Chapter beta: Olivia
Chapter translator: Aivy
The Will Reading
I stood in front of the cupboard and stared with a certain disbelief at the masses of clothes. I couldn’t possibly decide what to wear on such an occasion.
Black. Okay, and what could I wear of this? No, all black was for funerals. I didn't want black. He wouldn't have wanted that. Then I found it all of a sudden.
It was an airy hooded dress. That would spare me a cloak because I didn't want to wear one in this weather, I would have felt constricted. The colour was a muted petrol and it was a simple wrap dress with small sleeves, falling slightly over the knee in length. The hood would cover my face well because it fell far into my face. Perfect!
In addition, I loosely tied up my hair. The outfit was completed by pumps in the same colour as the dress. They had only a small heel and I had chosen these with care as I could already see it in front of me how I was allowed to chase after Snape's sweeping steps. Touched up with discreet makeup, I would look very noble and be appropriately dressed for the occasion.
When I came out of the door, Draco took me by the hand and turned me admiringly around in front of him.
"You look fantastic, darling. A jewel of our House. Simple, but noble," he praised me. At the same time, he showed himself to be very worried, laying a hand to my cheek. "How do you feel today?" Goddess, the two were so much alike!
"I am glad that you like my appearance. I feel well. A day of rest has done me good. I feel on top of the world again," I affirmed while we started walking holding hands.
"Is it all right or is it a burden for you that you have to go there today?" he asked reluctantly. It still didn't suit him.
"No, neither. I'm actually rather glad that I can finally finish this story," I explained, trying to reassure him.
"I understand - I really mean that! - and I know I overreacted the other day in regard to Black. The situation takes getting used to for me, too," he admitted apologetically. Wow, I didn't expect that and so I grabbed his arm tighter.
"Draco, let's not talk about this anymore. Forgiven and forgotten ... I have another small request. I'll have to leave with you tonight because I want to take Him to the cottage," I whispered conspiratorially as we walked down the hallways for breakfast.
"Um, okay. It was agreed that you'd get him. Of course, I will accompany you. I'm going to wait invisibly outside. When you come out, I'll apparate. I'll take the others to the garden you raved about so much so you'll have time to talk to him and I'll get my entrance.
"I don't think I've been in such a good mood for quite some time! Thank you, Hermione," he teased me good-naturedly. "I will inform Father shortly before we leave that we will spend the night away from home," he perfected our plan.
"Thank you, Draco. I also think that the evening will have some surprises in store," I whispered with unease, because I too was nervous and excited. In addition, I worried a little about how Harry would react. Would he forgive me?
"He'll go nuts, but I'm really looking forward to that," Draco's spiteful side came through.
I groaned loudly at Draco's statement because nothing would ever change between the two. Meanwhile, we stepped through the folding doors and towards the lavishly decorated table. We stopped briefly when caught sight of Snape, as always dressed in dark robes and looking grumpy, sitting on the right side of Lucius. Lucius, on the other hand, wore silver-grey today and his hair was braided. I practically froze when I noticed the malicious smile that Lucius wore.
Damn it, he had caught Snape and put him through the mill. I was sure of that, as annoyed as the good professor looked.
Immediately, I was in a good mood again. Luckily, I felt myself capable of playing the game again today, aware that this didn't happen a second too early. The tall blonde had already received new information concerning me again, thanks to our blabbermouth, as I just called Snape hatefully in my thoughts. He deserved everything that had happened to him in Lucius' greedy claws.
"Good morning. Please, take a seat," Lucius asked politely and showed his teeth like an animal that had found its prey. "Why are you in such a good mood?"
"Good morning," we both replied well-behaved. When we had finally sat down, I could almost cut the tension with a knife, it was so dense. Draco also knew what it meant that Snape was sitting there.
I wanted to start with "Professor Snape-" when Lucius interrupted me with an affected click of his tongue.
"No, Hermione! This is Severus for you. It would be a farce if you would continue to address him by his last name," he ordered arrogantly and I swallowed first, but then I straightened my back a bit more, wanting to show Lucius that I wouldn't let myself be put down so easily.
"Well, if you wish, Lucius! Severus, I hope it doesn't bother you, does it?" I said very pointedly. I had turned my gaze stubbornly on the black figure, who pressed his lips together to a thin line. Though to my surprise, he just nodded.
Meanwhile, Lucius leaned casually against the back of his chair and pretended to be quite authoritarian, as if he was holding all our strings like a great puppet master. I drank my coffee and nibbled listlessly on my toast because I wasn't very hungry.
"I had a very informative and surprising conversation with Severus yesterday! Hermione, then we had already met in the Beheaded Hangman, where I was allowed to get to know your acting skills when you pretended so convincingly that you had a child. Kudos, you're good," he praised arrogantly, watching me like a predator. In reaction, I began to giggle lightly, which made both Severus and Draco look at me in bewilderment.
"Thank you, Lucius. I have been perfecting my skills since my earliest childhood," I easily disclosed and took the praise as a compliment. This seemed to confuse Lucius more, because he hadn't expected this casual reaction. By acting this way, I seemed more superior than with any outraged frenzy.
Snap- ... Severus seemed as if he would think 'Did I know it, she is intentionally provoking him again' and Draco suppressed his smile in a downright heroic manner.
"Well, pleasant-" Lucius wanted to continue with a piqued look when Snape rose swiftly.
"I think we should leave now," he intervened coolly.
"But the appointment is not until later," Lucius remarked with consternation.
"Lucius, as you can imagine, I wanted to get some more things and since you forced her on me, I decide when we go! Thus, please excuse us," he explained rather harshly and with little willingness to compromise.
I had to admit one thing, if Sna- ... Severus was like that, I could actually like him. He saved me from this embarrassing situation.
Therefore, I rose immediately and nodded. The Lord and Heir of the manor rose as well. Man, all this noble fuss ticked me off. I curtsied to Lucius hastily and turned to Draco who kissed me on the forehead and caringly pulled the petrol coloured hood over my head, giving me a beautiful smile.
That seemed to be decidedly too slow for the professor who was already standing at the door and now growled:
"Come on, I don't have all day and Draco will survive."
Black robes billowed when he hurried ahead of me with big steps so that I almost didn't catch up with him anymore.
"Professor Snape, wait a minute," I shouted as he stepped out of the entrance portal onto the driveway with the large fountain. He turned around, his robes flapping around him. Today, he wore a slim-cut sleeveless cloak, leaving his jacket sleeves visible so that he could still hide his hands in the folds of the robe.
"Do you want to insult me, Hermione?" he snarled, his voice as oily as ever.
"No, sir! Please, I don't understand..." it came breathlessly, but calmly from me.
"If you have permission to call me by my name, then you should actually use it," he continued vigorously. Oh, shit, Draco had warned me! I looked into his disapprovingly distorted face.
"Excuse me... Se... Severus, I was not sure whether you approved as this was Lucius' intention," I apologised eloquently and looked at him questioningly.
"He would not have done it if he didn't know it was all right with me. Now, come on," he growled briefly and wanted to hurry on at a crazy pace.
"But Sir... uh, Severus, when we're there, nobody should know that we're there together! That would be counterproductive," I said rapidly, rushing after him and thanking my wise foresight about my choice of footwear.
"I agree with you," he said casually while walking.
"I'll also try to talk to Harry briefly if I can. It would be best if we arranged a meeting point," I replied diplomatically and finally arrived next to him. He eyed me from top to bottom.
"How right you are! Woe betide you if you let me wait for too long! You know the Beheaded Hangman, don't you? Well, then this will be our meeting point."
Ouch, that hurt. He said that very gloatingly and his grin was downright nasty. I knew he couldn't look under the hood because I was holding my head down, but the memories flashed anyway in front of my eyes. Nonetheless, I nodded in agreement without hesitation. Even if he tried to provoke me - considering what had happened to me there, or rather, who - I would still not let him get me down.
"Come," he now held his well wrapped arm towards me and I grabbed it courageously, letting him apparate me, so that we appeared in a side street in a remote corner of Diagon Alley.
When he didn't move immediately, I looked up at him questioningly and saw his superior look lying on me.
"Pro- ... Severus" I asked uncertainly. By now, he had put his hand firmly on mine, so that I couldn't let go of his arm. Goose bumps spread over my body, even if I tried to show nothing.
"That could get ugly in there! Considering what you did to him," he reminded me of the end of my relationship with Sirius, but also of the fact that they all knew nothing about Sirius and me, thereby expressing his concerns quite openly.
"I know, but I had the last few days to prepare myself to face any accusations. Let's say I'm prepared for anything. It would only be helpful if you would trust me, S-Severus, and we’ll stick to the plan of meeting at the pub later," I replied to him prudently, trying to radiate maturity so that he trusted me.
"As always, you act amazingly calmly and coldly," he noted, appraising me with a minimal raise of an eyebrow.
"I'm just trying to be realistic and pragmatic and I'm taking that as a compliment, Severus," I said coquettishly and honestly and received only a dark growl in response.
"You go ahead, I will follow you, and do not forget to behave! Lucius will expect a report from me and he would not like it if the reputation of the family could suffer. You would not like his punishments," he warned me urgently. However, he did not need to, I knew that too. I hadn't been born yesterday and that Lucius wasn't to be trifled with, that was certain.
"Thank you for the warning. I will heed it, even if no one knows that I would disgrace the family, right?" I giggled affectedly, then gently pulled out my hand and, following a spontaneous impulse, I went to my toes and breathed a quick kiss on his pale cheek because he had warned me. That made him freeze immediately and made me smile with satisfaction. This time, I had managed to surprise him and upset his balance.
I turned away and walked along the dim alley. At ten, the will-reading would start - now it was half past nine - and Snape wanted to use the time to buy something. I, on the other hand, headed purposefully for Gringotts.
I would also use the half hour for my own purposes. I wanted to find out who would read the will and since nobody recognized me under the hood, I walked up the white stairs to the bank, glittering in the summer sun, and took a quick look at the elaborately designed shop window of Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes.
The Twins' joke shop was located in a crooked, narrow house with the number 93 in Diagon Alley. It was seamlessly attached to the other crooked and twisted houses. I noticed that the front of the Weasley store was blazing red and the shop window was bright and lush and I could see a lot of carrot heads in front of it. Okay, what are Ron and Ginny doing here, too? I asked myself with irritation as I gave the goblin guards a gentle tilt of my head.
Well, two days in the Manor and the manners were already becoming ingrained. With dignified posture, I walked into the magnificent halls of the money house. I knew the way and I could hear the clacking of my high-heeled shoes on the marble when I stepped up to a counter.
"What can I do for you, Mrs...?" asked the poisonous little man behind the counter spitefully.
"I'd like to see the person in charge of the reading of Sirius Black's will today," I demanded, faceless under my hood, but with a hard pitch to my voice.
"That would be Mr. Rangok. Unfortunately, he has no time before then," the groblin growled, less than friendly, and glared at me with narrowed eyes.
"Oh, Rangok! It's him, how delightful! He will make time for me, announce me," I ordered in a sharp and harsh tone and when it became clear that he didn't want to get going, I added hissing in best Sna-... Severus fashion: "At once!"
Everything about me seemed to suggest my determination when I presented him with my key without further comment, which would identify me to Rangok. Angry because of the rough treatment, the goblin took off with an ugly grimace and disappeared.
After a short time, he reappeared and waved me discontentedly through the door.
"Mr. Rangok is expecting you," he etched angrily, pressed the key into my hand, pointed to a door and was gone. Very polite, that guy. I hadn't found the right tone with him.
I knocked on the door and then entered in a hurry.
"Mr. Rangok, I'm so pleased to see you," I said sincerely and watched as a sly smile appeared on his face, his pointed teeth flashing in a friendly shark-like grin.
"Miss Granger, how delightful! Come in, I always have time for you! Above all, you are also invited, so you can wait right here," he replied busily over my respectful bow and I thankfully took a seat, leaving the hood up.
"Thank you for the offer. I wanted to ask if... well, you know..." It was unpleasant for me to clearly outline my concern, but the clever little goblin understood anyway, and he hurriedly nodded to me.
"But of course, Miss Granger! They landed safely and everything is going well. From the financial, as well as from the private side, things couldn't be better if that was what you wanted to know," he asked eagerly and confirmed my hope that my parents were doing well in their new home.
"Thank you, that was my intention! Good, very good. How much more do I owe you for your services?" I asked politely and watched as he flicked and rummaged through his records.
"So... Have you already received an information overview from the lawyer concerning the life insurance policies?" he diligently enquired while he searched.
"Um, no, not yet. Did you?" I showed myself perplexed.
"Yes, but only a brief notification that the request for payment had been filed by your lawyer, Miss Granger," he said succinctly, not looking up, and I shrugged my shoulders.
"Mhm, good, that's good. As I said, I am easy to reach via owl," I said, satisfied with the state of affairs.
"Ah, I found it! I've listed everything we've done for you in detail -" he announced zealously until I hurriedly interrupted him.
"Mr. Rangok, you don't need to break this down for me right now! I don't think we have the time. Tell me the amount," I asked him soberly. After looking at me skeptically for a moment, he took a look at the clock and nodded briskly, agreeing silently with me.
"Well, I'd say 500,000 Galleons should be an appropriate payment for Gringotts' efforts," he offered deceitfully and as always I would not begin to haggle over this horrendous sum. Not here, not with the goblins, who in principle knew so many of my secrets.
So I just nodded approvingly and quickly bent over to the Blood Quill standing in its holder, which he was astonished to see, as he frowned, though also visibly gained his favour, which in turn made me smile.
"What, Mr. Rangok, I will not haggle! You have done a fantastic job and everything that is done as excellently as your work is never in vain, so I am happy to pay the price," I explained my actions. My words brought a blissful smile to the goblin's gloating face, which made him look strangely surreal, as this expression did not fit these beings at all.
"It is always a pleasure to do business with you, Miss Granger. My admiration," he added unusually gallantly. Yes, after school I should take a job in the banking industry, as well as I got on with the goblins, I thought smugly and signed the document pushed in front of me by Rangok with my blood. The sum made me swallow heavily, but as I had said before, it was worth it as my father and mother were safe. It had to be.
"I just remembered something else. On Monday, I was unexpectedly called to our director. I entrust this to you now, Miss Granger! Mr. Malfoy Junior was there for his annual consultation and he had asked for me, wanting to meet me. That was unusual, because the Malfoy's are only ever talking directly to the director, you understand?
"Well, he enquired... about you, about your assets and tried to put me through the wringer. I didn't say anything, of course, but I wanted to inform you that interest has been expressed in you from this side," he told me in a conspiratorially quiet voice and I froze with alarm upon this revelation.
I didn't want Rangok to get into trouble. He was not allowed to upset Draco under any circumstances, as he would then become displeased and Rangok did not deserve that. He should not be drawn into the vicious games of my new family because of ignorance, that would not be fair to him. He had helped me a lot in many situations and without him some of my plans would have been almost unfeasible.
Interrupting him with a precise gesture, I stood up, aimed the wand at my stomach and said, "Invisus Lemma," and the fabric on my belly became transparent immediately. A circular hole formed and revealed the mark of the Malfoys which had been burned into my skin forever.
Rangok gave a suffocated cry of surprise, completely untypical for a goblin, and when I looked up I saw him clawing his hands into the edge of the table and seemed to be about to have a heart attack, the way he looked at me with his mouth wide open in horror.
"That... that... Miss... Malfoy! A daughter of the house," he stuttered in shock. Apparently, I gave the poor man the shock of his life.
"Mr. Rangok, it's clear that no one can know about this," I stroked my finger over the mark, "but if Draco wants to know anything about my financial status, tell him. Don't mess with him, he has the right to know, as does Mr. Malfoy Senior," I reluctantly pressed out, but what else could I do?
"Of course, Miss Gra... Malfoy... Of course. You just see me astounded. The last time this ritual was used was decades ago. And then on you? That comes unexpected. A mark, from this highly esteemed family... I... I will refer you to the director," the words flowed from him in a hectic manner. He bowed to every sentence he spoke.
When you look at how the magical world treated Malfoys, it was no wonder that all of them were such snooty, conceited, arrogant little snobs.
"Absolutely not! I would be happy to give it to you in writing. I trust you, Mr. Rangok, only you. Not that I want to imply anything about your director, certainly not, but you remain my number one," I stated my wishes rigorously, looking at him seriously, and saw that he was pleased that I wanted him and only him.
"Thank you, Miss Malfoy, thank you for having such confidence in me," he said, almost throwing himself to the ground.
"But don't forget, out there I am Miss Granger," I reminded cautiously, smiling at the otherwise so controlled and now quite confused goblin.
Ah, goddess, could you believe that some people reacted it in such a way to the revelation that I was now called Malfoy? That was hilarious! I had never thought that far before. Internally, I shook my head about the tricky situation.
"Of course, as you wish, as you wish," he spoke solemnly, his whole figure straightening out.
"Then everything has been cleared up. How beautiful," I concluded.
"I agree. The will reading is about to start. Please follow me, Miss Malfoy. We expect a large audience for the reading, so we have decided to use the large meeting room," he explained. I followed him and adjusted the hood so that it hung lightly in my face and nobody would recognize me immediately.
"Mr. Rangok, there's something I just recalled. I'd have to talk to Harry briefly after the reading and I might have another request concerning Harry's inheritance. Could you handle it in such a way that Harry and I could stay in your room alone and everyone else would have to wait in front of it, or leave?" I asked urgently and quickly and underlined my request once more: "It is really important."
"I'll see what I can do, Miss Malfoy," he declared eagerly. I was content with that and smiled slightly as he opened the door.
I saw all eyes looking at us from the full auditorium as we stepped through the internal door and didn't come in from the outside. I noticed from the corner of my eye how Snape calmed down, casually crossing his legs when I entered the room. Apparently, he had wondered where I had gone.
All the others stared irritated at me, the woman who entered the room covered by a hood, and I immediately heard their quiet whispering. Harry frowned and measured me skeptically. It seemed to me as if he suspected something. Dumbledore, on the other hand, only watched me suspiciously over his glasses, but said nothing. That was done by the others, who showed themselves to be very mistrustful.
I noticed that everyone was sitting in a semicircle in several rows in front of the desk. Only Harry's seat and a chair next to him stood separately directly in front of the large desk. Left behind Harry was Dumbledore, who was flanked by Remus and Tonks. Next to Snape, who had fled to the outermost chair near the door in the last row, sat the Twins, who immediately recognized me and began to smile tenderly. They immediately stopped smiling when Severus gave them a certain piercing look. It was always funny to see the respect the two had for Severus. However, he had also shown that he thought quite highly of the Twins, otherwise he would never have taught them voluntarily in his spare time.
Next to the Twins sat the Weasleys: Ron, Ginny, and their parents. That made me frown in bemusement. At last, there was I. We were the entire community of heirs that had gathered here.
I noticed how Rangok signaled me to sit next to Harry, on my best friend’s right side, and I did as the goblin requested. Harry looked relatively well. He no longer looked like the zombie he had resembled on the train, almost unable to cope with the dramatic information and the death that constantly accompanied him. He seemed very calm, but I also saw, as he looked up, a grim, bitter and determined line around his mouth. His eyes, too, no longer looked at you youthfully unbiased, but rather suspiciously. At the moment, he stubbornly tried to look under my hood, but could not see my face. I had no time to show myself to him as Rangok began immediately, attracting everyone's attention.
"We have all gathered here in Gringotts to distribute the worldly goods of Sirius Orion Black, the last male descendant of the House of Black, according to his last will and testament," Rangok had raised his dispassionate voice and now, quite the ruler of this realm, sat enthroned on the high chair behind the impressive, opulent desk.
I saw Harry clench his hands, which he held in his lap, into fists.
"First to those present; does the community of heirs agree with the presence of Albus Dumbledore?" Rangok asked weightily and I would have preferred to lodge an objection. No rejection was to be expected from the Order and Harry didn't react either, so I too kept silent with my teeth grinding before Rangok picked himself up and started.
"Well, then I'll read the will now! Please don't be surprised, Mr. Black has left a statement about each heir, which will be read out as well," he enlightened us objectively and I involuntarily tensed my neck muscles. That wasn't good, not good at all. Then Rangok once again looked patiently into the round.
"I, Sirius Orion Black, born on the second of September 1959, determine in full possession of my mental powers that my inheritance shall be divided as follows in the event of my untimely death:
"Molly Weasley, I'd like to leave you 2,500 Galleons for your help in cleaning the house of my messed up ancestors. Thank you also for your excellent cooking," Rangok spoke monotonously and absolutely emotionlessly. We could hear a quiet, astonished, but also blissful exclamation from Molly. She seemed to have been thought of surprisingly and Harry turned around, smiling gently over his shoulder.
I didn't move. What had Sirius done in regards to me? Had he settled the score with me?
"Nymphadora Tonks, to you, my dear cousin, I would also like to bequeath 2,500 Galleons, since you are the only non-degenerate relative I still have and you spent time with me when I was locked up in my own house. I hope you know how to put them to good use," Rangok continued. A light, but also sad smile adorned the normal and inconspicuous appearance Tonks wore today.
"Now to you, Remus John Lupin, my friend and the only one left of us Marauders, except for the traitor. He won't escape his just punishment. I would like to bequeath you, Remus, 50,000 Galleons, so that you may acquire a few new things to make a few women's hearts beat faster. Show them and watch over Harry!"
I could see tears gathering in Remus' eyes. The man was about to succumb to a heart attack. An absolutely unbelieving expression adorned his shocked face and Tonks had slapped her hands in front of her mouth when she heard the sum.
"Next, it's my special pleasure to thank you two agents of chaos for introducing me to this crafty little insidious goblin at Christmas who did everything I wanted him to do. You two are geniuses. Go your way unperturbed; you are as you are, don't let anyone interfere in your lives, for you are doing the right thing! I am very happy for you and hope you will become happy with all your dreams. I will bequeath something to you also, but I have a simple request: take care of her! So, and now you're 5,000 Galleons heavier each! DO spend it, Fred and George Weasley, and don't immediately hide it under your pillow again."
I could envision the happy smile Sirius had had on his face when he made that part of his will. After Rangok had finished reading, Molly gave a loud, indignant cry about the sum of 10,000 Galleons for her sons.
I turned to the Twins, who dabbed their eyes with handkerchiefs exaggeratedly, but still seemed quite overwhelmed, while Snape, disgusted because of all the drama, rolled his eyes. Yet I loved Sirius' words of encouragement as he hadn't really alluded to their business, but to their relationship. However, he had done it very discreetly and I knew the Twins were grateful for his encouraging words and acceptance.
"Now calm down, Molly," I heard Arthur's set voice.
"But Arthur, that is far too much money for the children," she protested and I had to stifle a snort. Still, I didn't like the expression on Ron's face he wore because he hadn't been considered. Envy was written all over his face. Although I could understand him a little. Apparently, Molly had been invited and had dragged the whole family along. How could the good woman have guessed that the Twins had been so abundantly remembered in the testament? That would foster the rivalry among the siblings in a negative way.
"Further on in the text..." Rangok now tried to reassert his authority, which worked as silence returned. "Now to you, Harry James Potter, my beloved godchild. You know, I would have loved and enjoyed spending much more time with you, but as fate would have it, it shouldn't be! Don't mourn what could have been. Most likely, I was killed by my own stupidity and let us be honest, you... you were almost all that kept me here. I needed you more in this new life after Azkaban than you needed me.
"You are strong, Harry, and you don't need me! And I admit it openly and honestly, I have so often wished for death in order to be with my old friends that it doesn't feel bad anymore if I'm dead now. So, do me a favour and don't grieve for me. Okay, you may cry, but not for long, understand?
"What am I leaving you? Well, you are the main heir, as they say so beautifully. You get this ugly, old box, my birthplace Grimmauld Place No. 12, with all the inventory... With one exception, but more about that later... You can certainly renovate the old dump. I have only one request, keep admitting the Order, continue to put the house at their disposal as a meeting place." Rangok stopped briefly, then he looked at Harry, who responded with wide eyes.
Harry shrugged his shoulders and then nodded carefully, agreeing, whereupon Rangok seemed satisfied. I watched as Professor Dumbledore stroked his long silvery beard with satisfaction.
"Harry, it's not over yet. My family has hoarded money and this is the only thing I can do for you. You will never have to worry about money. Isn't that already something? Look at it positively! Rangok will give you a number that I can't remember," came the lax words so typical of Sirius and I was tempted to roll my eyes about his attitude. Rangok now deviated from the text of the will and followed Sirius' request to name the number.
"As requested by Mr. Black, I, or rather we, Gringotts, made an inventory in the family vault of the Blacks and were able to establish a fortune of 8,347,530 Galleons and 10 Sickles in cash, as well as some jewelry and other gold or silver items. An exact, detailed list is available in the files," the little goblin went about his business and the panting about this unimaginable sum echoed throughout the room. Then the goblin adjusted his stance in order to continue with the reading of the will:
"Next. Rejoice, Harry, and go shopping. So, now keep me in good memory and bravely and courageously stand up to everything that gets in your way. I will always be with you."
Now Harry amazed me, because he just sat there emotionlessly and listened to the whole thing absolutely lethargically. But maybe his lethargy was just his way of dealing with grief, I didn't know and wasn't sure if I should be reassured.
You couldn't tell what he was thinking. He had just received a fortune, but he didn't react. I was already proud of this, for he certainly was feeling something, but he didn't show it! An ever-increasing murmur had set in and some showed their astonishment at this sum, which was understandable. Ron and Ginny were close to collapse, Mrs. Weasley shook her head disapprovingly that a child inherited so much money - too much money in her eyes - but Rangok resolutely continued after a short break.
"Well, further in the text," he tried to exercise his authority, which worked as the community of heirs calmed down again, although all had previously had to express their astonishment and surprise at Harry's immense legacy.
Sirius had always had something up his sleeve, after all he hadn't managed to escape from Azkaban for nothing, so the next point of the will took everyone by surprise!
"To you, Severus Tobias Snape, I leave something too! Yes, imagine, that must annoy you excessively. Maybe that is why I do it? Well, no. Jokes aside, I would like to ask you for two things, of which I know that you will be happy to do one! First of all I would like to ask you - yes, you heard right! I, Sirius Black, ask you, Severus Snape - to continue supplying Remus Lupin with the potion. In return I leave you 50,000 Galleons so that you might supply him with it every month," some gasped excitedly for air and I was allowed to witness how Sna- Severus was the only one who showed absolutely nothing.
I'm sure he thought it was an outrageous presumption of Sirius to harass him even in death! I smiled well-hidden under my hood, while Remus stared at Severus like an apparition. The professor's mask was in place and didn't disclose anything.
What it looked like inside? Well, I doubted that he liked it. I'm sure he was raving. Great, then I would have a pleasant companion later, thank you Sirius!
"My second request is coming soon, be patient for a moment," Rangok said and turned his piercing gaze to me. I sat up straighter, feeling the stares the others threw at me. With Harry, I was sure by now that he suspected I was me, or rather that he knew.
"My dear, I know you will hate me abysmally for what I am about to do, but I am doing it because I am now dead and you can no longer hex me. It must have an advantage! I must thank you for the most beautiful time in my life. You have sweetened my summer. Even if you do not want to hear it: I love you." The revelation was presented by a motionless Rangok but that didn't prevent me from succumbing to dismay for a moment.
Was I so blind? Had I been so blind?
Draco had been right. I heard S-Severus puffing out contemptuously behind me. Isolated, unbelieving, horrified and angry calls and cries sounded. Ron blubbered at once:
Harry, on the other hand, only gave me an appraising, suspicious and astonished look with his brow raised, for he already had his sights on me.
"Oh, yes, you hate it abysmally and I can see you in front of me, grimacing contemptuously and reluctantly. Hermione, I'm sorry that I couldn't live up to your standards, even though the time we spent together was fun not just for me."
Now many of those present were sucking in air because Sirius had confirmed that I was the woman under the hood. But they didn't get the time to get all worked up because Rangok continued.
"Alas, by now, I mean it honestly, unlike at Christmas. I'm sincerely and terribly sorry that I struck you."
With these words, a tumult broke out and Harry didn't stare at me angrily anymore, but plainly shocked and horrified instead. Luckily, I had left the hood on. I lightly shook my head reassuringly towards Harry. Even Dumbledore had lost the cheerful twinkle ever present in his eyes. Everyone was shocked by Sirius' confession. Remus had jumped out of his chair and Tonks spoke reassuringly to him. Severus just rolled his eyes in annoyance.
The Weasleys took the cake; first and foremost Molly, Ron and Ginny. Ron looked as if he wanted to implode, his skull was so bright red, Molly clamoured and Ginny looked at me in shock.
They all acted as if I hadn't fought back, but well, they didn't know anything about that.
"Quiet please! Calm down," Rangok demanded harshly and while they were all still in states of agitation, they sat down and he went on.
"...I never should have done that. I should never, under any circumstances, have raised my hand against you, no matter what you did. However, I have also realised that I am no match for you! You need someone else to stand by you and give you what you need - and that is certainly not jealousy...
"You know, I have and had many guesses as to who you dumped me for, and I'm far from enthusiastic about the choice suggesting itself to me here, and I hope somehow fervently that you have chosen the least evil, though I'm not so sure about that in many ways... But well, I hope he can stand up to you and makes you happier than I ever could. I have decided that my love for you is so deep that I only want the best for you and that is why I bequeath to you, Hermione Jean Granger, the Black Library, as a memento of the fact that we have spent and begun such an amusing summer in there. I hope you are happy about it."
I pressed my jaws against each other, because damn right it did. I was moved by this gesture. I had enjoyed the time with Sirius very much. I had liked the stupid dog and now he was no longer here!
"Rangok arranged everything: In the minute of my death the door sealed and the room will appear in your parents' house when the will has been read. Since Rangok is also your bank advisor, he was so free to remodel your house when it became necessary. This must have happened sooner than hoped. Did I shock you, Hermione? At last, for once, I am the one who shocks you and not the other way 'round!
"I also bequeath you one million Galleons. I want you to be independent in your decisions and you can never have enough money! I know you won't like that either, but I want it that way. Don't argue, even if you are good at it, as you are good at everything! Does that sound suggestive now? Well, nothing can be done about that...
"So, now to my last petitions! Severus, coming back to you: Take care of her, damn it! You've been doing that better than me for a long time anyway. I want her to survive, so work hard, old boy! Twins, take care of her as you have done before, then I will be satisfied. Now my request to you, Hermione, take care of Harry. He will need you in the future.
"And if you ever want to play your games with him and not in his favour, then I will come over you as a ghost. I can imagine that one snake or the other will turn around in their graves should that come to happen," he threatened me ambiguously at the end and I laughed, hidden under my hood but still amused. Fortunately, almost nobody heard it due to the great turmoil following Sirius' revelations! Well, the good man had provided for an all-around blow. Very good, I thought sarcastically. The chaos happening here was unbelievable.
"Hermione," Harry suddenly whispered next to me and laid his hand on mine lying on the armrest of the chair.
"Yes, Harry? I whispered back.
"Why are you wearing a hood?" he whispered with interest.
"I am alone here. I thought I shouldn't show myself so openly in the magical world, after all there's a war going on," I explained, at the same time pulling the cloth off my head, exposing my hair, and I felt many pairs of eyes on me.
"Spoken truly, Miss Granger," Dumbledore replied calmly, who suddenly stood next to me.
"Professor Dumbledore, sir," I said in greeting, looking over my shoulder.
"An astounding will-reading. Sirius was always good for surprises, but so are you, apparently, my good Miss Granger, aren't you?" He tried to take a close look at me for the first time and I thought again of my strong, fortified wall, which could withstand him too.
"Thank you, Professor, I'll take that as a compliment," I showed myself to be composed, nodding my head slightly and turned away again, which irritated him slightly, as he hadn't been able to penetrate my mind. But he wasn't important to me at the moment. Nobody counted but Harry.
"Harry, are you coming? I'll bring you back," the professor insisted uncompromisingly.
"Yes, professor," Harry replied downright listlessly and he wanted to stand up sluggishly.
"Um, I'm sorry, professor, but I still need the two main heirs here briefly for official clarification," it came busily and weightily from Rangok, arresting Harry's movement and I was happy that Rangok actually complied with my request. I really liked the little goblin.
"Well, then do it," Dumbledore told him quite brusquely.
"Sir, I'm sorry, but I have to ask everyone except the main heirs to leave the room as what they do with their money is subject to bank secrecy." An almost dangerous grin adorned the face of this little, deceitful goblin and I noticed very well how reluctantly the old professor turned away because he couldn't argue against it.
"Well, I'll wait then, Harry," he stepped up to a grumpy Sn-Severus and engaged him in a conversation on the way out. Ron stared at Harry and me, shrugging his shoulders at Harry, but glaring daggers at me. He didn't seem to take my affair so well. Harry, on the other hand, was still holding back judgement.
When the door closed and we were alone, Harry turned to the goblin with irritation.
"What do you want me to do?" Harry asked and Rangok raised his hand and pointed at me and I smiled slightly.
"Calm down, Harry, I'll explain right away. Mr. Rangok, do I suspect rightly that the Blacks' vault is a high-security vault with blood protection?" I asked purposefully, noticing Harry staring at me, looking slightly pale around his nose. His mouth opened in amazement when he understood that I had ensured that we were now alone. He was getting better and better.
"Yes, correct, Miss Granger,' Rangok replied pleasingly, immediately qualifying, "but the banking secrecy applies here..."
"I only want rough information. And the vault of the Potters?" I demanded further, but Rangok looked at me without movement and I understood. "Harry, do you want to know what the Potter Vault is?"
He just nodded and didn't seem to find any words, but Rangok accepted this silent consent.
"No, it's not. Mr. Potter's vault is quite extensive, with almost two million left to him by his parents, but it's a standard vault that I would never have recommended to them back then. Why an old family like the Potters never had a high-security vault, I don't know. I can only assume that they never had much cash and therefore did not consider it necessary. If you are interested, Mr. Potter - ah, here are your records - almost 700,000 pounds came from your mother. That was the legacy of her Muggle parents. The rest came from your father, but a lot has only accumulated in the past sixteen years because the money was there and working for you," he listed the facts as soberly as ever.
"Well, then one and a half million should go to the Black vault, the rest should stay in the Potter vault and Harry is going to give his blood for the blood protection, then we should go," I determined resolutely and rose decisively, pulling Harry up by the hand, who seemed a bit overwhelmed.
"Will you explain that to me? I see you and get a stomach ache at once. Great, Hermione, really great," he said resignedly, but also accusingly and grimaced a little as if he was in pain. I felt a little sorry for him, but he had to go through that now.
"Yes, give it to me, Harry! What, you're angry about Sirius? If I had told you, what would you have done?" I snapped at him because it wasn't easy for me either. While we were talking, Rangok silently led us on to the wagons that took us deep under the earth.
"I would have been upset, just as I am upset now. Why don't you tell me something like that? And him! What is that about? What else do I have to find out? I had only just caught myself and processed everything and now that!" Harry yelled loudly and glared angrily at me. Fortunately, the wind whistled and the little goblin acted as if he didn't understand English, very discreetly.
"Ahrrr... Harry, not now," I requested loudly and somewhat desperately.
"He loved you... and you?" he went on relentlessly. I understood that he was curious, but now was truly not the time. He had to wait until tonight, so I said energetically:
"Why did he hit you?" he wouldn't let up.
"Harry, please not here. I didn't know that he loved me! The situation is not easy for me either. It is upsetting for me, too," I silenced him when I admitted that I was confused as well.
When we arrived, Harry gave his blood as a matter of course and marvelled at the sheer amount of gold. He took a bag with him that was the same as mine and because Rangok let Harry's blood drip into it, he would always have access to his money. Then we drove back again. The purse, which would never be empty, seemed to lift Harry's spirits a little.
We came back to the office, where I stopped Harry.
"Harry, I will come for you tonight. Does seven P.M. suit you, or don't you want to come with me anymore?" I asked once more to be on the safe side. I wasn't so sure that he would right now, after all, he was pretty upset.
"What kind of stupid question is that? Of course, I'll come with you. I will be ready then. Then I will finally want answers and honesty, from front to back! I'm bloody sick of it," he hissed furiously and slammed the door shut behind him with a loud bang. I turned to Rangok.
"Thank you for your help, Mr. Rangok." I bowed politely.
"Always with pleasure, Miss Malfoy." He winked at me exuberantly.
"One more question: The library; was that why you sent Grophok up to get my parents' suitcases?" I was genuinely curious.
"As always, very farsighted, Miss Malfoy. Yes. Now there is also a door through which you can enter the room," he explained gloatingly and visibly satisfied.
"I really like your way of doing things, Mr. Rangok," I admitted bluntly.
"Then I guess it's mutual, Miss Malfoy. Until the next time," he kindly bade me farewell. For him, I would probably be a Malfoy forever from now on, so I surrendered gracefully to my fate.
Nodding, I breathed deeply once, squared my shoulders and left the bank, deeply moved by what had happened here.