By February Harry had almost managed to trick himself into thinking it was all just a series of vivid and weird dreams brought on by grief and a lack of occlumancy, almost. The monthly balance statements he received from the Goblins and the set of keys decorated with Chinese ideographs were very real and refused to go away no matter how many times he stated his disbelief. His friends had long since chalked up his sudden paranoia about being alone in Hogwarts at night to merely listening to one too many of Mad Eye's old war stories. But a great many illusions and carefully repressed memories were about shattered.
The residents of Hogsmeade panicked when the goblins portkeyed into the town square. The streets cleared incredibly fast and the last few stragglers had to pound on the suddenly locked doors and scream for sanctuary. One would think a few goblins would not scare a town of witches and wizards, but it was not just a few. There was a full regiment, fifteen hundred goblin warriors, dressed in gleaming gold and silver armor, their weapons impossibly sharp and polished to a mirror finish. The regiment moved with parade precision acting as an honor guard for a small group at the head which seemed to include a human woman. When they moved the earth shook.
The sound of so many goblins on the march triggered a long repressed fear in the wizards and witches who heard it. Not since the Goblin Rebellion of 1793 had such a force marched through human territory and though none were still alive who had seen that sight, the sound lived on in the back of the collective mind of wizards and they just prayed that war was not upon them once again. The sound echoed up to the castle and evoked nearly the opposite reaction. Students and teachers alike crowded every window straining to discover what was going on.
When the force reached the gates of Hogwarts a half hour later, Albus Dumbledore and the teachers assembled on the front steps could only stare in shock as a woman with golden skin, platinum hair and ruby lips only had to touch the stone wall for a moment before the gates opened and then expanded to allow the entire group to pass as one. Before the professors could get their jaws off the ground, a young woman nudged her way past them and ran to greet the visitors. The two young women embraced each other and exchanged kisses on each cheek while the honor guard of goblins cheered before bowing and reciting a phrase in unison.
The second mystery woman lead the first, now carrying a bundle of cloth, up the drive and right past the still gaping wizards into the school. They did eventually recover in time to greet the goblin delegation and Dumbledore was quick to recognize Ragnok.
"Hogwarts welcomes you Chief Ragnok," Dumbledore gave a half bow, "Though we did not know to expect you I am sure that we can shortly provide refreshments in the Great Hall for your men."
The goblin chief was positively glowing with excitement and was oddly courteous with his reply, "We have already heard her greetings but we thank you for the offer of refreshments. If you would, please send for Clan Chief Potter. The regiment will set up camp here on the lawn and we will bring you our prisoners starting sometime tomorrow."
"Prisoners?" McGonagall asked primly.
Ragnok nodded before snapping his fingers and pointing at Snape. Two of the soldiers leaped forward to subdue him as the Chief replied, "The Death Eaters of course. Some of them proved most resistant to interrogation but we are very good at acquiring confessions which we will turn over to your Aurors as soon as our discussions with Clan Chief Potter are finished. So if you will just send for him and let him know that there are some family matters to take care of it would be most appreciated."
"Has something happened to the Dursleys?" Dumbledore asked.
"I wouldn't know," Ragnok smiled mysteriously. He turned to address the regiment of soldiers when the ground beneath their feet started to shake violently. Not far away a grey stone pillar shot violently out of the earth, followed by another and a wall started to assemble itself between them.
It seemed to Dumbledore that the day just could not cease turning out surprises, "What magic is this?"
"It seems Hogwarts is most accommodating. Perhaps we will not need to camp on the lawn after all," Ragnok smiled as more pillars and walls took shape. Though the stone was rough and unfinished, he could think of no higher honor than to have a Living Stone considering their comfort.
Inside Gryffindor Tower the atmosphere was a little tense. While there was no indication that their visitors were hostile, Harry Potter was behaving very oddly. After nearly hexing half the house when they spoke or moved at just the wrong moment he barricaded himself in the boys' dorm with only Ron and Hermione to "protect his precious bodily fluids."
It didn't help much however because a few moments later the portrait swung open allowing the two ladies through. They didn't respond to any of the questions asked by the students and went right up the stairs to the boys' dorm. The locked, bolted, and barred door swung open before them and closed behind them.
Inside Harry was hyperventilating but had managed to keep his cool. The older of the two lifted the top layer of fabric from her cooing bundle and handed Harry a baby. At first he could only stare in shock but gradually his face melted into a stunned and happy smile when she giggled and smiled at him. The child seemed to be carved from a pinkish marble with gold veins running through it and had her mother's platinum hair and ruby lips, but when she opened her eyes and looked at Harry there was only one thing to say.
"She's got my eyes!" Harry practically yanked Hermione over to look. Instead of the black featureless eyes that Gringotts and Hogwarts both shared, the baby had brilliant emerald eyes, still without whites or pupils but undeniably the shade Harry had himself inherited. "My daughter has my eyes! Oh my God! I'M A FATHER!"
"What should we name her?" The living embodiment of Gringotts asked.
Harry just stared at his daughter for a few moments, "How about something from your side? Maybe we could name her after Monte Rosa or Mont Blanc, they're nowhere near as gorgeous of course but there aren't very many feminine names for mountains. Rosa Blanc Potter?"
"Oh, and then you could honor your mother too," Hermione agreed while trying to resist tickling the baby. "Rosa or Rose to match Lily... But why would you name her after a mountain?"
The two women who looked like living statues looked at her as if she were daft.
"Haven't you ever heard people talk about Hogwarts as if she were alive?" Harry asked.
"Well of course, but it's nothing but romantic nonsense," Hermione had stopped resisting and her eyes never left the happy baby in her friends arms.
"Don't let the goblins hear you say that," Harry warned her. "Maybe you didn't get a good look at our guests but I assure you that they are not romantic nonsense. This is the embodiment of Gringotts and next to her is Hogwarts."
Hermione's head swung up in shock, "Living Stones! Merlin Harry, Hogwarts is a Living Stone!"
"Of course," The amused castle replied.
"But Living Stones never live with humans, wars with the Goblin Nations have sprung up every time we tried to convince one to live at the Ministry," Hermione rambled.
"Every time they have tried to imprison one you mean," Gringotts corrected her. "A few of us live with humans, my cousin Angkor even lives with muggles though they don't know it of course."
"Wow," Harry breathed slowly, "I'm a dad..."
"How did you two... I mean...You're human and she's..." Ron was clearly on a slightly different topic.
"Oh you know, the usual... I was kidnapped in the middle of the night and forced at knifepoint into her bed," Harry supplied.
"Right," Ron nodded before his brain caught up, "Wait, what?"
"I'm hoping we won't need the knives this time," Gringotts chipped in.
"This time?" Harry was starting to get an ominous feeling.
"Remember the little deal you made with the goblins outside?"
"Yes," Harry swallowed, definitely an ominous feeling.
"And you know that goblins are strict about the letter of an agreement right?"
"And?" Harry braced himself for jumping out of another window if need be.
"Well they kind of specified a male heir," Gringotts reminded him, "Not that I'm not happy, but it was in the deal so they are here to make sure you uphold your end of the bargain..."
Harry hung his head in defeat, "Can we please use some lubricating potion this time?"
"Oh don't worry," Hogwarts said as she pulled him to his feet. "We'll be gentle..."