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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17. Bill Believed

The headline of Saturday's Daily Prophet screamed the newspaper's intent right from the front page, it was time to grovel! It also helped that they could blame everything on a convenient scapegoat.

Penitent Prophet

as

Centurion Crow Crowned

The imposing figure in our picture, wearing the golden helmet and carrying the sword of Godric Gryffindor, is Centurion Crow. That this is also the boy-who-lived immediately indicates there was an error made with the story concerning him previously printed in this newspaper. The beautiful young witch on his arm though, is once again Miss Hermione Granger. There all similarities with yesterday's issue of this newspaper end.

Both Centurion Crow and Miss Granger vehemently denied having met Miss Skeeter, far less participated in an exclusive interview before posing for a picture. It now appears as if Miss Skeeter has spied on the young couple as they visited the Potter graves on Halloween, the tenth anniversary of James and Lily Potter's murder. The Daily Prophet was in no way complicit with this reporter's actions and doesn't want to comment further at the moment, as Miss Skeeter is currently at the centre of an investigation initiated by the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. This newspaper will of course comply fully with that investigation.

Dan Granger let out a low whistle as he read over the front page article from the newspaper Barchoke had just handed him.

His wife was reading it over his shoulder and had her own comment to make. "Was that whistle in appreciation of the apology or the picture?"

Emma had to look at the picture twice to assure herself it actually was Hermione and Harry. Her daughter stood there looking every inch a princess, the jewellery she wore must be worth a king's ransom, while Harry appeared ready to do battle. Their poise and clothing reminded her of a famous historical couple, Mark Antony and Cleopatra. Showing this picture to anyone who didn't know Hermione or Harry, you could never convince them these two were eleven and twelve.

The royal theme just wouldn't leave her alone as she looked at the wide shot the newspaper had also printed, Hermione and Harry were in the centre but surrounded by goblins dressed in their finest. The only thing Emma had to compare this with was a royal wedding photograph, the ones the press were so fond of printing as the Royal Family gathered on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. That there were thousands of people watching this picture being taken, and the newspaper dedicated a further nine pages to the event, reinforced the 'Royal Wedding' image in her mind. She just hoped her husband was following a different mental route.

Dan was indeed following a different mental route, this route was currently stuck on a giant roundabout that he couldn't find an exit from. The father was struggling to accept that this beautiful and confident young woman in the picture was actually his little girl. She was standing there facing thousands of strangers yet drawing the confidence to deal with it from the young man whose arm she was on. The newspaper went to great lengths to extol her beauty and poise, that she spoke gobbledygook and the goblin leader bestowed a great honour on her was certainly something he would need to ask Barchoke about when he got his mind back into gear.

"Well, there's one thing for certain Hermione, you absolutely destroyed any notion of you being a 'gormless village idiot'. Your father's opinion may be biased, but I think my daughter is truly beautiful. Then again, I've thought that since the day you were born."

His daughter's playful giggles at that was music to his ears. "Thanks dad, I almost wish I had been in Hogwarts this morning to see certain witches' reactions when that was delivered. I'll need to ask Padma if Cho choked on her porridge or cried, I'm hoping for both."

"Hermione, isn't that rather unkind?"

"No Harry, it's not. I'm usually standing there on your arm while Cho tries to flirt with you. I know you do nothing to encourage her, and I can't really blame her either. How did the Prophet put it - 'dashingly handsome young man, standing shoulder to shoulder with a nation's leader as if he belonged there'. I understand why all the girls hit on you, it's the way they pretend I'm not standing there that annoys the hell out of me."

Harry decided to quote the Prophet straight back at her. "Well I don't know how they could possibly ignore 'the beautiful young witch who sparkles by my side' - and I don't think they were talking about that tiara you were wearing."

The three parents were laughing at the antics of their children. They may be front page news for the second day in succession but they seemed far more concerned with what they thought of each other than letting fame go to their heads.

"I'm just glad we managed to ward your house before this whole thing started, it also has an owl redirect which will allow Eargit and official Gringotts owls only. Anything else will end up at Gringotts where it can be examined before forwarding." This concerned the Grangers but they recognised that, even in their world, getting press coverage like this could attract its own special breed of weirdos and crazies. They were delighted any potential problems would be dealt with before they could get anywhere near Hermione.

Barchoke had even more good news for them though. "Hermione's status as a goblin friend allows you to do your banking through Gringotts, and get our best rates. This could save you thousands on your mortgage and business account. Get your figures and I would be more than happy to go over them with you - the savings will be substantial."

Dan thought he should be getting used to the shocks by now - your daughter is a witch and she needs to go away to Scotland for almost ten months of the year! "Well it looks as if our summer holiday next year could be a good one."

It was a nervous Harry who interrupted. "Em, excuse me sir. Since you were kind enough to invite me into your home over the Christmas holidays, I was hoping to return the favour at summer."

This piqued Emma's interest. "What did you have in mind Harry?"

"Well, because I had to remain hidden, I haven't really left Gringotts much. There are a lot of Potter properties dotted around the world I've never seen, but that I now have access to. I was hoping you would be my guests as we explored some of them. They really do span the globe - from the South of France to the Seychelles and on to the South Pacific."

Dan was struggling to believe the wealth of this young lad, and yet how level-headed he appeared. "That sounds...unbelievable actually. Wouldn't we spend most of the holiday in airports though?"

This drew a puzzled look from Harry. "I don't think so Dan - since I don't know what an airport is." He looked to Hermione for help.

"Airports are where you go to board planes that fly you to your destination. Can I assume we would be travelling using portkeys?" A nod from her best friend saw Hermione offering an explanation to her parents, only for her mother to excitedly jump right in.

"Oh that young Weasley chap used one of them to take us to London in seconds, are you saying that these can be used to travel the world?"

Barchoke thought Emma's excitement at such a simple thing was a delight to watch. "A portkey will take you from one Potter property, directly to the next one."

Both Granger parents were overwhelmed at this.

"No waiting in airports for delayed flights..."

"No being bored out your head by sitting for hours on a plane..."

"No arriving to find your luggage is in Timbuktu..."

"No tedious transfers to and from the airports..."

"We're in!"

This was greeted by an eardrum bursting squeal of delight before Hermione actually jumped on Harry, wrapping her arms and legs around him and almost having both of them over. "I get to spend Christmas and summer with you! Oh Harry, that's wonderful."

Dan was watching his little girl wrap herself around a boy and his only reaction was to laugh, how could he possibly get upset when Hermione was so happy.

It was left to Barchoke to discuss practicalities. "I'll organise a folder of those properties that you can all look through when Harry stays here at the holidays. I plan on taking some time away myself over summer so we could either organise it to be together or split it and give these two a longer holiday."

This drew another squeal from Hermione as a delighted Harry twirled her around the room, all three parents were smiling at the antics of their two very happy children. It was also nice to see them acting their age for once, just a couple of kids very excited about spending their Christmas and summer holidays together.

"I think those two like the idea of a longer holiday but I also think we should build a bit of overlap in there too, where we can all be together."

Barchoke was quite overwhelmed at Emma's suggestion. That these people would actually arrange their schedule purely to spend time with a goblin wasn't just unbelievable, it was historically unprecedented. "I think I would like that very much. We may even have some company. If we can get Sirius Black out of Azkaban, I can't think of anyone who would be in more need of a holiday. It would also give Harry a chance to get to know his godfather."

This was something Dan was very interested in, the thought of an innocent man rotting in prison appalled him. "What do you think the chances are of getting him out?"

"To be honest, two very powerful men colluded to put Sirius in there. That these two are still as powerful is going to make this a very difficult task. At the moment, it's beyond us. That these two did this one unlawful deal would suggest there may be other skeletons in their cupboards. If we can discredit them, people would be more inclined to believe claims Sirius is in fact innocent."

This wasn't nearly quick enough for Emma. "Surely the mere fact the man never had a trial should see the entire case reopened?"

A goblin explaining to a pair of muggles how the magical world worked didn't even qualify for a raised eyebrow amongst this group now. "Azkaban is an exceedingly dangerous place, deaths amongst inmates is not uncommon. I fear that is the fate Sirius might face if we were to go public with this. Dumbledore may preach forgiveness - but only when it suits his aims. Barty Crouch is the ultimate hardliner. The man sentenced his only son to life in Azkaban, and his life is exactly what it cost the young wizard named after his father."

Dan looked over to the two children, still in each other's arms and chatting excitedly about their future plans. "We have to thank you for your honesty Barchoke, almost as much as the lengths you have undertaken to protect our daughter. The more I hear of this world, the more I worry about the decision we made to let Hermione join it. Then I look over there and see what I always wanted, my daughter happy."

"No thanks are needed Dan, I am also looking over there at my son being very happy. I will take every measure I can to ensure their safety. Gringotts now have an employee we can trust inside Hogwarts twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Master Pitslay and Curse-breaker Weasley also make frequent visits to the castle. I'm sure we can trust their head of house and believe McGonagall is also on our side. Apart from getting Dumbledore thrown out on his ear, I don't think we can make that situation much safer."

Both Grangers were keen to know if that was a possibility, Barchoke did his best to explain the situation. "Dumbledore, for all his faults, is a very powerful and clever wizard. He's become so used to everyone around him doing exactly what he wants, we kind of caught him on the hop a bit. I'm willing to bet he instigated that entire incident with Skeeter, just as I'm willing to bet he'll have covered his tracks. Some of his earlier moves were stupid, born out of overconfidence - he won't make the same mistake again."

"I just don't understand how one person could end up holding so much power?"

"I think it comes down to laziness again Emma. They've gotten so used to asking someone else what to do, we are reaching the stage where senior ministerial officials can barely think for themselves. Dumbledore has been repeatedly offered the job as Minister of Magic but continually turns it down. The minister can be held accountable when things go wrong. Those manipulating the minister will escape any unpleasantness like that, and usually have a hand in choosing the sacked minister's replacement. There is no shortage of people every bit as stupid and just as easily manipulated as Fudge, all willing to do anything to take his place as Minister of Magic. It's a rotten and corrupt system, but those pulling the strings certainly don't want changes being made."

-oOoOo-

"I want some changes made - this makes us look like incompetent arseholes!"

Albus then enquired just what changes the minister wanted made?

"The lad kills a troll, saves three students and the Hogwarts healer, yet doesn't even earn a house point? The goblins give him a golden helmet for chasing a ghost out the bloody castle! The boy-who-lived, standing on the steps of Gringotts and talking about how honoured he is to receive an award from the goblins has seen the ministry inundated with owls. They all want to know why the person who rid us of Voldemort hasn't received as much as a ministerial thank-you. He's the Hogwarts Champion for Merlin's sake yet neither the school or ministry receive one positive mention in ten pages of the Prophet dedicated to the boy. This state of affairs can't be allowed to continue."

Albus had allowed Cornelius to get it all off his chest as the minister ranted and raved in the headmaster's office, he actually agreed with most of it. "I am at a loss to see how we can turn this around. If Hogwarts or the ministry start showering the boy with trinkets and awards, it's going to stand out for exactly what it is - us attempting to curry favour with Harry. He will see right through that and may even refuse to accept - imagine how embarrassing that would be? The goblins have won this battle hands down, I think we have to just acknowledge that and continue the fight from another angle."

"You really can't be serious - won't officially acknowledging this make the situation worse for us?"

"I think you have to add your congratulations to Centurion Crow. It might not be a bad idea to let slip the ministry were considering something similar but don't want to be seen to be competing for the boy's affections so have put it off to a later date. I shall approach Minerva about the possibility of a special award to the school for his actions that day, presented at the leaving feast before Christmas. She has a better understanding of Crow and can determine whether the lad will accept before we let any announcement's slip to the press."

Cornelius was beginning to understand the angle this crafty old wizard was suggesting. "So we play it as if the ministry were in the process of recognising the boy-who-lived's achievements but the goblins stole a march on us. We congratulate the lad because the award is well deserved and will revisit our options to add our further congratulations in the future?"

"Exactly, sometimes the only option left is to doff your hat to an opponent in appreciation of the skill they displayed, also showing your determination to win the next encounter. I think this is one of those situations. As to how we win the next one, all I can say is I'm working on it."

Cornelius drew comfort from this, not knowing Dumbledore hadn't a clue what to do next. "Another coup like that for the goblins and I fear the battle could be lost, I've already had to publicly thank the goblins for doing such a good job in raising the lad. The boy-who-lived standing there dressed as a goblin, with a witch beside him dripping in priceless goblin jewellery, is a very powerful image. Especially since the goblin hierarchy were all lined up behind him, showing support for his award. It's going to appear to the magical population of Britain as if Harry Potter has deserted us - that is a state of affairs neither of us could politically survive. One more article like this and we might not have a hat to doff!"

Albus once again found himself agreeing with the minister. It shouldn't be too much of a surprise though, the one thing Fudge excelled at was judging public opinion - and shifting his own position to keep Cornelius Fudge on the right side of it.

-oOoOo-

Hogwarts was buzzing when Harry and Hermione returned, Padma immediately began teasing about having epaulettes on a Hogwarts robe. Hermione shot that down before it could go any further.

"Well I think they are handsome, and a lot more practical than some badge saying prefect or quidditch captain." Logic like that ended the teasing, though Padma just switched to what else they were up to in their time out of Hogwarts. It was almost a relief when they all needed to head to Herbology. By lunchtime, it was as if they had never been away.

-oOoOo-

Bill watched his students leave the classroom, and couldn't fail to notice Dumbledore waiting to enter. He had no intention of listening to the old wizard today, the supposed interview with Harry printed in the Prophet had sent chills up his spine. Had he not reported to Barchoke that Dumbledore managed to get that information out of him, Bill would currently be unemployed, homeless and a promising career destroyed. He wouldn't have to fake anger in this confrontation.

Albus entered and shut the door, only to be met with hostility.

"I'll save you the trouble of spouting whatever words you had prepared, I have nothing whatsoever to say to you and refuse to play these games anymore."

"Games - you think this is a game?"

Bill didn't back down an inch. "I know it's not a game - these are real people's lives that are being affected here. To you though, we're all just pieces in a game - a game where you have elected yourself the main player. All this greater good pish, and sacrifices have to be made shit. You can go and drown in your own stinking manipulations headmaster, I have no intention of making any sacrifices for the greater good of Albus bloody Dumbledore!"

Bill was pushing past the headmaster when Albus grabbed his arm. "This has nothing to do with what I want, I'm trying to save our world from changes that would destroy it..."

The curse-breaker jerked his arm out of the headmaster's grip. "Before I took this assignment, I spent my days working in tombs of people who couldn't adapt to change. They were the gods of their day, with the power of life and death over millions. Now all that is left are some piles of stone - impressive piles of stone to be sure but their way of life is gone forever."

Dumbledore seized on this analogy. "If we allow things to continue, Hogwarts could be nothing more than rubble in a few generations. Our way of life is under attack from all sides, it's now more important than ever that we all stick together."

"My problem with that statement is we're all supposed to stick together, and do whatever Albus Dumbledore wants. What gives the headmaster of a school the right to determine the direction our way of life has to proceed? I have no intention of blindly following someone whose motives are at best questionable, and whose actions are borderline criminal."

This was not going the way Albus had planned. If he thought about it, very little had gone to plan recently. "So you would rather align yourself with the goblins than your fellow wizards?"

"I'm aligning myself with Harry, that just happens to be the side the goblin nation are supporting too. I would rather put my trust in that young man than be a mindless follower of the self-proclaimed leader of the light." Bill had his hand on the door before Albus dropped any and all pretence.

"You claim to support Harry, yet were involved in a major breech of security against the lad's safety. I wonder what your goblin masters would make of that information, should it find its way to them?"

"It was you who passed the information onto Skeeter?"

Dumbledore thought he had his man now. "Ah, but I wouldn't have been able to, if you hadn't told me about the proposed visit beforehand. I truly am sorry to do this William but you leave me no choice. I desperately need information, if you won't cooperate then perhaps your replacement will be a bit more accommodating."

Bill's eyes were boring into the old wizard. It was a confident Dumbledore who was standing in front of him. The curse-breaker could see that Albus thought he was in a win-win position - time to end his delusions. It was also time to admit to himself he was shite at this spy crap - there was just too much of the Weasley temper in him to be able to play nice with people like Dumbledore.

"You're a learned wizard headmaster so I will leave you with a simple puzzle. Rearrange these words into a well-known phrase - OFF, FUCK!"

With that Bill left the classroom, slamming the door behind him. Leaving behind a surprised and confused Dumbledore.

-oOoOo-

Harry was sitting at dinner talking with his friends, attempting to explain some of the muggle things he'd seen at the Grangers to Padma and Neville while Hermione smilingly looked on. It was such a pleasant scene, Bill was loath to interrupt. A few whispers in Harry's ear drew a nod of understanding and his friends could see playful Harry slip away, being replaced by the persona that was Centurion Crow.

Bill patted Harry on the back before taking his leave, no one in the hall thought anything of him approaching and talking with his students.

It was naturally Hermione who asked Harry what was going on. "Oh, just as we suspected, Dumbledore has been playing games again. I'm just trying to figure out the best way to use this."

The headmaster entering the hall from a side door and taking his place at the staff table appeared to make Harry's mind up. Before he could rise though, Hermione's hand clamped on his leg.

"Are you sure about this Harry?"

He smiled at her. "No, but I shouldn't be in any danger. I'm far better confronting him in the hall, with McGonagall and Master Flitwick here."

"Couldn't we send for Master Sharpshard too?"

He lifted her hand off his leg and kissed her knuckles. "Hermione Granger, you're actually developing a goblin sense of humour."

Harry stood and strode to the front of the hall. He attracted attention most of his time in Hogwarts but almost every pair of eyes must have been watching him by the time he reached the staff table.

Harry didn't bother with any preliminaries. "Dumbledore, you told that Skeeter reporter I would visit my parents' graves on Halloween."

The silence that followed those words drew out until Snape actually broke it. "Mr Crow, that is a pretty serious allegation to make. Do you have any proof?"

"It's Centurion Crow sir, and yes I do. Curse-breaker Weasley let slip to the headmaster where I would be going, and then this despicable old bastard just tried to blackmail my tutor into passing over more information. He admitted telling Skeeter where I would be, before threatening to report how he learned the information to my father - if Curse-breaker Weasley didn't do what Dumbledore told him to."

Minerva practically had steam coming out her ears at that revelation. "Do you know what Mr Weasley's answer was?"

"Yes professor, I believe he told the headmaster to fuck off!"

This drew some laughter, and had a pair of redheaded twins up on the Gryffindor table doing a jig of delight.

Harry wasn't finished yet though. "For ten years I was safe within Gringotts walls, I haven't been here ten weeks yet but it has been one attack after another. First evening, you attempted to have me renounce my goblin upbringing, while at the same time having Voldemort sitting at the staff table. Add in trolls, bullies and death eaters - getting the picture headmaster? Then when I step outside Hogwarts, you tell someone exactly where we'll be. You endangered not only me, but Miss Granger too."

Dumbledore finally spoke. "Am I to take it that Mr Weasley's attempts to save his job by slandering me are being believed?"

"Curse-breaker Weasley is a wizard with honour and integrity, two qualities you are sadly lacking in. He also reported the incident to my father on the day it happened, we just didn't think you would stoop so low. We already knew you were behind the supposed interview, attempting blackmail just confirmed it. I am very happy with the defence tutor my father found me, Curse-breaker Weasley will not be going anywhere."

Minerva felt she had to intervene before this escalated any further. "Centurion Crow, I'm sorry but calling the headmaster a 'despicable old bastard' is against school rules, and will earn you another detention with me. Rest assured though, I agree with your assessment - that whoever released this information endangered two Hogwarts students. I shall be reporting the matter to the DMLE and the Hogwarts board of governors."

Harry nodded respectfully to McGonagall, fully aware that the detention would be nothing more than another tutoring session. "I understand Professor, and like any other student will obey Hogwarts rules. Please inform both of those bodies I would be quite happy to speak with them on this matter. May I ask that you make this sooner rather than later? My father's patience with Albus Dumbledore is pretty much exhausted, and both Hermione and I understand French well enough that attending Beauxbatons would not be a problem."

As Harry was heading back to his seat, McGonagall called out to him. "Centurion Crow, nice to have you back. It would be a sad day for Hogwarts if you and Miss Granger left."

A slight nod of his head was all the indication he gave that he had heard, though the students he passed to reach his seat could all see he was smiling. Both Harry and his father knew it was more likely to be a series of body blows that would lead to Dumbledore's eventual downfall, rather than one knockout punch. The headmaster was sitting at the table reeling as another scheme had not only failed, but spectacularly blown up in his face. Dropping in the line about Beauxbatons would hopefully muzzle him for a while, and give the goblin plans time to bear some fruit.

Hermione was just glad to see Harry make it back to her without any weapons being drawn, though Percy had to restrain his twin brothers when Dumbledore attempted to push the blame onto their eldest sibling. The name Dumbledore had taking a bashing amongst the Weasleys, and one glance around the hall was enough to see it was Harry's version of events that was being believed.

Severus certainly believed Albus would attempt to blackmail Bill Weasley to basically become his spy, the potions master only wished that he had been in a strong enough position to deliver the same answer to Dumbledore all those years ago. He had studied the 'Centurion Crow' edition of the Prophet from cover to cover, all he could think of though was that Lily would be so proud of her son.

Looking at that 'army' behind him kindled hope in Severus that this boy might actually be capable of finishing the dark lord. It was now clear to anyone paying attention that Dumbledore was also firmly in Crow's sights, and set to fall if the potions master was any judge. Being the Slytherin that he was, he needed to do something so that Severus Snape wasn't dragged down with either of the two wizards who had dictated his life since he was a teenager.

The more he thought of Harry as Lily's boy, the more Severus found himself appreciating just what this boy could do. He had no idea Harry was about to make his life even better.

-oOoOo-

They had hardly left the great hall when the Weasley twins approached the group of friends. "Harry, we would like to thank you for defending our brother in there..."

Harry held up his hands to stop them saying any more. "Guys, not only do we all like your brother, he's a brilliant teacher. Working for Gringotts comes with some pretty tight restrictions, but we also look after and reward our employees. Now I have a question to ask you - can you two be serious?"

"Of course we can..."

"What do you think we are..."

"A couple of jokers?"

"Something tells me I could regret this but what class do you two have on a Friday morning?"

"Divination, why?"

It suddenly hit George and he was down on his knees pleading, his twin only seconds behind.

Hermione had also sussed just what was going on, and questioned Harry's choice. "Are you sure about this Harry?"

"Of course I'm not, but I think I should give them a chance. Master Pitslay offered another couple of places, who else could I chose? I couldn't pick a pair of Hufflepuffs or Slytherins without upsetting the rest. Same with Gryffindor, though I honestly don't think any of their first years are up to all the work involved - sorry Padma."

"No problem Harry, Parvati would be the first to admit she doesn't enjoy studying."

Harry once more turned his attention to the twins. "Ok guys, but you need to get McGonagall to agree to this - and Snape!"

Harry was suddenly up in the air and being twirled around as both twins had him in a hug Hermione would have been proud of. The whoops of joy soon drew an audience, and a fair bit of laughter. Both twins gently lowered Harry back to his feet before shaking his hand.

"We won't let you down Harry."

"Most of our pranks are potions based - we understand this is a life-changing opportunity for us."

"Reserve an extra two places at your study table Neville - we're off to see McGonagall!"

As they skipped along the corridor, it was a worried Hermione who expressed a thought most of them shared. "Oh dear, I wonder if Master Pitslay will know what hit him?"

"Hermione, where do you think I learned to brew the potion I used on Snape? Master Pitslay knows more prank potions than anyone else in the country - they are just more subtle than donkey ears and the like that the twins seem so fond of. With goblin humour, sitting at a formal dinner and having your victim loudly letting one rip is considered the height of hilarity."

"Ok, I need to write home and make sure we have a good selection of comedy tapes for Christmas. You need to learn a different definition of funny."

Harry's eyes almost glowed at this. "You mean there are more video tapes than the ones you already have?"

"Thousands Harry, with new ones released almost weekly."

This had a wide smile on Harry's face, and caused laughter amongst the friends.

-oOoOo-

Bill didn't find any laughter when he entered his sister's room. Instead he found a young girl staring into a mirror with eyes red and swollen from crying.

"Mum said you've been upset Ginny, do you want to talk about it?"

As her brother's arm went around her, Ginny leaned in to him as the tears once more began falling. "You tried to warn me, didn't you?"

Ginny indicated the Prophet pictures lying scattered on her bed. "How can I compete with that - how can any girl compete? She's like a princess on his arm, and he's already madly in love with her."

Bill hated to see his sister like this but thought Ginny might finally be coming to her senses. He wanted to discover how she arrived at this conclusion though. She reached over for a picture that was showing definite sings of wear, Ginny had obviously studied it quite a bit.

"Just watch and you'll see him glance at her, making sure she's okay. Her smile back practically has his eyes sparkling. You told me they were close friends but you don't look at a friend like that. She's beautiful, so smart and already speaks gobbledygook - little Ginny Weasley never stood a chance." She cried some more before asking Bill a question. "You didn't go to Hogwarts this weekend, wasn't Harry there?"

"They stayed with Hermione's parents a few nights but both stayed at Harry's too."

"She stayed at Gringotts - is that even possible?"

"Hermione is a friend to the goblin nation, that gives her all different kinds of privileges."

Bill could feel Ginny's tears soaking into his shirt as his sister clung to him, realising that her dreams would never be more than that. He held her close and let Ginny cry it out.

It was a while before she actually spoke. "Will you still introduce me to him?"

"Are you sure that's something you want to do?"

He could feel Ginny nodding her head as it was still buried in his chest. "I think I need to see it for myself. At least now I know what to expect. I'm going to be at Hogwarts with him for six years, perhaps we could be friends?"

Bill agreed to that, delighted that his favourite sister appeared to be coming to her senses. "Just remember what I said, no boyfriends until you're at least twenty six." He'd hoped for a smile but had to settle for her holding him tighter, it was her first steps on the right road.

-oOoOo-

Padma had gone to bed, leaving Harry and Hermione sitting together on a sofa in their study area.

"So, are you glad to be back? It was quite the few days."

"Now, that's an understatement Harry. I loved my time at Gringotts with you but getting to spend some time with my mum and dad was just wonderful. Knowing we'll all be together at Christmas has already got me so excited, and I told you my parents would love my best friend."

"Your parents were great - sorry for springing that summer thing on you. It was something I had been thinking about and had barely gotten a chance to talk it over with my father. When your dad mentioned it, I didn't want him making arrangements before we meet again at Christmas..."

He found himself enveloped in a hug. "Only you Harry could apologise for arranging someone's summer holidays. I didn't think my mum could get any more excited at Christmas but this year looks like topping all the others. I'm now gonna have two friends staying, and planning our summer holiday too." Hermione kissed him on the cheek. "Thanks Harry - for everything. I'll see you in the morning for our run."

Hermione headed up to her room, leaving a grinning Harry behind.

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