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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63. Sapphire and Steel

Donald and Julie were saying goodnight to their friends in the pub. Neither was much of a drinker but when you lived in a small village like Cockington, this was where you came to meet with your friends and generally socialise. After many years of working and living in the hustle and bustle of London, being able to retire to a sleepy little village in Devon had been a dream come true for the couple.

Discovering that they were here to stay, and not just buying a holiday cottage for weekends and the odd break, saw the couple gain instant acceptance from the other residents of the village. That last year saw Donald retiring after thirty years plus service in the Metropolitan Police was really all the credentials the couple needed to be trusted by the locals.

Donald was about to open the pub door for his wife only to discover it wouldn't budge an inch. "Hey, Sam, you having a lock-in tonight?"

"It's just as well he retired, Julie, a copper should know you only have a lock-in after last orders - it's just gone ten o'clock!"

"I can tell the time, I can't budge the door though..." Since Donald was six foot two and had played rugby for his division, the former policeman was receiving a fair bit of gentle ribbing from their friends about his physical prowess - or apparent lack of.

Except for the group in the back playing pool, this was now providing entertainment to the couple of dozen other patrons of the pub. 'Helpful' suggestions were being shouted out as the younger and wiry built Sam made his way from behind the bar to sort the problem, only to discover that both of them pushing together couldn't budge the thing.

The small distorted glass panes in the door might have added a bit of character to the old world design of the pub, they certainly weren't there to give patrons a good view through them. Even so, both Donald and Sam clearly saw the flashes of light that shot out from the darkness and must have struck the pub somewhere above where they were situated. While the jammed door now took on a far more sinister connotation for Donald, Sam was far more worried about what those beams could mean.

"I don't know what those lights were but they certainly hit the thatched roof..." His worst fears seemed to be borne out though as flickering orange / yellow light began to be reflected in the distorted glass panes - and then the first whiff of smoke reached their nostrils.

Both then hit the door hard with their shoulders but they might as well have tried to burst their way through the foot thick pub walls for all the effect they had.

"Where are the emergency exits?"

Sam pointed Donald in the direction of the toilets while he shot off to check the one at the back of the pool lounge.

Julie had been married to her police officer for over thirty years, seeing Donald with his 'game face' on was not something she expected after their retirement move to be near the coast. She wasn't about to panic though, they were after all just down the village pub and spending the evening having a quiet drink with friends. Seeing her husband as he emerged from his frantic search for another exit told Julie the situation might be far more serious than she first thought - then she too got a whiff of the acrid smoke.

Sam had obviously met with the same negative result but Donald wasn't beaten yet, not by a long way. As the smoke started to become more obvious to everyone, he quickly press-ganged the five biggest guys in the pub as they grabbed one of the oak tables and had it hoisted up onto their shoulders. On the count of three, they desperately charged toward the nearest Georgian window - hitting it dead centre only to bounce off and all hit the floor on their backs.

Donald lay there as the panicked screaming began to surface all around him, the table should have easily crashed right through that delicate wooden framework holding the distorted glass panes and now be lying in the beer garden outside - leaving them with a viable exit from the pub. Getting to his feet and reaching for his wife, Donald couldn't help but notice that the air was already much fresher at ground level than head height - that's when his idea struck.

Grabbing hold of the barman, Donald had to shake Sam a couple of times to get him to concentrate. "Sam, how does the pub get its barrels delivered?"

"They bring them every Tuesday and drop them off in the cellar..." At that, Sam understood what Donald was implying and raced off behind the bar.

Whether that exit was available or not, they stood a far better chance of surviving until the fire brigade got here by making their way down into the cellar and seeking shelter from the smoke and heat. Donald began pushing folk in that direction, most didn't want to go as it was deeper into the pub but battering chairs off windows was having even less effect than the table had.

The conditions inside the pub were deteriorating rapidly, it was getting very hot and visibility was down to under two feet. Donald was coughing rather than breathing now as he physically pushed three struggling people behind the bar, he found his wife at the entrance to the cellar with a bar towel wrapped around her face as she directed people down the steps and into their proposed sanctuary.

Whoever had done such a good job on the doors and windows had then missed the metal hatch on the ground that opened to allow for the delivery of beer barrels to the pub. Black metal doors on a tarred road surface at the back of the pub would have been easy to miss at night, though not now. The blazing roof was throwing off more than enough light to illuminate Sam standing at the hatch and pulling those customers through who were struggling to make it on their own. The sight of that exit was more than enough to get folk moving that just a moment ago Donald was having to shove really hard.

Just before passing Julie up to Sam, Donald removed her makeshift mask and gave her a quick kiss.

"You come back to me, Donald Roberts, you hear me?"

"Of course, love..."

As his wife left the cellar, she was replaced at the hatch by a bald coloured man in uniform - it may not have been one Donald recognised but it was still a uniform none the less.

"What are you doing, sir?"

"There are people still in that pub, the heat is bad and the smoke deadly but I still have a chance of getting them out."

"I can't let you do that.."

He wasn't about to accept that and angrily shouted up at the stranger. "Get your arse down here and help me then!"

Donald wrapped the bar towel around his face and thought his wife was a friggin' genius - it was like he was breathing fresh air! A shiver ran down his back and suddenly the heat wasn't bothering him either, and Donald also had company - the coloured officer had taken his 'advice' and followed him back into the pub.

The smoke was thick enough to cut with a knife yet Donald could easily breathe through the towel but it was visibility that was the biggest problem, using the pub's bar as his guide they both set off for the pool room. Finding the people still in there turned out to be surprisingly easy, he fell over them as they had all passed out on the floor.

Donald had an arm each from the first two people they found huddled against the fire exit and was dragging them along the floor as burning parts of the ceiling started falling all around him. He though the situation must be giving him strength as Donald felt superhuman and the two unconscious bodies were shooting along the ground as if on casters.

His accomplice though appeared to be going one better and pushing the remaining three casualties rapidly toward the safety of the cellar. Sam and Julie were both waiting at the hatch and they had those two fellows out of there in seconds, his wife had clearly been speeding down the road to hysteria and wouldn't let Donald go the second he exited the hatch - just as well his accomplice didn't seem to need any help as the three people he'd rescued appeared to float through the life saving opening.

Willing hands quickly took the five away for medical treatment as the rescue party moved further from the now fiercely blazing pub. It took a lot to ignite a thatched roof but once lit, it was almost impossible to stop it burning until all the thatch was consumed by the fire.

Donald wanted to thank his mysterious accomplice. "What's your name son? You did wonderful work in there."

"Thank you, sir, it's Shacklebolt. Sorry, but unit and such are all confidential."

As they shook hands, the auror surreptitiously canceled the bubble head and flame-freezing charms he'd cast on the muggle, he'd already removed the featherlight charm from the victims they'd pulled out of the pub.

As a former policeman, Donald always had another question. "What's a special unit doing in a tiny place like Cockington?"

The auror indicated toward the front of the burning building. "I think the name of the pub you were just in should give you that answer."

Donald, Julie and Sam all glanced toward the sign suspended from the fifteen foot high wrought iron stand across from the entrance, it was clearly visible now illuminated by the flames of the burning pub it boldly advertised - The Potters Arms.

When the trio turned back to ask Shacklebolt some more questions he had vanished into the night.

-oOoOo-

Harry and Hermione had spent a rare night in Crawley and were enjoying their morning exercise routine, which today was a run around the town where Hermione grew up. They were leaving for Cairo tomorrow but Hermione had an ulterior motive for their stay in Crawley, she wanted the family to go to church this morning. When they got married in non magical society Hermione wanted the service to take place in the church she'd attended since being a toddler. Being at Hogwarts meant they would only be able to attend church on a few occasions each year but Hermione wanted Harry to be comfortable and get his face known by the rest of the parishioners. She had no idea how 'known' Harry would be by the end of today's service.

Harry enjoyed the singing in church, especially Hermione's lovely voice, and was ignoring all the glances in their direction. Hermione too was relatively immune to people staring at them, two years of being by Harry's side had built her tolerance levels up. Dan and Emma though had only experienced this phenomenon when they accompanied their children into the magical community, having people stare in their direction was certainly not how their Sunday mornings at church usually progressed.

As the service ended, Melissa and Joanne made a beeline for the couple. "Hermione, we really need to speak to you. Are you going to be home for long?"

"Sorry, Melissa, we leave for Egypt in the morning..."

This had Joanne groaning. "It's really important, Hermione, you must have noticed everyone staring at you this morning? The Dursleys have been spreading rumours about Harry all over Crawley and nobody has been able to say they were wrong."

The name Dursley instantly focused all four of their attentions. "Would you girls like to come over for tea and you can tell us what this is all about? You need to clear this with your parents first though..."

A pair of 'Yes, Mrs Granger' saw both girls hurry off to see their parents, knowing both sets it was a forgone conclusion that they would have two visitors for tea. Both girls' mothers would be desperate to know what was going on and Hermione was whispering this information to Harry as soon as the girls left. Anything said at tea today would be all over Crawley before they arrived in Cairo.

Harry found the Reverend Richards a down to earth and very pleasant guy, that all three Grangers clearly liked the man was enough of a recommendation for him. Even here though they all detected questions the minister was dying to ask but social politeness held him in check.

Both girls plied the couple with questions on the ten minute walk to the Grangers' home, Melissa's eyes nearly popping out of her head when she spotted the ring Hermione was wearing - Harry's answer that it was an old family heirloom had both girls just about swooning.

Joanne found she was on no safer ground when asking them how their holidays had been, Harry's answer had both of them practically turning green with envy. "Florida was a lot of fun since there was a whole gang of us there this year. I love seeing Hermione wearing the latest fashions, shopping for them in Paris is something I'm hoping Dan can give me advice on how to dodge that painful experience next time."

This earned a quick quip from the dentist. "Leave Lavender and Parvati at home!"

The girl holding on to this gorgeous guy's arm, wearing his ring on her finger and giggling at her father's joke, bore no resemblance to the Hermione Granger Melissa and Joanne had known. Both could hardly wait to discover if the rumours about this Harry were true.

Emma had hardly walked into the kitchen before she returned with a ladened tray. Dobby as usual had prepared a spread with scones, jams and clotted cream sharing the tray with a cake stand full of delights. Dan then collected the tea, coffee and orange juice the little guy had ready as they sat around the dining table.

After both girls had lavished praise on the wonderful home baking Hermione was ready to get down to business. "You said there was something important we needed to know and mentioned the Dursleys?"

Joanne made sure to wipe any of that delicious cream and jam from her lips before speaking. "The Dursleys are spreading it all around town that your Harry is the one the 'Potter Killers' are after..."

Seeing their shock at that Melissa completed the tale. "They're claiming they knew this would happen which is why they never took their nephew in as a baby, they wanted to protect their own son from danger..."

It was an angry Harry who verbally cut across her. "They were offered protection! Instead they gave me up and moved house." Hermione's arm slipping around him allowed Harry to quickly calm, he certainly wasn't angry at these two girls.

Melissa and Joanne appeared as if they'd been petrified since both just stared at Harry without moving a muscle, he'd just admitted these murderers were actually after him.

Hermione snuggled into her mate as he confirmed that he was the one they were after to the girls. "I told Hermione that it might be dangerous being my friend the very first week we met and she's still here, my father contacted Dan and Emma shortly after that and they still allowed me to date their wonderful daughter. That's how a real family behaves, not by rejecting a member whose only crime is to survive their parents being murdered. I have no love for the Dursleys but I don't hate them either, they really don't mean anything to me. My only concern here is that when this news gets out it will paint a target over Crawley, this house has the best protective systems that money can by but no one else in town does."

Knowing full well how quickly this news would spread Emma thought they should again make sure it was their version of the truth that was being believed. "A few days ago we were all lying on a beach belonging to Harry, actually the entire island does. The point being that he raced back to Britain to ensure all his friends were protected, he and his father also arranged all the funding that allowed everyone named Potter in the whole of Britain to move somewhere safe. The Harry that we know is an entirely honourable young man who we would be delighted to welcome to the family some day, I certainly couldn't say the same about Dudley Dursley!"

Neither girl could argue with that opinion and both were certain their mothers would be overjoyed if either of them had brought Harry home as a boyfriend, 'Potter Killers' be dammed. Harry was handsome, clearly very wealthy, titled and honourable, both girls would settle for finding a boy with even one of those attributes. Just by having tea at the Grangers would see their status elevated amongst their peers, they'd met Harry and had news that would turn the town on its head. Crawley could become the centre of the biggest news story in the country!

Joanne tried for more information and asked if they had any plans after Cairo.

"Probably just spending time at our house in the Scottish highlands though I would like to attend church again before we return to school, I enjoyed that today."

Melissa was thinking that news would certainly see a few more people attending the Reverend Roberts' Sunday sermons while Joanne had focused on Harry saying 'our house', it would seem their relationship was even more serious than they thought.

-oOoOo-

Shack thought he was in serious trouble as Madam Bones asked for an explanation of his actions. "Four different incendios being cast at the same location set off the detectors, our squad was on the scene less than two minutes after getting the alarm but the death eaters had already gone and the roof was beyond saving. Circling around to the back of the building, I noticed people escaping from a hatch in the ground so went over to investigate. One person was determined to go back inside to rescue more people and my choices were to let him go, stun him or follow and help - I chose the latter."

"Did this muggle see you using magic?"

"Absolutely not, the smoke was so thick inside the building that you could hardly see your hand in front of your face. I know we have a non-interference policy, Madam Bones, but those five people, and probably the man who went back in to rescue them, would all have died if I hadn't taken that action."

"You are not in trouble, Auror Shacklebolt, quite the opposite. I intend to see a commendation placed on your record for your actions last night, as well as using those actions to have alterations made to our policy. If we have aurors on the scene who can save lives without breaking the statute of secrecy then I want that to be our response. Even if it means we have to alter some memories later, I think that is a better option than standing there and letting people die when we could save them."

This drew a wide smile from the auror. "Thank you, Madam Bones, for the commendation and the policy change. I became an auror to help people and last night that's what I did. That older gentleman was going back into that burning building knowing there was a very good chance he wouldn't be coming back out, I just had to help him."

Amelia handed her auror a copy of a muggle newspaper where the fire was front page news. "That gentlemen was a retired policeman, he may have retired but that will to serve and protect never leaves the good officers. You are a good officer, Auror Shacklebolt, now take a couple of days off and enjoy yourself."

He passed through the door of the directors office a relieved man.

-oOoOo-

Alecto sighed with relief as she passed through the door, just glad to be out of the house for a moment. It may be their house but Bella and Augustus had made themselves right at home, when they both had headed up the stairs Alecto knew it was time to get out of there. She strolled down to the burn and sat dangling her feet off the bank, letting the sound of the running water sooth her jangled nerves.

Amycus knew just where to find his sister, she'd been coming to this spot to be alone since she was a little girl. "Alecto, you need to be more careful, we can't let our guests see how we really feel. Lestrange was a crazy witch before she was sent to Azkaban but now she would kill you as soon as look at you."

"We're already dead, Amycus, it's just a matter of who actually does the deed."

This shocked her brother back on his heels, that and seeing how worried his sister was about this. "What do you mean dead?"

"Bella killed her husband and both brothers-in-law when they escaped from Azkaban, and we've both heard her saying what she wants to do to her sister when she gets a hold of her. The crazy bitch will end the Carrow line in a heartbeat and not give a shit about it afterwards. Those two have taken everything they want from us and will close anything that might lead the ministry to them before they leave. The same ministry will now group the Carrows along with those two so there will only be death for us there too."

Amycus desperately wanted to argue that his sister was wrong, he wasn't able to but suggested a third option. "What if we run away?"

"Run away where, and to what? We've no gold, family or friends. You'll notice no other death eaters have come forward to help with their supposed terror campaign so we're on our own. Where could we run to, who would help us with the ministry and Lestrange wanting us dead? I just wish we'd known they didn't have wands when they first walked up that path, we could have killed them both and made off with the reward money. By the time we found that out though Bella was too close, and she's every bit as deadly with a blade."

A now disconsolate sibling joined his sister sitting on the bank while a jubilant bug was so excited that she nearly fell off the branch she was perched on. Rita had spotted the witch leaving the house while she was scouting the building and had followed purely on a hunch, a hunch that had just paid dividends. She could now report back on the death eaters' location without having to go anywhere near Bellatrix Lestrange, an unexpected and most assuredly welcome bonus. She flew away looking to get outside the wards and then intended to use her emergency portkey, it was her quickest way back to London and would certainly see her rapidly brought straight to Barchoke.

The former unspeakable was all concentration as he meticulously inscribed the last rune into the parchment, using his own blood as ink. A quick spell saw the parchment glow silver and rotate slightly, aligning the top rune with north.

Bella was trembling with excitement as she held her arm out, desperate to play her part in the ritual. Rookwood cut Bella's arm across her dark mark and let the resulting blood drip onto the parchment, their excitement mounted as the blood then pooled together before expanding into a straight line that clearly pointed in a specific direction. Restraining herself while her lover carefully measured the angle of the line was one of the hardest things Bella had done in decades, only after he'd written down the result could she let her exuberance have free reign.

A thoroughly ruffled Augustus then listened to his mate's explanation for jumping him. "That line of blood proves our master is still with us and only the fact that I know you need that wonderful brain of yours to take another reading is stopping me shagging you senseless this very minute."

-oOoOo-

"You have one minute to come out with empty hands before we open fire!"

Amelia's amplified voice shattered the peace of the Dundee countryside and would certainly be heard in every square inch of the Carrow house. They had wards up to stop anyone from entering or leaving the area and Amelia had brought enough firepower to level the building if the occupants wanted to put up a fight. Part of her wanted to do that anyway but she was too much of an auror not to give those inside the house an opportunity to surrender, she had the house surrounded though and wouldn't be taking any chances with the lives of her aurors.

She watched as both Carrows slowly emerged from the door, brother and sister with their empty hands held high in the air. At Amelia's signal, both were dropped by stunners as Mad-Eye confirmed he couldn't see anyone else in the house. Another signal saw both casualties speedily dragged away and they wouldn't be revived until being searched and then manacled.

As more of her team poured into the house, Alastor asked the question that was in all of their minds. "Could the information have been wrong?"

"I doubt it, Barchoke's intelligence has never been wrong before and he wants these two caught as much as we do." Her gaze had wandered to Rita and a photographer who were waiting on permission to enter the area, all that was forgotten though by a piercing scream coming from inside the house. Amelia actually found her way barred by Alastor.

"Looks to me like a booby trap and someone got careless, the last thin' we need is you enterin' that house. I would recommend we pull all the aurors out of there and get some specialists here from the ministry."

Amelia could only agree as one of her aurors was led from the building with a badly burned hand. She would have to put the disappointment of not catching these two aside and see just what information they could garner from this, they were a step closer and she would have to accentuate that positive for the press.

As the two Carrows were revived, Amycus progressed from blustering to beseeching, finally giving begging a try as their wands were tested and both had incendo charms on them. His vocal attempts to save their lives was in stark contrast with stoic silence coming from his sister, Alecto appeared already resigned to her fate. At least Amelia had the satisfaction of knowing they had captured two of the people who had attacked the pub, she would just have to be satisfied with that - for now.

-oOoOo-

A very satisfied Rookwood was lying back against a tree in the Forrest of Dean and contemplating how much his life had changed in such a short time. The six hundred miles plus between here and Dundee had given them two readings to work with, simple triangulation on a map would give them a fairly approximate destination to begin their search - and taking further readings as they travelled should narrow their search area dramatically.

While that achievement was certainly intellectually immensely satisfying it paled into insignificance for Augustus compared to the witch currently snuggling into him. Bella had lived up to her promise and done her very best to shag his brains out the instant after he had noted down the second reading. So much so that they had found themselves resting under this magnificent oak.

His silent contemplation was shattered as he shot to his feet and knocked Bella flying, she had her wand out and searching for danger as her lover removed something smouldering from his pocket.

"Oh, I knew my big strong wizard had the hots for me but to actually see you burn is rather a nice compliment. I just hope nothing important is damaged down there, lover?"

"You were certainly on fire but you're not responsible for this. Someone just triggered the protection wards I had on all my notes and would certainly have received a nasty burn for their troubles as those notes turned to ashes."

"That nosy bitch, Alecto, I'll flay her alive if she's ruined all your hard work. I think it's time we took care of those bastards anyway, we had practically to imperius them to take part the other night. What's wrong with this fucked-up country, death eaters not wanting to kill and torture muggles!"

"I don't think it would be Alecto, love, she's far too terrified of you to go anywhere near our things. I think our time in Dundee is at an end, whether we were discovered or sold out doesn't really matter anymore. I think we're safer staying off the beaten track and camping for now, a burglary to a shop selling such things is something we'll need to consider. They should also have maps, compasses and all the supplies we need. Just by looking at those vectors I'm certain we need to leave Britain but we don't want to advertise that fact..."

"...so no torturing and killing, I know! If you keep spoiling all my fun then you are just going to have to keep me occupied in other ways."

Bella's pretend pout and the things she was doing with her hands left Rookwood seriously worried that he wouldn't be up to that task.

-oOoOo-

After the day they'd had, the group were worried that they wouldn't be up to the task tonight.

Just arriving at where they would be staying for the next week was enough to blow the Weasley twins' minds, this wasn't a house but a palace! Marble and tiled surfaces everywhere in an attempt to keep the building cool - with even a fountain inside the house. Then they had gone out and the sights, sounds and smells of Cairo had Fred and George thinking they had landed in paradise. With Bill as the group's guide they had seen places well off the tourist map and the magical section was so full of exuberance and colour that neither twin wanted to leave. They were imagining a shop like this plonked in the middle of Diagon Alley, it would be the talk of London and their dream took a little more shape and form.

Tonight they all had an official function in the Cairo branch of Gringotts to attend and, as Barchoke had been summoned back to Britain, Harry was left to lead the party until his father caught up with them.

Harry greeted the dignitaries as he entered, offering the Ambassador's apologies but the director himself had ordered the recall. They were impressed that his mate was fluent in their language and carried a goblin blade, they were astonished that her muggle parents were fluent too! Word was rapidly spread around the bank to treat everyone here tonight as having the ability to understand their language, they would have been right.

After the initial shock wore off, the bank officials felt greatly honoured that the director had sent them such a group. Lords, Ladies and muggles they may be but all speaking their tongue gained them acceptance into their midst.

Hermione was on Harry's arm as they mingled when a squeaky female voice behind them affected Harry like a bolt of lightning.

""Do you remember me, Harrrrryyy!""

He had spun around and lifted the young female goblin right off her feet, the delight on his face clear for all to see. ""Sapphire, of course I remember you! What made you think I could possibly forget?""

""Oh, I just watched you arrive with your mate and all your friends...""

""Centurion, would you kindly put my daughter down. We'd heard that things are changing in Britain but that is still not considered appropriate behaviour here.""

Harry placed the young female goblin back on her feet before turning to face her father. Performing the Centurion Salute, he offered an apology. ""I'm sorry sir, there was no inappropriate intention on my part, I just hadn't seen my friend for seven years and couldn't contain my delight. I didn't even consider she might be here tonight and hope you will allow us some time this week to catch up.""

The pleading eyes from his daughter left Goldskin no option to refuse, especially since the bank's officials were all watching and chuckling at his discomfort. ""I shall try and arrange something...""

Barchoke appearing at his shoulder left the goblin no wiggle room. ""I know all our itinerary for the week so when would Sapphire be available? She can join in with the rest of the group or we can make other arrangements, she would also be very welcome to come to Britain for a visit. There's always plenty to do in Kingussie at Baron Crow's, and always plenty of chaperones ensuring that there is no inappropriate behaviour. Have you met my son's mate? This is my daughter, Hermione Granger, Friend of the Nation, Order of Merlin, First Class holder. That sword on her hip has tasted blood, both in duels and battles. She helped my son bring down a thousand year old basilisk with it and brought honour and profit to Gringotts.""

Hermione hadn't a clue what was going on here but both Harry and Father had cut the legs from under this goblin, she continued that trend by bowing to Goldskin as an equal and watching as his eyes nearly popped out his head. ""I am always delighted to meet any friends of my mate's and look forward to getting to know your daughter, Sapphire, better.""

The little goblin in question now wore a beaming smile, there may be a stern lecture waiting on her when they got home but it would be worth it to spend some time with Harry and his friends. Her father took Sapphire away to discuss with her mother on the best time for their daughter to see her 'friend'.

A slight shake of Barchoke's head was enough to tell Harry he would have to wait until later for an explanation of what happened back home, he also knew Hermione wouldn't wait until later so led her over to a quiet corner. A smile was all Emma needed to know she and Dan were invited too.

The four stood sipping goblin ale, the adult Grangers screening their two children from the rest of the room. "Sapphire was, is, my friend, she was the only one who would sit next to me in class and refused to leave my side - no matter what anyone said."

Harry's smile at that memory soon faded as what followed later needed to be faced. "They couldn't get Sapphire away from my side so they got her family to leave Britain - taking my only friend with them. I was six and shattered, I just couldn't understand what was happening until Dragonbreath explained it to me at school. He sauntered up and said her parents were worried their daughter would be contaminated by being near me, so it was my fault they had to take her away."

Harry's voice had been getting lower as he spoke and was barely above a whisper as he recounted what happened next. "I lost it as only a six year old can, I punched, kicked, bit, scratched - that was the first time I beat the shit out of Dragonbreath."

Dan appeared ready to congratulate him but Harry soon put a stop to that. "His family went mental, said I had no place inside Gringotts, the entire situation escalated until my father ended up in the pit fighting so I could stay. I lost the only friend I'd ever had and Dragonbreath lost an uncle, we've hated each other ever since. Ever since that day too I sat alone in class because no other family wanted their son or daughter to get involved, until I went to Hogwarts!"

Hermione had caught the occasional glimpse of the darker side to goblin society but her parents appeared shocked, school disagreements resulting in parents fighting to the death was not something they wanted to consider. She had another question for her mate though. "I understand your reaction to Sapphire, I would have killed for a friend like that when I was six, why the hostility toward her father though?"

"We know Bloodfang was behind the move, whether gold, coercion or both was involved we don't know but her father set the whole thing in motion. Goldskin didn't like me then and it seems his opinion hasn't changed any since, neither me becoming a Centurion or a Baron has had any affect. My father must have enjoyed rubbing his nose in how proud he is of our Hermione. I think that was Goldskin's greatest fear but Sapphire and me were only six!"

Dan didn't think this was the time or place to point out he and Hermione were 'only eleven' when they met - and now they were mates for life. He may have liked to change a few things in these last two years but dragging his daughter to another continent to get her away from Harry wouldn't have even made the list of things Dan wished he'd done.

Hermione had her arm around her mate, offering support and love. "Well she's here now and seems keen to renew your friendship, not that I blame her, I can't wait to talk with Sapphire and find out what you were like as a little boy."

This earned her a quick kiss before it was back to mingling. Harry had been looking forward to this trip but meeting Sapphire just made the entire holiday so much more. At the very least they would be writing to each other from now on, he had no intention of losing touch with her again.

A squeeze of his arm had Harry bending his head so Hermione could whisper in his ear. "So, have I gained another sister?"

Harry glanced over to where Hannah, Susan, Parvati and Luna were hanging out with their four older friends, all under the watchful eyes of Lukas and Moa. He could only smile before giving Hermione a quick kiss on the cheek. "Thanks for understanding..."

-oOoOo-

"I do understand, Amelia, that doesn't mean I have to agree with you and Cornelius on this matter."

This left the witch in question shaking her head, Amos was being stubborn and it could be very costly. "I do see your point, Amos. The Carrows were nothing more than low level death eaters and wouldn't have been involved if the other two hadn't shown up on their doorstep, on that we all agree."

If Amos thought he was winning this argument then he didn't really know Amelia Bones, she was just getting warmed up. "Now let's list what else we know. Did they supply food and shelter to the two most wanted murderers in Britain - yes! Did they arm these most wanted murderers with wands - yes! Did they take part in the raid on that muggle pub and fire curses that set the building on fire - yes! Did they know what the punishment would be for such an act before they set out, again yes! We have their very own testimony to confirm those facts, they're guilty, Amos."

"I never doubted their guilt for a second, I just don't know if I can support the death penalty over this."

The Minister of Magic understood the Chief Warlock's reluctance but, unless they showed a united front on this matter, Cornelius feared they would be defeated in the chamber. "We've heard from Barchoke that his intelligence reported our stance on this matter actually stopped death eaters joining Rookwood and Lestrange, a deterrent only works though when people actually believe we will carry out our threats. Look at this another way, we have bent over backwards trying to appease these people and our strategy has been working. We avoided a war because we left their families alone and it's those same families we need to protect now. We've shown them the positive side and what can happen when they cooperate with us, now we need to show them that we're serious about what happens when you stand and plot against the ministry!"

"Amos, our children are currently holidaying with Harry and both of us are delighted at that. We have to show others of their age that becoming a death eater will not solve all your problems, it will instead cost you your life." It may have been underhanded to bring their children into this argument but Amelia thought it was necessary, nothing was more important to Amos than his son.

"The Malfoy and Nott families appear to be making the right choices, if we want to stop another war that will include our children then I feel strongly that this is what we have to do. I don't like it any more than you do but to keep my Susan safe I'll do what needs to be done. If we allow another war to start there is no doubt that Harry will be at the centre of it, and our children will stand with him. Susan and Cedric were placed in Hufflepuff for a reason, Amos, their loyalty can't be questioned and they will stand with their friends. Two dead Carrows I can live with but those children are all we have left from the last war, our task here is to stop there being another."

A nod was all the signal given that she had won her argument, Amos' support might be reluctant but it was vital if they were going to pull this off.

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