Disclaimer: Not the Rowling, not the Kanzaka.


So, tick off three HP fanfic clichés: ditch the Dursleys, go shopping, get a house-elf.

Thanks to everyone who’s followed, favourited, and reviewed! And for being patient. I apologise for not getting anything up sooner, but real life is a thing, and it sometimes gets in the way. I expect that future chapters will be similarly delayed. But they will arrive!

“Hello.”  :  voice.
“Hello.”  :  voice over phone, radio, TV...
‹Hello.›  :  thought.
Hello.  :  spellcasting.


COMFORT! Harry and Lina settle in!

Mandy hummed to herself as she worked her way along the first-floor hall, repairing the fittings, touching up the varnish, and removing ground-in stains and the remnants of ancient, stale magic. Her previous owner had neither the inclination nor the power to enable her to deal with such issues, being satisfied with a superficial dusting, and disturbingly comfortable with the aura of old bloodshed and suffering that pervaded the house. Her new mistress, on the other hand, had power to spare, and wanted nothing to do with such reminders of old evil.

She was working on a particularly stubborn area of curse residue, when she heard a quiet, gulping sob from the master bedroom. Dropping the web of cleansing magic she’d built up, Mandy ghosted over to the door and silently slipped inside. Though a human would have considered the room to be dark as pitch, her eyes were sensitive enough to see that the current occupant of the bed wasn’t the one she had tucked in a few hours before.

Lighting.” The voice was different too; less cocky and sure of itself, and somehow younger. Light sprang out from a glowing ball. Mandy walked over to the bed, eyeing the short, black hair and pinched features of the boy sitting propped up in against the headboard. “Hello Mandy.”

Mandy snapped her fingers, lighting a few candles around the room. She  examined the boy closely, feeling out his magic. “You is... mistress, but not-mistress. How?”

“Um, well...” Harry dismissed his light and paused, trying to work out how to explain. “I was... in a bad place. I had been reading this story — fiction, about a different world, and Lina was a character in it. I’d been trying out the magic in the story, and was doing okay... but when things got really bad, something happened. It was like... like Lina was inside me, hidden, but she suddenly took over and got me out of there. My body changed to look like her, and she could cast all the spells from the story, so much better than I could.” He smiled a little. “It was really cool.”

Mandy furrowed her brow. “I is understanding, though I has never heard of such before. You is Harry Potter, yes?” He nodded. “So why is you you again?”

“Those men... Lina’s really upset, though she was trying to hide it. Not just because of what they tried to do to her; what she did to them too. I tried out the Flare Bit spell on some junk once, to see if it worked, but the other two... the first man just turned into a pile of ash, he didn’t stand a chance. And the Dark Claw... in the book, it wasn’t so bad. A quick kill. But Lina was really angry, and wanted the man to suffer, and the spell knew that...”

Harry shuddered; Mandy hopped onto the bed beside him and laid a comforting hand on his shoulder. “And how is you feeling?”

“Well... it was pretty awful. That man was going to... well, you know. And Lina was so... angry doesn’t even begin to cover it. I’ve never felt anything like it; it was as if the entire world was being burned up by her rage.” His face hardened. “But they deserved it. They killed lots of people, didn’t they?” Mandy nodded sadly. “And they were going to hurt Lina.”

“House-elves aren’t supposed to speak ill of their masters,” said Mandy, “but they was evil mens. Should have been killed long ago.” She nodded firmly, then gave a tentative smile. “But how is Master Harry?”

He shrugged. “I’m all right. Lina’s safe, and I’ll look after her until she feels better.” He smiled. “I think this is what having a big sister is like. She’ll take care of me most of the time, but sometimes she’ll need me to take care of her. Like now.

“It’s a bit funny,” he went on. “While she was in control, it was like watching the telly,” he noticed Mandy’s confusion at the term, and added, “or seeing a story in a book, through her eyes. I could see and hear everything, even her thoughts, but I was completely apart from it all, like nothing that happened could affect me.” His eyes softened. “It was really nice, feeling that safe and protected for once. I must have felt pretty secure here though, because when she started to have bad dreams, I took over again... she didn’t want to let me know she was upset, but I made her let me take over, so she could have the chance to cry, without worrying about other things.”

“Mandy did her best to make Mistress comfortable,” said the house-elf, nodding seriously. “Probably made Master feel comfortable too. Mandy will look after both Master and Mistress.”

“Thanks, Mandy,” said Harry. “For everything. I expect Lina will be back in the morning. We’ve got a lot to do tomorrow, and we don’t want people to recognise me yet.”

“Master should sleep now,” said Mandy, “if tomorrow is a busy day. Lots of rest, and a good breakfast, and Master and Mistress will be ready for anything.” She smiled, then wrapped her arms around Harry. “Nighty night, Master Harry.”

Surprised, Harry returned the hug, before sliding back under the covers. “Night, Mandy.”



It was Lina who awoke the next morning, automatically taking over as Harry wanted more rest. She stretched, cricked her neck back and forth, then slid out of the high bed to the floor and drew the curtains to let the bright sunlight in. She let it warm her for a while, admiring the small park outside, then turned and gave the room a proper look over for the first time.

Mandy had obviously made some changes during the night; there were some darker squares on the heavy patterned wallpaper where pictures must have hung, and similarly shielded spots on the tops of the dressing and side tables. A few items had been laid out — comb, brush, nail scissors and so on — but they all looked unused, and quite new in comparison to everything else.

Both Lina and Harry were somewhat used to sleeping in their clothes, but the luxury of clean underwear couldn’t be ignored; she quickly pulled off her leggings, changed her panties, and dressed again, then went over to the dressing table.

“Do something about your hair, dearie.” Lina jumped when the voice issued from the mirror, then glared at it when it went on, “And that top isn’t exactly flattering, either.” She ignored it, taking up the brush and bullying her long hair into something approximating order. A couple of passes over her fringe, and— ‹Oh, like yours is any better,› she thought at the newly-awakened Harry, whose chuckles were tickling the back of her mind. That one lock of hair, right on the top of her head, always refused to lie down.

“Well I suppose it’s a bit better, but still...” sighed the mirror.

Lina pulled down her right lower eyelid with one finger, stuck out her tongue, and loudly said “Biiiiii!”

“Well, I never!” sputtered the mirror, as Lina bounced out of the room, laughing.



The smell of food drew Lina past a couple of closed doors on the first floor, then down the stairs and through the main hall to the back of the house, where she found Mandy perched on the handle of a large oven, stirring a pot on the hob above with one hand, while tending to the contents of a huge frying pan and two other pots with the other. The house-elf gave the sorceress a quick, bright smile before turning back to her work, and announced, “You is just in time, Miss Lina! Food is ready now. Be going through to the dining room, please?”

“I don’t mind eating in here,” Lina replied, gesturing to the large, well-scrubbed table in the middle of the room. “And I don’t mind if you join me, either.”

“Oh,” exclaimed Mandy, “but that wouldn’t be proper! Mistress eating in the kitchen? House-elf eating with her mistress? Oh no, that wouldn’t do.” She smiled and hopped to the floor, pulling the oven door open as she did so, allowing a gust of hot, delicious-smelling air to burst out. She snapped her fingers once, and the table was set for two. »Snap« again, and the contents of the various pots, pans and trays were transferred to serving dishes arranged across the table. One final »snap«, and the cookware jumped into the sink, ready for washing. Mandy jumped onto a high stool in front of one place setting, and gestured for Lina to sit.

Lina grinned at Mandy, and took her seat. “So, what’s to eat?”

“I wasn’t knowing what Miss Lina or Master Harry would like, so I cooked everything that bad old masters and their guests asked for. Fried eggs, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, black pudding, fried bread, french toast, dumpling, potato scones, fried mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, baked beans, devilled kidneys, kippers, and porridge.” She gestured at the end of the table, and went on, “Also having mixed grapefruit, peach, pear and pineapple for after; butter, marmalade and jam for toast; tea, coffee, milk, orange juice, grapefruit juice, pumpkin juice, and apple juice to drink. That do?”

Lina’s grin widened. “That’ll do.” She dug in, and there was silence for a while as she made a massive dent in the food. Mandy waited, smiling at her mistress.

Once the initial edge of her hunger was off, Lina paused and commented, “This is really good. You’re a great cook Mandy!” A tickle at the back of her mind prompted her to add, “I think Harry agrees with me.”

“Of course I is,” said Mandy. “Mandy would have to iron her hands if she were to shame bad master by serving bad food to his bad friends.”

“Really?” asked Lina, shocked. “I mean, I know he was evil, but...”

Mandy giggled. “Bad master was evil, but not very bright. ‘Mandy, go punish yourself’, he say. I goes off looking sad, comes back later with bandaged hands. Not like he ever check to see what happen in between.” She speared a sausage and bit the end off with a smile.

“That’s good,” said Lina, slicing into a devilled kidney. “So, let’s see. Last night you were talking about all sorts of things about the Wizarding world, but you said that it was important we go talk to the Goblins about Harry’s inheritance, and our right of conquest. And something about school?”

“Yes, Hogwarts. Potter family is famous, also well-off. Master Harry’s parents most likely put his name down when he was born, and set up a vault to pay for his time there. But most of that can wait until Hogwarts letter arrives; need to see Goblins today, to properly take over Umbridge estate. Also Master and Mistress both need new clothes and things, and Mandy must make sure household has food and supplies.”

“I saw you made a start with the cleaning,” noted Lina. “Do you want to get new pictures, or paint the walls or anything?”

“Mandy started getting rid of old stains, bad magic, noisy paintings, but Mandy would never make changes without Miss Lina’s instructions.” She gave a sly smile. “Mandy does have some ideas, though?”

“Neither Harry nor I am any good at that sort of thing,” said Lina. “Let me know what you have in mind, and unless it’s totally weird, you can go ahead.” She paused. “There is one thing though...”

“Yes Mistress?”

“You were very careful to tell me about the whole ‘clothes’ thing last night, but... look, you’re effectively my aide, right?”

“Mandy is Mistress’ house-elf. Servant, slave, whatever Mistress wants Mandy to be.”

“Right... so, whenever you go out somewhere to buy something, or if you accompany me somewhere, people are going to see you and associate you with me, yes?”

“This is so, Mistress. Mandy has a feeling she knows what you is going to say. You is not liking ‘traditional house-elf garb’, no?”

“Well, not really, Mandy... hang on.” Lina concentrated for a moment, then Harry’s features replaced hers.

“Lina isn’t very good at this sort of thing,” he commented. “Look Mandy, neither of us is happy at the idea of having a slave. I get that you aren’t one really, that you need to work for a magical family to survive, but that doesn’t mean you should be treated badly. That whole business about ironing your hands... some house-elves really have to do that sort of thing, don’t they?” Mandy nodded sadly. “Maybe we can do something to help them, later... but for now, I want people to see that we really appreciate you; that you’re a valuable assistant with your own mind, not just a slave that can be ordered around. Do you see what I mean?”

Mandy nodded enthusiastically, causing her ears to flap. “If Master and Mistress can help other house-elves with bad masters, this would be a good thing. If Mandy wearing... better things would help him do this, Mandy will be proud to!”

Harry morphed into Lina again. “Thanks Mandy. As soon as Harry and I have some idea of the things we’re going to be wearing in the magical world, and get a handle on any family crests we can use, you can help us come up with something for you to wear. And since you don’t like using the word ‘clothes’ when it’s for yourself, why don’t you call it ‘livery’ instead?” Mandy nodded again.

“All right, let’s finish this feast,” said Lina, “and you can tell me your ideas for redecorating this place. And by the way, what was that about ‘noisy pictures’...?”



Meanwhile, in a secluded valley somewhere in the Highlands of Scotland, a man with too many titles and even more names was also having breakfast. His mood was worse than Harry and Lina’s, and his company less convivial...

“What d’you mean, you’ve lost Harry?” questioned his deputy. “What’s happened to the poor wee lad?”

“Run off in a snit,” drawled his spy. “Didn’t get enough presents this week, I suppose?”

“Severus, please,” said Dumbledore, distractedly. “Minerva, I’m sorry, but all I know is that everything I had monitoring his health and the wards around his house have stopped working.”

“So go and look!” snapped McGonagall. “See if he’s all right. Or do you want me to go?”

Dumbledore shook his head wearily. “I asked Arabella Figg to look in on them last night. She said that Petunia was half-triumphant that ‘the brat’ had finally left, and half-scared of any retribution that may fall on her for allowing him to go.”

“So he really has run off?” smirked Snape.

“It would seem so,” said Dumbledore. “Something Petunia said, though, gave Arabella the impression that he didn’t go alone. She was very close-mouthed about the whole thing, apparently, but she let slip that he had protection of some kind. Magical protection.”

“But who...?” asked McGonagall.

“Who indeed...” murmured Dumbledore, then straightened up. “We must reactivate the Order. Severus, please put your ear to the ground— subtly; we don’t want anyone suspecting there is something wrong, especially among the darker elements of society. Minerva, please contact the others. I am going to pay Petunia a visit...”




At Mandy’s urging, Lina quickly moved out of the Diagon Alley Apparition Point, in case of other arrivals. “That was different somehow,” she commented.

“Different?” asked Mandy.

“When your old master...” she tailed off.

“Wizards are calling their travel ‘Apparition’, Mistress,” said Mandy quickly, hoping to keep Lina from dwelling on the previous night. “House-elves are calling ours ‘popping’. Can Mistress Lina not Apparate?”

Lina shook her head. “Nothing like that. I can levitate, fly, and breath underwater, but... wait though, Harry did something once that could have been similar. He’s thinking of the word ‘teleport’; have you ever heard of that?”

“No Mistress, but perhaps Master Harry was doing accidental Apparition? Very rare, but not unheard of. Maybe Mistress can copy that?”

“Maybe... we can try later. That’s Gringotts up ahead, isn’t it?”

With Mandy distracting Lina with conversation, they had managed to get most of the length of the alley without her appearing like a total rube. (A spare cloak from the Umbridge collection hid her rather Muggle clothing, while Mandy was wearing a pristine white sheet arranged like a toga.) “Yes Mistress. Now, you is remembering what I was telling you?”

“Goblins are money-grubbing bastards, with some really weird ideas about ownership and inheritance, but they won’t break a formalised deal, and will go out of their way to help people nasty enough to appeal to their sense of humour,” said Lina with a chuckle.

“Mandy did not put it like that, and neither will Mistress Lina, if she wants to get out of Gringotts with both ears still attached!” Mandy’s horrified tone was belied by the giant grin on her face. She put on a more solemn expression as they approached the white marble edifice at the end of the alley.

The pair managed to keep their faces straight as they nodded to the guards at the door, and made their way into the shadowed interior of the bank. Mandy quickly led Lina over to an unoccupied teller in the correct section, and in a quiet but somewhat imperious tone, declared, “My Mistress has business with the Bank that requires privacy.”

The teller nodded, and passed one clawed hand over a crystal set into his desk. A hemispherical field sprang up around them, obscuring the rest of the bank like frosted glass. “Speak your business,” growled the goblin.

“By right of conquest, I have claimed possession of all holdings, goods and chattels belonging to the former Morsus Umbridge,” intoned Lina, following the script that Mandy had taught her. “I have come to assert this right over any vaults that he may have held, either in his person or as head of the Family Umbridge.”

The teller scribbled a few lines on a tablet, paused, then turned off the privacy field and replied, “An account advisor will be with you shortly. Wait over there.” He waved at an imposing set of doors to one side of the main floor, then turned away to deal with his next customer.

A few minutes later, the doors opened and a more senior goblin (judging by his dress) appeared, ushering Lina and Mandy through. He led them down a corridor lined with doors down one side, stopping at one bearing a brass plate inscribed ‘Bonehewer, Accounts’, and again ushered them inside. Once inside, he took a seat behind the imposing desk that dominated the room, and waved Lina to the single chair in front of it.

Lina gave him a sour glance, then dragged a spare chair over from its place against the wall. Mandy waited until Lina was seated on the first chair, then hopped onto the second.

Bonehewer gave Lina a curious look, then said, “We recorded the demise of Morsus Umbridge, and his sole heir Turpis, last night. The only surviving member of the family is ineligible to inherit the headship, due to her gender. Your conquest, however, puts you in a unique position, which takes precedence over the line’s inheritance rules. Gringotts can see no barrier to your claim to the Umbridge properties.” The goblin gave a toothy grin. “Under which name do you wish to assume the headship?”

Lina glanced at Mandy, who nodded decisively. They had already discussed this point. “Well...” she said, and stood up, concentrating on her other self. Her hair shortened rapidly, darkening to black and revealing a jagged scar on her forehead. The lines of her face shifted slightly, becoming a touch coarser, and her body lost its curves and padding.

Bonehewer started. “Master Harry Potter? This is a surprise...” He pulled a large hexagonal crystal from a drawer in his desk, then stood and came round to Harry. The crystal glowed softly green as he waved it up and down Harry’s body. “Definitely, you are the Potter Heir. Could you transform again, please?”

Harry concentrated again, and shifted back into Lina. The crystal gave off bursts of blue and yellow light, then finally settled on green again. Bonehewer examined it closely, then announced. “And now you are definitely a different person, of whom we have no record. One who is simultaneously over sixteen years old and under two days old, apparently. The crystal cannot decide if it was an Animagus transformation, or a Metamorphmagus one, but neither of those would cause an actual change of identity.” He tapped the crystal idly against his desk, murmuring to himself.

“We were hoping to use the Umbridge conquest to establish my identity as an independent being,” said Lina, interrupting his musings.

Bonehewer shook himself out of his thoughts, and replied, “That in itself is not unknown. Perhaps if we ignore the fact that you and Master Potter are sharing the same space and clothing... yes, that will work. Your name please, miss?”



It took some time to hammer out all the details of Lina and Harry’s alternating existence, but eventually she was confirmed as the Head of the Minor House Inverse (renamed from Umbridge), with vault keys, family ring, and paperwork to support that claim, and he was similarly confirmed and accoutred as the minor Head of the Noble House Potter. A complicated series of legalisms (and transformations back and forth) set Lina up as Steward for House Potter — Harry was too young to assume full control, but Lina’s own Headship emancipated her — and gave Harry rights of access to all House Inverse vaults and properties (in case the transformation happened at an inconvenient moment). These machinations were possible mainly because the Potters died intestate, making Harry the automatic heir of all they had and held, and leaving his custody in something of a legal limbo, given that both his godmother and godfather had become unsuited to the responsibility.

Bonehewer’s comment about the transformation being somewhat like that of an Animagus led Lina (once the term was explained) to hypothesise that with some concentration, she and Harry should be able to maintain separate wardrobes. A quick experiment confirmed this, much to Harry’s momentary embarrassment, though this soon turned to relief when he realised this meant he wouldn’t have to wear girl knickers any more.

Of course, this revelation, along with sudden access to a large amount of money, immediately led to another shopping expedition.

Harry was easily outfitted. With his fringe down to cover his scar, he was just another pre-teen wizard, and trusting to the combined fashion knowledge of Mandy and Madame Malkin, he was soon set up with a variety of formal, casual, and work robes, all befitting his station. (Mandy promised to personalise them with the Potter crest once they were back home.)

Lina, on the other hand, would have nothing to do with the confining robes Madame Malkin’s beleaguered assistant tried to foist on her for daily wear, nor the rather frumpy underwear available in that shop. After taking some advice on where she might be able to purchase her favourite tunic-and-leggings style of outfit (”I suppose Twillfit and Tattings could make you something like the top, Ma’am, but I’ve never seen anything like your... legwear. Maybe you’d be better going to a Muggle shop?”), she left Madame Malkin’s with nothing but a pair of cloaks: both black, one blue-lined for daily wear, another more formal one with purple lining, high collar, and gold-trimmed epaulettes reminiscent of her shoulder armour. And a robe for formal occasions. Also two pairs of boots. And a very nice ballgown in baby pink and white (with matching shoes), just in case. And—

Once Mandy had ferried the bags of clothing back to their house, they decided to pass on the other wonders of Diagon Alley in favour of hitting up some of London’s more well-known shops, to get the remainder of Lina and Harry’s clothing, along with the accessories Lina needed to complete her favourite look. With Mandy discreetly shifting their purchases home, they turned the day into an extended sight-seeing expedition, which came to an abrupt halt around four o’clock, when Fortnum and Mason hove into view. Fifty frenzied minutes and several hundred pounds later, Mandy transported the massive pile of food back to the house, whereupon Lina proved that she could eat enough to make it look like she was smuggling a football under her tunic.



The next day, Lina found the last piece to complete her sense of self. The Umbridge family heirlooms included a small collection of swords, and one of them was just the right weight and length for her. With Mandy’s help she converted one of the spare rooms into a salle d’armes, and set about getting the competence with the weapon that she knew she should have.

And so it went for the next few weeks. Aside from the occasional trip out to pick up the clothes they had put on order, and a few hours spent relaxing in the park across the street, they kept mainly to the house. Lina and Harry practised the less-destructive spells in their repertoire, and the transformation between their identities; unfortunately the trick of apparition eluded them for the moment. They worked out, both general exercises and at the pell Lina made for sword practice. Time was spent learning about the mores, politics, and personalities of the magical world; from books, the Daily Prophet, and Mandy’s own experience. Sometimes they would help Mandy with her redecorating project. Mandy and Lina came up with a design for the new House Inverse crest, and for the livery that Mandy was soon wearing.

Then the 24th of July rolled around...



“Master Harry! Master Harry!”

Lina sheathed her sword, and relinquished control to Harry, who turned to meet the excited house-elf. “What’s up, Mandy?”

“It’s here, Master Harry! Your Hogwarts letter has arrived!”

To be continued...

Oh dear... Harry is about to come onto various people’s radar. And what about the Last Umbridge?

Also: obligatory breakfast menu, and not a hash brown nor biscuits and gravy in sight. (”Dumpling” in this case refers to the Scottish clootie dumpling, which is a high-suet-content fruit pudding, and utterly delicious when fried.) I personally would never have all that for breakfast at the same time (not kippers, beans, kidneys...), but fourteen of those items together make for an excellent start to the day.