Disclaimer: I know I say it every time (or similar at least), but Anything you recognise from her books belongs to JKR, I make no claim at all on it.
Warning: This chapter starts with a battle scene which includes brief description of the deliberate infliction of injuries, some fatal, to humans by humans.
Autumn was drawing to a close, the trees had lost their leaves a month earlier and Utred lay concealed on the ridge that enclosed three sides of a valley only a mile north of the wall. He was watching as a small advance party from Styr's army made its way along the stream that ran along the floor of the dale, and out of the open end to join other streams from other similar valleys. There were about fifty men in the party of Northumbrians, a small contingent of a larger group, numbering in excess of six hundred, sent ahead to find Hogwarts, and to create a safe, easy route north, for the main Fryd to take when it crossed the wall. This group of Northumbrians would not make it back to the main body of men waiting just outside the valley to see if this was a better route. The fools were heading up the Glen; they either didn't know, or didn't care to note an obvious sign that this vale was a dead end. The valley ended in a sheer cliff in the direction they were headed, a narrow waterfall fell over it to feed the stream. Hidden from view, up a path that would be obvious once this group reached the falls, was a village; a small settlement, one of many close to the route the Scots wanted the Northumbrians to take. Utred's team had been tasked to protect these settlements, and guide the Northumbrians on the route by whatever means were necessary; they would soon have to stop this group by force, Utred had already deployed his men, they would act in less than a minute.
The stream tumbled over rocks and ledges as it flowed swiftly along its narrow course between the Northumbrian scouts who were out of earshot of the main group; walking with most on the nearest bank to Utred's own position. The first of Utred's thirty men dropped silently down the slope, unnoticed behind the invaders, cutting off any retreat. Once those men were in place, the rest of his men charged down the sides of the ravine, swords drawn, shields ready, axes swinging, with braided beards and hair flying wildly shouting blood curdling battle cries all the way, the sight must have struck fear into the hearts of the bravest of men in the bottom of the valley.
The fifty invaders attempted retreat, but found the way blocked by a small shield wall advancing on them. They had no time to form their own shield wall before they found themselves trapped between the flashing blades of the wildly charging Scots flying into them on three sides, and the steadily advancing shield wall on the fourth
Battle fever took Utred as he ploughed into the enemy, his sword singing in his hand as it sliced into the first of the men in his path, who fell instantly, eyes wide with fear and surprise. Utred's shield crashed into the body of the man alongside his first victim, the shield's boss crushing the man's face, blood sprayed him as the momentum he had built up on his way down the slope, carried him through the surprised, ill prepared foe. Moving smoothly as if in a graceful dance, he had killed five with his sword, and had destroyed the faces of at least that many more with his shield, before he noticed a Northumbrian weapon clash with his shield at all. He grinned; he had become used to battle, revelling that his pre battle nerves now transformed to empower as the red mist of the fight took over his actions and he attacked fiercely with the skill of the feared warrior he had become. Revelling in the thrill of his adrenaline and fear channelled into the enemy through his own sword. An axe embedded itself in his shield, splintering the wood where the blade penetrated; it was not a true battle weapon; Utred saw it was a simple tool which all households had, as the man withdrew it for another blow. These were not Styr's professional soldiers, but farmers or craftsmen from the mass of his Fryd, barely trained men, that Styr considered easily expendable. Utred yelled his battle cry in defiant intimidation at the man, and he forced his way decisively forward, increasing the effectiveness of the shield as it slammed into the axe man's throat, crushing his oesophagus before he could bring the wood axe down again. The Northumbrians eyes widened as he attempted to gulp for air, axe still held above his head, prepared for a strike that would now never fall on its intended target. Not wishing to prolong the man's pain from the incurable injury, Utred swiftly swung his sword, ending the man's suffering, whilst he still held the handle of the axe, granting entry to the feasting hall in the next life. Stepping over the now still corpse, Utred engaged the next Northumbrian, dispatching him quickly; then on to the next, his movements now automatic; parry, slash, cut, parry; the same as the rest of his men in well practised actions.
The skirmish lasted only a few minutes, the enemy surrendering when all but twenty were dead or injured. The stream ran red as the blood that soaked the ground, and trickled into the fast running waters, carrying the crimson evidence of the defeat from the valley. The men with Utred, covered in the blood of the enemy, busied themselves stripping anything useful from the bodies; not that there was much. Utred stood over the bodies of both of his own men who had died; both with swords in hand, they would have no time to bury them here. He waved his wand and the bodies were sent to a prearranged tent at Hogwarts where their Families or Chief would arrange cremation. This done, he turned to the captured Northumbrians, nodding to Skorri and the other three wizards in the group; the other Creaftas were on their own missions. They swiftly drew their wands, performed healing spells on the injured, then bound the Northumbrian captives. The youngest Northumbrian was separated from the rest and brought before Utred who grinned at the boy.
“How old are you boy?” He growled.
There was the sudden tang of urine scenting the air as the young Northumbrians bladder released its contents. “Twelve, my Lord.” came the quivering reply.
“Well boy, return to the Earsling in charge of your little army, tell him you were the lucky one today. You met the Lord of Tang and survived, you are the one, today at least. This is your tale to tell.”
“My Lord, please take me with the others; they killed your last messenger – the other day – they beat him to death on the Lords order. He said the next messenger who returned would be nailed to the nearest tree.” The boy pleaded.
Skorri had joined Utred and heard the pleadings. “Damn it Utred, we can't send him back to that; the one survivor to tell the tale. We can't do that any more if they are torturing the child to death.”
The boy was suddenly indignant. “Oi I am twelve, a man.”
Utred laughed “All right! put him with the others, we'll take him with us. Stake out their dead for the beasts, make it look like they were executed, that will send the message anyway.”
Skorri nodded; he used his wand and the grim task was completed quickly.
Message prepared, the few wizards in the group levitated the captives ahead of the victorious; up the slope away from the grim site of their defeated comrades bodies; which they left to feed Raven and Beast next to the red coloured stream.
Once on the tree covered plateau at the end of the valley the Creafta's began Apparating the prisoners to the holding camp that had been set up on an island belonging to Salazar, in the middle of the north sea. A series of tents had been erected within a hastily built wooden wall to house the captured Northumbrians. The island was large though uninhabited remote and protected by various wards set by the founders parents to ensure no ships could land there. Guards were unnecessary though there was a regular cycle of wardens from the older students at the school and volunteers from Hogsmeade and Godric's Hollow. Shelter for the guards was in a large Long House magically protected from the growing number of captives, it was also used to process new prisoners, a Legilimens being always present to ensure all information was found as painlessly as possible. A few wizards had been identified in this way, their wands were removed on snapped to ensure they remained captive. Food was, for the time being, sent from the King's lands, but prisoners were set to work to grow their own. The coast of the island was extremely rocky, though the central area had a sandy loam which, now it was protected from the worst of the North sea wind, could support many plants.
However, away from the compound that currently held the prisoners, wizard builders were busy using stone from the coast to build a fortress of fearsome strength at that end of the island; the strong dark rock was impossible to work without magic, making it ideal to help defence and prevent escape. The castle was not being built to keep people out however, it was being built to precise plans drawn up by Salazar to keep people within its walls. This castle was growing rapidly and the island shrank, literally shrank, as it's rock was taken and added to the castle that was growing on Azkaban island.
Having left their prisoners to be introduced to their new life on the remote piece of land, Utred and his friends left the island and returned to the forest at the head of the valley, rejoining the rest of their patrol.
“Anything happen whilst we were gone?” Utred asked as the reunited group made their way to the other side of the forest, to a Scot's village nested in the next valley.
“A few more came to investigate, probably saw the colour of the stream, they mutilated the bodies when they found them, then ran, scared we'd attack them too probably.” One of the king's men replied. “When you guys gonna use your magic on them, it would save a lot of trouble?”
“More likely bring more.” Skorri rebuffed the idea. “We know the usurper and his son are wizards and they know about Hogwarts. They just don't know where it is, or that we are fighting with you yet, we don't want them to know that either. This lot are just his advance party, their task is to find the castle and guide the Northumbrian Fryd to it without us knowing. Attacking like we are will spread fear to explore, guide them where we want them to go without Styr realising we are when he comes. That way, hopefully, he will still believe he has the advantage, he doesn't know we know about him being a Wizard, he thinks Sal is still loyal to him and won't give him away.”
“Plus with that untamed bishop of his, if we showed magic he would fetch more men possibly from Wessex or even his own army. The only magic that priest wants is what he claims to have through his nailed God, not us.” Utred added.
“Never trust a Christian wizard.” The Scot grinned to the laughter and agreement of the others. “Come on, not far now until we reach the rendezvous location, be good to get back to camp to rest for a while.”
“You mean back to that new young bride of yours you wily old sod.” Teased another of the men, laughter was renewed as they departed north.
At the school life continued as near normal as possible, students studied whilst the king continued to be a guest. The defence of Scotland would be coordinated from here, each of the Chiefs of Alba playing their part, the four founders under Gryffindor coordinating the magical contribution. It was planned to allow the Northumbrians to penetrate a narrow corridor deep into Scotland, guiding them along a route the Scots allowed, killing or capturing any that strayed from it. The Scottish Chiefs were charged with leading King Styr and his army into a trap, Utred and his men were part of this in a troop, now standard in the army. A few magical, with a larger number of mundane warriors, the wizards taking care of any prisoners in addition to aiding military action.
The older Chiefs remained permanently at the camp, sending their sons to head their men whilst they organised supply lines and formed the King Constantine's war council. They knew the current force of Northumbrians in their lands was merely an advance party, the main Fryd would not cross the wall until the Spring at the earliest.
It was to this that Leoforwic and his wife Godiva returned from spying on the activities of the Wessex King; so far he had remained in the South, leaving Styr to deal with the Scots on his own. Their report confirmed this was still the case, which was an advantage to the King of Alba; Wessex had sent barely one hundred men, who it seemed had the specific task of caring for the coffin containing the remains of St Cuthbert; the continued absence of the Fryd of Wessex moving to Dunholm was reassuring.
Of course, from Salazar's point of view, this was a disadvantage in one way, it meant they could not rid themselves Wessex as well as Northumbria. He privately acknowledged that Styr had overstepped the mark and must be defeated. Publicly however, he put on a show for the sake of his oath; his hopes that his former student could be redeemed were fast disappearing though. He was nothing if not a pragmatist, and he realised the reality that his Oath was a burden, which could be seen as support for Styr's actions. For the sake of his students, and himself, the time had come for him to work out how far the oath could be stretched without it breaking, and still maintain the ones he had with the school and his students.
Utred's team reached another unprotected village within sight of the route a short time later; the Wizards swiftly erected protective wards around the small settlement, whilst the rest of their troop reassured the residents. The village protected, Utred's group watched as Styr's advance guard marched past, continuing along the route the Scots wanted them to. The passing five hundred Northumbrian men did not notice the village at all though, the various wards ensured that.
The five hundred remaining Northumbrians moving North were a show of strength, intended to intimidate those inhabiting the lands they passed through. The king of Northumbria was sending the message, “Look how many I can risk in enemy territory, punching my way into your lands; if I can spare this many, how many more can I bring if you don't comply with me.”
Utred and Skorri had already infiltrated this advance guard as they had slept or relaxed at the end of the day. Utred had maintained his ability to move unseen and unheard like Sceadugengan in the night forest and marshes, observing the Northumbrians from within their own camp. They had discovered that only fifty of the remaining group were fully trained, the rest were tradesmen answering their Lords and Kings call; still this was a large proportion of trained warriors to commit to such a scouting party. Especially as they had divided into groups to patrol, groups which were now increasing in size in an attempt to ensure they returned as they were sent out from the main body of their comrades.
The Northumbrians sent a party ahead to scout, thirty five men this time, a large troop for this purpose. Utred's men watched and groaned, as they saw them head off the path needed; waiting until the daily messenger headed south on horse back to deliver a report to the main army, still in safety at Dunholm, describing the route they were supposedly clearing.
Once the rider had gone, the Scots moved as Utred had trained them, quickly, quietly, like shadows through the trees. They would keep watch over the Northumbrians, and act only if the patrol did not return to the course needed. Utred only ordered the Northumbrians attacked when they needed to prevent the main group following the advance scouts off the route they needed them to take.
Soon the Northumbrians would make camp; that was when Skorri and Utred would sneak into the camp, listen to what was said, then return, all without notice of the guard. It had been the same cycle each night they had tracked this group. Each night they learned a little more about the enemy, and their plans, and so were able to keep one step ahead of them each day. The two Wizards enjoyed their evening work, especially when they could eavesdrop undetected on the young Wizard who was the commander of the Northumbrians insurgents.
Thorfin himself led the advance group of five hundred, on his fathers orders; he had an elite of sixty men amongst the rest of the over six hundred he had started with, who were ordinary farmers and traders. They had crossed the border into Alba via a gap in the Roman wall, he guessed a gate may have been here guarded in some way. The ruins were slowly dwindling as the stone from the fort behind the wall was being reused by locals to mark boundaries between fields and properties. They marched along the Roman road leading through the weed topped, grey remains, until its smooth, worn stone surface stopped abruptly as it passed through the wall. It had been a drizzly grey day as they set off, a fine rain that penetrated through clothes unnoticed, until the chill of already soaked cloth penetrated the senses. Each day a messenger arrived from his father, giving any fresh orders, and one was sent back with reports of their progress that day; at least, they reported what Thorfin wished to tell the King. By no means were the contents complete, missing as they were full disclosure the losses of men; instead proclaiming his progress was slowed by exaggerated victories over a disorganised Scottish defence. Over one hundred men killed within a few days of crossing the wall; more missing; such failure would not be tolerated by his Father. Thorfin was determined to show his father he was capable of more than hall burnings; this was a chance he was not going to let go by reporting failure, at least all thirty five he had sent ahead had found this camp site without loss to their number.
His Father had instructed him in the general direction he needed to head, and what he was looking for, both physically and by magical detection; which he and the few loyal wizards with him utilised as and when they could. They had to be careful not to use magic near the other men, and especially if any of the group of priests were nearby, it was not known if they were loyal to Hrothweard or simply to themselves.
He had been instructed to find all alternative routes to there destination, but each time he had tried to find other paths, his scouts had been slaughtered by this Lord Utred of Tang, according to single messenger left. Thorfin had been furious; how dare some Scottish upstart send such a message, didn't they realise who he was? The messenger, one of his own men, was clearly a coward who should have fought harder. There was only one way to deal with such treachery; Thorfin ordered the man beaten to death, that would motivate the men to fight and keep his confidence.
He sat with his advisers, unaware that they were being carefully listened to.
“Our task remains the same, we must ensure the path is known and safe, in readiness for the main army to pass to our target unmolested by resistance. Report on specific route and terrain.” Thorfin insisted.
“Yes my Prince, but why are we on this route?” One of his advisor’s grinned.
Thorfin lost his temper. “Because our orders are to head this way, or would you abandon the King's task?”
The advisor quarrelled “No, my prince of course not. Our route remains in low lands along valleys. We have seen few settlements, and met no visible resistance. However morale is low in the men, the deaths by an unseen enemy has them spooked; some claim this land is cursed.”
“This land is no more cursed than the stinking farms they come from.” Thorfin blasted. “We are only a week into these lands, and the simpletons are spooked already? Priests, it is up to you to bless the men, protect them from the pagan spirits here.”
The priests mumbled to each other then bowed acknowledgement before they left.
“Now, the rest of you are too complacent; our losses are entirely due to your lack of control of your men. Once again, I have covered for you with my father; now ensure tomorrow we have more than one route found.” Thorfin ordered.
His advisers left muttering dissatisfaction, Thorfin was too naive to put a stop to it.
Utred had almost chuckled hearing the frustration in the son of Styr's voice. There was already dissatisfaction among the men under Thorfin's command, and the big losses today had helped to fuel this. He and Skorri remained concealed as they wandered around the camp, listening to the moans of the men and more experienced Lords. They hadn't needed to encourage disloyalty; it was spreading fast amongst this part of the Northumbrian army, entirely due to the frustrations of its inexperienced commander. Utred had grinned evilly when they had discovered who the leader of this advance force was the night after they had crossed the wall, his glee tempered by the fact that his sworn enemy’s son was untouchable at present. Capturing Styr the usurpers son would be a blow to the Northumbrian pretender and his army; but they needed the fool to create the path they had laid down. His men were dissatisfied with his leadership, and the fact that so many of their friends had already been killed, but they were not ready to rebel. It would not be good for the Scots plan if they did turn against him, not yet at least.
After their evening gathering information on the group the Creaftas retired to their own camp, to sleep a while, secure behind wards that removed the need for sentries from themselves, or the Muggles with them.
Next day the Creaftas and their men kept a close watch on the Northumbrians, ensuring they avoided any Scotch settlement, by either magical or Muggle means. At midday, they found a ridge overlooking a long valley they had guided their quarry into; they could see for miles along it from their position, and awaited their relief to take over from them.
Utred nodded to Skorri who Apparated away with a soft pop. Moments later a group of wizards and Scottish Muggles arrived, holding a rope that acted as a port key. The wizard leader and Scottish chief approached Utred, who recognised them both and greeted them.
“My lord.” he nodded to the Muggle “and Pyrlig isn't it?”
“It is Lord Utred” The young wizard replied, he was in his final year of apprenticeship to Slytherin. “A message from Salazar my lord, he wished you to meet with him on your return, he says he has information for you that he needs to discuss, he suggests meeting this evening. “
Utred acknowledged the message with a nod, then proceeded to brief them on the insurgents, and what they had discovered about them, before he and his men grasped the Portkey and they left.
Late 20th Century.
The book Harry and Ginny had lent her had confirmed both the legend of the cursed family, and that the Utred was Gryffindor's apprentice; but it was just confirmation of a legend - it added nothing new to her understanding. Hermione needed more, she knew that behind every legend was some truth, she just needed to find it.
A thousand years ago there was no ministry of magic; there were a few Muggle records of the time, however these were often biased and therefore unreliable. Perhaps it was different in the magical world, perhaps she could find out more about Utred from school records. She could easily check the Ministry Archive, but was the one for Hogwarts kept separately?
She might be able to use Muggle records to trace the family back a couple of hundred years; perhaps even as far as the Whitby ghosts they had met over a year ago. Her parents may be able to help with that, she would have to ask them. She picked up her quill and made notes of the questions she felt were yet to be answered about her ancestors; she also was desperate to discover more about Utred, what sort of man was he? Where was Tang? What did he achieve in life? She needed to find more about him and his life. This project was, for her, more than mere research; this was her new compulsion if she did but realise it.
Ron had seen relatively little of Hermione over the last few weeks. Her work at the Ministry meant she left the house by Floo as as he left by the front door; he knew her research work in the Ministry archive meant she stayed there late, only returning home when the evening shift archivists completed their shift in the department. This all meant they had spent little time talking when they were together, being too busy sleeping. Dudley's presence at evening meals meant Hermione would not discuss whatever she had discovered when he was there, if she made it home in time to eat with them. Dudley had noticed, and worried that it might be his presence that made Hermione stay away. It was only when Maria had managed to have lunch with her at the Ministry that she had been able to reassure her boyfriend.
Still Ron's time with his fiancée was limited, despite their living together. Although he knew what she was doing, he was beginning to worry about her obsession again.
It was late in November when Minerva called round for afternoon tea during a Hogsmeade weekend. She had arranged to call in with the couple, only to find Ron on his own. The Professor frowned as the young man apologised for his future wife's absence. Hermione had gone to the Ministry archive to collect some documents, and had yet to return, several hours later. He reluctantly, explained what was going on when the Headmistress noted how worried he looked.
They were finishing a second cuppa when Hermione emerged from the fireplace, and immediately apologised for being late, having only just noticed the time.
Minerva raised an eyebrow. “Thank you for your apology Miss Granger, however I wonder, if I might have a word about balancing work, private research and your life my dear?”
Hermione's eyes widened, she had heard that phrase only once before, during her first year when she had spent hours reviewing every book she could. It had been the professor who had used the phrase then too; it had given her pause then, and had the same effect this time. She analysed the last few weeks mentally in a few moments, her eyes betraying her reaction to the realisation of how much she had neglected her home life and Ron.
She ran over to Ron, tears flowing from her eyes, wrapped him in a tight hug, ignoring the wide eyed surprise on his face as she apologised to him. Minerva smiled as the young man, who was not well known for his emotional maturity, comforted his fiancée. “He's learning.” The older witch muttered to herself, smiling in satisfaction that she had helped the couple.
A few minutes later, the couple were sat with the professor in their parlour; enjoying a fresh pot of tea, and discussing Hermione's research.
“Well, Hermione, I have told you all I can remember about the legend, but I would suggest that you talk with others about your research. You never know what you might find out from their different perspective.” Minerva smiled, “I am sure you can talk to your old colleagues at Hogwarts in the holidays; they start in a week.”
Hermione looked thoughtful then horrified. “A week, is that all? I haven't even started my Christmas shopping yet.” The young witch exclaimed.
Harry and Ginny arrived home at Grimmauld place to be greeted by Kreacher and Winky. The two elves had spent the morning preparing the house for the arrival of the couple for the Christmas holidays; a tray was set on the table with drinks and cake.
“Welcome home Master and Mistress” Kreacher grinned. “Refreshments are ready, and Madam Andromeda will be here soon with young master Teddy.” Winky smiled.
“Thank you, you two” Ginny grinned. “How do you like your new quarters?”
As a wedding present to their elves, Harry and Ginny had set up new quarters for the elves by the kitchen. In fact they had created a small bed sit en suite for the two elves by expanding Kreacher's old cupboard to make it. The rooms were furnished as smaller versions of their own bedroom and bathroom upstairs.
“Winky has never had such a room.” The female elf exclaimed “I is most grateful.”
“Master and Mistress are most kind” Kreacher added.
Harry laughed “I am glad you like it, we both thought you deserved it. Winky welcome back, by the way, has Kreacher shown you every where yet.”
“Not yet Master, we has only opened up your rooms and the rooms for your Aunt and cousin so far. We will fix the others soon.” the elf replied.
Harry and Ginny sat down and Ginny looked up at Winky's words. “Kreacher, we need our room of requirement to create enough rooms for everyone. All my family will be here, including the twins and Aunt Muriel. Maria and her family will here on Christmas day as well, though they aren't going to stay over with us. We shall have to check on when Andromeda and Teddy will be sleeping over here, when they arrive today.”
The two elves nodded then popped out of the room as the door bell rang; a moment later Teddy came barrelling into the room calling “Harry and Ginny back, Yay.” at the top of his voice
“Hey Teddy” Harry grinned as the toddler ran to hug him and then Ginny, who greeted the youngster in similar fashion.
Andromeda entered the room. “Welcome back you two, it's good to see you. Are you both recovered from the events of the term?”
Ginny laughed “Well at least we weren’t kidnapped this time; still, two weddings, a double funeral, gaining a new brother and sister, then the usual Hogwarts and Ministry work. All in all it has been an interesting one.”
“Not to mention the Bulgarians visit, or the Guy Fawkes celebrations again.” Harry added wistfully “Besides, I have yet to have a quiet year at Hogwarts, since I first arrived there.”
Andromeda sat down thoughtfully. “You know, I never thought of that; but you are right Harry, neither of you have really had a peaceful time at school, either as students or staff. How the two of you have ended up as the well rounded people as you have, is incredible in many ways. Thank Merlin you have though.”
“It's Hermione I am worried about.” Harry sighed shaking his head.
“What's wrong with her?” Andromeda asked puzzled.
“She's quite obsessed with this research into Gryffindor's first student and how he links to the cursed family and the Huntrodds.” Ginny told her. “I know Ron is worried too.”
Andromeda mouthed “Oh”, and sat in thought.
The silence lasted a few minutes as the three adults sat lost in their own thoughts.
“Harry, play?” Teddy shouted, snapping the adults out of their thoughts.
“Ok Teddy fella” Harry laughed and picked up his Godson “I know, us adults were being boring. Lets go see where Kreacher hid the toy's shall we.”
Andromeda & Ginny joined the boys as the box of toys was located in the corner of the room and a game started.
That evening, after Andromeda and Teddy had gone home, Harry and Ginny were in the drawing room, going over some papers Bill had left for them. He had completed his review of the holdings of the Black and Potter inheritance, and he had discovered other inheritances coming through the Evans line, including the holdings in Grunnings which they had already know about. Bill had discovered the Evans will, made by Harry's maternal grandparents; Petunia had been left quantities of jewellery and cash, but all property and shares had been left to Lily. Incredibly, the two bequests had been of equal value at the time of their deaths. The will had never been properly executed, Petunia had received her parts of the bequest, but Lily had never been able to go to the Solicitors to complete the transfer before her own death. Bill had arranged for the Solicitors company to meet with Harry and finalise the Evans will.
Harry was sat at the Bureau going through the papers for meeting the next day, Ginny sat with him noting any questions they had about each document. A copy of the Evans will showed a list of property acquired by his grandparents, attached were notes and court papers detailing Vernon's attempts to grab the property for himself; luckily the courts had consistently dismissed his increasingly desperate and ridiculous law suits, until finally a judge had ordered him to cease and desist. Petunia had told them that Vernon had almost spent the equivalent of her inheritance from her parents in the failed attempts, before she had submitted a request to the last judge, privately in chambers, for it to be stopped. Vernon had gained nothing and lost much in the attempt.
The Prewitt clock chimed midnight in the hall.
“Come on love, time for bed” Ginny yawned and stretched.
Harry nodded and placed the papers back in the folder. He reached at the same time as Ginny to close the bureau; touching the polished timber together, they began to lift it from it's desk position.
As they pushed the lid closed the plaque showing their ancestors names glowed briefly and with a clunk, the right hand side panel popped ajar. Harry and Ginny looked at each other, the moment had arrived. Ever since finding the bureau at Godrics hollow and hearing the message, since Harry had received the parchment from it on the morning of their wedding, they had wondered what secrets the heirloom held. It had only been when they reached Hogwarts that they realised that with Dudley and Petunia's arrival, they had been too distracted in the summer to remember the need to be together to find the answers, although both had used it, it had always been separately.
His hand trembling, Harry pushed the panel open further. It swung on its hinges revealing a compartment much larger than the outside of the Bureau would indicate was possible. The compartment held a very old looking large chest, its dark wood banded with gun metal grey fittings, including a handle visible on the end. Harry reached in to grasp the handle; as he did a golden light erupted from the chest, and Harry collapsed to the floor. A slip of parchment flew up out of the bureau then fluttered to the ground, ignored, near by.
His eyes fluttered open to find a worried looking Ginny placing a cushion under his head; noticing he had come round she grinned.
“Can't even open a cupboard without something happening to you now can you my love?” She scolded gently.
“How long was I out of it?” He asked.
“Only a few minutes, long enough to worry me, Kreacher and Winky though.” She grinned, placed a hand on his chest to prevent him rising.
“No, don't move, Poppy is on her way I want her to check you over first love.”
Harry groaned. Much as he liked the Hogwarts healer, he hated the fuss that was necessary for her to do her job, especially if the subject of her kindly ministrations was him; he quite admired her skill when it was applied to someone else. Over the years and especially during the last months since he returned to them, it had become a bit of a game between them, both understanding the other and accepting with perhaps a little more than good grace.
Poppy arrived, accompanied from the fire place in the lounge, by Kreacher and Winky. Seeing he was conscious and lucid when she entered the room, she let out a sigh of relief.
“He can't ever manage twenty four hours away from school before he creates excitement this year then?” She joked to Ginny.
“No, Poppy, it doesn't seem he can, poor boy; we'll have to stick to him like a charm to stop him needing a healer as soon as our backs are turned.” Ginny grinned.
“Well, it would certainly be good to visit him as a friend, not a patient for a change.” The nurse smirked.
“Oi, I am here you know. Honestly any one would think I did this on purpose.” The subject of their ridicule pouted, a twinkle of humour in his eyes.
The two ladies burst into laughter. “All right Harry.” Poppy giggled. “it's just such a relief to arrive and not find you seriously injured for once. Lets check you over though; how long was he out for?”
Ginny calmed down as the healer began her scans. “Only a few minutes Poppy, he touched that chest, there was a flash and he collapsed.”
Poppy nodded as she completed her scans. “Well, I don't know what it was, but whatever it was it seems to have had a positive effect on you. As far as I can tell you have never been so healthy. The improvement on the check I gave you yesterday is remarkable; for instance I can find no sign of your illness. Yesterday, the imbalance that caused your bouts of tiredness was there, today it's gone completely. That's not all though. All signs of illness's and past injury have gone. How's your eye sight Harry?”
“Seems fine to me.” he replied puzzled.
“Hmm, that's my theory that your poor eye sight was a result of bad nutrition as a child disproved.” she sighed “You are wearing your glasses, if this had healed your eyes you wouldn't need them. You can see clearly with them, so you still need them sadly. Whatever happened healed you of the other signs I can detect. The only other exception is you have not gained any height either. Still you are fine medically as far as I can tell, I'd better hang around in case though.”
Harry grinned. “You mean in case it happens again if I try to take the trunk out.” He began to sit up.
“No I mean when you do, I know you too well to believe it's an if, Harry.” She chuckled then paused “What's that?”
Harry followed her line of sight, and spotted the slip of parchment where it had landed; he picked it up and read it.
“The time has arrived, the closet I concealed is now yours. Sealed a millennium ago by the Creafta Tigelwotta, passed down his descendants. Concealed by them, until the one of his line's Essence is bound, and his friend who is destined to be the Lord of Tang's rescuer feels the tug of their Magic to free those who came before. The closet contains secrets of creatures and three fourths of founders, none shall see until the descendants of Gryffindor and Tigelwotta and his essence bonded wife, together open it. The time is here, the time has come at last, so young bonded Tigelwotta's view your inheritance, the closet of the Peverill's is yours.”
“Who is Tigelwotta?” Ginny asked “I've never heard of that family.”
“Mistress, it is similar to a Saxon word meaning Potter, Tigelwotta is Master's ancestor.” Winky told them.
“Why didn't the family tree show that name though?” Harry wondered.
“If it was like the Black tapestry, it translated family names into it's most recent form, thanks to a charm applied when it was made.” Kreacher explained. “There was a Black who was described as a Creafta as well, he was amongst the earliest students of Gryffindor in the time of the founders, before the sorting hat. Though I am not sure what the Creafta's were, or who else was one.”
“Perhaps that is something for Hermione to check into.” Harry said. “We know the Peverill's pre-dated the founders, and are ancestors through marriage; though not who too, perhaps it was this to this Tigelwotta. Lets see what's in this closet.”
Ginny was about to object, but he again reached for the handle and pulled.
This time the old wooden box slid out easily, and with Kreacher's help, it was placed carefully on the table.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Ginny walked over and looked at the fastenings holding the lid closed; she reached to release one, and another flash erupted as soon as she touched it.
“Wow.” She exclaimed “That felt odd” and sat down.
Poppy quickly scanned her. “You are perfectly healthy Ginny, I can't detect any effect.”
“No, I felt overwhelmed for a moment, now I’m fine though.” She assured her.
Harry, who had been instantly at her side, sighed. “That's how I felt love, but at least you didn't black out.”
Ginny looked at him “Never mind Harry, it doesn't matter. Let's see what is in it.” She successfully diverted his attention.
They looked down at the dark metal hasps that slotted over loops of the same metal, near either end of the closet.
Decorative iron locks, similar to padlocks secured the hasps, rattling in the loops as the couple each inspected one of the ancient looking contraptions. A slot in the base appeared to be where a key should be inserted, although there was no sign of any. They withdrew their wands and pointed them at the padlocks
“Alohomora” they intoned in unison.
Many thanks for reading and to those of you who were kind enough to review the last chapter, I look forward to reading what you all think of this one if you are kind enough to leave a review too.
Thanks also o Jascott for once again going through my work with a fine tooth comb. The next chapter is already with him and will be posted as soon as it's ready.
Best wishes to you all.
Utred's offer to the boy to be the one survivor of the skirmish to tell the tale was a custom of the time. The idea was that in telling the tale of the defeat, the one spread fear of their opponent, meaning that when they arrived the populace would realise it was pointless to fight, reducing losses on both sides. Of course this tactic was well known and used by all sides, it has even evolved to be used as a modern tactic. Propaganda is used in many wars, a famous example being Lord Haw Haw in WW2.
Contrary to what some may expect, the taking of prisoners was not unusual, once an army had victory they had gained land, they needed slaves familiar with it to tend it for them. Similarly we have evidence that any injured would be assessed and if treatable would be treated, one diagnostic tool was onion soup, used to detect injury to the digestive system. They also knew how to bandage wounds to aid healing. There is even evidence of treatment of ailing and injured horses in this period, though to own a horse was the equivalent of owning a Ferrari today so perhaps that isn't so surprising.
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