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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61. The Road And The Miles To Dundee

Breakfast that morning in Kingussie was a lot of fun, the teasing was spread around the table with Alice and Frank taking their fair share for managing to upstage everyone at last night's ball, and again in today's Prophet. Both were apologetic and yet neither could quite understand why everyone seemed delighted by this turn of events, rather than upset.

Padma attempted to explain to her future in-laws. "We've all had a shot at the limelight, and none of us like it. What's written there in the Prophet is not only a good story, it's also all true. Two decorated aurors from the first war recovering enough to rejoin society is a far greater achievement than what we did for a few hours one horrible morning in a damp and smelly chamber - I still love Harry's new house though..."

"Eyes off, Patil, this birthday boy is mine!" Hermione couldn't hold her giggling as she wrapped her bonded in a pretend possessive embrace.

Alice was finding herself drawn to Smita, the two mothers got on very well. It was to her she turned for a quiet word. "Are they always like this?"

"Oh, you'll see for yourself over the next week. One minute they can be so serious, throwing curses at each other while training. Next minute they're throwing each other into the sea and behaving like the teenagers they really are. I was originally concerned that one of my daughters was learning all this defence, not any more. They manage to balance all the seriousness with plenty of time to have fun."

Amelia was then shown into the dining room and having fun was clearly the last thing on her mind, she barely acknowledged Susan's presence, it was also clear she was the bearer of bad tidings. Her first actions though surprised everyone. "Frank and Alice, I need you both to drink this first. It's a calming draught, we can't risk the news you're about to hear affecting your recovery. Just remember, every single person you care about is sitting safely in this room."

After giving the potion a moment or two to take effect, Amelia delivered her news. "There was an incident at Azkaban last night, we don't have all the details yet but here's the main ones. Both Lestrange brothers, along with Lucius Malfoy, were found dead in their cells. The bad news is that Bellatrix Lestrange and Augustus Rookwood are both officially listed as missing."

Even with the administration of the calming draught, the effect this news had on the Longbottom couple was unmistakable. Augusta had lost these two before, she was not about to sit here and meekly watch them retreat back into themselves.

"Harry, could I impose on your hospitality for a glass of whiskey?"

She had no sooner said the words when a decanter of single malt and a set of glasses, complete with silver tray, appeared on the table.

Augusta poured herself a measure before standing and offering her own toast. "To the demise of two of the bastards who harmed my family. I hope they died screaming and that a certain crazy bitch joins them soon."

Sirius poured some more glasses and then he, Remus, Barchoke and Amelia joined Augusta in her toast. Dan and Emma had no clue what was going on here, until Hermione whispered that it was the three Lestranges that had attacked Frank and Alice.

Augusta was oblivious to all the by-play, her eyes never left those of her son and daughter-in-law. "These are different times, it isn't like before. We sit here in a house I'm certain no death eater can get near."

This was quickly confirmed by Barchoke. "Not only the house, Augusta, this entire glen was warded last night so no one carrying the dark mark can get within half a mile of the house."

She pushed home her point to her children. "Hogwarts and Longbottom Manor have those very same wards, and tomorrow we're going to an island that you need an invite from Harry before you can even see it. There will be no hiding behind dubious charms and listening to old fools this time, the Longbottoms will put their faith in goblin wards, and Amelia's aurors being able to catch the bitch."

Amelia though had more bad news. "It would seem the Longbottoms are not their target, there was a message scrawled in blood inside Malfoy's cell. Potter will die!"

The teens had rallied around to support Neville and his parents, hearing this saw the focus shift to Harry. A Harry who appeared pissed off as he saw Emma having to clamp her hand over her mouth to stifle a scream.

"Seriously, what is it with writing messages on walls with blood - didn't Voldemort teach his death eaters how to use quills, ink and parchment?" Suddenly remembering that they had an author of some of those bloody messages sitting at breakfast with them, Harry turned to Parvati to apologise when she burst into giggles - being quickly joined by Barchoke"s baritone laughter.

"...and that, ladies and gentlemen, is a goblin sense of humour in action. Harry Crow, aren't you in the slightest bit worried?"

"Hermione, I'm a Centurion with three Orders of Merlin, First Class holders -who have blades and wands - guarding my back. I also agree with Augusta, they can't get at us and Amelia will have her aurors scouring the country for them. I have no intention of letting this news rule my life, and tonight's party is most certainly still going ahead."

"Harry, the Minister wants to appoint an auror guard to you..."

He was back at Amelia instantly with an answer. "Tonks! Only the best will do for the boy who lived, and Remus liked seeing her in a bikini beside the pool in Florida - that's practically all she'll need on the island anyway."

It was Sirius who led the laughter this time, delighted that his godson got one over on his fellow marauder.

Amelia was also trying to hide her smile as she spoke to her auror, an auror who had clearly spent the night in Kingussie. "Well, Auror Tonks, do you accept the assignment? All auror leave has been canceled while we search for these two, and the island is spectacularly beautiful..."

Searching the country for a pair of escaped murderers or protection duty on a tropical island wasn't exactly a hard choice, especially since Remus was going to be there too! Tonks didn't want to seem too eager though. "I don't know, Boss, what happens if I want to murder the person I'm supposed to be guarding?"

"You are a professional, Auror Tonks, I would expect you to make sure you're not caught!"

This generated even more laughter, leaving Neville grateful for the calming effect the merriment was having on his parents. He had something to say though and looked to his friend. "Harry, we head for the island tomorrow and there's too many arrangements made for Egypt to change. I was going to give the last week a miss though..."

Catching on at once, Harry agreed. "That's a great idea, Neville, another week to spend in Kingussie sounds wonderful to me too. What does everyone else think?"

All could see Neville wanted to stay close to his parents until this threat was dealt with. The lure of returning to Japan was strong but one of their own needed support, there was no decision to be made and a consensus was quickly reached.

"Great, now you know I'll be here, and everyone is welcome anytime."

"Harry, should we contact McGonagall and bring forward the meeting with the new Potter Scolarship students?"

Both members of the selection board thought Hermione's suggestion was a very good one, they knew Natalie's parents weren't too keen on her attending any boarding school - never mind a magical one.

Barchoke meanwhile had some words of advice for Amelia. "How this is publicly dealt with could be just as important as your search for these escapees. Pictures of a certain birthday party, and Harry publicly repeating his opinion on the matter, could go a long way to preventing the mass hysteria this news could generate."

Harry had more to add. "Father, not everyone has wards they can live safely behind, I don't want anyone else to be targeted because of their association with me. There's an entire Hogwarts year group walking around wearing their silver crows on everything but their pyjamas..."

"I wear mine on my pyjamas..." Luna's words again generated some laughter, until Hermione put her arm around the girl as both she and Padma confirmed that to be true - and that Luna was not alone in this.

Harry had noticed Colin and Ginny wearing theirs in Florida, he'd never actually see Luna without hers. "Can we get these turned into emergency portkeys? Set the destination to a safe room in Gringotts, just in case someone else gets their hands on one of those badges. Hermione has all Crow's Marauders coming to the party tonight, it's a fair bet most of them will have their badges on them." Harry was actually blushing as he said that, knowing that every single Crow's Marauder would have their badge pinned to whatever they wore.

His father not only agreed, he had a further suggestion. "What about getting the Lily Potter Foundation involved? I was thinking along the lines of a muggle born protection act, every muggle born student at Hogwarts gets their property warded to deny these animals access. If we could get all the parents together for a meeting, Dan and Emma could easily explain the benefits of these wards. We would need to work quickly though, before Hogwarts restarts as the wards need to be tied to a witch or wizard. It was the muggleborn's they went after the last time..."

This received a very enthusiastic response from his son. "Fantastic idea, Father. If we could set that meeting up for us returning from Egypt, they could all have their houses warded before September the First."

Hannah was the first to agree with that opinion. "Justin's a muggle born..."

Luna offered her support. "So is Colin and Natalie, who we've yet to meet."

"Dean Thomas is the same," offered Parvati.

"As is Terry, this is a great thing to do, Harry" Padma was very impressed at this proposed action, she was even more impressed at the kiss Hermione gave him as a reward. They were receiving no censorship from two proud muggles who had spent a week in Florida with some of the people the teens had just mentioned. It became a lot more personal when you could put faces and personalities to statistics, that Harry wanted to protect them and their families left Emma wanting to kiss Harry too!

Lukas and Moa just sat back and observed the family at work, rallying around to support those members who needed it. Both were staying until Hogwarts started up again, whether that meant Japan, Kingussie or London didn't matter to them - it was the company that counted. That Henrica would have most of this company, and her husband, around her when she returned to the castle pleased them more than they could say.

Alice had been told over and over again that things were different now, she was seeing the proof of that play out right in front of her. They, while in the Order of the Phoenix, had all just done whatever Albus Dumbledore suggested, here though was a generation that thought and acted for itself. Opinions were offered and listened to with decisions then made, this was no dictatorship.

She knew the calming potion was helping at the moment but listening here was doing more to calm the terror that had raced through her body at that awful news. The big difference between drawing comfort from what was being said and the potion was these discussions weren't artificial and wouldn't wear off in a few hours.

She glanced once more at her husband and saw only steely determination reflected back from his eyes, Alice knew what his next step would be. His tremors were subsiding and his speech slowly improving, his magic though was fractured and would probably never return - certainly not to the levels they once possessed. He'd been very impressed with Dan Granger, and Dan's ability to shoot. Here was a method Frank could still use to protect their family, magical prejudices against guns be damned. With her own magic way out of kilter, she intended not only to support her husband in this matter but join him in learning to shoot. Bringing that bitch Lestrange down with a bullet would be every bit as satisfying as ending her with a curse.

-oOoOo-

Bella awoke to the sun on her face and the sound of seagulls' cries filling the air. It was strange how a person could miss the simplest of things, not even seagulls would come anywhere near Azkaban. She also woke in the arms of a wizard, a wizard she was only now getting her first real look at in the daylight.

Where others might see pock-marked features and a ravaged mouth, Bella saw a man so dedicated to their master that he would pull his own teeth out and work for months to manufacture their escape. If only she had confided to him about the great treasure she protected for their master, both of them could have gotten out of there years ago.

She ran her hand over Augustus' chest, finding the medallion gone. That must have happened when they had to swim for shore. Her canoe had held until, judging from the muggle lights, they were about a mile from landfall. They had crawled on their hands and knees off the beach, collapsing exhausted upon finding the first semblance of cover.

They were concealed from the beach amongst some grassy sand dunes but they would have to move quickly, they needed to get away from here and under cover.

Augustus was having such a wonderful dream, he was lying in the warm sand with a witch in his arms - kissing! He was startled awake from that wonderful dream by the sensation of Bella's tongue entering his mouth.

"Good morning, lover. As much as I'd like to stay here and start the day off properly with you, we need to get away from the coast as quickly as possible."

Augustus agreed with all of that, a quick look around let him see just how precarious their position was. "At a guess, I would say we're somewhere along the Aberdeenshire coast. We need to get inland and under cover before this place is crawling with aurors."

"We need to get to Gringotts as quickly as possible..."

"No!"

Augustus was a lot braver when Bella didn't have a weapon in her hand. They needed to have this discussion so it might as well be now, they also needed to move so he grabbed Bella's arm and steered her inland while beginning his explanation.

"We need information before doing anything, yes we both want to bring our master back but that won't happen if we get caught. All those bastards who didn't end up in Azkaban have had over a decade to attempt it, and they've sat on their safe arses and done fuck-all! There is only us, Bella, and we're only going to get one chance at this. Our master would prefer that we took our time and did this properly, rather than dive right in and maybe end any hope of ever bringing him back. This will take planning, my department, but we can't even make plans until getting our hands on more information."

Bella had stopped tugging on his arm and was now walking at his side, Augustus took this to mean she was listening so dropped the real bombshell. "I don't even know if you'll be allowed access to the Lestrange vault..."

She had stopped again, this time ready for a fight. Augustus expertly deflated her. "You murdered the last two male heirs in the Lestrange family last night, effectively ending their line - any child you carry will certainly not bear the name Lestrange. The goblins will know this and those greedy little bastards will take great pleasure in closing down the vault. Can you see the ministry objecting?"

Bella began walking again, and using her little girl voice. "Why didn't my big strong wizard stop little Bella making that mistake?"

He didn't answer, they both knew the reason - self-preservation.

"We all heard our master say he'd taken more steps toward immortality than any other wizard, we also both believe that. We desperately need information before making our next move, if you can't gain access to the Lestrange vault we may just have to go searching for our master and get his guidance on how best to help."

Bella now slipped her hand in his. "You are certainly the planner, lover, and a good one at that. How are we going to find this information?"

"I was our lord's inside man at the ministry, I know every one of his followers who worked there as well as the others we both know. They will help us, or I will let my mate loose on them."

"Oh, little Bella gets to play! Now that is a plan I like..."

"The plan means we can't get caught though, we need food and clothes but we can't go killing anyone to get them. Dead muggles along the coast will just alert the ministry to our location. At the moment they'll be having to cover at least a hundred miles of coastline, we don't want those forces to be able to focus that manpower in a single area."

They came upon a little cottage built to overlook the dunes and sea. It was probably some muggle's holiday home, it was lucky for the muggle owners that they weren't there that morning. While Augustus was scavenging some much needed food for them in the little kitchen, Bella was searching the rest of the cottage for anything else they could use. She returned with a pile of clothes that she dropped on the floor, Augustus thought he was starving until Bella whipped off her robe and began trying on clothes. When she bent right down for the second time, giving Augustus a full view of her nude body and that amazing arse, he knew she was teasing him. As if trying to eat this food with so many teeth missing wasn't bad enough, Augustus was beginning to wonder if he'd bitten off more than he could chew with his mate too - he could certainly see Bella being the death of him.

When they left the cottage, Augustus was bedecked in brown trousers, a white t-shirt with a red checked shirt over that. He had a large bag on his back, with their prison robes tucked in there to be disposed of later. Bella had jeans and a white hoodie emblazed with some sort of 'S' emblem inside a shield. With the hiking boots completing their outfits, they had unknowingly stumbled on the disguise of a couple of backpackers - something that no one would cast a second look at. They left the cottage ransacked, with stuff thrown about everywhere and leaving the local police to put it down to nothing more than kids breaking in and wrecking the joint.

Bella felt a lot better, washed, fed and in clean clothes. She also had a large knife tucked into the small of her back under the hoodie, and a smaller but just as sharp blade concealed up her sleeve. They not only knew where they were, just outside Stonehaven, but now had a destination to head for. The Carrows lived around Dundee, leaving them a journey of around fifty miles. She had found a small tent and quilted bags that said they were for sleeping in stashed away in a cupboard, with the food her big strong wizard also had on his back this journey should be like a picnic compared to sitting in a cell in Azkaban. Not being around dementors was certainly having a positive effect on both of them.

-oOoOo-

Amelia was against the Minister signing the order that allowed dementors to search for their two escaped prisoners, though it wasn't the kiss on sight part she objected to. "Cornelius, at the moment all we've got is two prisoners missing from their cells, we don't even know that they made it to shore."

"If you're telling me there are enough aurors to cover this entire coast then I will gladly rescind this order, otherwise I have no choice. We have prison doors being spelled open and a pair wizards murdered by cutting curses. That leaves us with the two very worst death eaters that were incarcerated in Azkaban now on the loose, and armed with wands."

She had to concede the point, Amelia couldn't in all good conscience use trainees to search for the last two people she wanted to see escape Azkaban. She also had to have her aurors working in teams, further reducing the ground they could cover. The dementors would make up for that lack of manpower but she liked the situation about as much as she liked the dark creatures themselves.

"Barchoke indicated that you should have a few words with Director Ragnok at the birthday party tonight, it seems as if Gringotts may be able to help us with this..."

"You think I should still go to this party? Can't you see the Prophet would slaughter us for this? Killers on the loose so the top officials in the ministry party the night away..."

This drew a smile from Amelia, a smile at just how devious the goblins were - she was certainly glad they were on their side. "The Prophet was persuaded not to rush out a special edition on the breakout, a special edition that would have caused widespread panic. Their price for that accommodation is an invitation to tonight's party, an interview with the Minister of Magic and an interview with Harry. I spoke to them this morning, Harry's attitude is that he's not going to let this affect his life. He also proclaimed he was confident we would deal with the situation."

Here was a boon Cornelius could never have imagined, and also an approach he hadn't even considered. "I'm assuming this is the approach you wish the ministry to adopt too?"

"To a point, yes! All auror leave has been cancelled, with some trainees stepping up to fill positions at the ministry to release every available wand for the search. We also warn the public that these two are very dangerous, and not to be approached. We assure them that their ministry is on the case and doing everything we can to end the situation as quickly as possible."

"...and Harry's protection detail?"

"He requested Auror Tonks, as she was sitting having breakfast with them I agreed."

Cornelius could see the dangers in adopting this approach - it could blow up in their faces if the two missing death eaters started slaughtering people. This approach though offered the benefit of avoiding mass panic, and perhaps more. Cornelius would much rather see his picture - standing wishing Harry a happy birthday - on the front cover of tomorrow's Prophet than have two escaped and desperate prisoners occupying that spot. He decided to go with Amelia's suggestion, and hope they caught these two soon. He could also hope that Gringotts might have some good news for him, any goblin assistance in this matter would certainly be welcome.

-oOoOo-

The invitations that were also portkeys dropped the invited guests into a reception room in Harry's home, where they were welcomed by six armed goblin guards. Remus and Tonks were also there, mainly to assure the guards that the people who arrived were actually invited. None of the Hogwarts contingent were fazed in the slightest by this goblin greeting, all fondly remembered them guarding the castle. The Weasley family's arrival caused a bit of a stir until Tonks confirmed they were all invited, Molly rapidly led her brood out into the garden and the magnificent marquee - and well away from the 'danger'.

"Are you sure about that, Tonks? I can't imagine Hermione inviting Ronald Weasley."

"I know, she certainly didn't want to. Hermione did want to invite Penny though, which meant Percy, which meant Ron would be home alone. Hermione's just hoping that his mother never let's him out of her sight. With all the food out there, Molly certainly won't have to look hard to find him."

Alice sat with Smita, watching as their two children were greeted warmly by a continual host of friends. "I suppose I should be getting used to shocks but seeing this is just wonderful, our children really do have lots of friends. The younger ones all look up to them while the others clearly respect them, and it's not just because of who Harry is either."

"I've had longer than you to get used to this, Alice, but those four are very tight. We were worried that it was causing problems between our girls but Parvati is now firmly accepted in their group too, it's something a mother would never tire of watching..."

Another mother was watching closely too, only watching another couple. Emma was looking at Harry and Hermione greeting the Diggorys, and finding that she would have struggled to tell the difference in the ages of the three students standing there.

Cedric was slightly taller than Harry, though all his training had her son wider at the shoulders. He stood there as a tall, broad and confident teenager, with his arm around his mate's waist. Hermione may only be approaching fourteen but she also stood there confidently, looking more like sixteen and bearing practically no resemblance to their little girl that left for Scotland by train two years ago. Henrica had taught Hermione how to tame her hair and that attack in the toilet resulted in her teeth all being perfectly aligned. Her body, while lithe was certainly female - there was no straight up and down as her latest dress highlighted all too well. She may barely be past Harry's shoulder in terms of height but that already made her as tall as Emma herself - with Hermione still having some growing to do.

The mother found herself thanking every deity she could think of that, while both were certainly physically developed for their respective ages, their mental maturity if anything surpassed this. Emma was sure she could rely on them to both act responsibly for a while yet.

Sirius was also scanning through the now filling marquee, that was until the marauder spotted the person he was looking for. "Mr Malfoy, could I have a word - in private? You may of course bring Miss Parkinson."

Draco agreed, understanding at once he was speaking with Lord Black here. The couple re-entered the house, with Sirius leading them into a cosy sitting room before asking them to sit. The door was closed and a silencing charm then erected before Sirius spoke.

"Can I assume you are aware of what happened last night in Azkaban?"

"Yes, we had a visit from the aurors this morning telling us father was dead. They also warned us about the escapes, and the message..."

"That makes you effectively the head of the Malfoy family, and this is going to force you to declare a side. I'm asking you this question, but you have the word of Lord Black your answer will go no further than the people in this room. Does your mother carry the dark mark?"

Pansy let out a gasp, this was a question that should never be asked. Draco answered anyway, "No, she's not marked."

Both could see the relief Sirius felt at that, they then discovered why he asked. "You still won't be able to inherit until you're seventeen but I have a proposition for you. I am prepared to loan House Malfoy the gold to have goblin wards erected that will stop death eaters entering your property. We both know Bella will turn up there sooner or later, once she does your choice will be gone. Now is the time to decide what side you want to be on."

For the life of him, Sirius couldn't understand what was making Draco smile at that ultimatum, he was sure he'd explained the situation clearly enough.

"Mother and I had already discussed the situation, though we never imagined having access to those wards. I have a parchment here, offering you the position of being regent over House Malfoy until I become of age. It was more to stop Pansy's father pushing for the position, the news about last night has been slow to get out. I am not my father, Lord Black, I would be delighted if death eaters could no longer enter Malfoy Manor. All I would ask is that you deal with Pansy's father if he tries to renegotiate our betrothal."

This had Pansy's full approval. "If my father tries to tear us apart, I would consider renouncing my family name. That would also end our betrothal and I need to know whether you would then set Draco up with someone else?"

The marauder was left shaking his head at how far these two were prepared to go to remain together. "My first act as Harry's godfather was to reject all his betrothals, I didn't know at the time he'd already met his mate. You both seem to know what you want and I have no intention of meddling with that. All I would say is that renouncing your family name is a very big step, please don't take it without talking to me first." He looked over the document Draco provided and found it to be exactly as stated. "Are you sure you want me to do this?"

Draco was determined this should go ahead, it had been his suggestion to his mother that resulted in the parchment Sirius now held. "We've seen the way you watch over Harry, we experienced being watched over ourselves that week in Florida - it's totally different to what either Pansy or I are used to yet we both liked it. Our families have shown us one way, you and Harry have shown us another. My father taught me that it was desirable to have others fear you but what I've seen in my time spent with Harry is respect, I would much rather be respected than feared."

With that settled, Sirius signed the document. Amelia and Fudge would be here to tonight, their signatures as witnesses should kill any doubts anyone named Parkinson might raise to the legality of the document. Barchoke would see it filed and organise the wards, Sirius was also going to speak with Harry about the possibility of this couple joining them on the island. Draco had just lost his father and it would do him good to get away from the situation. Narcissa had walked into that marriage with her eyes open, she had revelled in the 'good times', Sirius was quite happy to let her stew in the bad.

Fred and George had sought out the birthday wizards to offer them a rather unusual gift.

"I know we have an agreement that says we don't prank you..."

"...but it isn't really a prank if we tell you what's going to happen."

"We've invented this product and thought it would be perfect for the Order of the Aves..."

"...and the effects only last for thirty seconds. What do you say?"

Knowing that Master Pitslay would have looked over anything the twins wanted to try certainly helped Harry make his decision, him saying yes meant Neville would give it a go too.

After eating what they were offered, a pair of loud pops saw Harry and Neville become a couple of little yellow birds. "Witches and Wizards, available to order soon..."

"...we are proud to present Canary Creams!"

Hermione and Padma were laughing as loud as anyone as their mates flew about the room. They were slightly disappointed both chose to land on the twins' shoulders, that was until they realised what was happening.

In a puff of yellow feathers, Harry and Neville reappeared - sitting on Fred and George's shoulders. All four ended up on the floor in a tangled heap of flailing limbs and much laughter.

Molly pushed her way through the laughing crowd that'd had gathered, ready to apologise and then drag the twins away. Instead of her sons being shouted at, she was stopped in her tracks by them being congratulated by the very people who had just been flying about. Ambassador Barchoke was joking with Arthur he should buy some for Gringotts, slipping them to a few of the bank's more sour faced customers would certainly liven up the place.

Amelia, Cornelius and Ragnok were glad of the distraction, it enabled them to have their conversation in plain sight.

The goblin leader gave them information that Gringotts had to treat as confidential before the murders that took place last night. "The Lestrange vault has been locked down for over a decade. Discovering that Riddle had made horcruxes saw every vault in Gringotts scanned for these abominations - there was one stored in their vault. The item was cleansed of its vile taint without being removed from the customer's vault before we sealed it. With both males being murdered last night, the Lestrange line is now dead."

Amelia and Cornelius were following so far, having a horcrux stored in your vault was certainly a violation of the goblin banking code.

"I know you both support the muggle born protection scheme Barchoke proposed but there was another group the death eaters targeted heavily too, those in positions of power who opposed them. What I'm suggesting is that we waive the time limit in this case and use the Lestrange vault to purchase wards that would deny death eaters access to the homes of those passing laws and judgments against them. It's a lot easier to stand by your convictions if you know your family is safely behind wards that protect them from these animals."

Cornelius thought he had the gist of this but wanted to make sure. "So, I approach the Wizengamot and ask them to repeal the time limit clause, in this case only, and we then use the gold to protect the Wizengamot members' homes from death eater attack?"

"The Nation are prepared to overlook the time limit in this case only, unless anyone else is stupid enough to place a horcrux in their vault."

"Amelia, if we can't get that unanimously passed through the chamber in under five minutes then both of us should consider retiring. They will basically be voting to have wards erected around their homes for free!"

Ragnok mentioned that the tainted item was again something that belonged to a Hogwarts founder, and something that should be returned to the school. They all agreed with that, and also that the muggle born families would be protected before their children left for Hogwarts. That meant the Wizengamot members would have to wait until September to begin having these wards installed, though all would be protected before Halloween.

Harry had his picture taken with the Minister of Magic and the Director of Gringotts, he also reiterated his belief that things should proceed as normally as possible.

"I wouldn't like the parents who let their children come here tonight to think we put them in danger so I could have a party. Our wards don't allow death eaters access and we have both aurors and warriors protecting the guests from any other threat. While living as normally as possible, it's only common sense to take precautions. I am also confident that everything possible is being done to keep all of us safe and to catch these two escaped death eaters."

Cornelius was relaxing more with every sentence Harry spoke to the press, the photographer was also doing his job. Here were people having a great time, these were much better images for the country to see with their breakfast tomorrow.

The summer evening saw the marquee remain open on three sides, only the end containing the tables laden with food remained covered. Now that Harry had gotten the official part of the evening over with he could get back to enjoying himself, dancing with Hermione. With the dance floor illuminated by flickering lanterns, it was a very happy birthday for the boy who had his mate in his arms. Tomorrow they were all heading for the island and there would be no more thoughts of death eaters for a while.

-oOoOo-

Bella had also spent the night in her mate's arms and under canvas, any dancing they did certainly couldn't be compared to a waltz in Kingussie though - more last Tango in Paris. By following the clearly marked public trails, they had not only made good time but appeared just like two muggle hikers.

It was the following afternoon before they were approaching a rather ramshackle building, the owners coming out to see who was walking up their path. Amycus was smiling at his sister, the wards usually deterred the muggles but occasionally a couple would get through - then it was time for the siblings to have some fun.

"Alecto, put that wand away before I take it off you and shove it up your arse. Oh wait, I forgot - you like that!"

The witch in question almost dropped her wand as realisation dawned on Alecto just who this was. "Bella, is that you?"

"Well, it's certainly not Lucius Malfoy!" Bella's cackle at her own wit rang out across the countryside.

The colour drained from both Carrows almost as quickly as the two death eaters who'd had their jugulars sliced open. Amycus was not amused. "What the fuck are you two doing here? The aurors will soon be visiting all suspected former death eaters..."

That was the wrong thing to say, he suddenly had a face full of a very angry Bellatrix. "There is no such thing as a former death eater, unless you want to be like Lucius? You both took our master's mark, that mark is forever!"

Alecto tried to calm things down, the Prophet said they were both armed with wands. "Things are different now, Bella, we no longer have our master and our blood status offers no protection..."

Augustus spoke for the first time. "That's why we're here, Alecto. We need to know just what those changes are..."

"...and why no one bothered to search for our master." Bella knew this was Augustus' show but she could certainly unsettle these two while they collected that information. Her control vanished though as they entered the house into the kitchen and saw the Prophet lying there. Bella snatched it off the table and was soon cursing up a storm.

"A footnote, we're nothing but a fucking footnote to some Baron's birthday party. We need to show these bastards that we're bad news, a few bodies left lying for them to find should do nicely for a start..."

"Not until we return our master, dear, nothing can get in the way of that. Who is this Baron anyway?"

Both Carrows were astonished at how calmly Bella accepted that rebuke, and even let Augustus remove the newspaper from her hands. "That's Harry Potter, though he calls himself Crow now."

All calmness was now gone as Alecto's words hit home. The paper was snatched back, only for Augustus to lead Bella to the table and spread the paper out so they could both read it. That the Potter brat was on the front page of the Prophet with the Minister of Magic and a goblin was certainly a shock, that the goblin still had his head attached was another, they certainly had a lot of questions for the Carrows.

After a few hours worth of answers, Augustus was beginning to change his opinion. "They've forgotten what fear is, I think it's time we reminded them. We need to strike swiftly and then melt back into the night, they know how we operated before so that needs to change. We'll start a reign of terror that will wipe the smile off these smug bastards' faces! The death eaters will unite behind us and we can build a force that will keep the ministry busy while we search for our master."

Bella slid onto his lap. "Oh yes, my big strong wizard, little Bella just loves that idea." She proceeded to show him just how much she loved that idea, leaving a brother and sister sitting there stunned at how their nice quiet lives had just been ripped apart.

They had stayed out of trouble in the last war by simply not having anything anyone would covet. They had neither power, possessions or looks to make anyone give them a second glance. Yes they were death eaters, but so far down the ladder that even the other death eaters had forgotten about them. It was just their bad luck that Augustus Rookwood never forgot anything.

-oOoOo-

Peter was wishing he could forget the ritual his master had implanted in his mind, the dark lord's method of implanting though made that impossible. There could be no mistakes in the task he'd been presented with, and certainly no margins for error. Peter was currently collecting ingredients for a potion he needed to brew, what would take five minutes shopping in an apothecary was going to take him weeks of scouring the forests and mountainsides.

It was the final ingredient though that was giving Peter nightmares, he would have to steal a baby! It wasn't so much the abduction that had the former marauder feeling sick, it was what he was going to have to do to that baby in preparation for his master's consciousness moving from the snake to his new host. The ritual was planned for Halloween, giving him plenty of time to complete all the preparations.

If that wasn't enough of a challenge, he then had to sneak back into Britain, unnoticed, with a baby and a ruddy great snake. Sometimes Peter really hankered for that little nest he had made for himself in the London Underground.

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