Actions

Work Header

The Crownless King

Chapter Text

Harry and Luna Potter were sitting in the gardens of Longbottom Manor one morning. Children were running around while the older ones were off at school. Either muggle or magical, depending on if they were squibs or not.

It was an ordinary day, really. Unusually nice for this early in March. Especially for England.

Hermione's husband was watching news on his phone, as was his habit in the mornings. Charles worked from home as a radio commentator. He worked part time with the Wizarding Wireless Network, bringing news of the muggle world to the muggleborns and half-bloods who chose to live in it full time. Likewise, he had a broadcast for the ones that chose to return to the muggle world, giving them news and updates on the wizarding world. Hence why he was glued to his phone or computer all the time reading articles and watching news clips.

It was this particular morning though, that he turned to Neville's husband Seamus with a frown. "Wizard's can't get muggle diseases, right? We're immune to that stuff?"

Seamus nodded. "It's one of the first things we learn in healer training," he said.

"Good..." Charles said, then took out a pen to write on the notebook he'd brought with him. "Good..."

Luna looked to Harry with a frown. It was the same frown she always had when she knew something but couldn't quite explain HOW she knew it. He'd learned to trust that frown with his life over the years.

"I think we should take the kids to stay with your father for a little while," she said with a serene smile to hide the fear in her otherwise bright blue eyes. "I think he'd like that."

o0o

Bill wasn't sure what to make of the scene he walked in and found.

Iggy was in the floor of their destroyed office at the bank, sobbing with his arms around his legs.

"What's going on?" he asked the portrait of Spineripper.

The goblin's portrait nodded to the desk where a muggle newspaper lay open.

He read the article beneath the huge headline. "I don't think I understand. What-"

"I failed," Iggy managed to choke out through his sobs. "I failed! I failed everyone!"

Bill got him the strongest sleeping draught he could find and hoped the man would be coherent when he woke.

o0o

He was not.

And spent three hours shouting about toilet paper, filthy muggles that didn't wash their hands, a lonely life devoid of real human contact, and death everywhere he turned because one person out of billions sneezed on a plane without a mask on. He screamed until his throat was raw. And then he curled up in a ball again and said he wanted to be left alone.

o0o

As March went on, news from the muggle world became progressively more and more dire.

A sickness was spreading around the globe with no cure. The muggles had many names for it but Iggy – once he had come back to his senses - was heard to simply call it The 'Vid. Healer clinics across the globe, in every magical community, suddenly saw themselves with funding and supplies. His vaults were practically bleeding galleons to the dismay of many goblins who didn't know who the Weirdling truly was or why he was doing what he was doing.

It was confirmed in early April that magical beings didn't get sick, but they became what the muggles called Asymptomatic Carrier. It was, in Iggy's opinion, the one saving grace of the entire situation. His feeling of failure lifted, just a little bit, when even the squibs didn't get sick from it. It seemed their magical resistance held strong without the meddling of a bitter squib from Wuhan. Without her help and her knowledge of the magical world weaponized in the development of the virus, the pandemic was delayed by 17 years. And that was 17 more years he had to stockpile, just in case, the Hoard.

Magic couldn't cure the virus, he knew that. He had advised the ICW in his official capacity as the head of the 2 man international department of Apocalypse Aversions not to even attempt it. It had... required that he reveal more than he had been comfortable with. But he was willing to do anything to prevent the virus from mutating because of magic. Instead he encouraged the international magical community to push their muggle counterparts to adopt certain policies. Certain procedures to prevent the virus from doing to their world what it did to his own.

He showed them memories, cherry-picked, of his life in a post-magic world. In a world slowly dying because of the 'Vid. Many were horrified. Others inspired to take what they had learned back and get to work on helping the muggles contain and control the threat. Now knowing a magical solution would spell extinction, they were driven to find other ways to help devise a cure for this great equalizer.

o0o

The Master Ward Room was empty, save for a single roll of toilet paper.

Bill watched as the goblins carried off the last box for donation. There was still a supply in the tower, kept under lock and key. It was the Personal Supply for the family - of which Bill and his wife Fleur and their children were long ago considered part of.

For years, he had wondered why his best friend had collected it all. Had hoarded it like a dragon hoards precious treasures. Now, he understood. Now, he knew why. It was for this.

Over the years, he'd watched his friend. He'd listened to him. And in time he'd been able to put most of the puzzle together. And this was the last piece. The piece that had been missing for so very long.

He didn't need to see into the pensieve like Remus and Sirius. He didn't need to be told the story of the Weirdling's mysterious past before Gringotts got hold of him from Spineripper's portrait or Ragnok's drunken reminiscing. He didn't have Luna's uncanny ability to just suddenly KNOW things.

"Before you came here, to now, you died," Bill said, sitting in the floor next to his friend in the Master Ward Room.

"I've died a lot of times, Bill."

"I know but... You died because of a toilet paper shortage."

"How'd you figure that one out?"

Bill shrugged. "It was easy, once I realized why you adopted Harry. It wasn't just what his life was like with the muggles."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"You adopted him because you didn't want to see him end up becoming you. It's why you hated Dumbledore so much. Why you were so protective over the kid."

"And that somehow led you to believe I died over toilet paper?"

He nodded. "You hoarded muggle toilet paper for 41 years just so you could give it all way in a crisis because you didn't want anyone else to get killed over it." Iggy's guilty expression said it all. "I'm not wrong, am I Harry?"

"No," he finally said. "You're not." Iggy held up the last roll of toilet paper from the hoard. It was cheap. It was rough. It was the type of single ply you usually found in muggle grocery stores or bars. The roll was big and fat. Industrial sized – it had to be when it was the type most commonly found in spaces used by the general public. He sighed, and for the first time in nearly one hundred years, that broken piece deep inside shifted. Almost as if it was thinking about considering the possibility of perhaps maybe eventually starting the process of slotting back into the place it rightfully belonged. If he had to name a location for it, he'd say it was somewhere behind the spleen. Yeah... somewhere behind the spleen.

Yes, he had decided. He had held this in long enough. While others figured out his identity quickly - like Augusta Longbottom long may she rest her weary soul - and others were shown the pertinent facts of the matter - like Remus and Sirius and Ragnok.... None knew his story. Not really. Not the entire story as he had lived it. Showing memories was one thing. Anyone can tamper with or enhance a memory to achieve the desired effect or response they wanted. It worked REALLY well with Rita Skeeter. But not everyone could earn his trust the way Bill had. No one, not even Harry, understood him in the weird way that Bill did. He was the closest thing Iggy had to a brother in BOTH his life as Harry Potter and as Ignotus Grimm. He was Iggy's immovable object, and what helped keep him sane in a world he understood but wasn't actually a part of. If ever there was someone he could tell his story to, the truth and whole of it... now was the time and this was the man. This was when he would start to heal.

As he detached the first square of paper from the roll, he counted the squares out as he unrolled the paper from the tightly wound wheel. One. Two. Three. Three became six. Six became eight. Nine. Ten. Eleven.

He ripped it off there. One square for every year of his life before the start of his long, sorrowful tale. "The night of my eleventh birthday, like Harry, I found out I was a wizard. But unlike Harry I didn't have someone come save me from a fate worse than death. I met my first ever friend that night when Hagrid the Gamekeeper found my hateful, vile muggle family in a seaside shack where my uncle Vernon had taken us in fear. He was trying to prevent me from going to Hogwarts, you see..." he began, pulling his legs inward and toying with the eleven squares of paper.