Harry Crow

What will happen when a goblin-raised Harry arrives at Hogwarts. A Harry who has received training, already knows the prophecy and has no scar. With the backing of the goblin nation and Hogwarts herself. Complete.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8186071/1/Harry-Crow

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20. A Pair of Bones Trumps a Pair of Bartys

Christmas Eve with the Grangers had been planned to the last detail. After breakfast, they were all heading into London to spend the day sightseeing - with definitely some shopping along the way. Harry slipping Padma some spending cash would have gone unnoticed if the girl hadn't threw her arms around him in thanks. Dan and Emma were intending to pick up the tab for everything today though, having saved a small fortune by switching their banking to Gringotts.

They began at the Marble Arch end of Oxford Street, admiring the Christmas lights and the stores. By the time they were having their lunch in a fast food outlet at Oxford Circus, Padma and Harry had been supplied with multiple items of muggle clothing from the many stores they had stopped in. Padma was a bit like a kid in a sweet shop, her eyes never stopped moving as she attempted to take everything in, while Emma was still struggling with the concept that all their shopping was currently stored in the book-bag Harry wore.

Hermione and Harry were delighted to be eating burgers, it meant that they could still hold hands while having their lunch. The crowds on Oxford Street made their usual activity of walking arm in arm really difficult, Hermione solved the problem by grabbing his hand. Both had enjoyed the contact and the only time they had been separated since was when one of them went into a changing room to try on clothes.

The sightseeing / shopping continued down Regent Street to Piccadilly Circus, from there it was a short hop to Trafalgar Square and the biggest Christmas Tree in London. The antique nativity scene in the glassed-in display also took some explaining before they headed off down The Strand.

Somerset House is a magnificent building, seeing many uses in its four hundred and fifty year history. It could be argued that one of the worst uses was as an Inland Revenue office - nobody likes to pay taxes. There could be no argument though that the group were seeing it at one of its best today.

An ice rink filed the lower courtyard, with sparkling lights, hanging decorations and a beautiful Christmas Tree all adding to the strikingly festive sight. There were small decorated huts selling wares and a large cafe spread along one entire side of the rink. It was to here Dan and Emma gravitated while Hermione dragged her two now reluctant friends toward the skate hire kiosk.

Both parents sipped their hot chocolate while watching the trio take to the ice. Hermione had skated since she was about seven so had no trouble on the slippery surface. Harry's grace and athleticism seemed to help as he soon mastered the basics of staying upright. Poor Padma though appeared to spend more time on her bum than actually skating. Now that Harry was mobile, he and Hermione each took one of Padma's arms and the trio were soon making their wobbly way around the rink.

The three friends who later ran up to Dan and Emma all wore that look only achievable by kids having fun in the cold - red cheeks, sparkling eyes and wide smiles. After more hot chocolate all round, they then made their way over to Covent Garden where Dan had already reservations booked at a lovely Italian restaurant. It was a happy and certainly full bunch who caught the train back to Crawley.

It was on the train home Hermione asked a question that had just occurred to her. "Mum, dad, are we going to church tonight?"

Emma and Dan had talked this over, and decided to give it a miss. "No honey, with Harry and Padma not celebrating Christmas, we were..."

Dan never got to say any more as Harry interrupted. "Excuse me, Dan, please don't change your normal celebrations because of us. We would both be delighted to come along - that's if we're allowed?"

Hermione squeezed his hand, since it was still held in hers. "Everyone's allowed in church, Harry. We usually go to the midnight service on Christmas Eve, do you really want to come?"

It was actually Padma who answered. "I certainly want to go, I hope to experience as much of this way of life as possible."

Plans were quickly made to go home and just chill for a few hours before getting ready for church, Hermione was soon advising both her friends what clothes they had bought today would be suitable for the occasion. An occasion they were now all looking forward to.

-oOoOo-

Amelia wasn't looking forward to telling Susan she was going to be working over Christmas. She had really missed her niece since the young witch left for Hogwarts, and was not happy about missing Christmas with her only family. That had also been her dilemma when arranging her response to those photographs. Amelia needed people she could trust at her side but also required the entire situation to be kept ultra quiet. If someone had a spouse and kids, keeping it quiet that they had a mission on Christmas Day would be so much harder to do. Gossip like that would be all over the ministry in no time.

This led her to take the potentially dangerous decision of keeping her team small, she was banking heavily on the element of surprise. Amelia had no intention of telling her team of just four aurors what they were going to be doing, not until they were ready to leave on the actual mission.

The Head of the DMLE understood she was putting her career on the line here. Barty would demand, and certainly get, her head on a silver salver if she didn't pull this off properly. They needed to catch Barty Junior or she was ruined. That the same convicted, and supposedly deceased, death eater assisted in placing two aurors in the permanent spell damage ward of St. Mungo's was all the motivation Amelia needed to undertake this high risk plan. Frank and Alice Longbottom never got the chance to sit and have dinner with their boy, she fully intended that the Crouch father and son would both pay for their crimes.

She had also taken Barchoke's answer to heart and did some quiet digging herself into the trial of Sirius Black, Amelia was astonished to find - absolutely nothing! She didn't want to alert anyone until they had both young and old Barty wrapped up but Amelia certainly intended looking into the matter further once that was achieved.

A quiet word with Minerva regarding Barchoke's character had produced a surprisingly positive result. The Hogwarts Deputy Headmistress' answer of 'a devoted father who would do anything to help and protect his son' was rather unexpected. She needed to know just how Sirius Black fitted into this picture, and exactly what the goblins were actually after.

-oOoOo-

They were making their way home from church, an occasion Harry and Padma had thoroughly enjoyed. "I really liked the nativity play, it helped explain things I was struggling with. The children seemed to have such fun doing it too."

The mischief was twinkling in Dan's eyes as he couldn't resist a gentle jibe. "Didn't Hermione tell you, Harry? She made her acting debut in the church nativity play a few years ago..."

"Daaad, I was six!"

This memory had Emma smiling, "Yes, but even then Hermione knew what she wanted. She was cast as one of the three wise men, but insisted it should be a wise woman."

Any teasing to be done and Padma wanted to be part of it, she did decide to cut Hermione a break though. "It could have been worse, Hermione. That wee boy who was supposed to be a sheep spent the entire time waving to his mum and dad, I had to bite my lip to save from laughing."

Harry also came to his best friend's rescue. "Well I would love to have seen Hermione in the play, and think she was right about the wise woman bit too."

Emma thought this was really cute but Dan liked his mischief. "Oh don't worry, Harry, we have plenty of pictures of Hermione in the play - along with Hundreds of others you should see..."

"Daaaad..." was soon followed by the sound of laughter, this looked like being a very merry Christmas in the Granger household.

-oOoOo-

Harry was wakened by a hyper-excited Hermione bouncing on his bed. "I know we weren't going to exercise today but I woke at our usual time and am far too excited to go back to sleep. Merry Christmas, Harry." She bent and kissed his cheek at that, causing both of them to blush.

Unsure of what to say, Harry fell back on routine. "You want to practice swords in the back garden?"

By way of an answer, Hermione gave him a hug before shooting out the room to change into appropriate clothing.

Dan was dragged from his slumber by the unusual sound of thwack - thwack noises emanating from the back garden, he hauled himself from his nice warm bed to look out the window. He was still standing there ten minutes later when his wife's arms snaked around his waist from behind, her 'Merry Christmas' went unanswered.

He couldn't take his eyes off their daughter. "I can't believe that's the same girl we sent off to school in September, she seems to have grown so much..."

"Probably because she has, mainly in confidence. I think she's going to grow into an outstanding young woman, with friends who will be there for her throughout the journey."

They watched fascinated as the pair swapped between defence and offence, probing for weaknesses in their opponents. Hermione had always been a willing pupil at anything she put her mind to, watching the concentration on her face as she parried and shielded Harry's attacks was something to behold. It was compulsive viewing and kept both Grangers at the window until they were finished exercising. Now it was time to get breakfast ready before they settled down for presents.

-oOoOo-

Susan was also up early, she wanted to have some time with her aunt before they both had to leave. She was heading over to spend Christmas Day with her best friend, Hannah's parents knew from long experience not to ask too many questions as to why her Aunt Amelia had to go into the ministry today.

Harry had told Susan his father wouldn't have used the word 'urgent' if it hadn't been very important, a sense of urgency would be the best way to describe auntie since her return from Gringotts. The young Hufflepuff had watched with the rest of the class that day Harry had taken down Lucius Malfoy, she had no doubt both Harry and her aunt were on the same side. Susan knew she was being selfish but she just wished the good guys could at least get Christmas Day off, surely that wasn't too much to ask?

-oOoOo-

The friends were taking turns passing out the gifts they'd gotten for each other, Padma started the proceedings and Hermione now found herself the proud owner of an ultra brightly coloured Indian silk wrap skirt. Harry received a toy armoured knight figure, resplendent on a toy horse, this saw him laugh with pleasure before telling Padma he loved it.

Hermione was incredibly nervous over her gift to Harry. What do you get for your best friend who's the goblin who has everything was such a strange request, she was practically unique in facing a problem like this. Harry had unwrapped her present and was now staring at it with an expression she didn't recognise. Hermione couldn't take the suspense any more and started to babble.

"I didn't know what to get you... The clothes seemed too impersonal... Then Professor Snape went and stole my thunder... Do you hate it, Harry?"

Hermione had gotten him a lovely shirt and a nice pair of black jeans, it was the book on top though that held all his attention. She'd christened it 'the book of Hermione', because that's basically what it was. Here was his best friend in all her glory, from an infant right up until they had their picture taken on the steps of Gringotts. Each picture had at least a paragraph explaining the where, when and what was going on in the picture - all in Hermione's beautiful handwriting. The amount of thought and effort she had clearly lavished on this gift just blew Harry away.

He raised his eyes from his gift to see Hermione almost hyperventilating with anxiety, his wide smile soon put a stop to her fretting. "It's fantastic, Hermione, I love it."

Padma also really liked her jeans and t-shirt from Hermione before they moved on to Harry's presents. A silver Ravenclaw eagle charm on a chain of the same material was much admired and appreciated by Padma.

Emma was 'oh-ing' and 'ah-ing' over the pyramid Harry had given her and Dan, without having the slightest clue what it was. "Oh mum, that's wonderful. Did you include that memory crystal Professor Hobson showed us, Harry?"

"That, and a few others. I thought your mum and dad might like to see inside Hogwarts." This earned him a hug from Emma as he nervously waited on Hermione opening her gift.

The witch in question was also nervous, the parcel was long and quite heavy. Her hands were shaking as she stripped back the wrapping to reveal - a sword. It was a bejewelled work of art that was certainly shorter than Harry's, and Hermione didn't know quite what to say.

Padma gave her time to recover. "I'll say this for you, Harry, you have definitely got your own sense of style. Most boys giving jewels would have them mounted in a necklace or at least earrings, not embedded into the hilt of a sword. Practical and beautiful at the same time, it fits our Hermione perfectly."

"She's a friend of our nation and is entitled to wear her own blade. The last non-goblin to own a blade like that was Godric Gryffindor."

Hermione had unsheathed her sword and was twirling the weapon around, looking to see if her name was on the blade. It was an embarrassed Harry who answered her unasked question. "They wouldn't put an unmarried female's name on the blade, rather wait until her name changed after her wedding."

"Harry, it's beautiful and feels amazingly balanced in my hand." Spotting the concerned looks her parents were wearing, Hermione tried to put their minds at rest. "Dad, goblin females learn to use weapons purely so they can defend themselves. They aren't allowed to become warriors or fight in a war."

"I am so glad to hear that Hermione. It's a beautiful gift, but also deadly. I hope you'll be careful with it?"

As usual, it was Padma who tried to lighten the mood. "I'm now going to have to walk around Hogwarts with two of them carrying swords, I suppose that beats being woken up by listening to them practice first thing in the morning. Can neither of you two give normal a try?" Both her friends smiled at her gentle teasing, knowing that she was deliberately making light of a situation that could have become awkward.

Hermione thanked Harry for her gift, before showing her parents how to operate the goblin viewer. They were bowled over by the scene from the steps of Gringotts.

-oOoOo-

Barty Crouch was on his knees in front of the fire, talking to Amelia Bones on the floo. Apparently some Bulgarians had been partying and almost started a riot in the Leaky Caldron by offering celebratory toasts after one of them cast the dark mark. The problem was they spoke very little English, though one of them managed to communicate enough to claim to be the son of the Bulgarian Minister of Magic. They really needed to interview them before the situation escalated into an international incident. Barty could clearly see Amelia was at home, and her Christmas was being ruined too. He had just agreed to go into the ministry when the windows suddenly imploded, Barty whirled around and froze in surprise as Amelia Bones jumped through the shattered frames before firing a stunner at him.

"Shack, go! Your team upstairs while we sweep down here. Auror Tonks, keep that floo connection open and monitor the situation."

Amelia and Mad-eye were in full auror garb as they rushed through the downstairs portion of the house. For Amelia, arriving in the kitchen and seeing the table set for two was a big boost. The head of the aurors swiped her hand over each of the chairs and felt elated when it smacked into something solid. She closed her hand over the invisibility cloak and dragged it off, much to the distress of a now sobbing house elf.

"Barty Crouch Junior, you are under arrest." Amelia then stunned the unresponsive wizard for good measure before producing magic inhibiting cuffs.

"Mad-eye, get Shack and Gawain back down here - and make sure Barty Senior is going nowhere without us. Tell Tonks to head for the ministry and wait for us there, I want these two questioned today before anyone can interfere."

Amelia could feel the adrenalin coursing through her veins, she was getting too old for this shit. Jumping through blasted out windows was a game for younger aurors, but it had worked perfectly. Seeing two Amelia Bones' had frozen Barty for the second they needed to take him out. She'd noticed Mad-eye hit him with a stunner too as they passed, all her team now knew what was at stake here today and were determined there would be no slip-ups.

Phase one had been a resounding success, now all they needed to do was discover just how far the corruption had spread in the ministry. They weren't out of the woods yet, they could all still find themselves without jobs before the New Year if enough of the wrong people were implicated in this.

-oOoOo-

Dan and Emma were sitting enthralled as they watched the kids' potions class. Both had done their fair share of chemistry labs as they went through university but this was something else. Yes they were using cauldrons but the precision needed for the ingredient preparation and brewing was a million miles away from making a pot of soup. Here was a branch of magic they could understand - sort of!

They were interrupted by a couple of Gringotts owls delivering a rather large book that contained details of the Potter properties. This had Hermione really excited. "Oh wonderful, now we can look through your houses and start planning where we want to go this summer..."

Padma couldn't help but notice the Potter crest on the front of the book, she was also a pureblood and the hat didn't sort her into Ravenclaw for nothing. "Harry, how can you access these? Don't you need to be head of your family first?" The hush that descended with that question worried Padma. "Guys, you know I can keep my mouth shut. This is obviously something you don't want made public."

"Padma, you know we trust you but this just brought up something I hadn't thought of. How to invite you and Neville on holiday with us, without alerting the world that I've taken on my head of house."

"Does this mean you've made your choice, Harry?"

"No Padma, it just means that I'm the only one who can make that choice. My father didn't want anyone attempting to gain control of me, with the Potter family ring on my finger that can't happen now."

"I won't say a word Harry..."

This drew a smile, "I know, Padma, I have no worries about that. Now that you do know, can I have a word with you - in private?"

Emma watched as Harry led Padma out into the back garden, here was her first chance since this morning to talk to her daughter alone. "You ok love? To say the least, a rather unusual present Harry got you."

Her daughter smiled back at her, "Not for a goblin mum. I know it's easy to forget but that's who Harry is. His most prized possession is his knife, it never leaves him. Its sheath is charmed to be invisible so you can't see it even when he has his sleeveless tunic on."

She glanced over to where Moonlight was lying on his back, amusing himself by swiping at one of the lower baubles on the Christmas tree. "He got my birthday absolutely perfect, and my sword is practically a work of art. Would you like to bet it's worth a small fortune too..."

Both had stopped as Dan now joined them in staring out the window. Whatever Harry had said to Padma, she was clearly upset. Harry opening his arms and the now sobbing witch throwing herself into them was puzzling too. It finally hit Hermione just what was happening here.

"Damn, damn, damn..."

"Hermione, care to enlighten your poor, ignorant parents just what the hell is going on out there?"

"I'm only guessing dad but Harry told Padma he was head of House Potter, then asked for a quiet word. Whatever that word was, Padma is clearly distraught - though not upset with Harry."

Since the girl was currently clinging to him as if her life depended on it, their daughter's analysis was hard to refute. It still didn't tell them anything though. "Please tell us something we don't know, Hermione."

"I'm only guessing mum, but I think Harry's just told Padma he's turning down the marriage contract her father offered."

"What! They're both only eleven."

"I know mum, pureblood customs means Harry has to deal with the situation as soon as possible, once Padma knew he was head of House Potter. She obviously didn't know her father had offered her hand in marriage."

"That's barbaric..."

"It's different from what we believe, dad, but it's their custom. Don't some muggle cultures still have arranged marriages today? We come across differences like this all the time between us, using words like 'barbaric' doesn't help us understand our friends' point of view. I certainly don't want you arranging a husband for me, it doesn't mean I'm going to lose my friends because their parents might do that for them."

Hermione felt her mother's arms wrap around her, "When did you get so wise?"

"When I was six, and had to wear that stupid costume..."

All three smiled at that, and watched the young man comfort his friend in their garden. When he finally led Padma back into the house, she flew right into Hermione's arms and the two girls held each other tightly.

"I didn't know,Hermione, I swear I didn't know."

"It's okay, Padma, it was easy to see you didn't." Hermione could feel the tension leave her friend at that.

"Harry was brilliant with me, Hermione, that could have been really terrible but he made everything okay. He really is something, hold onto him."

"We'll all hold on to each other, Padma, we're all friends."

Harry approached both girls, unsure of how his actions would be received. "Are we okay?"

He suddenly found himself with two witches holding onto him. "Of course we are, Harry, now we can have our Christmas dinner and then figure out where we're all going on holiday this summer - also how to get Padma and Neville there too."

"Oh Harry, I just remembered something, my father really wanted to meet you. It makes more sense now, though I can't figure out why he offered me instead of Parvati?" The blush on Harry's face told its own story. "He offered betrothal contracts for both of us?"

Harry didn't answer that particular question but wasn't fooling anyone. "Providing he doesn't know I'm now head of House Potter, I can refer all matters like that to my father."

Emma had a question she was dying to ask, well actually a few questions. "Is it customary for the girl not to know that her father had offered a betrothal contract on her?"

Padma answered as best she could. "I don't really know, Emma. Pureblood society is very male dominated, and even more so where I come from. My father's word is law in our household, to disobey him would bring shame to our family. At least I now know why he so readily agreed to me coming here..."

The mother tried not to let her shock show at that. Thankfully Dan appeared as horrified as she was with this news, the Granger household was most certainly a partnership - not a dictatorship. "I was just wondering if some of these girls who kept approaching Harry knew they were offered as betrothals by their fathers?"

"That would certainly explain some of the more persistent ones, do you know if they are, Harry?"

"Sorry, Hermione, I only glanced down the list once last summer - and the names meant nothing to me at the time. I only remembered Padma's because they were twins, my goblin upbringing dismissed that option immediately."

This sounded something that Dan wanted to hear. "Why would your upbringing automatically rule that out?" Glares from his wife and daughter soon had him explaining further. "I'm not attempting to be judgemental here, just gather information on different cultures."

"Goblins only have one mate, Dan, and that mate is for life. My father's wife died in childbirth, with his baby son passing soon after. He wouldn't even consider taking another wife - no goblin would."

This drew a smile from the dentist. "Those views are pretty close to the ones we hold Harry, that was the only reason I asked. Hermione has entered this whole other world where everything appears different. Like you, we're trying to understand as much as we can about those differences."

Emma thought the entire day needed rescuing to get back to the fun they were having. "One of those differences is Christmas dinner, I'm pleased and also terrified that I'm cooking the first Christmas dinner for both of you." She was laughing at this but still rather nervous. She'd asked Hermione if her friends had any special dietary requirements, only to be told they ate whatever was in front of them. It would soon be time to see if that was true.

-oOoOo-

Cornelius was not a happy minister. Only Amelia telling him that if he didn't come to the ministry immediately, he may not be the minister much longer, got him up from his Christmas dinner. There was no Christmas cheer as he greeted his Head of DMLE in her office.

"Amelia, this better be good or you could find yourself back on an auror patrol."

"Cornelius, if we don't get this right, both of us could be out on our ear by the New Year." She handed him one of the pictures Barchoke had supplied, and watched the colour drain out his face.

"Is this genuine?"

"Since I have both of them currently in our cells, the answer would have to be yes."

Watching the Minister for Magic panicking was not a pretty sight. "We have to contain this, Amelia, it could bring down the ministry..."

"I totally disagree, minister, containing it could cause us a lot more problems. I was given that picture by a goblin..."

"The goblins have no bearing on this - who cares what they say."

"The boy-who-lived, especially since he calls the goblin who gave me this father."

After Cornelius had taken a much needed seat, Amelia explained what they had already discovered. "We immediately questioned the prisoners using truth serum, I needed to know who else in the ministry was involved in this. Thankfully, the answer was absolutely no one. Barty's dying wife extracted a promise that he would get their son out of Azkaban. It was her who took her son's place and died in his cell - still under the influence of polyjuice potion. Barty has since kept his son in line by repeated use of the imperius curse."

The minister let out a huge sigh of relief. Crouch's guilt was undeniable, and the ministry were mostly in the clear. That was until the obvious question hit him. "How and why did this photograph end up in goblin hands?"

"Barchoke told me they were carrying out an investigation into the trial of Sirius Black. I did some quiet digging myself and couldn't discover anything. Questioning Barty gave me the answer. I couldn't find anything because there was nothing to find, Sirius Black was sent to Azkaban without a trial."

That wasn't what worried Cornelius, rather the reasons behind the goblin investigation. "Did you ask why they were enquiring about Black?"

"I did, and you won't like it anymore than I did." Amelia went over to a sideboard in her office and poured a couple of brandies from the decanter she had there. She handed one to Cornelius before giving him the bad news.

"Sirius Black is Harry Potter's godfather."

The minister was grateful for the brandy, it fought off some of the icy chill that had just crept up his spine. "Please tell me you have some good news for me, Amelia - or at least some idea how we get ourselves out of this one?"

"My Susan told me what happened at the leaving feast. I'm surprised you let Dumbledore con you into that Cornelius?"

This change of tack threw the minister. "What do you mean?"

"Harry may attend Hogwarts Cornelius, but we heard from Dumbledore's own lips that the boy will have nothing to do with him. He was trying to use your presence to ingratiate himself with the boy, Harry's answer was predictable to anyone who even slightly knows the lad. It also was no surprise to me that the rest of his yearmates followed him out of the hall - or that he had made provisions for them doing so."

"Are you saying Albus was using me?"

"Albus Dumbledore uses everyone for his own ends, that the famous boy-who-lived won't even be in the same room as him must be driving the old coot crazy. The goblins declared Dumbledore persona non grata over a decade ago, Harry may consider himself a goblin but he also has his own personal reasons for doing the same. I don't want to see the ministry pulled into Dumbledore's mess, and think I know how to avoid it."

Amelia laid out the basis of her proposal. "We play everything in public - and strictly by the book. This would also include a public trial for Sirius Black." She held up her hand to stop the minister's expected protest at that course of action.

"On Halloween, Black had two goblin visitors. The security guard ensured they signed in and out, their names were Barchoke and Old Crow. It would appear Harry not only visited his parents' graves on Halloween, he also slipped off to visit his godfather in Azkaban."

This information was hard for Cornelius to believe. "The boy who lived was in Azkaban, and we weren't informed?"

"He kept his hood up and spoke gobbledygook - he wasn't recognised as anything other than another goblin. What we have to recognise though is that they have been at least one step ahead of everyone, no matter what some people have tried. The logs show they spent over an hour with Black, it can be no coincidence that they then started an investigation into how Black ended up in Azkaban. We're dealing with the results of that investigation today."

"Amelia, surely you're not suggesting Black is anything other than guilty?"

"I really can't imagine them expending all this effort just to get Black's Azkaban sentence legally confirmed. Neither of us had anything to do with him ending up in Azkaban but we've just been given the perfect opportunity to align your ministry firmly on the boy-who-lived's good side. You call an emergency meeting of the Wizengamot for tomorrow, I'll get Black and the boy here. Let Harry and his father see justice being done, and whether Black is innocent or guilty doesn't really matter in terms of the ministry's relationship with the boy - it's win / win for us."

Cornelius was finally getting it. "If Black is innocent we get to set him free - and share no blame in him being sent there. If he's guilty, then we can ask the boy's opinion on an appropriate punishment. Both Crouches should really face a dementor for their crimes and the ministry can claim it's tough new stance on law and order is paying dividends. Are you sure you can get the boy here?"

"That shouldn't be a problem, what I need you to do is avoid telling anyone, especially Dumbledore, just what we're up to. Let's keep to an official statement that an emergency has arisen that needs to be dealt with immediately. Dragging out the two Crouches should satisfy them on that count. After their trial, we can announce the irregularity that's now been thrown up and try Sirius Black directly after the Crouches."

It was a pensive Minister of Magic who agreed to Amelia's proposals. "The minimum amount of notice that can be given for an emergency meeting is two hours, I'll send out notification first thing in the morning and set the meeting for ten thirty. Will you be able to accomplish everything you need to do in that time?"

Amelia was thinking of sending Shack and Tonks to Azkaban to collect Black, Mad-eye and Gawain could take it in shifts to sit on the prisoners while she headed for Gringotts. "We should manage, I'll leave you to enjoy the rest of your Christmas, Cornelius - it should be quite the Boxing Day."

-oOoOo-

After a lovely dinner, they had all sat around the table and studied the Potter properties. Dan had liberated a giant children's map of the world out the loft and temporarily had it hanging in the dining room, it had once adorned Hermione's bedroom wall in their daughter's younger years. That same witch currently had a handful of colour stickers and was placing them on the map at Potter property locations the group really wanted to visit. The problem was, even being really choosy, they already had six stickers on the map with about half the book still to go.

"Harry, I now understand why my father offered both my sister and I as brides. The Patils would be classed as quite well off but Merlin, this is something else. The extent of the Potter wealth has never been made public, always only hinted at, seeing proof of it here is kinda overwhelming. No wonder there's a lot more betrothal contracts with your name on them out there."

This was confusing to Emma, "Is it really all about wealth, Padma?"

"Well, to my father, he values breeding, power and wealth. The Potters are an ancient, respected family. That gives them a lot of power, without even taking into account their incredible wealth. People like Malfoy want you to lick their boots and acknowledge them as your betters, yet they couldn't muster even a tenth of what Harry would seem to have available."

The boy in question was actually getting embarrassed at the way the conversation was turning, and attempted to change it back to happier subjects. "Let's leave pureblood politics out of it tonight, Padma, I'm having too much fun looking through things my family own. My mum and dad might even have visited some of these. Now who wants to vote on a private island in the Maldives?"

Emma's hand was actually shaking as she pulled the book over toward her to see this one better, Hermione was already putting a sticker over the islands on the map. Everyone halted what they were doing as there was a knock at the kitchen door, Dan left but was soon back with Barchoke.

It was greetings all round before the goblin got down to business. "Harry, we're going to see your godfather tomorrow morning."

Hermione was soon at Harry's side with her arm around him and her head resting on his shoulder. "Even the thought of you visiting Azkaban scares the life out me Harry."

Barchoke gave a deep, throaty chuckle. "Don't worry, Hermione, we're not going anywhere near Azkaban. Harry and I are heading for the Ministry of Magic, Sirius has a trial in front of the Wizengamot tomorrow."

A loud whoop from Harry saw Hermione hoisted into the air, and also earned a comment from Padma. "Ok, forget all about giving normal a try. How about letting me in on what's going on?"

-oOoOo-

Christmas Day was just like all the other days of the year for the inmates of Azkaban. Festive was not a word that could ever be used to describe the atmosphere on the island, there was also a distinct lack of cheer. All that was about to change for one inmate. The cell door opened and Senior Auror Shacklebolt performed his duty.

"Sirius Black, you're coming with us. You will be tried for your crimes in front of the entire Wizengamot, and under the influence of truth serum, tomorrow morning."

The haggard figure's reply was somewhat unexpected.

"About bloody time!"

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