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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88. He's Back Too!

There were a fair number of students who could now see the thestrals pulling the carriages to Hogwarts. Simply because they had attended the quidditch world cup final, they had found themselves sucked into the horror that followed. With so much death around, very few who had been in those woods that night had not witnessed at least one person die. The prefects and marauder trainers started work early, comforting those who were upset and ensuring everyone made it up to the castle. Since Padma was sticking to Parvati like glue tonight, Harry, Hermione, Draco, Pansy and the Weasley twins were on the last carriage heading up to the castle.

George wasn't going to let a little thing like having part of his ear bitten off get him down. The jokes were coming thick and fast but Harry and Hermione had the last laugh. The Slitheren couple and the Gryffindor twins froze as they entered the great hall, four pairs of eyes were now fixed on a certain individual sitting at the staff table. They were not by any means the only students staring in that direction, they were the ones Harry and Hermione were laughing at though. This saw the focus of their four friends switch to them, a smiling Harry answered their unasked questions.

"Yes, Fred and George, we will still have our potions lessons from Master Pitslay. No, Draco and Pansy, the wards were not altered to accommodate Professor Snape."

"But, how..."

"There's a very simple answer, Draco. You can't enter Hogwarts bearing a dark mark, therefore Professor Snape doesn't have one. No dark mark means he's not a death eater." The smirk on Hermione's face as she said that gave the game away, at least to the Slytherins.

"You knew, and didn't tell us!"

Harry was smiling to as they made their way into the hall and toward their tables. "Sorry Draco, your godfather wanted to surprise you."

Hermione couldn't help but channel her inner Padma. "I think he surprised a lot more people than his godson."

Such was the esteem Harry and Hermione were held inside Hogwarts, seeing them smiling and laughing about this instantly put the message out that Snape's return was not a problem.

The first years were led in, taking Hermione's thoughts back to her own sorting. She hoped tonight's passed off with a bit less drama than theirs had, they were all hoping for a quiet year.

The hat surprised everyone by singing this year's message, watching Sirius and Remus almost choking with laughter answered the question of where the ancient Hogwarts artefact had heard Johnny Cash songs. Hermione recognised the tune at once, 'I Walk the Line' being one of her father's favourite songs. A certain muggle studies professor would appear to have gotten the first prank of the year in, if you didn't count Professor Snape sitting at the staff table as a prank.

With his surname being Abercrombie, Euan was first to be sorted. He couldn't hide his delight at 'Hufflepuff' being shouted and shot off the stool to join a loudly cheering Natalie, forgetting to take the hat off his head.

Denis was every bit as pleased to be joining Colin in Gryffindor while Orla couldn't help but smile at the warm welcome she received when the hat shouted 'Ravenclaw'. She was quiet throughout the feast until Morag called out to her.

"Dinna fash yirsel, Orla, ye'r amongst mukkers noo. Ye'll find yer accent wull soon even oot, mines ainlie kicks in noo whin ah git pure crabbit."

All Morag's friends knew her accent was never as thick as that, they had barely understood one word in three there, but the smile of pure joy on Orla's face meant nothing would be getting said. The hat put Orla in Ravenclaw and they would be doing their best to help any Claw that needed it, irrespective of her being a Potter Scholar.

When Madam Longbottom stood to announce the Tri-wizard Tournament would be held in Hogwarts this year, she received a muted response. Even mentioning the other two schools who would be competing didn't generate any excitement, to most of the hall they were just a pair of names. Mentioning that quidditch would be cancelled this year certainly upped the ante, just not in the way the staff might have hoped. The no quidditch declaration created quite an uproar. When it quietened down, only one person was left standing.

Ron had of course read the papers and knew about the tournament that would be held in Hogwarts. Since this was going to be the year he made his play to join the quidditch team, he'd asked his father how the school was going to run both. Ron had known quidditch was going to be cancelled and had come prepared, this was his dream they were messing with and he was ready to fight for it. Between asking his father questions and even reading the relevant chapters in a few books, Ron had for once done his homework

"Madam Longbottom, I must protest that decision. There are students in this school hoping to make a career from quidditch, cancelling a year so only one person from Hogwarts can compete in this tournament is unfair on the rest of us. Between the Baron's Fayre and the World Cup Final, quidditch has never had such a high profile. Contacts have been made, contacts that will soon be forgotten about if there is no quidditch this year. The last game a lot of us watched ended up with some of us fighting for our lives. I love quidditch and don't want that to be our memory of the sport."

Even Ron's own siblings were looking at him and wondering where their real brother was, the rest of the school were too surprised to even comment. It was well known he was obsessed with the sport, that he'd just put forward a reasoned defence of why quidditch shouldn't be cancelled was the surprise.

Augusta was going to have to disappoint him though. "I'm sorry, Mr Weasley, we simply won't have the time to organise both."

Ron then turned to the last person the great hall expected him to go to for aid. "Harry, mate. You managed to organise an entire fayre - including two quidditch matches with professional teams. Could you help us out here?"

Harry was just about to say he wouldn't even know where to start when the decision was taken out of his hands.

Dolores had watched this brat challenge things she'd soon be arranging and wasn't best pleased. When the carrot then tried to involve the Crow cretin, she exploded. "Sit down, boy. There are things happening here that are a lot more important than some school quidditch games. The ministry are backing the Tri-wizard tournament, and it has absolutely nothing to do with Crow."

To be fair to Ron, he stood his ground. "Hogwarts has anatomy… atoynamy…the ministry has no say in Hogwarts business - it can't cancel quidditch. Harry, please…"

"Sit down when you're told, boy…" Delores was halted in her rant by another boy standing, this one was an entirely different matter.

Harry slowly stood, his new dragonhide robe emphasising not only his height but his broad shoulders too. With his long black hair, imposing green eyes, badges of rank on his shoulders and sword at his hip, Centurion Crow appeared every inch the Hogwarts Champion he was.

Even Dolores didn't interrupt him when he spoke, especially since he was staring straight at her. "Three years ago, this very night, Hogwarts appointed me her champion. I was asked many times what that meant, and I had to honestly answer that I hadn't a clue. I have since learned however, and I'll give all of you that answer now. Hogwarts isn't a castle, it isn't a particular headmaster or person, Hogwarts is an idea. An idea that witches and wizards of whatever background can come together to learn magic."

The hall was silent now, Even Hermione hadn't heard this from Harry before. "Hogwarts was sick of people abusing that idea for their own ends, be that certain groups or even individuals, trying to twist those ideals to prop up their own agenda. She made me her champion in the hope I could put a stop to that, I'm doing my best…"

This actually started a few people clapping, the applause soon becoming thunderous. Harry eventually had to hold his hand up for quiet, he had more to say. "This here is who I champion, the students of Hogwarts - one of whom was just given short shrift. People who know me will understand I'm not a fan of quidditch, nor could Ronald and I be considered friends. He stood though and made some very good points, points that should not see him being shouted down by someone who is merely a visitor in the castle. Hogwarts doesn't recognise Madam Umbridge as having any authority over the students inside this castle, she is here as a ministerial advisor to this tournament - nothing more."

Augusta was glaring daggers at Dolores and couldn't miss seeing Harry's barb hit home. Madam high and mighty Umbridge would simply hate being put in her place by Harry Crow.

"Madam Longbottom, I think the reactions shown here tonight indicate that the vast majority of the students want to continue with the quidditch matches. What would you need for that to happen?"

Again Dolores exploded. "I will not have some school quidditch matches overshadowing my tournament…"

Harry was on her before anyone else got the chance. "Your tournament? Well that certainly ends my interest in it. It can't be much of a tournament if Hufflepuff playing Ravenclaw overshadows it."

He once more turned his attention back to Augusta. "I'm assuming these two schools will bring more than one student with them? What if we invited them to put up quidditch teams too? We could have four house teams plus one from each school competing in a friendly tournament, I'm pretty sure I could convince Gringotts to come up with some prizes - if Hogwarts or the ministry didn't want that honour."

Watching Umbridge's complexion turn puce actually brought a smile to Augusta's face. "That sounds like a wonderful suggestion, Centurion, but it doesn't solve the problem of the staff being too busy to administer the thing."

"Ma'am, we have four quidditch captains who could organise the schedules, ensuring the dates didn't clash with any you wanted kept clear. We used professional referees at the fayre, that arrangement could stand again. The students on duty at the fayre did a wonderful job of directing the crowds where they needed to go, they too could easily do the same for these matches. It would also be easy to ensure they got the day off those duties when their house is playing. The prefects and marauder trainers could organise schedules for that as part of their duties. The fayre at Kingussie proved that when Hogwarts works together - anything is possible. We can do this, Madam Longbottom."

"Centurion, I want you to meet with the quidditch captains and sort a plan out. They will then present it to the staff at our meeting on Friday evening. This is not a yes, but it's not a no either."

That was good enough for Hogwarts, the cheering this time was everything a now livid Umbridge was hoping to hear for the Tri-wizard Tournament. She stormed back to her rooms, Dolores had a report to write. When little shits like that gained power, it was time to take some action to restore the natural balance back to where it should be.

Orla was sitting with her jaw hanging open. Luna was beside her so the new first year asked her blonde friend a question. "Is it aye lik' this at Hogwarts?"

Luna, resplendent in her new black dragonhide robes, could only smile at the awestruck little witch. "When any of our four are involved, I would have to say that would usually be a yes."

Orla's answer of 'Stoatin' may have confused Luna, her meaning was clear though from the wide smile she wore. It looked like they were in for another interesting year at Hogwarts.

Harry was talking with Roger, the reason why his friend wasn't appointed quidditch captain this year now clear. "I'm gonna need your help again, I still know nothing about quidditch - except Hermione looks good in a Harpies jersey. Then again, Hermione looks good in anything."

"Nice save there, Harry. I'll talk to the people involved, and see what we can come up with."

"Roger, could you include Ron in that? It was kinda his idea, and it took a lot of guts to get up and say what he did."

"Sure, Harry. Without him, there wouldn't be any quidditch this year. By the way, is that the same Umbridge who challenged you to a duel at the Ministry Ball a couple of years ago?"

"The very same, Roger. That was why I referred to her as a visitor. She will have some say in whoever enters the tournament, but none whatsoever in the day to day running of Hogwarts. I get the feeling Madam Longbotom and Professor McGonagall will soon be pointing that out to her."

They found themselves then being joined by Cedric. "Harry, they obviously knew there would be no quidditch this year. I'm the only quidditch captain currently in Hogwarts, since the other three all left at the summer and the Hogwarts staff didn't appoint new ones."

It was actually Hermione who offered up a simple solution, from a non-quidditch perspective. "Since this won't be an official Hogwarts Tournament, couldn't the players just get together and pick their own captain?"

Fred and George had arrived by that time and thought that was a great idea - except for one thing. Both of their girlfriends would be up for the job. People were dropping over to say goodnight before they headed off to their own houses. Harry was having a quick word with a happy Euan when Susan supplied the twins with a solution to their problem.

"Well, McGonagall set the precedent when she made the both of you prefects, why not have Angelina and Alicia as joint captains? Gryffindor are only looking to fill one position anyway."

"That's a great idea, Susan, thanks. We think that's what got Ron so riled up, he's hoping to try out for keeper this year."

The now excited students headed off to their dorms, very few of them were talking about the Tri-wizard Tournament. Eternal glory didn't really wash, since none of them had heard of the tournament before - far less the names of any previous winners. The thousand galleon prize had generated a fair degree of enthusiasm, until they discovered that only those of age could enter. Since that didn't apply to over eighty percent of the students, what was there left about this tournament to get excited about.

-oOoOo-

Parvati was excited to discover she had her own room, one that was placed between Padma and Hermione's. However, she was more excited about the welcome she had received in Ravenclaw. She had simply been accepted into their house without any fuss whatsoever.

"How are you settling in?"

"Oh Padma, it's great. A bit quieter than I'm used to…"

"Yeah, that's us Ravenclaws for you, quiet and reserved." This got both of them giggling, the number of scrapes a certain Ravenclaw trio got themselves into could hardly be classed as quiet or reserved.

"With our timetable being the same as last year, I was wondering if we could keep Tuesday evenings free, for just some Patil girl time?"

"That would be great, what about Hermione?"

"Oh, she's planning on using that to have some Harry time, the advantage of having a boyfriend who's in the same house as you." After a goodnight hug, it was time for bed. They had classes in the morning.

-oOoOo-

They started the year off with double transfiguration, Professor McGonagall telling them that this year would be the last that the current O.W.L. exam would be in operation. Their exam would be considerably different the following year. It would be seventy percent practical, but those practical levels would be nearer the current N.E.W.T. standard. They were working on what type of questions to ask for the written part and they would mainly consist of essays.

There were no groans from anyone in the class as they were given an essay to write as homework, this was easily their lightest subject for that particular activity. Professor McGonagall saying their essays would be sent away to the examination board to assist them with producing their final exam, and a marking system, put slightly more pressure on. They still spent most of the double period with their wands in their hands.

They were holding back at the end of the class, McGonagall wanting a quick word with Parvati, when Ron approached the group.

"Harry, I just wanted to say thanks for your support last night. Without it, I was gonna be on to a hiding. You're a decent bloke, Harry." Having said his piece, Ron left the four friends and Blaise rather stunned.

"Are we sure that's Ronald Weasley? What are the chances of that being someone else polyjuiced to fool us all."

Neville had to disagree with his betrothed. "Sorry love, he still snores exactly like Ron. You would need something better than polyjuice to pull that off."

Padma then asked the question she wanted to ask Neville, just not while Parvati was around. "How did Gryffindor react to Lavender?"

"For a Gryffindor to drop a fellow housemate into trouble, purely so they could protect themselves, is not behaviour becoming of Godric's house. She kept quiet while her father pushed all the blame onto Parvati, Lavender will now have to get used to that quiet. Very few in Gryffindor wanted anything to do with her, she certainly stayed well away from me, Colin and Ginny."

Blaise could understand that reaction, in Slytherin their treatment would probably be a lot worse. "Parvati said she enjoyed her first night in Ravenclaw, it's time for all of us to put this behind us. Lavender made her bed, let her lie in it."

At that, Parvati came out and Blaise offered his arm, the three couples made their way to lunch.

An excited Draco was waiting on them in the great hall, he had some news to share. "My godfather has offered to be staff sponsor for our marauders tonight. Sirius is gonna stick with the Crows while Remus wants to work with the new first year. Henrica has her hands full with Astrid and wanted to give the marauders a miss this year."

Padma just couldn't resist. "That's brilliant, Draco, you get to tell Fred and George though." Watching Draco's face fall had all of them laughing, that should be a good meeting tonight.

The four oldest trainers actually cornered Harry later for a quick word.

"We know you know more than you're saying..."

"We don't need to know what you know..."

"We just need to know Snape can be trusted..."

Harry was left with his usual feeling when faced with the twins, only this time it was slightly different. "You know guys, that whole twin-speak thing you do is a lot less effective now we can tell you apart."

It was Roger who attempted to get things back on course. "Seriously Harry, we just need to know if Snape has another agenda for volunteering. We've no intention of letting anyone spoil something we all consider to be one of the best things that's happened in Hogwarts for generations."

"If I'm reading this right, and I'm sure I am, it's simply a way to spend some time with his godson, Draco. You guys just do what you'd normally do, take the class and forget your sponsor's there. Any advice he gives at the end of the night should be listened to, just the same as if it was from Henrica or Remus."

That seemed to settle them down, Harry then caught up with Hermione as they headed off to arithmancy. Dinner that evening was followed by the first marauder class of the year. There was another eight trainers putting their heads together while going over how they would handle the new first years tomorrow night. They had a tremendous advantage over the other groups however, four trainers who had come through the class as students.

The four friends were taking it easy tonight, they knew their training kicked back in tomorrow. After what happened at the cup final, they were anticipating that training being intensified.

-oOoOo-

By the time Master Pitslay arrived for their potions lesson on Friday afternoon, it was beginning to feel like they'd never been away from Hogwarts. He surprised the class by assigning every one of them a different potion to brew. It was all potions they had already covered in their last term, but it was a short, sharp, shock form of revision. With the use of their wonderful potions books, and looking back at the copious notes everyone made while originally preparing their potion, all managed to brew what they'd been allocated to a standard that pleased their tutor. It was a smiling Master Pitslay who then informed them what potions they would be brewing first thing Monday morning.

They were all looking forward to the weekend, though the four would have a slight change to their training schedule. They would still work with Bill in the mornings, but their afternoons would now see them taking those lessons from Sirius in the Blacks' apartment. This would allow all of them to spend some time together, while Harry of course got to see his goddaughter.

There was still the not so small matter of settling whether there would be quidditch played at Hogwarts this year, Harry had attended the preliminary meetings but intended to let the captains sort this one out with the staff themselves. Roger, Cedric, Alecia, Angelina and Adrian Pucey of Slytherin set off, with much cheering from their fellow students urging them on. They had crossed the T's and dotted the I's of their proposal, with only the dates needing to be settled. With McGonagall's love of the sport well known, no one was taking bets on it not happening.

-oOoOo-

Severus couldn't believe what was happening, here was as graphic a demonstration as you could ask for on how much things had changed. The quidditch captains were making a quite compelling case for why there should still be quidditch played at Hogwarts this year, and they were being listened to by the staff. In the past, Albus would have fed them some patronising spiel, patted them on the head before sending them on their way. Hogwarts ran the way he wanted it to, end of story.

Augusta was also on the mark, putting Umbridge in her place before the meeting even got started. Pointing out that, since Dolores was a guest of Hogwarts, she could attend the meeting if she wanted but would play no part in the discussions - or any decisions made.

Watching two of the captains took Severus back to the other night and his first look at this defence club, to say he was amazed would be an understatement. Not only was the content being taught well thought out and delivered brilliantly, watching Draco and Pansy seamlessly partner the Weasley Twins was a revelation. Minerva couldn't help rubbing his nose in it by pointing out Fred and George's O.W.L. marks more than merited the badges they wore. He could also have done without hearing they would be sitting their potions N.E.W.T. a year early, or that their tutor expected them to match the Outstanding they received for their O.W.L.

The captains were proposing two leagues of three teams, the winner of each league playing one another in the final. Their schedule of two games in the weeks leading up to the first two tasks, followed by the last two league matches and the quidditch final being contested in the run up to the last task made perfect sense to everyone in the meeting. Adding that the students themselves would organise and steward the matches too ticked all the boxes.

Umbridge was sitting there almost ready to burst with anger, that certainly helped make up the minds of any staff who were still undecided, the quidditch proposal received a unanimous yes vote.

As the meeting ended, Severus found himself being approached by Henrica - her daughter in her arms.

"What did you think of the marauders club? I worked with them last year, until this little lady made it impossible to continue."

"I really wouldn't know where to start. Watching students just beginning second year yet being able to cast shields was only one of the surprises."

"I think what first struck me when Harry started with the Crows was how careful they were not to let house barriers carry over into their club. Each team was always a mixture of houses, and even sexes, it's paid dividends throughout the school."

"Watching Draco and Pansy work with the Weasley twins is something that will take a while to fully accept what my eyes are telling me."

"Draco, Pansy, Hannah and Morag take over the running of that club next year. This was an idea that started because of Dumbledore's latest disaster of a defence professor, it's now something they want to see continued for generations to come. It's something I hope is still running when Astrid and Jamie come to Hogwarts."

Living under Gringotts, it would be hard not to know the 'Jamie' Henrica was referring to would be Jamie Granger. That Miss Granger's parents had chosen to have their son being born in Gringotts, rather than St Mungo's or some muggle medical facility, was looked upon as another plus sign in their admiration of Miss Granger - a witch they'd taken to their hearts. She had made as much of an impact on goblin culture as her mate had on the wizarding version. Given that Harry had that whole 'boy-who-lived' thing of a head start, Hermione's popularity was a quite remarkable achievement.

"I don't know how long I'll actually be teaching in Hogwarts, but it's a program I'm happy to be associated with as long as I'm here."

"Two men who refuse to admit they're just happy to spend some time with their godsons. You and Sirius are more alike than either of you would care to admit…"

Once more, there was no malice in Severus' words. "Lady Black, I see no need for you to be insulting."

Henrica's musical laugh further infuriated an already livid Dolores. Seeing this beautiful witch, standing there with a baby in her arms, and she had a pureblood lord for a husband, did something to Dolores' insides. Whether or not it was jealousy didn't really matter, her mind was now set on its path - the one to Hogsmeade that is. Dolores would be looking for a rock to hide her report under this Saturday.

When you had creatures breeding with purebloods, and werewolves as professors, it was time to take some action. The fact she wouldn't actually have to meet with Lestrange was certainly a bonus. Dolores was sure the dark lord would be most interested in how a 'former' death eater had managed to enter the new Hogwarts wards.

-oOoOo-i

Hermione was worried, today was her birthday and Harry hadn't mentioned it at all. The chances of him having forgotten about her special day were nil, leaving Hermione to think he was planning something - and that's what had her worried. Being a goblin, Harry considered a person's birthday to be their most important day of the year. As she was the most important person in the world to her mate, there was no telling what Harry had up his sleeve by way of a surprise.

Meeting Padma first, Hermione was greeted with a hug, kiss and best wishes for a happy birthday. Her best friend would certainly be in on anything Harry had planned but Padma was very good at keeping secrets.

Padma easily read the worry in Hermione and tried to put her mind at rest. "Trust me, Hermione, you'll love it. Now, let's not keep our men waiting."

They made their way down the stairs to the Ravenclaw common room, where Padma then made herself scarce so the waiting Harry could wish Hermione a proper happy birthday.

It was a good ten minutes later when the two couples met at the main doors, Neville offering a now ruffled but smiling Hermione best birthday wishes before the quartet set off for their morning run.

The girls were running in front, Padma trying not to giggle at the wide smile Hermione was wearing. "So, getting kissed as a fifteen year old is apparently a lot better than when you're fourteen. May can't come quickly enough if I'm gonna feel like that."

"I don't need gifts or whatever Harry has planned for today, just him waiting for me in the morning is all I'll ever need."

"I know that, and so does Harry. That's why he goes all out to make your birthday special. You will love it, just play along and do what he says."

Doing what she was asked found Hermione getting dressed smart, but casual. They had just finished potions where Master Pitslay had given her a rare book on the subject as a birthday gift. After receiving presents from friends all day, Hermione was actually relieved Harry appeared to be taking her out of the castle tonight. When Tonks appeared dressed similarly, with Tonks you were never sure what she was going to wear, here was further confirmation of her theory. If they were leaving the castle, then Tonks would certainly be coming too.

Arriving in Gringotts by Harry's portkey saw them being greeted by father, Hermione dispensing her usual hugs on the Ambassador. She was somewhat surprised to discover that was not their final destination but totally shocked when they next visited the Grangers' house in Crawley. As Harry led her outside, Hermione thought it was time for some answers.

"Harry, I've been a good little girlfriend and played along with everything you've asked. I think we're way past the stage however where I should be getting some answers."

"Well, we're having a bit of a party for you tonight, and then an even bigger party tomorrow. We're going to collect the guest of honour and take him to Kingussie with us."

"Harry, you're not making sense. No one in Crawley can know I'm a witch…" Hermione stopped as one name flashed into her head, Harry's smile told her she got it right.

"We're taking the Reverend Richards to Kingussie. He'll be at your party tonight, and tomorrow will christen our baby brother. I hope you don't mind? We thought that by combining both events, we could all spend the weekend together…" Harry never got to say anymore as Hermione was now showing she didn't mind at all - by kissing him.

-oOoOo-

Robert Richards was as giddy as a schoolboy at the mere thought of spending his weekend with people who could perform magic. He was trying not to think in terms of witches and wizards, to say they received negative press in the book he lived his life by would be an understatement. Having known the Grangers for many years, he'd christened a baby Hermione too, Robert intended to look on Dan and Emma's children as having special abilities. That those abilities could apparently transport him from Crawley to Kingussie in a moment was something he was really looking forward to experiencing.

He had always been a person that questioned everything, even his faith. Robert thought that if his faith couldn't stand up to his questions, then it wasn't really something that he could live his life by. He firmly believed that every person on the planet were God's children, and his mission was to minister to them to the best of his abilities. There was also the fact that, had he not learned of the magical community, he would certainly have christened little Jamie Granger in the church anyway.

His excitement was there for all three to see as Hermione made the introductions, though introducing Tonks as Harry's ministerial protection detail raised his eyebrows.

Harry and Hermione each took one of the reverend's arms, while Tonks lifted his bag, before Harry activated their emergency portkeys - knowing they would take all of them straight to Kingussie.

As his eyes were screwed tightly shut, it was left to a giggling Hermione to tell the Reverend Richards they'd arrived. His eyes were soon open wide as Harry had led them from the training room to their ballroom - a ballroom full of people shouting HAPPY BIRTHDAY HERMIONE!

The people who had already seen Hermione earlier in the day were standing back and letting those who hadn't greet her first, Dan and Emma were at the head of the queue.

After greeting his daughter, Dan moved on to the bewildered reverend and took him under his wing. "Welcome to Kingussie, how was the trip?"

"I feel as if I've just entered a different world, I'm assuming this is why we haven't seen you in Crawley?"

"It's the same world, Robert, just different people. That little man now hugging Hermione is Harry's adoptive father. He may be a goblin but he's one of the most honourable people I've ever met. Neither he nor his son have religion in their lives but their code of ethics that they live those lives by are certainly values Emma and I can support. They both adore Hermione and just look at Harry with Jamie. It's barely been three weeks yet you think our boys hadn't seen each other for months."

Robert watched as a little creature, barely the height of Hermione's waist but certainly not a goblin, hugged the girl before disappearing with two swords he didn't even know the teens had on them. There was then a group of goblin children who greeted the birthday girl, generating a lot of excitement on both sides.

Emma arrived and explained those children actually lived on the estate, and really looked up to Hermione and Harry - in more than just the obvious way. They were all delighted to be invited but watching Hermione's smile told everyone there that Harry had gotten it right.

Robert could really only compare this to some sort of medieval banquet, with Harry and Hermione sitting at the head of the enormous table like the kings and queens of old. The food though was as good as any he'd ever eaten, and the wine certainly a lot better than Robert was used to. What pleased him though was how genuinely happy everyone seemed to be, just by being here. There were clearly a wide range of ages involved, from grandmothers to babies, and also different cultures too. Everyone though was getting along and having fun, no one was here just to be seen.

Emma had finally managed to prise her baby son off the two teens and introduce him to Robert, saying that they were already sure Jamie was magical too. The Reverend Richards looked at this beautiful child and could see no reason why he shouldn't christen the baby tomorrow. He may do so in front of the strangest congregation he'd ever faced but the baby was still a baby - albeit a magical one.

Hermione thought dancing with Harry was simply magical. "I can't believe you managed to do all this and keep it a secret from me, the amount of people who must have known…"

All their friends and family were here, the marauder trainers, the Potter Scholars, their Ravenclaw year mates and even the children and their parents from the glen. Bill, Percy and Penny had also been invited, Bill would still be taking them for their lesson in the morning. That Bill was currently dancing with Jenny Abercrombie raised no eyebrows in this company. Harry knew the young mother would be missing Euan and gave both of them this opportunity to catch up over the weekend.

"They all knew how much it meant to me to make this a surprise, no one was going to say anything. Now I still haven't given you your gift."

"Harry, you've already spoiled me, I don't need any more. Just having you is all I'll ever need."

"Well, that's good - since that's your birthday present. How does Saturday the fourth of August, nineteen ninety-six sound?"

"Like a long way away. What's so special about that day?"

"I intended to see the Reverend Richards and enquire if we could book his services for that day. Since it's going to be our wedding day, I thought I should at least ask you about it first…"

Again Hermione stopped Harry talking by kissing him, this time with even more passion. Apparently she only thought she was happy before, Hermione now felt as if she could fly to the moon unaided.

"I take it that's a yes then? I need to speak to Dan and the Reverend Richards, you just have to pick your bridesmaids…"

"Padma, Luna and Sapphire."

"Something tells me you've already thought about this…"

"Can you hold off speaking with them until tomorrow, I need to talk to Padma first. I want to give her and Neville the option of making it a double wedding, would that be okay with you?"

"Hermione, even if they don't want to make that decision before tomorrow, they can make it a double wedding anytime - up until the day of the ceremony. I don't think we can have our best man and chief bridesmaid suddenly asking the reverend if he could marry them too."

As Neville and Padma were dancing past, Harry smoothly switched partners so they could pass this information on to their best friends. When the couples were reunited for the next dance, Padma and Neville had lots to talk about.

-oOoOo-

The ballroom was now full of chairs, all lined up facing the ceremony that was about to take place at the end of the room. The Reverend had been somewhat shocked to see the baptismal font from his own church sitting there. Dan had to reassure Robert it would be returned to Crawley directly after the service.

Barchoke was sitting beside his children, Luna and Sapphire as he watched the ceremony before him unfold. He thought it was simple yet beautiful ceremony, one where Neville and Padma were very happy to promise to play a prominent role in Jamie's life.

With his own role now changed from that of banker, the Ambassador couldn't help but be amazed at the political statements being made here today. He was well aware that thought had never crossed Dan and Emma's minds, which made this occasion all the more remarkable.

A wizard, born inside Gringotts to muggle parents, was just christened by a muggle with two teens of old pureblood families standing as godparents. Add in the Minister of Magic and The Director sitting in the audience and you couldn't help but see the political significance here. Harry had certainly brought all three cultures closer together, but his baby brother was already continuing that trend.

The fine September day had allowed the elves to set the reception that would follow on the lawn, as it had allowed his Assistant Ambassador to give his lesson outside. The warded area had drawn quite the crowd by the time they had finished, the four older wizards also taking part in the session. Some of the guests had began arriving and Amos Diggory was almost bursting with pride as he caught the end of the lesson.

The reception afterwards was also a big hit, Barchoke had trouble believing his eyes as Rainha cradled Jamie in the crook of her arm. Ragnok's next move totally floored the entire family, at least those who understood the significance of what was happening here.

"Our research concluded that it was traditional to bring a christening gift, it also said that gift should be silver. I hope this meets that criteria?"

When Emma opened the box to see the exquisite silver baby bangle, Harry, Hermione and Ragnok all giving deep bows told her there was more going on here than she realised. "It's beautiful, but obviously has more significance than being a simple bangle. Anyone care to fill us poor dentists in on what's really happening here."

"Mum, the design of Hermione's bracelet signifies she's under my family's protection, as does Amelia's broach. That bangle is The Director's family design, and places Jamie under that family's protection. It is a great honour, one that every goblin will instantly recognise."

Rainha still had a smiling Jamie in her arms, the youngest Granger was loving all the attention he was receiving today. "This beautiful baby has already broken so many barriers, we hope he'll grow up in a world where those same barriers are consigned to history. He will be raised in an environment where magical, muggle or goblin are merely words, not distinctions which define who we are. How could we not offer our support to that."

The Reverend Richards had stuck close to Dan all day. Hearing that though squared away any lingering doubts his conscience was having about this matter, here was the key that unlocked his continued support of these people. That everyone had come to Kingussie to support this child, wishing for him to grow up in an environment that was based on love and rejected hate, was certainly something his beliefs could relate to. This was probably just as well as he found himself agreeing to a few more engagements in Kingussie before the day was out.

Harry though he'd had all the shocks he could handle for one day, that was until a nervous Remus approached him - with a beaming Tonks on his arm.

"Harry, I was wondering...sorry, we were wondering if we could ask you a favour?"

"Ask away, Remus."

"Well, we were going to talk to Reverend Richards and then thought about locations..."

He was interrupted by his impatient fiancee. "What Wolfie here is trying to ask is, can we get married in Kingussie at Christmas? If you say yes, we can ask the Reverend today..."

"I think that would be wonderful, of course you have my permission..." Harry couldn't say anymore as Tonks took a leaf out of Hermione's book and kissed him into silence. She then dragged Remus away before Harry even got time to shake his hand. It would appear Tonks wanted this matter settled before her fiancé could change his mind.

A laughing Hermione approached Harry with Luna and Sapphire. "Looking pretty flustered there, Harry. Should I be worried?"

"I just agreed we'd hold a wedding here at Christmas, does that worry you? Tonks has just dragged Remus off to check on the Reverend's availability - something we need to do too."

Hermione was receiving shocked looks from her two friends at Harry's last comment so just went for it. "I hope you two will be my bridesmaids? We're just waiting on Padma reaching a decision before we start making our own arrangements..."

At that, a very happy couple rushed over and were soon embracing everyone. "Our parents agreed, we want to take you up on your offer..."

Neville could hardly contain his excitement. "Gran pointed out that, as Orders of Merlin holders, we were already of age, and we were only bringing the date forward by a year. After that, they all agreed!"

The four set off to find the reverend before the happy news spread around the entire reception.

-oOoOo-

The news exciting those leaving Master Pitslay's potions lesson wasn't about the imminent arrival of the two schools, the girls were far more interested in Ron Weasley asking Lavender to tomorrow night's Merlin Ball.

Their group was actually the last to arrive where everyone had gathered as a school welcoming committee, Harry having point blank refused to cut their potions lesson short just for this.

Padma wasn't pleased to be standing here either. "What's the big deal about this, we've all seen people apparate or portkey before."

This saw Harry shaking his head. "I don't think that's how they'll be travelling, Padma. Hogwarts has made no provisions to house guests, that means they must be bringing their accommodation with them. I can't see tents being suitable for winter in the Scottish Highlands..."

This led to a few involuntary shivers. It was cold enough inside the castle in winter, no one even wanted to contemplate living outside under canvas.

Cries going up from those nearer the front focused everyone's attention in the direction they were now pointing. Flying over the Forbidden Forest toward the castle were twelve enormous winged palomino horses, pulling a powder blue carriage that was at least the size of a large house. It approached at great speed before landing in front of cheering students.

When the first person exited the carriage, it was soon clear why the structure needed to be the size it was. She was dressed from head to toe in black satin, with many magnificent opals gleaming around her neck. That wasn't what first caught your attention though, this lady was at least as tall as Hagrid.

She was approached by Augusta and Minerva, who both seemed pleased to her. "Madame Maxime, a warm welcome to Hogwarts to you and your students."

"Augusta, Minerva, 'ow are you both? If zis is warm, I dread your winter. Are ze ozers 'ere yet?"

Seeing about fifteen French students shivering in their thin robes, Minerva made a suggestion. "Not yet, Olympe. Why don't you take your students into the castle, where it's warmer."

"But ze 'orses...

Hagrid practically bowled people out of his path as he rushed straight for this vision. "Don' yeh worry yer pretty little head about tha'. I'll look after those magnificent horses."

Olympe's dark eyes were locked on those of Hagrid. "My 'orses only drink single malt whiskey..."

"Well they'll enjoy their stay here, Scotland invented tha' drink."

Padma was giggling as the French students followed their headmistress into the castle. "Harry, you might need to ask Hogwarts to make the dance floor bigger for tomorrow's ball. I think we may have just spotted Hogwarts newest couple."

Now with some idea of what to expect, keen eyes were watching to spot the Bulgarians arriving. Those eyes were soon drawn to the Black Lake. Large bubbles started appearing in the still, dark water, soon there were waves lapping against the shore. A gurgling sound preceded a whirlpool appearing in the lake. It was like someone had pulled the plug out of a giant bathtub, except this one now had a pole sticking out of it.

As more of the structure was revealed, all those waiting could now see it was a sailing ship. As the ship made its way to the shore, the anchor had barely splashed into the lake when a gangplank made the connection from ship to shore.

Neville was not alone in expressing his opinion the Bulgarian's arrival was cool. They were also a lot more prepared for the Scottish Highland weather with cloaks that had thick fur collars. This may have masked their features but their was no mistaking the figure leading them toward the castle.

The students of Durmstrang were being triumphantly led into Hogwarts by someone they all instantly recognised, Albus Dumbledore.

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