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The following story is a collaboration by the members at SAYS featuring the Black family in a series of one-shot chapters. On behalf of the staff, we hope that you enjoy the hard work that each of the authors, betas and graphic artists put into this.

The Bequest by Horatio

Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R. and all the characters in this piece belong to JK Rowling. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story is subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made or sought for this work.

Prologue: London, January 18, 1921

Phineas Black sat at his small untidy desk located in the back corner of his equally small and untidy one-bedroom flat. He re-read, for the third time, the letter in his hand. It had just been delivered to him by owl messenger. An event unusual enough in itself, since he could not recall the last time he had received anything by owl messenger. Certainly he was a wizard, a powerful one by some reckonings, but it had been many years since he had used his magic. It was not necessary in the muggle world where he had lived for the past twenty years. He still had his wand, but he rarely saw the need to use it, save for the few times he utilized his innate Animagus ability to become a raven when he wanted to get away for awhile by flying high over the city. Even then he only used his wand to ensure that he did not end up as a snack for some overeager predator.

The letter was on official letterhead from the highly respected and well-established wizard solicitors firm of Bentley, Snard & Crupett. He remembered that this firm had been the solicitors for the Black family for many years. His family, but then again, not his family for the same twenty year span that he had been living as a muggle. He had not had any communications from anyone connected with the Black family for that entire time period. Therefore, initially, he had been surprised when he had received this letter.

The letter informed him that his mother, Ursula Flint Black, was dead. She had died this weekend past and the letter writer, one Bernard T. Gravally Esq. (obviously one of the junior members of the firm) was requesting his presence at the memorial service, which was to be followed immediately thereafter with the formal reading of his mother’s Last Will and Testament.

Apparently, Phineas was mentioned in this document. He could not understand why, as his mother had stood by and done nothing when he was cast out of the Black family by his father, the great and noble Phineas Nigellus Black, the head of the Black family and, at that time, the Headmaster of Hogwarts School. The man to whom, to his ever-lasting shame and regret, Phineas owed his first name; although, to his few friends in the muggle world, he was simply known as Phin .

His mother had never contacted him since that day. Why then, he wondered, would she mention him in her will? It did not matter; he was not going to find out. He had no intention of attending the memorial service or the reading of the will. That part of his life was behind him and he had no wish to re-visit it.

Chapter One: January 22, 1921

“I is very sorry, sir, but the memorial service is restricted to family members only,” squeaked the tiny house elf who had opened the door of the private Wizarding funeral home.

“I am family,” was the succinct reply from the tall, gaunt, dark haired man standing on the steps by the door.

“Your name, sir?”

“Phineas Black”

The elf started back in surprise for he knew of only one man by that name and this man standing before him was definitely not that man.

“Phineas Black Junior,” the man added.

“I is not aware that Headmaster Black is having a son named after him,” the elf, who was charged with keeping out the public, continued in as defiant a tone as he could muster in the face of a wizard he had never seen before.

“He has done his best over the years to make sure that this fact is not widely known,” Phineas replied in a tone which revealed the dislike he held for the person he was claiming to be his father.

“I is sorry again, sir, but unless you is a known family member, I is forbidden to let you in.” The elf continued to stand his ground in the entrance.

“Look, I am here to pay my respects to my mother. I was not permitted to see her for the past twenty years of her life. I am going to see her now that she is gone forever.”

Just then another man came striding up behind Phineas, who was intent on making his way into the funeral home. As the man moved to go around the other two standing in the doorway, he glanced over at Phineas’ face and stopped short. Before he could think of anything else to say, he blurted out,

“What are you doing here?”

“Coming from you, Sirius that seems like a stupid question” was Phineas’ terse reply. “Is it not obvious? I have come to pay my last respects to mother.”

“She’s my mother. She stopped being yours a long time ago.”

“Only because you were too cowardly to resist our father’s ridiculous notions of what our family should represent.”

“How dare you stand there and talk like that about the man who gave you life!”

“My mother gave me life. My father has done nothing but try to take what little I had, back.”

“You didn’t feel that way while we were both growing up together under his roof in the lap of luxury.”

“I was young and stupid and, if I recall correctly, it was always you who enjoyed the luxury, I had to settle for whatever you deigned to leave behind, all because you were the oldest.”

“Are you going to start that again?” Sirius replied, clearly exasperated with what he felt was an old and tiresome subject.

“That’s because you never let me forget it,” Phineas declared. “I am your twin brother and, fortunately for me, not identical. And all for the sake of ten minutes lead time, our father always made it plain to me that you were the oldest, the heir to the family crest, the apple of his eye.”

“It would seem he was correct in his assessment of your worth, since it is clear that you have not maintained a lifestyle befitting a member of my family.” Sirius added with a sneer, while eyeing the threadbare and well worn dress robes Phineas was wearing.

“My clothing has not come at the cost of my conscience and my honor,” Phineas bitterly replied. “I am able to hold my head up high. I can’t say the same for you.”

“You’re lucky that father has already been here and gone. Otherwise he’d make sure you wouldn’t be standing anywhere near this place.”

“Why do you think I’m coming in now? After he left, I had to wait till the air was clear of his stench.”

With that, Phineas briskly elbowed his way past the house elf, leaving a clearly flustered and angry Sirius standing in the doorway.

Chapter Two:

Phineas could not understand why he was there, standing before his mother’s open coffin. He had had every intention of ignoring the summons to attend this service. He remembered that, at one time, he had loved this person very much, but now he had no feelings for the small, wizened aged figure lying in the coffin before him; all that was left of his mother, Ursula Flint Black. The years had apparently not been kind to her. He also remembered her as a woman of grace and dignity, but he had a hard time seeing where any of that grace or dignity remained. Just then he heard a commotion behind him and he turned in time to see a tall, elderly and distinguished looking man barge into the room.

“How dare you sully the memory of my wife with your presence?” the man shouted as he approached Phineas. “You have no right to be here. Be gone before I have you thrown out.”

“Hello father,” Phineas responded in a tone which clearly indicated that he had as little desire to be in this man’s presence as did the former to be in his. “I was summoned here by the family’s solicitors. I had every intention of ignoring the summons, but apparently there must be some magic involved which compelled my attendance.”

Before Phineas Nigellus Black Sr. could reply, another well-dressed and somber looking man stepped forward to interrupt.

“He is correct, Headmaster Black. I requested his attendance for the formal reading of your wife’s Last Will and Testament. I am Mr. Bernard. Gravally and I am the representative of your solicitors, Bentley, Snard & Crupett.”

“What, possibly, could my wife’s Will have to say about this person?” queried Headmaster Black, with a dismissive wave of his hand in Phineas’ direction. “He is not a member of our family. He is nothing.”

“I am sorry, Headmaster Black,” Mr. Gravally indicated, “but your son’s presence was required by your wife’s will.”

“HE IS NOT MY SON!” shouted Headmaster Black, clearly agitated.

“If it makes you feel any better, I, too, was revolted by Mr. Gravally’s indication of my relationship to you,” Phineas added with a smirk on his face. “I want nothing to do with you or your family.”

“Then why don’t you leave?”

“I would but, apparently, the magic requires me to stay until after the will is read.”

“He is correct, Headmaster Black,” Mr. Gravally stated firmly. “It is rare magic, but not unheard of. It would seem that your wife wanted your son … I mean this gentle-wizard to be here when her will is read.”

“Well, read it then, so he can leave as soon as possible,” growled Headmaster Black.

Chapter Three:

The group was gathered around a large table in a spacious and formal back office located in the funeral home. Phineas had situated himself at the other side of the table, as far as he could be from the other members of the Black family. Aside from Headmaster Black and his brother, Sirius, he saw his younger brothers, Arcturus and Cygnus, together with his sister, Belvina. He had not seen any of them for many years and, as far as he was concerned, he would have been just as happy if this sighting had been postponed indefinitely.

So far, the reading had not mentioned him in any way and now it seemed as if the entire document had been read. Why, then, was he required to be here? It would seem that Headmaster Black shared Phineas’ puzzlement, for he gruffly addressed Mr. Gravally.

“The entire will has been read and it makes no mention of that man,” he said, frowning in Phineas’ direction. “It is time for him to leave.”

“I am sorry, Headmaster, but the entire will has not yet been read. There is still the matter of the codicil.”

“What codicil? There is nothing left on the document,” stated Headmaster Black gesturing at the formal will document laying face up on the table.

“Yes, sir, that is what we thought when we first reviewed the document, but upon closer inspection the codicil was revealed,” Mr. Gravally replied.

With that he uttered the words, “Revellum Legacum” and, in a neat and clean handwritten script, the following words appeared on the bottom portion of the will, apparently written long after the rest of the document was prepared.

I, Ursula Flint Black, add the following to my will:

During my lifetime, I have been magically compelled to avoid and ignore my son, Phineas Black Junior. This has been done against my wishes, by my husband, Phineas Nigellus Black, and I am now able to reveal that he has done this to me because I understand this document only takes effect after I die and my magical compulsion dies with me.

Phineas, I am so very sorry for what has been done to you. I never agreed with my husband’s choice to expel you from our family. I never wanted to ignore you all this time and I have never stopped loving you, even when I did not always agree with you. I was proud of your willingness to stand up to your father and come to the defense of your Aunt Isla. I was proud of your courage to stand up for your convictions regarding muggles and your belief in their rights. Unfortunately, my husband was not above using dark and ugly magic to achieve his desires and he subjected me to a charm which has compelled me to comply with his wishes to disown you.

I can never repay the debt of despair and regret this has caused you and me during my lifetime, but now that I am gone, I can do what I can to enable you to live more comfortably for the rest of your days, even if it is in a muggle world.

I, therefore, revoke all previous bequests and gifts contained in this will and declare that my son, Phineas Black Junior, is to receive my entire estate for whatever purpose he may wish to use it. Furthermore, given that I have always maintained my own separate assets in the Flint family vault at Gringotts, I bequeath the entire contents of such vault to my son, Phineas Black Junior.

I do this not because I love my other children any less than I love Phineas, but because he has been dealt a severe and unfair injustice and my other children have enjoyed, and continue to enjoy, the benefits of Black family membership during their lifetimes.

Again, I am sorry, Phineas. Always remember that you were loved.

June 12, 1904

Ursula Flint Black

Epilogue: December 16, 1921

Phineas stepped out of the Wizengamot Court of Probate where the codicil to his mother’s will had finally been upheld by the court. Apparently, it qualified as a legal holograph codicil (amendment to a will) since it was signed, dated and written entirely in his mother’s own handwriting. It had taken almost a year of court battles, but in the end, he had been entirely successful. His mother’s estate was now his and it was a sizable estate. He was grateful to his mother for having made it possible for him to live comfortably for the rest of his life, but upon further reflection, Phineas realized that the best part of her bequest was the discovery his mother had never really abandoned him. He had been loved, after all.

Phineas looked over and spied his father as he exited from the courtroom, obviously very upset with the outcome. Phineas stepped back into a secluded alcove and changed into his raven form. The next day, he was delighted to see the photograph of his father on the front page of The Daily Prophet , angrily cleaning off the bird droppings from the shoulders of his robes.

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