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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78. Death and Destruction

Hermione was finding it hard to believe she could be sitting surrounded by friends and yet still feel a touch of loneliness. She knew exactly why that was though, Harry was again patrolling Hogsmeade before the students headed down to the village after breakfast. With Voldemort once more on the loose, there would be no lunch with her mate either. Both he and Tonks had extra people under them as everyone knew this would be a prime target over the weekend.

The ministry was caught between a rock and a hard place in that they insisted on calling the trio criminals. To then cancel a Hogsmeade weekend at Hogwarts because there were three criminals on the loose sent all the wrong signals about whether the ministry could protect the magical community.

Their answer was to flood the village with aurors and goblin warriors, the top priority was to protect the students and keep the village safe. Should Voldemort, Lestrange and Rookwood attack, they would find themselves facing odds of over thirty to one.

She just missed having Harry beside her and had even considered staying in the castle with Luna, the rest of her friends were having none of that. Padma soon put her straight while they had walked down to the great hall for breakfast.

"Hermione, the village will be crawling with aurors and warriors, no one will be sneaking off for any alone time as a couple. We will be staying in as big a group as possible and I want you there. How else are you going to race to Harry's side if they do attack?"

After that, she really couldn't say no. She really couldn't miss Eargit either as the beautiful white owl swooped down and gracefully landed right in front of her.

"Hello Girl, is that for me?"

The owl was ready to give an indignant bark, did this human think she would deliver something to the wrong person? The sight of that human reaching for a piece of bacon changed that indignation into a nod and a bark of delight.

Hermione fed Eargit a rasher of bacon before removing her gift, a single red rose with a card that proclaimed 'missing you too!'. With a smile now back on her face, Roger just couldn't resist teasing.

"Even when Harry's not here, he still manages to make the rest of us look bad. He does know that Valentine's Day isn't until Monday?"

"After the disaster in our first year, you can bet he knows when it is. This is just to say sorry because he's on duty all weekend, he is a Centurion after all."

"Since he kicks our arses every week in our extra lesson, it's kinda hard to forget. Surely Voldemort won't be stupid enough to attack Hogsmeade over the weekend?"

That was Padma's cue to butt-in. "He was stupid enough to attack Amelia's New Year part. Okay, he didn't know there was a party being held there but the same reasoning might apply here too. What if he doesn't know Hogsmeade is full of aurors and warriors?"

Hermione soon put a stop to that line of thought. "Then he's in for a really big surprise and it will be their last attack."

-oOoOo-

Bella was concealed up in the hills around Hogwarts, her mate had been insistent they shouldn't be surprised again. She couldn't really see a lot of detail, Augustus again insisting that she was far enough away that there would be no danger of her being detected.

Her hand was resting on her growing midriff as she spoke. "Our big strong wizard worries so about us, little one. Your father is a good man, my son, not like that weak bastard I was forced to marry. He uses that beautiful mind of his to keep us safe. Today, I'll need my wand to do the same. Mummy and Daddy are fighting to make this work a better place for their beautiful boy to grow up in. if we have to kill half these bastards to do so then that's the way it has to be…"

She stopped speaking as, even from this distance, the sight of students beginning to make their way from the castle to Hogsmeade was unmistakable. Bella had gotten what she came for, conformation this was a Hogsmeade weekend for the students of Hogwarts. Her mate had argued this was something they needed to know, their master had gone along with that, knowing confirmation would be the signal for their attack. Bella didn't need to see any more, it was time to return and give that signal. It was time to announce they wouldn't just fade quietly away, the war was still on and Bella just couldn't wait to be in the thick of it.

-oOoOo-

Hermione was again surrounded by friends but, in all honesty, she just couldn't wait for today to be over. She was finding it hard to enjoy herself, knowing that warriors and aurors were putting their lives on the line specifically so they could visit Hogsmeade. She may understand the thinking behind this but that didn't mean she had to like it. The fact that Harry was one of those lives might have played a large part in forming that opinion though.

All around the village the tension was visible on the faces of their protectors, the threat of attack today was a very real one. Most of the third years stuck together, going for a safety in numbers approach. Those who could speak goblin clearly heard the shout that went up.

""Warriors to me, warriors to me.""

Even those who couldn't understand what was being shouted recognised who was doing the shouting, Harry. Wands were drawn as their peaceful afternoon in Hogsmeade appeared to be about to come to an abrupt end.

-oOoOo-

With Andrew on duty in Hogsmeade, Director Bones having cancelled all auror leave this weekend, Deborah had taken Danielle to visit Diagon Alley. The Dugan girls were having a witches day out, something the young mother knew she would enjoy more as her daughter got older. Still, Danielle was enjoying herself at the moment. What four year old doesn't like ice cream - and Fortescue's was simply the best.

Their enjoyment though was soon ruined by the arrival of three figures dressed in black portkeying directly into the alley. Deborah certainly got a good look at a pregnant Bellatrix Lestrange as she cast a curse directly at her and Danielle. Time seemed to slow as the curse sped toward them, it was with mounting horror the mother began to realise she wouldn't be able to reach across the table in time to push Danielle to safety. That horror changed to amazement as the curse impacted on wards. Florean himself came rushing out and started ushering his customers inside.

"I have goblin wards protecting my shop, get inside where you won't be seen."

Hearing this, as Florean was shouting to those occupying the few tables he had outside his shop, people who'd been on the street raced toward the ice cream parlour while trying to dodge spells from a now enraged Lestrange.

Voldemort had opened with some heavy magic, his intention being to cause structural damage while his two servants killed everyone they could get their wands on. His first spell blasted apart the front of the apothecary while his second started an inferno inside. The Owl Emporium suffered the same fate but Madam Malkin's absorbed his first curse - those blasted goblin wards were interfering with his plans again. With Flourish & Botts, Quality Quiddich Supplies and even the ice cream parlour protected, this severely dented their ambitions. Not only were these buildings able to resist his attacks, they were providing safe havens for those originally caught out on the street.

The snarls coming from Bella were those of frustration. Yes she'd killed but these people weren't supposed to be able to escape from her wand. As a witch on fire ran from the owl emporium, a cutting curse severed one of her legs clean off while hacking deeply into her other. Let her lie on the cobbles and burn, this was more like it. Bella scanned the alley, eagerly looking for her next victim.

Her mate was covering the other side of the alley. Augustus was being restricted to a few kills in the initial panic, that was before people realised there were oases of life-saving safety dotted along the alley. He knew it wouldn't be long before that initial panic passed and they started facing resistance. With them out in the open too, they would have no other option but to then retreat. This was not how this raid was supposed to go.

Their supposed carnage was looking more and more like a few buildings being destroyed with the death toll being kept to single figures, Voldemort was not happy. As a squad of goblin warriors charged down the steps of Gringotts, he unleashed a powerful curse right into the centre of their formation - blowing a large hole in their line as warriors flew through the air like skittles.

Here were the targets she craved, targets Bella was more than happy to accept as a gift. As her master knocked them down, she would kill the beasts as they hit the ground. Bella only managed one spell though before she was suddenly having to defend for their very lives.

Deborah was observing the scene unfold from the door of the ice cream parlour, watching as those brave goblins were blasted like that saw something deep inside her snap. Only the bravery of another goblin saw her and Danielle survive a previous death eater attack inside the ministry, she couldn't just stand here and watch as they were slaughtered. Her wand was in her hand and a curse fired before Deborah had time to think about it. This became the signal for those sheltering behind goblin wards in premises dotted along the alley to do the same, curses were soon raining down on the trio of attackers.

A group of eight aurors raced from the Leaky Cauldron to join the fight but when Centurion Crow led another squad of warriors in a charge down the steps of Gringotts, the three knew it was past time to return to their lighthouse. They didn't even manage a farewell volley of curses as all three were now having to concentrate on defending themselves. Voldemort barely had time to cast Morsmordre before being forced to flee.

There was no cheering as the trio was left with no option but to retreat with their tails between their legs. Diagon Alley was engulfed in flames and smoke, with the cries of terrified animals coming from the owl emporium adding a terrible soundtrack to what was already a horrific scene. The still burning body lying in front of the destroyed building was now silent in death.

Witches and wizards were emerging from the protected establishments to help fight the burning buildings dotted in-between their protected havens while the aurors were checking those who had been hit by spells. There were bodies lying unmoving up and down the alley. The warriors were ferrying their injured back inside Gringotts when floods of people began arriving in the alley.

Tonks had seen Harry collect a squad of warriors and disappear, she had immediately raced for the nearest floo. They had communication procedures set up and emergency aid on stand-by, hearing that it was actually Diagon Alley that had been attacked saw her grab a dozen aurors and direct them into the floo. She also set off the signal to order the evacuation of the students back to the castle, only to then find Hermione right by her side. Rather than argue, both followed the aurors through the floo to the Leaky Cauldron.

Amelia had also arrived in the alley, only to be halted by the carnage that she faced. Pushing her horror aside, she began to get the situation under control. The healer teams that arrived directly behind her helped restore that control as the injured now had somewhere to go. Harry offered the bank as a triage area, an offer Amelia quickly accepted. The extra wands though soon made light work of the remaining burning buildings.

If you were to take a photograph of Diagon Alley at that particular moment, a better endorsement of goblin wards would be hard to imagine. Burned-out shells were side by side with buildings that had suffered no damage whatsoever, and had also protected their staff and customers.

Harry eventually spotted Hermione with another two people they both knew, he quickly made his way over there. Danielle was sitting on Hermione's knee and saw Harry first, her yell of greeting alerted her mother and Hermione.

"Harry - you were all golden!"

Harry activated his armour for the curious little witch, if she was paying attention to that then she wouldn't be looking outside. "Yes, all centurions can do that."

The little witch looked to her mother for help. "Is that the same as daddy? Both fight the bad wizards and witches."

"Yes love, both fight the bad wizards and witches. It's nice to see you again, Harry, apart from the circumstances. That bitch Lestrange fired a curse right at us but your people saved the Dugan girls again. Those wards of yours saved a lot of lives today, including ours."

Florean himself came forward to thank Harry for The Nation's wards. "There were those among us who thought these wards were a waste of gold, even with Gringotts offering businesses the chance to pay for them over a ten year period. Without those wards we would be looking at a disaster today, they saved many lives as well as livelihoods. Mulpepper has spent decades building up his apothecary, he probably went up in flames with it today. Can you imagine the impact if they'd hit Ollivanders? These business owners were short-sighted and foolish in their choices, no blame can be attached to Gringotts for their failings - quite the opposite."

Florean Fortescue was a well-liked and influential figure on Diagon Alley, his opinion carried weight. That there were people in his shop who survived purely because of his foresight in having those wards installed certainly added to that influence.

Deborah lifted Danielle off Hermione, allowing the two teens to hug.

"I'm assuming father sent the recall signal?"

"Yes, as soon as the first set of wards were attacked he realised what was happening. We had a squad of warriors on stand-by in case they were needed in Hogsmeade. They charged out of Gringotts and straight at Voldemort, they took heavy casualties. By the time I got here the attack was all but over, Voldemort and his pair of death eaters must have had portkeys. How did you get here?"

"I flooed along with Tonks. She sent the evacuation warning before flooing to the Leaky Cauldron. Once I saw you were fine, I tried to stay out of the way and let you do your job. I just couldn't sit in Hogwarts and not know that you were okay. I'll head into Gringotts and wait in the apartment for you."

Barchoke had been looking for his son, he was surprised to find his daughter there too. Hermione was greeting her father as she normally would but little Danielle wanted in on the act too. She well remembered the little man who had saved her and mummy on her birthday.

Those watching smiled as the child hugged this goblin, Harry though had something to add.

"Father, that is now twice Danielle has been involved in this war. Can we help keep her safe?"

"It shall be done by next week, son. Sorry Deborah, I don't think we'll be able to do it any sooner than that. I would imagine today will see us really busy for the foreseeable future."

This confused the witch until a smiling Hermione explained. "There will be these same wards on your house shortly..."

"We could never afford them on Andrew's salary..."

"...and these two would never forgive themselves if something happened to Danielle. She doubled the number of witches there are in this country who will hug a goblin, even if she didn't know what a goblin was."

Deborah just added herself to that growing list as she hugged both Barchoke and Harry. The others in the shop who were waiting to give statements to the aurors had of course heard every word. This saw Florean offering his hand to Barchoke in thanks, both for the wards on his shop and what he'd just witnessed.

The pair of aurors present knew exactly who Deborah and Danielle were, they had been front page of the Prophet after all. They were delighted for Andrew and his family and they too shook Barchoke's hand in thanks. With the rest of the customers then following suit, it was a touching moment for the Goblin Ambassador, made all the more so by the fact his son and daughter were by his side to witness it.

-oOoOo-

Ragnok was surveying the public side of Gringotts with mixed emotions. That their warriors had charged the dark lord filled him with pride. He took almost as much pride from watching Centurion Crow charge right through the bank to get into the battle, his warriors pushing themselves to their limits to stay at their centurion's side. That the dark one and his two minions had fled from this threat shot a surge of enormous pride right through every goblin inside Gringotts.

There was also a sense of achievement here, as well as history being made right in front of them. Witches, wizards and goblins were lying on cots spread along the bank's floor. While that in itself was an achievement, that they were being treated in an order purely determined by the extent of their injuries was history being made right there.

His overwhelming emotion though was anger, an emotion that was fuelled every time his glance caught the two child shaped bundles covered by sheets. That these bastards could target children meant they were already the walking dead. If Gringotts got their hands on them first, their dragons would feast on their supposed pure blood.

He was approached by Bones and Fudge, the circumstances seeing protocols and titles forgotten today.

"We have twelve murdered, including nine witches and two young children. These bastards have now shown their true colours, they are nothing but killers. They didn't care about the purity of their victim's blood, witch, wizard or child made no difference to them either."

"We have three warriors dead and another two fighting to see the sunrise tomorrow. Minister, if we get them first they will face goblin justice."

Cornelius had of course read the Lady Black's book, he knew exactly how to answer that. "Director Ragnok, should these murdering bastards find themselves facing goblin justice, I would lead my people in raising a glass in thanks to our friends in The Nation. Should we be the ones who find ourselves in the position of having to administer justice, you have my personal guarantee they will all die. It may not be by dragon but they will still be dead."

Both leaders were happy with that, these three criminals could not be allowed to live.

Amelia certainly agreed with that opinion but knew they had still to catch them first. "We need to show how indiscriminate this attack was, destroying sympathy to the cause they supposedly champion is also a battle we need to win. Some of the shops in the alley having your wards is the only thing that stopped this being a total disaster. We could have been left looking at over a hundred dead and the destruction of the alley. We have to think his next move would be to try something similar in Hogsmeade..."

"Gringotts would be happy to extend the same terms to those premises as we did to our neighbours in Diagon Alley. They were given the option to pay for their wards over a ten year term, with only one percent interest being charged. We were going to extend this offer anyway, we have completed our surveys and recognised a tract of land between the Post Office and The Three Broomsticks as an ideal position for our new Hogsmead branch."

Knowing that the goblins would now be welcomed with open arms in the village, Cornelius promised to help make that happen as quickly as possible.

-oOoOo-

The students were escorted back inside the Hogwarts wards as quickly as possible, Parvati, Padma and Neville all raced toward the waiting Augusta for news. Most of their friends were hot on their heels.

"Voldemort attacked, but not where everyone thought he would. He hit Diagon Alley. Barchoke floocalled to tell me they retreated just as Harry arrived, he didn't want you worrying... Where's Hermione?"

"One second she was beside us, then she wasn't. Barchoke must have sent their emergency signal to Harry, he would have used his portkey to take those warriors into Gringotts. Hermione will have gone to Harry, if he's safe then so will she be."

Padma's certainty saw relief wash over Neville, he'd been worried about their best friends. There was also relief in knowing that neither the Longbottoms or Patils were within a thousand miles of Diagon Alley. The four parents had joined Dan and Emma to spend a peaceful week on the island.

-oOoOo-

There wasn't much peace to be found on the Flannan Isle that was home to the lighthouse, and its uninvited guests. It was one of those guests that was responsible for all the noise. Bella's bloodlust had been satisfied for now while Augustus was just too knackered to care at the moment. He'd thrown a lot of magic about in that attack, a lot of magic for him that was.

It wasn't the wards, or even the failure to achieve what they set out to do that was responsible for the dark lord's verbal outburst. It was something far more serious than that.

"They dared to lift their wandss against me, they actually fired cursess at Lord Voldemort! If they have made their choice then we will just have to make them pay for that choice. Our next attack hass to be bigger, bolder and strike fear into their heartss. If we need to bring the entire country to itss kneess before they will respect uss again, then so be it."

Rookwood was just too exhausted to think how his master was going to accomplish that with only the three of them, it would be two very soon as Bella's pregnancy advanced to the stage where she could no longer take part in any raids. With their son due in May, they were already quickly approaching the time where it would become too dangerous.

He would once more have to tread the delicate line of offering advice, rather than criticising his master. Augustus knew exactly what had their master so hot under the collar, it was the lack of respect. Not so long ago, the British magical community were so afraid of him they wouldn't even say his name. Today, those very same people stood and fired curses at him. It really was hard to believe that things had changed so much in such a short space of time. The had no influence, intelligence, supporters or wealth, all they had left was fear. To lose that too was the final straw.

This might actually work in his favour though. They needed something big, something requiring months of meticulous planning. If Augustus could stretch those months out until his son was born then the little tike might just have a chance.

Augustus Rookwood was a very clever wizard, he could see their only chance was to withdraw from Britain and spend a few years in a more sympathetic country, gaining followers to take back that which they had held once before. He also knew their master's pride would never allow that to happen.

This time last year he had lain in his dank cell in agony from his escape efforts, it was not a pleasant time. What a difference a year made! Having a son with Bellatrix Lestrange as a willing partner was way beyond any of those wildest dreams that had provided the fortitude to continue his painful efforts to escape. He would certainly give his life to try and protect his mate and son. To do so while knowing their son was safe on this island Augustus would regard as a great victory, especially from someone sentenced to spend the rest of his life in Azkaban.

Bella's devotion would never see her abandon their master, just like he would never abandon his mate and the mother of their child. Since that night in her cell, Augustus had been totally hers. He had also started treating every day as if it might be his last, it was beginning to look like that might soon be the case. His entire focus would now switch to ensuring their son survived. Considering the last thing he'd focused on had seen both of them do the impossible and escape from Azkaban, Augustus was sure he would be able to come up with something.

-oOoOo-

Amelia was racking her brain to come up with something - anything. "We thought of keying the magical detectors to the word 'Voldemort' but the only two people in the country now afraid to say his name are Rookwood and Lestrange. We can cycle it through the unforgivables but that also means waiting until they attack again. We've checked all the death eater homes and every location those death eaters who handed themselves in have told us about, not a sign of them. They literally could be anywhere."

Neither Cornelius nor Amos had anything to add to that. An idea was floated about offering a huge reward for information but Amelia thought that would hinder more than it would help. "If anyone knew anything, I'm pretty sure they would tell us. Even the rest of the death eaters want Voldemort dealt with. Offering a reward would see my aurors run ragged as people began reporting anything and everything in the hope of striking it rich."

"We need to prevent a recurrence of what happened today. If we can't find them then denying Voldemort targets is our next best option."

The Minister agreed with his Chief Warlock. "Any remaining businesses in Diagon Alley that don't have goblin wards soon will have. I spoke to Ragnok about issuing plaques to those businesses that did, so that their customers could shop with confidence. He said they had that idea initially but held back because they felt like they were forcing the other shops to purchase their wards. After today, I told him I would make it a ministerial decree if he wanted, that's the route we're going to take. These wards now come with a goblin made plaque that businesses must display to reassure their customers of their safety. Gringotts opening in Hogsmeade is also something I want to see happening as soon as possible. Twice now the goblins have stood beside us and fought this enemy, it's time for us to stand by them in this matter - and help protect our own people at the same time."

Amelia couldn't see any arguments being raised against any of that. The people of Hogsmeade had welcomed the goblin warriors with open arms, she couldn't see the bank proposal being any different. That there would soon be safe havens from death eater attacks in the village would also be a great boon, for villagers and the visiting Hogwarts students too.

Amos also didn't think they would have any trouble getting this through the Wizengamot, the words of Augusta Longbottom coming back to him. She had said at the initial discussion of goblins being able to live outside Gringotts that she would welcome goblin neighbours, Augusta wouldn't be alone in that now. Not only would their wards offer refuge to their neighbours, their warriors would soon appear if those same wards were under attack.

While certainly not his intention, the Chief Warlock couldn't help but find it ironic that Voldemort's attack had actually helped push wizard / goblin relations closer than they had been for centuries. The story of little Danielle Dugan hugging Ambassador Barchoke was also spreading like wildfire, as was that goblin family's response to the four year old witch. An auror's family would soon find themselves safe from the threat of Voldemort.

He wondered if this would start a new trend, one where parents would teach their children to hug goblins, rather than to fear them. Amos was struggling to believe their society could have come so far in such a short space of time. It shouldn't really be so hard to believe though, since most of it was derived from self-interest. The ministry's closer alliance with the goblin nation was making their country a safer place, now who could argue that was not something to be desired.

-oOoOo-

Harry was trying not to argue with his father but wanted some answers, one in particular. ""Did you know Bellatrix Lestrange was pregnant?""

After having contacted Hogwarts and discovering Sunday's proposed visit to Hogsmeade had been canceled, Harry and Hermione were staying in Gringotts overnight. The couple were now sitting having a discussion with their father, a father who was having to confess his sins.

""Yes I knew. I also deliberately didn't tell you in case you held back if forced to face her, she certainly didn't hold back today. She accounted for almost half of those murdered in the Alley. That witch is a ruthless killer and needs to be treated as such, any opponent making concessions because she's pregnant is going to find themselves dead.""

Hermione tried to intervene, knowing any argument between these two could be bad. Both had a streak of stubbornness running right through them like the lettering in a stick of seaside rock. ""I agree with you, father, that Lestrange is very dangerous and can't be allowed any concessions. I can't agree with the decision not to tell Harry. If Lestrange was visibly pregnant, not knowing beforehand was much more likely to cause Harry to hesitate than being prepared for the situation.""

""Oh it was visible, Hermione, she's at least as far on as Henrica. We've also learned that taking a witch or wizard's wand away leaves them practically defenceless. I've heard Lestrange fancies herself with a knife in her hand, but do you honestly think she could beat a goblin in any fight with a blade?""

""I'm sorry son, it was my decision...""

""...and it was the wrong one. You withheld information from a centurion in what is practically a time of war, surely you must see how serious that is?""

""I tried to protect my son, and forgot he was also a centurion - I appologise. I thought that by the time her pregnancy was visible, Lestange would not be taking part in any attacks. By our reckoning her baby is due in three months, yet she was in the alley today and throwing dark magic around without a care to her unborn child. It would appear she's even crazier than we feared.""

Trying to move the argument off-topic, Hermione asked their father a question. ""Can that really affect the child she's carrying?""

""We goblins class dark magic as anything that blackens the soul, the killing and torture curses certainly fall under that category. A baby is said to be born with a pure soul, that same baby though is part of their mother's body until the birth. It's not just nutrients they can absorb while in the womb. Any child of Rookwood and Lestrange is going to have a hard enough time of it without their mother dragging them along to battles too.""

Hermione had this terrifying image in her head of Lestrange going into battle with her baby strapped like a papoose on her back. ""You don't think she'd really take her child into battle, do you?""

This led to her father shrugging his shoulders. ""Hermione, that witch is crazy enough for anything.""

Both goblins in the room knew exactly what Hermione had done, and both were quite prepared to let her. Neither father nor son wanted to fight over this, a mistake had been made and wouldn't be repeated, it was time to move on.

-oOoOo-

Harry and Hermione were fighting, they didn't need ward stones today since they were using their swords. Their run in the tunnels was now greeted with waves and shouts of recognition, their swordplay too was attracting a lot of attention. Their concentration was total though, it wasn't until they finished that both realised just how big their audience was, or just who was amongst those spectators.

""What do you think, Master Sharpshard, acceptable?""

""Better than that, Director. Miss Granger not only has a fine teacher, she wields that blade as if born to it. The Centurion here would appear to have taken at least some of my teachings on board, the only way to improve is practice, practice and more practice. Something these two have obviously done a lot of.""

The couple were both bowing, embarrassed at the praise. Harry though couldn't resist firing a friendly barb at the master of the blade. ""Director Ragnok, you should attend Master Sharpshard's classes. I think those are the first kind words I've ever heard him utter, his students would certainly appreciate your presence if that is the effect you have on him.""

This had The Director and most of those listening roaring with laughter.

""I see even Miss Granger's company hasn't been able to part you from that streak of insolence you are so fond of.""

""Forgive me, Master Sharpshard, my mate told me that was his goblin sense of humour. Is this not the case?"" Hermione was looking at Harry mock-accusingly as she said this.

The laughter actually increased in volume this time before Harry could answer. ""Hermione, Master Sharpshard doesn't have a sense of humour - goblin or otherwise.""

""Destroying my favourite axe, Centurion, is not a case for laughter. At least it now has a good home.""

""Yes, it hangs on my wall..."" Harry couldn't hold it any longer and burst into laughter himself, Master Sharpshard was only a second behind, leaving Hermione to wonder if she would ever get a handle on their mysterious sense of humour.

The four walked back to their apartment together, further enhancing the couple's reputation in The Nation.

""We were looking for you earlier but your father told us you would be training, Master Sharpshard wanted to see that and I tagged along.""

The thought of The Director just 'tagging along' only made sense if he wanted something, both Harry and Hermione were just about to find out what that was.

""In times of trouble it is always a bonus if you can give the Nation something to look forward to. With your help I'm hoping we can achieve that. Reports coming back from those living in Kingussie are glowing, making me wonder if we couldn't give more goblins a taste of your wonderful hospitality. I am proposing we hold a summer fayre - in Kingussie.""

Harry only remembered one fayre in his time at Gringotts, his memories of this event were some of the best of his turbulent childhood. ""Director, I think that's a wonderful idea. Kingussie is certainly available for holding this event, all I would ask is that the timing not coincide with me becoming a godfather or brother.""

""I'm sure we could arrange the dates with your father, I just wanted to ask your permission to hold it in Kingussie first. A Fayre inside Gringotts is always limited by the space available, holding it in your glen easily solves that problem. We could even let it run for an entire weekend?""

With Harry readily agreeing to that, Ragnok had one last thing to add. ""Of course, any of your friends from Hogwarts would be more than welcome to attend. After all, it is your home.""

As the group parted ways, it was an excited Harry who explained to Hermione exactly what was involved in a goblin fayre. Hermione was again reminded of the goblin children playing in the snow and realised at once why holding this event outside would be such a big event for The Nation - one they would all be looking forward to. She could also see more goblin dwellings soon being built in Kingussie, something she was very happy about.

-oOoOo-

Happy was not a word Rita would use to describe her feelings about her latest exclusive on the front page of the Prophet. While it pleased her on a professional level as a piece of work, as a witch it made her feel sick. Rita had been inside Gringotts when the alarms had been sounded, she had transformed into her bug form and flew from the bank. Rita had immediately gained height to avoid all the curses that were being thrown, it also gave her an excellent view of the battle. The picture taken from her memory and now displayed on the front page of the Prophet was testament to that.

The view from above showed the end of the attack, the trio of murderers were taking spells from the protected premises while goblin warriors and aurors were now attacking from either end of the alley. The arrival of Centurion Crow with more warrior reinforcements saw the trio forced to flee for their lives. The dark mark above the alley was actually being obscured by the smoke from the burning building. Viewing the scene from this angle also meant that the bodies lying in the alley weren't recognisable as anything other than bodies.

Death and Destruction in Diagon

A normal Saturday in Diagon Alley became a day that will live with infamy in the psyche of everyone who has ever visited that famous street. Tom Riddle - aka Voldemort, Bellatrix Lestrange and Augustus Rookwood portkeyed into the middle of the alley and immediately began dispensing death and destruction.

In the past, this group have championed unsupported beliefs that would see one section of our society elevated above everyone else. Yesterday they showed their true colours, murdering indiscriminately and without the slightest warning. Neither the purity of blood nor the gender of their victims made the slightest difference to this trio, there were even two children amongst the twelve murdered for simply being in the alley.

That the death toll and destruction wasn't on a far greater scale is due to a number of factors. Chief amongst these was certain shopkeepers having the foresight to take advantage of the generous provisions Gringotts offered businesses and had their premisses warded against death eaters. Not only did this protect their businesses and customers from this ambush, they provided safe locations for those in the alley to seek shelter from the vicious murderers.

Even although the bulk of aurors and goblin warriors were busy patrolling Hogsmeade to protect the Hogwarts students, both the ministry and Gringotts were still able to rapidly respond to this attack. Four brave goblin warriors lost their lives charging down the steps of Gringotts to engage the murderers.

When the witches and wizards already in the alley opened fire on the terrible trio, they were forced to scurry away and hide as more reinforcements flooded into Diagon.

In the space of five horrific minutes, Diagon Alley was in flames and sixteen souls had been murdered. A disgusted yet forthright Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, had this to say.

"The Ministry and Gringotts are determined these criminals shall be brought to justice, whether that is wizarding or goblin justice will depend on who gets to them first. Either way, these three criminals will pay with their lives for their despicable actions here today. While we continue to search the length and breadth of the country in an attempt to discover what rock they crawled under, we are currently working with our goblin friends and looking to introduce measures to prevent an attack like this ever happening again."

Wherever these three are hiding they better hope it's the aurors who catch them first, goblin justice would see them being thrown unarmed into a Gringotts dragon pit. After witnessing the atrocities these three were responsible for in Diagon Alley, who could argue against that fate being fully justified.

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