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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53. Please, Not The House Elf!

Young Astoria Greengrass' eyes were wider than Luna's at what was happening all around her tonight. Normally, on occasions like this, she and Daphne would sit demurely beside their parents and only speak when directly spoken to. Tonight they were sitting amongst people around their own ages, chatting about things that interested them, and having a great time.

On hearing that she would be starting Hogwarts in September, Ginny, Luna and Colin promised to look out for her. With all the older students saying the same too, she would have friends in every house before she even set foot in the castle. This certainly wasn't what she'd expected, Astoria now couldn't wait for September to arrive.

Pansy was beginning to think the only way she was going to get Granger alone was to dance with her, the muggle born witch was never off the ballroom floor. Finally, she and the Ravenclaw Patil were heading for a bathroom break, this looked about as good an opportunity as she was going to get. She left Draco's side and hurried after the pair.

Blaise had noticed her departure but a shrug from Draco in answer to his enquiry was of no help, Parvati though had also seen Pansy leave and was looking for answers from her date. "Have you any idea why Parkinson shot out of here after my sister and Hermione?"

"No, sorry, but I don't think it's anything you need to worry about. Both of them are being nominated for Orders of Merlin, I think they'll cope if Pansy is stupid enough to try anything. Bearing in mind we're also in Lord Black's home, both girls' parents are sitting over there, and then there's Harry and Neville to consider. You would have to be a moron to try anything against those girls anyway, but to do so tonight would be insane."

Listening to Blaise reassured Parvati, but not as much as seeing that Harry had also noticed Pansy leaving. Even whilst dancing with Luna, he still missed nothing that went on in the ballroom.

Both girls had soon noticed Pansy following them, it was too deliberate to be anything other than that. On entering the large ladies room off the ballroom, Hermione and Padma let their lessons take over. Padma approached a mirror and pretended to touch up her light make-up while Hermione moved to the other side of the room, ensuring there was no way Pansy would be able to use her wand on both of them at the same time.

The young Slytherin witch entered the restroom and immediately sussed the situation she was in here. Knowing these two had no reason to trust her, Pansy made sure both her empty hands were in full view of Padma and Hermione.

"I was hoping to have a private word with you, Hermione, it's a rather delicate matter."

"You can trust Padma with anything you want to say to me. She won't say a word and, if it's what I think you're going to ask, Padma might have more knowledge about it than me."

Deciding just to go for it, Pansy blurted out what she was desperate to know. "I wanted to ask you what's involved in a blood bonding? I was hoping it could be a way of stopping my father withdrawing my betrothal to Draco?"

Hermione could clearly see the desperation that had led Pansy to resort to asking them for help, she also hated to disappoint her. "I'm sorry, Pansy, I don't think it would help your situation. Even if you blood bonded with Draco, your father could still betroth you to someone else. The bond only really becomes legal when you finalise it."

A puzzled Pansy asked what she thought was a simple question. "Why wouldn't we finalise the bonding?"

It was Padma who supplied the answer. "The bonding will finalise the first time you have sex after performing the ceremony."

"Oh, I couldn't possibly do that - I'm not nearly ready for that step yet."

Pansy found herself being offered a hankie by Hermione, she hadn't even realised she'd been crying.

"Don't worry, Pansy, none of us are. It's something Harry and I won't be doing for a good few years yet, we're just lucky our parents want us to be together. The blood bonding ceremony shows a couple how compatible they are but, until finalised, has no legal standing under the current ministry laws. It actually has more legal status in the goblin nation where we're already considered mates. If Harry and I were to take that final step, we would be considered husband and wife in two of the three societies we inhabit. My mum and dad still expect to see me married in church though, and we hope to finalise our bonding after that ceremony - this will see us legally married in all three."

Having pinned all her hopes on this solution, Pansy was now quite distraught to find it wouldn't be of any help. Not caring that these girls weren't exactly her friends, she just had to talk to someone about this. "It was only being invited here that stopped my father breaking the betrothal over Christmas, he's still looking at a couple of candidates to offer me to though. Draco and I have been betrothed since we were two, we've grown up knowing that some day we would marry - how can he just take that away from us?"

Here was a side of betrothals Hermione hadn't considered. Being betrothed since infancy had seen these two grow up together, already knowing what awaited them in the future. No wonder Pansy was distraught, Draco was not only her betrothed but her best friend too. Hermione remembered how she felt the night her dad had pulled her out of Harry's arms, that was enough to have her offering to help Pansy.

"If coming here tonight helped keep you both betrothed, we need to put out heads together and see what else can be done to keep your father from considering breaking that agreement. We will probably need to tell a few more people exactly what's going on though?"

"If it keeps me and Draco together, I don't care if it makes the front page of the Prophet! I have to ask though, why are you helping me?"

Hermione actually smiled at the Slytherin as she gave Pansy an answer the witch wasn't expecting. "Although the three of us are from totally different backgrounds, and will certainly have differing views on life, there is one thing we all have in common. Each of us has already found the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with. Anyone trying to separate Harry and me, or Padma and Neville, will have a fight on their hands - how could we not help you?"

Pansy didn't get to say anymore as Parvati burst into the rest room, closely followed by Henrica. The signs that Pansy had been crying were unmissable, as were any signs of an altercation between them. Whatever was going on, they certainly weren't fighting. "Everything okay in here?"

"We're fine, Pav, just having a chat with Pansy. Thanks for checking on us though, nice to know you've got our backs."

"No problem, sis, though I better get back and tell the boys everything's fine - before they come rushing in here too!"

As Parvati headed back to the ballroom, Henrica stayed to help sort out whatever problem they were having here.

It was a relieved Draco who finally saw Pansy reenter the ballroom, she then practically dragged him onto the dance floor - obviously to talk.

"How far are you prepared to go to keep our betrothal?"

"Pansy, you know I can't give in to your father's demands - he would soon have a whole new set for me if I did."

"I'm not talking about giving in to my father, you know I agree with you on that. If we were invited to Lord Black's wedding, and then spent some of the summer in Crow's company, do you honestly think my father would risk throwing that away? Who else is he going to find for me with connections like that?"

"What did you have to promise to get that? I won't swap one manipulator for another, I want us to live our lives the way we choose..."

"...and so do I, Draco, so do I. What we need to do here is give a clear message that we're willing to change, you've already said we need to. We've been promised to each other practically all our lives - I'm not about to stand still and let my father go back on his word now. The idea I had wouldn't work but I was then offered another chance, we both know getting close to Crow would stop my father in his tracks."

"Does this mean I have to suck up to Crow?"

"Look at Blaise, or even Longbottom, they don't act like that. Crow is not interested in anyone sucking up to him. If we want to see the Malfoy name rise to prominence once more, this is really the only way. You said it yourself, if Crow defeats the dark lord, magical Britain will probably all but name him king. If that were to happen, you and I would never be a prince or princess - but we could be part of that royal court. That's the way a Slytherin would operate, we get to stay together, gain some influential friends - and may also have some fun along the way."

She could see Draco was considering this option, get her father off their backs without having to make any concessions - well, none that hurt anyway.

"If we were to do this, what do they want from us?"

"They want a public show that we're willing to change. The name Malfoy still carries some weight in certain circles, a message to those same circles is what's needed here. You asking Granger to dance will send that message loud and clear, Crow will then ask me. If that doesn't keep father off our backs for the next few months, nothing will."

"So, all I need to do is dance with Granger?" Pansy nodded in answer but Draco could clearly see now would be an extremely bad time to tease her, he gave her a tighter squeeze as they twirled and earned a nervous smile.

"Will you do this - for us?"

Draco had effectively lost everything, yet Pansy had stuck to his side like glue. She was even plotting against her father to ensure she stayed glued to his side in the coming years. "If dancing with Granger keeps you by my side, then I'll do it. I would dance with her muggle mother if it meant we stayed together."

"Her mother is a beautiful woman, Draco, so that wouldn't exactly be a hardship. Don't go ruling it out though, I don't know just how far we need to take this."

Tonks was standing watching Hermione dancing with her cousin when Henrica approached. "Would you please pinch me, Professor, I can't believe what I'm seeing here."

"Auror, you of all people should know what this group can achieve when they put their minds to it."

"You're not joking there, I now have a bank balance I still have trouble accepting - and today was recommended for an Order of Merlin, First Class. I can't speak for the rest of the country but the've certainly changed my life out of all recognition. My mother dancing with my father in the Black Ballroom is also a pretty special occasion for our family too, I'd like to thank you for that."

"We're going to be family ourselves, call me Henrica."

"Thanks, Henrica, though I still want to be called Tonks, some parents should never be allowed to name their children. What can you tell me of Remus Lupin?"

"Why, Tonks, you interested?"

"Yes, interested in finding out just what I've let myself in for. I'm going to be the auror who escorts him off the Hogwarts grounds for his transformation, and then takes his classes for a day or so. I'm familiar with the way the castle runs and, after that announcement this morning, Madam Bones is sure an Order of Merlin nominated auror making certain the werewolf is out the castle will put an end to any parental concerns."

"You won't have anything to worry about, Tonks, Remus is a really nice guy. Sirius will also be there, he plans on staying with Remus to help him with his transformation." Henrica watched the auror's eyes widen at that before supplying the information she was missing. "Sirius is a dog animagus, so will transform too - and be perfectly safe."

This had Tonks staring at the beautiful veela before asking a question. "Our family really is nuts. From aurors to psycho witches that will never see the outside of Azkaban - and now you tell me the head of our family is a dog! You sure you know what you're doing by marrying into it?"

Henrica only needed to glance at the dance floor where her husband-to-be was currently waltzing with her mother. "Hell yes, Tonks!"

Cornelius was actually enjoying himself for a change. There was no ministerial business being done here tonight, he was being treated as just another guest - a refreshing change. This allowed him to spend his now free time observing the voters of tomorrow - and acknowledging that Amelia had been correct on two of her main points. Just watching these young wizards and witches together confirmed they had to be treated equally, and that losing Harry to the goblins or muggles would be an unmitigated disaster.

Watching as Lucius' son was not only civil to a muggle born witch, but danced with her too was certainly something Cornelius really needed to see for himself. Harry was clearly doing his damnedest to ensure his generation was susceptible to the changes he wanted to see happen, it was now the minister's job to try and mould their society into one that would accept these changes too. Cornelius knew he would have a fight on his hands, the dark faction weren't going to surrender any power lightly, but he found himself relishing the challenge. This was why he got into politics in the first place, before he started playing the system - or did the system play him?

While Amos was watching the same group, his focus was on another dark haired boy. Cedric appeared to fit comfortably into this cosmopolitan mixture of witches and wizards - it would probably be hard not to. Here was a group where everyone was listened to, and no opinion was dismissed as being wrong - just different. Cedric had told him this before but witnessing it firsthand was certainly an eye opener.

In any command situation, Harry would clearly take leadership of the group. Like they'd witnessed with the chamber incident, he still listened to and valued the opinions of those around him. His power of command though was so strong, an auror and a Hogwarts professor had followed those commands too.

Amos was delighted his son was part of this group, but even more so after seeing the way Cedric interacted amongst them.

The party was hailed as a great success by all the guests. As a certain young couple were getting ready to leave, their host for the evening returned Pansy's tactics from earlier and wanted a private word.

"Mister Malfoy, I understand what my godson is doing here and think he is wrong. Harry then retorts that I'm getting old and cynical, you just got elected as our test case to prove which of us is correct."

Pansy was trembling as she held onto Draco's arm, she, like her betrothed, had no idea what Lord Black was up to. Neither had long to wait for their fears to be answered.

"On New Year's Eve, a lot of the people present here tonight will be celebrating on a muggle boat sailing along the Thames in central London. There will be dinner and dancing, and I'm inviting you, and the date of your choice, to join us. Dress is muggle but there will be clothes here waiting for both of you. Your wands will also be left here, safely waiting on your return. It's a private party but the crew and the band will of course be muggles. Send me an owl when you reach your decision on attending."

Draco managed to mumble a 'thank you for the invitation' before they both entered the floo.

Sirius then felt a pair of arms encircle him from behind as Henrika kissed his cheek. "That was a very nice thing you did there..."

"I'm sorry love, but it wasn't."

"What do you mean, what else could it be?"

Her future husband attempted to explain. "Just because I don't believe in most of their pureblood doctrine, that doesn't mean I don't know how to use it to our advantage."

Knowing this was a foreign concept to his beautiful fiancée, Sirius then told Henrica exactly what she'd just witnessed here. "Young Draco has rather a hard choice to make, one I deliberately foisted upon him. If he's going to be in our company, and around our family, we need to know where he stands. If he attends our New Year party, Draco will know he'll struggle to be accepted back into the circles his father used to frequent after that. It will also tell us just how far Parkinson is prepared to go to see his daughter in the same company Pansy was in tonight - all very informative. If they make some excuse, this will also tell us they're only paying lip service to the changes our group of kids are spearheading."

"...and what do you hope he does?"

"Oh, I hope Draco turns up..."

This earned him another kiss from Henrica, though again she had misread Sirius' motives.

"...just the knowledge that his son attended a muggle party would probably see old Lucius top himself. I certainly won't shed any tears if that happens"

-oOoOo-

Breakfast next morning also saw the Prophet delivered, with the expected front page story. Using a picture of Harry and Hermione from the ministry summer ball was again rather predictable, the headline though was a bit of a surprise.

Bonded in Blood and Heroism.

The journalist had obviously researched bonds, and again put their own spin onto the information. Claiming that this was an ancient magical ceremony that predates betrothals was correct, claiming the bond was stronger than any betrothal wasn't strictly true - though no one at Grimmauld was going to argue that point. This article was overwhelmingly positive and supporting, both of their bonding and the proposed ministerial awards.

Padma and Hermione were just glad they had explained the situation fully to Pansy last night, otherwise she might have thought the blood bonding ceremony would protect them from her father's manipulations.

Remus was delighted the now rather positive article on him being cleared to take up his teaching post at Hogwarts was relegated to the inside pages. Orders of Merlin and new Barons were far more important to the British magical community - or rather who the minister was proposing to give those honours too.

Dan was rather confused about Harry being awarded a Barony. "I though only the reigning monarch could award titles?"

This had Sirius chuckling. "Do you think the Queen awarded Tom Riddle a lordship? The title 'lord' originally meant those with power over others. Since Voldemort literally held the power of life and death over his followers, one could easily make a case for the nutter considering himself a lord. The Blacks are an ancient family, with the head of the family being 'lord' over the rest - and again nothing to do with the muggle peerage system."

"Sirius is right in what he says, though this title is different again. Making me a Baron still has nothing to do with the monarchy, the title comes with the land." Harry had a rather cheeky grin on his face as he made his next suggestion. "Hermione, perhaps we could buy them something like that for Christmas next year? I can just see your dad as a Highland Laird, and it isn't even that expensive! We could buy a couple each with the money we got from the basilisk."

"So, you're saying this is about the land - not the title?"

None of them could miss the gleam of excitement that was visible in Harry's eyes as he spoke. "It was always about the land, Dan, never the title. Granting this land to a goblin means the ministry will have to change the law. The last change was nothing more than a small step, this would be a giant leap. I could have goblins building homes and living on my land - legally! This will easily be the biggest thing to hit the goblin nation in over four centuries. Goblins became masters of wards not only to protect Gringotts and the vaults, but in the hope that one day we could return to live on the surface. No goblin home will ever be attacked by wizards again, not without squads of warriors arriving while those same wizards are still trying to bring down the wards."

Emma then shifted the focus to Amelia and Augusta with her question. "Just what are the chances of this getting approval by the Wizengamot?"

"I'm actually optimistic about our chances now, certainly more so than before the meeting."

Amelia agreed with Augusta's opinion, before adding her own thoughts on the matter. "I've had a number of members approach me privately. They are more concerned about the speed and frequency these changes are being introduced, rather than having any outstanding reason for opposing this change purely on its merits. Reassurance that we won't be revisiting this for at least a few years will have them on board for the vote. I personally think we really need to let everyone get used to these changes before even considering any more."

Barchoke then offered the nation's view of this. "If passed, we certainly intend to open a Gringotts branch in Hogsmeade, but would hold off with any further integration for a while. We would be approaching the new Baron of Kingussie for permission to build a small settlement on his land, using that as a stepping stone before we have goblins and wizards once more living alongside each other."

It was Hermione who then brought some levity back to the table, proving hanging around with Padma was certainly having an effect on her. "Well, I personally know this Baron and don't see there being a problem with that. I also think we should spend some of the summer in Kingussie, probably just before we return to Hogwarts would be best. Are we any closer to working out our actual plans for the summer?"

This saw all eyes shift to the couple whose wedding would determine so much of those summer plans. One look between them was all they needed to decide Henrica would pass on the news.

"We haven't set a date yet, Sirius and I don't want to jinx the vote by prejudging the result. Everyone at this table is hoping for a yes vote, meaning we'll have another ministerial awards ball to attend. Since the vote won't be held until the fifth of February, how about we all get together the following weekend and work out our schedule then?"

Parvati was first to point out something that might have been overlooked. "That weekend also contains Valentine's Day!"

"Oh, I'm sure we could come up with something for that." Sirius' smile telling everyone they had certainly known that fact before proposing that date.

Neville though had another reason for instantly agreeing to this proposal. "If we're out of Hogwarts, I'll get to visit my mum and dad."

There was unanimous agreement after that, the entire company had visited Frank and Alice over the holidays, though a few still only through the viewing wall. While the goblin healers had been delighted that the new scans gave detailed information on exactly how their treatment was progressing, the muggle physicians had been astonished. Only by claiming this was a radical new treatment, attempted on patients that really had nothing to lose, were the muggle doctors satisfied - for now. Whatever this treatment was, the muggle healers now held clear evidence that neural pathways to the brain had actually began to repair themselves at a rate thought to be impossible.

While Alice continued to slowly improve, Frank was displaying symptoms similar to patients who'd suffered from a stroke. One side of his body was certainly weaker and his speech was currently slurred. Both Augusta and Neville still thought this was a wonderful improvement, it was only in comparison to Alice that a little disappointment would surface. The goblin healers now had the new scans to help focus their treatment and a healer from St Mungo's would also be on their case in the New Year.

His parents' treatment had certainly passed every one of Neville's original expectations. As their condition improved though, Neville's expectations were growing right alongside those improvements. He was currently hoping his parents may be able to join them on holiday at Harry's private island, that would be a real dream come true for Neville. The healers knew of his dreams and hadn't yet ruled them out for this summer, though were fairly certain it wouldn't be a problem the following year. Just knowing it would happen someday was good enough for Neville.

With that agreed to, Sirius then revealed what he had arranged for today, another day of holiday madness for the extended family.

It was a smiling Lukas who thought the old axiom about losing your daughter didn't really apply here. It would appear the Hobsons weren't just gaining a son but a whole tribe! Both he and Moa were extremely happy with that arrangement, and had already been invited back to London in February for the wedding discussions.

-oOoOo-

Edmund Parkinson was also smiling as he watched his daughter and her betrothed greet their new 'friends' before they boarded the Hogwarts Express. He had taken a chance by allowing Pansy to accompany Draco to that muggle event Lord Black had hosted, the important word for Edmund though was 'accompanied'. Draco would be the one permanently tainted by this, Pansy was just on the arm of her betrothed - at least that's what Edmund would claim if he was forced to negotiate another contract for his daughter.

What had clinched it for Edmund was that this is the company he wanted his grandchildren to grow up in - amongst the Potters, Longbottoms, Blacks and Bones. He'd thought betrothing Pansy to Draco had guaranteed her inclusion into the upper echelons of British magical society - only for that to all blow up in his face. Draco though had surprised him with how maturely the boy had handled the situation, certainly more maturely than Lucius had.

He could see the hand of the Crow boy all over this approach, having the Malfoy scion on his side lent credibility to what he was trying to achieve at Hogwarts - and also at the ministry.

That was another reason Edmund decided to come to platform nine and three quarters today, he wanted not only to see what was going on but to ensure he himself was publicly seen. He had heard whisperings that some direct action would be taken to ensure this new goblin initiative died a horrible death.

Edmund thought action of that type could work both ways, either getting the desired result or collectively lighting a fire under the ministry's arse that might see them tackle the death eater problem once and for all. With public opinion so swayed toward the light at the moment, Edmund feared it would be the second option that came to pass. If it did, then his daughter's new friendships should be enough to shield her from any fallout. Whether Pansy's friends would consider saving her family from any downturn in fortune would be a much harder question - they certainly made sure Lucius got what was coming to him.

-oOoOo-

Barchoke was quite pleased with how today's meeting with Arthur had gone, they had scaled these meetings up from monthly to weekly events for the foreseeable future. The ministry and the nation were both working hard to ensure the minister's proposal made it through the Wizengamot on the fifth, weekly meetings allowed them to try and anticipate any problems - and take actions to smooth those problems away.

The meeting venues alternated between Gringotts and the Ministry of Magic, with Arthur playing host to him and his assistant today. The trio were currently making their way through the ministry's atrium when the hairs on the goblin's neck stood up, this was a response to danger that had saved his life in the past, and instantly forced Barchoke to take a closer look at their surroundings. It was the middle-aged witch who was rather mechanically walking toward them that really set Barchoke's alarm bells ringing.

The goblins believe that a person's eyes are the window to their soul, those of this witch were telling Barchoke that the lights may be on but no one was home. All this took a split second, a second that saw the witch begin to raise her wand. He yelled ""ATTACK"" before pushing Arthur away, just as a killing curse passed through the space the Head of the Weasley family had just occupied.

Barchoke's warning and actions had Bill taking the witch out the fight with a cutting curse to her wand arm, only for curses to start raining down on them from another two locations. The atrium descended into chaos, with Bill and Arthur trying to make their attackers keep their heads down while Barchoke got as many people behind the Fountain of Magical Brethren as possible. He was helping a witch with a young child, using his shield to protect them the best he could when a sudden impact sent him to the floor.

The attack was soon over, lasting no more than ninety seconds, but the screaming went on considerably past that. The entire atrium was now flooded with aurors and the situation was once more under control, with four attackers currently in custody and healers flooing from St Mungo's to treat any casualties.

Amelia found Barchoke face down on the ground, with Bill and Arthur Weasley standing protectively over him while calling for a healer. She had known Barchoke had forgone his accompanying guards in favour of showing a more friendlier face of the nation, and Amelia was mentally kicking herself for not replacing those guards with aurors.

"Barchoke, can you hear me?"

"I'm wounded, Amelia, not deaf - of course I can hear you. What hit me? I can't really see it from this position, and neither Weasley will let me move."

"You have a piece of golden statue sticking out your shoulder, that's why they won't let you move."

"Amelia, please tell me it's not a golden piece of house elf, I'll never live it down if a bloody house elf managed to put me on the ground..."

Cornelius raced to the atrium, with visions of mayhem and murder happening under his watch adding speed to his legs. Finding a wounded Barchoke, both Weasleys and Amelia laughing was certainly not what he expected. As far as Cornelius was concerned, this was no laughing matter.

-oOoOo-

Ron Weasley wasn't laughing, though he was probably the only person on the express who wasn't. His holidays had been utterly miserable, constant lectures from both his parents had certainly marred his enjoyment of the Christmas period - and then the Prophet told everyone what his father and Bill had been up to.

Three more Hogwarts students and a professor up for Orders of Merlin, and Crow going to be made a Baron - the world was going crazy and he appeared to be the only one in his family who could see it. His sister's main concern had been over what effect the new defence professor would have on Hogwarts, Ginny was relieved and delighted her marauders' club would still be running. The twins were over the moon about having one of their heroes as a professor, while Percy was too busy mooning over Penelope to care about anything else.

It was as if every member of his family had turned against him, and Ron knew just who to blame for his troubles - Crow. Hogwarts Champion, Goblin Centurion, Order of Merlin, First Class, holder and the git would now be a Baron of some Scottish glen. How was any ordinary person supposed to compare themselves to that? As if that wasn't bad enough, he not only makes his friends rich but gets them nominated for awards too. Ron had sat in his compartment, watching the continual stream of students pass his door to go and talk to Crow, not one of them even gave him a second glance.

He shouldn't be surprised really, his own family would probably do the same. His father and Bill both worked with Crow's goblin father, as far as Ginny was concerned - Harry Crow could do no wrong. The twins took extra lessons with Crow and thought this made him a great guy, surely proving beyond doubt they were both nuts. Penelope was very close to her Ravenclaw charges, which probably meant Percy would think the sun shone out their arses.

After spending the entire trip from London going over and over the same points again and again, Ron was in one stinker of a mood as the express pulled into a freezing Hogsmeade. Finding himself behind Crow's crowd in the queue for a carriage up to the castle certainly didn't improve that bad mood any. Then Madam Bones and Lord Black appeared, being close enough to hear what they had to say just pushed Ron over the edge.

"There was an attack today at the ministry, your father, Arthur and Bill Weasley were the targets..."

Hearing that his father and brother had been attacked, again because of Crow, saw a red mist descend on Ron. While everyone else froze to listen to what Lord Black had to say, Ron reacted.

"You bastard, my family..." He lunged at Crow, only to find himself flying through the air. It was a very brief flight before impacting heavily with the hard, frozen ground. Having the wind knocked out of him left Ron unable to speak, the deadly knife now steadily held mere inches from his face meant he had nothing to say anyway. The anger pouring off the person who was holding that knife probably meant Ron wouldn't have been able to speak even if he could draw breath, he'd never been so terrified in his life. When Crow then spoke, Ron could see he meant every word that was said.

"You have previously attacked Hermione, and this is the second time you've had a go at me. This stops here and now. No more excuses or apologies, no more making allowances because you're a Weasley - a family I happen to like. You pull shit like this again against me or mine, it's going to cost you a body part - is that clear enough for you to understand? I need to hear you say yes because I think you're too stupid to take this warning seriously, and I want witnesses that you clearly understood what any further stupidity is going to cost you."

If Ron was in any doubt, Crow's eyes told him this was one bastard who would clearly do exactly as he said. Since he was attached to all his body parts, and wanted to remain so for the rest of his life, he managed to croak a 'yes' which saw the knife disappear.

Ron's troubles were far from over though, an angry Percy dragged him to his feet before Madam Bones had a word with him. "Your father is fine, purely because Barchoke called out a warning, and then pushed Arthur out of the path of a killing curse."

Hermione now had her arm around Harry, giving and receiving comfort from the contact. "Amelia, how are our father and Bill?"

"Both are okay. Your father was hit with a piece of shrapnel as the curses blasted through the ministry atrium, he's currently being treated in St Mungo's but in no real danger. Bill has cuts and bruises, though his jacket probably saved him being in the bed next to Barchoke."

Percy thought of his own dragon hide jacket that he wore under his robes, a Christmas present from Bill. He also knew his eldest brother and father would both hit the roof when he wrote to them about Ron's latest escapade, he could see home schooling in Ron's future.

Sirius was making sure their family got the full picture. "Barchoke was lying in bed and trying to crack jokes when I left him to come here. Amelia says it's a miracle no one was killed in the atrium, the ministry have all the attackers and are considering what action to take next. This was clearly an attempt to scupper the vote next month, the Goblin Ambassador being murdered in the ministry of magic could have started another war between us. I didn't want you lot finding out about this in tomorrow's Prophet, and I also wanted to give you both the chance to visit Barchoke yourselves..."

Two rapid yeses meant Sirius didn't need to say anymore. A quick goodbye to their friends had Harry and Hermione ready to leave, they were waiting on Amelia though.

The Head of the DMLE spotted the second year she had come here to speak with, after approaching him Amelia made sure to cast a privacy spell. The entire country would know this information by tomorrow but she only wanted one person to hear it at the moment.

"Mr Nott, your father instigated and took part in that attack today. He used the imperius curse on three people and fired curses during the attack too. You are in no way implicated in this attack, I just didn't want you discovering these facts from tomorrow's Prophet - and to offer you the opportunity to return home if you wished."

Theo's head was spinning at this news - how could his father do something as stupid as that? If Madam Bones was already so sure of her facts then his father was heading for Azkaban, leaving him the de facto head of the Nott family. The offer to return home was an incredibly tempting one, but one Theo knew he couldn't accept. Him heading home now would leave a suspicion of guilt attached to his name, something he couldn't allow. He also had a housemate's example of how to handle the exact same situation. He answered as his pureblood status demanded.

"Thank you for your time, and showing me this courtesy, Madam Bones. I believe I would like to stay, though, if possible, I would like a word with Centurion Crow?"

As they approached, Theo understood what was required of him here. Draco was doing a superb job of ensuring the Malfoy name wasn't trampled in the mire and forgotten about, he would now need to do the same for the Notts. He had two younger sisters who would now be depending on him, Theo swore not to let them down.

With a bow to Harry, Theo said what he needed to. "Centurion Crow, I have just been informed my father has been implicated in the attack on your father. I wanted to say this was the first I had heard about it, and that I in no way support my father's actions."

Sirius' lessons allowed Harry to answer Theo exactly as he needed to, and tradition demanded. "Mr Nott, I think I have made my position on matters like this very clear, only the guilty should be punished. If it proves necessary, I will publicly reiterate my position."

With honour satisfied, Theo headed for the castle while Amelia had a portkey that would take them to St Mungo's.

-oOoOo-

Spotting the goblin guards outside his father's room certainly reassured Harry, but not nearly as much as seeing him sitting up in bed and talking with his guests. He so wanted to rush forward and hug the person who had raised him, but that would embarrass both of them - he was a centurion after all. "Well met, Father..."

Harry never got to say anymore, Hermione suffered from no such embarrassments or rank. She shot off his arm and, while mindful of the goblin's injuries, enveloped their father in one of her hugs. She made no attempt to hide her tears either. "Well met, Father, we were so worried about you..."

"Don't fret, my daughter, I'm fine. I'm only confined to this bed until these healers can make sure I'm not stealing any of their precious golden fountain - they want to ensure they got every last piece out of this old goblin..."

Master Sharpshard's laughter was joined by Harry's as an exasperated young witch asked a serious question. "Father, I understand the nation's language and am slowly learning your culture - do you think I'll ever master a goblin's sense of humour?"

That the three goblins in the room thought her question was hilarious told Hermione the answer to her question was probably not.

The Minister of Magic stood in the background, his conversation with the ambassador immediately put to one side when the goblin's family had arrived. Seeing this young muggle born's reaction to Barchoke only hardened Cornelius' resolve that the aftermath of today's attack needed to be met with swift and decisive action on the ministry's part. The minister shuddered to think how bad things could have gone today, and certainly recognised they were extremely fortunate to emerge from this situation with no fatalities and so few serious injuries.

What was also spurring Cornelius on was the obvious affection this young witch had for the goblin. He thought it was a fair bet to say that the two biggest influences on Harry's life were currently sitting on that bed, and neither of them had roots that were embedded in the magical community.

The ministry would respond to this by treating the incident as exactly what it was, an assassination attempt by a member of the Wizengamot on the ambassador of a nation friendly to their government. He thought they had been walking a tightrope before today's events, now they would be embroiled in a battle he'd hoped to avoid - a battle that needed to be won. Had today's attempt been successful, his ministry would have been involved in battles of a far bloodier kind - against goblin steel. The very thought of a golden Centurion Crow at the front of those goblins, out to avenge the murder of his father, was enough to give the minister nightmares.

While the Wizengamot chamber could get brutal, there hadn't been a member killed inside its walls for generations. Cornelius would still speak to Amelia about increasing security for the emergency session they were going to have to call , he had a feeling they just might need it.

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