|SIYE Time:4:55 on 20th February 2018|
A Sirius Challenge
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Story is Complete
Summary: The war is over. Harry is looking forward to living in a magical world without Voldemort. Before he can, however, Gringotts calls him in for a meeting...
Hitcount: Story Total: 2334; Chapter Total: 533
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Thank you readers for sticking around until the end.
Percy looked up from his desk as three wizards and a witch entered his office. He suppressed a sigh and looked back down at the work he had been trying to complete. Two forms. He had only needed to complete two forms and he could have avoided this… for a little while, at least. His eyes darted sideways to peek at his watch. He wondered if his stomach would have still grumbled if he had not looked.
“Do you have what we asked for?” one of the wizards asked.
Percy frowned without looking up. “Yes.” He took a quiet breath before continuing, “The goblins were helpful… with a little prodding.”
The group waited for Percy to elaborate. When he remained silent another wizard, an older one, stepped forward and spoke, “And?”
Percy gathered his thoughts before sitting up to look them in the eyes. “This feels wrong. It is a complete invasion of Harry’s privacy.”
“Since when are you so protective of him?” asked the witch off to his right.
Percy replied without hesitation, “Since he began treating me like family.”
“Are you saying that we don’t?”
Percy looked at George tiredly, “Of course you do. It’s just… different with him.”
“Because he didn’t have to?” George offered.
“You didn’t have to either,” Percy shot back.
“Of course we did,” Molly said, as she joined the conversation.
Percy was about to reply when his father spoke up. “Percy, please don’t think that we are insensitive to your position. We understand what we’re asking of you… but there’s a lot at stake here. We’re quite worried for him.”
At this, Percy exhaled audibly and slumped back in his chair. “I know… I suppose you have a right to be…” At his last words he pushed a sheaf of papers forward towards his family.
Arthur picked up the papers and read through them quickly. He shook his head in confusion as he passed them to his wife. Bill and George looked over her shoulders as she tried to make sense of the information.
“Twenty-five thousand Galleons!” Bill cried.
“That can’t be right,” said Molly as she skimmed down to the bottom of the page, “no one can spend that much in–Merlin, what is that boy thinking?” She looked up and noticed that her husband was facing the wall in his traditional thinking pose, with his head bent down and the fingers of his right hand pinching the bridge of his nose. “Arthur?”
He straightened up, but spoke to a painting of Hogwarts rather than face his family. “I keep telling myself I’m not his father… that I have no right to impose any demands on him–especially now that he’s of age.”
“You’re right, Dad,” said Bill. “But twenty-five thousand galleons? What if the press gets wind of this?”
“I don’t know,” said George, “it’s only been a couple months since he put down old Voldy. People might say he’s got a right to celebrate however he likes… I would.”
“It’s not just Harry that I’m worried about,” said Bill. “What about Ginny?”
“What about her?” replied his mother.
“We all know what the press is like. It’s not hard to imagine what kind of filth they’ll write with him throwing Galleons about and her on his arm.”
Molly gasped. “They wouldn’t–”
“Of course they would,” interrupted Arthur. “Perhaps I should have paid heed to your instincts, Molly. I just didn’t want to hinder his recovery.”
His wife shook her head as she responded, “Don’t blame yourself, dear. We were all doing the best we could.”
“We still are,” said George. “But what are we supposed to do?”
Percy frowned as he chose his words carefully. “It comes down to this… do you trust Harry?”
The Weasleys looked at each other anxiously, each lost in their own thoughts.
Harry twirled his wand in his right hand. Eleven inches, holly, phoenix feather core. It had seen him through some of his most difficult times... But, if he were to be honest with himself, his current situation did not quite qualify as such. His thoughts swirled repeatedly around three words, “two more days,” and his best friends. He wondered where they were at this moment. Shopping in Diagon Alley? Helping to put Hogwarts back to rights? Maybe they were sitting by the pond behind the Burrow, learning to enjoy each other’s company as a couple…
The familiar sound of the Floo signalled the arrival of a visitor and he rose from the kitchen table to see who it was, although he already knew. When he reached the sitting room he smiled as he felt himself melt into his girlfriend’s welcoming embrace.
Ginny pulled away a bit and said, “I thought you’d be happier with the challenge being almost over, but it seems like you’re actually getting more tense as the last day comes.”
“You don’t have to apologize. I’m just concerned.”
“I’ve just been thinking about Ron and Hermione,” Harry admitted.
Ginny nodded. “You’re not used to keeping things from them.”
“Oh, I’ve had my share of secrets… but this is just the type of thing I would have shared with them in the past.”
“If it’s any comfort, I don’t think they’ll blame you when they hear the truth–especially when they hear about Sirius’ role in everything.”
“Thanks, but I don’t think there’s anything we can do until Friday. I’ll just have to suffer their suspicion until then. It’s not like I haven’t before.”
Ginny tilted her head and said, “When?”
Harry took her hand and led her to the nearest couch. “When we were still looking for horcruxes. They often whispered to each other, probably wondering if I was leading them on a wild goose chase.”
“Was it really that bad?” Ginny asked as she pulled her legs up on top of his and placed her head on his shoulder.
“I think the worst part was wondering if they were right–that I really had no idea what I was doing and that I was going to get us all killed.”
“But you didn’t.”
“Yes, well I didn’t know it was all to going to work out, did I?”
“Does it really matter now?”
“I suppose not.” Harry let his head fall back as he stroked her hair. Ginny had not realized how tense she was until she felt herself relax and had to stop herself from purring. She had almost nodded off when she raised her head suddenly.
“What if we bring them to the final meeting?”
“What?” said Harry as he sat up a bit.
“Well, we can’t disclose the terms of the will to them, but if we at least invite them to come to Gringotts with us, maybe that will ease some of the tension. We can give them the sense that we’re not hiding anything from them on purpose, or at least that we have a plan to bring them in on everything.”
Harry tilted his head slightly as he pondered her suggestion. “I think that will work… but what if they say ‘No?’”
“Do you honestly think Hermione would refuse the chance to get to the bottom of things?”
Harry chuckled quietly as he turned away from his astute girlfriend. “KREACHER!”
The elderly house-elf popped into the room and bowed low. “Yes, Master Harry?”
“Would you mind preparing lunch for four? We’re going to have guests.”
“Of course, master. Kreacher will take care of everything.”
After the little elf had popped away Harry stood from the couch, gently placing his girlfriend’s legs on the spot where he had been sitting. He grabbed a handful of Floo Powder as he knelt in front of the fireplace. Throwing the powder into the fireplace, he said, “The Burrow!”
Ron ignored Hermione’s glare as he changed positions for the third time in the past ten minutes. They were sitting in a conference room at the bank awaiting the executor of the Black estate (Garkfool, or something or other). When Harry and Ginny had asked them to come to Diagon Alley and then go out for supper, his mind had only registered the invitation for food… at first. It did not take him long to realize that they were finally going to answers. It had taken his girlfriend no time at all. But then Ron was told they had to Gringotts...
Shortly after the final battle at Hogwarts, Kingsley had met with the head of the bank to explain the necessity of the break-in that had resulted in the loss of their dragon. The next day, Ron, Hermione and Harry had each received owl messages stating that they had been forgiven for breaking into Gringotts, and that the bank would not be pursuing any legal action against them, though there was an obvious implied threat against any further misbehaviour. When they arrived at the bank this afternoon, it seemed to Ron that several of the goblins still bore a grudge. The stares they had drawn as they entered the building were as intimidating as he predicted they would be. The walls seemed to frown in disapproval as they were led to the conference room. Even the gigantic hourglass in the corner seemed to be looking down at him.
Harry and Ginny had been little help in the matter. The two lovebirds were so oblivious to the outside world that he began to wonder why he and Hermione had been invited. His girlfriend was obviously not thinking the same thing; he could practically see the wheels and cogs turning in her mind. She had just opened her mouth to say something when an unusually large goblin walked into the conference room, rearranged two chairs, and sat down.
A light bulb lit up in Ron’s head. Gripfork. The executor’s name was Gripfork.
“Mr. Potter, may I ask why Mr. Weasley and Ms. Granger are present?” the goblin asked pointedly.
Ron began to sweat anxiously. The large goblin had not even bothered to say hello.
“In…,” Harry began as he looked at his watch, “... two minutes, the need for secrecy will be pointless.” Ron was not sure if he was making a statement or asking a question. He looked at Hermione and the look of surprise on her face lit another light bulb in his mind. Secret? What secret?
The goblin grumbled quietly to himself before replying. “Very well. But, I must say that this is quite irregular. I was hoping that after the events of this past May our dealings with you would be of a more… routine nature.”
“Blame Sirius, not me,” Harry replied, trying to look innocent. Ron snorted. If Sirius had something to do with all this, perhaps he could relax after all.
Gripfork was about to reply when Draco Malfoy entered the conference room, escorted by a younger goblin. Draco was smiling, his usual sneer absent from his face. That could only mean one thing: there was trouble brewing.
“Ron!” Hermione whispered loudly. He let go of her hand quickly, not realizing that he had been squeezing it so hard.
“May I ask why Mr. Malfoy has joined us?” Harry looked calm, but Ron noticed that one of his best friend’s hands had drifted below the table, presumably to grab his wand.
“Mr. Malfoy will be the legal heir to the Black estate if you fail the conditions of Mr. Black’s last will and testament. It seemed appropriate that he be present as we conclude our business today.”
Finally, Hermione could not hold it in any longer. “What conditions? Are they supposed to be secret? Is that why you two have been acting so unusual lately?”
Ron suppressed his laughter as his eyes found Gripfork. His girlfriend was so predictable sometimes. He noticed that Harry and Ginny also had smiles on their faces. It was at this point that Malfoy’s trademark sneer returned.
“I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that Potter fulfilled the easiest requirement of the will.”
Harry made eye contact with his old rival and said, “On the contrary, keeping such a big secret from my friends was rather difficult. Sharing is the nature of real friendship. But I guess you wouldn’t know anything about that… would you, Draco.”
Malfoy’s hand twitched, but Harry’s did not. Ron was a bit awed at his best friend’s restraint. Even Hermione’s hand had jerked a bit at Draco’s anxiousness. Either Harry was not worried about out-drawing Draco, or he knew something that others did not. From the corner of his eye, Ron could see that Gripfork was frowning at them.
“Perhaps we should get started,” he said as he straightened some papers. The goblin’s lips had barely opened to speak.
Harry turned to the goblin with a hint of a smile at his lips. Ron could just imagine how much Hermione’s curiosity was eating at her right now; he could barely contain his own eagerness to finally get some answers.
“Now then,” Gripfork continued, “we have established that Mr. Potter told no one of the secret conditions of Mr. Black’s last will and testament, thereby fulfilling the first requirement. Are there any objections?”
Everyone turned to Draco, who simply rolled his eyes and made a haughty gesture with his hand.
Satisfied, Gripfork said, “And now, the main requirement: Mr. Potter was to spend 25,000 Galleons in thirty days in such a manner as to have no possessions at the end of the test period which he did not already own.”
“Huh?” Ron said.
“Harry had to spend a lot of money and have nothing to show for it at the end,” explained Hermione, ignoring Gripfork’s impatient glare.
“But why?” continued the tall redhead.
Gripfork’s face contorted, as he felt caught between his irritation at Ron’s lack of tact and disbelief at Ron’s obliviousness. Ginny wanted to giggle, but held it in.
“Sirius could have willed me the gold in his vault, but that wasn’t really his style,” said Harry, “He needed to be–”
“... a Marauder,” finished Ron. He grinned, reassuring Harry that all was forgiven.
“Are you through, Weasley?” Draco said to Ron, his trademark sneer returning. “I’d like to collect my inheritance now.”
“And what makes you so sure I failed to spend that gold?” asked Harry.
“Oh, I’m sure you spent the required amount…” began Draco.
Ginny felt a stone drop in her stomach. She knew what was coming next, but for the life of her she did not know why it was happening. She thought they had been so careful...
“... however, I happen to have three items on my list which indicate your failure to meet the second condition set forth by that–” The look on Harry’s face stopped Malfoy short and he visibly collected himself before continuing. “... that is, the terms set forth by Mr. Black.”
“Indeed, Mr. Malfoy,” said Gripfork as he sat up and leaned forward. He did not like surprises, especially big ones. “Jollnar, why was I not notified of this prior to now?”
The younger goblin that had led Draco into the room looked at his supervisor with a look akin to that of a deer with a bright light shining in its face. He then made his fatal mistake. He looked to Draco for help. For his part, the Slytherin stayed focused on Gripfork while he maintained his cool façade, leaving his accomplice to fend for himself. Gripfork did not miss the exchange.
“Jollnar, please fetch Pilgrodd and then retire to my office... I will deal with you later.”
The younger goblin visibly swallowed and then stood up from the table. He hung his head as he exited the conference room. Ron could not help but notice that Harry was still on edge. He hoped that his friend had a miracle up his sleeve. Upon Pilgrodd’s arrival, Malfoy’s eyes were gleaming as he began his attack.
“Where shall we begin…”
Ron snapped, “Just get on with it.”
Draco glared at the Gryffindor, but complied. “The Lily Foundation–”
“... is a perfectly legitimate charitable organization,” interrupted Hermione.
“Yes, yes…” said Draco as he took back control of the conversation. He reached into his cloak and pulled out a familiar shirt. “However, the uniforms he purchased for its employees...”
“... belong to the foundation,” said Harry. Ron guessed he was trying to sound bored, but his stiff posture said otherwise.
“And since you own the foundation, you own these… garments,” countered Draco.
Hermione and Ron stiffened. How could Harry make such a fundamental mistake? They were quite confused when they noticed that Ginny was smiling.
“Actually, Harry doesn’t own the foundation.” Everyone turned to the young redhead. “No one does. He helps direct its efforts, but he doesn’t own it. We made sure of that, didn’t we, sir?”
Ron felt himself relax when he saw the bored look on the Griphook’s face.
“Indeed, Miss Weasley. And, for the record, I must commend you on your design, Mr. Potter. I approached the president of the bank with the idea of having employees wear similar tunics on Fridays.”
Everyone else at the table stared at the Gripfork, not daring to say a word. Finally, Hermione said, “How nice…” as everyone else nodded.
“I thought you made them ugly on purpose so people would want to give them back?” whispered Ginny from the corner of her mouth.
“Not now!” Harry whispered back.
“If the other items on your list are of a similar nature, Mr. Malfoy, perhaps we can resolve them quickly,” said Griphook, steering the meeting back on track.
At this, Draco leaned back. Ron was not sure if he was savoring what he was about to say next or was daydreaming about how to spend the Black fortune.
“It has come to my attention that Potter has been carrying upon his person a rather expensive ring. He started this practice immediately after 500 Galleons were removed from his account.”
Draco’s statement upended the atmosphere of the room. Hermione and Ron looked at their best friend in shock. Surely they would have told him if he was planning to… Griphook was livid. He did not care about the ring, but Malfoy’s knowledge of the details of the account was unacceptable! Ginny was trying her best to get her heart to slow down. For once it seemed that her hands were the clammy ones. It was then that she noticed how relaxed Harry’s grip on her hands was.
“I think we can settle this quickly,” Harry said calmly. “The 500 Galleons was a donation to the Ardere Dragon Reserve in Romania.
“So you don’t have a ring in your pocket?” Draco said with a raised eyebrow.
“Actually, I’m carrying two,” said Harry, reaching into his pocket with his free hand. Ginny held her breath as he pulled out a jewelry box and opened it. Inside, she saw two gold rings, one with a garnet stone mounted on it and one with a bloodstone.
“They belonged to my parents,” explained Harry. “I found them in the Potter vault. I’ve been looking into getting them charmed.”
“And why do these rings needs to be charmed?” asked Ginny. She knew now was not the time, but she could not help but try to play on her boyfriend’s embarrassment a little.
“You’ll find out… eventually.” Harry closed the box and returned it to his pocket. Ginny was impressed that he looked so unruffled. When she turned away from him, she was greeted by a wide grin from Hermione and a rather maroon faced Ron.
With a loud sigh, Gripfork recaptured everyone’s focus. “Was there anything else on your list, Mr. Malfoy?”
Draco’s eye was twitching. He quietly exhaled and composed himself. When he was ready, he revealed the final item on his list. “Two weeks ago, Potter purchased a rare… postage stamp. Apparently, Muggles enjoy collecting them. I suppose they’re like expensive Chocolate Frog cards, or something.”
Hermione was about to ask Harry what he had bought, but he seemed eager to refute Draco’s claim. “Considering how much that stamp cost me, even you would have to admit that it’s nothing like collecting Chocolate Frog cards.”
“So you admit it? You bought this…” Draco looked down at the parchment he was holding and then continued, “... Penny Black?”
Hermione gasped. “That’s one of the most expensive stamps in the world! Harry, why would you buy such a–”
“Do you have the item I asked you to bring?” said Harry, trying to prevent his best friend from getting too worked up.
“That postcard you sent to my parents from Manchester? Yes, but was does that have to… Oh! You didn’t!” Hermione opened her handbag and retrieved the item in question. She briefly looked at the corner of the card before handing it over to Gripfork with a smile. The goblin copied her actions and turned to Draco.
“Mr. Potter has complied with the demands of the will.”
“I don’t understand,” replied the blond teen.
“This stamp,” began Gripfork as he pointed to the corner of the postcard, “only had value until it was actually used for its intended purpose of allowing a piece of post to travel through the Muggle postal system. Muggle postal workers imprint information on the stamps to prevent the items from being used more than once. As this stamp has been marked as such, it is no longer considered Mr. Potter’s property.”
It took a few moments for Malfoy to understand what had happened, but it was quite obvious when the knut dropped. His expression contorted from anger to frustration to disgust and back to anger. His mouth pressed into a tight line, and then he swiftly stood from the table and gave a curt nod to Gripfork before walking briskly out of the room.
“Good riddance,” said Ron. Gripfork gave him a look, but the his enthusiasm would not be dimmed.
The goblin then turned to Harry and pushed a piece of parchment towards of him. “If you’ll just sign here, we will have the remainder of the inheritance transferred to your vault.”
Harry quickly signed, just in case Malfoy had anything else up his sleeve.
“Just out of curiosity, Harry,” said Hermione. “What is the rest of the inheritance?”
Harry put down the quill and pushed the parchment back to Gripfork. He paused a moment before replying in a soft voice. “One hundred million Galleons.”
When he looked at his friends he was not surprised to see their mouths open in shock. Ron broke out of it first and said, “What are you going to do with it all?”
Harry shrugged and said, “I don’t know. But, I wasn’t about to let Malfoy have it.” His friends nodded in agreement, but were still finding it difficult to say anything. A soft cough brought their attention back to Gripfork.
“I have another appointment in ten minutes.”
As the door to the bank closed behind them, Harry turned slightly to his best friends and said, “I’d like to say I’m sor–”
“It’s fine, Harry,” said Hermione.
“Well, yeah,” said Ron. “Sirius was just having a bit of fun, wasn’t he?”
Harry grinned. “Thanks. It was killing me not being able to let you in on it.”
“No problem. But why was Ginny allowed to know?”
“Last one to the Burrow has to de-gnome the garden!” cried Ginny. And in one swift movement she grabbed Harry’s hand and twisted on the spot, disappearing with a pop.
Ron and Hermione looked at each other in confusion.
“What was that all a–” began Hermione, but Ron disapparated before she could finish.
“Typical,” she said to herself. And with a slight twist, she too apparated to the Burrow.
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