Proud Parents

Chapter 25 - Undercurrents

Their proposed childcare system was working perfectly, and all involved were very happy with it. Joan stayed in Emma and Dan's Professor apartment Sunday to Thursday nights, before moving into her room next to Hermione's after classes each Friday. This particular Friday morning was pretty special however, Hermione turned fifteen today - and Joan was easily more excited about this special day than every single person attending or working at the Institute.

Moving through to their living space, Harry noticed a wrapped present on the table that Dobby must have left there while they were showering. The little elf watched Joan every morning while the three Grangers and Harry trained, with the young witch and elf swiftly becoming as thick as thieves. Harry was almost certain Joan had conspired with a very willing Dobby to arrange her present for Hermione, and they would find out very shortly when they met her and the Grangers for breakfast.

The birthday girl emerged from her bedroom, ready for her now customary morning kiss before facing the day. Before they set off, Hermione opened her gift from their elf friend - finding an elegant gold and white crocheted shawl. Dobby had obviously put a lot of work and love into its unique design and creation, something that both of them certainly appreciated. Hermione absolutely loved her gift, draping the beautiful shawl over her school robes.

"We have double transfiguration to start today, I'll leave breakfast a few minutes early and put this back in my room before that."

"Your mum and dad don't have a class first period, they could take it for you and we'll pick it up later."

Liking that idea better, they headed off to breakfast but found a pair of redheaded twins waiting on them in the corridor. That Fred and George appeared nervous left the young couple wondering what was troubling their friends. Both wished Hermione a happy birthday before joining them on their walk to breakfast and discussing the reason they were there.

"We got letters from Angelina and Alicia, begging us to ask if they could join us here..."

"Now we know it's nothing to do with you, but at least we can say we asked..."

"We also know the Headmistress gets approached almost every day, with people carrying the same type of letters from their friends still stuck in Hogwarts..."

"They all get the same answer, and we will too.."

"But at least we can honestly tell the girls we've tried our best."

"There isn't even any quidditch at Hogwarts this year, just some stupid tournament."

"Angelina is so bored in the castle, she's even thinking of entering..."

Harry and Hermione stopped walking at once, and both had their serious faces on.

"Guys, please write to her as soon as possible - put all joking aside and explain to Angelina that's a very, very bad idea."

Hermione took over from Harry as seamlessly as the twins had been doing with each other a mere moment earlier. "The reason this tournament hasn't been seen for centuries is that a lot of the champions - and even spectators in some cases - were ending up dead by the end of the tasks."

"Now, Hogwarts on a good year was dangerous for me and my friends. What do you think it would have been like if I was still there?"

"Ah, but the rules say you need to be of age..." It suddenly dawned on Fred that Harry was actually already legally considered to be of age in Britain. "Shit, they're even choosing the champions on Halloween. Harry would have been a certainty to end up in this thing."

Nodding as the penny dropped with both twins, Harry could only re-emphasise what they'd both just said. "Tell Angelina to avoid this tournament like the plague, and pass the word around to everyone else of age too."

Hermione was set to return to her room for some notes on the fatality/casualty figures from previous tournaments when Dobby appeared beside her with those exact notes in his hand. Hermione was hugging Dobby in thanks - for his gift and also anticipating her needs - while Harry handed those notes onto the twins to be included with their letter.

Even an initial glance was enough to shock both redheads, with George claiming it was a good job those notes were in Hermione's handwriting or Angelina would think they were pranking her.

"This is no joke. My research showed that the first task normally has the champion facing off against a very dangerous creature. Imagine having to face something like a dragon with only your wits and wand in your hand."

Putting his arm around Hermione, Harry started them walking again. "I don't know about a dragon, but there's a very excited four year old waiting to give you a present from her. If I don't get you to her soon, Joan will probably be exploding from excitement."

-oOoOo-

Dressed in the finest clothes she'd worn in many years, Bella appeared ready to explode - and not from excitement. Rabasten and Augustus didn't need to be geniuses to know tonight had not gone well. Rodolphus had barely gotten their rented room's door closed when the explosion happened. Thankfully, the silencing charms held.

"Those egocentric, pompous, spineless fucking cluster of bogus bastards who don't deserve to call themselves wizards! Oh, everything is fine in their world so let's not upset the apple cart by speaking of dead Dark Lords. I swear, I was so fucking close to drawing my wand and displaying that bastard's yellow guts all over his very expensive marble floor."

Rodolphus was agreeing with his raging wife, and seemed just as angry. "Even a subtle hint of our cause had those pureblood wizards and witches practically running away from us - at least running as quickly as their own social decorum allowed. After spending all that gold on these outfits, it's proved a total waste of time, effort and money. It was made abundantly clear to us tonight by these socialites that they are now and forever firmly opposed to our Master's cause."

"They even had the audacity to invite us to a Halloween Ball, knowing full well we wouldn't be going. Maintaining social niceties, while politely stabbing you in the back at the same time. I'd rather just stab a few of them, with a real knife - and I wouldn't be fucking polite about it either."

"I think you should go." Augustus' comment seemed to suck all the air out of the room for a moment, then Bella got her breath back - and her anger hadn't abated one iota.

"Why the fuck should we have to listen to those whining bastards for another bloody evening? I certainly couldn't go without another new outfit - otherwise we'd be considered social pariahs before we even entered the ballroom. That's just throwing good gold after bad, for no gain whatsoever either."

The smirk Augustus was wearing instantly held all their attention. "I propose we all go. Turn up in our working robes, kill and torture a few of them before torching the place - and then cast our master's mark into the night sky."

That brought a smile to Bella's lips, and her twinkling eyes would have put Dumbledore's to shame. Her husband though questioned this dramatic change of tactics.

"I'm not opposed to doing that, just wondering what has changed. Our entire emphasis has been focused on keeping a low profile while we searched for our master. This attack would see us hunted all over Europe."

Augustus certainly agreed with Rodolphus's assessment, so explained his reasoning to the three Lestranges.

"Our research amongst the poorer elements of wizarding culture has revealed two things. Their absolute hatred of the class of wizards and witches you were amongst tonight, and a possible location of our master."

Rabastan then filled his family in on their exciting discovery. "There's a patch of forest in Albania considered so dark that no one will venture anywhere near it. The formation of this dark stretch of forest fits well within the timeframe of our Master's disappearance." He glanced at Augustus, wanting him to add his backing of there hastily made plans. The former Unspeakable laid all their cards on the table.

"We know that in itself is not much, but certain incidents being whispered about this area feel like they have our Master's touch behind them - and are the best leads we've gotten to date. We were talking about the four of us going there and searching this patch of forest, our dark marks should act like a beacon if our master is there. If not, then I reckon we need to use a beacon of a different type to draw our master to us. Let him know he's not been forgotten about, and there are still faithful followers the Dark Lord can trust."

Bella really liked this plan. "So you're suggesting we search this piece of forest until Halloween, then we kill all those fuckers in their fancy robes. What do we do after that?"

Taking a moment to answer, Augustus then gave them the only option that made sense to him. "I think we need to return to Britain after the Halloween massacre. We will be hunted all over Europe, but not there. We're already considered dead in Britain, so should be able to hole up somewhere and see if our marks will draw our master to us."

Nodding in agreement, Rabastan also had more to add. "The ordinary witches and wizards of Europe will raise glasses to us and our cause after this attack. Their hatred of these people will gain us followers to our Master's cause. While not ideal, these new followers won't be able to use their gold to buy pardons - and then publicly renounce our Master."

Rodolphus too liked this plan. "Every army needs foot solders, and every addition to our Master's cause will be welcome. If we don't find our Master in this forest, at least we have a plan for moving forward." Rodolphus never mentioned that after six weeks rooting around in a dark forest, his wife would certainly be primed for carrying out an attack, featuring acts of torture and mass murder. It didn't need saying amongst the group that, should they actually find their master, the Dark Lord would be the one making any decisions from that moment forward.

-oOoOo-

The Dark Lord was currently struggling with a decision. Things on the potion front were going well, with procurement of the needed ingredients proceeding almost exactly to his plan and timetable. It was Wormtail's suggestion for capturing the third person needed to fulfil the ritual that shocked Voldemort.

That Wormtail suggested targeting such a powerful wizard was the initial surprise. That he then had a very considered and viable plan for kidnapping that wizard - and getting him here - was the shocking part. This was so shocking that Voldemort was actually considering delaying the ceremony for a few weeks.

That Potter brat had banished him on Halloween, one of the most magically powerful nights on the calendar. To triumphantly return on that same magically powerful date could only help with the ceremony. It also appealed to his sense of destiny. Witches and wizards now joyfully celebrated that night for his banishment, as much as it being a purely magical event.

The Dark Lord's triumphant return on that day would see their joy replaced by fear, both of him and the date of his rebirth. Since a decision didn't have to be made until after all the required ingredients had been collected, and they were ready to start brewing, Voldemort had weeks yet before any decision needed to be made.

While the symmetry of being reborn on the same date he was banished really appealed to the Dark Lord, circumstances outwith their control might make it imperative that he choose the earliest date possible. At the moment, all they could work on was acquiring the necessary potions ingredients. If being a disembodied spirit had taught Voldemort one thing, it was patience.

-oOoOo-

Harry and Hermione were exhibiting patience beyond their years as an exhausted but still hyper Joan was gently shepherded towards her bed. As Harry tucked Joan in, Hermione lifted a book before noticing the little girl's nose twitch.

"What's the matter, sweetie, don't you like this one?"

"It's fine. It's just I was enjoying the one your mum was reading to me, and don't want to wait until Sunday to find out what happens next."

The thought of her mother reading to Joan surprised Hermione, that changed to shock when Dobby popped in with the actual book. Holding the well remembered novel in her hands like a long lost treasure, she opened the cover - already knowing what handwritten message would greet her there.

"This book belongs to Hermione J Granger - thankfully my writing has improved since then. This was my favourite book growing up, how did you get it?"

"Dobby has millions and millions of things stored from your old house. He was showing me your old books and I picked this one. Emma cried when I showed it to her, but promised I'd done nothing wrong to make her cry."

Harry had to take over for a moment as Hermione was currently choked with emotion. "No, you did nothing wrong. That book just brought a lot of memories back, for Emma and Hermione."

After a deep breath, Hermione leant over and kissed Joan on the forehead - before opening the book at the bookmark and began to read.

"Matilda longed for her parents to be good and loving and understanding and…"

Harry had squeezed onto the bed, sitting beside Hermione while wrapping his betrothed in his arms. Just because things were so much better now, wounds from the past could still occasionally hurt. Watching an enraptured Joan hang onto every word Hermione read as she reacquainted herself with this precious piece of her past was having a healing effect on all of them.

Images of a much younger Hermione reading this book and really emphasising with the main character, Matilda, and her wish for her parents to love her were flooding their bond. Harry too certainly had very similar desires in his past. Holding Hermione though saw him looking towards their future together, with Joan, Dan and Emma, Sirius and Francesca, Remus, their friends, Hagrid and the orphans spending Christmas with them…

These were the images that now covered the previously painful ones like an avalanche, an avalanche of love. The image of Joan, shaking with excitement and anticipation, handing over Hermione's present this morning banished any lingering blues away. Hermione moved her hand that wasn't holding the Roald Dahl masterpiece to her new necklace. Her fingers delicately traced over the three letters that meant so much to her - MUM.

All three were now enchanted by the story, with Joan's valiant efforts to remain awake finally failing just after Matilda met her new teacher - Miss Honey.

After returning to their comfortable common room, Harry sat on the couch before Hermione parked herself on his lap. After a few kisses, Harry asked something he already knew the answer to. "Had a good birthday then?"

Preferring to use her lips for kissing her betrothed, she answered over their bond. 'It was almost perfect'

Playing along, Harry too preferred to use his lips for kissing the birthday girl. 'Pray tell how I can change that 'almost' to simply perfect for next year?'

'You can't. But the following year I'll be seventeen and you can change my name to Potter too - now that will be perfect!'

Their kissing grew more urgent as their arms held each other tighter. 'So, engagement ring next birthday, wedding ring year after - sorted. I love it when you take charge.'

Doing just that, Hermione took both his hands in hers, before placing them under her top.

Harry's enquiry of 'Are you sure?' was quickly forgotten about as Hermione's hands slipped under his shirt too.

'It's your birthday, yet I'm the one getting wonderful presents - that doesn't seem fair.'

Hermione smiled at her wonderful betrothed, knowing Harry was simply letting her know he was still in control. 'This is a present for both of us love.'

There was certainly no arguments from Harry about that.

-oOoOo-

There was certainly no arguing Hermione's Triwizard fatality figures within Gryffindor. If Hermione was quoting something she'd researched, then you could trust those facts to be as secure as all the gold in Gringotts.

While both chasers were disappointed to be staying in Hogwarts, they also believed the twins that Harry couldn't help them either. After pointing out what everyone already knew, that Harry was heavily involved choosing those students attending the Institute up to fourth year, the twins were adamant that the decision to allow them to attend had been made by Headmistress Sprout. They were also quick to point out they were repeating fifth year, and sitting the harder European O.W.L.s at the summer.

Looking at the research Hermione had sent, Angelina was certain the former Gryffindor had just prevented her making the biggest mistake of her life. Glancing at those fatalities figures again, it could quite possibly have been the last mistake she would ever make too. The word very quickly spread around those Gryffindors of age to enter, and no Lions would be stupid enough to literally put their lives on the line for an interschool competition.

The approach to Hufflepuff was also well received. With Cedric Diggory dropping the bombshell that his father had actually warned him off this tournament too, that swiftly ended any eligible Badgers interest in the Triwizard Tournament. Cedric asked to borrow Hermione's research to approach some friends in Ravenclaw. Angelina's answer of "that's why they sent it" went down well with the Hufflepuffs.

Cedric handed the notes back to Angelina after dinner. "Any trouble?"

"They're Ravenclaws. One look at those notes, and knowing where the came from, convinced everyone this tournament is a very bad idea. No one from that house will be entering either."

Dumbledore rarely sat at the top table for dinner anymore, Albus found looking out over a half empty great hall really messed with his digestion. He was there tonight though, and thanking any deity he could think of that Potter's Institute didn't yet accept students for all seven years.

It was going to be embarrassing enough for the other schools to witness what Hogwarts had been reduced to, without there being hardly any age eligible students left to enter.

Albus didn't care what names came out the cup, just as long as Harry Potter was one of them. With that attitude, he totally missed what was going on right in front of him.

Severus could feel the undercurrent running through the castle. Fortunately, since the toad was made Deputy Head instead of him, he didn't have to do anything about it. Severus suspected it was in connection to this tournament but again wasn't worried enough to take any action. He'd spoken to each of his Slytherins over the age of seventeen, all had sworn they wanted nothing at all to do with the tournament.

Since this meant Slytherin wouldn't be involved, Severus was quite prepared to sit back and let other staff and students make fools of themselves. After all, this tournament was supposed to be entertaining.

-oOoOo-

The Potter Institute were entertaining their first group of parents, as Pomona stood ready to greet the first family to arrive via portkey. They'd chosen the first weekend in October for the inaugural visit, with the schedule having the rest of their families arrive on the same Friday every month - with the last visit happening in May.

The itinerary for these visits would probably be tweaked as they progressed, learning from experience, but the basic structure should remain the same. Families would arrive on the Friday, after breakfast and while students were in classes. This would give those families time to settle into the rooms provided, before having lunch with those family members attending the Institute. A tour of the building was organised for after lunch, before everyone then sat down again for dinner.

The idea was for parents to get time to spend with their children, while getting a flavour of what they were experiencing while attending the Institute. Saturday dinner would be a BBQ but the rest of the time was so far unplanned. Before the families left after lunch on Sunday, they would be asked to complete a questionnaire about how their visit had gone - and what could the Institute improve on.

As the first family arrived, they were welcomed by the Headmistress before being passed over to a member of staff who would show them to their accommodation - explaining the electrical systems and no magic rules to those families that required the instruction.

With their recent experience of introducing their students to their accommodation block, the process ran like clockwork. This meant all visiting families were sitting down in the dining hall just as classes dismissed for lunch. Pomona found herself being joined by Minerva as they watched the happy family reunions.

"You can feel the whole atmosphere in the Institute lift. Even those whose families are not visiting today are already looking forward to that visit. This easily makes all the hard work preparing for today so worth it."

Minerva had to agree, though knew someone who wouldn't. "Albus would hate this. Outsiders in his castle, asking questions on how their children are taught - this would never be allowed in Hogwarts."

"Minerva, you've just given me another reason to love what we're doing here."

She couldn't help but smile at her friend. Then again, Minerva had found herself smiling a lot more since the day she arrived in Italy.

As the students headed off back to their classes, Pomona gathered the families to begin their tour.

"Thank you for joining us here today, and we at the Institute hope you enjoy your weekend. When we first talked about these visits, we only envisaged families of our new first year intake making the trip - and that's what will happen from next term onwards. Since the Institute is new though, and we currently have the room, a decision was made to invite all families this year. That is why we have ten families here today, and we'll do our best to answer all your questions over the weekend."

Pomona had been expecting the first question, and easily answered it. "Mr Potter will not be joining us today. While he is the owner of the Institute, Harry insists on being treated just like any other student during term time."

The Headmistress led the large group from the dining hall and through into the library. Sofia Volta was waiting to introduce these families to her domain. All the furniture, including the bookcases, were constructed of light wood. Combined with the large expanses of glass used in the construction of the library meant this was a million miles away from what any parent who had experienced Hogwarts were used to. A beautiful outside area for reading just emphasised those differences, this was not something that could be done often in the climate of the Scottish Highlands - actually that would probably be restricted yo about one weekend in July.

The displayed pictures of the Institute being built were self-explanatory, the framed drawings on the wall beside them required a little background information. Since Pomona was involved in all of them, she fondly explained what they were, and why the were regarded as special to the Institute.

"The magnificent building we are standing in today started here. We sat in Mr Potter's property and these basic drawings is where the Institute was born. Ideas from everyone present were taken, and most ended up part of what you'll see this weekend. This initial drawing didn't even have a pool on it, something that is now much loved by all our students."

Pomona nodded toward Amelia Bones, who was one of the visiting parents. "These drawings are proposed sketches of the Institute's robes and badge. You can see the signatures of the people who proposed them on there too."

Susan Bones name was clearly displayed, as was that of Ginny Weasley and Luna Lovegood - making their visiting parents very proud. To be a permanent part of the Institute's history was certainly something special.

Pomona took them up a staircase and the group found themselves outside the infirmary, where Poppy greeted those she knew like old friends. Those same people were the ones who were shocked at the actual infirmary. No meter thick blocks of stone appeared to have been used anywhere in the construction of the Institute, which proved pretty unsettling to those whose only educational experience before this was within the walls of an ancient castle.

Poppy had a portion of the infirmary set up as a teaching area, and invited her visitors to take a seat. "The Institute is offering a healing elective for students third year and over, comprising Potions, Herbology and a Practical Healing section. It's probably a good thing I'm doing a bit of teaching, otherwise I'd feel I was taking gold under false pretences. We've had so few students needing my healing skills I'd feel like a fraud getting paid for doing so little."

When asked why this was, Poppy had years of experience to fall back on to answer this enquiry. "When a student is feeling homesick, the ability to phone home and chat with their family works far better than me administering a mild calming potion. You'll see this weekend our students have a lot more activities to be involved in when not in classes, that helps too. The Institute is a new experience for everyone, yet I haven't seen one student who needed my help because they were missing home. We also haven't had a potion incident that required my services, and eleven year olds learning to fly a broom over the Mediterranean Sea has stopped all injuries there too. Anyone fighting, physically or magically, risk being kicked out of the Institute - so we haven't had any of them either."

This led to the Headmistress being asked about the Institute's discipline policy. "Parents and students were issued with the Institute's discipline policy, and what dictates a severe breech. At least half our students have been contacted by people at Hogwarts, asking for help to get admitted here. The only way we will have a vacancy is if someone leaves the Institute. That is a fantastic incentive for students to behave, and every professor who has handed out an assignment has seen them all returned within the set time limit. We have had one argument that had the potential to turn worse, it was stopped very quickly. The students involved were put on probation for a month, and offered the choice of working in our gardens for a Saturday afternoon, or missing out on our planned visit to Naples. They spent the following Saturday in the gardens, and actually enjoyed it."

When asked how that was a punishment, Pomona seemed to grow about six inches taller as she stared through the person who had just asked the question. "I'm here to lead my staff in educating our students, not punishing them. No student of ours will spend detentions scrubbing cauldrons or cleaning toilets. Nor will they lose so many points, other students then turn on members of their own house. Those two students had a very educational afternoon, instead of the free time their friends were enjoying. That to us is more than enough."

This also made Pomona's mind up about her next location, she led them out the infirmary and up another flight of stairs - into an area that took all of their breaths away.

"This is one of our roof terraces, which can be used for recreation or even as a teaching space. The reason I brought you up here is so you can get an overview of the entire Institute."

With Mount Vesuvius towering over them, and the Mediterranean Sea at the other end, the Institute was in a simply stunning setting. The building itself though sat well in its surroundings.

Pointing out both accommodation blocks as the legs of the π, everyone could see the stunning pool and seating areas between the accommodation blocks. The other roof terraces were visible too, as the parents finally got why their kids weren't homesick, or willing to risk losing all this - and that was before Pomona pointed out the cinema, gym and quidditch pitch - or showed them a classroom. She then asked them over to the other side of the terrace, which revealed a heavily cultivated area below them - behind the top of the π.

"Here is where most of the Institute's fruit, salads and vegetables comes from. We have a team of gardeners who are responsible for this area, with the elves picking whatever's ready. This area is also a fantastic Herbology teaching resource, allowing our students to see all this food grown in a professional manner. I also have to admit to loving walking amongst the orange and lemon groves in the evening. Now, I think we should pop into a few classes before dinner time."

-oOoOo-

Harry had deliberately missed having a public lunch, wanting the families to concentrate on their children and the Institute - rather than the Boy-Who-Lived. As it turned out, the fourth years - plus Fred and George - were in their last class of the day by the time the Headmistress and their guests turned up for a visit. Since their day always finished with Italian, Professor Palazzo welcomed the visitors to her class.

"With this year group, I am focusing more on them being able to speak, read and write Italian in everyday settings. Today we are doing some preparations for the upcoming visit to Naples, particularly the Muggle section."

When asked why specifically the Muggle section, Professor Palazzo's answer surprised them. "In the magical section of Naples, Potter Institute students will be welcomed with open arms. They don't need to hide the fact they're witches and wizards from Britain. Of course, in the Muggle section they do have to hide their magic. Their Modern Studies class is working to help with this too, making them far more able to blend in and not be noticed. The language skills learned here will of course assist in both areas. Today my classroom is set up as a Muggle clothes shop, with every student well aware of the exchange rate between currencies. Ronald, will you help me demonstrate please?"

Ron lifted some notes from the money box at the front of the class before walking over to a rack of shirts. Choosing one, Ron then approached the Professor and held a conversation in Italian. While Ron's Italian was anything but fluent, he appeared to get his message across and clearly understood the Professor's reply's. Paying for the shirt, he then dropped the change back in the box he'd originally taken the notes from.

Professor Palazzo then let their visitors know what was said. "Ronald asked if it was possible to try the shirt on before buying, I told him the classroom clearly didn't have a changing room." This drew a few twitters of laughter before the Professor continued. "He then asked if it was available in orange, I had to sadly say no. He then proceeded to buy the shirt, and thank me for my time."

Ron's face was now bright red as all the visitors began applauding. Pomona was then asked if it was wise to let witches and wizards loose in a Muggle shopping area. She asked those in the class who had shopped in Muggle Naples to raise their hands. When almost half the class did so, she once more turned to the visitors and didn't pull any punches.

"We thoroughly research all our options before making these types of decisions. It's the students' choice which area they visit, and they must remain in a group of at least four. There will be Professors on duty at both locations, and the Italian Ministry of Magic will also have some undercover Aurors on duty in the Muggle shopping area too. You see, any student that leaves the Institute always carries a portkey - it's the only way they can return through our wards. A warded area in the Muggle shopping area will be established for arriving and leaving. The Aurors are simply going to monitor the situation in case any student accidentally sets off their portkey, and they have to do some obliviating."

It was Amelia who just had to comment on that. "Outstanding, Headmistress, simply outstanding. In Britain we have a Headmaster who didn't even report to the Ministry that Voldemort was actually in his school - twice. He even had the maniac teaching students for an entire year!

There were now parents tripping over themselves as they paid complements to the Headmistress, and the fabulous school she ran. That the Institute's owner was sitting in the class might have had an effect on them too…

-oOoOo-

The group had agreed to tone their training down on the weekend that families visited, though Harry and Dan still hit the gym while Hermione and Emma preferred to get their exercise swimming lengths in the pool.

As he was doing repetitions on a leg press machine, Dan wanted to know how Harry though the visit was going.

Harry was doing squats with dumbbells and took a moment to answer.

"There are some people who will never change. They're convinced the so-called purity of what flows through their veins makes them superior to others. They only send their children here because they'll get a better education, at a cheaper price. This visit must be scaring them silly because, when their child spends nine and a half months of the year here - convincing them of that blood purity nonsense will become impossible. In every subject, we're now being taught to question everything - in English and Italian. I would guess eight out of ten of the families visiting this weekend are firmly in our camp, and those are the worst odds we'll face all year."

Letting out a grunt, Dan then gave their experience of the visitors. "We were showing pictures and short video clips of Naples shopping districts, both mundane and magical. One of the parents asked the same question they did in Greta Palazzo's class - why we were concentrating on the Muggle side. Emma instantly shut him down, claiming that's what we were employed to do. She then took great delight in pointing out that, in the magical section of Naples, a first generation witch or wizard didn't need any extra instructions because they would be treated exactly the same as everyone else - being made very welcome."

Taking a quick drink of water before moving on to his next rotation, Harry couldn't help but grin. "I can't wait to see the questionnaires on Sunday evening. I wonder how many of them will put their honest opinions down."

"I heard Amelia talking with quite a few of the other parents last night, she was loudly singing the Institute's praises. She'd watched as the Institute was designed and then built, knew your ambitions for it and thought you'd smashed every single one of them. Those drawings in the library were genius. We may not have 'Hogwarts a History' but we're all making our own history here."

"That was Sofia's idea, and what you get when you employ the best. Hermione adores our library, and its librarian. Amelia wants a meeting Sunday evening, about the tournament. We've already invited Barchoke and let Sirius know. If you see Remus before we do, please let him know he's invited too… Scratch that, Hermione's just spoke to him at the pool."

"Honestly, I don't think I'll ever get used to how you two do that."

-oOoOo-

The BBQ was another outstanding success. It was a mild evening with barely a hint of breeze. Coloured lighting saw the entire pool area sparkle as the sun set. The wonderful aromas coming from the multiple grills soon had everyone ready to eat. Harry understood this was one thing he couldn't get out of, though he made sure Joan and Hermione stayed close.

Molly of course hugged the life out of him, while claiming how wonderful everything was. Arthur actually surprised everyone by asking if he could take a few Modern Studies classes. Hermione's comment over their bond that she couldn't think of anyone who needed them more almost had Harry laughing out loud.

Xeno too approached, jokingly complaining that there was simply far too many wonderful things happening at the Institute for him to fit in the Quibbler. Hermione pointed him in the direction of Colin Cheevey, claiming the boy was never without his camera and would certainly have pictures Xeno could use.

Amelia was spending her time with Susan and Hannah, knowing they already had a meeting set for tomorrow evening after the other parents left. Three of the families visiting were Muggles, and two of them had children who left Hogwarts for the Institute. Both immediately stated it was the best decision they ever made.

"We can't compare what we've seen here with Hogwarts, since we were never allowed anywhere near the castle. You have gone out of your way to make us feel part of this, thank you so much."

"I can speak with our daughter three or four nights a week, before it was an owl about once a fortnight."

"It's easy to see all the kids love it here, and it's also easy to see why. To be honest, I don't really want to go home tomorrow myself…"

Harry and Hermione reacted instantly to a scream, pushing Joan behind them as they turned toward the noise. They were able to relax as the scream appeared to be one of happiness, if the way Luna was hugging her dad was any indication. A smiling Headmistress let them know everything was under control as they made their way over to their friend.

Luna managed to hug all three of them at the one time. "I'm getting betrothed next week, on my birthday."

"Who is the lucky fellow, do we know him? You're my godsister and he didn't ask my permission - he's already off to a bad start."

Luna's laughter was infectious, and soon spread amongst all who were watching the drama unfold. "Father and Neville's gran have already agreed, they left the final decision up to us though. I said yes, and so did Neville."

Hermione managed to free an arm, and used it to pull Neville into the hug as well. That seemed to be the signal for all of their friends to join in too, though all were very considerate of Joan being trapped in the middle. The little munchkin in question however was having a great time and merrily giggling away.

Luna then remembered that she would need permission for them to arrive at the Institute, until she too spotted a smiling Headmistress. "This was all arranged, and you knew."

"Yes, and I've already arranged permission for the people involved to visit."

Luna looked at Harry and smiled, it was clear this was as much news to him as it was to her and Neville. Harry clearly meant it when he said the adults would be allowed to do the jobs they were given. Luna thought that could only be good for her youngest godbrother.

It was an adult watching another young couple however who decided it was time to act. Pulling Ron and Millie aside, Arthur had a quiet word with both.

"Betrothals are not something the Weasley family usually deals with, we much prefer our sons and daughters to find their own spouses. If this is something you both want however, I would be happy to discuss it with Millie's parents."

Millie had tears in her eyes as she clung to Ron, waiting on him answering first. Ron gently kissed her before addressing his father. "I don't know about Millie here, but that's something I certainly would want…"

He never got to say anymore, Millie was kissing Ron for all she was worth. A chuckling Arthur just took that as a yes and left the couple to give Molly the news. They should be able to arrange things for Halloween.

-oOoOo-

It felt a bit like Platform nine and three quarters - though only in reverse. The parents were the ones with luggage, tears in their eyes, and some didn't want to go.

Into this mix, Barchoke's portkey had him appear - and immediately be grabbed by a now laughing Joan. His excuse of forgetting the time difference was being believed by no one as an excited Joan dragged her 'uncle' over to meet some of her new friends.

That this was merely accepted as normal in the Institute shocked and worried the leaving parents in equal measures. None had seen a goblin smile before, far less hold a child's hand. Their portkeys activated, leaving them to ponder their thoughts at home. Harry finally caught up with the pair, with Joan talking a hundred words a minute.

"You know you're one of the few welcome at the Institute anytime? Joan is always happy to see her Uncle Barchoke."

"Some of us have to work for a living, ensuring our Joan here can live the life she deserves." Both goblin and wizard laughed at that, knowing Joan's grandchildren would still have trouble spending all the gold in the Potter vaults, before Amelia approached.

"Your weekend visit really couldn't have gone much better. The Institute impressed the hell out of everyone from the moment they arrived. I'm delighted to see you both in such good spirits, but fear I'm going to put a downer on everything at the meeting."

"We'll deal with this the same way as everything else we've faced, together - but on the front foot for a change."

Sirius also arrived early, so Joan was staying with Ginny and Poppy until their meeting was over. Dobby had their accommodation set for this meeting, one the little elf was told they wanted him there for too. As the group were seated and refreshments served, it was time to get down to business.

"Ok Amelia, hit us with the bad news."

"The bad news is I can see no way you won't be entered in this tournament. The first task has already been scaled up to dragons, nursing mothers no less. Tellingly, the number ordered has been scaled up too - there's now four heading to Hogwarts for the Triwizard Tournament."

Nodding in agreement with Amelia's assessment, Harry then looked toward their goblin friend to see if there was any help to be gotten from there.

"The Goblet of Fire is an immensely powerful magical artefact. When it chooses someone's name, that constitutes a magically binding contract that even our best minds couldn't find any loopholes in. To get you into this tournament, we think the method they will choose is to enter your name under a fictitious fourth school - so only you can be chosen as champion."

Hermione couldn't wait and asked the question that got right to the heart of the matter. "Will this force Harry to compete though, since he didn't enter himself."

"There are some who think that, should Harry refuse to compete, the person who put his name in there would lose their magic. At best, those odds were a coin toss. Taking into consideration how many pieces of parchment are currently within Hogwarts with Harry's signature on them, those odds shift dramatically - and not in our favour."

It was Remus who summed it up for all of them. "There are a year's worth of your DADA essays sitting in my old Hogwarts office, every single one with your signature along the bottom. Tearing one off and dropping it into this goblet would see Harry forced to compete. The goblet wouldn't look for another magical signature since it already had all it needed."

Seeing how worried everyone was, they decided to hold this conversation vocally. "The signatures might be a problem."

"Not with the people we have here, Harry. I only see one that will be difficult to get our hands on, and Dobby will have time when we give the go ahead."

Glancing at Amelia, Harry asked the last part they were unsure of. "Amelia, who's behind this?"

"Certainly not the Ministry, Fudge is terrified of the power you wield. Dumbledore - one hundred percent. He wants you back at Hogwarts and the Institute closed. Umbridge is probably helping, though what help she'll be is debatable. What I'm hearing is that she was the instigator of the attack on Sirius, and we all know how that ended. Umbridge would be murdered within hours of setting foot outside Hogwarts, and she knows it too."

Sensing something in the wind, Sirius cut straight to the chase. "I know you two - and have seen you both in action - none of what you heard here surprised you. That begs the question just what are you up to here? You're far too calm not to have a plan, and I'm sitting here going out of my mind with worry, so let's hear it."

Seeing the same concerned expressions coming from Dan, Emma, Amelia, Remus, Barchoke and even Dobby, they didn't have the heart to keep them in suspense any longer so told the group their plan - and a goblin fell out of his seat with laughter.