Act I - Trials of Summer
Chapter 13 - Fleur Delacour
After an eventful meeting with the Gringotts Overlord, he found himself sitting in another spartan room, albeit one larger than the Black Overseer's office. The door outside the room said 'Parkinson, Potter, Rosier', meaning the office was somehow responsible for all three families.
It was an odd feeling, thinking about how he was sharing his Account Overseer with the likes of Pansy Parkinson's family. He was also somewhat sure there was a Rosier on the Slytherin Quidditch Team, too. What was up with all the Slytherins?
"The Parkinson and Rosier families are Ancient, much like the Potters," his godfather helpfully chimed in.
"But they're not nobility," Harry deduced. "So they're grouped together?"
"Well, yes. But mainly because they can't afford the unnecessary cost of hiring a personal Overseer—"
"Unnecessary, are we?" a staccato voice spoke from the doorway. Harry turned his head and saw a goblin— no, that goblin —step into the chamber. "I wonder if Overseer Ripclaw is aware of your thoughts, Lord Black."
"He isn't, and I'll thank you not to pass it onto him," Sirius replied with all the dryness of the Sahara. "You're—"
"My name is Griphook. Overseer for the Parkinson, Potter, and Rosier family accounts, and the unfortunate goblin who has to listen to wizards bicker and waste time. Valuable time that could instead be spent gaining gold."
Harry decided to speak up. "You probably don't remember—"
"That I was the goblin who showed you to your vault upon your very first visit to Gringotts?" Griphook replied, the expression on his small face akin to a hungry shark. "As I believe you already know by now, scion of House Potter, you are very famous. Even amongst goblins."
"So I've heard," he muttered in response. "Um, about my inheritance—"
Griphook raised a single finger, and Harry got the feeling that unlike Ripclaw, this goblin seemed a little too fond of semi-grandiose gestures. "Don't worry, we will be getting to that. But before we do, I have here with me the rather surprising results of your inheritance test. We will need to go through them, of course, and then decide whether you wish to bear the…" his smile widened, "unnecessary cost of hiring a full-time Overseer for both your accounts."
Sirius bristled at that.
"Now then…" Griphook took his seat in a no-nonsense fashion, meeting Harry's gaze as he interlocked his fingers and rested his chin atop them. "Perhaps we can decide upon the future of House Potter now? Or, of course, you're more than welcome to claim yourself too young and free-spirited to deal with all this 'banking nonsense' and allow Gringotts to deal with your finances as it believes best."
It took all of Harry's might to not let his jaw drop. Despite having met with the feral Ripclaw and the outright scary, if somewhat helpful, Overlord Eitri, this meeting with Griphook was easily the most surreal of them all. There was being blunt, and then there was… whatever this was.
"No— no thank you," he gathered himself. "I'd like to discuss it now."
Griphook made an uncharacteristic noise in the back of his throat. Harry translated that to the goblin's way of expressing frustration. "Do you recognize your rights as an adult, Mister Potter?"
"I'm fourteen, almost fifteen, if that's what you're asking," Harry offered.
The goblin merely sighed, before opening a particular file on his desk. "I have here an affidavit from the Ministry of Magic, deeming you to be an adult as a result of active participation in the International Triwizard Tournament despite being underage. It is for that same reason that you are being tried as an adult with a full Wizengamot courtroom."
Griphook continued in a patient monotone. "If you wish to continue this conversation as a child, I will have to reluctantly oblige as your gracious Host and allow your guardian to be present in the meeting. If you wish to talk about this as an adult and Heir Potter, I can have him thrown outside."
Harry was gobsmacked. "I— uh, Sirius stays." He sat up straighter. "But I want to deal with this like an adult."
He wasn't sure, but something in the goblin's body language seemed to say he was satisfied. At the very least, Griphook seemed to deem it unnecessary to trade more words over the matter.
"As it stands, you currently hold the position of Heir Apparent for the House of Potter. As an adult in the eyes of the Ministry of Magic, you have the ability to exercise your right to ascend to Lord. As per current Wizengamot policy, no Lord under the age of seventeen may take his seat, which is why you will require someone to act as proxy—"
"I can do that," Sirius jumped in.
"Wizard!" Griphook snapped towards him. "This is a meeting between House Potter and its Overseer. Your authority as both Heir Potter's godfather as well as Lord Black is wholly irrelevant. Kindly cease your yammering or be removed from my sight."
That shut Sirius up. Fast.
"Ah—" Harry tried to intervene. "Sirius can be my proxy. I've got no problems with that."
"Despite knowing that a Lord of a Noble House can, and likely will, put his own interests above your own?"
"Yes," came his immediate reply. "I trust Sirius with his life." Harry didn't meet his godfather's eyes, but the sudden tightening of the man's grip on his shoulder told him far more than words possibly could.
"Very well," Griphook briskly replied. "Then let's not waste anymore time or gold and get to the barebones. Here is the conclusion from your inheritance test, a copy of which has been placed in the Potter Family Vault while another was sent to the Black Family Vault, owing to your status as a son of Black."
Harry took the offered parchment, one with beautiful cursive writing so neat that it almost seemed printed. And more importantly, its contents were… illuminating.
HARRY JAMES POTTER
Heir Apparent to the Ancient House of Potter.
[Ascension through James Charlus Potter – Father]
Son to the House of Black.
[Ascension through Sirius Orion Black – Godfather]
Heir Apparent to the Noble and Most Ancient House of Peverell.
[Ascension through (?) – Magic]
"What about his mother?" Sirius inquired, looking at the parchment with a crooked eyebrow, "I'd imagine she'd have a squib ancestor somewhere."
The goblin looked bored. "Lily Potter nee Evans," he took out a small parchment from his drawer. "Fleamont Potter did get a standard inheritance test performed upon her post her nuptials. The Evans family does show some traces to the Von Hohenheim family, but the connection is too flimsy, even magically speaking, for her to call herself a Von Hohenheim."
"I've never heard of that family before," Harry admitted, looking sheepish.
"Not many do," Griphook replied, "it's a Proto-Germanic lineage that went extinct sometime in the sixteenth century," Griphook replied, looking as bored as possible. "A pureblooded House, but not one with Ancient or Noble status. The House of Von Hohenheim does, however, have a single vote in the Wizengamot due to the contributions of its most famous member, Philippus Von Hohenheim, commonly known as Paracelsus. Order of Merlin, First Class."
Harry looked up from the parchment, his gaze disbelieving. "So my mother could have been a pureblood?"
"No," Sirius corrected, "even on the off chance that she could have inherited the name, she'd have still counted for a muggleborn, just as you're still a half-blood, kiddo. Claiming descent from older families is not unexpected, but more often than not, the trace is so thin that the Family Charter disqualifies them from taking the Name in the first place."
"But then the Peverells—"
"Are a whole different bag of flobberworms," Sirius replied, seamlessly fitting into the role of a teacher, "Where there's nobility involved, all established doctrines get flung out of the window."
"There's more to it than that, isn't there?" Harry carefully observed his godfather for possible reactions. "You, and Ripclaw were both surprised upon seeing the gold lettering on the parchment."
Sirius grimaced. "It's a story for another day, Harry. One thing at a time, yeah?"
Harry frowned. Whatever it was, Sirius was hiding something. Something about that family had both him and a goblin of all things freaked out. And that oddity was also why the Overlord had chosen to speak to him personally.
So what was it?
One thing at a time.
"Okay," he breathed. "So what happens now?"
"Now," Griphook snapped his fingers, and another folder appeared on his desk, "we move onto our next topic of business. Would you like to take charge of the Potter family as its Lord, Mister Potter? As Overseer, I am willing to postpone this decision until you are mentally equipped to answer it." He couldn't tell whether Griphook was being considerate or just plain mean. "Should you perish before such a time comes to pass, I or my kin will continue holding the accounts until another Potter heir comes along with the backbone to deal with the family's affairs."
Harry winced. Griphook, certainly didn't mince words.
He glanced at Sirius, who hesitantly nodded.
So be it.
"I'm willing to take charge of my family accounts as its next Lord," he intoned.
"Good," Griphook smiled, his shark-like expression deepening. Another snap of the goblin's fingers, and two more folders appeared. "Now, we just need your signatures on a dozen different documents, and then we can get started on the finances."
Something told him he wasn't going to like the goblin's next words.
"I believe you're familiar with the function of a blood quill?"
"You are to report immediately to Overseer Griphook."
Fleur stared, her expression as flat as parchment, as the paper missive faded into nothingness. Overseer Griphook was a strict, demanding superior to work for, but the goblin never made a secret out of it. As Overseer, the number of financial analysts in his employ constantly fluctuated because they either failed to meet his high standards or became overwhelmed by the massive amount of paperwork thrown their way.
Still, a job was a job. It didn't matter that she was doing a Mastery in Warding. Or that she only started working for Gringotts recently. Or that she'd worked overtime for an entire week just so she could've gotten this one sunday off. Not that there was anything worthwhile in this degueulasse excuse of a country.
Still, an evening with a glass of wine and a book by the fireplace had a nice ring to it.
But instead, she was at Gringotts dealing with some Family Vault business. Apparently, someone from the long-lost Peverell family had demanded a complete analysis of the current state of his assets. Fleur, unlike her gold-digging mother, had little to no interest in wizarding nobility, so she had no clue why the goblins were so excited about the whole affair.
Heaving a heavy sigh, Fleur wiped the sweat off of her brow. Forget taking a day off, she'd consider herself lucky if she ended up getting back home by nightfall.
Really, this week seemed to keep on giving.
With a snap, the documents began sliding around the table into their proper folders. A quick glamor charm to hide the dark circles beneath her eyes and a scourgify to make herself look presentable, she rushed out of her cubicle and into the elevator. Once inside, she took another anxious few seconds to settle on the right smile to start with.
It wouldn't do to look like a hag when meeting with a brand new client, after all.
Though, perhaps, that was a bit unwarranted. Even when looking like a homicidal maniac, she was certain she could turn heads. At least goblins had a greater mental resistance than wizards, letting her do her job without having to keep an eye out for grabby co-workers. Otherwise, she'd have to deal with molesters in every corner, only for them to blame their actions on her lascivious allure compelling their weak little minds into following her, wagging their tongues like glorified horndogs—
She hated it.
She hated everything about England.
The food. The weather. The haughty accent of these cochons.
The fact that she was legally considered a beast. An inferior, despite being ten times the witch of anyone she'd ever met in this horrible excuse for a country.
And perhaps most importantly, she hated having to suffer through William's torturous tutoring sessions, in which the redhead constantly ogled her and shamelessly flirted while she sat like a little girl and tried to learn something. William was the only wardbreaker available in the position to accept new students, so despite his advances, all she could do was smile brightly and say, "Thank you sir, may I have another?"
Filthy english pigs!
As the elevator halted, Fleur stepped out, readying herself for yet another problem. Though… maybe this would be the last of the day's grueling tasks. Maybe she'd finally be able to go home to her cramped little apartment, where her book and wine were waiting for her.
Or perhaps firewhisky, depending on how this all went.
Taking a deep breath, she pressed the doorbell.
"Come in," came the no-nonsense command.
Fleur exhaled, adjusting her expression appropriately. Griphook was speaking in formal, percussive tones. That meant someone, most likely the fils de salope responsible for ruining her day off, was sitting in there with him. She hoped it wouldn't be some weak-minded star-struck fool who would drool at her.
Was that really too much to ask for?
Cursing under her breath, she strode inside. There were two people seated in front of Griphook. One was a man with long, flowing black hair that reached down to his shoulders, possibly an aristocrat based on his choice of robes. Then again, this was Overseer Griphook's office, and he never wasted time on penniless buffoons.
The other one looked far younger, with shoulder-length jet-black hair and dressed in a tux. He was currently facing away from her as he talked to Griphook, shoulders eased as he relaxed into his chair. Fleur crossed the entire distance and stood beside the Overseer, finally getting a good look at his face—
Her eyes widened.
As did his.
Fleur saw him jump up out of his chair, his mouth forming words almost on autopilot, but failing just before sound managed to escape. She couldn't blame him, since hers were doing the same.
Finally, they both managed to speak.
This was quite possibly the last person he'd expected to meet at Gringotts, save for Voldemort himself maybe, but that was just how his luck worked. Harry stared at the Veela princess, a sharp contrast to the short goblin seated next to her. She was wearing a mix of red and grey, and her hair was neatly tied up into a bun, a stark contrast to the single ponytail she preferred during her stay in Hogwarts. As always, she wore her supernatural beauty like a cloak, but the signs of exhaustion were too visible not to notice. The slight droop of her shoulders, the lack of casual arrogance in her demeanor, and her stiff posture all painted a clear picture.
Whatever the girl was doing here, she was definitely overworking herself. He'd seen the same thing happen to Hermione too many times not to recognize it instantly.
His eyes met hers, and he found his own surprise being dwarfed by her own. He'd never expected to see the Brit-hating French girl at a British bank, much less in the same room as him. Hell, the last time he'd seen her, she was still suffering from the aftereffects of the cruciatus curse in the last Task.
He slightly frowned, wondering if she knew what had happened after their encounter that night. A million other questions flashed across his mind, yet not a single one escaped his lips. He really should just say something—
Sirius coughed in the background. That seemed to break the spell, as Harry jolted back to reality.
"Fleu— ah, Miss Delacour."
"Mister Potter," she replied, her lips pursed. Fleur, Harry noticed, really needed help in perfecting her 'I-am-trying-to-appear-indifferent' look. He might've been imagining it, but he sensed more than a little bit of anger directed towards him.
What was that all about?
Sirius coughed again.
Cheeks slightly red, Harry quickly sat back down and did his best to sink into his chair—
"Right then," Sirius replied, a tad too loudly for his tastes. "Awkward silences are awkward. Introductions, if you please."
Closing his eyes and resisting the urge to bash his head into the desk, Harry stood back up, trying to remember what little etiquette McGonagall had forced onto him during those awful dance classes last year. "Sirius," he awkwardly began, "meet Fleur Delacour. Fle— Miss Delacour, this is my godfather, Sirius."
He paused, wondering whether his part was over.
Thankfully, his godfather came to his rescue. Standing up, Sirius exuberantly offered his hand towards Fleur, who murmured something under her breath and took it. Kissing her knuckles lightly, Sirius gave her a pleasant nod. "I am Sirius Black. It's a genuine pleasure to meet you."
Inwardly, Harry wondered whether this suave gentleman in front of them was the same hyper-excited guy who'd been ranting and raving about Veela massage parlors in the Bahamas.
"Charmed," Fleur murmured, her eyes flickering towards Harry with a mix of surprise and… was that resignation?
"I didn't know you were working here," Harry finally said.
"I joined 'ere last month," she slowly replied, before her eyes slightly widened. Her hand now released from Sirius's gentle grip, she dropped the folders she was carrying onto Griphook's desk. "Sorry for the interruption," she tipped her head. "'Ere are the files you requested."
Harry thought he saw a strange glint in Griphook's eyes. For some reason, it rubbed him the wrong way.
"I imagine," the goblin said at last, "that you are acquaintances with Mister Potter here?"
He supposed they could be considered acquaintances. The number of times they'd really interacted could be counted on one hand. Then again, he could say the same thing about any Hogwarts student from the other Houses that wasn't Malfoy. Hell, he hadn't even traded words with Crabbe and Goyle, and that was saying something.
He really needed to get out more.
"I suppose," Fleur hesitantly confirmed.
"Good," Griphook grinned. "This will make things easier. Sit."
"We are having a discussion over Mister Potter's many assets, distributed across multiple investments and vaults, several of which require reallocation because of certain new ventures he is about to initiate." He looked pointedly at the folder on the table.
And with that eloquent rebuttal, she took the empty chair in the room, and kept her gaze firmly on the table in front of her.
It was strange. Griphook had been perfectly willing to snap files into existence before this— probably some kind of goblin magic based on the switching charms. And yet, he had called Fleur Delacour to walk in and bring files, and inadvertently mingle with them.
As helpful as the goblin was pretending to be, Harry would bet his Firebolt that he knew about Fleur being the Beauxbatons Champion for the Triwizard Tournament.
So why was he pretending to be ignorant about it?
"If I may ask," Sirius prodded, "what exactly is her role here?"
"Delacour is a financial analyst working under me. She's rather good at dealing with numbers, for a witch."
Harry frowned at that. The way Griphook phrased that gave him a negative vibe. Fleur, on the other hand, showed absolutely no reaction to it at all. What had happened to the arrogant Champion he once barely knew?
"—has been spending the day analyzing and listing all of Mister Potter's current assets."
Harry scratched his chin as he glanced towards her. The look of surprise on her features told him she didn't actually know whose assets they were. Why the secrecy?
"Delacour, if you would."
Fleur opened the folder and thumbed through the sheets she had prepared. Finally plucking one out, she passed it towards Harry, who took it gingerly. On it were a list of his current investments and liquid cash, distributed across several places in several forms. From what he could understand, he'd gotten a customary Trust vault as a son of House Potter, a tradition followed by most pureblood families. The Ministry had also deposited twenty thousand galleons back in 1981, along with a golden trophy— the Order of Merlin, First Class —for his status as the Boy-Who-Lived. There was also a common collection vault at Gringotts, one that held privately sponsored bounties payable upon the death of the Dark Lord, as well as a Trust vault belonging to James Potter and a common vault belonging to Lily Evans-Potter.
It all summed to a whopping three hundred and twenty-nine thousand galleons.
"I'd like to add something here," Sirius voiced out. "As Lord of House Black, it is customary for every son of my House to get an individual Trust vault of twenty thousand galleons. Have that, as well as the monetary contents of my personal vault, transferred to the Peverell Vault."
Harry gave him a surprised look.
Sirius just shrugged.
"Very well," Griphook shrugged. "Miss Delacour can have the financial documents for that set up and approved by Overseer Ripclaw in merely a few hours. Surely not too great an effort for a friend."
In all his admittedly few years, Harry had never heard the word friend used as a means to strongarm someone into unwilling action.
"Um, it's alright," he interrupted, carefully avoiding Fleur's gaze. "I can happily wait until tomorrow or the day after. There's no urgent need for any of it."
Was it just his imagination, or did she clench her teeth at his proposal? He was trying to do her a favor! Her reactions made absolutely no sense to him. Then again, neither did any of what Griphook was saying.
"Indeed?" the goblin murmured, a calculating expression on his face. "Delacour, every word spoken in this room is subject to confidentiality oaths. Do you understand?"
"As an adult in the eyes of the law, Mister Potter is the sole owner of House Potter's assets as its Heir Apparent. He will be taking Lordship of the family today."
Harry felt Fleur's gaze flicker towards him. Hearing the goblin declare him an adult oddly reminded him of her 'leetle boy' comment all over again.
He grimaced. At the time, that comment had stung. And as much as he'd love to pretend otherwise, it felt great to be addressed like that in front of the same girl who ridiculed him like that.
"Mister Potter is also the Heir Apparent to the Peverells, an old Noble family. As per the Inheritance Laws, he can, as Lord Potter, commence absorption of the Potter line into Peverell nobility. Do you have the new Family Vault files I asked you to get me?"
She bobbed her head.
"Excellent," Griphook snapped, though nothing appeared this time. "I need a Family Merger filed in less than two weeks' time. It requires a complete accounting of the Potter family assets, contractual obligations, and standing businesses. All of that, without getting too tangled in the Ministry's red tape." He shot her a glance that Harry couldn't identify. "Are you up to it?"
Fleur opened her mouth, and closed it. Then, she tried again.
"I— I am 'honored that you are offering—"
"I do not pay you for your opinion, Delacour," Griphook snapped. "I am interested to know if you are capable of the job. A simple yes or no will suffice."
Fleur's jaws snapped shut.
"Good." Griphook had a smarmy look on his face. "Then effective immediately, you are to function as liaison to Mister Potter on behalf of Gringotts. Your job is to help him transition through the ordeal, personally account for the listing of his assets, and provide reasonable advice to him over their move to House Peverell. I expect it all to be completed in the next fifteen days."
Harry inwardly marveled at the goblin's sheer efficacy. Had he not spoken to the Overlord, he probably wouldn't have been able to read between the lines so well. The trial was in three weeks, and Griphook was ordering all the formalities to be completed just in time.
On the other hand, the person handling his case was Fleur. The same haughty Beauxbatons Champion who had been unbearably condescending towards him for the majority of last year. Merlin help him if she tried to do the same again. Come to think of it, the Fleur Delacour he knew would probably refuse the offer on the spot.
"Of course, sir."
…Or, maybe not.
"Do you have any objections to this?"
It took Sirius poking him to realize that the question was, in fact, aimed at him.
"I—" he stuttered, wondering what to say. Fleur's impeccable pokerface didn't help matters any. "I have no issues with this arrangement, provided she has none."
"It is my job," she fastidiously replied.
Harry stared at her. He'd heard what she had to say, so why did it feel like taking this job was the last thing she wanted to do?
"Are you sure?"
Fleur's eyes narrowed, and a familiar haughtiness returned to her features. "I assure you, Mister Potter, I am perfectly capable of serving as your Account Manager, even if it is on a temporary basis. I am looking for an upliftment in my job profile, and if you are willing to grant me this opportunity, you will not regret it."
For some reason, her words did not inspire confidence. It was just the way his luck worked.
Harry sighed. Dealing with a veela for his finances. His godfather would have a field day. Now if only he could find a way to avoid Sirius's attempts at embarrassing him in front of Emma.
"Well then," he put on a practiced smile. "Let's set up an appointment and discuss where to go from here."
Fleur's lips twisted into something that was almost, but not quite, a smile.
It made his insides shiver.
"I'd like that."
Editor: Solo Starfish, the best goddamn starfish the world has ever seen.
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