CHAPTER THREE: Families are like branches on a tree, we grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one.
25th June 1995
Sirius Black stared at the letter in his hand, he had returned from seeing his godson late last night. The boy had been shell-shocked at what he had witnessed, and he was right to be, Voldemort returning was devastating.
“Would blood-traitor Master like more eggs?” Kreacher the elderly elf asked.
“No, thank you,” Sirius replied dismissively, his mind now on the letter Cyrus Greengrass had sent him. He had not spoken to his family in years and had undoubtedly been disinherited by his Mother.
“Are you well?” Remus entered the large kitchen.
“I received this letter from Duke Caernarfonshire, what do you think?” Sirius returned handing him the letter. Remus read through the letter, frowning before he looked up at his friend.
“It’s a bit mysterious, perhaps he wants to draw you out in the open,”
“You could be right, but I have a nagging feeling I should speaking to the Goblins,” the man suggested. Just then, a loud knocking could be heard at the front door. Walburga, Sirius’ portrait mother, began to spout obscenities. As Remus rushed to cover the portrait up, the Animagus went to the door. He opened it up to Albus Dumbledore.
“Professor, come in,” He directed the Headmaster through the house into the kitchen, where the barely-willing elf made the man a cup of tea, “How’s Harry?”
“As well as can be expected, he went through an awful trauma,” Dumbledore sighed, but something about this ‘routine’ seemed off. Almost like he was acting.
“If it’s not Harry, then what can we do for you?”
“I have contacted a lot of the old crowd and begun recruiting again. However, the Order of the Phoenix needs a headquarters,” Dumbledore looked at the pair, “I would like to use Grimmauld place as the Order headquarters,”
“Pardon?” Sirius asked politely, sure his hearing had gone. The house was decrepit, old and filthy.
“I would like to put it under a Fidelius Charm, with myself as the Secret Keeper,” Dumbledore continued, “This would be a great honour for you and the House of black,”
“I agree, we need somewhere for the Order to meet,” Remus spoke.
“OK fine,” Sirius answered reluctantly after the pair had ganged up on him to ‘persuade’ him. Within ten minutes, after being talked through the process, Remus had performed the charm making Dumbledore the Secret Keeper.
“My next point of business is allowing the Weasley’s to stay here, Bill is currently updating their Wards but it might take some time, so I would like it if you would allow them to stay,” Dumbledore requested/ordered.
“Sure, but Molly must understand that this is my home, she cannot just come bustling in and take over,” Sirius shuddered remembering the big red-head.
“I’m sure she’s not too bad,” Dumbledore answered with a chuckle, in that patronising way of his. Then he turned to Remus, “Would you be able to go abroad, contact the Werewolves to see who is on our side, I already have Hagrid going to the Giants,”
“No!” Sirus shouted before Remus could speak, startling the other pair.
“What do you mean?”
“We almost lost Remus last time, I want to keep him here to help tutor Harry over the summer.”
“Harry’s not going to be here over the summer,” Dumbledore responded, “He is being kept safe,”
“Excuse me?” Sirius asked angrily, “What do you mean Harry is not coming here this summer, I am his guardian,”
“You are still a criminal in the eyes of the law, you cannot go out anywhere,” Sirius looked at him mutely, his anger reaching boiling point. Remus put his hand on Sirius’s arm trying to calm the man down.
“I’m sure Harry might be able to come to see us for the last two weeks,” the man tried to soothe his friend and suggest an alternative.
“If you make Remus go to Europe I’ll find a way to break the Fidelius Charm, then kick your little Chicken group to the kerb,” Sirius told the old man angrily, “Harry is MY godson, he will spend time here. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have things to be cleaning, you can show yourself out,”
The two men watched Sirius as he left the kitchen in anger, not sure when the last time Sirius had spoken to the Headmaster like that.
“I’ll calm him down, but he is right. I’m going to stay here for the summer,” Remus answered, getting a sad shake of the Headmaster’s head.
“I’ll take my leave, I’ll let the Weasley’s know they can come in a few days,” The Headmaster left wondering if he should have used one of his charms on Black, the man could make a dangerous enemy if he discovered the truth. Remus meanwhile followed his best friend up to the Master suite.
“Has he gone?” This Sirius was utterly different from the man downstairs, “Sorry I couldn’t say anything, but there is something off with Dumbledore. I’m not sure if it’s me, but I’m starting to see him in a different light.”
“Wow, that was some acting. But, I appreciate you trying to save me from going to Europe,”
“I remember the few times you come back before,” the Animagus answered, “Look, while the Weasley’s and the Order are here, I want you to paint me as moody and unsociable.”
“Like normal then,” Remus joked.
“Just play up the Azkerban card, I need to move around freely, and I get the feeling the Weasley’s are here to keep an eye on me.” He looked over at the fireplace, which had never been taken off the Floo network, “Can you take me to Gringott’s?”
“You what?” Remus cried.
“Greengrass’s letter is right, I need to go to Gringott’s. I have a real strong feeling about going there,”
“But you don’t want Dumbledore to know,” Remus ended his sentence.
“No,” Sirius deadpanned.
“I’m going to regret this, come on then Padfoot,” Sirius grinned at him then morphed into the grim-like dog. Remus took some Floo powder and shouted ‘Leaky Cauldron’, stepping into the green fire followed quickly by Padfoot. The pair passed through the pub, which was quiet for a Sunday morning. The shops of Diagon Alley were just beginning to
open, but the shop keepers all looked bleary-eyed. Remus led Padfoot quickly through the alley to the snow-white building of Gringott’s. The Goblin guards eyed them up but did not move to intercept, and they were quickly able to see a teller.
“Yes, what do you want?” the goblin barked, not happy to see another wand-waver so early in the morning.
“I request an audience with the Black Account Manager,” Remus spoke, just barely over a whisper. Now the goblin looked at him, then over the grim. He nodded his head sharply.
“Please wait one moment,” The Goblin wrote something on a piece of parchment then handed it to another Goblin behind him. Some minutes later, the runner Goblin returned.
“Maglugg will see you now,” he squeaked. The small goblin led them through a series of corridor’s until they reached a door. It had a plaque with the Black coat of arms on it with the manager’s name:
The little goblin knocked first until a voice called for them to enter. The goblin pushed the door open, then leapt aside, allowing the pair to enter. As soon as Sirius entered, he felt something shift, before he found himself standing as an average human.
“Animagus Wards prevents anybody who should not be in here from entering,” the Goblin, Maglugg, spoke not looking up from his vast desk.
“That’s amazing,” Remus breathed, but Sirius merely looked perturbed.
“What can I do for you, gentlemen? I have not had a visitor in years.”
“I am Sirius Black, I had a summons a year ago but was somehow distracted from coming. Has His Grace Duke Arcturus Will been read?” Sirius asked.
“Only his Heir could get it un-sealed, now can you prove who you are?” Maglugg, the goblin looked sprightly despite probably being over a hundred.
“I know you have several scans you can perform on me,” Sirius answered diplomatically.
“You are right,” the goblin replied briefly, then looked at the man. Moments later Sirius felt a tingle go through him, going right down to his core. A quill began to write something on a piece of parchment. If Remus did not know better, he would have thought the goblin was frowning.
“This is most unusual,” the goblin muttered, then looked up, “Well, I would like to say welcome Lord Rendlesham, it is good to see you back,”
“Lord Rendlesham?” the man in question appeared shocked.
“Your Grandfather made you the next Head of the House, you are to be Duke of Anglia and Head of House Black when you take up your ring,”
“But what about his stay in Azkaban?” Remus asked.
“As his name was not entered into the Book of Criminals, according to the Ministry, and Family magic supersedes such things, he is eligible to take the Headship,” Maglugg explained.
“If I can be proven innocent, I can take care of Harry,” Sirius’s mind moved into high gear, “With the Headship, I can hire lawyers to help me,”
“I’m with you, whatever you decide.”
“Would you like to hear the Will of your Grandfather?” Maglugg asked.
“Yes,” Sirius replied firmly. The goblin grinned an evil smile, then wrote something on a piece of parchment. He placed it down a small chute then looked up at Sirius.
“Before we continue I would like to inform you that my initial scan has detected several charms and loyalty potions, though some appear very weak.”
“What?” the man stared at the goblin flabbergasted.
“Firstly, you’ve traces of a Memory Charm, which are years old, most likely about 30-odd years old. More recently I can see a Confundus charm on you, loyalty potions keyed to Albus Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix,” Maglugg recited as though he was repeating a shopping list, “You also seemed to have Revulsion Jinx’s directed toward Slytherin and Severus Snape in particular, not to mention powerful Cheering charms, which could be detrimental to you,”
“That’s-“ Remus was cut off from saying anything as there was knock on the door, then a Goblin entered with a silver platter upon which rested a rolled-up scroll, that was sealed and a mahogany box. The goblin placed the box and scroll on the table, then exited.
“There are two parts to the Will, the first is directed to his Heir, then the second is directed to any living members of the Black family,” Maglugg told the stunned man slicing through the seal with a silver knife. A fizzle of magic escaped as he began to unroll the parchment. While he was doing that, Sirius looked at the box, which had the Black Crest inlaid on the top. Centrally located were crossed wand’s with a raven on either side, then one below. Star’s were laid across the top of the ‘field’. Maglugg cleared his throat.
“I, Arcturus Phineas Black III, being of sound body and mind do hereby leave most of my estate and Headship to my heir Sirius Black X. Sirius, my boy, though your Mother might have ‘disowned’ you, you will always be my heir and the next in line to take the mantle of Head of the House Black. I want you to take over Hárasteorra Hall and restore the Black’s to their former glory. I know you are innocent of the crimes they say you committed or the family magic would not have allowed you to become my heir.
Do not trust Dumbledore, everyone thinks he is the Lord of the Light, but he has manipulated many people including in this family. My last bit of advice is to find a good woman that will stand by your side as Lily Evans used to,”
“The old man got confused in his old age, he probably meant Holly,” the man saddened at the loss of his girlfriend.
“Now, when you put on the Head ring, the Black Family magic should clear most of the potions and Charms. However, you’ll need something stronger to help get your memories back,” the goblin actually sounded helpful instead of his usual cantankerous self. The dog-animagus looked at the box, then pulled it toward him, opening the box smoothly. There were two rings inside, the Duke signet ring and the heir ring. The Signet ring was made of solid gold, the central part was bloodstone with the Black Coat of arm reverse engraved on it. Either side of the inset bloodstone was engraved ravens.
The heir ring was smaller and silver, this one had crossed wands beneath a raven engraved onto the surface. Sirius picked up the Ducal ring, sliding it on the right pinky finger. Magic resized it, so the ring fit perfectly, but at that moment a wave of magic rushed through his body. His Grace, Sirius Black X, Duke of Anglia, Earl of Rendlesham now knew all about the properties and House-elves he was connected to. He became intimate with the Black Seat, Hárasteorra Hall. The Family Magic washed away the charms and most of the potions in his system, neutralising them. Though he still had his love of pranking, he suddenly felt concerned with stuff now rather than acting like a child.
“I would recommend a good mind-healer, but the ring should now protect you from any potions or mild Charms though it won’t protect you from everything,” Maglugg commented, “Now when would you like to schedule the second part of the Will?”
“Is midday too early?” Sirius asked.
“No, we can do that. It will give us time to go over your finances and the state of the Black Family books,” Maglugg bought out a heavy book opening it to show Sirius and Remus the vaults and everything listed.
“What’s this?” Remus pointed to a separate vault.
“Ah, the Black Foundation,” Maglugg spoke as though that answered everything. Still, all he saw were two blank faces, “The Black Foundation is a charity set up by your Grandfather, it has been helping three orphanages in the United Kingdom and once a year has paid for a Mundane-born to attend Hogwart’s, though in the last few years this has not happened. Lily Evans was the first CEO before she died. Currently, the Board composed of Augusta Longbottom, Callidora Longbottom, Narcissa Malfoy, and Minerva McGonagall run it,”
“Her husband knows nothing of Lady Malfoy being on the board,” Maglugg explained, “You also have a seat on the Board, but we can arrange a meeting in good time,”
Over the next few hours, Maglugg took them over the state of House of Black Finances plus all the contracts. He was quite surprised at the Greengrass-Black Contract as well as a couple of others that appeared. While still one of the country’s wealthiest families, some of the investments were not doing as well as expected. With Remus’ help, Sirius was able to look at some new assets and buying more stock in investments that were going well. Just as Sirius’s stomach was beginning to rumble, a piece of parchment popped up in front of Maglugg.
“Ah, everyone is assembled for the hearing of the Will, Mr Lupin you may remain in here, but please do not touch anything except the Black Book’s,” the Senior goblin told the werewolf.
Narcissa Malfoy looked around Gringott’s, which was moderately busy. Before breakfast this morning she had received a Summons to hear the reading of her great-Uncle’s Will. Her husband urged her to go, perhaps Draco had been named as the next Duke of Anglia. She remembered his piggy eyes lighting up over the vast Black wealth falling into his hands. It had been an uncomfortable breakfast with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named sitting at the table, his snake slithering around the table legs.
“Teller, I have a meeting at midday for the reading of the Black Will,” She demanded harshly, playing her part in case any of her husband’s associates were watching. The goblin looked up with widening eyes at the dark-haired witch.
“Lady Malfoy shall follow me,” an elegantly-dress Goblin spoke from her side. She barely acknowledged him, following the stately creature through the upper parts of Gringott’s to a set of double doors guarded by two goblin sentries. They pushed the door open to a conference room, with a large oaken table and comfortable-looking chairs. The room was all in polished black and white tiles. Her breath hitched as she saw the first person in the room, who at first appeared to be her oldest sister Bellatrix. Then she noticed the soft brown hair and the wider, kinder eyes.
“Dromeda, how nice to see you,” she commented softly.
“Cissy, it’s been a long time,” the Healer replied, then Narcissa noticed Andromeda’s Muggle-born husband, Edward Tonks with their daughter Nymphadora Tonks. She briefly wondered why Andromeda’s family had come, but her’s had not been invited. Narcissa was interrupted in her musings by a snort, she found herself looking at an old lady, but with the distinctive Black locks having gone entirely grey now. Though old, she held herself with dignity and pride. It has been many years since she had seen her Great-Aunt Callidora Longbottom neé Black.
“I see we have all been summoned,” she said plainly as the woman moved around the opposite side of the table to her sister’s family. As she took a seat next to her Aunt, a goblin entered with several bits of parchment.
“These are contracts so that you are oath-bound to keep what is said and done in this room a secret, our client feels it is necessary once the Will has been heard,” the goblin handed them each a piece of parchment and a quill.
“Is this a blood-quill?” Narciss asked primly. The goblin gave her an evil smile and nodded. She knew she did not have a choice, so with a louder sigh than usual, she signed the contract after a brief flick through. It was a standard contract that held her oath-bound, enabling her to discuss the events with those in the room unless the executor said otherwise. Once signed, the contract flew into the hands of the goblin, and he left the room. Minutes later it opened again making her gasp. Sirius Black, her cousin and escaped criminal, stood in the doorway with Maglugg, the Senior Accountant to the Black Estate.
“Sirius,” Andromeda gasped, before hugging their cousin. He looked undernourished and was wearing shabby grey robes. His hair was a mess, his face was narrow, “You look unwell,”
“I’ve been on the run.” He deadpanned. Narcissa snorted, calling his gaze on her, “Hello Cissy, Aunt.”
“Hello Sirius,” she replied, taking note of the signet ring on his finger. He had become the Head of Black, suddenly her heart began to blossom with hope. He took a seat at the head of the table.
“Sirius, where the hell have you been?” Callidora cried, pointing her stick at him. He just shrugged at the old woman.
“We are all here to hear the last Will and Testament of Lord Arcturus Black, last Duke of Anglia,” Maglugg looked around, “Are there any reason we should not read the Will out?”
“No,” Andromeda spoke first.
“No,” Narcissa agreed. The goblin nodded his head and unrolled the sheet of parchment he had with him.
“If the second part of the Will is being read out Sirius Black or his heir will have taken on the Head of House. Firstly to my cousin Cassiopeia, you were always my favourite. I give you G25,000. If the Goddess has taken her, please provide the money to the Black Foundation. Callidora, I’m sorry about what happened to your grandson, so I hope this goes a long way; G25,000 for your personal vault, G50,000 for St Mungo’s Permanent Spell Damage Ward and G25,000 for your great-grandson. Hopefully, this will go some way to make up for Bellatrix Black’s attack,” Maglugg read the Will out loud, Callidora looked absolutely astonished, “Now to the youngest members of the family; Bellatrix is to receive nothing, Sirius try to get the dowry back we paid to the Lestranges. Andromeda, I would like to give you G50,000, and your daughter will receive a bursary of G5,000 a year until she turns thirty then a one-off gift of G25,000. Finally, we come to Narcissa, I give you G50,000 as long as not one sickle is given to Lucius Malfoy or the monster he serves. Young Master Malfoy shall also receive a bursary of G5,000 a year until he turns thirty then a one-off gift of G25,000.
“So end’s the Will of Arcturus Black III, 14th Duke of Anglia, 8th Marquess of Rendlesham,” Maglugg finished, “I have to collect the contracts for said monies, I shall leave you for a moment and be back soon,”
Maglugg left with his assistant closing the door behind him, everyone seemed too shocked to speak.
“So you’re the Head of House Black?” Narcissa asked quietly
“So it would seem, my dear departed Mother did not or could not disinherit me. That happy power lay with Grandfather,” Sirius replied, “That reminds me, Andi, you have not been disinherited either, Mother may have blasted you off the wall, but you are still a Black through and through,”
“What?” the women looked almost tearful.
“I’d like to bring you back into the Black Family, you and your family,” He told the woman, hearing a small sob from the strong Healer. Maglugg shuffled back in with his assistant carrying several parchments.
“Once you’ve signed these, the monies gifted will be moved to your personal vaults,” the goblin told them all. Over the next half hour, the room was filled with the scratching of quill’s as all read through the contracts and signed them. Edward ‘Ted’ Tonks scrutinised the contracts before allowing his wife and daughter to sign. He caught Sirius looking at him carefully.
“Are you still a law-Wizard?” the animagus asked.
“Yes, though still a junior Lawyer for Avery & Rowle,” Ted sounded a little bitter.
“Well I may have an offer for you, and I hope you can give me some recommendations,” Sirius spoke a little mysteriously as he became distracted.
“Thank you, Lady Malfoy, for your time,” Maglugg was saying. She said her goodbyes and started to leave the room with her usual grace, but Sirius caught Narcissa at the door.
“I know you and I were close once, but you’ve changed since marrying Lucius,” Sirius started.
“You went to Prison,” Narcissa sniffed, trying to maintain her disdain.
“I know, but if you need sanctuary, you and Draco, you are welcome to come to Hárasteorra Hall. I will protect you and annul your marriage if need be,” Sirius told her, well, seriously.
“Thank you, Cousin,” she replied, nodding her head. She left with a lot on her mind. A new, strong, Head of House Black could go very far and cause many changes. Sirius meanwhile turned back to the others talking to them all briefly before they left promising to keep in touch with the new Duke. Maglugg led the man back to his office, where Remus was poring over the Ledgers.
“How did it go?” the werewolf asked.
“Surprisingly well, there were a few shocks especially with how generous Grandfather was,” the one-time convict returned taking a seat next to his best friend, “Any bombshells I should be aware of?”
“Actually yes, besides what we went through this morning I’ve found two trust funds. One replenishes itself with G20,000 every year and is currently sitting at G300,000, while the other replenishes itself at G15,000 to a current value of G165,000,”
“What or who are they for?” Sirius looked perplexed, “Trust funds are for children of the Duke of Anglia, until aged 17. I’m pretty sure I would know if I had children,”
“I can’t imagine you with children,” Remus laughed at the man, so the pair both turned to look at Maglugg.
“Before we finished today I was going to speak to you about Harry Potter, Gringott’s have been wishing to see him for a while, there have been some issues with his trust fund,” Maglugg said with a sparkle in his eye, seemingly changing the subject.
14th July 1995
Two days had passed since Harry had woken from his coma, two days since Remus and Sirius had told him about the visit to Gringott’s. He was glad to see his godfather happy and become the Head of House Black. But he wondered at Sirius’s last comment, that the goblin’s wanted to speak to him. Dumbledore had held his key since he was born, surely they would talk to the Headmaster if they needed anything. Rain drizzled down the window, typical weather for the UK in summer than the heatwave they had endured.
“I’ve got something for you,” Sirius’s voice drew Harry out of his musings. The man had some clothes hanging over his arm, “These were my brother’s, but they should fit you. We don’t want you visiting Gringott’s looking like a street urchin.”
“I’m surprised Remus got you into anything decent,” Harry quipped back. Indeed, the erstwhile criminal looked better than ever. He had been seeing a discreet Healer recommended by Andromeda and eating well. His black beard was trimmed, and his dark hair pulled into a pony-tail. Sirius was dressed in the finest robes with the Black House Coat of arms on the left breast.
“Be ready in fifteen minutes,” the man warned him glaring at the boy. Harry quickly found smart trousers, a white shirt and a black jumper. He tried to smother his hair down but failed with a sigh. Harry followed the noise downstairs until the teen found Remus and Sirius in the Floo room, as he called it. Remus looked a lot better, his last change had been seven days ago, but he had a lot more colour beginning to fill out a bit. His robes also fit him a lot better, instead of the shabby ones he once wore.
“Ready to go,” Remus asked him a smile, “We’ll be going straight to Maglugg’s office, then speak to the Potter family Manager,”
“Good,” Harry answered nervously.
“Maglugg’s office, Gringott’s,” Sirius called out, before being whooshed away in the green flames. Remus followed soon after. Harry stood there for a moment, or two then called out the address. Harry immediately felt dizzy as the flames twirled him ever faster until it spat him out at his destination. He rolled out on the floor to look up at his quasi uncles who were chuckling at him. Sirius offered his hand, so the boy took it brushing off all the soot. When Harry was stood up, he looked around the office; it was big for such a small person, but Harry thought it might be designed like that to intimidate pure-bloods. The goblin behind the desk was dressed in a fine suit and looked to be old. He also noticed there was another goblin with him, perhaps younger than the first.
“Harry, the esteemed gentleman behind the desk, is Maglugg, House of Black’s Account Manager,” Sirius introduced.
“This is Duggat, the Potter Account Manager,” Maglugg waved in the other goblin’s direction.
“I have not got my vault key, my, er, guardian Dumbledore has it.” The goblin swore in his native tongue, rudely called Gobbledygook by wizards.
“Forgive my colleague, Albus Dumbledore has never been your guardian, by ministry standards he has appointed himself your guardian. But Sirius Black has been your guardian since birth, and that has not changed,” Maglugg looked at the man interestingly.
“I am sorry,” Duggat appeared shamed, “You are the recipient of a trust fund set up by your Mother,”
“I have recently taken over that Trust Account, it seems Duggat’s assistant was working with someone to remove monies from your account systematically,” Maglugg told them.
“What about the Potter Vaults?” Sirius asked.
“Harry does not have access to those at this time,”
“What? Why?” the man blinked, suddenly confused as to what was going on. The old goblin turned to look at the boy.
“You have access to a lockbox kept here by Lily Evans, would you like to see it?” Maglugg asked, surprising them all by changing the subject. Harry looked at his godfather, not sure if he wanted to see something of his mothers. The older man nodded at him giving a reassuring smile.
“OK, yes please,” Maglugg turned to Duggat speaking to him in their native tongue. The other goblin disappeared, “I only thought you had vaults here.”
“Sometimes a client wishes to lock up smaller things or have less money to use a vault,” Maglugg explained, “It is much easier to get to one’s lockbox than it is to get to a vault,”
“Sounds good.” At that moment Duggat entered carrying a substantial metal box with a lock on it. He placed it down on Maglugg’s desk, who immediately withdrew a key and unlocked the box. All three humans leaned in closer to take a look at the contents. There appeared to be a narrow wooden box and a letter, nothing else. Sirius withdrew the slim, tall box slipping off the lid to find it held several vials of what appeared to be memories. Harry, with a degree of anticipation, withdrew the letter. It was addressed to him, written on Muggle paper with a biro. Unfolding it reverently he looked down at the neat words written by his Mother.
Harry dropped the letter on the desk swaying a little bit, surely she got it wrong. James Potter was his father.
“Harry’s what’s the matter?” Sirius looked at his godson concerned. Harry just tapped the piece of paper as tears began to form. The man quickly read it, stopping when he came to the same bit as Harry.
“No, it can’t be. Surely I would remember something like that, your Mother was only my friend,” Sirius stuttered taking a seat. Remus looked between the pair.
“What’s happened?” Remus asked, confused. Silence followed for several moment’s before Harry answered.
“Sirius is my Dad!”