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.



43. Elvis Has Left the Building

Amelia was used to late night floocalls, it unfortunately went with the job, but the one from Arthur Weasley certainly surprised her. "What can have gone wrong with our goblin friends that would see you contacting me at this time of night?"

"We have a problem, Amelia, a really big problem. Did you know a first year student was attacked inside Hogwarts on Halloween? The witch was attacked in such a way that left her, and the cat she was holding, petrified."

"No I bloody didn't! What happened and how does it involve the goblins?" Amelia could clearly see the despair on Arthur's green features in her fireplace.

"Nobody knows what happened and the student was attending Hogwarts on a Potter scholarship, it was Luna Lovegood. Harry apparently hit the roof when he returned to the castle, mainly at the fact no one appeared to be doing anything about it. He sent an emergency call to his father and now the castle is crawling with goblins. Barchoke wants a meeting as soon as possible, in the Ministry or Gringotts. Luna is now in the goblin medical facility, they had no treatment for her at Hogwarts."

That last statement confused Amelia. "If Hogwarts couldn't treat her, why wasn't she sent to St. Mungo's?"

"That's not quite true, Hogwarts would be able to cure her - but not until May or June."

"WHAT! That's seven or eight months away."

"Yes, I know. I think it was then that Harry hit the roof. Dumbledore appears to be trying to keep the whole incident quiet, his excuse was that this information getting out might lead to a panic."

Amelia wasn't buying that. "What he means is news of this getting out could cost him his job - I intend to see it does. I'll head for Gringotts and meet you there, I better alert the minister we might have a problem before I leave."


Amelia was led through some winding corridors to the medical facility, discovering that Arthur and Bill Weasley had arrived before her. She also soon discovered why Harry had blown his top, Luna Lovegood was as stiff as any statue with Hermione's cat petrified on her knee.

Barchoke didn't waste any time on preliminaries, but got right to the point. "Luna and Moonlight were discovered like this after the Halloween feast. They had been sitting in a windowed alcove, probably looking out at the world."

"Have you any idea what's wrong with them?"

The goblin conceded that Hogwarts had gotten the diagnosis correct, Barchoke made no attempt to hide his anger at the headmaster's inaction. "They've been petrified, Mandrake restorative draught will reverse the effects. Hogwarts have Mandrakes in their greenhouses - the second years are working with them - but they won't be mature enough for potion use until the summer. Dumbledore thought it was acceptable to leave Miss Lovegood in this state until then, I certainly didn't."

He then explained his involvement in this situation. "As her Father was planning a long expedition of several Nordic countries, he temporarily signed Luna's care over to me. I am responsible to the Grangers, Lovegoods and Creeveys for the safety of their children. Unlike Dumbledore, I take my responsibilities seriously. We currently have armed guards outside every dorm and patrols in the Hogwarts corridors. If we can't reach some kind of agreement here tonight, I shall be withdrawing my charges right after breakfast - and would advise you to get Susan out of there too."

Arthur could see the confusion Amelia was suffering and realised Barchoke had missed telling her a vital piece of information. "Amelia, what Ambassador Barchoke forgot to mention was the message written on the corridor wall - in blood. The chamber of secrets has been opened, enemies of the Heir beware!"

"We have checked Gringotts records to see who Slytherin's heir is, Tom Marvolo Riddle was his last direct descendant." Bill let that sink in before offering a translation. "The writing then means Voldemort's enemies beware."

Amelia didn't actually say 'oh shit!' But she certainly thought it. "What was Dumbledore's reaction? I can't imagine he would approve goblin guards inside Hogwarts."

The goblin's anger was tinged with disgust this time. "That old fool's answer was to have everyone go around in large groups, accompanied by prefects. The Lady Ravenclaw had to point out that prefects were students too, and shouldn't be endangered in this manner by a Hogwarts headmaster."

The implications of this tactic took the breath from Amelia. "That would just provide a bigger target for whatever is doing this."

"That was exactly the point I made, Hogwarts agreed with me. The goblin presence though can only be temporary, really only there as a stopgap measure."

Amelia understood at once what Barchoke was saying. When the news got out - and it would - that the goblins were guarding Hogwarts, the ministry would be slaughtered for not protecting the country's children. "If the ministry could impose on our goblin friends to protect the castle until lunchtime, I will have squads of aurors there to take over those duties."

Barchoke quickly agreed, leaving Amelia to ask if they had any idea what had caused the petrification. He had no answers at the moment, only theory's. "There is no spell known to the nation that can cause this, leaving us looking for other methods. Since both seem to have been petrified instantaneously, that would rule out administering a potion. Good luck with trying to pour a potion down a kneazle's throat, Moonlight certainly wouldn't be lying calmly on Luna's lap. The chamber of secrets refers to Salazar Slytherin, making us think of snakes. Our best guess at the moment is a medusa like creature."

Amelia could see the sense in that theory, she certainly didn't even want to think what could happen if a group of students walked into something like that.

Barchoke had more to offer. "We currently have alerts going out to all Gringotts branches, stating that we require mature mandrake for the potion. We hope to have Miss Lovegood restored by the end of the week, she will prove to be our best chance at information."

The meeting was breaking up but Arthur had one last question for Barchoke. "Ambassador, I notice you didn't mention your son amongst those you would remove from Hogwarts?"

"My son is a centurion, one of three that are currently deployed to guard Hogwarts. He has patrols until midnight before resuming at six a.m. With his knowledge of the castle and status as Hogwarts champion, he will be invaluable to the force we have there. Please understand Mr Weasley, his status as a centurion makes him an adult in our society. My son will listen to his father's advice but make his own decisions."


Harry was currently handing over his duties, and the marauder's map to his fellow centurion, Splitnose. "The map shows the position of everyone in the castle, even us. If you need me, speak to one of the ghosts or portraits, they will soon get a message through."

Rather than being annoyed with the age of the centurion offering advice, Splitnose gratefully accepted the magnificent gift he'd just been offered. "This is a work of art, and offers a great strategic advantage to whoever holds it. Who made this?"

"The marauders were a group of students that included my dad, godfather and Remus Lupin. My father is working on the idea of getting the two remaining marauders involved with Master Flitwick to produce something similar for Gringotts. This will see right through invisibility cloaks, disguises and even polyjuice potion."

"That would indeed be a welcome addition to Gringotts security. Good night, centurion, I shall see you at six."

Harry entered the Ravenclaw common room to find three witches had waited up for him. Hermione and Padma he'd half expected, an upset Penny was a complete surprise.

The prefect immediately offered an apology. "I'm so sorry, Harry. We're all so used to seeing Luna with you guys that I never noticed she was missing."

"It's okay, Penny, you are at least concerned for her. Dumbledore's lack of the same response was sickening, imagine thinking it would be acceptable to leave Luna like that until summer." Harry slumped down on the sofa in the space Hermione and Padma had left for him.

It had been a long day, and Harry had been on duty since they had returned to Hogwarts. Seeing him in his tunic as he patrolled the castle with a squad of goblin warriors would certainly reinforce the idea he was a centurion first, and a Hogwarts student second. Hermione gave him a moment before asking the question they were all dying to know the answer to.

"Did you find out any more?"

"The chamber of secrets was apparently built by Salazar Slytherin, and rumoured to contain something that would cleanse the school. I don't think we're talking about a new mop and bucket for Filtch here."

Penny listened to this with horror. "Knowing the Slytherins, cleanse would mean getting rid of those whose blood was supposedly tainted. Isn't Luna a pureblood though?"

A nod from Harry told her she was right, there was also more to come. "That chamber was supposedly opened before, funnily enough when Tom Riddle was a student here. That time though a student died, we know her as Moaning Myrtle. She died in her toilet after hearing a boy's voice, she strode out to complain he shouldn't be there and a big pair of golden eyes is the last thing she remembers."

Padma was trying to work out the implications of that. "So Luna being a pureblood and still alive means we could be dealing with something completely different here?"

While her question was a valid one, Harry didn't think so. "Voldemort boasted he was descended from Slytherin. If that's true then any friend of mine would certainly be considered an enemy of his. We currently think Luna and Moonlight may have only caught a reflection of whatever it was that petrified them. Anything that can sneak up on a kneazle scares the shit out of me."

Hermione snuggled into his shoulder, comforting them both. "Can't Hogwarts tell you where this chamber is?"

"It's as if the knowledge has been hidden from the castle, this was done a thousand years ago. The marauder's map is tied into the Hogwarts wards, and the chamber doesn't show up on it either. With the feast in full swing and all the ghosts at Nick's death day party, that was a perfect time to strike." Harry then turned his attention specifically to Hermione. "We'll have to miss our training tomorrow, I'm back on patrol at six. I'll need to head up and write a report for my father, Master Pitslay will certainly bring the latest news with him tomorrow."

She didn't expect they would be training tomorrow but Hermione had one more question for him. "Will you be taking potions?"

"That depends on what news Master Pitslay brings. I'll be on duty until we're relieved - or have to withdraw. At that point you all need to get yourselves out the castle, I trust Dumbledore about as far as Colin could throw Hagrid."


Hermione felt a rush of pride run through her as she walked with Padma and their friends down to breakfast. Harry, no - Centurion Crow led Ravenclaw house down to the great hall. The Lady Helena was by his side and the squad of six goblin warriors under his command appeared ready for anything. Knowing his mate and friends were depending on him, Harry appeared to have left nothing to chance. There were warriors posted at every junction they past, warriors that would then join the train of students as they wound their way down to the great hall.

Harry had also told her that Centurion Splitnose had a command post close by where Luna and Moonlight had been discovered. With the Marauders' map and ten goblin warriors, Splitnose was monitoring everyone as they headed for breakfast - and ready to respond at the first sign of trouble.

She was seeing Harry in his natural environment, and so was the rest of Ravenclaw. He was at least as tall as the goblins under his command, and probably the broadest across the shoulders. His youth suddenly didn't seem so important, and every goblin under his command knew their centurion would hold his own in any battle they were forced to fight.

They made the great hall without incident and, while apprehension was certainly in the air, every student felt safer knowing the goblins were around.

Albus didn't seem to think so, and complained loudly to his deputy. "This was why I wanted the incident kept quiet, frightened children do not make good students."

Minerva came right back at him. "Neither do petrified ones, Headmaster. I much prefer seeing the students safe than stiff, their safety is our responsibility after all."

"The castle is perfectly safe, Miss Lovegood would have been fine if she'd attended the feast like she was supposed to."

This time it was Filius who rounded on Albus. "An eleven year old girl was probably missing home, and certainly her friends. Your theory that students are safe because you say so has more holes in it than a sieve. Were you aware that Mr Creevey had sneaked out of Gryffindor to visit his friend in the infirmary? What about the three separate couples that were found frequenting various broom closets throughout the castle? That was why Harry had to put guards at each house entrance, as much to keep the students in as to stop anything gaining entry."

"As I said, if they did what they were told, all of this could be avoided."

Henrica couldn't think of anyone she'd ever known who had the ability to infuriate her the way Dumbledore could. "That is because they are like you, headmaster. They are sure they know better than those doing the telling, and have no concept of their own mortality. Thankfully, they will grow out of it and gain some maturity. You though are a hopeless case."

Filius couldn't contain his chuckle as their youngest professor so successfully lampooned Hogwarts oldest.

Harry approached Hermione with a proposal. ""I really need to eat with the warriors, my mate though would certainly be welcome to join me.""

Padma made Hermione's mind up for her. ""Go, I want to see how Parvati is - and have breakfast with Neville.""

Hermione was soon back on Harry's arm, heading over to the table Hogwarts had provided for her goblin guards. That hardly rated a mention at the Ravenclaw table, they were too busy trying to work out when Padma had learned to speak goblin. On the arm of her centurion mate, Hermione was treated with the utmost respect by the goblin warriors. Her esteem rose even higher when Master Pitslay arrived and spoke with both of them.

The guards left before the students, taking up positions at predetermined strategic points though out the castle, leaving the professors to collect their students and lead them to their classroom.


All the auror classrooms were empty, Amelia had rounded them up for some on the job training. The trainees' eyes and ears would be just as useful as the older aurors they would be assigned to work alongside. It was more about flooding Hogwarts with uniforms, and having the numbers available to deal with any threat. Her plan was a simple one, keep the children safe until Christmas and then empty the castle. Barchoke had promised goblin aid in pulling Hogwarts apart to find this famous chamber, Amelia hoped she would be busy this Christmas again. Her reason for that was simple, it would mean all the children were safely at home - and not petrified or in the morgue.

She led fifty aurors into the great hall at lunchtime, with a Goblin Ambassador on one side and the Minister of Magic on the other. The trio in front approached the staff table as Dumbledore stood to greet them.

"Cornelius, is this really necessary?"

Amelia cut right across him. "Headmaster Dumbledore, did you knowingly fail in your duty to inform a parent or guardian that their child was injured?"


This rocked Amelia back for a second. "You didn't inform Miss Lovegood's parent or guardian that she had been attacked..."

"Technically, Miss Lovegood hadn't been harmed. She would have made a complete recovery when we administered the mandrake potion."

Barchoke then proved that a goblin's sense of humour was an acquired taste. "Technically, Headmaster, should I plunge my knife through your ribcage, you would suffer a heart attack and die. The point being though, whatever term you call it, you would still be dead."

This saw Harry and the rest of the goblins roaring with laughter, while Hermione just looked skyward for some Divine intervention - nothing else had helped her with goblin humour.

The minister then proved he wasn't here because he enjoyed visiting the Scottish highlands in November. "I think the point is that you clearly failed in your duty of care to this young girl. While your actions before the attack could be excused, your total lack of action afterwards borders on being considered criminal. It is well within my powers to suspend you until the school board can meet, I have every intention of doing so."

This saw Albus sit back down as the minister turned his attention to Minerva. "Professor McGonagall, can you assume control of Hogwarts? The ministry will assume responsibility for the castle's security, and I can't thank our goblin friends enough for their aid in protecting the students until we could respond."

This comment saw some of those same students begin to applaud their goblin protectors, a move that soon spread to all four house tables.

Amelia asked Harry if he could work with her until dinner time, Professor Sprout instantly giving her consent for him to skip his herbology class. This would allow the handover to go much more smoothly, and give Barchoke more time to spend with his son. He had a meeting tonight that was unavoidable, though he certainly hoped another meltdown would be.


The goblin ambassador used his diplomacy by including Sirius in his visit to Crawley, Barchoke needed all the help he could get. This became apparent the instant Dan answered the door to them.

"What's happened? We just saw them yesterday!" Dan's loud outburst saw Emma come running as Barchoke offered both his reassurance.

"Dan, Emma, I saw them just before they sat down to eat dinner together. They are all fine but we think the danger Dobby attempted to warn Harry about has made an appearance."

Dan so wanted to shout about why Hermione was still in the castle but had learned his lesson from the last time he did that. Knowing that these two would face down the Devil to protect their family saw him hold his tongue for now. He would listen to what was happening and then make sure his point of view would be included too, before they all jointly decided on the next move.

The four went through to the lounge and had a seat before Barchoke attempted to explain what was going on. "Something attacked Luna and Moonlight at Halloween, leaving both of them petrified. There is a potion that will have them as good as new in the space of a few hours and Gringotts are currently scouring their branches around the world to obtain the main ingredient. On hearing that Dumbledore intended to do nothing about the situation, Harry sent an emergency message to me. Nothing inside Hogwarts moved last night without the squads of goblin warriors I had posted there knowing all about it."

Dan felt his heartbeat returning to something approaching normal since the first instant he laid eyes on their two visitors, Emma's hand slipping into his confirmed she was feeling the same way. Barchoke had even more good news for the concerned parents.

"Last night I met with Amelia and explained what needed to happen, otherwise I would be withdrawing the students I was responsible for. She arrived in Hogwarts with about fifty aurors at lunchtime. She also brought along the Minister of Magic, who seemed to take great delight in suspending Albus Dumbledore. McGonagall is in charge of the school while a large auror presence will deal with the castle's security. The plan is to prevent any more incidents and then rip the castle apart to find whatever is doing this over the December holidays."

Emma had picked up on an omission, and was sure she knew why it had been omitted. "You didn't mention Harry, am I to assume he will be staying in the castle?"

Sirius wasn't happy about this part and let his displeasure be known. "Harry was actually leading patrols around the castle last night and, like the goblins, will be heavily involved in any search of Hogwarts over Christmas."

Barchoke understood that point of view, even somewhat sympathised with it, but he knew Harry better than anyone - though Hermione was catching up fast.

"Harry is a centurion and, as I have said many times, his position was earned. Last night he led warriors for the first time and I have heard nothing but good reports back, my son performed his duties admirably. You all suffer from seeing him as a twelve year old boy, my son is like no boy you will ever have met. For years he's trained his body and mind to be weapons, this is who Harry is - you have to trust he knows what he's doing."

Emma sensed Barchoke's last comment was aimed as much at himself as it was them, she cut the goblin some slack. "Well I think we all know Hermione's not going to be pleased if she's to spend Christmas apart from Harry. Just to be clear here, there is no way I want our daughter anywhere near Hogwarts when they're actively searching for whatever did this."

This got a definite nod of agreement from her husband before Dan then added his own tuppence worth. "While not exactly happy with the situation at the moment, I understand the lengths you have gone to for their safety. I also want it understood that if whatever this is attacks again, then Hermione is out of there."

This drew a sigh of relief from Barchoke, relief at how well both parents were accepting this. "Amelia has already passed orders that, should there be another attack, the castle will be evacuated and Hogwarts closed until the problem is solved. She is no happier with this situation than any of us, Susan is in that castle too. Those plans may change if Luna can give us more information after we get our hands on some mature mandrake. If the situation proves more dangerous than we thought, she'll close the school at once."

While the idea of getting Hermione out of there earlier initially appealed to Dan and Emma, the thought that their daughter might be in real danger was not a pleasant one.


Their daughter had just finished her dinner and was telling her mate what they should do next. "Harry, we need to head to the library." This generated a blank look until she explained. "Somewhere in there might be information that will help us identify what's doing this, I want to help stop it - and get a bit of revenge for Luna and Moonlight."

Roger hated bursting her bubble of enthusiasm, but he attempted to convey the scale of the problem they would be tackling. "Hermione, while I agree the library could have that information, it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack."

"Well, we know it wasn't a spell or a potion that caused them to be petrified. That leaves the most logical explanation as a magical creature. Add in Salazar Slytherin's involvement and a snake like creature would seem the most obvious choice. We now have a snake like creature whose gaze from its golden eyes kills, though seeing a reflection appears to petrify it's victims. I would say that information makes our search more like looking for a pretty large needle in a rather small haystack, wouldn't you?"

Roger, like the rest of Ravenclaw that was within hearing distance, couldn't answer, he just stared at Hermione with his jaw slack. She hadn't spouted any information that was new, Hermione had just neatly assembled the known knowledge to form a theory that was hard to refute.

It was a proud Harry who offered Hermione his arm as the two of them set off for the library. Leaving Roger shaking his head and muttering to himself. "Those two are something else."

Padma had been sitting quietly, preoccupied with staring at her twin. Parvati appeared as if she hadn't slept for a week and was as skittish as a kitten. Padma then shifted her gaze to Blaise, silently promising to use some of the nastier curses she had learned on the wizard if he'd caused this with Parvati. The Slytherin didn't look in either Patil's direction, leaving Padma even more confused. Hearing Roger mutter, she gave him an answer he wasn't expecting.

"Roger, you don't know the half of it." She left to join her friends in the library, knowing Neville wouldn't be letting Colin out if his sight. She wasn't doing any good sitting here and a research project might be exactly what she needed to take her mind of her troubles.


Lucius didn't have his troubles to seek, an absolutely furious Narcissa was all the trouble he could handle. His wife had just thrown today's Prophet at him, ruining any appetite for breakfast. There was no comfort to be had in seeing he'd achieved one of his goals, Dumbledore was finished at Hogwarts.

"Tell me you didn't have a hand in this?" Lucius had no answer for his wife.

"Our son is in that castle, tell me he's in no danger?" Again he didn't know how to answer Narcissa.

"Stop this, I demand you put a stop to whatever this is at once."

This time he did have an answer for his wife, unfortunately it was one Lucius knew she wasn't going to like. "I can't, it's out of my control now. Believe me I've tried, but it can't be done."

It was now Narcissa that had nothing more to say, she just headed out the room. "Where are you going? We can't say or do anything, I could end up in Azkaban, and the Malfoys would be left without a Knut."

The furious witch spun around to face her husband. "Do you think I give a shit about any of that when Draco's life could be at stake? Understand this, Lucius, I gave birth to that boy and will protect him with my life. Even if it means crossing you, I won't hesitate. Do you want to try and stop me heading to Hogwarts?"

The fury displayed in her eyes, and the wand now in her hand, convinced Lucius that this was a situation where discretion was the better part of valour. He just shook his head, which was probably the smartest answer he'd given all morning.


Minerva stood after breakfast to talk with the students, her first time as Acting Headmistress. "While we certainly find ourselves in unusual circumstances, I think it's important that, while observing the new safety measures, Hogwarts continues to run as normally as possible. With this in mind, I decided that the first year defence club will take place as usual tonight..." Minerva was forced to pause as all the first years had broken into cheering at that news. She let it die down before continuing. "While Professor Lockhart made a very generous offer to take tonight's club, thus guaranteeing everyone's safety, I decided that an auror escort and Professor Flitwick assisting Professor Hobson should be more than enough security for tonight's club."

Gilderoy sat there almost preening himself as he heard his name mentioned, totally missing the sarcasm McGonagall had aimed in his direction. The students didn't though and sniggering could be heard throughout the hall. Everyone in Hogwarts, except a still grinning Gilderoy, knew Crow's Marauders would be far safer in the company of the four second years who ran the club than in Liar Lockhart's care.

"A pair of aurors will collect the first years from each house and lead them up to the seventh floor, there will be no wandering away - are we clear on that Mr Creevey?"

Colin may have had his head down but everyone heard him say 'yes professor'.

Minerva returned her steely gaze to include the entire hall. "This is not a game, it's beginning to appear that only good fortune saw Miss Lovegood survive relatively unscathed. These aurors are here inside Hogwarts by order of the Minister of Magic himself. They're putting their very lives at risk for our protection, anyone disobeying their orders will find themselves heading home as quickly as I can arrange it. Does everyone here understand that?" A chorus of 'yes professor' saw Minerva return to her seat.

Her posterior had hardly dented the cushion of Minerva's new chair when the pink haired auror led Narcissa Malfoy into the great hall. It didn't escape anyone's notice that another two aurors had taken up position behind the Malfoy matriarch, well Narcissa would certainly have missed it. Her eyes had immediately swept to the Slytherin table, her entire being focused on a frantic visual search for Draco. Seeing her son sitting there unscathed appeared to take some of the obvious tension out of the blonde witch, she continued walking toward the staff table.

"Mrs Malfoy, this is an unexpected pleasure. What can Hogwarts do for you?" Minerva was polite though knowing any Malfoy involvement would not bode well for the school.

Narcissa wanted to get both Draco and herself out of the castle as quickly as possible, there was no time to waste on social politeness. "My apologies for interrupting your breakfast, Professor, but today's Prophet ruined mine. Placing our children in danger may be acceptable to you but I have no intention of leaving my son inside a castle where attacks of this nature are taking place. I intend to take Draco home with me at once."

"That is your right, Mrs Malfoy, after you have signed the appropriate parchment. I resent your implication though that I am placing my students in danger. The ministry have taken responsibility for the castle's security, and I think they are doing an excellent job..." Minerva was already bristling with indignation, this certainly was not helped when Narcissa cut right across her.

"I'm afraid I have no faith in the ministry, and certainly have no intention of entrusting my son's safety to the likes of this!" Narcissa made certain everyone knew she was talking about the pink haired auror who had never left her side since she approached the castle.

Tonks though was not about to stand there and docilely accept these insults, she also knew just how to hit back. "Why Aunt, I didn't know you recognised me. Did you hear Sirius restored my mother to the Black family? He kicked both of her sisters out too, didn't like the choices they had made. Don't worry though, Aunt Cissy, I'll still talk to you."

Narcissa was left fuming that family business was divulged in front of so many people, she turned her attention to her son. "Come, Draco, it's time to go home..."

"...but Mother, do I need to? What about my things?"

"Yes, Draco, you need to. Dobby will collect your things..."

That was like an explosion in Padma's head as her keen mind was busily connecting the dots Dobby being the Malfoy's house elf presented. Her gasp of astonishment died in her throat though, well before it could pass her lips. Padma was suddenly far more concerned with the strong hand that had just clamped down on her thigh. Looking to see that hand belonged to Harry rebooted her brain as Padma realised she was about to give vital information away.

She nodded her head slightly, indicating to Harry she was back in control. As Harry's hand was removed, Padma drew some comfort from seeing Harry's other hand had also clamped around Hermione's thigh.

Draco was also beginning to decipher what his mother was not actually saying, he didn't like it one bit. "...what about Pansy, can she come too?"

Narcissa felt she was giving more information away here than she'd intended, there was nothing else for it though. "Draco, only her parents can sign the necessary parchment. Now let's go complete this process and head home."

The message that Draco's body language conveyed to Pansy was read by all of Slytherin, and a good portion of the rest of the school. Her slight nod meant that no one would be surprised when the Parkinsons arrived to collect their daughter, when would depend on how soon Pansy could get to the owlery.

As McGonagall led the Malfoys to her new office, the rest of the students were getting ready for their first period class. As the Ravenclaw trio were preparing to follow their head of house to charms, they were joined by Neville. "Harry, making a move on Padma too? Parvati certainly spotted what was going on so you'll be the talk of the school by lunchtime."

"Sorry about that, I needed some way of distracting these two from blurting out things we don't want anyone else to know. It certainly worked and if people are talking about that, it will take their minds of other things."

"Oh, so now I'm just a distraction, Crow? I feel so used. Neville, I think you should challenge this scoundrel to a duel, my honour is at stake here."

"Eh, Padma, he beats both of us together - along with Hermione - every week. I think I'll give that a miss." All three of her friends appreciated Padma's attempts at humour, and her determination to stay positive, as her relationship with her twin crashed and burned.

Neville had some news that might raise a chuckle. "Well, Malfoy leaving destroyed Ron's theory that Draco was the Heir of Slytherin - and the one causing the attacks."

This left Hermione shaking her head. "I think hearing he actually had a theory is more shocking than what that theory was."

This raised a laugh amongst the group but Neville had more for them. "Oh, he had a lot more than a theory, Ron had an entire plan worked out to prove he was right." Noticing he had his friends attention now, Neville told them the rest. "He had somehow heard rumours that Harry possessed an invisibility cloak, I was supposed to ask if Ron could borrow it. He was sure getting into the Slytherin common room would see Malfoy revealing all - proving his theory."

Hermione poured scorn all over that idea. "...and did he think an invisibility cloak was going to protect him from whatever was attacking the students?"

"Actually, he did. Ron argued that, if this thing couldn't see you then its eyes couldn't possibly effect you." Neville presented the argument evenly, he himself not knowing the truth of the matter.

This left Hermione floundering. "That's...that's...that's either the most idiotic thing I've ever heard - or sheer genius." She looked toward Harry for help in making her mind up.

He could only shrug his shoulders. "I'll pass it along to my father with the rest of the news, we always hang behind in defence class anyway."

"You have news?"

The hope in Susan's voice hurt that they couldn't really tell her more. "Sorry Susan, it's just anything we hear get's passed on to my father. I'm certain anything important will soon make it's way to your aunt."

She was nodding at that. "It's just hard, feeling so helpless."

Padma had a suggestion for Susan and Hannah. "We've got the marauders tonight, but tomorrow we're back to researching in the library. We're trying to discover what could be causing this, you're both welcome to join us."

The two girls quickly accepted that invitation before Hannah asked another question. "Is there any more news on Luna?"

They all could see the barely contained fury that Harry displayed at the mention of the young girl's name. "We'll find out the latest in defence. Last I heard, my father was still hopeful that Luna would join us by the weekend."

Hermione slipped her arm around Harry to offer some comfort, knowing how much the attack on Luna had affected him. She herself was now facing a miserable Christmas without him. She wouldn't complain though, this is who Harry was. With Padma already in the doldrums, and both Smita and Ramrao determined to get their twin daughters together to discover just what was wrong, this could be a miserable Christmas all round.


Albus Dumbledore stood outside the village of Hogsmead and gazed up at the majesty that was Hogwarts castle. It was exactly a hundred years ago this September that an eleven year old Albus first set foot in its hallowed halls, an anniversary that was marked by the release of that book of Skeeter's that started all his troubles. That wasn't strictly true though, his troubles had really started the year before, with Harry's arrival at the castle.

Now that Albus had left Hogwarts, he found himself able to look back at his final year and identify the glaring mistakes he'd made. The biggest was underestimating the caliber of the opponents he faced, a mistake he never really recovered from. Albus knew without a doubt that the Hogwarts board would dismiss him as headmaster as soon as they convened, he had no intention of hanging about to give them that pleasure.

His reputation might be in tatters, and his decision making had lately been questionable at best. He was still Albus Dumbledore though, one of the most powerful and knowledgeable wizards in the world. It was time to make a new future for himself. Albus understood better than anyone that his destiny was irrevocably intertwined with that of Hogwarts and her chosen champion, Harry Crow ne Potter. That would of course have to be factored into any future plans, plans that would hopefully see him make a triumphant return to Britain and Hogwarts.

With one last longing look at the castle, Albus proclaimed "I'll be back!" before he disapparated away to whatever the future held for him.

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