AN: The next few paragraphs overlap chronologically with the last section of the previous chapter. Sorry if this is confusing, but it is bringing out different details from the same encounter between Harry and Professor Smith. Hopefully this helps keep the flow of the story clearer now…..
Harry left Daphne's flat after tossing some floo powder into her fireplace and then mentioning to her where he was headed, Potter Manor. He had landed almost on his face as he tumbled out of the floo. To make matters worse, he arrived in his sitting room to an audience. As it turns out, the goblins had managed to find a number of house elves who were friends with Dobby, as no relatives could be identified who were available to bond with Harry. A couple of the house elves were formerly employed at Hogwarts, but had been allowed to bond with a family. Harry looked up into the large round eyes of five house elves who all seemed as surprised as he was. He had not expected a welcoming committee, and he not intended to make such a grand entrance. They had not expected the famous Harry Potter, friend to elves and goblins and all magical creatures, to fall on his face just from using the floo. The group of house elves all quickly offered to help their new master, the famous Harry Potter who was too kind, just as they had heard Dobby tell, for he had taken them away from less fulfilling work and was giving them the honour of serving such a kind and gracious master. Harry quickly learned the names of the elves, Tam, Malcolm, Books, Hoban, and Flopsy.
The next morning Harry returned to work with Professor Smith. Harry had along day trying to delve for information at Pembroke College with the increasingly helpful Professor Rawling Smith. Harry had learned that Professor Smith had left America to avoid scrutiny from the United States Congress of Magic. He had wanted to tell the world about wizards and witches and magical creatures, but the Secrecy of Magic statutes there, as throughout the world prevented him from doing so. He had studied in muggle, or mundane, universities, obtaining a degree in mythical creatures. Many of the mundane world viewed him as a quack, but he continued to write in various journals about magical and supposedly mythical creatures. He didn't care that he was ignored by most of the scholarly world, because at the end of day, he told himself, he enjoyed what he was doing. Then came the day when he had met one Harry Potter. A person who he had assumed was as mythical as some of the creatures he studied. Oh, he knew the name from when he was still a part of the magical society in America. The war against the Dark Lord in England made news back in the states, but since he had left the magical world when he went into academia, he had not kept up with the times, as it were, choosing to live among muggles in England. There had been some difficult times in parts of England and Scotland, but little details of the most recent war ever made it to the muggle press. So, as it was, having a certain young man show up into his office at Pembroke College claiming to be the embodiment of the mythical tales of England's magical world from two decades ago, his curiosity was piqued. And now, Professor Smith found himself in the midst of a new academic adventure, trying to find evidence of writings of Merlin himself. The professor thought to himself, "Damn, I love this job." The only problem he had right now was how to arrange a meeting between himself, the young Harry Potter, and Gregory Bradford Shaw, the current professor of Old English here at Pembroke College, and he wondered if the man could actually be of any help at all.
Harry had left the college to return to his home, Potter Manor, which the goblins had recently opened up for him. Harry had enjoyed his time with Professor Smith, and when they left for the day, the professor indicated that he would need to contact his fellow faculty member, Professor Shaw, and then they would hopefully be able to proceed from there.
Harry arrived home at the Potter Manor. He was impressed with how they had already done so much in preparing the old family home for his arrival. There was no musty smell; there was no dust or cobwebs. It was impossible to tell that no one had lived here since Harry was an infant and his parents had decided to move to their home on Godrics Hollow. Harry went to his office — or what had been the office for his grandfather, Charlus Potter, who had many of his personal effects still in the room. Harry sat down and began to review the notes which the goblins had made for him. He had been to Gringotts earlier that day….
Harry walked into Gringotts, still wearing his wide-brimmed hat to cover the scar on his forehead. As he walked in to the lobby, one of the goblin tellers looked up from his desk and immediately signalled for one of the guards. The goblin guard then approached Harry and stopped in front of him and bowed. Harry bowed slightly in return.
The goblin spoke softly, "If you would follow me, I will take you to your appointed meeting with the most venerable Ragnok." He did not wait for a response as he turned on his heals and started walking off into the bank. The doors into the main part of the bank opened silently as they approached, with Harry a step behind the much shorter goblin. They turned and headed towards what appeared to be an ornately carved stone mural on the wall. The goblin paused briefly in front of the wall, tapped his battle-axe three times on the floor, and then he proceeded to walk through the wall after there was a slight glimmer. Harry followed his escort through the enchanted portal and into a dimly lit corridor. After walking for over a minute, they arrived at a heavy stone door with inscriptions in goblin runes. The guard nodded to Harry and then turned to leave. Harry faced the door, waited for a few seconds, and then he heard the sound of the heavy stone opening into the room. Harry walked into the ornately decorated chamber, in the rear of the room sitting behind a large and ornate desk was the goblin chieftain and director of the Gringotts Bank, London branch.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Potter," greeted Ragnok, with a toothy smile.
"Good afternoon, Director Ragnok," replied Harry.
"Enough with the formalities," scoffed Ragnok. "Have a seat my friend, and we will catch each other up. "First, what news do you have on the status of your mission?"
Harry thought out his words carefully, before he responded. "I am making progress in finding a possible solution to your, or should I say, our, problem. It will still take some time to gather the information, and once I have that, then it will take time to prepare for the carrying out of the deed. I suspect that I will need to procure some items to make this all possible, but as of now, all I have is a lead on some information. Thanks to the original lead you directed me towards at Pembroke College."
Ragnok nodded his head in understanding. "Then you are on your way to being released from your, shall we say, obligations."
Harry held back a shiver at the site of the goblin leader grinning at him again.
Ragnok then continued, "So, I take it you have found your accommodations, how would you say it? Acceptable? My apologies for the small number of house elves which we were able to procure for your services, quality elves are not easily obtained these days."
Harry nodded to indicate that they have been quite satisfactory.
"It may take some time to ready the other properties," Ragnok commented. "The sale of the Grimmauld Place property has encountered some, shall we say, complications. The disposal of dark objects must be seen to before the Ministry of Magic can be contacted as they will want to be able to inspect the home before a sale is completed. That portrait of Walburga Black is proving to be a most difficult item to deal with. But we shall have it out of the home soon, even if we have to rebuild part of the house." He paused as he registered Harry's reaction. "No, there will not be any extra fees related to the disposal of the portrait, the workers have grown to detest her so much, in addition to the challenge they now have in finding away to remove of the accursed portrait, they are asking for no additional wages for the job at hand."
Harry couldn't refrain from laughing at the idea of the goblins actually being willing to forgo extra pay due to either their anger or the challenge of the job before them.
Ragnok was ready to dismiss Harry, but then Harry spoke up. "Director, could I trouble you for some information on the status of a particular business?"
"One of yours?" asked Ragnok with a little surprise.
"No, I am sure that under the excellent guidance of you and the rest of my goblin advisors that they are doing quite well, may your gold continue to flow freely," added Harry to make it clear that he had nothing but respect for the goblin. "There is a business which I have become aware of, one that may be not performing to the standards which you and I would have for investments for my family."
"As you are quite well aware, the goblin nation currently controls the Potter Family Investments," reminded Ragnok, "so why would we take interest in a business that was not meeting our standards, or for that matter, even your standards?"
"I believe that the business has potential, that it can be successful, but may need a little, shall we say assistance," concluded Harry.
"Very well, we shall look into this for you," smiled Ragnok. He understood that a business that is not performing well, but has potential could be a very worthy investment.
"Thank you Director Ragnok," continued Harry. "The business is Greengrass Imports. Could you provide with me with the publicly available financials and perhaps we could discuss ways to strengthen the potential of this company in the future."
"As you wish, Mr. Potter," replied Ragnok. He then made some motions under his desk, and a door behind him to the left opened up and another goblin entered quietly. Ragnok spoke to him in gobbledygook under his breath and the goblin messenger left. Ragnok turned to speak to Harry, "The information which you have requested will be available to you in the lobby as you leave. Good day Mr. Potter."
Harry bowed his head as he responded, "Good day, director."
Harry stood up and walked towards the door he had entered as the large stone portal opened silently.
"Potter Manor." Daphne was hesitant to say the words, but as the flames in her fireplace flared with a green glow, she stepped into those flames and out into the fabled mansion. She was unsure of what to expect, the word grandeur had been crossing her mind all day in anticipation of the evening she was to spend with Harry. And now she opened her eyes and she found herself facing a large white curtain.
"Bloody hell Potter!" she exclaimed. "What is this?"
Harry stepped out from behind the curtain with a large grin. "Just part of the surprise," he said as he walked up to her and stood beside her. "I thought you might be looking forward to seeing my family home, perhaps as much as I have been. So far, I have personally seen very little of the manor. After landing on my face last night, making such a graceful entrance for my house elves, I decided to leave the grand tour until tonight, with you."
She punched him the shoulder. "You prat. You didn't have to do that."
"No, but I thought it would be more fun this way. Actually, I have been to the study, the kitchen and the master bedroom, other than landing here in the sitting room." Harry then called for his house elves. "I believe that you, Mal, are the captain here. Shall we begin?"
The house elf whom Harry had spoken to stepped forward. He bowed before Harry and Daphne and his large bat like ears flapped into his face. Daphne nodded her head in return to be polite. Then Mal turned and with a wave of his arm the curtains disappeared. Daphne gasped at the size of the sitting room. The furniture was gorgeous and looked positively comfortable. She looked forward to being able to relax and sit reading a nice long book in this room. Then she mentally chided herself for thinking such things. Why would she ever have such an opportunity, she asked herself, as she was probably doomed to spending the rest of her days with Draco Malfoy.
The tour was brief, considering the size of the building. They toured the ballroom, the parlour, the foyer. There were a series of guest rooms on the first floor in addition to the kitchen, the formal dining room, and the smaller dining area for more simple occasions.
The upstairs housed the master bedroom, the study and multiple family bedrooms. There was even a large room that seemed more like a pub to Harry and Daphne. Mal pointed out the working bar on one side, and the billiards table that was in the centre. Mal went on to explain that there were some other equipment that at one point had been in the room, something that was called a foosball table in addition to the dart board. The house elves had not restored those items yet, and Mal assured Harry that they would be ready shortly.
Once the whirlwind tour was over they returned to the dining room. Mal was about to seat them in the formal dining room, but Harry requested that they take their meal in the smaller more intimate and more relaxed room.
"Your home is amazing," commented Daphne as they began to dine on the first course brought out by the elves.
"Thank you," said Harry. "I am not sure what to do with all of the space. Mal assures me that the gardens will be put into order by the end of spring. Apparently the grounds are extensive. There has not been anyone living here since before…" Harry paused as he was slightly choked up. "Since the time my parents went into hiding."
The chatted idly over the next few courses. As they were finishing dessert, Harry and Daphne returned to the rather large sitting room. Harry looked Daphne in the eye as he spoke softly but clearly. "I need to ask you some rather personal things," he said.
Daphne was not expecting such a forward statement, and she was unsure of just what Harry meant. "Well, OK, I guess. What sort of personal things?"
"I was looking into some of the things you mentioned last night," he said simply.
"Which things?" asked Daphne, starting to feel a little worried.
"Greengrass Imports," stated Harry.
She raised an eyebrow in response, she did not speak, but she visibly stiffened.
"The import business appears to have been in a steady downward spiral for the past nearly twenty years." Harry let his words sink in slowly. "However, there are similar muggle businesses that have done well over the same period of time. There are some discrepancies in the ledgers dating back more than thirty years ago. At the same time, Greengrass Imports was much more successful."
"What are you implying, Harry?" asked a now obviously irritated Daphne.
"I am implying, nothing. At least not yet," answered Harry. "There could be many reasons for this situation, and obviously the reasons are not particularly concerning to the goblins for the past thirty or more years. But I have to ask, and I have to know for sure."
"What do you have to ask?" asked Daphne, feeling very defensive now.
"Why me? Why come to me about this? Is this the real reason you came to see me at the pub? A potential white knight for the family business?" Harry spoke without any hint of emotion in his voice.
Daphne wanted to scream at him, but she managed to put in place her mask of indifference. "What would ever make you think that, Potter?" she demanded, with the ice nearly dripping off of her words.
"Several things," answered Harry, trying to ignore the sting in her tone. "First, you are from the house of Slytherin, the house of cunning. It is clear you would have the skill and ability to do this, to manipulate me purely for those reasons."
She felt something new, hurt and betrayal from someone. She had never let another person get close enough to do that to her, and how she was starting to truly feel anger towards Harry. "You actually believe that I would do that to you?" She fought back the tears that started to well up in her eyes.
"Could you do that? Or would you do that? Those are two very different questions, and I hope they have very different answers." Before Daphne could respond, Harry continued his response. "Before you get all indignant with me for my asking this question, I need you to think it through from my point of view."
Daphne sneered, "And just how is this all about you?" Her emotions were wreaking havoc with her. She was feeling angry and confused.
"Trust." Harry said that one word and let it hang out there for a minute before he continued. "I need to know that I can trust you. I learned over the years that I cannot trust the Ministry of Magic, who attacked me in the press after my fourth year, sent dementors after me before my fifth year and allowed Umbridge to terrorise my life throughout our fifth year. Despite all he claimed to try and do for me and for 'the greater good', when it came to my personal life, I could not trust Dumbledore, the man who violated my parents' wills to place me with my aunt and uncle as a child, and this hid me from the magical world. I could not trust Ron, who was supposed to be my best mate. He abandoned me during my fourth year and again during the year we were on the run fighting against Riddle and his Death Eaters. Heck, the Weasley Family, or at least the ones who tried to give me a love potion to be with Ginny. I learned I could not even trust the instructors at the Auror Training School…" Harry paused as he felt exhausted laying out the litany of all of those whom he felt had betrayed him.
Daphne's expression softened. She had heard most of Harry's history, and she had learned from him about how he had been treated since the day he returned to the magical world and he entered Hogwarts. She could start to understand his doubts about her.
She then looked up at him, letting her anger go, as she asked him, "Why? Why would you even tell me all of this? Why bring this all up? Harry, I honestly had no great plan or scheme when I met you that evening at the pub. I had no ulterior motive, other than I saw something in you that I felt in myself. Loneliness. I know what people said about me when we were at school. I definitely know what people said about you at school. I realised that maybe there was more to each of us then what people talked about. So I wanted to get to know you, not the Boy-Who-Lived, but Harry. And you know what, I really like that guy. Not because of the scar. Not because of the fame. Not because of the good looks. Wait, that does help," she added with a laugh as she brushed away tears.
Harry blushed at her last admission. "Daphne, I had to be completely honest with you. Maybe because of my insecurities I don't trust people very well, or maybe I'm worried I trusted too many people before. But I believe you. And I do want to help, the family business that is. But more importantly I want to strengthen my friendship with you. So, I had to bring up my fears." Harry let the words dangle out there. He felt ashamed for even questioning her motives. He felt worse for getting her so upset. He heard Ron's voice in his head tell him, "You can't trust her mate! She's a snake, she always will be. She must be out to get you somehow. They're all evil Death Eaters in Slytherin!" Harry shut that voice off in his head, as it convinced him that he did need to trust Daphne.
"Well, then," he began to speak to her again, "where does this leave us? Where do we go from here?"
Daphne had calmed herself down, and she could feel that Harry was being sincere, and just wanting to be open with her, even with his own fears. "How about we start again?" she asked with a smile, which helped to soften the puffy look in her eyes from her crying.
Harry looked at her and smiled back as he said, "Okay."
Daphne stood up and walked over to him, held her hand as she spoke, "Hello, my name is Daphne Greengrass, I'm pleased to meet you."
Harry stood up and shook her hand, as he answered, "Pleased to meet you, I'm Harry Potter."
Then in a fit of emotion that he was surprised that over came him and he was not sure where it came from, he pulled her closer to him with his hand in hers and he kissed her on the cheek. Or he planned to kiss her on the cheek. But then their lips met. Softly at first, and then the kiss became harder and more passionate as they embraced.
Australia, Ministry of Magic, Sydney
Department of Magical Creatures
"Her you go," said the young man as he walked into the office of his supervisor and handed her a pile of papers, "these are the forms of the most recent complaints of reported drop bear attacks."
The young woman didn't even look up at the man as she reached out her hand to accept the stack of papers.
The young man handed her another paper. "It seems someone still claims there is a family of griffins reportedly in the MacDonnell range in the Northern territory."
The woman looked up, her brown eyes sparkled. "Is their any truth to these stories, or is this propaganda for the Quibbler?"
"The what?" asked the surprised aide.
"Never mind," she answered. "It's just a newspaper from back home that would love to publish such a story as this."
"From back in Italy, Ms. Contadina?" asked the young man.
"Not exactly," she answered with a smile. "I'll have a look at it. Do we have any corroborating evidence about the griffins?"
"Not that I know of ," answered the young man.
She pushed her hair back behind her head as she looked at the young man. "You know, Tom," she said, "I am probably only a couple of years older than you at most. You don't have to call me by my last name. You can call me Gianna."
Tom answered shyly, "Sure, whatever you say, Ms. Contadina."
Harry Potter woke in his room in the Potter Mansion. He had not gotten to bed early the night before. He had a huge smile on his face as he remembered the events of last night. He had a girlfriend. He had an absolutely gorgeous girlfriend. He had kissed her after they had what amounted to an argument of sorts. But they both had work to do today, and so he escorted her back to her flat via the floo, and he promptly fell on his face again. This then led to some more snogging. They eventually left it at that as he had to leave, to return back to his home.
Then his thoughts turned sour. He had an absolutely gorgeous girlfriend who was supposed to marry someone else, namely his rival and general thorn in his side throughout his time at Hogwarts. Either that or her younger sister would have to marry the ferret. Why is my life always so screwed up, he asked himself.
His silent musings were interrupted by a pop as his house elf, Hoban, appeared next to him.
"Your breakfast is ready for you, most kind master Harry sir," sang the elf who seemed as happy to serve him as Dobby ever had.
"Great, I'll be down in just a moment," answered Harry as he sat himself up in bed.
"But Master Harry, sir," protested the elf, "Youse needs to be ready for your meetings today. You have an appointment this morning at the Pembroke College and an appointment later today with a Mr. Greengrass."
"Thank you Hoban," smiled Harry, "but I have not forgotten any of those meetings."
"But Master Harry, sir," continued the elf plaintively, "Youse just received an owl from Gringotts, the bank wants you to stop by before your meeting this afternoon with Lord Greengrass."
Harry smiled again, "As I suspected they might. Thank you, again, Hoban, but I really need to shower and get dressed before I head down for breakfast."
"Should I wake Master Harry Sir earlier in the morning tomorrow, then Sir?" asked the elf, hoping he was not in trouble.
Harry noted his concern, and then he leaned towards the diminutive elf as he explained, "You do not need to worry about that. If I over sleep for a meeting I need to attend, that is my problem, not yours. If I ask that you or one of the elves make sure I am awake by a specific time, then that will only apply to that day. Thank you for your concern. I will be down shortly."
Harry arrived at Pembroke College, where dressed in his dragon hide cloak and his wide-brimmed hat, many of the students on the campus just assumed he was some exchange student from the United States working out his own issues and expressing himself in his own unique way. He quickly found his way to the hall where Professor Rawling Smith had his office. Harry knocked on the door, and was quickly greeted by the tall man with the thing but greying beard.
"Ah, Harry," said the professor, "I am glad you could stop by today. I have made an appointment for us to meet with Professor Shaw next Monday morning at ten in the morning. His classes will be concluded until the end of the winter break. I mentioned that we need to do some research on the usage of Old English and the tales of Merlin and Arthur. He initially balked at the idea, but I managed to persuade him to meet with us anyway."
Harry smiled, "Well then, if our research must wait until we meet with him again, then I will beg your pardon as I get to work on other important matters." With a quick handshake, Harry tipped his hat and then left the office. The professor thought he caught a glimpse of the tell-tale scar before the hat was placed back on Harry;s head, and then he heard a slight pop in the hallway. Rawling Smith stepped into the hall to have a look, and was surprised to find that the hall was empty, and there was no sign of Harry.
Harry walked into the lobby of Gringotts, and once again he was greeted by a silent goblin guard who ushered him down the hidden corridor to Ragnok's office. Upon arriving at the massive stone door, Harry was startled by the complete lack of movement by the granite edifice. The guard turned to look at Harry and seemed just as perplexed as his charge. Suddenly they heard footsteps running up from behind them. A young goblin arrived with a small satchel.
"Mister Potter," called out the young goblin, "his excellency, the Director of Gringotts London Branch, begs your pardon as he could not keep the scheduled meeting with you today. But he prepared the following documents for you in response to your questions."
The satchel was offered to Harry. Before he could open the satchel the goblin messenger added, "Sir, Director Ragnok advised that you may wish to use one of our private counsel rooms for a more personal setting to take the time to review the enclosed information."
Harry turned to his guard and escort and gave a slight nod to respectfully dismiss him as his services were no longer required. Then he turned back to face the messenger, "Very well, lead on my young friend."
The messenger goblin gave a surprised look at Harry and then he smiled. The smile of the young goblin was still quite disconcerting to Harry. "Of course, Mr. Potter, just follow me."
Harry sat down in what would have been viewed as quite a nice conference room in a muggle business. Mahogany tables and chairs, and a simple diffuse lighting that made the room feel quite comfortable. Not exactly typical of goblin interior decorating, but then Harry surmised that they probably used this room to make the human customers feel more relaxed. Harry opened the satchel and he reviewed the enclosed documents. He smiled as he read the numbers and the conclusions made by his goblin financial advisors.
Harry arrived on the edge of a simple street. The road was empty and there were many large trees around. Harry could see between the trees and noted that the wide open spaces were well cared for. He imagined what the place would look like if it were spring, with flowers blooming, or in the summer with the trees covered in leaves and the open fields green and welcoming. Harry looked to his left and then to his right, and he noted up the road there was a large gate. Harry walked up to the entryway to the manor, and he noted the large styled G in the middle of the gate. He walked up to the iron gate, and placed his hand on the middle of the G. He felt a brief pulse of magic shoot through his hand, and then the gate slowly began to open. As he crossed on to the driveway leading up to the manor, he could feel the presence of wards wash over him. Whatever they were detecting and preventing from entering apparently did not include him.
When Harry had nearly arrived at the large manor house, he noted that the Tudor style building was nearly as large as his own family home. He glanced around the property and he felt that it clearly had not had the upkeep that he would have expected from a Noble and Ancient House, but he also now knew quite well what sort of financial situation the Greengrass family faced themselves with. Harry walked up to the main door, and before he could even knock, the door swung open slowly, to reveal and large foyer with a small house elf standing there to greet him.
"Harry Potter," he said introducing himself to the house elf, "I have an appointment with Lord Greengrass."
The house elf gazed at Harry through half closed eyes, which gave him an almost sinister look. "Yes, of course you do. You are expected. You may follow me to the study." And without a further word, the house elf turned and started to walk down the hall to the left. The house elf waved his hand and the door opened after Harry heard a slight knocking sound. The house elf kept a curious eye on Harry as he walked in to meet with Lord Greengrass.
Harry scanned the room quickly and then he greeted the man sitting at his desk, apparently concentrating on his journals and ledgers. "Thank you, Lord Greengrass, for agreeing to meet with me," said Harry softly, so as not to come across as rude or arrogant. There was no reply. Harry stood quietly resting his hands at his side as he awaited some sort of response.
He waited for over a minute before Daphne's father looked up. He put down the quill he had been writing with and he stood up to shake Harry's hand. "Good afternoon, Lord Potter," said the man who was easily over six inches taller than Harry, "I am glad to finally make your personal acquaintance."
Harry shook his hand and then politely corrected him. "It is Mister Potter, milord, not Lord Potter. As you have a seat on the Wizengamut I would have presumed that you would have known that I have not yet taken up my titles."
Jonathan Greengrass eyed the young man in front of him very carefully, trying to gauge if the comment was meant merely to inform or to insult his own knowledge of the facts. He quickly decided to assume the former as this powerful young man was the one to request this meeting. "That is quite right, Harry," he said. "May I call you Harry?"
"But of course milord," answered Harry trying to be as respectful as possible.
Lord Greengrass gestured to a chair behind where they were standing, "Please, take a seat, as we get to the business at hand."
Harry nodded and took the offered seat, and the father of his girlfriend took a seat opposite from him. Harry wondered if Daphne had told her parents of their budding relationship, or even their friendship. Then he wondered if she had if that would have any effect on the negotiations he was about to begin.
"So, Harry, I understand that you were a classmate of my daughter while she was attending Hogwarts," commented the large man.
Harry was beginning to feel more than a little intimidated at this point, as Harry acknowledged that it was true, they had been in classes together.
"I take it that you two did not know each other while you were students, then," continued Daphne's father.
Harry wondered where this conversation was leading. "No sir, we barely had any contact with each other. We were in different houses, sir."
"I am well aware of what houses you both were in," commented Jonathan, and sounding perhaps a bit more stern that he had intended. Harry was worried if they were going to begin discussing his relationship with his daughter, until his host changed the subject again. "So, as you are the one who requested this meeting, my young man, what would you like to discuss?"
Harry pulled up the satchel that was hanging at his side as he began to speak slowly and clearly to the man in front of him. "I have been reviewing some documents, business documents, which pertain to your import business." Harry mentally chided himself for starting to sound too repetitive. "I have become aware that the current state of your family business is not where you had previously been and is not where you would like it to be."
"Whether that be the truth, or not," replied Jonathan, "that may remain to be seen, but I am at a loss as to why this would concern you."
"While I may not have taken up my titles, I do have a fair amount of control in my family's financial interests. My family, as you are no doubt well aware, has several business which we either outright own or are major stake holders in, and these businesses are quite busy with imports and exports, depending on their respective markets and fields. I would like to see some more stability in their ability to meet their needs. A stable inventory and a stable supplier would only boost my companies' productivity and thus my bottom line. If we were able to establish a mutually beneficial arrangement, including exclusive import rights for certain items in addition to exclusive opportunities to negotiate further r such arrangements, I do believe that both Greengrass Imports and the Potter Estate would be more than happy with the results."
"I am waiting to hear your catch, Mr. Potter," said Lord Greengrass with a grin. "You may have been in Gryffindor, which would give you the boldness to come into my home and make such an offer, but you might as well have been in Slytherin to have such cunning as to make this offer. There must be a catch to this somewhere."
"There is no catch, I merely became aware of the financial condition of a family business of a Noble and Ancient House, and I realised that my own family business had the means to rectify any financial difficulties which Greengrass Imports may be facing."
"This is because of my daughter, is it not?" asked Jonathan as he was unable to hide his irritation at the thought.
"No sir, it is not," said Harry, maintaining his emotionless response. "In fact, she has no idea that I am even meeting with you today."
Daphne's father leaned back in his chair and reappraised the young man in front of him. "You, my son, are an enigma. You are just twenty years old, contact me for a business meeting, tell me that you have put off taking your rightful titles, and claim that this meeting has nothing to do with whatever relationship it is that you have with my daughter. And to top it all off, you just happen to be the most recognisable young man in the magical world. I suppose I should thank you for your part in defeating the Dark Lord a couple of years ago, and despite what many might think of me and my family, I truly am thankful for that. Yet, there is something here that just does not add up." His eyes burrowed into Harry's with such an intensity that it made Harry feel quite uncomfortable. Jonathan continued, "A man I once knew when I was still in school once said 'They key to life is sincerity, and once you learn how to fake that, then you have it made.' But I do not sense any deception from you."
Harry sat silently as he awaited Lord Greengrass' analysis. He had learned from the goblins that Lord Greengrass was very thorough when he evaluated any business deal, and that would include sizing up potential business partners. So far, it was clear that the information that Harry had received about Lord Greengrass was absolutely correct, although that did not make this experience any less unpleasant for Harry.
Finally the man broke his gaze from Harry. "Tell me, young man," he asked pointedly, "just why is it that you have chosen to put off taking up your title as Lord Potter, or even your title as Lord Black. Yes, I know that you are heir to both families."
Harry hesitated for only a moment, let out a barely perceptible sigh, and then he answered. "I have certain obligations to others at this time in my life. It would be inappropriate at best, and perhaps treasonous if I were to take claim to those titles when anyone could lay any claim to me. If that were to happen, any decision I would make publicly, any opinion I would offer in the Wizengamut would be suspect. Even if I were to eventually remove any obligations after I had claimed my titles, my every move would be suspect. It seems better to me that I wait until I can claim my heritage without any potential for perceived influence from outside forces. Would you not agree, Lord Greengrass?" Harry turned the situation around by asking his inquisitor to evaluate Harry's personal decision on the matter.
Initially taken aback by the manner in which Harry responded so directly, Greengrass hesitated for a moment before he answered the question. "It would seem that you do possess wisdom beyond your years, young man," admitted Jonathan. He now reassessed the situation in front of him, as it was clear that young Harry was not about to be intimidated, that he did possess a certain confidence and wisdom in addition to being fully prepared to engage in a battle of the wills with him. Clearly, he thought to himself, this was a young man to have as an ally. "So, my friend, what is your business offer, exactly?"
Harry initially felt it odd that he was asked this question after he had already explained what he was offering. He decided he would need to be blunt and bold. "Very well, I will restate the offer to you. It is apparent that without some direct intervention from outside forces, or some unforeseen miraculous change in the business climate, that within the next 5 years, 10 at the absolute maximum, Greengrass Imports will face bankruptcy. What I offer is that Greengrass Imports become the agent of importing all services and goods for any business associated with the Potter Estate. Exclusive rights. In addition, you will be allowed to maintain any and all current business clients as your own. It is clear that prior to the first war with Tom Riddle and his Death Eaters, you had a thriving business, and some of it quite frankly dealt in dark items. Pretty much everyone looked the other way, including the ministry. I am not here to judge those previous practices. But in the current economic reality where such traffic would be frowned upon at best, such lucrative support for your enterprise is no longer a feasible option. I offer a sound economic future for Greengrass Imports and in turn, the Noble and Ancient House of Greengrass."
"Well, there you have it," surmised Lord Greengrass, whose voice took on a much more sombre tone as he continued, "but what I still need to know, is just what exactly to you, Harry Potter, get out of this deal?"
"What do I get?" Harry rephrased the question, "I get a business plan that stabilises the needs of many companies which my family controls, that is assuming that Greengrass Imports is up for the challenge. And you must know that my advisors have thoroughly researched your capability to do this and that I would not be here if we did not feel it would be financially advantageous to all parties involved. I also gain an ally. Not one who is bought, but one who I can trust to speak openly and honestly when needed. I will not tell you how to run your business. You will need to do so without any influence from myself, but you will need to run your business successfully. Both of our futures will ultimately rely upon this." Harry pulled a large envelope out of the satchel and handed it to Lord Greengrass. "Here is the contract offer making Greengrass Imports the sole importer for all Potter Estate companies and interests. Review it with your own advisors. Return it to my account manager at Gringotts when you are ready to sign. Until then, Lord Greengrass, I bid you farewell and I eagerly await your reply." With that Harry stood up to leave.
Jonathan took the envelope and placed it on the middle of his desk. He turned back to shake Harry's hand, but the young man was already at the door. Harry simply said, "I believe I can find my way out," and with that the young wizard left the Lord Greengrass alone in his study to consider all that had just transpired.
Harry left the manor, and made his way to the large iron gate and walked down the road to a point far enough away from the wards so that it would be safe to apparate. As he was approaching the place where he had appeared on his way to meet with Lord Greengrass, he noted another man walking up the road towards him, apparently on his way to the Greengrass Estate. Harry thought he recognised the person walking towards him. The tall blonde young man did not however, have his typical sneer on his face.
"Potter," acknowledged the young man as he approached Harry.
"Malfoy," replied Harry. "What brings you to the Greengrass Estate?"