On the foothills of Swiss Alps sat a cozy looking chalet. About two storey tall, it was surrounded by a well trimmed garden. The wood used was unlike any thing seen. It's eaves were beautifully decorated with carvings of mythical animals such as dragons, phoenixes, unicorns and fairies. From it were hanging bronze lanterns with a crest of ravens and skulls. Below it in bold letters was the motto of House Black. Toujous Por. Always Pure.
The sides of the chalets were taken by large French windows directly overlooking the mountains. Despite the definite clash of architectural styles, the chalet somehow made it work.
The garden itself was surrounded by a hedge boundary, carefully trimmed and shaped. The garden was filled with flowers both seasonal and annual. Many of them shouldn't even grow in such environments like roses, tulips, lilies and daffodils.
On the backside of the chalet was a large swath of pine trees. Tall and ancient, it was a wonder that no one had cut them down for its wood.
Under one such pine, sat a boy. His long hairs were swept back and tied into a pony while two bangs framed his face. Despite being around just seven, it was easy to spot that he would grow into a handsome man and probably break more than a few hearts. But the most striking feature of his face was neither the aristocratic looks nor the thunderbolt mark scarring his forehead. It was the striking emerald green eyes which seemed to glow.
Currently, the boy was deep into his book. The book itself looked heavily used and it's pages were already turning yellow. The cover had faded but the title could still be made, "Theory of Magic." Besides him sat another stack of books with their top hidden beneath a Jacket.
"Harry... " A voice called out from the inside of the house. Hearing it, the boy looked up and sighed. He hated being disturbed when reading. Carefully closing the book he kept it atop the other stack and hurried back home.
Opening the back door he was greeted by a weird creature. It was small just about Harry's height. It had two large eyes and bat like ears. But he was dressed immaculately in Butler Suit. Black Jacket, White Shirt, White Cufflinks, black ties and black polished shoes.
"Master Harry, Master is his study. " He said in a steady formal tone. Usually Elves would be barely able to speak. But this was an elf serving both the House of Potter and House of Black. Nothing less than best would work.
Harry nodded and walked towards the study. The study was on second floor and the only way up there was from the stairs in front, that is, on the opposite side of the house. Despite its small appearance, the Chalet was quite big inside. Great use of Space Expanding Runes, Elven magic and lots of Goblin help, had expanded the inside to at least thrice it's size. Even here, each room was further expanded.
Reaching the study room, he knocked on the door.
"Enter." A middle aged voice commanded.
The study room was quite big. It's side walls were filled with books in both languages known and unknown. Most of them were in English, Latin or French. Few in Russian. The walls around the door held shelves covered with artifacts. While the opposite wall was a large window facing the Alps. And sitting in front of it was his Grandfather Charlus Potter, the current Lord of House Potter.
He made for a grand figure. Despite being in his eighties, he didn't look a year over his fourth decade. His muscles earned during the Grindelwald Wars were still maintained and further increased his imposing figure. His Potter Cursed black hairs were now dotted with white and grey ones finally showing his age. And the unfortunate fact, he looked quite similar to his father.
Harry walked towards him and stood in front of the chair opposite him on the other side of the enormous wooden table.
"Grandfather." He politely greeted him with a slight bow and sat down.
"Hadrian." His grandfather nodded.
Hearing his real name Harry immediately got serious. It was only on rare occasions that his grandfather used his complete name.
"So... What are your plans for the future? " His grandfather asked suddenly.
Harry looked at him in confusion. Why the sudden interest in his studies?
"I have finished the basic second year theory and most of the third year. I am thinking of starting with Magical Theory or Runes soon. Maybe even Arithmancy." He answered truthfully.
His grandfather nodded.
"Later?" He asked in confusion.
"Yes... What next? You will do the compulsory seven years, graduate with good marks and then what next? What are your plans with your life? "
Harry's face showed his confusion. It was not like he wasn't acquainted with higher studies. He had been abandoned because of the same reason. So he was actually quite well intimate with all the major and minor details. But what confused him was the reason his Grandfather was asking him such things. He was still about 8 and was at least 10 years away from such things.
"I will take over the Potter and Black Seat. " He still replied after a bit of hesitation.
His grandfather nodded in satisfaction.
"And that's why you are going back to England."
"Never. I am never going back to that god forsaken place! " He snapped back immediately. His tone increasing from polite to downright scream at the end. He hated England from his very fibres. It was here where his life turned into nightmare. It was here where he was abandoned. It was here where he learned the harsh truth... Power was everything
"You will. That's final. " Replied Charlus in the same tone, except with a bit of steel in it.
"But... But why? "
Grandfather's order were final. Fighting against it was like going to fight a Nundu alone, with nothing more than a sword. A complete defeat. So he could only ask why?
His grandfather sighed. Removing his spectacles he massaged his eyes, and began.
"You know that you are my designated heir. "
Harry nodded. It was not a secret that his grandfather had skipped his father and chosen him as a heir. This one was also one of the reasons that the schism between him and his parents increased. James felt that he was snubbed and insulted in front of the whole Wizarding World. Since he couldn't do anything to Grandfather, he had become his relief outlet.
"You will be going to England to study under your Aunt Cassandra. She has graciously allowed you to stay with her. She will take care of your education and your other studies " He said waving his hand for the last part
"But that doesn't answers my question. I can even study here. You can hire tutors from all across Europe. "
"Why do you think people still go to Hogwarts? It's ranked among the bottom in the rankings. It's education standards are among the lowest in the world. Many of the subjects have been removed or merged. So why do you thing the nobility still goes to Hogwarts? Why not Drumstrangs or Beauxbatons? Why not Salem or Ilvermory? "
He thought for a while before replying, " Status? "
"Not exactly. Hogwarts is the meeting ground for all the nobility. No one cares for your owls and newts. Most of them will probably join the family business anyway. So why?
It's all for meeting each other and building connections. "
" Your father messed up big time in Hogwarts. He managed to isolate us from almost all the noble houses maybe except for Bones and Longbottoms. His pro-liberal stand due to Dumbledore affected our relationship with all the Conservatives and Neutrals. If that was not enough... He had to go and prank the other houses and humiliate them. This had further worsened our ties...
Plus with Voldemort's war, House Potter lost a great deal of its wealth due to James's unhindered spendings. We have lost a great deal of out businesses too. it will take a long time for them to recover to its peak.
So despite what people may say... House Potter is currently in a very precarious situation. One wrong move and it will be our downfall. "
Listening to this Harry's eyes widen. To him House Potter had always stood for invincible. A house with over 2000 years of history was going to fail just because of some pranks? It was hard to believe and even hard to digest. And all that stood between it was his Grandfather.
To him his grandfather represented what a Wizard should be. He was his idol. His superhero. But now he could see the heavy burden his grandfather was bearing. His invincible form looked tired. His back was now bent. His halo now dull. His grandfather was now *weak*
"If not for our connection with Blacks and the whole boy who lived fiasco... we would have already turned bankrupt. "
Harry gulped. Seeing this and Harry's pale face, Charlus sighed. Truthfully, he never wanted to put such a heavy burden on such tiny shoulders. But he could feel his life waning fast. He didn't have much time. So he could only prepare Harry for the storm that was going to come.
"But how? " asked Harry. Potter's had been accumulating wealth for a very long time. So it was hard to believe that they were on the verge of Bankruptcy.
Charlus looked at Harry and once again sighed. "Potter's are wealthy, but most of it is in form of fixed assets. In the form of mines, reserves, vineyards, real estate and so so. And most of it is in Europe and England. War with Grindelwald almost destroyed the European Economy. Majority of our businesses were heavily affected. We had just begun to recover when Voldemort came up. This destroyed our businesses here.
if it was just this it would have been fine. But James started using the liquid wealth to fund the Order of Phoenix. Both me and Dorea had barely recovered from Dragon Pox, so James was handling everything. By the time we came to know... he had wasted almost all our galleons.
Fortunately, we were able to stabilise everything using your grandmother's dowry and loan from Arcturus."
Harry nodded. Although he didn't understand much he understood the gist of it. Truthfully, Charlus didn't want to tell about James. But with Harry leaving for Cassandra he would soon learn everything. Cassandra had never hidden her disdain for James, so it won't be below her to embellish the story and make James come out as far worse person.
And with Harry... he honestly didn't care for his connection with other Houses. In his prime, he would have spat on such plans. But with his death inching closer everyday, he needed to give Harry some protection. With other Houses invested in him... he might be able to survive. Plus he did have Cassandra with him.
"It's your duty to once again connect with the heirs of those houses and build a foundation for us to work on. I want you to repair the damage James did. Take it as a test or a order. I just want results."
Harry hurriedly nodded.
"And while you are at it... Deal with the abandonment issues. You will soon take the Heir Ring, we can't have the Heir to two Most Ancient houses to be sniveling crybaby. Cassandra will tell you the rest. Now. Leave."
Harry bowed and rushed out. His heart was hammering. His feelings were in a tumult. He had to go to England... For House Potter. He would just need to stay away from James and Lily. Just few years and he will leave for Drumstangs.
Yes... Just a few more years.
Nothing bad would happen.