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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21. Disrespecting Your Elder

Albus was in a foul mood as he entered the Wizengamot chamber, his Christmas had been anything but merry. He'd tried to use the holiday to sway Hogwarts staff over to his way of thinking about the boy-who-lived, with absolutely no success. All had robustly rebuffed his ideas, with Professor Hobson getting so angry she began shouting at him in Swedish. Even Severus had point blank refused to put his fledgling relationship with the boy in jeopardy for the sake of the greater good.

Now the Chief Warlock found himself summoned to a meeting, with not the slightest idea what was on the agenda. This was adding to his bad mood, a bad mood he intended to lighten by sharing it around. It was way beyond time that Albus reminded people he was the most powerful wizard in the country.

The most powerful wizard in the country was ready to blow his top after spotting Harry and his father sitting in the front row of the public gallery. Watching Miss Bones join the pair left Albus feeling that he wasn't going to enjoy today either. If Cornelius had started listening to Amelia Bones, then Albus anticipated trouble. There was just no give in the stern witch, she tended to see things in terms of black and white or, even worse, lawful / unlawful.

Seeing Amelia arrive in the chamber, alongside the minister, just seemed to confirm his worst fears. Albus decided to get this show on the road. He stood and banged his gavel to bring the chamber to order, not even trying to hide his displeasure at the situation he found himself in. "Fellow Wizengamot members, I bid you welcome to this emergency meeting. Normally I would now announce our agenda but, since I haven't been informed of why we've all been ordered here, I must now pass you over to the one who called this meeting. Please take the floor, Minister Fudge."

The minister slowly rose, knowing every eye was now on him. Cornelius understood this was his moment to shine, and intended to make the most of it. "Fellow Wizengamot members, I would first like to apologise for disturbing your holiday - and for the secrecy that surrounds this meeting today. I can assure everyone of the necessity of both, and I am confident you will agree with me when you discover why we are here. This emergency meeting is all about justice, and that's what I intend to see carried out here today. Aurors, bring in the prisoners."

Senior Aurors Shacklebolt and Robards led both father and son Bartemiuses into the chamber, a chamber that had descended into uproar. A cannon blast noise spell from Amelia got everyone's attention.

"We will have order here, and we will see justice done. This ministry has nothing to hide and all your questions will be answered before we even consider passing sentence. I think the entire chamber recognises that one of these prisoners has already been convicted of heinous crimes, I feel no need to rake over that painful ground again here today. That judgement and sentence still stands."

Amelia watched as Augusta Longbottom regained control of her emotions, and nodded her thanks for that. This would be painful enough without having to relive Frank and Alice's torture.

That nothing was going to be swept under the rug seemed to appease the Wizengamot, for now. They would wait and see how things went before passing judgement on the Crouch family.

Shack applied the truth serum to Barty Senior and led him through the story of how his son came to be chained into the seat beside him. The chamber listened, enraptured as the tragic tale of an embittered man and loving mother descended into criminality. Barty brought his story right up to date by informing the chamber about Amelia Bones jumping through his destroyed window on Christmas Day before stunning him.

Susan was sitting there feeling ten feet tall with pride at her aunt's deeds when Harry leant over and whispered to her. "Sorry for ruining your Christmas, it couldn't have been any fun on your own."

"Oh that's all right Harry. I was with Hannah, and this is what Auntie does. I wouldn't have it any other way."

Amelia now opened the questions up to the chamber, though Shack would still be asking them of the prisoner. Hearing that a couple of people had stumbled on the secret over the years, only for Barty to obliviate them, was a discovery that stripped any last semblance of sympathy away from the man. That he'd kept his son under the imperius curse for the last decade meant Barty Senior's fate was well and truly sealed. Barty Junior, having been held under an unforgivable curse since stepping out of Azkaban, didn't really have anything to add to the proceedings. As no one really wanted to hear him spout dark lord dogma, he was sentenced as an escaped prisoner from Azkaban. Both he and his father were to have a kiss by a dementor administered before nightfall.

This time it was Susan's turn to lean over and whisper to Harry. "I think I would rather be thrown to a dragon than face a dementor. At least with the dragon, it would be over with quickly!"

As the father and son were being led away to face their sentence, one of the members asked Amelia a question the Head of the DMLE wasn't sure she wanted to answer. With Barchoke and Harry sitting there though, she was trapped into providing one.

"Madam Bones, how did you come by the information that led you to raid the Crouch Residence on Christmas Day?"

"Our friends from the goblin nation provided some quite compelling proof of just what was going on in the Crouch Residence."

Albus was on his feet, knowing that goblins always expected to be paid. "Can I ask just why the goblins were interested in wizarding affairs?"

"Actually, that leads us nicely on to the next part of our proceedings. It has come to the ministry's attention that Barty Crouch was the main force behind a wizard being sent to Azkaban without a trial, we intend to right that wrong here today."

Dumbledore needed all his experience not to let his dismay at this development show, knowing at once exactly who the wizard was Amelia referred to. "On a point of order, I must advise that this emergency session doesn't currently have a mandate to..."

Harry didn't need the spell the director used on the steps of Gringotts, the anger in his voice clearly discernible as it reverberated throughout the chamber. "Point of order? Where was this love of the law when you ordered Hagrid to deny my godfather his rightful possession of me? When you left a baby on a muggle doorstep? When you employed Voldemort to teach at Hogwarts?" Harry ignored the shouts and gasps at his use of that name. "Where was this love of the law when you attempted to blackmail my new defence tutor?" Harry then addressed a chamber that was agog at these accusations.

"Sirius Black is my godfather, yet this is the same man that supposedly served both me and my parents up to the dark lord? I demand the right to know if this is the truth, who in here would deny me that right?"

Dumbledore was aghast at Harry's knowledge, and the ferocity of his verbal attack. He tried to stall for time. "Harry, this is not something a child needs to hear, Sirius Black is..."

"My name is Centurion Crow, and I am no child old man. If Sirius Black is found to be guilty, I would have no hesitation in demanding satisfaction and killing him myself. Now, as Chief Warlock, aren't you the one charged with seeing justice done, or - like headmaster of Hogwarts - is that just another title you hold but have no intention of fulfilling the job requirements?"

The minister stood at this point and took over. "I personally invited young Harry and his father here today to see justice done. Regardless of his crimes, Sirius Black should still have been afforded a trial. When pureblood wizards can be thrown in Azkaban, with no hearing nor any right of appeal, it begs the question of who could be next."

Cornelius knew he had them now. If this fate could befall one pureblood, what was to stop any of them being the next victim? It was time for the minister to do a bit of grandstanding, especially since he made sure the press would be here. "My ministry were not involved in this injustice, furthermore, it will never play a part in a witch or wizard being sent to Azkaban without a trial. If that is the kind of minister you want, then you got the wrong wizard when you elected Cornelius Fudge. Aurors, bring in the prisoner. The same rules apply as last time, we will allow questions from the chamber once the truth about that evening has been established."

Mad-eye and Tonks led Sirius into the chamber, ensuring he was secured to the supplied chair before administering the veritaserum. Albus was desperate to object on any grounds possible but Alastor Moody's presence robbed him of all the opportunities he could think of. It would be an incredibly stupid person who brought Mad-eye's honesty into question, especially where supposed dark wizards were concerned.

The chamber expected someone who had spent the last decade in Azkaban to be rather the worse for wear, in that sense Sirius didn't disappoint. What did surprise them was the wide smile and manacled wave of greeting in the boy-who-lived's direction.

Sirius proclaiming under truth serum that he was neither the Potter's secret keeper nor a death eater fairly got the chamber talking, and the press offering thanks to de Sales that they were present here today.

The entire chamber sat enthralled as Sirius was led through his story. Of how he became uneasy that Halloween evening, and that unease turning to panic as he couldn't find Peter. Panic becoming horror as he arrived in Godric's Hollow to discover the closest thing to family he had in the entire world murdered. His world shifting out of kilter when Hagrid refused to hand his godson over, and his need for revenge on the betrayer - eventually leading to him being illegally incarcerated in Azkaban.

The chamber had listened earlier as tragedy saw a wizard, trapped by circumstances, continually break the very laws he once so passionately championed. Now circumstances appeared to have colluded to see this innocent wizard lose a decade of his life, no one knew quite what to say.

Harry though had a question he would like to hear Sirius publicly answer. "Minister, would it be possible to ask my godfather just who cast the fidelius charm on my parents' home?"

Cornelius was not the only person who wondered why Harry was asking that particular question, he was the one who voiced his puzzlement though.

"Simple minister, our research shows that this charm is extremely complicated to cast, and requires a lot of power from the caster. I doubt if there are many in this chamber who could successfully perform the charm."

This appeared to upset a toad faced woman who let her displeasure be known "I would like to know what you're implying by that remark? I would also like to know why this chamber is allowing goblins to interfere in the affairs of wizards, something I'm sure was against wizarding law the last time I looked."

Harry took umbrage at this witch's attitude. "You clearly don't know anything about goblins madam. We never imply, rather ask questions and investigate until we get to the truth. On the Halloween evening of nineteen eighty one, despite being protected by a fidelius charm, my parents were murdered. My godfather was soon placed in Azkaban while my godmother now resides in ward forty nine of St. Mungo's, I ended up being abandoned on a muggle doorstep by Albus Dumbledore."

Cornelius was watching this and thinking how right Amelia was, the boy obviously considered Albus poison - and the minister would have to be careful not to become tainted by association with the Hogwarts headmaster.

"Now you may think that's a lot of hard luck for one person to have, but here's where we hit a problem. My godfather was in Godric's Hollow that night yet clearly denied his rights - by Dumbledore's orders. My godmother was one of the most respected aurors the ministry had at the time, yet again her rights were ignored. Both my godmother and godfather were available to me on that evening, yet Albus Dumbledore took it upon himself to decide what was going to happen to me - and you all stood back and let him."

This was met with utter silence as Harry held them all accountable for what had befallen their saviour. He then turned his attention back on the witch who'd asked him the question in the first place. "We are well aware goblins are not allowed to interfere in the affairs of wizards, but we are allowed - and certainly intend - to investigate fully wizards who commit crimes against goblins. Does anyone here doubt crimes were committed against me? On discovering my godfather was innocent, yet received no trial, we began investigating the people who put him in Azkaban. It was as simple as A, B, C, - Albus, Bagnold and Crouch. It was this same investigation that discovered Crouch's deceit, and allowed my godfather the trial we've just witnessed here today."

Mad-eye then asked Sirius the suggested question, only to be disappointed when he didn't know. "I was more concerned with making sure the rat would be well hidden, I wasn't there when it was cast and never thought to ask."

The witch was back at her snarkiest, her attempt at a sweet innocent voice fooling no one. "I hope that answer satisfies our goblin friends?" She actually managed to make the word 'friends' sound like the worst contagious disease in the world.

"Absolutely not. I am very suspicious of the supposed 'coincidences' that happened around me that night. Just like I'm suspicious of Flamel's stone being hidden in Hogwarts - and Voldemort being employed to teach there the very year Harry Potter was scheduled to arrive. I can also assure the honourable lady we will get the answers we require, and that I applaud Minister Fudge's tough stance against those breaking the law."

Harry sat down at that to mixed reactions. The toad faced witch was fuming, quite a few others appeared concerned at what these goblin investigations might unearth. The minister though wore a wide smile as he continued the proceedings.

"Is there anyone in this chamber who has the slightest doubt Sirius Black is an innocent man?" Cornelius was well aware by asking the question in this way, anyone objecting would have to publicly declare themselves. In a vote, they could have cast their opinion in secret.

"Since there are no objections, I declare Sirius Black a free wizard. Madam Bones will investigate this matter further, including a recommendation for recompense over wrongful incarceration, and report back to this chamber at the first meeting of nineteen ninety two. A warrant shall be immediately issued for the arrest of Peter Pettigrew, his Order of Merlin is of course revoked. I declare this emergency session over and would like to thank everyone for attending during this holiday period."

The manacles were removed from Sirius and he stood as a free wizard for the first time in a decade. He looked toward his godson, who quickly got the nod from his father. Susan giggled at Harry's visible glee, he actually vaulted over the balustrade, separating the spectators from the court, and was soon wrapped in Sirius' arms.

Here was a belated Christmas present for the press corps, a picture of the boy-who-lived hugging an innocent Sirius Black was a sure thing for the front page. It might even rate a special edition all on its own.

Albus had skin that would put Teflon to shame, he really believed none of the allegations that Harry had just made could possibly stick to him. While the rest of the chamber bore witness to a touching reunion, Albus just saw opportunity knocking - an opportunity he intended to exploit at once.

He quickly made his way over to the celebrating pair. "Good to see you free Sirius, I will certainly support any measures you take to regain custody of your godson..."

Sirius was nowhere near his peak physical condition, which was probably just as well. If he had been, the punch that hit Albus Dumbledore would probably have killed the old wizard. Even in such poor shape though, there was ten years of hate and anger behind the blow.

The physical blow was totally unexpected, and caught Albus unawares. He stumbled back a couple of steps before falling on his bum, sitting there with his nose gushing blood.

An enraged Sirius Black was towering over the downed Dumbledore. "You sanctimonious, conniving old bastard - stay the fuck away from my godson or you'll have me to deal with too!"

The flash of the photographer's camera was the spark that finally ignited Albus' temper. Who did this ungrateful whelp think he was shouting at - some stray mongrel cur? The indignity suffered sitting here on the floor was even more painful than the nose he was sure had crunched under that fist. His wand was out and moving before really registering with the Chief Warlock what spell he intended to cast.

The surge of light that followed made the photographer's flash appear like a mere twinkling Christmas Tree bulb, temporarily blinding nearly all of the chamber's occupants. As their vision returned, the sight that greeted them left most of them wondering if the flash had affected their minds too. A golden boy-who-lived was currently standing over Albus Dumbledore, with a glowing sword point pressed against the older wizard's chest.

"You'll have to excuse my godfather's abruptness. You see, unlike me, he doesn't think the great Albus Dumbledore would actually curse an unarmed man - I know you better."

Albus had no answer, he had no words. The stump of wood he was holding in his hand was also telling him he now had no wand, his brain though refused to process that information. The elder wand could not be destroyed - it just couldn't!

The flash when Harry sliced through Dumbledore's wand was unexpected, as was his sword glowing for a moment. What was familiar though was the feeling of power now running through the blade, it felt similar to his beloved knife. If Harry could cast a spell with his sword, he would see Dumbledore tied up in restraints - like that incarcerous spell Curse-breaker Weasley was teaching them.

No one was more surprised than Harry when thick ropes shot out of the sword of Gryffindor, and secured Dumbledore's arms to his torso - he certainly hid his surprise better though.

Mad-eye had seen the lad prepare to take action and was moving until that flash sent a pain right through his skull, his magical eye not reacting fast enough to the sudden tremendous increase in light levels. As both his eyes recovered, Alastor discovered he couldn't move. Well, not without taking a goblin blade through his right kidney.

"Take it easy my warrior friend, both of us have seen more than enough bloodshed. Let us carefully weigh up our options, before allowing another precious drop to be unnecessarily spilled."

This was said so quietly that only the two of them could hear it. "What are you proposin' sir?"

"My son will not harm anyone who doesn't attack him first, let us see how this plays out and then shake hands - warrior to warrior?"

Mad-eye was unsure about this. "You've got the drop on me, why would you give up that advantage?"

"Neither of us are fools, we wouldn't have lived this long if we were. I also think you are a man of honour, though if I'm wrong I'm positive my son will avenge me."

The grizzled old auror was left questioning both his eyes as the lad cast a spell, wordlessly and with a sword, wrapping Dumbledore up like yesterday's leftover turkey. As Harry turned to talk to Black, Mad-eye slowly raised his empty hand. "That's quite the boy you've got there, no one gets that good without a massive amount of trainin'."

Barchoke's blade had disappeared as he shook the auror's hand. "My son is a dedicated warrior, his appointment to centurion status was earned entirely on merit."

Moody kept his ear to the ground and had heard of this lad's feat of taking down a fully grown mountain troll, there were also whispers circulating regarding his encounter with Lucius Malfoy. Alastor was honest enough with himself to admit he'd taken both stories with a pinch of salt - not anymore. The lad's movements had been fluid and lightning quick, he could have sliced Albus open if the lad wanted to. Yes he was undoubtedly young but clearly carried himself with a maturity that was way beyond his years. With Bones influencing that idiot Fudge and this lad on board for the fight - not forgetting that sneaky goblin father of his - Moody felt better about their chances than he had in years. Shit, he was almost optimistic!

His glance at Albus filled him with regret. The old wizard's time was over, he just didn't know it yet. Albus Dumbledore's policy of blanket forgiveness really stuck in the ancient auror's craw. Burying your people while letting the murderers walk free was no way to win a war, and Alastor had always known their war wasn't over.

Sirius made his way over, with his arm on his godson's shoulders. A godson who'd sheathed his sword and lost the golden armour. The now free wizard had known at once what Dumbledore was attempting, and had enjoyed slamming that door, and his fist, firmly in Dumbledore's face. He now intended to publicly end any speculation on the matter. The knowledge that Harry and his adopted father already had it covered just added spice to the mix, it was great to be free and be a marauder again.

"Barchoke, I would like to thank you for the wonderful job you have done in raising my godson, I would also like to say publicly that I have no intention of disputing your position as his parent and guardian. I do hope you will allow me to play some part in his life though?"

The goblin bowed to the ragged figure before throwing something else into the mix. "Lord Black, our door will always be open to you. There are things I am ill equipped to teach my son, I'm sure he would rather learn them from his godfather than some tutor I hired."

Amelia and Susan joined the conversation at that point. "Not if all his tutors are like the one you arranged to teach history at Hogwarts - Miss Hobson. I understand the young professor has made quite the impact since arriving at the castle? Harry, I was really impressed by your armour, I've never seen anything like that before."

Susan spoke before realising what she was saying. "I now see what you mean about your tunic adapting..." The red faced young witch was then left to explain her comments to a group of smirking adults. "Harry showed us his armour in Miss Hobson's class, he had to loosen his shirt or it would have been ruined."

This was like manna from heaven for Sirius, discovering that his godson's life wasn't all training fairly put the twinkle back in his eye - as did noticing how this young witch was eyeing up his godson. "Let me see if I've got this right, you got your shirt off in front of a hot young teacher and all the girls in your class? Your dad would be so proud of you, while your mum would probably give you a clip round your ear."

"Sorry to disappoint you, Sirius but I kept my shirt on. I did offer to duel while in full armour but the bell beat us, I have improved my speed since then."

It was Amelia who came back for more. "I was wondering if that armour was commercially available? It makes a dragon hide vest appear pretty lame in comparison."

Harry was well used to dealing with inquiries like this from his friends. He understood there was no insult intended, although Madam Bones had practically stumbled into one. "Centurion armour is exactly that, ma'am, armour for centurions. It can never be bought or handed on to someone else, but must always be earned. For someone not of centurion rank to wear this armour would be an instant death penalty - much like you have set penalties for witches and wizards who use unforgivables. I understand your interest Madam Bones, but centurion armour is sacred to our nation."

"My son is quite correct Madam Bones, though slightly modest. I don't believe the ministry has similar positions to that of a centurion, it's almost like a cross between a warrior and an ambassador. In any war, you will always find centurions at the front of our nation's warriors. In times of peace, leading by example and promoting goblin values is one of their main roles in life."

Sirius still had his arm on Harry's shoulders and could feel his godson stand that little bit straighter at his father's words of praise. "Well I have to say this is bad planning on your part, Harry. If you'd gotten me out a couple of days sooner, there would have been an extra Christmas present for you yesterday."

Barchoke could see the twinkle in this wizard's eye and thought this was the kind of person his son needed to be around more, Harry needed to learn to relax a little. "Since he's spending Christmas with two girls, Sirius, I don't think he would have missed a present from his godfather too much. Speaking of those girls, I'd better get him back there. Hermione and Padma are sure to be waiting, dying to know every detail." He chuckled to himself watching Harry now squirm under his godfather's gentle teasing. "Sirius, with Harry spending the holiday at the Grangers, you are more than welcome to stay with me. I would also prefer if our healers could have a look at you. If nothing else, they have excellent nutrient potions you could certainly benefit from."

Sirius readily agreed to that suggestion, anything would be preferable to Grimmauld Place. He didn't know it was possible to feel elated and exhausted at the same time, today had already taken a lot out of him.

As the trio were making their way out the chamber, an idea hit Harry. "Sirius, how would you like to give your godson the best present ever?"

This intrigued both adults until Harry very quietly explained what he wanted. Sirius' loud roar of laughter was the first to pass his lips in over a decade.

Dumbledore sat and watched as the goblin effortlessly accomplished what he could not. Black left in their company, clearly more than happy to go along with them. Calling Sirius Lord Black would also halt any other attempts to remove Harry from Gringotts, a pureblood lord in their corner just legitimised Barchoke's claim on the boy.

He'd been released while a healer had repaired his nose and cleaned away the blood. Albus was beginning to wonder if the stain on his reputation would last a lot longer. He'd known about those deadly blades of Harry's, yet made the same mistake again of letting the boy get too close - and paid a very high price.

He didn't even want to think how a picture of a golden armoured / snow-white tunic wearing boy-who-lived standing over him with a sword would look. all Albus' thoughts were centred on the two pieces of wood that were now just that - two pieces of wood. The elder wand had been his ace up his sleeve when facing Voldemort, now their entire world was resting on the boy being able to take down the darkest wizard in centuries.

Albus was glad there was still most of the holidays yet to go, he reckoned it would take him longer than that to figure out where he went from here.

In stark contrast, Cornelius was prancing about like a peacock. The ploy of being open and telling the truth had drawn public praise from the boy-who-lived, now there was a Christmas present gold couldn't buy.

-oOoOo-

With Harry gone, Emma shooed Dan away to watch some sport on the telly so she could spend time with the girls. It was heartening to see Hermione and Padma so close, their daughter never had a close friend before meeting Harry. They both obviously missed him but Emma was beginning to understand the dynamic in the group, especially as Padma told a few tales from Hogwarts.

Both Hermione and Harry were pretty serious kids, Padma seemed determined to lighten the pair of them up a bit. Hermione had been teased before of course, but not like this. There was nothing malicious about Padma's teasing, it was more gentle barbs in an attempt to get her friends to blush. Hearing that Hermione was now teasing back was practically a relief for Emma, her 'spending the night with Harry' jibe had her laughing out loud.

Padma's story of how some of the witches had turned their attention onto Neville, and how they dealt with it, had Emma laughing once more. It did raise some concerns with the mother though.

"I just don't understand what all the rush is to find a boyfriend? Kids who are not even into their teens shouldn't be worrying about potential husbands."

While Hermione agreed with her mum, she tried to explain what Padma had told her in a way that might make sense. "Mum, you and dad met at university when you were studying dentistry. How many universitys in Britain offer that course?"

"Oh, at least a dozen. Why?"

"In magical Britain, there are no universities. No primary schools, just Hogwarts - nothing else. Apart from a few who might be home-schooled, the students that we meet there are the total population of witches and wizards our age."

Emma now had a new concern. "No further education? Where do the doctors, lawyers and the hundreds of other people you need come from?"

"When you decide on a career, it's almost like an apprenticeship program. You learn the basics for OWL's, then you have NEWT's to qualify for whatever career apprenticeship you want. St. Mungo's trains its own healers, the Ministry of Magic has a wide variety of jobs and there's always private firms too. Even Gringotts employs and trains a few witches and wizards."

Emma was starting to get some idea of just how rare it was to have a witch in the family. She now understood that Hermione's year group had been conceived and born during a war, a war the Grangers were thankfully unaware of at the time, thus resulting in their smaller than usual number of students. That there was only one magical school for the entire country was mind-blowing. One hospital, one government building, one centre of commerce and only one magical village. With families living practically in isolation, was it any wonder they went a tad 'mental' when they all got together at school. It still sounded a bit like a cattle market to the mother but she was learning from her daughter not to voice those thoughts.

"What do you think of this, Padma?"

She took a moment to ponder before answering her friend's mother. "I think being friends with Harry has had a big influence on all of us. We know he has a big decision to make before he turns seventeen, I know the way he's handling it has certainly had an effect on me. Harry's determined to see what different cultures have to offer before even considering making a decision, that's not something I had thought possible before. There's an entire world out there I know nothing about, and I'm in Ravenclaw because I love to learn. Maybe in a few years I'll start worrying about finding a potential husband, before my father finds one for me, but I intend to enjoy myself with my friends until then."

"Would your father really do that?" Emma realised that was a stupid question straight after she asked it, her father had already tried to arrange a marriage for both twins to Harry.

"If there isn't a wizard my father approves of at least dating me by the time I'm seventeen, then he will take the matter out of my hands. That's assuming he hasn't already offered me to someone else?"

That this was totally alien to the Grangers went without saying, Hermione had already stated though that she had no intention of losing her friendship with Padma over the matter. "Mum, I've noticed in the magical world that couples seem to marry younger than non magicals probably would. Harry's parents married right after graduating Hogwarts, so did Neville's."

"My father was almost thirty when his parents arranged a marriage contract with my mother's family, she was seventeen."

Padma's casual acceptance of the situation was something both Granger girls were really struggling to deal with.

Harry's arrival soon had the girls racing to meet him, desperate to find out how the trial had gone. His detailed and lengthy explanation had the rest of them waiting on tomorrow's Prophet being delivered.

-oOoOo-

Amelia was sitting with her niece, enjoying a lazy breakfast and smirking at the Prophet. The theme their two front page pictures appeared to have in common, apart from Harry being in them, was that both would have been considered unbelievable less than twenty four hours before. It was hard to decide whether the boy-who-lived hugging Sirius Black was more shocking than a golden Harry holding his sword on a bleeding Albus Dumbledore.

The newspaper then went to great lengths to explain the 'history' behind each picture, accurately and honestly reporting exactly what had been said in the courtroom. Amelia wondered if this new standard of journalism was as a result over goblin complaints about their catastrophe in the cemetery story, or simply that yesterday's events didn't require any sensationalising. The actual facts of the matter were easily sensational enough on their own.

Amelia was about to discover that, as far as her niece was concerned, the answer was neither. The white owl that flew to Susan was easily considered more sensational news by the young witch than anything the Prophet had to say.

"That's Harry's owl, Eargit." Her hands were trembling as Susan removed the note from the gorgeous owl's leg. Her eyes nearly popped out her head and she was almost hyperventilating as Susan explained the note. "Harry was sorry I didn't get to spend Christmas Day with my family, he blamed himself for you having to work. Harry's offering to make it up to me with a muggle shopping trip, with Hermione, her mum, the Patil twins - and Hannah's invited too! Can I go?"

Just looking at how excited her niece was over this opportunity meant there was no way Amelia could say no. Susan squealed before diving for the floo, only to come rushing back to speak to the owl. "I'm just going to check if my friend can come too, I'll be back in a minute and then could you take my answer back to Harry?"

Amelia smiled as her niece shot back out the room to contact Hannah, Mrs Granger was certainly going to have her hands full - taking five young witches shopping.

-oOoOo-

The Burrow may have been full to capacity but it was unusually quiet, that was a situation that could never last for long. The Daily Prophet was laid flat on the table as the entire family crowded around, all trying to read it at the same time. In the hubbub created by nine Weasleys all then attempting to get their opinion across at the same time, no one noticed the rat slipping out of Ron's pocket.

-oOoOo-

The Prophet was also being devoured, along with breakfast, at the Granger household. Both activities were disrupted by the arrival of a Gringotts owl, the majestic bird flew straight to Harry. His reaction on reading the note was even more extreme than the young witch who received a letter from him. Harry was on his feet, jumping up and down while punching the air in loud celebration.

Not even Hermione had seen him this demonstrative before, "Good news, Harry?"

"The best, Hermione, simply the best." Harry had to take a couple of deep breaths to calm down slightly before he could give his best friend a proper answer. "Remember I told you Sirius inherited a house from his family, and wanted us to spend some time there? His family were rather dark so my father offered Gringotts services to sweep the house for any dark items. I can't quite believe it but they found another item tainted like the diadem, that taint has also been dealt with."

"That's good, but I don't remember you being this excited when we found Ravenclaw's Diadem?"

"Oh, that's not why I'm so happy. Sirius was apologising for the lack of birthday or Christmas presents while I was growing up, I gave him a suggestion of how to make up for it. He's giving me the best present I could wish for."

Everyone now wanted to know just what that present was, Harry didn't keep them waiting. "My godfather can do something for me my father can't, Lord Black can officially refuse all the betrothal contracts on his godson's behalf. Sirius is going to wait until after the holidays to send out the letters, just in case Padma's father decides she should then have to go home."

This news was met with four blank faces, leaving Harry to wonder if he'd done something wrong. "Eh, is that okay?"

Padma and Hermione sprang out their chairs and were soon cuddling a relieved Harry, leaving Dan to chuckle, "I think that means it's okay, Harry."

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