Summary: After the war, reconciliation between enemies is necessary to create a better future, one that is only possible if one embraces the past.
Words Posted: 187,435
Disclaimer: Harry Potter, his friends, his enemies, and the lovely world they live in all belong to JK Rowling.
Notes: Look! It's a chapter... The Trio did many things in the course of their quest to put down Voldemort... and sometimes, no matter how good the cause, you still have to pay for your choices. Harry knows this far too well.
Thanks: You have Badgerlady to thank for catching my German-influcenced punctuation and capitalization-- my sense of where commas go is from there (at the end of every clause, thank you very much). THANK YOU for Beta Reading!
Continued from Chapter 27
Wednesday morning, Harry met with Andromeda at the Leaky Cauldron. At her advice, he wore nice robes, but not dress robes. They were a somewhat faded dark blue with a silvery brocade down the sleeves. Harry thought the shade of blue was intentional, but it could have been from age. He was not an expert in clothing. Still, they were not frayed, and Oliver Wood, whom he’d borrowed them from, had said they were appropriate for meeting with a banker. He still hadn’t made time to go shopping for clothes beyond the dress robes he had bought, at McGonagall’s insistence, for the Order of Merlin celebration. Purchasing those had been fairly easy: one set of dress robes. He’d picked the most familiar looking robes in the place. Shopping for daily wear, he suspected, would be something different. He’d seen Dudley come back from a shopping trip when Petunia had bought several shirts and several pairs of trousers, as well as some underthings. Dudley wore out his clothes on a regular basis... or outgrew them. His face had always been rebellious and angry at the end of the trip, and Aunt Petunia always made a big deal about dinner that evening to appease him. Harry didn’t think he’d like clothes shopping.
Andromeda looked him over. Harry could see her mentally adding another item to their ‘to-do’ list. He imagined a long scroll, somewhat resembling Hermione’s homework helpers, with a big title in elegant calligraphy at the top, labelling it ‘Turning Harry Potter into a Proper Wizard.’ Andromeda was kind, gentle and relaxed, but he could tell that she had been raised with certain expectations of what proper behaviour was. She had been raised a pureblood, and the manners and expectations still shone through, no matter how much she rebelled against them by marrying a Muggleborn and supporting the Order of the Phoenix.
As expected, she commented, “That will do for now. We’ll see about getting you proper robes, suited to your frame and colouring, later.”
Harry got more and more nervous as they neared the gold and white columns of Gringotts Bank, sure that any moment, a phalanx of goblin guards was going to surround him, crying “Thief, thief!” He hunched his shoulders and looked down, hoping his fringe would cover the telltale scar.
“Stand up straight! You represent the Black family.”
Harry mentally groaned. He’d done this for Sirius, for Tonks, and for Remus. Of those, he could only imagine Remus chastising him for his posture, and even then, he probably wouldn’t. A mental image of Remus slouching on the train, the first time he’d seen him, rose unbidden in his mind. Granted, the man had been asleep, but the shabby clothes and tatty briefcase reminded Harry that Remus had not put great store in appearances...or at least, that he valued other things more. Nevertheless, Harry stood straighter, but instinctively brushed his fringe forward so the thickest part was over his scar.
“You do realize that people recognize your face by now, right?” Andromeda said wryly.
“There’s no need to give them additional help.”
The exchange took his mind off the upcoming confrontation with the goblins, but they were at the stairs and there were liveried goblin guards at the doors of the bank. Andromeda strode past the doors as if she owned the place and Harry endeavoured to copy her, unsuccessfully, he suspected.
The goblins peered at him as he passed, their expressions cold and sneering. They were guards, however, and Andromeda told him they were unlikely to leave their post. When she reached the reception counter, she spoke to the goblin there. “Harry Potter, head of the Black family, is here to discuss reparations to Gringotts and the Goblin nation.”
Harry mentally groaned. He wished he had his Invisibility Cloak, but even without Andromeda’s explanation, he knew that would be a bad idea, an indication of bad faith.
The goblin gave Harry a long, cold stare, and then rang for another. There was an exchange in Gobbledegook and the other goblin hurried away. “You will wait here.” It was a statement, not a question.
There were no chairs, so they stood, waiting. Andromeda looked as if she were perfectly comfortable standing in the middle of the lobby of Gringotts, but Harry found himself shifting from one foot to another, feeling like nothing so much as a schoolboy waiting to be assigned a detention from the Headmaster. The mental image of Dumbledore’s twinkling eyes as he welcomed Harry into his office made him rethink his analogy. He felt as if he were waiting for Snape to return to decide his fate.
“You said we would offer them money so they’ll let me come bank here again. Why wouldn’t they just confiscate my whole vault? Clear it and call it reparations?” Harry asked.
“There are several problems with that. First, stealing from you would not help them regain their honour. You violated their laws and revealed that their security is not impenetrable. For them to violate their own laws would just make it worse. That leads to the second issue... If the goblins felt free to steal from their customers’ vaults, no matter the provocation, no Wizarding family would risk storing their gold and valuables here.”
“It would also violate several treaties, and neither goblins nor wizards want to return to the days of the goblin wars, no matter what they might imply.”
“I guess not.” To hear Binns talking about them, the goblin wars had gone on forever. Or maybe it was just Binns’ class that did.
“No, they will want enough to satisfy their pride. We will just have to make it worth their while to have that be a lower amount.”
After what seemed like an aeon, two goblins returned from where the messenger had gone.
“Come this way.”
Harry was not used to people being polite to him, so the lack of niceties did not bother him, except that it seemed to indicate that they did not respect his position as head of the Black family. Frankly, it seemed that the only ones to respect his position were Andromeda and, for some reason, Draco Malfoy.
Andromeda took the goblin’s manners in stride, so he supposed that it didn’t mean anything dire, and the two of them followed the two goblins. They were ushered to a wood-panelled room with hard wooden chairs. The chairs were lower than normal, not quite so small as to fit a goblin’s frame, but lower than would be comfortable for someone of, say, Dumbledore’s height. Harry noticed that the goblin chairs were on a raised dais, so that they were of the same height as their visitors’. Even goblins played those games, it seemed.
“I have here a list of your crimes.” The goblin produced a long scroll and read through it silently. The sneer never left his face. “Do you really think you can pay off such an extensive list?”
“We do.” Andromeda replied on his behalf. “Once everything is taken into account, I believe we can make an equitable arrangement. Before we get into the details, however, I would like to know who we are dealing with.”
“I am Snodstrike and this is Redbolt,” the goblin who had been doing most of the talking said. He was wearing a green tailcoat that looked like old copper and rich brown trousers. The other goblin was smaller, with purple piping on a silver tailcoat. The sneers on both of their faces seemed to be as much a part of their attire as their clothes.
“Harry Potter negotiated in good faith, exchanging the Sword of Gryffindor for the chance to gain access to an extremely dark artefact that was preventing the self-styled Lord Voldemort from being vanquished. While that artefact existed, Voldemort could not be killed.”
“That is irrelevant to this discussion, “the goblin said. “The Sword of Gryffindor belonged to the Goblin Nation, specifically to the family of the goblin doing the bargain. Griphook should never have bargained in such a manner. It is a stain on his honour to have weakened the security of Gringotts, especially to gain something that should rightfully have been his to begin with.”
“Harry Potter acknowledges that, in order to defeat the man who killed his parents, the man who had taken over wizarding Britain, he has committed a crime. He saw the defeat of Voldemort as necessary for his own honour. In addition, the rise of this Dark Lord was damaging commerce. Stores were closing; profit was no longer the order of the day. Do the goblins acknowledge that during the tenure of Voldemort’s reign this past year, there was little profit? “
“The goblins acknowledge that profit was less than desirable this past year. It has not yet been proven that Voldemort was the cause of this, nor that the defeat of this... wizard will improve profit.”
“I will endeavour to prove the former. As to the latter, we can discuss a mechanism by which the change in profit affects the remuneration payable by Mr Potter.”
“That is acceptable in principle, although you will need to prove to our chief accountant that the change in profit is directly due to Harry Potter’s actions. Likewise, if profit diminishes, we will hold Harry Potter accountable to the same degree. War has sometimes been good for business.”
“This was not that kind of war, and you know it.” Andromeda snapped. “Businesses all up and down the alley were closed; people stayed in their homes; Muggleborn could not venture out to make purchases.”
“Ah, but some of that wealth was redistributed, and spent.”
“One family spending extravagantly cannot compensate for twenty who can no longer spend at all. Dead families do not spend. Imprisoned families do not spend.”
The goblin’s eyes gleamed. “Desperate people will spend higher for the same goods, which increases profit.”
Harry was becoming increasingly upset by the direction of the conversation. “If the wellbeing of the Wizarding world has cost you profit, and I do not agree that it has, it is worth it.”
The goblin looked askance at Harry, as if Harry had just uttered the most despicable obscenity possible.
Andromeda gave him an understanding look, but tapped her lips, as if to remind him to let her do the talking. “As you said, we agree in principle that the effect on the economy of Harry Potter’s actions shall be taken into account.
“We shall also consider the fact that Harry Potter freed an illegally kept dragon. The cost of the dragon is not his to bear. We, in return, shall not feel it necessary to report such violation of the contract between goblins and wizards to the appropriate departments of the Ministry of Magic.” Andromeda was careful not to name the department, as it was not a name the goblins enjoyed hearing. Even though the Goblin Liaison Office was part of the Being Division, Harry didn’t suppose he would want to be managed by the “Department for the Regulation and Control” of anything.
“As Harry Potter witnessed no other dragons or illegally kept creatures in the vault caverns,” Andromeda continued, “we will consider that the goblins are now within the confines of the law.”
The sly glint to the goblin’s eye told Harry that there was not much truth in that statement, but he was happy to accept that exchange. He did, in fact, feel good about freeing the dragon. The goblins had been causing the dragon pain on a regular basis, which in Harry’s book was torture.
“We do accept responsibility for the costs of repairing the damaged structure. The goblins will provide an estimate of the costs involved. If we can provide a more reasonable alternative for any work being done, so long as the structure remains the same as it was previous to Harry Potter’s escape, the goblins are required to either accept the alternate or pay the difference. Likewise, if the goblins wish to use this opportunity to improve the facade, structure, or functionality of Gringotts, the difference will be the responsibility of the goblins.”
Again, Harry saw a calculating gleam in the goblins’ eyes. Andromeda had told him that this would be a selling point, as they could improve the bank at a dramatically reduced cost. It was almost as if he could see the goblin calculating what improvements they could make on his Galleon.
“Those are acceptable terms. There is also the issue of lost opportunity for the bank, both during Mr Potter’s invasion into our territory and during the necessary period of repair.”
“I have seen the damage. There is minimal disruption, no hindrance to access for the bank’s customers.”
“We have needed to post guards in front of the access to the caverns, as the door has been damaged.”
“You would have had to post guards in front of that door regardless. We will prioritize the repair of that door, so it is not an issue.
The goblin grumbled but nodded. Harry’s respect for Andromeda’s skill as a barrister increased.
It was difficult not to tune out as Andromeda continued to negotiate. There were so many details and subtopics that Harry would have gone dizzy if he tried to follow it all.
“What about Ron and Hermione?” Harry asked when there was a pause in the discussion.
“Who?” The goblin’s voice was uninterested.
“Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger followed Harry Potter into Gringotts, with the same aim as his. We wish to include them into our contract and, of course, they will be included in our remunerations.”
“Ron Weasley is of the Weasley family. Has the head of his house agreed to this arrangement? Bear in mind all penalties and privileges will extend to him and his family.”
Harry had not envied Andromeda, when she went to convince the Weasleys to allow the Blacks to speak for the Weasleys. Even if it was Harry, there were a lot of confusing family politics involved. Andromeda told Harry she finally managed to convince him that she, as an advocate, and Harry Potter would represent Ron in the negotiations, rather than the family Black. Andromeda explained that to the goblin.
“Ms Granger is a Muggleborn. She has no family to represent her. She will have to stand on her own.”
“Hermione Granger has been accepted as belonging to the House of Black.” Harry flushed briefly, remembering what that meant as far as the Black ancestors were concerned, but held his gaze steady, looking straight at the goblins. Andromeda had reminded him over and over never to show weakness. For his friends, he could do this.
“The Black family claims responsibility for the actions of Hermione Granger, owing all penalties and distributing all privileges?”
Harry could hear the rush of voices in the back of his head—not hearing words, only a roar of mental noise. Andromeda stared at him. He realized he had never told her about what the lineage had assumed.
“We will talk later,” she said to him, then turned back to the goblins. “In this matter, we do,” she clarified.
In the end, they arrived at a figure that startled Harry. He began to feel as if he’d be paying off the goblins for the rest of his life, however long that would be as a wizard.
“That is acceptable. Mr Potter and I will need to access the Black vault, in order to access the gold to pay our debt. We will pay the full penalty as well as half of the cost of repair now, and we will pay the remaining amount when repairs are complete. Here are the totals.” She pushed a piece of parchment toward the goblin and Harry looked down at the figures written on it.
He darted a shocked gaze to Andromeda. She nodded decisively and held her hand out for the goblin to shake. The goblin looked as if he would rather not touch her, but he reached out and gave it a firm shake, albeit with a grimace on his face.
The trip on the cart was as exciting as it had been the other two times Harry was in Gringotts. Andromeda somehow managed to retain her composure, neither turning green, as Hagrid had done, nor whooping like a teenager. Harry himself had no urge to whoop. He remembered all too well the fear for his life, as they flew the dragon out of the depths of the caverns. He had a sudden thought. “Are there any protections in the Black family vault?” he asked. He had no desire to get suffocated or burnt. He remembered the Gem-something curse, and the Flagrante curse, and their effects.
“I have not been in these vaults, but it should recognize you as the rightful head of the family.”
“You carry the lineage in your mind. You carry the magic of the Black Family within you.” Her voice said it as if it were obvious and the most natural thing in the world.
Harry still wasn’t sure what to make of it. He wasn’t sure that he trusted the instincts that he seemed to have, that reminded him of the proper response to certain situations. He certainly wasn’t sure he trusted those Blacks who spoke in his mind, with a few exceptions. It wasn’t even Mr Weasley’s “never trust a thing that can think if you can’t tell where it keeps its brain”... it was using his brain. Somehow that made it worse. He never quite knew if those instincts were his own or the prompting of the lineage.
“It will come. You will learn of the Black family and you will learn what to trust.”
Harry sighed. He seemed to be an open book. “What about the Potter family? If I take them on, will I get to connect with my parents, my grandparents?”
“You may already be connected to your grandmother. She is of Black, although I am not sure if her magic returned to Potter or Black. In most cases, it would have returned to Potter, the family she had joined to.”
“Shouldn’t I accept Potter, then?”
“Wait until you have assimilated Black. It takes time, especially as you were not trained for it from a young age.”
It would be nice to have his parents in his mind, Harry thought. It would be comforting to have that history stretching out behind him. The Black family was... a responsibility, and a tribute to Sirius, but it wasn’t his.
A cacophony of voices rose in the back of his mind, shouting objections. His head hurt with it, providing further evidence of exactly why he should wait to accept the Potter lineage. They weren’t as clear as the other day; the tumult in his mind was not as overwhelming nor quite as painful, but it still threatened him with a headache. In all of that, however, came a gentle welcome of acceptance. Someone in his mind wanted him in the family, welcomed him in, and not just for their own needs and desires. He could almost recognize the person from the feel of their thoughts. He really needed to learn more about each and every member of the Black family, past and present.
They arrived at the vault. Getting out of the trolley, Harry stood on the firm stone, swaying a bit after the jarring ride. The door in front of them was solid wood, which he would have thought would be easy to break through with sufficient magic and the right spell. Elaborate metal scrollwork covered the door, rising up to form the Black coat of arms at the top.
“The scrollwork has been spelled with so many protection charms and curses, you’d be foolish to attack it,” Andromeda said, “even if you could get past the goblins and get a cart to work for you to take you down to this level. In addition, runes on the wood make it virtually impervious. A single touch will burn anyone not of Black descent to cinders.”
Harry swallowed. “Are you sure that I am of Black descent?”
“I have met your grandmother. She was, indeed, a true Black. You need never fear on that account.”
“What do I do?”
“Put your wand hand here.” Andromeda indicated a slight, smooth depression in the ornate door, about the size of a large hand. At seeing his nervous look, she added, “The magic will read your magic, which is closer to the surface in your wand hand.”
Harry thought of the work he had done with Malfoy, bringing his magic to the surface, and thought he could probably keep his wand ready and bring the magic to his left hand, but he wasn’t sure it would be a good idea to test it on something that might have been cursed to burn the wrong person to cinders.
He took his wand into his left hand and put his right palm onto the depression.
The wood sparked against his palm and a tingling swirled through his entire body. He felt as if insects were sniffing every inch of his insides, swirling up into his head and causing a rush of tingling to sweep across his skull. The feeling dissipated and, with a deep click, the door swung ajar.
Andromeda pushed the door further open and gestured Harry inside.
He took a tentative step, then another, until he was standing in a clear space just inside the vault.
It was more the size of the Lestrange vault than his own. It was huge. Shelves lined every wall and there were trunks lined up to one side, allowing just enough room to walk next to the shelves. Artwork leaned against one wall, separated from each other by thick felt. There was no pile of Galleons in the centre as there had been in his own vault. Harry wondered for a moment if the Black wealth was all in objects, when Andromeda swept past him to look inside of a flat-topped chest tucked in a shelf. Harry noticed that the shelves around her contained still more trunks, identical to each other, also with flat lids.
“There’re Galleons in this one and all the ones that look like this.” The trunk had gold banding. She gestured to another set of shelves, where another set of shelves had trunks with silver banding. “Sickles in the trunks on those shelves, and Knuts in that trunk.” One solitary trunk had bronze banding. “No need to keep many of those on hand.”
“Is it safe to touch anything?”
“For you, yes, although I’d stay out of that area.” She waved to a corner where two shelves met and a collection of trunks lined the walls in between. The shelves near the corner were cluttered with strangely shaped objects. “The Black family has long been interested in cursed objects. There have been several enchanters in our family, and many of those that weren’t, collected enchanted objects. You really don’t want to run afoul of any of the ones enchanted with darker magic. As for the rest, I could probably touch anything I wished while you were here with me but if you left, I would limit myself to the coins.”
Harry thought that sounded so backwards... Not only would artefacts be more easily identifiable, but Andromeda was the older of the two, and the one born to Black. Whatever Sirius had done to accept him into the family had worked beyond what, Harry suspected, either other them could have anticipated.
He watched while Andromeda selected an empty trunk and cast a counting spell. Galleons flew one at a time in an arc into the empty trunk. When that filled, she had prepared another empty trunk and tapped the lid, and the Galleons redirected themselves. After three trunks’ worth, the counter wound down, depositing the last three Galleons into a small pouch. Andromeda cast a levitating charm on the trunks and moved them toward the door, but left them standing there. “We will turn over those Galleons at the signing of the agreement.”
Harry counted the remaining trunks. They had filled three (and a pouch), and there were twenty three Galleon-trunks left over. The reparations had made a dent, but really only a small dent, in the Black family wealth. Harry felt that perhaps he should have given the money from the Potter family vault—Andromeda assured him that there was one—but he would not have access to that until he claimed Potter, which he dared not do until he could figure out how to deal with the Blacks in his head. Hermione, also, was claimed as the responsibility (and property, until he could figure out how to change that) of the Black family.
If he had understood Andromeda’s negotiations correctly, if the Wizarding world economy improved, some of those funds would be returned to the Black family. He shook his head. How she had managed to tie the goblins’ wealth to their own was astonishing to watch. They had ended up being the ones to push for it, imaging that Harry would end up paying for economic downturns. It made no sense, and Harry decided to let it go. He had never expected to have more than there was in the vault he had entered in his first year.
He wandered over to look at the paintings. One woman resembled Bellatrix so much that Harry wanted to drop it back, to hide it with the felt cover. Andromeda saw his reaction and went to see.
“Ah, that was my mother. Bellatrix does resemble her even more than I do.”
Harry realized that he no longer saw Bellatrix in Andromeda, as he had when he first saw her. Andromeda was kind; her hair was warmer in colour, her face gentler. Yes, she still had the same aristocratic lines, but where Bellatrix’s expressions had turned crazed, Andromeda’s were softer.
“My mother was an amazing woman. She was a healer at St Mungo’s and, although she studied the dark arts as did the rest of my family, she turned all of her knowledge to healing. She had wanted one of us to follow in her footsteps. When Narcissa went to marry Lucius, she gave up on Narcissa filling that role, as for the Malfoys the proper use of money and influence was their principal occupation. Narcissa was marvellous with potions and with the study of history. I think my mother might even have forgiven me for Ted, if had gone into medicine instead of law. ‘Law does not heal,’ she said, ‘does not improve the world, and does not use your magical gifts as they are meant to be used. You are turning yourself into a Muggle! You are seeking to be the worthless, when you could be the epitome of what the Wizarding world has to offer. You are a Black, not a worthless Muggle.’ I still remember the words, verbatim.”
Harry went over and hesitated before squeezing her arm. Andromeda brushed down the front of her robes brusquely and continued on as if she had said nothing traumatic.
“When Bellatrix lost herself in the Dark, I think mother lost something as well. She had acted as if all three of us carried the potential to continue her work, and that hope had died.
“Who else is pictured here?” Andromeda said briskly, bringing herself back to the present.
Harry flipped backwards in the stack. There were people who looked like Sirius, including one man with mutton chops.
“Arcturus Black,” Andromeda said. Harry felt an alertness in the back of his mind and remembered one of the friendlier voices from the other day. “Sirius’ father. He led the Black family with quite some skill, increasing our wealth and our stature in the world. He made sure that all contributions of Black family members would be recognized. It really is a shame he married Walburga.” The alertness in the back of his mind felt pleased, until that last sentence.
They looked through the rest of the pictures, Andromeda naming the ones she recognized.
“Why aren’t any of them moving?”
“The vault itself puts them to rest. Otherwise, they might get upset at being locked away for so long, with nothing to look at. If you wish to talk with any of them, you may certainly do so, but you would have to bring them outside of the vault. On the other hand, I recommend waiting until you have come to terms with the lineage in your mind. The paintings may not have as full a range of personality as what you carry within.”
Andromeda turned to another area, where several trunks stood on the ground. When she opened one of them, a set of shelves sprouted from it like the pages of a pop-up book he had seen in school before Hogwarts. The shelves were filled with books. Hermione would love a trunk like this.
“Oh, good, it is here. You will need to read these.” Andromeda picked out several books and handed them to him. He looked around for somewhere to put them and she handed him a bag that looked too small for them. Remembering Hermione’s beaded bag, he tried putting the books in it. It worked.
“Here we are!” Andromeda exclaimed. She had moved to another side of the vault, next to another set of shelves, these not collapsed into trunks. Harry came over to see what had excited her interest. A collection of bottles stood in wooden crates. The crates had wooden dividers, so that there were padded slots for each bottle. The bottles were covered in dust, but Harry could see that they looked fancy, like Aunt Petunia’s more expensive perfume bottles. Each bottle contained a silvery fluid.
“Are those what I think they are?”
“Memories. Look, here is one from when I was a child.” The bottle had been meticulously labelled: ‘Andromeda Black’s first wand.’
Harry pulled out the one next to it and, sure enough, it was labelled ‘Narcissa Black’s first wand.’ He quickly put that back and, with some trepidation, pulled out a third with some revulsion, yet unable to restrain himself. It was a memory of Bellatrix Black receiving her wand. He put it back and sat down, on the floor as there was no chair nearby.
“She won’t be in my head, will she?” He hadn’t heard her sickening voice, but Harry was not sure that meant anything.
“No.” Andromeda’s voice was harsh. “There will be no funeral for the one who killed my daughter. I have no wish to see her welcomed into the family, even if she had not married out.” She took a calming breath. “The girl who was my little sister died a long time ago. That is the only way I will think of her.” Another breath. “You, as head of the Black family would of course be the one to decide for Black, but I would like to express my strong desire that my sister be left in the past, and Bellatrix Lestrange be left to the Lestrange family.”
Harry nodded, too relieved to say anything.
Andromeda gave a decisive nod. After a moment, she continued, “We should bring these with us. Oh, good, here is my mother’s Pensieve.” She carefully packed them into a nearby trunk, after first emptying it, sending the various silver candlesticks and dishes to an empty shelf with a few flicks of her wand. “It is time I introduce you to our family properly.”
Harry stood up, looking into the trunk before she closed it. “Are any of those of Sirius?” His voice was a bit more wavery than he would have liked.
“I’m certain there are, at least of his early years, before he went to Hogwarts.”
Harry smiled at the thought of Sirius as a young child, running around the house playing pranks on his brother and cousins.
“Harry,” Andromeda said gently, “since you already know Sirius, it will be more important to view the other memories, so you can get to know the Lineage.”
“I know. I’d just like to see him again.”
It was at least another hour before they left the bank but, by the end of that time, the goblins had several trunks of gold from the Black vault and Harry had a contract that said his rights to enter and use the bank had been restored. It also specified exactly what damage the Blacks would pay for, how estimates would be determined, and a bunch of stuff Harry didn’t understand, but it made clear that the goblins couldn’t hold him, Ron or Hermione responsible for any further damage they discovered. It also said that should the economy of Wizarding Britain recover, the goblins would return some of that gold. A good chunk of the time was spent with Andromeda and the goblins bargaining over how much he owed for economic downturn and how much they owed for economic recovery.
The thing that mattered to Harry was that he could go into Gringotts when he needed to.
The cottage needed work. Snape had not had a chance in over a year to inspect it. It hadn’t seemed likely that he would use it, and he could not have risked the Dark Lord discovering he had a back door set aside.
He had arranged for this place some time ago, never quite thinking he would live to use it but knowing that, if he did survive the war, he was unlikely to be welcome in the society he had worked to preserve. Giving himself a place to retreat to gave him options. He had made sure that the place had no ties to Severus Snape. It was in the name of John Wicker, an unimpressive and forgettable name, a Muggle name.
The place was remote, surrounded by woods. The cottage was a small building with a bedroom, another room he could use as a library, and an open space with a kitchen off to one side. When he purchased it, it had not had indoor plumbing, and only an outhouse to meet those needs, but he had called water from deep in the earth to fill an underground cistern and arranged for the necessary facilities, walling off part of the largest room.
What most pleased him about the house, aside from the fact he would not have to deal with people unless he chose to, was the very large storage room. The floor and the walls were all of stone, and he was able to set up a ventilation system. There was even a long, flat stone workbench.
He had stored cauldrons and stirring rods of several materials in the cottage as well as herbs and animal parts stored in appropriate containers. It was all that he needed to do the research he had never had the chance to do, with so much of his time taken with teaching dunderheads, providing simple potions for the Hogwarts hospital wing and more complex potions for Albus and the Dark Lord, all added to the task of spying for two masters who would each sacrifice him if the circumstances demanded. Albus had sacrificed his honour but the Dark Lord had done so first. And, indeed, Severus had done so first of all, and then sacrificed everything else to regain it.
He sneered at himself. Maudlin thoughts would not help him set the cottage to rights. He would have plenty of time to think over his choices, but planned to spend as much of his time as possible on more useful activity.
He went into the store room, his soon-to-be potions lab, and got to work.