluminator then I could search for them using it,” Ron said with a sullen huff. “But you can’t even help me do that!”
Fred stood and waved a hand. “That’s it. I’m done. Let’s go, George.”
Harry blinked when both twins apparated away without another word. He figured there might be more of an argument, but it seemed one made a decision it was a done deal. Though looking back on it, he’d never seen them argue at Hogwarts about anything. They always appeared to be on the exact same page no matter the circumstances. He leaned against the tree and watched Ron refocus his attention on his food.
That lasted nearly a whole minute before Weasley sighed and pulled a mirror out of his pocket. It hadn’t taken the twins long to report to their mother that they’d abandoned Ron to his task.
“I’m still looking, Mum.”
“No, the twins told me there is no point in continuing. The deluminator was probably destroyed by the splinch, or you lost it elsewhere,” Molly sighed. “You can return to Hogwarts when school starts again.”
“But what about Harry and Hermione?”
“It’ll be a miracle if they both survive the war,” Molly said. “If they’ve done something stupid—we’ll just have to work to separate them and correct the problem before he can claim his title.”
“Why does that stupid title matter?”
Molly huffed. “His ring will protect him from untold amounts of manipulation—magical and otherwise. There is a reason why Dumbledore discouraged him from claiming that silly thing. You might as well come home now.”
“No, your brother doesn’t want you in his house,” Molly said. “He floo’d me this morning to let me know. He sent your things via owl. Bill is a stickler for honor, Ronald, and he doesn’t think you have any.”
Ron frowned but then put the mirror away. Harry almost laughed as he realized that Molly had essentially hung-up on her youngest son. He pulled his wand and stunned the git. Ron tipped over onto the ground, the remains of his lunch spilling all over the place.
The house elf popped in front of him immediately. “Harry Potter.” The elf launched forward and wrapped both arms around his leg. “Yous call Dobby.”
“I did.” Harry laughed and patted the elf’s head. “How are things going to at Hogwarts?”
“Oh, Harry Potter, Death Munchers be terrible.” The elf released him. “But we make them miserable whenever possible.”
“Sounds great, you keep doing that,” Harry instructed. “Make them run for their lives.”
Dobby’s gaze narrowed. “Harry Potter mean that? House elves at Hogwarts can be extra mean to Death Munchers?”
“You can be really mean to all of them,” Harry said. “Can you do me a favor?”
“Dobby be happy to serve,” the elf said proudly.
“Great. I want you to remove Godric Gryffindor’s portrait from storage at Hogwarts and put it in Minerva McGonagall’s office. Make sure only she can see him so he’ll be safe from the Death Eaters and Snape specifically.”
“That Greasy Git!” Dobby crossed his arms. “Dobby not like him at all.”
“You can super, extra mean to him,” Harry said and laughed when the elf clapped his hands. “You don’t happen to have a piece of paper and a quill, handy?”
Both items appeared in the elf’s hands within seconds of the question. He offered them, and Harry took them with a smile. “Thank you, Dobby. Be safe as you can and have as much fun as possible.”
Dobby smiled with what could only be described as malicious glee. “Dobby be having all the fun.”
Harry shook his head as the elf popped away then sat down on the tree that Ron had occupied. He considered writing a really long ranty letter, but in the end, he knew that Ron didn’t actually care about their friendship at all. So he settled for something short and sweet. He left it on top of the git’s lunch and apparated back to Godric’s Hollow with a sigh then popped back into the cellar from the patio.
Hermione looked up from her reading. “How’d things go?”
“I told Dobby he had permission to be extra mean to all the Death Eaters at Hogwarts,” Harry said. “And Ron was there with the twins, but they got mad and left him. Molly mirror-called and she’s going to send him back to Hogwarts after the holidays since he has no other purpose. Apparently, he’s not welcome at Bill’s because he’s an honorless git who abandoned us. I stunned him and left him a note.”
Her mouth quirked briefly in a smile. “What did the note say?”
“Ron—fuck off. We don’t need or want you. You’ve never been a real friend to either one of us so stop pretending. – Harry & Hermione.” He shrugged when she laughed. “What? It’s true, and I could’ve probably written a bloody novel about how furious he makes me but why bother? He’s not worth that sort of investment.”
“No, I agree.” Hermione sighed. “Well, that’s done I guess. I mean, he’ll certainly try to confront us at some point in the future, but we don’t have to engage him in any sort to of discussion. We aren’t required to accept his apologies, not even if they were sincere. And they won’t be—he probably really hasn’t been our friend since.” She frowned. “Maybe never actually.”
“He was looking for me on the train,” Harry said roughly. “Looking to make friends with the Boy-Who-Lived. I was naïve, and they took full advantage of that in some fashion or another. The entire magical world has been doing that to me since my parents were murdered and I’m really fucking fed up with it, Hermione.”
“Yeah, well, the next time those arseholes see you—you’ll be a living legend,” Hermione said grimly. “You’ll be the Black Dragon’s Guardian, and there hasn’t been one of those in over five years. You’ll be blessed and protected by Zir, Harry, and not a single magical person on this whole damn planet will be able to manipulate or control you.”
He nodded and leaned against the work table. “Godric told me I should claim the title in order to gain full control of the circle. He said that the ring will come to me and I don’t have to retrieve it from the bank. I just have to make an oath to my family magic.”
Her gaze narrowed. “When we reach the afterlife, I’m going to punch Albus Dumbledore is his big fat nose.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Harry said in agreement and laughed when she huffed. “Provided my parents haven’t already destroyed him outright. They can’t have been happy to see him.” He shrugged out of his jacket and walked toward the tent to put it away. “Thoughts for lunch?”
“Just sandwiches would be fine,” Hermione said absently. “Do you need my help?”
“Not after that egg disaster this morning,” Harry responded.
“The book said that you could soft boil an egg with that spell,” Hermione protested.
The egg had exploded all over the kitchen. He just laughed as he entered the tent and hung his coat up on the rack. They’d had to use magic to get the shell off the ceiling. He decided on roast beef sandwiches and crisps. After fixing plates for them both, he dropped hers off at the work table and retreated to the small library to talk with the portrait some more about claiming his title.
“I, Harry James Potter, son of James Michael Potter, do solemnly swear on my magic to honor my family both in word and deed. Let magic judge and find me worthy of my family legacy for I am the scion of the Ancient and Noble House of Potter.” He glanced briefly at Hermione before continuing, “I am Lord Harry James Potter, the Earl of Gryffindor.”
The circle lit under his bare feet as magic surged around him and a ring shimmered into place on his hand. He sucked in a deep breath as light danced around him then with a crack of forced apparition, the Sword of Gryffindor appeared before hovering in the air. He reached out and grabbed the pommel with one hand, and his magic settled.
He focused on her. “It worked?”
“Offer me your hand and invite me into your circle, please,” Hermione urged.
He offered her his left hand. “Hermione Jane Granger, please join me in the Gryffindor Circle as my partner in magic.”
Hermione took his hand, and he pulled her gently into the swirling magic of the circle. Before he could say anything else, she slid to her knees. “I solemnly swear on my magic that I will be in the future faithful to Lord Harry James Potter, never cause him or his Ancient and Noble house harm and will observe my homage to him completely against all persons in good faith and without deceit.”
His mind raced against the implications of her words. “I am honored to accept your fealty.” He pulled her from the floor and brought her close. “You crazy witch.”
She wrapped her arms around his waist. “I can’t believe the sword came to you.”
“Godric said it might, but I didn’t know what kind of magic was in play to keep it from me, so I wasn’t sure.” His grip tightened on the sword. “Tomorrow we petition Zir.”