Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Breakpoint :: 02 :: Saiph

02 • Saiph

A week had passed, during which time Harry got a good handle on his metamorphmagus ability, and became far more accustomed to his increased power. It no longer made his head throb or skittered along his veins like random bursts of electricity.

Lucius had provided a fairly complete family tree for the Black family and suggested a name, Lesath Saiph Black. Harry didn’t particularly mind the name, though he did feel it sounded terribly stuffy, and thought he would probably be known by Saiph. He still wondered how on earth Lucius’s wife had ended up with a name which seemed to break all the rules of the Black family.

He chose a form that somewhat resembled Sirius, Lucius having supplied a good number of portraits and photographs of members of his adopted family to aid him in making the decision. Where he got them from Harry didn’t know, and he didn’t ask. So it was that he and Lucius went to Diagon Alley in order for Harry to visit Gringotts.

He was still wary of the man, and Voldemort; it would have been beyond him to not be, despite what he had learned. Five years in Gryffindor had not erased or completely sublimated whatever it was that made him suitable for Slytherin, after all, and he had not lived for so long with the Dursleys to have totally forgotten those lessons either.

They swept up the marble steps and into the building, with Harry letting Lucius take the lead in dealings with the goblins. Frankly, even with coaching he had very little idea of how to handle things, and he did not have that same aura Lucius did, the one that screamed ‘superior being in the room’. Within five minutes they were comfortably ensconced in an office deep within the bank and being served tea and biscuits.

“What can I do for you, gentlemen?” the goblin asked.

“Lay it out for me, Frelkin,” Lucius said in a chill voice. “What will it take for complete and continuing secrecy with regard to my companion’s dealings with this bank?”

The goblin smiled nastily. “Would that not depend on the identity of your companion?” he countered.

“I have no patience for this. You should know better than any I would not ask such a question lightly. Answer, or don’t, but do not press for information you will not receive without an agreement.”

Frelkin quite nearly pouted. Harry was reminded of a child who had just been told they could not have that extra slice of cake. The goblin gave Harry a look of appraisal, narrowed his eyes, then said, “Fine. The usual deal. Ten thousand, then one hundred per.”

Lucius nodded instantly. “Draw it from my own account for now.” Ten minutes later money had changed hands and the deal struck.

“Now that gifts are out of the way, perhaps you’ll explain why you’re here,” Frelkin said.

“My companion wishes to claim his lordships without interference and gain control of whatever assets he may have, among other things.” Lucius turned his head and arched a brow at Harry. “If you would?”

Harry took a deep breath and shifted his appearance. The goblin reacted noticeably, his eyes taking on a greedy gleam, and . . . something indefinable.

Lucius snorted softly and said, “Shall we continue?”

“Yes, of course.” Frelkin pulled open a drawer in his desk and removed several objects. A basin was placed in the center of the desk, into which Frelkin emptied the contents of a vial. Once the colourless liquid had spread to cover the bottom he slid an athame forward and looked expectantly at Harry. “Seven drops of blood,” he said, nodding at the basin.

Harry forced himself not to show any signs of discomfort, and reached out to take the knife, then carefully drew it across his left palm. There was enough blood on the blade for him to drip it straight from that, and he made sure to clean it with a spell before placing it back on the desk, then healed his hand.

The liquid in the basin changed colour, adulterated by his blood, and split; half went the colour of earth, the other half boundless black. Lucius smirked.

“Well, well. I see you weren’t kidding when you said lordships,” Frelkin commented. “In that case. . . .” The goblin whipped open a different drawer and flipped through numerous folders, then drew out two stacks of parchment. “We will handle the Potter family first,” he said, then wrote out a short note and tossed it into the air.

Harry blinked as it disappeared.

Frelkin paged through the first stack, muttering under his breath, then reached up without looking to snatch several pieces of parchment from the air and put them on his desk. Several minutes later the goblin looked up with a shark-like grin and nodded. “Let’s get started.”

Twenty minutes later Harry’s hand ached from initialing here, and there, and signing this and that. When he was finally allowed to put the quill down he was presented with a ring. “Put that on, doesn’t matter where, and let it work its magic. After that point, you can keep it or stick it in a vault, doesn’t matter,” the goblin instructed.

Harry slid it onto his right index finger and bit back a gasp of surprise as . . . something . . . swept through his body. He was feeling strangely violated by the time the sensation ceased.

“Now, Lord Potter, as you no doubt suspected”—the goblin’s expression cast suspicion on those words—“you are the sole heir of Sirius Black, and therefore may also claim that lordship. Do you wish to do so at this time?”

“Yes.”

Another twenty minutes or so went by before he was presented with a second ring. That one he placed on his right ring finger, this time prepared. Once that was done Harry switched to his Saiph appearance.

“Next?” Frelkin asked.

“I want everything consolidated,” Harry said.

Frelkin shuffled some parchment around, then said, “That will require several vaults.”

“Fine. One key per vault, directly to me. I have no idea if anyone else has had access to my vaults from either line, so let’s start over.”

“Name?”

Harry sighed softly. “Lesath Saiph Black.”

“Very well. Sign here,” Frelkin said and pushed a paper over. “The usual bells and whistles?”

Lucius nodded.

“Naturally.” The goblin whipped out more paperwork and started writing, then snatched the signed paper back and pushed the new set over. “Sign,” he said and scratched an X to indicate where.

When Harry stumbled out of the bank several hours later he was exhausted from holding his emotions and reactions in check. Lucius seemed to be quite amused, but even then Harry refrained from shooting glares his way.

“Since we are here, we can delay leaving long enough for me to pick up a few things. If you would prefer you can wait for me at Fortescue’s or the Leaky Cauldron.”

“How long do you think you’ll be?” Harry asked.

“Anywhere from ten minutes to an hour.”

Harry nodded. “I’ll wait at the Leaky Cauldron, then. Get a sandwich to tide me over.”

“As you wish,” Lucius said equitably. “You know what to do should trouble arise.”

They separated and Harry headed off to get a meal, choosing a small table tucked away in one of the corners. It was fairly well screened, but he could see both entrances to the establishment without undue strain. He was halfway through his sandwich when he noticed his two best friends enter the building and, after talking to Tom, nab a table practically right next to him.

Harry watched as Hermione did a casual sweep of the room, somehow not noticing him sitting there, then leaned over the table a bit and began speaking in a low voice. “I just don’t know about this anymore. I’m starting to think we ought to change our plans.”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

Hermione rolled her eyes in exasperation. “Honestly. We nearly died this time. Is it worth it?”

“We’ll be fine.”

“Damn it, Ron. Thinking we’ll be offered more important jobs after our schooling or even end up as minister eventually because of our association with Harry is one thing, but that’s cold comfort if one or both of us ends up dead before then,” she hissed.

Ron snorted. “And I’m not the one who thought having this conversation at the Leaky Cauldron was a brilliant idea, Hermione.”

“Oh, right, like having it at the Burrow or that place was such a good idea.”

“We can’t just up and stop being friends with him.”

“Maybe not, but we could start reporting in about him to the headmaster. Maybe then he wouldn’t keep dashing off headlong into trouble and getting himself nearly killed, along with who knows else.”

“Oh, please. The headmaster lets him get away with a lot. The fact that he almost never says a word is as good as encouragement, not to mention the odd lack of punishments, for him and us.”

“I hope you’re right,” she said fervently.

“Leave the strategy to me. You know I’m trying to do what’s right for all of us.”

Harry was feeling more than a little angry at that point and had long since stopped tasting the sandwich he had continued to eat on auto-pilot. He abandoned his table quietly and headed for the back exit, intending to hang about that end of the alley pretending to window shop until Lucius came to rejoin him.

He was surprised by several things, though he found it interesting they had not yet sold him out to Dumbledore. That, at least, was vaguely reassuring. However, the fact that they were using him as some kind of stepping stone to better jobs or political clout was . . . revolting. Was everyone like that, judging him by how far he could advance them in the world by proximity?

The fact that the two of the people he trusted the most thought of him that way made him feel physically ill. Well, it was a good thing, then, that Harry Potter was all but dead and had never been at Gringotts long enough to make out a will. Or was it? That in itself was a double-edged sword. If he made a will, Dumbledore would know Harry had escaped his leash for a time, and if not he might be exceptionally curious as to where all Harry’s money had gone to.

He was actually surprised no fuss had been raised yet about his disappearance. Perhaps it was the case that Dumbledore had removed the guards knowing they might overhear more than they ought to at № 4 Privet Drive, and perhaps it was true that the concept of letters was there only to frighten his family, and not something he actually needed to do.

He shrugged slightly and moved to look over a street vendor’s goods, snorting derisively as he spotted the reflections of Ron and Hermione walking past him in a nearby shop window. The plump lady at the cart gave him a startled look so he shook his head and murmured, “My thoughts, not your wares.”

Lucius arrived a few minutes later, just as Harry was turning away from the vendor, there being nothing he wished to purchase. A short time later they were back in Harry’s suite.

“Are people always like that?” Harry asked softly.

“Like what?”

“Users.” He sighed heavily and recounted what he had overheard while eating.

Lucius was silent for a time, then spoke in a curiously even tone. “If you have power, of any kind, someone will always seek to use it to benefit themself. You might not wish to see it this way, but life is nothing but a system of bartering. If I may speculate, I could say your Miss Granger has always striven to assist you, better you, but in return she has her own hopes out of the bargain, such as you overheard.

“Or consider that you are a parselmouth. You can use that ability to gain things from snakes which others would be hard pressed to, but in return you can gain money from it, or other things you might wish to have. I am not saying that there is no such thing as a selfless person, or a true and loyal friend. However, we all use others, with it mainly being the degree of use and honesty about it that changes.

“You could use your notoriety, I imagine, to obtain a broom well in advance of it being released to the general public, giving back an endorsement in exchange as well as a report on how it handled. What matters more is your level of awareness when it comes to using others or being used, and how you choose to wield what power you hold.”

Harry thought about that for a bit, a part of him admitting that Lucius had a very good point. “So even as Lesath Black I would need to watch out.”

“Yes. I firmly believe you would have gained a much better education in the ways of the world had you been sorted into Slytherin. You certainly would have been exposed to the machinations and power plays from the very beginning.”

Harry shrugged slightly and smiled. “Maybe so. But then I would have had a whole different set of problems.”

“Undoubtedly true,” Lucius agreed. “Either way, unless you intend to live the life of a hermit, building your dwelling with your own two hands, and growing and harvesting your own crops to feed yourself, you will have to deal with this.”

“And does this have anything to do with why Slytherins often seem to be so cold and unfeeling?”

“A Slytherin is still human. What you see in public can be a complete reversal of their private nature.”

“More masks.”

Lucius nodded.

“I’m starting to wonder how on earth people ever manage to trust each other. I was worried about them because they were my friends, and now I find out that they’ve been conspiring against me in a way for years, and now may well decide to sell me out? All right, that part won’t matter for very long, but still.”

“It is an equal failing to trust everybody, and to trust nobody.” 

Harry gave him a curious look.

“My advice . . . would be to say, just as one ought to pick one’s battles, one should choose one’s friends with open eyes.”

Harry took a moment to digest that, then said tentatively, “Battles?”

“I shall give you an example. I could have fought the match my parents arranged for me, but deemed it wise to comply. Had I not, I might have ended up either dead or disowned, neither of which appealed to me. And we have fulfilled the main point, that of producing a viable heir.

“I neither like nor trust Lady Malfoy, and she is enamored enough of the Malfoy name and the allowance it affords her to have not protested. In truth, we see very little of each other. It is mainly social functions which apply. I have at times considered catching her in an indiscretion, but am not sure I wish to sully the Malfoy name should it become public.”

Not being sure how to really react to that, Harry said the first thing that came to mind. “Oh.”

“Now, as another way of looking at power, consider the average person. And by that I mean someone who has no particular influence or notoriety. They have opinions, and may even be correct in them, but they are a single voice among many, and it is unlikely they could sway large portions of the populace to their way of thinking.

“Harry Potter, on the other hand, became an influence the day he temporarily defeated the Dark Lord, regardless of how it was accomplished. Naturally, all sides took measures to either promote that influence, not to mention guide it, or negate it, which is part of why Saxeten handled you the way he did, and why others painted you in delusional colours.”

Harry sighed and looked away, then said a moment later, “I suppose I should be concerned about how my death will be staged.”

“And how to disguise the fact that all your assets have mysteriously vanished.”

“Well,” he said with a slight shrug, “I’m not sure that matters. In theory I could leave everything to my nearest blood relative who wasn’t a muggle or squib, which would technically be me.”

Lucius smirked and nodded. “Quite true. Now, about your death. . . .”

*

“That is,” Voldemort said smoothly, “a fairly simple matter. As it stands, Death Eaters stationed near your former home have continued to report absolutely no Order activity in the area, which means that Saxeten isn’t paying attention for some reason.”

Harry snorted softly. “That might be so that my uncle has the freedom to smack me into a wall anytime he likes and nobody who might want to rescue me will notice. And it’s not like Mrs Figg made a habit of doing more than skittering by every so often.”

“Possibly. Therefore, you will be kidnapped from the nearby park, brought to me, and brutally tortured and killed.”

“What, with Snape bringing back the news and a few dozen photographs he surreptitiously took of my shattered body?” Harry said sarcastically. “Wouldn’t it be easier if I was run over by a drunk driver?”

The corner of Voldemort’s mouth quirked up in what looked to be amusement. “Well, it is your death, my young friend. If you have your heart set on a particular method, by all means, do share.”

He nearly smiled at that, but stifled the impulse. “Are we supposed to manufacture a body or something? I mean, I keep having visions of Dumbledore raiding a mortuary or graveyard to steal my corpse so he can run tests or something to verify it was really me who died.”

“Not if you died in the muggle world, and your aunt and uncle had you cremated almost immediately,” Voldemort pointed out.

Harry frowned slightly. “I guess. They probably would like to see me burn, but I’m not so sure they’d pay anything toward costs, you know? Besides, I’ve not been there for a while, and you’ve already shown me that alteration of memories is recognizable to a wizard. I guess kidnapping it is, then.”

Voldemort nodded. “But not from Little Whinging. You ran away, didn’t you? And I, in my infinite wisdom, have been keeping a mental eye on your location in case you stepped outside your protections, no doubt due to your ostensibly rash and reckless behavior. Therefore, when I knew you were wandering about in Potters Bar—amusing choice on your part, by the way—I went on a little raid.”

“Erm. . . .”

“You can come along if you wish, or play the part yourself. Otherwise, we can make do with a carefully crafted illusion for the benefit of the muggles who will no doubt need to be obliviated, not to mention the odd wizarding family or two who live there.”

Well, Harry certainly appreciated being given options. “What about Snape?”

Voldemort waved a hand dismissively. “He does not go out on raids. He will, however, most likely be delighted to have a go at torturing you given the chance. The usual sorts of wards will be up to prevent anyone trying to side-along apparate with you or slip you a portkey. He can, after the fact, return to Saxeten and report on your death, but neglect to mention that he helped break you before that point.”

Harry coughed uncomfortably and darted a glance at Lucius before saying, “All right. Since I don’t really think you expect me to allow Snape anywhere near me with a wand. . . .”

Another wave of a hand. “I construct a golem, a seeming of you, and we use that for the dénouement.”

“What about afterward?”

“That, my young friend, is a discussion for then.”

At that, things went quite well. Harry had just been spotted wandering Potters Bar by some of the aforementioned wizarding folk when a contingent of Death Eaters appeared, clustered around their master himself. Harry, ostensibly not wishing to be expelled for using magic or to put anyone else in danger, attempted to flee, but was brought down by Voldemort as his Death Eaters began cursing anyone who so much as dared to poke their heads out to see what the commotion was about.

And as Harry learned, shortly after the Dark Mark was cast into the sky and he was unceremoniously hauled off by Voldemort, aurors began popping in to fight the good fight. That being the case, by the next morning the entire wizarding world was aware, courtesy of the Daily Prophet, that Harry Potter had been captured.

What they were not yet aware of was his death.

He was dressed as a Death Eater for that part of things, nearly hidden in the shadows of Voldemort’s audience chamber, as his golem was dragged in by several minions and dumped in the middle of the floor. A few select, favored minions were allowed to show off just how well they could cast curses, and of course, Snape was one of them.

Harry found the entire show to be a bit disturbing, but what was downright nauseating was seeing the look on Snape’s face as he sent his allowed handful of curses at what he thought was Potter. ‘That man really is a sadist,’ he thought, inwardly shuddering.

Snape stepped back quickly the second Voldemort arose from his quasi-throne and approached his ostensible nemesis—one of them, at least. “It’s time to die, Potter,” Voldemort said. “And this time I shall not be giving you any courtesies, for I tire of your very essence and existence. You shall not escape me this time.”

And then he raised his wand dramatically and bellowed, “Avada kedavra!”

*

Harry was beginning to feel almost comfortable around Voldemort, which in itself was mildly unsettling. Then again, as far as he could tell, Voldemort was being straight with him, involving him directly in matters that concerned him, and actively helping him to disappear. Certainly it served his own self-interest, not to mention Voldemort’s. Even so, he had no earthly idea what to do with himself from that point on.

Voldemort had an answer for that, too. “It is, I confess, a somewhat radical idea. I propose to send you back in time.”

Harry gaped for a moment, and thought better of pointing out the inherent illegalities and dangers.

“There are several benefits,” Voldemort continued. “You would not only have a holiday of sorts, albeit a long one, and be able to see many places around the world, but also gain years to yourself, away from this conflict.”

“Years!”

“Certainly. By the time you caught up again with our current present you would be quite a bit older than the presently deceased Harry Potter, and have something of a background as Lesath Black. Retaking your OWLs would be possible, this time as your new self, along with your NEWTs.”

Harry finally found his wits and said, “And what about money? What would I live on? I can’t very well drop by Gringotts and say, ‘Hello, I’m Sirius Black’s illegitimate child, and would like to plunder his accounts for the next few years.’ ”

“That would depend on how loyal your present contact within Gringotts would be should he encounter an unexpected windfall and provide you with something to verify your identity to him after you’d gone back. In any case, I’m sure Lucius would be delighted to comment on that, or perhaps assist you in purchasing a specialized trunk that would allow you to carry with you a few million galleons with none the wiser.”

They both turned to look at Malfoy, who promptly offered up his thoughts. “My lord,” he said first in deference. “There was something the faintest bit . . . odd . . . about Frelkin’s reaction to my companion’s identity, but it is possible I am reading more into that than is warranted. We must visit Gringotts again anyway. And while we are there, I can help Saiph to acquire whatever he would need for an undertaking such as you propose.

“And, I would be happy to compile a report, should Saiph choose this option, detailing all activity he should stringently avoid during his sojourn in the past. That is to say, any attacks or other hot spots which might bring his existence to light to the wrong sort of people.”

Voldemort arched one of his brows and gave Lucius an assessing look. “A worthy suggestion. Though, given that my young friend here would do his best to stay away from the United Kingdom during that time, the danger is lessened. And”—he looked back at Harry—“stay clear of people such as William and Charles Weasley.”

After quite some time in thought, Harry nodded.

Frelkin was about as delighted to see them as any goblin might be at seeing a human, though perhaps it might be said he was somewhat pleased given that they each, Saiph and Lucius, had a running ‘token of esteem’ contributing to the goblin’s personal coffers.

“Well?”

“A pleasure to see you, too, Frelkin,” Lucius said dryly. “Has there been anyone nosing about regarding the Potter or Black estates?”

“Nothing more than the expected. Dumbledore was here briefly, but left after it was pointed out to him that he was neither the boy’s guardian nor mentioned in the will.”

“I’m not going to be able to take possession of—” Harry stopped abruptly, the fidelius charm on № 12 Grimmauld Place preventing him from speaking freely. “Take possession of Sirius’s former home, am I.”

Frelkin and Lucius both looked curious for a moment, then nodded in understanding. “Not without a legal battle,” Frelkin said, “and that might bring your identity under far more scrutiny than you would prefer. And at that, depending on how your relationship with the deceased was viewed, Dumbledore might begin to make connections better left unmade.”

Harry let out a soft growl. “I might not care so much aside from the fact that there may be things in that house I could use.”

“Then you have several choices,” Frelkin said, causing both men to look at him curiously. “You can attempt to slip in while it is empty and loot the place—always a fun endeavor in my opinion. You could consider it as lost to you and move on. Or . . . you could enter the building prior to when it was protected.”

There was a soft but unmistakable intake of breath from Lucius at those words.

“I see you understand,” said Frelkin, “and I see I am correct in my suspicions.” Then he shook his head briskly. “What arrangements need to be made?”

Lucius, having decided that games were to be set aside for the time being, said, “That depends. Saiph will need a great deal of coin, so he either withdraws several million galleons or you arrange for a way for him to access his money without suspicion or investigation.”

Frelkin shot Lucius a feral smile. “I do believe I have just the thing,” he said before snatching over a sheet of parchment. Ten minutes later Harry was presented with a document written and sealed in the goblin’s blood, Frelkin having used what looked like a modified blood quill, plus a knife to cut himself long enough to coat a signet ring in it for the final touch.

“Now, you, as the current Lord Black, must also write a parchment, one of permission. And it must be as a Black that you do this, as people would notice if money were disappearing from the Potter vaults. Even so, as I expect you won’t be anywhere near the United Kingdom for some time, I would still suggest you withdraw a healthy amount of coin prior to departure and use this only as a failsafe in case of emergency.”

Harry nodded and began to write using the same quill, manfully hiding the pain it caused him. And then a bizarre thought occurred to him. “Has the exchange rate from galleons to pounds stayed fairly constant, or. . . ?”

Frelkin dashed off another note and tossed it in the air. A short time later he reached up to snatch a parchment out of the air, then pushed it across his desk at Harry, who finished his letter of permission and sealed it before looking. “All right,” he said, then looked at Lucius. “If it’s all right with you, I think we should get that trunk you mentioned before coming back here. I’m sure there are other things I’ll need as well, but those can wait a little.”

Harry was exhausted by the time he returned to his suite that evening. Not only was he carrying a trunk with multiple compartments, one of which contained several million galleons in it, and which made his mind boggle at considering how much it should have weighed, but didn’t, but also rather a lot in muggle currency.

In addition to the identification papers he would be needing, he was also expecting a huge order from Twillfit & Tatting’s to arrive at some point, Lucius having smoothly steered him away from Madam Malkin’s to a more upscale shop for wizarding clothing.

Harry would, once he was on his own, hit muggle shops for a more normal wardrobe, as he had no intention of staying strictly within magical enclaves. As a matter of fact, he was becoming rather fond of the idea of an extended holiday, despite the necessity of leaving his home, and needing to arrange to take his exams.

Lucius had promised him a wealth of information regarding past events, places of interest to visit, and a list of where he could conceivably take those exams and not attract too much attention by doing so.

They waited, however, until after Harry’s birthday to send him back. Until then Harry spent most of his time reading, though not so much the Daily Prophet (which was having a field day with his death) as school texts. After all, he was being given a second chance on his exams, and while he had been given an unintentional crash course in magic, a bit of actual practice never hurt, nor did an understanding of the theory and mechanics behind all of it.

And so it went. The day after Harry turned sixteen, Voldemort sent him back. There was no grand ritual or prolonged bout of spell casting involved, but they did remove themselves to a different country entirely for it, and Voldemort made it quite plain that Harry should remember the dangers of time travel and the temptations of meddling.

After that he directed Harry into the center of a design etched into the floor of the room they were in. Once he had made sure he hadn’t forgotten anything, Harry nodded and Voldemort activated the device (supposedly a very secret relic from Salazar Slytherin himself), and Harry was lost as blinding green light sprung up around him.