Chapter One: I'm What?!?
A/N: Well, this is another one of my brainwaves. It came to me suddenly and I just had to sit down and write, something that turned out to be easier said than done.
Anyway, I hope this works for you; I’m aiming for satire and comedy. It is supposed to be funny and ridiculous, while still keeping most of the characters in – well – character.
You might notice that this has a slight dreamy quality to it, which is on purpose. I want that slightly detached view of reality that hovers around the uncanny.
Anyway, now that I have bored you with my monologuing enough, we will go straight to the disclaimer and then the first chapter.
Disclaimer: I have no claim to the intellectual property that is Harry Potter, that honour goes to J.K. Rowling. I am just fiddling around and tinkering a bit. And hopefully being amusing while I do so.Chapter 1: “I’M WHAT?“
Diagon Alley was practically glistening in the late August sunshine, as Hermione stepped through the back wall of the Leaky Cauldron very much looking forward to her school shopping. Granted the alley was glistening because of the slight sheen of oil on the cobblestone, the wizarding world having never heard of pollution and therefore still having oil lamps to light the street at night. Somebody had obviously been messy the day before.
And Hermione enjoyed early school shopping because it gave her just the slightest thrill to know that she would be the first in her year to look through the new textbooks, highlight a few interesting passages and maybe jot down some notes on questions to ask the teacher. Okay, maybe jot down more than a few notes, more like a folder for each subject. She had a reputation to uphold after all.
Looking around at the throngs of people jostling about their business, Hermione felt quite content. The End of The War (all capitals please, as per Ministry Decree#168.a34.783LV.24/6.1) had been good for everybody.
Well not quite for everybody, seeing as it had come as a bit of a surprise for all involved.
It had been yet another running battle between the Deatheaters, the Order and the Ministry’s Aurors (many of whom were pulling double duty for the one side of the other) in the fields and trees around Hogsmeade. Nobody was entirely sure why Lord Voldemort had decided to attack on that particular day, school was out for the summer after all and Harry had long since retired back to the dubious embrace of his loving family. Maybe Voldemort had just been bored.
In the end it didn’t really matter why he was there, suffice to say he was there. Also there, apart from the wizards actually directly involved in the magical battle, was an elderly wizard, visiting his family after several decades excavating the magical city of Lemuria in Asia. Even this wizard, on later questioning couldn’t explain what precisely had made him bend down, pick up a pleasantly round rock, wind back and let fly in the direction of the Dark Lord himself. The results spoke for themselves.
Some fortuitous quirk of fate, had the rock impacting at just the right point on Voldermorts skull. This in turn had two cascading effects, firstly the Dark Lord’s higher motor functions were cut off immediately barring him from seeking out his horcruxes and also causing the killing spell he had been about to send Tonk’s way to implode back on the caster in a way very reminiscent to fireworks (the muggle kind – all flames and explosions and screams of joy).
The battle had stalled in its tracks as everybody gazed awestruck at the show and then it was all over.
Dumbledore had been especially hard hit, mumbling disconsolately about prophecies, all his hard work setting things up being for nothing and it wasn’t fair dammit!
As it turned out the prophecy had been fulfilled after all. Ignatius Dogoode was an old yearmate of the wizard formerly known as Tom Riddle Jr. In his own words: “That was Tommy-boy? He’s really let himself go, is there a kind of sickness that makes you look like a snake? Looks nothing like when we were back in school.”
This reminiscing had gone on for some while before he was finally brought back on track.
“Me and Tommy were always competing with each other back at good old Hogwarts. Same grades in every subject the teachers cared to throw our way. ‘Cept in History of Magic, the poor boy could never keep his dates straight. Bless his heart, his memory was terrible. Got so mad one day after old Binns canned another one of his assignments that he went for me with his fork. Still have the scar on my neck to this day. Looks a bit like that double-lined sign you use in arithmacy. Didn’t mean to kill the old boy, you understand, just wanted to distract him a little. You don’t go around attacking pretty young women. Just don’t tell m’ wife I said that.”
On being asked about his rock throwing abilities, the old man had blushed and admitted to joining the rounders league in his spare time as a bowler, although “I was a might bit more spry back then. Terror of the league I was.”
Harry had burst out laughing when he had heard that and said: “So Voldie marked him as his equal with a fork? And Rounders is the power he knows not?”
And that was the end of that. Well apart from all the Deatheaters, who it turned out, really had been under the Imperius curse all that time. Not really surprising, considering Voldemort was a less than inspiring orator at the best of times.
The now freed former Deatheaters went back to whatever they had been doing before falling foul of Riddle. Especially relieved had been Bellatrix and Rudolphus Lestrange who had retired back to their estate in Essex to rebuild their Kneazle breeding program. It had suffered rather from neglect in the interim years.
There had been a hurried decree from the Ministry of Magic that Voldemort was gone and that everybody could be safe again, thanks to tireless effort on their parts and then nothing more. There had been a few street parties, but half-hearted affairs at best and so all had gone back to their humdrum lives and pretended nothing had ever been any different.
With these thoughts running through her head, Hermione made her way to Gringotts, nodding at acquaintances, but not stopping.
This early in the holidays the bank wasn’t exactly teeming with life. A few witches and wizards were loitering in the Great Lobby, mostly watching the fracas going on in the corner opposite the exit. Three security goblins were dragging off a rather lanky, spectacled wizard who was protesting at the top of his lungs that ‘it isn’t a crime to exploit the system.” Hermione could only roll her eyes. Rules and laws were there for a reason and she would never dream of trying to buck the system.
The goblin at her particular till looked bored to tears and more than a little disgruntled with his lot in life; he had been promised that he would be manning the family vault desk and not that any person could approach whenever they felt like it (never mind that it was a slow day and he might as well help the other tills a little; he’d been practicing his obsequious look for months now and anybody could tell you it was not easy to pull that off). Maybe it was this that would cause Hermione’s life to change. Or maybe it was simply a completely random freak accident; maybe it was fate. Whatever the reason, as Hermione walked up to the only free till, first from the right, she had no idea how quickly and comprehensively her life would change and that in just under a year she would be – well that would be telling.
Suffice to say Hermione had a date with destiny and the hammer of fate would be slamming down hard on the anvil of her life.
Already planning what she would be spending her extra 50 quid on (which Aunt Mariott had tucked into her pocket the week before), Hermione wasn’t really paying attention when she took the last few steps to the teller.
“I’d like to change this, please,” she said, handing over the money earned by babysitting and gardening, with some thrown in extra by her parents to make up the discrepancy and to give her some spending money, or pin money as her Dad jokingly called it.
The gobblin grunted, dug up a positively ancient abacus and slammed the beads backwards and forwards, before writing the end sum on a scrap of parchment and shoving it towards Hermione’s face.
She however was already reaching for it, so the heavy parchment impacted her fingers at just the right angle to slice deeply into her index finger. Hermione yanked her hand back with a yelp, but fate being what it is, a perfect, fat droplet of her blood was flung up. All eyes seemed to be following its path as it came to the apex of its rise and reversed direction to fall past the goblin’s and Hermione’s hands and the parchment and land smack in the center of the little gold depression slightly off-center in the table.
The goblin and Hermione held their breath only to relax when nothing further happened, the little droplet of blood sitting there perfectly innocent; until it started to sink into the gold and finally vanished. Another breathless moment of anticipation and then all hell broke loose. Goblins, both security and bank staff converged on them from all sides.
Hermione and her goblin exchanged a brief look of bewildered horror before they were carried off on a tide of goblinhood to parts unknown.
Hermione had been left alone for what felt like hours but was in reality probably closer to twenty minutes, when finally an elderly goblin stepped in along with an entourage of about twenty.
Just as Hermione burst out with a, “I didn’t do anything!” the head goblin bowed ad intoned, “My Lady Black, you honour our most humble institution with your presence.”
They stared at each other, then both said: “What?”
Another staring match, before Hermione leaned back in her chair and gestured the goblin to continue.
The head goblin waited a moment, as if to ensure himself of her silence before beginning again: “My most gracious lady Black, I wish to welcome you to this our most humble establishment and congratulate you on the acquisition of your title and hope you will continue your family’s patronage of Gringotts.”
Apparently happy with his obsequiousness, he leaned back in his chair as well and looked at the human across from him, wordlessly passing over the conversation to her.
Unfortunately Hermione wasn’t quite up to sensible conversation just
The head goblin sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose, muttering something about what the hell they were teaching kids at school in this day and age. In his time everybody had to learn all customs of the wizarding world thank you very much, which would have saved him from having to tell this naive childling about the ways of the world.
“You, my Lady Black, are the true heir of the ancient and most noble house of Black.”
Well, Hermione knew the answer to that
“That is impossible, I am a muggle.” Hermione stated categorically.
The head goblin sighed once more. “There is no such thing as muggles, my Lady Black.”
“Could you stop calling me that, please! I’m NOT lady Black. I’m just Hermione Granger, daughter of two dentists in Reading. I am the first witch in my family, so there.” She felt she should be forgiven for being a little petulant. It was not every day that somebody overthrew your entire world view and just expected you to roll with the punches.
“This has to be a mistake!”
“Goblin’s don’t make mistakes, Lady Black. Is not your father Simon Granger whose father was Archibald Granger whose father was Ignatius Granger whose father was Lord Aethelred Black XXVII?”
“Uh, no? My great great grandfather was some guy who had an affair with my great great grandmother and then left her when she was pregnant and went off to marry some other highborn girl and we never found out where he ever came from… oh” Hermione trailed off, by now thoroughly spooked.
“Well, then you are the new Lady Black, now that Sirius Ignatius Black has passed to the other side.”
Hermione stared at the head goblin in shocked disbelief. She had only wanted to change some pounds dammit.
The goblin stared back at her for a moment longer, before taking pity and providing a slightly longer explanation.
“There is no such thing as muggleborns, Lady Black, because in ancient times it was customary for the heirs and second-borns of the ancient and most noble houses to sow their wild oats as the saying goes. Any offspring thereof was adopted if it proved to have power and if not was left with the muggle ones that had spawned it. Sometimes down the line squib lines would reunite and there would be magical offspring. Every generation skipped seems to highten magical power.”
This was something Hermione knew about. “Hmm, that sounds like it has the hallmarks of a recessive gene. Fascinating, you would need both genes to be viable as a magic caster, but if the wizards were sleeping with pure humans then there would be no chance for the magic to be passed on, it would just sit there until activated. No, that can’t be right, cause otherwise there would be no squibs born from magical families, so maybe it is two genes, one recessive and one dominant and you need both, which might also explain the different levels of ability in modern witches and wizards. Doesn’t explain the magic getting stronger in missed generations, though, that makes no sense whatsoever. There could be some serious research in this! I wonder if you can measure magical power with modern technology, or at least the part of the brain that is responsible for magical manipulation.” Her mouth stopped moving along with her thoughts, as the ramifications of the whole thing made her head spin.
“Quite.” The goblin intoned, thinking to himself that she was quite mad, after all jeans were those atrocious muggle items of clothing which the goblin youth were currently sporting, while insisting how groovy and psychedelic everything was. Had Hermione been able to read his thoughts, no doubt there would have been a pithy comment about how at least the goblin youth had managed to catch up with the 1960s, unlike some of the highborns who seemed to think Queen Victoria had never died.
“As I was saying, most gracious Lady Black, we must talk about your inheritance.”
“I still don’t get it.” Hermione stated and then waved a hand quickly when the goblin opened his mouth to speak. “No, no, I get the whole not muggle thing, but why does that make me the heir to the Black line, shouldn’t it be, I don’t know, Draco or somebody? They’re much closer than I am.”
“Ah, no.” The goblin stated, clicking his fingers. Another goblin stepped forward with an old piece of vellum that had what seemed to be a million signatures, seals and what looked like a scraggly cross on it.
“I hope they are teaching you the History of Magic at Hogwarts, so I can bypass the generalisations?” The goblin stated acerbically, only slightly mollified when Hermione nodded.
“As you know the goblin wars of 1134 ended with a virtual stalemate. A Pyrrhus victory for wizarding kind, but a victory none the less. One unfortunate side effect of the great battles of this war, was the high death toll. Entire lines were exterminated, leading to the rather unfortunately nicknamed Edregard the Moronic to be the sole beneficiary of no les than five noble houses. Something had to be done, and in an unusual sign of accord a law was passed within days of the event, stating that – and I hope my lady will allow me to read to her, as this is written in Middle English and the curlesques might make understanding difficult.”
Hermione refrained from telling the irritating little goblin, that she had been reading Old English since she was nine and simply nodded for him to continue, desperate to get the whole thing behind her, before the shops, especially the book shop closed.
“In the yvente thatte an anciente and moste noble house should be left with no heir of power and abilitie, who mayest notte be in ligne for anny other house or of dimme minde, then ye distaff lignes shall bee examined so thatte such an heir mayest yet bee founde. We shalle entrust this dutie to ye goblins… And the rest is in gobbledegook, my Lady.” The goblin ended, beginning to roll the scroll back up.
“If I may see?” Hermione asked, already reaching for the ancient text.
“Hmm, let’s see, ancient lines, dimme mind, mm-mh, shall entrust this duty to the goblin – and you must allow me to paraphrase here, my lord goblin, so as to ensure the understanding of our more modern minds – because we are royally fucked if we don’t grant them even the slightest privilege, because despite everything they still control the gold. And the golden rule is that he who has the gold makes the rules. Did I paraphrase that correctly?” Hermione asked, more than a little sarcastically.
The head goblin swallowed his ire, and to be perfectly honest his admiration for the woman across from him. She would have made a fine goblin.
“You speak gobbledegook very well, my Lady,” was all he was willing to state out loud though.
“I had some free time in my third year.” Hermione retorted, blushing slightly.