Grazhir :: Crossover :: FeS2 :: 01

01022011

FeS2

01

“Taken in, taken in again. Someone saw me coming, a fool without a friend.” — Mike & the Mechanics, Taken In


Harry took a seat when the goblin waved at one of the visitor chairs and looked up attentively, albeit a bit nervously. After all, he had broken into the bank not so long ago and kept expecting someone to have identified him as the culprit, and probably try to kill him. He just kept hoping the obliviation had taken hold properly.

He was seventeen—almost eighteen—and therefore old enough (according to wizarding law) to officially inherit. And frankly, he wasn’t sure what would be there. Certainly, the Potter name was quite old, but one look at a family like the Weasleys brought home the point that far-reaching ancestors might mean nothing when it came to monetary matters.

“I am Gildmaar,” the goblin said, sliding a folder over and opening it. He glanced at the contents, then said, “The world knows your birth date, but we must verify, that and your identity, to satisfy the usual safeguards on inheritance.”

He nodded, seeing the sense, and suffered to be tested. Thankfully, the goblin magic (and he was internally hooting over the idea that the Ministry thought they were being so repressive by denying the goblins wands) was surprisingly gentle, and it was over quickly enough.

“Excellent,” the goblin quite nearly drawled. “Then we shall move on. Mr Potter, it is rumored that your education has been somewhat lacking, you having been raised in the muggle world. With that in mind I shall explain more in depth than I would normally.”

And by then Harry was feeling mightily curious.

“Pure-blood families have, for a very long time, held to the custom of testing their younglings for certain factors, generally all before the age of six weeks. What is important here is the test performed which helps them to determine advantageous marriage alliances for those same children.”

“Huh?” What the devil was he talking about?

“The specific test I speak of reveals the child’s orientation, Mr Potter. To be blunt, if the child is homosexual.”

Harry imagined, after his brain kicked back into gear, that he must look quite stupid sitting there gaping. “They can determine that?” he finally choked out.

“Oh, yes,” Gildmaar assured him. “Mind, the test is done, for some purely as custom. Some do not seem to care about the results. They would arrange a marriage based on their needs, and not based on what the child is suited for, if you catch my meaning.”

Well, that only made a certain kind of sense. He could hardly imagine Abraxas Malfoy or Orion Black giving a flying fig if their sons were gay when it came to cementing an alliance to another powerful pure-blood family. But. . . . Harry gave the goblin a suspicious look. Why was it the topic of conversation now?

Gildmaar nodded several times and glanced back down at the contents of the folder. “In addition, Mr Potter, some families made inheritances conditional.”

Oh dear. Was he going to have to be married or something to inherit? Well, he did have Ginny, so. . . .

“In the case of James Potter, the man was quite adamant that his primary heir not be homosexual.”

He shrugged, not seeing how any of this was relevant.

“It is said—and this is strictly rumor, you understand—that James was pressing for more children, quite possibly due to the results of your testing,” the goblin continued. “Then again, perhaps your parents—”

“Wait, what!?” he interrupted. “What do you mean, the results of my testing? I’m not gay,” he protested. “I plan to ask Ginny to marry me soon.”

One of Gildmaar’s brows shuffled up in a display of disbelief. Then he shrugged and continued, “His wishes, of course, impact your inheritance.” The goblin slid a sheet of parchment out of the folder and stared at it for a moment. “Another custom of pure-blood families is to set up a trust vault for each child, assuming they have the money to do so. This ensures that the child will have the resources they need until they come of age, especially in the event that a disaster occurs.”

Trust vault, paid for supplies. . . . Harry nodded absently, far too caught up in confusion over the determination of his sexuality to protest again. This was all surely a mistake.

“A trust vault is handled in one of two ways when the child comes of age. If they’re the primary heir it is absorbed back into the estate. Otherwise it becomes the sole property of the child in question. Therefore, you will retain whatever funds remain.” Gildmaar pushed the parchment across the desk. “That details, as of 8 o’clock this morning, the value of that vault. Also listed are your earnings from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. Apparently you are a silent partner in that business. And, given that the seed money did not come from the main estate, you keep the earnings for yourself.”

He realized he was having some trouble breathing, but he could not quite pin down what he was feeling just then. The parchment was as described, giving a total for the trust vault, including the money the twins had dumped into it—not that he had known they were doing so. His hand was shaking as he trailed a finger down the page. “What’s this?” he asked, glancing up.

“Ah,” Gildmaar said with a nod. “Your mother, on the other hand, held different views. She, of course, held the right of disbursement for any and all money and property she brought into the marriage. Her wishes were that her estate be divided equally between any of her offspring. As you are an only child, you inherit all of it. You also have money left to you by various persons due to your ‘miraculous’ defeat of the Dark Lord in 1981.” More sheets of parchment were slid from the folder and pushed across the desk. “These detail any and all transactions for your vault.”

Ten minutes or so later Harry looked up, bottom lip firmly between his teeth. And then he spoke, in a curiously even voice. “So all that I have is now in this one vault, is that correct? And I have complete control of it as of now.”

“Correct, Mr Potter.”

“What a bloody asshole,” he shouted suddenly. “I knew he was a cruel bastard as a kid, but this is disgusting! Happy effin’ birthday, Harry.”

“Mr Potter,” Gildmaar said sternly.

He was instantly contrite. “I’m sorry,” he said softly. “You’re not the target of my anger. Please accept my apology for my impropriety.”

Gildmaar stared at him, then nodded. “Apology accepted. Now, let us move on to the other matter, that being the will of Sirius Black.”

Harry’s gaze snapped up. More shitty news? Or was there a glimmer of hope to be found? It wasn’t about the money, it was about the attitude, and knowing that in his father’s eyes he would never be good enough, all because some stupid test reported the wrong results. And he couldn’t even yell at the man directly, his anger left mostly impotent.

“All other bequests outlined in Mr Black’s will have already been executed, as those parties were already of age.” Gildmaar closed the folder and pushed it aside, sliding a different one over to open and glance at. “You are Mr Black’s primary heir, and thus, the bulk of his estate falls to you. You have the option to consolidate your holdings into a single vault if you wish, just to keep things tidy.”

He took a deep breath, wondering, yet afraid to wonder, and finally asked his question. “When . . . was his will made?”

“Mr Black filed three wills with us, the first being after he inherited from his uncle. The second was after he was named your godfather, and the final will was in January of 1996.”

Not so long before he was killed, then. And yet. . . . Did he want to know if he was the heir primus before the final will, or not? He wasn’t sure he could handle another seeming betrayal. It was, after all, quite possible that Sirius had been privy to the results of that stupid test, but had forgotten due to his long imprisonment. “I would like to consolidate, please.”

Gildmaar nodded and fetched out some paperwork and began filling it in. One sheet was pushed over to him for perusal and a signature, another was placed into an outbox after that. He imagined it contained orders for other goblins to start shifting things around. He spent some time looking at the statement for what he had inherited from Sirius, and wondered, exactly, how expensive it actually was to live in the wizarding world. It wasn’t like anyone had ever offered a class on those things applicable to everyday living. He couldn’t even tell if he would need to get a job after he left Hogwarts, though he had planned to do something, perhaps become an auror. At least he knew he had a home now.

A key was presented to him—he probably needed a bigger vault, then—and the meeting wrapped up. As he stood to leave he paused and looked at the goblin. “What . . . will happen to the Potter estate, then? I mean—wait, no. Never mind. Even if I have the right to know, I don’t think I could stand to.” Hundreds, possibly thousands of years of Potters, and everything they had accumulated, gone . . . and to what. He could not bear to know. He only knew that the image he held of his father was irrevocably shattered. “Is there any way for me to find out what Sirius’s earlier wills stated?”

Gildmaar paused in the act of tidying up the paperwork on his desk, then said, “We do not keep copies of older wills. However, there may be copies amongst his belongings. I would suggest checking your vault once the consolidation is complete.”

“Approximately how long will that take?”

“An hour or two.”

Harry nodded. “Thank you for your time,” he said, then exited. Back in Diagon Alley he wandered down the street in something of a daze. He was being denied his inheritance because of some stupid test that was obviously faulty? He swallowed hard and drifted to a stop, absently noticing that he was outside Madam Malkin’s. Well, he had defeated Voldemort, so the least he could do was fix that little problem with sporting a wardrobe entirely consisting of Dudley’s cast-offs, right? On that thought he went inside and began the tedious process of shopping.

Two hours later he was back in the bank, this time hurtling all the rails on the way down to his new vault. Inside he quickly noted that it had been arranged so that coin was in one area, books and papers in another, artifacts in another, and so on. He hastened over to the reading materials and began shifting through them, eventually finding what he was looking for. He breathed a sigh of relief, then immediately tensed back up. With trembling hands he began to read the second will.

Some time later he came out of his fugue to see that books were all over the floor of the vault, artifacts were also, and the neat piles of gold were scattered. The parchment in his hands had scorched edges. Sirius was just as bad as his father. Obviously the time spent in Azkaban had altered his memories to Harry’s benefit. He dropped the will on the floor and turned to gather up some money in his bag, then left, ignoring that his goblin escort looked quite put out.

Shortly thereafter he was back at the Burrow, and summoned up a smile when Ginny approached him. “Hey.”

She eyed him with concern and drew him over to a seat, gently pushing him down. “Harry, is something wrong?”

“I—” He took in his surroundings and shook his head. “Not here. I’d prefer a little more privacy.” After relocating to a spot under a large tree some distance from the house he said, “I went to Gringotts today to see about my inheritance.”

Ginny nodded encouragingly, giving him a faint smile.

“It seems my dad was more of a wanker than I realized. All he left me was my school vault,” he said quietly. He thought for a moment that Ginny looked stricken, but a closer look showed that she merely seemed concerned. “I knew he wasn’t exactly nice when he was in school, but this . . . this is just mad. All because of some stupid test given to newborns that obviously can’t be accurate.”

Ginny coughed slightly. “I don’t know what say, Harry. This is awful. I can’t believe he would do that to you.” She shifted a bit—strangely away from him—and the look on her face was one of indecision. It cleared as she said, “Let’s go back to the house. I’m sure you’re hungry.”

The next day Hermione dragged him off to a quiet spot, the look on her face expectant. “Harry. What’s going on?”

He sighed and looked away briefly, then explained.

Hermione blinked slowly a few times and huffed. “Well, everything I’ve read about that test says it’s completely accurate.”

“You know about it? Wait, of course you do.”

“Well yes,” she said. “Though I doubt the Weasley family would have bothered with it. Still. . . .” She trailed off, nibbling her lower lip.

“What?” he demanded.

“It’s just that from a technical standpoint it was his money to do with as he pleased. I think the custom is just silly, though, but then a lot of pure-blood customs are. Look, don’t worry about it, Harry. You can return to Hogwarts and do your seventh year, then get a job. Everyone needs something productive to do in their lives.”

He half-listened to her continue to speak, incredulous at her utter lack of sympathy. And she had the nerve to say Ron had the emotional range of a teaspoon? How would she feel if her father—not that he remembered who she was—left her out of his will but for a mere pittance because she had bushy hair!? And he wasn’t even gay!

“Anyway,” she was saying, “I’m going to fetch back my parents soon. I’m a bit nervous about it, because I don’t know how they’ll react to what I did, but I’m sure things can be smoothed over.”

Harry got up, jaw clenching, and said, “I expect so.”

That night he had severe trouble sleeping, though not due to nightmares. Ron’s snoring was not helping, either. Hoping that he could sit quietly in privacy for a bit he disillusioned himself and went downstairs, avoiding the steps he knew would squeak, and settled onto the couch in the sitting room. He had only been there for a few minutes when voices attracted his attention, coming from the kitchen. Curious, and willing to eavesdrop if it meant his mind would stop looping around in circles over what had happened, he crept closer and stationed himself by the entrance.

“—could have anything you wanted,” Molly was saying.

“Because he’s famous?” Ginny said. “Mum, that doesn’t translate to gold! He told me what happened at the bank. He’s poor! What good is that?”

“What? Why?”

“That pure-blood test they do. No wonder I couldn’t get him interested until I started dosing him—he’s gay! And because of that James Potter only left him his school vault. I can’t marry a poor man,” she protested.

Harry staggered back slightly, miraculously making no noise.

“Oh dear,” Molly said. “Oh dear. Stop the potions immediately. I won’t have you making the same mistake I made with your father. We both know how that turned out.”

“Yeah,” Ginny said with a sigh.

He really . . . was gay? It was true?

“All right, I’ll stop immediately. It’s too bad the Malfoys are our enemies. I could have gone for Draco. He’s a right snot, but he’s very handsome and I know they’re wealthy.”

Harry felt his stomach heaving and quickly moved away, managing to make it outside and a fair distance away before he vomited onto the grass. Betrayal after betrayal after betrayal. Lies and half truths and coercion. Was that all his life was ever going to be? His father and the Dursleys had betrayed kinship, Ron had turned his back on him numerous times, most of the students at the school had turned on him, Dumbledore had stolen his childhood, used him, and sent him out there to die, and now Molly and Ginny had been added to the list. Even Hermione had betrayed him in her own fashion, and not just one time. He had always been prepared to forgive and forget, wanting so badly to keep hold of those friendships, shaky as they were, but. . . .

But how was it he was so still in love with Ginny, even after all those months apart? Was Ron in on this, too? His mind took a cynical turn as he began to sift back through his memories of the years. Why had he never stood up for Hermione all those times when Ron was being so hurtful to her? Why hadn’t Hermione simply explained her concerns to him about the Firebolt instead of going behind his back? Why had she given him grief about his ‘saving people’ thing when they had both encouraged it early on? What hypocrisy! Why hadn’t they found a way to write to him that one summer? Hermione could have attempted muggle post, after all. But then—he snorted—she was so devoted to authority.

And Ginny, oh Ginny. It hurt so much to think these things, because despite now knowing it was false he still felt so much love for her. False love, fool’s gold. A girl who had never even managed to speak to him more than a few words at a time for years, then suddenly seemed to ‘get over’ him and start dating boys. But looking back he realized that her eyes were always on him. Trying to make him jealous? And then resorting to love potions, just because she wanted access to his money? Molly didn’t even bear thinking about.

He spent an hour or so gazing at the moon and stars, then headed in to get some sleep if he could. As he drifted off he wondered if there was even any point in staying.

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He spent the next week doing something utterly uncharacteristic: research. The very thoughts he was thinking were insane, but he continued nevertheless. He also had to make a decision soon. Return to Hogwarts or not? Move into his godfather’s childhood home or not? He had the distinct impression that should he move Ginny and Molly would help him on his way—perhaps too eagerly. He had certainly noticed that the feelings he had for Ginny were withering.

Perhaps he should move. Maybe then he would not be bothered so damn often by Ron and Hermione. Ron was always pushing him to go become an auror with him right now. Kingsley—the new minister—would probably ease their way in for services rendered. And Hermione kept nagging at him to return to Hogwarts. When was his life ever supposed to be his own?

If he could crash the remnants of the fidelius at № 12 Grimmauld Place and raise another, he would at least have a place of privacy, quiet, and safety. Harry nodded.

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“Finally,” he muttered with a roll of his eyes. “Take that, Hermione.” Harry gazed around the still ruinous interior of his new home with mild disgust. All that time using the place as headquarters and nobody had done much of anything to make the place look a bit nicer. Then again, he was not sure he was up to it, either. “Kreacher.”

The house-elf popped in and gave him a look he could not interpret.

“Will you please do something about the state of this house? It’s a disaster.” On seeing the expression on the elf’s face twist he hastily added, “I know, Kreacher, I know. But you see—remember the locket?”

The elf eyed him a bit suspiciously and nodded.

“The locket Master Regulus entrusted you with has been destroyed. It’s ruined now. I couldn’t have done it without your help. Without you finding Fletcher for me we would never have known where to look. So even if you weren’t able to personally destroy it I swear to you it has been done.”

Kreacher’s eyes widened. “Kreacher will begin cleaning, Master Harry.”

“Thank you,” he said softly, sighing as the elf popped away. He got up and headed for the library. At least he had had the sense to wait to leave until after Hermione had flown off to Australia.

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Harry looked upon the state of the ritual room in great satisfaction. Between the books hidden away in the house and those shockingly found in the things he inherited he had devised a way to do things over, this time with his own plans in mind. He laughed to himself. Anyone else would think it was crazy. After all, he was alive and healthy, and he did have a decent amount of money to his name. But why not? He knew what he wanted and maybe this time he could have some fun tweaking everyone’s noses. Maybe even meting out a bit of revenge.

But before he continued there were a few things he needed to take care of, such as emptying his vault, the house of anything of interest, and getting back the Resurrection Stone and the Elder Wand. Even if he did fail to take everything with him there was no sense whatsoever in making it easy for anyone faithless to get it. He laughed again, a little too long. Maybe those Unforgivables really had messed with his brain.

After stepping out into the hallway he called for Kreacher. “Hypothetically speaking, if my soul and mind and magic were sent back into the past to merge with my earlier self, would our bond also transfer?”

Kreacher’s eyes went wide in mild shock. “Kreacher does not know.”

“Hm.” Granted, he did not need it to transfer, though it would probably simplify things greatly if he had a loyal house-elf from the start. Then again, Kreacher only accepted him now because he had done what Kreacher could not. Going back and not destroying the locket. . . . He shrugged. Whatever would happen would happen. “Just curious. Oh, and thank you, the house looks brilliant,” he said, looking around admiringly. “You’ve done work to be proud of.”

The elf gave him a funny look, uncertainty mingled with pleasure, and popped away, so Harry continued on down the hallway. He had those loose ends to tie up, and then he could go whenever he felt it wise, sooner or later.

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Harry woke up in what was normally the very last place on earth he would want to be: the cupboard under the stairs. In this instance, however, it was precisely the right place. After blinking a few times and getting his equilibrium back he looked around, a broad smile appearing. Somehow, against all reason, his belongings had come back with him. It was only then that he realized having the Deathly Hallows with him presented a conundrum. Were they duplicates, or had they merged with the earlier versions? And if so, did that mean Dumbledore had lost his favored wand and possession of James’s cloak? That the ring was a Horcrux again? For that matter, what about himself?

He was still trying to puzzle that out when footsteps overhead alerted him to Petunia mincing down the stairs. Several seconds later sharp rapping sounded at the cupboard door, along with, “Get up! It’s time for you to make breakfast, you lazy freak.”

Harry’s jaw tightened in anger, but he went ahead and changed into some of his cousin’s cast-offs when the sound of the door being unlocked was also heard. His baggy clothing was good enough to hide the Elder Wand, though he thought bringing it with him was just asking for trouble. The remainder of his goods were tucked in a spot dark even with the light on.

Out in the kitchen Petunia was giving him her usual look of disdain, and jerked her chin toward the refrigerator. He kept his face blank as he walked over and got on with things, having to think hard to remember where the stool he would need to stand on in order to reach the burners properly was kept. It wasn’t until Vernon and Dudley were awake and at the table—and he was given a meager piece of dry toast to eat—that he could not help but wonder if all of this was going to be worth it.

Two weeks later he was still wondering, but had been somewhat distracted by the realization that the inhabitants of Little Whinging all had that same look in their eyes—bar Mrs Figg, but she was a stooge of Dumbledore’s. The more he cast a critically analytical eye over the people around him the more he realized that they honestly had taken the word of the Dursleys as to his alleged character. They thought that he, at a mere five years of age, was a budding criminal or something. ‘Merlin! Was this how Tom Riddle felt at the orphanage?’ he thought, then blinked. Maybe they had a lot more in common than he had wanted to recognize.

Granted, Tom had perhaps inherited the insanity brought on by inbreeding in the Gaunt family, but Harry was not too sure about his own sanity at that point. What was right? He took another look ’round at the people of Little Whinging and frowned. Right would be these people recognizing the signs of neglect and abuse and reporting it. Did they simply not care? Was it simply easier to just avoid thinking for themselves and instead believe the lies? Was this really much different from his experiences in the wizarding world? Maybe it really was that simple. Bad people were bad people and ought to be dealt with.

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An eight-year-old Harry was sitting there nibbling on his breakfast toast when Vernon started another tirade, ranting at him about his freakishness. He really wanted to roll his eyes, but knew what that would bring. ‘This is so damn tedious. I wish Vernon would just die or something.’

He was utterly surprised when everything around him froze. It was as though his relations had been put on pause. He was further surprised when the shadows off to one side began to multiply, separating from the corner they were in, and formed a humanoid figure. The Elder Wand was in his hand and pointed at the phantasm before he registered the need, and it did not drop when the figure solidified into what most people he assumed would consider Death.

“Oh?” said the figure.

Harry licked his dry lips and swallowed. “I really have gone mental,” he muttered. “Maybe I shouldn’t have used all those Unforgivables.”

The figure laughed rustily. “Allow me to introduce myself. I am commonly known as Death, but I prefer Derek.”

Harry arched a brow and considered. ‘Maybe that story wasn’t just a story after all?’

“It was not,” said Derek. “I did meet the Peverell brothers. You are descended from one and inherited the Cloak of Invisibility—I rather liked him, actually. But then, you gained the other Hallows, as well, making you the Master of Death. I confess, I did not think it possible. Having done so you have broken the curse on the Elder Wand. In fact, it will go out of its way now to not seem remarkable to others.”

“What,” he said, “does that mean, exactly—that I won’t have to worry about people trying to kill me to get it from me?”

“Correct. The Hallows are now a part of you. They can never be taken from you—unless, that is, you should decide to relinquish them. Even if someone stole one the Hallow would return to you immediately. In point of fact, Albus Dumbledore was extremely surprised when the power of the wand disappeared, along with the cloak. He was forced to fall back to his original wand.”

Harry frowned. “And he has no way of tracking either of them down?”

Derek shook his head. “For all intents and purposes the united Deathly Hallows are untraceable. You could cast the killing curse at Vernon right now and no one would ever know.”

“I . . . see.” He spent the next few minutes trying to wrap his head around that, absently nibbling on his piece of toast. “So what exactly,” he asked, “does it mean to be the Master of Death? Aside from you popping up unexpectedly and making me think I’m about to kick it.”

Derek chuckled. “It’s not just a fancy title. You cannot die, not unless you relinquish the Hallows. If I had ever thought they could be united I might not have imbued them with the power they hold, but that is now irrelevant. Attempts against you will fail. A spell will go wide of the mark or simply fail. Something will interfere. It is not a one hundred percent guarantee, though, so it is possible for you to be hurt. As Master of Death you have many gifts. You can transport yourself to any place in the world where death exists. Because there are no secrets in death, you can know know anything. You can also—”

“Hold up! ‘Know anything’?”

“Yes. I shall liken it to your knowledge of Occlumency and Legilimency. You have perfect protection and perfect mastery. Even someone like Albus Dumbledore would never feel you snooping in his head. It’s not the extent of it, but as an example it suffices.”

“Hn. That could come in extremely handy,” he murmured. “And I can cast all the magic I want with the Elder Wand and no one will ever be able to trace it? No monitor will pick up on it, the Trace will never register it?”

“Correct. And as Master of Death you are technically a necromancer, so you hold power over ghosts and can create and command inferi.”

Harry nodded. Ghosts could be handy, though he was not too sure about inferi. “You said anywhere there was death. That pretty much means anywhere, doesn’t it. I mean, anyone with meat in their kitchens has death there. Anyone who steps on a bug has death there. Anyone with meat in their stomachs has death there.”

“Again, correct. Though, technically, plant life counts.”

Harry shrugged. “What about Horcruxes? Do I have any power over them?”

Derek shook his head. “Nn, not really. The soul must be complete and the body dead for it to count.”

He furrowed his brow. He could work around that, but—“So the souls consumed by dementors. . . ?”

“Are in an unending hell of sorts. And dementors are not dead, so you have no more real power over them than anyone else. They are not technically alive, either, but for the purposes of our discussion they are.”

“If there are no secrets in death then you must know if there’s a way to destroy them.”

“I do.”

Harry huffed and rolled his eyes. “Is there a way to destroy them, and if so, how is it accomplished?”

Derek seemed to grin beneath the shadow of his hood. “Fiendfyre would work.”

“All right. So, supposing I want someone to die, like Vernon here. Can I just wish it and it happens, or do I have to do things the normal way?”

Derek tilted his head to one side, allowing Harry to glimpse what looked to be eyes the mirror of his own. A moment later he pulled a small book out of his pocket and consulted one of the pages. “At present Vernon Dursley is expected to live for quite some time yet, though his obesity, diet, and genetic factors are whittling that down. In any case you could just call me and I would reap the target, but you can do things the normal way as well.”

Harry craned his neck, trying to see the book better. “Okay, but what if I wanted something elaborate? Like arranging for an accident of a freakishly bizarre nature. I should think it would be a bother to keep calling you in so I could explain what I wanted while the rest of the world sits frozen.”

Derek seemed to consider again, then nodded. The book went into his pocket and another one was produced, then handed over to Harry. “Write down what you want, when you want it. I’ll take care of the rest.”

He glanced at the little book curiously and flipped it open to see blank, faintly-lined pages. He was about to comment when Derek added, “No one can see it but you. Much like the Hallows it exists only for you.”

Excellent. “Anything else I should know?”

“Nothing comes to mind at present. But if you need me just call. I will answer.”

“All right, well, thank you for—actually, is my scar still a Horcrux? I’d noticed it looked pretty faint.”

Derek shook his head. “Neither is the Resurrection Ring.”

“So there’s only the locket, the diadem, the diary, and the cup,” he muttered. “Thank you for explaining all of this to me. I will call if I need you again directly.”

Derek nodded and left in reverse of the way he arrived, and then everything unfroze and Vernon continued on with his rant. Harry sat there blank faced as he considered the implications and the power now available to him. So many people had betrayed him. His attention focused on Vernon for a split second, then switched back to the book he had. A tiny smile of glee flitted over his face before vanishing.

It was a week later that Vernon had an accident of a freakishly bizarre nature. During a sales meeting in which some of their products were being demonstrated for a potential customer, a drill went out of control, slipped away from the salesman and went flying through the air, only to crash through several windows and drill straight through Vernon’s throat. He died well before anyone could help him.

Petunia received the payout from life insurance, but also his pension and quite a lot of additional money as it was a workplace accident. If nothing else it set her for life, so long as she was not extravagant. The car, however, went back to the company. Harry was interested to note that his aunt actually did seem to care for Vernon, but his analysis of family dynamics was brought to an abrupt halt when Marge came to visit.

The Elder Wand came out at that point and Marge was encouraged to never again speak a word against Harry or his parents, and her dog developed a strange aversion to him. Once his courtesy aunt was gone Harry proceeded to use a rather subtle application of the imperius curse on Petunia to make sure she kept up with the bills, and on Dudley to ensure the miniature whale stayed away from him. He realized quickly, however, that once Petunia recovered a bit from her grief that the neighbors were giving him even more disdainful looks. Apparently his aunt was playing up his allegedly unsavory character as a way of coping.

And that just pissed him off. He needed Petunia for now, but the others. . . ?