Winds of Change
Fandom: Harry Potter
Summary: Things are coming to an end in Harry Potter’s life. His job. His marriage. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t new things starting.
Word Count: 10,181
Pairings/Characters: Harry Potter/Ginny Weasley, Pre-Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy, Hermione Granger/Ron Weasley, Arthur Weasley/Molly Weasley. James Sirius Potter, Lily Luna Potter, Albus Severus Potter.
Content/Warnings: AU of Cursed Child, Bad Ginny Weasley, Divorce, Implied/Referenced Dubious Consent, Potions Used Against Someone’s Will.
“I’m sorry, but what are you getting at?”
“The department has come under additional scrutiny as of late, and the idea has been suggested and will be put forward to the Ministry to vote. That meeting will be on this coming Thursday, and we will need to meet with you then to discuss the results of the motion. We will then-“
“That hasn’t answered my question. Nor has it told me anything new,” Harry interrupted impatiently. He had been in this meeting with Head Auror Robards for the past forty-five minutes if his wristwatch was to be believed, and he had yet to find out what was going on. That wasn’t to say he didn’t have an inkling.
“Yes, well, Potter. The Department is –”
“- looking to remove me from my position,” Harry finished snidely, inwardly seething.
“Now Potter, that’s not what –”
“You were trying to get at?” Harry finished.
Robards was silently turning a decidedly sickly grey/green.
“You think that the sudden celebrity interest in me again will create a dangerous public situation while out on a case. I’m not going to disagree with you there. You’ll find a request for a meeting about it in your tray.” Harry pointed to the overflowing In-Tray. “But I had thought the ‘Department’ would have been willing to work with me on this problem. Instead, you plan to shaft me out and call it all too hard, am I right?”
“Look, Potter, we’ve tolerated and made allowances in the past, more so than we ever had for someone in the Department’s employ. It can no longer be justified with your record alone. The publicity is a detriment to any case you work, and we’re receiving numerous complaints each week of victims who haven’t had their story heard because journalists have been more interested in interrogating you about your private life!” Robards returned in a forceful tenor.
They both glared at each other as both of their breathing returned to a more regular tempo.
“Who coached you?” Harry asked with a hint of a smirk.
“Faunabella Figg – HR.”
Harry snorted in amusement.
“I wouldn’t mind firing you just for making me go through that so-called ‘Training’,” Robards sighed heavily, slumping back into his chair.
“No, Harry. I’m sorry I must do this to you. You’ve been an asset to this Department. You sure I can’t persuade you to a desk job?”
“No! You know I’d go stir crazy being so close to the action and unable to play.” Harry waved off the idea.
“So, you think you’ll leave the Ministry all together? What will you do?” He asked at Harry’s nod.
“I suppose I have until Thursday to start thinking about it.”
“You going to tell Ginny?” Robards finally asked, getting to the crux of the matter.
“Not just yet. When it’s official, I’ll talk to her.”
“Balls of steel, you have. I would not want to be you for that conversation. I don’t know how you do it!”
Harry sighed. Me neither.
“Where have you been all week?” Ginny demanded as soon as Harry walked in the front door. “You’ve barely been home.”
Harry continued into the house, removing his cloak at the door and moving into their bedroom to get changed. Today was the last day we would wear Auror Robes.
“Harry! Don’t you dare ignore me!” Ginny screeched, following him into the room they shared.
“Can I at least put my shit down before the inquisition?” Harry complained, turning his back to her and starting to remove his robe.
“Come off it! Don’t be so snippy. It’s an easy enough question unless you’ve got something to hide!” Ginny smirked triumphantly, not that Harry saw it.
“And you would just love that, wouldn’t you?” Harry snorted to himself.
“And you don’t deny it, either! It’s Hermione, isn’t it! You’re cheating on me with Hermione!” Ginny crowed nastily.
“Yes. I’ve been seeing Hermione a few nights this week.” Harry watched as the conviction and triumph crossed his wife’s face. “But we were talking about my options as I was retrenched from the Aurors.”
“What?” Ginny asked, shocked. All signs of triumph replaced on her face with confusion.
“With all the publicity, lately, and there being no signs of it stopping, the Ministry thinks it best that I leave the Aurors before someone is hurt.”
“So, they fired you.”
“Not exactly, but the result is the same,” Harry sighed. “Hermione has been going through my options. I might sue the Prophet and some of those other rags. But also, what I’m going to do about a job.”
Harry rubbed his face tiredly, slumping to sit on the side of the bed.
“How long have you known about this?” she asked tightly. Harry could see her fists clenching in the corner of his eye.
“A week. Today it’s official. Got the Memo from the Ministry just after lunch. I packed up my desk before I left.”
Ginny nodded silently, glaring into the wall. They were both quietly thinking. Harry, however, knew it wasn’t a good thing when she started thinking.
“Just when were you planning on telling me then?”
Harry heaved another sigh. He could practically already hear his ears ringing for the screaming argument that would start at any moment.
“Why did you go to Hermione when you should have been confiding in your wife?” Ginny tone was already starting to rise in pitch.
“Because Hermione is a solicitor and you can’t keep your temper. Not to mention the fact that you would twist whatever I said to be my fault. This is a stressful enough situation without adding more drama to it.” He stood up with a huff to confront her.
This was it.
“Drama you say. You’re the one who decided a fight in public was a good idea. Besides, it’s not like you’ve ever trusted me; you never talk to me anymore. And I know you’ve been taking extra assignments too. You’ve been ignoring me for years now!” Ginny yelled, frustrated.
“Yeah, I have. For just over two years, isn’t it?” Harry asked, tone benign but eyes cold.
Ginny was silent for once with nothing to say. She was pale and trembling.
“Because that’s when you ran out of the Potion, right? The one your mum got from Dumbledore before he died.”
Ginny looked away; arms wrapped around her middle.
“I never wanted to fight with you, and especially not in public. That is on you. And I did try and talk to you. I tried for months, but I wasn’t your docile pet anymore, and you couldn’t handle my having an opinion. And I tried to understand why my wife felt it necessary to give me potions, without my knowledge or consent that essentially took away my free will. I tried and I failed.” Harry began to pace. “There was no way I could understand motivations like that because I could never be the kind of selfish person that would put my wants before the rights and needs of another person. How could I? I’d already lived that kind of life with the Dursley’s. So instead, I put the rights and needs of my children as a priority. I made sure they grew up knowing a parent loves and approves them. I made sure they had all they needed and most of what they wanted. And since I wasn’t much more use, I decided that trying to keep our world a safer place was a good idea.”
Harry took a moment to breathe, reign in his temper and keep his voice from rising to a shout like he wanted to.
“Not that that was necessarily what you wanted was it? You just wanted the name, the fame and screw the rest. A famous and successful Head Auror Harry Potter to your world famous Quidditch Seeker Ginny Potter. Have two point five kids and a white picket fence.”
Ginny was turning a ruddy red with temper, but Harry didn’t care.
“The world isn’t perfect, Gin. And you can’t force it. So, here’s how it’s going to be. I’m filing for divorce.”
Ginny’s gaze snapped to him, “But no Weasley has ever divorced! We-”
“I don’t care!” Harry yelled over her, some of his anger slipping through. He cleared his throat and continued in a more even tone. “I’m filing for divorce. I’m more than happy to take full custody of the kids if I must. But I won’t take anything less than 50%. You’ve always wanted separate accounts. So, there will be no division of funds. We sell the house and go halves. I’ll give you 35,000 Galleon as settlement.”
“35,000 and no more. Be grateful you’re getting that much!” Harry tried to keep the growl out of his voice. He wasn’t overly successful.
“Get out,” Ginny seethed, the temper she had been holding so far finally boiling over.
Harry just snorted in dark amusement. “I couldn’t stay here another night anyway.”
Harry didn’t even bother to draw his wand. He snapped his fingers and Winky was at his side. A trunk dropped heavily at his feet, already packed. A moment later two more house-elves popped into the room at Harry’s side.
“We is ready, Master Harry.” Winky looked up at her Master with wide determined eyes. All three elves had small parcels wrapped in tea towels.
“You’re taking the elves too?” Ginny sneered.
“I’m not taking them. They chose to come with me.”
“We not stay with mean Mistress,” Winky retorted with a glower.
“But how will I look after the children in the holidays?” Ginny spluttered hotly.
“The same what your mother did, I imagine,” Harry snorted mirthlessly.
“Why are you taking everything away from me?” Ginny demanded, hot tears running down her face.
“If you really have to ask me that question, you obviously haven’t been paying attention.” Harry snapped. “You’ll hear from my solicitor within the week.”
With a well-practised half step turn, Harry apparated out of the house, the pop of the house-elves echoed after him.
Harry apparated just outside the entrance of the Leaky Cauldron.
“Master Harry be forgetting his cloak again,” Winky snorted indignantly. A snap of her fingers had it settling around his shoulders and the hood falling to hide his face.
“Thanks, Winky,” Harry said warmly.
Tiredly, he pushed the door to the pub open and made his way up to the bar and up to Tom, who was still tending it after all these years.
“Tom, can I get a room, please? For a couple of days at least,” Harry smiled at the innkeeper but kept his hood up.
“Of course, lad, of course. I’ll take you up right now.” Tom smiled sadly at him. He had a quick word with one of the other bartenders, then was wiping his hands and coming out around the front of the bar leading Harry over towards the stairs.
Once past the barrier up to the rooms, the house-elves reappeared with the trunk in tow.
“Oh lad,” Tom sighed sadly as he watched the elves follow their master into the room Tom opened for them.
“I’ll trust you’ll keep this to yourself for now,” Harry asked, plonking himself down on the bed.
“Not even the other staff will know who’s rented the room. And if you don’t want to come down, you send one of your elves. And I’ll show you where the back door is if you want, too,” Tom advised eagerly.
“You’re a good man, Tom. Thank you very much.”
“Pay it no mind, what you did for me and mine, and the business through the war. It’s the least I can do. Now, I’ll leave you to your business. You send one of them elves if you need anything.”
Tom closed the door after himself, leaving Harry to his thoughts.
“Tibby, can you please give a message to Hermione Weasley. Tell her I’ve done it.”
“I am so proud of you,” Hermione said from her tight hug with Harry the next day at one of the Cafés on Diagon Alley.
They finally parted and took seats at the outdoor table. Harry cast a quick privacy ward, he certainly didn’t need his separation as a headline in every newspaper and magazine this side of the Channel.
“How are you? Where are you staying? You know you could have stayed with us, right?” Hermione asked as she looked at Harry with concern.
“I’m all right. Staying at the Leaky Cauldron for now. I didn’t want to bring you guys into the middle of it. And I guess I wasn’t too sure what Ron’s reaction might have been.” Harry sighed as he crossed his arms over his chest.
“He was happy to have you as a legal brother, that’s all. And maybe he was happy for Ginny. But I honestly don’t think he would have reacted badly.”
“It doesn’t matter anyway. I’ll stay at the pub a few days while I look for an apartment or something.”
“If you’re sure. You know you’re welcome at ours, Harry. Always.”
“Thanks, Hermione. I really appreciate that.”
“So, I got you an appointment with that friend of mine I was telling you about. Melody Carruthers. That’s at two this afternoon.”
“Thanks for that.” Harry smothered a yawn.
“Did you sleep at all last night?” Hermione frowned over her latte.
“Not a whole lot, no.”
“It’s a big thing you’ve done, Harry. And on top of another life-changing event. It’s okay to need some help. Did you want me to get some Dreamless Sleep or something?”
“No, I’d prefer not to.” Harry waved her off.
“Alright then. So, you’re looking for an apartment?”
“Yeah, somewhere here in London, I think. For now, anyway,” Harry sighed, fidgeting with the mug in his hands.
“And what are you going to do about a job then?” Hermione sipped from her cup.
“I’m not sure yet. I’ve been thinking of things I’m good at, things I like,” Harry mused.
“What about DADA? Or maybe just being a teacher. I’m sure Professor McGonagall would be happy to find a position for you.”
Harry laughed, “I had thought about that actually.”
“It would be good for you, I think,” Hermione smiled.
“And I could spend even more time with the kids, too.”
“Do the kids know yet?”
“No, I’ve tried to keep them as far from this as possible, no thanks to Ginny,” he mumbled bitterly.
Hermione sighed sadly.
“I still don’t understand why.” Harry’s fingers picked at a dent on the table, eyes looking out into the busy alley.
“You never will understand. None of us can. What she did is something selfish, and some professionals would have called it a pathological disorder. She potioned you, she modified your behaviour and subverted your will. All so she could have the world the way she wanted. I’m just sorry I never realised. You even told me you were gay, and it didn’t click when you suddenly seemed to fall in love with her.”
“Don’t be sorry,” Harry reached across and held the witch’s hand. “There was no way any of us thought she could be capable of something like this. And it is certainly in no way your fault.” Harry’s hand tightened on hers. She smiled weakly in return.
“Are you going to files charges?” Hermione asked in the ensuing silence.
Harry heaved a deep sigh, looking out into the alley again.
“I want her punished for what she did to me. What she’s done to my life,” Harry growled. “But she gave me my kids, a family of my own. It’s because of the kids that I’m not going to. I’ve thought about it for two years now. And no matter how angry I am, and how much the loathing for her gets to me, I couldn’t drag the kids through that. They still love her, Herm.” Harry blinked at her with suspiciously wet eyes.
“So, you’re filing for divorce then,” Hermione nodded to herself, a pen and notepad appearing from out of her bag.
“And fifty per cent custody.” Harry took a shuddering breath, trying to recompose himself.
Hermione nodded, jotting that down too. “The only other thing of immediate concern will be finding an apartment. I’ll start looking around for you. Will you rent or buy?”
“I’m not sure yet. I’ll have to check at Gringotts first and make a decision about a job.” Harry sat up straighter. He rubbed both hands over his face, the emotions still stirring in him, but he shoved that down for now. “So Gringotts, then meeting your lawyer friend at two pm. And I’ll get back to you this afternoon about the apartment thing.”
Harry nodded to himself, decision made. He drained his mug of now cold coffee.
“Did you want me to come with you to Gringotts?” Hermione wrote for another few moments before tearing the page of and folding it twice, addressing Melody on it. She handed the note to Harry as he picked up his satchel and hefted it over one shoulder.
“I’ll be fine, thanks, Hermione.” Harry hugged her tightly, “Thank you so much for your help.”
“Any time, Harry. I’m so proud of you for doing this. You’ll be a whole new person when this is all over with. You’ll finally be you.” Hermione hugged Harry back tightly, a tear rolling down her cheek. She quickly wiped it away when they pulled apart. “Good luck. Ron and I are here any time you need us.”
“Thank you,” Harry covertly wiped his face too, but took another deep breath and squared his shoulders to do what needed to be done.
He cancelled the wards around their table and hugged the witch once more before parting ways outside the café.
Neither of them noticed the beetle fly away.
“Hi, can I please have a summary of my account, please?”
Harry handed over the vault key to the Goblin teller.
Harry looked up in concern as he watched the Goblin walk away from the booth. It was more than five minutes later before a different Goblin returned.
“Mr Harold James Potter?” The Goblin asked abruptly.
“That’s me. Is everything all right?” Harry asked, his mind having been very active in the last few minutes.
“Please follow me to Meeting Room Three.” The Goblin came around the front of the bank tellers and led Harry across the foyer to a hallway he hadn’t noticed before. They entered the third door along.
“Please, sit.” The Goblin motioned to the desk which had a chair for the Goblin on one side and two chairs for visitors on the other.
Harry sat down and placed his satchel in the other chair next to him. The Goblin inserted his vault key into the keyhole in the desk. A moment later, a large tome appeared.
“Place your hand here, please, for account verification.”
Harry placed his hand on the large book, feeling a strange magical jolt when it assessed him. The magic withdrew, and the book cracked open.
The Goblin placed a pair of spectacles on before opening the book and reading. “You currently have three active accounts, an account solely in your name, and two joint accounts shared with a Ginevra Potter. All accounts have a balance of zero galleons, zero sickles and one knut.”
Harry sat back in the chair, gobsmacked. He was silent for a good few minutes as the news sunk in, and he internally freaked out.
He had nothing. She had cleaned him out of everything. He never thought she would do such a thing. Never thought she would be so spiteful. It was becoming evident that perhaps he had never really known his wife at all. He had no job either, which meant he was screwed.
“Was there a large deposit made by the DMLE payroll before the account was emptied?” Harry asked, praying it hadn’t been transferred.
“The last transaction from DMLE Payroll was the average amount that was deposited weekly on Wednesday’s. It was dated two days ago.” The Goblin advised from over its glasses.
Harry breathed deeply in relief. His payout for the retrenchment was safe then.
“There is however a request here that should such a deposit be made, that it should be transferred immediately to the personal account of Ginevra Potter.”
Harry could only snort in dark humour at that addendum.
“Have that request cancelled, please, and have her authority to access my personal account revoked. I would also like to be notified if she requests access or if she requests information about my accounts. Can I have my name removed from the joint accounts?”
“No, she would need to be present for them to be signed into her name,” the Goblin advised.
“I don’t suppose I can freeze the accounts from her, can I?”
The Goblin smiled viciously, “Only in the case where mental health would be a concern, and only then for one week pending a Mental Health Assessment. She could provide one before the week is up to remove the freeze, or if there is no assessment provided of her unfitness, the freeze will lapse at the end of that week.”
“I believe Ginny Potter is at present mentally unstable and wish to have our joint accounts frozen, please.”
“As you wish, Mr Potter.” The Goblin made a notation in red ink with great enjoyment. “Mr Potter, we have another matter to discuss while you are here today. Will now be an appropriate time?”
Harry wanted to slump in his chair where he sat as he really had no interest in dealing with more drama, but he managed to refrain. “I have a meeting at two this afternoon with my divorce lawyer. Will the matter be resolved before then?”
“I believe it would not. It can be summarised now, and we can discuss it further at another time. Would this be suitable?” the Goblin asked quill at the ready.
“That would be great. Tomorrow morning okay? Say ten?”
“Very good, Mr Potter.” The Goblin made another notation before opening the tome to another page. “Upon your previous visits to Gringotts, since 1991, the Horde have assessed that you were under the influence of the Subverso Potion. We are under the impression this is no longer the case, meaning we are now at liberty to discuss the Potter and Black Inheritances.”
“What…?” Harry was even more stunned than before.
“Clauses in the Inheritance contracts for both the Black and Potter’s prevented us from disclosing such information to you while you were under the influence and control of another. Once the correct potion was discovered, the Goblin Horde of Gringotts took measures to ensure the potion could no longer be made affordably in an effort to remove the affliction you were under. We were unable to be certain when such an event took place and could, therefore, only test you when you visited Gringotts.”
“It’s been two years since she last dosed me,” Harry said with a slight growl.
“The Goblin Horde of Gringotts is glad to hear this, as we may now discuss long overdue business. With regards your incursion to Gringotts on the 1st of May 1998, where property was stolen and a dragon was released.”
Harry tiredly rubbed his face. “Okay. What fines or amendments would you have me make?”
The Goblin checked his watch. “That will be discussed tomorrow. For now, I will leave you with the last Will and Testaments for the following departed souls, Lily Potter nee Evans, James Potter and Sirius Black. Detailed therein will be any inheritance and conference of titles. All which we will follow up with you at tomorrow’s meeting. It is now 1.45pm. Do you wish to close today’s meeting for your next appointment?”
Harry took a moment to choke through a thank you, yes, before the Goblin handed over the documents which he placed in his satchel. The Goblin turned the key back and pulled it from the desk, the tome snapping shut and disappearing with a pop.
“Until tomorrow, Mr Potter. May your endeavours today bring you a bloody triumph.” The Goblin led Harry back into the foyer and with a short bow disappeared back into the bank.
Harry shook his head in confusion as he went to make his way back out to the Alley when his way was blocked by two Weasleys on the warpath.
Molly Weasley was red-faced in temper as she stormed towards him, Percy matched her step for step as his glare narrowed in on Harry.
“Harry Potter!” Mrs Weasley screeched as she stepped up to him. “Just what do you think you were thinking? You will not go through with this. You will talk about this together like adults and resolve whatever issue you think the both of you have.”
“Mrs Weasley, Ginny and I’s marriage is no one’s business but Ginny and I’s. And I do not want your unsolicited advice or opinions at this time. If you will excuse me, I have an appointment I must make.”
“Potter,” Percy snapped as Harry went to walk past, the Weasley’s hand grasping his arm to stop him.
Harry looked at the offending hand attached to his wrist and followed the arm up to glare coldly at the man that was detaining him. “You will not touch me again, Percival Weasley, or you may find the offending limb no longer attached.”
Percy quickly snatched his hand back, glaring weakly back.
“Harry! Don’t do this to my family,” Molly said in a tearful voice, but Harry didn’t miss the glowing rage that was in the Weasley matriarch’s eyes.
“Then you should NEVER have done it to me!” Harry’s cold voice carried through the suddenly quiet bank. This time he was able to slip past the Weasleys and left for his meeting with Hermione’s lawyer friend.
Harry woke with a start, the book that rested on his chest from when he fell asleep hit the floor. But it was the banging at his door that had him getting out of bed to investigate. He opened the door to peer out into the corridor but was instantly inundated with the loud chatter of a dozen reporters and blinded by the flashes of cameras.
Harry slammed the door closed again, spelling a privacy ward and a few locking charms for good measure.
He groaned as he fell to sit on the bed again, his head in his hands.
The house-elf popped into the room, ears drooped forlornly. “Winky is sorry, Master Harry. Winky doesn’t know how they found out.” She passed him the newspaper that she had been hiding behind her back.
In big flashing letters on the front of the Daily Prophet was a picture from yesterday’s confrontation with Mrs Weasley at the Bank with the Headline “Boy who Won Potioned By Wife!”
“This is just fucking fantastic,” Harry moaned as he skimmed the Rita Skeeter article that for once seemed to post him in a positive light as the victimised spouse and not the crazed lunatic or next Dark Lord. But they had everything. Everything that he and Hermione had talked about the previous day.
This was going to make everything even worse, he sighed, looking at the time. It was eight thirty. An hour and a half before he had to be at Gringotts. Perhaps enough time to Floo to see Hermione.
With Winky’s help, the reporters were soon removed from the pub once Tom was notified, and Harry was able to quickly Floo out to their apartment.
As normal in Floo travel, he landed on his arse upon arriving at his destination. He picked himself off the floor and had a brief moment of panic when he realised he wasn’t sure what Ron’s response was going to be. But a few seconds later, Ron was rushing into the room and enveloping him in a big hug.
“I’m so sorry, Harry. I had no idea,” Ron said from his tight hold, grip tightening again when Harry slumped in relief against him.
Moments later, another pair of arms joined their hug, Hermione adding to their tangle of limbs. “I’m sorry, Harry. I had no idea she was there. I didn’t even think to check or even cast any wards, or, I don’t know. I should have known.” Hermione cried into his shoulder.
“No Herm, don’t. It wasn’t your fault. It’s no one’s fault but that damn woman who has no sense of privacy or honour or any good moral that could get in the way of a good story.”
“How come you never told me, mate?” Ron asked in the following silence. “You know you can trust me.”
“But when it’s your family? No, I never wanted to put any of you in this position. I never wanted to tear your family apart.” Harry stepped back from their embrace.
“But it’s not you doing the tearing if that’s what will even happen. It’s Ginny who is the one who’s morally corrupt enough to force someone against their will. She broke the law. It’s not your fault, mate,” Ron said forcefully, giving him a shake.
“I really don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m almost grateful I’m not with the Aurors now. Can you imagine what that would be like?” Harry huffed a humourless laugh.
“Dad? Aunt Herm, Uncle Ron?” A young voice behind them interrupted.
“James? What are you doing? Did you get permission to use that Floo?” Harry quickly questioned, trying to pull himself to rights again.
“Is it true? Did mum potion you to love her?” James’ normal confident voice and expression was missing, left behind was a sad and confused boy who didn’t know what to think.
“Oh Jamie, step out of the way, I’m coming through.” Harry grabbed a pinch of Floo powder from the mantle and quickly stepped through, followed a few seconds later by Hermione and Ron.
By the time the Weasleys had stepped through, James and Harry were already hugging tightly, the young Gryffindor breaking into tears.
“James? Did you find dad yet?” The door to the office cracked open to allow Lily Potter to call through. “James?” she called again, glancing in this time. “Daddy!”
Moments later, the girl was wrapped around Harry sobbing into his side as Harry wound an arm around his daughter too.
“James? Lily? Everything all right?” Albus peeked in last and joined the reunion as soon as he sighted them.
“I guess I should send a message to the Headmistress,” Hermione sighed sadly, pulling her wand to cast a Patronus.
“Daddy?” Lily was the first to pull back and face her father. “Is it true? Did you not want us?”
Harry’s heart broke at the obvious pain in her voice, as well as the way the two boys clung on tighter.
“Of course I wanted you guys,” Harry’s voice broke with raw emotion. “I’ve always wanted you guy, and I always will. I could not live this life without you guys in it.” Harry hugged the three of them awkwardly, but tightly. He wasn’t willing to let them go right now.
“But why would mum do that?” Albus asked, voice muffled against Harry’s chest.
“I don’t know, Al. I’m not sure we ever really will.” Harry sighed.
“Did you ever love her?” James asked, wiping the tears from his face.
Harry sighed again, standing up and dragging the four of them over to the lounge settee in front of the fireplace.
“Yeah, I did. For a little while, when I was still going here, I thought about it, thought about having a relationship with her. But I quickly realised that I loved her like I love Aunt Hermione. She felt like a sister to me. It was a little while after that that I realised that I liked boys better anyway. I even started to do a little research to make sure I could still get kids. But I don’t really remember when it changed.” Harry shuddered slightly, bringing back memories from that time. But he thought it better that he told them the whole truth now than get stuck telling partial truths later.
“But it wouldn’t have been us,” Lily started crying again.
“No, I still think it would be you guys. You probably wouldn’t look exactly like you do, but it would be you. You’re my kids, and I wouldn’t change that for anything.”
Harry was never more annoyed that there were anti-apparition wards up at Gringotts than he was right now. There were dozens of reporters and cameras camped outside of Gringotts and milling about the Alley.
“Winky, can you get my invisibility cloak, please,” Harry asked the house-elf as soon as she had popped next to him. A few seconds later, he flung it over his shoulders and raised the hood. He carefully made his way through the crowd, and once inside up to one of the tellers, presenting his key.
The Goblin seemed to look at him curiously, but still disappeared with a “Wait, please.” And brought his account manager back a moment later.
“If you will follow me, Mr Potter.” The Goblin gave him an assessing look, retracing yesterday’s steps to Meeting Room Three.
Once safely inside, he removed the cloak and laid it over the empty chair beside him.
“I’m sorry for using that here in the bank. I’ll make an oath if you wish, that I would never use it against Gringotts or allow someone else to.” Harry said, suddenly realising the potential error he had made.
“It is an honour to bear witness to one of the Sacred Hallows.” The Goblin inclined his head but said no more, inserting the key into the desk. The large tome appeared between them, Harry already had his hand up to complete the verification process.
Once the ledger was open, the Goblin flipped to one of the earlier pages and looked at Harry once more. “You were able to look over the documents, Mr Potter?”
“Yes,” Harry jumped, removing the rolled-up scrolls from his satchel and handing them back. “It was quite overwhelming, actually. I had no idea.”
“Indeed. There were various agents in the past who have sought to control you and therefore these Titles and vaults. It is pleasing to see this is no longer the case. The Horde of Gringotts may now approach you without fear of interference.”
“Approach me?” Harry questioned, leaning forward in curiosity.
“Indeed. An agreement has been in place with the Lord Potter for sixty-three generations that has been to our mutual benefit. This was last renewed with Fleamont Potter, your Grandfather, and lapsed shortly before your birth. The Goblin Horde of Gringotts is willing to extend to you the same agreement our forebears have upheld.”
“This is why I haven’t had my arse handed to me previously for the break-in, isn’t it?” Harry said nervously.
“Indeed.” The Goblin smirked nastily.
“Very well. What do you propose?”
“In previous times, wizards have not always looked on the Goblin Horde favourably. In more recent times, we have, in some instances, required representation in some political circles or situations. As our Patron, you would, of course, enjoy some additional privileges.”
“Such as the break-in,” Harry laughed.
“Indeed.” The malicious smirk almost made Harry shudder. “In normal circumstances, thieves would be fed to the dragons with no chance to voice their pleas or confessions. In this circumstance, we would be willing to settle with some restitution. The replacement of a Dragon and the Vault of Tom Marvolo Riddle.”
“Excuse me?” Harry coughed. “Voldemort’s vault? Why do you need me to give you his vault?”
The Goblin turned to another page of the ledger, “Under the terms and conditions of the Right of Public Duelling Combat, as the victor of the Duel, the spoils are awarded to you. In this instance, the deed for Riddle Manor and the contents of vault 371 and vault 008.”
Harry sat back heavily again, “So first I should finalise the Titles, then I should be able to work out the Patron thing and then work out what else I’ve seemed to miss.”
“Very well, Mr Potter. A Peer is required to witness the conveying of Peerage Titles. Is there someone you wish to attend?”
“I wouldn’t have a clue.”
“Please wait,” the Goblin disappeared into the hall a few minutes and returned with another Goblin and someone he never thought he would speak with again.
“Lord Malfoy,” Harry stood awkwardly.
“Potter,” Draco Malfoy said with only the barest derision. But Harry figured that probably had more to do with him having done something wrong.
“Lord Malfoy is the only Peer currently at Gringotts who can act as a witness. Will this be suitable?”
“Of course, if it’s all right with Lord Malfoy,” Harry quickly cleared the seat next to him when Malfoy agreed with a tilt of his head.
“Very well. The following documents will need to be signed with a blood quill.”
At Harry’s shudder, both Goblins and Malfoy looked at him curiously, noticing the way he rubbed his hand. “I’ve had bad experiences with them, that is all.”
“That’s all? When have you had to use a Blood Quill, Potter?” Draco snorted.
“Fifth year. Professor Umbridge used them during detention.”
“What?” The Goblin that was his account manager demanded, so far the most impolite he had been. Harry really wasn’t used to such manners; it was creeping him out.
When no information was forthcoming, the Goblin grabbed his hand and yanked it closer for inspection. The scarred words of ‘I must not tell lies’ was still just as stark as when it first healed.
The two Goblins started a quick conversation of Gobbledegook that had he and Draco sharing a surprised look.
“May I?” Draco motioned to his hand, and Harry held it out of Draco to look.
“I had no idea,” Draco murmured as he looked for a few seconds, then steadfastly look away.
“Are you aware of where this woman is now?” Draco’s Account Manager asked.
“Azkaban,” Harry said with a vicious smile. “For crimes against Muggleborns,” Harry would have to say her Trial was certainly one of the highlights of the war.
“Very well. I will speak with Director Ragnarok about alternative methods to the Blood Quill.” The Goblin said, standing again.
“No, it’s alright. I’ll use the Blood Quill, it’s fine. It just has unpleasant memories attached. Where would you like me to sign?”
Harry and the Goblin went through the various documents, signing in a few different locations with Draco signing to witness. Fifteen minutes later the Goblin closed the paperwork for the two titles and straightened them.
“All that is left is that you call the House signet rings, provided the legacies accept you, and this first matter will be over. We can let Lord Malfoy go about his business.”
Harry sat back from the desk, eager to pull away from the evil quill. He could already feel a tingle on the top of his hand as he had had to sign so many pages for both titles.
But that was the easy part. Now he had to call the rings to himself, and he didn’t have the first clue.
“It’s about intent, Potter. Nothing you need to say or wave your wand at,” Malfoy advised when nothing had happened for a few moments.
Harry nodded and closed his eyes, trying to work out how to intend for them to appear, when he felt warm metal appear, one in each hand. When he opened his eyes and hands, it was to find one ornate gold band in his left hand and an elegant platinum one in his right.
“The Potter Legacy, as the dominant one, goes on your right hand. The Black legacy held until one of your Children is of age, will remain on your left. Congratulations Lord Potter.” The Goblin said with a nod of its head.
“Congratulations, Lord Potter,” Draco said with a smirk, standing. “I’ll owl you with a time and place. We can begin your education.” The blonde said with a wink, before leaving the room and Harry gobsmacked.
Harry shook his head in bemusement, not having the time right then to pursue what the blonde had meant, and perhaps what he wanted.
“Very good, Lord Potter. To complete the Patronage agreement, we will need to make an appointment with Director Ragnarok. Would you like for this to be arranged now?”
“Thank you, yes.” Harry sat back down again, two new tomes were presented to him before the Goblin left. The first being the Potter ledger, Harry decided to look into and find out just what he had got himself into. Suffice it to say, that neither he nor his grandchildren, nor his great-great-great-great grandchildren would ever have money issues. A few more pages on solved his housing problem, as there was a Potter Townhouse that was unoccupied, unlike the rented-out apartments, that Harry thought would do quite nicely.
Harry had to laugh as he tallied up what he now had access to and realised that Ginny had no idea what she had missed. She always had been disappointed they didn’t have more money, or that Harry hadn’t inherited.
It gave him a little bit of sadistic pleasure that he refused to feel guilty about.
“Director Ragnarok will meet with you in three days at three in the afternoon. Is this suitable?” The Goblin advised.
“Perfect.” Harry readily agreed.
“Very well, is there anything further Gringotts can help you with today?”
“I would like to take a quick look at the Potter Vault, please.”
“Very well. I will have you taken in a moment. Please wait while the securities are dealt with.”
After an eventful trip to the Vault, Harry emerged from the Bank into the afternoon sun feeling pretty good about life.
“Mr Potter! Mr Potter! Harry!”
Harry shirked back in dismay at the reporters that had spotted him. Perhaps he should be a writer, he thought. The life of a recluse was very tempting right now.
A week later saw no decline in the reporter’s interest, and if anything, they seemed to have stepped up their campaign. Harry rolled his eyes at the sob story that had been printed in Witch Weekly only two days earlier.
It hadn’t painted her in the light she would have been hoping for.
The Potter’s London Townhouse was comfortable and convenient and kept flocking reporters at an easy distance with its tall warded fences. The house-elves were extremely happy to have a proper house to tend to.
He was having a late morning brunch when the arrival of a post owl disturbed the new-found peace. Harry took the letter bundle from its claws and gave it a piece of bacon from his plate.
Enclosed was a letter from Ginny’s lawyer with the signed divorce papers. Harry was just glad it was over that quickly as he really thought she would make it difficult. Setting aside the divorce papers, he skimmed the lawyer’s letters and came to a spluttering stop when, in professional legalese, he realised Ginny was demanding full custody of the kids.”
The owl squawked angrily and flew away as his magic flared with his rage.
He strode to the Floo room, angrily threw a pinch of Floo powder into the fire.
The receptionist from the law firm he was using answered cheerfully.
Harry’s terse grunt had her scampering away to get his lawyer.
“Lord Potter. What can I do for you today?” the woman said professionally.
“She’s filing for full custody,” Harry snapped, thrusting the paperwork through.
Melody scowled as she looked at them briefly. “I have a free appointment in half an hour if you would like to go through your options?” she looked up at him at the end, a sad smile on her face.
“Thank you,” Harry grunted.
The Floo closed, and Harry sat back to rock on his heels, emotions in another confusing tumult. There was one resounding thought that echoed in his mind: he was never going to give up his children.
Ten minutes later he was dressed and presentable, pacing in front of the Floo as he warred with himself on leaving for the offices too early. In a split decision, he decided to Floo Hermione’s office quickly first.
She was shocked and appalled, just as he knew she would be. It was no secret in the Weasley family that Ginny didn’t inherit her mother’s maternal instinct. The Potter children had always been closer to their father.
But Harry left her office fifteen minutes later a little calmer, a little less likely to go and find his soon to be ex-wife and hex her.
His lawyer snorted darkly while they went through the letter’s demands, knowing very well just how well the public would take their saviour losing his kids.
But in the end, it came down to the fact that they would have to go to court to have it settled.
The following weeks saw Ginny steadfastly refuse to back down and her demands growing increasingly bitter and vicious if what was printed in Witch Weekly and the Daily Prophet were to be believed.
Harry refused to meet with her without their lawyers present.
The day of the court meeting was in the school holidays, something he wished wasn’t the case. He didn’t want his kids subjected to the court’s mercy. But until then they had been staying the first few days with Ginny, as the courts had ordered for the interim. He was looking forward to finally seeing them.
It was no surprise that the courthouse was flooded with reporters, even the Floo room had to be sectioned off for the media. He was just thankful that it was a closed courtroom.
His lawyer led the way to the courtroom where already the Weasley family was milling about. Ginny and the children hadn’t arrived yet.
“Harry, lad. Good to see you,” Arthur Weasley said with a sad smile and a clap to Harry’s shoulder.
“Arthur, I’m so sorry it came to this. I never wanted this. Never wanted to tear up your family,” Harry said, bordering on tears.
“No lad, it’s not your fault. It’s Ginny who is responsible. Her pride and selfishness have brought us here. And some of that is our fault, and how we raised her.”
“I didn’t want it to come to this though, but I can’t give up the kids,” Harry grimaced at the thought.
“I would have been disappointed if you did. But that’s not the man you are. I’m proud to have you as another son, and the father to my grandchildren. It will all work out.”
“I hope so.”
“And if not, well, we’ll get to that when we need to.”
Harry frowned, failure was not an option.
“For what it’s worth, and this has nothing to do with today. But I recall Molly once talking with Albus. There were no names mentioned, and they were obscure enough that I never really made the connection until they released it in the Prophet that Ginny had used potions on you. I think Albus and Molly may have helped arrange it. I’m so very sorry.”
Arthur clapped him on the shoulder again and walked back to his divided family, shoulders hunched in defeat.
Harry sat down listlessly, mind working overtime that Molly and Dumbledore and engineered this. That he had always been the Headmaster’s tool and weapon, and that he still had plans for Harry for after the war, should he survive it.
He was even more disgusted with Mrs Weasley, though now he had the real reason their relationship had soured over the years. She had probably worked overtime in the last few years trying to get a new supplier for her daughter.
“Daddy!” The chorused shouts drew Harry away from those morbid thoughts as he raced over to his children who had finally arrived.
Above them, Ginny snorted derisively.
“Hey guys, I’m so glad to see you. Did you have a good end of the year at school?”
They all murmured soft affirmatives.
“Daddy,” James asked, “Do we have to go back with mum again?”
“I don’t know Jamie. That’s why we’re here today. The judge is going to decide what’s best for you guys. But you’re going to stay with me a bit too. I’ll make sure.”
“I don’t want to go back with mum,” Lily scrubbed the tears from her cheeks.
“Me neither,” Albus added. “She was mad all the time.”
“I’m sorry guys,” Harry hugged them all tightly. “Come take a seat with Aunt Hermione and Uncle Ron. I promise this will be over soon.”
Harry sighed as he watched them walk to where his best friends sat before turning back to stare ahead.
“We’ve got a very good case, Lord Potter. We may not even have to use James’ testimony. Though by the sounds of it, it could be more damaging to her than we thought.”
“Use the Potioning evidence,” Harry growled.
“Are you sure you want to bring it up? I know you were reluctant to,” Melody asked from beside him, going through her notes one last time.
“I’m sure. I don’t want to do that to the kids. Didn’t want them to lose what relationship they had left with her. But they don’t want to go back. I’m not going to make them, and neither is this court. I want full custody.”
“Done, Lord Potter,” Melody grinned with a viciousness that he could certainly appreciate at that moment.
Then the judge arrived, and the session started, and Harry snorted at the ridiculousness of it all. The system was archaic, like so much else of the wizarding world, preferring to stand still than accept that the muggles and Muggleborns might have a good idea, for fear the wizarding culture and traditions would be messed with.
In the corner of his mind, the thought took root, and he decided what he was going to do with his time, once this was all over. He just had to get Draco on side first to teach him about wizarding politics.
Before he knew it, the courtroom was being recessed, and the judge interviewed Jamie in another room.
The noise in the courtroom rose as they waited for the judge to return. Harry tried to resist from fidgeting as he stared at the door his eldest son had disappeared behind.
“You’ve ruined my life, you know,” Ginny snarled, taking her chance while the room and the lawyers were distracted.
“You’ve done that quite well all by yourself, actually. I didn’t need to do anything.”
“I knew you were holding this back. Knew I should have been Lady Potter. You were selfish and vindictive.”
“I’m not sure how I was any of that considering I didn’t know about the title until a few days after we’d separated. By the way, you can thank the Goblins at Gringotts for stopping your supply of the potion, too. They worked it out and stopped the supply of a few crucial ingredients.”
“I would have found a new potion anyway. It’s amazing what you can find on the Black Market.”
“Ms Weasley, I suggest you stop harassing my client,” Melody said icily.
Ginny sniffed disdainfully and turned back to her seat without a further word.
“Was that enough?” Harry asked softly.
“More than,” Melody smirked, pulling the memory with her wand and placing it in an evidence vial.
“All rise for the honourable Warlock Kinsey Waters.”
Harry stood confidently as the judge returned to the room, and James was returned to his seat.
“You okay?” Harry mouthed to his son, who nodded in return.
“Ms Weasley, I see no reason to award you full custody at this time as Lord Potter has demonstrated to be an able and willing parent, as well as having the financial means to support them long term. Something you have so far been unable to prove, due to the evidence that you, in fact, stole all monies Lord Potter had in his name at the time of your separation.”
“At this time, my client would be willing to set forth a fifty-fifty custody agreement of the children, if this is amenable to Lord Potter,” Ginny’s lawyer advised, looking hastily between the judge and his paperwork.
Harry’s lawyer stood to address the judge, “Honourable Warlock, my client would like to pursue full custody of James, Lily, and Albus Potter.”
The courtroom erupted at the lawyer’s words, loudest of all was Mrs Weasley’s, who started shrilly yelling ‘not her babies’.
As if Harry would deprive his children of their only living Grandfather.
The judge soon called the room to order again, and the session continued as they fought to keep custody to Harry.
“Lastly, we have reason to believe the children could be in danger of abuse by potioning, as she had already done to her husband since before they were married. Some eighteen years.”
“You have no proof,” Ginny yelled, standing and ignoring the whispered instructions from her lawyer. “I would never do that to the children.”
“Be seated, Ms Weasley. Any outburst from you and you will be removed from this room,” the judge said harshly.
Ginny sat petulantly and glared at Harry, all the while her lawyer continued to talk at her unheard.
“What evidence do you have to prove this?”
“Your honour, I present items of evidence E and F. Item E, the health records of Lord Potter which shows evidence of long-term exposure to Welwitschia Mirabilis, an ingredient heavily used and almost primarily in behaviour modification potions. Item F is a Pensieve memory of my own where Ms Weasley all but acknowledged her use of Potions on her husband for behavioural modification. My client does not wish to run the risk of having his children exposed to such a woman.”
“Very well. The court will view this evidence.”
The courtroom was silent as within the space of two minutes, Ginny Weasley damned herself with her own words.
“The court finds Ginny Weasley unfit for custody. This court awards full custody of James, Lily and Albus Potter to their father, Lord Harry Potter. Visitation will be granted for Ms Ginevra Weasley under supervision only, pending the outcome of criminal charges and sentencing. The court is closed.”
Harry breathed a deep sigh of relief as the three kids climbed over the divider between the audience and the officials, climbing into Harry’s lap in Albus’ case, and being hugged from both sides by Lily and James.
“Thank you, thank you,” Harry said as he looked up to his lawyer that was watching them indulgently. “Thank you so much.”
“Not at all, Lord Potter. You are most welcome. We’ll make an appointment next week so we can start making a case to press charges. Enjoy your time with your children.” Melody packed her suitcase and with a smile left him to bask in the joy of his kids.
“This Christmas is going to be an interesting one,” Ron commented.
Across the room, Molly Weasley was angrily crying, voice muffled by charms as she seemed to otherwise be shouting and gesticulating in his direction. Arthur looked to be pacifying her, Percy glared icily in their direction. Bill Fleur and Charlie seemed to look pained as Ginny loudly ranted at them.
“I don’t want Molly around them unsupervised, either,” Harry added to Ron and Hermione.
“What? Mate, she’s my mum. She’s their grandmother,” Ron said testily.
“And Arthur told me he thinks she and Dumbledore arranged the Potion for Ginny. And she also thinks I just took her grandkids away.”
“Dad?” James asked, looking up at his father, confused.
“Not right now, Jamie. We’ll talk at home.” Harry pulled his children tight to him again.
They made it all the way out into the apparition and Floo room before they were accosted by Mrs Weasley. Arthur was trying to pull her away, but the Weasley matriarch would not be swayed.
“How could you, Harry? How could you do this to my family after all we’ve done for you? You ungrateful –” she was cut off vocally.
Bill looked grim as he put his wand away. “We’ll talk to you soon, Harry. We’ll try and sort this mess out.”
“You’re welcome anytime. I hope we can work something out.” Harry nodded to them and ushered the kids through the Floo, followed by Hermione and Ron.
It was a further month down the track before the case had been built and the court proceedings started.
In that time, Harry recounted his time with Ginny with a Pensieve and with Hermione and Melody’s help, established how long he had been potioned.
He almost threw up.
He tried to keep the kids as far from the case as possible. It didn’t always work. James demanded to be present at the trial.
The eldest Weasley sons were at the Potter Townhouse often, they occasionally brought Arthur with them. He was reluctant at first, but Bill and Charlie were adamant that everything be revealed, and amends made to Harry.
The Press had been quiet about Harry since the court hearing, but he knew that they were waiting for the juicier story. So, when it was the day of the trial, they were camped outside the fence of the Townhouse. At the courts, they were even more persistent.
The trial itself was drawn out over three days as character witness’ were called and testimonies heard. He was interrogated several times, once with the use of veratiserum.
He found it disturbing that neither Ginny nor Mrs Weasley was required. Melody explained that it was one of the lesser-known bylaws. That same bylaw said they couldn’t be asked to take it or any other truth serum.
He made sure to make a note of that for research later. His list was getting longer the more the legal proceedings dragged on.
In the end, Ginny and Mrs Weasley were found guilty of potioning against someone’s will.
That was it.
They were sentenced to six months in Azkaban, the now Dementor-less one, and eighteen months’ community service afterwards.
Harry didn’t immediately go home after the trial. He went straight to the DMLE to raise a restraining order against the two women. Only the DMLE had never heard of such a thing. When Harry raked his memories of his time the Aurors, he realised that he had never heard it used. No wonder some of the victims he had spoken to during his career had looked at him strangely.
Harry allowed himself two weeks to spend every waking moment with his kids. They explored the magical and muggle world as much as they could: they went to museums and galleries and holiday locations. They even spent a few days in Disneyland Europe.
But the kids were due back at school again in another week. So, he got them settled in the townhouse and preparing for Hogwarts while he started his research.
“Lord Malfoy to see you, Master,” Winky advised as with a pop she disappeared, and the door to his study was magically opened.
The blond wizard strolled into the room as if he owned it and took a seat without a word.
“Thank you for coming so promptly, Lord Malfoy,” Harry said uneasily, the formality a foreign thing on his tongue.
“Of course, Lord Potter. Your summons was most intriguing,” Malfoy said with a leer and Harry found himself blushing.
He coughed to cover his embarrassment and straightened some papers on his desk.
“It would seem I have my work cut out for me then,” Malfoy said with a smirk.
“Unfortunately,” Harry agreed.
“Well, then we should start immediately if you wish to change the world.”
“You don’t disagree with my proposals then, Lord Malfoy?”
“Draco. And no, I agree this country needs to be brought out of the Dark Ages. I’m sure we will disagree on some points, but I’m sure you’ll make it up to me,” the lecherous grin was back again, making Harry blush.
He wasn’t quite sure what it was making him feel, but he was certainly interested in pursuing it. Though he knew it would take a lot of practice for the verbal sparring that Draco seemed to enjoy and Harry had grown a taste for. But first things first.
“I need to know how to work in the Wizarding world as a Peer. I need to know all that formality crap if I’m to be respected and listened to, then we need to overhaul the entire government, law and law enforcement system.”
“You’re not going to get that done in six months,” Draco snorted.
“No, but by then I will have made it very hard for her to impact my life again, and for anyone else who might ever be in my position. It’s time for a change in the wizarding world.”