A/N I always said I would finish this story, and two years later here we are. A great big thank you to everyone who came on this journey with me, I hope you like the final destination we reach here.
Platform nine and three quarters was buzzing with the sounds of friends greeting friends they hadn't seen since before the summer holidays, and families saying goodbye to their children. The family near the far end of the platform probably counted as the largest there, though absolutely no doubt existed that they were by far and away the strangest.
That a pair of muggles stood beside goblin parents would see them win that contest hands down, and that was before the rest of the company were taken into consideration. This was Jamie, Astrid, Bruce and Zakkclaw's time to head for Hogwarts, all were eleven years old. Jamie and Zak had been best friends since they were toddlers growing up together in Kingussie. With Astrid and Bruce being frequent visitors over the years, all four were really close.
This was what saw Zak heading to Hogwarts, the first goblin to attend since Harry Crow. As the precedent had already been set, Zak also had a specially manufactured knife similar to the Assistant Ambassador's. What convinced Zakkclaw's parents to allow this though was the silver pin on his robes. It was a copy of the Potter family crest and marked their son as a Potter Scholar.
That their son would have the support this offered inside Hogwarts, his three friends would also be there with him and the Assistant Ambassador visited the castle practically on a weekly basis were the main reasons they were allowing him on this train.
The other sets of parents were on the platform too, as were the proud grandparents - Moa, Lukas and Barchoke. The Lupins and the younger Longbottoms completed the family lineup, for the moment. Neville was now also a proud parent, cradling their four month old daughter in his arms. She looked like a tiny version of Padma, only her skin being a light coffee colour, and Neville thought she was the most beautiful girl on the planet - next to her mother of course.
Their wonderful daughter was named after Neville's godmother, and to honour their best friends - and of course her godparents. Lily Longbottom however had already captured her father's heart and soul.
"They're still not here. It's not like them to be late, do you think something has happened?"
Emma knew she and Dan were far more prepared for Jamie getting on this train than they were for his big sister's journey. In all honesty though, that wouldn't exactly be difficult. She tried to ease her son's fears. "There's no way they would miss you lot heading for Hogwarts. If anything had happened, we would already have heard."
Their attention was then occupied by a beautiful witch with long black hair rushing up to the group, Barchoke receiving the first hug. Danielle then turned her attention to the four new first years. "You all set for a trip to Scotland?"
Miss Dugan really was a beautiful witch, her marauder trainer robes emphasising the fact she would come of age in January. She didn't need to be wearing her Potter Scholar badge to know there was going to be a massive party planned for then, Danielle had been a frequent visitor to Kingussie since she was five and certainly considered part of the extended family.
Padma was smiling at Bruce's usual reaction to Danielle, his crush reminding her of another young first year - that boy though had an ever-present camera. Colin and Luna had parted as friends during their sixth year, Ginny Weasley quickly moving in and snapping him up. They were now married and Luna was happy for them, she just preferred the life she now led as Harry and Hermione's private secretary.
With both being such high profile individuals, Luna looked after their diaries and was the only way to get near the Crows. Luna was very protective of them and, with Sapphire performing the same function on the goblin side of the divide, all four were happy and content with the way their lives were unfolding.
Padma also couldn't help but smile at how Astrid tried to direct attention away from her friend's blushing, these four were as close as another quartet that had been formed in Hogwarts.
"I don't see why I have to take the train to Hogwarts. I've been living there most of my life, why can't I just portkey with you guys? That's what I usually do, this seems such a waste of time."
The adults could see what Astrid was up to but Sirius answered his daughter anyway. "I met your Uncle Remus on the train to Hogwarts, and your favourite story has always been how Harry met Hermione on this very same train. It's an important part of growing up, you can meet people today who will be your best friends for the rest of your life..."
He was interrupted by his father-in-law. As the tallest, it was Lukas who spotted them first. "I think they're coming. It's hard to see but I don't know of anyone else who could cause that kind of reaction amongst a crowd."
Lukas was of course right, every head on the platform was now turned to see what was causing all the excitement. To the Hogwarts students, this was just a couple they knew well from their frequent visits to the castle. It was the parents who were in total awe of them. Luna and Sapphire were practically having to push a path through the crowd for the couple, Harry refusing to budge from a very heavily pregnant Hermione's side.
Neville handed Lily to her mother as he and Tonks lent a hand, the two aurors soon had a path clear for them to reach their family. It was a tired Hermione who hugged her brother. "I didn't think you were going to make it, sis. I was sure the healers were going to keep you in. You are about the size of a house, you know."
She lovingly ruffled his hair. "Since I'm the one carrying this house about with me, then you better believe I know what size I am."
"What I can't believe is that I'm going to be in Hogwarts when I become an uncle, you will send me some pictures?"
At that Dobby popped beside them. "Dobby will let little master know as soon as he becomes an uncle. Dobby will also bring pictures when Mistress Emma takes them."
This seemed to ease Jamie's doubts. "Thanks Dobby, you're the best."
Hermione though had more to add. "You know we visit the castle a lot, we're going to be bringing the baby with us. The Lady Helena asked especially, and you know Harry's not going to disappoint her."
After greeting the four heading off to Hogwarts, Harry noticed the other two looking unhappy in the background. Not something he was ever going to allow. "Teddy, Luke, why so sad?"
His godson was first to answer. "Uncle Sirius says you meet your best friends on this train, Luke and me don't go until next year. Does that mean they won't be our best friends anymore?"
He wanted to laugh but could see this was really troubling them. Harry gently explained the situation to both boys. "Teddy, you live in the castle - you'll be seeing them every day for the next seven years. Luke, you live there too, and Astrid is your sister. My goddaughter is hardly likely to forget about the bane of her life." This drew a smile from both boys, all knew how close the Black children were.
"I think you guys could do with a few more girls in the group anyway, Astrid has her hands full trying to keep the five of you in line."
All clearly heard the admiration in Luke's voice, it was bordering on awe. "...but she has Dannielle to help, and she is amazing."
This generated quite a few chuckles and earned the now red-faced Luke a kiss on the cheek from the 'amazing' witch in question. His mother though was left shaking her head. "Only ten but already charming witches, he's certainly his father's son."
That comment from Henrica just seemed to please both Black males, generating more chuckles within the family group. The warning whistle saw final hugs being exchanged as Danielle got the four loaded on to the train. She may be a Potter Scholar but they were family, and she knew how well that same family had looked out for her over the years. Danielle intended to ensure these four settled in well to Hogwarts, she could do no less.
They had barely stepped on the train when Luna whirled on Hermione. "Okay, you've seen them off. Now can we go?"
This was so out of character for Luna that the entire family was now focused on this pair. "In a minute, Luna. I just want to wave as the train leaves."
This led to a harumph from Luna. "I think I'll go and tell the driver to get his finger out. Perhaps then you'll actually listen to sense."
The family now couldn't fail to notice that Harry was practically supporting Hermione, and Emma shifted straight into worry mode. "Is there something wrong, something you're not telling us about?"
Luna tried for sarcasm but it just came out as pleading. "Apart from the fact she's in labour, everything's fine. She refused to stay in the medical facility. Hermione Crow decided she knew better than the healers and came here."
Sapphire was also clearly worried about the situation. "Harry, please! Hermione needs to get to the medical facility, talk to her."
Harry gazed into his wife's beautiful brown eyes. "I can't believe you're doing this to me... Our child is going to be heading to Hogwarts on their birthday, that is simply unacceptable Mrs Crow."
"My husband has some good connections at Hogwarts, I'm sure he'll think of something. I married a very smart goblin, and they are sneaky little devils. Our baby is coming, love, and they are coming soon..."
This left Sapphire shaking her head in frustration. "You two are as bad as each other. I don't know how Luna and I put up with you..."
Harry then easily scooped his wife into his arms as Hermione rested her head on his shoulder. "Exactly fourteen years ago in this very place I helped a young girl onto the train, best decision I ever made." A loving kiss followed as the train whistle signalled it was departing.
"Hey Harry, how come I didn't get a kiss like that? Remember when I was in your arms, in labour with Astrid?"
"Probably because your husband was standing right next to you. I happen to know this beautiful lady's spouse, and he positively encourages me to kiss her as much as I want. Time to go now, love?"
Hermione could only nod as the contraction hit. Emma, Dan, Barchoke and Luna all grabbed on as Harry activated his emergency portkey.
Sapphire let out a sigh of relief as she watched them disappear, those two were too headstrong for their own good - it certainly made her and Luna's jobs interesting though. Sapphire was still on duty here as she approached the goblin parents.
""Zakkclaw really will be fine, you know I've stayed in Hogwarts many times before. As well as Sirius, Henrica and Remus, he will also know his new potions professor well too...""
This had Padma chuckling. "I thought goblins were good at keeping secrets?"
"The train has left so they won't find out until they see you sitting there at the feast. Teddy and Luke now know a secret that those four don't, but they won't say anything..." A wink from Sapphire really cheered both boys up. They were sons of marauders, and now in on the prank on their best friends.
Sapphire was going to use her portkey to take Zak's parents home to Kingussie before heading back to Gringotts. She didn't want to miss the prank Harry and Hermione had planned for the family. Only she and Luna knew the secret, which was why they had been so worried, but the news would be all over the country by tomorrow.
Barchoke had dropped some heavy hints that he was looking forward to having grandchildren and retiring, Sapphire could be the Assistant Ambassador sooner than anyone though.
As the Blacks, Lupins and Longbottoms left for Hogwarts, Sapphire was heading to where she now considered home - Kingussie.
The concentration on Albus' face was total, this really was tricky without the proper tools. Since his present accommodation didn't allow any tools whatsoever, not even for eating, Albus was just having to do the best he could.
After arriving in Azkaban, Albus discovered that Harry had arranged for the Daily Prophet to be delivered to his cell. The boy obviously thought this would torture Albus, reading about how easily the Crows were subverting his country, but they hadn't reckoned on his brilliance. Albus had taken the method of his supposed torture and turned it into his tool for bringing down the Crow dynasty - and pushing the goblins back underground where they belonged.
It was all here, right in front of him twenty four hours a day. Daily Prophet articles relating to Harry Crow, his wife, along with their supposed family and friends. Albus would carefully tear them out of the Prophet and stick them onto his cell wall. Through years of experimentation, he discovered that licking the back of the article would then see it stay on the walls best. After that, there was no stopping him.
Those articles on Hermione opening up her own law offices in Hogsmeade should have set alarm bells ringing in the magical community. They didn't, and the goblins got away with another ruse. It wasn't long before Hermione and the Lovegood girl were lobbying to have wizarding laws changed. It was now a crime to mistreat a house elf, even telling them to punish themselves counted as mistreatment - and could see your servant legally taken away.
Albus looked up at those particular fading articles and was left shaking his head. His eyes then travelled around his walls, the articles speaking to him as the portraits in his office once did.
One wall was exclusively for their friends and acquaintances. Just being Crow's friend was enough to get your name in the paper, and bring you to Albus' attention. They were all here...
The Longbottom boy breezing through auror training, and already a Senior Auror, while his wife was a Potions Mistress. Their daughter being born was actually front page news.
The Weasleys were a family who seriously disappointed Albus. Their eldest marrying a muggle, while their only daughter took a muggle born as a husband, was really shocking. Nearly as shocking as two of their sons working for Gringotts while the twins now owned a joke shop. With the future head of the family married to a muggle, the Weasleys would be shunned in their own society - even with Voldemort gone. Molly would be distraught, but Albus had no sympathy for any of them. Neither Arthur, Molly nor William would listen to him, now the entire family were reaping what they sowed.
Draco Malfoy was proving his Slytherin ancestry by brilliantly aligning himself with Crow. His two sons would certainly benefit from their father's manipulations, especially considering how both their grandfathers died. Malfoy was certainly someone Albus considered could be brought around to his side, when he got out of here.
The Davis boy was lost to him, marrying that veela and then moving to France took him out of Albus' sphere of influence. Diggory's son bringing that Chinese girl into their family would maybe shut his father's boasting up, oh how the mighty have fallen.
Albus had agonised before finally placing Severus up here, this one was like a dagger through his heart. His former comrade's actions at the third task that day cemented Severus was lost to Albus forever. Severus had made what he obviously considered a better deal with the goblins. It really was hard for Albus to refute that Severus was right, since his picture kept appearing in the Prophet with a pretty witch on his arm.
Albus' concentration and efforts finally paid off as the article on the goblin student attending Hogwarts was carefully torn out today's Prophet with nice, straight edges. On any other day, Albus would be excited about this. Surely having real goblins attending Hogwarts would be that final step too far. They should have been rushing to his door, proclaiming 'Albus, you were right - we need your help,'
That was never going to happen though, because once more he had to doff his cap to the goblins. They had handled this entire situation brilliantly. Albus found that article on page eight, that was because the first seven pages of the Daily Prophet were dedicated to the twins Hermione Crow just gave birth to - on the same day a goblin went to Albus' beloved Hogwarts!
No one gave a shit about the goblin catastrophe, they were far more interested in their newly born prince and princess. On reading the articles, that's just what it felt like to Albus. They were being treated like royalty, ministers from all over Europe publicly sending them messages of congratulations. She had supposedly given birth to them inside Gringotts, meaning no one could even say for sure if the twins were really their children!
The real masterstroke though was in selecting their names. Harry claimed they wanted to honour all three of their fathers, and named their son Barack Daniel Potter. That this baby would one day become Lord Potter had Britain's magical society falling over themselves to congratulate all involved.
Since it was well known they had a brother called James, and a goddaughter Lilly, their daughter was being named Emma Alice Potter - again to much acclaim.
These developments would push Albus' plans back a few years. All this positive publicity would again mask what was really going on in the British magical community. The goblins were slowly but surely taking over, they even had Rita Skeeter now running the Prophet.
Albus could see it all however, his walls told him the truth. He was a patient and powerful wizard, the dementors didn't even affect him now. What those walls didn't show was Albus' reflection, otherwise he would perhaps have realised he didn't have those years available.
His tongue, lips and beard were all black. With Dumbledore's skin resembling dried leather and his eyes were almost continually bloodshot and itchy, the diagnosis was not good.
It was a good few years before a visiting healer picked up what was happening here. In licking the back of those articles that were festooned on his cell walls, Dumbledore was ingesting trace amounts of the inks used to print the newspaper. Since these inks contained things you didn't want in your body, predominantly lead, Dumbledore had been slowly but surely poisoning himself.
When they stopped delivering his daily paper, the withdrawal symptoms experienced by the prisoner might have been mainly psychological but they were real none the less. A decision had to be quickly made. The effects of the lead were cumulative and the metal couldn't be flushed from a person's body. They also affected a wizard's mental capacity, and Dumbledore was already badly poisoned.
As Dumbledore was going to be here for the rest of his life, and the lead in his system actually protected him from the debilitating dementor effects - because it was already working on his brain - a decision was reached to let him have his newspapers again. This stopped all the stress that not having his newspapers was causing Albus, and no one really knew whether the immediate high levels of stress or continual slow poisoning was worse for his ancient heart.
If Dumbledore really was the dark lord of that prophecy then it could easily be construed that he would eventually die from Harry's hand, since it was him who paid for the Daily Prophet subscription. It was also decided at ministerial level never to tell Harry about this, he had already rid them from one dark lord.
Albus Dumbledore was now drifting deeper and deeper into his own fantasy world, somewhere not even the dementors could reach. He was a thin and wizened old man who rattled about in his cell, one who was not long for this world. When an inmate died in prison, they were buried on the island. One thing was certain, Albus Dumbledore was never leaving Azkaban. This would be his home and final resting place.
They had reserved him the space next to Dolores Umbridge who passed away last year, with barely half her sentence completed. It took determination and belief to survive a stint in Azkaban, Umbridge had neither and slowly wasted away. She, like Dumbledore, would neither be missed nor mourned.
As all three were soon given a clean bill of health, Hermione couldn't wait to get out of the medical facility. She and Harry each had a baby cradled in one arm, while their free hands were joined.
"Time to go home, love. The rest of our family will be waiting for us."
With that, it was a very happy family of four who portkeyed home to Crow's Nest.
A/N thank you so much for reading and supporting this story.