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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31. Grumpy Gordon

The prophet being delivered that Sunday morning generated an effect seldom experienced in the great hall of Hogwarts. It slowly sank into silence, with not even the sounds generated by cutlery or crockery escaping this vacuum of hush. It's often said that nature abhors a vacuum, and this one never stood a chance of existing for more than a few seconds. The noise started like a babbling brook, soft and gentle, but soon turned into a raging torrent of white water that engulfed every table - including the staff.

Sitting unmoved against this deluge, making them stand out like rocks jutting from the foaming water, the four friends were quietly finishing their breakfast. Bill would be here for their defence lesson in less than fifteen minutes.

"An Order of Merlin, First Class? Wow, Harry, just - wow!"

"I'm actually more excited about the scholarships, Roger, which was the only reason I agreed to this. My dad and mum laid their lives down for me that night, but all anyone ever talks about is the fact I didn't die. You didn't die yesterday, let's celebrate that."

"I understand what you're trying to say, Harry, but I wasn't hit with the killing curse yesterday..."

"Ah, but here's the thing, Roger - how do you know I was? The only person to come out of that house alive was me, and no healer even checked me over until I ended up in Gringotts. Voldemort's wand was never found either, so who knows what happened that night?"

This had the entire Ravenclaw table held enthralled, no one had looked at the 'incident' from that point of view before. "A story appears in the Prophet and everyone just accepts that's what actually happened. We all saw at Halloween how wrong that newspaper can be. I was fifteen months old and whisked away from that house by Rubeus Hagrid, under Dumbledore's orders. Where was the investigation? Where was the process of law? Whatever Dumbledore says is just taken as truth - if not law. Yes he's a powerful wizard but he can get things wrong, just like everybody else."

His girlfriend latched on to what Harry was actually saying here. "It's Professor Binns all over again. No one questions what they're being told, so that becomes the accepted truth. People have been able to write what they like about that night, and no one can say whether they are right or wrong." Hermione knew Harry had memories of that night but had no intention of mentioning that fact to anyone else.

The arrival of Parvati saved Harry from having to answer any more questions on what happened that Halloween, she appeared rather upset at the news in the Prophet.

"Weren't we supposed to be on holiday when it's your birthday? Does this mean the holiday plans have changed?"

"Yes, we're juggling the schedule a bit to put us back in Britain for a couple of days. I thought you would be pleased, going to your first ball?"

The implications of what Harry just said were mind-blowing but Parvati needed to hear the actual words coming from his mouth - there could be no mistakes made here. "Are you saying what I think you're saying, Harry?"

"I am the guest of honour and get my own table, all of the people going on holiday with us over the summer will be at that table."

She looked questioningly toward her twin, "You knew?"

"We just found out yesterday, I owled home last night. Mum's going to be so excited."

"I owled my gran last night too, she probably wouldn't believe that story in the Prophet if I didn't."

Hermione was nodding her agreement with both their friends. "Eargit took a letter home for me, it should be some evening."

Harry provided the final piece of information. "Madam Bones was one of the ball organisers, so Susan should be getting an owl today too, telling her and Hannah of the new arrangements."

Susan and Hannah came racing over, clutching a piece of parchment in her hand. "Oh I can't believe we're all going to the ball together, this will be brilliant!"

Parvati's mind had wandered in a different direction though. "The shopping voucher now makes sense, I'll be able to get a new dress..."

This saw Harry standing and shaking his head toward the Gryffindor witch. "Sorry, Parvati, that voucher was for your birthday - this is a different item. We'll have to arrange another shopping trip for this."

Parvati thought she was in heaven, a holiday, a ball and now two shopping trips! "Hermione, you're just gonna have to excuse me..." With a squeal of delight, she leapt at Harry and practically hugged the life out of him. Finishing with a kiss on the cheek just as Bill arrived.

"Harry, my teaching you defence doesn't seem to be doing much good."

"My humble apologies, Curse-breaker Weasley, I find there is no defence against a Patil twin who wants a hug."

Bill enjoyed the casual atmosphere they could adopt at the weekend, though knew he couldn't get Harry to just call him Bill. The Curse-breaker title was a mark of respect that, in Harry's eyes, he had earned - no goblin would disrespect that. He could still tease Harry back though.

"...and how are your defences when it comes to hugs from girls called Granger?"

"Sorry again sir, I expect a T for that class. I just can't seem to get the hang of why I would want to defend against that."

This set Bill off laughing, "Good answer, Harry, I only hope you're as good at dodging spells. As a special treat, we got hold of some training dummies that fire back. Should make today a lot more interesting."

"As long as they don't have swords or axes in their hands, that's fine with me." The weekends were Padma's favourite lessons, having fun while learning suited her personality so much better. "Girls, Hermione had a great idea about dresses. Why don't we have lunch at the Hufflepuff table and talk about it, that way Harry and Neville won't be forced to listen."

Her twin's thoughts again went in a different direction. "Do we need dates for this ball?"

It was left to Harry to break the only bit of bad news. "Sorry girls, there isn't any room at the table for more people..."

"So we need to share you and Neville?"

That was never going to work, and Padma quickly marked everyone's dance cards. "Sorry sis, Neville has already asked me to be his date. I'm also pretty sure Hermione is not the kind of witch who shares. Well, at least not Harry."

This comment drew laughter from Susan and Hannah, with no denials coming from Hermione or Harry. Bill marching the four away may have stopped the conversation but this would be the main topic inside Hogwarts until the exams hit. Parvati raced back to the Gryffindor table, desperate to tell her news to Lavender.

Dumbledore was certainly not pleased at the Prophet's news, Fudge appeared to be succeeding where he had failed so spectacularly. How the hell did that happen? He turned his ire in the direction of his deputy. "Minerva, as headmaster, I demand to be kept appraised of all the details of this scholarship."

His deputy was having none of it. "Sorry, headmaster, you are neither on the scholarship board of trustees nor require the information on any educational grounds I can perceive. Just what are your reasons for demanding this information?"

"Damn it, Minerva, I'm the headmaster!"

"I am aware of that, though still don't see the reason behind this demand. You haven't concerned yourself with the new first year intake for almost forty years, why the sudden interest now?"

"This scholarship could be a powerful force for good, but we need to ensure that the right people are chosen..."

"We will ensure that the 'right' children are chosen. Amelia, Sirius and I might have a different definition of 'right' than you do, but I'm learning this is not necessarily a bad thing. If you would like to make a formal complaint, I really don't know who you would direct it at. The trust is set in such a way that, to replace a trustee, you need the agreement of the other two. If you can convince Sirius and Amelia to replace me with yourself, you'll deserve your place on the trust board. Lord Black will be in the castle today as usual, I can only suggest you mention it to him."

Albus was taken aback at this information. "There is no other involvement, no goblin input?"

"No, why should there be? Amelia represents the ministry, I'm there as Hogwarts' voice while Sirius speaks for the Potters - until Harry is old enough to replace his godfather. The only request made was from Harry himself, he wants one of the students chosen each year to be a muggle born like his mother - we all agreed to that."

Dumbledore didn't agree, but then his opinion was neither asked for nor apparently counted for much when he gave it. He decided to keep his own council and wait for a better opportunity to try and let his specific thoughts on the matter be known. At the moment, there was such a groundswell of support for this measure that to speak against it would see him swept aside.

Severus appeared at his side and slapped his copy of the prophet onto the table.

Leaning in so only the headmaster could hear, Severus made his feelings known. "Still think I'm overreacting? I would be publicly flogged, before my soul was a dementor's lunch - and that would be just the ministry's response."

Severus strode out of the hall, taking Dumbledore's appetite with him.

-oOoOo-

Sirius entered the great hall and stopped dead in his tracks. His eyes had immediately traveled to where his godson usually sat, and soon locked on to Harry. What had stopped Sirius was the fact that Hermione wasn't there, it took him a moment to spot her sitting at the Hufflepuff table. That she was smiling and chatting animatedly with their friends eased Sirius' fears, he didn't know how these two would handle their first fight - he was certain though that neither of them would be smiling.

He approached Harry and Neville, deciding to play dumb. "Hey you two, where are the girls?"

"Hi Sirius, they're over at the Hufflepuff table, chatting with the other three about dresses for the ball. They thankfully spared Neville and me that torture."

This blew the last remaining fears that they'd had a falling-out clear away, Sirius also had something to add to that conversation. "Your father has offered the goblin tailors to make all our outfits for the ball, since they made the original that inspired this idea."

Neville was immediately shaking his head. "I had to tell Parvati about the birthday party, you're on your own for this one mate."

"...and here was me thinking a Longbottom had my back."

"Hey, if it wasn't for Padma, I would be dreading this ball. Witches can be really scary. Just go over there, you know Hermione won't let anything bad happen to her boyfriend."

"Thanks a bunch, Neville."

Sirius was trying not to laugh as he watched Harry stroll over to the five girls.

His girlfriend was the first to spot his approach. "Does Sirius want us to start early? I thought we had another ten minutes?"

"No, Hermione, he brought some news from my father. He's offering the goblin tailors to make all your dresses..."

For the second time today, Harry had a witch screaming with joy before engulfing him in a bone crushing hug. There were no complaints this time though as Hermione was the one doing the screaming / hugging. They had kept any public displays of affection to hand holding, so the kiss that followed the hug would again set tongues wagging. Not that it was much more than a peck on the lips, it was just the first time they had seen this couple kiss in public.

Hermione though was too excited to care. "That's fantastic, Harry, and solves all our problems." She then turned to their friends, trying to explain her excitement. "The goblin tailors made my dress for Harry's centurion ceremony, they are simply brilliant. I got to choose everything and they were so nice, my dress also fitted like a second skin. They made Madame Malkin seem like an amateur."

Her excitement instantly spread to their friends, though the option to hug Harry in thanks wasn't available to anyone else. Hermione still had him wrapped in her arms, proving Padma correct. Hermione wasn't about to share Harry with anyone.

-oOoOo-

Witches and wizards the length and breadth of Britain rejoiced at this announcement, and then quickly began to plan how they could acquire tickets for the event of the year.

The country's purebloods tended to fall into one of three categories, and their opinion on this momentous event depended on which faction they supported. The light faction thought this recognition was long overdue, and couldn't wait to see their saviour accept the country's highest award.

Those witches and wizards of a neutral persuasion depended heavily on their abilities to read the political situation, so they could lean in that direct while maintaining their centre stance. Since the ministry appeared to have jumped heavily into the light, that would be the direction they would lean - for now. None could see any reason not to support this event, so they would.

Those with a darker disposition had been caught on the hop by the sudden shift in the ministry's position. Malfoy's exposure had left the minister with no other option but to distance himself, and his ministry, from Lucius Malfoy and his supporters. They had briefly rejoiced at Dumbledore's very public embarrassment, before realising that had pushed Fudge the one place they feared - right into the capable arms of Amelia Bones.

The head of the DMLE was tough, resourceful and very bright. That she had lost all but one of her entire family to death eater attacks meant there would be no forgiveness to be found there. With Malfoy and Dumbledore expressing contradictory opinions on every subject, Cornelius Fudge had usually given the impression that he didn't know what day of the week it was - not any more. The ministry now had a clear direction, and it wasn't in their favour.

At this moment in time, to publicly fight against this change in the tide would be politically and socially suicidal. They would have to bide their time and slowly try to reverse the current back in their direction. Most would openly support this event, and even attempt to acquire tickets - just not try too hard.

-oOoOo-

Minerva was trying hard to understand the resistance against her choice for a Potter scholarship. She had spent the best part of a fortnight going over every new student's file, and this child jumped out at her at every turn as a deserving candidate. She was left unsure what criterion the other two were working with but was determined to get to the bottom of this.

"Ginevra will be the seventh child Molly and Arthur will have sent to Hogwarts, and September will see five Weasley children attending the castle at the same time. They are also as light a family as it's possible to find, and their eldest son has been tutoring Harry and his friends for most of the term. In all of our new first year, I can't see a more deserving case for a Potter scholarship than this. That she is also a pureblood will balance nicely with the muggle born we've already chosen. If you have another reason for rejecting this candidate, then I think I'm entitled to hear it."

It was left to Amelia to try and calm her old friend's fears. "We agree with everything you've just said, Minerva, but there is specific information we can't divulge just yet. Can I say that good things are planned for Arthur at the ministry, things that will certainly ease any financial worries the Weasley family might have. These planned changes could leave our choice of Ginevra then open to question, something I don't think we can afford - especially in the scholarship's inaugural year. This information is very sensitive but will certainly be made public before the summer ball, it will all drop into place then and you will see we are right."

She was wracking her brains for a hint of what these planned changes could be, especially since Sirius appeared to be aware of them, and Minerva could only come up with one thing - it had to involve Harry. Deciding it was pointless to pursue this any longer, and knowing Amelia wouldn't lie to her, Minerva conceded her argument.

"Very well then, remove the financial hardship and there remains no grounds to support that candidate. The witch you both chose would have been my second choice so I will happily support her as the other Potter scholarship student. I shall also be studying the Prophet closely for Arthur Weasley's good news."

This drew a relieved chuckle from Amelia. "Believe me, Minerva, you won't have to look for the news. It will be blazed right across the front page."

Sirius wanted to know who got to tell Harry, with Minerva asking for that honour. "Harry said he wanted this to be like an extended family, I wanted to have a chat with him and see just how far he wants to take that. I will be arranging a visit to Diagon Alley, he may want to meet with them before September first."

"That's a brilliant idea, Minerva, but we will be out of the country for most of the summer. Arranging it near the end of the holidays would work, they could all do their school shopping together."

-oOoOo-

He could see she was troubled, the signs were hard to miss. Nervously chewing on the end of her quill while neither turning the page of her book nor writing any notes, Hermione had been deep in thought for the last ten minutes. Since the four friends were currently in the library, revising for exams, Harry had to keep his voice to barely above a whisper.

"Hermione, if you don't tell us what's bothering you, we won't be able to help."

Getting caught woolgathering actually made her blush, it was also scary sometimes how well Harry could read her mood. "Sorry guys, was revising some stuff from earlier in the term and my mind just wandered. To be honest, I was struggling to believe some of the things that's happened to us. I mean, we're only first years!"

Seeing where this was leading, Harry tried to point her in the right direction. "Why are we sitting here revising for our exams?"

The answer to that was obvious, and Hermione didn't disappoint. "So we can get good marks in our exams, it's important that we study and do well."

Harry had another easy question for her. "So, you would expect the four of us to perform better than say - Ron Weasley?"

This very suggestion appeared to light a fire under Hermione. "Considering he does the bare minimum to get by, and none of us have ever seen him studying, that would have to be yes. He seems the type who will grab his books the night before the exam, and there's always the chance that the right questions might come up for him. I would still expect the four of us to get higher marks though. What are you getting at, Harry?"

"What you're saying is that we'll be prepared, while Ron Weasley has to hope for a large slice of luck to do well?"

Since that summed up Hermione's thoughts, she nodded in confirmation. Padma and Neville were also listening intently, curious to see where this was going.

"Well I think what you have to consider is that I've been prepared, and also been aided by massive slices of luck." There was no chance Harry was going to get away without explaining that comment. "I walked into Hogwarts as a goblin warrior, a warrior who had been training and being briefed for this mission for years. Discounting Master Flitwick, and now Henrica, Hermione knows more about the goblin nation than the rest of the staff put together..."

"...but Harry, I've barely scratched the surface."

"I know, but none of them have even bothered to learn that much. Let's take the sorting as an example. You three now know me, what would you expect me to do in that situation?"

It was Padma who was first in with an answer, beginning to glimpse what Harry was trying to say. "You would never renounce being a goblin, and certainly not because of a situation Dumbledore forced you into."

Neville and Hermione agreed totally with that assessment, gaining a smile from Harry. "We had the chances of Dumbledore pulling something like that around the twenty percent mark, there was even a concern he wouldn't let me leave and confine me to the castle..."

Hermione's hand shot into his at that declaration, offering comfort as Neville asked the question. "What would you have done then?"

"I have a way of sending my father a short coded message that we save for emergencies. Gringotts would have shut its doors until I was released, meanwhile Hermione and I would have been doing our best to escape. Once outside the wards, we would portkey to Gringotts."

She didn't know what it was about being included in his escape plans but Hermione was sitting with a wide grin on her face.

"So you see I was well prepared, but then also handed a massive slice of luck by Hogwarts declaring I was her champion. The duel with Master Sharpshard also comes to mind, we all know he could take me in under two minutes. Instead, my centurion armour makes me faster and stronger while being able to cast with both blades is a massive advantage. Even so, it was Hogwarts who finally tipped the balance. She hindered and obstructed Master Sharpshard at every opportunity, while keeping my path clear."

Padma and Neville were both sure what had swung that fight in Harry's favour, kicking Hermione had enraged their friend beyond anything either had ever seen.

Hermione herself was beginning to see the point Harry was making. "So you're saying that preparation, along with luck, has got you ahead all year?"

That was pretty close to what Harry was trying to say. "The headmaster didn't bother to do his homework, and has found himself on the back foot since the first of September. We studied every move he's ever made and had a full profile of Dumbledore that was constantly being updated. I don't know if it's his arrogance that he couldn't possibly be wrong or if he didn't want anyone to know I was at Gringotts. Master Flitwick sits at the same table and would have been a mine of information on goblins, the headmaster had that resource at his fingertips and never used it. He keeps treating me like a wizard, with even Snape seeming to learn that doesn't work. Does that answer your questions?"

It was now a blushing Hermione who nodded, before going back to her revising. She could hear Padma sniggering in amusement and was trying to ignore it. The discovery that Snape was responsible for passing the prophecy on to Voldemort had kicked Harry's animosity against Dumbledore to a whole different level. Hermione just hoped they could reach the holidays without a confrontation, she should have known better.

-oOoOo-

Minerva really couldn't exclude Albus from this demonstration, not with the examiners arriving in the castle earlier than usual. With Harry once more all over the Prophet, Griselda had manoeuvred to get the rest of the examiners into Hogwarts when the interest was at its peak. All she'd needed to mention was that Minerva wanted their opinion on the boy-who-lived's class and her fellow examiners couldn't wait to set off for the castle.

Harry was having to perform boyfriend duties and try to talk Hermione down from the funk she was getting herself into. The older Ravenclaws had recognised most of the examiners and wondered why they were in the castle early, sparking Hermione's funk.

"Our exams don't start until Monday, Hermione, you don't get those examiners until our OWL year. Professor McGonagall told us they might be coming to see our class, it will just be the same as last time."

A chance to help put her friend's mind onto something else while teasing was not something to be dismissed lightly. Padma just couldn't resist. "Oh, Hermione, I wonder if any of the other girls will take Harry up on his offer to pet his dragon?"

Catching the double meaning her friend was hinting at, Hermione knew exactly how to stop this stone dead. "As long as they remember I know the goblin command for bite their hands off, I don't see there being any problems - do you?"

She wasn't sure whether it was the look in Hermione's eyes or the tone of her voice but something sent a shiver up Padma's back. "Merlin, Hermione, you can be one scary witch when you want to be. Are you sure you're not part goblin?"

Saying that to any other witch would be considered a severe insult but Padma knew Hermione would take it the spirit it was offered, as a compliment. "Why thank you, Padma, that's the second time someone has said that recently. Harry must be rubbing off on me..."

It was only after spotting Harry's wide-eyed expression that Hermione realised what she had said, that and the sniggering traveling up and down the Ravenclaw table.

Padma put her arm comfortingly around Hermione's shoulders. "Ignore the plebs, Hermione, we knew what you meant. I think saying that Harry's had an influence on all of us is certainly a better way of putting it though."

She could feel her friend's shoulders shaking, it was only when Hermione couldn't hold her laughter in any longer that Padma realised she wasn't upset. Hermione laughing at her slip of the tongue just confirmed what Padma had said, Harry was certainly influencing all of them.

-oOoOo-

The transfiguration lesson went pretty much the same as last time, with Padma having her bluff called and stroking the dragon with a trembling hand. The examiners looked pleased, all except one - there is always one.

The students had noticed him at once, he could hardly be missed. This wizard was well over six feet tall yet would have trouble tipping the scales over ten stone when he was soaking wet. This despite having a snout that could have been a model for the dipping nose cone the engineers designed for Concord. Wearing a frown since before he stepped in the door, this was one long streak of misery.

Gordon McPhee had been saddled with the nickname 'Grumpy Gordon' when he attended Hogwarts, 'Moaning McPhee' was also suggested but Myrtle had kinda got the moaning name-tag all sewn up - the ghost really had no peer in the moaning stakes when she was on her game. Grumpy Gordon was a nickname that stuck even to the present day, probably because it was so apt.

"I fail to see why we should change centuries of history because one class wants to do things differently. Our current method of transfiguration was painstakingly developed by our forefathers, one class a week for nine months and suddenly we want to throw all that away?"

Albus was appalled at what he had witnessed in this classroom. This new form of transfiguration had the potential to trigger massive changes in magical Britain over a very short period of time, something that in his opinion was to be avoided at all costs. "I'm afraid I must agree with some of the fine points Mr McPhee has raised. I saw no notes being taken nor homework issued, far less a textbook being used for reference. What textbooks would you put on the list for next year? Are there even textbooks available?"

Gordon seized on this to further his argument. "Exactly my point, headmaster. We have books written by recognised masters on the subject that we would be consigning to the rubbish heap. No textbooks, no notes and no homework, why do we need a transfiguration master teaching a class when the skills she spent many years learning clearly aren't required?"

Minerva was ready to go to war but Griselda interrupted before the enraged transfiguration professor could say anything, far less draw her wand. "Perhaps we could ask Mr Crow if there are any books on this method of transfiguration?"

The entire class were hanging on every word spoken. To most of the students, this was their favourite class. Even Ron Weasley would cast his vote for this new method of transfiguration. With no notes to take, books to read or homework to be done, this was easily his favourite class. That he had completed the entire first year curriculum by the end of January was immaterial to Ron. No one wanted a return to the more traditional method of teaching transfiguration.

"It's Centurion Crow, Ma'am, and sorry, but the only written material on transfiguration is purely introductory."

The class were then left wondering if Snape had based his nasty demeanour on his favourite examiner, there were certainly startling similarities in the sarcastic delivery. "Did you really expect them to have books? Please!"

With Dumbledore already in the classroom, the last thing Harry needed was a reminder of Snape. Everyone in the class who really knew Harry winced at his answer to this examiner, an examiner who reminded the muggle borns of the Great Gonzo from the Muppet Show.

"Excuse me sir, the goblins had a written language and were experimenting with printing while people on this island were huddled over pieces of shredded bark, trying to get a spark by striking two lumps of flint together. The goblins have had the written word as long as man has had fire." This silenced the entire class but Harry was just getting warmed up. "I realise that there are people in this room desperate to call me a liar, and that's okay. Just because you think I'm full of dragon shite still doesn't make your views on any of these matters right."

Dumbledore then tried to play mediator, which was certainly the wrong person doing entirely the wrong thing where Harry was concerned. "Harry, my boy, can I offer a piece of friendly advice? These people standing here hold your future in their hands, it might not be wise to antagonise them..."

Harry cut right across the headmaster. "...which is why we had a history exam that was the laughing stock of Europe. I'll save these witches and wizards the trouble of remembering me for future reference, I won't be sitting any O.W.L.'s."

There was now lack of noise and movement as that comment froze everyone, well, not quite. Hermione's hand again shot into Harry's under the desk. He held his girlfriend's hand before offering a comforting squeeze to let her know he was still in control.

Albus was so shocked it was left to Griselda to break the silence. "Centurion Crow, if you have no intention of sitting O.W.L.'s, and presumably N.E.W.T.s, could you tell us why you are here?"

"That's easy, Ma'am, I'm at Hogwarts for an education..."

Grumpy Gordon thought he had his opportunity. "Without exam passes, you're nothing boy. The ministry can legally snap your wand..."

The thunk made the entire class jump, all except Hermione who'd seen Harry draw his knife and slam it point first into the desk. "I don't have a wand to break! Even Dumbledore's pet half-giant couldn't snap that, not without slicing his fingers clean off. Might stop him illegally lifting any more toddlers out their cribs."

McGonagall's 'HARRY!', combined with Hermione squeezing his hand hard enough to stop blood flow drew Harry back. He had no intention of backing down though, just curtailing his temper.

"Mr McPhee hinted that this class doesn't need Professor McGonagall, I'll say it out loud that Hogwarts doesn't need Mr McPhee. Professor McGonagall has been teaching her N.E.W.T. class for seven years and knows her students' capabilities in transfiguration better than anyone on this planet. Why should a stranger then come into the school, meet that student for about fifteen minutes and then they get to award a grade that effects that student for the rest of their life?"

Minerva could see Harry getting agitated at the slight to the goblins but couldn't understand why he was already refusing to sit exams. "We need to be seen to be impartial, Harry, that is why we have examiners from the ministry."

"I trust your opinion, Professor, rather than that of an outsider. When Master Pitslay thinks I've reached apprenticeship level, he will tell me. I will then have to decide if he would take me on to become a master, or whether my future lies elsewhere. No goblin needs a slip of paper to say how far they took their education, our system has no such exams. Since I'm attending Hogwarts as a goblin, I have no need of them."

Harry was rubbing his thumb along the back of Hermione's held hand, drawing as much comfort from this action as his girlfriend was. He needed it as Dumbledore once more entered the verbal fray, the old wizard just didn't know when to shut his mouth.

"Harry, my boy. You are taking a decision here that will affect the rest of your life, a decision that doesn't need to be made for another four years. I would ask you to reconsider that decision..."

"Why, is your new plan to send Tom Riddle my O.W.L. results and hope he dies of shame that a goblin beat his scores? I have to say it's defiantly an improvement on your 'power of love' suggestion. I still only kiss Hermione."

Hermione wasn't in the least embarrassed, she was watching how close Harry's hand stayed to his knife that was still sticking out the desk. She moved their joined hands until they were next to her sword hilt. Harry gave a slight smile at this but Dumbledore wouldn't let it go.

"If you don't sit your exams, you could potentially find yourself wanting to stay in the wizarding world and being unable to do so..."

Harry's loud laughter cut Dumbledore off, leaving half the class thinking he'd finally lost it.

It took Harry a moment to regain control before he could answer. "Sorry, Hermione but that was funnier than any of those comedy tapes you showed Padma and me over the holidays." He then turned his attention back to Dumbledore. "IF I decide to stay in the wizarding community, I shall be Lord Harry James Potter, Order of Merlin, First Class. Do you honestly think people will care whether I sat my O.W.L.'s or not?"

"Your mother and father would want you to..." Dumbledore never got to say any more, Harry was on his feet with his knife yanked out the desk and now pointed between the headmaster's eyes.

"My father will agree with my decision, believing it is mine to make. As to my mum and dad, I'll never know since they're both gone. It's looking more and more likely you had a hand in it too. Remember my promise old man, if we get proof then I'll be coming for you!"

Hermione noticed Harry's armour had began to creep down his wrists though his knife never wavered, she was certainly not the only one who was relieved to hear the bell ringing.

Minerva actually stood in front of Albus before speaking. "Class dismissed. Centurion, a moment of your time outside, please?"

Harry nodded before heading outside with the rest of the class. The instant her last student left the classroom, Minerva spun on Dumbledore. "You just couldn't let it go, could you? Always thinking you know best and trying to push that view down other people's throats, is it any wonder you're barred from going anywhere near Harry. You lose me my two best students and I might just follow them out the door. I'll tell you this, Albus Dumbledore, if you had anything to do with Lily and James' murder - I'll kill you myself!"

The examiners all stood there, shocked and stunned. Every member of the British magical community had laid eyes on the picture of a golden boy-who-lived standing over a bleeding Dumbledore, all the examiners had thought they were about to witness the live version. Albus had been playing down any talk of tension in his school, his deputy just backed Crow and threatened to kill the headmaster if the boy's claims could be proven.

Griselda was thinking if that crime could be proven, the wizarding public would do the job before Minerva could get her wand on Dumbledore. This ball would confirm James and Lily Potter as two heroes of their country, if Albus was involved in their murder there would be hell to pay.

Gordon couldn't believe what he just witnessed. His speciality was defence so he had been focused on the boy's eyes, what he saw there sent a shiver of fear up his spine. This boy was squaring up to Albus Dumbledore yet there had been no fear in his eyes, and it certainly wasn't a case of bravado either. There was a determination expressed there that Gordon expected to see in a few of the better N.E.W.T. candidates, very occasionally an exceptional O.W.L. student - certainly not in someone finishing their first year at Hogwarts. He also couldn't help notice the other three students who were obviously ready to spring to his aid, just what was going on here?

Albus was wondering the exact same thing, and also wondering how that could have gone any worse. When Cornelius discovered Harry wasn't going to be sitting any O.W.L.'s he would hit the roof. When it became known that Albus Dumbledore was responsible for this revelation, and he was sure Minerva was going to put the blame on him, Albus wondered if he might not be barred from the ministry too.

-oOoOo-

The three friends had waited along the corridor for Harry, with Hermione racing to him the instant McGonagall returned to her class.

"Hey, I'm fine. Sorry about that but can we cancel revision tonight?"

They had all caught up with each other now, leaving Padma free to answer. "Sure, Harry. You got detention with McGonagall?"

"What, no. I just want the time to tell you all what's going on. Can't have my friends thinking I'm turning into a right nutter, the rest of the school can think what it likes."

Hermione was back on Harry's arm as the four friends headed off to lunch. She actually stopped a moment at Harry's answer. "What did McGonagall want with you then?"

"Oh, she wanted to put a word in for Hagrid. She claims he's a rather simple soul who would jump in the lake and wrestle the giant squid if Dumbledore asked him to. Sirius actually agrees with that assessment but he can't forgive Hagrid either. Hagrid may have been blindly following Dumbledore's orders but he knew Sirius was my godfather, so he must have known that's where I was supposed to go."

This had Hermione shaking her head in disbelief. "In the armed forces, if you're given an order that's unlawful, the 'I was following orders' defence doesn't apply. I don't know how that works when a headmaster is giving the orders to a groundskeeper?"

"Oh, McGonagall also wanted a word about the Potter Scholarships, they've made their choices and needed to know if I was going to meet the two students beforehand. She suggested meeting in Diagon Alley, and then we could all do our shopping together. Sirius and Amelia both knew our summer schedule so McGonagall had already picked a date she knew we'd be available."

"That's a brilliant idea, Harry. I wish I'd known someone on the train last year, sitting with friends on the express at Christmas was so much better than being alone and terrified on the first of September."

This drew a big smile from Hermione as she too cast her mind back. "I agree that's a brilliant idea, Neville, but I met Harry on the train so I can't really complain. Did McGonagall tell you anything about them, Harry?"

He nodded before answering. "One is a muggle born wizard who's going to be the first in his family, but not the last. He has a younger brother and sister, and both of them are magical. His name is Colin Creevey and his dad is a milkman. Hermione, what's a milkman?"

She thought of the best way of explaining this that her friends would understand. "You know how at my house we can phone and the take-away get's delivered? Well Colin's dad delivers milk."

Padma was still struggling to get her head around this 'phone and it will be delivered to your door' concept, even after seeing it in action multiple times. "So you phone and his dad rushes to your door with some milk?"

The old Hermione would have went into great detail about dairies, milk floats and regular rounds - and they would all have missed lunch by the time she was finished. "Something like that, Padma. Who got the other scholarship, Harry?"

"A young girl who is an only child and lost her mother a year or so back. Her name's Luna Lovegood and I got the impression McGonagall was really hoping we would take her under our wings."

Padma grabbed Neville by the arm as they increased their pace toward the great hall. "Well, whether they know it or not, those two just found themselves with four new friends. Now let's get to lunch. Watching Harry scare the adults always gives me an appetite, and we've got our normal defence class next."

The four friends made their way to lunch, the quartet weren't the only ones that noticed neither Dumbledore nor McGonagall made it down.

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