When I was just a little over a year old, my parents faked their deaths. They did it because my brother was some sort of prophecy child who defeated a dark wizard. They figured if hiding out the way they did it the first time did not work, they needed something better for the second time. So, Albus Dumbledore convinced them to kill themselves. Only in a public sense though, and they took my twin brother with them. But not me. No, I was shipped off to live with my aunt and uncle, who, while not abusive, were not the kindest, most loving people in the world.
I don’t remember much of this. When I finally worked up the courage to ask Gnarls where I came from, because I was obviously not a goblin, and they took care of my welfare, or goblin enough to be his daughter anyway, he explained it to me in very simple terms: when my parents died (of course, no one knew they weren’t actually not dead then, except Dumbledore, we all found out that bit later, but anyway) I was the sole inheritor of their estates as they had not actually taken the time to write wills. This meant I got all the stuff in the Potter vaults and then some that James Potter had not even known he had inherited. (Later on, I would suspect that my Grandfather worded some things interestingly in his will to keep my father in the dark about how wealthy we actually were, but that’s for later).
The goblins knew I was a valuable resource, they told me as much, and to keep Dumbledore from getting his paws on it, they devised a cunning plan that worked rather well with the Dursleys’ dislike of me (and they did dislike me a great deal). They would have someone mostly human (though still of goblin descent, so that he would listen to the goblin elders) get custody of me from the Dursleys. The wizards did not monitor uninteresting red tape for the most part so they would never really know. So, one day, Gnarls walked right up to the Dursleys and gave them a stack of gold to hand over custody.
It’s not the most cheery thing to tell your foster daughter. But, Gnarls has always been honesty with me. He did not even sneeze when he told me the percentage the goblins were making off of the returns they get for investing my money. Gnarls was good to me, in a sort of warped way. He made sure I was fed, clothed and well cared for. He would even tell me stories at bed time. But Gnarls taught me to survive, by teaching me how to cook and how to use weapons, to read and fight off attackers with my bare hands. He even taught me the warped form of magic he had made up himself. Not quite goblin, not quite human. Just like him. He never made it pretty though, even if it hurt me. He always made me stand up and try again, no matter what he was teaching me.
I liked Gnarls and deep down I believed he liked me as well. I think he was sad when I had to go away, but he put on a brave face. I know I was sad when Silverfang (Gnarls’ first cousin many times removed) came to tell us that the jig was up, and I would have to return to the Dursleys to be collected by the Potters.
“But why?” I whined to Gnarls as he made me pack my books in things in a magic carpet bag.
“You belong to them,” he said. “You never really belonged to me.”
“But I want to stay with you.” I threw myself at him. He had been sitting on the floor near my bed, and I was surprised when he did not toss me away, but held me close.
“We do not always get what we want, ankle biter, but life goes on.” He pulled me off of him, and stood me up. I was eight then, and though Gnarls was of Goblin descent, he was a big, big man, so I could only look him in the eye when he was sitting like this. He took a knife in its sheath from his boot. He took the blade from its leather cover, and took my hand, giving my palm a shallow cut. “Yours now,” he said, wiping the blood on his shirt, and returning the blade to its sheath. I gripped it tight in my hand. I gripped the knife tightly in my hands as Gnarls and Silverfang took me to the Dursleys. Silverfang hissed at me to put it away, and so into my bottomless bag it went.
The Dursleys made it plain that they could not stand the sight of me, not that they had to long, but Silverfang reminded them that I was to be kept in good condition for what they were being paid for the night. They made exceptionally good actors the next morning when they went to greet my parents. Petunia even hugged my mother, though I am sure she would have loved nothing more than to cut off Lily Potter’s shiny red hair lock by lock.
“Harriet!” my father cried picking me up. I flinched a little, not used to being touched so much. Gnarls was not grandiosely affectionate, and really only touched me when he needed to. But James Potter just smiled and pulled me close.
“I don’t really go by Harriet much,” I told him.
“Oh, then what should we call you?” he asked. I ran through the list of names Gnarls had for me. Ankle-biter and many others did not seem like something a normal parent might call their child on such a regular occasion.
“I get called Greeny a lot,” I admitted. It was after my eyes, which Gnarls swore were too green—greener than nature, he would say.
“Greeny? It sounds like something you would call an elf!” James Potter exclaimed.
“I like it,” said my brother, John Potter. He tried lifting me like James, but did not succeed. “I’ll call you Greeny. Maybe you can call me Cloudy.” His eyes were greyer than clouds, like mine were greener than nature. Lily Potter tugged us off to leave after that, saying good-bye to her sister.
It was hard living with the Potters. I wasn’t used to all the rules for one thing. Gnarls let me do as I pleased for the most part, so long as I could wake with the dawn and complete all of my lessons, whatever they may have been. But with the Potters I always needed to dress a certain way, act a certain way, do certain things, and go to bed at a certain time. And no, of course I couldn’t learn magic, don’t be silly Harriet. John sympathized. He was the one good thing about my new life.
“I’ll teach you the magic they teach me, Greeny,” John offered. But our parents found out and they put a stop to that. Lily enlisted the help of their friend Remus to give me French lessons, because I drove her mad with how much I knew. I went through any book she would give me in less time than she could think to give me a new one. I was well read in literature, was up to date on history, and knew a lot of current and ancient mathematics and science. Gnarls was wild, and goblin like, but he had been educated, someone had seen to that. French and other languages were some of the few things I did not know and could not learn with my current knowledge.
I liked Remus well enough. He was a little wild, but he tried to control it. I thought if he tried less, he might actually be happier. I told him so one day during our lessons.
“You think so?” he asked, making me reply in French of course. “I’ve never really tried to be wild before. Of course when you and your brother get the chance, you both run wild on the moors.”
“Not that we get much of a chance,” I spoke in English. Remus made me repeat it in French and then let me continue my thought. “Mother hardly lets us really play, especially since she makes Cloudy study so much magic.”
“It is important that your brother learns these things now,” Remus said. “I can’t tell you why, but he needs to be prepared for his future.”
Remus finished teaching me French within a year. Then he taught me Latin, and then suggested that Lily find someone who could teach me German or Greek, or another language which was not Romantic because he had heard me speaking Spanish as well. But Lily thought I knew enough, apparently, and gave me free range to roam, claiming there was no point in giving me lessons for something I could probably figure out on my own now. At least, by then, she had learned something about me inside of the two years she had known me.
I devoured the Potter library, teaching myself Runes and Arithmacy, things you only needed paper and ink to learn, and a little bit of potions when Lily was not looking. I read up on theory and tried to take up meditating, but I was still young and liked to fidget. I found it in an old blank book, which would become my favorite out of the entire collection at the small manor we owned on the Welsh moors.
It was a coin on a blue ribbon. It appeared to be silver, and was stamped with the Potter family crest, which I had seen often enough around the manor, though it also had a motto I had never seen before. “bybyrwch a anrhydedda,” it read, though I could not say it right at first, and mangled up the Welsh words. I had to look up how to say it, because I had never thought to learn Welsh, though something in me was telling me that I was saying it wrong. Probably because when I said it right I was transported into a completely different place.
Yes, the coin was a port key, and it deposited me in a rather round room, filled with a great many portraits. Nearly all of them had hair as dark as mine, though some were lighter and some were darker. All had different color eyes though, and the man who was closest to the bottom of the room, and the last in an incomplete circle of portraits had hazel eyes, just like James, though his face was far more angular. More like mine. There was an ovular indent in his portrait frame, the perfect shape of a thumb, so I pressed my thumb there, and felt it be poked with something rather sharp.
“Well, what did you expect it to do?” I turned around, and found that the man in the portrait had somehow gotten out of the portrait and was standing in front of me. “Blow you a kiss. It was only a prick pint girl, it were not that bad. Stop crying.”
“I’m not crying,” I told him. He squinted at me.
“You aren’t, now are you?” he asked, though obviously, he knew the answer. “I’m Callum Potter, who are you?”
“I’m Harriet Potter.”
“And who’s your father? Or mother of Potter blood, I suppose?”
“James is my father,” I said. “James Potter. He married Lily Evans.” Callum made his mouth into an o shape.
“You are my own granddaughter then. It’s good to know that James finally settled down. How old are you? When were you born?”
“I’m nearly ten,” I reported. “I was born in nineteen eighty.”
“The last my portrait has memories of is nineteen seventy-seven,” Callum said. “Right after your father left Hogwarts, and right after I vowed never to tell him about this place.”