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The Crownless King

Chapter Text

Some said the world would end in fire, some said in ice. Some people even said with zombies. But no one could have known that this was how it all ended.

It was believed by many that the muggles would welcome them. People like Hermione Granger had often claimed that muggles were more enlightened and accepting than they had been in centuries past. That to a muggle, magic was just a science they did not yet understand.

She died believing this.

Just like most of the others.

But he was different. He had been since the day he died in the Forbidden Forest on the wrong end of an Avada Kedavra. He aged, only because he took a potion every year. Until there wasn't any more potion. Because there wasn't anymore wizards or witches to make them.

And now Harry Potter stood in a bar with a bleach soaked rag and wiping down the counter where a man had just been sitting with his girlfriend. A pair of disposable gloves on his hands and a pale blue mask covering his mouth and nose. His glasses traded in for contacts ages ago. He kept his hair trimmed short. His nails clipped neatly to keep from tearing the latex rubber of his gloves.

Keep the place sterile. Keep the place clean.

Who knew forty years later he'd be grateful for Aunt Petunia drilling in the proper way to clean in his head. That he'd be grateful she taught him to read by having him learn from the bottles of disinfectant and cleaners so he knew how much bleach to pour into the spray bottle before adding the water. So he knew how much laundry detergent was really needed to keep things clean and smelling fresh.

Keep it sterile. Keep it clean.

No one used refillable glasses anymore. Drinks came in cans. They came in bottles. Pasteurized and sterile. Safe for consumption.

It had been that way for thirty five years. It was going to be that way a while longer still.

"Oi, Riddle!"

Harry stopped and looked up from the counter, but he did not stop wiping. Did not stop cleaning. The plague that had killed the magical folks couldn't kill him. But he was made of stronger stuff than they. And yet... yet magic had mutated it. Warped it. He couldn't use magic to clean away the contagion. To clean away the plague that now made it's mark on the muggles that had created it.

"Yeah?" Harry called back, now satisfied that the spot on the counter was cleaned. Was sterile. Was ready to be used and then cleaned again. He dropped the rag into the bio-hazard bin, using his foot to hit the latch and make sure it locked before throwing the incinerator switch.

It was wasteful.

But the world was disposable now. Everything made to be used and then burned away. Bodies didn't even get buried anymore. Cremation was the order of the world.

George had decided to eat a bunch of unpopped popcorn kernels on his deathbed. That was a surprise for everyone involved.

"Need you to stay after tonight! Got another shipment coming in and Burke's in Lock-down!"

"Burke?! But he never even leaves the house except to come to work and back! How'd he catch the 'Vid?"

"Fuck if I know. But I need an extra barrel in case of looters. You up for a little overtime?"

Harry gave it a little thought. Then, he shrugged and changed out his gloves. Pull. Toss. Foot to pedal to burn while he turns to slide his hands beneath the sanitizer mounted behind the bar. The gel squirts down. He rubs it over his hands and grabs another pair of gloves from the dispenser next to the sanitizer.

Plastic rips open. Plastic is dropped into a safe waste bin as the new gloves go on.

"Hey! Can we get a couple of shots down here!"

"Sure, what's your poison?"

"Surprise me!"

Harry shrugs and grabs a couple of single serve plastic bottles from the shelves. A little bit of rum. A little bit of whiskey. A couple of bourbons. And a vodka. "And for the lady?"

"A mixer."

"Oh, the green ones!"

"A couple of appletinis. Good choice." It was a lousy choice, but they couldn't see his frown. They didn't pay him to smile. Or for cheer. Or anything other than the shit liquor they stocked.

The tiny forest of bottles was spread out before them. An array of color and size for them to choose from. All single serve. All easy to dispose of.

Harry grabbed his scanner, running purple line over the man's card. The purple line turned green. And Harry moved on to the next customer.

A couple cans of good old rotgut. Cans that were yanked right back when the line turned red. "You been late on your rent again, Jonesie?"

"No way man, I got paid today!"

"Card says you don't have the funds mate. Can't serve if you can't pay."

"Come on, Riddle! You know I'm good for it! I've been waiting all month to save for this ration!"

"Like hell you have! You don't pay your bills, you get your card locked man! You know that! Now get the hell out of here before my boss has you kicked out just like last month."

The cans are blasted with the sanitizer spray and left in the decon unit under the counter.

o0o

Harry should have known his day wasn't going to get any better when his boss told him he didn't have another Kevlar vest.

He should have known he could change his name as many times as he liked but the Potter Luck always struck true.

Half-way through unloading the latest shipment of masks and toilet paper he got shot in the side. It was a death sentence... or it should have been.

He'd always been so careful. So cautious. And now fucking undone by toilet paper raiders.

He didn't know what was worse. That he'd been shot and was bleeding out or that he had been shot and was bleeding out as a result of a toilet paper raid. Shot for a roll of single-ply bog roll.

One thing was certain, he couldn't die in the back alley. He couldn't let anyone get their hands on his body. He didn't fancy waking up in the crematorium again. Reconstituted from his own ashes exactly as he had been when he'd choked on that burrito a few years ago.

And if he survived, he couldn't let them find out he didn't get infected with the 'Vid from the exposure. Open wounds without immediate cleaning were just a slower death sentence. His immunity would get him locked up. Get him experimented on.

He had no other choice... He grabbed a roll of toilet paper, ripped off a wad from it and shoved it into the bullet hole to staunch the bleeding long enough to pull himself together.

With a crack of what sounded like a backfiring old clunker of a car, and a flutter of bloody and ripped toilet paper, Harry was gone.

o0o

It was over a year before he left the empty halls of Hogwarts again. A new name. A new set of paperwork. An entirely new identity. He was running out of names. Running out of ideas. Not that he intended to go near civilization any time soon. But just in case he was caught out somewhere after curfew... well... at least he had papers.

o0o

Harry was kicking about in the caverns under London. Empty and cold now. They weren't abandoned... just... Well, he didn't like to think about it as he trudged along through the bones of the dead goblins that had succumbed to the 'Vid decades ago. He liked to come here, sometimes, and ride the carts. They were surprisingly still operational, though he'd learned the hard way where the tracks were broken and needed repair. He couldn't get into most of the vaults, but he didn't really care.

Not like there was any more magic stores he could spend his galleons.

o0o

He had spent months in the caverns of Gringotts. And then, he found it.

A portrait of a goblin. A goblin he didn't recognize but one that knew him on sight.

"Mr. Potter... I was wondering if you'd turn up eventually. Is the rest of the world dead yet?"

"No. The muggles are still kicking around."

"Has a cure been found for that plague yet?"

"No. Not that the muggles have given up."

The goblin portrait was quiet for a moment. Then, it left the painting. Harry thought nothing of it and continued exploring the office suites he'd found. He had to duck low to get through the doorways, as he imagined this part of the bank had never had a human in it before.

He came to another room, and found it lined with portraits and books.

"Hello again, Mr. Potter," the same goblin said from another frame. "It's a pity I never made it to my business meeting in Wuhan," he lamented. "All of this could have been avoided if that silly war hadn't happened."

"Yes, well, tell that to Voldemort and Dumbledore."

"I tried. They wouldn't listen."

"Really?"

"Truly," the goblin said. "Say... One thing no one ever managed to get out of you is your own thoughts on the muggles. It was always Miss Granger speaking for the three of you."

Harry shrugged as he nosed around the room, looking at books he couldn't read and picked up baubles and knickknacks he couldn't understand the use of. "I don't think I really had much of an opinion then."

"What about now? Surely after all this time alone with them, you'd feel some sort of way about them."

Harry stopped and looked at the portrait with a frown. "I'm not fond of them."

"What would you say if I told you I was once in a position that could change the course of history? But a great many people would still die if I had been able to do what needed to be done?"

Harry pondered this for a long moment before he answered. "The 'Vid started in a place called Wuhan. But that was... that was a while after the war ended. After the muggles learned about us."

"Oh, they already knew about us before then. Many of them did, they just couldn't tell the public."

"I suppose," Harry started. "I suppose then I'd have to say it's a shame you couldn't make your meeting, Mr. Goblin. Perhaps your absence could have saved us all and wiped the muggle filth from the face of the earth."

"You know who you're starting to sound like?..."

Harry shrugged. "As you've said, Mr. Goblin... I've lived a long time alone among the muggles. I've come to feel some sort of way about them."

o0o

It was another month before Harry came across the same goblin again, this time in a different set of rooms in another section of the caverns. "Mr. Potter, I believe there may be something we can do for one another."

"What can i do for you other than set you in front of a window for a change in scenery? You're a painting and I'm alive."

"Ah, a painting I may be... but have you given any more thought to our last conversation?"

"Not really."

"I see... I see... If you have the opportunity to go back and change one thing in your life, what would it be?"

"Only one?"

"Only one."

"Then it would have to be..." he thought. "It would have to be my parents getting killed. If they had never died, then I never would have been left with magic hating muggles. I'd have grown up a normal boy with no destiny looming over him."

"I sincerely wish I could give you that, Mr. Potter, for everything you had given to the world in vain. But... I can give you something else perhaps. A second chance to set things right. The second room you saw me in, there is a safe behind my portrait there. Meet me in that room and I will give you the combination. I think you may interested in what's inside."

o0o

It took Harry quite some time before he was able to find his way back. And the goblin was there waiting for him. He gave Harry the combination to the safe, and inside... he was quite surprised by what he found indeed. Inside were two books. One, he realized when he thumbed through it, was a book of prophecy. Once he realized that, he found himself looking near the end. Looking for something familiar and finding...

"Son of a bitch! It's not here!"

"What isn't? Let me see. Let me see!"

Harry emptied the safe of all its contents before shutting the safe and letting the portrait swing back into place.

"My prophecy! The one about me and Tom Riddle! It's not here!"

"That's because you stupid boy it never happened. Oh, the drunk was there, she spoke the words, but it wasn't a prophecy. Not a true prophecy."

"Then what was it?"

"A decoy. A hoax. Hope, we were told, for times of great darkness ahead. Bah! Dragon shit, I say! But the plague is there! Look for yourself! The plague that killed us all but one!"

And Harry did look. And he skimmed page after page searching and then, there it was. Plain as day. "Do you think this will be... Do you think it's still in the Ministry? Still in the hall of prophecies?"

"Perhaps... If you can get in."

Harry set the book aside and looked at the remainder of what was in the safe. The second book, it's cover... not something he wanted to touch again any time soon. There was a stone he recognized easily enough by the crack in it. And the broken wand, too, that looked as if he'd never snapped it and cast it aside.

And there was a wooden box with vials inside. "What is all this?"

"Mr. Potter, I have a very lucrative business proposition for you, if you'd be willing to hear it."

o0o

Harry had been working for a year towards this one goal.

He had worked in the bowels of Gringotts with Spineripper the Master Assassin. Or rather, his portrait, on this plan. It wasn't like Harry had anything left to lose. His only alternative was to live forever in a world alone as the muggles were killed off by their own mutated super-flu.

A life of disposable cups. Toss away bottles. Burning bleach soaked rags. Face masks and latex gloves and hand sanitizer. Food in cans and vacuum sealed packaging. Processed. Pasteurized. Protected for his protection.

He couldn't take it anymore.

He couldn't take the silence and the loneliness and the god damned filthy muggles that just... so many of them didn't clean after themselves. No wonder after all the wizards and witches and magical beasts had died out, it had mutated. It had changed and infected the vermin that refused to wash their hands. The rats that coughed all over everyone in a subway. People who just wouldn't listen and stay the fuck home for two weeks.

People who killed over a roll of one-ply toilet paper!

He had worked. And he had trained. He had pushed and practiced and broken himself time and time again to get everything just right. To make sure he was ready. To make sure he was there to do what Spineripper couldn't.

And billions would die as a result. He knew this. But at the same time... after having lived through the death of his people... condemning the muggles to death was a very easy choice to make.

And now, the moment was almost upon him. He just had one tiny little task to take care of first.

Harry entered the hall of prophecy in the Department of Ministries and began his search. It was a long search that took weeks. After all, there were many he had to try and reach for. He was surprised by how many there were that he could actually touch, but could not activate. It was fascinating to learn that not all of them had the same violent safety measures that the one about himself and Voldemort had.

He supposed, though, that it might simply be because he was the last magical thing on Earth.

When at last he came to the correct orb, he reverently took it down from the shelf and sighed as he felt the magic in the globe. He read the small inscription of names and stroked the globe lovingly before retreating back to the entrance. When he got close to the door, however, he veered off to the side and stopped at an empty bowl on a pedestal. With a small wave of his hand, he cast the water charm and filled it. Then, carefully, he dropped the orb into the water and waited. When he saw the first shimmers, just as he'd been instructed by Spineripper, he touched the water with his finger.

The sensation of falling into a pool was quickly replaced with that of floating, drifting, through clouds and smoke. And Harry found himself standing suddenly in an office at the bank. There were three goblins present. He recognized Spineripper right away. He looked no different than he did in his portrait. There were two humans, as well, in the room. One he recognized right away as Severus Snape. The other... "Mum..." Harry whispered.

She and Snape were, at his best guess, around 14 or so. It had to have been before their fight, he knew that much.

Lily had just had her finger pricked and was about to smear some blood on a parchment. Harry was familiar with what appeared to be going on. His fame had dictated he become very familiar with the paternity tests, if only to prove without a doubt that the various children that were brought forward were not, in fact, his. Otherwise he'd be crucified in the Prophet again and again.

Before she could touch her finger to the paper, however, her body seized up and her eyes rolled back as she slumped into her chair.

"Lily!"

"Stand back, Mr. Snape! Don't touch her!"

"What's happening? What's wrong with her?!"

When Lily spoke, her voice was... not as Harry imagined it would be. "He comes as the Seventh Month dies. Unknown. Unsound. The Crownless King rides forth to change a fate most foul. Born of war and forged in blood and famine. He comes soon, and when he comes he shall be heralded by pestilence and plague. For he is the end and he is the beginning. He is that which comes to all men in time. He comes as the Seventh Month dies. Unseen. Unheard. The Crownless King, a rides forth upon the pale horse to change a fate most foul."

Harry stood transfixed as the girl who would later become his mother blinked and frowned in confusion. Two goblins quickly conversed in the corner in gobbledygook as Severus Snape knelt before his best friend, holding her hand and quietly asking if she was alright and if she knew what had happened.

To have seen the prophecy written out was one thing. But to now know that it was his own mother who gave such a prophecy and it had been covered up in favor of something else?

No. He could not allow that to stand.

Harry removed himself from the pensieve, not bothering to retrieve the orb from the water. There was no point when after he leaves, there will be no other with magic that could come down to view it.

He went into the time room then, and set up for the ritual. He could take nothing with him, for fear of bringing the plague to the past far too soon. For fear of bringing the strain that killed off his people.

Instead, he washed. He bathed himself in the burning chemicals that stripped away the virus. That stripped away the bacteria. Anything and everything he could to clean himself, and then, he began his work. Casting and chanting from the strange book bound in human flesh and written in human blood. It was a black magic most foul he called upon to do this work. But it was the only magic strong enough to do what needed to be done.

o0o

A naked human, skinned alive, landed on the desk of Goblin Chief Ragnok. It was dead.

Very much so.

And then, when the guards came to take it away, it was not.

It was screaming in agony.

And it was very much alive.

And it's skin was regrowing right in front of them.

o0o

It was weeks before Harry Potter was able to open his eyes.

He found himself strapped down to a table of some sort. And there were goblins peering at him.

"What month?"

"August."

"What year?" he croaked. "Please... what year is it?"

"1979."

"Too early. Far too early."

And then he was unconscious again.

o0o

He awoke to find he had been moved to a somewhat comfortable bed. He recognized the type of room as a guest chamber the goblins kept for human employees. He'd seen quite a few during his explorations of the bank's cavern network.

When Harry tries to sit up, he finds he is alone in the room, and there are clothes laid out for him nearby. Soon, a tray with food appears as well.

"Thank you," he says to the invisible elves. "I... will freshen up. I need to speak with someone from the bank. Someone... someone who works with Spineripper the Assassin, specifically, if that's possible."

o0o

Harry waits another two days before he is escorted, silently, from the suite he was locked in. He is brought to the office of Ragnok, and with him are Spineripper and another goblin he had seen in the prophecy sphere.

Harry stops to give them the Warrior's Greeting he learned after the war. "May the streets run red with the blood of your enemies, and may their heads be mounted as warning above your doors."

"And may your coffers fill quickly with the spoils of War."

"In War I was born and in Blood and Famine I was forged," he replies, giving another salute before coming the rest of the way into the room.

"In War I was born and Blood and Famine I was forged," the goblins respond before Ragnok takes the lead. "It is quite unusual to meet a human with such knowledge of our customs. Especially a human who falls out of the ether with no skin before he comes back from the dead."

"I will be blunt and to the point, gentlemen. I am the Crownless King who rides the Pale Horse. And as the young Miss Lily Evans proclaimed, I have come to change a fate most foul."

"You told my healer that you had arrived too soon. What does this mean?"

"Exactly that. I had meant to arrive at a later date. Closer to 1991. But I have appeared it seems 12 years too early and, unfortunately, I cannot do what I did to arrive here a second time." He smiles, and it's a grim thing, the three goblins must admit. "But... it works in my favor. I come with a message from Spineripper to Spineripper. I do hope this makes sense. As I said, I had meant to arrive much later than this."

"Out with it, human!"

"The worst advice you ever received was from a man called Geoffrey Goodling, who told you to always bet on black. When you found him again you ripped out his spine, earning you your warrior name," he said. "Oh, and your mother was a miserable cow who deserved every swift kick in the arse she got."

Spineripper laughed, turning to the other, unnamed goblin and reaching out to slap him on the back. "I like this one! Can I keep it?"

"Incidentally, I will need a job while I wait to complete my mission. I'm very good at killing things, and you don't have to worry about me dying on the job."

o0o

Harry was told to earn his keep. Once he brought a successful bounty in, then Ragnok would be willing to talk more with him about what they could do to help him while he waited for 1991 to come around.

And he did. And he made the bank a LOT of money in the process.

o0o

"The Crownless King," Ragnok said as he stared at the parchment. The parchment that just kept on lengthening. "Well, you certainly are that many times over."

Ten minutes later, it was still going. "Honestly," Harry said. "If I'd known this would happen, I wouldn't have bothered."

"When exactly are you from Mr..."

"Potter. Incidentally, my parents are, I think, conceiving me around this time. So it's a little weird for me right now to call myself a Potter but know that I might not even exist yet."

"That does not answer my question, Mr. Potter."

Harry shrugged. "I sort of lost count after about 35 to 40 years of being alone. It doesn't help that I don't age. The last magical people died out when I was around 25, which is why I look like this. The potion I used to take has to be taken as soon as it's been brewed. And... well... I've always been rubbish at potions." Harry started counting off the important dates he could remember. "Lets see..." he started.

As Harry began listing off random dates and information, such as his birthday. The date his parents died. The date when he broke his arm. Turned his teacher's hair a funny color. "Oh, then there was my 11th birthday! I met Hagrid, the gamekeeper for Hogwarts then. My first year I killed a teacher and even got points for it! Can you believe that!?"

And Ragnok scribbled away all of Harry's mad ramblings until. "Did you say... the goblet of fire?"

"Oh yes. That was Halloween of 1994. God I hated that year... one of the best defense teachers I ever had that year though. A death eater named Barty Crouch Jr was disguised as an ex-auror named Moody. That was also the year Tom Riddle came back, so make sure you jot that one down. That happened in May of 1995, just after the third task. During it. Fuck, all I remember is the god damn goblet was turned into a fucking portkey and took me right through the school wards to the cemetery in Little Hangleton."

Ragnok put down his quill and stared at the human in front of him in disbelief. "Mr. Potter, are you saying that the Goblet of Fire, an ancient goblin forged artifact that my own ancestors forged with their own hands, and ensured had enchantments upon it to prevent it from choosing scions and those in their minority... was tampered with not only to do exactly what it was designed NOT to do, but also turned into a portkey and took you through wards that only the headmaster of Hogwarts itself can control and allow passage through?"

"I suppose so, yeah. I mean, now that I've had forty or fifty years to think about it, it's such an old relic with powerful magic that it would take only the most powerful of wizards or witches to tamper with it. Barty Crouch Jr. is strong but not that strong. And I know I certainly didn't fuck around with it. I never went near the fucker until the final task... And Tom Riddle was an ugly wrinkled baby at the time so... Yeah. Yeah I guess I am saying it. Albus Dumbledore is a twatwaffle. Make sure you write that one down, too. That motherfucker.... Oh that motherfucker. We'll come BACK to THAT motherfucker later."

o0o

After two hours, Harry had finally talked himself out and figured out roughly when he had come from. Ragnok had been forced to order more parchment. And the one with the inheritance test upon it had finally, blessedly, stopped.

And when they looked upon it, Harry blinked. "Holy fuck, I'm the richest asshole in the world!"

"Your majesty," Ragnok said. "To be quite frank, I believe by the time the rest of us died off, you had simply inherited everything there was to inherit in the magical world. You were the last man standing, apparently."

"I'll say. Fuck, I'm really the king of the goblins?"

"Don't let our current king hear you say that," Ragnok warned. "But.... I can certainly see why you'd be called the Crownless King. You're the rightful king of... well... the entirety of the global magical world. Every conclave. Every country. Every hidden creature kingdom. And yet if you were to attempt to exert your authority, it will not be pretty."

Harry shrugged. "Then I'll settle for whatever is just above a Malfoy. Just a smidgen. Just a wee little bit higher up the social ladder than that. Just to piss them off."

"Sire, currently the only people higher than a Malfoy are the Potters and the Blacks."

"Good thing I'm already both of those, now isn't it?"

"That still presents us with the problem of your... pre-conception status. We will need to create a new identity for you."

Harry grinned. Ragnok would learn that such an expression meant more paperwork for himself and more trouble for everyone else.

o0o

He chose the name Ignotus Weirdling Grimm. For the sole reason that the name had died out when it became the Peverells. And he didn't want Dumbledore to snoop around too much so Peverell was just as bad a choice as Potter, Black, or even Longbottom would have been.

But to the Goblins he was simply called Weirdling, because none really knew what to make of him.

He worked very closely with Spineripper the Assassin, and he learned more and more of the forbidden black magic from the volume bound in human flesh and written in human blood. It was a dread magic that made his own magic seem to sing.

He did, of course, set about calling the Deathly Hallows to himself once he saw in the book how to do that. And then he sent them away again once he had removed certain... traces of things from them.

As 1979 became 1980, and then 80 became 81, the Weirdling adventured. He worked with Spineripper to take care of "problem situations" from the book of prophecy the man possessed. It turned out the book of prophecy was a very specific book, and only listed those that were foretold to be ones that may bring about the end of the world.

The more Harry worked with him, the more Harry learned about the nature of the book.

But that did not stop him from getting curious, and making a little stop by the Department of Mysteries one day.

Now, it wasn't uncommon to see the strange man there on Goblin Business. And the ministry personnel who saw him when he did turn up had grown quite used to his unusual muggle attire. One woman had told him he needed to cut his hair and stop looking like a ruffian when she noticed the black bandanna he wore on his head to keep the hair out of his face. It was mostly to cover his old scar that never really went away.

Harry couldn't help himself, on this particular visit. He was there to check a prophecy sphere to see if they had successfully averted another apocalypse, and they had. The sphere was black as night when he found it. But there was a curious thing on the shelf right above it that caught his interest.

See, it was a sphere he had seen before. He had held it before. He knew, now, that he shouldn't be able to touch it at the moment because he was not the Harry Potter that it was about. THAT Harry Potter was happily shitting his pants in Godric's Hollow. He was laughing with his parents and enjoying his young life and the big old world.

But that didn't stop him from trying.

And he was... not pleased with the fact he could pick it up without a problem.

"Son of a bitch. He was right, it isn't real."

Quickly Harry conjured a fake and replaced it, taking the real fake with him back to the bank.

o0o

"Ah, my Weirdling! Did we do it? Did we prevent the Acromantula uprising?"

"We did. Shelob is no more."

"Shelob?"

"I got bored fighting the big fucker so I named it. There's these muggle books, and in one there's this giant fucking spider called Shelob. Seemed appropriate.

Spineripper nodded and shrugged. "I'll take your word for it."

And then the orb was slammed down on the table. "My parents died for this. And it's a load of bullshit."

"How do you know?"

"Because I'm not the right Harry Potter. And the fucker already labeled it with the kid's name. Nobody knew Tom Riddle picked me until that night. So how can the motherfucker of Hogwarts know that he'd pick me already?"

"Weirdling... do not try to save them. It will only make things worse."

"I know. I know... but... Can I at least take the kid?"

"Not until after you've done what you've come to do. Change the foul fate that brought you here. Until then, your path is fixed. And so is the boy's."

o0o

Weirdling was sitting in his shared office suite with Spineripper, drinking straight from the bottle of firewhisky and waxing poetic about how he didn't have to open an individually wrapped cup for each and every drink from the bottle. And how the bottle was a big, full sized bottle and not a tiny single serving.

"I don't have to wear gloves to hold it! I don't have to carefully spray sanitizer in my own face after each sip! You have no idea how wonderful this is!"

His cheerful mood, however, turned melancholy after the messenger arrived with news from Chief Ragnok. The Potters... were dead.

Spineripper pulled out his own bottle of much stronger, goblin brew and two glasses. He poured them each a shot before raising his own. "To the boy who lived," Spineripper said.

Harry lifted his own. "To the miserable fuckup he grows up to be."