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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80. To Do Lists

News of this fayre spread like wildfire, so much so that awkward questions were soon being asked about the Kingussie event inside the Wizengamot chamber.

"Do we even know the date of this proposed fayre? We have a prestigious event ourselves this summer that will see the eyes of the world looking towards Britain. This fayre could be nothing more than an attempt to divert those eyes away from the Quidditch World Cup Final, an event that more than one ministerial department is currently working very hard to ensure the success of."

The Minister knew he had to put an end to that idea at once so stood to answer what was basically an accusation aimed at the fayre. "You will be pleased to know I can reveal there is absolutely no danger of the Quidditch World Cup Final being overshadowed by this event. Through Arthur Weasley's department, the ministry is being kept informed of all the details of this event. It is being held in Kingussie on the first weekend in July, and I have already offered Baron Crow any assistance the ministry can supply."

Again the grumblings came back at the minister. "Why should the ministry help with what is basically a goblin event?"

Cornelius once more had to cut that idea off at the knees. "I don't know where you got that information from, but I can assure everyone in this chamber that it's totally wrong. We all know Harry's background, being raised by his goblin father inside Gringotts. His mate was raised as a muggle, knowing nothing of our world until she reached her eleventh birthday. While this young couple are rightfully proud of their different heritages, they are still more than willing to embrace ours too. The Baron's Fayre will incorporate a blend of all three of those heritages, and I for one am really looking forward to it - having already been invited."

The dark faction were again finding their every move countered, a final question was asked more in hope than any conviction of scoring political points. "What part of our heritage will be included? Something representative I hope."

Rather than worry about revealing details early, Cornelius thought it was far more important to get the chamber onside for this event. "The entire reason behind this weekend is for those who attend to have fun, in that respect I think we will be well represented. I don't want to give any secrets away but I know two of our professional quidditch teams have already agreed to play exhibition matches in Kingussie over this weekend. There will also be shops from Diagon Alley and Hogsmead there too, plying their wares to new customers. The Weird Sisters are also keen to make an appearance, and there will certainly be a large Hogwarts student and staff presence in Kingussie over the entire weekend. You can perhaps see why I offered Baron Crow any assistance he required. Please remember, our goblin friends will also be warding the stadium being constructed for the Quidditch World Cup Final."

Satisfied that he had stopped any animosity toward this event in its tracks, the minister knew he would need to let Arthur know what he was somewhat forced to reveal. Cornelius just hoped it didn't cause too much trouble from Gringotts.

-oOoOo-

Harry knew he was in trouble, being surrounded by angry quidditch players at breakfast was his first clue.

"Who's going to want to watch us playing when there are professional teams there..."

"What's going on, Harry?"

He held his hands up, ready to offer an explanation. "The story all over the front of the Prophet was not how you were supposed to find out about this. It was being kept as a surprise until things were confirmed, it was only confirmed two days ago. Here's the deal. On Saturday the third of July, Puddlemere United will be at the fayre. They'll be signing autographs, posing for pictures before playing an exhibition match - playing against one of your teams."

You could have heard a mouse fart in the silence that last comment caused, they had no idea it was about to get even better. "On the Sunday, the visiting team will be the Holyhead Harpies..."

The silence this time was broken by Hermione and Padma, the sight of all those quidditch players standing there with their jaws hitting the floor proved just too funny for them not to react with laughter.

Their anger now gone, Harry found himself surrounded instead by extremely excited quidditch players. Cedric though had a very important question. "Which Hogwarts team plays who?"

Harry took a coin from his pocket and flicked it into the air. "Call it!"

Cedric called heads, only for it to come up tails. Harry looked towards the twins. "Your choice."

It took them only seconds to choose playing against Puddlemere, leaving Cedric and Roger very happy too. Harry though had more to say. "Guys, this might give you some idea of just how huge an event this fayre is becoming. We were planning on revealing a lot of the details on Friday after classes, and also hoping we can count on your support."

Cedric had his arm around Harry's shoulder, instantly publicly displaying that support for everyone to see. "Harry, you're now giving me the opportunity to play against Gwenog Jones. Forget everything else you've done for me, for that alone anything you want is yours for the asking."

Looking around, Harry was pleased to see a lot of smiling faces. "Okay, Friday after dinner in the room..."

"Centurion, why not hold the meeting in the great hall? It would save everyone traipsing up seven floors, I can assure you we would all like to hear what will be happening at the fayre - and how we can help."

Harry bowed toward the staff table. "Thank you, Madam Longbottom, that would be appreciated."

-oOoOo-

Voldemort certainly didn't appreciate what he was hearing from his lieutenant. They were now reduced to hijacking the occasional Prophet delivery owl for their news. Of course this fayre was heavily featured and the opportunity to have another chance at Potter was something that needed careful investigation. Rookwood had been dispatched to Kingussie on an intelligence gathering mission, he did not return with good news.

"The entire valley is powerfully warded, warded at least as heavily as Hogwarts. We might be able to overpower them, if we had about a hundred death eaters at our disposal. With just the three of us, not a chance."

There was even more bad news to come though. "It took me all day to find a hillside where I could finally get a look inside this valley, even then only the heavy charms on those stolen omnioculars allowed me to see anything at all. There was an army of goblins there, all working away and transforming the estate. With our society now applauding these beasts for hacking purebloods to death with their blades, attacking this target with just the three of us would be the equivalent of committing suicide."

The dark lord had suspected as much, having those suspicions confirmed though was still a blow. They would just have to make the best of it. "Getting our alliess to Kingussie wass alwayss going to prove challenging, we will just have to concentrate on our original target. Thiss will also give Bella more time to recover from giving birth to your son. Thiss may actually work in our favour, our inactivity will see them relax their defencess, and then we will strike!"

Augustus was delighted to hear that news, worried he might have overstated his case against an attack on Kingussie. Giving your opinion to their master was always fraught with danger. What he didn't say was that, even at the height of his master's powers and with all his death eaters present too, they would still have struggled to take on the Highland estate owned by Baron Crow. On the weekend of the fayre, with the increased security Augustus expected to be put in place for that, it would have been mission impossible.

Their lighthouse hideaway might be in the Outer Hebrides but that was as close as Augustus wanted to get to Kingussie, only death awaited him and his growing family there. He would gladly settle for reading about this fayre in the Prophet.

-oOoOo-

The very idea of this fayre had Albus in a cold sweat, would he even recognise the country he was planning on returning to? What had him really sweating though was the old wizard couldn't see any way this fayre could fail, further marginalising those purebloods of a darker persuasion.

As Britain's magical community moved further into the light, Albus Dumbledore could soon find himself as a rather desolate figure lurking in the shadows. Barchoke and Bones appeared to be carving the country up between them, with Fudge holding onto their coattails - and achieving undreamed of public approval ratings for doing so.

Even Voldemort's attack on Diagon Alley hadn't dented Cornelius' conviction, it had just pushed wizard and goblin relations even closer. Those joint auror / warrior patrols in the alley may be offering reassurance to shoppers it was safe to do so but it was those plaques that really brought the customers back - or rather what they signified.

In such a protected premises, Voldemort himself couldn't touch them. Sitting eating ice cream with the knowledge that you could safely thumb your nose at the dark lord would be an exhilarating experience for the witches and wizards of Britain, the vast majority of whom wouldn't have these wards on their own homes. Being safer in Diagon Alley than your own home might seem a weird concept but it was also one that had been proven in the heat of battle.

The three most dangerous people in the country had failed to harm a single person protected by those wards, that was a pretty compelling endorsement. It would also need to be an endorsement all the other shops quickly followed suit with. If not, they would be going out of business as their customers shopped in places they not only felt, but knew they were safe.

Albus had expected the goblins to use Harry as a physical weapon to destroy Voldemort, a variation of the plan he himself had devised for the boy. Instead, they had used the boy as a political weapon - with absolutely spectacular results. Having Voldemort's mark was something the darker purebloods had once aspired to carry on their arm - not anymore. Those few not already dead were now excluded by wards from the Ministry of Magic, St. Mungo's, Hogwarts and, probably within six months, every business in the magical community that was open to the public.

That Bones had been able to push these changes through the Wizengamot to the point where they were accepted by the magical community was simply unbelievable to the former Chief Wizard. As the die was set for his own return to Britain, he would now have to ramp up his plans for gaining a foothold once more in that changing society. It would be time to sow some discord before trying again to wrench Harry from the path he seemed to be heading down.

If things were left to continue developing as they currently were, Albus could see the lad not having a choice to make by the time he came of age. He would be so entrenched in both societies that neither would really care what Harry called himself - just as long as he didn't leave them.

The problem Albus had with that scenario playing out was it continually brought wizards and goblins closer, not something he considered healthy for the witches and wizards of Britain. He was still getting over the shock of a goblin female attending last year's Merlin Ball. Simply by turning up along with Harry, the rest of the school just accepted her. That was a state of affairs that could no longer be allowed to continue, only Albus Dumbledore was experienced enough and had the capabilities to wield power of that magnitude - it would simply corrupt lesser men.

Britain unbelievably seemed well on the road to dealing with their current dark lord. The last thing his country needed though was to let another one grow right under their very noses, especially one with such major goblin backing. How long would it be before the witches and wizards of Britain were forced to live underground while the goblins used their wealth and power to reside in even more luxurious mansions than the purebloods had once built.

He would have to start immediately with some gentle manipulations on his return, his visit to Britain might be limited and Albus needed to make as big an impact as possible in the time he had available. They wouldn't know what hit them.

-oOoOo-

Barchoke knew exactly what hit him, he now looked forward to his daughter's enthusiastic greetings. That her hug would soon be followed by a barrage of questions was also something else the goblin was getting used to.

""Father, it's so good to see you. What are you doing here? How are mum and dad?""

""Did you honestly think we would leave this presentation to a couple of third year students?""

This shocked Hermione, until she heard Harry's loud laughter beside her. A groan was then called for as she had once more been caught out by these goblins and their so-called sense of humour. The five Weasleys were boisterously greeting their own father, the noise that caused allowed Barchoke to have a quiet word with his children.

""Dan and Emma are actually returning to Kingussie tomorrow…"" He held his hand up to stop their objections before they could get started. ""The entire glen is filled with our people working almost around the clock to get it ready for the fayre. Anyone trying to attack Crow's Nest will find themselves getting quite the shock. I will also be moving there with Lukas and Moa coming over from Sweden to stay in Kingussie too. They want to be closer to Hogwarts as Henrica gets nearer her time.""

As it was now confirmed that there were only Voldemort, Lestrange and Rookwood left to deal with, the couple couldn't see any way those three could get through the wards protecting the glen - never mind the extra set on the house and the multitude of goblins who would be determined to stop them. Barchoke then took their minds off this for the moment by handing his daughter a scroll of parchment.

""Arthur will handle the magical side of this presentation, with me representing The Nation. I couldn't think of anyone else who could put the muggle side of this across better than you."""

She was now beaming with pride, before Hermione read the parchment. ""Is this all confirmed?""

""Yes, I will deal with the how and why, I need you though to explain just what I'm talking about. We now have goblins travelling from all over the globe to be at this fayre, it's already the biggest event in Britain Gringotts have ever sponsored. The Director keeps switching between being incredibly proud to extremely worried that we're being too ambitious. I am now in charge of the Gringotts side this project full time, with The Director looking right over my shoulder.""

Harry and Hermione returned to their seats, she needed to go over these notes. Barchoke had of course owled Augusta for permission to disclose their intentions for the fayre tonight. He and Arthur left their children and moved to the front of the hall. While the wizard set up their presentation, the goblin addressed the students and staff of Hogwarts.

"Good evening everyone, and thanks for allowing us to visit Hogwarts. We're here tonight to talk to you about an event that's happening this summer on my son's estate. The reasoning behind this weekend is really rather simple, it's all about having fun. Whether you're magical, muggle or goblin, irrespective of age or gender, you should find something at this fayre that you will enjoy. There will be so much going on at so many different locations that we have copied an idea from muggle entertainment parks that specialise in this kind of thing. Arthur is expanding a map of the Baron of Kingussie's estate, a map that has the information any visitor will need to plan their day."

It was then Arthur's turn to talk to the hall. "The centrepiece of this weekend is a cut-down version of the Trillenium Stadium, the one that the ministry will build for the Quidditch World Cup Final. This version will only seat five thousand spectators, not the hundred thousand that the real stadium will hold. At specific times each day, events will take place in this stadium. The quidditch matches and a performance from the Weird sisters are only some of them, I understand your defence clubs are also considering putting on some displays?"

Arthur was looking to Harry as he asked the question, he soon got his answer.

"We're looking at running some speed and accuracy drills for the audiences, then run a team duelling competition like we did inside Hogwarts - just with a few more people watching."

This got a few laughs before Barchoke took over from his son. "There will also be displays of goblin fighting techniques and fights timetabled too. I know Master Sharpshard is hoping to entice the centurion who has beaten him the last twice they've fought into a rematch, seats for that fight might be hard to come by. Dan Granger is also organising a clay pigeon shooting competition, all entrants must have passed his handling guns safely instruction course though."

The goblin paused for a moment, there were students at each of the four tables who knew exactly what clay pigeon shooting was. It would be far easier to let them do the explaining to their housemates before he continued.

Barchoke was now standing beside the map and expanding on the illustrations shown. "The glen will have areas designated and dedicated to particular functions. For instance, in this part of the glen we have the winter zone. This will have sledges for those who want to shoot down the hills, an ice rink for those who love to skate as well as a snow covered area for people who just want to play in the white stuff. Next to that is an area simply called Gringotts zone. Here you will have a chance to see our smiths at work as they forge weapons and armour. Our jewellers will also be presenting their skills, with an exhibition of both types of wares available for all to see. Oh, and I mustn't forget our dragon handlers, who will also be parading their skills at working with these magnificent animals in a specially constructed chamber..."

The staff table was almost overturned at this point by Hagrid jumping to his feet. "Dragons, did yeh say there would be dragons there? How do yeh get into this fayre?"

Seeing Slughorn was very interested in that answer too, Harry quickly stepped in. "By invitation only."

Arthur was just as quick to continue the presentation, and cover the awkward silence that Harry's answer just caused. "This area here will be a play park for younger children with swings, slides and roundabouts. Surrounding this area will also be carousels and other such amusements for the younger generations. There will also be a massive food court where all different types of cuisine from every corner of the world will be available for people to try. Madam Puddifoot's, the Three Broomsticks and the Leaky Cauldron will also be represented here for those less adventurous visitors. To be honest, the only other thing on this map I actually recognise is the flying carpet rides. I'll hand you over to Hermione Granger to explain the rest."

This admission was greeted by some gentle jibes from Arthur's twin sons as Hermione joined the pair beside the map. "Alongside the flying carpets is the entrance to the roller coaster. If you've ever ridden in a Gringotts cart then you'll have some idea of what this ride is like, though the information I have here states this one will travel at high speed all around the glen. That would make it miles long, and give you a great view of everything. The fact that there will be a go-kart track will certainly please Draco, we could hardly get him off them in Florida."

The blond Slytherin now had a wide smile on his face, all he would say to anyone that asked was 'wait and see - you'll love them'.

"We then have what's labeled on the map as the water zone. Here there will be a log flume - think Gringotts cart on water instead of wheels. There will also be rowboats next to our new small loch for anyone who wants a gentler time on the water and various fountains for those who just want to cool off. The cinema tent will allow everyone to experience one of the best parts of muggle culture, movies. I think they will only be showing short classic cartoons so people don't end up spending the whole day in there, still well worth a visit."

Hermione didn't want to go into too much detail, this wasn't the time or place for that. she was glad when father once more took over.

"Gringotts have also been contacted by a circus troupe that perform all over Europe. Every member knows about magic and, while they mainly perform to muggle audiences, they still do all their banking through Gringotts. The have asked for the opportunity to perform for us over this weekend, an opportunity we were more than happy to offer. The bank then started looking for customers who have chosen to work in the muggle side, we will be contacting these people to see if this is something that may interest them too. While the map features the main confirmed zones and events, it doesn't highlight all the vendors, games of skill and chance, street performers and many other things that will be dotted around the entire glen. There will also be outlets from Gambol & Japes, Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour, Honeydukes Sweetshop and Zonko's Joke Shop, all selling their wares to a wider audience."

Having set the scene so everyone really wanted to attend this fayre, it was now Harry's turn to speak. he walked forward and stood beside his father, Hermione and Arthur.

"If this sounds too good to be true, I can assure you it's not - and I want to invite all the students of Hogwarts to attend…"

The cheering this announcement caused almost took the roof off, Harry had to wait a few moments before he could eventually make himself heard.

"You're forgetting I'm a goblin, and we never do anything for free. Wait until you hear the price before you cheer. To everyone in Hogwarts, that's just a map. To Hermione and I, that's our home. We will be inviting goblins, witches, wizards and muggles into our home and they will all be respectful to and of each other - or they will be quickly thrown out."

The training they had received from Sirius was again paying dividends. By calling this their home, the purebloods' own codes of ethics would see them behave, lest they embarrass their family's good name. The goblins attending would know the mighty wrath of Ragnot awaited anyone who embarrassed The Nation at this event. There could be queues forming to take all your gold, while your head looked on from the stick The Director stuck it on. There would be no goblins causing trouble in Kingussie that weekend.

"As you can imagine, something on this scale requires a massive amount of organising, as well as an army of helpers to see it runs smoothly - that's where you come in. We're looking for volunteers to work either the Saturday or Sunday, the reward for this will be an invitation for you and your family to attend on the day you're not working. The exceptions to this will be the marauders clubs and the quidditch teams, they will obviously want their families in Kingussie on the day they step into the stadium."

That was an offer that held everyone's interest, until Arthur made it even better. "What Harry forgot to mention was that, once you are in Kingussie, all these attractions are free. You obviously wouldn't expect to walk into Honeydukes and help yourself for nothing. There will also be items for sale from various vendors throughout the glen, but you won't pay for any of the entertainment."

"On the day anyone is working in Kingussie, all their meals will be provided. Now we're not looking for anyone to make any decisions tonight..." Harry was halted as the entire Ravenclaw table stood and declared they were in. The other three houses soon followed, with only a few older Slytherins taking their time to make their minds up.

"Thanks for that. The plans at the moment see us all going to Kingussie on the Friday, this will give everyone a chance to find out what they will be doing - and get a first shot at some of the attractions. We can arrange portkeys or everyone could stay for the weekend..." It was a massive roar of approval for the second option that halted Harry this time, it looked like they were having hundreds of guests staying for the weekend. Just one more thing they would need to add to their to-do list.

-oOoOo-

Barchoke had this task on his to-do list for a while now, it was time he dealt with this unpleasantness. The man was led into his office and Barchoke got right down to business. ""I take it you are aware of the changes happening outside Gringotts?""

""Yes, I am given a copy of the Prophet every day. I have to confess though, there have been days lately when the news being reported had me thinking I was being pranked. I still remember your son once telling me that goblins don't do pranks so I have to assume it's all really happening.""

""Your fellow death eaters who had the sense to fall on the ministry's offer of clemency now find themselves marginalised to the point where they can hardly go out in public. Their dark marks now exclude them from playing any meaningful part in wizarding society. Do you like working in Gringotts?""

Severus Snape was no fool, he already knew there was no life waiting for him outside Gringotts. His dark mark would bar him from plying his trade anywhere in Britain, he wouldn't even be able to enter an apothecary to buy ingredients. ""I am very happy working in Gringotts, and thought we had a deal where I could remain here after my sentence was finished?""

""That deal is still on the table, I might have another option for you though. We might have a method of negating your mark...""

Severus was glad he was sitting down when he heard that, here was something he had desired for many years. ""I didn't think it was possible to remove Voldemort's mark...""

""We don't think it is either. What I'm offering is a chance to change your allegiance, and hopefully your dark mark. Swearing a blood oath of allegiance to The Nation would see your status as a prisoner end, and we think overpower your oath to Voldemort. Should this be successful, you could still stay here if you wished but would also have the option to leave and live normally too.""

Having learned much more about goblin culture since being able to speak the language, Severus knew this was an offer that wasn't made lightly. He only had one question he needed answered first before graciously accepting. ""Why are you making this offer? I can't believe your son or his friend have forgiven me.""

""You are of course correct, I don't think Harry or Neville will ever forgive you. What they are trying to do is understand how a young man could make a mistake, and how much he now regrets that mistake. You were only eighteen when you fell for Voldemort's lies, twenty when you trusted that other perpetual liar, Albus Dumbledore. While both my son and Neville have already chosen their life mates, they are an extremely tight group. Harry would do anything to protect Padma, and Neville is the exact same where Hermione is concerned. They are as close as siblings and are using that relationship to try to understand your desire to protect Lily Potter.""

Barchoke was deliberately using Lily's married name, knowing the only man she loved was James. Snape needed to understand that this offer was being made because of the friendship he once shared with a redheaded muggle born witch. ""My son is advocating that only the guilty should be punished, a policy the ministry's adoption of probably stopped a war. Only you know how guilty you are over this incident, we're not here to try and relieve or forgive that guilt.""

Severus had his head down, trying not to let image of a dead Lily Potter be his abiding memory of the best friend he ever had. He was concentrating on happier times as Barchoke continued.

""Your blood oath to The Nation would see your own magic react if you ever betrayed that oath, the safety of a certain centurion and three Friends of our Nation would certainly be covered by that oath. As a father, I can honestly tell you I wouldn't be making this offer otherwise. Nothing in this world is more important to me than the safety of my children, I wouldn't hesitate to take my blade to anyone who threatened that safety. Now that you know the reason behind this offer, are you interested?""

That really didn't take any thought at all on Severus' part. ""My time spent inside Gringotts has been some of the most peaceful, happy and productive of my life. You got me out from under the yoke both Dumbledore and Voldemort had placed me under. After experiencing their manipulations for years, it is a delight to live in a society where people say what they mean - and mean what they say. I would be honoured to accept your very generous offer.""

It was time to explain what this offer entailed. ""You will swear a blood oath to The Nation while your bleeding hand rests on the State Stone. The stone itself will decide your measure, and whether or not it finds your oath acceptable. Should it refuse, your situation will remain as it is. Should the State Stone accept your oath, that dark mark on your arm will be anathema to it - your loyalties cannot be divided in this matter. It will battle that mark for ownership of your loyalties, The Nation against the single individual whose mark that is will not be a contest. This will undoubtedly be painful to you, the decision though is still yours to make.""

Severus indicated his acceptance at once. Any amount of pain would be worth it to replace this mark on his very soul. If that replacement signified his allegiance to a society that gave Severus Snape a chance to atone for his mistakes, that would be a mark he would wear with pride.

Barchoke would now have to make the arrangements and promised to give him at least a couple of days notice, he would need that time to mentally prepare himself for this ordeal.

-oOoOo-

Dolores once thought her demotion was an opportunity, now it was becoming an unbearable ordeal. Everything she worked and schemed so hard to achieve was crumbling to dust right in front of her very eyes - and it all started with Crow.

Okay, England getting knocked out of the Quidditch World Cup by Luxembourg wasn't his fault, Dolores would grant the goblin brat that. She was now left hoping Ireland made the final, the British Quidditch fans wouldn't queue to see two 'foreign' teams contesting the World Cup. Seeing their magnificent stadium half empty was a recurring nightmare for the ambitious witch, it would be a very public sign of her failure that would be impossible to cover up.

What the public certainly didn't need was the distraction a copy of the aforementioned magnificent stadium being built by the ministry on a goblin's land provided - with the Prophet going gaga in approval of the news. Instead of the county's excitement building toward the event she had brought to Britain, the entire country was going nuts over this fayre. Why anyone would want to spend their weekend in the company of goblins and muggles was something that escaped her, not that she would be getting invited anyway.

Since it was families of Hogwarts students, Wizengot members and their families along with Ministerial Heads of Departments and their families, Dolores didn't qualify on any counts. When she'd mentioned this was a further attack on the old pure blood families to someone Dolores considered an ally, their response shocked her.

"There are no attacks on the old families, rather on those individuals who were stupid enough to call a half-blood madman their master. My family has been pure for generations, and will be staying pure for the foreseeable future. There will never be legislation passed in Britain to force us to do otherwise. We are being allowed to live our lives the way we choose, what more can you ask for? If our beliefs are so brittle that someone even questioning them sees those beliefs shatter, then perhaps those beliefs weren't as right for us as we thought they were."

While shocked at how accepting the old families were of the current situation, that wasn't what really irked Dolores. She was worried that the success of this fayre would be the yardstick used to measure her own event - an event where she couldn't even control which teams would make the final.

She now couldn't wait for the Tri-Wizard Tournament to hit Hogwarts. Dolores had been assured a pureblood would triumph and she believed those assurances. It was all she had left to look forward to.

-oOoOo-

Harry certainly wasn't looking forward to this. Like his father with Snape though, it was something he needed removed from his to-do list. Hermione on his arm was what gave him the strength to knock on the door, the resulting loud barking saw Harry's hand slip toward the hilt of his sword.

"Quiet, Fang, sit! Centurion, Miss Granger, what can I do fer yeh?"

"Hello Mister Hagrid. I didn't want you to think I was being rude to you the other evening. You will be getting an invitation to the fayre. As it will also be a portkey, we will be handing them out just before we finish up for the summer."

"It's jus' Hagrid, Centurion. I can' thank yeh enough fer this, I've always dreamed o' Havin' a dragon... Merlin, where are my manners, would yeh like to come in fer a cup o' tea?"

"Sorry, Hagrid, we have defence shortly with Professor Lupin. We would have come down sooner but this is the only free period we get in the week."

"I know yer all very busy so thanks fer takin' the time to do this fer me, it's very decent o' yeh. I knew yer mum an' dad well, they would be very proud o' their son."

"Eh, thanks Hagrid, see you around."

As they walked back to the castle, Hermione could feel her mate was still tense. "That was a good thing you just did, Harry. I know it was hard for you."

"I can't ask others to hold out the hand of friendship then not do the same myself. You're right, Hermione, it was hard. If Hagrid hadn't blindly followed Dumbledore's orders that night, everything would have been so very different. That's it though, I draw the line there. Hagrid is a simple soul who just did whatever the old manipulator told him. Horace Slughorn is a selfish, sleeket, conniving self-serving bastard who will never set foot in any home of ours."

Hermione just rested her head on his broad shoulder, she was in total agreement with her mate on this one. There was no way Sluggy would be squirming his way into their lives, the man was so slimy he should leave a trail behind everywhere he goes. The self-styled quintessential Slytherin was nothing like any of their friends who had been sorted into the same house.

The leech had at least taken the hint and now left them alone, he appeared to be going for a different approach to get his hooks into their family. Pansy was now the one being creeped out as Sluggy appeared to have set his sights on indoctrinating Draco in the benefits of having an influential mentor. Draco took great delight in telling Sluggy he already had one, that Lord Black was regent over House Malfoy until he came of age. Slughorn wasn't stupid enough to mess with Sirius.

-oOoOo-

Sirius was currently acting stupid. Well his wife certainly thought so as the marauder was in the process of chatting to her abdomen. "You do know she can't hear you..."

She was cut short as their daughter suddenly kicked hard enough for her husband to see. "Isn't mummy silly, of course you can hear me. Your mummy is such a beautiful person that I need this head start on her if you're ever going to be a daddy's girl."

"Your daddy has a way with charming girls so you won't need to worry about that, my little one. You certainly made Pansy a very happy young girl with her birthday present."

"I spoke to Cissi and Elspeth first, and we all know it's just for a few years until those two come of age. I don't think it was making her a Black that had Pansy so excited though..."

"No, it was the betrothal contract between Pansy Black and Draco Malfoy that made her birthday. Just so you know, there will never be a betrothal contract with our daughter's name on it."

"Have you met our daughter's godfather? Harry would skin me alive if I even tried something like that. Her father married the woman he loves, her godfather will one day do the same. That's what I want for our girl. Draco and Pansy have always been betrothed, Pansy especially was missing the security that gave her."

Henrica was resting on the sofa in their Hogwarts quarters, her feet up after a hard day. Sirius was sitting on the floor beside her, talking to the bump in her abdomen that was their growing daughter. She just couldn't resist running her fingers lovingly through his hair. Henrica was used to Sirius being charming, the old dog just couldn't help it sometimes. What she saw now was something even better, Sirius Black was sitting beside his pregnant wife and radiating contentment - and his pregnant wife found it so, so sexy.

"Sirius, I think you should take your wife to bed."

He was trying his best to be a good husband, and sometimes Henrica made that task incredibly easy for him. The Blacks would be having an early night.

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