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.



67. Blood on the Sand

Inside Hogwarts Room of requirements, Emma's scream of terror instantly turned what had been a happy occasion into a nightmare. Whatever she was now doing with the mirror made it useless for viewing events in Crawley but both Harry and Hermione instantly recognised Dragonbreath's voice and all four understood exactly what he meant by that threat.

Dobby's intervention left Hermione wanting to kiss the little guy while the first blast of the shotgun had all four of them ready to punch the air in celebration, each knew that weapon in Dan's hands just swung the balance of the fight in the Grangers favour. They clearly heard Emma order Dobby to get them out of there and only Dragonbreath's yell of triumph stopped the four doing some triumphant screaming of their own.

Harry had snatched the mirror out of Hermione's hand and was now repeatedly screaming ""Dragonbreath"" into it, being finally rewarded when the goblin picked up the mirror.

""You fucking cowardly bastard, I warned you what would happen the next time you messed with my family. I will cut your ears off and wear them on my belt, you will live only long enough to see this happen and your father will die shortly after he has witnessed his son's total disgrace and death. I'm coming for you, Dragonbreath, and this time there will be no one to save you.""

The mirror suddenly went blank and Harry's focus shifted once more to the room they were in, a room that held his mate who was currently being comforted by their best friends. Before he could say anything a high pitched screech began being emitted from his concealed holster, Harry's knife was out as he instantly signalled his acknowledgement. "That's the emergency recall signal from my father, it means get yourself to Gringotts as quickly as possible. I hope Dobby took them to Father, either way he knows something is wrong. Neville, could you tell..."

"No, not happening, Harry. We're coming too! Dan and Emma mean the world to all of us, we will not sit here and wait on news - and you might need us."

"I didn't want you getting into trouble..."

Padma shot that excuse down too. "Our Orders of Merlin mean that we're considered adults now, we won't get into trouble for this. The Lady Ravenclaw and Sir Nicholas can take messages for us."

At that, another door appeared in the room and Helena quickly explained its function. "There is a passage out of Hogwarts connected to this room, you will feel when you pass from the wards and then your portkey will be able to activate."

A determined Hermione was now at Harry's side. "We're wasting time..."

At that, the four ran for the door. Neither girl was dressed for battle but both were more than ready to fight one. All felt the tingle that indicated they had passed from the powerful Hogwarts wards and they touched Harry's portkey to be whisked away to Gringotts.


On hearing that their children had been witnesses to the Crawley attack, this immediately had a cursing Barchoke racing to the point Harry's portkey would deliver them into Gringotts. They would be demanding answers and certainly in no mood to be denied those answers, tonight would be a massive test of his diplomatic skills to stop this situation escalating. He reached the location just as the portkey set them down, Hermione came racing into his arms as he held his daughter close.

"Dobby brought Dan and Emma to me, your mother is wounded but I don't have any more information at the moment. The healers are looking at her while Dan stands guard over Emma with his shotgun poised for action, Dobby's right by his side and ready to hand Dan its loaded partner. We need to get up there right away, one wrong move or word and innocent blood is going to be spilt."

The tension in the infirmary was palpable, Dan barely relaxed his stance as they entered the large room and he wouldn't relax until that bloody great goblin knife was removed from his wife. Harry also couldn't miss the ornate hilt sticking out of Emma's belly and it was Centurion Crow who demanded to know the reason why it was still there.

The command in Harry's voice produced an instant answer from the healer. ""It's a family ritual knife, Centurion Crow, and has a deeply serrated edge, we would usually transfigure the blade to something safer for removal but none of us here has the power to overcome the enchantments on the knife. Trying to remove it by other means could kill the patient.""

Harry drew his sword and felt the shotgun move to cover him. After the night he'd just had, Harry didn't blame Dan one bit for that reaction. The only people in the room Dan truly trusted at the moment were his daughter, who was now at her unconscious mother's bedside, and the faithful elf who'd saved his family tonight. Harry needed to get through the trust issue in order to help Emma.

"Dan, I want this knife out of Emma as much as you do, you know my sword is more powerful than my knife. This was the attackers ultimate objective, Dan, to turn us all against each other. I swear to you they will pay for this with their lives but Emma's life is far more important to all of us at the moment, let's get her healed and then we'll see about making every one of those bastards who broke into your house tonight pay for this."

The shotgun slowly lowered and they could all see just how close to the edge Dan Granger actually was. The gentle dentist who had never used his shooting skills to even hunt rabbits had blown two attackers apart yet still couldn't prevent his wife's injury. "Just get my Emma healed, son, that's all I care about."

"We'll get her healed, Dan, and then make sure this never happens again."

Hermione was sitting beside her mother and now holding Emma's hand, Padma and Neville were standing beside her to offer support. Harry held his sword over the hilt of the knife and began pouring his magic into the spell, beads of sweat were soon peppering his forehead but there was no quitting in this endeavour. If it took every scrap of magic he had to break the enchantments on the knife then that's what he was going to pour into his sword. The enchantments finally surrendered with an audible crack, leaving the blade section transfigured to be a replica of his own knife. The stiletto blade would now be straightforward for the healers to remove, Harry thought he might actually need the healers' services too as he was left feeling light headed and staggering until his father led him to a chair.

The knife being removed relaxed a lot of the tension in the room, Dan though still desperately sought some assurances. "Will she be okay now? Won't that blade have done a lot of internal damage?"

Seeing that his son was just temporarily exhausted allowed Barchoke to deal with that question, and the healers to concentrated their efforts on Emma, his answer was for everyone's benefit.

"A knife like that is a slashing weapon, designed to cause major damage as it rips open someone's torso. Using it as a stabbing or throwing weapon will certainly reduce its effectiveness - unless you yank the weapon out the wound you just created. Emma has still been stabbed though and we'll need to wait and see what the actual damage is before we can predict her recovery with any confidence."

Hermione managed a wan smile of thanks to her mate for his efforts, all her attention though was focused on the deathly pale figure lying on the bed - and what the healers were doing to her mother. They had cut her clothes to leave her midriff bare with a blue sheet protecting her modesty, the knife had entered just beneath and to the left of her bellybutton but the healers had quickly staunched the flow of blood now that the blade had been removed.

The potion that the healer then poured into the cleaned wound began to fizz and Hermione was just about to ask what was happening when the first fibre from the blue jumper her mother had been wearing came to the surface. The process was repeated until there was nothing left to expel then the healers began to close the wound. Harry had said before that goblin healers were the best at dealing with these kind of wounds and their expertise as they teased the gash closed was there for all to see - Emma would be left with a scar that was nothing more than a very thin line.

It would be a couple of hours before the healers could predict Emma's recovery with any degree of certainty so they settled down to wait, Dobby left his master's side for a moment to provide refreshments for everyone. Even as they settled to wait, Dan still had the broken shotgun across his lap - ready to snap closed and fire in an instant. Hermione then asked the first of many questions she had about tonight's attack.

"Dad, why didn't you and mum just use the emergency portkeys Harry provided to escape?"

It was a rather sheepish Dan who answered his daughter honestly. "Probably because they're both sitting on the hall table. We kept them beside the car keys so we wouldn't leave the house without them. I thought they were for protection outside the wards, I couldn't imagine needing them in our own lounge."

"They should never have been able to get through your wards, they clearly meant you harm so that should have barred their entrance - goblin or not. We need that question answered very quickly as those same wards now protect Hogwarts, the ministry and many homes, including Amelia's and the Minister of Magic's."

While he could appreciate Barchoke's point, at the moment Dan wasn't concerned with the wider implications of this. He just wanted a healer to come and tell him his wife would be okay. Their lives had changed dramatically over the last few years and this had left Dan with the impression he could just about cope with anything now, fate must have been laughing her arse off at that. Watching the woman he loved lying there fighting for her life dramatically emphasised how unprepared he was to deal with this. In all honesty, Dan thought if he lived to be a hundred he still could never prepare himself to deal with the possibility of losing Emma.

He had so many conflicting emotions rushing through him that when the door crashed open Dan automatically began cocking and moving the shotgun, that was until a golden gauntlet clamped down on it.

"Dan, pointing your gun at The Director would be a death sentence, I have no intention of explaining your absence to mum later." Harry's words got through to the man, though Ragnok was so angry he had missed the entire byplay.

He headed straight for Barchoke. ""Your squad of warriors were on them before they cleared the wards, we have all of them in cells - except for the two Miss Granger's father blasted to bits. That's some weapon but also a discussion for another time. How they breached the wards is far more important, Bloodfang had a Loki Talisman!""

Barchoke exploded at the implications of Ragnok's words. ""That profitless, genderless, short-eared, motherless, arse-kissing, ignorant, lump of future dragon shit! He was trying to start a war - this is treason.""

A Harry who was every bit as shocked as his father explained to the others just what was going on. "A Loki Talisman is the most restricted item in the Nation, even possessing the knowledge of how one is made will see you and your family wiped out. It's a very powerful artefact that will literally bend wards around it, and whoever is touching it. Not only is it banned by the Nation, it's banned by ministerial treaty too - specifically because it allows goblins to do what Bloodfang did tonight to any warded home. Think of it like a skeleton key, only it works on wards rather than locks. The mystery of how such a mediocre family amassed wealth and power is explained - they stole it."

Harry then left Hermione's side and gave a centurion salute to Ragnok before surprising everyone present. ""Director, I know they are now sentenced to death but I respectfully submit I have a prior claim. I swore to kill Dragontooth and his father, I don't know what magical consequences I would face if I stood back and let them be executed.""

""...and why should I let these traitors enter the pit? They deserve no such honour.""

""Again with respect, Director, I had no intention of paying them any. They will be slaughtered like the traitors they are, and in so doing my hope is that my family will never again be targeted by a member of our Nation.""

Barchoke desperately wanted to talk his son out of this course of action but could see from the determined set of his jaw it would be an exercise in futility. Only one person had any hope of changing his mind but Hermione was still holding Emma's hand, as if doing so could keep her mother anchored to this plane of existence and prevent Emma from leaving them, she was paying scant regard to whatever else went on around her.

Ragnok meanwhile was considering the matter from a political point of view, preventing a war over this matter being his top priority. A citizen of the nation possessing a device that allowed them to pass through wards was more than enough provocation to start a war between wizard and goblins - it had before. That the same device could also pass through goblin wards was what led to there being such severe penalties for having any involvement with one, a Loki Talisman was basically a master key for access to the bank too. That there hadn't been an incident involving one for at least half a millennium had led to complacency on their part.

Here though was an golden opportunity to show the Nation just what Centurion Crow was capable of, and also let the Ministry of Magic see just how serious they were taking this situation. He needed one more piece of information before making his decision and sent for the healer in charge, Ragnok wanted a report on the prognosis of the woman.

""The next few hours are critical, Director. If she makes it through the night I would be confident in predicting a full recovery, the patient is strong and healthy which will certainly help her case. I can't be more specific than that, I'll have a better idea say around midnight.""

'"I want to hear that report, I have a feeling this will be a long night."" Ragnok then turned to Barchoke and his son. "I am leaning toward granting this request, I do not want to lose a Centurion from the Nation because he has legitimate concerns his family will not be safe. I also don't want this to become a revenge situation though, if your mate's mother doesn't make it through the night then the dragons will feast on those murderers for breakfast. Either way, they will die tomorrow morning. You have some visitors and I will return later to hear how things are progressing.""

As Ragnok left, Sirius, Henrica and Amelia were escorted into the room. Sirius headed directly for Harry while his wife held Hermione in her arms. Amelia wanted information and reckoned her best bet for that was Barchoke. She had heard stories about these amulets that could pass through any wards but assumed they were nothing more than myths, she could instantly see how serious a situation this was from the goblin's demeanour.

"Amelia, the amulet will have already been destroyed and those who used it will not see another day of banking. Harry has challenged them to the pit and intends to make a statement that his family is off limits..."

"Harry fighting in the pit? Is this wise?"

"Killing someone is a hard thing to live with, just look at Dan. I would have recommended a calming draught for him but I know he wouldn't take it, at least until we know about Emma. I can't fault Harry's logic, he fought and killed their champion yet they still attacked his family, he intends this time to be more of a deterrent. Being responsible for ending five lives before you turn fourteen is a lot to bear though, it's certainly a burden I would rather spare him by providing the dragons with breakfast. Either way, would you witness the event for the ministry?"

"If Harry is fighting I'll be there, I would be perfectly happy though to accept your word if they get fed to dragons instead - that's not something I really want to see."

Like Barchoke, Sirius could see his godson was determined to go through with this. Unlike Barchoke, he was going to talk to Harry and try to dissuade him from this course of action. "Being eaten alive by a dragon is a fitting punishment, Harry, it's a punishment they certainly deserve."

"I agree, Sirius, but it's been done before so I'm not sure how much of a deterrent it will be. The dragon is only having breakfast, I intend to make this a lot more painful for them. My only other alternative is to leave Gringotts forever, not an option I want to consider. What would you do to protect Henrica, to allow your unborn children to grow up in safety? That's what's at stake here, Sirius, I need to have this talked about for generations - not just for weeks or months."

Henrica considered Hermione an incredibly brave, focused and mature young witch, all that had vanished at the moment with her mother lying unconscious on the bed. Hermione had reverted to a little girl who needed her mum and Henrica couldn't blame her one bit for that. The situation was even worse though as Hermione spoke.

"It's my fault she's lying there, I embarrassed the goblin who did this..."

"...and that gave him the right to break into your home and stick a ruddy great knife into Emma? You know better than that, Hermione, you've shown it not only in my class but the way you live your life. These people hate, for whatever reason, and wanted power - that's why they attacked. Without you, would your family have a house elf? Without you, would they have access to this medical facility? If you're blaming yourself for the attack then you need to also take the credit for their escape and recovery."

"...but I did nothing."

"...just like you played no part in them being attacked. We both know enough about goblins to recognise this is a political attack against Harry, Barchoke and the director, all three of them certainly do."

She looked toward her mate, currently deep in discussion with his godfather. "Harry's reaction will be brutal, I sometimes think he loves my mum more than he loves me, he'll react as only a goblin can."

"He wants to face all of them in the pit."

There was a part of Hermione that was crying at what her mate would now have to face, another part though thought Harry would give Dragonbreath and his father exactly what they deserved.

Anyone who's ever spent time in any medical facility waiting on news knows just how excruciatingly slowly time passes, conversations were started but no one had really anything to say. Hermione thanked Sirius for his wonderful present but refused to open any more until her mum was here with them.

When the senior healer did return, it was to Harry that he imparted the news. '"Your mate's mother has survived through the critical period and I would now expect continual improvements throughout the night. It will be morning before I can guarantee a full recovery but that is the result I am now expecting. The transfiguring of the ritual knife was key to this positive result, thank you for that, Centurion.""

Hermione now released floods of tears but these were of the relief variety, Harry held her close until she was over the worst of it before passing her over to Dan. He needed to harden his heart now and meet with The Director, there were decisions to be made.


Amelia found herself sitting in a group that contained Sirius, Henrica, Neville, Padma, Tonks and Alastor Moody, the goblins easily recognising it would be advantageous to have Harry's tutor witness this - Tonks had arrived at Gringotts claiming she was still on protection duty and wasn't bloody leaving Harry's side. The head of the D.M.L.E. also thought the pit was well named, she couldn't imagine it being called anything else. Amelia found the terror one must feel on entering that arena to be beyond the scope of her imagination, knowing that the only way you were going to survive the experience was to kill everyone else in there with you was simply mind blowing.

Harry entered the chamber with Hermione on his arm, Barchoke and the biggest goblin she'd ever seen followed on behind. Hearing from Padma that this was Master Sharpshard settled her nerves just a smidgen, if Harry could defeat such a ferocious goblin then these others shouldn't pose too much of a problem. Her relief soon proved to be temporary though.

The galleries that surrounded the pit were now jam packed and they knew the proceedings were about to start when Ragnok entered, in typical goblin fashion he didn't keep anyone waiting.

""We are here this morning more to explain why these four traitors are not dragon food rather than to assess their undeniable guilt, to assist with that endeavour we will watch a short memory first. This memory came from the muggle father of Miss Granger, Friend of our Nation and mate of Centurion Crow - a witch who celebrated her fourteenth birthday yesterday.""

The memory showed an image of a smiling and happy Hermione inside some magical mirror just before their home came under attack. All of the attackers were recognised by the goblins watching and Dragontooth made the intruders intentions crystal clear - that's when the house elf appeared.

There was some derisive laughter at the attackers being thwarted by an elf but that all stopped the instant the boom of the shotgun was introduced, or rather they all saw the effect this weapon had on someone who would have been considered a dangerous goblin to cross. As if to prove this wasn't a fluke, the muggle quickly dispatched a second warrior as the little elf was poised ready to hand over another identical weapon. Only the female ordering the elf to get them out of there prevented the muggle slaughtering the entire group, and then Dragontooth threw that terrible knife.

The elf brought them straight to Barchoke and the memory faded as the Ambassador was ordering a squad of goblins to Crawley while shouting for healers to be brought at once for the seriously injured female.

""All six broke into that muggle home with the sole intention of slaughtering Miss Granger's parents on her birthday, that they used a Loki Talisman during this cowardly and despicable act immediately signalled their deaths under our laws.""

This led to a lot of rumbling from the crowd but Ragnok closed this down fast. ""I know what you are all thinking, it was my first reaction too - why should these traitorous cowards receive the honour of fighting in the pit? It is hard to refute Centurion Crow's challenge that he has a prior claim in this case, we all heard him swear to both Bloodfang and Dragontooth what would happen if they ever went near his mate again. Trying to murder his mate's parents on her birthday would certainly invoke that oath so I have decided to allow this. My main reason though was that Centurion Crow assured me he intended to pay them no honour and would leave all four of them wishing they had faced our dragons instead, that is something I think we all would want to see."" The Director knew his people, something that would leave a goblin begging to be a dragon's breakfast was also certainly something they would want to witness - carried out on someone else of course.

With some last minute words of advice from Master Sharpshard ringing in his ears, Harry entered the pit. He was in full attack mode, shield on his forearm while clutching his knife with Godric's sword held ready in his other hand. His white tunic and the bright plume on his helmet were such a contrast to his surroundings that Harry appeared like a ray of sunshine in the dusty gloom of the pit - and that was before he activated his golden armour.

""Do you have a specific order you would like to face them, Centurion?""

Harry's reply had his family and friends present wringing their now sweating hands with worry. ""I would like to face them all at once, Director.""

This started some rumblings and Harry knew a lot of money would be changing hands in the galleries today. Spotting Whitefang in the audience he nodded in his former mentor's direction, trusting the old goblin would be smart enough to get in quick while the offered odds were at their highest.

""With respect, Director, had my mate's mother not ordered their elf to get them out of the house, my mate's father would have dispatched all of them. Had he been allowed, he and his elf would like to have taken my place in the pit this morning and finish the job they started."" The derogatory chuckles were back even stronger now, meeting your end at the hands of a muggle and a house elf held nothing but shame to any warrior.

""How could I not face the remaining four at once when a muggle and a house elf took on all six? Allow them whatever weapons they want and then I will face them.""

As final preparations were being made to get all four armed and into the pit, Harry was using the time to mentally prepare himself for what he was about to do. Every time his thoughts turned to Emma lying injured in the medical facility allowed Harry's heart to harden slightly, he just hoped it would be enough. If he baulked at what he planned to do today then he might as well pack his bags and go live on his island. As plan B's go this was a pretty good one but it was not how he wanted to live for the rest of his life.

The quartet strode into the pit as if they had a reprieve, compared to facing a dragon with your bare hands this was way more preferable. They had no idea their golden foe was every bit as deadly. As Ragnok read out the charges against them, all four publicly accepted this alternative to being a fire-breathing monster's breakfast.

As the combatants faced each other across the floor of the pit, Ragnok got proceedings underway. ""To the death, Fight!""

The last syllable had barely left The Director's lips when a powerful beam of light shot out Harry's sword. The largest goblin facing him was known as Bonecrusher, no one was sure if that was the name his parents had given him and Bonecrusher was not the type of goblin you would ask that question of. Master Sharpshard had warned Harry that Bonecrusher was by far and away the most dangerous opponent he faced today, that was why that particular goblin would be the first to die.

It was common knowledge that Crow was a wizard who could cast spells from a specially crafted knife, that he could also use his sword to perform magic was not. Bonecrusher had been studying his opponent from about twenty feet away, with no intention of getting much closer until he had some measure of this pup's capabilities, the spell from the sword was a complete surprise.

The spell hit Bonecrusher at the shoulder and traveled as Crow flicked his sword, the cutting curse lopped off his arm, along with a chunk of shoulder, an instant before finding its real target. As the large body flopped down onto the sand, the head bloodily parted at the neck and rolled a few times before coming to rest.

Dragontooth had just spent the worst night of his life inside a dungeon cell. He could hear his father ranting about how they would have to live with the shame of being bested by a muggle and a house elf, Dragontooth just wanted to live. On hearing they would now face Crow in the pit, his father had been ecstatic. Here was the way out he'd spent the night searching for. Dragontooth though again just wanted to survive, and was counting heavily on Bonecrusher to help turn that hope into reality.

As that big head rolled across the sand and stopped at his boot, Dragontooth's hope drained away quicker than that same sand could soak up his now dead supposed saviour's blood. Dragontooth knew he was going to die and Crow would make his death a horrible one, that was what he'd promised and the Centurion seemed more than capable of keeping that promise. The once proud Dragontooth sank to his knees and sobbed, he was out of the fight and simply awaited his fate.

Along with everyone watching this contest, Bloodfang understood the rules had changed. How could you possibly fight an opponent who can cut you to ribbons before you even get close enough to use your own weapon? Unlike his son though, Bloodfang was made of sterner stuff and tried to unsettle his opponent.

""So this is Ragnok's great champion? Where is the honour in firing a spell at your opponent...""

The goblin's words died in his throat as Crow just annihilated his remaining hired muscle in a terrifying fashion.

In a move he'd practiced on countless occasions, Harry attacked this second opponent as if the goblin was a duelling dummy. Curses were coming from his knife and sword as he covered the distance between them incredibly quickly, allowing his target no time to do anything more than react as best he could to the relentless onslaught. The now bleeding goblin did manage a swipe with his sword as Harry came into range. It was weak and uncoordinated though, allowing Harry to deflect the attempted blow on his shield while his knife then slashed across the goblin's chest. This left his opponent open for the killing blow with his sword. Harry then braced himself and used the blasting curse to get his sword clear of the torso he'd just implanted it in and throw his now dead opponent across the pit.

Rather than verbally spar with Bloodfang, Harry next did the one thing certain to send the goblin crazy. He was already moving while the stunned audience tried to contemplate what the centurion had just done to a capable opponent, Dragontooth offered no resistance as Harry's blade sang through the air toward him.

Bloodfang watched helplessly as Crow's sword expertly sliced open his son's belly, spilling Dragontooth's intestines onto the sand. ""You human bastard, you just killed my son!""

Charging the golden figure with a battleaxe that was desperate to taste revenge, Bloodfang met an opponent who was stronger, far more skilled and every bit as motivated as he was. Harry met the charge, deflected the axe away with his shield before driving his sword into Bloodfang's shoulder. His knife then slashed across the pinned goblin, gutting him like a fish.

As the last opponent sank to the sand, Harry girded his loins for his final act of brutality - he couldn't fail now or this would all be for naught. The life was slowly leaving Dragontooth's eyes as Harry's knife expertly flashed twice to remove his ears, standing holding his prize he addressed the now stunned audience - the entire fight had only lasted a few minutes.

""Most of you will have seen me fight in the pit before, on that occasion I fought an honourable though misguided warrior. I fought that day with the same honour shown me, I fought with the honour of a proud Centurion. These four have no honour and received none from me. Like any goblin I will protect my family and the same fate awaits any that would dare attack them - be that wizard or goblin.""

Standing there splattered in fresh blood, and with four bodies lying around him, Centurion Crow certainly made his point. He wasn't finished yet though, he had one final humiliation for the dying Bloodfang.

""Director, by law I am allowed to claim that family's fortune and now do so. I do not want one Knut for myself but wish to see everything converted into gold coin and placed in the square. Then every child is allowed to take away as much as they can carry on their own, with as many repeat visits as necessary allowed until it is all gone.""

Not content with killing and dishonouring his son, Bloodfang now faced death knowing that the fortune his family had spent generations carefully stealing would be snatched away by the hands of children. His last breath was spent hoping his ancestors weren't waiting on him when he died.

Since Ragnok and Harry had already discussed this action earlier, The Director agreed and announced a date two weeks from now to allow time for treasures and gems to be converted into gold coin. He also expected his subjects to use this time to contact relatives living abroad and have them return to London for a visit, as much free gold as their children could carry was one almighty incentive for organising a family trip to Britain.

This morning really couldn't have gone much better for Ragnok. A politically powerful enemy had bled their lifeblood into the sand, his sponsored Centurion had performed beyond all expectations and Gringotts would soon be flooded by goblin visitors from around the world. That the traitors were dead and the offending artefact destroyed should also appease the ministry, a charitable donation to St Mungo's would help as well. Now all he had to do was convince some of this influx of goblin visitors to stay in a changing Britain.

Harry threw his grisly trophies away, Master Sharpshard's axe may hang on his wall but he could never perceive of any circumstances where he would collect trophies like that.

He walked toward Hermione, his father and Master Sharpshard as all four then left the chamber with their heads held high. They had barely travelled halfway down the first corridor when Harry spoke, the command in his voice was obvious. "Hermione, you go and see if mum's awake yet, I'm going to need a long shower and a change of clothes before I can go anywhere near the medical facility."

He marched away at the next junction leaving Hermione perplexed, then she made her mind up. "Father, I need to go to him. Tell my dad that Harry's fine and we'll be there shortly."

Both goblins watched her leave but it was Sharpshard who spoke first. ""She is such a brave lass, perfect for your son. They will provide you with grandchildren that will change our world my old friend.""

""I have a feeling that by the time those grandchildren appear, their parents may have changed the world so much already that our parents wouldn't recognise it.""


Amelia understood what she'd just watched, she was having a hard time recognising the young man who was such a good friend to her niece as being the same person who carried out those terrible acts. Seeing that particular attack carried out on a duelling dummy was scary enough, witnessing it used on a living being was terrifying. The other four had shot off to Emma's bedside in the hope of seeing Harry there, leaving a stunned Amelia sitting here with her two aurors. She gratefully accepted Alastor's flask and took a long pull.

"Amelia, today I saw proof of what I had only suspected before. Not only will Harry have the ability to one day take down Voldemort, he's clearly got the stones to finish the job."

"You don't think that was rather ...excessive?"

"No I don't. You heard the Lady Black's explanation, they intended to gut that girl's parents and leave them lyin' there waitin' to be found as a macabre birthday present. This was a set of planned executions with political overtones, what you see down there is a very personal and yet still political answer. I've never seen a more blatant demonstration of a warnin', to go anywhere near that girl is an invitation to a horrible death."

Tonks agreed with Mad-Eye and tried to set her boss' mind at rest. "I've probably had more contact with Harry than both of you and I agree with what Mad-Eye just said. A wizard behaving like that would be cause to consider they were going dark, to a goblin it's simply about getting the job done. Harry wanted the Grangers to be safe and this will certainly help with that, I can't imagine witnessing that demonstration and still having the will to attack them. I watched those four train and had deluded myself into thinking I could still best Harry, that attack on the second goblin would be just as devastating to a witch or wizard to deal with."

Amelia was reminded of what Barchoke had said to her earlier, that killing someone was a hard burden to bear. She would have to be very careful not to treat Harry any differently now.


Harry felt different, he felt as if the blood he had spilled today then left its indelible mark on him - like a permanent scar across his forehead that declared to the world he was a killer. He was sitting on the shower floor, curled into a ball while hugging his knees to his chest as the warm water rained down on him. The gentle hands were moving Harry before he realised he was no longer alone, his mate was sitting right next to him and slowly pulling his body into a hug.

"Hermione, how can you stand to touch me after what I just did?"

"Harry, you entered that pit with love in your heart, - not hate - only your love of me and our family could see you do that. You killed those goblins to protect us, just like dad did last night with his shotgun. Do you think any less of him for that?"

"I thought he was amazing, Hermione, he stood there and fought like a warrior to protect mum."

"...and you fought like a centurion to keep us all safe, I'm so proud of the men in my life."

She leaned in and gave Harry a very practical demonstration of the fact she felt no revulsion toward him by instigating a very tender kiss. Harry was enjoying the kiss immensely, his favourite pastime seemed to be enhanced by the fact they were in the shower...

"Hermione, we're in the shower."

"I know, Harry."

"Hermione, we're in the shower with no clothes on."

"Well I never read it in Henrica's book but I suppose she'll need to add that goblins take showers with their clothes on"

"Goblins don't take showers with their clothes on..."

"Oh I am so glad to hear that, it would be just so weird - don't you think?"

"Hermione, the two of us are in here naked!"

It had taken all Hermione's courage to go through with this, the very thought that Harry might reject her had never crossed her mind. "I just thought that you might seriously need cheering up, if it bothers you I could leave?"

Just mentioning leaving though saw her mate's arms tighten around her as he instigated a loving kiss of his own. "After the horror of this morning I felt dead inside. Now, seeing my mate in her full beautiful glory has helped push those terrible visions aside, I now have something far more wonderful to dream about when I close my eyes. Thank you so much, Hermione."

"You are mine, and I am yours, Harry. Nothing is going to change that. I was considering moving our relationship forward slightly after my birthday but felt you needed something special today, I also knew I could trust you..."

"Hermione, I would never..."

"I know, love, stand up and hold me while I wash your hair. We won't be doing this again for a long while so let's enjoy it while we can, it could become something we save for very special occasions though..."

Harry held his mate with all the tenderness he possessed as she gently massaged shampoo into his long black locks. Hermione's naked ministrations were washing away the horror and again emphasising to Harry that he could face anything with his mate by his side. Her courage and trust in him just turned a morning Harry never wanted to think of again into something he would look back on with great fondness for the rest of his life.

They got dried and dressed together, neither feeling any shame at their actions. Harry had certainly felt Hermione's wonderful chest against his as she held him close and his hand had most definitely strayed over her gorgeous bum but, apart from devouring each other with their eyes, that was as far as they went. Both had the maturity to know they weren't ready for any more yet, they still had almost three years before they would marry. It was a happy, and very clean, couple though who made their way toward mum's room.


The couple entered the room and, seeing her mother now awake, Hermione shot toward her bed. Only her mother's condition slowed Hermione down and stopped her crashing into the recovering Emma. The body that passed Hermione heading in the opposite direction was under no such restrictions, she slammed into Harry hard enough to almost have them over. He stood there, once more with a beautiful witch clinging to him, and Harry thought he was one lucky goblin.

"Oh Harry, I didn't want you thinking we thought any different of you now. I still love you, just not as much as I love my Neville mind."

"I know, Padma, and I'm really happy with all of that." Harry was hugging her back, accepting the offered comfort from his friend. He was then passed from Padma to Henrica for more of the same.

Tonks looked ready to hit him one first. "I don't know whether to smack you for leaving Hogwarts without me or that 'I'll face them all at once, Director' decision. Never do either again!" She did hug him though before pushing him in Amelia's direction.

"I know you only did what you had to, Harry. You impressed the hell out of Mad-Eye and scared years off my life."

Neville and Sirius congratulated him and Barchoke thought this certainly qualified as a special occasion, he proudly hugged his son. Harry was then face to face with Dan.

"I finished what you started, Dan, they paid for attacking our family."

Harry then felt a hand on his arm and looked around to see Emma staring into his face, her hand pulled Harry down until he was level with her and guided his head into her embrace. Harry was being cuddled by the woman he now considered his mum while looking into the smiling face of his mate, Hermione was receiving the exact same treatment on Emma's other side.

Dan glanced at the three smiling faces and relaxed for the first time since those goblins burst into their home.


Minerva couldn't believe how solemn the atmosphere was in the great hall, and all because a muggle woman had been attacked by some rogue goblins. She then had to reconsider that thought as she realised how many of the children currently in the care of Hogwarts actually knew Emma Granger. From the Head Boy and Girl down, this woman had touched the lives of a fair number of them, between holidays and birthday parties in Kingussie where an entire year group were invited. Of all the children affected though, none were more so than the little blonde sitting at the Ravenclaw table cuddling the black cat for comfort, a fact the head girl had picked up on and Penelope was sitting right beside Luna.

She was stroking Moonlight and trying to think positive thoughts about Emma, she simply had to recover. Having already lost her mother, Luna couldn't bear to see the woman who'd started to fill that void in her life leave too. Hermione was like a sister to Luna and she knew just how close her 'sister' was to Emma, she would hate for Hermione to undergo the same terrible experience as her.

The snowy white owl flying into the hall stopped all conversation, every pair of eyes were now locked on Luna as she removed the note from Eargit's leg. Those who couldn't see the girl's face feared the worst as she began sobbing, those who could relaxed as they saw a beaming smile on Luna's face. She managed to say 'Emma's going to be okay' before the hall erupted with cheering.

Minerva thought her surprises were now over for the day, Augusta spoiled that idea immediately.

"I'll cover the Muggle Studies classes until Sirius returns, that will just leave History students needing supervised."

With Madam Augusta Longbottom now apparently able to teach muggle studies, Minerva was left wondering where all these changes would eventually lead.

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