Chapter 13 : Return and Restitution
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Return and Restitution
“The king?” Godric asked surprised “Here already? He can't have found us yet. What are you on Leoforwic, you need your twin, this is the lamest prank you've tried. Tigelwotta's report said nothing about the Usurper being on his way.”
Leoforwic rolled his eyes “Not that King, the King of Alba's the one who is here, not the usurper. This one’s the good one, the one you and Salazar got drunk with in the entrance hall six months ago.”
The students and staff chuckled at the memory as the two named founders tried to look innocent.
Utred grinned “Bit late in the day for duelling, if he's wanting me to beat him again.”
“You always were a cheeky little Earsling, Utred, Lord of Tang”, a great booming voice rang mockingly across the hall as a large man appeared through the door “Besides I beat you once.” he added jovially, striding between the tables.
“My apologies my Lords.” Grinned Leoforwic. “My previous report was in error, the king is not at the gate, the oversized bearded one is here.”
The King was a startling sight; he was a giant of a man, in all scenes of the term. He was physically big, his fine clothes enhancing his fierce appearance, though not as much as his hair. His face and hands were covered in a shock of bright orange hair and he had two braids dangling either side of his face; however the combination of his hair and beard gave the appearance of a large fiery ball with eyes and teeth. He was an ebullient man with a naturally loud voice that even unmagnified, filled any room, even the Great Hall. His appearance struck fear in many an enemy, but those who knew him, knew he was in fact more likely to get you drunk than spear you, so long as you didn't betray him. He was generous to his lords, who loved him, feared by his enemies, who were now few, thanks to his ferocity in battle, and a prankster extraordinaire.
Utred and Godric smiled widely as they approached the man that had become a friend. The Gryffindor lands were, by oath of this King's grandfather, not part of the royal jurisdiction, meaning any resident lords here were his equal within the boundaries, save that custom dictated the other Lords gave way to the land owner. That said, Godric had for a long time been a friend of the king’s. Utred had also become close to the man, who liked nothing more than taking Godric's place against the young Lord in the weekly sparring whenever he visited.
“Lord Godric, Lord Utred, my two favourite Wizarding lords.” The king laughed as the men embraced in welcome.
The other three founders approached; although they did not hold titles, they too were held in the same esteem, but as protocol dictated, they waited the lords greeting before their own.
“Nothing to do with the fact they are the only two true Lords who are also wizards that you know at all is it?” Salazar quipped.
“Salazar you spoil my fun.” The king retorted then greeted the man, followed by Rowena and Helga.
The founders chuckled and Godric then addressed the king formally
“Majesty, I welcome you once again to our humble home, and bid you sit with us.”
The King sighed; he hated the formality intruding, but knew it was necessary, before they could truly show their friendship.
“My thanks Lord Gryffindor; it is, as always, my pleasure to visit your magnificent Hall. I thank you for your generous hospitality. However, much as I wish otherwise I do come on matters of state, and require your council, along with that of the Lord of Tang, and those of your advisers both in your castle and in the village on these your Scottish lands.”
Utred stiffened. The King had rarely arrived primarily to gain council; on each of the other occasions he had, it had ended with a fight with the Northumbrians. Utred and the Creaftas had been on a few defences for the King in the past. Northumbria, it seemed, was getting more and more desirous that the low landers raids south must stop.
Godric shared Utred's concern, but saw something else in the King’s eyes, a deeper worry than usual; something had happened, something that had the king extremely worried. “My king what has happened?”
“Styr is gathering an invasion force at Dunholm they are marching this way; he is using the movement of their saint as the cover for invasion we believe. We need your help.” The King told them, “Not just the Creaftas, Good as they are, we need all you can muster.”
“Tigelwotta!” Godric called.
“I shall leave and see what I can find immediately, Grandfather.” The Creafta responded.
“Go careful my Grandson, be swift, we have kept you here too long it would seem, Hilde go with him as usual my dear.” Godric suddenly looked old, as the two named nodded and left before Godric turned to the King. “To where have you summoned the Fryd Majesty?”
“Here, my Lord Gryffindor. I have sent instructions for them to come here. This is neutral ground; they all know I hold no sway here. They also know you, Utred, and the Creaftas; they know this is your land so they can speak freely here without risk of offending me, or at least suffering the consequences of doing so. That is what I believe will be needed in council now, not all are as frank with me as you are.”
Salazar observed the King thoughtfully, but said nothing, remaining deep in thought as he contemplated the implications of what king Constantine said. A neutral venue to assemble the Fryd, and hold council, had a not very well hidden implication. Contrary to commonly held belief, the Scots were not a disorganised rabble, they revelled in that mistaken view; even encouraging it amongst their enemies. It gave them an advantage in their raids and defence. King Constantine the second was a man who usually knew when to fight, and when to wait. He and his people did not shy from a fight, but would wait, lulling the enemy into false sense of security, even into traps. The skill of the Scots lay in their ability to guide and bring enemy forces into areas of the country where they could defeat them, without it being noticed. Their knowledge of the lands was unsurpassed, and leading to many a victory in the face of overwhelming odds in terms of numbers. They were, of course, well versed in the battle methods of the Saxons and Norse, assimilating them, adapting the methods when needed, into their own raiding methods, making an effective guerilla form of battle that was not easy for an enemy to deal with.
The Romans had built two walls to mark their Northern boundary. The short lived northern wall of Emperor Antonine had been abandoned by their army, which retreated from the natives tactics Southwards, to where the Emperor Hadrian had ordered a stone boundary wall built, and ceased trying to conquer the Scots and started trading with them instead. The Norse had given occasional shows of strength, testing if it was simpler to conquer by conquest, or befriend. They had soon settled to trading, and in common with Ireland and Northumbria had become allies. Northumbria was, of course, the old enemy of the Scots, the boundary between the two constantly shifting, until Hadrian's Wall had been built. That stability dividing the old adversaries had gone once the armies had been recalled to Rome, resuming after a gap of a few centuries, according to Merlin, as if there had been no gap, in the form of battles over the rights to recover the stone used in the wall for re-use, the feuding eventually returning to raids. The remaining stone in the wall only occasionally being taken by the Scots, whilst the material from the forts on the Northumbrian side was being heavily plundered, the violence between them settling to an uneasy stalemate once the Norse gained alliance with Alba and conquering the Northumbrian Saxons.
The Scots and Northmen had long enjoyed an alliance of trade; the Norse of Northumbria had gladly traded with them, as had the Romans, and a peace existed between them. It was the Saxon Northumbrians who were not willing to trade peacefully with the Scots, or other non Christians, only trading with the Norse through necessity of keeping on the right side of their rulers. However, since Styr had come to power, trade outside Jorvik with other than a neighbour was growing rarer. The Scots and Northumbrians raided each other in the absence of cross boundary trade; occasionally, a raid would grow to become a skirmish. Rarely those skirmishes would develop in to a full-blown battle. Even more occasionally, the Northumbrian's lord at Dunholm would order his men to encroach into lands already held by the Scots, not that it did them much good. Not one such incursion had ever returned to the fortress town with so much as a blade of grass from Alba; in fact, not one soldier had returned. Not that all were killed, through many were, some decided to join the communities in Scotland as free-kick men; though they could not join the small raiding parties, they did strengthen the defence of where they now lived. Others, when given choice, decided they would insult the offer and those who gave it; they became slaves. An uneasy truce had developed recently, broken only by small scale raids, creating a stalemate across the wall, a stalemate it seemed Styr that was about to break with a vengeance.
All of this Salazar considered. Measuring this historical and current feuding against the need to unite against an invasion, he came to a realisation. The King intended to lead the Northumbrians to their doom, somewhere close to here; why else bring more than the council chiefs here. The cunning founder looked up to Gryffindor; he knew that his friend could be just as cunning. Their eyes met, Godric nodding to him, then spoke to the King.
“Yes, I should think neutral ground would be useful; not just that, but of course, this is a good place to hold your army if you want to draw the enemy here too isn't it?” He grinned slyly.
Salazar nearly laughed out loud as the King's face first fell, then he burst out laughing. “Damn it Godric! You just lost me a gold arm band. I thought it would be Salazar who would draw that conclusion, not you.”
Godric joined in the laughter. “Oh, he got their too from the look on his face, you know I thought it was the Christians who were daft enough to take a bet like that not you. Although, you are named for one of there Roman heroes aren't you?”
Constantine was the second Scottish King to hold the name, and a believer in the old Gods. Ironically he shared the name with the Roman emperor who was first to embrace Christianity, which the king would not do. That emperor was first declared such by his army close to the Palace of the Archbishop in Jorvik; at least according to the stories passed down through the generations, so Godric's comments whilst strictly true, were intended to tease the current monarch of the Scots.
Godric permitted the king to set up camp on the grass between the castle and lakes; there would be just enough space for the chiefs and their entourages there, but not the Fryd. Godric had insisted that the large number of men would be disruptive, and the school and its protection was to be his first priority. Instead, he offered an adequate area on the far side of Hogsmead for the fighting men to assemble.
The next day saw Tigelwotta and Hilde returning; their source had confirmed the rumours the King had brought the night before; Styr was intent on war, and had embarrassed the Archbishop in council, to bring him into line and support the invasion. Constantine summoned the rest of his household, who were waiting in a settlement a day's march away with the local chief. Utred had agreed to go to guide them; Frayja, Tigelwotta and the Wesele twins would accompany him at first light, using the rest of this day to help the king's guard set up camp on the grounds ready to receive them.
The following afternoon Utred, dressed in full finery, sword at his side, helmet on his belt, together with his similarly clad entourage of his lady, Tigelwotta and the twins, rode Sliepnir to the town carrying the summons document. They travelled at speed, the King amazed at the beasts as they rode them from the grounds. They followed the road, full banners flying, one bearing the Huntrodds badge, the other the King's, each carried by one of the twins, flanking the Gryffindor banner carried by his descendant, Utred and Frayja leading the way.
Thanks to the eight legged mounts, they arrived at the village in a couple of hours. The king's colours being recognised alongside the others, they were only briefly held at the gates as their identity as friends was confirmed. They entered the village as the local chief emerged from his hall. Utred recognised the man; they had fought side by side near Hadrian's wall against a small band of Northumbrians last summer. He had not, however, visited this village before, and took careful note of their surroundings planning escape should the need arise. The Chief greeted them warmly as they dismounted, his eyes growing wide as he noticed how many legs his visitors mounts had.
Utred distracted the man by removing his sword, which he left with Tigelwotta for safe keeping, whilst he entered the hall accompanied by Frayja, leaving his friends to guard the entrance, as his host's guards eyed them suspiciously, as all loyal men should, until their Chief or Lord told them not to, at least.
The Chief introduced him to the captain of the king's household, who immediately issued the order for them to prepare to move. Whilst they awaited the completion of preparations, he summoned refreshments.
A woman entered, carrying horns of ale; she looked vaguely familiar to Utred, but she showed no sign of knowing him. It was as she returned with wine for Frayja, and as the captain drained his horn, that he realised who she looked like; but it was impossible, he was sure; the one this woman resembled had died at Tang.
“Fryga, more beer.” the Captain demanded
“Fryga!” Utred exclaimed, shocked.
“Yes, my Lord?” the woman replied expecting an order.
Utred slowly stood. “It can't be!” He stared wide eyed at her.
“I'm sorry my Lord, do you know me?” She asked.
The captain looked up. “Lord Utred, we rescued her with her eldest son some years ago. They had been captured from their home; she was heavily pregnant. They had survived the slave ship that carried them breaking up on our coast, the king gave them sanctuary, and she has been with us ever since.”
Her eyes whipped up “Lord Utred? I served Lord Utred of Tang before I was taken on the slave ship.”
“Yes, I know.” Utred replied gently, “The man you served, was my father, I remember you.” He took his fathers ring, still on the chain round his neck, from inside his tunic and showed it to her.
Her eyes widened. “Utred?" She asked in disbelief.
“Little Utred?” She asked, holding her hand at about the height he had been the last time she had seen him.
“Yes, Fryga, it's me.” He wondered how to convince her, then he remembered. “The last day you saw me, before I went hunting, my opponents at battle practice got frozen stiff like the Roman statues in Jorvik, do you remember.”
Her eyes widened as she dumbly nodded, then gasped and fell to her knees “My Lord, it's really you. Thank the Gods, I never thought I would see you again.”
“Get up Fryga.” Utred smiled, gently lifting her back to her feet “I never thought to see you again either, not after Tang; you serve the King now? How come I've not seen you at his palace when I’ve been?” Utred was delighted to see the woman again; he had been very fond of her as she had grown in his father's halls at Tang and Thwing.
“I am not sworn to him my Lord, nor anyone else here; not as a servant anyway, but just as a citizen like any other. At the palace I served his wife, raising his children, along side my sons, in a part of the palace you would not have visited.” she replied
“Your child survived? Last time I saw you, you were pregnant.” Utred grinned, genuinely pleased.
“He did my lord, he knows of both his father, and your father; he is here with me, his brother too. We thought you lost, like your parents in the hall, when you didn't return. I was taken as a slave; being pregnant, they could get more for me than the others, carrying a second future slave as I was; they let me keep young Hodda too. Only old Orin was spared amongst the men, and I as a slave, until fate served me. All the others were slaughtered, including the women and children.”
Utred sighed sadly. “Orin found us, he Ulf and Erik are all that is left of my father's men. We were found by a friend, a fellow Lord; he brought us to his lands here in the land of the Scots. I apprenticed to him, Fryga; he knew Orin's family, you will meet them soon. Godric and I are now equals, the only two true Lords in Alba. We both have sworn men; some are here with me and my Lady.”
He took Fryga and introduced her formally to his friends; Frayja invited the woman to sit with them as a member of Utred's Household. The captain looked shocked that the invitation was made to one of the Kings household, but dare not object to the king's messenger’s invitation to the woman, who was free after all.
Fryga too was surprised, but cautiously sat next to her, symbolically accepting Utred as her Lord. Utred then formally delivered the King's message to the chief and Captain, reading from the rolled parchment
“By the command of King Constantine the second I, Lord Utred of Tang, with my entourage are ordered to lead and guide you to the place he has chosen for his Council and to gather the Fryd. You are ordered to co-operate with the King's envoy, Utred the Lord of Tang, and his companions. Further, you are ordered to gather your men and present them to the command of the King, and for yourself and such senior advisers as you deem necessary for you to effectively Council us, to present yourself to us at this time. Signed by King Constantine the second, king of the land of the Scot.” Utred re-rolled the scroll, and handed it to the chief.
The captain simply nodded in response to the orders, but the Chief accepted the scroll, as was required, then spoke evenly. “Very well lord Utred, my men shall march with you as well.”
Utred acknowledged him. “Good, we must leave in one hour if we are to reach the camp on Lord Gryffindor's land by night fall.”
The Captain looked wide eyed; he had visited Hogsmead with the King before, and knew how far they had to travel, “Sunset is but two hours away Lord Utred; we have no horse here, the men must walk; they will not go far before night fall.”
Utred grinned “We have our ways, but your men will be in the camp tonight. Ensure they have what they need for shelter, and war, ready in half an hour.”
The Captain snorted, unaware of the true abilities of those at Hogsmead; the idea of reaching anywhere meaningful by sunset, and having time to make camp by nightfall was preposterous, even for this young Lord, who seemed to somehow achieve the impossible in battle. Still, he did not argue, but issued the necessary orders.
The sun was low in the sky, though still an hour from setting, as Utred led the King's household and the village's men through Hogsmead, and up to the school. The few horses they had with them had not reacted well to the effects of the massive Portkey Utred had created, just as his mentor had all those years ago to bring him to the school; Utred and his friends were mounted on the Sliepnir who were unaffected by magical transport. The captain, having realised what Utred was shortly after the Portkey had activated, was still somewhat sulkily muttering about show-off wizards when in earshot; the grin on his face betrayed his true feelings on the matter though. Fryga walked beside Utred, her hand resting on the Sliepnir's shoulder, as they made their way through the village. Her sons following, the youngest somewhat in awe that his mum knew anyone who could do magic and rode an eight legged horse; the oldest, Hodda now almost of age, though Utred remembered him as a toddler back at Tang.
As they passed the wand makers house Utred called “Orin, Ulf, Erik stop drinking and come and see who I have found.” Grinning, he set off again, before any of the house could reply or appear in the street.
A few seconds later, three figures quickly emerged, all fitting their swords to their sides, looking round urgently. Erik saw the back of Utred on his mount, a woman walking at his side, being followed by two children; puzzled, he glanced up as Tigelwotta passed.
“What's going on?” He asked.
Tigelwotta laughed, “Better follow us; we need to take this lot to the King’s camp.”
Orin grunted. “That’s whose tents those are is it? He wanting more duelling practice, or has he decided the smell from Northumbria is too strong at his palace?”
The three men began to walk alongside the mounted Creafta.
“Hmm, I suppose he is a bit close to the wall at home.” Egil pondered, then winked. “After all the palace is fifty miles from it.”
“Never mind that! Who is that walking next to Utred?” Ulf asked, cautious for his lord's safety as always.
“Don't really know... he told us she served his family at Tang and she had survived her slave ship wrecking on the coast along with the two boys. Seemed very happy to have found her.” Leoforwic shrugged. “She's part of the King's entourage.”
Erik, Ulf and Orin were puzzled, but knew Utred would not let her near if he didn't trust her; nor would Frayja for that matter.
The column arrived at the camp, and Constantine came out to greet them.
“Utred you back already?” He boomed, then noticed the woman walking in the place of a personal servant, her sons behind her. “Fryga?”
“Yes, Majesty?” She spoke softly.
“Is this the man who was your Master?”
“No Majesty, I was in his father’s service before his death.” She replied, her head bowed.
The King laughed loudly, “I should have guessed. Utred, I am glad she has found you; she told me her story, but nothing about who she was sworn to. She believed she was the only survivor. At last, mystery solved.” He turned to Fryga “My dear, I am pleased you have graced my household for the last few years. I shall miss your sons too, especially our Hnefatafl games. I wish you both well, though I hope Lord Utred will allow me to continue to see you all. I know he will treat you well.” Fryga looked hopefully to Utred.
Utred chuckled and nodded his assent to the Kings request. “I welcome her back to the house she was taken from gladly, my King, She has been sorely missed”
Fryga smiled to him, then turned back to Constantine. “My thanks to you my King, you have always been more than generous to us, I appreciate everything you have done for us.” She said.
She then bowed, turned, and took her place beside Utred and Frayja, her sons beside her, happy to be part of the house of the Huntrodds again.
Late 20th Century
Hermione was immersing herself in her favourite activity, research. She was assisted in this by her position at the ministry, both as a Ministerial adviser, and within the department. This afforded her access to volumes of records in the ministry Archive, as well as a wealth of artefacts from families that had died out. Or at least had been placed there by their family or heir.
Whilst researching Wizarding law, she also did what she could to research the history of the Huntrodds. Her mother had told her what she knew, Hermione horrified to realise that her Grandparents would be amongst those souls that would not be at rest according to the information Harry, Ginny and Dumbledore’s picture could tell her. Her friends had promised that they would collect the book for her next time they were at home.
Hermione had been very close to her grandparents, who had died before she started at Hogwarts. Still she missed them even now, the realisation they needed her help to gain peace added urgency to Hermione’s task. She was concentrating on finding the exact wording and circumstance of Slytherin's Curse and what steps Gryffindor had taken to mitigate its effects. Essentially, she was verifying the story Dumbledore and Minerva had told from memory and Harry had found in his library. She was also attempting to find out as much as she could about Utred Huntrodds; records were sparse at the time of course, however he was mentioned several times in the earliest known biographical writing of the founder’s life. It was written over three hundred years after the school was founded, by two authors; one named Bleac, the other had the name Tigelwotta. It was probably not that accurate; both authors acknowledged that they were merely recording what had been passed down by word of mouth.
She knew that could mean the book was wildly inaccurate; what she needed was a contemporary account. Sadly, it seemed none had survived, if any had existed in the first place, which made her task more than difficult. Instead, she turned to tracing as much of the family tree as possible, trying to connect with those buried at Whitby. She knew she had to return to that church yard, but Harry and Ginny had warned her not to go until she knew what she needed to do there.
She sat at her desk poring over the documents in front of her; she hardly noticed a grand looking owl arrive with a letter, until it landed right next to her. It held its leg out, offering the letter attached there to her, exuding an imperious air as it waited. Hermione took the letter from the owl. “Sorry, I’ve nothing for you here, but if you wait I’ll get some owl treats for you.” She said to the bird, which looked disdainfully at her and took off.
Hermione shrugged, and looked at the envelope; the seal of Gringotts bank was fixed in black wax. “Odd... Gringotts usually use red wax,” she muttered to herself as she broke the seal and withdrew the parchment from the envelope and read with growing interest.
“Dear Miss Granger,
It has come to our notice that you are the direct descendant of one Utred Huntrodds, Lord of Tang; you are in fact the first descendant of the lord to be magical in one thousand years. As such, we have been instructed to ensure certain items that are in our safe keeping are passed on to you. Please attend the bank at your earliest convenience, where I shall be pleased to attend you in this matter.
Godroc. Accounts Manager.”
Hermione frowned; what was going on? She knew Utred had been a lord, but where was Tang? What items had been left in Gringotts care, and how had they discovered her lineage when she was just uncovering it herself? Only one way to find out. She quickly put away the books she had been using, and left the ministry archive to head home before she went to Gringotts.
Ginny and Harry were preparing to greet the Bulgarian team, alongside their colleagues. Minerva stood with Kingsley next to her; for once, the Minister was to play a secondary role to the headmistress. The entire school was assembled to the side of the main doors, excitedly awaiting the arrival of the world cup runners up. The team had Portkeyed to Hogsmead station, where they were met by some of the coaches that usually brought the pupils, and Hagrid. The pupils and staff watched as the carriages moved up the driveway towards them. As well as the team, there were a number of trainers and healers, alongside another team of friends, all with their own luggage. All in all, there were 40 members of the team arriving, all of whom were being accommodated in the castle.
The first carriage drew to a halt, and the Bulgarian manager was first to exit, followed by Viktor, who it seemed would be introducing everyone to Minerva. He greeted the headmistress, and introduced the manager to her; whilst they chatted he turned to Harry and Ginny.
“Harry, Ginny, it is good to see you both again.” He grinned, hugging them both.
“You too Viktor.” Harry laughed “Still up to helping me with the first years first lesson Viktor?” teased Ginny, she had gained his agreement earlier in the week.
“I am still wondering how you got me to agree to that.” Viktor grinned “I am oddly looking forward to it, though."
By this time, the others had left the first carriage, and the second had stopped; Viktor resumed his duty of introducing the Bulgarians to Minerva, then Harry and Ginny. It was hard to tell who was more star struck, the students, as they watched the famous players emerge, or those players as the met Harry. However, soon they were all ensconced in their seats in the Great Hall, where a welcome feast was being served.
Viktor sat at top table with Harry and Ginny, the rest of the players and team staff spread round the rest of the hall, chatting to students, and enjoying the meal; any of the Bulgarians who couldn’t speak English were with another who could. The evening was a most enjoyable introduction to the team, and ended after welcome speeches from both Minerva and Kingsley.
Despite the visit of his son in the company of those freaks six weeks ago, Vernon Dursley still could not fathom why his wife had left him. He had, that day, reviewed a letter from solicitors claiming to be acting on Petunia’s behalf, stating her intent to divorce him. He had taken the letter to Grunnings' solicitor for advice on how to trace the practical jokers who had sent it, only to discover, to his dismay, that not only was it their opinion that the letter was serious, but they could not act for him in the matter as they were part of the same group of chambers who had issued it. He had gone to his office in a filthy mood after the meeting to discover a ginger haired young man sat behind his desk, apparently waiting for him.
“Ah, you must be Dursley,” The man coolly observed, “Please take a seat.”
Taken aback at the confidence with which the man had addressed him, Vernon gaped. “You seem to be occupying my customary chair. Mr er...?”
“Weasley; I am Mr William Weasley. I represent the owner of Grunnings Mr Dursley. Now please sit so that we may discuss a few matters.”
From that point on Vernon’s day changed; he had thought that receiving the letter, and meeting with the solicitor was a bad start to the day. For him however, it was but a fore-taste of what was to follow, as Mr Weasley, and a team of oddly dressed sharp-toothed people went through the company's paperwork like a dose of salts. It seemed the owner, who was unknown to Vernon, was suddenly no longer content to be silent on the running of the company. Until today, he and the other directors had merely sent quarterly reports via the company bank. The strange midgets had been quite adept at finding where Vernon had awarded himself bonuses and perks. Of course, he was not the only director to have enjoyed extra reward than they were strictly supposed to have received. However, it seemed he was by far the greediest.
At the end of the day, each director was informed that they would be expected to repay the company what they had taken. For most of them it meant either surrendering their company car, or repaying the bonuses they had wrongly received. Vernon’s skill at fiddling expenses, it seemed, amounted to a very large sum. It also included No.4 Privet Drive, Grunnings having provided the mortgage, which he seemed to have forgotten to pay for, since he became responsible for company finances some seventeen years ago.
He was thoroughly depressed when he arrived home; his method for financing the family lifestyle all those years had come to light. Petunia and Dudley had no idea this was how he had done it, they thought he had simply been very well paid. Now, he was lucky to still have his house and job. He had been demoted and he now had to pay rent to live in No.4 Privet drive; the company owned it after all, even the deeds were not in his name as security against the mortgage. He'd had to sign an agreement that should he be sacked, or leave the employ of Grunnings for any reason, he would immediately repay the rest of the money and vacate the house. However, to Vernon that was not the worst.
Mr Weasley had demanded one more condition, to preventing him being evicted and fired. It seemed the owner believed all his employees should treat others fairly, especially families. Vernon had nearly exploded with anger when he was told that in view of this, the owner did not want the adverse publicity a messy divorce might bring on to Grunnings through association. Vernon had agreed to ensure his personal life would not affect the company, but in the end after much argument he had signed the divorce papers agreeing not to contest it. This done, the neat papers he signed secured a job at Grunnings and his tenancy agreement for number four Privet Drive. It had been a very long day, one he would long remember. Seeing her brother’s exhaustion, Marge brought him a large glass of brandy which he uncharacteristically sipped with a trembling hand, as he told her of the events of the day.
Ginny was nervous as she walked out of the castle; although she had overseen the try outs and practices for all four Quidditch teams, today was her first formal lesson. She wouldn’t be alone; Viktor had agreed to help her, and the entire first year, have their first flying lesson. Ginny had planned how the lesson would work, and so arranged the school brooms in a large circle on the grass. As she completed the task, she was joined by Viktor, who had agreed to assist her with the lesson. They had time for a short greeting and chat about the class before the arrival of the first years. Ginny took the roll, before introducing Viktor then giving initial instructions.
“You will notice the brooms are arranged in a circle, there is one for each of you, and first, I want you all to stand beside a broom with your wand hand above it. Do nothing more until instructed to do so, understood?” She told the gathered 11 year olds.
There were sounds of agreement, and Ginny instructed them to begin.
Some of the students appeared confident as they stood beside their broom; others had a decidedly nervous demeanour. However, as the lesson progressed, with Ginny and Viktor giving assistance as they were needed, the first years soon managed the basic moves; by the end of the lesson all were flying around, although most demonstrated the characteristic lack of precision of beginners.
While Ginny was teaching, Harry and Kreacher had visited the library at Grimmauld place. They had retrieved the book he and Ginny had read, about the legends of Utred, but in the process had discovered a book entirely written in runes. It had floated to the table in response to Harry requesting a good source of information about Frayja Huntrodds. He was surprised when such an obviously ancient text had appeared; handling it carefully, he lifted the bound parchments in their obviously more recent cover, and placed it in his bag with the other book. Kreacher again secured the house, as they left to deliver the books to Hermione. She was thrilled she could find out more, and excited with the rare book Harry had found.
“Oh Harry, this is amazing; according to the cover this is a journal by Utred's wife. It’s invaluable; I promise I will look after it.” She gushed.
“I know you will sis.” He grinned, as he and Kreacher left. Harry, to a meeting with Bill, Kreacher back to the castle.
Rosemerta greeted Harry warmly as he entered the Three Broomsticks. Acknowledging her welcome, he glanced round the room, spotting Bill at the far end of the smoky room; sat at a booth, glass in his hand. Harry ordered a drink, and collected it before making his way over to his financial advisor and brother-in-law.
“Hi Bill, how’s Fleur and Victoire?” He greeted the older man as he took a seat opposite him.
“Hi Harry, they are fine, Victoire is growing well. They will be here tomorrow to see the game.” Bill smiled.
“Good. How did it all go at Grunnings then?”
“About as expected; all the directors had dipped their fingers into the company, through none as much as your uncle. One had simply purloined a constant supply of stationary supplies for his family's use, the worst of the others had a new car each year; and then there is your uncle. The man makes Mundungus look honest; I know even the Muggles would have imprisoned him for the level of theft from you he had. Still, I guess Petunia is right, his reputation is ruined, and that hurts him more. He agreed to everything in the end though.”
“Good, that means Petunia will be free of him soon. I still think he is getting more than he deserves really, but she is happy with him having half and getting rid of him.”
“Ah... about that, Harry.” Bill looked a bit sheepish as Harry looked up suddenly worried.
“What went wrong Bill?”
“Nothing, nothing at all, it’s just there was an unexpected problem over the house at Privet Drive. It seems it was never the Dursley’s”. Bill confessed.
“Then, whose was it?” Harry mused.
“Well it seems that Vernon thought it a good idea for the deeds to be in the company’s name, so he didn’t have to pay for it. The Goblins discovered that he arranged for the firm to record that it had given him the mortgage, and that he was paying it, in the main records. Sadly, this didn’t tally with what had been paid into the firm; we accounted and checked every payment received. All were accounted for, except the ones he supposedly paid Grunnings, so he now pays rent as the company’s new tenant in its house.”
“So, as I own Grunnings, I own the house; oh wait until Petunia hears! If she wants, I’ll give it to her, and she can be his landlord.” Harry grinned grimly. “I have more than enough property, after all, Bill.”
“As your advisor, I would state that it is impossible for you to have too much Harry, but as your friend, I would sympathise, then remind you that you can do an awful lot with it all.”
“I know Bill, I know.” Sighed Harry.
Following the class, Ginny and Viktor headed to the village for lunch with Harry. Petunia joined them, as she knew Bill would be reporting back on what had happened at Grunnings. When they arrived, Bill outlined what had happened, shocking Petunia, who had believed the house to be a marital asset. She was pleased however, that Vernon would not be contesting the divorce.
In Privet Drive, Vernon was explaining what had transpired to Marge, who was furious. “How dare they Vernon? How dare they treat you like that, after all you have done for that company? If I were you, I would have walked out.” She angrily admonished him.
“I couldn’t Marge, this new owner had a whole team of accountants in, they found everything I had taken, every penny I charged to the company and shouldn’t have. I am lucky to have a job at all, and not be facing charges. They had indisputable evidence after all.” He glumly told her.
“This owner had no business sending in those people Vernon. All these years, and not a word, then all of a sudden all this. Why now?” She fumed.
Vernon had no answer; he had no idea who the mysterious owner was, never mind their motives, so he shrugged, and allowed Marge to rant while he reflected on how lightly he had gotten off, even with the agreements he had signed regarding the divorce. That was the puzzle; why would his employer insist on that? Why would they be interested in his marriage breaking down? Why not help him prevent it, rather than encourage the move to divorce? It seemed strange; he couldn’t fathom that.
The next day at the school saw the English national team arrive at the school for the friendly match. The entire school turned out to watch, alongside a number of members of the Wizangamot, and the Minister of Magic. Kingsley sat with Minerva of course; the more observant students near them noticing the occasional looks between the two during the game. England were narrowly defeated after an hour of play, it had been a good, but uneventful match.
After dinner that night, Harry, Ginny, Minerva and Kingsley sat in the head of Gryffindor's quarters, mainly discussing the wedding until Harry dozed of.
Kingsley looked at the young man. “Is he really doing all right Ginny?”
“Yes, he is Kingsley” Ginny told him happily
“Some days, as long as its not a busy one, he only needs sleep once, in addition to his full nights rest, others its only a couple of times. Though the length of time he’s asleep on those occasions is a shorter time.”
“Good. I need him fit for what I have in mind.” The Minister smiled. “I haven’t got him due to start with us until September though, and only I, Arthur and Oliver know at the moment.”
Ginny smiled “He’s getting frustrated with it, it's months since he came back to us, and he doesn’t want to have to worry about if he is going to fall asleep in the middle of the day.”
“Don’t worry Ginny, he will be better soon now, I would think.” Minerva reassured the young woman. “Mind you, I wouldn’t mind keeping you both on staff here.”
“No, you don’t, Min.” Kingsley grinned “I need him.”
Ginny laughed “Nice try Minerva, but the Harpies want me in September too. Still, we won’t be strangers, perhaps pop into school occasionally.”
The three chatted into the night until Harry awoke, then they dispersed to their rooms.
The week at Hogwarts was sports based, mainly Quidditch. The house teams joined the Bulgarians for training. Petunia introduced Muggle sport during her classes, demonstrated a few, and getting the pupils to try them out. Indoors table tennis become a favourite; whilst, surprisingly, considering the speed of Quidditch, cricket was the alfresco favourite, though football was a close second.
Harry held duelling contests for each class, professor Flitwick held a fencing club each evening after dinner for the week; he was quite the duellist. Horace had the students learning various related potions, including some healing ones for the Hospital wing. The week passed too quickly, though, to the unanimous pleasure of the school, the planned match between Bulgaria and a school team was changed in favour of a sports day of both magical and Muggle games. The winners of each game gaining points for their house, the staff, and Bulgarian team members acting as judges, umpires and referees. At the end of the day, one house had shown great promise at many of the sports, including rowing, track and field events, and various others; as such that house had won overall, so the great Hall was decorated in the Hufflepuff house colours for the Farewell feast for the Bulgarians. As it drew to a close, Harry Ginny and Viktor talked over the week. Soon though, they were walking towards the doors.
“They deserved to win.” Viktor observed.
“Yes, they did fantastically.” Admitted Harry.
“Shame it wasn’t us though.” Stated Ginny.
King Constantine the second really did exist, though I doubt he was as I have described my character nor have I based the Constantine of this story on the historical figure beyond using the name. Briefly this is what is known of the real one.
Constantine II (900-942) King of Scotland.
Son of Aedh. After an unsuccessful invasion of Northumbria, Constantine had to submit to the Saxon King Edward the Elder, son of Alfred the Great. Constantine was also defeated in a later battle against Athelstan, Edward's son, at Brunanburgh. He renounced the throne in favour of his cousin, Malcolm I and became a monk at St Andrews. He died in 952.
The Antonine Wall is lesser known than the more Southerly Hadrian's wall, but no less important.
It was constructed in the AD 140s on the orders of the Emperor Antoninus Pius; for a generation it was the north-western frontier of the Roman Empire. Running for 60 km from modern Old Kilpatrick on the north side of the River Clyde to Bo'ness on the Firth of Forth. In 2008 it became a a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Once again many thanks to all who read and reviewed the last chapter, I look forward to reading any reviews you are Kind enough to leave on this chapter. I still commit to reply to them all.
My thanks to jascott for once again Betaing this chapter. He has said it won't be long before he has chapter 14 done.
I have had no response to the question as to if you would find a renewed Meet the Author thread on the forum useful so I assume it wouldn't be. That being the case unless I hear differently from you then I shall not create a new one.
Many thanks for reading, hope you enjoy it. Next chapter will be up as soon as it's ready.
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