Be Selfish

Chapter 12

It was a pale and shaken Antonin Dolohov that emerged from a cavernous side chamber deep within Gringotts. Like it's sister branch in the UK and everyone else, it was a big cavernous environment that took decades to navigate – longer still to do so successfully – his stomach was churning. He didn't expect himself to react thusly, he'd seen far worse as a Death Eater. Seen traitors tortured to the brink, only to be cursed and hexed until they were nothing but a drooling mess. They betrayed the cause, they deserved it, truthfully it was the only way such torture was deserved in his opinion. The past was the past now, he refused to dwell on it, from the Dark Lords' descent into madness or his years in Azkaban. While mild compared to everyone else's time, he'd still lost his freedom.

"Honestly, is nothing normal around Potter?" Antonin muttered under his breathe, as he moved towards the main chamber. Which currently housed an unconscious Harry, it was time to find out if this was all for nothing. He sincerely hoped not, for that had been a disturbing amount of pain to endure. He almost wished the boy hadn't decided he needed to do it.

He shoved his way into the room containing very quiet, solemn and pale goblins. "How is he?" he demanded to know.

"He's unconscious," the healer goblin closest to Harry confirmed, "He will likely be out of it for at least half a day."

Antonin wanted to scoff, honestly, the boy was a miracle, he likely would wake up within a few hours. Still, he felt deeply uncomfortable with what he'd just witnessed. "Did it work? Was there enough magical residue for the extraction?" he prayed to Merlin it was the case, the thought of Harry having gone through that for nothing was daunting to say the least. Upon noticing his shaking hands, he attempted to unobtrusively slot them behind his back without anyone the wiser.

It wasn't the case at all, the goblins had noticed, but as usual, were their normal discrete selves.

Antonin allowed himself the illusion and didn't look further, far more interested in an answer.

"Well?" the eldest goblin barked out in gobbledegook, too used to conversing in his first language that it was an almost automatic habit. A routine he kept despite the fact he was a polyglot, and spent most of his days speaking in a dozen different languages in various meetings throughout today. Given that Dolohov was a major client with the highest accounts in both Russian and UK Gringotts banks, he should have spoken in either Russian or English but had slipped up. "Did it work?" rectifying his error as swiftly as possible.

Anyone stupid enough to endanger the duke or his accounts would find themselves with their heads on the literal chopping block.

After a few tense and silent seconds, which ticked by like minutes the healer goblin straightened up, "It worked." He didn't tell them just how barely it worked, but he'd succeeded. If he'd waited any longer, it was likely it would have been too degraded, Harry's magic was encompassing everything in his own body, healing him further than the potions were doing.

Antonin felt a weight lift off his shoulders, and a vicious grin appear on his face, oh, this was going to be beautiful. He wasn't going to miss this for anything, unfortunately, that meant returning to Britain, which he'd really rather not. Dumbledore had been a major thorn that had crippled the dark side for far too long. This was about to be rectified, by the very one prophesied to save them. "Good."

Antonin picked the boy up, he'd sweated so much he looked drenched, he smelt awful as well. "Is it safe for him to return home?" he didn't want to worsen Harry's condition.

"Yes, he'll need rest, his magic will be out of sorts for a few days, so perhaps caution him against using magic too much." The goblin explained, they'd practically had to battle Harry's own magic to get to the site of the contamination done due to the blocks upon his magic.

"And it is Dumbledore?" biggest question and rather important, if you could consider something you already knew as important. Honestly, if the goblin told him no, he'd be hell of a shocked, because he knew, he knew that it was Dumbledore. Harry was likely 99.9% sure as well, that it was Dumbledore. It was why he was so adamant about going through with the procedure. Harry knew as well as he did that nobody would believe him fully without proof. Then again, there would be those with proof that believed whatever bullshit excuse he gave. That was luckily just those in his blasted order, those he collected or coerced into working for him.

"It's his magical signature indeed," the goblin declared, baring its teeth, whether it was meant to be a reassuring or vindictive look it was lost on everyone.

Antonin inclined his head in silent thanks, "Fawkes?" he called out, summoning what used to be Dumbledore's familiar.

The phoenix appeared in a ball of flame as was his usual means of transportation. He swooped down towards Dolohov its claws carefully landing on his shoulder, and with that, the goblins watched as a wall of fire flashed over them and when it finally dissipated there was nothing remaining.

Dolohov remained firmly on his feet, far used to any and all means of magical transportation. Well, that would be a lie, there was a first for everything. Getting transported by a phoenix was similarly different when comparing it to Portkey except it was a little hotter.

"I still don't like you," Antonin told the blasted phoenix, who just thrilled in turn, causing a tension he hadn't been aware he harboured eased within him. His hands had also stopped shaking, for which he was truly grateful. Despite how aggravated he looked, especially while he walked across to the couch, he set Harry down very carefully before slumping into a seat himself.

He was getting too old for this shit.

The thought of reacting the way he had in a meeting left him nauseous if he was honest. No, he knew he wouldn't react that way for anyone else. This was something far, far worse. He was getting attached. He glanced at Harry lying unconscious across the couch and frowned. Could it be possible? But why? He was a teenager…although given his past…he'd likely never been a child or teenager.

Harry was a child soldier; he'd been conditioned to kill for a cause he'd been systematically conditioned to follow.

Most people were terrified of him, when he was arrested, they had twenty aurors, and took him down with five stunners to the chest. It would have likely killed anyone else less powerful than himself and without his protections woven into his clothes. The guards worked in groups of four around him, they knew he was dangerous, and make no mistake he was. If he'd had the inclination, he could have taken out all those order members, but they hadn't wished to risk the lives of the students thus, mostly, stuck to spells that would allow them to survive. He'd been honest with Harry, if they'd wanted to kill them, they would have been dead.

Too much magical blood has been spilled, the Dark Lord regretted the necessity of more to come.

Harry, he'd fought him bravely, without fear, despite the pain he'd been in, remained standing and resolute. Harry, he'd been told had been put under the Cruciatus curse when he was fourteen, and had managed to outsmart a dozen wizards. To do that while his body was in such dire straits already? Well it was beyond unfathomable. He stood up to them all, even the Dark Lord, whom even Antonin had a healthy respect – and fear – for. He was the most powerful wizard in the magical world, more powerful than Dumbledore liked to pretend to be. Harry…if he had the training the Dark Lord had undergone, they'd be equals he suspected.

He'd never given a shit about anyone being tortured, certainly hadn't felt the need to lurch through the glass and strange a damn goblin for during a ritual Harry had requested. Interesting, he was getting attached, he wasn't one for denial, he didn't see the point. Rubbing his jaw at the unexpected turn of events. He supposed it was only a good thing that the boy wasn't light, now that would have been really nauseating.

Still, this fondness he had growing for Harry was both unacceptable, annoying, and downright ill-timed.

Yes, despite being free, he was feeling his age far more than he had during his stint in Azkaban.

His mind drifting to the drama that was last night.


If anyone had happened upon the scene, they would have found it a little comical. A young man (Harry Potter of all people) hidden carefully – protectively – behind the bulk of Antonin Dolohov from a bird of all things. Yet, nothing was ever what it seemed, especially when magic was at play.

But the phoenix continued to flap its wings, remaining where it was.

Harry straightened up, refusing to be a coward, it wasn't who he was, "I am not going back there, Fawkes, go home!" he demanded of the phoenix, wand at the ready. He didn't want to hurt the beautiful creature but he'd do whatever it took to live to thrive. Hell, he'd rather die than let his magic be bound again and be pulled around by the nose the way Dumbledore desired of him.

He was so done just trying to survive. So, bone achingly tired of it.

A thrill was the only answer he got.

"What's wrong with him?" Harry asked giving the bird an odd look. It wasn't normal Fawkes behaviour, but what did he really know? He'd only seen the bird a few times, one of them rather traumatic for twelve-year-old him. Seeing a poor defenceless bird just burst into flames like that. "He looks like he's about to…" before he could actually finish his statement Fawkes burst into flames.

Harry automatically reached out, trying to catch the poor bird before he fell onto the floor. A reflexive move that he could no way prevent any more than to not reach for his wand at the first sign of danger. In this instance he dropped his wand, which he had in his hand.

"You dropped your wand to save a bird that would be just fine?" Antonin asked the wizard, exasperation deep in his voice. "How have you not been killed?" honestly did his stupidity know no bounds? Or did he perhaps feel safe with him? which sounded incredulous to think really. He knew that nobody would consider him 'safe' by any stretch of imagination.

"What? Like you were going to kill me? Unless you've forgotten we can't hurt each other," Harry said pointedly, raising his eyebrow and gesturing with his head in his direction bluntly.

Antonin grunted, eyes zoning in on Harry's hand just as he yelped in pain.

"Fawkes!" holding his right hand aloft, a vicious tear in his hand where Fawkes had just bitten him.

Then magic began to suffuse the room, firm and determined, giving absolutely no leeway.

Harry dropped Fawkes, his left hand was clutching at his hand, terror filling him, what had Fawkes just done to him? He could feel foreign magic inside of him, and he didn't know what was happening, and thus his own magic lashed out.

"Harry? Harry? Harry?" came Antonin's voice, firm and strong, gripping Harry's shoulders despite the zaps of magic he received in return. "…rry…arry….Harry! Calm down!"

Antonin knelt carefully at Harry's side, his grip bordering on painful, "He's trying to bond with you," he repeated, "For some reasons he's bonding with you as a familiar."

"He won't harm you, to harm you would be to harm himself," Antonin was relieved to feel Harry's magic beginning to calm and retreat, clearly, he heard him. "He wishes to become your familiar," he didn't want to dwell on the how or why yet, but it was clearly what the phoenix was trying to do.

It had come to Harry whilst so close to burning day for a reason.

"I swear its safe, accept the bond, it won't harm you," Antonin barked out, losing his patience fast. He had no tact, and he was just fine with that. Bordered on rude most of the time, he wasn't one for giving comfort, at least not much. He had tried, for Harry's sake at least. He also detested repeating himself.

Harry's acceptance was immediate after that, as if he was trusting Antonin to have his best interests. Bright shining light suffused to the bird and Harry, encompassing them all for mere seconds before the blinding light began to dim.

It dimmed to the point where Antonin could see once more, although there were still stars dancing in his eyes, due to the intensity of the light leaving him a little out of sorts for a few precious moments. Good, he'd listened, which honestly surprised him. Given all he knew about Harry, he was at a stage of rebelling against being told what to do, at least he believed so. It may well just be because of whom was trying to tell him what to do. He was likely still distrusted after all.

Harry blinked owlishly, "That's strange," his voice slightly strained, as if he'd been through the most rigorously exhausting process possible.

Antonin made a move to leave Harry now that the crisis had been averted, only to return when the young man seemed to wobble. "What is?"

The phoenix thrilled, his ability less potent as before, but as a chick it was hardly surprising.

Although its size did suggest that it wasn't the case.

"Fawkes, he didn't look like that the last time I saw him have a burning day," Harry pointed out, still blinking owlishly, more than a little befuddled.

"What did he look like?" Antonin asked, his gaze sharpening, he knew a great deal about Phoenixes, he knew a great deal about all kinds of magic. His family were avid scholars spanning many different careers, healers, Magizoologists, Potion Masters, Masters of Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, Alchemy, his great grandmother for some reason took a fascination with Druidism and had over a hundred books on them.

"Tiny, you know, grey, no feathers in which to speak, like a bare chick, sitting on top of a pile of ash…" Harry confessed, staring at Fawkes in amazement, really, he looked seven weeks old compared to the last time. Harry had looked up everything he could in both the Muggle world and magical world regarding owls. He had wanted to take the very best care of his owl. Although, he failed a lot, Hedwig wasn't meant to be fed bacon and lots of other human food like soup. It was all he could give her though, he made sure she was fully sated before he even looked at the tin of soup he got. "He's growing so quickly…is it a phoenix thing?" it hadn't happened the last time.

Antonin just stared a little mesmerised at the pair, Harry crouched down on the floor beside the phoenix. He successfully told himself that he was amazed by the growth and the phoenix itself, not Harry.

"Ant?" Harry craned his head to see, frowning at the look on the wizard's face.

Antonin cleared his throat, "I'll give you a book to read, you'll need it." Especially now since it was apparent the damn phoenix had chosen Harry as his master.

"Will Dumbledore know?" Harry's lips curled up into a smug grin that he didn't quite finish, at least not in Antonin's view, he turned back instead to observe the phoenix. He reckoned Hedwig was going to be really, rather jealous, hard to measure up to a phoenix but he'd make sure she knew she was adored all the same.

Antonin however, had caught that look, and grinned ruefully, shaking his head a little, "It's regretfully unlikely…unless, did Dumbledore have you under a spell thrill twice?"

Fawkes thrilled twice.

"It was the only way he'd ever get free; he must have ordered Fawkes to find you, desperate to an extent he didn't even think of the bird's burning day. Fawkes has taken advantage of that, burning days purge them of all spells, influences and bonds. He might have at one point been a genuine familiar bond between them…but it's not the case anymore." Clearly the phoenix had decided to abandon Dumbledore.

"What could cause a familiar to abandon its Master?" Harry asked entirely befuddled.

"It's not done, the fondness and love shared between wizard and familiar is a bond that's usually unshakable, entirely unbreakable." Antonin was actually quite disturbed by the fact Dumbledore's familiar was abandoning him, it had to be what? Four decades they'd been a bonded pair? If rumour was to be believed. What could have caused the phoenix to part ways? What had Dumbledore done to shatter the bond? He was highly concerned; he did indeed need to alert the Dark Lord. Unfortunately, he couldn't do anything for six more days.

Not that he minded waiting, he was rather enjoying getting to know Harry, he wondered if anyone actually knew the boy at all.

-0End Flashback 0-

"A phoenix…"


The goblins eerie black eyes glimmered with an inner light as they observed the space in which Duke Dolohov and Lord Potter had been moments ago.

"Things are going to change in Britain." A storm brewing that would change the British magical world from the bottom up.

"That they are," the Russian goblins abhorred the UK and its restrictions they placed on magic. Yet creatures of all kind try to flock there, only to realise it wasn't what was promised. Not just creatures, but wizards and witches, it never took long before families returned to their birthplace utterly disenchanted and made bitter by the false promises. There were only a few places that Britain was honestly preferable to their homeland. Magical Britain was truly backwards, a laughing stock.

"Perhaps it's time to dig into all British investments that will become high risk in the coming year or so…and suggest investing elsewhere." One goblin commented, his tone gleeful.

"Already begun," another goblin stated, a vicious grin on his face.

The giggle of delight from the goblin would have sent shivers of terror down the backs of most people. No human had ever heard a goblin giggle or laugh. It didn't take long for all of the goblins to send out missives with the suggestions to amend, alter or sell their investments in a certain country.

Harry blinked, groaning softly, as he came to, other than that he made no sound. Assessing his surroundings, attempting to gauge whether it was safe to do so. There was a warmth in his chest, the familiar bond, he didn't quite trust it yet. Not the bond, but the feeling exuding from the bond, the warmth that he felt was likely meant to be associated with safety. The closest he'd ever been to feeling that way was with Antonin of all people. A Death Eater for Merlin's sake. It made him wonder just how badly fucked up he was that he felt safe with him.

"You've done better at evaluating your surroundings without tipping your hand," Antonin commented sounding wholly amused.

Harry peeked open a single eye, bringing a cover up past his nose and hid his grin there. "Yeah, usually I would do, but the familiar bond is…making me feel more at home than ever."

Antonin's eyebrows rose, surprised, more at home than ever, that revealed more than the wizard likely intended. He'd begun to feel safe here, in the matter of eight days, before he'd received his familiar bond. Nobody felt safer than wherever they called home. It saddened him greatly to think just how afraid and on edge Harry always was, even he had always felt safe at his homes, to go fifteen years without feeling remotely safe, it was no wonder Harry was hyperaware constantly.

"How are you feeling?" Antonin asked, "And I mean how you really feel, not the 'I'm fine' that's likely on the tip of your tongue."

Surprise flickered over Harry's features, whether it was to do with Antonin's understanding of his character to know what he'd say or if it was just the fact, he was asked how he felt. Didn't he have friends that asked him that? He'd had a few accidents at Hogwarts so it shouldn't be out of the realm of possibility even if he had hidden his abuse so tightly from his friends. Not something that could have been easy given he shared a dorm with his fellow classmates. "I feel like someone's scraped me all over, right down deep into my bones." He ached something terrible. "How did we get home?" his face flushing floridly just imagining Antonin carrying him out of Gringotts and home.

"Fawkes," Antonin answered with an amused look upon his face.

Harry's brow wrinkled in confusion, "He was able to do that so soon?" you'd think he wouldn't be able to do anything while he aged.

"Read the book," Antonin told him, reminding him of the existence of the book.

Harry grumbled under his breathe, giving a grudging nod, he'd rather Antonin actually say than read the book. Stretching out, trying to get rid of the kinks in his back, only to grimace at how atrocious he smelt. During the summer he was used to it, he was out toiling away in the garden most of the day, no shade, no shower afterward. All he could do was wipe himself as quickly as possible in the sink before he was shoved into Dudley's second bedroom.

"A bath will help ease the pain," Antonin declared, calling the House-elf, "Make Potter a bath, add a muscle soak to it."

The House-elf popped away immediately.

Antonin stood up plucked the book on phoenixes from the table, "Can you get there yourself?"

Harry stared at Antonin for a few moments, inwardly reeling at the blasé way he'd just acted. From requesting a bath from him to wanting to help him. Not even Poppy Pomfrey offered that much, not that he gave her much of an opportunity though he must admit. The second he was awake and could manage it, he was out of there as quickly as possible. It was an odd feeling, being taken care of, and that was what Antonin was doing for him. Looking after him. Even if it was the parley…but was it? He didn't need to go this far, like at all.

Harry set the cover aside, his heart warming at the realisation that he had to have covered him while he was asleep. It should scare the shit out of him that he'd remained sleeping through that but the truth was he didn't care and he should. He stood up on shaky legs, and began to shuffle, his gait awkward and slow but he didn't ask for help. Too used to only relying on himself, plus, he had been a lot worse a week ago.

Antonin rolled his eyes in silent agitation at the slow pace Harry had set for himself. Antonin moved behind him, being loud enough to be heard, not wanting to be blasted with any of his magic. He wasn't necessarily blaming Harry; he just didn't want to see such a slow walk when he could speed the process up.

"I'm fine!" Harry protested against being lifted up.

Antonin snorted, "Sure you are," noticing the lack of squirming and demands to be put down, curious, was he worse than he thought or just a little out of it? Maybe he should summon Smirnov back to give Harry another check-up? Hmm, perhaps he'd wait until they were meeting up, which he'd need to do soon since Harry wasn't going to be there forever and if Harry wanted to learn he had a limited time to do so. He wished he could read the boy better.

The steam hit both men in the face as Antonin got Harry into the bathroom. "You want more help to get in?" as good as a House-elf was in helping, they wouldn't be able to keep a fully grown wizard upright, and help them get into the tub never mind out of it.

Harry opened his mouth to decline the offer immediately, that was one humiliation he'd never be able to live down. To have a Death Eater helping him into a bath? Even if he couldn't do anything? No, hell no, but just as he opened his mouth to state as such, a bout of dizziness overwhelmed him, causing Harry to grip Antonin tightly, okay, help might actually be required, otherwise he'd drown and he wasn't exactly in favour of that one.

If Antonin hadn't been gripping him tightly – but not painfully so – Harry would have likely begun a head first fall onto the porcelain bath tub that literally came from a hole in the floor. It was bigger than a swimming pool, which was the point, since a lot of people used to bath together in it. "May I remove your clothes to help you in?" consent was important.

Antonin didn't care about nudity, if he had before he began Hogwarts that would have cured it. If not, then it would have been Azkaban that did so. It might also have something to do with age, but he was aware that the young wizard might feel differently, but only because of the scars perhaps?

Harry gave one jerky nod in consent, his face flushed red, whether it was mortification or the heat or coming down with something Antonin didn't know. He didn't care to find out, he just wanted to help Harry since he was clearly struggling to remain awake and alert at the moment. He wasn't a total bastard, although many people likely called him far worse, but water of a hippogriffs back. He didn't care what others thought of him, as long as he had his family's approval – for the most part – they hadn't approved him joining the Dark Lord. Nor that they disapproved, not really.

Antonin stripped Harry in a swift clinical manner, which immensely helped the teenager, who was helped down the steps and into the bath. Antonin kept a crip of him until he'd sunk down and was happy to remain where he was put. Setting the book about phoenixes aside, clearly Harry wouldn't be able to read much of anything.

"When did you meet Voldemort?" Harry asked, his head against the porcelain craning his neck to see Antonin properly.

Antonin startled at Harry's question, annoyance slicing through him for using that name. The fearless little blighter, to be fair if anyone deserved to use it, it would be Harry. Sighing resignedly, knowing that if he likely asked him not to use it, he'd use it all the more to be a contrary wee shit.

Antonin transfigured a chair, and sat down, got himself comfortable, adopting the Thinker pose. Fist on his chin, and elbow on his knee as he observed the teen. "Technically I've known him since we were both eleven-years-old and begun attending Hogwarts."

Harry's eyes comically widened, and he began to choke and sputter on nothing, then water when he went under for a few seconds. "You're having me on, right?" they were the same age? He'd known wizards lived longer…he guessed they aged slower too, recalling all versions of Voldemort he'd ever seen.

"I am not," Antonin stated simply.

"You know he's a half-blood, right?" Harry asked dubiously.

Antonin's lips twitched, "Indeed,"

"But you followed him anyway?" Harry asked, a look of incredible befuddlement adorned his face, as he washed himself, helping himself to the glass bottles of body wash. It smelt utterly divine, not to mention likely very expensive so he was very careful not to use too much. Being careful to handle it properly and not drop it, the last thing he needed was his feet shredded with broken glass.

"I've told you; the war isn't what you believe it to be," Antonin murmured pensively, his voice despite being low was heard in the tiled room.

"Yeah," Harry murmured, sighing softly, "You'll need to explain that to me."

"Truthfully, the war was going on long before the Dark Lord begun Hogwarts. It's just the pureblood's had nobody listening to them. They were such a small minority, compared to the flood of muggle-borns and half-bloods raised in the muggle world bringing with it their traditions. Then the Dark Lord gave us our leader, one we sorely needed to keep order, to plan and plot everything we needed in bid to get anything done." Antonin begun explaining, hand out, summoning a large white fluffy towel, when he saw Harry beginning to move back towards the steps.

"Like what?" Harry asked, trying to keep his mind focused, but he was a little tired and achy still.

Antonin grasped a hold of Harry, helping him out and wrapping the massive fluffy towel around his body. Easing him onto the chair he'd moments ago been sitting in.

A house-elf popped in with some nightwear for Harry to wear, pyjamas he hadn't had a chance to wear, that they'd sewn to a more appropriate size for the younger wizard. Oddly enough, shopping wasn't exactly high up on either Antonin or Harry's list of things to do, especially not during a parley.

"There was a muggle-born wizard elected as Minister for Magic, Nobby Leach, he begun trying to enforce changes within the Wizengamot. Most primarily attempting to give muggle borns a say within the government, giving them seats, elevating their status to that of the ancient and noble houses." Antonin explained, staring straight ahead, "It was bad enough Dumbledore was getting classes removed left and right and bringing in Christmas and Halloween and the solstices ignored, a blatant insult to Lady magic. The very entity that gave us our magic and we dare insult her?"

"How did he die?" Harry asked, as he dried himself, a resigned knowing sound to his voice.

"Nobody actually knows, he came down with a mysterious illness, he left the office and died perhaps seven months later if I recall correctly." Antonin stated, grimly. "Not a single person was sad to see him go, nobody of importance anyway."

Harry snorted, "Voldemort?" he guessed.

"You'd be wrong," Antonin answered smirking ruefully.

"Typical," Harry sighed dramatically.

Antonin snorted, "Abraxas ensured he couldn't do any further harm to the magical world."

Harry just stared blankly; he had no clue who that was.

"Abraxas Malfoy," Antonin said, a hint of pain in his voice, "Lucius' father and Draco's grandfather." Abraxas had been a very good friend; he wasn't the first one he lost and wasn't going to be the last. Not that there were many of the Knights of the Walpurgis left.

A/n – Hmm I need to come up with a few ideas on how things really started other than the Minister and the classes/paganism being ended…I'm coming up blank at the moment unfortunately, but fingers crossed I can come up with a few more things before the next chapter I'd like it to be well rounded and not cobbled together and more importantly I'd love to come up with an idea or two that's not been used although I'm not sure that's going to happen lol I've done it all I think but this is mostly about Harry being neutral when it comes to the war so it's not too important I just want to ensure Antonin is very well spoken and articulate. I do want there to be more about the war than is usually discussed sooo any suggestions guys? Definitely going to be something I'll be thinking on in the next few days and oh, next up is a chapter of The contract 😉 R&R please!