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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71. He's Back!

The Christmas party for Crow's Marauders had been such a success last year that everyone wanted a repeat performance this year too. The new marauders were first to try the skating rink and they fell in love with it immediately. This time Harry brought Hermione along when he created the room for the club, and the couple then enjoyed a care free evening skating around the massive Christmas tree Hogwarts had once more provided. They would be back here tomorrow night with their own group of marauders while Wednesday had them returning yet again to the ice with the rest of their year group. As happened in the lead up to last Christmas, the remainder of the year groups would see the room used for skating every night, this was particularly pleasing to those in sixth and seventh year. They had Hogsmeade on Saturday, skating that evening before leaving on the express on the Sunday - a perfect way to end what had been a very hard and busy term for Hogwarts' N.E.W.T. students.

While most of the school were looking forward to a visit to Hogsmeade before traveling home the next day, Hermione could read that something was troubling Harry. She questioned him over her concerns while they were sitting relaxing in the common room.

"Hermione, if I was a death eater then tomorrow would be the perfect time to strike. They will have had a chance to study our defences and, between no attack the last Hogsmeade weekend and this festive spirit everyone keeps going on about, our troops might just let their guard slip. I won't be able to have lunch with you tomorrow but I will still be escorting the last of the students up to the castle - I won't relax until every last one is back inside the Hogwarts wards."

"That's fine, Harry, I'll wait and we can walk back together. Tomorrow will give me a chance to do some Christmas shopping, any idea what I can get for the centurion who has everything?"

"You are mine, and that's all I'll ever need..."

A voice well known to the couple couldn't help but interrupt at that. "Getting really smooth there, Harry, but that's no help to us poor souls trying to buy you a present. Apparently, you're supposed to give us a clue. Just remember, I know as much about Christmas as you do - this will only be the third we've celebrated."

"Don't worry, Padma, you know I'll like anything you give me. Have you decided what you're doing for Christmas yet?"

"The Patils are staying with the Longbottoms over the holidays, I think there are plans to have a big get-together over Christmas but I'm not sure where that will be yet. What about you lot, I heard from Luna she was going home to her dad."

"Yeah, though both were invited to Kingussie. I think she just wants to spend some time with him but we certainly expect to see them both during the holidays."

"Oh we'll be there at some point, Harry, and thanks again for asking." Luna had just walked into the common room with some of her second year friends in time to catch the end of their conversation.

"Luna, you know you don't need an invite, just turn up anytime - you'll always be welcome. Oh Hermione, I forgot to mention I invited someone else for the holidays. With Tonks insisting she's still on guard duty, I invited Remus to Kingussie for as much of the holidays as he wants."

"Not the Minister of Magic and The Director too? Ah well, I'll just have to do the best I can..." She couldn't hold her giggles any longer, that this always made Harry smile seemed to have Hermione giggling more than she ever thought possible.

-oOoOo-

Hermione wasn't giggling when she met Harry to walk back to Hogwarts the following day. Although he was now smiling, it was one of relief and Harry was clearly exhausted.

"Did you actually take a break at all today?"

"No, and I'm famished too. I don't think I've ever looked forward to a feast as much since arriving at Hogwarts, everyone is safe and I will certainly be tucking in like Ronald Weasley tonight."

"You start displaying table manners like that and you'll be eating by yourself, Crow."

"I was thinking more in terms of amount consumed, Hermione, not feeding technique. I've seen dragons with better table manners than him."

That got no argument from his mate, she had far more pleasant things on her mind. "This time tomorrow, Harry, we will be sitting having dinner in our own home. I don't think I've ever looked forward to leaving school this much."

That type of sentiment coming from Hermione raised Harry's concerns that something was wrong. "I know that extra defence training four times a week has been hard on all of us, we could cut it back next term if you thought..."

Centurion be dammed, Hermione kissed him until he was quiet. "I'm looking forward to going to our home, Harry, not getting away from Hogwarts."

Arm in arm, the centurion and his mate walked beside a squad of warriors and shepherded the stragglers back into the safety of the Hogwarts wards. Hermione thought her mate had been right, only then would Harry truly relax.

-oOoOo-

It was only seeing a very happy Natalie running toward them that allowed the McDonalds to finally relax. Their daughter had sent them a letter home every single week since she left but that was just no substitute to seeing for themselves that she was practically glowing with happiness. It had been a terrible wrench to allow their little girl to attend boarding school, magical or otherwise, here was their first indicator that sacrifice might actually be worth it in the end. She was trying to hug them in greeting and say cheerio to her friends at the same time, seeing that Natalie had so many friends delighted her parents. That possibility was one of the main reasons they had consented to her attending Hogwarts in the first place.

As they had been standing beside the Grangers waiting on the train, Roy got a chance to thank Harry for looking after his little girl.

Harry was just happy that Natalie seemed to have forgotten all about her experience with the dementor on her trip to Hogwarts. "Sir, I am only one of the people who looked out for her. Natalie's made friends in every house and I think she's enjoyed her first term in Hogwarts."

"Dad, mum, I've loved it. Feasts, the Merlin Ball, the Marauders Club and we were skating inside the castle for our Christmas party. Hogwarts is just amazing!"

This drew smiles all round, actions that were being repeated the length and breadth of the platform as families were reunited.

Edmund was watching closely as his daughter seemed a different person from the one that entered Hogwarts as an eleven year old witch. She was confident, bubbly and a string of students approached both her and Draco to wish them a Merry Christmas. He also saw the lad's mask slip back into place the instant Draco spotted him, Pansy too lost some of her bounce as they headed in his direction.

Their greetings were cordial and Draco promised to contact Pansy soon before he headed off to where his mother was standing.

Edmund had also noticed the Nott girl happily waving goodbye to friends before joining her family - this was certainly not how he expected the daughter of someone spending the rest of their life in Azkaban to be treated. It would seem that Crow was as good as his word and only the guilty were being punished. Now that he couldn't access the ministry, he was beginning to think this might be his best option for protecting Pansy's future. With him being at least considered as a death eater, there really weren't any other betrothal offers out there for his daughter.

-oOoOo-

It was another daughter though who kept sensing something wasn't just quite right, eventually she had to speak out. "Okay, mum, what's going on? I know you're hiding something so you might as well tell us now."

Emma was blushing like a kid caught with her hand in the biscuit tin though Dan raced to her rescue. "We have a surprise for you, but you're going to have to wait until we're back home to see it."

Harry was fine with that and hustled Hermione along, whispering in her ear as he did so. "Did you notice he said home? I don't think he was talking about Crawley either."

A portkey trip later saw the four of them plus Tonks arriving in Kingussie, and Hermione giving her usual greeting to their waiting father. Barchoke appeared to be another goblin who was falling under the Granger hugging spell too. It was only after entering the house proper that both teens noticed they had gained a staircase, only this one was going down.

It was a very nervous Emma who answered their initial queries. "We made a few alterations to the house, we did have a lot of help though."

Harry looked questioningly to Tonks. "You knew about this?"

"I knew there was a surprise waiting on you in Kingussie but that's all. That's why Remus won't be arriving for a few days, the word is that it's a family surprise and he didn't want to intrude."

With the other three adults smiling nervously at them, Harry took Tonks and Hermione by the hand and led them down their new staircase. He wanted the auror to know she was considered family and would be having words with Remus when he eventually arrived too. What awaited them down there though took the breath away from the now astonished trio.

A cavern that appeared about the size of the entire house above had been hewn out of the granite. With the walls and domed ceiling being constructed entirely of the same material, the light from six magnificent crystal chandeliers had the entire construction glistening like sunlight being reflected off the sea. That you could easily hold a ball for well over a hundred people in here left the couple struggling to know what to even call it, saying it was a room just didn't do this beautiful place justice.

Hermione's mouth was moving but there was no sound coming out. Her mother though knew the questions she would be wanting to ask. "We knew you loved the house but also that it didn't have enough room to hold a party for everyone you would want to invite. Once we took this idea to Barchoke, well - you can see the results for yourself."

It was to his father that Harry directed the couple's first question. "How is this even possible, the work involved would have taken more time than there was available."

The goblin smiled at his children, pleased to see how happy they were with this while looking forward to seeing their reactions to the other surprises that would be coming their way. "As Emma said, we had a lot of help. The elves wanted to play a part in this too. As we dug out the rock, they were removing it just as quickly. The Director also wanted some way of saying thank you for all your efforts and assigned every builder in the Nation to this project. This isn't all of it..."

That statement saw Hermione finding her voice. "You mean there's more?"

Barchoke led them over to a specific part of the wall and ran his finger down it, the stone wall became two doors that swung open and led to another cavern. This one clearly wasn't finished but there was a very good reason for that.

"This could be a training room, or whatever you want it to be. Emma even suggested putting a swimming pool in here at one end, something that would be rather easy to do. We wanted to leave those decisions up to you..."

Barchoke again found himself the recipient of a hug from his daughter, Hermione then used the same method to made sure her mum and dad knew she was happy about this too.

"We thought you would like to have everyone here for Christmas but wanted to wait until speaking with you first. At the moment we're looking at Christmas here and then bringing in the New Year at Amelia's home..."

Hermione's squeal of excitement might have interrupted Emma but was music to all of their ears, she jumped on a just as pleased Harry. "We get to spend Christmas in our own home. That's exactly what I wanted, but now we can have everyone here too!"

Harry had Hermione's feet off the floor as he spun her around, basking in her obvious happiness. He did pick up on something else though, mum was certainly pleased at their reaction but still appeared nervous about something. Clearly there was more going on here than they had been told, he gently lowered Hermione as she too began picking up on some of this.

"What else do you have to tell us, Mum?"

Harry's question caught them flat-footed though it was again Dan who came to his wife's rescue. "I think we need to be upstairs with a cup of tea in our hands before we get to that." He then took Emma's arm and they walked back up the new staircase. This had Hermione worried until Harry nudged her attention in father's direction, the wide grin he was wearing might have stopped her worrying but her curiosity just hit new heights. Tonks clearly had no idea what was going on and again needed convincing to be part of this discussion.

It was only after Emma was seated in her favourite chair and Dobby had served tea that more information was forthcoming from her, again the young couple's worries were dispelled by the huge grins Barchoke and now Dan were sporting.

"The goblin healers had never used the procedures needed to save my life on a muggle before, it was perfectly understandable then that they wanted me back for regular check-ups. My visit last week gave us quite a shock, it turns out I'm three weeks pregnant, four now, and you are going to have a baby brother around about the middle of August."

With her revelation being greeted by stunned silence, Emma was getting more worried by the second. "Well, what do you think?"

Hermione's emotions suddenly welled over and she burst into tears while springing at her now pregnant mother. Both were freely crying while clinging to each other.

Harry on the other hand was sitting quietly muttering to himself, those mutterings got louder and louder as he clearly liked what he was saying. "I'm going to be a brother, I'm going to be a brother..." His grin now clearly matched that worn by the other two males in the room.

Both Granger females were still in tears but their crying had now reverted to laughter at Harry's antics, he was only one step away from jumping up and down with excitement. "Men! Your father's reactions were very similar to Harry's..."

Hearing that, Hermione got up and practically bruised her father's ribs with the power of her hug, both though were extremely happy.

"The healers were not only able to tell me I was carrying a boy, they were also able to say that boy would be a wizard too. Another magical child in the family."

Hermione was now sitting cuddling into Harry, both clearly happy at all the news they had heard today. Dan knew it was time for a family discussion. He too had no problem including Tonks in this and even called on Dobby to sit with them - embarrassing the little guy by giving him the credit for the new 'downstairs'.

"Your mother and I were already considering what to do with our futures, this development just focused our attention on what we wanted those futures to be. We took the view that our daughter has already mapped out her own future. Your mother and I still intend to play a large part in that life but, since Harry is already paying your Hogwarts fees, for our decision we considered you now financially independent."

This saw Hermione's head whip around to look at Harry. "You are mine, and I am yours. You know enough about our culture now to understand that's the way it has to be, you are my mate." Harry then turned his attention to Dan and Emma. "Both of you are welcome to live in any house I own for as long as you like. If there isn't one exactly where you want it or how you like it, we can buy or build whatever you want."

Hermione was once more snuggling into her mate as Emma beamed a smile at the boy who'd come to mean so much to all of them. Here was her son basically saying they could live whatever dream they wanted.

"Actually you goblins must be rubbing off on us, your father and I decided that, as long as our family was together then that was the most important thing. Both of us though are sure we're finished with our practice, the house in Crawley we'll keep for a while yet. We were hoping you wouldn't mind if we lived here with you..."

She never got to say anymore as Emma suddenly had her arms full of two emotional teens, both clearly happy with that decision.

Goblin laughter was heard as Barchoke just couldn't resist. "I told you so, both would like nothing better than to have everyone staying here all the time."

"I still can't believe I'm going to have a little brother..."

A horrified look came over Harry as Hermione's words threw up a potential problem. "I can't believe we'll have to return to Hogwarts next year and leave our new brother at home..."

This was Dan's cue for some payback. "Oh, so you don't care about leaving us?"

Emma though still needed to hear the words from her children. "Are you both really okay with this, us moving in here and me being pregnant?"

Hermione merely glanced at her mate, that was all it took for Harry to know he was the one elected to answer that for both of them. "Mum, hearing that makes this one of the best days of my life. To have children running around this house will be a dream come true, a dream Hermione and I thought was many years away still. That I'll have a brother is something I never ever thought would or could happen."

Dan almost choked on his tea at that but Emma was now beaming a megawatt smile in her children's direction.

Their minder could also see how pleased they were at this news but had a question for Dan and Emma. "Is this a secret or are you going to let others know?"

"I had to practically threaten Dan otherwise there would have been an announcement placed in The Times, we were only keeping it quiet until we could tell these two. This was not something we wanted to send by Eargit."

This set Hermione off giggling again. "I can't even imagine what Roger's comment would be to us finding out our mother was pregnant, or Harry dancing on the Ravenclaw table in delight."

-oOoOo-

"Master, Bella is pregnant. I know she wants to prove she's your most faithful servant at the ritual but I would like to humbly ask if I could be chosen instead."

The thing that now contained the spirit of Voldemort pondered the problem he faced here. He had three servants, two of whom's loyalty was unquestionable. Which one did he give the honour of showing their devotion to him too? "I will take that into conssideration, her carrying a child might have an adversse affect on the ritual. I was-s actually favouring Peter to carry out that part, providing he doessn't fail me tonight."

"He won't fail, Master, Bella will make sure of that. Peter is only going to identify the target, Bella will be the one who takes that target down and secures them. They should be returning shortly though I impressed on Peter not to rush it. It is imperative he chooses someone who could be considered your enemy, otherwise the entire ritual could be in doubt."

"Anyone who works-s for that abomination they now call a minisstry will do, they would certainly all be conssidered my enemies-s now."

While relieved at this, Augustus knew that news wouldn't please his mate. Bella would have to be kept away from Peter, otherwise a certain rat might not actually see the solstice.

-oOoOo-

That certain rat was currently scurrying around and cursing their luck in choosing the same day Hogwarts students returned home to try and snatch a victim. With all the parents staying at home with their children tonight, they were being left with very slim pickings in their search for a suitable victim. He then spotted a witch sitting in a secluded corner all by herself, she was slowly getting drunk and muttering about someone in her department screwing her over.

It wasn't until she lifted her head that Peter recognised the witch, Bertha Jorkins just signed up to be an unwilling blood donor that would certainly save his master's life. The pub being mostly empty now worked in his favour, Wormtail scurried into the shadowy corner before transferring into Peter and then casting the imperius curse on Bertha.

With the hood of his cloak up, Peter then whispered specific instructions to her. "You will quietly come with me. If anyone asks, I'm an old friend who's taking you home."

Bertha rose unsteadily to her feet, taking Peter's offered arm for support and both barely attracted a second glance as they left. Peter led her up a back alley where Bella was waiting, the smell of firewhisky coming from Bertha stopping his accomplice stunning the witch. It didn't stop Bella's acid tongue though.

"You were supposed to get us someone to be used in our master's ritual, not pick up a drunk date for the weekend."

"There's hardly anyone in there and Bertha works for the ministry, she was the best of a bad lot."

Bella didn't buy that excuse, instead grabbed Bertha and side apparated her back to their camp. Peter was left to follow on.

They had chosen the Forest of Dean and, after stealing another tent, set up camp there. Rookwood had the place warded so that aurors could walk right next to their camp and still not see it. The second tent they had stolen was a much more elaborate model, complete with separate areas inside. Their master, his familiar and Peter shared that accommodation.

Bella appeared with their victim, along with a scathing report on Peter's ineptitude. Peter then made his excuses that they really couldn't have picked a worst day to try and snatch someone.

"You have both done well, sshe will be adequate." The dark lord then cast his own imperius on the poor witch, his instructions to Bertha was simply to be Peter's slave.

"Never let it be ssaid I don't reward thosse faithful to me. Sshe is-s yourss to usse until the ceremony, then I will empty her mind for information. Ssomething we badly need. Peter, usse ssilencing charms-s, I do not wissh my resst dissturbed."

A grinning Peter led the witch away, placing Bertha in his part of the tent and zipping up the partition.

The dark lord then turned his attention to a fuming Bella, knowing this needed to be handled delicately. "Bella, my mosst faithful lieutenant. I have a job that only you can do for me..."

Her bad mood vanished instantly, expecting now to be chosen to donate her flesh to her master. She was soon disappointed.

"...your pregnancy prevents-s you taking your rightful place in my rebirth ritual but offers-s insstead a wonderful opportunity. Your child sshall be the firsstborn of my new reign, and will be trained by their parents-s to one day sstand with me. He or sshe will be treated like my own child and rule by my sside."

The dark lord's reputation as a master manipulator was well earned, he played on his followers hopes and fears to perfection. Bella was now prostrate before him, swearing the eternal allegiance of her entire and yet unborn family. Augustus was also delighted that his pregnant mate wouldn't now take part in a dark ritual that could have harmed their unborn child, while Peter was a lot easier to please. All tonight's problems easily solved and it cost him nothing. That, and only having to spend one more day in this constructed and constricting body, put the dark lord in a better mood than he had been for years. All in all it was a very happy camp, not something that could usually be associated with Lord Voldemort.

He still intended to punish those of his followers who were brave enough to answer his summons after he regained his body. Those who didn't answer would pay the ultimate price for their betrayal. Travelling using muggle transport had also exposed the four of them to the muggle media, an experience that just might have provided a way to wish Harry Potter a very Merry Christmas. He intended to make that boy's every waking moment a nightmare, and leave his sleep so full of horrific dreams he would eventually beg Lord Voldemort for death.

-oOoOo-

"Harry, are you asleep?"

"No, Hermione, come in. I'm guessing you couldn't sleep either?"

"Oh I'm just too excited to sleep. I feel as if every wish I ever had is all coming true but I can't seem to shake the feeling that the hammer is about to fall on us too."

Harry had been lying in bed and trying to lose himself in a Spider-Man comic but the same kind of thoughts had been troubling him as well. "I know exactly what you mean, Hermione. In any battle, when things are going far too well for your side, that is usually the point when something totally unexpected happens and turns all those carefully laid plans into dust. All we can do is take every precaution we can think of and continue to train hard to meet those that catch us out."

Hermione snuck under the covers, needing to hold her mate for comfort. "I feel happy, excited and scared all at the same time. I was worried about mum and dad's safety before, now that mum's pregnant I'm actually terrified for them."

"We've made Kingussie as safe as we possibly can so them staying here is perfect. They will also have Dobby to watch over them, we both know how devoted that little elf is to our parents. If the situation suddenly deteriorates in Britain then we'll have to try and convince them to leave for the island, nothing can touch them there."

That suggestion certainly appealed to Hermione, so much so that she snuggled into Harry and kissed him for coming up with it. "With mum pregnant, we should have no problem convincing dad to take her somewhere totally safe. Our only problem might be stopping them trying to drag us along too..."

"Hermione, you all know I'm a centurion. If there's going to be a battle then my place is at the front of the warriors. It's taken time for me to win the respect of my fellow centurions and our warriors, hiding safely on my island would totally destroy that respect - and me too."

"I know, Harry. Just remember though, me not covering your back in that same battle would totally destroy me as well. That's why we all train as hard as we do, Padma and I know our mates are going to be at the centre of this war if it kicks off again."

Harry knew there was nothing to be gained by arguing over this at the moment, in all probability it would be the circumstances that dictated their response anyway. "Hermione, let's just concentrate on the now while training to try and meet whatever the future brings. We're going to have a wonderful Christmas with our family, a family that's going to grow. We have a real reason to celebrate this year, I think we should give it our best shot..."

Having heard enough, Dan headed off to bed himself. It was extremely hard to find fault with Hermione going to Harry when they were both concerned for their safety. One thing that Dan did agree with, first sign of danger and Emma would be paddling any swollen ankles in the crystal clear waters that surrounded Harry's tropical island. Barchoke had read both of them perfectly, they had been delighted with the changes made to the house and ecstatic at the thought of having a little brother. He also agreed with Harry's assessment that they had more than normal to celebrate this Christmas, Dan certainly intended to do so.

-oOoOo-

Bertha didn't think she would see Christmas this year. What was worse, part of her was hoping she didn't. Being a slave to that bastard Pettigrew was not a life worth living as far as she was concerned, especially since that thing they were calling master was threatening to rape her mind when whatever they were up to here was finished. That Bertha was currently in a cemetery and bound to a headstone didn't bode too well for her future anyway, not with Bellatrix Lestrange and Augustus Rookwood here too.

The imperius had been removed and she'd screamed every insult she could think of - and some she came up with on the spur of the moment - at that bastard Pettigrew, much to the amusement of Lestrange. Now Rookwood was placing the ugly thing in a massive cauldron full of bubbling potion and Bertha was praying it would drown.

When the grave at her feet suddenly opened and part of the corpse buried there made its way into the caldron too, Bertha knew for certain that prayer wasn't going to help her tonight.

She wriggled and fought as best her current circumstances allowed as Rookwood approached her with a wicked knife in his hands. For some sick reason, her struggles just seemed to please him more.

After her blood was added to the cauldron Rookwood then handed the knife to that little shit Pettigrew. Bertha was pleased to see the sick bastard looked ill with the thought of what he was now expected to do. Watching him cut his hand off and let it drop in the cauldron had an effect on Bertha she wouldn't have believed possible a few days ago. She was delighted to see the little bastard in severe pain but couldn't help but wish it was another piece of his anatomy that he'd cut off and flung in there. Bertha would certainly have been prepared to volunteer her services, and to ensure the cut was as ragged and painful as she could make it.

Those pleasant thoughts were rudely interrupted by the cauldron exploding and Bertha thought for a moment they'd made a mistake, she certainly couldn't think of any potion where the addition of Pettigrew's grubby hand would have a positive result. The sight of a body appearing from the resulting mist though destroyed that fantasy. Rookwood quickly stepped forward with a robe for the figure while Lestrange handed it a wand, both then got on their knees before the tall figure. Peter was already on his knees, clutching his stump to try and slow down the blood loss - there was absolutely no sympathy heading in his direction from Bertha.

"Ah, my faithful servants-s. Peter, hold forth your arm."

Bertha watched in horror as Voldemort's wand conjured a silver fully-functioning hand for Peter. Considering what part of his anatomy she'd been wishing Peter had cut off before, witnessing this was the final straw for the witch. The contents of her stomach were now displayed down the front of her robes but Bertha really couldn't give a shit, she was currently sobbing and right on the edge of hysteria.

This seemed to amuse her captors though, and attract Voldemort's attention. He walked toward her and cold fingers were soon caressing Bertha's cheek.

"Ah, Miss Jorkins-s. I should really thank you for assisting in my return, I won't though. Instead, I'm going to enter that mind of yours-s and strip out every piece of information that might be useful. This will leave you nothing more than a drooling idiot, there is-s some good news-s though. Peter has-s already proven he's-s not too fussy, I really don't think it will affect the relationship you two already have..."

Rookwood and Lestrange were roaring with laughter at that but Bertha finally lost it, she started screaming and just couldn't stop. This delighted the dark lord, he'd basically broken this witch purely by fear. Now that was power, power he had certainly missed being able to wield. It was time to start reminding people just how powerful Lord Voldemort actually was.

"Bella my dear, could you hold out your arm for me?"

-oOoOo-

Pansy was rudely awakened by someone roughly pulling on her arm. As her senses slowly came online, she was greeted by the sight of her father standing there. He didn't give her time to say a word, that was time Edmund Parkinson didn't have.

"Pansy Parkinson, I, Edmund Parkinson cast you out of the Parkinson family forever. So mote it be."

Pansy felt the magic swirl around her and was in tears as she sought some answers. "Father, why are you doing this? What have I done?"

"You will leave this house at once and never come back, never - you understand? Go to Draco, and take your mother with you. The wards on the Malfoy home will protect you, you need to go - now!"

Pansy found herself dragged out of bed without even time to grab her housecoat, she was marched to the floo where her mother was standing stoically waiting on her. "Pansy, you need to contact Draco to get permission for me to come through too. Hurry girl, we don't have much time."

As Pansy's head was in the floo, Edmund kissed his wife before he too was forced to leave. He knew the dark lord would be punishing his followers, and that he delighted in using wives and daughters to extract revenge on those death eaters that displeased him. That Pansy was young, beautiful and betrothed to Draco Malfoy meant her fate would have been sealed. The dark lord wouldn't pass up an opportunity to torture both families at the same time. Edmund could only hope these goblin wards were as good as they were portrayed.

-oOoOo-

The goblins had been more than kind to Severus. His 'cell' could never be considered luxurious but he had discovered that goblins didn't really indulge in luxury. His home was certainly adequate for his needs and could even be considered comfortable, he certainly wasn't comfortable now. The pain in his arm and the cold sweat from knowing what that pain meant were currently responsible for his discomfort though.

It was impossible for Severus to answer his former master's summons, the fact that he thought of the dark lord as his former master meant his decision was already made. The prisoner rang for assistance and soon had a guard at his door.

""I respectfully request a meeting with Ambassador Barchoke. I have information vital to the safety of his son, Centurion Crow."" Severus then showed the guard his forearm, the black tattoo was now animated and appeared angry. The guard nodded in understanding and left at once.

As Severus sat there and waited on the ambassador he was faced with the irony that his life was so much better now - thanks to a Potter and a Black. He understood that the goblins treated the young couple as mates and it was ironic that the muggle born wife of a Potter granting him the ability to communicate in goblin had certainly positively affected his life and status. That book written by the Lady Black also gave him insights into what was happening all around him, insights that were allowing him to integrate more and more into the Nation. So much so that Severus now thought of this as home, which was why there was not the slightest hesitation tonight. Severus Snape had made his choice and it wasn't to serve a madman.

-oOoOo-

"Pansy, we both made our choice, you know I have to do this."

"...but he's my father. No he's not - I'm disowned!"

Draco was standing holding his betrothed as she broke her heart over the situation. He really didn't know how to deal with this but his thoughts drifted to how more and more he had built a method for handling situations. His new yardstick was 'what would Harry do'. After asking himself that, his decision was easily made. He left a surprised Pansy standing there while he made his way over to the desk that had been his father's. There was an exquisite knife sitting there that his father had rather pretentiously used to open scrolls he'd received, Draco had a much more important role for the blade.

Both mothers and Pansy were now looking apprehensive as Draco returned armed with the blade, that was until he cut his own palm before passing the blade to Pansy. She knew at once what her betrothed was proposing here, both had read all about this in a rare book they found in the Malfoy library - a book Hermione now owned.

Without a second's hesitation, she cut her own palm and clasped her betrothed's hand.

Both mothers were soon in tears as they watched their children perform the blood bound ceremony. Narcissis understood Draco was offering this to Pansy in a bid to heal her hurt at being disavowed, and she'd never been prouder of her son. They watched on as a silver glow grew up their arms and into their shoulders.

Draco kissed his mate and rested his forehead on hers. "Pansy, you are mine now and we will make that official whenever you feel ready. There will be no pressure from me but there is still something I need to do. We've both made our choice, just as your father has. That was a very brave thing he did tonight, we can't let that bravery go to waste."

Pansy kissed her mate before nodding in agreement. Draco passed her over to their mothers before he headed to the floo. It had taken mere minutes to discover from Elspeth why her husband had acted the way he did, Draco now needed to floocall Sirius and get him to put the warning out amongst the family, he's back!

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