Chapter 1: The Weirdling 1
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.
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?"
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?"
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
"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."
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?"
"I see... I see... If you have the opportunity to go back and change one thing in your life, what would it be?"
"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."
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."
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.
"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.
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.
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 year?" he croaked. "Please... what year is it?"
"Too early. Far too early."
And then he was unconscious again.
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."
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."
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.
"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."
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.
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.
"Ah, my Weirdling! Did we do it? Did we prevent the Acromantula uprising?"
"We did. Shelob is no more."
"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."
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."
Chapter 2: Harry 1
Every now and again, Harry Potter would go outside to do chores and find a sandwich wrapped in plastic and a juice box sitting beside it. Just sitting there. Out in the open.
He was afraid, once, that his aunt Petunia would notice and he'd be in trouble.
But she never did.
He didn't know that she never saw the plate and the food. And neither did Dudley.
He was especially thankful that Uncle Vernon never saw it either.
Sometimes, he would climb back into his cupboard to find the dirty blanket had been cleaned – but he knew he hadn't done it.
After one particularly bad weekend, when he'd been beaten and locked in for something Dudley claimed he did but he didn't do, he woke up on the second day without a bruise or a scratch on himself.
There was one time, he swore he could hear his dad's voice. Well, he hoped it was his dad. Or maybe it was what he wished his dad might sound like. And he felt warm and protected in his cramped little cupboard as he slept.
Each time he thought he heard his dad's voice, the next day Uncle Vernon and Dudley would be a little nicer. His aunt Petunia would be a little less demanding.
It never lasted long, but he was grateful for the break every now and again.
He would have liked to say that it all changed the day he got a letter in the mail. The first letter he had ever gotten addressed to himself.
He was Harry Potter, and nothing good ever really happened to Harry Potter.
Dudley had told his uncle. And his uncle had freaked out. And the letters kept coming. And the owls were gathering. It was only a matter of time until his uncle finally snapped.
Chapter 3: The Weirdling 2
Weirdling, or rather, Iggy as the time traveled adult Harry preferred to be called, was racing the clock.
The details had been filled into the book of prophecy hours ago. And Spineripper was... indisposed. At least now he knew why Spineripper never made it to that meeting in Wuhan, China.
You can't get to a meeting across the globe with the Sword of Gryffindor sticking out of your chest.
And you certainly couldn't get up and walk it off when you've got to legs with which to walk.
It was a foul, vile thing that had happened to his friend and mentor.
And the portrait that had sprung to life in their office suite was hopping mad.
"How the fuck was I supposed to know that motherfucker had you killed! You never told me!" Iggy had shouted back at him as he was gearing up to take on the mission himself.
And now here he was, the moment had come. He did his waiting. All 12 years of it. In Gringotts' Apocalypse Aversion Department!
He looked at the name. He looked at it again. Then he looked at the 11 year old girl blinking at him.
This girl. This girl was going to grow up bitter and angry at her sister. Resentful. Because she got a letter to go to a magic school but her twin did not.
Because her twin was a squib.
This little girl would herald in the end of all magic and magic-kind. And Iggy had a hard decision to make. He had done some pretty awful things after arriving into the past. Things that were necessary, yes, but not things he was proud of. And those things often drove him to drink. They also wouldn't let him look at himself in the mirror for the shame of them.
And this... no matter the choice he made, would do the same. He lets her live, history repeats and all of magic dies out. He kills the girl, and she doesn't engineer the strain to target magical people only. That strain will then not late mutate to kill the muggles slowly.
Iggy drew his wand, and with two whispered words and a flash of green that made his eyes glow like death, the squib was dead.
Back in England, in the Department of Mysteries, a prophecy given by a teenage Lily Potter turned black, then cracked and fell from the shelf. One by one, so many more did the same until shelf after shelf was emptied. Every orb that he had touched in the future that now would never be, every last one of them fell. By the time the rain of glass had finished falling, those working the hall of prophecy were stunned to silence as they saw what little remained.
And on a shelf in row 95, the fake of the fake remained. Untouched. Unbroken. Unnoticed. But the name of Harry Potter was a little more smudged than it had any right to be.
Iggy returned to a bank in chaos.
And it was just as he liked it.
But there was little time to waste, as he checked his watch. He had a second appointment, and he wanted to get there before the witching hour at midnight, and he was racing this time against a half-giant as well as a clock.
He checked his watch. He didn't have much time before Hagrid was due to show up. Twenty minutes tops.
"Well, guess I can give up on subtle."
Holding his wand tightly in his hand, Iggy blasted the door down with a roar, scaring the willies out of the occupants of the shack, who were already on edge because of the storm, the crashing waves of the sea outside, and the general weirdness of the boy with the glasses.
"Who the bloody hell-"
"For fuck's sake, I haven't the time!" With a quick wave of his wand, the shotgun shot only bubbles. "My name's Iggy. I'm a cousin of James Potter and I've been looking for that little shit over there for the last ten years! I'll take him out of your hair, but you have to explicitly say he's not welcome in your home anymore. Trust me. It's better for everyone this way."
"He was never welcome!" Vernon bellowed. And Iggy turned to Petunia expectantly. She hesitated.
"Please. Please say you don't want him. It'll make us all much happier in the end. Trust me." Iggy bounced from foot to foot as Harry tried to creep away from the proceedings. It wasn't until they heard a roar of strange engines on the wind that Iggy pressed her for an answer. "Come on, woman! I don't have much more time! Just kick the brat out of your life and I'll be gone! Now do it before the really big guy shows up!"
"What really big-"
"Just do it!"
"Alright! Alright fine! I don't' want him! I never wanted him! Take him! Get him out of here and leave my family alone!"
Iggy wasted no time leaping the couch and seizing the boy by the arm a little roughly. "Sorry about all this," he said, holding the boy close and starting to spin just as the flying motorbike landed outside.
"See you in hell, muggles!" Iggy cried just as he disappeared.
Moments later, Rubeus Hagrid appeared in the open doorway of the seaside shack. Vernon bellowed in shock. Dudley whimpered in fear. And Petunia Dursley fainted in shock.
Iggy dragged the poor, crying and wailing kid through the bank like a man possessed. He had very little time to get things done before that grand old motherfucker of Hogwarts started poking his beak into things. Again.
He'd already had Spineripper killed for God only knew what reason.
Having enough of Harry's struggling, he knocked the poor child out with a sleeping jinx before carrying him the rest of the way through the caverns, heading directly to his personal suite to put the kid to bed. By the time he reached his door, Ragnok was there and he was spitting mad.
"Why is it always YOU that causes such... such... such unbridled chaos in my bank!"
"Because I'm here to change shit. So here I am, changing shit!" He let himself into his rooms, carried Harry to his bedroom, and hoisted the kid off his shoulder and onto the bed. "Starting with this little shit right here!"
"Did you... Please tell me you did not kidnap your past self!"
"Not exactly," Iggy replied. "I made sure his family vocally gave up claim. And I identified myself as a blood relation."
"What kind of blood relation, Weirdling?" the goblin chief demanded.
"A cousin of James Potter." The goblin gave him a hard look. "Well it made more sense than a cousin of my mother! Look at me. I look like a goddamn Potter! Because I AM a god damn Potter! Now, lets get this ball rolling before that bedazzle-bearded motherfucker comes asking around about Harry."
"What exactly are you intending to do with the boy?"
"Adopt him of course. Who has a stronger blood claim than himself? No one. And since I've most definitely caused a major change by completing the actual mission I came here to do, this is no longer MY past I'm fucking up. So I'm not endangering my own existence. It's an entirely new chain of events and timeline. So there."
Ragnok rubbed at his temples with a long suffering sigh. "As loathe as I am to admit... you are correct. But the boy still needs to attend Hogwarts. You cannot get out of at least the first year. Your parents have already paid the tuition before you were born."
"One condition," he replied. "Okay, two. You let me adopt him AND we get him a custom made wand. None of this Ollivander and brother wand bullshit. I don't want him getting fucked over the same way I was."
"By the time he wakes, the Crownless King will have himself a Crownless Prince. I hope you've thought this through..."
"You know damn well I haven't. But trust me when I say given what life got to be like with the Dursley family after I started Hogwarts... I was ready for Tom Riddle to off me by the time we clashed again in fourth year."
Chapter 4: Harry 2
It was obvious Harry wasn't exactly comfortable with the strange man that had come to kidnap him from his aunt and uncle. Though, he did finally get to read a copy of the letter that kept being sent to him.
The rooms the man lived in were quite nice though. He'd never seen such a comfortable bed in person. Nor had he worn clothes that actually fit him.
The food was great, and he didn't have to cook it himself. And that made it taste all the better.
He had been with the strange man and his strange creature friends for a week now. The man, Iggy he'd been told to call him, followed a very rigid routine despite his oddness. He woke up early, and woke Harry up early as well. They had breakfast together while the man read through a mess of papers and would sometimes click his pen to write on them. Sometimes he would pick up an old fashioned quill and use that instead.
After breakfast, he have Harry come with him to an office where he sat and worked for a few hours until lunch. Harry was told he could take any book off the shelves he wanted and read them. There was also a rather bizarre painting of a creature that seemed to silently watch him. Once in a while he would hear a low voice make tutting noises only to look up and see the painting had moved. And it seemed to be watching him.
Usually, after they have lunch in Iggy's office, he makes him wear a hat and he uses magic - REAL MAGIC - to make his glasses into sunglasses so they can go out shopping. Iggy, he noticed, always wears a bandanna to cover his forehead when they go out. The man says it's to help keep the hair out of his eyes since he doesn't like to tie it back, but Harry knows it's to hide the scar there. The same scar he has on his own head.
Today, however, they do not go out shopping. Today, they instead go back to the rooms and Harry is told to stay inside. Iggy has to see about a very important job.
"But I have a friend that will keep you company while I'm away. It'll only be a few days and I know you'll get on famously."
Harry watched as Iggy left the sitting room where they kept Harry's new school books. And then he returned with- "Is that an owl!?" the boy exclaimed when he saw the snow white bird perched on the man's arm.
"Yes. Her name is Hedwig, and she's my very best friend," he said. "She's very smart, too. She can't talk like we can, but she understand human speech. And she can even deliver letters for me like a carrier pigeon."
At this, the bird nips at him, and he apologizes softly and stokes her head. "I'm sorry girl. You're better than any carrier pigeon out there. And the best owl in the world."
Harry watched as the bird seemed to puff up a bit, almost as if she did so with pride before she leapt off his arm and flew over to Harry. Or rather, to the sofa Harry was sat upon. She hopped along the back of the sofa, peering at him before stopping and leaning in to get a good look at him. "Go on," Iggy encouraged. "Give her a pet. Had her for two months and she's already spoiled rotten."
Harry hesitantly reached up and with two fingers only stroked her where he had seen Iggy do the same. The bird hooted softly before hopping just a bit closer and nuzzling against his cheek as if she were a cat.
"See, I told you. You'll get on famously. She knows how to get out to hunt, and she's got a perch with snacks and water in my bedroom, so you don't need to worry about any of that. I want you to read your school books and if any of my goblin friends come by, tell them I'm working and will be back soon."
Harry spent his first day alone with the owl snooping around the suite of rooms he shared with the strange man. The only things he could learn about the man was that he didn't like to clean up after himself when it came to his personal space. The man's bedroom looked as if a tornado had blown through it. Aunt Petunia never would have let Harry get away with such things. It was one of the few things she didn't let Dudley get away with either.
He also learned that the man didn't have any of the weird clothes that most of the magical people they'd seen in the street and shops had. But there were a lot of jeans and a lot of t-shirts.
And lastly, the man had a lot of toilet paper stored under his bed. And by a lot, Harry didn't mean just a couple of large packs. He counted a few hundred rolls of toilet paper hidden under the floorboards in a space that couldn't possibly fit them all. Or so he thought. Magic, he had learned over the last week, could do a lot of amazing and strange things.
On Harry's second day alone, he found himself bored and decided he might as well start reading his school books like he'd been told.
He rather liked the one about potions. It reminded him a lot of cooking.
He felt rather tired after lunch that day, and had gone to take a nap to sleep off the heavier than usual meal.
When Harry woke some time later, it was to hear the sound of something breaking outside his room, and the angry hooting of an owl.
He climbed out of bed quickly and slid under it, backing himself all the way towards the wall at the head of it.
When the sounds of fighting stopped, the door was thrown open and he saw feet he didn't recognize before there was a thud. A bundle of cloth fell off a man's head and rolled up under the bed towards him. There was a strong scent of garlic as Harry hid his face from the strange sight that greeted him when he dared look again. A man lay on his stomach, his face squashed into the floor as a set of jeans clad legs pinned the man down. An angry, strange looking face was shouting and hissing from the back of the man's head!
And Harry saw a fist come crashing down into the hideous face.
And again another fist came down.
Harry covered his eyes when he heard the crack of bone.
There was a sickening squelch.
Followed by another.
Harry could have sworn the man was practically hissing in his rage, but he couldn’t have been certain.
A final crunch. A popping noise, and a wet sounding plop before there were the sounds of many footsteps marching nearby.
"In here!" Harry heard Iggy shout tiredly. "We're in here!"
Harry didn't dare look at the pulp that was left beside his bed. Instead he looked in the opposite direction, to the many feet of the many goblins that had come and filled his bedroom.
"Where is the boy? Where is the prince?!"
"Under there, I think," he heard Iggy say. "Can someone.... put a sheet over this or something?"
Harry stared, still shocked by what had happened, at Iggy's injured hand. The goblins were checking him over and cleaning his hand before pouring things on it to help it heal.
"Harry, are you alright?" he heard Iggy ask him when he noticed the boy staring. "He didn't hurt you, did he?"
"It's alright," Iggy said. "I'll never let anyone hurt you ever again."
"I was sleeping."
"Good," Iggy said softly. "I'm sorry you... saw me like that. I know your uncle-"
But Harry didn’t even want to be reminded of his Uncle Vernon right now. Not again. Instead, he distracted the man who other than what Harry had witnessed, had been very kind and protective of him. "Who... who was that?"
"It's complicated," Iggy replied. "I'll tell you about him tomorrow. You need to know before you go off to school anyway."
Chapter 5: The Weirdling 3
"The boy is asleep," the goblin healer said. "I had to give him a rather strong sleeping draught. I imagine he won't be waking up any time before 3PM tomorrow afternoon. At the earliest."
"Thank you," Iggy said. "How the hell did he get in here is what I'd like to know."
"It appears he had... inside help."
"What kind of inside help?"
"The same kind of inside help that murdered Spineripper."
Iggy sat back in his chair and pondered the situation. They were, unfortunately, not as safe in the hallowed halls of Gringotts as he'd believed they would be. "Is there somewhere more... secure... than Gringotts?" He held up his injured hand. "I mean no offense, Ragnok. I know you wish to keep me here under your watchful eye. I know I'm... unhinged."
"Unhinged? No, Weirdling, you're not unhinged. You are completely, as the muggles would say, out of your fucking gourd. It would be irresponsible of me to unleash you on an unsuspecting public."
Iggy shrugged. "I am what the muggles made me. With their tiny paper cups and their plexiglass face masks and their Purell and their... their... single serve tiny trial size premixed bottles of appletini!"
"And that is precisely why I wanted to make sure you were monitored at all times. You used a magic not even the darkest of wizards are willing to consider. A magic even among my people is considered the most vile sort. You are, frankly, the first human to have come into contact with that hell book and live to tell the tale."
Iggy rolled his eyes. "I know, I know. But you have to admit, you'd rather it be me and not that nose-less ponce or the motherfucker with the technicolor dream robes."
Ragnok couldn't fault him for that one. Dealing with an unhinged Harry Potter was indeed preferable than even a mostly sane Dark Lord or supremely pompous Chief Warlock and all that other nonsense the man liked to point out to anyone that would listen. "There is... one place. One place in all the world that I think not even you found in your... sterile and plagued future."
"The tower of the of the Dread King. It is isolated on a hidden isle that can only be reached by magic. A place with wards to heavy and so deadly that none who have sought it have returned whole. Their bodies mangled in all manner of... gruesome ways."
"Oh, that's perfect then! How do I find it?"
"You're seriously considering the most deadly location on earth known to all magical kind?"
"Why not? If it's as deadly and dangerous as you say, then once I get Harry inside and seize control of the wards, he'll be the most protected child on Earth. No war will ever find him. No dark lord. No twinkly eyed motherfuckers. And no Dursleys. Besides, if anyone can accomplish something like this, I'm the guy. I don't stay dead, so it won't really matter if the things kill me. And... just imagine the riches that are in that tower. Untouched by the ages. Imagine the commission the account manager could make off such a find. Imagine the prestige of the goblin assigned to oversee that account. Or the first goblin allowed to set foot in the tower. The first to inventory such a-"
"Alright! Alright! I'll help you find the fucking thing. But we're going to need help. Curse breakers and the like."
"Are you sure?"
"But he's so... young. Surely he-"
"Trust me. He's up for the task. And, knowing him as I do, he sends much of his pay back to his family. Imagine the absolute chaos I can create by raising the Weasley family up from poverty with this. How angry will Lucius Malfoy be when he finds out Molly Weasley can shop in the same boutiques as his wife. When he learns that Arthur Weasley is still at the ministry because he truly loves his job and not because he's desperate for the galleons."
Ragnok considered his words.
"And imagine how absolutely livid that motherfucker at Hogwarts is going to be when he finds out he can't pay off the Weasley family with Harry's inheritance. Iggy smiled.
And Ragnok, the most fearsome chief of the Gringotts clan in centuries, shuddered at the sight of it.
They would tackle the tower of the Dread King after Harry was safely at school and not a moment before.
But for now, Iggy ensured everywhere he went, so too did Harry. And if he couldn't take Harry out into the field with him, Harry remained with Ragnok.
After Harry had been told about the strange man that Iggy had.. well.. beaten to death, and about the strange face that was on the back of his head, he also learned about why he was so special. He was told about his parents. About his father, James Potter obviously, but Iggy seemed to focus more on what he knew about Harry's mother Lily. Spineripper's portrait noted how kind and considerate she was, even to creatures like the goblins. He did not know her personally but he had met her a few times in the course of his work at the bank. She had a lasting impression on him, but he did not say that lasting impression was because a 14 year old supposed muggleborn had given a prophecy foretelling a potential apocalypse.
By the time Iggy, with additions from Ragnok and Spineripper's portrait, had finished telling Harry about his parents, the war that got them killed, the man who gave him the scar, and the reason his guardian and protector had insisted on the boy wearing a hat and sunglasses any time they left the safety of the bank, he had only one question.
And it was not what they expected it to be.
"Why do you hide so many loo rolls under the bed?"
"We tell you your parents were murdered by a crazed psychopath and you were left with abusive, vile muggles and your only question is why I hide toilet paper?!"
"Well... yeah. I mean, if that guy comes back you'll... beat him up again, right?"
"Damn right I will."
"So why so many loo rolls?"
Ragnok and Spineripper laughed. Iggy sighed and reached out, putting a hand on the boy's shoulder and giving it a squeeze. "Hopefully, in around 50 years or so, you'll never have to find out."
"Is it all kinds or do you just collect the really soft stuff?"
Iggy stared at him and blinked in confusion, wondering if he was always this... weirdly accepting of the weird things that had always happened to him. Or if this was just a new thing that had cropped up because of how sudden and drastically the boy's life had changed. Then again, the poor kid had seen him beat a man to death next to his bed so he was probably just scared shitless of the guy that stole him away in the night just before his birthday.
On August 14th Harry Potter was taken by Iggy to a goblin mystic deep in the caverns of the Goblin Nation. He was told about the scar on his head, and Iggy told him he knew what it was because he had one just like it. It did not mark him as special. It put his life in danger, and Iggy had finally found a way to have it removed safely. Much safer than how he had his removed.
On August 15th Harry Potter was sound asleep in Iggy's bed, with the man himself sleeping on the sofa ever since the break-in incident. Unlike the man on the sofa, he slept soundly and without a single blemish on that young face.
On August 16th, a horcrux screamed in agony as goblin mystics played around with what they could do to it before finally putting the trinket they'd stored it in away for use at a later date, just as the Weirdling had requested of them.
On August 17th Harry Potter had been taken to a wandmaker in Ireland. It was a wandmaker that, in his old life, Iggy had known very well before the extinction of magic and magickind. He'd had to have something replace the Holly wand when it was snapped a second time.
On August 31st, Harry Potter returned to Ireland to retrieve his wand. And it was a very handsome wand indeed. A wand that, when Iggy had laid eyes on it, made him question again how much of his own life had been a series of unfortunate events linked to the bit of Tom Riddle he'd had shoehorned into his face and what had actually been, well, the real Harry Potter.
"Very good... very good... Your wand was a tricky one, Mr. Potter. Fifteen inches of unyielding Fir with a core made from the vein of a dragon. Quite a formidable wand. A survivor's wand if ever there was."
"Well," Iggy had said after a moment with a sad smile. "The boy's been through more than enough in his young life. Hopefully now things will start to calm down and start getting better."
Meeting Bill Weasley was.... well, he hadn't expected it to go the way that it did.
"You smell like a tomb."
"You smell. Like a tomb."
"Well I most certainly haven't been grave-robbing. Well... recently. Though there was that time a few months ago when I was wandering through Little Hangleton and just decided, what the hell, why not?"
"Is he always this... strange?" Bill had asked the goblin that had specially requested him rather than his boss and had him travel all the way from Egypt to meet with his client.
"Unfortunately..." Ragnok sighed as he rubbed at his temple where the never-ending Harry Potter headache had forced its way in, somehow, the day the bastard had landed on his desk in a mess of exposed muscle, blood, and nerves. "He also has high hopes for you, Mr. Weasley. Had he not been a valued employee of Gringotts, I would never have allowed him to choose which curse breaker he wanted and just assigned him the one most appropriate for the task at hand."
"What IS the task at hand, Master Ragnok?"
Iggy grinned. "The tower of the Dread King."
"Are you insane?!"
"Oh I'm barking mad. Absolutely barmy. But I have great need of a place so secret most believe it to be a myth. A place with wards so powerful that it is rumoured they were erected by Merlin himself."
"What could be so important that you need a place like that?!"
Iggy smiled brightly, reaching into his back pocket for his wallet. After taking it out he opened it and an accordion of photographs came out. All of them taken in the last month. "You've probably heard of my son, Harry Potter," he said, showing Bill Weasley his photos.
"But Harry Potter's been missing for a month!"
"No he hasn't. He's been right here at the bank. With me. It's all above board. Tell him, Ragnok. Tell him what I did a week after I took custody of cousin Jamie's boy from those damned muggles."
Ragnok rubbed at his temple with a sigh. "He beat a man to death with his bare hands."
"With my bare hands."
"The break in here at the bank that was reported in the Daily Prophet was not as reported. The perpetrator was not after what was in one of our vaults. He was after young Mr. Potter while his guardian was on a very important mission for the... Aversions department."
"A....A... You work in Aversions?"
Iggy nodded as he folded his photos of Harry back into his wallet. "Oh yes. For the last twelve years now."
"But I was told that Spineripper-"
"Yeah. Caught a sword to the chest. It was a very busy two days."
"Be that as it may, gentlemen... The Dread King's tower is very real. The problem is locating it. And then once we locate it, getting through the wards on the island, then the tower itself, and then, if we're very fortunate, breaking any curses on any of the treasure that's said to be inside. Not only would you be doing your part to help Mr. Grimm protect young Mr. Potter when he is not at school, but you stand to gain so much more than simply boosting your professional reputation. The Weasley coffers are rather... lean, I understand."
"I'm willing to pay three times what you make in Egypt while you are working on this, and your reward will be one third of the liquid assets discovered."
They gave him three days to think it over.
Bill Weasley only needed three hours.
Locating the island was, it turned out, the easy part.
Getting in?... Well...
"How are you even still alive?!" was a very commonly shouted question from Curse Breaker Weasley.
Ragnok sighed and shook his head. "And now you understand why you were sworn to an oath of secrecy regarding the Weirdling of the Aversions department." He watched as Iggy's detached arm bobbed in the water nearby. "That's going to require a lot of Skelegrow..."
"I once had all the bones in my arm vanished by an idiot. This is nothing. T'is but a scratch!"
The goblin and the wizard didn't get it.
It's times like this he missed Hermione.
She had loved Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Ragnok lifted his umbrella. "Three," he said. Then opened it. "Two." He held it over his head. "You might want to cast a shield charm, Weasley," he said dryly before silently finishing his countdown in his head.
And a shower of blood and fleshy bits rained down from above where Iggy had attempted to apparate through the hole they had made in the wards.
Clearly... it didn't work.
"And he can just... He can pull himself back..."
"Indeed. Now you know why we call him the Weirdling. He'll be fine in a week or so. Go visit your mother, I'm sure she'd love to see you."
On October 30th, they had done it. Iggy celebrated by penning a letter to Harry, in response to one he had received the week prior but hadn't been able to write back because both of his hands were, well, missing after another botched attempt at breaking through the last few layers of wards.
But they had finally done it, and with minimal death for him this time.
And so, he wrote a letter to Harry, once again congratulating him on his sorting into Hufflepuff and advising him on what NOT to do in his potion's class. "At least he's not in a class with Gryffindors," Bill had heard him mutter.
"Oh, my son. I'm just grateful he's not got double potions with Gryffindors. The teacher isn't very fond of him. Old feud between my cousin Jamie and the current potion's master. If Harry'd been sorted into the same house as his father, well..."
"Yeah, I understand. All my family's been in Gryffindor. They breathe in his class and he gives them detention. Except Percy. He pretty much ignores him."
Iggy nodded and returned to his letter. He couldn't tell Harry everything, of course. But he told him the new house was doing well, but unfortunately it wouldn't be ready by Christmas. But he would meet him at the train regardless.
Iggy did not expect to see Hedwig again for at least a week. But she swooped in a little worse for wear around midday on November 1st.
Ragnok had seen the man angry only a very few times in all the time they had been working together. But never had he seen what, a long time ago, a young Miss Lily Evans had described in her prophecy.
Even the curse-breaker was on edge when the usually cheerful and self-professed barmy bastard went silent. There was a crackle to the air around him, and an unease in his presence. As if their own magic were warning them to depart from their lunch table or suffer the consequences of this man's wrath.
Ragnok was reminded of her haunting words this otherwise peaceful November day.
He watched as the Weirdling stood. His movements slow and deliberate as if it took all his effort to hold back the storm behind his deadly green eyes. "Your majesty, what foul news has your familiar brought you to put you into such a state?"
"Will you excuse me a moment gentlemen, I need to... compose myself before I go deal with this matter with my son."
Before his lunch companions could ask for more, Iggy had left the table in the tent they had been using as their temporary home during this adventure together.
Neither the goblin nor the man dared step outside when they heard the angry hissing of a snake intermingled with the occasional human words. Most notably, "THAT TWO FASSSSSSED TWINKLY-EYED WRINKLE NUT TECHNICOLOR MOTHERFUCKER!"
When Iggy returned, feeling a little less... wrathful than when he had excused himself, Bill dared to venture a question. "Is Harry alright?"
"He will be, thank you. Incidentally, you may want to check with your parents about your youngest brother. Ronnie? Rowan?"
"Ronald," he said, receiving a nod in return. "Why, what's happened?"
"Some... esteemed and self-important idiot thought it would be a grand idea to hide a thrice damned troll in the bloody dungeon! During its mating season!"
"Would you like me to marshal the forces? Storm the gates of Hogwarts?"
"No, Ragnok. That will not be necessary," he said, drawing a deep breath and running a hand through his hair, moving the bandanna just a little by accident. "No, I'll handle this in my... lesser capacity, thank you."
"Say the word and-"
"I know, old friend, I know. Now, you two enjoy a hard earned rest. I'll be a day or two, and when I return we should be ready to tackle the tower itself."
When Iggy had once more left the tent, this time followed quickly by the sound of a noisy and distracted apparition, Ragnok sighed and shook his head. "That poor bastard..."
"I'm sure he's going to be alright. Harry, too."
"No, I meant the headmaster," Ragnok replied. "The man has no idea just how angry he has made the most fearsome man to ever walk the halls of Gringotts since my own ancestor Plaguebringer the Putrid."
Bill stared at him in disbelief, and Ragnok sighed. "You're sworn to secrecy anyway," he said, summoning a bottle of the good and strong Goblin brew rather than that inferior firewhisky the Weirdling favored most ardently. This was followed by the transfiguring of two forks into shot glasses and two drinks were poured. "For some reason he wanted you, specifically, for this job. So I don't think he'll mind me telling you some of his secrets. Not all, mind... but at least the ones I know I'm allowed to tell."
Ragnok drank down the first. And rather than offer the human the second, he drank that down himself as well and spoke while he poured himself two more. "The story of the Weirdling starts as all important tales at Gringotts do. In my office, during a meeting where we discussed once again the reasons to put off starting a new rebellion for at least another decade," he said, this time offering one of the shots to the human across from him. "I'll never forget that date for as long as I live. July 31st, 1979. A skinless human body fell from the ceiling and onto my desk. Dead as could be." He downed his third drink. "And then, suddenly, the body wasn't so dead. And it was howling like the souls of the damned."
Bill's eyes went wide before he looked down at the drink.
"Spineripper, my most bloodthirsty and violent of warriors, shat himself right there next to my desk when it started moving."
Bill had known of Spineripper by reputation only. All the curse breakers did. He was a goblin that, when you signed up for working the field, you were told you never wanted to see come to your job site. It was always a sign of something so vile, so evil, that it took only the craziest of warriors to even consider pondering the eldritch horrors Spineripper quite happily and gleefully destroyed. He put the glass to his lips and poured the goblin brew down, not liking the burn as it went but if the rest of the tale was like that...
He put his glass down and pushed it forward. "Another," he said. "And keep them coming."
"After you write that letter to your mother."
Having lived through similar, if not damn near identical events the first time around, Iggy knew that going directly to the headmaster was not a good idea.
So he did the next best thing. He went straight to the Prophet with his son's letter. He slammed it down on the desk of the receptionist at the front and rather loudly proclaimed, "I demand to speak to Rita Skeeter on a matter of importance concerning my dearest dead cousin's only son, Harry Potter! No other reporter will do!"
Soon enough the much too old but still trying to look so young woman in the hideous acid green skirt and blouse combo appeared. "How many I help you Mr..."
"Grimm," he said with a feral grin. "Ignotus Weirdling Grimm, guardian and protector of young Mr. Potter and current Aversions Specialist at Gringotts Wizarding Bank of Magical Britain.
"I..... I thought Spineripper-"
"He died. I was his apprentice. Let's discuss more in your office," he said, taking the letter back up. "You're going to want to block out at least the rest of the day, and possibly all of tomorrow for me, Miss Skeeter."
Chapter 6: Harry 3
On the morning of November 2nd, a hush fell over the great hall at Hogwarts just after the morning mail had arrived.
Severus Snape neatly folded his newspaper and sniffed the air about the man beside him, and frowned. "It's strange," he said, glancing past the man who had been brought to replace Quirrell after his sudden and abrupt resignation before the term had even begun. "I wasn't aware the porridge was served with an abundance of garlic this morning."
The man beside him stilled.
"Or yesterday for that matter..."
Harry ducked down at the Hufflepuff table when the fighting at the head table started. He crawled down to the end of the table by the exit, just as Iggy had drilled him on in case of emergencies. By the time he'd made it out of the great hall, he was pushed forward by the stampede of students trying to get away from the blast radius of the hexes and spells being thrown about.
He managed to somehow extricate himself from the throng, only to be met by his two best friends.
"Merlin, Harry! What was that about?!" the lanky redhead exclaimed.
"Did you not see the paper this morning, Ronald?" the Gryffindor girl asked. "Someone told the press about the troll! It was front page news!"
She was right, Harry knew, that someone had blabbed to someone about the troll. He had told his adoptive father about it in his letter yesterday morning. But... "No... No. That couldn't be it..." Harry said.
His two friends looked at him. "What can't be what?" Ron asked.
"Harry, if you know something-"
"I'm not sure," he said. "It might be nothing but... I told my dad, er... adopted dad, about the troll on Halloween. He's always telling me to let him know if something strange happens and when it does, just back away."
"But if you and Ron had just backed away, then Hannah Abbot would have still been in the girl's bathroom that night!"
Hermione would have said something, but Ron started pulling on her arm. "Come on, the prefects are calling for all the first years to get back to the dorms."
"We'll see you later, Harry," Hermione said waving farewell. Harry looked around before finding a clump of black and yellow clad housemates to join.
They had a new Defense teacher the next week. He seemed a gruff sort. Walked with a limp with a really creepy eye. An eye that seemed to follow Harry around a room whenever they were both in it. Other than that, he was a very good, if strict teacher.
Harry often overheard people talking about him - most Slytherins didn't like him for some reason or another, but he was a very fair professor all things considered. He was even quite used to the weirdness of him, which Harry attributed to the time he spent with Iggy. Iggy had become, he supposed, the measure of weirdness he judged the magical world by. If it wasn't weirder than the man who took him from the Dursleys, then it wasn't weird enough to worry with.
The man's shouts of CONSTANT VIGILANCE were even less jarring for him than it was for many of his classmates, Mostly because it was sound advice but also because Iggy would throw pillows at him sometimes when either one of them had entered a room while shouting the same exact thing. He was just grateful that when his professor would shout it at them, he didn't throw anything their direction.
It was two days before Christmas break and Harry was furiously penning a letter and occasionally glaring up to the head table where his potions professor was also glaring back towards him.
Over Christmas break?
For asking a question about their assignment in class?
"What's a 'Puff doing at our table?" one boy asked as Ron sat complaining at his side about his own dismal classes with the bat-like professor. Harry had been so angry after class that he hadn't noticed he'd sat at the wrong table until Ron's older brothers, Fred and George, had pointed it out to him.
A snowy white owl swooped in as Harry finished his letter and slid it into the envelope. "Hello, Hedwig. You always seem to know when I need you, don't you girl."
He stroked the bird's head gently with his fingers. "You know where to take this, don't you girl." He gave her a piece of chicken, which she gobbled down before affectionately nipping at his finger. He tied the letter to her leg and sent her off.
As she took off again, he shouted after her, "And if someone roughs you up again, poke 'em in the eye!"
Hermione tutted. Ron laughed. The same boy that had asked why a Hufflepuff was sitting at their lunch table said, "Remind me not to get on that 'puff's bad side."
Harry was shocked to see the headmaster with an eye patch the day he received a reply to his letter.
He also discovered he had no detention over Christmas and was to go to Hogsmede station as originally planned.
It also helped his mood that Professor Snape had a beehive hairdo he couldn't get rid of, and it was in lovely yellow and black with annoying, but harmless, little magical bees buzzing about his head.
"Not our finest work," one boy said when he passed by Harry at the Hufflepuff table.
"But it's sure to cause a buzz," said his twin when he followed his brother past.
"Iggy! You came!"
"Of course I did! I said I would, and here I am!" the man replied cheerfully as he swooped Harry up in a great big hug.
When Harry was set back down again, Iggy grabbed one end of his trunk with a grin and was about to head off when he caught sight of a bushy head of hair nearby. He smiled brightly. "Oh you must be miss Hermione Granger," he said, offering his free hand to the girl. "I'm Harry's guardian, Iggy."
"Iggy?" the girl asked. "What kind of a name is that?"
"It's short for Ignotus, young lady," he replied with a grin. "Are your parents here yet? We can wait with you if you'd like."
"Nope. Nope, I won't hear it. What do they look like?"
"Well they're muggles-"
"Say no more. They'll be on the other side of the barrier, yes?"
"Come along Harry. Let's get your friend to your parents."
Harry had pretty much just watched the exchange in slight confusion.
He'd overheard Iggy talking with some of his goblin friends about his... strong dislike of muggles. He considered them... well, lesser than wizards. The man was very confusing at times. He embraced muggle inventions and clothes and such, but he didn't speak kindly of them. And now here he was, happily chattering away with his muggleborn friend and even offering to meet her muggle parents.
The man simply didn't make sense.
Then again, he did save him from the man that broke into their rooms. And he had heard him say he'd do anything to keep Harry safe from harm.
He followed his friend and his strange new parent along to the muggle side of the barrier, his hands in his pockets as he pondered the odd turns his life had taken since that night Iggy had blasted the door in of the little seaside shack.
"Welcome to Godric's Hollow!" Iggy had exclaimed after they tumbled out of the fireplace of the pub. Harry adjusted his hat and sunglasses. "We'll be staying in a bed and breakfast nearby for the holiday. Sorry again the house isn't ready to move in yet."
"It's... It's fine."
"You'll have your own room. Your own suite of rooms if you like. And the windows. You're going to LOVE the windows. So open and bright and just... I can't wait for you to see it when it's ready."
Harry followed the man to a table, his trunk was shrunk down and tucked into Iggy's pocket before he sat down. They ordered lunch – anything on the menu Harry wanted he could have - and tucked in.
"What... exactly... do you do for a living?" Harry had asked him part-way through lunch.
"I work for the bank."
"I know that, but what do you do at the bank? I don't think you'd make a very good bank teller."
Iggy grinned. "Well, between you and me, I don't think I'd make a very good one either. I'm a... Well, I do a little bit of everything really. Some curse breaking. Ward casting. A lot of paperwork as you've seen. But that's mostly just research for different projects I help with when I don't really have much else to do."
"But really," he said, leaning in close. Harry couldn't help but copy him. When both were leaning over their plates, looking rather suspicious as if sharing a deep dark secret, Iggy said, "My job is to regularly stop the apocalypse."
"It's true. I travel around the world poking my nose into things to make sure nobody blows us all up. Or opens a gate to hell. Last month I had to take a break from working on the house to go stop a war before it could even start. It's rather exciting, but very dangerous work."
"I don't think I'd like that very much," Harry said. "Always having to run around. Never knowing what I'm going to find when I get there."
Iggy nodded sagely and leaned back to sit normally in his chair. "That's good to hear. The last thing I'd want is for you to go into this line of work. I'd rather you be bored stiff, but safe and sound, than have to always worry whether or not you'll come home to me alive."
"No, you'll just let ME worry about you instead."
"It's not ideal... but trust me when I say you'll never have to worry about that. It takes a lot more than the end of the world to get rid of me."
Harry, in time, would learn exactly how true that statement is.
But for now, he enjoyed his lunch in the pub in Godric's Hollow with the man who had come along and changed his life.
Harry did not receive an invisibility cloak for Christmas. Because Iggy had intercepted the package and swore in Parsel at the flaming bird that had thought to sneak it into their rooms at the bed and breakfast.
And so, the invisibility cloak that once belonged to James Potter was once more in possession of Harry Potter. Just... a different sort of Harry Potter. And there it would remain.
It was Boxing Day, and Harry stood with his hands in the pockets of his coat and Iggy's hands on his shoulders.
They had brought two wreaths with them to the cemetery that day. Harry had cried. Iggy had, much to Harry's surprise, also cried. Then again, he was told that Iggy was a distant cousin of his father James, which was why he was able to adopt him in the first place.
Iggy had pulled a roll of toilet paper from the mokeskin pouch he kept on his hip, and offered a few squares to Harry. "Not such a bad thing that I hoard the stuff now, is it kid?" he'd said, sniffling a bit himself. "You know," Iggy said as Harry wiped at his face. "Your parents are still looking after you, even now."
"You think so?"
"Kid, I know so. And trust me, they're very proud of you. Now, let's bundle you back to the house and get some of Mrs. Perkin's famous peppermint cocoa in you. Chocolate, an old family friend once told me, can cure just about any ill. And if nothing else, it's absolutely delicious."
As Harry and Iggy left the cemetery, they were being watched. Had they taken a few moments to stop and look back, they'd have noticed the slight buzzing sound coming from a nearby mausoleum as a man with a crooked nose swatted at the last few remnants of the practical joke played on him before school had let out for the holiday.
It was with a heavy heart that Iggy returned Harry to King's Cross. His vacation was over, and it was back to work on the Dread King's tower for him and his two co-conspirators.
"Iggy," Harry said, getting the man's attention as they waited for Hermione and her parents on the muggle side of the barrier. "Can I ask you something?"
"You just did," the man said from where he was sitting on Harry's trunk beside him.
"No, I meant, well... You don't like," he started, then glanced around to make sure no one could hear him. "Muggles. But you were very nice to Hermione's parents-"
"I despise muggles, yes. But... just as there are good and bad wizards, there are good and bad muggles. As a group, I can't stand the filthy blighters. They don't wash their hands, and that's very important. They tend to cough on people with little regard for others around them. It's disgusting," he said, wrinkling his nose. "That said, there are exceptions to every rule. Your friend's parents are an exception. They are clean, for one. And respectful. They're not afraid of their daughter, like your aunt and uncle were of you and your parents. They want to learn more about us for the sake of learning more, not so that they can harm us. Muggles like Mr. and Mrs. Granger are good muggles. But your vile muggle relatives?.... I'd sooner throw more gasoline on the fire than even take a piss to put out the flames."
It was Harry's turn to wrinkle his nose. "Muggles aren't all bad," he said. "I knew some very nice ones. Some of my teachers at school-"
"Well, you have your opinions, and I have mine. I'm old and set in my ways. But for your sake, I'll try to be better and... not express my dislike of muggles where I know it will reflect badly on you."
It wasn't long until the Grangers found them near the barrier and Iggy led the children through to the train.
Chapter 7: The Weirdling 4
The tower's wards were deadlier than the island's. But between the three of them they managed to overcome them by sheer force of will and Iggy's absolute lack of caution and subtlety.
Once they had gotten through and stood inside the entrance hall at the base of the tower...
Bill Weasley gripped his wand tightly as he stood back to back with the Weirdling. Ragnok was at his side with a battle ax in hand. "If we survive this, I'm demanding a pay raise!"
"If we survive this, Curse Breaker Weasley, I'm promoting you!"
"If you guys survive this, I'll take you to a fancy dinner!" Iggy threw in just for something to add as the tower's animated statue defenses came to life around them, closing in to get rid of the intruders.
Stones and dust.
And bits of petrified human organs.
Iggy picked up an arm and sighed. "That's gonna be another night of Skelegrow..." he lamented as he attempted, and failed, to reattach an arm.
It took an additional two months to clear the tower of hostile defenses before they were able to get to the Master Ward-stone. In that time, as they had cleared each level, the three had set up their own wards and barriers to prevent an ambush in the night.
But that hardly mattered now as the three stood in the most secure room in the entire tower. "This," Iggy said with a tear in his eye and his hands on his hips. "This is where I'll hide my hoard."
"I keep telling you that you can contract us for one of the dragon level vaults," Ragnok said in exasperation.
But Iggy shook his head. "No. No, what I need to protect is far too precious. After all, Tommy Riddle just walked right into your damn bank and was led right to Harry. Nope. Not secure enough for my tastes."
"And Spineripper was killed. Don't forget about that," Bill added helpfully, much to Ragnok's annoyance.
Iggy untied the mokeskin pouch from his belt and opened it up. His arm disappeared up to the elbow. His tongue stuck out the corner of his mouth as he fished around for something before finally nodding and pulling his arm back out. "Here, hold this," he said, holding the book out to Bill. He backed away, unwilling to touch such a vile, cursed thing. "What? It's only a bit of human flesh. It doesn't bite... Much."
"Oh no. I'm not touching that thing."
"Oh fine," Iggy said, bending only long enough to put the book between his knees and holding it there while he dug around in his pouch again for something else. "Ah, yes, here we go."
And when his arm came out again, clasped in his hand was a sword. But not just any sword.
"Well, when I was reconstituting in the water after that one time, you know the one, with chunks of me raining from the sky and all, I met this rather lovely woman on the seafloor and she just handed it to me."
"She just..." Ragnok started. "She just handed it to you?! Do you have any idea how long that sword has been missing?!"
Iggy shrugged and closed his pouch, tying it on his hip again before he reached for the book. "Not particularly. I mean, I can put it back if you like. Any old sharp pointy thing will do for this, really," he said, looking from the goblin to the other human and back again.
"If you were not you, I'd ripe your throat out myself for that blade!" Ragnok exclaimed, throwing his hands in the air in exasperation. "Only YOU would call the legendary sword of kings, the mighty Excalibur itself, 'any old sharp pointy thing'!"
Iggy shrugged, cut his hand on it before offering it to Bill saying, "Hold this," and smeared his hand on his book. It growled at him as he opened it, "Shush you," he said.
Bill stared at the sword a long moment, uncertain what to do with such a holy relic of the ancient past as Iggy went to the ward-stone, his evil book in hand, and began chanting and flinging blood from his cut hand at the thing.
When Iggy was through hours later, Bill and Ragnok noticed a significant difference in the defenses of the tower. Mainly, "At least they're not trying to kill us anymore," Bill said as one of the stone statues that hadn't been shattered led them through the tower, giving them a silent tour of the place.
Iggy shrugged, his evil book tucked under his arm and gnawing at his shirt. "You stop that," he said to the thing. "Or I'm locking you back in the pouch."
The book growled at him, but it stopped gnawing on his shirt.
The Daily Prophet had one hell of a scoop just before Hogwarts let out for the summer.
Rita Skeeter had the story of a lifetime. An interview with the three brave adventurers who discovered the long lost isle of Avalon and the legendary tower of the Dread King Constantine, cousin of King Arthur and a vile, hateful ruler if ever there was one. The fortune, Miss Skeeter had reported, was split three ways between them, as was Pureblood - and coincidentally Goblin - custom.
In an old, dark manor house somewhere in Whales, Lucius Malfoy choked on his breakfast in rage.
And in a rickety house held together with magic, love, and some really strong sticking spells, Molly Weasley fainted in shock after reading about her beloved eldest son's part in the legendary expedition.
But none were more surprised than an old headmaster in his high tower, staring down at the newspaper spread open on his desk. His one good eye focused on the man to William Weasley's left, with a pouch on his hip and a frightening, too-toothy smile on his haunting face and a look of madness in his eyes.
Hardly any of that mattered to the Weirdling as he stood at the top of the tower, looking out to the waters beyond his small, private little kingdom. No, what mattered was what he hid in the ward room under tight lock and key. His dragon's hoard. His most precious treasure outside that of his younger self.
His ever growing toilet paper collection.
Was he mad? Oh he knew he was far from sane.
But never again would he be left unprepared in the event of a full-on societal collapse. Never again would he fall victim to raiders in the dark seeking tissue with which to clean their arse.
And then, because he can change his name and lose his fucking mind, but he'd always be stuck being Harry Potter with the Harry Potter bad luck... it started to rain.
And he was locked out of his own god damned tower.
When Iggy met Harry at Platform 9 and 3/4, he did not expect to be met with flashbulbs and stares. Then again, a few days prior the Daily Prophet had his, Bill's, and Ragnok's hideous mugs plastered across the front page because of their discovery.
He had hoped to get there, collect Harry, and hurry back out before anyone was the wiser.
"Mr. Grimm," said a voice he honestly didn't want to deal with at that moment. "Congratulations on your recent discovery."
Iggy turned, but kept his hands in his pockets. "Let's see... inbred white-blond locks. Pointy face. Head tilted like you've just smelled shite on your shoe... You must be Mr. Lucius Malfoy! Fancy seeing you in a place like this."
"I wasn't aware there were any young Grimms among the students of Hogwarts," the woman at his side said quickly before her husband could respond. "I wasn't aware there were any more Grimms at all."
"Oh yeah we're still around and kicking. Came out of the woodwork after my cousin Jamie was killed about... eleven years ago now. Twelve this Halloween, actually."
Her polite smile faltered as his own smile turned more feral. Much like it had been in the newspaper that had sent her husband into a rage over the Weasleys good fortune. "Is that so?"
"Oh yeah. Came a very, very long way to see to it justice is done for my family," he said, and was about to say more before the whistle signaled the arrival of the Hogwarts Express. "Ah! Speaking of family, it's time to retrieve what's left of mine. If you'll excuse me, I'd rather my son caught me talking to the right sort of people rather than... those so feeble minded enough to succumb to the imperious multiple times in a single month."
And with that parting shot, Iggy turned away and headed towards a loud woman with bright red hair with a young girl standing beside her.
"Mrs. Molly Weasley!" he exclaimed cheerfully, and loudly so as to draw attention of any onlookers who might still be mulling over his parting shot to the Malfoys. "Your son William's told me so much about you that I feel I know you already. Allow me to introduce myself, I'm Ignotus Grimm. Your son and I discovered the Dead Tower together with our esteemed employer, Chief Ragnok the Wrathbringer. It was such a joy to see such inventive spellwork and unconventional uses of cleaning charms. Who knew an overpowered scourgify could shatter three dozen hostile animated statues in one go! Brilliant!" he exclaimed. "Simply brilliant! I wouldn't be here today if not for your remarkable son, madam Weasley."
And so it was that Molly Weasley became the center of attention as the mother of one of the men to discover the find of a lifetime. As the crowd around her thickened, Iggy slipped into it and away, attention successfully averted from himself onto someone else entirely. And so it was that hardly anyone noticed when Iggy grabbed the handles of two trunks - one belonging to a bushy haired girl and the other belonging to a boy that was carefully pulling a hat further down to hide his face from view as he'd been instructed to do many a time when he went into the wizarding public.
And off the boy ran from the dock.
They didn't REALLY need to take the dingy out to the island.
But who was Iggy to deny Harry Potter the chance to see the Dread King's tower rising out of the mists of time. It was a glorious sight and the boy deserved to see it for himself at least once.
"You should see the house!" Iggy called as he climbed out of the dingy and tied it to a post. "It's huge!"
Harry Potter didn't know what to think.
But Iggy had a pretty good idea that it must have been somewhere along the line of how did he end up in such a bizarre, but fortunate, situation.
"That.... that..... That's our house?!"
"You like it?" Iggy asked, putting a hand on Harry's arm with what was perhaps the most hopeful, most warm smile the boy had ever seen from the man. "There's no safer place in all the world, you know. Nothing and no one will ever harm you here."
"Is that why... Is that why you and Mr. Ragnok and Mr. Weasley came looking for it? For me?"
Iggy nodded. "That's right."
"You didn't have to... I'm not that important."
Iggy turned Harry towards him and knelt down to look him in the eye. "Harry Potter, you are the most important person in all the world."
"Because I'm The-Boy-Who-Lived."
"No. You are so much more than that," he said. "You're family. And family is the most important thing to me in all the world."
"More than your loo roll collection?"
Iggy was silent. It said a lot about a man when he had to stop and actually, seriously, consider such a thing. Finally, he nodded. "Yes. Unless it's three-ply lavender scented super-soft ultra strength with those pretty pale green flower prints. Then, I'm sorry kid," he said with a clearly joking tone to his voice. "But you're on your own."
Harry reached up and gave him a slight shove, knocking him on his arse with a laugh.
Iggy showed him around the part of the tower where they would be making their home like an excited puppy. "And over here's going to be the game room! When I get the stuff for it. And over here!" he exclaimed, pointing out a large room with big comfy chairs and tall shelves. "Is the library!"
He could tell that Harry was starting to really feel the exhaustion of the day by the time he was brought to his new bedroom. But he couldn't help it. If only he'd had someone even half as mad as he himself now was to take him in and show him around and provide for his every need, then perhaps he wouldn't have turned out so... broken. Yes, that was the right word for what he was. Unhinged. Unsound. Barmy. Bonkers. Absolutely nutty.
And most assuredly broken.
But this Harry, HIS little Harry Potter, would never know war. He'd never again be at the whims and machinations of two old men that should really have fucking known better. And most importantly, this Harry Potter wouldn't just survive, he would LIVE.
"I told you about the windows," Iggy said as he stopped at a door painted yellow and black. "I hope you like them. I can always have the room redone if you don't."
He threw open the door and Harry gasped before running inside, his exhaustion forgotten. He looked around the room as Iggy stood in the doorway, watching him as he ran from one piece of furniture to another. From a bookshelf loaded down with books of all sorts to a mirror next to a wardrobe. When he made his way to the bed, he found the table beside it covered with pictures. Some unmoving and clearly muggle. Others waving back at him. Smiling. Laughing. One had a couple dancing, the man spinning the woman around as she smiled and laughed in absolute joy.
"Those are your parents, Harry."
The boy turned towards him, green eyes welling up with tears.
"There's others mixed in there, too. I can tell you about them as well if you like."
Iggy wasn't expecting to have his arms suddenly full of a sobbing eleven year old boy. But here he was, standing in the doorway of the one room in the tower with the most windows and the best view of the island upon which it sat. Light would always shine in this room be it from the sun or the moon and stars. Bright and open and not a dark and heavy or foreboding color to be found. "Come on now, dry those eyes. Next you'll have me crying, too."
Iggy spent most of the night telling Harry everything he knew about Remus J. Lupin and Sirius Black. He told him stories he'd learned after the war, about the old days when James and Sirius and Remus were in school. He told him stories he'd learned from Snape's portrait about how hard James had tried to win Lily over during school... only to have pumpkin juice dumped on his head time and time again.
Over the course of the summer, Harry explored the tower with Iggy, and marveled at the statues that would bow to them when they passed by. "Why do they do that?"
"Because they are part of the tower's defenses. And when I took control of the tower, they came with it," he said.
Goblins came and went from the lower levels of the tower with regularity. Harry watched from his windows as gardens would spring up from seemingly nowhere around the tower. One day, he saw the six rings of a quidditch pitch be raised in the distance.
The next day Iggy had gifted him with his very own broom.
Each night he was put to bed with a story. Tales of a group of rowdy boys called The Marauders, who Harry now understood were his real father and his friends. Sometimes, he would tell him the most impossible stories of three children who were the very best of friends fighting back the forces of evil. Iggy changed the names, of course. He changed the settings, too.
Harry seemed to balk at the idea that a fourteen year old boy could take on a dragon with just a broom! A nesting mother, at that!
One night, Harry didn't want to hear any stories about three adventurous friends fighting the forces of evil. Or three sworn brothers who ran as animals in the moonlight. Instead, Harry pulled the blanket up to his chin as Iggy sat in the chair that had become a regular fixture beside the boy's bed, and he asked, "Was it lonely where you come from?"
"What makes you ask that, Harry?"
He shrugged. "I just... I thought maybe that's why you're, you know, so weird. Maybe you don't know how to act around other people."
"Oh, there were plenty of people. I just didn't like them very much," he said.
"Were they muggles?"
Iggy nodded. "Yeah."
"Did you know you were a wizard?"
"When I was a boy, much like yourself, no. Not until I turned eleven, again a lot like you." He smiled sadly. "And then everyone died. Oh it wasn't right away of course... I had plenty of time among the wizards and the other magical folk. I went to school and learned a lot of magic even though I hardly used more than a couple of privacy charms and a disarming spell most of the time." He frowned. "After school I settled down for a little while. I had a very good job with the government. I was a hit-wizard."
"A hit wizard?"
"You know how an auror is like a muggle policeman?"
"A hit wizard is... A hit wizard is a bit like a super auror. We went after the truly horrible and terrible folk." He smiled a little. "It was hard work, but honest work. I found out while on a mission that I had been cursed while I was at school. And because of that curse, when people started to get sick around me, I never did. I helped take care of everyone I could. I didn't understand why I wasn't getting sick, too. And it made me very angry for a very long time."
"I'm sorry," Harry said quietly and most sincerely.
"Don't be. You weren't there and it's not your fault," Iggy said. "But in time, everyone I knew and cared about died. I spent a very long time alone with no one but muggles to keep me company, and even then I couldn't really tell them who I was. I couldn't tell them what I could do. It was a very lonely, very hard life."
"Did you not have enough loo roll?"
"I'm pouring out my heart and soul here and you're asking me about my loo rolls," Iggy said, but he couldn't help the genuine amusement he felt welling up inside. He couldn't hide the laughter in his voice or the smile on his face. He stood from his chair and leaned over Harry, reaching down to smooth the hair back from his face. "That's enough of heavy things tonight. One day, maybe, I'll tell you about the loo rolls. But not until you're older and can appreciate what I have to tell you about it."
"I just don't see what's so important about hiding it all away."
Iggy sighed and shook his head, then gave Harry a peck on the forehead. "Goodnight, Harry," he said softly as he gestured towards the lamps in the room. They were shut off, casting the bedroom into a soft glow of starlight. "I'll see you in the morning."
"Goodnight, Iggy," came the reply as the man opened the door to leave.
"I've been invited to a birthday party!"
Iggy barely had time to rescue his beer bottle before Harry slapped the letter he'd gotten that morning on the man's desk. "I can see that," he said. "And what do you want me to do about it?"
"I want to go!"
Iggy picked up the parchment and started to read over it, then smiled. "Young Mr. Longbottom! Oh he's a very good lad from what I hear. Of course you can go!" he replied. "And I know JUST the thing to give him, too. Let's go out to the gardens and have a good look around."
When July 30th came around, Harry Potter and Iggy showed up to Longbottom Manor with a rather large potted plant. A potted plant that moved a bit on it's own.
Madame Longbottom was not surprised to see Harry, as she'd known her grandson had invited the boy and they'd received a response back saying he would be happy to attend. However she was not expecting the strange man that came with him in his clearly very muggle attire. The man stuck out like a sore thumb, but on the other hand...
"Why Mr. Grimm, I was not expecting someone of your..." Augusta was not often at a loss for words. The man grinned and held up the large potted plant. "Where do I put this for the birthday boy? It's a bit handsy so I don't want to set it near anything fragile or important."
"O... Over there," she said. "Over there by the window is quite suitable I should think."
"Right. You run along now Harry and remember! You see anything odd or weird-"
"Let you know and back away. It's not my job to fix it."
"You got it," he replied before toting the potted plant in one direction while Harry Potter ran off in the other. Augusta Longbottom stood in her parlor, uncertain exactly what was going on.
Iggy could be found sitting with some of the other adults that had come with their children. It was mostly mothers, as children's parties for purebloods were considered some of The Social Events throughout the year in certain circles. To be snubbed by some was seen as the highest of insults. And to have Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived come to your party well... Potter was higher up the ladder than a Malfoy. And if that meant Narcissa and her son were snubbed in favor of this... odd man and Harry Potter then all the more reason to conveniently lose their socially dictated invitation.
But Iggy didn't care about any of that.
He sat with the mothers, bragging on Harry and telling any that would listen how wonderful the birthday boy Neville was with his plants. "Mark my words, ladies," he was overheard by Augusta to say. "That boy will make quite a name for himself in the world of Herbology. Never in all my life and adventures have I seen a more skilled earth-worker. And he's only twelve at that! This garden is absolutely amazing. When he's older, I'm certainly going to have to hire him to care for the gardens at Harry and I's house. I'm a fair hand with roses and the like, but that boy is a master green thumb. Why, I wouldn't be surprised to find him one day replace old Pomona Sprout up at the school when he's all done growing up."
When the party was over, and the guests had mostly all gone home, Augusta had asked to speak with Mr. Grimm in private. Harry didn't mind. He was getting on quite well with Neville and a few of the other children that still remained.
"I heard what you were saying about my grandson earlier," she had said when he sat down in the chair she'd indicated for him.
"Well, it's the truth. Your gardens are gorgeous! I'd give my left arm for a garden like yours!"
She narrowed her eyes at him, scrutinizing every inch of him before she snapped her fingers. A low table appeared, with a glass bottle and two tumblers. "A drink, Mr. Grimm?"
"Nah. I'd better not. I'm apparating later with Harry and I'd like to not splinch either of us if you don't mind."
"You could always take the floo."
"Nah. Security risk, you know. We're not on the floo and never will be. You never know who might be listening in when you think you're alone."
"To my knowledge, a floo cannot be used in such a manner."
"To my knowledge, Longbottom Manor was once touted as the most secure pureblood house in all of Britain. And yet Lord and Lady both were... well... This is a happy day and all so I'd rather not muck it up by stating the obvious."
"You seem to know an awful lot for someone so... young."
"I'm a lot older than I look."
"And I'm a lot more observant than many believe."
"So we're just going to sit here trying to intimidate one another all evening until I get fed up and drag Harry home. Or," he said with a grin that reminded the old woman of her goblin accounts manager. "I can just tell you what you want to know. Ask me anything you like and I'll tell you."
"Who are you really? There are no more in the line of Grimm."
"Sure there is, he's a few rooms down playing with your grandson. The name is different, but he's still as much a Grimm as I."
"I thought you would answer truthfully."
"I am," he replied. "Let me ask you something, Madame Longbottom. And answer me most honestly. If you could go back and change one thing. Just one thing in your life that went wrong, what would you change? Really think it over and don't answer me right away. Take a few days, or a week, and write to me with your answer."
Harry had a much better birthday than the year before.
He was taken to the pub in Godric's Hollow where he was told they were just going to have a special birthday lunch.
Instead when they arrived, the place had been decorated with all manner of things Harry liked best in all the world. The pub was closed and many of his house mates from Hogwarts were there. And his friends from the other houses, too.
"Ron!" Harry had exclaimed once he got his bearings. The lanky redhead had a package in his hand that he'd nearly dropped when Harry had rushed to hug his best friend. When Harry broke the hug, Ron thrust the package at him. "Hermione couldn't make it, but she sent this along for you."
"I'll have to write her a letter and thank her!"
"Hey, I got you something, too!" Ron exclaimed.
Iggy left him to it and moved to sit at the bar beside a very familiar, almost as shaggy looking as himself, curse breaker. "Curse Breaker Weasley."
"That's Master Curse Breaker Weasley to you, Mr. Grimm."
Iggy gave him a hearty slap on the back with a smile. "So he got around to giving you that promotion after all!"
"And the pay raise," he replied, sipping his butterbeer. "It's the least he could do after what we went through for you."
"With me, Bill. Never for me."
"You still stink like an old tomb."
Iggy shrugged. "Yeah, well, you seem to be the only one that complains about that," he said, getting the bartender's attention and ordering a drink. A round of cheers could be heard from Harry and his circle of friends as they set about playing a game of some sort while telling one another about their summers so far.
Bill watched the man from the corner of his eye and waited until he had his drink to his mouth before saying, "It wasn't a complaint. I have a thing for old tombs."
Iggy nearly choked on his drink. For the first time in a very long time, he was honestly and completely surprised. Just when he thought he knew a guy... this curve ball gets thrown at him. After he managed not to die choking to death at his darling son's birthday party, he croaked out, "So uh... When are you heading back to Egypt?"
It was a very nice birthday for Harry all around. After the splendid party in Godric's Hollow, Iggy shrunk down all of Harry's gifts for him and put them into his pouch for safe keeping until they returned home. They took a stroll through the village, with Harry keeping a hat on of course, much as they had done around Christmas.
The pair of them stopped by the cemetery, at Harry's insistence this time. He snatched a flower from a bush along the way and carried with him to lay at his mother's grave. When they reached the tombstones, Harry looked at him and smiled. "Can I have a few minutes alone? It's... Kind of weird with you standing here with me."
Iggy nodded, saying a silent hello to the parents he never got to know before pointing to a nearby tree. "I'll be on that bench right over there, okay? I'll put some privacy charms up for you, y'know, just in case someone else comes along to visit their dead grandmother or something."
"Alright," Harry said, giving him a hug. "And thank you."
Iggy waved if off, "Family," Iggy reminded him, giving him a pat on the shoulder before he went to sit under his chosen tree.
He didn't know what it was Harry was saying to the silent stones bearing the names of his - their - parents. After all, he had cast some privacy charms to make sure Harry was comfortable saying whatever it was he felt he needed to say. Instead he had a silent conversation of his own. Quiet vows not to fail Harry the way he had been failed by others. He told, in his thoughts, about how he had slipped out every now and again from the watchful eyes of the goblins to leave a plate of food out for Harry when he could. To wash his blanket from time to time. And though he didn't actually show himself to the Dursleys, he made sure some minor magic was done to ease things just a little bit for the boy. To sneak in after particularly terrible moments he could remember from his own past and comfort him for a night. Heal his broken bones after another vicious beating from Vernon.
Or just... talk to him quietly as he slept. Trying to reassure him that it was going to be alright. That it wouldn't be like that forever. That one day, he'd be free. He'd be taken to a new world and a new life.
It was easy, when he realized there were no wards on the house after all.
No protections to keep out the Dark Lord should he have wanted to come calling. Should he have need of his last and most deadly horcrux. The old man had relied on the muggle world and the fact none knew where the boy was. Had played his dangerous game with the boy's life by simply counting on the death eaters' prejudices and an innocent child's broken will.
But all that had changed now. All that was different, now. Once his mission had been completed and his sterile, prepackaged muggle doomed future had been cut off at the root, he had set his mind to a new mission.
To a singular, all encompassing and very far reaching purpose that had tendrils in so many different plots and pies.
Harry Potter would live his life in the light. In the sun and full of life.
For Iggy knew first hand that it took only a moment, only the most fleeting of seconds, when a person feels the power in his hands as he condemns a man to certain death. To see the fear and the horror in his eyes as the light leaves them. It was the one thing he never really told his friends growing up. By the time he'd realized Quirrell's death had started chipping away at the cracks of the broken boy he already was, too much time had passed. There was a war on and he was caught in the middle of it.
Besides, Iggy mused, he'd gotten Gryffindor quite a lot of points for doing it.
That had to count for something, didn't it?
When Harry had been put to bed that night, Iggy went to his office and pulled out the book of prophecy, as he did every night when Harry went to bed. Sometimes, he would pull out the Gringotts private messaging box he kept in the safe behind the painting of Hedwig that hung on the wall behind his desk. He would check for messages from his employer, or he would send some of his own along the line.
Tonight he found a curious message waiting for him, and that in turn gave him cause to look to the book of prophecy and begin flipping through it. He searched for something he vaguely remembered - after all he did do a lot of this kind of work in the last now thirteen years.
He checked the message again and frowned.
"That sneaky motherfucker," he said to himself as he witnessed more of the book fill in. More and more prophecies that had been hidden even from the copy he had obtained in his former disinfected future. By making that fateful appointment in Wuhan, China, he had destroyed nearly the entire stock in the Hall of Prophecies. But... he had set them down a path he had not expected. Iggy swore again and slammed the book closed in righteous anger. He did NOT go through the plague, then wait years to stop it and change the destiny of Harry Potter only to discover a far more foul a fate for the boy in his care.
It was bullshit.
And he was having NONE OF IT.
But first things were first. He needed a stiff drink and to write a letter. A very important letter.
"Hedwig, love, I've got a very important letter for you to take to Ottery St. Catchpole for me," he said as he pulled out a sheet of paper and clicked his favorite muggle clicky pen. "Don't let anyone but my good friend Bill see this note. You don't have to wait for a reply unless he asks."
Iggy wrote a date. A time. And a description of what the man would be looking out for. He rolled up the note, tied it to her leg when she hopped over to his desk, and he gave her a tasty treat before sending her off on her very important mission.
Much of the rest of his night was spent pouring over scrolls and texts while he waited for word from Ragnok on a matter of personal interest.
It was three days after Harry's birthday when Iggy received an owl from Longbottom Manor.
He read it, spared a moment for a very soft, very sad smile at the breakfast table before he folded it and put it down next to his plate.
Augusta Longborttom WAS very observant. And she would keep his secret - so long as, if necessary, he offered the same protection to Neville as he gave to his younger self.
Later, he would compose a two sentence message in reply and send it along with Hedwig.
Augusta Longbottom watched the gorgeous white owl land on the decorative wicker table a few feet away. It held it's leg out to her and she accepted the message it bore for her.
Unrolling the small scroll, she read words she never expected to see.
Of course I will! He's one of the bravest, most loyal and courageous wizards I've ever known.
She rolled the scroll back up and looked towards the garden where her grandson was dilligently weeding.
Harry was excited. Iggy had taken him to a wizarding optometrist and had his vision corrected.
While there, he'd decided "Fuck it, might as well get my own looked at, too."
"But you don't wear glasses!"
"You're right." And then he popped out one of his contacts, holding it out on the tip of his finger for Harry to see.
This was the final day of treatment. The check-up to make sure the potions and spells worked like they were supposed to. When the witch had commented on the unusualness that both Harry and Iggy had the same problem in the same eye - the one right beneath where the Horcrux had been - Iggy casually pointed out that it's "A common Grimm family condition I'm afraid. My cousin Jamie, Harry's father, had a similar issue."
Never had Iggy been more thankful that inbreeding among the purebloods was such a weirdly accepted practice. Seeing a common ailment in one family meant it was likely to pop up in another along the way.
The witch had nodded, marked it down, and went about her business.
And now, the two of them were walking down Diagon Alley towards their last stop of the day. Flourish and Blotts, with absolutely perfect vision.
"What's going on over there?" Harry asked when they got nearer. "There's so many people!"
"The paper this morning said it was some kind of book signing," Iggy replied. "Is your hat on nice and secure?"
"And your sunglasses? They won't be slipping off if you have to move quickly?"
"I asked Mr. Goldhammer when we were at the bank to put one of his best sticking charms," Harry replied.
Iggy patted his shoulder. "Alright, now keep close to me and if we get separated-"
"Find the charms section and stay put."
"Good lad," Iggy said, making sure his bandanna was nice and snug against his forehead before the pair pushed their way into the bookstore.
They had been separated twice, admittedly Iggy had assumed that Harry Potter's fame would result in Lockhart dragging him in front of the camera for a photo. But with Harry Potter's identity hidden beneath a hat and sunglasses, the fame whore settled for another. Iggy had to admit that it was kind of funny that he'd robbed Gilderoy of one Harry Potter only to provide him with another Harry Potter instead.
"Mr. Grimm! A fellow adventurer!"
And Iggy had played nice as he scanned the crowd for Harry. He found the boy flanked by his two best friends. No doubt it was Hermione that recognized him with the hat and glasses, as she'd seen him in the get-up before, only for the boy to remove them once they made it to the muggle side of the barrier.
Knowing Harry was safe and sound then, Iggy had given his full attention to the blowhard at hand. He let the man prattle on and on until he'd pulled Iggy into position for a front page photograph. Only to stomp on his foot just as the picture was being taken.
The ruckus caused a distraction and he glanced towards the entrance of the store where, he was pleased to see, Bill Weasley was had intervened in a situation that would, hopefully, prevent Harry from going through an entire school year believing he was crazy and hearing the walls talking to him.
Much to his surprise was the call for, "Someone fetch the aurors!"
To which Iggy threw out there, because he knew better, "And make sure it's not Shacklebolt!"
Such an exclamation got him a few strange looks but his words seemed to have fallen on deaf ears when Shacklebolt showed up. Which meant the rainbow styled motherfucker of Hogwarts was going to get involved somewhere along the way.
Iggy glared at the newspaper as if it had done him a personal injustice.
In a way..."
"That's a very good picture," Harry said as he peered over from his place at the breakfast table. "All things considered."
Bill had finally stopped laughing. "The reporter eviscerated you in her article."
"If it had been Rita Skeeter, it would have been much more favorable to me," Iggy said, stabbing at his pancake. "She and I have an understanding."
"I still don't know how you managed to get her in your pocket," Bill said after a few sips of juice. "Ragnok thinks you have some dirt on her."
"Of course I do!" Then he turned to Harry and waved his fork at him a bit. "Just so you know, I don't want to hear you've gone and blackmailed your classmates or teachers. You're a good kid and I don't want you getting into anymore trouble like that troll mess."
"Please don't call me sir, Harry. I know you're just trying to be respectful, but you don't have to do that with me. But when you go to your friends houses-"
"I be kind and courteous," Harry said.
"Good lad." And then he turned to Bill. "Now, why are you here again?"
"Ragnok. Meeting. Bermuda Triangle. Ring any bells?"
"OH! That was today?"
"Yes that was today. He sent me to remind YOU because YOU always forget the meetings YOU set up."
Harry tried not to laugh.
Iggy hiss-swore under his breath as he stabbed at his pancake again, which made it harder for Harry to keep from laughing.
Bill sighed and shook his head in exasperation. "Sometimes, I wonder which one of you is the kid and which one is the adult."
Chapter 8: Harry 4
Harry frowned. It wasn't often that something got him down, but when it did...
"You look like you've eaten lemon," Hermione said when she found him in the train compartment. "What's the matter?"
"Malfoy," he said. "The stupid git thinks I'm responsible for his dad getting in trouble with the aurors."
"That's ridiculous! Everyone knows it was because he tried to slip Ron's sister a cursed book. If their brother Bill hadn't been there and realized there was a cursed item nearby-"
"Well, he doesn't seem to think so. He's had it out for me since day one."
Hermione tutted and Harry got up to help her stow her trunk. "Look on the bright side," she said. "You don't have to share any of your classes with him. So you really only have to put up with him during meals and in the hall."
"There is that," Harry said, but it didn't do anything to help lift his mood. Maybe he could talk to Fred and George between classes. He would love to see what the blond prat would look like with a Hufflepuff beehive do.
"That's the guy from the bookstore!" Zacharias exclaimed from where he sat to Harry's right. Across from him, Susan and Hannah were swooning.
Harry was just annoyed that he didn't listen to Iggy and take the defense books he'd bought him to read in his free time. He didn't look forward to Hedwig bringing him a letter that said essentially, 'I told you so.'
"I wonder what happened to Professor Moody," one of the older boys asked from further up the table. "I quite liked him."
"Except when he was throwing apples at us and shouting about constant vigilance," replied another.
"Yeah, there was that..."
It sounded great on paper.
It sounded great as an idea.
But as Harry had often heard Iggy complain, "Who's stupid idea was this?"
That had earned him a sharp elbow from Hermione.
Unfortunately it had gotten the wrong kind of attention and he was dragged up to the platform.
And wouldn't it have just been his luck that Malfoy was gleefully waiting at the other end.
Harry stared at the book in the package. He'd written to Iggy after that disaster of a dueling club and told him all about the snake that had nearly bitten his friend and housemate Zacharias Smith.
And Iggy's response had been... well, he didn't know what he expected, but it certainly wasn't this.
"What is it?"
"It's a book, Hermione," Ron said as he peered over Harry's shoulder.
"I know that, but what kind of book?"
"The letter says it's a... a prank book."
"A prank book?" Ron asked as Hermione looked very disapproving.
Harry nodded and consulted the letter again. "He says he found this in my vault and had planned to give it to me at Christmas, but that it may come in handy before then."
Hermione had lifted the book out of the box and examined it closely. It looked more like a personal journal than any actual textbook she had ever seen. And she couldn't get the cover open. "Harry, I think it's got some kind of privacy charm or a sticking charm on it. I can't open it."
Harry frowned and took the book from her, looking it over carefully before he noticed it. Four animals were etched into the old leather. Grouped together on the front and back. Little versions of them looking like they were running along the spine.
"Oh..." Harry whispered as he held the book more protectively. More reverently. "Oh I know exactly what this is."
"Yeah, it's a prank book you said."
"Not just any prank book," Harry said as he held the book close. "The Ultimate Prank Book. The best prank book you'll ever see. Written by the most clever of people in all the world."
"Who?" Hermione asked, and she couldn't help that the mystery of the book was what had her hooked.
Harry's eyes lit up and he smiled brightly. "Have either of you ever heard of a group of boys called The Marauders?" he asked, and when his two friends shook their heads, he seemed to look almost manic with glee. It reminded Hermione of the man that had taken Harry in. But less... unsettling than the man's expressions were. "Then have I got a story for you. But first," he said, offering Hermione the book, only to take out his wand and touch the tip to the cover. Iggy had told him about the mysterious map the Marauders had made, and he hoped that the same words would unlock this most precious of books. "I solemnly swear that I'm up to no good."
And when he took his wand away, the cover of the book opened up, and the ink started to fill in the pages.
The three friends huddled over the strange book and watched as page after page filled in. Potions and pranks and all manner of jokes written in four different styles of handwriting.
Harry felt bad for Fred and George at first when they started getting the blame for the things that were befalling Draco Malfoy quite regularly.
That is, until Ron told him that his brothers were now working to outdo whomever it was that was pulling such incredible pranks.
"Mum's going to have her hands full over the summer," Ron had said.
"It's a good thing Hermione and I are so good at potions. Otherwise half the stuff we've been able to pull off wouldn't have worked."
Harry was given detention.
Not that anyone could prove anything.
After all, the prank had happened to someone other than Malfoy. Someone other than Snape.
But Harry happened to be in the hallway at the time, and that was good enough for Snape to take points apparently.
He was in good company, though, scrubbing cauldrons with Fred and George.
Harry's second year at Hogwarts was, otherwise, completely uneventful.
Sure people looked at him a bit funny because he could talk to snakes.
But since there was no Chamber of Secrets mystery, and no giant snake slithering around in the pipes in the ancient walls, and no one was getting petrified and a possessed little girl leaving rude messages on the wall in chicken blood, he had a pretty calm time.
He actually learned in his classes, except defense because no one really learned anything there from that ponce. He had fun with his friends. And despite the unsettled looks he was getting from the headmaster once in a while, he was pretty much left to his own devices.
Christmas. He loved Christmas now. And if it was anything like last year, then he knew it was going to be the best Christmas ever.
This year, Ron and the rest of the Weasleys were all going home for the holiday, too. So he had more than just Hermione to talk to on the train ride back to London.
"Mum said we're getting a special surprise this year!" Ron had exclaimed excitedly when he dropped down into the seat next to Harry. "I wonder what it is!"
When Harry got up Christmas Eve day, he found out what the big surprise for the Weasley family was when he trudged down to breakfast.
Their dining table had been enlarged.
There were big platters of food. Pots and pans scattered about and an army of redheads sitting along either side with Iggy sitting at the head, grinning like a fool.
"Happy Christmas, Harry!" Ron exclaimed when he saw his best friend as his mother fussed over their host at the end of the table.
"You're so thin!" she said, dumping another helping of scrambled eggs onto the plate even as Harry came to sit at his place to Iggy's right. Bill across from him rolled his eyes until Molly Weasley dropped another heaping spoonful on his plate as well. "And so are you. Eat up. Eat up and put some color in those cheeks."
When the woman had FINALLY sat down to eat her own cooking at the other end of the table with her husband, Iggy picked up his tea and chuckled. "The moment she set foot in the tower she demanded to be shown the kitchens. Who was I to deny such a stubborn and formidable woman. Even I'm not crazy enough to stop her when she puts her mind to feeding an army."
"Particularly a very hungry army," Bill added as he pushed the eggs around his plate some.
Harry stared at the mountain of food she'd left him with and didn't know where to start.
Iggy leaned in a little. "I find it's best to start at the top and work your way down. But don't force yourself to eat it all. In some cultures, it's considered polite to leave a bit on your plate."
"Because if you eat every last bite, then the cook thinks you're starving and will just keep feeding you more and more until you leave some on the plate."
"That's so weird."
Iggy shrugged. "No weirder than anything you've seen in the last year or two I'd wager."
The holidays were nearly over. And while he liked having his friends visiting, Harry had to admit there was only so much he could take of Mrs. Weasley and her cooking. It was good, but if he saw another treacle tart any time soon, he might just run out to the quidditch pitch and have himself a right proper shout about it.
As it was, he was sitting and consoling Ron and trying to reassure him that they'd find his pet rat Scabbers. He was sure of it.
When Iggy and Bill had come to tell Ron they still hadn't found the rat, it was nearly bed time.
"Don't worry, Ron," Iggy had said. "I'll keep looking for him. It's a big tower, after all. He might have found himself a nice, big bowl of grain and had himself a Christmas feast and simply can't climb back out of the bowl. The moment he's found, I'll send him straight to you at Hogwarts alright."
Two weeks after Harry and Ron had returned to Hogwarts, Ron ran into the great hall with the biggest smile on his face and his rat in his hands.
It looked a lot healthier than the last he'd seen it.
"Harry, your dad's the best!" Ron had exclaimed cheerfully before he left the Hufflepuff table to sit with his fellow Gryffindors.
Chapter 9: The Weirdling 5
Iggy sat staring at the rat cage with a hateful glare in his eyes. "I want it dead."
"You know you need to keep him alive until the right moment."
"Can't I just... I don't know, drop his cold and rotting corpse off at the Ministry and be done with it?"
"No. Because then you'll never get Sirius Black out of Azkaban," Ragnok said.
Bill nodded his agreement. "A living prisoner is always better than a dead one."
Iggy narrowed his eyes as he glanced at Bill. "Sometimes I regret demanding that you work with me."
"No you don't," Bill replied with a cheeky grin.
Peter Pettigrew didn't know what was going on.
For a moment, he thought he was looking at a ghost.
And then he realized this was no ghost, despite the strangely familiar green glare directed at him from the man outside the rat cage.
"You," the man said to the rat, "Have been a very naughty boy, Messer Wormtail. I believe that Messers Padfoot and Moony are going to want to have a very firm word with you. Until then, though, you're staying right here until I have need of you. And no whinging about sparing your life or that's what James and Lily would have wanted. You're a sniveling, pathetic little rat and you're going to get what's coming to you."
And then all Peter saw was a flash of red before the lights went out.
Rita Skeeter always made time for her favorite informant.
After all, he'd uncovered the possessed teacher at the school in the fall of 1991, and details of a rutting troll attack on Halloween night of that year. He had given her exclusives on the Dread Tower discovery that her colleagues would kill for, and he even gave her some rather juicy bits of gossip pertaining to, of all people, Narcissa Malfoy that no one else could top... Most of all he had given her quite the lead on a book that will, she knew, make her a household name by the time it came out.
So when the receptionist sent word to her office that Mr. Ignotus Grimm had arrived with a package under his arm for her, she was more than willing to go down to meet him. "This, Miss Skeeter," he said, lifting the flap of paper on the package, "Is a story that's been waiting to be told for twelve years."
"What is that, Mr. Grimm?" she asked.
"Miss Skeeter... you're going to want to block out the rest of the evening, and possibly all of tomorrow for this one."
Her eyes widened. Her skin became riddled with goosebumps. Her heart beat rose and her pupils dilated as if she'd just become suddenly aroused. "Oh Mr. Grimm," she said, linking her arm with his. "What impossible tales do you have to tell me this time?"
"This is the story about death, firewhisky, and a rat," he replied as he closed the flap back and let her lead him back to her office.
The very day after students were released from Hogwarts, the headmaster nearly choked on his dinner as owls flew in with special editions of the Prophet. SPECIAL Special Editions.
"Merciful Merlin!" Professor McGonogall exclaimed in shock. "Sirius Black's innocent!"
Iggy stood at the window of his office and stared out at the island. Hedwig was perched on the window sill in front of him, receiving many loving stokes to her head and her chest. The book of prophecy was open on his desk to a page where the details had filled in just days ago. He received word from Ragnok that no less than seven spheres in the Department of Mysteries had gone dark with the release of Sirius Black from Azkaban. All seven of them with the name Harry Potter written on the tag.
Hedwig nudged his hand, and he smiled softly, not realizing until then that he'd stopped petting her. "You'll like Sirius, I think," he said to her quietly. "The healers at the bank will take good care of him for us until he can come to live here with Harry and me."
She nipped his fingers. "No no, I didn't forget you love. Would you like to send a couple of letters for me tonight? One goes to the ministry." She nipped at his fingers again. "Don't' give me that. I'll not let that fraudster get off scott free. I don't want to risk him turning back up like a bad penny. The other, well... I never did learn where he lived, but you can find anyone. Anywhere. Through any ward."
He went to his desk and sat down, pulling out his favorite clicky pen and set to work.
Within an hour, Hedwig was flying out of his window with her letters for parts relatively unknown.
Iggy had opted for a tie dye bandanna today, since Harry had bought it for him as a Christmas gift and he'd yet to wear it. Harry was wearing a cowboy hat he'd bought with birthday money. It was brown with a wide brim and looked rather old. And indeed it was. But he hadn't wanted one new, insisting on a used one because it would be softer.
They were an odd sight in their muggle clothes in the middle of a wizarding district. But they weren't any odder than the men and women running around with pointy hats and odd shoes. At least, that was Iggy's opinion on the matter.
"Ah, Mr. Grimm!" Rotfang, one of the tellers that saw him most frequently exclaimed when they came into the bank. "May the entrails of your enemies roast in the summer sun!"
Iggy gave a small salute. "And may the riches of their coffers fill your own, Mr. Rotgut," Iggy replied, ginning at the disgusted expression on Harry's face beneath his hat. "We're here for a meeting with some very special family friends. My son's godfathers as a matter of fact."
"Ah, the furry ones!" Rotgut responded with what passed for goblin cheer. "Right this way gentlemen. Right this way."
The pair were let past the tellers, ignoring the stares they received from the people there to do normal banking business.
"Oh look at the pair of you, sobbing like great big girls," Iggy blurted out when the door opened to show Sirius Black, who looked a hell of a lot healthier than he'd last seen him, and Remus Lupin having a tearful reunion. "I hope they've given us plenty of chocolate. I've got one hell of a sweet tooth today."
"Mr. Grimm, have a seat. And where is young Mr. Potter today?"
"Don't mind if I do," he said as he pulled up a chair a few feet down from Sirius and Remus. "Ah, Harry's off spending time with uncle Ragnok. He's in good hands while I see to business, don't you worry."
"Mr. Grimm here," the goblin in charge of the Black accounts said with slight exasperation in his voice. "Has taken charge of your godson, Harry Potter, since his eleventh birthday. Despite his... eccentricities he is a valued member of the Gringotts staff and has endeavored tirelessly for justice to be done in certain matters."
"Like getting you out of prison," Iggy said. "And making sure certain individuals kept their sticky, lemony scented fingers out of his inheritances."
Remus and Sirius didn't like him.
Iggy figured it would be a hard sell anyway given that he did, admittedly, look far too much like James Potter for comfort.
But they didn't argue with him (too much) before getting to see Harry.
Harry who, after an encouraging nod from Iggy, ran to them and let himself be hoisted up into a great big hug by Sirius Black. The boy rushed back to the table where he had been sitting with Ragnok and grabbed two boxes. One for each man. "I hope you like them," Harry said as he offered his gifts. For Remus Lupin he had a box of Honeyduke's finest. And for Sirius a box of photos. "Sorry there's none of me when I was younger. The Dursleys... they didn't like me all that much. But Iggy's made sure to take plenty since I came to live with him. And there's this boy at school, his name's Colin, he runs around with a muggle camera taking photos all the time. Iggy told me you love pranks and practical jokes, so I made sure to get a couple of funny ones of Professor Snape in here, too."
Iggy politely excused himself from the office after checking to make sure Harry was going to be alright, claiming he had a bit of work to do while he was there and he'd be back to get Harry in a little while.
When he got to his office there at the bank, he had himself a bit of a cry.
"I don't see any onions," Spineripper said casually from his portrait.
The Weirdling pulled out a square of toilet tissue from his pouch and wiped at his nose. A silent incindio got rid of it for him. "It's Harry," he said. "He's having an afternoon with his godfathers."
"Are you jealous?"
"Of course I'm jealous!" he barked. "And I know it's... It's stupid! It's childish and ridiculous! But he's going to have the rest of his life with those two in it and I..."
"The good ones are always the first lost in war, my Weirdling," Spineripper said.
Iggy laughed, and it was a broken, hysterical sound. "The worst part is you're the closest I've ever had to a dad you know."
"I know. But look at it this way, Weirdling. The more you provide for that boy... the more you show him someone gives a damn about him... the less likely he is to become you. The less likely he is to become what that infernal book of prophecy has him set out to be. With every simple comfort you give him he strays further and further away from the foul fate that threatens to ensnare him." The portrait raised his hand as if to offer comfort to the man who'd dropped out of the ceiling and into his life those long years ago. "Never forget, my Weirdling. You were born in war and forged in the fires of Blood and Famine. You ride the pale horse down that long, lonely winding road so that young Mr. Potter never has to."
Hours later, when Iggy returned to collect him, Sirius didn't want to give him up.
"Well that's good, Mr. Black," he said, hiding his jealousy and despair behind the ever present cheerful facade. "Because I was quite hoping that Mr. Lupin and yourself may wish to join us in the tower."
Harry's eyes lit up and he looked to his godfathers excitedly. "Say yes! Please! It's a wonderful place and there's room enough for even the Weasleys if they wanted to come live there!"
"I don't know, Cub..." Remus said, glancing at Iggy for a long moment before turning his attention to Harry again.
"Oh don't worry, Uncle Moony! There's plenty of room to run, too! We've got huge gardens and practice quidditch pitch and lots of forest! It's the perfect place for-"
"Did you just call him Moony?" Sirius asked, blinking at the boy before casting a distrustful eye to his self-appointed protector.
Iggy shrugged. "I told him everything I could discover about Jamie and his family," he said simply. "From the way I understand it, you and Mr. Lupin were as good as brothers to my cousin. Closer, even. Didn't make sense to leave out something important like that." He put his hands in his pockets and smiled, but it didn't quite reach his eyes, not really. "One of the kindest, most gentle and compassionate men I knew was a werewolf. So long as you've a safe place to run around every full moon, there's really no problem."
In the end, the pair agreed to come for a week, to try it out.
They were there the rest of the summer, and even attended the double birthday party at Longbottom Manor for both Harry and Neville who, over the last two years had become fast friends despite being in different Hogwarts houses.
Moony quite enjoyed running around the Island of Avalon on the full moon nights with his old friend Padfoot tramping along at his side.
Harry would watch from his bedroom windows as the wolf and the dog would occasionally leave the forest to roll around in the gardens.
The wards on the tower on full moon nights were in complete lock-down. They wouldn't harm the werewolf and his animagus companion, nor anyone who wished to leave the tower during that time. It merely... prevented anyone from going in and out with the exception of Iggy himself.
"It's for your protection, Harry, you know that," the boy had been told the second full moon Remus and Sirius had spent on the island. "The man is kind and gentle, but the wolf is not so. The wolf might recognize your scent, but that won't stop him from either turning you into one or trying to eat you. When you're older I'm sure Sirius would have no problem helping you become an animagus if you have a form. But until then, you will remain inside where it is safe."
So of course the third full moon Harry didn't listen and snuck out just before the wards went into lock-down.
And of course it was utterly terrifying when Moony turned up and tried to take a bite out of him. Sirius chased him off and refused to leave him until Iggy turned up and dragged the shaking boy inside.
"Learn your lesson did you?" he'd said to the boy after sitting him down in the kitchens. Harry stared at a singular spot on the floor until a fresh cup of hot chocolate was slipped in under his nose. "Drink this. It'll make you feel a whole lot better."
Harry took it and held it with both hands as Iggy dragged a stool over to sit in front of him.
"You know that werewolf friend of mine I mentioned?" he asked, and Harry slowly nodded before taking a sip of his cocoa. "I first met him when I was around your age. And despite all the goodness in him, that wolf got the better of him one night. See, he was rather fond of me. I reminded him of someone else and he'd sort of... taken me under his wing. A bit like I've done with you. He'd have adopted me if he could. But being a werewolf and all..."
"He wasn't allowed to."
"Exactly. So anyway, I go running headlong into danger one night and guess what night it happened to be?" Harry looked up from his cocoa. "Exactly," Iggy said. "But he came after me anyway to keep me safe. I was the last of my family, that we knew of at the time, and he swore to look after me and keep me safe no matter what."
"So what happened?"
"Well he rescued me, then nearly killed me when he realized that it was the night of the full moon."
"Did you get... scratched? You don't turn into one but-"
"No. Nothing like that. He was distracted by the sound of a lady wolf in the woods and ran off. But the point is, the man is good. The man is kind and gentle and the most wonderful person in all the world. But the wolf is a dangerous beast and you must use caution."
Harry had been sent off to school for a week before something unusual happened that Iggy had not expected.
"Enter!" he called out, and the door swung open to reveal a goblin he'd never seen before. Then again, there were a LOT of goblins in Gringotts that he'd never seen or met before. Behind him was a man he had seen many a time and would rather have not seen him here at his door.
Especially in THIS office.
Around the MANY strange items and books that could be found nowhere else in the world.
He slammed the book he had been reading closed and immediately turned to the portrait of Spineripper, blocking the combination with his body and sliding it in next to is grimoire most vile.
"How can I help you today, gentlemen?" he asked as he swung the portrait closed again. "You understand, Master Goblin, that I and those I deem trustworthy are the only ones allowed to even know which of these rooms are my offices."
"Of course, Mr. Grimm," the goblin said, but he looked quite insulted. "I was told to show the Chief Warlock to your offices upon his arrival-"
"Did Ragnok tell you?"
"No, but-" the goblin spluttered.
And smooth as the silk he probably wiped his arse with, the twinkly eyed bastard put his hands behind his back and looked around while saying, "It's a rather nice collection of relics you have here, my boy."
With two little words. Two seemingly innocent words, he felt a rage welling up inside. A deep rooted, seething wrath that threatened to consume him and snip the rather tenuous thread of common sense he had left. But he tamped it down. "I am," he ground out. "No one's 'boy', Mr. Dumbledore. You will do well to remember this."
"Of course. Of course."
"You must also consent to an obliviation, as well, you understand."
"Why ever for?"
"For the Greater Good of course," he said with a feral grin, and Spineripper cackled behind him.
Albus Dumbledore protested, as Iggy knew he would, at being led by spear point to the office of Chief Goblin Ragnok.
The goblin that had brought him to Iggy's door... well...
"Well," Iggy said when he watched the grieving family of Grapplehook arguing at the base of the spike upon which his head now resided. "Griphook's betrayal makes a hell of a lot more sense now."
"Oh, you didn't note that down? I told you to note that down," he said as he watched Griphook try, and fail to climb up high enough to retrieve his brother's head. "He scarpered as soon as shit hit the fan when we went to retrieve Hufflepuff's goblet. Once he had the sword of Gryffindor, his ass was gone."
"You gave him... You gave him your sword!"
"Well, I needed into the bank. He could get me into the bank. That was the payment to get me into the god forsaken bank."
Ragnok stroked his chin in thought before snapping his fingers. The guard at their right immediately came to attention. "Round up the Hook Clan. Leave none alive save Griphook."
"Over something that won't even happen now?"
"No. Over something that did happen but in my weakness I did not deign to consider."
"The Hook Clan are my cousins. They oversee the upper echelons of accounts. If Grapplehook could so easily be swayed by, as you often call him, the twinkly-eyed motherfucker, then clearly the line is weak willed and cannot be trusted."
"You could always put them to work in the pits."
"Then why leave Griphook alive?"
Ragnok's expression was grim. "He has been bitter and angry over having his most lucrative account stripped from him in recent years. It makes me ponder what else the Hook Clan were hiding. And you cannot get a tale out a dead man."
Griphook was detained.
He was questioned. Thoroughly.
And then he was put to death and his head mounted among the rest of his family.
Summons were sent out.
And Harry Potter was pulled from school.
Once everyone that had been notified were present, Ragnok himself had opened proceedings.
"It is my grim task today, ladies and gentlemen, to read before you the final wills and testaments of Lord Fleamont Potter, Lord James Potter, and Lady Lillian Grimm Potter."
The last one was the most shocking, and Iggy couldn't help but exclaim into the solemn silence that followed, "Wait a minute! Wait a damn minute! Her name was WHAT, mate?!"
"You heard me, Mr. Grimm," Ragnok admonished him, and Iggy sighed, shook his head, and sat back in his chair with a slight pout. Harry looked at him with a raised brow, but said nothing.
"Before I was so rudely interrupted," Ragnok continued, looking directly at Iggy now with a stern expression on his wrinkled, gnarly face. "It has taken fifteen years for us to locate and find Lord Fleamont Potter's will due to one of the bank's clans seeking to influence matters among the wizards. This is against the stand that we of Gringotts and indeed all of the goblin nation have taken to put profit over all other matters. It is not profitable to interfere with your petty squabbles. The matter of the duplicity has been handled with extreme prejudice and I assure you, it will not happen a second time."
And so, Ragnok began to read.
And to read.
And to read.
By the end of it all, many walked away with merely a document stating that the items or bequeaths in question were currently held by another but would be retrieved and given to their rightful owners.
Iggy received nothing, as was expected. He was only there in the capacity of Harry's legal guardian and nothing more. He did send Harry along with Remus and Sirius to the tower, where he would spend the remainder of the week before returning to school.
The moment he and Ragnok were alone, the Weirdling looked at the goblin with an angry glare in his eye. "Why?"
"We do not yet know-"
"Not why it was hidden. Why was I not told before now?"
"Miss Evans had... questions about her magical ability. She wanted to know where it had come from. Mr. Snape suggested she come to us and have the test done. If it came back with nothing, then she could rightly assume she was a first generation witch and the start of a fresh bloodline."
"But her test was interrupted by a prophecy."
"Trust me, I know. I watched it before I performed the ritual that sent me here."
Ragnok nodded his acceptance of this explanation. "The first attempt was interrupted. The second was not. Grapplehook performed the test when she came, alone, the second time."
"How old was she?"
"How. Old. Was. She," he demanded, his voice hardening.
Iggy closed his eyes and turned his face away in an attempt to control his emotions. He drew in a deep, slow breath through his nose and exhaled just as slowly from his mouth. He did this a few times before he was able to look at his friend again. "So it was 1980. Do you know when during that year?"
"I can... look into it if it is important."
"It's not. It's... It's important to me, but nothing that needs to be rushed to the head of the queue. Now I just need to figure out how to spin this to Harry."
"In this instance, I believe the truth would be best. She was the first witch in centuries from a bloodline thought long since gone. So far removed from the rest of the purebloods that it was possible for the magic to begin flowing again in the branch of the Grimm family tree that birthed her. It would be a marvelous explanation for your matching eye colors."
And that is precisely what he told Harry, but not in so many words.
"I suppose," Iggy had said at the boy's bedside that night. "We're even more related than we first thought. Though, it does help some of eerie similarities between us make a bit more sense."
Harry agreed. He'd started to wonder after Hermione had mentioned how weirdly similar Iggy and he looked for being distant relations.
Chapter 10: Harry 5
The rest of Third Year was uneventful for Harry. Boring even.
The only excitement he had really was when Hermione would rush over to show him her newspaper and the latest discovery or adventure undertaken by Weasley and Grimm. With or without Goblin Chief Ragnok's presence.
And the more notoriety Bill Weasley earned, the better off his family was becoming financially. And the more and more annoyed Draco Malfoy and other pureblood children in Slytherin were getting.
Harry, of course, always knew about the discoveries before it made it to the papers. Iggy wrote to him whenever he could, and Bill had even taken to writing to Ron on occasion during their adventures.
But Harry wasn't stupid. He remembered what Iggy's real job was, and knew there was more to the stories that appeared in the paper that he wasn't being told.
Hedwig continued to get roughed up a bit in her journey to and from Hogwarts. And Headmaster Dumbledore occasionally sported new, colorful muggle sticking plasters after or just before one of her visits.
By Easter, the owl was wearing a piece of protective gear to keep her safe.
The headmaster had his eye poked again. And she wasn't roughed up again after that.
"Why do you suppose they have such a dangerous tree here at the school?" Ron asked one day as Harry and his friends were sitting a good distance away, but still where they could see the violent tree.
"It's to stop kids from sneaking out through the tunnel," Harry said without really giving it much thought. Then, he took a bite of his sandwich.
"What tunnel?" Ron asked.
"There isn't a tunnel," Hermione admonished.
"There is so. It goes all the way to the shrieking shack."
"And how would you know that?"
Harry shrugged. "Iggy told me," he said.
"He didn't even go to Hogwarts. How would he know?"
"Can't say," Harry said to Hermione's question. "But I can solemnly swear that the ones who used it were up to no good."
Ron's blue eyes lit up like he'd just had a second Christmas. "Oh we are so trying to get in there!"
"It's perfect! We need a new place to meet since Snape found out about Moaning Myrtle's bathroom anyway. I mean I don't know about you but it's kinda gross drinking potions you made in the toilet bowl."
"It doesn't affect the taste and you know it."
"Still," Ron said, stroking his chin. "We do need a new hiding place to put our pranks together. My brothers have been snooping around in the upper years rooms. It's only a matter of time before they figure out it's third years outdoing them."
"And how do you propose we get past the killer tree?" Hermione asked as said tree killed another bird by slapping it out of the sky.
Harry listened to his two best friends bicker back and forth as he ate his sandwich. He mulled the problem over for a long while before grinning. "Neville Longbottom."
"He's nutty about plants, remember! I mean, have you seen his gardens at Longbottom Manor, Ron? If anyone can figure out how to get past a killer plant, it's him. Besides, the truly awesome pranks in the book need four people to pull them off."
Hermione thought it over. "I don't know..." she said. "He doesn't seem the pranking sort."
"Neither did you at first," Harry pointed out.
Ron nodded. "It's settled then. I'll talk to Neville tonight then. If nothing else, maybe he can tell me more about that tree."
Neville was shocked to learn that the pranksters outdoing Fred and George Weasley were third years.
He was even more shocked to learn that one of them was Hermione Granger of all people.
But what won him over was the challenge of figuring out how best to handle the behemoth of the plant that was the Whomping Willow.
They were ready to make their move near the end of the year. Neville had a battle plan for the Whomping Willow. But they had to practice the spells to make the tree stop moving just long enough for them to sneak past. But before they could even do that, they had to confirm there was, in fact, a tunnel.
This is where Hermione's cat, Crookshanks came in handy. Hermione, ever resourceful, had spent hours trying to find a spell to track her cat. When she'd been caught by Professor McGonogall, she said she was trying to find a way to help her friend Neville since he was always losing his toad, Trevor.
She got points for it, even!
Once she'd perfected it with the cat, she did start casting it on Trevor before teaching the spell to Neville so he could do it himself.
It took a while before Crookshanks slipped past the tree and into the tunnel.
Now it was a matter of getting the spells right and timing.
The timing was perfect, mostly, except...
"Harry! Look out!" Neville cried out from the tunnel just before the tree came to life again. Hermione couldn't cast the immobulous spell fast enough and Harry was hit by the tree. Thankfully, it slammed into him from the side and tossed him out of range of a second strike.
Chapter 11: The Weirdling 6
When Harry came to, it was to find a group of people surrounding his bed.
"What... what happened?"
"You're in big trouble, young man," Iggy said sternly from his chair at the bedside. "No broom for the entire summer. And that's just to start with."
Harry groaned as Sirius started in with how that was too harsh a punishment.
"Do you know how worried I was! Harry, if something happened to you-"
"I know I know..." Harry replied, then groaned. "How bad is it?"
"Nothing a few nights worth of Skelegrow can't fix. But you're stuck here in the infirmary for the duration. You're lucky you've already taken your exams for the year," Iggy said.
And it was in that moment the headmaster decided to put in an appearance. "Ah, Harry. You gave us all quite a scare my boy."
Harry watched as Iggy's left eye seemed to twitch as the man spoke. He also noticed that Iggy's knuckles turned white as he gripped the arms of the chair he was in a bit tighter.
"Yes, well, that tree should have been cut down years ago. I'm just grateful it didn't kill my son."
"And you have our sincerest apologies Mr. Grimm-"
"Apologies? That thing is dangerous. What if some poor first year learning to fly lost control of their broom and ended up in range of that beastly tree? What if instead of Harry Potter laying up in this bed it were, I don't know, Draco Malfoy? Or one of the Greengrass girls. I'm certain Madame Augusta would have that thing set on fire should it have been Neville laying in this bed."
The Weirdling stood with his arms folded across his chest as the Ministry Arborist handed over the documentation.
"I'm sorry, Headmaster, but orders of the Minister. The tree has to come down. It's a danger to the public."
And boy was Iggy smug.
"Surely we can come up with an alternative arrangement-"
"I'm sorry. Minister Fudge was quite clear in his orders. It's out of your hands now, sir."
Iggy's green eyes seemed to twinkle in amusement. "Thank you for coming down here yourself, Mr. Wainthorpe."
"If it were my kid," the arborist started. "I'd have come down here and done it myself before ever taking my little girl home."
Before Iggy left the office, he stopped by the shelf to look up at the Sorting Hat. "Hello, Master Hat."
"Hello again, Mr. Grimm."
"I'm surprised you know me," he said as Dumbledore looked on at the curious exchange.
"I told you twice before now, you'd have done remarkably well in Slytherin."
"You know, all things considered, I think I'm finally ready to admit you were right."
"Look at him, trying to understand what we're saying to one another. Old Tom really left his mark on the man. He hears parsel and he instantly thinks we're evil."
Iggy shrugged. "Well, I must be going, Master Hat. Oh, but before I go, was Ginny Weasley a hatstall?"
"How did you know to ask?"
"Because you always put Weasleys in Gryffindor, and Harry's a Hufflepuff."
The hat laughed. "I told her if she kept telling me to put her in Hufflepuff, I'd make her the first Weasley in eight hundred years to be put into Slytherin."
Iggy was still laughing when he left to go watch the removal of the Whomping Willow.
"That tree has been standing there since-"
"Since Remus Lupin was first accepted to Hogwarts. But seeing as he's no longer a student there and we've since discovered better ways to protect children from students with the same affliction, I don't see why it should still be there now."
Sirius threw his hands in the air and growled. "There's just no reasoning with you!"
"where Harry's safety is concerned, there isn't even a frog hair's width of wiggle room."
"But you didn't have to go and cut it down!"
"I told Fudge either he deals with it or I would. Rightfully he figured it would be best if he had it done rather than having me blasting a damned crater into the school grounds!"
"And why the hell would that blowhard listen to a thing you say?!"
And it was in that moment Remus finally made his voice heard. "Because he's the one man in all the world Fudge is scared of more than You-Know-Who."
Sirius turned to his long time friend and brother and flailed his arm in frustration. "Yeah, right, and I'm the Queen of Spain!"
Remus gave a formal bow. "Your majesty," he said in response as Iggy slipped from the room to check on Harry.
It was July 30th and once again, Harry was at his and Neville's joint birthday party. This year, however, he was allowed to spend the night.
Iggy had been out of town on a last minute assignment, dragging himself back in around 3AM on the 31st, barely held up by Bill who wasn't looking so good himself. "I hope you've got the good stuff," Bill had said as he threw Iggy into a sofa in a parlor of the tower. "Because I don't think I can sleep after seeing that... that..."
"Undulating horror of the unspeakable underworld? Or was it the chasm into the void of despair that got you spooked?" Iggy asked, trying to get his shirt off so he could check himself for further injuries. "You know, you should really consider transferring to my department full time. We make on hell of a team."
"Maybe one day," Bill replied as he rooted around for a stiff drink. "How's the pay?"
"About the same as what you make now, plus a liquor budget."
"A liquor budget?"
"This job drove many a goblin before me to drink."
Bill found something, sniffed it since it didn't have a label, and shrugged. He brought the bottle over and offered it to his friend. Iggy sniffed it and sighed appreciatively. "I'm just glad Harry's not home. I hate when he sees me like this."
"Worn out and half dead?"
"That, too," he said, taking a swig and offering the bottle to Bill. "Would you come take a look at my back, I think I've still got a bit of shrapnel in it."
Unknown to either man, Remus Lupin had been unable to sleep and had been in the lower levels in search of something decent to read that he hadn't already devoured cover to cover. Catching the scent of blood in the air, he followed it to the parlor and found Bill Weasley bent over Iggy's back with a pair of tweezers, picking bits of metal out of his skin.
"Do you have some kind of death wish or something?" he heard Bill ask.
"Well," Iggy had started. "That is the dream. One day, if I'm lucky."
"How long have you been... Ragnok told me it was a curse but he didn't really tell me much more than that."
"Because he doesn't know. I'm old, Bill. So damn old."
"Like a tomb or just, old enough to go senile?"
"A bit of both I suppose," he said, then hissed as a particularly large piece of metal was extracted. "What was that?"
"I think it's part of the beam the bomb was attached to," he said, dropping it to the table to the side and getting back to work. "Do you still have that dittany in your office drawer or should I just bandage it?"
"How bad is this one?"
"I can see bone. So pretty bad."
"Fuck. Better fetch my healer instead then. Otherwise it'll take a month for that to stitch itself back together."
When Bill started moving towards the door, Remus slipped away. There was certainly a lot for him to think about after what he'd witnessed that night.
The next time Remus saw both Bill and Iggy, the two seemed perfectly fine.
But it didn't change the slight coppery scent of blood he could still smell on the both of them.
"Iggy! Iggy guess what!"
The man looked up from the delicate text he and Bill were working on in an attempt to track down the last known resting place of Morgana LaFey. "What?"
"Ron's family invited me to come to the Quidditch World Cup!"
"Really?" he asked, turning his attention to Bill with a raised brow.
"Can I go!?"
"And when exactly were you going to tell me?" Iggy asked Bill.
The ginger haired master curse breaker rubbed the back of his neck with an apologetic smile. "I might have forgotten to mention it... but you looked so excited to go spelunking in the Valley of the Kings, I didn't want to-"
"And who else is going, Harry?" he asked without taking his eyes off Bill.
"Well, Ron's hoping that Hermione can come, too. And he asked Neville but his grandmother said no..."
"Have you checked with Sirius and Remus yet?"
"They're not my dad, you are."
Iggy rolled his eyes, then he asked Bill, "And was Harry the only one invited to come along, or does he get a plus one?"
"Well of course you'd be coming with him," Bill said. "Mum insisted on it, actually."
Iggy nodded. "Alright then. Harry, don't forget to pack those muggle pills I got you a few weeks ago."
"The ones to keep me from puking my guts up when I take a portkey?"
"Gimme a couple of those," he said before they left for the Weasleys. "Just in case."
Harry and Iggy were both very grateful for the Dramamine when they touched down with the Weasleys and the Diggorys. Well, most of the Weasleys landed in a pile. Iggy was clinging to Bill like he were a life preserver, and Harry was hanging onto his leg.
"It's a shame Mr. Black couldn't join us," Mr. Weasley had said once they got everyone sorted.
"Yes, well, he'd have come if he could get away. But it's so rare for him to get a date these days we didn't want to ruin it for him."
"But I thought he and Uncle Moony were-" And that got Harry a sharp elbow to the side. "Ow! What was that for?!"
Iggy leaned in and whispered in his ear, causing the boy to go a bit red. "Oh," Harry said quietly.
Normally, Fred and George would have teased Harry after that, but instead...
"Did he say Uncle Moony?" Fred whispered conspiratorially to his twin as they brought up the rear.
George nodded. "That is what he said, Gred."
"Forge, you don't think..."
And the two pranksters seemed to catch on in the same moment, puzzling it out for themselves. For now, though, they would keep mum. After all, school was right around the corner and they could get even for all those extra detentions then.
Iggy knew it was coming.
He fucking KNEW what was going to happen the moment that Ron said he couldn't find his wand.
Then again, he knew it was a bad idea to come to the damn thing in the first place, but Harry was really excited to go and like hell he was going to let the boy come to this thing alone.
Plus, he managed to prevent the twins from losing all their money by making that bet with Ludo Bagman.
Iggy had shouted at Harry in Parsel to get his ass back inside and use the emergency portkey.
Bill had found him not long after to confirm that yes, Harry had taken everyone with him except Bill's own father. The two joined the aurors and any other volunteers to put a stop to the impromptu revel, but Iggy had peeled away from the main group to head towards the woods.
"Where do you think you're going?!"
"To stop another apocalypse, you coming?!"
Bill looked back towards the crowd that was now rushing to put the fires out before he nodded and followed him into the woods.
There were shouts from scared children who'd fled the chaos for the safety of the trees. Bill nearly barreled into Iggy when he caught up with him, but caught himself on a tree as the man didn't even bother with his wand.
The two spells were cast in the same moment. The moment the sickening green light lit up the sky, the man's arm was severed. Bill quickly cast the incarcerus, causing the man to fall to the ground with a loud thud, though you'd never hear it for all the screaming.
He followed his friend through the trees even as shouts of "This way!" and "Over here! Over here!" were drawing closer.
An auror shoved a wand practically up Bill's nose when he turned to address the newcomers. He spotted his father among them. Iggy was sitting on the man, having cauterized the place where he'd severed the arm at the shoulder. A silencing charm had quieted the screams.
"Who did it! Who cast the evil mark!"
"Who do you think did it? You fuckin blind?" he exclaimed, indicating the man he sat on. He held on to the arm that still clutched Ron Weasley's wand in its hand. "I'll hand him over only when you get me Madame Bones herself. She's gonna want to have a look at this particular perpetrator."
"Who do you think you are?"
Iggy turned his malicious grin to the man who had demanded an answer of him. "I know the papers make me out to be a simple adventurer, but I assure you, I am anything but. This man," he said, jabbing a finger into the freshly cauterized meat at the shoulder. "Escaped from Azkaban five years ago. And unfortunately he was in the middle of doing something that brought him to the attention of Gringotts Apocalypse Aversions Department."
"The.... The Aver..."
"Aversions, yes. I took over for the late Mr. Spineripper. And let me assure you, Mr. Crouch, I know EXACTLY how it came to be that I'm sitting on your son right now in this dark, dreary forest."
"Was he really going to cause a-"
"Small scale, more like a petty war between the light and the dark. Probably something like back in the days when you were a boy. Large scale.... nothing too drastic. Just the resurrection of Lord Voldemort."
"Nothing drastic!? That's drastic!"
"Depends on your perspective. And now, we'll never know."
"Is this one of the smaller details that gets filled in from time to time in that book of yours?"
"Yes," Iggy lied. And he didn't feel the least bit sorry about it.
With the arrest of both Crouch Senior for smuggling his son out of prison and Crouch Junior for, well, breaking out prison and all the things he was in prison FOR, plans to hold the tri-wizard tournament at Hogwarts were canceled.
And so there was no tri-wizard tournament.
And there was no Goblet of Fire with which one may manipulate Harry Potter into a position to nearly die later in the year. Cedric Diggory wouldn't die at all. And much to Ron Weasley's delight, quidditch wasn't canceled.
The only person who wasn't happy with this turn of events was the man who had engineered Barty Crouch Jr's breakout in the first place. The same man who suggested his father listen to his wife's dying wish. The same man who had suggested to a dying wife that even he death eater son deserved a second chance.
Iggy was just glad that when he took a stroll through Little Hangleton, the earth was undisturbed since the last time he was there, digging up all the bones of anyone that could have possibly even remotely been a Riddle relation, and leaving pig bones behind.
"There is still the matter of.... the wraith and the horcruxes."
"And have your mystics had their fill of fun examining and playing around with the one Harry and I so kindly provided?"
"Yes," Ragnok said.
"And they're useless. Each one has a personality of its own and likely would kill the others the first chance they had. The one in the cup and the one in the porcelain clown car were put down. The diary remains, as you had mentioned you had need of it for something?"
By the time Iggy left the bank that day, the Tom of the diary had been screaming and begging for death. Which was all the consent he'd needed to do what he knew needed to be done.
And so, in a room filled with all kinds of crazy shit in a school up in Scotland, a rather fancy looking tiara thing rusted over and then snapped in two. In Gringotts lowest levels, a diary bled black ink and thanked whatever gods may be listening that it was allowed to die rather than face the green eyed man that had come to explain to him in excruciating detail what he did to himself in later years and what he was now going to do to him until he begged to be murdered.
And a wraith floating about Albania, hopping from one snake body to the next, was in the middle of jumping from host to host when in a cloud of acrid purple smoke, it poofed out of existence. It was rather anticlimactic, and that was just how Iggy liked it.
When he returned to the tower that evening, it was with a bounce in his step and a fresh package of three-ply ultra soft under his arm. It was a nine pack.
Remus gave him an odd look. Sirius snickered.
"In the land of unwiped arses, the man with all the loo roll is king." And away he strolled, whistling cheerfully as the two Marauders turned to one another in confusion.
Iggy groaned after reading Harry's first letter home from school after he had begun 5th year. He and Bill were on a dig site, and had been since the day after Harry had left for school. "If it's not one thing," he grumbled, "It's another."
"What's happened now?"
"For some reason beyond my comprehension, the Minister has appointed a defense teacher at Hogwarts. They're learning even less from her than they ever did from that ponce Lockhart," he said, offering the letter to Bill to read over. The curse breaker hummed as he read through Harry's letter. "Supposedly it's because the headmaster can't seem to retain a teacher longer than a year."
"You know the position's cursed, right?"
"You don't say," Iggy replied dryly as Bill folded the letter and handed it back.
"No one knows how it was cursed or why, but ever since Merryweather retired-"
"I'd heard the Dark Lord cursed it, but he's long since dead. It should have broken by now."
"Not necessarily," Bill said, nodding towards the valley of tombs they had yet to break into. "That lot are dead and their curses are still effective."
"You know you're a curse breaker, right? You can break the curse on it."
"Then why don't you?"
Bill shrugged. "I've never been asked."
"Is that really the only reason you've never bothered?!" Iggy exclaimed.
"It's not like I haven't offered, but the Headmaster-"
"Oh that motherfucker. Don't even get me started-"
"He says there isn't a curse at all."
"Clearly he's wrong," Iggy said, then added thoughtfully, "Unless... You don't think..."
Chapter 12: Harry 6
Harry was able to keep his head down much of the time.
But as all teenagers at some point, Harry eventually had himself a very no good absolutely rotten day.
It didn't help that Defense and Potions were on the same day.
But at least in Potions, so long as he did his work and asked Professor Snape for as little assistance as possible, he could avoid the man's ire and insult. Most days.
This day, he didn't know what crawled up the man's robes and bit his pale, greasy arse, but he'd simply pointed out that the recipe they were to copy from the blackboard was different from the text book he had assigned them for the year and all Harry had wanted to know was if crushing the berries as it said on the blackboard was as effective as making them paste. It was a genuine question and if it was more effective then he wanted to note that down for future reference.
Apparently respectfully raising his hand and waiting to be called upon to respectfully ask the question was being a nuisance and troublesome because he nearly got detention for "talking out of turn".
While still fired up, and rightly so, about the exchange with Professor Snape, it was Professor Umbrage that caused him to truly get angry.
"What do you mean there's no positive uses for defensive magic outside of simply reading a bloody book about it!?"
Quiet, diligent, always respectful (to their faces at least) Harry Potter had suddenly become the center of attention in a class run by a teacher who didn't so much as teach as had them sit silently and read a book about the dangers of using pretty much any defensive spell to protect oneself. It was pure ministry propaganda and he knew it. Which was why in his free time, he and his friends were studying some books Sirius and Remus had given him for his birthday over the summer. Sure they were a little more advanced than fifth years typically studied, but it was better than that paperweight they had for class.
"What I wanted to become an auror for the Ministry? Or a Hit-wizard even? Or a Curse Breaker for Gringotts?! You can't get into NEWT Defense classes if you don't pass the OWLS and with this load of dragon shite I'll never pass it!"
"Mr. Potter you will be quiet in this class and return to your studies!"
"My dad uses defense magic every day for all kinds of things! He fights monsters and creatures you've probably never heard of! He saves people with that magic! You can't tell me that's not-"
"Mr. Potter, your father has been dead for fourteen years," his professor snapped viciously. "Your current guardian-"
"Is a damn sight better than you'll ever be!" Harry stood from his seat then, angry as an adder now. He knew what he was doing was going to get him in trouble. But between Snape and this absolutely idiotic pink monstrosity he'd had just about enough for one day. He picked up his bag, shoved his things into and made to leave the room.
His classmates were in shock, still, at what they had just witnessed. Many of his housemates who'd had the privilege of meeting Harry's adoptive father at the party the man had put together for the boy's 12th birthday knew that the teacher had just crossed one of the very few lines you just didn't cross with Potter. And no one knew how this was going to turn out.
"MR. POTTER!" she exclaimed, storming after him.
"Piss off you... you... wrinkled old TOAD!" Harry shouted back just before he left with Professor Umbrage screaming "DETENTION!" at his retreating back.
The class, which had been a double Defense that day with Ravenclaw, sat in stunned silence after the door had slammed behind him. And then, suddenly, it was absolute chaos.
Harry didn't show up for detention, because he honestly believed it was bullshit.
He also skipped classes the next day.
It was difficult to sneak around, but he managed to do it with the aid of the Marauder's prank book, which had described different secrets in the castle that the boys had discovered during their time there.
By the second day, unfortunately, hiding places were getting scarce and he found himself having to move quickly from one spot to the next as the search for him continued.
More than once he thought he'd been caught when he heard Professor Snape's voice right outside the alcove he'd hidden in, that was covered only by a mere tapestry.
That was when he realized the portraits were tattling on him.
By the end of day three, Harry had nearly given up. He knew it was childish, and he knew he was going to be in a LOT of trouble when he was either found or gave himself up. And that was with just the school. As far as Iggy was concerned... he didn't know if he'd be congratulated on how long he lasted before being found, or if he'd be given actual punishment like the Whomping Willow incident.
Little of that mattered though as he ran back and forth down the seventh floor corridor where the only painting was of a man trying to teach hippos to dance. At one end of the hall, he heard Professor Umbrage. And the other, he heard Professor McGonogall.
He was fucked. He knew he was fucked.
And then, as if from nowhere, he spotted it. A door.
With his options limited, he flung it open and found himself in a large hall filled with junk and books and all manner of odd things. He locked the door, and then for good measure used a couple of spells to drag over things that looked especially heavy to barricade himself in.
Up in Gryffindor tower, four boys and one girl sat in the common room, huddled together over a piece of parchment in the corner. Fred and George Weasley had heard, rather quickly, about what Harry had done in Professor Umbrage's class. Who hadn't! The boy's actions had become a legend in the short time he'd been missing. The twins, already suspecting Harry of being one of the ones behind the other half of their prank war, had easily narrowed down that at least Ron and Hermione were in on it, too.
They had called a truce, and showed them the map. Hermione was excited that the same password for the book was used for the map. All of that aside, they had tracked Harry using the map to make sure he was alright.
On this night... he had suddenly disappeared from it on the seventh floor corridor.
"There's no portraits down that way," Fred said.
"Except for Barnabas the Barmy," George replied. "And he's a good egg. Never rats anyone out."
"That's good, but where's Harry?" Hermione asked.
Neville looked thoughtful a moment. "Isn't there a loo up there?"
"I thought it was a cleaning cupboard," Ron said.
"Broom storage," the twins added in unison.
Hermione frowned in thought. Then her eyes lit up and she jumped to her feet. "Wait here! I have an idea!" she exclaimed before running towards the stairs to the girl's dormitory. When she came back twenty minutes later, she had a book under her arm. The very sight of it made Ron groan.
"Not again..." he moaned.
Hermione sat back down with the four boys, frantically flipping through the book before finally landing on a page. She turned it so Neville could see it, then he took it and showed it to the twins.
"Each founder had a secret hidden in the castle. It's rumoured that Godric Gryffindor's sword is stored somewhere, along with a secret chamber of Salazar Slytherin, and the hidden library of Rowena Ravenclaw. Her library, supposedly, can only be accessed by a Ravenclaw, and only if they figure out the puzzle of of the moving staircases."
"So!" Then she quieted her voice a little. "According to Hogwarts: A History Helga Hufflepuff had her own secret store room. Supposedly it could turn into anything that a person may need at any given time. And it would make sense when you think about the other secrets of the castle. A hidden sword for Gryffindor, because swords are often associated with courage and bravery."
Neville caught on quickly. "A secret library because Ravenclaw valued knowledge and wit."
"And the whole of Slytherin house are bunch of slimy, secretive snakes," Ron said.
Hermione nodded. "But Helga Hufflepuff said she'd take everyone and anyone. So her secret room could be used by anyone and everyone that needed it," she said, looking to her two friends, and then to her friend's older brothers. "See, there is always something useful in Hogwarts: A History," she said. "You should read it more often."
Harry, in the meantime, was exploring the vast chamber he found himself in. Aside from a need for food, it seemed the perfect place to hide away for as long as he might need to.
Chapter 13: Weasley & Weirdling
The Valley was a bust, but between them Bill and Iggy had been able to get Gringotts a LOT of treasure and riches. Which reflected well on the both of them. But there was nothing particularly special about anything they had found.
When they returned to England they didn't know that anything was amiss up in Scotland. Because no one bothered to send a notification to Harry's parent and guardians about his actions. Or if they had... well... word didn't get out of Hogwarts about it.
It took a week before Iggy was in any condition to properly hold a pen and write Harry a letter to tell him he was home safe and how the expedition had gone.
When Hedwig returned, half-dead and with an injured wing from a simple visit to Hogwarts however...
Three sets of feet were beating the stones as three wizards rushed to investigate the source of the magical shock-wave that had thrown them off their feet as they were gathered in the kitchen having some drinks. Bill had come by with an artifact he wanted a second opinion on - a weak excuse at best - and had gotten caught up chatting with Remus and Sirius.
And now all three had burst into Iggy's bedroom, finding half the room on fire and the other half actively being smashed with wandless, wordless magic.
When the door was broken down, he had turned his head to check the source of it and saw the three men standing there, wands out and behind Bill's strongest protective shield. If he had been able to see himself, he'd probably have done the same.
"Bill," Iggy managed to say, then swallowed. Crackling green eyes closed.
Sirius shouted, trying to stop Bill when he realized what the young man was about to cast. Remus, the quicker of the two, nearly managed it.
"AVADA KEDAVRA!" Bill exclaimed and Iggy was struck with the deadly green light.
When it was done, Remus grabbed him and slammed him against the wall. "What the hell!"
"You killed him!"
"You don't under-"
And then Sirius hit him.
Bill was tied up to a chair while Sirius and Remus were waiting for a reply from someone. Anyone.
Bill had been silenced after he'd come around again, and discovered this when he tried to explain that he didn't ACTUALLY kill the man because can't actually die. He'd done it because he knew this, and because he also knew that if he didn't then they could, potentially, all get killed.
Because he paid attention when Ragnok and Iggy didn't think he was. Every little snipped of information about the strange man who'd become his best friend was stored away. He was a mystery. A puzzle like an old Egyptian tomb. And Bill had desperately wanted to solve it.
He'd seen Iggy that angry exactly once before.
And that was when they'd gotten news that Harry had been hit by the Whomping Willow.
Remus and Sirius hadn't seen the destruction left behind at the dig site where they had believed the Holy Grail to be buried. They hadn't seen the absolute beast he became when fighting against the forces of darkness to protect those who didn't care nor want to be saved. But Bill had. And he knew there had to be someone, somewhere, that needed to be the Immovable Object to his Unstoppable Force. And if that's what Bill had to do, then that's what he would do.
But he couldn't explain this to the two men who'd knocked him out and tied him up, because he'd been silenced.
He was only grateful the wards on the island were so strong and deadly he didn't think even Dumbledore himself could bust through them.
When Dumbledore himself showed up after two days, boy was Bill wrong about that.
Bill was quite smug when he woke up to find himself untied and Ragnok, Goldhammer, and Rotgut holding Sirius and Remus at spear-point.
"Are you alright, Master Weasley?" Rotgut had asked him.
Bill started to speak, but found himself still silenced. Annoyed, as well. Ragnok broke the spell and Bill was able to speak again. "Thanks. How's Ignotus?"
"You killed him!" Sirius shouted, only to get poked with a spear-point. Remus growled at them.
"He'll be fine. Sterner stuff, that one," Ragnok said. "Though he's going to be really angry to learn Albus Dumbledore managed to break through his wards."
"Did he get into the wardroom? Did he take anything?"
"Not that we can see. Though Mr. Grimm would be the better judge of that when he wakes. We thought it best to move him to a guest room since his is..."
"Why not his office?"
"You might have to put him down for another long nap if he saw it when he first woke."
"Don't worry. The... items are safe. All five of them," Ragnok said. "Go clean yourself up. We'll deal with... these two."
Bill sighed and shook his head. "Let them go. Harry and Iggy both would be greatly upset if they were harmed. Though you WILL explain to them why it was a very bad idea to bring Headmaster Dumbledore here won't you."
Ragnok nodded as Rotgut poked Sirius again with a far too toothy grin.
When Iggy woke up, congratulated Bill on his unexpectedly powerful killing curse, he was then punched in the face and knocked back unconscious after being told Dumbledore had managed to set foot not only on Avalon, but inside the tower itself.
The moment Bill felt the rage of the magic building, his fist came up as if on reflex and BAM!
Hours later when Iggy came to again, asked why he wasn't waking up in his office, he was punched again to stop a violent reaction from THAT as well.
By the time that Iggy was allowed to remain awake, the goblins had confined Remus and Sirius to their room. More had been brought to set Iggy's home office and bedroom to rights. And Bill was ready to deck him again just in case.
He didn't need to, however, as Iggy had bypassed violent outward expression of his rage and settled quite nicely into silent, simmering wrath.
Iggy, with Bill's help, repaired the wards on the castle. Then they repaired the wards on the island. Only then did Iggy kick down the door of the room where Sirius and Remus were being confined. The two men were shocked to see him alive, as only one person they knew of had ever survived the most powerful, dark spell they had ever been unfortunate to witness.
He walked. He talked.
And he pinned the two men with a very cold, angry green stare that reminded them both of, suddenly and very clearly, a seriously pissed off Lily Potter.
"The nexssssst time you even THINK about asssssssaulting my besssst friend or letting that murderoussssss motherfucker on thissss issssland again, I will have two new dogsssssssskin rugsssss on my officssssssse floor!"
"Weirdling, you're hissing again," Rotgut said from his post by the door. "Perhaps you need to take in a bit of fresh air."
Bill shook his head and sighed. "Don't blame them, Iggy. They saw me kill you. With THAT spell. What were they supposed to think?"
Iggy was suddenly struck with an idea. "Bill. Get my pensssssieve. I'm too pissssssed off to exsssssplain it to them."
Before Iggy and Bill left for Hogwarts, Sirius and Remus were forced, at spear-point to not only swear an oath of secrecy, but also to view the NUMEROUS memories Iggy put into the pensieve. By the time he'd finished adding them, he was still hissing mad.
Hours later, when Iggy and Bill had been ready to leave, the two Marauders had watched every wretched memory in the thing and when Gringotts' most profitable team stopped by to inform them they were heading to Hogwarts, it was to find Sirius dry heaving into a waste bin and Remus staring blankly out the window, with clear evidence he'd been crying.
"Now," Iggy said from the doorway, flinging a silencing spell into the room. "Do we have an understanding, Padfoot? Moony? Just a thumbs up or a nod will do."
Remus nodded. Sirius didn't respond other than to keep retching. Iggy took it as agreement and left them. Bill stood a moment longer, eyeing the pensieve curiously before he heard his name called to follow.
Ragnok, at Iggy's suggestion, had written a contract.
Bill, at Ragnok's insistence, had signed said contract.
Master Curse Breaker William Arthur Weasley, the youngest human curse breaker to attain a mastery in the field through Gringotts in a few centuries, presented said contract to Headmaster Albus Dumbledore.
"I'm breaking that curse, and I'm not leaving until I do."
Meanwhile, a very pissed off Weirdling was stalking the corridors of Hogwarts, peering into every nook and every cranny he could find until finally, he stood on the seventh floor corridor, hands on his hips, and a very angry glare.
See, Bill had simply been the distraction.
But Iggy hadn't accounted for something that he really should have.
Harry had the Marauder's Book, but not the Marauder's Map....
"Come with us!" George exclaimed as he and his twin cornered Hermione, Ron, and Neville on their way back from dinner.
"Not here. Too open."
"Too many ears."
The three fifth years hurried after the twins. The five of them hid themselves in a storage closet, and after checking that it was safe to talk, they pulled out the map.
"It's Harry! He's turned up again," Fred said excitedly.
"And he's fast!"
The five huddled over the map, watching the name moving here and there and everywhere before they were able to figure out where he was going.
"Seventh floor! Come on!"
Iggy was quite surprised when the door appeared, but not as surprised as he was to see five breathless Gryffindors rounding the corner.
"Mr. Grimm?!" Hermione exclaimed in surprise.
Iggy stared at them a moment before he looked back to the door.
"The map..." he said. "Of course. I always forget about the map."
He didn't say another word as he let himself into the Room of Requirement. The door changed once it closed and the five friends rushed to it, trying to get there before it disappeared. Instead, the door shrunk and when it was flung open...
"Great! Which one of you needed to use the loo?!"
It had been years since he was last here.
And the first thing he did was accio in parsel Tom Riddle's Horcrux JUST to be sure it was destroyed.
And it was.
And he was glad.
Next order of business...
"HARRY JAMES POTTER!" he shouted as loud as he could to maximize the echo as much as possible. "DO NOT MAKE ME COME FIND YOU! BECAUSE IF I DO, WHAT THE HEADMASTER WILL DO IS GOING TO BE THE LEAST OF YOUR PROBLEMS! YOU HAVE TWO HOURS!"
After an hour and 59 minutes – and Iggy was watching a clock - Harry peered around a pile of broken chests.
Iggy stood when he spotted him and narrowed his eyes. "Tell me exactly what happened to land you in this mess and if I can, I'll fix it. Just this once. But if you fuck up again, so help me Harry I'll pull you out of Hogwarts and teach you my damn self."
So Harry, realizing there was no way he could win in this situation, came forward and sat on the chair Iggy conjured for him. He sat silently, but eventually started to talk.
By the time Harry was done, they were both crying, covered in snot, and Iggy was a little less angry.
Then he had an idea...
"Everyone's been very worried about you. Your friends have a map that they've been following you with to make sure you're alright. But when you disappeared from it, they thought you might have vanished from the school entirely. When Hedwig came back half dead and severely injured, I didn't know what to think Harry."
They hugged. Harry apologized for worrying everyone. Iggy apologized for yelling at him and sounding threatening because he knew it reminded Harry of Vernon and he didn't want Harry to think of him that way. "But you have to admit, this place is huge and I'd never have found you on my own otherwise."
Breaking the curse on the DADA position was a very simple matter of getting to the Master Ward stone of the castle, erasing a single rune, and then replacing it with another. But Bill was instructed to drag it out as long as possible.
Now, Bill wasn't stupid. You didn't get as far in life as fast as he had if you weren't intelligent. He knew how wards worked, and he knew how curses worked, and logically it shouldn't have been possible to curse a job position. And yet by tinkering with the wards of the castle, it had been possible.
What was also impossible was that someone other than the headmaster had done it. Because only the headmaster could get to the Master Ward stone to begin with. And only the headmaster could make such drastic and lasting changes outside an emergency situation.
Regardless, he drug it out as long as he possibly could to buy more time for Iggy to look for Harry.
And as a result...
"Fuck me..." Bill said in shock and disgust as he poked around in the wards. "He really IS a motherfucker..."
Iggy was careful to avoid detection. It helped that he had the cloak. It didn't hide his feet, but it helped. And wouldn't you know it, there had been some kids in detention at the time.
"Professor Umbrage," Iggy said with a feral smile. "Why are these children writing with very painful dark artifacts? Hoping whatever lesson you're trying to impart will... sink in?"
Chapter 14: Aftermath
Rita Skeeter was having a field day.
Never had she been more grateful for her animagus form in her life.
First the arrest of the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister for the possession of dark artifacts and the torture of innocent children, leaving them permanently scarred for the rest of their lives.
And then not even a week later Master Curse Breaker Weasley, who had been contracted by the adoptive father of Harry Potter himself to look into a matter for the greater good of Magical Britain's children's safety and wellness, had uncovered that the rumours circulating for years were TRUE! The DADA position WAS cursed! Not only was it cursed, but the way in which the curse was put into effect....
Oh if she was in that court room in her normal human body she wouldn't be able to help feeling extremely aroused by the amount of fame and fortune this was going to make for her. She would need to find an appropriate thank you gift for the man who handed all of this over to her on a silver platter.
She wondered if Mr. Grimm wouldn't mind helping her pick out skimpy swimsuits sometime.
The school term of 1995-1996 ended in scandal.
Minister Fudge was pressured to resign in the face of his own personally hand-picked investigator into the school turning out the way she did. He wasn't going to until a dead toad in a pink bow was found pinned to his desk with a knife in it and a note that simply said, "Bet you got warts on your cock."
The fact that he did, in fact, develop them after his affair with Dolores was between him and his healer.
But it still spooked him enough to make him resign that very day.
When Harry finished out the year, with a new Gringotts appointed professor for DADA recommended highly by Iggy and Bill, it seemed that all was now, finally, and at last, right with the world.
Things between the last two Marauders and Iggy were strained for a time until after the three left the annual Harry-Neville double birthday party that had become the yearly custom. Harry was, again, staying the night with his friend. Hermione, Ron, and the twins were as well.
So he wasn't there when, at breakfast, Sirius Black gave Iggy a chocolate cupcake with a single candle in it. Or when Remus had quietly approached him in his private office later with a book wrapped in red and gold paper.
"Thank you, Moony," Iggy had said quietly after he unwrapped the gift, finding it was a copy of Remus's favorite muggle book. One that, admittedly, Iggy borrowed quite often when he felt homesick or lost.
"Happy birthday, Cub," Remus replied just as softly.
The rest of the summer was busy. And while Harry did get punished for his stunt at school, it was a token effort at best with a nice long lecture from all three of his parental figures. Though Sirius wasn't any good at that sort of thing, the fact he tried did mean a lot to both Harry and Iggy.
Sixth year for Harry was... average. The same professor that had been brought in to replace Umbrage was still there. A new Transfiguration professor had been hired over the summer to replace Professor McGonogall. She had become headmistress and named Professor Sprout as her deputy head.
Iggy and Bill made more money for Gringotts. Bill did eventually transfer departments from Curse Breaking to Apocalypse Aversions.
Despite Iggy's rather long life, and the likelihood he was going to be working that job until well after Gringotts was crumbled to dust and the goblins long dead and gone, it helped to have a second set of hands in a crisis.
Iggy received news that Severus Snape had resigned from Hogwarts after Albus Dumbledore's 'mysterious' death in Azkaban.
He wasn't surprised in the least.
He wasn't surprised to find Spinner's End burned to the ground either.
Rita Skeeter went from gossip columnist to a household name with the launch of her in-depth, thoroughly researched and heavily fact checked biography titled The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore.
A signed, advanced copy was sent to her favorite informant, complete with a bright red lipstick kiss on the dedication page.
He sent her an information packet on her next big project, tentatively titled Morsmordre: The Secret Origins of Lord Voldemort. Given that the Dumbledore book had a one page mention of Tom Riddle Jr, nothing too detailed but enough to make a reader wonder, Iggy felt it would be quite a sensational follow-up that would catapult her beyond just a household name.
Chapter 15: Future's Fortune
Well folks, it's been a wild fuckin ride. I hope you all have been washing your hands, wearing your masks, locking yourselves down, and keeping healthy and safe. This is the final chapter, but fear not. An epilogue is to follow.
Remus and Sirius invested heavily in a new pranking venture that had popped up in Diagon Alley, instructing the bank only to state that "Messers Padfoot and Moony wish to make a substantial contribution."
When Ron finished Hogwarts, he joined his brothers in their joke shop. Not out of a lack of will to do anything more, but out of a genuine love of pranking and the excitement of the experimentation aspect. The one thing he lamented most of all after his elder brothers had left Hogwarts was that there wasn't anyone worth starting a new pranking war with unless he wanted to turn on Harry, Hermione, and the surprisingly devilish Neville.
Hermione went on to study law, which Iggy was not surprised about. Though he had expected her to go into wizarding law to help improve the life for muggleborns and squibs. Instead, she went into Family and Inheritance Law, specifically with the backing of Gringotts. She had been inspired by her friend Harry's unfortunate early years and sought to ensure no other magical child went through what he did with the Dursleys. The Goblin Nation saw this as a profitable cause because in the bigger picture of things the more magical orphans that knew about their vaults, the more money they could stand to gain. And the less likely they were to have to deal with internal matters like the Hook Clan's duplicity and self-greed rather than greed for the purpose of the Nation.
Harry spent the summer after seventh year with his family on the island of Avalon free from responsibility. But even such absolute freedom can get boring. When Neville had come to explore the island for new plants to take home to Longbottom Manor's greenhouses half-way through the summer, he and Harry spent an entire day and night talking about what they were going to do now. Neither one of them needed a job – they were born wealthy to rich and powerful families. Hell, Iggy catered to Harry's every whim no matter how odd or excessive. But it wasn't until he'd offered to help Neville build a new greenhouse that Harry found exactly what he wanted to do.
It took a while for him to study and practice and then to become certified with the Ministry, but on the morning of October 31st, 1998 he and Neville watched as the remnants of Potter's Cottage was torn down and the memorial signage removed from the property.
Despite his natural affinity for defensive magic, and his rather good skills with potions thanks to the pranking book, his true calling was, surprisingly, in architecture. Once the house was demolished, Harry and Neville began working together to build something new. Harry took care of the building, while Neville planned out and did all the landscaping. Between the pair of them, and a couple of extra hired wands and hands, the new Potter's Cottage was built. The entire property was a thing of beauty. It served not only as Harry's personal home, but also his office until he could afford to get a space on Diagon Alley.
Sure, he could wave his status and money around and get prime real estate that way. He knew it. Neville knew it. Everyone knew it. But Iggy, in his own weird way, had instilled in him the drive to make his own way in the world. To earn respect instead of buy it with his galleons.
In late June of 1999, Harry Potter was returning from the post office when was surprised to see a young woman standing on his doorstep with a big, wide smile on her face and a thick three ring muggle binder held tightly to her chest. He remembered her as a friend of Ron's little sister from school. A lot of people made fun of her, he remembered. Well, they did until he and the Weasley Twins started targeting them.
"Hello," he said, tucking the mail under one arm before offering his hand to the young woman. "Can I help you?"
"I need a job, and you need a decorator."
It was true. Though he hadn't quite decided on the wording of the advert he planned to place at the end of the week. He'd only just decided the day before over drinks with Neville and Ron... Oh.
"Did Ron Weasley from the joke shop tell you?"
"No," she said with a bright smile that reached her bright blue eyes. "I've brought my idea book if you want to have a look. I always draw them out before I rearrange my bedroom."
Harry shrugged and accepted the binder that was put into his hand rather than a handshake he'd offered. "Come on in," he said, unlocking the front door. "Have a seat in the front room. My office is a mess right now otherwise we could do business in there. Would you like some tea?"
"I'd love some tea, Mr. Potter."
"Please, just call me Harry."
She brushed a bit of soft, blonde hair from her face and tucked it behind her ear. "Then you have to call me Luna."
"Dad!" Harry exclaimed as he burst into the door of the Aversion's department at Gringotts. The excitement and elation on his face fell the moment he saw Iggy sprawled out on a low table with Bill hunched over holding a pair of muggle tweezers. A goblin healer was standing near his head, casting spells slowly over each open wound. "What... what hap-"
"He caught the wrong end of a muggle bomb," Bill said with a shake of his head as he picked out another chunk of metal. It clanked as he dropped it into a dish to the side. The healer poured a potion on it and chanted over it slowly.
"He'll be fine, Harry. You know that."
"What's he on about?!" Iggy shouted.
Bill pointed to his own ears. "Hearing damage. It'll clear up in a day or two."
"Can I help?"
Bill nodded and pointed to a black box on Iggy's desk. "Pass that over here, would you?"
"S... sure. No problem."
Harry did as he'd been told and watched as Bill opened the lid. The goblin shook her head and Bill shrugged. He pulled a silver bar from the box and then, "If you don't like a lot of blood, you might want to look away now," directed to Harry.
Iggy screamed as Bill passed the silver bar back and forth over his back, and tiny bits of metal came wriggling out of his skin. Bits so small Bill hadn't been able to get them with the tweezers. Some so deep he didn't dare try.
Harry did feel a little sick, admittedly, but he didn't shy away when the Healer asked him to help by pouring the potion on the man's wounds so she could heal them a little quicker.
Later, all Bill could say when Harry had asked was "Those North Koreans really like their bombs."
Harry didn't get to tell him or Iggy the good news he had come to impart until after Iggy had finished healing.
"Engaged, dad! Luna said yes!"
Iggy didn't know exactly how he felt about that. Sirius and Remus were thrilled, of course. Sure, Harry didn't live in the tower anymore. And yeah he knew Harry and Luna had been dating after working together for about a year and a half. But... marriage?!
"Confused," Harry said, and Iggy nodded. "Yeah, you've got that look on your face you get when you're surprised, and not quite sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing you've just heard."
"It's a good thing, yes?"
"Luna said you'd be like this," Harry had replied with a soft, amused laugh. "It's a very good thing, dad. But... could you try not to get yourself maimed right before the wedding?"
"You know I have no control over that whatsoever. If it shows up in the book, I've got to go deal with it."
"You could always send Bill in your place."
"I could. But we work best as a team."
Harry sighed, shook his head, and rolled his eyes. "Fine. But you're wearing a suit."
It was a year after that conversation, in November of 2003, that Iggy and Bill came stumbling out of the fireplace of the venue Harry and Luna had picked out. The pair of them were still smoking and smelled slightly of charred meat.
"Shit shit shit! Where's the rings!" Iggy exclaimed, patting down the pockets of his suit.
"Have you checked the pouch?"
"Of course I checked-" No, he didn't check the pouch. He checked it now. "The pouch... Thank fuck. Harry would have killed me."
"Yes, I would have. And you're late."
Iggy looked up with a wide grin as Bill was trying to put out the last of the fire on the man's bright sunshine yellow suit. It was a far cry from his usual black attire, that was certain.
"Look, I told you I had no control over it. The book does what the book does, Harry. And I'm sure your lovely Moon would like to still have a world to get married IN, thank you very much."
Later, at the reception, Iggy would have a dance with Luna, who smiled at him knowingly and gave him a peck on the cheek. "I love the suit, Harry," she whispered to him.
"A very wise girl told me a long time ago that wearing sun colors to a wedding was good luck."
When Harry and Luna returned from their honeymoon just before Christmas, the new Lady Potter had come to visit Iggy at the tower. Mostly, her husband had asked her to check on the man but also to grab some things he left behind the last time he stayed over. Harry himself was swamped with work and couldn't get away to do it himself.
Luna spent most of the day wandering around with Iggy in the gardens. They took tea on the beach.
Though she wasn't the same Luna Lovegood he had known, she was still just as observant. Just as kind. She didn't understand, exactly, how the eccentric man who'd taken in her husband was, in fact, the same man AS her husband - but also not. And she didn't need to understand to know it was true. She was, after all, an odd sort of Seer. She just... knew things.
So she indulged him and let him talk. He clearly needed it. And she was glad to help him. After all, they were family now. An unconventional one, but a family nonetheless.
Bill noticed that his best friend never aged.
He'd noticed it when Harry was around 15. Most people didn't, of course, because the man was very good at using disguises and glamours.
Harry had noticed, not long after that, too.
He had his suspicions, but he wasn't certain until one evening in May when Luna had gone out for the night to attend Hermione's hen party. Harry was spending the night at the tower with all three of his parents when Iggy's evil book began growling from the safe behind the painting behind his desk.
When he'd opened it up and pulled that wretched thing out, he also took out the second book that nearly always came out with it.
And he watched as Iggy flipped through the second book, frowning more and more before finally he stopped.
"Everything okay dad?"
"Do you want me to get Bill?"
"No time," Iggy said, summoning his gear to himself and filling the pouch he always wore on his hip. The two books disappeared into it, and so did a sword that was usually kept under lock and key.
When Iggy came back around two days later, Harry was still at the tower. Worried sick, despite Luna and Remus reassuring him that Iggy would be fine.
He was NOT fine when he managed to stagger into the door of the tower, the wards alerting Harry that he'd arrived home.
Iggy saw Harry, who looked on him in horror as he shambled a few more feet before he fell over, missing a foot and an entire arm.
When the man woke hours later, Harry was sitting at his bedside with tear streaks staining his cheeks and his eyes puffy and red, and shocked because "You... But you died. YOU DIED!"
"I got better," Iggy had croaked, realizing he still didn't have an arm. "Can you get the Skelegrow?"
"You DIED and all you have to say is.... is.... Can I get the bloody Skelegrow!?"
It was a very VERY long weekend for Iggy as Harry continued to run down a list of misadventures the man had had where he may or may not have died.
Harry was so angry at him he didn't speak to him after that weekend for a whole year. Not directly. He still sent a post owl from time to time, and sent cards for holidays. Pictures of Luna too, especially after she'd gotten pregnant.
Little Potters were born. Many MANY Little Weasleys were born.
Not long after Iggy and Bill had thwarted a dark wizard cult attempting to summon Cthulhu (and Iggy had lamented that it's ALWAYS Cthulhu. Couldn't they try to summon someone ELSE once in a while. For a treat.) in France, Bill had met a very charming young woman. A charming young woman Iggy recognized and was more than happy to encourage Bill to flirt with. A year later they were married. A year after that Bill and Fleur had the first what would be many daughters.
There was even a little Longbottom adopted along the way. Or rather, a Longbottom-Finnigan.
Hermione even had a couple of children with her husband, a squib she'd met through a client of hers. They were very happy together living in the muggle world, and adored the house Harry had built for them. And their children loved the gardens Neville had put together for the property.
The world changed. As more and more wizards and witches hired Harry to build or renovate their homes, and Luna to decorate them, more and more elements of the muggle world were integrated into the magical. Between Ron and the twins, muggle technology was being adapted outside the pranking product lines they made until finally they launched Weasley's Wizard Wonders alongside the Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. Arthur Weasley had retired from his job at the ministry to work in the Wonders shop, if only so he could learn to use the muggle-inspired devices.
Remus and Sirius continued to live on the island with Iggy, keeping the man's big secret from Harry while also, in their own way, being the pseudo-parents the older, broken man needed.
And as years passed, and Iggy continued to fight the good fight as the Weirdling of Apocalypse Aversions, and as Harry Potter's life became rooted firmly in light, the foul fate that lay ahead of the boy was finally fully changed.
Chapter 16: Epilogue: So about that Toilet Paper stash...
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
And so the story comes full circle.
Some things just can't simply be avoided.
Their ultimate fate I leave to your imagination. Hope it's a good one.
Be kind to each other, share your toilet paper hoard with others in need, wash your hands, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. We're all going through the same shit here and doing the best we can.
I hope you all stay safe, sane, and as healthy as you can.