AN: Wow, I can't believe it's been this long since I last updated – well everything. I'm sooo sorry! Live has a habit of getting in the way and, well. I'm sorry!
So now, after a very long wait, here the next chapter of House of Potter! I know it's short. The next will hopefully be longer again. Reviews (as long as reasonable) are welcome. ENJOY!
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter! I just write for fun and I do not make any money with it (sigh).
14. Going Home
They sat at the lake in silence, avoiding the partying witches and wizards who celebrated their champions' success. After a while Sirius and Remus left for some time before they came back carrying a picnic basket which contents would have been able to feed half of Gryffindor. Harry began to relax more and more during their picnic dinner and all three teens had fun listening to the two marauders telling stories about their time at Hogwarts. Several of these stories featured both of Neville's parents. Frank Longbottom had been two years above the Marauders but Alice had been in their year and had been very close with Lily.
'And Lily hexed James so bad that he didn't dare ask her out on a date for another two weeks!' Remus finished the story of one of James many attempts to woo Harry's mum leaving the three teens in stitches. Harry really began to wonder how his dad had ever managed to convince his mum to go out with him.
The two Marauders stayed until shortly before curfew before they left.
The first task was featured heavily in the press. To Harry's and his friends surprise part of his rant about dragons was also included and both the Ministry and Dumbledore were getting quite a bit of flag for endangering some already rare magical species. Harry wondered how the reporter, one Rita Skeeter, had been able to listen in to what he had said down at the lake but was relieved that he being able to understand dragons hadn't been included.
The main article was followed by a full page about the dragons used in the first task and dragons that were native to Britain. The article included interviews with several dragon handlers including Charlie Weasley. As a result the twins, Ginny and Ron were often cornered with questions about their older brother. Ginny, Fred and George took it with good humour but Ron became sullen and hostile when he realized that the other students only wanted to talk about Charlie and his job.
The article about the death of Barty Crouch Jr. in his cell in Azkaban due to the loss of his magic made the last of those shut up who, regardless of his oath, had not believed Harry when he said he didn't want anything to do with the tournament. Since he obviously still had his magic even after not performing in the task he couldn't have been bound by a contract. Only Ron continued to badmouth Harry every chance he got and was getting increasingly more enraged since Harry kept ignoring him.
The teachers did nothing to dissolve the growing tension and at the beginning of December Ron found himself to be the pariah of his own house, something else he continued to blame on Harry.
It was certainly due to the tournament that no one really took notice about the growing number of muggleborn and even some halfblood students restarting their non-magical education. Apart of the Charms Master only Pomona Sprout knew what was going on. Unlike her fellow Head of House who had stumbled over an eager learning group in the Ravenclaw common room the Herbology Mistress was sought out by an anxious contingent of muggleborn students of her own house with the question if it was in any form forbidden to continue with their non-magical subjects. Some first-years had seen a Ravenclaw in their year with a Math text in the library. Out of curiosity they had approached the girl and she had explained the reasons on her added studies. Alarmed the two had first questioned their class- and then their older House-mates if what the Ravenclaw had said about their job-chances in this wonderful and exciting new world was true. Both teachers did their best to support the students, allowing them the use of empty classrooms. They too cautioned them to not discuss their efforts too openly in front of their pureblood classmates.
Harry and Hermione were surprised when their classmate Dean Thomas approached them about the subject. Both had not been overly subtle in their studying for their non-magical subjects but most of their house-mates had shrugged it off until now. They were too used to see Hermione study more than they thought necessary and this year Harry had started to act similar. It was additional work so why bother?
Now that word had reached the muggle-born Gryffs that their chances at good, especially good payed jobs were practically non-existent. Even though many of the muggle-born lions reacted horrified at the thought of extra study some of them wondered if maybe Harry and Hermione had the right idea. As a dorm-mate of the Boy Who Lived Dean was chosen to approach the pair.
'You know this is a lot of material to cover?' Harry cautioned the other boy. While there were mostly first and second years in the group Dean was representing there were three third years and only Dean from their own year. Dean nodded. All the older years had shrugged it off, stating that it would be much too late now to catch up on five, six or even seven years of muggle education.
'Yeah, I know.' Was the answer. 'But if I don't start now it will only get more. I really want to get a good job after Hogwarts.' The pair gladly gave Dean a list of the needed books for each year. Since it was nearly the end of term most chose to take a copy of the list with them and talk to their parents through the holidays. None of the Gryffindor's approached their Head of House, knowing from experience that they couldn't expect any help from the stern Transfiguration Mistress. In the end it was Professor Flitwick who approached the lions by asking Harry and Hermione to stay behind after class two weeks after the first task.
'You wanted to talk to us, Professor?' Hermione asked after everyone else had left to head to DADA.
'Yes Miss Granger.' Flitwick answered before conjuring seats and inviting them to sit. He then proceeded to tell two of his favourite students how one of his muggleborn ravens had overheard Harry and Hermione in the library that day and how this had resulted in nearly every muggleborn taking up their muggle education again. 'You see,' the professor explained to the two stunned Gryffindor's, 'there have always been muggleborn students that try to keep up with their muggle education. What is unusual is that now almost eighty percent have begun doing so.'
It was ten minutes later when a troubled Hermione and Harry made their way to Defence with a pass from the Charms Master. Flitwick had warned them from showing what they were doing too openly and had allowed them to use an unused classroom in the charms corridor. He too had sanctioned the meetings in the room as a 'Literature Club'.
Two days later Professor McGonagall had an announcement at the end of her lesson. As it seemed part of the Triwizard Tournament was the traditional holding of the Yule Ball. It was open for every student of fourth year and above. It was also mandatory for the champions to attend since they and their dance partners traditionally opened the ball, making Harry very relieved that he had dodged that bullet.
Instead he watched with amusement how his dorm mates struggled to ask a girl out for a date. Harry felt quite confident that, had he had the slightest interest in going he wouldn't have had any trouble finding a date. Indeed Harry had been cornered by several girls in the hallways. He denied their offers for a date politely, stating that he was planning to spend Christmas with his recently cleared godfather. Most girls took the rejection with grace. Only a sixth year Ravenclaw continued to glare at Harry whenever they happened to cross paths. From his dorm mates Neville was the first who found a date for the ball. He had asked Ginny who happily said yes. One and a half weeks before the ball Seamus and Dean had secured dates as well. Seamus would be going with Lavender while Dean had asked Padma Patil, Parvati's Ravenclaw sister.
Harry checked his potions homework for the holidays for a last time before he rolled the parchment up. Stretching he looked at his watch. Seeing that it was still over an hour until dinner he scooped up the potions texts he had used for additional reference and returned them to the shelves in the Potions section. It was the last day of term and Harry wanted to get as much of his homework out of the way before he would leave tomorrow to celebrate Yule with Sirius and Remus. Both Sirius and Remus had kept Harry informed while they rid Sirius' house from all the dark magical artefacts. In fact so much dark magic had seeped into the house itself that a cleansing ritual for the whole property had become necessary before renovations could begin. Both Marauders were more than happy with the results and Harry couldn't wait to see their new home.
It had taken some persuasion of both Sirius and Harry to convince Remus to permanently move into the new and improved Grimmauld Place together with father and son. In the end the werewolf had relented because of the secured area under the house where he would be able to change safely. Sirius was still working on getting the man to accept a salary for all the work he was doing. He and Harry would be teaming up in that regard over Christmas.
The headmaster hadn't taken Harry's announcement that he wouldn't be at Hogwarts for the Yule Ball well. Dumbledore was insistent that it was a good opportunity to make friends with the foreign witches and wizards and even went so far to suggest that Ginny would be a perfect date for Harry at the Ball. Harry politely declined, having no desire to celebrate Christmas at the castle now that he had a family to go home to just for Dumbledore to use his attendance to get favours with visiting dignitaries from the Bulgarian or French Ministries.
There were several more attempts from both Dumbledore and McGonagall, who seemed more than a bit put out by Dumbledore over the matter. In the end the headmaster backed down only after receiving a floo call from an irate Sirius who demanded for them to stop harassing his ward.
It was a very relieved and exited Harry who, like most students from wizarding families, flooed home from his Head of Houses office on December 19th after saying goodbye to his friends who, like everyone else in fourth year and above were staying at Hogwarts this year.
Harry shot out of the fireplace, only just keeping his balance. At least he didn't end up on the floor in an undignified heap again like at his first attempt two years ago.
'We will have to work on your floo travel, son.'
'Dad! Remus!' Harry was enveloped in hugs from his dad and honorary uncle. Both Remus and Sirius looked good, happy even. With Sirius being free the last two marauders had reunited and it was doing both men a world of good.
'Ready for the grand tour, Harry?' Sirius brought his son out of his musings.
'Just a moment!' the boy answered, before closing his eyes. The men watched as Harry's facial features changed slightly and his black hair turned red. He opened his eyes. 'Ah! That's better!' Harry grinned at the men. 'Now I'm ready!'
The townhouse was huge Harry realized when Remus and Sirius gave him the grand tour. Not only held it living quarters for the family that would've been able to house the entire Weasley family three times over without anyone having to room together; it too held a big kitchen, a dining room, two ball rooms, a library, a sun room, a music-room including instruments, guest quarters as well as a huge attic filled with unused furniture, old trunks and several portraits Sirius didn't want to have anywhere in the rest of the house.
All rooms Harry had seen were freshly painted in light colours. Harry was surprised to see only few rooms in Gryffindor colours and suspected Remus moderating influence. Rightly so as he found out from a grinning werewolf and a sputtering animagus a moment later.
Harry's own room, or better set of rooms since it consisted of a bedroom, a sitting room, a study and his own bathroom, were, of course, in the family quarters. The walls were painted in a soft cream colour with only a simple red and golden stripe showing the owners Hogwarts House. The floor in the sitting room, bedroom and study was covered with a blue carpet. All furniture was from the same dark brown wood. The tiles in the bathroom were a shade darker than in the rest of his rooms but held the same red and golden stripe. Harry absolutely loved his quarters.