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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15. Visiting Parents

With Halloween being on a Thursday, the ceremony where Harry would officially become Centurion Crow was scheduled for the following day. Knowing how much pressure his son had actually been under in his two months at Hogwarts, Barchoke made arrangements for Harry and Hermione to be out of the castle that weekend too.

The educator in McGonagall had originally balked at the idea of a pair of first years missing so many classes, forcing Harry to tell her the reason behind needing Halloween away from Hogwarts too. After that, It was a teary-eyed Deputy Headmistress who immediately signed the paperwork.

They stayed for Astronomy class on the Wednesday evening so didn't leave until after breakfast on Thursday morning, Padma was hugging both of them goodbye before Professor Flitwick escorted them to the edge of Hogwarts wards. Harry's portkey then took the pair, plus Moonlight riding in her carrying basket, to Gringotts.

-oOoOo-

Harry so wanted to hug his father, Hermione had gotten him addicted to this most un-goblinlike of behaviour. "Well met father, I'm delighted to see you again."

"Well met my son, and of course you too Miss Granger. It does these old eyes good to see you both looking so well."

"Oh sir, I think I'm more excited over this than Harry is, it's really great to see you again too."

The sincerity in her words shone through and had the goblin smiling with delight, it was time to get down to business though. "We have quite a lot to accomplish today so I need to get started by letting you know our itinerary. First, we all have an appointments with the tailors for something appropriate to wear tomorrow. Then our trip to Godric's Hollow, followed by a journey to Crawley."

Hermione's excitement was reaching hyperventilating proportions. "We're going to see my mum and dad?"

"Yes, Harry and I have something we need to take care of but you also have a task to do at home."

Hermione had developed and refined her method of dealing with what she called the goblin need to know principle - they never told you anything if they could help it - she only had to look at Harry and raise an eyebrow for him to offer an explanation.

"Best guess, my father has arranged protection wards on your home. You will need to be there as the warders require someone magical to tie the protection to. I'll tell you about the other trip when I get back. I don't know what I'm going to find and have no intention of letting it spoil our day. My father and I will be perfectly safe so you don't have to worry."

"I thought it was supposed to be me who knew you well?"

Their interplay had Barchoke smiling, but still ushering them out his office. They really did have a lot to do, and he was certainly not looking forward to this afternoon.

-oOoOo-

Since the first of September, Hermione had felt as if she'd dropped straight into one of her favourite books, though this was her own personal version - through the looking glass, and what Hermione found there. This morning had been pure Cinderella - she had felt like a princess as the seamstresses fussed over her and the young witch was amazed by the choices they helped her with - material, colour, style, etc.

Now Hermione was being smacked in the face with the harsh reality of the life she had chosen. Standing there as Harry introduced her to his parents at their graveside was in one way uplifting and yet utterly heartbreaking at the same time. Both his parents had been only twenty one when they were murdered, and Hermione didn't know what to make of the inscription on their headstone - The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

She stood there trying to be a good friend while Harry talked of meeting her on the express and all their adventures to date. He was always modest when describing his actions in these events, and when saying the goblin nation was honouring him by awarding the rank of centurion. He told his mum about their classes, while saying to his father he'd enjoyed his first flight on a broom but had yet to see a quidditch match. Hermione's heart was breaking for her best friend, she so couldn't wait to hug her parents and tell her mum and dad she loved them both.

-oOoOo-

The portkey had barely set the group down in her enclosed back garden and Hermione was already running, racing through the French doors while shouting for her parents. It was a smiling Harry who picked up Moonlight's basket and followed his father in the direction his best friend had shot off.

They soon came across all three Grangers sharing a needy and tearful hug. Harry felt as if they were intruding until Hermione broke away from her parents and was quickly dragging him over to meet them.

"Mum, dad, this is Harry."

Hermione was in her usual position of being on Harry's left arm so he had to sit Moonlight's carrier down to offer her father his hand. "Pleased to meet you sir."

While Dan was noticing how firm this young lad's handshake was, and just how comfortable his daughter appeared on his arm, Harry was getting his first close look at Hermione's parents. He would place both about late thirties with her father easily qualifying for the tall, dark and handsome tag that he'd heard some of the witches bandying about in Hogwarts. That those remarks were aimed at him went right over his head. Harry also thought Emma Granger was a stunningly beautiful woman, politely and sincerely saying so as he kissed the back of her hand.

Emma Granger couldn't believe her first look at Hermione's best friend. His dark suit appeared as it had been hand-made by the best that Savile Row had to offer, though it's cut could hardly be considered traditional. His snow-white shirt was impeccably matched by a pearl grey waistcoat and cravat, crossed by a sash that held a bejewelled but obviously deadly sword. The long jet black hair framing those unbelievable green eyes made for quite the ensemble, she could now understand Hermione's claims that other witches were throwing themselves at him. Gazing into those mesmerising eyes almost took her breath away as Harry kissed the back of her hand, claiming it was now easy to see from where Hermione inherited her beauty. Her daughter giggling was a wonderful sound that both Granger parents wanted to hear a lot more of, and broke the spell Emma was falling under.

"Oh my, he's quite the charmer Hermione."

This produced a full-blown laugh from her daughter. "The thing is mum, Harry doesn't even know he's doing it. Harry's just being sincere."

Hermione was bending down to get the newest member of the Granger family out her basket when her parents caught sight of her bracelet. "Jesus! Hermione, you weren't kidding about your present being beautiful."

"Oh I know mum, isn't Moonlight just gorgeous?"

Dan and Emma were both delighted their daughter valued her kitten over the golden bracelet, and were looking forward to hearing their stories over a lunch that was already prepared. Watching the two kids interact at the table, they fond themselves agreeing with Barchoke. Harry certainly brought the best out of Hermione.

Their daughter was sitting with Moonlight on her lap, scraps of food would find their way to the kitten, as Hermione's constant chatter and wide smile lit up the room. They had thought her letters were written by a different girl but here was the daughter both parents had always known was inside, all it had needed was some friends to bring this happy and contented version of Hermione to the fore.

Soon Barchoke had to offer their apologies, he and Harry had an appointment that couldn't be broken. All three parents watched as their children hugged each other, Barchoke promising that they would be back later. The warders were also due within the hour to begin their work securing the Granger home.

Hermione watched Harry and his father disappear and both her parents heard her sigh. Dan went to clear up after lunch, knowing Emma wanted a chance to talk to their not so little girl.

-oOoOo-

It was a long time since Sirius Black had enjoyed lunch, it was now a decade since Sirius had enjoyed anything. Today was the tenth anniversary of the worst day of his life, the day his entire world turned to shit. It was therefore a great shock when he heard the guard approaching and then his cell door creaked open.

"Move it Black, some goblins here to see you on family business. I thought you were the last of your evil tribe."

Sirius wondered if Lucius was trying to get his hands on the Black fortune again? He must be getting desperate, sending goblins to Azkaban now. His only happy thought was his iron-clad will that left everything to his godson, neither the Malfoys nor the ministry would get a Knut of that money.

He was led into the visitor room and sat in the chair, chains soon had him secured before the guard left. A pair of goblins then entered from another door and sat in front of him. One of the goblins had his hood raised and face hidden while the other did the talking.

"Good afternoon sir, we were wondering if you could answer some questions for us?"

"Well it's not like I had anything else planned for today. You've came all this way to see me so I'll do my best."

Sirius then felt as if all the oxygen had been sucked out of the room. The other 'goblin' had lowered his hood and the marauder found himself pierced by a familiar pair of angry green eyes. The last time Sirius had looked into a pair of angry green eyes exactly like those was after he had bought his godson a broom for his first birthday - Lily threatened to castrate Padfoot if Harry hurt himself.

"You can start Mr Black by telling us why you betrayed my parents to that bastard Voldemort?"

-oOoOo-

Hermione was pacing up and down the kitchen, with her gaze fixed on the back garden. Their house was now warded but Harry still hadn't returned as evening was falling, and Hermione's anxiety was mounting with every minute that passed. Her mum and dad were trying to get her to sit but the feeling that something had happened just wouldn't go away.

Moonlight was currently positioned on Emma's lap, having taken to both her owner's parents instantly. Her mother was stroking the purring kitten while trying to get Hermione to calm down. "Harry will arrive when he gets here, you walking up and down won't make it happen any faster. He's with his father and said they wouldn't be in any danger."

"Mum, danger just has a way of sneaking up on Harry. He never goes looking for trouble, it usually finds him...oh shit - Harry!"

The pair had portkeyed into the back garden and it appeared as if his father was holding Harry up, Dan moved swiftly to help Barchoke get his son into the house. Hermione stood there almost frozen in shock until Harry spotted her and managed to say 'Hermione', she sprang right to him and both were soon a tangle of arms. The two fathers got Harry into a chair and Hermione parked herself on his lap, her best friend was sobbing his heart out and she had no intention of moving anywhere else until he was okay.

The three parents were left to stand there as Hermione comforted a Harry who'd clearly had some kind of emotional breakdown. Barchoke was looking on in anguish, feeling as if he'd failed his son. "I had no idea how to deal with Harry's reaction but your daughter seemed to know exactly what to do. I can't thank you or Hermione enough for this."

Emma watched as their daughter sat on a boy's lap and whispered in his ear, that the same boy was holding on to her as if his life depended on it gave some idea of just how much these two had come to depend on each other. She was so glad of having the chance to talk with Hermione, and relieved she had time to pass that information on to her husband while their daughter was assisting with the wards.

Hermione's revelation that Harry wouldn't even consider a girlfriend until this nutter was no longer after him had eased Dan's worries. All three parents already had a fair idea who Harry would be turning to when that time came. Emma's advice to her daughter was to be Harry's best friend, and anything more that she wanted would perhaps follow later. Emma hoped it would be years later but children seemed to grow up faster with every passing generation.

She asked Barchoke the obvious question. "What happened?"

"It's a very long story Emma, and one you will hear in great detail, but let's wait until Harry feels up to telling his part of it. My son has just had the biggest shock of his life. I have seen him physically battered and bruised yet not a tear was shed, this just reminded me he still has a bit of growing to do. I have gotten used to treating him like an adult but he is only eleven - and today that showed."

Having Hermione in his arms was allowing Harry to regain control of his emotions. Harry had built his drive to excel on a foundation of three life goals, three reasons he must train, study and be at his best so he could achieve his aims. These trio of absolutes were the force that gave Harry the strength to get back up in a fight when his body was screaming enough, what gave him the drive and determination to succeed on his mission at Hogwarts.

He was determined to prove his 'family' wrong for discarding him out of hand, his greatest wish was to one day confront them. In his book, a child being magical was not a good enough reason to throw that child away. His father was a different species and, in his own way, loved him very much. Goblins worshiped their children and Harry had been raised as a goblin, so his abandonment at his relatives' hands was a scar that went really deep.

Secondly, he needed to see Voldemort gone forever. Even without the prophecy, this would have been one of his main goals. Revenge was a concept that spanned many cultures but Harry considered it more a case of delayed justice. Voldemort had killed his parents, and would be coming back to try for him again. Seeing this monster gone forever was something that had to be done, and, according to the prophecy, only he could do it.

Thirdly, Harry desperately wanted to look the wizard in the eye that had betrayed his parents and ask him why - before spitting in the bastard's face. Today he thought he would accomplish one of those aims, only to discover it was the wrong man held in Azkaban.

This had badly shaken those painstakingly constructed foundations, and Harry didn't know how to deal with the situation he now found himself in. When Harry began to speak, it was to Hermione he addressed himself. The three parents just sat and listened, almost forgotten about by their children.

"Hermione, I have hated someone for as long as I can remember. I took delight and comfort from the fact he was locked away in the toughest prison on the planet. No punishment was too harsh for this person, no suffering too great. Today, my father and I went to Azkaban to confront this criminal..." Hermione's gasp of shock saw Harry falter for a moment, it also allowed Barchoke to quietly explain to her parents just what Azkaban was.

Hermione now holding Harry even tighter at the mention of that foul place gave him the strength to continue. "I found an innocent man Hermione, I found family I didn't know I had. I found a godfather, a godfather who even after ten years in Azkaban still loves me... How could I be so wrong? What else in my life am I totally wrong about? I don't know what to do next Hermione?"

His best friend instinctively understood what the problem was here, Harry's very beliefs had just taken a massive hit. There was also the fact that another person said they loved him, apparently not something goblins were noted for saying to each other. Hermione had come to understand Harry very well, and thought she knew what to say to help her best friend. "Love him back Harry, that's all you can do. If he really loves you, then that's all he would want. Let the adults work on how to get him out of there, you can't do any more at the moment."

Harry was crying again, but this time it seemed different. Gone were the distraught, heart-wrenching sobs, this was more like a welcome release. As they watched Hermione once more work her soothing magic on her best friend, Dan needed to know something from Barchoke.

"Is this man really innocent?"

"We have searched for years, attempting to unearth information on Sirius Black - the man who betrayed Harry's parents. That we couldn't find any surprised us, the ministry aren't usually that efficient at keeping secrets, and left us with no option but to approach the source. Sirius' claims that he never had a trial or was even questioned answers our lack of records problem. With his permission, we were able to access the Black vaults. Harry is indeed his godson, and sole heir to the Black title and fortune."

Emma couldn't get her head around this development. "How could an innocent man end up in prison - without even a trial?"

"Powerful figures wanted him there Emma, that was all it took. The man was in tears, claiming he had let down his godson. He was at Harry's parents home that night after the attack, and wanted to take baby Harry with him. Dumbledore already had plans in place and Sirius was denied his legal right. Instead, he went after the real betrayer but was caught before he could kill the traitor. Sirius was again denied his legal rights, he awoke in Azkaban and has been there for the last ten years. Harry then tried to comfort Sirius by giving him a quick overview of his own life, before becoming distraught with himself that we hadn't taken any action earlier..."

-oOo- earlier -oOo-

"Harry, you had to stay hidden - I completely understand and agree with that. I see a wonderful young man before me, and that makes me feel better than I have in many years. Your father has done a fantastic job raising you..."

"Sirius, I'm now head of the Potter family, I can use that to get you out..."

Sirius saw the Potter ring appear on his godson's finger. "Not without ending the escrow agreement that keeps you protected, I don't want that. How did you slip that one past the ministry anyway?"

"We placed the documents in a bundle of goblin complaints against the ministry, and filed them with the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. We have a signed receipt and the ninety days the ministry - or anyone else - had to object has now passed..."

"That is so sneaky, I love it. Please listen to me, you couldn't have registered those papers before your eleventh birthday, so the ninety days must have just passed this week. You couldn't have come here any quicker even if you wanted to."

Harry started sobbing then, knowing what he had come here to do. Confront his parents' betrayer and spit in Sirius Black's face.

"Listen to me Harry, knowing you are safe and well will allow me to survive in here. Yes I want out, but not at any cost to the only person in the world who means anything to me."

They heard the guard returning and Harry flew to hug his chained godfather, his father was left to pull his son's hood up and stop Harry attacking the guard as the idiot berated and manhandled Sirius out the room.

-oOo- present -oOo-

Dan had a query. "Are you saying all Harry had to do was pull his hood up and he could waltz right through a maximum security prison?"

"I was clearly a goblin, and chatting with my companion in our own language. I told you, to them goblins are only a small step up from Moonlight there. Yes there was certainly a chance we may have been discovered, that's why we couldn't make the trip any sooner. Until Harry went to Hogwarts, no one but Dumbledore knew where he was. I got Harry back to Gringotts, we were already sure Sirius was telling the truth but confirmation saw me having to bring Harry here in that state."

Emma was focusing on another issue. "You said Harry was now head of the Potter family, does that mean he's made his decision?"

"What I want for my son is that he, and he alone, has the power to make that decision. This was crucial in that our greatest fear was the ministry or Dumbledore would find - or even invent - some legal loophole to tear Harry away from me. The escrow agreement means he's considered property until he reaches the age of seventeen, or the head of the Potter family decrees otherwise. Since that is now Harry, he has the power to end it at any point he so chooses. At the moment though, this would have the effect of throwing him to the wolves. He has trained hard and studied even harder for what he knew was awaiting him at Hogwarts. Harry has neither the knowledge nor experience to handle being an adult wizard. He needs time to grow, physically and emotionally before that decision really becomes a viable one."

"So this was more about stopping anyone else forcing that decision on him?"

"Exactly Emma, we want to keep this information secret for as long as possible. I don't want Harry jumping into anything and getting some short-term gain, but losing in the long run. Sirius picked up on that aspect at once, which was why he didn't want Harry rushing out and declaring himself head of the Potter family to help."

"Will he have to deal with this sack load of betrothal contracts now?"

Barchoke's eyebrows shot up at that. "He told Hermione about them?"

Emma was confused at the surprise, you could almost say shock, her question had been greeted with. "Yes, is there something wrong with that?"

"Oh no, it's just the level of trust between them that shocked me." On seeing Emma visibly confused, Barchoke attempted to explain. "That a parent would offer their daughter in marriage to someone they had never even met - for financial gain - is as disgusting to goblins as I can see it is to you. Goblins could never treat their children like property."

He then continued quickly, knowing the irregularity in that statement and noticing Dan had clearly picked up on. "Had Harry been born a goblin, an escrow agreement would never have been possible. I only suggested it to protect Harry from an orphanage, my intention was always to adopt and raise him as my son. When Harry publicly declares himself as head of House Potter, one of his first tasks will be to reject each and every one of those contracts. They are something that he is deeply embarrassed by, which was why I was so surprised he mentioned them to Hermione."

The parents had been chatting in voices that were barely above a whisper because Harry and Hermione had become very quiet, a closer inspection showed that they had fallen asleep in each others arms.

Emma couldn't help herself. "Ah, don't they look cute!"

This led to her husband shaking his head but making an offer to Barchoke anyway. "I really don't want to disturb them and Harry is welcome to stay here tonight. You could pick them both up in the morning?"

"Tomorrow is a very big day for Harry, he really needs to be rested. I think staying here would certainly help with that." Barchoke then had a question of his own. "Would you mind if I made them more comfortable?"

Emma quickly agreed and then both Grangers watched in amazement as the chair slowly transformed into a very comfortable looking sofa. The transformation was so slow and gentle, neither of the kids woke as their sleeping position changed. Both were now lying on the sofa though they never released their grip on each other throughout.

A cushion became a blanket that tucked both of them in before Barchoke wished everyone a good night.

Emma came from the kitchen with two cups of tea to see Dan watching over the sleeping pair. She handed him his cup while expressing her surprise. "You're taking this much better than I thought. I half expected you getting the guns out to chase Harry off, not sitting there watching some boy sleeping with your daughter."

He knew his wife was teasing but Dan still decided to answer. "First of all, this is not some boy - this is Hermione's best friend. Furthermore, they are sleeping and did I mention he was eleven?"

This earned Dan a kiss from his wife, who was still teasing. "Why don't you just admit you like the boy?"

"Oh he had you eating out of his hand within minutes, handsome and charming was just two descriptions I heard as I cleared the lunch dishes away. I will admit the boy is polite, courteous and has impeccable taste in females - he had you swooning and clearly adores Hermione. Let's not forget he placed himself between nine bullies and our little girl, I'm trying my hardest to forget all about trolls."

Emma held the silence and Dan finally cracked. "Ok, I like the boy - satisfied?"

"I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page, I think they're adorable together. I wondered about Barchoke's comment that these two would be part of each other's lives for years, having seen them today I agree one hundred percent - and approve more than I can say. When have you ever seen our daughter happier, and one of her other friends will be coming for Christmas too. I really can't wait and want to spend as much time with them as possible."

This had Dan thinking. "Neither Harry nor Padma celebrate Christmas, I think we should go all-out to make their first Christmas as memorable as possible."

Christmas was Emma's favourite time of the year so that got a big yes from her. They watched as the kids moved to get more comfortable on the conjured sofa, at no point did they release their hold on each other. This actually drew a smile from Dan.

"Hermione has always been a girl who loved her hugs, it would appear she's found a best friend who thinks the same way."

Emma had more to add to that observation. "Harry had his first hug on the train to Hogwarts. Hermione said this was a cultural difference Harry was happy to adopt, apparently goblins don't do hugs. That's probably why his father brought him here, Barchoke possibly knew what Harry needed but didn't know how to go about it."

This confused Dan. "How is that possible..."

Emma cut right in. "Hermione says the four friends come across differences like that every day. They've learned it doesn't make someone right or wrong - just different."

"She really is growing in to a young lady..."

His wife cut in again. "...a beautiful young lady who's already well into her first crush. That the subject of this crush is lying on our new sofa snuggling into our daughter means the next few years will be interesting. There is one thing I'm already sure of, that young man there will never break her heart..."

This time it was Dan's turn to butt in. Here though was the protective father Emma had been expecting. "...he bloody better not - or he'll need to deal with me."

-oOoOo-

Hogwarts was recovering from its Halloween celebrations and normal service was slowly being resumed at breakfast. The conversations were swaying between the upcoming quidditch match and the beautiful new history professor - the new course was only mentioned at the Ravenclaw table. All that stopped when the Prophet was delivered, the headline alone was enough to account for that.

Boy-who-lived opens his heart to the Prophet.

Exclusive interview and picture.

They did indeed have a picture of Harry, with Hermione of course on his arm. The flowers in his hand were assumed to be for her.

There then followed a list of questions and answers that most in the castle recognised the truth of, that was until Padma grabbed a copy and made for the staff table.

"Professor Flitwick, this is a load of rubbish. Harry would never talk to that rag, he won't even read it."

"I am inclined to agree with you Miss Patil, but that picture is undoubtably Mr Crow and Miss Granger - and most of us recognise some truth in the article."

She was joined by an angry Neville who defended his friends just as stoutly. "Padma and I know what Harry and Hermione had planned yesterday. It's just not possible for this interview to have taken place."

"All this supposed interview goes on about is how happy Harry is at Hogwarts - where does it say he had to fight a troll and provide three of his own tutors?"

Neville totally agreed with Padma on this point. "It also never mentions the fact that Harry is out of school to become Centurion Crow, something he would be sure to talk about in any interview.

Severus had been keeping his head low, observing rather than objecting. The boy's takedown of Binns had been pure Slytherin in the way it was handled, the foundation named after his mother supporting a new history course had also grudgingly won the potion master's respect. This interview in today's Prophet was more like the behaviour he had expected from James Potter's spawn. Severus was head of Slytherin though, so decided to act like one.

"How can you be so sure of that Mr Longbottom?"

Neville and Padma shared a long look. They may be breaking a confidence of Harry's but this interview made their friend seem like an arrogant arsehole. Their decision was made.

"His father was taking him to visit his mum and dad's grave. This is something they do regularly, and Harry spends his time telling his parents what's been happening with him since his last visit. He invited Hermione along and those flowers will be laid on his mum and dad's graves. This is something Harry would never allow the Prophet anywhere near. I don't know how they got this information and picture but I'm certain Harry knew nothing about it."

Professor McGonagall then stood and confirmed what her young lion had just said. "I was aware of where Mr Crow and Miss Granger were yesterday, and totally agree with Mr Longbottom. Harry's father would never allow the Prophet anywhere near his son, and especially not with yesterday being the anniversary of his parents murder. Knowing that family as I do, I expect their retaliation to be swift and brutal. I would hate to be the one who leaked Mr Crow's whereabouts to the press."

Padma didn't see McGonagall's gaze settle on Dumbledore, she was too busy staring at the newspaper in her hands. "I think it's time this newspaper was treated as the rubbish it is.." She began to physically rip the Prophet to shreds.

Severus got in before anyone else could. "Miss Patil, I will not sit here and watch you throw rubbish all over the floor. One point from Ravenclaw." The Head of Slytherin then banished his own copy before returning to eat his breakfast. Severus Snape had made his decision. Harry Crow was the son of the best friend he ever, or would ever have. That the boy's father was James Potter could be conveniently ignored.

Filius thought he was going to have to argue with Severus again, his one point deduction and then banishing his own copy of this 'rubbish' saw the diminutive charms master smile. He banished the copy of the Prophet that was sitting in front of him - noticing staff along the table were following suit.

Albus watched while copies of today's Prophet began disappearing from all four house tables as students took the view that the story was wrong, or at least not an interview freely given. He had hoped that this would alienate the boy amongst his peers but the actions of his friends put paid to that. Thankfully the rest of wizarding Britain would eat it up and believe every word of it. Albus was forced to respond to the quite blatant attempt to have Harry choose a goblin way of life, that just couldn't be allowed to happen.

-oOoOo-

Dan was first down in the morning, and couldn't find either Hermione or Harry. He had raced upstairs and just woken Emma when both of them heard the front door open. As laughter flowed up the stairs, they quickly headed back down and weren't sure how to react with what they found. Both kids were dressed in exercise clothes and were flushed as if they had been for a run. Hermione was currently swinging a wooden practice sword about while Harry had a wicked looking knife in his hand. That knife was passing up and down their sweeping brush, a brush that morphed into a sword to match Hermione's.

"Morning mum, dad, I didn't think you would be up this early. We've just done our morning run and now going to practice with swords in the back garden, Harry's been teaching me."

This surprised Dan as much as anything he'd seen since discovering their daughter was a witch, the fact that she was magical seemed easier to believe than Hermione exercising. "Do you do this every morning?"

"We run every morning to warm up but Harry has us doing different training every day. At the weekend we just run, Professor Weasley works us hard at our extra defence lessons."

Emma was every bit as shocked as her husband. "Barchoke said you could perform magic at home because the wards would mask it, can you show us what you're learning?"

Quick as a flash, Hermione's wand was in her hand and Dan was hit with a leg locker hex. That this was followed by a tickling jinx had both parents laughing. Dan because of the jinx and Emma who thought it was hilarious to watch him laugh and try to maintain his balance at the same time.

Hermione soon ended both curses and her wand disappeared back up her sleeve. "Professor Weasley provided the three of us with wrist holders for our wands, Harry already had one for his knife. It only takes a flick of my wrist and my wand is ready for action, those were two of the mildest curses we're learning."

Her father couldn't disguise his pride. That Hermione was not only exercising but learning to defend herself were massive pluses to Dan. That her best friend was responsible for these changes also weighed heavily in Harry's favour, and would see the lad receive a warm welcome whenever he appeared at the Grangers.

Emma switched her attention to the young man who was in such distress last night. "How are you feeling today Harry?"

"A lot better Emma, Hermione has a way of getting me to look at things from a different angle. I now have a godfather, that he's in prison is just about what I've come to expect from my life. I also know my father will be looking for a way to get Sirius out of there, and my father is one very smart goblin. If he's not out of Azkaban by Christmas, I'm sure he'll be able to get us back in to see Sirius again over the holidays."

Talking about his father almost seemed to summon him as Barchoke portkeyed into the back garden a couple of hours earlier than they were expecting. He marched right up to Harry and handed over a copy of today's Prophet. There followed an immediate stream of words in the goblin language.

"English please son."

"Sorry father, but if I repeated that in English, Hermione would brain me with that practice sword."

He may actually have gotten away with it as Hermione's full attention was taken up by the paper in front of her. "How did they get this? We never posed for any picture, and Harry certainly never gave an interview. This makes him out to be as arrogant as Malfoy?"

"As soon as we arrived, I erected wards around that part of the graveyard so we wouldn't be disturbed. No one could have gotten through them without the wards alerting me. We thought some kind of recording quill but that doesn't explain the photograph, I was never more than ten yards away from you two so it has me stumped."

Harry though was coming at the problem from a different direction. "Someone must have told this Skeeter woman we would be there yesterday, I hardly think they just staked out the cemetery on the off-chance we may appear."

It was a delighted and proud goblin who answered his son. "Of course you are right, we suspect Dumbledore set the entire thing up. He squeezed where you would be on Halloween out of Curse-breaker Weasley, who of course reported this to us at once. We certainly didn't think it would lead to anything like today's Prophet. The director is treating this article as a deliberate attack against Gringotts, it can be no coincidence that this comes out the day you are to become the youngest centurion in history - and your supposed interview makes no mention of it. Our legal team are meeting with the Prophet right now."

Dan was extremely unhappy at seeing his daughter plastered all over the front page of what was effectively a national newspaper. "What are you hoping to achieve?"

"They will print a full retraction and reveal how they got this information."

That sounded fine in principle but newspapers were very reluctant to call themselves liars, and even more so to reveal sources. "Do you think they will?"

Barchoke answered with a question of his own. "What would happen if your bank suddenly decided they wouldn't support your business, and wanted all the money back they had lent you? Add to that you wouldn't be able to use the bank to pay your staff salaries, or pay for supplies to keep your business running. Oh, and you can't take your account to another bank - since there isn't one!"

There really was only one answer Dan could give. "We would be ruined, but why would you do that?"

"The director looks on this as a political attack on Gringotts, a deliberate attempt to discredit one of our subjects. Centurion Crow here extolling the virtues of Hogwarts, and the wizarding world in general, will do massive damage to Harry's standing in our nation. This whole thing has Dumbledore's stamp all over it, our reaction must be swift and severe."

Emma was stunned at how much power the goblins actually wielded in the magical world. "Why don't wizards have their own bank? No offence intended Barchoke, but how can it make sense to have all their eggs in the one basket - or all their gold in your bank?"

"You are right Emma but pureblood wizards are inherently lazy. For generations, a flick or swish from their wand has gotten them whatever they wanted, they always take the easy option. Even their favourite sport is played sitting on a broom, hardly physically taxing. Harry and Hermione exercise every day but both their pureblood friends think they are crazy for doing so, because that's the way they have been raised to think. While Gringotts certainly employs a few witches and wizards, they never get to work on the financial side of the bank. Why should we train people who could one day replace us?"

This left the mother shaking her head. "Hermione told us there were cultural differences between all four friends but it takes some getting used to. Do you really think this newspaper will print an apology and the truth?"

Hermione had something to add to that conversation. "Well, if there's going to be another picture, I want to be in it. I look like some gormless village idiot in this one, Harry though is very handsome."

Hermione did indeed have a different way of looking at things and it generated a smile amongst those gathered there that morning. It was time for breakfast, preparations for the ceremony and then crushing a newspaper - unless they printed the truth. Just a normal day for Harry Crow.

-oOoOo-

Hermione's views on the picture were shared by a young redhead at the Burrow. Ginny couldn't wait to get the newspaper up to her bedroom and take a pair of scissors to that picture. She intended to cut so that only her handsome Harry would be left, with flowers in his hand for her of course. Ginny was also counting the days to Christmas and knew she would be getting her present early this year. What gift could possibly compare to her meeting Harry Crow?

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