Harry fell to the ground, not quite sure where the Portkey had brought him. He stood and straightened his cloak, and tucked his invisibility cloak into his trunk. He glanced around, not recognizing his surroundings. He seemed to be in the entry hall of a very large and old house. The walls were thankfully free of beheaded house elves, but there were a great number of paintings and portraits hanging on the deep mahogany walls.
With much more grace, Coe appeared beside Harry a few moments later, the old boot he had used as a Portkey in his hand.
"What the bloody hell just happened?" Harry demanded.
"We set a bit of a trap," Coe explained, taking off his cloak. "We knew that the Death Eaters were planning on attacking your aunt and uncle's house the moment you turned seventeen. It was the first moment when the blood magic Dumbledore set up all those years ago would run out."
"Who gave you that information?" Harry asked.
"We had a source," Coe replied.
"If it was --" Harry began, but Coe cut him off.
"No, Harry, it was not Severus Snape," Coe said quickly, steering away from the subject he knew Harry was sensitive about. "As much as we would all like to trust Severus, and believe that he was acting on Dumbledore's orders, we do not have any evidence of that. And until he shows us something that would lead us to believe he was not working for Voldemort all along, he is wanted for the murder of Albus Dumbledore. Murdering the headmaster of Hogwarts School doesn't go unnoticed, or unpunished."
"Good," Harry said bitterly. Dumbledore's death he could deal with, and was dealing with rather well, but Snape was one person who would always make Harry angry.
Coe continued his explanation while ushering Harry into the kitchen. "So we knew that you were going to be attacked. We decided to spring a bit of a trap of our own. We got you out of there and to safety and made your house appear to be already destroyed. While you were Portkeying out of there, Aurors were Apparating in to capture as many Death Eaters as possible."
"Who is 'we'?" Harry asked.
"The Order of the Phoenix," Coe replied and waved his wand at a kettle. "But a slightly different Order from the one that you would remember: we are now working with the complete support of the Ministry."
"Voldemort was there," Harry said bluntly.
"Was he?" Coe asked, and looked around at Harry. "How do you know?"
"My scar was bursting with pain," Harry said and rubbed his hand over his scar, which now felt normal. "It does that when he's near."
"Hmm," Coe said as he fiddled with two steaming mugs. "Tonks is going to give me a report as soon as everything gets settled. But for tonight, you are welcome to stay here. This is my home, by the way. Tomorrow we should go into Diagon Alley, and to Gringotts. And I believe I promised you a birthday dinner!"
"Is there any particular reason why we're going into Diagon Alley?" Harry asked. "I'm not going back to Hogwarts, you know."
Coe pushed a mug full of hot chocolate towards him and Harry wrapped his hands around it, sending the warmth through his body.
"We've got some things to discuss, Harry," Coe said sitting down.
"I doubt I'll have any use for what you have to say if it doesn't involve those Horcruxes," Harry replied coldly. "You said you would be able to help."
Coe sighed. "Well, then you'll have to listen to the irrelevant stuff for the relevant stuff to have any meaning."
"All right," Harry said.
"First off, Hogwarts will remain open. It was the wish of a dying old man that Hogwarts stay open after his departure. The Board of Governors sees no reason why the school should be closed if there are students who wish to learn, and if there is an acceptable Headmaster or Headmistress. The Board has decided that Professor McGonagall is indeed acceptable, and that she is suitably qualified. As for the staff, security measures and restrictions will apply, of course, and --"
"What security measures?" Harry asked.
"All teachers must be approved by the Board of Governors, not just the Headmistress, to begin with," Coe said. "Anyone with any sort of criminal past, regardless of whether or not they were ever convicted, will not be able to teach. Any accusation against a student or teacher will be taken seriously, though that is not a widely known fact. We don't want students coming to us with every petty problem just to make trouble for another student."
"Makes sense," Harry replied.
"Indeed," Coe nodded. "But to continue on with my irrelevant ramble: you, Harry, are asked, not required mind you, to return to school and complete your seventh and final year at Hogwarts. This request comes from many of the teachers who feel that you have the ability to achieve greatness in our world, quite apart from defeating Voldemort. Many people believe in you, Harry, and they want you to have a life and a future after Voldemort. Remember, this comes as a suggestion. Everyone involved is prepared for you to refuse the offer, but they all believe in you."
Harry nodded and stared into his cocoa.
"This is where a small amount of trickery on our part begins. We feel - we being myself, Dumbledore, Professors McGonagall and Flitwick, Aurors Tonks and Shacklebolt, and a few others - that in order to give you an element of surprise in the battle against Voldemort, you should appear to not take Voldemort seriously. Under this pretense, you will be offered private lessons, to learn to defend and to attack."
"Who's going to teach me?" Harry asked.
"A combination of people," Coe replied. "Everyone I just mentioned."
"With the exception of Dumbledore," Harry said.
"Actually, no," Coe replied. "There are ways he can still teach you, from beyond the grave. His lessons won't be quite as personal as the rest of your lessons, but you will find them rewarding nonetheless."
"What will I be learning?"
"Whatever the individual teacher feels you might need."
"This suggestion, if you will, does come with some requirements, but none that should be too hard to accept," Coe said. "First, you will remain Gryffindor Quidditch Captain, and continue to play Quidditch. Second, you should continue seeing Miss Ginny Weasley. That is," Coe's tone changed when he saw Harry's expression change at the mention of Ginny, "if you want to. But I highly recommend it."
"I'll have to think about that one," Harry replied. "It would be putting her in an awful lot of danger."
"Not any more than she is already in, and she will be quite safe while at school," Coe countered. "I assure you, she will be much safer at school than she was before. We are making sure of that."
"What other requirements are there?" Harry asked.
"You need to stop pushing your friends away," Coe stated. "You will need them in the end: Ron's strategic thinking, Hermione's logical problem solving, Ginny's feisty courage, Neville's unfailing loyalty, and Luna's unique point of view. You will need your friends for strength and purpose. Don't assume that because this prophecy had your name written on it, you are the only one who can do anything. They will be with you until the end. And I doubt that your friends will want you making the choice for them to stay out of the way and away from danger. Don't cheat them of their chance to help you."
"And how do you know this?"
"There were a lot of memories stored in Dumbledore's Pensieve," Coe said simply.
Harry thought for a minute. "Any other requirements?"
"Two things actually," Coe replied. "One of the things you will be taught is Occlumency, and in time, Legilimency. These two will be incredibly important to your survival during any confrontation with Voldemort. You must master them, and you must take them seriously. You've seen first hand how easy it can be for a skilled Legilimens to know which spell to ward off. Snape is a gifted Legilimens, but he's nothing compared to Voldemort."
The mention of Snape's name made Harry's blood boil. His narrowed his eyes and glared at his mug. Snape. Snape. If anyone had bothered to take notice of what he had said about Snape...
Harry quickly repressed his anger; over the past few weeks he had become quite good at keeping his emotions under control.
"The last thing?" Harry asked, looking up at Coe.
Coe smiled. "Well, as the new Head of Gryffindor House, Harry, it is my honor to inform you that you have been chosen to be the new Head Boy."
Harry nearly fell off his chair. "I've been what?" he choked out.
"You're Head Boy, Harry," Coe repeated. "It was actually a unanimous vote, across the staff. Now this has nothing, and everything, to do with Voldemort. On one hand, it is something you deserve, and I'm quite sure you would have been Head Boy even if there was no prophecy and no Voldemort. On the other hand, this will allow you to appear to remain indifferent to Voldemort."
"But I wasn't a Prefect," Harry protested.
"Neither was your father."
"Did you know my father?"
"That’s neither here nor there."
"Did you know my father?" Harry asked again.
"Yes, I did," Coe replied. "But the story isn't nearly as interesting as you'd like it to be, Harry. I was at school with him, in Gryffindor. I was a year below your father. I played Quidditch with him on the house team."
"Oh," Harry replied. Hagrid had told Harry that he'd written to all his parents' school friends, asking for photos of them. Coe was probably one of those friends, nothing more than a team mate and a housemate.
"Does all this sound acceptable to you?" Coe asked.
"I'm still not sure about the Head Boy part, and I'll need to think about putting Ginny in that sort of danger," Harry replied. "But I do agree with the logic behind it. I'm nowhere near ready to face Voldemort, and the best place to learn how to do that is at the School. I have a few requirements myself, though."
"I thought you might," Coe said, smirking. "Let's hear them."
"First, I want the staff to trust me enough to allow me to come and go as I need to. I fully intend to find the other Horcruxes, and will need to leave the School from time to time. Also, I reserve the right to take anyone I might want with me."
"Sixth year or above," Coe said. "And I'd appreciate if it you would at least let me know when you intend to leave and how long you expect to be gone."
"Well, of course sixth year or above," Harry replied. "And if for some reason I need someone more junior, then I'll get permission and show reasonable cause. And yes, I'll let you know, unless I forget to, or I can't tell you, then, well ... sorry."
"Fair enough," Coe replied. "Anything else?"
"I'd like Ginny and Luna to get their Apparition Licenses, if they choose to. If Voldemort knows that they are close to me, it will put them in danger, and I want them to be capable of escaping."
"The age requirement for an Apparition License is being dropped to fifteen years of age and above," Coe said. "If they qualify, anyone aged fifteen and sixteen can receive a Restricted Apparition license, to use with parents or guardians or in the event of an emergency. So that shouldn't be a problem."
"Then I think that about covers it," Harry said and drained his mug. "Do I get to hear the relevant stuff now?"
Coe sighed and removed his glasses. "I was hoping you would forget about that until the beginning of term, or at least until the morning." Coe paused and refilled Harry's mug. "I have information regarding the remaining possessions of Godric Gryffindor and Rowena Ravenclaw. Remember that Dumbledore believed Voldemort might have sought heirlooms from the other two founders of the School to use as his Horcruxes. I have not been able to locate any remaining Ravenclaw descendants, and one of the descendants of Gryffindor has gone missing, I'm afraid. I have checked on all of Gryffindor's other possessions, and they are safely in his vault, but the one thing that the missing Gryffindor had in her possession was not at her house, or in her vault."
"Did Dumbledore know about this?"
"He was informed that there were no surviving Gryffindor relics apart from the ones he had at the School," Coe replied. "However, the descendants of Gryffidnor felt no need to make public what was extant and what wasn't. Therefore, after Dumbledore's initial request regarding the surviving relics, the vaults were checked and everything, with the exception of that one piece, was accounted for."
"Do you have names for these people?"
"The Ravenclaw bloodline seems to have died out about fifty years ago. The name was Shale. And the missing Gryffindor is Marian Cunning. She married a Muggle-born and has had no children."
"Are there any other Gryffindors?" Harry asked.
"There is one more who is alive, though it's quite a surprise that he is. It was through him that I was able to check the contents of the Gryffindor vault."
"Why did Dumbledore contact you?" Harry asked.
"He knew he could trust me," Coe replied. "He was my great-great-uncle or something like that. I'm from his mother's sister's line and he always had a soft spot for me. His aunt married my great grandfather, I believe."
"You're related to Dumbledore?" Harry asked.
"Barely," Coe laughed. "Besides, you, of all people, Harry, should know that it's not nice to judge people based on their family."
"True," Harry replied. "You said something belonging to Ms. Cunning was missing. What was it?"
"A pocket-watch," Coe replied. "It had an ornate carving of a griffin on the front panel. It was passed down from first-born to first-born, normally eldest son to eldest son. That is until Marian's mother was born. She was the first eldest child to be a daughter in the long line of Gryffindors who had before her always produced first-born males. And even more surprisingly, Marian herself was a first-born girl, so the watch went from Marian's grandfather to Marian's mother, then to Marian herself. She has a younger brother; he was the one I spoke of a moment ago, the other Gryffindor descendant. They don't get along very well, and that watch is the reason for it."
"What is her brother's name?" Harry asked.
"Oh, it's quite appropriate," Coe replied, and rolled his eyes. "His name is Godric."
"Do you have any more information?" Harry asked.
"No, I'm sorry," Coe replied. "But I might be able to help you with the Ravenclaws and the Shales. They were old friends of the family."
"I'd like to see Gryffindor's vault," Harry stated. "I want to make sure everything is there."
"I've already told you --"
"Since I'm the one who has to defeat Voldemort, I want to know that when I do it, it will be done properly. I don't want any Horcruxes showing up that we thought didn't exist. And I don't want to waste time searching for something I believe to be Horcrux, only to discover it was something else all along."
"Fair enough," Coe said. "How about tomorrow?"
"Can this Godric character be available tomorrow? It is awfully short notice," Harry said.
"It should be fine," Coe said. "We need to get your Apparition license tomorrow, as well as show you your vaults."
"Vaults? I only have one."
"You have the vault your parents set up for you," Coe explained. "There is also your parents' vault, and the Black Family vault that you haven't been to yet, and the Potter Family vault. You have access to those now that you've turned seventeen."
"How do you know all this?" Harry asked, beginning to feel a little uncomfortable that this man, who he knew nothing about, knew so much about him.
"I've already told you," Coe replied. "Dumbledore wrote me a letter in which he explained a lot of things. I've also seen his Pensieve, and I've paid attention to what people have told me about you."
"People talk about me? What do they say?"
"For instance, it was mentioned once, just in passing, that you were the new Gryffindor Seeker, and that you were the youngest player to be on a House Team in a century. That had to mean that you were quite a good flyer. There was nothing about your Quidditch abilities in the Pensieve or in the letter."
"How much do people know about me?" Harry asked.
"More than you'd think they know about some things, and less about some other things you'd think they'd know a lot about."
"Do you get your tendency to give cryptic responses from the Dumbledore side of the family?" Harry asked.
"Probably," Coe replied and nodded thoughtfully. "Often drives people quite mad."
The next morning, walking through Diagon Alley, Harry was slightly uncomfortable. He still wasn't used to people staring and whispering wherever he went, and he would never enjoy the attention. He followed Coe up the steps to Gringotts and into the wizard bank. Coe conversed with a goblin at the counter before being led down to a cart which would take them to their desired vaults.
Their first stop was Harry's personal vault, where he withdrew a fair amount of gold, as he didn't know when he'd be back. The next stop was the Black Family vault.
"Traditionally," Coe said as they stepped out of the cart, "the family vaults are passed from the head of the family to the succeeding head, normally father to eldest son. Since Sirius didn't have a son, he passed this vault on to you. No other Black can access this vault. This is old magic, similar to that which binds Kreacher to you."
"What do I have to do?" Harry asked.
"Stand in front of the door," their goblin guide instructed. Harry did so, and after a moment of wondering if he looked as silly as he felt, his body tingled and the vault door vanished.
Harry took in the contents of the vault, not sure what to make of it. True, it was vast, and there were great mounds of gold everywhere, but...
"Were the Blacks an untidy family?" Coe asked, peering into the vault from behind Harry.
"I honestly don't know," Harry replied. There were papers strewn about, and trunks overturned. "I didn't think so."
"It looks as though someone was looking for something," Coe commented.
"When was this vault last accessed?" Harry asked the goblin.
"The twenty-fifth of August, in the wizard year of nineteen eighty-one," the goblin replied promptly.
"Do you know who opened it?" Harry asked.
"Mr. Canopus Black," the goblin replied. "Do you require this vault to be open any longer, sir?"
"No, I don't need to see it any more," Harry said, stepping away from the vault. The door immediately reappeared. "Do you have an inventory of the contents, by any chance?"
The goblin pulled a large roll of parchment from his tote bag and held it up to Harry. From the mere thickness of the roll, Harry knew he was going to have a grand time with the Black vault.
Their next stop was the Potter Family vault. As had happened before with the Black vault, Harry stood in front of the door to gain access to the vault. This one was much tidier. There were stacks of books and papers and trunks lined along one wall; miscellaneous furniture, paintings and chairs along another. Harry stepped deeper into the vault and his breath caught at the sight of the gold. The back of the vault opened up to a room quite possibly three times the size of Gryffindor common room. It was filled from top to bottom with gold.
"Well," Harry muttered to himself. "I suppose I could holiday for the rest of my life if I wanted to."
After closing the vault and receiving another vault inventory (this one surprisingly equal in size and thickness to the Black vault inventory), Harry and Coe were back in the cart.
"Gryffindor Family vault next," the goblin chirped.
"But your friend, Godric, could he not make it?" Harry asked, looking at Coe.
Coe didn't answer him, for at that moment the cart lurched forward and it was impossible to have a conversation while they darted back and forth, hundreds of feet beneath London. When at last the cart stopped, Harry and Coe got out, both feeling shaken.
"If you please, Mr. Coe," the goblin said to Coe and beckoned him forward, as he had done to Harry at the previous two vaults. And then it dawned on Harry.
"You're Godric," Harry said, irritated at the professor's deceit. "You're the other descendant of Gryffindor."
"That I am," Coe replied. Coe positioned himself in front of the door as Harry had done, and a moment later the vault door disappeared. Harry could not hide his shock at the size of the Gryffindor vault: it wasn't larger than he expected, it was much, much smaller.
"Come now, Harry," Coe chuckled at the look on the young man's face. "This is Godric Gryffindor's actual vault. These are the only remaining relics of Gryffindor."
Harry stared at the handful of objects in the vault. There were two goblets, a book, a ring and a wax seal.
"I thought there'd be more," Harry replied.
"Well, Gryffindor lived over a thousand years ago. Not much has survived that long."
"I'd still like an inventory," Harry said. Coe nodded to the goblin who in turn handed Harry a much smaller roll of parchment.
Without so much as a word to Coe, Harry climbed back into the cart, followed quickly by Coe and the goblin. The ride back to the surface gave Harry a few moments to gather his thoughts and get his emotions under control.
"Do you need anything else while we're in Diagon Alley, Harry?" Coe asked as they stepped out onto the cobbled street.
"Look," Harry said turning to look at Coe. "After I get my Apparition license, I'm Apparating away from you. I have no time to waste with your issues regarding your heritage. If you intend to help me from now on, I expect you to be honest with me."
Coe sighed. "I am sorry I didn't tell you, Harry. I see that I have lost your trust."
"And it will take quite a bit to earn it back," Harry snapped. "If you're able to help me, great, but I don't have the time or the patience to wonder if I'm getting the whole truth from you."
"Everything I told you last night was the truth."
"Except for the part where you are the same Godric who is descended from Godric Gryffindor," Harry replied. "That was an important detail you omitted."
"I don't exactly like being related to Gryffindor, Harry," Coe said, irritably. "I'm sorry that I wanted you to trust and judge me as myself rather than as Godric Gryffindor's great-something grandson."
"And I don't exactly like being Harry Potter, The-Boy-Who-Lived," Harry shot back. "But I have to live with being who I am, and with the consequences of that, which is why we are here now.”
"I also wanted to see if you were serious about undertaking this task," Coe continued.
"I want Voldemort to be finished," Harry said. "And I intend to do what needs to be done to ensure that happens."
"Well then, from now on, you will have the truth," Coe replied. "I'm sorry I didn't give it to you sooner."
"Is there anything else that you need to tell me?" Harry asked.
"No, Harry," Coe replied. "That was the only thing."
"Then let's get moving," Harry said. "I need to pick some things up at Flourish and Blotts, and I'd like to be able to Apparate legally by the end of the day, so let's not spend anymore time here than we need to."