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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55. Our Kingussie Home

The catcalls and whistles didn't bother Sirius one bit, it took McGonagall's iciest tone to garner his attention. "Lord Black, I know she's your fiancée but Professor Hobson is still a member of staff. Kindly save this type of behaviour for when you don't have so many young students as witnesses."

"Sorry Professor, but it was my godson's fault." The mischievous glint in Sirius' eyes told everyone he wasn't in the slightest bit sorry for his total breach of etiquette. "Harry said he'd never kissed an Order of Merlin winner before, and could hardly wait to try it with Hermione yesterday. I couldn't let my godson have one up on me, that just wouldn't be fair so I had to experience it with fiancée for myself."

Those in the hall for breakfast had initially practically ignored Sirius, being far more interested in the two returning students he'd escorted back to Hogwarts. That was soon reversed though as the marauder approached the staff table and then greeted his fiancée by snogging her breathless.

Any confusion over Sirius' statement was soon cleared up as the owls began to deliver today's edition of the Prophet. With everything that had happened in the Wizengamot chamber yesterday, it would have been understandable if the Prophet had struggled over what headline to lead with. The newspaper though knew exactly what its readers would want to know first.

Baron-who-lived will call Kingussie home.

That one line uttered by Harry yesterday was enough to convince the Prophet readers their ministry knew what it was doing. Assassination attempts, new goblin laws, non-pureblood Orders of Merlin winners and certain people not being able to gain access to the Ministry of Magic paled into insignificance when compared to the news their saviour would now be living amongst them.

Theo Nott though scanned the publication to discover where his father was mentioned. The fate that befell the impulsive death eater was never in any doubt from the instant his guilt was proven, that Crow had actually spoke to the Wizengamot in the hope of protecting the innocent members of the Nott family was unbelievable. That he'd gone as far as suggesting Pauline for a Potter Scholarship was simply mind-blowing!

Just mentioning he didn't want the innocents harmed should be more than enough to protect his family from any retaliation. Even the idea that his young sister might end up with the same status as Lovegood or Creevey was hard to believe, but Crow would certainly take a personal interest in whoever was awarded those precious scholarships.

Neville and Padma were rather shocked by their news. It was one thing to be nominated for something, they were now faced with the reality that both would be holders of the ministry's top award. Then Neville spotted his gran entering with Padma's parents and it was hugs all round for the family reunion, a real air of celebration began to grip the hall. McGonagall approached and congratulated all the students involved though Augusta had something to add.

"Professor McGonagall, I want to have a meeting with five students in my office this morning. Looking at them, I don't think they'll be fit for classes until after lunch anyway." The extended family had learned a hard lesson before Christmas and were including Parvati in this as well, especially with her mother and father visiting the castle. Augusta was also aware Henrica didn't have a class first thing today so she and Sirius were invited too.

There were some glum faces at the Slytherin table as a few individuals contemplated the effect these wards would have on their families. Pansy's contemplation took the girl in a whole different direction, she certainly wasn't glum. Pansy Parkinson was ecstatic, and couldn't wait on the warning bell for their first class. Rather than sit there any longer, she excitedly dragged Draco out of the hall early.

They had barely made the corridor when Draco wanted to know what she was up to. "What's in the Prophet to put you in such a good mood, did I miss something?"

She flung her arms around her betrothed and hugged him tight. "That news today has saved us. Word will soon spread of who those new wards affect. When it becomes known that my father is one of those unable to enter the ministry, no family will touch a betrothal between their son and the daughter of Edmund Parkinson!"

"...and knowing you're not wanted makes you happy? I'll never understand witches."

"If no one else will take me, that means you're stuck with our betrothal - and that makes me very happy!"

"...and since no one else will want the son of Lucius Malfoy for their daughter, looks like you're stuck with me too!"

Two very happy Slytherins headed off hand in hand to their charms class.

-oOoOo-

Neville had never seen his grandmother so happy. He was guessing that she'd been visiting Great Uncle Algie, probably to rub his nose in her grandson's achievement. Neville was wrong though, Augusta still had that pleasure to look forward to. After the Wizengamot meeting, she'd popped into Arthur's office to congratulate Harry and Hermione before following them and Barchoke back to Gringotts. She couldn't hold her excitement any longer and just had to tell Neville her news.

"I visited your mum and dad yesterday and put something the healers had mentioned to me into practice. The healers think both are approaching the stage where we should be giving them targets to aim at, yesterday I gave them a target that certainly has both of them motivated. The day their son becomes a teenager, he will be one of the guests of honour at a ball where he and his betrothed will both receive Orders of Merlin, First Class. If Frank and Alice can get themselves healthy enough, they will have places reserved at our table."

Padma had her arms around Neville and it was probably just as well, he felt as if his body was going to burst wide open while trying to contain the combination of pride and joy currently coursing through it. Receiving this award was always going to be a great honour, having his parents there to see him presented with it just pushed his emotions through the roof. To Neville, it didn't matter what the ministry handed him, just having his mum and dad there would be his real reward.

The excitement in the room was palpable, and that was before Sirius added to it. "If we have our wedding at the start of the holidays, we can be back from our honeymoon in time for my Lady Black to receive her Order of Merlin, First Class." Sirius then turned his attention to the portrait of a former head of the Black family, and former Hogwarts headmaster, Phineas Nigellus Black. "With my wife by my side, I intend to make the name Black one to be proud of. Considering I have centuries of bigoted arseholes like you to make up for, that will be quite a task."

The portrait so wanted to hurl abuse at this descendant, standing there proudly boasting he was going to marry this creature and taint the house of Black forever. What held Phineas back was the forces that were arrayed against the mere portrait. The room currently held the Head of House Black, the Hogwarts High Inquisitor and also the Hogwarts Champion.

Phineas was never a stupid wizard, and his portrait contained all his best attributes, so he held his own council on this matter as they chatted about weddings, holidays and balls. That didn't mean his eyes weren't boring into this happy group with a hate so hot it should have scorched his canvas.

-oOoOo-

Funnily enough, Phineas Black's views were currently being shared in secret little bands the length and breadth of the country. Never meeting in groups of more than three or four people each knew could be trusted, they had been drawn together to discuss the dilemma all were now facing. Some had preempted Monday and resigned on the spot. Claiming they didn't want to work for a ministry who was more interested in their relations with the goblins than those of their own people would cut little ice with their now former colleagues, everyone would still know the real reason behind why they left.

By denying them access to the ministry, Hogwarts, some of the most influential families in Britain - with St Mungo's sure to be on that list soon too, they were slowly but surely being corralled in a pen of their own making. That their families were being spared this officially sanctioned form of bigotry left public opinion solidly behind the Ministry of Magic on the matter of these new wards. Their case for objecting had also cleverly been revoked with everyone given the chance to prove they had been forced to take the dark mark, leaving them in a form of limbo. Whatever restrictions were placed on them by this system, it was still far better than having Azkaban as your new address - something that would surely happen if they pushed this attack on their liberties too hard.

With Longbottom in charge at Hogwarts and Crow effectively leading the students, their children would be spending ten months of the year in an environment that deliberately set out to erode their pureblood beliefs. A mudblood being awarded an Order of Merlin sent out all the wrong type of messages too, mainly that blood didn't matter.

Their entire problem though was exacerbated by them being cut adrift like a rudderless ship. The dark lord didn't share power, rather demanded total obedience on pain of death. Only Lucius Malfoy had felt secure enough in his position to step in and take some semblance of control after that fateful Halloween.

That Malfoy now resided in Azkaban left them not knowing who to trust, and certainly had none of them wanting to put their name forward to take over that poisoned chalice of a position. When a member of the Wizengamot could be caught, tried and sent to Azkaban in the space of twenty four hours, it was clear your family name, bloodlines, fortune - they all meant nothing now.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the ministry was being championed in its rush to embrace the light by Fudge, Bones and Diggory. Throw in the goblin connection with the boy-who-lived and this gave you a formidable force to be reckoned with.

In every single case, those meeting agreed that something needed to be done about the situation. The reality was though that, again in every single case, no one wanted to be the person who was going to do something about the situation.

-oOoOo-

It would probably disgust those pureblood death eaters to know that similar secret conversations were taking place deep inside Gringotts. Dragontooth was practically breathing fire while venting his anger.

"Why would we want to live amongst the human filth? This is all that bastard Crow's doing, and Ragnok is strutting around as if he had discovered a dragon who lays golden eggs. We need to put a stop to this."

His father though wasn't impressed by his son's juvenile anger. "You need to learn patience, and not go acting on an impulse - or do you want to be considered the same as our fool of a director? Making a human a Centurion on nothing more than a whim and then granting friend's status to little ugly witches - disgusting! We need to use finesse here, your clumsy attempt to injure Crow's bitch will see the spotlight trained on us if anything happens to her..."

"I wasn't trying to injure her, I was trying to kill the witch. How was I supposed to know she was wearing armour..."

"You should have planned and prepared for every eventuality, not jumped in without even knowing anything about the human girl.."

"She's a human girl, and should be slaughtered on sight for daring to show her face below the bank - what more did I need to know?"

Bloodfang growled at his son's impudence, it was getting nearly as bad as his impatience. "When a being carries a weapon, you never dismiss the danger without very strong evidence telling you that no danger actually exists. You acted the confident fool and she bested you. If that wasn't bad enough you then attempted to murder her - in full view of people we couldn't buy off."

His father's voice had risen to a level where Dragontooth knew it was time to lower his head and shut his mouth, to do otherwise would only antagonise his father more.

Seeing this allowed Bloodfang to reveal some of the details he was working on to his son. "To reverse this disgusting decision of living above ground, and bring down Ragnok, we have to attack the director where he's most vulnerable. He has practically aligned the nation behind Crow and we need to prove to everyone that was a massive mistake. By discrediting Crow, or getting him to leave Gringotts, all Ragnok's gains will disappear like humans in a dragon pen. It will be quick but painful and certainly bloody."

The bloodlust was clearly visible in Dragontooth's features, Crow had been a constant thorn in his side since they were infants. "Father, do you really think you can force Crow out of Gringotts?"

"I intend to see him storming out the door, swearing vengeance on goblins. At which point, I may have him killed - depending on whether or not it then suits my plans."

The admiration a son had for his father was clear to see, causing Bloodfang to throw his son a bone of comfort. "You were at least right about one thing that day, the way to Crow is through his mate. You just went about it all wrong. We need to take our time, let the ugly bitch collect her award. Let Crow spend the summer with her family, growing closer all the time. When the dust from all this has settled and they have grown complacent, only then will we strike. Those muggle parents hide behind some of the nation's best wards, but wards that were devised to deny access to wizards. What do you think Crow's reactions will be if these two muggles are found in their home with their entrails pulled out all over the floor?"

His son's eyes nearly popped out his head. "You want him to know goblins slaughtered them?"

"Of course I do! How do you think that bitch he calls a mate will react when she finds her parents like that? Knowing they died in agony and at the hands of goblins, she will never pollute our tunnels with her presence again. Mark my words, where she goes Crow will follow. The director himself might even order Crow's extermination, the centurion knows too much about us and could possibly be persuaded to lead forces against the Nation."

The bloodlust was back with Dragontooth. "I was denied the pleasure of seeing the daughter bleeding on the ground, I want to be the one who guts her even uglier mother. Father, please?"

This would be a two pronged attack, with Ragnok facing an unprecedented political backlash that, as a councillor, Bloodfang would be well positioned to exploit. He didn't expect to end up as Director this time but could easily see himself in the position of kingmaker. He needed Dragontooth to grow up and get his act together, then perhaps his son might one day claim the title of Director for their family.

"That will depend on the reports I receive about you between now and then, I need to know I can trust you to follow orders before you would be allowed anywhere near this cleansing mission."

In another eerie parallel that wasn't death eater related, Bloodfang had just handed his son an incentive to improve that was every bit as strong as the one now pushing the Longbottoms to excel.

-oOoOo-

Alice loved watching the intelligence slowly return to the eyes she'd adored for so many years. At the moment though, that intelligence was being masked by the frustration her husband was feeling because his body wouldn't respond as it used to. With slurring and a stammer, it was also difficult for him to verbally get his message across. After a few attempts though, Alice thought she'd deciphered the gist of it.

"If you can't make it, you want me to go to the ball without you?"

Frank nodded in relief, it was a short-lived reprieve though. After a kiss from his wife, she reminded him of something.

"We are a team, Frank. Professionally and personally, together for the good times and the bad. If you're not able to attend, I'll be right by your side. I still think you're being too hard on yourself, neither of us will ever be the people we were before. As long as I can take your arm and walk beside you into the ministry, that will be more than enough for me. Neither mum nor Neville will be expecting any more either, just us being there will make their evening special."

She lovingly wiped away the tears that were forming in the corners of his eyes though had no trouble making out what he was saying this time.

"Forever."

"That's right, darling, and don't ever forget it. Our son reminds me so much of you..."

A smiling Frank was pointing at his wife and mumbling 'P...P.. ' at her.

"Yes, you Longbottom men need a strong witch to pull you out those shyness shells you would seem to be born with - and our son as found himself a real beauty in every sense of the word. She would never let Neville face his troubles alone, just like I'll be there for you. We have time darling, I'm still sleeping for the most of the day too. We're getting a little better every day though, so just keep looking forward."

As the couple embraced, the healer from St Mungo's was unsure if this latest episode in their healing program was really working. He aired his concerns to the goblin healer standing watching beside him. "I don't really understand how raising Frank's anxiety levels will help with his recovery, present thinking is that this would only hinder his progress."

The goblin had been expecting this. While open-minded, this healer still laboured under the impression that magic could fix just about everything. Unfortunately, this also meant to them the reverse would also be true. If magic couldn't fix it then nothing could be done.

"Their medication may be repairing the damage but they have to help that process along - and that is hard on them. To help them continue pushing when they feel exhausted, you have to offer some kind of incentive to achieve that level of commitment. Even as they are now, both would be able to walk into that ballroom and sit long enough to see their son and his mate receive their awards. We're pushing them to see how much more they're capable of."

"Is this a normal part of your treatments?"

"When a limb is injured, even magic can't repair it to the degree where it is working at one hundred percent in mere moments. You need the patient to rest and allow the healing to knit, then exercise to get that limb fully functional again. Repairing organs is no different so the treatment will be similar. They've had the rest period, now comes the exercise part. As you can see, we carefully monitor the situation to ensure neither overtaxes themselves."

The healer was taking a note of everything that was said, he was after all here to learn.

-oOoOo-

Remus had been worried about taking the second year defence class. None of the rest of Hogwarts had experienced anything like a competent teacher in the subject and had welcomed him with open arms, but they'd had Bill Weasley almost from their first day in the castle. He explained to his students that today would be about determining what level this class were at, joking that he really didn't know how he was going to teach a class with four Orders of Merlin, First Class, holders in it.

When Padma joked back, 'carefully!' Remus just had to laugh and his reaction set a relaxed atmosphere for the rest of the lesson. With the glaring omission of those who'd chosen to have their lessons from Lockhart, this class were actually far ahead of where they were expected to be. Since everyone else he'd taught so far was way behind, this class were actually breathing down the necks of the third years in terms of knowledge and ability. He would have to adjust his lessons accordingly.

After the bell, those same four award winners hung back and it was Hermione who removed a ledger-like book out of Harry's bag before offering an explanation. "We would normally speak with Professor Weasley about our plans for the marauders tonight after this lesson, would you mind taking a look over them for us?"

Remus was delighted to do so and asked if he could attend too. He was timetabled for first year tomorrow and this should let him ascertain what level they were at - and possibly skip the introductory lesson he'd needed with the other years.

On seeing what they planned to teach the first years, Remus' eyebrows nearly disappeared into his hairline. Had anyone else shown him this, Remus would have been sure he was being pranked. "This looks brilliant! Like today though, I think I would rather wait and see you four teaching before making any comments or suggestions. Auror Tonks will be here tonight too, the full moon is at the end of this week so she'll be covering for a couple of days and needs to know the lesson plans for each class."

This earned a smile from Harry, "No problem, Professor Lupin, Auror Tonks has seen us teaching the marauders before and used to escort Hermione and me to training every morning. We like her!"

The three nods of agreement left Remus wondering just what he'd let himself in for.

-oOoOo-

When the occupants of the Burrow received Percy's owl, none of them were sure how to react to the news Ron had attempted to attack Harry Crow - or Crow's ultimatum on the matter. Unlike his parents, Bill knew Harry was serious with his threat - just like he knew Ron wouldn't have been able to land a blow on Harry. Bill had moved back home for a few days until Barchoke could arrange new wards for the Weasley home, that they had wanted his father dead as much as the goblin ambassador shook all of them and he would be staying at the Burrow until those wards could be arranged. The warding of the ministry would now push that back but Bill wasn't complaining.

The director himself had decreed that these wards would be erected at no cost to the Weasley family, citing they were only placed in danger because of his father's job as liaison to the nation. Ragnok felt it only fair that their nation offered a level of protection to those who worked for its best interests. While Arthur clearly worked for the ministry, he was undoubtably also working to further the interests of both parties. That made Arthur Weasley someone the nation certainly wanted to protect.

The three Weasleys present eventually decided Bill would let Ron know his fate when he visited Hogwarts at the weekend, this would also provide some time for their tempers to cool. Neither male Weasley could dissuade Molly from sending her youngest son a howler, truth be told, neither of them tried that hard.

-oOoOo-

Remus was trying hard to figure out why he was here, these four had the first years hanging off their every word. When they then had their students practicing shield drills as a refresher, the original marauder almost needed to sit down. Henrica and Tonks had been watching him, waiting on his reaction, both were now smiling as the auror offered some solace.

"Don't take it too hard, Professor, I've been there too. Henrica here thought it would be a good idea if these four went up against some trainee aurors in a speed and accuracy drill, just as well they made it best out of three or we would have left here with egg on our faces."

"They beat them?"

"Harry called it a draw but we both know the truth. I felt a bit of a fraud accepting but I didn't want moral to take a nosedive, aurors being defeated by four second years would have done just that - at least then it would have. Now these four would probably be favourites to win. To tell the truth, I feel a bit of a fraud accepting this Order of Merlin too. I was against going down there in the first place and then it was those four who killed the basilisk and Voldemort - I just felt so useless..."

It was Henrica who quickly rubbished Tonks' doubts. "I think Dan Granger said it best, it took the six of us down there to accomplish what we did. You've seen their teamwork, neither you nor I could emulate that in the time we had available. You stood guard over Parvati and me while being prepared to attack Riddle if he truly regained a body. I know those four very well and they certainly regarded your role down there as crucial, just as I know they would want your award to be the same as theirs."

"I agree with Henrica on that point, I'm also going to need both of your help. Unless I can match what the first year are being taught here, I'm going to be the one with egg on my face. I neither have access to this fabulous room nor those duelling dummies, how am I meant to compete?"

"It's not a competition, Remus, this is an after school club." As club staff sponsor, Henrica was very protective of Crow's marauders. "The first years are learning the practical side of magical fighting here, they're using neither notes nor text books. They need to know the theory behind the procedures they're learning here, and also those behind the spells they're using. If you talk it over with the four of them, you could all be teaching the first years the same things - with them then getting a few hours of extra practical experienced every week."

Remus could instantly see the benefits in that system and knew he would have to change his current plans.

-oOoOo-

Nott's arrival in Azkaban left Rookwood thinking he would have to change his plans, rather the information the convicted death eater was providing did. His crime of attempting to kill a pair of Weasleys and a goblin in the ministry atrium saw Theodore receive a much smoother ride than Lucius had. He still managed to provoke a reaction from Bella though, something about just how the ministry and Gringotts were cosying up to each other didn't sit well with any of them.

That the goblins had developed wards which wouldn't let those carrying a dark mark past was also a worrying development. It was when he mentioned that the goblins not only knew about their master's horcruxes, but had been actively searching for them since that fateful Halloween night that had Bellatrix exploding.

Her tirade was aimed more at all the thieving goblin bastards she was personally going to torture to death than the person who seemed to just have passed on some very bad news. This was leading Augustus to believe that their master's horcrux Bella is protecting was currently stored in the Lestrange vault at Gringotts. This presented the ex-unspeakable with another set of problems. His initial plan was, once he was outside his cell, to ask Bellatrix to tell him where she'd hidden their master's horcrux. He was certain a promise to return their master to life would see that information being passed on, Bella would also know that when their master returned he would want his loyal followers beside him. Azkaban would certainly be his first target, especially with all the inside information that would be available to him.

Rookwood though was now having thoughts of an entirely different nature, thoughts of how grateful Bellatrix would be if he took her with him. Augustus had never had a willing partner before, not without using the imperius anyway. He was aware Azkaban would have had a detrimental affect on Bellatrix but, where he had been no oil painting to begin with, she had been a stunningly beautiful woman before being locked in here. With his intellect and her power, Augustus Rookwood and Bellatrix Lestrange would be a mighty force for the dark. She certainly could be relied upon to be an asset with his attempts to resurrect their master. These thoughts were running through his head as he worked, and those plans he had could be suitably altered to include both of them. Two was the maximum though, and even that was only because he had access to more blood than Augustus had originally anticipated.

Pulling out his teeth provided about the amount he expected, it was his fingers that were supplying all the extra. While extracting his own teeth was every bit as painful as he'd imagined, gripping that tooth with his fingers while attempting to carve a chunk of stone with it was excruciating agony. All his fingers now had permanent grooves worn into them almost to the bone, while the tips were raw and bleeding from grazing off the abrasive stone he was attempting to carve. This would certainly cure him of biting his nails. Apart from the teeth he would be missing, his nails were filed right into his bleeding flesh.

Presently he was finding that it was only possible to work on his project one day in three, the other two were needed to nurse his hands back into some kind of working order. As well as his blood seeping into the stone as he worked, there was also plenty excess to 'feed' to his straw wand.

It wasn't necessary to decide whether the protection medallion was for one or two people until it was time to carve the protection runes, his current estimate to begin that phase would be around Easter. It may take a few weeks longer for carving the extra runes but Rookwood was already thinking of the rewards those few extra weeks of pain could bring. One thing Nott's information did cement in his mind though was the date he would attempt his escape. While the ministry celebrated its new Orders of Merlin winners, he reckoned that would be the best evening to go for a swim.

-oOoOo-

After the marauders, it was back to the common room and time for their final study session for Master Pitslay's potions class. Hermione was fretting about this one since they had missed his class on Monday, Harry though ran her through the entire procedure and she answered every one of his questions correctly. By this time, they were the only two members of their group left, the rest having headed off to bed already. Hermione then took advantage of this unexpected alone time and snuggled into Harry.

"When will you find out about the house in Kingussie?"

"Father is having it surveyed and we should hear from him in the next couple of days. What has got you so excited about this house, I have quite a few you know."

She was glad Harry currently couldn't see her face, Hermione was sure she was blushing at how silly her answer would sound. "We've stayed together at my house, Gringotts, Padma's, Neville's, Grimmauld and a number of Potter properties. I've enjoyed every one of them but, even with the Potter properties, I always feel as if they belong to someone else. I'm hoping Kingussie feels like home because its ours, you earned it..."

"We earned it, Hermione, its all ours."

She then let Harry hear her idea. "Last year you shared Neville's birthday party because the ball was on the thirty first, this summer they're planning it for the thirtieth. I was hoping we could hold a birthday party for you both the following evening, in our Kingussie home..."

Hermione was waiting on his laughter but it never came. Instead, Harry lifted her chin and tenderly kissed her lips. "I think that is a wonderful idea, our very first party in our very own home. Once we hear from Father we'll know if it's feasible. The house itself might be nothing more than a large cottage which, while fine for us, will hardly be suitable for a large party..." The sparkle in Hermione's eyes clearly announced to anyone who knew her that she'd just had an idea...a really good idea.

"A marquee! It'll be the middle of summer so a marquee will work. That means it doesn't really matter how big our new house is, or what condition its in, we can still hold a birthday party for you and Neville in Kingussie!"

After recent happenings, it was nice to concentrate on something relatively 'normal' for a change. Even though the event was still six months away, Hermione was already gripped with excitement at the organising she would need to do so their first party would be a success. Harry's goodnight kiss blasted all that from her mind, when her mate kissed her like that - Hermione had trouble remembering what day of the week it was. She headed off to her bed wearing a goofy smile, her only thoughts being of how good it would feel while they moved their relationship along as they got older.

-oOoOo-

Four Ravenclaws were heading down to breakfast. Luna had Moonlight cradled in her arms, the smart kneazle knew tasty treats would be coming its way soon. Instead of tasty treats though, it sounded as if the hounds of hell were racing through the corridors toward the group.

Hearing the demented howling reverberating off the stone walls and seeing Luna struggling to stop Moonlight heading for the hills alarmed the other three, Harry and Hermione had their hands on the hilts of their swords while Padma's wand was already drawn. Luna was rather quickly moved into the middle of them so the trio could offer some protection to the little blonde with her hands full of panicking cat.

To say they were surprised when Ron Weasley came careering around the corner would be an understatement, the source of all noise was right behind him. The volume this thing was broadcasting at meant there was no way to decipher what, if anything, was being said - Ronald obviously had no intention of hanging about to hear any message anyway.

As he sprinted past the group, a pair of blades flashed and pieces of parchment then fluttered gently to the floor - the resulting silence was deafening. Moonlight calmed almost at once, appearing embarrassed for scratching her blonde friend who gave her such nice titbits.

"What the hell was that?"

It was a still gasping for breath returning Ron who answered Hermione's question. "That was a howler, sent by my mum. The rest of my family are really unhappy with me that I tried to attack Harry after that trouble at the ministry. I'm really sorry about that by the way, I acted without thinking - again. Could you please thank your father for me, that was really decent of him to push dad away from that killing curse."

Harry accepted the obviously genuine apology before having to ask a question in return. "Your mother sent that to you?"

"Oh, I was expecting it. Started running the minute I saw the owl drop the bloody thing but it opened and then chased me along the corridor. Mum's don't usually do that so Bill must have had a hand in creating this one too. Thanks again for destroying it, I'll need to tell the twins how you managed that. It won't really matter to me as Bill is certain to take me home with him at the weekend, being home schooled by my mother is not really something I'm looking forward to."

Ron headed off to eat more breakfast, he'd been down early as he only had so many Hogwarts meals left. Ron intended to make the most of every opportunity to stuff his face.

"Okay, I'm still confused here," this was such an unusual state for Hermione that they could all see it bothered her. "Why would a parent deliberately humiliate their child like that?"

Harry was also left shaking his head. "Don't look at me, no goblin would ever use such a device. You've seen Master Sharpshard in action, we goblins like to do our bollockings in person. Even worse though, family matters are only ever discussed amongst family. Broadcasting family business like that to the whole castle is something no goblin would ever do."

Luna was the one with the inside information here. "Oh Mrs Weasley can get so loud you can hear her right across the dale, it's usually when she's shouting at the twins though."

They were just about to enter the great hall when Padma decided to share her thoughts. "Okay, I'll say it, purebloods are just nuts!"

This had them laughing as they sat down to breakfast though Hermione clearly still had something on her mind. "Harry, we've met and certainly now heard Mrs Weasley, can we talk to Bill and maybe get Ron a reprieve? As bad as he's been, Ron's more of an annoyance rather than dangerous - I just don't think anyone deserves that fate."

This saw Harry pause from selecting his breakfast. "He did apologise, and mean it this time. There's also the change in Malfoy to consider..." Those thoughts would have to wait as Eargit flew towards them with hopefully the details they'd been waiting on regarding Kingussie. Learning about their new home was far more important to Hermione and Harry than any thoughts of Ronald Weasley being home schooled.

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