A/N: Please note this is a prequel. I hope to answer all your questions in the next installment coming soon. Thank you for interest and please review!
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. Any non-canon characters/situations are mine :-).
Ch V: Goblin's Curse
Lacie entered her study and sat at her desk with a huff and strong dose of Snarlroar's Finest Goblin Brandy. She penned her letter between sips.
Dear Goblin Master Healer Marksmith,
It has come to my attention that there is a severe child abuse case in need of immediate healing with an estimation of five Goblin Healers. Due to the sensitivity of the subject matter, I have enclosed my Pensieve Memory vial, official healer notes, and my backing as a St. Mungo's Pediatric Healer.
Lacie Fistbiter Thaxton, St. Mungo's Pediatric Healer and Certified Goblin Healer
Lacie immediately made copies of her pensieve memory for her vault and copies of the Weasley preliminary analysis as an objective, Partially objective. Lacie thought fondly, source disclosure regarding the child abuse case of one Harry James Potter. She warded her missive to her Great-Uncle with a dark smile.
Children were especially sacred in the Goblin Nation. There were few births due to the many Goblin wars and girls rarely born. Even as a half-breed with the loathsome wizardkind she was wanted. As a healer in both worlds she knew she carried clout.
Readying for bed, Lacie dreamed of rolling heads and smiled in her sleep.
Harry awoke to the scent of bacon and pancakes. His throat was parched. He sat up slowly knowing someone was there but could not find his glasses.
"Hey mate." Ron said. "Are you hungry?" He picked Harry's glasses from the floor and placed them on his friend's face.
"Thirsty too." Harry responded croakily. Ron winced. He went to the restroom, filled a disposable cup with water, and gave it to Harry. Harry smiled gratefully at Ron. "Thanks Red." Harry said softly. Ron raised an eyebrow but did not comment. "Sure mate." He said carefully. Ron helped Harry to the restroom and then helped his friend change and head downstairs for breakfast.
"Ronnie!" Mrs. Weasley chided. "Harry is supposed to be resting. You could've brought breakfast to him!"
"Sorry Mum." Ron mumbled. "It's fine, Red's Lily." Harry said quickly with his croaking voice. "I was feeling stiff anyway and Red really helped me." Harry hoped his friend would not get into further trouble on his account. Mrs. Weasley smiled kindly at Harry. "Well, since you're already here, sweetheart. You can sit down in your usual spot." Ron's eyes widened. He thought only Ginny got 'sweetheart.' Ron carefully maneuvered Harry to his spot just as the Weasleys and Hermione ambled downstairs.
"Harry!" Hermione said as she rushed toward him. Harry smiled softly at her. "Thank you so much for my cards," Harry said shyly to everyone when they sat down.
"Of course!" The Twins chorused.
"It was 'Mione's idea." Ron added as Hermione blushed. Harry grinned.
Harry drank the hot tea and milk Mrs. Weasley made for him. He was beginning to feel tired but tried not to show it by asking a question here and there, as Mrs. Weasley piled Harry's plate. "Just eat what you can, sweetheart." Mrs. Weasley said gently.
Harry nibbled on the bacon and pancakes and the conversation turned to light topics as everyone tried not to stare at Harry's skeletal frame.
Eventually, Harry leaned on Hermione and drifted to sleep. His best friends carried him to Ron's room. They tucked him into bed. Someone removed his glasses. Harry settled listening to his friends before drifting off to sleep.
"What do you think happened, Ron?" Hermione whispered worriedly.
"I'd bet my last galleon it was the Dursleys, 'Mione." Ron whispered bitterly. "Did you see his back? Lily killer? Witch's Boy? Demon Child? Serpent's Son? Harry said his aunt really hated his mother for some reason. I wouldn't put it past that horse to hurt Harry. I bet she was jealous of Harry's mum."
"But why would they do that?" Hermione protested quietly. "And what was she jealous of?"
Ron snorted. "Don't be thick-have you seen Harry's mum? She was beautiful, smart, popular and a nice witch. How many times has Harry said that they hate magic?"
Hermione frowned heavily. "But that's so…bigoted…they sound like a Muggle version of the pureblood agenda spouted by the Malfoys." Hermione whispered thoughtfully.
Ron remained silent for a moment. "Did you notice he called me 'Red'? And my mum? He called her 'Red's Lily.'" Ron asked softly.
"Mmhm." Hermione affirmed and quickly lowered her voice. "I think it's just shock, Ron. You should take it as a compliment. Ron and Red are very similar. And, we both know how much Harry likes the color red and you have red hair. I think he was trying to say Mrs. Weasley but it was too hard for him. Red's Lily just sounds more fluid. Besides, your mum said he would right himself after she'd spoken with Healer Thaxton."
Ron sighed. "I guess you're right. Just surprised me. Come on. We need to let him rest."
His two friends exited and carefully shut the door. Harry could not quite comprehend what his friends had said and mentally shrugged. He would deal with it tomorrow.
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley exchanged worried looks. It had been two days and Lacie said she would check in later that evening because she had to brew a special potion for Harry. Lacie left a note of instructions for Harry to sip the potion every three minutes until fully consumed on the "Weasley List," wall Molly had made as a calendar for her family.
Mrs. Weasley had written to Dumbledore and McGonagall and they were ready to leave. Mr. Weasley carried the missive and both had rehearsed what they needed to say. They walked together to their Floo.
"Hogwart's Headmaster's Office!" Mrs. Weasley shouted, engulfed in green flames. She waited for Mr. Weasley and together they entered Dumbledore's office.
"Good afternoon, Albus." Molly and Arthur said.
"Ah, Molly my dear," Albus said calmly. "would you care for a lemon drop? Arthur?"
"No thank you, Albus." Molly demurred.
"No thank you, Albus," Arthur added. "Is Minerva coming?"
"I'm afraid she had something rather pressing happen." Albus said smoothly. "What can I help you with?"
Albus Dumbledore monitored all mail pertaining to Harry Potter. He immediately wrote for both of them. What could this be about? He had his suspicions but wanted to verify it. The Weasleys were good people…but he needed to be sure.
The Weasleys exchanged stressed expressions. "Well, we would really like Minerva to be here since she is Harry's Head of House…" Molly said uncertainly.
"We can understand she would not miss anything if it were truly important," Arthur interjected quickly.
"What is it about young Harry? I understand he is staying the remainder of the summer at your house, I trust?" Albus looked mildly concerned. Internally, his instincts were screaming.
"We're concerned Harry is being abused at his relatives' house." Molly said baldly. Albus' eyebrows rose into his hairline.
"We have proof." Arthur said quickly. He showed Albus their preliminary findings. Albus' mind raced. "We weren't sure if it was accidental magic or not that revealed his wounds when he was swimming with his friends."
Albus made a show of opening Harry's record. "I will send these to the proper authorities." He said calmly. He waited for the right moment. The Weasley parents exchanged relieved looks.
Relashio*. Albus wandlessly spell cast, aiming for the mirror and Molly. Molly and Arthur whirled around at the sound of the mirror crashing on the floor and Molly's purse spilled all over the floor. Quickly the Weasleys accio'd* her purse and all her things returned to her purse with twin flags of red on their faces. Obliviate* Albus continued blasting his targets while quickly putting Harry's file away and a Reparo* charm to his mirror. He may be an old wizard; but he was the one to defeat Grindelwald quickly and decisively. A distraction and Memory Charm were moot.
"Not to worry about young Ronald, Molly and Arthur." Dumbledore said airily. "I am sure his grades will improve if he studies with Mr. Potter and Miss Granger."
"Oh, thank you Albus." Molly said absently, frowning. I-were we here for that? She mentally shrugged and plastered a polite expression on her face. Arthur nodded relieved. "We were worried about Ron's work. We hope not to intrude on your privacy further, Albus."
"Oh no trouble at all." Albus stood waving his hand absently behind them and cast a ward on his Floo; causing the fireplace to sputter. "Ah, why don't you use Minerva's Floo? I'm sure she would like to discuss her lion with you." He gestured politely. The Weasleys readily agreed and made their way to Minerva's office where they spoke at length with the Head of Gryffindor.
Albus turned and he walked briskly toward the Headmaster's personal astronomy lookout**. As the Headmaster, he could lower the apparition wards in his office. He quickly disillusioned himself and popped to the Burrow. Point Me Harry Potter* his wand swiveled upstairs and he stealthily made his way to Harry's bed, closing Ron's door quietly.
Albus Dumbledore gazed at Harry silently. I am sorry my boy but this is for the Greater Good. Dumbledore straightened his tall frame. What's the life of a single child to the whole wizarding population? He silently rationalized. It pains me, my boy; but it must be done.
He raised his wand, quickly replacing all the Glamour and Notice-Me-Not Charms. He tied them to Harry's magical core once more. He placed a hydrophobia charm on Harry as well. Don't want a repeat. All Dumbledore checked were his original charms due to his time limit. He did not see anything related to Goblin magic because the wizard's healing magic masked the Goblin magic since it was the primary magic used. He quickly goes downstairs. He placed compulsion and Memory Charms on the tea in the pot and removed a shrunken Honeyduke's Finest Chocolate on the table copying the spells before Apparating to his office. The Weasley parents arrived five minutes later.
"Oh! I'll make a piece for all the children-especially Harry. Poor dear, Lacie said she was going to leave a potion this evening for his awful headache. I don't know why my Pepper-Up Potion*** didn't work." Molly said. Arthur blinked in confusion as his eyes widened at the treat. Perhaps it was from Bill? He vaguely wondered.
Hedwig's golden eyes glittered angrily. She sensed someone had been here and harmed her master but she was blind to where they were. Not even her sense of smell could indicate anything. Her feathers ruffled as Harry shifted in his sleep. His skin and body appeared as before sans blood, bruises, burns, belts and bites.
Lacie visits later that evening sharing dinner. Something's amiss. Her skin tingled at the presence of compulsion charms. Living in Gringotts made her susceptible to such things. Lacie politely refused a cup of tea.
Harry came downstairs and looked at her inquisitively. Molly had given him the chocolate piece and a fresh cup of tea. He politely introduced himself.
"I hope this potion works for you Mr. Potter," Lacie said. "I would drink it after dinner."
"Thank you ma'am." Harry responded. To everyone's surprise Hedwig made an appearance. She nibbled his ear and the child smiled tenderly at her. She flew around Lacie and landed on her shoulder giving a soft bark.
"Hedwig!" Harry chastised, cheeks reddening. "Don't be-."
"What a beautiful owl you have, Mr. Potter," Lacie said smiling. The owl in question puffed her feathers before flying away. After brief pleasantries and discussion, Lacie announced her leave. "Let me know, Mr. Potter, if you need anything for that headache of yours." She said as she left.
Lacie was unsurprised to see Hedwig at her Gringotts' study. "Keep an eye on Harry, Hedwig." Lacie said grimly. "If it's the last thing I do…I will make whoever hurt Harry pay dearly." Hedwig bobbed her head in agreement. Her sharp golden eyes noting the Goblin weapons and Lacie's clenched, clawed fists. Lacie imagined her long fingers tightening around a wizard/witch's neck.
Little did Lacie and Hedwig know that a certain prisoner in a maximum-security cell chamber in Azkaban was thinking along the same lines of vengeance.
"He's at Hogwarts." Sirius Orion Black, Heir Apparent of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, muttered in his sleep. Grey eyes snapped open looking almost silver in the moonlight.
A/N: Thank you for your interest and patience in this prequel :-). Please review and see me in my next installment, Lord Black's resurgence, redemption and revenge. The Headmaster's astronomy tower shown in the special DVD features of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The Pepper-Up Potion/Memory Charm/Notice-Me-Not and Glamour Charms/Honeyduke's Finest Chocolate are canon. All (*) spells are from The Unofficial Harry Potter Spellbook: The Wand Chooses the Wizard by Duncan Levy. Anything non-canon is AU in characters in situations.