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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23. Radioactive Spiders and Green Eyed Goblins

Dan opened the door to find a policeman standing there, his female counterpart was helping the three kids out the back of the police car that was currently parked in their drive. Seeing his daughter with a bloody cotton pad held over her mouth had Dan moving before the constable could even speak.

"Mr Granger, may we have a word?"

"Constable, I insist you both come inside. Just give me a moment to see my daughter is all right first."

Harry was standing beside Hermione, with his arm protectively around her shoulder. Dan made no attempt to move the lad, instead gently lifting Hermione's hand away from her mouth. The burst lips and damaged teeth had him practically growling in anger, he tried not to let it show as he led the group inside.

The three kids sat on the sofa with Hermione in the middle, her mother was soon kneeling in front of her with their first aid kit.

The policeman introduced both himself and his colleague, as P.C. Murphy and W.P.C. Johnstone, before supplying information on what had happened. "There was an altercation outside the cinema between these three and a group of five boys, all involved were around the same age. We would like to ask some questions and thought this would be a more comfortable situation, rather than dragging everyone down to the station. Your daughter also refused any treatment, saying both her parents were dentists."

The W.P.C. then took over. "Counting your daughter, there were five injuries - one of which was serious enough to require hospitalisation. Because of their age, we have asked them nothing more than names and addresses. Both Lord Potter and Miss Patil gave this address too."

Dan didn't understand why Harry had used his title, or the name Potter, but was just going to play along. "Both Harry and Padma are friends of my daughter's from school, all three attend the same private boarding school in Scotland. They are spending their Christmas holidays with us. This is Harry's godfather, Lord Black. Are there going to be any charges here? Do I need to call our lawyer?"

P.C. Murphy shook his head. "At the moment, this is just a preliminary investigation. You are welcome to call your lawyer but that's not really necessary at this point."

As Emma was cleaning Hermione's mouth, Sirius could see his godson's barely contained rage. He would bet his fortune the boy now in the hospital was the same person who injured Hermione. "Harry, can you tell us what happened?"

"We were waiting to go into the cinema when a group of five boys approached us, they immediately began hurling insults..."

"I hope you didn't rise to them?" Dan would hate to think his daughter had gotten a sore face because of some taunts.

"No Dan. I discovered one of them was actually my cousin, I offered to shake his hand. They took this as some kind of insult and attacked. The one who hit Hermione was behind me, I'm really sorry..."

W.P.C. Johnstone was noting all this down. "Would the person that struck Miss Granger be Mr Dylan?"

This saw Emma explode. "He hit you again? We shall be back round at his parents' tonight..."

"Mrs Granger, you might want to leave that for now. Mr Dylan was taken away in an ambulance, I don't think his parents will be home anytime soon. Can I ask if any of the three children practice some kind of martial arts?"

It was Dan who answered the policewoman's question. "Harry runs to keep fit, but the only sport I know he practices is fencing. He's also teaching Hermione the basics."

P.C. Murphy then asked the question they really needed the answer to. "Can you tell us how Mr Dylan came to be injured so badly?"

Harry shrugged his shoulders. "If this Dylan guy is the person who attacked Hermione, pure bad luck. Padma jumped on his back and I swung a kick at him. My kick tripped him up, and he hit the ground with Padma still on his back."

"Your kick dislocated his left knee! Can I ask how you dealt with the other three? Witnesses are all saying you made it look very easy."

"As Dan said, I fence. That doesn't help you in a fight, not one without a sword anyway, but it does really sharpen up your reflexes. I didn't use any special fighting techniques, I was just quicker than they were - especially Dursley."

Hearing that name, along with the other arsehole's was enough for Dan. "Constables, there is some well documented history between my daughter and these boys - though this is the first time it has involved the police. St. Andrew's primary school should have all the records, my wife and I were certainly down there often enough complaining about the bullying situation. With Hermione now at boarding school, we assumed the harassment problems would stop. It would appear we were wrong."

Hermione now had tears rolling down her cheeks, though not from the pain in her mouth. "They thought things would just be the same as before, they didn't reckon on my friends standing by me. I've never done a thing to Tony, yet that's the second time he's punched me in the face."

No one doubted Harry's conviction when he declared it wouldn't be happening a third time. This brought W.P.C. Johnstone back to an earlier point. "Was Mr Dylan the boy you claimed was your cousin?"

"No, that was Dursley."

"Was there any animosity there?"

"No, not from me. Dursley didn't even know I existed, so not from him either. Well, not because of that anyway. His parents apparently said mine died in a car crash, a crash my drunken dad caused..." Sirius was ready to storm out and find the Dursleys but Harry stopped him. "Sirius, my father has already taken care of it. The documents the Dursleys' signed ended any and all claim on me, they stopped being any family of mine there and then."

The W.P.C. continued her questioning. "You said you're parents died, yet mentioned your father..."

"I was adopted when just over a year old, I usually go by the name of Harry Crow. The Dursleys wouldn't recognise that name so I used the one I was born with. My adoptive father is one of the top bankers in the city of London, please let us know if we need to contact his lawyers."

P.C. Murphy didn't want to get caught in any crossfire between the police station, a couple of lords and any lawyers a top banker would know - especially over a preteen scuffle in the street. Since there was no hint of any kind of weapon being used, and the only injury requiring hospital treatment would seem to have occurred accidentally, he was pretty confident of the outcome.

"I don't see our superiors wanting to take this any further. Individuals may want to press charges but I think that then would become a matter for lawyers and the courts. What we have heard here matches statements taken from others in the cinema queue. The five boys approached and flung a few insults, insults these three didn't physically respond to. Lord Potter here was seen to hold his hand out, just as the large boy was observed throwing the first punch. Because of their ages, all of them will be taken home by a constable and their parents informed of what happened today. They will receive an official warning over the matter, and find themselves now having their future behaviour would be all the action we would intend to take on this incident."

W.P.C. Johnstone put her notebook away before saying any more. "Personally, I agree with Lord Potter, I can't see those boys bothering Miss Granger again. Crawley isn't exactly a large place, all their peers will soon know what happened. Four of them ended up on the ground as the fifth ran away, I don't think they will be bullying anyone for quite a while - and we will be watching to ensure they don't."

As Dan showed the constables out, Emma was going for their coats. "We'll need to take you down to the surgery love, there's too much damage for us to fix at home. I would like to thank you two for standing by Hermione again..."

Hermione's voice was slurred but it was to Harry she aimed her words. "This is not your fault Harry. You've taught me to look after myself, and how to deal with jerks like that - then I went and broke the first rule. I was too busy watching you, I never even noticed him until the punch hit me. He always was the sneakiness of the bunch. You and Padma made sure he won't be doing it again."

"I took my eye of him too, I should have been watching out for you two..."

Padma was having none of that. "We take extra defence lessons every week so we can look after ourselves Harry, Professor Weasley will give us hell when he hears what happened. Hermione and I are more than a match for him, we simply weren't paying attention - the very first thing the professor taught us to guard against."

Dan was putting his coat on before adding his own views. "The Dylans are every bit as obnoxious as the Dursleys, they won't take you putting their little angle in hospital lightly. We can expect a visit before too long."

Sirius was spoiling for a fight. "Let them come, I hope they bring the Dursleys with them."

"Sirius, I think we should let my father in on this. Gringotts can help, and our healers will easily fix Hermione in minutes. My portkey can take us all there."

Dan and Emma both knew how much work - and pain - would be involved in fixing Hermione's injuries. Stitching the inside of your daughter's mouth before attempting to repair broken teeth was not their idea of a fun evening. The group headed for Gringotts.

-oOoOo-

Albus felt as if he'd been punched in the mouth, Alastor Moody was in the castle and he didn't even know about it. What's more, it was obvious the old auror wasn't here to see the Hogwarts Headmaster. Albus accidentally came across the group leaving Minerva's office, with Filius clearly involved in the discussion too.

"Bill Weasley is a good place to start, but they will eventually need more. When they reach the stage where they're ready to learn how to fight dirty, tell the lad's father to contact me."

"Alastor, what are you doing in Hogwarts?"

"Leavin'!"

That was all the answer Albus got as the group pushed past him, leaving the headmaster to wonder just how far his star had waned. That picture in the Prophet had seriously damaged his reputation, and focused people's attention on the allegations Harry had made. This situation would take a bit of recovering from, but he had one thing on his side - time.

Harry was only halfway through his first term and Albus needed to learn from the numerous mistakes he'd made since the lad entered the castle. He was also casting envious glances around him at the successes inside Hogwarts, in an attempt to emulate them.

Severus' gift may not have both the Hogwarts potions master and Harry on the best of terms, but at least it signalled a cessation of hostilities between them. At this moment in time, that was the best Albus could hope for from Harry. Personally handing the lad something that belonged to James Potter should at least start the healing process between them.

He was also loath to admit that Hogwarts new history professor was a stunning success. Albus may be loath to admit that fact, it didn't mean he wasn't going to attempt to copy the feat. Hiring a famous defence professor should achieve his aims on two levels. Hogwarts would have a competent professor at the defence helm, and then Harry wouldn't need William Weasley's services any more.

Albus was going to need every bit of the time he was sure he had, easing himself into a position where Harry trusted him wasn't going to happen overnight. Albus was currently aiming for fourth year, that should still give him time enough to influence Harry the way he wanted - for the greater good of course.

-oOoOo-

Emma couldn't believe the change in her daughter, and she wasn't referring to the miraculous healing the goblins had performed on Hermione. When this had happened before, she had been shattered - almost afraid to leave the house. Here she was, chatting and laughing with her friends as if nothing untoward had happened earlier today. That Harry wouldn't let go of her hand, even as the healer worked on her mouth, had certainly played a part in this new positive attitude. There was also a hint of anger directed at herself, Hermione had a strong desire not to be seen as some damsel in distress. Emma envisaged her daughter pushing their training even harder from now on.

After returning from Gringotts, Emma was in no mood to cook and none of them had felt like going out for dinner, the menu's had come out once more. Sirius professing a love of Chinese food, courtesy of being introduced to the cuisine by one Lily Potter, made the decision an easy one. Emma went to answer the door and pay the delivery driver. A loud roar informed the house this probably wasn't their Chinese food arriving.

An enraged Vernon Dursley burst into the dining room, his face almost purple as he sought his target and snarled. "Where is the little freak? I'll teach Lord fucking Potter not to attack my son..."

Dan and Sirius sprang at the enraged behemoth, only to be brushed aside. It wasn't Vernon who knocked them out the way though. A golden Harry smacked into the intruder so hard, he actually knocked his obese uncle over onto his back. Dursley's veins on his forehead were visibly pulsing with his volcanic temper, but at least he had stopped bellowing like a constipated bull elephant. The cause of this sudden silence though was currently a matter for debate.

It could have been his armoured nephew hitting him so hard, Vernon had no breath left in him to scream. Then again, Harry kneeling on his chest with a golden gauntlet squeezing his obese uncle's throat would certainly have to be factored into any calculation regarding his clearly enforced silence. Betting favourite though was the wicked goblin knife, a knife which was currently held rock steady by Harry's other hand about an inch from Vernon's left eyeball.

Petunia Dursley then ably demonstrated that her younger sister inherited all the intelligence in their family by proceeding to start hitting Harry with her handbag. "Leave my Vernon alone you bully! Beating up my poor little Dudikins not enough..."

Thankfully, for the sake of Vernon's eyesight, Harry's armour meant she might as well be hitting him with a hyacinth as her handbag. Emma quickly pulled the skinny bitch off him though, just as Harry asked her a question.

"Emma, did you invite them into your home?"

"No I bloody didn't, the fat pig just pushed right past me."

The smile on Harry's face at that news was terrifying, especially if your name was Vernon Dursley. "Listen closely Dursley, I have no intention of repeating myself. You have forced your way into this house uninvited, that this house is under my protection means I can legally kill you right this minute. The only reason I don't is we're just about to eat, and it would put the others off their food. Know this though, I was raised by the goblins you left me with. I could quite happily slit your throat and then use your dying body as a sofa while eating my chicken chow mein."

The fact that everyone in the room could now smell urine was enough of a clue that Harry was being believed. "This house and this family are under the protection of my people. Your fat son goes anywhere near Hermione again, he'll simply disappear. A dragon doesn't leave much of what it eats, though its dung has a wonderful effect on your garden. If you don't want your precious Dudikins to become fertiliser for Emma's roses, make sure he calls his friends off too."

Harry stood and actually managed to drag Vernon to his feet. "Have you anything you'd like to add Lord Black?"

"Only that your mother would be extremely disappointed in her sister Lord Potter. Apart from that, they're not worth bothering about."

"We're done Dursley, you both made that decision over a decade ago. I was prepared to give your son the benefit of the doubt, he blew it. Like you, he charged right in and got his arse handed to him. My father only has one regret over my adoption, that he didn't gut you that day in his office. You should have seen his face when I told him your son and his gang attacked us. He's very fond of Hermione too, so the name Dylan is probably joining yours on his shit list."

Dan had a final word for the now clearly frightened couple. "You have no idea what you're dealing with here. Any of those kids could have wiped the pavement with your son and his gang of thugs. Take Lord Potter's advice and stay well away, his father is not a goblin you want to mess with."

Dan and Emma marched both Dursleys out their house, returning to see Sirius casting cleaning charms on the carpet and that an unhappy Harry had shed his armour.

"Are you okay, Harry?"

"No Emma, I'm not. This is the shirt Hermione gave me for Christmas, and now I've gone and ruined it!"

The girl in question slipped the shredded shirt off her best friend, leaving Harry bare from the waist up. Hermione then took out her wand and cast a reparo spell at the garment, leaving it as good as new. This saw her hoisted into the air by a now delighted Harry.

Looking at Harry's bare torso saw a question being asked by Emma. "Harry, you're clearly quite a strong young lad. How the hell did you manage to drag that fat idiot up off his arse?"

Harry put Hermione down but didn't put his shirt back on just yet. "When the director placed my armour bands on me, he said 'may they bring strength to your arms in times of strife'. Centurion armour is known to add strength to a warrior's sword arm, but I am the first non goblin ever to wear this armour. When its active, I've discovered I can ask my magic to make me that little bit quicker or stronger. In my armour, I could probably hold my own arm-wrestling Hagrid."

His armour once more covered his body as he proceeded to demonstrate by lifting the oak dining room table.

Knowing he and Sirius would struggle to accomplish that feat between them, this led to Dan shaking his head. "I was already struggling with the whole wizard / goblin thing, now I've got Iron Man and the Hulk to add to the mix." The look of confusion this comment was met with by Harry brightened Dan's evening. "Oh I need to introduce you to Peter Parker too, I've got quite the collection."

Hermione and Emma's groans left Harry not knowing what to expect. The doorbell ringing saw Dan going to answer it this time, with Sirius standing right behind him. They all enjoyed a lively dinner while Dan informed Harry about the wonderful world of comics.

-oOoOo-

Hermione saw Harry lying on his bed, studying a Spider-Man comic her dad had given him to read. Their eyes met and both voiced the exact same question. "Are you okay?"

This saw Hermione smile and sit on the bed beside her best friend. "I'm fine Harry, your healers saw to that. I'm more worried about how you are, after meeting the Dursleys?"

It took a minute for Harry to put his thoughts into words. "Disappointed is probably the best description of how I feel. I had dreamed of confronting those people for years, reality didn't come anywhere near my dreams. Having already met the son, I should have been prepared for the disappointment."

Hermione's hand slipped into his before he continued. "I think Sirius said it best, they really aren't worth bothering about. They are no family of mine, and I happen to think the family I do have are brilliant. You've had the unfortunate experience of growing up beside Dudley, for that I'm really sorry."

"That's not your fault Harry. I agree, none of the Dursleys are worth bothering about. I also know you were holding back today, that couldn't have been easy?"

"Actually, it was a lot easier than you might think. I'm a centurion, Hermione, that means what I do reflects on that position. I would be letting not only myself down, but the director, my father and my friends. Being a centurion is a great responsibility, even more so for me with the background I have. There are both goblins and wizards waiting to see me fail, I hope to keep them waiting for a long time. Revenge on the Dursleys is certainly not worth that price."

"I think I understand, Harry. I also happen to think the friends I have now are brilliant too - and would hate to let them down."

This led to some blushing smiles before Hermione changed the subject. "How are you getting on with Spider-Man?"

"I don't really understand it. What's a 'radioactive spider'? I've never heard of that species, do they have them at Hogwarts?"

Hermione held her laughter, instead thanking providence her dad hadn't started Harry off with the Fantastic Four. "Budge over, this is going to take a while." Explaining the marvellous world of Marvel to a goblin was not a five minute job.

Dan and Sirius found Emma leaning on Harry's door jamb, a beautiful smile on her face while tears slowly ran down her cheeks. Both men were concerned, those concerns vanished the instant they glanced toward where Emma was staring. Hermione was snuggled into Harry, a half-read Spider-Man comic laying across the sleeping pair.

Emma's voice was quiet but still conveyed her sense of wonder. "Do you remember what she was like the last time that arse punched her?"

Keeping his voice as quiet as his wife's, Dan's answer conveyed a different set of emotions. "She cried herself to sleep for nights after, I wanted to strangle the little shit. They look so peaceful, especially after the day they've just had."

This drew an answering nod from Emma. "That's what brought me here, I wanted to check that Harry was okay. It would seem Hermione had the same idea, and got here first. She also seems to have done a far better job than I could have."

Sirius was struggling to take his eyes off the young couple, and to understand why these two parents weren't in the least angry at the sight before them. Hermione was snuggled into Harry, her head resting on his chest. His godson had his right arm around Hermione, while his left had clearly held the now dropped comic. Both looked incredibly peaceful, and Emma obviously decided she wasn't going to disturb them. The comic was placed on Harry's nightstand before she removed a blanket from a drawer, covering both of them.

"His father had told me how close these two were, but you really need to see it for yourself..."

"Sirius, that is my little girl lying sleeping in your godson's arms. Don't ask me to explain it but I'm not even concerned, never mind angry. Now perhaps you'll understand why I said we would be seeing a lot of each other over the coming years?"

It was strange for Sirius to see Dan smile as Emma kissed both sleeping kids. "Barchoke was the first to see their connection, and explained how unusual it was for Harry to reach out to anyone like that. Hermione is exactly the same, we thought it was a different girl sending those letters home with that beautiful white owl. It's clear to see their friendship is helping both of them, and is something that Emma and I wholeheartedly approve of. Anything else, we will deal with as they get older - I can only hope they're a lot older before we even have to think about that."

"Dan, I am so out of my depth here, I have absolutely no idea of what to say or do. In all honesty though, the two of them lying there so peaceful, so content is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen in my life."

Emma was now gently shooing both of them out the room. "I agree Sirius, and so does big bad Dan here. He's just annoyed about having spent years working on his protective father routine, only for some boy to render it obsolete before he even got a chance to use it. He adores your godson as much as I do, Dan's just not ready to admit it yet."

Dan quickly changed the subject. "Never mind that, what are we going to do about the Dursleys - and the Dylans?"

"We both know Petunia and Vernon are barely tolerated in Crawley, that obnoxious horse-faced bitch talks about everyone behind their backs. Well I intend to make sure our version of the truth gets out there, and is the one being believed."

Sirius was amazed at how this woman could go from being so tender and gentle with the kids, to now ready to rip the Dursleys to shreds. Dan though had a question. "Our version of the truth?"

"Well, it will be mostly true. How we were sick of the bullying and sent Hermione to a private boarding school, a school where she met her best friend - Lord Harry James Potter. An orphaned child who the Dursleys refused to care for, despite him being their only nephew. I also intend to let it be known that Tony Dylan punched our daughter in the face for the second time, and got his injuries running away. I'm sure Barchoke could provide us with receipts for the exclusive and private medical treatment Lord Potter arranged for his best friend, just to make the Dylans think twice about running to a lawyer."

"Okay...that's all mostly true..." Dan knew how protective they both were of Hermione, Emma apparently had just extended that protection to include Harry.

The marauder though had something to add to the conversation, a conversation that was still held in whispers. They were currently standing on the bedroom landing and there were three sleeping children in the house. "You may think that's enough, but I doubt if Barchoke will. I"m sure the Dursleys have trouble coming there way soon, these Dylans too if they start anything. You two were obviously concerned with Hermione but, as Harry said earlier, Barchoke was every bit as angry as his son over her injury."

After quiet goodnights were mumbled, the adults then all made their way to their respective bedrooms.

-oOoOo-

It was a slightly hungover, and very nervous Vernon who answered the door next morning. It was almost a relief seeing an irate Calum Dylan standing there. He led the man into the kitchen where he'd just left his third cup of coffee. Dudley was also there, sitting in his y-fronts and eating his large breakfast. The reason for his lack of attire was instantly obvious, his mother was currently rubbing lotion onto a wicked bruise that spread over most of his hip and thigh.

This was all Calum needed to see, he was barely containing his temper as it was. "I've spent most of last night at the hospital, Deirdre is still there. Tony spent hours in surgery, they had to rebuild his knee and wire a cracked jaw - that's not counting his broken teeth and nose. My son looks as if he's been hit by a bus and the police had the nerve to say they won't be pressing any charges. They're claiming my Tony attacked the Granger girl, and his injuries were accidentally inflicted as he tried to run away. I was planning on heading round there to give the Grangers and their guests a piece of my mind, I stopped by to ask if you wanted to come too?"

Vernon's large body gave an involuntary shudder at that suggestion, and he decided that the coffee wasn't helping in the slightest. He pushed it away and went for the Glenfiddich, returning with the bottle and two glasses. Vernon poured one for himself and indicated for their visitor to help themselves, to a seat and a drink.

"Calum, we were round there last night, it wasn't pleasant." Vernon needed a swig of his twelve year old single malt before he could continue. "We know of the boy who did this, how could we not, he's Petunia's nephew. Over ten years ago they tried to dump the brat on us after his parents were murdered, we wouldn't stand for it and put him up for adoption. That was why we moved to Crawley, in the hope they wouldn't find us. Petunia and I decided last night it was time to move again. The man this brat now calls father is not someone you want to cross, he would give the mafia a bad name."

Another shudder was treated by administering more single malt. "There's even a godfather on the scene as well. When we were considering moving house ten years ago, Petunia made some enquires about him. He was slapped in a high security prison for committing multiple murders, yet now he's clearly out. So you see, Calum, there is more chance of me winning slimmer of the year than going back round to the Grangers. Your Tony actually punched their daughter in the face, a daughter whose hand this boy was holding as they walked around Crawley. Go if you must, but you might not get out of that house in one piece."

Calum reached for the bottle and poured some of the liquid gold into the glass provided, what the hell was he supposed to do now?

-oOoOo-

At the Grangers, the house woke once more to the thwack - thwack of Harry and Hermione practicing in the back garden. Sirius was nursing his cup of coffee while standing to the side, watching these two go at it with their wooden practice swords and shields. Their concentration seemed immense, so out of place for people their age.

The marauder thought this scene needed lightning up, so fired a mild stinging hex at his godson. Sirius yelped in surprise, and then pain, as his stinging hex was reflected straight back at him. He'd spilled hot coffee all over his hand too, dropping the cup onto the decking in the process. His wand soon joined his spilled coffee and cup, Hermione had spun and whacked his other hand with the tip of her practice sword.

The thankfully rounded wooden tip was now resting on Sirius' chest as a confident young witch spoke to him. "Harry said that if you take away a wizard's wand, they're helpless in a fight. It would seem he was right..."

Sirius though had another trick up his sleeve, Padfoot made an appearance and was about to pounce on the surprised girl - the mutt never even got to move.

Harry's knife sprayed strange looking ropes out the blade, wrapping the big black dog up like a belated Christmas present. "Harry?"

"I was trying for a web, you know - like Spider-Man. Curse-breaker Weasley is always telling us magic is all about intent. Looks like I haven't quite got it yet."

"No Harry, where the hell did the dog come from? Is that still Sirius?"

"I assume he's an animagus, just like Professor McGonagall - except a dog. There's not much more I know, it's a form of transfiguration goblins are physically unable to perform, Because of that, we don't exactly have a lot of books on the subject."

The whining now coming from the dog saw Harry release the bindings, and Sirius was soon with them once more. "That was bloody brilliant you two, I can't tell you how impressed I am at that. You fairly and squarely disarmed an adult wizard, and I would never have tried that move against your real sword. Well done Hermione."

Sirius could see the girl stand that little bit taller, her confidence had taken a blow too yesterday. Dan had also been watching and couldn't help but proudly smile at the way his daughter had reacted. Here was another reason Hermione hadn't cried herself to sleep last night, his little girl could now look after herself.

After extracting a promise from Sirius to tell them everything he knew about becoming an animagus, Hermione raced Harry up the stairs to take their showers. They were finally joined by Padma and the trio were soon at the breakfast table, where they were greeted by Emma - wearing a satisfied smirk on her face.

"That was Martha Jenkins just off the phone, supposedly enquiring how Hermione was - the story is apparently all over town. What she really phoned for was to discover if the rumours were true, and we actually do have a lord staying with us. When I told her no, we had two, she was practically salivating down the phone. We're all invited to her New Year party. When the story spreads - and it will - I expect a few more invitations to be coming our way. You can also bet the Dursleys won't be receiving any, I may have mentioned how they placed their only nephew up for adoption."

Hermione's nose was wrinkling in distaste. "I don't want to go anywhere if we're only invited because Harry's a lord."

This drew laughter from Sirius. "I think you better get used to that Hermione, the Minister of Magic was desperate to invite Harry to the Ministry New Year Ball - only to discover he couldn't."

That news generated laughter from Harry. "Our nation would refuse any invitation coming through the Department for Control of Dangerous Creatures, and their own laws prevent any other department from doing so. That was why I asked Susan if her Aunt Amelia could talk to my father. With us not being at school, they don't have that option."

Then Sirius dropped the bombshell. "Your father thinks the rules may be changed, allowing you to be officially invited to the Ministry Summer Ball."

"Won't we be on holiday..." Hermione's words died in her throat as she spotted the change in Harry, he was clearly working out the implications of this - and liking what he found.

"Hermione, this is huge - even bigger than huge. If me getting dressed up and smiling for the minister one summer evening can change things for my nation, you better believe we will be there."

This drew a wide smile from Sirius, and none of those present at breakfast had missed Harry's 'we will be there' either. "Just as well your father arranged a new tutor then, you need to learn all the do's and don't's associated with being a lord. Augusta Longbottom has probably been instilling this into Neville since he was old enough to listen. We still want him to attend lessons though, we'll need four when practicing dancing and such."

This certainly held the girl's attention, though Harry's thoughts had gone off in a different direction. There was something fishy here, "...and who did my father get to teach us this?"

Sirius couldn't contain his smile. "Me! You're getting Lord Sirius Orion Black teaching you all about wizarding traditions and customs every weekend. Neither Dumbledore nor the ministry will dare object to this. Merlin, both would probably pay for it out their own pockets. You still get Bill in the morning for defence, and then me in the afternoon. There is so much I need to teach you..." Sirius had his wand out underneath the table as the three kids listened intently. It was time for a payback prank to make up for getting his arse handed to him earlier.

Harry could practically feel the heat generated from having a blushing witch sitting either side of him. He was struggling to determine the cause, until he looked up. "Mistletoe?"

Hermione was bright red as she asked her question. "You know what that is Harry?"

"Yeah, a parasitic plant. Why would you want it in your house?"

Padma tried to help her friends. "When a boy and girl are under mistletoe, it's customary that they kiss..."

Harry shrugged his shoulders and kissed Padma on the cheek, turning then to do the same for Hermione.

Padma's blush got even deeper. "Not a kiss like that Harry..."

Harry already thought Sirius was setting him up, he'd drawn his knife while turning round to kiss Hermione. Hearing this decided his course of action. "We'll, that leaves only one option..."

Harry transfigured the mistletoe into a live bat, a bat that immediately chased his godfather. Sirius, not being able to fire off offensive spells indoors, had to race out the back garden before being able to deal with the creature. Dan and Emma had sat enthralled at this drama being played out before them, they now fell about with laughter.

Harry leaned over and gently kissed Hermione on the lips. "Neither of you need mistletoe, you are both beautiful witches."

Sirius surveyed the scene from the back door and thought godfather 0 - godson 2. He actually couldn't be happier with that score. Clearly he wasn't going to have to teach his godson how to woo witches. Harry may be blushing but his godson was already way ahead of either Padfoot or Prongs at the same age in his dealings with the fairer sex.

Dan had just watched a boy kiss his daughter but still couldn't stop laughing, Harry had reversed Sirius' prank brilliantly. Anyway, it wasn't everyday you got to see someone chased away from their breakfast by a live bat! The kids were only going to be here for a few more days, but Dan was willing to bet those days would be ringing with even more laughter.

-oOoOo-

Smita could hardly believe the reaction they got when stepping onto platform nine and three quarters. It spread like ripples in a pond, within seconds everyone knew they had arrived. Padma had tried to prepare her for this, but mere words didn't prepare you for an entire railway platform stopping and staring. Harry and Hermione had stayed at the Patil house last night, allowing their home to be warded and leaving Ramrao and Smita to get everyone to Kings Cross.

Her daughter had also explained that they would be showing a united front, this being the first time they had appeared in the wizarding section of Britain since those trial pictures of Harry were published after Christmas. Padma and Hermione had their duelling robes on, with the muggle-born witch wearing her sword for the first time in public. Harry had shrunk all their trunks and tucked them in his bag, their only luggage being Hermione's cat carrier. The group were soon joined by Neville, also wearing his duelling robes, before the first flash signalled the press interest.

Harry stood for a moment with his friends while pictures were taken, though refused to answer any questions. Ramrao then put a stop to the press intrusion, allowing Smita and Augusta to get the five of them on the train. Their goodbyes were short so they could get to the safety of a carriage, it was going to be almost six months before they all met again.

Their summer schedule had been worked out and the Longbottoms and Bones sent a copy, the Patils had all sat last night as Padma excitedly explained where they would be going, and when.

Ramrao and Smita wouldn't allow their twins to be apart for an entire summer, and this was not a situation their girls would want either. Both were delighted to see plans being made to include not only them, but Parvati too. Padma obviously wanted to spend as much of the summer as possible with her friends, and they were looking to be joining them after the first three weeks. They hoped to stay for two, with Parvati remaining for the final week too. There were a lot more details that would be required to be sorted out but both Patil parents had provisionally agreed to the plan that would see Padma, Harry and Hermione spending six weeks of their holiday together.

Smita had to hide her smile when Harry put his foot down and declared their guest list for the summer was now full. She had spoken with Parvati about trying to moderate her exuberance around the group. Unfortunately, that natural exuberance jumped a few notches when in the company of her friend, Lavender. By making that declaration, Harry had effectively excluded Lavender before Parvati could even bring her friend's name up.

Amelia Bones joined them as Susan and Hannah headed onto the Hogwarts Express, the parents and guardians chatted away until the shriek of the steam whistle signalled it was time for the train to leave the station. None of the four standing there knew what nineteen ninety two would bring, all though thought it would be different because of now knowing a certain Harry Crow.

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