In this World and the Next

Not for Weasley fans, dark beginning and rating is for safety. A Re-do with payback on the menu H/Hr Complete

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5627314/1/In-this-World-and-the-Next

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19. Chapter 19

Albus maintained his stern expression but inside, the old wizard was doing his happy dance for the first time in months. This was his chance to get something on the Potters, the first chink in their armour. There was no way they could avoid punishment for this, unless the decided to play things his way. Only Dumbledore's vast experience prevented these feelings from showing as he dealt with Minerva and Remus in his office.

"I'm sorry Minerva, I must take action. Young Draco could have died hanging from that tower, either from the weight of those bats or exposure to the elements. The entire school knows who was responsible for this and the Potters must be punished accordingly."

Remus had recently undergone his transformation and was therefore in no mood to swallow shit from anyone, "Just as 'everyone' knew Sirius Black was guilty so no questions were asked, no charges pressed and no trial needed. Let's just punish the guilty because 'everyone' knows they did it. You have already made up your mind they're guilty and can't wait to regain some of your power over them. Is it any wonder our society is in the state it's in when you were head of the judicial process and headmaster of the school who teaches the children that this is the correct way to go about proceedings?"

Minerva attempted to placate Remus, he was getting close to the stage where it could cost him his job and she certainly didn't want that to happen. "Albus, you are correct. Had Draco been hanging off that tower all night, he would have been dead before morning. Poppy said that the bats alone would have killed him after six or seven hours, the cold last night could have affected that time but he most definitely would have been dead by morning."

Albus couldn't figure out where Minerva was going with this but was sure he wouldn't like it. He didn't have long to wait though.

"Judging from Draco's condition, Poppy estimates the boy had been hanging there for about thirty minutes, certainly under an hour. Once we had him cleaned up, all that was physically wrong with the lad was some muscle strains that Poppy fixed in a jiffy."

Dumbledore's happy dance just waltzed into a brick wall, he felt like a four year old being told sweets were bad for you.

Remus wasn't in the mood for letting the old wizard off the hook though, "I, and a few hundred others, can swear on the locations of Harry and Hermione in that time period. They were sitting in the great hall, enjoying their breakfast with their friends during that time."

Albus was now whining in his disappointment, "But they had to be responsible for it, why else would beater bats be used?"

Remus at the moment wasn't caring about his job, one friend had already been sent to prison for something he didn't do. He wasn't about to stand back and watch Harry and Hermione fall into this man's clutches for something there was no proof they actually carried out. "Like Pettigrew, perhaps the real culprit wants to focus the attention elsewhere. Embarrassing Draco while implicating the Potters would be a very Slytherin thing to do. Come to think of it headmaster, what time did you come down to breakfast this morning?"

Albus was totally taken aback by this switch of focus, "Surely you don't suspect me?"

Remus pressed ahead, "Well you have been in dispute with the Potters almost from the moment they walked in the door. You are also the subject of a legal investigation they are bringing against you. Off the top of my head, I can't think of anyone who would more like to see the Potters guilty than you. There is also as much evidence against you as there is against them."

Albus was up on his feet, "That is the most preposterous thing I've ever heard. There is not one shred of evidence linking me with this act, far less to suggest I would do such a thing."

Remus smiled at an enraged Dumbledore, "As I said, the same amount of evidence as against the Potters. Not one shred!"

Albus sat back down dejectedly, elbows on the desk with his face resting in his hands. All his happy thoughts disappearing like wisps of smoke in the October breeze.

Both Remus and Minerva took this to mean that this meeting was now over and headed out the door. At the bottom of the spiral staircase, Minerva asked the question that they both knew the answer to. "So, do you have any doubts that the Potters were responsible for Mr Draco's misfortune?"

Remus gave a low chuckle before replying, "None whatsoever, he's his father's son. What would James have done if Lily had been threatened like that?"

Minerva gave an involuntary shudder, "The school might not have survived. Harry appears to have a great deal more finesse than his father. James, ably assisted by his close friends, would have started a war!"

Remus saw his thoughts wander along a similar route. "I have to say though I'm impressed, he's already outshining the marauders and he's only a first year. The fact that he's friendly with the Weasley twins doesn't bode well for your future peace of mind either Minerva. Yes, both twins were at breakfast this morning. They were far too busy trying to pretend they didn't have a brother in Slytherin to be involved in anything else. Their faces when he took those plums out of that cup and started eating them was memorable."

Minerva knew it was wrong to laugh at students but she just couldn't help letting a few chuckles escape.

"Harry has hung a warning sign from the highest tower that you don't mess with a Potter, hopefully it will be enough to dissuade anyone else from being silly in the future. If you hadn't been there that night Minerva, I'm positive there would have been blood on the walls. There's no way they would have disarmed those two if you hadn't happened to have been right behind them."

Minerva had originally thought she had been there that evening to protect two of her lion cubs, now she wasn't so sure. She could only hope this warning proved enough to deter anyone else, Poppy really didn't need the extra business.

-oOoOo-

Ron Weasley was one worried Slytherin, there were definitely others in the same position but he didn't care about them. There was no room for doubt in his, or anyone else's mind who had dangled Draco off the astronomy tower. The all-important question though was, would Ronald Weasley be next?

He had already decided to stay well away from the Potters but Draco dripping piss for everyone's amusement took Ron's commitment on that decision to a whole different level. He didn't want to be in the same country as those two, far less the same castle. His mother had sent him a letter, imploring him to be careful and stay out of trouble before telling him he would be spending Christmas in Cairo with them.

Ron intended to obey her instructions to the letter and then beg on bended knee for the chance not to return to Hogwarts. He didn't care how hard or bad things were in Cairo, they couldn't be as bad as the image of Draco almost drowning in his own piss while everyone laughed. One of Ron's main missions in life was now to avoid that at all costs, his other was to retain the ability to pee while standing up. He recognised those weren't particularly ambitious goals to aim for but they would do him for now, once he got out of this place he could look toward a Potter free future.

-oOoOo-

Harry and Hermione had been on the receiving end of some pretty strange stares all day so were actually quite relieved when Quidditch practice started. That relief was short lived as the twins teased Harry mercilessly about leaving stuff just hanging around the castle and didn't he know some stains were incredibly difficult to take out?

It wasn't until they were alone in their room that night that the young couple could relax.

"Dobby!"

The little elf appeared and found himself instantly engulfed in hugs from his master and mistress.

"Dobby, that was amazing!"

The little fellow was exceedingly happy, "I found him asleep in the corridor, exactly where you said he would be. Bad former young master spent the night in the room Harry Potter told Dobby about. Dobby had to leave when they began searching but hoped bad former young master would wake up in time."

Hermione was gushing with praise for their little friend, "Dobby, it was perfect. You followed your instructions exactly and everyone saw us sitting in the hall for breakfast. You're the best Dobby!"

There were now tears running down the elf's cheeks. Dobby wasn't used to praise, more likely to being hit or cursed for his actions. Former young bad master had been the worst for that, calling on Dobby when he wanted to practice a new curse. Dobby now was in a good family. No, Dobby now was in a great family!

-oOoOo-

Wednesday was no better for the Potters, though there now at least was some respect contained in the stares directed at them.

Cedric warily approached the young couple, "Hello, I'm Cedric Diggory. I heard from my parents that you are our new neighbours, they insisted I introduce myself to you."

Harry warmly shook the older boy's offered hand, "Hi Cedric, I'm Harry and this is my wife Hermione. Pleased to meet you."

Cedric couldn't contain his chuckle, "Harry, I think that might qualify for the most unnecessary introduction ever. The entire school, no make that the entire wizarding community, know who you are."

Harry smiled back at the boy he refused to watch die again, "Actually Cedric, you would probably find that very few people know who we are. You are welcome to become one of those few. Our door will always be open and we have our own Quidditch pitch. Drop by anytime."

Cedric understood that, with these two, the invitation meant exactly what it said. He also understood that those invitations wouldn't be given out lightly. The comment about only a few knowing what they were like also made sense to Cedric, the couple were nothing like what he imagined they would be. "Thanks, I think I would like that so plan on seeing a lot of me over the holidays."

All three walked away happier with the beginnings of a new friendship.

Their extra defence class that evening was excruciating. Not because of any work they had to perform but because Remus and Tonks decided the world needed another comedy double act and they were it. The Auror and the Wolfman were really funny together, well everyone else was laughing. Everyone else though was not the subject of their entire act, that privilege was reserved exclusively for Harry and Hermione.

Tonks set the tone for the whole lesson when she arrived with a couple of giant inflatable clubs, that in itself was funny but when she hit someone with one and the club emitted a squeal terrifyingly similar to Draco's screaming, there were students on the floor with laughter. The purebloods had never seen anything like this and, as Tonks and Remus tried to out-do one another, Neville and Millie spent most of the lesson trying to hold each other up from laughing so much. Millie appeared to hold on longer and tighter than was strictly necessary.

Both Tonks and Remus were deliberately bringing the incident out into the open and poking fun at it, looking at the whole thing as a wonderful prank. They didn't want the situation to fester, go underground or escalate, they wanted it to end here and now.

It was also great to see a bunch of kids having some laughs while they learned and any remaining barriers of friendship crashed and burned.

Pansy Parkinson had been coaxed into attending and the giggling girl was now so glad she did. Since leaving Draco's shadow, Pansy had discovered a whole new world, a world where Pansy could be accepted as herself. This new revelation was thrilling and terrifying at the same time.

Daphne laughed at her fellow Slytherin's recent discovery, "It's alright Pansy, don't worry about it. The rest of us just reached the same conclusion a few weeks ago. It's like a muggle roller coaster, all you can do is strap yourself in and enjoy the experience."

After the lesson ended, Harry and Hermione found themselves being held behind. The time had passed so quickly that most people were heading straight for their common rooms anyway.

Remus was in a very good mood, it had been a full moon on Sunday and Tonks was still by his side. Not only that, the son of his best friend had pulled off a prank that the marauder couldn't even figure out how he'd done it. Now that was impressive.

"Ok you two, it's only us here now so would you care to tell us how you managed it? Sirius is currently like a dog with two tails!"

Harry gave Remus a knowing smile, "Remus, I have no wish to know what's going on between my godfather and Hestia. I am also prepared to swear that neither my wife nor I laid a finger or a wand on Draco."

This statement had the marauder puzzled as the couple left the classroom, Hermione popped her head back into the room. "Let's just say we had a little help and leave it at that."

When her final remark sunk into Remus, he sunk to the floor while howling with laughter.

Tonks shook her head at her boyfriend and hit him with the inflatable club, "Ok lover, care to share?"

Remus was even happier at those words, "Always! Let's just say the person who served us food all day Saturday might just have served up Draco like a ham hung to dry."

Tonks was now laughing just as hard with the irony of that situation, she had to answer her boyfriend though. ""Ok, I don't think he was hung up there to dry, quite the opposite in fact."

The laughter coming from the room was not as unusual as it had been, Hogwarts was once more becoming a happy school.

-oOoOo-

Draco No-Name was bucking that trend, the blond boy was by no means happy. He was now the laughing stock of the entire school and below even Weasley in his house's standings. He had attempted a big play and lost spectacularly, and even worse for a Slytherin he'd been caught red-handed.

To then have a big play masterfully run against you by your intended targets was rubbing your nose in it! What really scared Draco though was that he had no memory of what had happened to him. Madam Pomfrey had run a scan on him to see if his memory had been altered, it came back negative.

That meant someone had taken out Draco so effectively, he didn't even know it had been done. There was also the knowledge that he had been at the mercy of these people all night. They could have killed Draco as easily as swatting one of those Scottish midges that so loved his blood during the summer months.

It was hard for Draco to admit he was outclassed here, it was also a necessity. He would heed his warning because he feared it would be his last. Draco would be staying the hell away from the Potters from now on and forever more.

He may not have a lot going for him at the moment but at least he was still alive, Draco intended to stay that way for a very long time.

-oOoOo-

It was a group of excited first years who made their way along Diagon Alley, they were shepherded along toward Gringotts by Minerva, Filius and Remus. They had no sooner entered when the group found their guides for the day waiting on them, both Harry and Hermione quickly recognised one of the goblins.

"Good morning everyone, my name is Griphook and I will be leading the team who will guide you around our bank today. We shall briefly cover the part of Gringotts that most of you are familiar with before moving behind the counters and discovering that Gringotts is more than a bank. For us, it is now our way of life."

They were then given a short explanation of what took place here in the public eye. Deposits, currency exchange, appraisal of items and withdrawals or arranging to visit your vault. They then moved into a classroom environment where there were forms waiting on each desk.

Griphook stood at the front of the 'class' and offered an explanation of this part of today's proceedings. "For this group, and today only, Gringotts are waiving their usual fees involved in setting up a vault and accessing it by other means than a cart ride. Lord Potter has also generously offered to provide the ten galleons required as the minimum deposit for an account of this type."

Griphook held up a black bag and a plastic card, "Each account comes with one of these included. The bag will allow you to remove monies from your account up to the amount you have deposited. The card does basically the same but has the advantage of being less conspicuous in the muggle world."

Justin held his hand respectfully in the air, displaying the universal sign that he wished to ask a question. Griphook nodded in his direction.

"Sir, could this be used in the muggle world to convert currency from one form to another?"

Their lessons with professor Flitwick were already paying dividends, they recognised that the fierce look coming from the goblin was in fact a sign he was happy, by no means could it ever be considered what they understood as a smile!

"That is a very astute observation young sir, indeed it can. If any of you are muggle borns, your parents can pay sterling into your vaults at the counters and it will then be converted into whatever currency you require via the bag or card."

This wasn't what Justin meant but was a very welcome additional bonus, "My family are going to the States next summer, would this work for Dollars?"

Griphook's fierce expression intensified, "If your family paid in their spending money to an account like this, it would be available to them via a card or bag in any currency they needed. Gringotts takes a small charge for this service but our exchange rates are always better than the muggle versions. As you are all magical, your parents can use Gringotts as their bank irrespective of whether they themselves are magical."

Hermione now had her hand up and Griphook indicated she should speak, "My parents have sold their business and now their house using Gringotts as their bank. Dad said the tax breaks alone have saved him thousands! The goblins are now investing some of that money for him and he expects to make a good return on it. Between that and the interest on his savings, dad thinks they'll make nearly as much profit as they did when still working."

This really opened the muggle born's eyes to the possibilities being offered here, Justin though was still cautious. "What about security sir?"

Griphook actually laughed, "Oh Filius, I like this one! You ask all the right questions young sir. The security protecting the vaults we shall cover later, can I assume you meant the card and bag?" at his nod, Griphook continued. "Either the bag or card will be linked to an individual by a single drop of their blood, this locks the item to you and only you. Anyone else trying to use it will see it disappear."

Griphook glanced in Harry's direction and was delighted to see him nod in acceptance of his unasked request.

Harry took out his wallet and clearly said, "Fifty Dollars." He was then able to take the correct notes out of it. He tossed his wallet over to Justin who followed the exact same procedure, the wallet vanished from his hands. All eyes then returned to Harry who calmly removed his wallet from the pocket it had returned to and replaced the fifty dollars back inside it.

Justin was not the only one who was impressed but he was definitely the loudest in his enthusiasm. "That is so cool, I have got to get me one of those!"

Griphook was enjoying himself now, something he would not have believed before the day started. He had originally dreaded this assignment but witches and wizards being respectful and attentive was a new experience for the goblin. "The same would happen if someone tried to use the card in a shop or ATM, it would appear to those who saw this as if the machine had retained the card while it made its way back to its rightful owner. If you wish to use this opportunity to open an account today, please indicate on your form if you would prefer a bag or card. It is always possible to upgrade an account or have a bag or card added to it at a later date." Griphook didn't need to add that extra service wouldn't be free. This was a bright bunch of students and after all, Gringotts was a bank.

As quills were speeding over application forms, Griphook drafted in some help to get these new accounts processed. Very few of the children already had vaults with Gringotts, those that did had the option of tying a card or money pouch to it for free.

It was an excited group of children who exited the room clutching the keys to their new vaults and card or money pouch. Griphook had just been handed a note that had him trembling. "We have just been invited to the Gringotts boardroom to meet Ragnok."

A stunned Filius quickly explained the significance to the students, "This is a tremendous honour. Ragnok is the leader of the goblin nation, I myself have never met him in person."

"Neither have I!" Added a very nervous Griphook. He led his charges toward a room he'd never previously entered.

When Harry had heard 'boardroom', he had pictured in his head a large table with seats around it. Nothing had prepared him for the goblin version. All illusions that they were in a bank ended as they stepped inside the chamber, it was so much more than a room. Here was the goblin's centre of government.

Gone was the white marble of the public façade, this room appeared to be hewn out of black granite that had red flecks through it. A case could be made for the room being grown, it actually appeared more organic than manufactured. The room was oval in shape and with a curved ceiling, it was hard to tell where walls ended and the ceiling began. All the lighting was provided by flaming torches that were spaced around the chamber, throwing out as much shadow as they did light. There were about thirty stone chairs that more resembled thrones, spaced amongst the flickering torches, and it was on one of these a very imposing goblin sat awaiting their entrance.

They had to walk around the side of the chamber as the centre was a sunken pit in the polished stone floor, it was about a meter deep with a sandy bottom. Professor Flitwick had told them that disputes between antagonists could still be settled by combat, Harry had no problem imagining this happening here. The whole thing screamed 'duelling arena' to Harry, fighting with bladed weapons by torchlight must be terrifying.

One glance at the figure who could only be Ragnok convinced Harry this was one duel he wanted no part of. The Goblin sat wearing a highly decorative metal breastplate and had the most deadly looking axe he'd ever seen in his hand. This was no dandy though, the breastplate appeared strong enough to stop anything less than an anti-tank rocket and Harry would bet money the vicious looking axe was razor sharp.

Both Griphook and professor Flitwick bowed to the leader. Harry saw this and copied their action, the rest of the students took their lead from him and further surprised the goblin leader by doing the same.

Ragnok was not only amazed by this, he felt honour bound to return the gesture. The slight bow that he gave in return was his first since becoming goblin leader.

"Young students of Hogwarts, you do me, my people and your school great honour today. Not merely by your visit but your willingness to learn and leave any prejudices outside our doors. It gives me great pleasure to welcome you today to Gringotts, as you can now see, it is more than a bank to the goblin nation. I am delighted to take this opportunity to meet you all and will try and answer any questions you may have."

Susan Bones was first to recover from meeting the goblin leader and raised her hand. Her arm might be shaking with fear but she still held it up there. "Sir, all we learn about goblins in school concerns rebellions. After being here today, it's easy to see there is so much more to learn. It's also true that all our money is in your bank, why would we do that if we didn't trust goblins?"

Ragnok's laugh was deep and genuine, it reverberated off the smooth walls. "Young miss, you have just cut straight to the heart of the problem. Generations of witches and wizards have grown up distrusting my people. This is by no means a one-way track as a majority of goblins probably share those feelings toward magical folk. That's why I was so pleased to grant Lord Potter's request. There hasn't been a battle between our peoples for centuries but trust can be a very hard thing to build. Today I hope we are laying the first of our foundations toward that goal."

Minerva spoke for all of them, "Sir, I would like to thank you for your hospitality here today and say I too share your ambitions and goals. These children have benefited immensely from all three visits they have undertaken and it's something Hogwarts are looking to continue with future new students."

Ragnok was obviously pleased to hear this, "Professor McGonagall, all I will say is that Gringotts will look favourably on any request from Hogwarts made by yourself."

No one missed the fact that Dumbledore's name wasn't mentioned, Minerva got the impression that Albus wouldn't get the time of day from Gringotts.

Ragnok led them through an opening in the wall that simply appeared as he approached it, he took them down a corridor toward a facility where they trained goblin security guards. He explained that they were forbidden by the ministry to have an army or soldiers but encouraged to have 'security guards' to guard the wizard's gold.

This raised more than a few sniggers amongst the children at the stupidity of this rule. What they saw next just reinforced that view and also convinced them their money would be safe in Gringotts.

There were about twenty goblins training with all sorts of wicked looking weapons and they weren't holding anything back! They moved with such grace though it could have been mistaken for some carefully choreographed deadly goblin dance without any music. That might have been believable except for the force that blows were raining down on raised shields, this may be only a practice but it was still a battle. There was no attempt made to involve Harry this time for which both he and Hermione were very thankful.

Lunch was a very happy affair, there were some witches and wizards who worked for the goblins so they were well versed in supplying suitable nourishment. It was hard to miss though that every student took at least one item from the goblin fare on offer as well. Filius couldn't contain his smile at his students' willingness to experience other cultures.

After lunch, one or two of those students were wishing they hadn't. carts were soon whizzing them through the underground tunnels at breakneck speeds. Neville found himself wishing for the restraints of the muggle roller coasters, Millie though was doing an excellent job of making sure he wasn't going anywhere. She had a strong grip on him and no intention of letting go.

After everyone was taken to visit their own vault, and given an overview of the security involved in keeping their savings safe, the group once more congregated together at another location to see the dragons.

Harry had of course, been up-close and personal with a dragon before. Hermione was remembering this as she wrapped her arms protectively around her husband. There were lots of 'oh's', 'ah's' and 'wow's as they watched the spectacle of some young dragons being trained by a few careful goblins. That something as small as them could control something that size and that deadly would be one of the most abiding memories of that wonderful day.

When the group finally made its way back to the Leaky Cauldron, Harry and Hermione said goodbye to their friends before portkeying home. With Halloween fast approaching, a weekend where they could just relax and be kids along with Luna and Ginny was exactly what they needed. There would be plenty of excitement soon enough.

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