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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29. Yield Or Die!

Harry understood at once what his father meant about ending this fight early, he would need to as Master Sharpshard certainly wasn't in training mode this morning. The object of today's lesson appeared to be showing Harry how much he still had to learn, and teaching him this lesson in as little time as possible. Without his magic, Harry doubted he would have lasted a minute.

He did have magic though, and it was time to use it. That he didn't have his knife in his hand lulled his mentor into a false sense of security, a security that was about to be trampled all over.

After Harry parried his first two attacks, Master Sharpshard then found himself standing there, not with a sword in his hand, but a bright yellow daffodil. When a web then shot from Harry's sword, the large goblin found himself suspended from the ceiling, a dozen feet off the ground.

Harry turned to see his father on the floor with laughter, his goblin stoicism shattered into a million pieces. Padma and Neville were cheering wildly at his victory but Harry didn't get to see any more as his vision was suddenly blocked by a mass of brown hair. Hermione arrived and hit like an express train, the scream of terror that she then produced was also as loud as any steam whistle.

Harry spun to see his mentor of the blade had easily sliced through his web, and was now using the cut section to swing down to the ground like Spider-Man. The goblin surprised everyone by using Harry's method of entrapment as a means of getting swiftly back into the fight. Master Sharpshard had a battle-axe in his hand and murder in his eyes, Harry barely had time to push Hermione out of the way before the goblin attacked with a ferocity his student had not faced before.

Hermione had not gone far though, and, seeing her boyfriend in terrible danger, didn't even think about her next move. Drawing her sword, she charged at the large goblin.

Master Sharpshard was not to be denied though, Hermione's attack was barely a distraction. Her blade was casually and harmlessly deflected away, before a violent kick into her midriff put her out of the fight.

Seeing Hermione flying across the room to land in a heap changed something inside Harry, the battleaxe slicing through his dragon hide tunic and cutting across his chest barely registered.

The shout of triumph died in the goblin's throat as his opponent ignored the inflicted wound, and was certainly not for stopping the fight after first blood had been drawn. Master Sharpshard now found himself facing a fully armoured and totally enraged Centurion Crow.

Any reminding Neville and Padma needed that Harry's father wasn't human was currently being provided in spades. Barchoke attacked the magical barrier that had reappeared in front of them like a wild animal - a wild animal that had a wicked dagger in its hand. He snarled, clawed, slashed and kicked to no avail though, the barrier held. Barchoke stopped as he witnessed the impossible, Hermione's bracelet began to cover her injured body in golden armour. This golden armour was still recognisable as his clan's design, but it should still be impossible. Hermione lying there unmoving after that kick to the lower ribs meant she couldn't be responsible for this, and Harry currently had his hands full.

Bill was trying everything he knew to get through the shield, and having as much success with his wand as Barchoke was with a blade. The trouble would appear to be that, as skilled and experienced as he was, his knowledge was nothing in comparison to Hogwarts. The castle was a few steps ahead of him at every turn. Noticing she was also helping her champion saw Bill lower his wand.

Master Sharpshard had never faced any opponent who was as quick or as strong as this centurion. The fact that both the blades he was now facing were also firing curses as they attacked, curses that were getting through his defences as he was forced to concentrate on not having a belly full of goblin steel, and the experienced warrior knew he was in trouble.

When the terrain started to literally alter beneath his feet, putting obstacles in his path as he was forced to back away from this golden maelstrom, the goblin knew he was in serious trouble.

The knut finally dropped when his left foot suddenly found a hole, a hole that wasn't there a second ago. This wasn't just trouble he was in - this was deep dragon shit.

When that very same hole suddenly closed, trapping his foot, the master of the blade was sure he'd fought his last fight.

Crow was fighting like a possessed demon and the goblin veteran was starting to feel the blood lost from his multiple wounds affecting him. He certainly felt the kick that lifted him right off the ground, ripping his boot apart as his foot was torn free. Landing on his back saw vines grow out the floor and start to hold him there. He didn't have time to worry about that though, an enraged centurion had a golden foot planted on his chest and a sword at his throat.

"Yield or die! I don't care which you choose, just do it quickly."

With the fight over, the barrier came down and Barchoke raced to his son. "Harry no, not like this. Hermione needs you, no one else will be able to get past her armour." Barchoke thought this was the only thing that saved the downed goblin's life, though being reminded who injured Hermione in the first place nearly saw Harry's blade driven home.

As his son headed toward Hermione, Barchoke knelt beside his long-time friend. "Tell me why I shouldn't just gut you where you lay? Maybe I won't even give you that release, my son has inflicted enough damage that you would bleed to death within an hour or so anyway. That might give you enough time to realise just how badly you've fucked-up. Even you must realise that killing him would start a war, a war our nation couldn't hope to win..."

"I would never have killed your son..."

"Once you attacked Hermione, nothing else would stop him. I'm surprised he let you live."

Barchoke let this sink in a moment before continuing, he needed to take action soon. The blood flowing from a few of the deeper wounds Harry had inflicted really would eventually kill the trapped fool.

"No one else can even find this room, yet Hogwarts opens its door for Harry - and changes the room to whatever he requires. You chose to fight the Hogwarts champion in such a room, a champion who's also a centurion, I'm surprised a bolt of lightning didn't shoot out the ceiling to fry your arse. Even that though wasn't enough stupidity for the occasion, you then commit the almost fatal error of attacking his mate! Are you really so stupid or do you just have a Dumbledore complex? You're Master Sharpshard, therefore you can't be defeated. Guess again you delusional old fool, my son just cut you to pieces and dropped you onto your back."

Harry dropped to his knees beside Hermione, his armour had vanished and his bare hand now touched the golden lattice protecting his girlfriend. Their friends were also there, and the retreating armour allowed Bill to cast some medical diagnostic charms on the young witch.

"I'm seeing a couple of cracked ribs and some soft tissue damage, nothing major though moving will be painful until we can get it treated..." Bill stopped talking when it became obvious neither of the two were listening to him, all their attention was focused on each other.

Hermione had never been hit so hard in her life, the blow had taken all the wind - and fight - out of her. As she'd lain there, struggling to get a breath, Hermione had heard the noise of battle and the screams coming from their friends. It felt as if her heart had stopped, a heart that only started beating again when Harry knelt beside her. Seeing her boyfriend caused Hermione to forget all about her injury, Harry appeared to have been fighting inside a giant blender. His tunic was no longer black, having liberal patches of red splattered all over the front.

"Don't try to get up Hermione, your injuries..."

"...are nothing compared to yours. We need to get you to a healer."

"You need to get out of that tunic, Harry, I can't close those wounds through the dragon hide."

Hermione struggled to her feet and helped Harry remove his tunic, she couldn't stop the tears though as Bill administered the wizarding equivalent of first aid. He had a cut that reached from his right shoulder diagonally stretching fully across his torso to his left hip.

Neville offered his duelling robes, since Harry was now standing there in a pair of shorts.

Having Hermione holding his hand put Harry's world back onto an even keel, and made him realise there was something he had to take care of. His honour demanded it. "Hermione, there's something I must do first, I won't be long."

The room had released its grip and Barchoke now had Master Sharpshard sitting up. Barchoke was applying essence of dittany to the deepest of his wounds when Harry came over and knelt with his head bowed.

"Master Sharpshard, I await my punishment for the disrespect I showed my mentor. I used magic to make a fool of you, and for that I deserve to be punished."

Padma had retrieved her sword and Hermione was now sheathing her blade, she heard and understood every word Harry spoke. Remembering that Harry had said goblins didn't do pranks, but would treat such a thing as an attack, Hermione realised just how big a mistake they had made. Hogwarts motto translated as 'never tickle a sleeping dragon', Harry had practically punched one on the nose. Master Sharpshard may not breathe fire but Hermione had no problem considering him every bit as dangerous as the emblem of Gringotts. She too had something that she should really do.

Kneeling beside Harry, and speaking in the goblin language, Hermione said her piece. "I too must apologise, Master Sharpshard. I had no reason to interfere with your training session, and will accept my punishment along with Harry."

"Let there be no more talk of punishment, deserved or otherwise. Crow, you fought like a demon and are a credit to the Centurion core. Miss Granger, I remember telling you that you had the heart of a goblin. Today, you proved that to be true on a few different levels. I think we should take a trip to the healers and then celebrate with some grog later. Since you are both far too young to appreciate that tipple, I will just have to drink your share too!"

The large goblin started to laugh, which quickly became a groan as Barchoke helped him to his feet.

"Crow, you now owe me a pair of boots too. I'll be sending your father the bill, it's not like you can't afford them." The laughter was again cut short as they began heading for the door.

-oOoOo-

Albus had heard from Minerva that Harry's father was going to be inside Hogwarts today, hence why he was loitering at the main entrance. Having watched their last meeting numerous times in his pensieve, he was forced to admit, only to himself, that Filius was correct in his summation of how that meeting had gone. Barchoke had come to Hogwarts in the hope they could work together, and Albus had backed him into a corner. Today, he intended to enquire if there was anyway they could sit back around the table and talk.

The headmaster didn't like using the term desperation but it was applicable here, he had been isolated from playing any part in Harry's life and was desperate for even the smallest crumb he could grasp from the current situation. Albus was prepared to allow practically any concessions in his quest to get back in the game. His problem though was Albus didn't think he had anything they wanted that could allow him to do so.

His thoughts and pacing were interrupted by the bedraggled group making their way down the stairs. Harry's father and William Weasley were supporting, more correctly carrying, the clearly injured large goblin between them. This wasn't what caught Albus' eye though, Harry and the Granger girl were clearly also injured. They were supporting each other, with young Longbottom and their Patil friend showing their concern by hovering next to them.

"What has happened here?"

"A training accident that our healers will soon remedy. We don't have time to chat, headmaster, so please excuse us." Barchoke was polite but everyone heard the steel in his tone.

Albus though was not for being brushed aside so easily, especially since here was an opportunity to earn himself some positive points. "We have a fully equipped infirmary here, and Madam Pomfrey is a highly regarded and widely experienced healer."

"While everything you say is true, you missed the part about mountain trolls paying a visit. We are heading for Gringotts, and I will owl the school should my son and Miss Granger require to remain overnight."

"You are of course perfectly entitled to take your son with you, but I must object to Miss Granger. The school would need the proper authorisation to release her into someone else's care..."

"You are correct, headmaster, though in error on whose authority is proper. The Grangers are at a distinct disadvantage because they are muggles. Since their daughter is a friend of the nation, they have trusted me to act on her behalf on matters connected with the wizarding community. Professor McGonagall has all the relevant information in Miss Granger's file."

From a perceived position of strength, Albus once more saw his argument crumble. It was desperation time again as he turned his attention to the obviously injured young witch. "Miss Granger, do your parents know what you're doing at this training, and how dangerous it can be?"

Unfortunately for Albus, it was another young witch who blew that argument to shreds.

Padma had watched helplessly while Hermione lay injured and Harry battled for his life, she'd cried buckets while holding tightly onto Neville. If that was goblin training, then Padma Patil wanted no part of it. Her two friends then bowing to the monster that had attacked them left her totally confused. That might need to be discussed later, but there was no confusion regarding just whose side she was on. Her two friends needed a healer and the headmaster was in the way, here was something she could do.

"Dan and Emma have actually watched us practicing, they know everything we do in these lessons - and so do my parents. My friends really need to get to a healer, headmaster."

As Albus stood aside, he clutched for one final straw. "Barchoke, when you return the children to Hogwarts, could I speak with you for a moment?"

Barchoke merely nodded as he led the party to the edge of the wards, Neville and Padma accompanied them that far, before racing to find Professor Hobson the instant the group portkeyed away.

-oOoOo-

The portkey landed the group in a part of Gringotts the wizarding public never got to see, that didn't mean it was empty though. Master Sharpshard was a well-known and unmistakable figure in the nation, seeing him being helped to the infirmary set tongues wagging. The gossip would reach all but the deepest recesses before the day was out.

This proved to be true in more respects than one, they had barely made the infirmary before the director appeared. Barchoke refused to leave until Harry and Hermione had been treated, only then did he accompany Ragnok back to the director's office.

-oOoOo-

Sirius was whistling a happy tune as he approached Hogwarts, the tune died on his lips as he spotted Henrica, Padma and Neville obviously waiting on him. His arm was around Henrica before the words were out his mouth. "What's happened?"

Both friends competed to tell the story.

"Harry pulled a prank on Master Sharpshard as they were duelling..."

"...he really didn't take it well and attacked Harry..."

"...the safety barrier went back up..."

"...but Hermione was outside it, since she'd ran to Harry..."

"...Harry pushed her to safety but Hermione drew her sword..."

"...Master Sharpshard didn't care, he just kicked her away..."

It was left to Neville to finish the story, Padma was still upset by that bit.

"Harry was furious, he activated his armour and really attacked Master Sharpshard. Harry ignored his own injuries and cut him badly, Harry finally kicked him to the ground and was ready to kill him. It was only the barrier coming down and his father getting over there that stopped him."

The concern was clearly evident in Padma's entire demeanour as she completed the tale. "Hermione has a few broken ribs while Harry was slashed right across his chest. If they're not coming back tonight, could you ask them to owl us that they're alright?"

Sirius immediately agreed to that, before hurrying off with Henrica to Gringotts.

Their apprehension was instantly quelled as soon as they were escorted into the goblin infirmary. Sirius thought if he could bottle the sense of relief he felt when he spotted his godson, sitting on his girlfriend's bed, then he would easily double the Black fortune. It wasn't just relief Sirius was feeling, the marauder was being swamped by a very confusing mix of emotions.

He wanted to hug his godson, holding back on the manly tears, yet at the same time he felt like shouting at him for getting into trouble. There was even a large dose of pride stirred in there too, pride that his godson had defeated the person who had dared to injure Hermione. Sirius was positive it couldn't be normal to feel all these emotions at the same time, he was worried his head might explode from this overload.

The two adults took a couple of moments to reassure themselves both Harry and Hermione were fine before Sirius asked for some answers.

"Hermione thinks I'm spending too much time with my godfather, she says I forgot goblins didn't do pranks."

While pleased to see Harry could joke about it, this was one notion Sirius wanted to knock on the head right away. "Oh, blame the poor mutt time is it, Miss Granger? I would say this was a pretty extreme reaction to a harmless prank."

Understanding that both Harry and Sirius were doing this to lighten the mood, Hermione played along. This was so much better than watching Harry throwing up in a toilet. "I wouldn't call transfiguring someone's favourite weapon into a daffodil, before hanging them from the ceiling like some demented Christmas decoration, a harmless prank. Oh, and all this while supposedly fighting a duel."

Hiding his delight at how well these two were handling the entire incident, Sirius took it further still. "Why a daffodil, Harry. I don't think you have any Welsh blood, or is it a goblin thing?"

"Well, I didn't think a jaggy thistle would be appreciated, and shamrocks are used as the main ingredient in a goblin fertility potion - handing a shamrock to a male goblin is a deadly insult. Since only Hermione gets roses from me, that left a daffodil."

This was too much for Henrica, she couldn't restrain her laughter any longer. She wasn't alone as all four of them shared a laugh, maybe it wasn't such a horrid day after all.

There was something Harry wanted to say though and here was his opportunity. "Sirius, I don't know what my father has planned, but can we visit Hermione's before returning to Hogwarts? There's something we need to tell her parents, and I'd rather not do it in a letter."

That Harry had been holding Hermione's hand since they entered the infirmary wasn't even commented on, it had long been considered normal behaviour for these two. Sirius had a helpful suggestion for his godson. "Why don't you come back to my house? Neutral surroundings might make passing on your news easier - and Dan can't kick you out of my house for dating his daughter..."

This drew a squeal of indignation from Hermione, that didn't mean she thought it was a bad idea though.

Further down the ward, a large goblin lay behind privacy screens. The potions in his body may have been healing his injuries but the laughter was healing his soul. Master Sharpshard slipped into sleep with a smile on his face.

-oOoOo-

There was a distinct lack of smiles in the director's office as they studied Barchoke's memory of this morning. "Do you think he would have done it?"

"There is not one shred of doubt in my mind, just as we both know Sharpshard would have let him - rather than yield."

"Can you honestly say that Miss Granger is his mate? They're both so young and, biologically, neither is goblin."

"Biologically, my son is not a goblin. In his head and in his heart, Harry is as goblin as you or I. We define certain acts as being 'goblin' in nature, when have you ever seen anything more goblin than Hermione drawing her blade and springing to Harry's aid? She neither hesitated nor thought about using her wand, Hermione drew her sword and charged Sharpshard. I don't know whether it was Harry, Hermione or Hogwarts who produced that shield around her, it was certainly goblin in origin."

The director couldn't argue with any of that, he was still shocked at watching Sharpshard be defeated. He didn't know there were more shocks to come, Barchoke was by no means finished.

"As his father, I can see Harry has made his decision - it is one I'm very pleased with. I'm really confused though by one of yours, why did you order Sharpshard to attack my son?"

He may have just pushed the boundaries far beyond where he'd ever ventured before but Barchoke didn't care, he needed to know just what was going on here. Their very lives could depend on it.

"I've been friends with Sharpshard longer than either of us would care to admit. The friend that I know would have laughed his arse off at that joke, not attacked a student like a berserker. I looked into his eyes as my son was preparing to run him through, what I saw there gave your game away. What was reflected in his eyes wasn't anger but pride, pride in the achievement of his student. There is only one person from whom Sharpshard would accept such an order, and they are currently in this room."

Slumping into his chair, Ragnok decided to come clean.

"I'm practically aligning the nation behind your son, I needed to know if he had the balls for what we're attempting. With Harry being so young, it was imperative we discovered just how he would react under extreme pressure. If he cracked today then we may have had to reconsider some of our options. That room certainly threw your son every advantage it possibly could, he still had to beat Sharpshard though - something I never thought I would live to see."

Barchoke was not some naive young buck, he'd expected the answer to be along these lines.

The director continued to justify his answers to this doubting father. "Fudge may need his summer ball to get this legislation through his ministry, this will certainly assist me do the same with the nation. Your centurion son defeating Master Sharpshard will be all over the bank before the end of the day, I distinctly remember predicting he could become a goblin hero. Sharpshard's orders were to provoke your son and see if he had what it took, or if he crumbled - this is beyond what I had hoped for."

Understanding he was putting his head on the chopping block didn't stop Barchoke, this needed to be said. If necessary, he was prepared to die for saying it.

"I understand, director, though I don't approve about not being consulted. After this lack of trust, I feel I have no other option but to say this. Should my son and I ever be played off against each other, I already know the choice I will make. I will use my own dagger to spill my guts all over your floor, setting my son free. I will give my all for the nation and fight side by side with my son, I will neither fight nor conspire against him."

The director tried not to let his shock show at that declaration, this was also not the time to rage and rant. His mind quickly added together the consequences of such an action, it would be nothing short of catastrophic. When a goblin took his own life in that manner, the location usually indicated at whom the act was directed. Harry was as devoted to his father as Barchoke was to him, leaving the grieving son's actions to that horrific outcome predictable. Crow had the means at his fingertips to declare himself a wizard, and the insider knowledge to seriously harm those he perceived as taking his father from him. Ragnok had to restrain himself as this was not a time for anger, rather truthful and frank discussion.

"If your suspicions about your son are correct, one day I hope we both see him bonded to Miss Granger. That marriage should see muggles, magicals and goblins in attendance, all standing there proudly - as equals. That, my friend, would be a scene worthy of depiction in the Hall of Heroes. As Director, I will do whatever I have to in my quest to make scenes like that the norm. As your Director, and I hope still your friend, I will state honestly I can't envisage any scenario where pitching you against your son would help the nation achieve that aim."

Barchoke's muscles had been tensed, expecting the swish of a blade to be the only warning he was about to lose his head. Hearing Ragnok's words allowed him to relax a little, he may still be breathing but he hadn't walked out of this office just yet. The director's next words gave him hope he might actually see Harry again.

Knowing these two were vital to his plans for the nation, Ragnok poured more soothing oil onto the choppy waters. "You have become a father and son team that is respected and revered throughout the nation, this can only help with our aims. What was Centurion Crow's reaction to our news?"

Having totally forgotten why he went to Hogwarts in the first place, Barchoke now completed his assignment. "My son was very enthusiastic, though he did suggest one change. He wishes to be Assistant Ambassador, and serve with his father..."

The director had his smile back in place after hearing that. "Exactly as I was saying, a father and son team that will reshape the country - and that suggestion has my full approval. I had always intended you to be beside your son, providing him with as much guidance as he needed. This is more than we dared hope for. The nation will see you take the lead, and the ministry will fall over themselves to accept - knowing that one day their boy-who-lived would succeed his father. Inform young Curse-breaker Weasley that the ministry deal is acceptable to us. We don't want to get too greedy at the start, it's more important that we actually get invited to the table first."

The director ordered grog to celebrate but Barchoke respectfully declined, stating he needed to get back to the infirmary.

Ragnok sat alone and sipped his drink, contemplating that age-old problem faced by every leader. Finding subordinates capable of assisting their leader with shaping the nation, without them being ambitious enough to want to overthrow that very same leadership. The director was positive that thought would never even enter Barchoke's mind. The senior accounts manager was more than capable enough, but his son could certainly never become director after him - so what was the point? The director had to concede though that he had found the proud goblin's limit, a limit it would be extremely foolish for him to exceed. Ragnok was no fool.

-oOoOo-

Eargit swooping into the great hall at dinnertime drew every pair of eyes. By the time Padma had untied the message, she was surrounded by their friends from all houses - each desperate to know how Harry and Hermione were.

"Hermione says they're fine and staying with Sirius tonight, Harry will be left without even a scar. Apparently the goblins are experts in dealing with injuries like that, though Master Sharpshard is having to spend the night in the infirmary. They should be back after breakfast, if her father doesn't kill Harry when they tell Hermione's parents they're dating. I think that last bit is meant to be a joke, it's hard to tell with those two."

The story of what had happened had soon spread throughout the castle, Padma and Neville ensuring the story was mostly true - Harry didn't want it known that his sword was magical. When everyone assumed he cast the spells using his knife, they were quite happy just to let them continue with that assumption.

"I can't believe Hermione charged that massive goblin with her sword..."

"I can't believe Harry put him in the infirmary..."

It was Neville who tried to put their friends straight. "Guys, he was attacking Harry. What did you think Hermione was going to do - just stand there and watch?"

Padma knew Hermione and Harry better than any of them, neither of her friends' reactions had surprised her in the slightest. Scared the shit out of her - yes, surprised - no.

"When Master Sharpshard hit Hermione, Harry got really angry. Trust me on this, you never want Harry really angry with you." Padma was preaching to the converted but her words reached further than she thought.

There were still witches in the castle who though the boy-who-lived was fair game. Boyfriend / girlfriend meant nothing to them, it didn't offer any protection the way a formal courtship would. Padma's words though reminded them of something, when you hunt big game, sometimes you got mauled. Caution would have to be the name of the game, with the smarter witches willing to adopt a wait and see philosophy. The hunt wasn't over until the boy-who-lived married.

Albus didn't have to wait, a certain witch headed right for him. Minerva had also received an owl and, as requested, passed a message on to the headmaster. "Barchoke will be bringing both students back tomorrow morning, and has agreed to speak to you then. What are you up to, Dumbledore?"

This was the first bit of good news he'd had in months, Albus just ignored Minerva's lack of respect and answered her truthfully. "Nothing more than a chat. Our last meeting didn't end too well, I just want to enquire if there is any way we can move on from there. Do you want to sit-in on the meeting?"

"I have classes all morning, otherwise I would."

Albus merely nodded, already knowing that fact before he made the offer. Things may finally be moving in a positive direction and Albus Dumbledore just might get himself back in the game.

-oOoOo-

Neither Dan nor Emma paid any attention to the old world elegance of the townhouse they now found themselves in, Bill had said the kids had been injured and they wouldn't settle until they saw both were fine with their own eyes.

Hermione found herself gently scooped into her mother's arms, before being passed onto her father. Harry found himself replacing Hermione in Emma's arms, a sensation he could definitely get used to.

Dan was first to recover, and demand some answers. "Hermione, you said you were going to be careful with that sword. Charging into battle with it doesn't sound like being careful to me. What the hell happened?"

"The situation got out of control incredibly fast. I just wanted to help Harry, and anyway, we're both fine."

They then faced a question from Emma, a question they both knew would be coming. "Why didn't you come home? That had us thinking there was something wrong."

It was time to face the music so Harry jumped right in. "Well, this way Dan can't throw me out the door when he hears our news. At Padma's birthday party, I asked Hermione to be my girlfriend."

"...and I said yes!"

Both parents could have easily guessed their daughter's answer, so Hermione's declaration wasn't strictly necessary. Emma's squeal of joy and her hugging both Harry and Hermione left Dan needing to be even more careful with his choice of words.

"Sirius, could you point me in the direction of somewhere I could have a quiet word with your godson?"

The marauder tried to keep a straight face. "Go right up the staircase and you will find the library on your left..." Sirius did have an excuse to laugh though as both Ravenclaws showed their true colours.

"You have a library?" Was asked in unison.

"Come with me, Harry, and we'll see if we can find it."

Hermione's quick kiss on the cheek for luck probably didn't help her dad's temper, but meant Harry followed Dan up the stairs with a smile on his face. He'd started the day off facing an enraged Master Sharpshard, compared to that, well - Dan didn't even have a weapon on him.

When Dan saw Harry's attention drawn to all the books, he had to remind himself this was not a normal young boy he was dealing with. This lad was a goblin centurion, Harry had already dispatched a troll and defeated his fencing tutor in defence of Hermione. He was hardly likely to be intimidated by her dentist father, especially since Harry didn't even know what a dentist was. Dan still intended to make his point though.

"I was led to believe you were not looking for a girlfriend, at least until a certain dark lord was no more. Can you tell me what changed? I'll tell you here and now, I think you are both far too young to be even considering becoming more than best friends."

"Hermione and I are still best friends, Dan, this was more about telling each other - and everyone else - we intend it to be more when we're older."

Hearing this was easing Dan's concerns, but he still wanted to know more. "Why now, Harry, why not wait a year or two?"

"Your daughter is beautiful, incredibly smart and so much fun to spend time with. To be perfectly honest with you, Dan, I was terrified that some other boy might sneak in and steal Hermione away. As I said to Sirius, I don't think I could handle that."

For the first time today, Dan saw a vulnerable side to Harry. He didn't think there was a snowball's chance in hell that his daughter would be interested in any other boy. Then again, from Harry's point of view, Dan could now see how he reached that decision - and there was that same snowball's chance that his daughter would say no to being his girlfriend.

Harry had more to say though, "There are things happening that will see Hermione and I front page news again. I can't say what exactly just now, but it won't be dangerous and we hope you and Emma will be there with us. Saying she's my girlfriend might divert some of the jibes that come her way from being on my arm."

"Does this mean that you're now courting? I thought that procedure meant I was supposed to be consulted first?"

"I couldn't use wizarding or goblin etiquette, that would be seen as me reaching my decision. That's why we're now boyfriend and girlfriend. Other than that, very little has changed between us."

It was a relieved father who grasped that last comment and held it close. Something else bothered him though. "We were there when Sirius explained wizarding courting behaviour, I take it the goblin version is different?"

This actually brought a blush to Harry's cheeks but he stared Dan in the eye and told him the truth. "I told you goblins only have one mate, they also apparently know when they've met their mate. My father described it as a male and a female becoming very close really quickly, and then never wanting to be apart. Because of this, they always bond within a year of meeting. If they don't, they wouldn't be considered true mates."

The implications of that hit Dan like a punch in the gut. "That would mean..."

He couldn't actually say the words, so Harry finished it for him. "...it would mean Hermione and I marrying in August - something neither of us are anywhere near ready for."

Again Dan clutched onto that last sentence. Hermione having a boyfriend at twelve suddenly didn't seem as bad when compared to becoming a bride. He also remembered what Hermione said about cultural differences between her friends, and this one was a doozy. Keeping his calm, Dan asked what he thought was a pertinent question. What he really wanted to do was rant and rave about a culture that would see children married before their teens.

"Do goblins usually find their 'mates' so young?"

"Goblins mature later than wizards, which certainly helped me at school. It would be considered 'unusual' for a goblin under sixteen to discover their mate."

He was again amazed at how the four of them were such good friends, with such wildly different backgrounds. Dan was also delighted he'd heeded Hermione's advice and not steamed right in there pushing his values at Harry, only to discover he had been jumping to conclusions.

"So, just to make sure I've got this right, you and Hermione are just a normal boyfriend and girlfriend - normal to Emma and me that is."

"I hope Hermione will be my girlfriend for a good few years, is that alright with you?"

Considering the other options, Dan stood and offered his hand. He would just have to wait and see what those years brought.

A voice both recognised shouted from outside the door. "Daaad, you finished yet? You're hogging the library!"

He wasn't even going to begin to analyse why his daughter was more concerned about getting into the library, rather than worrying about the talk her father was having with her boyfriend. Dan decided to take this as a good sign, until someone told him otherwise.

"We'd better move, Harry, you don't want to get between Hermione and her books."

"Padma and I are just as bad, I can see us all spending some time here over the holidays."

Hermione raced in, grabbed Harry's hand and dragged him toward the shelves full of unread books. Dan headed off to find his wife, hoping she had a better handle on this than he did. He had no intention of mentioning the goblin form of courtship to anyone - ever!

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