Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Biology :: 01 :: Inheritance

01 • Inheritance

Harry’s seventeenth birthday was much like any of his other recent birthdays, with one important distinction; his so-called family refused to acknowledge his existence, which suited him just fine. He lounged on his bed waiting as the numbers on the clock ticked over to midnight, at which point owls flew through his window and waited patiently for him to remove their letters and packages, then helped themselves to water before flying out into the night.

What was curious, though, was one owl that refused to leave. It perched on the back of the spindly chair in front of his equally shaky desk and concentrated on looking important. Naturally, this intrigued Harry, and he hurried through the usual offerings until finally he opened that owl’s package last.

Seeing the seal of Gringotts on the wrappings, he set aside any feelings of wariness and cut the strings, letting the plain paper fall away to reveal an equally plain box. Inside were two envelopes and a book. The first also displayed the seal and was placed prominently on top. Opening it was short work; inside were two sheets of parchment.

One sheet informed Harry that as he had reached his majority, his inheritance was now to do with as he saw fit, and that if he wished a full accounting of it he needed only to visit Gringotts. Slotted into cuts in the bottom corner was a gold key that Harry removed and tucked away.

The other informed Harry that the second letter and book were from James Potter, who had before his death entrusted them to Gringotts on the condition that they be sent to Harry on his seventeenth birthday. Harry thought that rather peculiar, and wondered why the items had not simply been left in the vault.

Opening the letter, however, explained the odd choice of delivery.

Dear Harry,

As you are reading this letter, it can only mean one thing; I am unable to handle this personally. I may be dead, or otherwise incapable. In any case, I’ve left this with Gringotts because it is a family-only matter. Absolutely no one, aside from yourself, should have access to this book.

Harry’s brows raised in surprise. It was all very cloak and dagger to his thinking.

Once you are finished with the book, you will need to find a way to hide it once again. The only thing I can suggest offhand is to secure it in one of the hidden family estates.

He was freshly surprised, wondering just how extensive his inheritance actually was and what was so important about the book.

You’ll understand better once you’ve opened the book. It’s too hard to explain with mere words. Just know this; I cannot tell you how much I regret that I could not be there to do this in person.

All my love,
James ‘Dad’ Potter

Harry blinked a few times, unsure as to what exactly he was feeling at the moment. He resolutely set the letter aside and picked up the book, hesitating. He glanced around the room, knowing that the Dursleys would be unlikely to bother him for any reason, but feeling unsettled by the letter from his father. Feeling a bit foolish for being so paranoid, he grabbed his wand and cast a locking charm on the door, and a silencing charm for good measure.

He set both wand and book aside long enough to write responses to the letters he’d received, plus one to the Order assuring that he was perfectly fine. Hedwig gave him an odd look at the quantity of deliveries, but nevertheless hooted softly and flew out into the darkness. Feeling as though he’d taken care of everything, Harry decided he was now set to tackle the mysterious book. The cover was devoid of any markings, but he decided that only made sense given his father’s warning words.

So he opened it.

He awoke to achingly bright sunlight streaming in through his window and the rustling of feathers. His first conscious thought beyond griping at the watering of his eyes and sneezing fit which took hold of him was that Hedwig should not have been able to make her deliveries so quickly.

When his eyes finally adjusted he became aware of the fact that it felt as though he had repeatedly beat his head against the wall, or had been whacked by a stray bludger. As both of those were impossible he sat there wondering just what in hell had happened.

The book lay innocently beside him, cover closed. Hedwig was perched atop her cage gazing at him with half-lidded eyes, and on seeing that he was awake, hooted softly and promptly went to sleep.

The more Harry awoke, the more he began to process his surroundings and that his stomach was protesting most loudly at the evident lack of food. Shaking his head carefully he swung his legs off the bed and stood up, throwing the covers over the book for the time being.

Harry removed the locking charm from the door and stumbled to the loo, then downstairs after a quick wash. Seeing that he was alone, he breathed a sigh of relief and grabbed some fruit from a bowl on the counter, a glass of water, and some paracetamol. He knocked back the pills and some water and retreated to his room, shutting the door behind him and wolfed down the fruit between gulps from his glass. When finished he went to the bed and pulled back the covers to reveal the book.

It was when he touched it again that everything was made clear. Centuries of knowledge slammed into the forefront of his mind, each piece fighting for dominance before all of it sank back, leaving one bit to focus his scattered wits on. The location of the hidden family estate—an estate that literally no person had ever entered who was not of the Potter blood. Harry knew, without stopping to think about it, that it was the only place he could safely put the book, to be retrieved only if he had a child.

He was stricken with the need to immediately secure the book even knowing that he had no way to—

Of course you do,” said a voice.

Harry let out an undignified yelp and whipped out his wand, staring around wildly. He had every intention of making the intruder squeal like a little girl, just as soon as he could spot the culprit.

His actions were greeted with warm laughter that echoed strangely. “Don’t you think you’re overreacting a little?

“Not hardly,” Harry said tersely, continuing to scan the room, but seeing absolutely nothing. Disillusionment charm? An invisibility cloak?

Neither, I’m afraid. If you’d stop acting like there’s an assassin in the corner, we could get back to how you’re going to secure the book.

Harry, if possible, was even more startled. He knew people couldn’t read minds.

I quite agree. They can’t. Were you going to stand down, or continue to look like the before photo in a brochure for Fligger Zeebot’s Anxiety-Reducing Potions?

“I think I’ve gone mental,” Harry said through gritted teeth.

An amused snicker was followed by, “If you have, then so have I, Harry.

“Are you going to show yourself, then?” Harry asked. “Tell me who you are?”

I’m you. Or at least, a part of you that’s aware of what we’re capable of. I can’t very well show myself though. We aren’t quite that powerful. I suppose you could look in a mirror.

“I’ve definitely gone mental.” Harry lowered his wand and slumped onto the bed, cradling his head in his free hand.

Oh, don’t worry. I shan’t stick around forever. I’m just here to get you started. Everyone who reads the book goes through this. Your situation is different only in that you had no idea what to expect, that’s all.

“Yeah, sure. All right.” Harry had a fleeting thought about a conversation he’d had with his friends back in his second year about hearing voices. All in all, he felt no compelling reason to raise his head under the circumstances.

Right, then! As I was saying, you need to secure the book. If you relax your mind a little you’ll realize that you’ve acquired a wealth of knowledge over the past few days. You know where the estate is and you do know how to apparate, not to mention a few other ways to travel that aren’t, strictly speaking, common in the wizarding world.

Harry didn’t respond; instead he tried to relax and clear his mind of the extraneous, focusing only on methods of travel. He sat up with a start when he realized the voice was right; he knew at least three ways.

Excellent. I suggest you do not use apparition until you’re licensed. Use an alternate until then. You can send off a letter to the Order and one to the testing department before you take the book to the estate.

Harry nodded and slipped his wand into the holster up his sleeve. He dashed off two letters and gave them to a sleepy Hedwig, who nipped him in annoyance at being woken, but flew out the window anyway.

After casting another locking charm on his door, Harry grabbed the book and his father’s letter, made a peculiar gesture, and disappeared. Some hours later, after having strolled around the underground estate in wonderment, Harry returned to his bedroom at the house on Privet Drive. Two letters awaited him on his desk; Hedwig was already back and fast asleep facing the wall. It was clear she did not wish to be disturbed.

The letter from the Order was nothing unusual; that it came from Remus personally made it special. The other was from the Ministry with a date for his apparition test, a week away. Deciding he may as well do something productive, he went to his desk, pulled out his assignments, and began to work. Books were unnecessary; the knowledge was all there in his head.

*

He met Remus at Mrs Figg’s house. After a brief round of hugs and greetings, they floo’d to the Ministry and walked to the apparition testing center. Two bored officials and a short time later, Harry walked back to Remus fully licensed and from there they went to Diagon Alley. Fortunately, Remus was content to leave Harry inside Gringotts while he did some shopping so long as Harry promised not to leave until Remus returned.

As well he was, since Harry needed to discuss the letter he’d received privately. Perhaps he was being paranoid—the voice in his head assured him he was not—but he felt it was best to err on the side of discretion when it came to his finances. He was therefore surprised when the goblin he was escorted to could not tell him anything about the contents of the inheritance vault; instead he was told it was now his by law and that was that.

Harry took the time to go down to the vault, eyes wide at the size of it and the amount of furniture stored inside. The decided lack of money had him stumped until his internal voice told him he should take a closer look at what the hidden estate had to offer. The only thing he took with him in consequence was a box which held his parents’ wands, salvaged from Godric’s Hollow and given to Gringotts to store, presumably by Dumbledore himself.

He stopped in at his original vault to grab a few handfuls of galleons and went back to the lobby to meet Remus. Spotting him chatting up Tonks, he strode over and joined them, then all three went out to purchase Harry’s school supplies for the year.

He could have waited for Ron and Hermione, but they had been strangely silent thus far, having only sent gifts on his birthday and some very short notes. He felt a little hurt and was at something of a loss when it came to figuring out what to do about their lack of communication. He shrugged philosophically; it would come out sooner or later. If it was thoughtlessness, it could be remedied. If it were something more sinister, he would find a way to deal with it.

Back home hours later he found himself staring at the mirror, or more accurately, the scar on his forehead. He thought, for probably the millionth time, how much it annoyed him. As if on cue, the mental voice spoke up.

If it upsets you that much, get rid of it.

“Pardon?” said Harry, bewildered.

Get rid of it. Will it away. And while you’re at it, do something about that mop you call hair.

“Well excuse me. It’s not my fault my hair is like this,” Harry shot back.

I beg to differ. You only believe that, and you should know by now not to believe everything you’re told. Go on then, change it. You have the ability.

Harry scowled for a moment, wondering why it had to be him who had an alter-ego who deemed it necessary to find amusement at his expense. Rolling his eyes, he focused on his reflection in the mirror, imagining himself without the scar.

A moment later, it was gone.

See? That was easy.

“Oh, shut up.”

If I shut up, who would be the brains of this outfit? Speaking of which, who selects your clothes?

Harry’s face twisted into a scowl immediately.

Right, anyway. Try reverting, why don’t you. Did you really believe all these years that you were the spitting image of your father?

“What d’you mean, revert? And why shouldn’t I look like my father?”

Just trust me. Er, you. Us. Whatever. Don’t think about it, just do it.

“Fine.” Harry heaved a sigh and closed his eyes, trying not to think about what he was doing. A muffled cough had them open and him looking at his reflection again.

His appearance had definitely changed. After a bit of wild-eyed staring he realized that much was the same, but the arrangement wasn’t. His hair was still black, but far longer. His eyes were still that amazing green, but now they tilted up slightly at the corners. His facial structure was more refined and the shape less round. His upper lip was thinner than the lower, but not so much as to look ridiculous, whereas before they were more or less even.

“I suppose you have an explanation for this, oh intelligent one?” he asked the voice, sarcasm and not a little anxiety colouring his words.

Quite so. But, I suggest we tackle that at the estate. Oh, and don’t forget to bring your parents’ wands with you. There’s no safer place for them.

*

The pool he’d been directed to had a sheen like mercury and disconcerting tendency to bubble at odd moments. After being transfixed by its peculiar beauty for several minutes he had the presence of mind to ask what it was.

It’s a memory pool. Like a pensieve, but not quite. Focus on what you want to see from your memories and it’ll appear. I suggest you start with the weeks after you were brought to your aunt and uncle.

“If you say so, but I’m not sure why.”

I see things a bit differently than you do. If you want answers, I suggest you get to focusing.

Harry sighed and gave thanks to the fact that he’d long since learned Occlumency and had little trouble clearing his mind so that he could then focus on something which, by all rights, he should not be able to remember. The surface of the pool stilled and took on a mirror-like quality, a picture forming slowly as he continued to focus. He watched as Hagrid delivered him to Privet Drive and the conversation between Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall.

But that wasn’t far enough on so he tried again, finally stopping on a scene of Dumbledore appearing next to his crib and taking several strands of hair from his head. Harry didn’t quite know what to make of that so he tried for the next occurrence. The scene that unfolded was illuminating.

Professor Dumbledore appeared by his crib and cast several spells, silencing and locking, before pulling a vial from his robes and placing it on a small table. He reached into baby Harry’s crib and picked him up, cradling him with one arm.

The smile on Dumbledore’s face was one of satisfaction and struck Harry as foreboding. Perhaps it was the way the voice had spoken, but Harry was inclined to believe he would not find this memory to be innocent.

“It’s all right, young Harry. You’ll see. No one will ever need know the truth of the matter, least of all you. Just one simple potion and no one will ever know just what happened that night. All they will see is James Potter’s son.”

Harry’s sense of foreboding turned into full-blown anxiety at that, worse for the fact that he had no idea what Dumbledore was hiding.

Dumbledore picked up the vial and flipped it open with his thumb, then dribbled it into baby Harry’s mouth a little at a time, making sure that it went down rather than being spat back at him. When it was gone, the vial was closed with another quick movement and placed back in his robes.

Dumbledore held baby Harry carefully as the child started to squirm, then wriggle furiously, and finally wail in pain. When at last the cries stopped and the little face had relaxed, Dumbledore smiled benevolently.

Harry realized his fists were clenched tightly at his sides and made a conscious effort to stretch out his fingers.

“You see, Harry? It’s all better now. You’ll grow up looking just like James, and if it starts to wear off I will simply arrange to correct the problem. After all, a secret is only a secret if only one person knows it, isn’t that right?

“You’ll grow up to be just what we need, a savior twice ‘round. I’ll make sure of it.”

Dumbledore placed baby Harry back in his crib and tucked him in, then removed the spells with a wave of his wand. A moment later, he was gone.

Harry stepped back heavily, stumbling in his anger. “What the bloody hell did he do!”

Remember when he told you his theory about the night Voldemort gave you that scar?

“Yes,” Harry hissed.

Take that, and what you just saw, and your current appearance, and tell me what you think you should do to find more answers.

“What are you on about? He’s making it sound like I’m not the son of James Potter. Is there some kind of potion or something to give me answers?”

There’s no need to get shirty with me, young man. And you just answered your own question. I keep telling you. It’s all there in your head. The book gave you a wealth of knowledge.

Hours, a mass of ingredients, and a piece of parchment later, Harry had his answer. He wasn’t inclined to believe it in the least, but he had his answer. The damning piece of parchment told him his mother was Lily Potter, née Evans, which was as expected. What was horrifying was that the father’s name kept flashing between James Potter and Tom Riddle.

The words of the headmaster came back to him.

“Unless I’m much mistaken, he transferred some of his own powers to you the night he gave you that scar. Not something he intended to do, I’m sure. . . .”

“Some of his powers? Some? Powers? You have a wicked talent for understatement, I’m sure.” Harry started laughing, a high-pitched, cold laughter that echoed around the lab he was standing in. The voice stayed silent.

*

The remainder of the summer went on as before, filled with summer class work, reading for pleasure, and occasionally wondering about the rare, short letters from his two friends. He tried not to dwell too much on what had happened at the estate, but it wouldn’t let him be. He certainly didn’t know what to do about it. He had honestly thought after the end of his fifth year that the secrets were done with.

How could he trust a man who professed such caring, yet left out some very important information that directly concerned himself? The more he thought about it, the more that conversation stuck in his mind. Dumbledore had told him he’d made the mistake of caring more about Harry’s happiness than burdening him with the truth at such a young age.

Was that the truth, or was that a diversion? It was, certainly, an admittance that Dumbledore had tried to think of Harry as more of a tool or a means to an end. He sighed, as he seemed to be doing a lot of lately.

He hadn’t even bothered to protest remaining at Privet Drive the entire holiday as it would be his last. Why expend the energy to complain when he’d never have to return in his lifetime? His thoughts circled round, getting nowhere. He finally decided not to decide yet. He’d watch Dumbledore, and see what happened.

When the time came, Harry left a day early and booked a room at the Leaky Cauldron. He visited Gringotts again to spend more time in his inheritance vault, making sure there was nothing of any real importance in it, then left and made a quick visit to the estate to drop off his vault keys.

Back in Diagon Alley he stayed in his room, grateful when Tom brought up both the noon and evening meals, and spent his time reading a muggle fantasy novel. The next morning, after a hearty breakfast, he gathered his shrunken belongings—Hedwig had left the day before to fly on ahead—and apparated to the platform early enough to find an empty compartment near the end of the train.

Not bothering to keep watch out the window for his friends, he pulled out the novel he’d started the day before and began reading. If they wanted to find him, they would.

Forty-five minutes later he’d been joined by Neville, Seamus and Dean. Ron and Hermione didn’t arrive until an hour after the train had left the station (presumably at a prefect meeting) and looked slightly put out that the compartment was already so full. The others happily made room. Hermione immediately whipped out a book and started to read. Conversation flowed around her, and Harry was content to keep to his own book. He still didn’t know what was wrong and it was obvious he wouldn’t be finding out just yet.

When they arrived at the castle Harry ended up in a carriage with Ron, Hermione and Neville, and once again his two best friends looked slightly put out. Again, Harry gave no sign that he noticed and said nothing about it. The sorting, and dinner, was more of the same. Harry was beginning to get more than a little annoyed. When dinner ended he went straight up to his dormitory and got ready for bed.

When Ron arrived he bore a faintly puzzled look on his face. “Is everything all right, Harry? You’ve been awfully quiet today.”

“It’s been a quiet summer. Perhaps I’m having to get used to people again,” he said evenly.

“Oh, right. Good night, then,” Ron said and shuffled off to get changed.

Harry pulled the bed curtains closed and drifted off to sleep, pleased that he’d not been confrontational, but berating himself for trying subtlety on someone like Ron.

Schedules were handed out at breakfast and Harry was pleased to note that he continued to have a fairly open schedule due to only taking five NEWT level classes. He only had Care of Magical Creatures and Herbology today. Ron looked equally pleased. They both had two days with no classes at all.

When Hermione went to potions, Harry and Ron lounged around near Hagrid’s hut, seeing no reason to waste the free period indoors when the day was warm and sunny.

“So,” Ron said while tugging at blades of grass.

“So,” replied Harry while getting his textbook out.

“You aren’t going to read that now are you?” asked Ron in disbelief.

“Whyever not? Have to read it sometime, don’t I?”

“But—” Ron broke off and appeared thoughtful for a minute. “It’s like this, Harry. I’ve . . . got a girlfriend. I just wasn’t sure how to tell you.”

Harry looked up from his book. “You finally got up the courage to ask Hermione out?”

Ron gaped for a moment, and Harry almost smiled at the sight. Ron shook his head finally saying, “Hermione? No. Lisa Turpin, Ravenclaw.”

Harry blinked a few times. “Really. How’d that happen?”

“Oh, well, you know. . . .” Ron didn’t seem to keen on discussing details.

Harry chose not to press the subject. Merlin knew he hated it when people tried prying at him. “Congratulations, mate. I hope you make each other happy.”

Ron broke into a wide grin. “Yeah, well, I’ve been kind of distant and I thought you’d want to know why. It only occurred to me just lately that I hadn’t been writing much over the summer and—”

“It’s all right, Ron. I’m glad to know it was nothing bad is all.”

When class rolled around Harry was happy to note that nothing untoward happened, despite Hagrid’s puppyish enthusiasm for dangerous creatures. He actually gave an overview of the coming year and belted out an exhortation about the NEWTs at the end of the year.

Herbology after lunch, where they met up again with Hermione, was similar, except they actually got to do some hands on work. Harry and Ron were thrilled to have the rest of the afternoon off, though Ron was less than pleased when Harry started in on the day’s assignments almost immediately.

To Harry’s way of thinking it was best to just get things out of the way, something that was obviously a little too close to Hermione’s philosophy for Ron’s tastes. Harry didn’t bother to tell Ron about the book from his father, or his lack of need for the textbooks or the library in order to do his assignments.

The next day was even better, though Harry noticed Hermione was still acting a bit strange, because they only had Transfiguration. True, it was a double class, but it meant his whole afternoon was free. He once again started in on his assignment directly lunch was over, making Ron a tad peeved and causing a pleased and slightly smug look to cross Hermione’s face.

After dinner he went to see Madam Hooch about booking the pitch for practices and was seen shortly thereafter posting a notice in the common room with the days and times. His attention to his studies paid off when he had four free days stretching before him with nothing to do but appear to read ahead, fly, play chess and exploding snap with Ron, or read for pleasure.

It was worth it, in a perverse way, to see Ron getting nervy on Sunday at not having bothered to put in any time yet and Hermione nagging at him like it would mean him failing his year-end tests.

Friday, however, had brought a note from Dumbledore at breakfast asking him to come to his office. A glance up at the head table told him nothing, so he trudged to the gargoyle with a slight sense of unease, gave the password, went up and knocked.

After hearing the muffled, “Come in,” he went in and sat down.

“Good morning, professor.”

“Good morning, Harry. I trust you are feeling well today.”

“Yes, sir. And you? I mean, is there something wrong?”

“I’m not sure why you ask, Harry, but nothing is wrong. I simply want to assure myself you were all right and settling in this year, and to see if there was anything you wanted to discuss.” Dumbledore smiled benevolently.

Harry noticed that the smile didn’t quite reach Dumbledore’s eyes. Given that they usually appeared to twinkle in amusement or high spirits, it was proof enough to him that something was not quite right.

“I didn’t, but. . . .” he began, “I’m trying very hard to understand things, but I just don’t. I thought the time of secrets was over, professor.”

Dumbledore peered over the rim of his glasses at him and said, “Secrets?”

“Yes, secrets. I thought that once I’d learned to guard my mind that you’d be more open with me. It’s not like I ever expected to know the day-to-day business of the Order, sir. But I did expect that you’d help me with the things you never explained. As it is I keep feeling like I’m floundering around in the dark. All I learn are the normal things any witch or wizard learns, Occlumency excepted, and nothing more really. If I’m supposed to be the one to bring Voldemort down, shouldn’t I? And what’s this power I have? How can I use something I don’t understand and can’t put a name to?”

“Ah, I see. You’re right, Harry. I would not be open to giving you the mundane details, for they would do you little good. As for extra training, I’m afraid that will have to wait until you have graduated; until then the Ministry and the Board of Governors have too much control.”

That struck Harry as being distinctly untrue, but he let it pass for the moment and listened to Dumbledore’s next words.

“As for the power you possess, it is more important that it exists and it works when you need it, than for you to understand it. The first time you made it manifest you did so without any conscious thought, but at exactly the correct time. Sometimes understanding is a hindrance just like sometimes knowledge is corruption.”

He smiled again, in a way that made Harry want to surge to his feet in protest. His hard-won control over his temper kept him seated.

“With all due respect, professor, people are dying out there at his bidding. Students in this school are being swayed to his side. And I sit here, the weight of what I supposed to do laying squarely on my shoulders, feeling useless.”

Dumbledore gave him another look over the rim of his glasses and finally replied, “There is a time and place for everything, Harry.”

“Of course, professor.”

“If you have no further questions, you may go, Harry. I’m sure you have plenty of things to keep you occupied for the moment.”

“Yes. Thank you, sir.” He stood up and headed for the door.

Why bother,” said the voice. “You’ll only ask questions he isn’t willing to answer anyway.

If Dumbledore thought anything of the slight pause in Harry’s progress out, he did not remark on it.