Harry Crow

Disclaimer - since I still have to drag myself to work every Monday to Friday, that should be proof enough that I am neither a professional author nor do I own Harry Potter. RobSt is just someone having a bit of fun during the long, dark Scottish evenings by playing in the world JKR created for us. I also don't own any of the words used in this chapter, and claim only the order I placed them in as my own.

Chapter 25

Harry's declaration regarding his betrothal contracts actually made it into the Prophet. Instead of buying him breathing space though, every witch in Hogwarts took this as an invitation that the boy-who-lived was still there for the taking. Not quite the effect he was hoping for.

The lessons with Sirius were paying dividends too, unexpected ones. Harry could now see that his actions had painted a large target on Hermione's forehead with the other witches in the castle. His task now was damage limitation, while standing squarely beside his best friend. A part of him hated that he'd caused Hermione all this trouble, a much greater part couldn't imagine a life without his wonderful best friend in it.

Now he had to walk the tightrope between making Hermione's Valentine's day special, and not heaping more scorn on her from the other witches. Harry was coming to rely on his godfather's advice more and more, something that pleased both of them.

Hermione's takedown of Cho had won her deserved respect across the castle, as had her attitude afterwards. Hermione had taken the view that Cho was understandably upset at her betrothal refusal, the second year had reacted without thinking - and also out of character. Giving Cho the benefit of the doubt saw Hermione claim the moral high ground, leaving her opponent with no other option than to apologise. After Professor Flitwick had investigated the matter by speaking with all four witches involved, Cho found herself in detention for a month while Marietta merely lost house points for initial poor judgement.

News that Harry would be spending his summer hopping around the world, along with his invited friends, was soon common knowledge. Parvati would obviously tell her best friend, and Lavender would obviously tell the entire castle. That Miss Hobson was also rumoured to be attending at some point over the summer saw Harry face an almost constant barrage of witches and wizards wrangling for invites. Spending some of the summer with the Weasley twins or Roger Davies might be appealing but, by and large, Harry was really glad he'd locked the numbers where they were.

Ravenclaw house had soon buckled back down to studying after the holiday, though Penny almost unintentionally started a riot. Percy had OWL's this year and, citing the poor teaching on offer at Hogwarts, had asked his elder brother for some defence tuition for him and his girlfriend. Penny getting extra defence tuition, from the same teacher the first years raved about, saw Bill Weasley inundated with requests to join these classes.

This saw Bill approach Minerva about the possibility of running an OWL revision defence class on a Sunday afternoon, only to be asked if he could do the same for NEWT level students on a Saturday too! Bill had to get back to Gringotts about that.

Barchoke was looking for a favour from Minerva, so was delighted to have this carrot to dangle in front of her. There was also the added bonus of even more Gringotts influence inside Hogwarts castle to be considered, something that would surely get right up Dumbledore's crooked nose.

Since the favour Barchoke requested was permitted under Hogwarts rules, providing the proper forms were completed, Minerva was delighted to comply. The notices of extra OWL and NEWT defence tuition would be posted in the common rooms before the end of the day, she expected there would be a large uptake. Minerva couldn't remember when things had run this well inside Hogwarts, nor when the students had gotten a better education. The goblin influences in history, potions and defence were certainly having a positive effect on the castle, even the Weasley twins were often observed studying that wonderful potions book Master Pitslay provided.

-oOoOo-

The Minister of Magic could hardly contain his excitement while waiting on the department head he'd just summoned. Cornelius had been lying in the bath last night when his eureka moment struck, and he didn't even wet the floor. The ministry needed a way to officially contact the goblins, a way that he would be able to justify to the Wizengamot - and he may just have found it.

He, Cornelius Fudge, Minister of Magic, solving problems - this was exhilarating! Why did he ever listen to people like Malfoy or Dumbledore in the first place?

A knock at the door brought the man he wanted to talk with into his office. "Come in, Arthur, take a seat. There is something I'd like to run past you, though I must emphasise this needs to remain top secret at the moment."

Arthur Weasley could only nod in agreement, having no idea what Fudge was up to.

"The whole Crouch / Black matter was only solved by the goblins passing messages onto Amelia's niece through young Harry. I think we would both agree that's a pretty unsatisfactory method of communication between governments. What I'm proposing will see your department abolished..."

Arthur's heart sank at that, how was he supposed to go home and tell his little girl she couldn't go to Hogwarts now...

"...and replaced with one which handles all our liaisons with both the muggles and the goblins. I have you earmarked to head this new department, but only if we can pull this off."

Arthur felt as if he was on an out of control broom. He'd just corkscrewed to the depths of despair before racing to the dizzy heights of a possible promotion, of course there had to be a catch. "Minister, I could hardly be considered a goblin expert."

"You know as much about goblins as I do, but you have an amazing resource at your disposal that I don't. Your eldest son not only works for Gringotts, he's a personal tutor of Harry's at Hogwarts."

"Minister, my son takes his work for the goblins very seriously. The chances of him passing on any information are nil."

"Very admirable of him Arthur, and exactly what we're after. The ministry aren't looking for goblin secrets to be exposed, rather that a dialog between us can hopefully be established. Both of us know how difficult this could be to get past the Wizengamot, it would be political suicide if the goblins weren't on board first. I need your son to pass this general idea to the goblins and discover what they think about it. Unless we get positive feedback, this conversation never happened and the matter ends here."

Having Bill sound the goblins out on this idea was something Arthur approved of, he also understood the minister's stance on saying nothing just now. To push this through the Wizengamot, only for the goblins to then reject it, would end the careers of everyone involved in this new measure.

"I hope we can count on your son's discretion to act as a go-between, the ministry and the goblins need to agree on this deal before we go anywhere near the chamber with new legislation. This could be potentially a massive step for both leaderships. Well, what do you think Arthur?"

The more Arthur thought about it, the more excited he became. "I think it's a brilliant idea, minister."

"I would like to have at least the framework in place by summer. If we can invite Centurion Crow to the Ministry Summer Ball, the Wizengamot would then face public pressured to vote in favour of these new measures."

Arthur left the minister's office with his head spinning, not least because it was Cornelius Fudge who'd come up with this idea. He needed to contact Bill at once.

-oOoOo-

Hermione was a bundle of nerves this morning, she didn't know what was going to happen - and that always worried her. It wasn't as if Hermione was an expert on Valentine's Day, she'd never received a card in her life. She was hoping for one today though, but understood that Harry being a goblin might scupper that actually happening. Hermione would certainly not stoop to dropping any hints.

Having Harry at her side for the day was more than enough for Hermione, but she knew every witch in the castle would be casting their eyes in her direction today. She had of course gotten Harry a card, but even that presented a dilemma. What if she gave him the card and he hadn't gotten one for her? It wouldn't be much of a Valentine's Day if Harry spent it berating himself for not getting her a card.

Harry solved all her problems the moment they met.

Giving Hermione a hug, followed by a kiss on the cheek was a good start. "Happy Valentine's Day, Hermione. Would you do me the honour of spending the evening with me?"

This left Hermione a very relieved but now puzzled witch. "Don't I spend every evening with you?"

"Ah, but not like this." Harry's mischievous smile would melt hearts of stone. "So, do we have a date?"

The use of the d-word had Hermione's head in a spin, she quickly agreed to anything before they headed off to exercise.

Hermione handed Harry his card before they went down to breakfast, and emulated his hug / kiss combination from earlier. It was only when she stepped back that Hermione noticed the beautiful yellow rose that was now pinned to her robes.

"How...when..."

"Magic, Hermione, simply magic."

Hermione sat at breakfast with her rose pinned to her robes and a permanent smile on her lips, much to the indignation of Padma. "How can you sit there grinning like an idiot with that happening beside you?"

Glancing to her other side revealed a long line of owls delivering cards and presents to Harry, causing Hermione to shrug her shoulders. "I've already given Harry my card, and he's taking me on a date tonight."

"DATE?"

Padma could have bitten her tongue off for saying that too loud, but Hermione didn't seem to mind. She just nodded her head in conformation while her smile got wider. This would be enough to start tongues wagging, and that information would be all over the castle by the time breakfast finished.

On Hermione's other side, Harry was amassing quite the collection of cards and chocolates.

"Someone's very popular today, looks like Honeydukes has been cleaned out."

"Help yourself, Roger, I'm not really a fan of chocolate. Why don't you start passing them around the table, let everyone enjoy them."

This proved to be a popular decision as many hands made light work of Harry's haul. Padma had helped herself to a couple of chocolate frogs when a warning look from the boy they were sent to saw the amphibian modelled confectionary disappear into her bag. The warning bell rang and it was time to head to potions, Harry's glance led Padma to believe they might be testing chocolate today.

They were less than halfway through their potions lesson when the class was interrupted by a delegation, McGonagall, Flitwick and Dumbledore all appeared concerned. It was Filius who took the lead. "Excuse this intrusion, Master Pitslay, we needed to check on your students. Ravenclaws all over the castle have been acting peculiar, our first years though seem curiously unaffected."

"Could I have a bit more detail than 'peculiar', Master Flitwick, it doesn't give us much to go on."

Filius knew what reaction this news would bring, he still needed to say it though. "It would seem a number of my house have been affected by potions, potions that affect their emotions. We suspected some of the chocolates Centurion Crow received may have been tainted, but the entire first year uninfected would appear to dispute that. Almost all the first years were seen to help themselves to the free sweets..."

Filius stopped because Padma placed her chocolate frogs on the bench, closely followed by Mandy, Morag, Terry, Michael and Anthony doing the same with their hoards of free chocolate. Hermione felt she needed to justify her lack of confectionary. "My parents are dentists, we don't eat chocolate in our house." She didn't want to admit there were other things running through her mind while everyone else was helping themselves, namely her 'date' with Harry.

Mandy 'broke' next. "I saw Harry give Padma a warning look, she then put her chocolate in her bag. That was good enough for me so I did the same, and then told Morag."

The little Scot quickly volunteered that she'd passed the exact same advice onto the boys, though no one else was willing to take notice of her concerns.

Terry spoke for all the first years. "If Harry's being cautious about something, that's good enough for me. I could always eat them later."

This left Minerva to ask the question Harry had known would be coming from the moment they entered the potions class. "If you suspected something, Mr Crow, why didn't you say so?"

"This morning I received fourteen separate gifts of sweets, the odds of at least one of them being tampered with were good. What was I supposed to do, professor? You witnessed what happened over the betrothal refusal, don't you think it would have been worse if I started having the gifts tested to see if I wasn't being slipped a potion? Duels have been fought over far less insulting behaviour than that. The staff must have seen all those deliveries, did it occur to any of you to check there was nothing harmful amongst it?"

None of the three could answer that, though Dumbledore of course had something to say. "If you suspected in the least, you should not have let your housemates eat tainted chocolates. Supposing there was poison in some of those sweets?"

"I assume there are wards in place to prevent that? It is after all your job to keep us safe, not mine. You were in the hall and did nothing, do not come in here blaming me for your mistakes. I also assume the DMLE has been contacted?"

Dumbledore was once more on the defensive. "For a school prank, don't be ridiculous. When the people who did this are found, they shall be punished with detentions and lost house points."

This led Harry to shake his head in disappointment. "Master Pitslay, what is the penalty for even attempting to poison a goblin with a love potion?"

"Beheading!" it was an enraged potions master who provided even more information. "No one has ever been stupid enough to attempt poisoning a centurion with that filth, I would imagine their punishment would be even more severe."

Minerva had her hand protectively at her throat. "How do you get more severe than having your head removed?"

It was Harry who gave her the answer. "It depends who or what is doing the removing. A goblin blade would be clean and quick, a dragon might decide to chew on you a bit first. Are you going to contact the aurors, Headmaster, or shall we do this the goblin way? Once the process of goblin justice has been started, it can't be stopped until it reaches its conclusion."

The goblin potions master was already halving all the chocolate, meticulously labelling and bottling each sample. "I will leave a set that can be examined by your own potions master, though I would expect the perpetrators of this to be easy to find. All we need look for are the witches being pursued by love-sick Ravenclaws."

"That would not necessarily be a marker of their guilt. As I mentioned before, we can't discount this being a prank."

Harry removed some cards from his bag and began writing in the corner. "These are the cards that came with the sweets. I've marked in the bottom corner what chocolate came with that card, the handwriting might match the girl who I was supposed to fall for."

It was then his head of house broke the bad news. "We think at least three separate girls were involved, there have been fights breaking out around the castle as suitors fought for their new love's attention. Classes have been canceled for the rest of the day to allow the staff to deal with the situation, Professor Snape is currently brewing flushing potions for those affected - not all of them are wizards."

Harry immediately focused on McGonagall. "Does this mean we can leave early? I think I really need to talk to my father about this."

"We plan to make an announcement at lunch, you're free after that." She then immediately turned her attention to the Headmaster, preempting his objection. "All the relevant parchment has been completed, Headmaster, and this is within my remit."

Master Pitslay handed Dumbledore a bag containing half the samples. "I would advise you to get your aurors here as soon as possible. If these samples result in a positive test, Barchoke will demand justice on those who attempted to poison his son. Students, I shall see you next week, assuming Centurion Crow is still attending Hogwarts."

The three members of the senior staff accompanied the class back to the great hall, where bewildered students were milling about, wondering just what was going on. As Dumbledore left to contact the DMLE, it was McGonagall who took to the podium. She was greeted by silence as everyone wanted to know if the rumours were true.

"Students, it would seem some amongst you took the spirit of Valentine's Day to an unacceptable level. We are currently having samples of chocolate analysed for the presence of love potions, and the headmaster is contacting the DMLE. There are some students already in the infirmary, and classes have been cancelled for the rest of the day to allow the staff to investigate this very serious matter."

Normally, any announcement about cancelled classes would be greeted by cheering, not this time. Total, stunned silence. A silence that was broken by a single voice.

"Professor, can I say something?"

Harry was standing on the Ravenclaw bench, and asking for permission to speak. Minerva gave him that permission.

"It looks like some of the sweets I was sent today may have had some form of love potions in them. Fortunately, I didn't eat any. If I had, the people who sent them would be facing goblin justice. For this crime, a guilty verdict carries a death penalty. Since this information wasn't known, and I didn't eat any of the sweets, the DMLE will deal with the incident - this time. Oh, that law also applies to friends of the goblin nation."

This was also greeted with silence as Harry sat back down. McGonagall thought there was one more thing she needed to add. "One of the most important lessons you will learn while growing up is that our actions can have consequences. This may be a prank that went horribly wrong or something more sinister, either way - there will be consequences. It's only how serious those consequences are that have still to be determined. Ingesting multiple love potions can prove fatal as they compete for dominance inside the victim's body. Thankfully, it would appear we have been spared that terrible fate this time."

Lunch appeared on the table but there didn't seem to be much appetite for it, only Ron Weasley was eating with his usual gusto. Harry took Hermione's hand and led her out the hall, pausing only to let their friends know they would see them later.

"I'm sorry Hermione, this is not the day I had planned for you. Can you grab a dress, and whatever you need to go with it? We can get ready at my place later. I need to get to my father before he explodes..."

"No problem Harry, but why the serious rush? You didn't eat any of the chocolate and are perfectly fine, or am I missing something here?"

"You know goblins only have one mate, and that mate is for life." Hermione was nodding at this but still missing the point.

"Can you imagine how a society with those beliefs would react to a potion that could cause goblins to break sacred bonds. Nothing is hated in the nation as much as these potions, except perhaps those who would use them. This is an aspect of Valentine's Day Sirius didn't mention to me."

"So you didn't know your sweets had those potions in them?"

"Hermione, only a fool would eat something when you didn't know who sent it. To then test the gift would be a great insult. I suspected they might be pranked, nothing like this though. Oh, I'd better warn you - my father can be quite scary when he's really mad. What you need to remember though is he's not mad at us."

This drew a smile from the girl. "Don't worry Harry, my mum and dad can be the same. So, where are we going tonight?"

-oOoOo-

Harry's father was currently in a meeting with the director, a meeting Ragnok appeared to be enjoying. "So Barchoke, it would appear your ploy has not only borne fruit, it's providing us with a whole orchard."

He tried to insert a note of caution. "We're still far from equals though. Placing goblins on a par with muggles is not such a step-up in the eyes of a lot of purebloods, they think muggles are little more than beasts too."

"That may be true, and probably why the minister thinks he can get this passed through the Wizengamot. If he tries for too much in the one bite, both he and his policy will be thrown out. We need to tweak this policy so that it reaches a level that I can then take to the nation, without causing a revolt. Neither side were ever going to get all they wanted, what we need here is a middle ground that we can both accept - and sell to our subjects."

Barchoke was also worried about the timescale involved here. "Negotiations like this usually take years. This will alter treaties and laws, is it feasible to even consider the timescale the minister is hinting at?"

The director couldn't help but let his grin show through. "That all depends on whether the right people can be put in position, and what form these negotiations take. I intend to suggest Weasley as the ministry representative meets directly with a member of the nation. An ambassador, if you will."

Looking at the director's grin actually widening, Barchoke had a bad feeling about this. "That sounds fine, did you have someone in mind?"

The grin had become a chuckle. "Why Ambassador Barchoke, can't you guess?"

"Director, I am already very busy..."

"I am just about to change that. Apart from the Potter account, all others will go to account managers of your choice - no more than one per manager though. I see your new duties taking up all your time for the next six years."

That number was hugely significant but Barchoke wanted to ensure he was reading the correct interpretation into this clue. "Director, why six years?"

"By then you should be able to fulfil a goblin's lifelong ambition, and hand your duties over to your son. Ambassador Lord Harry James Potter has quite the ring to it, don't you think? He would represent the nation, yet be respected in both worlds - if his father can pull this off."

Barchoke was now kneeling before his leader in respect, he had no words to say what this represented for him, and his son.

"Weasley has our curse-breaker to rely on for information about us, make sure he knows to comply with his father's wishes. You have your own son, off learning the ways of wizards. You also have Miss Granger, Friend to the Nation and an invaluable source for all things muggle. I can't think of the last time I felt so positive about the future of our nation."

The kneeling goblin finally found his voice. "Director, you have my vow that this venture will not fail due to any lack of effort or guile on my part. As you yourself said, this would see me fulfil an ambition I thought was merely an impossible dream."

"I know my friend, and it would be well deserved. Let's keep your supposed successor's identity a secret for now, we can let it slip to Weasley if the negotiations falter. I'm hoping to keep that news to ourselves, and use it to wring more concessions out them later. With the prospect of their boy-who-lived accepting his lordship, your son shall be our ace in the hole once more."

"What of my son, can I tell him? I don't like keeping secrets that concern him."

"This is not a secret, yet. Until you become Ambassador, there is no secret to keep. Once you have achieved that feat, you may of course tell your son. As he gets older, he will need different training to cope with this new role we both want for him. I am delighted you have already started his tuition with Lord Black. Between that, Hogwarts and his involvement with the Grangers, our young centurion should have a good grounding to undertake this most difficult of roles."

Barchoke could agree to that. Until the deal was done, there was no job for Harry to aim for. "What of the dark one?"

"His disposal still remains one of our nation's top priorities. We cannot put our lives on hold however, waiting on him gracing us with an appearance. You have my promise that when he does, everything we have will stand beside your son in his efforts to finish this once and for all. We want a respectful peace between our nation and all others, he will destroy peace and everyone who doesn't bow before him. The dark one must be destroyed for all our sakes."

-oOoOo-

It was a relieved Harry who discovered his father in an incredibly good mood, he almost hated spoiling it with his news. Harry also discovered just how powerful that charm of Rowena Ravenclaw's really was, Hermione blushing like a beetroot at his father's string of obscenities indicated she still understood the goblin language.

"Father! Hermione probably doesn't know what a Clabbert is, far less that it has a pustle that should be transferred to these witches."

This allowed an enraged Barchoke to regain control, that was no language to use in front of a young female. "I apologise, Hermione, I hope my son has explained why we despise these potions so much?"

"Yes sir. Had I been forced to watch Harry kissing one of those witches, I would probably have agreed with your hag comment too."

Harry tried to get his point across. "Madam Bones will deal with it, you told me yourself she was a fair-minded witch. Sirius can handle anything else that comes up over this. The whole school now knows our views on these potions, let them deal with it this time."

His father also knew the incident would give them a little more leverage in their dealings with the ministry, something like this would not remain out of the Prophet. "Very well, but there will be a condition. If this is just the actions of some silly witches, the ministry can deal with it. If we find others behind this, Gringotts may take action against those individuals. Publicly locking down the Malfoy vaults made a lot of purebloods sit up and take notice, locking down a vault would be the minimum punishment for attempting to use one of these potions on a centurion."

Knowing this was as good as he was going to get, and better than he had hoped for, Harry quickly conceded that condition. Now all he had to do was contact Sirius about their change in plans.

-oOoOo-

Hermione was sitting staring at the mirror, and wishing her mum was here. She had applied some makeup to her face in an attempted to highlight her eyes, the effect was rather panda-esque. The knock at her bedroom door saw the last person Hermione expected entering, and they were dressed as if for a date too.

"Professor Hobson, what are you doing here?"

This drew a smile from the blonde witch. "Hermione, when we're outside Hogwarts - it's Henrica. Did you really think we were going to let a couple of first years loose for an evening in London?"

"You're coming too? Oh, this is great. Do you know where we're going, Harry won't say."

"Must run in the family, his godfather would't tell me either. All I know is that it involves dinner and dancing, and we had to pop here to pick you both up. Can I help you get ready?"

Hermione was extremely grateful for the offer, and quickly accepted. She trusted Henrica not to steer her wrong.

"Too many young girls just can't wait to grow up. It's you Harry's asked on a date tonight, not someone you think you need to be." Henrica's wand left Hermione's face free of make-up, and her complexion glowing with health. "I can use a veela spell to help you though..."

Hermione watched in utter amazement as her frizz was slowly replaced by soft curls. "You have got to teach me that!"

"...and you have got to get moving, I left some nervous wizards to come and get you."

Hermione watched Harry's face light up as she entered the room, she was concentrating on that so much, the well-known voice surprised her.

"Doesn't even look at us, Neville, probably never even noticed we were here!"

"Padma, Neville - what are you doing here?"

"Well, since Mr Longbottom asked me to spend the evening with him, I said yes. Neville gave me a card and asked just after you two left."

"Oh, this is brilliant! Do you have any idea where we're going?"

Harry was right by her side. "Now Hermione, why would you want to spoil the surprise. It's time to go anyway."

The three couples caused quite a stir as they left Gringotts to head for the Leaky Cauldron. Hermione was reminding herself that the Cauldron didn't do dancing, but was still relieved to discover they were merely passing through. The limo sitting outside couldn't have been for anyone else. Harry opened the door for her as the surprises just kept coming. She found herself engulfed in some very familiar arms.

"Mum, dad, you too?" Hermione was now looking forward to her night even more.

There was barely time to bring everyone up to speed on what had been discovered at Hogwarts. Two fourth year girls had done it purely as a prank, both only wanted a kiss from the boy-who-lived on Valentine's Day. They received a week's suspension from Hogwarts, were put on probation for a year and then escorted home by aurors. Both girls were mortified at the trouble they had caused, and the trouble they were now in. A third year Slytherin had received a package from home, a package she was told to send to Harry. The aurors were currently visiting her parents.

The limo soon dropped them at their destination, the Thames Embankment, just along from the Houses of Parliament. All the ladies were delighted with their surprise, a dinner / dance cruise along the Thames.

They were soon shown to their table, a table that had a fabulous view of London by night.

Even Dan and Emma were impressed. "This is wonderful, Sirius, how did you think of it? I didn't know you were so well up on our world."

"I'm actually not, Emma, I just remembered something from many years ago. James and Lily did this one Halloween, it was getting too dangerous to go out and celebrate in our world at the time. Come to think of it, I'm sure we celebrated Harry's birth nine months later."

Sirius' attempt at embarrassing his godson failed miserably, no one minded though after witnessing the result. The expression on Harry's face was one of wonder and amazement.

"My mum and dad did this? Maybe even sat on this very boat..."

His friends and family got to see Harry with all his defences down, Emma though this was the first time she had seen this side of the lad. The mother also couldn't fail to notice that her daughter was, if anything, even closer to her best friend. When Sirius had approached them with this idea for Valentine's Day, they had both quickly agreed. Dan may think his little princess was too young to be even thinking about a 'date', the fact that he was going to see Hermione again quashed any argument before it got started.

After a lovely meal, the band had barely began playing when Harry asked Hermione to dance. Padma and Neville were soon following them onto the dance floor as Dan slipped his arm around his wife.

"I just can't get over how confident she looks, or how well they fit together. Sirius, Henrica, you've done a wonderful job in such a short space of time."

The young professor may be having to keep her veela allure as screwed down as tight as she could, but Henrica was still enjoying herself. "It's an absolute pleasure to teach such willing pupils. I sometimes help Bill with their defence lessons too. Harry is an extremely motivated young man, and his friends have a fierce determination to keep up with him. I think your daughter fears being left behind, even in the short time I've known them I feel confident in saying that will never happen."

Watching as the young couple waltzed around the dance floor, it was hard to refute that claim.

Hermione held her birthday on the astronomy tower as the most romantic event in her life, that would have to be changed. Dancing in Harry's arms on a ship sailing down the Thames on Valentine's Day was simply unbelievable. She had hoped for a card, and Harry had made her feel like a princess.

"So, do you like your surprise?"

"Oh Harry, I absolutely love it! Thank you so much."

"Well, this is just the first part of it. We're all staying at your house for the weekend, give your mum and dad a chance to see our lessons too. Curse-breaker Weasley will come to your house in the morning, and you'll need to add a certain history professor to the ward access. Professor Hobson will be there in the afternoon, I think Sirius and her are getting quite close."

Hermione's eyes now glistened with unshed tears, that these were happy tears was never in doubt. She had something that was bothering her though, and for once just blurted it out. "Why are you so good to me, Harry?"

This drew a smile and an easy answer from the boy in question. "...because you're my best friend."

That earned Harry a rather chaste peck on the lips, leaving both of them happily blushing.

Henrica was again having the unusual experience of dancing with someone and not having their full attention. At least this time she was sure it was not through lack of interest on her dance partner's part.

"Harry's fine, Sirius. If anything, it should be Dan Granger keeping his eye on them."

"I just want the night to be perfect for them. I wasn't around when he was younger and then, first thing he asks me to do when I'm back, Hermione gets jumped in the corridor."

"Sirius, please listen to me. Harry will love his godfather tomorrow, no matter what - just as you will him. That's the way these things work. A few days out of the castle will probably suit them down to the ground, given what happened in Hogwarts today. Now, I thought this was a date - or did you lure me here under false pretences?"

Sirius realised this woman deserved nothing less than his full attention. "Oh this is most certainly a date, Miss Hobson, a date I have been looking forward to."

A/N thanks for reading