Today was the day.
Ulgrat could barely contain the need to smile triumphantly. After all, today was the day in which things for him began to change. It had taken many years of hardship and enduring constant humiliation, but finally, he was here.
The moment in which his plans could reach their beginning stages. Unbidden, a triumphant smile came upon his face as Ulgrat looked over the paperwork laid out before him. Even though it was too early for him to celebrate properly, there was still much to do and if he got overconfident that would lead him to make mistakes. For his plans to succeed, the room for error was minimal.
Patience, dedication, cunning and strength of mind and will be the key to success. Luckily for Ulgrat, he had all in droves. He had not survived as long as he had, achieved what he had or endured what he had without them all. Despite all that, Ulgrat could allow himself this moment to bask in his momentary victory.
'But the time is fast approaching.' Before he could delve into his thoughts further, the door was pushed open, not even a knock as would be expected considering his position. 'Though until that time, I still have these fools to deal with.' Ulgrat made sure to plaster a fake, welcoming smile upon his face, while internally he scowled upon seeing the Goblins striding confidently towards him. Not an ounce of respect showed towards him, no decorum or proper etiquette performed.
They were all young, possessing a swagger and air of confidence that was undeserved considering how little they had achieved. Most has gained their positions through family connections or simply by being leeches. The lead figure was was the worst of all, dressed extravagantly, more so than the others and swagger almost comical. A few armed guards accompanying him.
But amongst them, hidden at the back was an old Goblin. His body and faced were ravaged with just as many scars as Ulgrat. A light cane resting upon the floor to help him move more comfortably as he leaned heavily upon his right foot.
"Ulgrat." The lead youngling called and Ulgrat restrained the urge to roll his eyes. "What is the meaning of this?"
Despite the numerous insults that had been paid to him, Ulgrat made sure to keep the smile upon his face. "I'm afraid you have me at a loss, Lord Rodluk. The meaning of what exactly? As far as I am aware, I have been completing my duties perfectly. Unless of course, you've once again decided to change the laws and rules, forgetting to inform as you do so. If that is the case, then please do try a little harder, you're becoming very predictable and boorish."
Rodluk scowled heavily, hand itching towards the sword sheathed at his hip. "Watch your tone carefully, old fool!" Rodluk hissed.
Before anything further could happen, a cough broke through the atmosphere, all turning to the old Goblin at the back. "Perhaps it would be best to inform, Lord Ulgrat of what mistake he has made rather than assuming he knows and is simply playing dumb. After all, Gringotts has come under attack recently, it is not surprising if the information did go missing or overlooked."
"Of course you would say that." Another of the young Goblins muttered yet the old Goblin never said a word in response, continuing to look towards Rodluk. For a moment neither said anything till eventually the younger Goblin kissed his teeth in annoyance.
"Very well." Rodluk returned to staring down at Ulgrat. "The King demands your presence. You are to return to the capital at once."
"Ah, well I'm afraid that poses a problem." Ulgrat's words made many frown. "You see, I am quite busy here. There is a great deal of paperwork requiring my attention and if I was to just leave then it would cause many problems for the running of our Gringotts branch here in Britain. I doubt the King would want that very much."
Rodluk frowned heavily. "It wasn't a request that you could decline at your leisure. The King is demanding your attention. We have been sent to relieve you."
"No, you've been sent to ensure that I can't claim any Lords Vault for myself and gain influence once more." Ulgrat pointed out and quickly, all those present went deathly still. "Considering the deaths of a number of our accountants, that leaves many families without someone to oversee their Vaults and you've been sent to ensure that I can't use this opportunity to gain influence in the Goblin world again."
"Preposterous! This is…"
"Do be quiet, boy." Ulgrat snapped and quickly Rodluk's mouth snapped shut, reflexively taking a step back. "Now, the King wants us to retain good relations with the Wizards by ensuring that the banks run smoothly, that means having qualified accountants to run their Vaults. I know each and every one of you and not one is qualified to oversee an Ancient and Noble Houses Vault. I have distributed the Vaults to the remaining accountants while I oversee their actions to ensure they are the best decisions to make. I have claimed none for myself as you so believed I would. You're welcome to help, but I am doing what is best to ensure the King's goal of peace with the Wizards remains stable."
His words left all stunned, all except one.
"Lord Rodluk. Perhaps it would be best to provide Lord Ulgrat with some measure of leeway on this matter. He is not incorrect on this matter. I am sure if we explain it this way to the King, he will listen and accept to give Lord Ulgrat a few more days to present himself." The older Goblin explained calmly.
There was a long pause, no one saying a word before Rodluk eventually spun on his heel and stormed out. His aids and guards accompanying him, door slamming shut leaving the two old Goblins alone.
The silence between them breaking soon after by Ulgrat chuckling. "My, my, the younglings do get bolder every time I see them," Ulgrat said in amusement. "Though I must admit, I was surprised with you agreeing with me as you had, old friend. Usually, you do your best to ensure I have no influence whatsoever, always doing as the little boy on the throne says like a loyal little dog."
"I would watch your words carefully, old friend, lest you find your tongue removed the next time you open your foul mouth." Ulgrat laughed openly in response to the threat.
"There he is. There's the Kurknuss I knew." The now named Kurknuss frowned heavily in response, taking a moment to recollect himself. "Tell me, how does it feel to be so ostracised from the very group you have served so loyally? From the boy you raised as if he were your own son? It must hurt I imagine? I am curious though, what caused this change?"
Despite the questions, Kurknuss didn't answer. But his silence gave Ulgrat all the answer he needed, a noise of realisation escaping his lips. "Oh, I see. He learned the truth, or at least he finally acknowledged what was right there before his eyes from the very beginning. The truth that I wasn't the real monster of the last war, or at least not the only one. I must commend you for how well you played it, staging me as the one and only monster. But you finally have to deal with what I always knew would happen, you're past."
"Ulgrat," Kurknuss said, voice cold and firm. "I know you intend to stage a coup. So does the King. Just know this, if you so much as hurt him, I will kill you and everything you hold dear."
"Hold dear? You mistake me for some emotional fool."
"Not in the slightest." Kurknuss continued. "But I also know that the one thing you love more than yourself, and the death of Wizarding kind, is the Goblin nation itself. You love the idea of Goblin supremacy." Ulgrat rose a brow in questioning. "If you harm the King in any way, I will ensure that the entirety of the Goblin Nation is destroyed. I'll make you watch our entire race be eradicated one by one."
There was a look of madness in his eyes, Ulgrat could see it clearly. No lie, no fallacy, only truth and madness. Kurknuss made sure that Ulgrat could see it all before leaving the room and when he did, Ulgrat laughed.
'Did you think I didn't plan for you, old friend? You're the biggest threat to all my plans, of course, I made plans to deal with you. I just never knew the extent I needed to go in which to deal with you.' Ulgrat smirked viciously. 'But now I know all I need to. So thank you for that.'
Dumbledore could see the irritation in the young man across from him. It was so very obvious in the way his magic buzzed around him, despite Harry's best efforts to keep it hidden, it was still palpable. He was still allowing his emotion to get the best of him and Dumbledore worried that would be his undoing. Emotions were good to help fuel spells, but they could also lead to mistakes.
One could overexert their magical capabilities in a moment of heightened emotions, therefore, leaving them exhausted and vulnerable. A truly powerful and skilled wizard needed to be able to find the balance between emotional freedom and suppression. When to control them and when to let them free. It was not an easy thing to learn and there was no set way to do it either, every person was different after all.
Occulmency was the best way to do it, but it still had limits to it, of course, limits that could only be surpassed through experience. Harry himself had been practising Occulmency on and off for the past couple of days – the rings he had allowing him to game so headway in the first phrase, controlling ones emotion – Harry was still nowhere near a master in the Mind Arts.
After all, the only way to gain Occulmency shields in one's mind was through constant training. Many a wizarding family had tried to skip this and have the Lordship ring give them natural shields capable of blocking basic attacks and increasing the strength by channelling magic into the ring, they had each failed miserably. Only the Black's had come close, giving whoever wore the Lordship ring the ability to not gain full control of their emotions, but at least a sense of calmness to them.
Considering the Black's had a history of insanity and madness, such a use of the ring in the lord would be valuable beyond measure. Harry may have that, but it still didn't do much which was obvious. The buzz of magic in the air was palpable, a showcase of just how irritated and frustrated he was. It was perhaps the rings calming effect that was the only thing keeping Harry from acting on any thoughts he might have at this moment in time.
Still, Harry's irritation was understandable. The Full Moon had being three days ago and he hadn't allowed Harry to leave Grimmauld Place afterwards. While this was no different to the two days before the Full Moon, the feeling of being free, able to run around with Remus on the Full Moon had fed the desire for independence that had slowly been taking root in his very being since the beginning of his holiday.
To have that taken away, to be locked away, that had made him a very irritable and difficult person to be around. On top of that, the truth of what Dumbledore had done and been prepared to do only made things far worse.
Only a handful of people were actually spared from Harry's anger, those been Remus and Tonks. But they themselves had been on the receiving end of Harry's anger during their duels, which were lasting far longer and were far more vicious with each passing day. Even the likes of Kingsley and Moody who would stop by occasionally to help Harry's training – a rare instance nowadays considering the rising tasks being distributed amongst members of the Order – were not spared.
Nonetheless, Dumbledore stared at Harry who's face was locked into a bland and emotionless mask that hide his feelings very well. The slight and frequent cracks that appeared notwithstanding, it showed Harry was improving massively. "Harry, I understand from the Order members that have being stationed here, that you have been incredibly difficult and abrasive, it is true?"
By the way, Harry tensed and his magic spiked, Dumbledore knew that the condescending manner in which he spoke had made Harry's anger spike. "Get on with it, Headmaster, I have other things to do with my time."
"Very well." Dumbledore nodded his head. "I have multiple things to address, so I'll start with the main reason I am here." He took a few moments to let Harry calm down as to make sure that everything that was said was understood. "With the war taking place, I have assigned Professor Snape as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. Because of this, I am going to be bringing an old friend out of retirement however, such a thing will not be easy and so he will need persuading."
Harry listened intently, already have pieced together the reason from the little information disclosed to him. "You want me to help persuade him." Dumbledore nodded his head with a certain hint of pride in his twinkling eyes.
"Yes, he has a fascination of making friends out of students he believes will go onto becoming famous individuals. A leech would be the best way to describe him. One such as yourself would be more than enough to bring him out of retirement."
"I see," Harry said slowly as he thought over the offer.
On one hand, the idea of actually having a professor who was willing to work with him would help improve his Potions grade, which while no longer abysmal like it had been, was not the best thanks to Remus's help. Turns out, without Snape sabotaging his education through constant derogatory comments, Harry had a natural talent for it, just like everything else he put his mind to. The information in his mind thanks to the Potter Ring also helped massively.
"While I'm pretty sure that my Defence Against the Dark Arts grade won't suffer under Snape's tutelage, I don't see the reason why I need to continue on as a student. I understand with me being named a Prefect and Quidditch Captain that I have a lot of duties, but my talents are better put elsewhere." Harry explained and Dumbledore waited quietly for Harry to finish. "With Remus and Tonks having been helping me with Ancient Runes and Potions, that combined with my above-average NEWT level grades in Duelling, Transfiguration, Charms, DADA and my fame, I have all the qualifications required to enter as an Auror."
Dumbledore agreed with those thoughts and the reasoning behind them entirely. While Voldemort's weaker followers were average in most subject, his upper-level followers were very dangerous and that didn't even take into account his Inner Circle members. All of them were growing in power, but Harry was growing at an even greater speed.
Already he would be able to fight on an even level with the upper-level Death Eaters and could distract the Inner Circle members for a limited time. However, Dumbledore was wary of allowing Harry to do so. The young man was the Wizarding world's saviour and Dumbledore needed him to be more powerful as to give the Light Faction a new leader to rally behind.
"You bring up good points Harry and I agree entirely." This took some of the wind out of Harry's sails. "However, I am getting too old. My body is no longer as capable as it once was and with this." He raised his cursed hand up to Harry who grimaced slightly at the blackened hand. "I'm afraid my days as a frontline fighter are reaching their end and the Light needs someone else to rally behind. Someone powerful enough to fight the strongest that the Dark have to offer."
Dumbledore allowed Harry to absorb this information before continuing. "You, are going to be that person, but right now you are not ready. Hogwarts is one of the most secure places in the world, a place with all the resources, I and your instructors will need to train you up to a level upon which you will be ready to take the leadership."
"Oh." Dumbledore smiled at the younger man who looked entirely stumped by this revelation.
"Do not act so surprised, my boy. While I have made many decisions that I am not proud of, choosing you to be my successor is one that I can safely say is not a mistake." Harry was actually more suited for the role as leader of the Light more than him. Harry was a natural-born leader, with charisma and humbleness to him that inspired loyalty and respect. The new level of maturity and his newfound skills in magic made him a person to be feared on the battlefield, a person who was not afraid to go out there and fight against those that threatened the peace.
Dumbledore had never had any of those things and had gained them. But there was a difference between natural talent and hard work. While hard work would beat talent when talent didn't work hard. At the end of the day, if those talented worked hard then they'd be unstoppable.
Harry naturally possessed what Dumbledore had worked hard to gain. The position of Prefect and Quiddich Captain would give Harry more experience in a leadership role, allowing him to understand the responsibilities placed upon him. All the while Dumbledore could train Harry to be a far better fighter, one capable of standing toe-to-toe with Voldemort and eventually, surpass him.
Not to mention that people who only knew Harry in passing could see the type of person he was. At the mere mention of an innocent person being threatened, the young Potter heir would leap into action even if he didn't know that person personally. No matter how many opposed him nor how powerful, even if the odds were stacked against him, Harry continued to fight until he had spent every last breath and would still continue to push forwards.
The two wizards sat in silence as they thought over what had been saying before Harry finally spoke once more. "Very well." Dumbledore allowed a small smile of relief to come onto his face, he had expected Harry to fight him tooth and nail against this decision. "But I want a few things in turn."
"Of course." Dumbledore was actually willing to give Harry a lot of things to prepare him for the coming war, that was as long as they weren't too dark. He himself had studied Dark Magic extensively in his youth and even up until his old age, after all, the best way to defend against Dark Magic is to first be a master of it.
"I want access to the Restricted Section, Occlumency training, Animgaus training and for you to teach me personally in everything you know." Dumbledore agreed to the two first two quite easily, while he took a few moments to think over the last two. Eventually, however, he agreed as he had planned to teach Harry most of the stuff he knew and so the rest he could write down in case he met an early death. The biggest concern was time and whether Voldemort would stay quiet enough to give Dumbledore the time necessary to impart his knowledge.
He doubted that would be the case and that's why he hesitated.
"Will you help me then?" Harry nodded his head begrudgingly. "Now for the rest of the reason for my visit. There have being a few things I need to make you aware of. First, Miss Tonks is being assigned as your personal bodyguard around and outside of Hogwarts, but you need not worry about her interfering with your everyday life and will only interfere should you be unable to defend yourself." Dumbledore explained calmly when Harry opened his mouth to argue.
"Secondly, I am aware that Mister Weasley brought to you a letter from Gringotts. I would like you to bring Tonks with you on that as well. But if something does happen, Harry, however unlikely that may be, I ask that you do not get involved and escape as quickly as you can." Harry looked ready to protest there and then. "Harry, I understand what you are like as you can't allow that to happen. But this is a war, a war that cannot be fought without casualties. Your desire to save people is admirable, but I'm afraid that if you don't learn the truth of war soon, you will never beat Tom."
Pulling out a large file from his desk, Dumbledore handed it over to him. "When we return from our visit, read this. It contains a detailed list of what happened in the First Blood War, all the dead and how they died. Detailed reports of the battles themselves. Read up on it and understand the type of war you are entering."
There was silence for a moment, Harry unknowing of what to say in response.
"Now that's enough talking, let's go so my old friend, shall we?"
Harry nodded his head and stood up, placing one hand on the elderly wizard's shoulder and then they were gone with a crack.
The two appeared on a very quiet and deserted street. The numerous houses that were on each side looked just as deserted as the rest of the street, the houses turned off and not a single sound could be heard. Despite this, he and Dumbledore walked towards one of the houses to their left. Its door had been blasted open and it was no doubt ransacked inside.
As soon as they reached the door, the two pulled out their wands and while Dumbledore went in first with a ball of light at the tip of his wand, Harry gave one last check over the street before following after the headmaster.
The inside was just as Harry predicted. The furniture and parts of the wall had been destroyed, not a single piece looked untouched. Just as they moved into the living room, staring at the only piece of untouched furniture – a white and blue striped armchair – curiously, a drop of blood dropped to the ground in front of them.
While his senses were nowhere near as sensitive as they were on the Full Moon, they were still far better than a normal person and he had being around human blood, both his own and his sparring partners to know what it smelled like. "It's not human or werewolf blood," Harry informed Dumbledore quietly who gave no outward reaction to the information, but nonetheless, Harry knew he had been heard.
While Harry crouched down and dipped one finger into the pool of blood, raising the finger up to his nose in committing the smell to memory before sucking the blood clean. A normal wizard or witch would have never done so under the conclusion it might be poisonous however, his blood had traces of Basilisk Venom and Phoenix Tears which made him immune to practically every poison out there.
The blood itself had a primal taste filled with magic in a way he had never let before. It was warm, almost boiling and it felt like it was trying to burn him from the inside and out. Whatever creatures blood it belonged to, it was very powerful and ancient.
Dumbledore, on the other hand, moved forwards and prodded the armchair. Almost instantly, the chair transformed into an aged man dressed in white and blue striped pyjamas, his face a mix of annoyance and confusion changed to one of caution and a bit of fear as he warily looked into Harry's emerald green eyes. His eyes occasionally flickering to the wand pointed at his face and back to the glowing eyes.
"Harry, my boy." Dumbledore placed his free hand on Harry's arms and slowly pushed it down. "This, is my old friend, Horace Slughorn. The man we have come to find." Harry looked between the two before allowing his wand arm to lower fully.
"Merlin's beard!" Horace exclaimed quietly, his eyes flickering around nervously, though occasionally landing on Harry with a look of awe, fear and nostalgia. "Albus, what are you doing here?"
"I believe I should be asking you that question, Horace?" Dumbledore replied calmly and Slughorn looked disgruntled for a few moments. "Harry, please do something about the place."
Looking between the two, Harry got the understanding that this was a private conversation and simply nodded his head and with a flick of his wand the living room and kitchen slowly repaired themselves before he moved upstairs to do the same. It didn't take long and he spent the rest of the time looking out the window overlooking the street, his eyes roaming up and down to make sure that no unwanted guests appeared.
Once the business was concluded downstairs, Harry noticed that Dumbledore looked completely smug while Horace looked thoughtful. "Did he agree?" Harry asked as they moved outside onto the street.
"No, but he will do." Dumbledore did not explain his reasoning and sure enough, Horace came running out with all his stuff packed.
"I want a raise." That was all he said before disappearing leaving Dumbledore even more smug, which was a very strange emotion to see on the kind and humble man that he usually was. He was actually quite impressed when Dumbledore had said that he would need Harry's help to convince Horace, he thought that meant speaking to the man himself. Instead, it simply meant making an appearance, he was actually quite impressed.
Dangling the fruit before the man without giving him a chance to sample it.
Coming to a stop near the edge of the side alley, Tonks disguised as a slightly taller, a beautiful black-haired woman poked her head out. Diagon Alley was quiet, almost vacant and those that were here rushed around with their heads bowed down low.
There was a tenseness, a fear surrounding Diagon Alley after the recent raid here. The very real truth that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and the Death Eaters had returned could no longer be ignored, not anymore. That alone terrified them more than words could describe and it was no wonder
"It's clear," Tonks whispered, stepping out from behind the alley and making her way towards Gringotts doors. Outside of which stood openly and proudly, a dozen armoured Goblins. Their silver armour clear to see, sharp spears propped against the ground and shields held by their sides. A fearsome and rare sight, but considering the recent assault against the bank, it was no wonder they had taken such precautions.
As they got within a few meters, slowly as to not appear threatening, Harry removed the Invisibility Cloak he had worn. Naturally, the guards reacted, tensing and spears pointed towards them.
Carefully, the two walked forwards, Harry pulling out the letter Bill had given him and presenting it to one of the guards. They tiding read it, just taking note of the seal on the back and lowered their spears. With that done, Harry and Tonks walked by, the doors opening for them all the while under heavy scrutiny from the guards.
As soon as they entered, the doors closing behind them, both released a sigh. "That was…"
"Tense." Tonks finished, both giving a short laugh. "Blame that on Dumbledore."
"I intend to," Harry replied, frowning slightly at the mention of the Headmaster. The letter he had received from Bill that was more of a request for his presence so that they could talk about who would take over his accounts, there had been some worry. Especially from Dumbledore and Moody.
However, been denied access to the Potter Vaults which Harry had already promised to use to help fund the Order, under the request that they keep him up to date on the war and train him for it. Well losing that precious funding they so desperately needed was not something the Order could afford. However, it had been Dumbledore, backed by Moody who requested that he go in his Invisibility Cloak.
"They obviously didn't think about how sketchy it would look if some random person suddenly revealed themselves." Harry continued, Tonks, nodding in agreement.
"I wouldn't have been surprised and was honestly expecting them to make us stop right there."
"Leaving me exposed."
"Wouldn't that be ironic? The very protective measures meant to keep you safe were the very things to get you killed." Despite there being little amusement in that fact, both gave a short laugh once more. "Now let's get this over with, I need a bath and I want to change my looks again."
Harry rose a brow, ignoring the image of Tonks in a bath. Sometimes the fact that she made her forms so beautiful was a serious problem for him, it was like being around Fleur all over again. "Do you change forms like I change clothes?"
"Harry, you rarely change clothes so I do it far more than you," Tonks smirked at him, both making their way towards the main desk. "But I get what you're saying and yes, I'm a Metamorphmagus and I like the freedom to look how I feel. People say that you should look like you were born but that's like you saying you shouldn't wear clothes. Probably not the best way to describe it, but you get what I'm saying don't you?"
"Not really. I guess you're saying that you like to look like whatever you desire in the moment rather than just the same way?" Tonks nodded her head. "But I can see why people say you should be more like how you usually look, I mean just wow."
The compliment on her looks made Tonks smile, she did like to be appreciated. "This isn't my original look, Harry. Though thanks for the compliment." Coming to a stop at the desk she looked up at the Goblin sat there. "We have a meeting with Ulgrat." She then turned back to Harry as he handed over the letter. "This is just another look, one of my more favourite ones, but not the original Tonks."
"Which is?" Harry asked.
"Why Harry, are you asking to see me naked?" She teased and Harry spluttered, cheeks flushing. "Man you make it so easy. But seriously, it's not all that much. It's pretty, but it kind of reminds me too much of my Bellatrix for me to like it all that much."
"Really?" Harry wondered and Tonks shrugged.
"It's not a carbon copy of her, but it's near enough." A cough broke through their conversation, both looking to see a Goblin waiting for them. The two made to follow him while talking all the way. "That's why I like to change my forms so much, it allows me to be who I want to be at any given moment. They're like my clothes and like any girl, I have my favourites."
Harry sighed. "Which is why you asked if I wanted to see you naked?" Tonks nodded her head. "Did you have to say it that way though?"
"Oh absolutely. But in all seriousness though, if you're a good boy I'll give you a little tour of my closet. Let you see me in all my favourite dresses and maybe see what lies beneath. Not just my forms, but what's reallybeneath." As they reached the door, Harry shifted uncomfortably, coughing as Tonks laughed openly. "I'll see you in a bit, I'll be just waiting out here."
Looking up from his desk, Ulgrat smiled welcomingly as he saw Harry Potter walking in through the door. He looked uncomfortable and slightly flushed, a strange sight but considering the attractive witch walking just out of sight, was understandable.
"Lord Potter, thank you for coming on such short notice." Ulgrat greeted extending one hand towards Harry who looked surprised. He quickly shook hands with the Goblin, however.
"It's not a problem at all." Indicated to the seat across from Ulgrat, Harry sat down in the comfortable leather chair. "But can I ask what this is about? Your letter didn't say much other than it was something to do with my account. Is there a problem?"
"It's not so much to do with your account as it is with your accountants Ripclaw. As you know, when the Death Eaters conducted the raid upon Diagon Alley, they also attacked Gringotts. They placed many accountants under the Imperious Curse, attempted to use them as a means to gain access to the Vaults." Harry nodded his head, Remus and Tonks had already told him all this. "We managed to put an end to that before anything serious could happen, but the Death Eaters killed those under the Imperious Curse as an act of spite before we could do anything."
"Ripclaw was one of them?" Harry didn't feel overly sad, he hadn't known Ripclaw personally or in any capacity really. He had only met the Goblin once and it was a short and very taciturn conversation.
Ulgrat nodded his head. "Yes, as you are the Lord of three families finding a replacement for Ripclaw is difficult, however, I do have a few, suitable candidates." Harry leaned forwards to show his interest. "But if you don't mind, I would like to admittedly, shamelessly put my own name forwards for the position of your accountant."
Harry blinked in surprise. "I-I'm honoured." He didn't really know what to say. The head of the Gringotts bank wanted to be his accountant? How did one respond to that?
"I of course will provide you files to look over the other choices before making your decision. But please, if you would not mind, I would like to ask if it would be alright for me to explain my circumstances for you to hear?"
"By all means, go ahead."
"As you may not be aware, my father is Ulgrat the Brutal." Harry did in fact not know that, nor did he even know who Ulgrat the Brutal was. Something must have shown upon his face that revealed as much to the Goblin who tensed up. Whether that was a good thing or a bad thing Harry did not know. "And well, considering we share the same name, it has led to many amongst my kind to believe I will follow down the same path as my father. It has taken me a great deal of effort to reach the position as head of Gringotts bank."
Harry could understand some of what Ulgrat was saying. In a way, they were similar. Harry was looked upon as the Boy-Who-Lived by many and nothing more than that. Ulgrat in turn was looked upon as the second incarnation of his father and nothing else. It was so similar that Harry couldn't help but feel for his plight. "I'm afraid that I don't see why you would need to become the accountant for my vaults if you've achieved this position. Surely you must have proved yourself by this point?"
"Unfortunately no." Ulgrat continued. "You see, the recent attack upon Gringotts has given many the perfect opportunity to attempt to strip me of my rank and put me back at the very bottom once more. However, in Goblin Society, the prestige and influence you possess are determined by the position you occupy. In this day and age, nothing is more important and prestigious than being the head of a powerful families accounts."
"And if you were to be given the chance to oversee my account, then you could secure yourself a powerful position?" Harry questioned, making sure that he understood the situation correctly.
"That is correct. You see your accountant is not something that Goblins can pick and choose. It is something you personally must agree to." One of the few laws put in place by the Ministry that Ulgrat was pleased with. If this worked, Harry would be the wall that stopped the King and his faction from removing him from his position of influence. "I doubt it will ever change my kinds perception of me, but it will at least ensure they cannot abuse me or my family further."
For a moment, there was silence, Harry considering everything that he had been told.
"As I said though, this is entirely your decision to make. It's not something you have to decide right here and now." Ulgrat pushed the files towards Harry. "These contain all the information on possible candidates to choose from."
Harry shook his head, mind made up. "No need, I'd like you to be my accountant," Harry said and internally, Ulgrat smiled triumphantly. It had been far too easy, Lord Potter far too young and easily manipulated.
Externally, however, Ulgrat released a sigh of relief, playing into the act he was putting on. "Thank you very much, you will not regret this decision, Lord Potter."
Harry released a sigh of relief as he finally sat down in the Prefects carriage. The train had left mere moments ago and there were only three other Prefects in the carriage. The Head Boy and Girl among them. He ignored the looks of admiration sent his way by the Seventh Year Hufflepuff Prefect and closed his eyes and allowed his Occlumency training to calm his nerves.
These next two years would be his most difficult. Dumbledore himself would be overseeing his training in Battle Transfiguration as well as teaching him some more abstract and powerful magic tailor-made to fighting in battles. Professor Flitwick would be assisting Remus Lupin, Tonks and any other Order member currently stationed at Hogwarts in improving his duelling style and battle instincts. While Snape would be once again teaching him Occlumency and its counterpart, Legillmency.
This would all be done throughout his next two years at Hogwarts as to ensure that when Harry finished his schooling, that he would be ready to join the war. While displeased by this, Harry understood and reluctantly agreed as it meant he was receiving training under the very best the Order had to offer.
Still, didn't mean he had to like the fact that he was once again been put on the sidelines when all he wanted was to put an end to Voldemort. In fact, Harry was going to make sure to get it all done as quickly as possible, a year at max. He'd be on the frontlines and putting an end to this war as soon as possible.
The feeling of a steady stream of magical signatures entering the Prefects carriage, made Harry open his eyes to see more Prefects coming in for the meeting. They too looked at Harry in admiration, each having seen the Daily Prophet that detailed his actions in the Battle of Diagon Alley, but Draco was another story.
The arrogance he once held was still there but hidden deeply by fear. Some of it was directed at him, but the vast majority has held no doubt for his new master. This alone made Harry's indifferent façade break away into a smug smirk that Draco saw and understood its meaning. His face flushed yet he did not rise to the bait. A shock, but something that made Harry curious.
Draco was a guy with a shitty personality, but he wasn't a bad guy per se. He had bullied people and made immature comments, but he had never done anything worse than that. His younger self may not have noticed this or even bothered to look past Draco's arrogance and snobbish attitude, however, he was different to his old self. He could see what Dumbledore could.
Draco was misguided, yet not irredeemable.
That didn't mean that Harry would go out of his way to change Draco or save him either. Whether he was worth saving or helping would be determined by Draco himself. Other than that, Harry would wash his hands of him. The best he could do at that point would be to bring Draco's miserable life to a quick end.
"Harry?" Hearing his name called, Harry turned away and faced Hermione with a small smile on his face. While he was annoyed that she hadn't tried to contact him at all throughout the summer, Harry wasn't going to judge her. For all he knew, Hermione had tried too, but her mail had been intercepted, it wouldn't have been the first time.
This didn't change their relationship however, she would always and forever remain his sister in all but blood and while they would occasionally fall out, he would forgive her in the end. Ronald on the other hand, Harry was really beginning to question what made him stick around the redhead every day. Constant reflection on his own self, made him also look at his friends and Harry wasn't sure why he stayed friends with Ron after his fourth year.
Still, much like with Hermione, he would reserve judgement. But unlike with Hermione, if he found the reasoning to be stupid and immature, then Harry would not forgive him. War was on the horizon and he couldn't surround himself with people that easily turned away from their friends when they were needed most. It was for that reason Harry was actually going to spend time making more friends among his fellow students. He needed allies, people he could trust and he needed them soon.
"Hey, Hermione." He greeted with a smile. Thankfully, Hermione wasn't reduced to a swooning mess like most of the witches of the receiving end of such a smile recently had been. "How have you being?"
"I'm good." She was silent for a few moments, her face adopting that look she got whenever she was trying to find the right words. "How are you feeling, with, you know?" While Hermione didn't express the actual meaning of his words, something that he was grateful for as he didn't need those around him to know about his relationship with Sirius, he understood what she meant.
"It was difficult at first, even more so with no one to talk to, but I got over it and spent most of my summer studying. I'm much like Remus in that regard." Hermione herself knew exactly what he meant, Remus had a habit of burying himself in work, trying to act like nothing had happened as to help him grieve.
"I-I, I wanted to speak to you, but Dumbledore says that Voldemort could be watching our houses and could follow any letters sent to and from houses to their destination." He nodded his head in understanding but remained silent after that. Hermione instantly realised that Harry was thinking deeply and remained quiet.
The battle in the Department of Mysteries had changed them both greatly. Hermione was no longer overbearing and was much quieter, her smile was no longer as large as it once was showing that coming close to death had shaken her to her very core. Harry on the other hand had changed both physically and mentally and while they were two different people now, they still held that connection that made them friends and family in all but blood.
So another chapter done and with it we see more about the Goblins and the internal problems going on within. Ulgrat however has got him into a very stable position, the Kings supporters have been removed from Gringotts and now he is the accountant for Harry and his vaults. Even with some of the Kings faction arriving, especially Kurknuss who will play an important role in the future, Ulgrat is in a very strong position.
Some of you may be wondering about what's going on in the Death Eater court and well at this point in time, there isn't much to show. However, in a few more chapters that will change and we'll see more as to what's going on in there. But finally, we see some more development between Harry and Tonks (it's this relationship and the development of it that needed Fleur removed from the picture hence why it's a slow-burn, but not for much longer). But the main thing to take away from this is the Goblins.
Anyway, let's get on with the questions:
TIYB: I'm just gonna leave it as the triad. Hermione will be playing a role, but she won't be paired with Harry. As explained this chapter, to Harry, Hermione is more of a sister than a possible romantic partner. Therefore their relationship will remain purely platonic.
JackBlaze123: Well as seen this chapter, there's great dissention between the Goblin ranks. The Goblin King himself preferring to remain on good terms with the Wizarding society. However, Ulgrat doesn't want that, he wants war and bloodshed. An understandable concern, but Harry has also been training before that. What he lacked was experience and situational awareness. He had the power, he had the spells he just didn't have the skills. Constant fighting and training under proper guidance as he has is the reason for his rapid growth.
The reason he didn't use it is because he can only use it twice, having to take a few seconds in between. It's also not instinctual so because of that, he didn't think to use it. If it was instinctual, Harry would have used it but it wasn't. And yes, once a month he gets a major boost like a super soldier serum.
As for rituals, not right now, no. Like you said, if Harry is 1 and 7 (the ritual which lets say is set) then afterwards he will have a new base level of 7. But say he was 10, then after ritual (10x7) it's 70. And don't take it as fact, it's and easy way of explaining why he's not doing rituals anymore. After all, a ritual that say, improves eyesight won't have a huge impact on that other than giving him better eyesight. However say he was to increase his magical capacity from 1 to 10 and then does the ritual, the increase is massive. But the multiplication is just an easy way to explain why he needs to wait.
Smutley-Do Wrong: I'm glad you like it and I fully agree. Having Dumbledore the way I've done is so rarely done and such a missed opportunity. And you're fully right, there's a lot of things about Canon Dumbledore that don't paint him as either fully bad or fully good, he's a mix. He's done bad things but for what is a good reason (or believes is the Greater Good). That's the Dumbledore I'm going for, neither good nor bad. Manipulative but not cruel.
Ladis11: I've considered a number of things and I do have a few in mind that I won't reveal. But there will be some things to consider.