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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89. Goblet of Fire

The old wizard marched straight up to the two witches in charge with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. "Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Order of Merlin, First Class, Transfiguration Professor and Deputy Headmaster of Durmstrang Institute of Magic - at your service, ladies. Our headmaster, Professor Karkaroff, sends his apologies. Personal reasons prevented him being here, so that duty then fell to me..."

Minerva couldn't hold back any longer. "You have some nerve, Dumbledore, waltzing back in here as if you own the place. The great Albus Dumbledore ran away and left us in our hour of need, a sixty foot basilisk had to be dealt with by four second years."

"I think you'll find I was suspended, Minerva..."

"Don't you Minerva me, you lost that right a long time ago. You scurried away from Scotland with your tail between your legs, right before you could be sacked. I'll tell you this to your face, Dumbledore, you're not welcome in Hogwarts. Start messing with my students and I'll smack you one!"

"Well, it's nice to see the spirit of international cooperation being so warmly embraced. If this is your version of a Highland welcome then it's not very hospitable. Come, students, I know the way. Follow me."

The Durmstrang students fell in behind Dumbledore with military precision, they marched in a column of twos and followed their Deputy Headmaster.

Ron Weasley could clearly be heard in the silence that Dumbledore's arrival had caused. "That's Viktor Krum, that is. I didn't know he was still at school."

Harry felt his friends gather around him but it was left to Hermione to ask the question. "How are you feeling, love?"

"Stupid. We took this competition at face value, it's pretty obvious that others have different plans. Dumbledore has caught us on the hop this time, we're the ones now playing catch-up. The old man will try to use that to his advantage, we'll need to be careful until we can discover just what he's up to. Does anyone believe the old man being here is a coincidence?"

This was met with some derisive chuckles before Padma just had to comment. "Roger will play for the Harpies before I believe that."

"Hey, Patil, no need to be nasty. Now if you'd said play with the Harpies..."

"In your dreams, Davies."

"Frequently, Patil, though not as often as I'd like..."

This saw the group of friends chuckling as they made their way to dinner. It wasn't often someone verbally got the better of Padma, but Roger had even managed to make her blush.

They arrived in the great hall to find the Beauxbatons students gathered around one of the fireplaces for warmth. The Durmstrang students though were already seated and making themselves at home - at the Ravenclaw table. They overheard one of the boys talking to Cho, telling her they had been told this was where the prettiest witches were to be found. Cho may have been eating that up with a spoon but Hermione wasn't about to swallow cheesy lines like that.

She didn't even sit down, turning to Harry. "I think I've lost my appetite..."

"Don't leave, pretty vitch, sit vith us..." The Durmstrang student though had made the potentially fatal mistake of, in his attempt to convince this witch, grabbing Hermione by the arm and pulling her toward him. He soon had that error pointed out to him, by the point of Harry's knife at his throat.

"You must have a death wish. Lay hands on my mate again and I'll cut you to pieces..." Harry had been on edge since the second they had spotted Dumbledore, this incident on top was simply too much. His entire 'we need to be careful' sentiment was now clearly forgotten, Hermione's reasoned voice however soon had him back in control.

"Harry, they've been set-up. Who do you think told them to sit at Ravenclaw? Dumbledore must have been hoping for a confrontation. We all know he doesn't give a shit for the students under his care, they're just pawns to be used by him to get whatever that twisted mind of his wants."

Although back in control, Harry did not move his blade. The other Durmstrang students also found themselves facing a plethora of wands, ensuring they would take no part in this confrontation. "You will apologise to Hermione at once, and let this be a warning to all of you. I don't know how things are in Durmstrang but I'll tell you how they work inside Hogwarts. You grab a witch like that, you're going to find me coming looking for you."

The incident had kicked off so quickly that only now were the staff arriving at the scene.

"Centurion Crow, please put your knife away."

"As soon as this person apologises, Madam Longbottom. If he doesn't do so soon, I intend to push my blade home..." Hermione instantly received her apology and Harry's knife disappeared into its holster. This was also the cue for all the wands covering the other Durmstrang students to be lowered too.

While delighted his little opening ploy had worked, Albus was left cursing the Granger girl for seeing through it so quickly. This was the second time she had done so with his plans, but he'd work with what he had.

"Madam Longbottom, one of my students has been attacked. I would like to know what you intend to do about that?"

"Since your student laid hands on Miss Granger, Centurion Crow's mate - who has a ring on her finger that you can see in the dark - I would say the Centurion's reaction was measured and appropriate. He would have been perfectly within his rights to challenge your student to a duel. Remember, Dumbledore, goblins fight duels to the death. Losing a student to a duel on the first night of your visit would be poor management, even by your low standards."

Watching as the student in question paled considerably, Augusta then turned her ire onto Albus himself. "I don't know what you've been telling your students, or what your real agenda is here. Know this, Dumbledore, I wholeheartedly agree with Professor McGonagall on this. You start messing with my students and the both of us will smack you, repeatedly. I can hardly remember the last time we issued a detention in Hogwarts, far less had an incident in the great hall."

Albus couldn't help but notice the students dressed in the black dragonhide, or that Harry was clearly their leader. "I suppose it helps when you have Potter's private army imposing themselves on the school."

Harry wasn't about to let Dumbledore set his obviously prepared agenda, he decided to see just how much the old man knew of what had been happening inside Britain since his absence. If nothing else, this tactic might just throw the old wizard out of his rehearsed stride.

"Did you know we caught Peter Pettigrew - alive? He was questioned under truth serum, Peter told us everything. You cast the Fidilius charm on my home, and knew all along that Sirius wasn't the secret keeper..."

It was plain from the shock on Dumbledore's face that he didn't know that information. It would have been hard to get hold of however, since Harry just made it up. The ministry had pushed for swift justice with the death eaters caught attacking the Bones residence, it was only later everyone realised that question should have been asked.

With two pregnant women in the family, and every single member involved in at least one of the battles, the deed was done before that question occurred to Barchoke - or anyone else. The extended family were all too busy thanking their lucky stars they all survived unscathed. Harry however, now pushed home his clear advantage, not having to fake his anger in the slightest.

"I told you what would happen if I discovered you were behind my parents' murders..."

All his bravado had disappeared, and Albus knew he was arguing for his life here. He wouldn't survive being implicated in the murder of the Potters, politically and probably physically too - Harry was now too close and those blades of his were deadly. The old wizard was practically pleading with Harry now, begging to be believed.

"No, Harry, I didn't know Pettigrew was a death eater. I also thought Sirius had killed him, along with all those muggles. We didn't know who to trust after that, which is why I left you with your muggle relatives..."

A fist to his jaw sent Dumbledore crashing to the floor, the sword of Griffindor swiftly pinned to his chest making sure he stayed down there. Sirius had silently exploded with rage, and at a speed that meant he'd been on Dumbledore before anyone could prevent it. At the moment, Moony's strength was the only thing stopping Sirius killing the old man - with his bare hands too.

"Let me go, Moony. This bastard cost me ten year in Azkaban..."

"...and Harry's just made sure that's where Dumbledore's heading. We all heard him admit his guilt, and Astrid needs her father. I may have let my nephew down but I'm determined to do better with my niece."

That one of his darkest secrets was now publicly known really threw Albus, at least the bloody press weren't here this time to capture it for their front page. How could this have happened?

Again Harry pressed home their advantage, using it to try and stop his godfather committing murder. "Moony's right, Sirius. We've got him this time. Madam Longbottom, could you please floo Amelia Bones?"

"Hem, hem, actually that won't do you any good."

Augusta was getting closer and closer to strangling this bitch every time she made that infuriating noise. "Madam Umbridge, what business is this of yours?"

"You forget, Madam Longbottom, I am now the ministry's lead advisor to the tournament. As such, I know what arrangements have been made for the visiting schools. In his youth, Headmaster Karkaroff made a mistake and joined the death eater movement. He paid for that mistake and then moved abroad."

It was actually Draco who interrupted Dolores with the truth behind that last remark. "Karkaroff informed on every death eater he knew about to get as light a sentence as possible, the bold Igor then fled the country in genuine fear of his life."

Only knowing she was winning this argument allowed Dolores to keep her temper. "Nevertheless, Headmaster Karkaroff insisted some safeguards be put in place. The staff representatives of the visiting schools were granted diplomatic immunity, for the duration of the tournament to any past indiscretions. Since this immunity didn't cover any indiscretions committed after they arrived in Hogwarts, the ministry agreed to the condition. The only crimes I've seen committed tonight have been by Black and Crow, so please by all means call the aurors."

"Oh I certainly intend to contact the ministry over this. I can also promise that if you played any part in Dumbledore returning to Hogwarts, you will be out this castle moments later."

"I can assure you, the only people I dealt with were the heads of each establishment." There was real fear in Dolores' eyes now. Getting chucked out of the castle tonight would end her usefulness to the dark lord, and allow Lestrange free reign with that knife of hers.

Harry meanwhile had called for Helena to ask if they could bar Dumbledore from the castle.

"I'm sorry, Harry, but I have to say no. Durmstrang and Beauxbatons were both invited here by Hogwarts, thus we can't throw him out - unless he gets caught doing something to warrant such actions."

He was now looking to Augusta for help, part of him so wanting to push his blade home and end the manipulations once and for all. Dumbledore must have recognised his predicament because he never said a word. That Sirius had hit him hard enough to fracture his jaw might have played a part in that silence too.

"Madam Longbottom, at least tell me that invitation didn't cover the Merlin Ball?"

"No it didn't, Centurion. The original invitations had both the schools arriving just before Halloween."

"Dumbledore, you are not invited and certainly not welcome to our celebrations. For once in your life, do the decent thing and stay out of Hogwarts tomorrow." Harry then turned his attention to the Durmstrang students, his sword still resting on Dumbledore's chest. He noticed they were once more well covered by wands.

"Your headmaster is a marked death eater, even trying to enter the Hogwarts wards would see him die. Your deputy is a manipulative old goat who, as you've just heard, seems to take great delight in interfering with people's lives. He doesn't care whose lives those are, or what damage he causes - only getting what he wants counts with Dumbledore. The reputation of the Durmstrang Institute of Magic is hanging by a thread. You are all invited to tomorrow evening's Merlin Ball. If you can't behave like gentlemen, I would strongly advise you not to attend."

Padma was holding one of those wands covering the Durmstang students, she'd just thought of something. "Hey, that's D.I.M. You have to admit it was pretty dim to give Dumbledore a job, an even dimmer move though was to grab Hermione."

One of the Durmstrang students then rose slowly, making sure his empty hands were clearly visible. Harry recognised leadership in this wizard while whispers around the hall identified him as Viktor Krum.

"Vat you say, ve did not know. Ve can see the truth in your vords, and in all your anger. All ve ask is a chance, a chance to prove ve are gentlemen. Please, don't judge us on this." Viktor indicated their fallen deputy headmaster, obviously desperate not to be classed the same.

A slight bow from Harry was returned by Victor, and acted as the signal for every wand directed at the Bulgarians to be lowered. Harry's sword made it into his sheath and his arm was offered to Hermione. They surprisingly headed for the French delegation as the staff now cleaned up behind them.

Harry could see Henrica, Tonks and Remus all working on Sirius to calm him down a touch, they stayed well away from that task. Only Hermione on his arm was allowing Harry to keep his own temper in check, now they had confirmation of just what that old man had done. He was staying clear of his godfather at the moment, just in case they set each other off and murdered a certain old wizard.

They approached, noticing at once that all the French students had their hands near their wands. Harry bowed deeply before addressing them in perfect French. "Madame Maxime, students of Beauxbatons, my apologies that you had to witness the last ten minutes. My family, and Hogwarts herself, has some very serious issues with Albus Dumbledore. That incident should however not have happened like that, you are most assuredly welcome guests here."

He switched to English, realising he hadn't introduced himself properly to either camp. "I am Centurion Crow, Baron of Kingussie, Order of Merlin, First Class, Award for Bravery, Goblin Nation, and Hogwarts Champion. This is my mate, Hermione Granger, Friend of the Nation, Order of Merlin, First Class, Award for Bravery, Goblin Nation, and the witch I will marry - as soon as our parents will let us. Our friends just call us Harry and Hermione, that saves a fair bit of time."

Harry had tried to inject a bit of levity into what must have been quite a traumatic introduction to Hogwarts for the French and Bulgarians. Their Headmistress picked up on something else though.

"What! 'Ogwarts 'as already chosen 'er champion? 'Ow can zis be?"

"Oh no, Madame. Hogwarts chose me as her champion three years ago, it has nothing to do with any tournament. I will not be competing in anything Dumbledore or Umbridge have a hand in. Like the students from Durmstang, all I would ask is that you please not judge us on what you've witnessed here tonight. The ball tomorrow should give you all a chance to see the real Hogwarts, a school we're very proud of. Oh, and honour dictates we must wear our awards tomorrow, I wouldn't like to give the impression we wore them all the time."

With another deep bow, the couple left the hall, Padma and Neville covering their friends' backs - without making it obvious they were doing so. The four would eat in the Room of Requirements tonight. Harry would speak to Helena about having Dumbledore monitored on every occasion he set foot in the castle, he suspected however that the Lady Ravenclaw would have already taken care of that.

While Harry was talking with the delegation from Beauxbatons, a poleaxed Albus found himself looking at the last person he expected to see kneeling beside him with a wand in his hand. Only after having some healing charms cast on his injured face was Albus able to speak.

"Severus, what are you doing here?"

"Wondering the same thing about you. It was a mistake to come back to Hogwarts, Albus. You have no sway in Britain any longer, and a host of very powerful enemies. A mere promise of immunity won't stop the powerful and resourceful figures lined up against you for long."

Severus now had the old wizard on his feet and was shepherding him out the hall. Albus though wanted information. "What happened to you, where did you go? How are you able to be inside Hogwarts?"

"I spent some very pleasant time in Gringotts, and I'm able to be here because I'm not a death eater."

Not sure whether Black's blow had done more damage than he thought, Albus asked for confirmation. "…but Severus, you carry the dark mark."

They were leaving Hogwarts now but Albus still clearly saw the smile Severus wore as he answered. "Do I?"

This hit like another blow. "You've discovered a way to remove it? I thought that was impossible…"

"Just because you don't know how to do something, doesn't mean no one else does. You didn't know how to remove a horcrux from a toddler, or how to heal the Longbottoms, these things still happened. My time in Gringotts taught me a lot, and not just about potions."

"Severus, you must tell me everything…"

"No, Albus, I don't."

"…but you made oaths."

"I have made oaths, and I fully intend to see Riddle dead while Lily's boy lives a life that his mother would be proud of. Can you say whatever plans you'd hatched would have had the same outcome? Don't even bother with any half-truths or greater good shit, neither of them will work on me. I got you out of there in one piece, take my advise and stay out. Go back to Bulgaria, forget all your schemes and just teach. You might find you actually enjoy it - I know I have."

"Am I the only one who can see this? He's using Hogwarts to create his own army, and everyone keeps falling over themselves to help him. Two Blacks and now Lupin on the staff, students wearing those dragonskin robes, all that's missing is the masks! It's Tom Riddle all over again, only with Gringotts backing and both the ministry and Hogwarts supporting him to the hilt. Our way of life might not survive this. Severus, you need to help me stop this, we need to turn Harry around."

"Your eyes tell you only what you want them to, completely missing the truth of the situation. Lily's boy has already made his choices for life, ruling Britain isn't one of them. He wants nothing more than to marry Miss Granger, raise a family and one day take over from his father as Ambassador for the Nation."

Severus was trying not to get angry but Albus was still peddling the same shit from a couple of years ago, only his methods seemed to have changed. Not that they appeared any more effective. "If you had taken time to look at those black dragonskin robes, you might have noticed they contained a Longbottom, Bones, Abbot, Lovegood, Diggory, three members of the Weasley family and five Slytherins. My godson is one of those Slytherins, it's certainly helping Draco become the outstanding wizard I always knew he could be. You are the only one that see's it different, Albus. What are the chances of the entire country being wrong, because Albus Dumbledore sees things differently? Lily's boy treats everyone the same, a concept that's revolutionising the country…"

"Riddle tried a revolution too…"

"The dark lord is finished, it's only a matter of when - and trying to limit the damage that he does before he's dealt with. The ministry has cut his support so badly, he was forced to live in a muggle tent at one point. Lily's boy will never be a dark lord, do you think Alastor Moody would train him if there was any chance of that happening? I'm more worried about you turning…"

"Don't be ridiculous!"

"Am I, Albus? Who just admitted to placing an innocent man in Azkaban?"

"I thought Black killed Pettigrew and a dozen muggles, that's hardly innocent."

"…and it just happened to remove a certain godfather from the picture. Now you're working in Durmstang, a school well known for teaching the dark arts. Where's Fawkes? I haven't seen your phoenix since just after the Quirrell fiasco, did he leave?"

There was no answers forthcoming, Severus hadn't expected there to be. "You see how much easier it is to turn your own arguments against you? The country you once lorded over no longer exists, and needs Albus Dumbledore about as much as it needs an outbreak of dragon pox. The ministry is being efficiently and fairly run, and Hogwarts is now a far better school. There's nothing left but trouble for you in Britain, Albus. Leave, and enjoy the rest of your life. Riddle will be taken care of and Britain will flourish. Would you rather the name Dumbledore was forgotten, or remembered solely for your exile or imprisonment. Being totally honest with you, I can't see any other outcomes here."

They were at the gangplank to the ship now and Severus had some final words of advice for his former headmaster. "My allegiance hasn't changed, Albus. I want Riddle dead and Lily's boy enjoying a long and fruitful life. I am more confident that will happen now than at any time since that horrible Halloween all those years ago. Have a think about your own goals, Albus, I would advise you to take all day tomorrow to do it. Stay away from the castle, especially tomorrow, only trouble awaits you there."

Leaving a thoughtful Dumbledore behind, Severus headed back to the castle. Whatever plans the old wizard had would be sure to involve Harry in some form or another. His own oath to The Nation prohibited him working against Harry, there was no way Severus Snape intended to find himself back under Dumbledore's thumb again. He'd warned his former headmaster, though Severus didn't expect that warning to be heeded. Albus Dumbledore always thought he knew better than everyone else.

Albus was currently thinking his plans would need to be altered, again. He was so sure the weak link was the girls, hence why he'd included a few good looking boys who had a way with the witches. That damned Granger girl almost read his mind though, and Harry had certainly grown in the last few years. Only Viktor could possibly match him in physique, Albus reckoned however that Crow's reactions were quicker than one of the world's best seekers.

He hoped Dolores was having more luck than him, she was never going to admit they had been keeping in touch since Albus discovered the Tri-wizard tournament would be held in Hogwarts. His promise that a proper pureblood would win the tournament was all Dolores needed to hear to see the witch pledge Albus her support.

He only had until the summer to somehow worm his way into influencing Harry's life, that was looking more and more like an impossible task. He was Albus Dumbledore though, a wizard who'd been doing the impossible for over a century.

-oOoOo-

Dolores might not have taken a punch to the jaw, however her head was still reeling from the onslaught she was facing. Fudge, Bones, Diggory, Longbottom and McGonagall all seemed to want a piece of her.

"I'll say it again, I dealt only with Karkaroff and Maxime - and then only briefly. My main contacts were my opposite numbers in the French and Bulgarian Ministries. The three of you spent a lot of time with the Bulgarian Minister of Magic last month, did he mention it?"

Amelia was not amused at what she saw as evasion tactics from this witch. "Why would we ask the minister that?"

"...and why would I ask my counterparts who their schools were sending? Albus Dumbledore is no friend of mine either."

No one there could argue with that, Dolores didn't really have any friends. All three ministry officials accepted invitations to this weekend's events in Hogwarts. If nothing else, they wanted to witness the events for themselves.

-oOoOo-

Knowing the time for their morning runs around the Black Lake was soon coming to an end made today's decision a little easier. From tomorrow, they would run inside the room. The portals of the Durmstrang ship felt a little too much like eyes, eyes that watched their every move.

Eyes were watching their every move as the four friends entered the great hall. Those black dragonskin duelling robes seeming to make the two impressive medals each wore jump right out their chests. The quartet strode toward the staff table where custom dictated they formally greeted Hogwarts other pair of Orders of Merlin, First Class, holders.

The Wizards from Durmstrang, who were this morning sitting at the Slytherin table, thought Crow then ruined a very impressive entrance by returning to the Ravenclaw table with a baby in his arms. The Beauxbatons contingent, primarily composed of witches, were sitting with the Puffs this morning. They thought the scene was adorable.

Neither group was quite sure what to make of the female goblin who accompanied the redheaded wizard into the great hall. The fact that she ran to the Ravenclaw table and started throwing her arms around students was especially strange. No one from Durmstrang or Beauxbatons said anything however, they were left thankful for their silence as people from the tables they were sitting at rose to affectionately greet this goblin apparently known as Sapphire.

None of them missed that she seemed closest to Crow and his mate, another good reason to be glad they'd said nothing. Information on Crow wasn't exactly hard to come by, just ask any student and they could quote you chapter and verse. Yet the person who effectively ran the students of Hogwarts was sitting with a baby in his arms and a goblin at his side. This was going to take some getting used to.

Sapphire sat beside Luna and holding Astrid as the four left with Bill for their scheduled training session.

-oOoOo-

They noticed there were visitors at lunch but didn't pay them too much mind, until Cornelius rose to speak.

"The draw to select the Tri-wizard Champions, who will each represent their school, will take place in this hall tomorrow after dinner. The draw will be made by an ancient and powerful magical artefact, the Goblet of Fire."

At that, Mr Filtch wheeled in a trolley with a large gold and crystal cup on it, of a size that even Hagrid would struggle to empty it of butterbeer in one go.

"It doesn't look too impressive at the moment but, at eight o'clock tonight, the goblet will ignite - burning for twenty-four hours. I know we will all be otherwise engaged tonight but the goblet will sit in the entrance hall all day tomorrow. An age line will be drawn around the cup by Professor Flitwick, bringing unwelcome consequences to those underage who try to cross it. Be warned too, those of age. Once you place your name in the cup, it cannot be withdrawn. If chosen by the goblet, you must compete - or face paying a most severe penalty."

Excitement over, the four friends headed off for their lesson with the Blacks. Luna and Sapphire accompanied them today, the lessons being a mixture of politics, history and preparing them to take up their positions in the world. It was a far more relaxed environment, almost like a discussion amongst friends than lessons. There was always a point to these discussions though, all four always left feeling they'd learned something useful.

There would be no prizes won for guessing the topic of today's discussion. Dumbledore, and what to do about him. Eargit had left last night with an urgent message to Gringotts, Bill confirming this morning that The Nation's reaction was just as angry as theirs. While they were holding their discussion, it was comforting to know the Ministry and The Nation were both doing the same. At least the old goat seemed to be heeding their warning, and staying away from the castle today. None of them believed he would actually return to Bulgaria.

-oOoOo-

Cornelius was struggling to believe the room he and his wife had just entered, it was nothing short of magnificent. He noticed the older Hogwarts students appeared to be expecting nothing less, their French and Bulgarian visitors however were an entirely different matter. Even Madame Maxime couldn't hide her surprise, that might have been the sight of Hagrid in some sort of hairy suit though.

Amelia was beside him, providing more information. "Since the ball's inception, Harry has provided the clothing for the new first years. He also had dresses and suits made for all his friends. Notice how no one even mentions the fact that his friend, Sapphire, is on Harry's other arm."

Amos too was most impressed with the setting. "This makes the Ministry Ball look like a tea party, we're going to have to rethink that event before these students start attending. If I was used to this, I would be expecting something spectacular for the Ministry's premier event. At the moment, we can't compete."

After a really lovely meal, custom now dictated that the dancing was started by those Orders of Merlin holders. The four couples took to the floor as the second part of the evening got under way.

As he did last year, Harry then danced with Sapphire next. Hermione was smiling as she watched them having fun, that was until her view was blocked by a rather large Bulgarian.

"Miss Granger, may I haff the pleasure of this dance?"

Deciding this might be a good move, she agreed and took to the dance floor.

"Your name is Herm-own-ninny?"

"Actually, it's pronounced Her-my-oh-nee, and your name?"

This almost drew a smile from the Bulgarian. "I am Viktor Krum. It is unusual for me to meet people not knowing my name, I like it."

Hermione's laughter was cause for quite a few people to relax. They might all know she could handle herself, just as they all knew she would't have to. There was bound to be public and political fallout though from a Harry - Viktor Krum confrontation.

"I know exactly what you mean, Harry and I get that a lot. In Gringotts now, everyone bows to us. It can get rather embarrassing. It's nice to go on holiday in the muggle world and just be two unknown teenagers for a change."

"Harry, he is your mate?"

"Yes, we blood bonded over two years ago now. We've already picked the date and location for our wedding."

"He is a very lucky vizard."

"He considers himself a goblin but would probably agree with the rest of your sentiment, I wouldn't though. We hadn't known each other a week when Harry raced through the castle and took down a mountain troll that was trying to kill me, we were eleven."

"A mountain troll, in the castle? How did that happen?"

"Oh, Voldemort let it in, he was teaching here. Dumbledore hid the philosophers stone in the castle, and then employed a Voldemort possessed professor to teach us defence. That all happened in our first week here, and then things just kept getting worse and worse."

"How can they get vorse than that?"

"Oh easy, Dumbledore has a real knack for it. Did you know he and Gellert Grindelwald were lovers when they had just left school?"

The fact that the surefooted Bulgarian stumbled at that was enough of a clue Viktor didn't know. "Like your dark lord, ve tend not to say that name. You say both…"

"I'm not frightened by a name. I've actually seen Voldemort, fought against him too. That's not strictly true though, Harry put him out of the fight right at the start. Tonks and I only had to charge his death eaters."

This brought another stumble from Viktor. Those medals this beautiful witch wore told him she was indeed telling the truth. "Ve vere told the brave went to Gryffindor. The smart vould be in Ravenclaw, and the beautiful."

This drew another laugh from Hermione. "Why thank you, sir, I shall take that as a compliment."

The dance finished and Viktor became the second person to kiss her hand. "It vas meant as one. At least ve know vitch house has all the pretty vitches…"

"Oh I can't let that stand, come with me a minute." Victor followed on behind until they came to stop beside a stunning blonde. "Daphne, this is Viktor. Could you please dance with him. He's under the impression that all the beautiful witches are in Ravenclaw, I'm sure you'll change his mind. After your dance, perhaps you could introduce him to Hannah and Susan, maybe Katie Bell too?"

Daphne took a stunned Viktor by the arm and headed on to the dance floor, she looked over her shoulder to have a quick word with Hermione. "What if I want to keep him all to myself?"

This drew some laughs before Hermione answered her back. "That will be up to Viktor."

Daphne almost laughed herself at Viktor's worried face. "It's all right, Viktor, you'll be safe with us. We're all friends, out to have a good time at the ball. Our definition of a good time is lots of dancing and having some laughs, just so there are no misunderstandings between us."

"Thank you for that. This is...unusual for me, being treated as normal vizard."

This set Daphne giggling, a sound Viktor thought he could easily get to like. "We have four of our friends who are Orders of Merlin, First Class, holders. Three of them are also Friends to the Goblin Nation and Harry is both a Centurion and a Baron. They don't like to be treated any differently, we'll simply pass that on to you too."

As the dance ended, Daphne thanked him and suddenly he was dancing with someone called Susan. It was many dances later that Viktor realised two things, he was actually having fun and there were many beautiful witches at Hogwarts - not all of them Ravenclaws.

Harry was back dancing with Hermione, asking her when she started playing matchmaker. She thought for a minute before replying.

"Viktor actually reminds me a bit of you. People he meets don't see Viktor, they see Krum, the quidditch star. I thought introducing him to some of our friends might just open his eyes, and lower that wall you strong, silent types seem to have."

This drew a chuckle from Harry. "Lower my wall? You can practically read my mind, just as I can yours. Now tell me what you're really up to."

"Viktor seems like a nice guy, and obviously someone the other Durmstrang students look up to. It certainly wouldn't hurt to have him as a friend, if he wants to."

"I got the distinct impression he was looking for a lot more than that from you."

This saw Hermione smile at him. "Then he's going to be disappointed. You, Centurion, are all I'll ever need. You are mine…"

" …and I am yours." Harry ended his declaration with a loving kiss.

Marko wasn't feeling the love, he could still feel the shame of having Crow's blade at his throat. He wasn't stupid though, far from it, and only someone stupid would tackle Crow head on. No, his revenge was going to take an entirely different form.

Crow claimed he was the school champion, here to protect the students. Marko's revenge would be to ruin a few of those female students. He'd already spotted a couple of the witches eyeing up the Durmstrang visitors, one in particular was making eyes at him.

He was a handsome wizard, more than one girl had said so, and he knew just how to sweet-talk girls into doing what he wanted. Marko would be sparing with his dances and attention tonight, this would let him see just who was willing to chase him. Once he focused on the one he chose, they would soon be putty in his hands. Then it would be time to move on to his next conquest.

That would not start tonight however, this was purely reconnaissance. He would let the heat die down and then, when all the attention was on the tournament and Professor Dumbledore, Marco would start his campaign. His ultimate goal would be to get with one of the witches wearing a dragonskin cloak, he would save that though for nearer the end of their time in Hogwarts. He might have to make a hasty retreat if he was successful.

-oOoOo-

Sapphire didn't think it was deliberate on Harry's part, she also had no knowledge of how things worked for teenagers other than goblins, but the group with Harry and Hermione at its centre was about as goblin as you could get. A large group of friends and family, all coming together to have a good time and looking out for one another while doing so. She had felt very comfortable at the ball last night. Between the fayre, staying at Kingussie and the island, Sapphire now knew, and was friends with, a large number of the people at the ball. Even staying in Hogwarts last night hadn't troubled her, Hermione, Padma and Luna were like sisters to her now. Staying in Ravenclaw, with a room the castle had provided, had been great. She and Luna had sat chatting well into the night, certain others had to be up for their training in the morning.

Luna being such a good friend was why Sapphire was now uncomfortable. She would be returning to Gringotts with Assistant Ambassador Weasley, after he had finished training the eight that attended his Sunday lesson. Sitting having an early lunch, they saw the Durmstrang students arrive and head for the Slytherin table. Mentioning to Luna that she wished she'd asked Viktor for an autograph saw the blonde dragging Sapphire over.

"Hi Viktor. My name is Luna, and this is my friend, Sapphire. She has only recently discovered quidditch and was wondering if you could sign an autograph for her?"

This wasn't what was making Sapphire uncomfortable though. Her blonde friend was growing, and her physical beauty would soon match the wonderful person that Luna Lovegood was. Others were recognising this too, and Luna had been on the dance floor for most of the ball. The looks a couple of the Durmstrang students were giving Luna was the reason for Sapphire's discomfort. They were staring at Luna as if she was some kind of tasty morsel, something no goblin would ever stand for.

Viktor was a gentleman, and wrote an autograph out for Sapphire. He then spoke, though she just wanted to get Luna away before Harry came in and started a riot. Hermione had said there wasn't a word in the goblin language for protective, because they didn't need one. Harry was certainly very protective of Luna.

"Vill ve see you back at Hogwarts for any of the tasks, or the quidditch matches?"

"Oh, Harry and Hermione don't watch the quidditch. They won't miss their training for tasks or matches. I suppose that's why they are so good at what they do. During the Baron's Fayre at the summer, Harry fought the greatest blade in the Nation to a draw - twice."

This drew the eyes off Luna, as she'd intended. They said their goodbyes before heading back to Ravenclaw, Sapphire switching to her native tongue so as not to be understood if overheard.

""Luna, there's a couple of them sitting there that make my skin crawl. You might want to put the word around the girls.""

""You think I should say something to Harry?""

""He could certainly have them closely watched. It might be better to speak to Hermione though, no goblin male would stand by while a female family member was being gawked at like that. They were undressing you with their eyes, and not caring who saw them doing so. They were very lucky Harry was still at training.""

This resulted in a shiver from Luna, and a determination to speak with Hermione. The four then entered and it was time for Sapphire to say goodbye to them too. She'd had a lovely time but now it was back to Gringotts.

-oOoOo-

The Minister was right about one thing, the Goblet of Fire was far more impressive when it lived up to its name. There still wasn't the enthusiasm for the tournament in Hogwarts that the organisers might have hoped for, the vast majority being far more interested in the quidditch matches - especially since the Puffs and Lions would now get a chance to play against Viktor Krum. There were probably more names in the cup from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons than there were from Hogwarts.

With Dumbledore now back in the castle, it was an uneasy dinner that most would have happily skipped. As there was now a ministerial delegation sitting at the top table, Harry felt duty bound to at least sit through the ceremony.

When the goblet started spluttering, it was the minister who stood.

"As the cup nears making its decision, all that is left to say is good luck to those of you who have entered your names."

With a flurry of flames, the first piece of singed parchment was spat out the cup - before gently floating toward the Minister of Magic. All eyes were now on Cornelius as he read the name.

"The champion for Beauxbatons is... Fleur Delacour."

The beautiful blonde witch stood and walked regally toward her headmistress, the polite applause drowning out the fact that another Beauxbatons witch was crying her eyes out because she didn't get chosen.

As the flames spat out a second piece of parchment, again they waited on the minister reading the name.

"The champion for Durmstrang is... Viktor Krum."

The Durmstrang students made a lot of noise as Viktor stepped forward, though he didn't seem too happy to be standing beside Dumbledore.

With the final flurry of flames, all knew this piece of parchment contained the name of the Hogwarts champion. The minister didn't keep them waiting.

"The champion for Hogwarts is... Cedric Diggory."

As the only member of their group old enough to compete, they were all delighted Cedric had been chosen to represent Hogwarts. Not half as delighted as his father however, a beaming Amos was clapping away like a man possessed.

As the noise died down, they began to notice that the minister was still staring at the goblet. Knowing the goblet should have extinguished after it threw out the last name, Cornelius had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach that things were about to go horribly wrong. Sure enough, the goblet spat out a fourth piece of parchment before the flames died.

With a shaking hand, Cornelius grabbed the piece of parchment out of the air and read aloud the two words written there. "Harry Crow."

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