Disclaimer - the only thing I own here is the iPad I used to type this, Harry Potter belongs to JKR. Since Apple are about the only people with more cash than Jo Rowling, I am available for sponsorship deals, a new iPad? - a little product placement can go a long way...
Dan Granger was practically shitting himself with fright, he hardly noticed that his wife's fingers were almost touching bone as Emma gripped his arm for support. They were both standing there watching their only daughter fighting for her life, at least that's what it looked like to them.
Bill and Harry had set down some special stones that would stop any magic escaping and both parents had been excited to see the kids training - that excitement soon turned to terror. The tickling hex Hermione had used on Dan had in no way prepared the young witch's muggle parents for magical displays of this nature.
Three of them were currently attacking Harry, who strangely appeared to be holding his own. When a red beam of light managed to hit Neville and drop him to the ground, Emma's scream was loud and piercing.
This caught Hermione's attention, and Harry used the distraction to put her out the fight too. Padma didn't last long after that.
Only after Harry began reviving his downed friends did the parents recover their power of thought and speech. "What the hell was that?"
Dan's question / demand was fired off as powerfully as any curse, and targeted directly at Bill.
"Twice a week, these four take their normal defence lessons with their friends. At the weekend, I'm training Harry so he can hopefully survive a fight with Voldemort or his death eaters. The other three wanted to be part of those lessons and are plugging on gamely. Harry buying them duelling robes has enabled us to step up the severity of curses quite a bit, though all three were just hit on unprotected parts of their bodies by stunners. A stunner will put you out of a fight until someone applies the counter curse, or it will eventually wear off."
By this point they had been joined by the four kids, Emma was hugging and inspecting Hermione for damage at the same time.
"Mum, I'm fine. We do this every week, what did you think 'extra defence training' was?"
Bill wanted his lesson back on track. "Okay, where did we go wrong?"
"We weren't fighting on a flat floor, I stumbled and Harry nailed me."
"Good point Neville, we'll work on that next week. I'm sure the room could provide us with different terrains. Next?"
Hermione had her head down, "Mum's scream distracted me, that was all Harry needed."
Bill had drummed into them that they needed to be honest here, it was vital that they learned from their mistakes. Padma was certainly honest in her assessment of what happened next. "I just couldn't handle Harry on my own, and he certainly never gave me a chance to revive any of these two."
This received an understanding nod from their tutor, "Anything to add Harry?"
"They're still sticking together too much, playing safety in numbers. Neville mentioned terrain yet none of them used it. Anyone getting behind that tree would have been murder to take out."
"All good points. Remember, the best way not to be hit is not to be there. Hiding behind a solid object would certainly be high on the list too. Now, let's practice our shield drills."
There was no grumpiness or moaning as they split into two pairs, with one shielding while the other fired curses at it. They then swapped when it was their partner's turn to shield.
Bill had a very concerned father on his hands. "This looks like combat training, I don't know that I'm happy about my daughter learning this."
"As I said Dan, my remit from Gringotts is to train Harry. The other three specifically asked to be involved. I know I'm pushing them but again, that's my job here. If you want Hermione out of these lessons then there's nothing I can do about that. One thing's for sure though, you get to tell her."
While every bit as concerned as her husband, Emma wasn't certain if they should go that far. "Can you give us some idea of what level the kids are at? This is all new to us and it may not be as dangerous as it looks to the uninitiated."
That was a fair question, one that Bill had to put a bit of thought into answering. "They've been getting at least an extra six hours of defence tuition every weekend for about six months now. We're not working through textbooks or doing any written work at all. Their time is spent purely on the practical application of defence. In terms of magically duelling, I would put them ahead of my twin brothers - and they're in third year."
This shocked Emma, "They're really that far ahead?"
"In the practical side, yes. I really have to wait until they are a bit older before teaching them more powerful spells. This is more about building up their magical power levels until they get older, these shield drills help with that. None of the other first years can cast a shield, or a stunner."
This actually made sense to both parents. "Can I assume that's why you're trying to instil tactical awareness into them now? So that as they mature, they will already have that in their minds."
"To be honest, Dan, Harry's been raised to be tactically aware. It's something he does now without thinking. It will take a few years to get the others anywhere near that level but they're already far ahead of their peers."
He then stopped the drills before they started flagging, it was now time for some fun. "Okay, take five while I set up some target practice. Let's see if we can knock the reigning champion off his lofty perch."
Bill then removed what appeared at first to be a couple of dolls from his bag, only for them to grow to about five foot in height. These manikins were then animated to quickly but randomly move around the garden.
The kids held a quick rock - paper - scissors tournament to decide the order they would compete in, Padma was up first.
When Bill gave the command to start, she began unleashing curses at the pair of targets. With her three friends shouting encouragement, Padma had soon completed the task. Bill was explaining to the Grangers just what was happening here.
"These training dummies will move randomly until they receive five spell hits, they will then stop for ten seconds. They have to get both dummies stopped at the same time to complete their task. This teaches accuracy, speed of casting and also awareness. They need to know how many times they've hit each target, otherwise the first dummy could be moving before they've got the second one stopped. Well done, Padma, you just broke the two minute barrier."
This saw the delighted witch being congratulated by her friends, it was now Harry's turn.
When the call came to begin, Harry's hand was a blur as his knife seemed to appear from nowhere and began spitting out curses. Dan now understood both boys' being quite underwhelmed that day at his shooting club, a rather unusual reaction to having a gun in your hand for the first time. Compared to this though, it was no wonder the small paper targets neither excited nor grabbed Harry and Neville's attention. Dan didn't need to hear a time to know that Harry had completed the task quicker than Padma, what he did next though surprised the hell out of him.
Harry's knife disappeared as his sword was drawn. Knowing he had only a few seconds before they reanimated, Harry gave it his best effort. A web shot out of his sword and captured the two manikins, but that wasn't the end of the matter. His sword directed the webbing to the tree and the dummies were hanging suspended by webbing from one of its lower branches. Having been attempting this since Christmas, Harry gave out a loud victory whoop of delight.
This left Emma shaking her head. "...and that is why you shouldn't give a young boy who can perform magic Spider-Man comics."
His tutor though was very impressed. "That is a very effective way of putting someone out a fight, Harry. If you can hang them high enough, then anyone releasing the prisoners will also have to catch them before they hit the ground. Otherwise, they could be permanently out of the fight."
The shooter in Dan saw him coming at this from a different angle. "Why did you use your sword? It took precious seconds to swap from your knife."
A happy Harry was being congratulated by is friends. Hermione had watched him practice that spell every morning in their training, this was the first time he'd pulled it off. Dan's question made him stop and think. "I have a lot more power when I cast with my sword, but I lose some of my speed of casting."
This was roughly what Dan expected Harry's answer to be. "Your knife is a pistol while the sword is a rifle, can you cast further with your sword?"
Hermione understood at once what her father was alluding to, but none of the other wizards, witch or goblin there had a clue what Dan was talking about. "A rifle is a much bigger gun than the pistols you and Neville would have used. It not only carries a lot more power but has a far greater range. If your sword acts the same way, you could put someone down before they got close enough to use their wand on you."
Their tutor could also see the benefit of that but again needed to get his lesson back on track. "That's something that will need to wait until you're back at Hogwarts to discover, trying it here would take us outside the wards. Can I have my dummies back please? Neville is up next."
He also broke two minutes before a rather nervous Hermione was ready to go. She needed to show her parents that these lessons were a great benefit to their daughter. Her fencing lessons were improving her reflexes and her hand / eye coordination, this was reflected in her display.
Again Dan didn't need a stopwatch to know Hermione was faster than both Padma and Neville, Harry hoisting her up in the air was a big clue that this might actually be her fastest ever. He'd told that arse Dursley that any of the kids could have made mincemeat out of Dudley's gang, his daughter had just proven beyond doubt to her father that she actually could. This was a proud moment for Dan, one that made up for the terror he felt earlier. They'd just been given a demonstration of how much these lessons were helping Hermione, they would be foolish to stop them now. The fact that Dan didn't have to tell Hermione that her father was stopping these lessons played no part in his decision, or so he told himself.
Nothing had prepared Vernon for the terror he was currently feeling. Waking up to the sound of your wife screaming and the distant wail of sirens getting closer was not how he imagined his Saturday morning kicking off when going to bed last night. Then again, last night his bedroom had four walls - it currently had only three. It was hard to tell from where he and Petunia were now pressed for safety against the back wall of their bedroom, but it appeared as if the Dursleys' home had acquired a vertical mine shaft where the front garden used to be.
That same mine shaft also appeared to have swallowed the front wall of the house, thank goodness Dudley's bedroom was at the back. Their driveway was gone too, as was their car that Vernon had proudly parked there yesterday. The 'For Sale' sign with the red 'SOLD' sticker was still prominently standing in a small untouched corner of their property, its wooden post anchored into the only patch of front garden they had left. This sign though accounted for a good proportion of Vernon's terror.
Without any question, the proposed sale of their house would immediately fall into an even deeper black hole than the one currently in front of them - as would their move to a new home. There was also little doubt in Vernon's mind that their various insurance policies wouldn't cover this catastrophe, just like there would be no records of any mine shafts ever existing in this area.
The insurance companies would shrug their shoulders and put it down to an act of god, Vernon knew better. This was no act of god, more likely an act of goblins - an act that could financially ruin the Dursleys.
Emma had lunch ready but Bill found himself having to expand the Grangers' dining room table to accommodate everyone who was going to be eating there. Barchoke had arrived with Sirius and Henrica, making ten for lunch. Bill was also staying since Minerva had sent him an owl cancelling this weekend's extra defence tutorials. With eleven Ravenclaws having to spend the night in the infirmary, the Deputy Headmistress really had no other choice. This though would save Bill a trip back to Gringotts, he needed to discover what information about this incident Barchoke wanted him to pass on to his father.
The curse-breaker managed to keep his smile in place when talking with Sirius, even though the wizard now had Henrica by his side. Bill felt like cursing himself for having a clear opportunity with the beautiful witch but had pondered and deliberated with himself about making any move in that direction, it would seem Sirius wasn't suffering from the same problem.
He had to be philosophical about the situation though, the timing wasn't right for him. He'd just been handed what Bill considered to be easily the most important task of his life, only to then meet the most beautiful witch he'd ever laid eyes on. That Gringotts had then given him another task that was as equally important as the first, and concerned his family too, left Bill thinking this was probably for the best. Henrica Hobson was a witch who would demand the full attention of any prospective suitor, and he simply wasn't in a position to give that amount of attention to anyone at the moment. The next few years of his life could help redefine the future of magical Britain, what was a possible romance in comparison to that.
This outlook may have helped him deal with the current situation, it didn't stop Bill silently promising himself that next time he wouldn't hold back. The only problem he could foresee with that promise was where to find another witch like Henrica Hobson?
Barchoke had seized the chance to have lunch with Harry and his friends. This also gave him the opportunity to bring everyone up to speed with exactly what was happening, and let Curse-breaker Weasley know this information was safe to pass on to his father.
"My sources are keeping me well informed about this situation, apparently the minister exploded when he heard the news. He and Madam Bones are heading to Hogwarts today, probably another reason those extra defence lessons were cancelled." The wily goblin had no intention of mentioning that Amelia Bones had actually sent him an owl with all the pertinent information to this case. Since it was his son that was the supposed victim, Amelia had decided to treat Barchoke the same as any other parent with a child at Hogwarts. This more than anything convinced the goblin he was right to listen to Harry and let the ministry deal with the matter.
"The aurors reported that both sets of parents promised further retribution to their daughters, each of the fathers expressing their horror that these potions were so readily available. The impression given though was that they were both more worried about these potions being used on their girls. You can expect some apologies by owl soon."
Both Granger parents were delighted, not to mention relieved, that Hermione had such good friends. Anyone attempting to use these abominations on Hermione, or Padma, would find Harry and Neville standing in their way. Neither lad was likely to show anyone trying to potion the girls any mercy, Dan was positive one of Harry's razor sharp blades would be used on any wizard trying to drug Hermione.
"The Slytherin girl's parents denied sending any note or sweets, she of course had long since destroyed the incriminating parchment. The Hogwarts potion master is of the opinion this potion is well beyond the girl's brewing abilities, Master Pitslay has analysed his samples and agreed. The 'prank' potions were nothing more than infatuation strength, they would have worked well enough to have Harry here more than willing to kiss them. The other one would have seen him professing undying love and offering to run away together, not something a third year student could possibly brew, or should have access to. Gringotts are already considering action against the family, only awaiting the end of the ministry's investigation before imposing any restrictions."
There was one thing about this entire situation that bothered Emma. "We have wards on our home precisely to stop anyone sending something like that here, are you saying Hogwarts doesn't have this protection?"
It was actually Bill who answered Emma's question. "I've seen the ward scheme for this house, I needed to know what the wards would take for our lesson this morning. Along with the Patil property, it's some of Gringotts best work outside of the bank. Invisibility cloaks, animagus forms, all the same to these wards. If Hermione doesn't add your name then no witch or wizard is getting past them."
This saw Harry blushing, and even Barchoke sit with his head down, Emma had no intention of letting that continue. "I would like to thank you both for helping protect this family. The more I learn of the magical world, the more I appreciate what you've done for us."
Seeing his godson's embarrassment caused Sirius to act. "I thought you four all earned 'outstandings' for your behaviour last night. Today, we're going to be looking more into the origins of wizarding society, and where all this formal code of conduct evolved from. Even today, not knowing the accepted and proper way to conduct yourself could see you facing a duel."
This drew Barchoke back into the conversation. "Goblin society is similar in that respect. Duels are discouraged as ways of settling disputes but sometimes there is no other alternative. A formal duel now needs the director's permission before it can take place. If the challenge is more to do with greed than honour, one or both parties could lose their heads before reaching the duelling pit."
"Well, I agree with Sirius. I thought you all conducted yourselves in a manner fitting for young lords and ladies." What Dan wasn't saying was that he had to choke back his laughter when Harry asked his permission to dance with Emma. Seeing the looks he was getting from the two ladies in his life inspired him to come up with a good answer. His reply of 'only if I get to dance with your beautiful date' won Daniel Granger smiles all round, and certainly helped make his evening more enjoyable. Now they were going to spend the afternoon discovering just what their daughter and her friends were learning each weekend, both parents hoped it would be a lot less violent than this morning's lesson.
As this was not only Neville's first time at the Grangers, but first time in a muggle house too, they were having take-away and a movie tonight. Hermione didn't think Neville was ready for a trip to the cinema just yet. Sirius mentioning that today's lesson would also touch on formal courtship behaviour focused everyone's attention back on the lesson for this afternoon - just as the marauder knew it would.
The minister's attention was focused on the Hogwarts Headmaster, and Cornelius was not liking what he was hearing. "You had fights breaking out around the castle, a dozen or so students had to spend the night in the infirmary, and it was only by sheer dumb luck Hogwarts avoided fatalities. You then have the nerve to stand there and try to pass this whole incident off as 'a harmless prank'. I'm beginning to think you're spending far too much time sitting in this room and talking to a bunch of dead headmasters, Albus, rather than seeing what is really going on in your school."
"I resent that accusation..."
Cornelius wasn't for backing down and came right back at Dumbledore. "...and I resent the fact that I'm here on a Saturday, trying to sort your mess out. These students are in your care, isn't it about time you started providing some?"
"I don't need to be lectured about my responsibilities by you..."
Visions of his grand scheme to get closer to the boy-who-lived being torn apart by this incident were fuelling the minister's rage. "Then perhaps it's time you started carrying them out, or passed them on to someone who will. We all know it's only a matter of time before this appears in the press, and the lad's father is also sure to react. I need to know what you are doing about this situation, and I need to know now!"
With Albus taken aback at this never before seen version of Cornelius, Minerva provided the answer. "All three girls got an immediate one week suspension, with a year's probation to follow. We all consider Miss Bole to be a far more serious case but, like the ministry, we can neither prove nor disprove her claims that she was instructed by her parents to carry this out. As to preventing this ever happening again, wards are not my field of expertise so I wouldn't even know where to start."
Amelia offered a suggestion. "What about contacting the goblins for advice on the school's wards? As Harry will be here at least nine months of the year, they may consider lending their expertise."
This suggestion didn't sit well with the headmaster. "The parents would never stand for handing over the very security of the castle to the goblins..." Once again, Albus found himself rudely interrupted.
"You're forgetting, Albus, I'm one of those parents. I would have no concerns about the goblins updating the Hogwarts wards, I do have serious concerns about the level of protection currently provided. If things don't improve, I'm also seriously considering moving Susan elsewhere. I can assure you there will be other parents thinking the same way about their daughter's safety."
The headmaster was beginning to think he was receiving the good auror / bad auror treatment as Cornelius picked right up where Amelia left off. The only problem with that analogy was that both the minister and the head of the DMLE appeared to be auditioning for the role of bad auror, with the good one dispatched straight to the rubbish tip.
"The situation would be much worse if it was a witch who had received these potions. I understand Harry is very protective of his best friend, I hate to think what would happen if it was she who had been targeted..."
Amelia's concern was there for all to see. "That's precisely my point, Cornelius. With the current configuration of Hogwarts wards, we have no way of knowing if anyone else received potions like this. With the staff sitting back and doing nothing, unless the situation explodes right in front of them, it hardly inspires confidence."
Minerva had a confession to make, one that wasn't going to be well received. "I contacted Harry's father about this incident, and wards were mentioned. Barchoke indicated to me that the goblins wouldn't be prepared to help Hogwarts, at least not while Albus Dumbledore is headmaster."
Three of the people currently in the headmaster's office thought that wasn't too unreasonable, Albus though had a different opinion. "Even with his own son attending Hogwarts, the goblins wouldn't help? Where is this caring father I hear you talking so much about now?"
His deputy though had an answer for her boss. "Barchoke knows Hogwarts herself will protect Harry from anyone trying to slip something into his food, and we saw how well his son handled the situation where he didn't know the source of those chocolates. Barchoke also pointed out that it's our responsibility to keep the students safe, not his or Gringotts. Barchoke will take any necessary action to protect his son, that's as far as he and the goblin nation will go while Albus is headmaster. Albus has been banned from doing business with Gringotts for over a decade, they are not about to rush to his aid now."
Neither the politician or the lady of the law saw anything wrong with that argument, Albus once more disagreed. "The goblins are again interfering in wizarding affairs, this is something that needs to be brought before the Wizengamot."
The minister hit that on the head immediately, it wasn't the correct time for his solution to be aired in the chamber. "Where are they interfering? When did refusing to work with Albus Dumbledore become interfering in wizarding affairs?"
As usual, Amelia told it like she saw it. "If you were to take this to the chamber, it could start a movement to get you out of the castle. Your standing isn't exactly at its highest point at the moment, and that's before this latest screw-up hits the Prophet. The members would probably think having their family protected by goblin wards while they attended Hogwarts would be a fair trade-off to get rid of the current headmaster. A headmaster who seems to blindly lurch from one crisis to the next. Susan is the last of my family and I would certainly consider that result a fair trade to have her protected."
Albus was wondering how long his run of bad luck could continue. Every time he thought things couldn't get any worse, they promptly did. Had he known about the meeting that would be taking place that evening, Albus might have realised there was still a long way for him yet to fall.
Rita was shown into the usual office, nervous to hear how her latest journalistic efforts had been received. She liked the word 'journalistic' because that's precisely what she had been doing - conducting herself as a journalist should. She was quite proud of the parchment sitting on this goblin's desk, it was easily her best work. His first sentence though sent her hopes crashing.
"Miss Skeeter, we will not be sending this to the Prophet. Quite simply, it's much too good for them. Good doesn't do this work justice, it's nothing short of brilliant. This left me in a bit of a quandary though, what's the best way to use it. Tell me Miss Skeeter, have you ever considered writing a book?"
She was an animagus, not a metamorphmagus, but Barchoke would swear her eyes turned the shape and colour of a couple of galleons.
"I would like that very much." This could be massive for Rita. Any book featuring the information she was digging up on Dumbledore could be a bestseller, add in the boy-who-lived plus you-know-who and it would be an instant hit. She decided to see just how much this goblin wanted her work, praise didn't pay the bills. "I think we should talk about an advance on prospective book sales, a possible percentage of the profits and I insist on editorial control - I don't want my discoveries diluted down so as not to upset some powerful people."
"Miss Skeeter, I can assure you we hope to upset some powerful people. Provided you can supply proof of your claims, we will print the book as potent as you wish. On the strength of the material you've already provided, I would be quite happy to discuss an advance on the book. I am considering purchasing a printing press so that the entire project can remain top secret. The first that anyone will know of this venture is when we announce the sale of Dumbledore's unofficial warts and all biography."
The goblin could see he had what he wanted, Miss Skeeter was well and truly hooked. It was time for Barchoke to reel her in. "I think a percentage of the profits is also something we can agree on here, we both need to get more information before settling on just what that percentage should be."
She quickly agreed to that too. For a shot at becoming a best selling author, Rita would probably have agreed to anything.
Barchoke was thinking that Gringotts share of the profits from this Albus Dumbledore expose would probably pay for the printing of Professor Hobson's book on the nation too. This would certainly place a smile on the director's face. Dumbledore publicly slaughtered, the nation moved even further into the limelight and a profit being made in the process. For a goblin, it didn't get much better than that.
He made it plain to Rita that she was under no pressure to rush the rest of her research, they put an initial figure of six months on her having the first draft completed. They also discussed a possible release date, with Halloween looking favourite. September first was considered but the witch and goblin agreed that the extra two months would give them time to do it properly, that was more important to both than rushing something out to meet a deadline they'd just pulled out the air.
Rita left Gringotts with a spring in her step, life was looking good for the sacked reporter and she couldn't wait to see people eating their words. If it wasn't that the Prophet was the biggest source of free advertising, she wouldn't even give the back-stabbing bastards an interview when her book was released. That didn't mean she wasn't going to string them along though, she would soon have the Prophet begging her to come back.
Harry was unsure of his welcome as he approached the Ravenclaw table for breakfast, after returning on Monday morning - he needn't have worried. Any grumblings in the house had been quickly settled at dinner last night by three first year witches, each pointing out they had told their fellow Ravenclaws not to eat the chocolate.
They were also greeted by the sight of a contrite Cho Chang, whose apology to the group of friends felt a lot more genuine than the one she'd offered up to Hermione.
This actually confused the new arrivals. "I didn't know there were any Ravenclaws involved in sending me those chocolates?"
"There wasn't, Harry, and I didn't. I ate some of the chocolates that bitch Bole tried to slip you. I found myself skipping class and stalking that Slytherin along to transfiguration, only to jump into a fight with two fifth years and a sixth - all of whom had the same potions-fuelled idea. You can probably guess I got my arse kicked, but those flushing potions we had forced down our throat were a lot worse - to our bodies and our egos."
Harry was bemused to where Cho was going with this, as were most of their house, currently watching this while enjoying breakfast. The little second year didn't keep them waiting long.
"Lying in the infirmary gave me the time to consider my behaviour toward you, and I wasn't proud of it. I could have been one of your friends, instead I became a whining spoilt little brat - determined to claim your undivided attention. For all the trouble that I've caused, I'm really sorry."
Cho then left to get ready for her first class, leaving Penny to try and offer some form of explanation to a stunned table.
"I was one of those fifth years fighting over Bole, and I was absolutely disgusted with myself. You actually know what you're saying and doing, but have no control over those actions - or even your emotions. The potion has a total grip of you, everything you say and do is centred around pleasing the new most important person in your life. I understand where Cho is coming from, everyone in the infirmary did a lot of thinking over this. As bad as Valentine's day was, we all recognised it could have been so much worse. Had that been a boy who had slipped me the same potion, I would have done anything to please him..."
Penny was a very popular figure in Ravenclaw, and everyone felt her pain as a visible shudder of revulsion passed through her. It was also obvious most of the witches present shared in her fear of these potions, this incident had brought crashing home just how vulnerable they all were. Neither was it missed by anyone in the castle that it took Harry's insistence to have the aurors involved. The very thought of what these potions could do was bad enough, without it then being classed merely as a school prank and swept under the rug.
The story had broken in yesterday's Prophet and led to a flock of owls from concerned parents, all desperate to know their children were okay. Madam Bones announcing her intentions to bring a motion before the Wizengamot that would class these potions as liquid forms of the Imperius curse was a measure that certainly got the full backing of everyone inside the castle. The practically unanimous opinion of the students was that anyone using one of these potions deserved to have their arse flung straight into Azkaban.
Having just returned from a fabulous weekend, the quartet couldn't miss the stark contrast from the fun and laughter of Crawley to the depressing atmosphere currently inside Hogwarts. Penny was usually such a bubbly witch, a witch who took her prefect duties very seriously. All the first year Claws thought of her as a friend and confidant. Harry was discovering that these potions were loathed by witches almost as much as they were by the goblins, but it took him being attacked by these disgusting things to get something done about it. Once more, the nation was influencing the wizarding community through the boy-who-lived.
Harry also thought there was a quick and simple way to lift Penny's spirits, he would worry about the expense later. "As you now know, we goblins find these potions repulsive and consider them our unforgivables. So much so, our potion masters weren't content with just developing an antidote. They invented a preventative elixir that neutralises most of these potions' effects on you, an elixir that offers the drinker months of protection. A victim would still know someone had slipped them a love potion - and even who the chemical attraction is keyed to, but you'd remain in control. More importantly, you'd still have enough control to fight back or seek help. I'll contact my father and ask if Master Pitslay can bring some on Friday. One dose should protect you until at least the summer holidays.
The tears welling in Penny's eyes were in stark contrast to the smile breaking out on her face.
"You would have to drink the elixir in front of Master Pitslay though, we won't take the chance of this formula slipping into anyone else's hands. The last thing we need is for these brewers to develop a potion that can get around our elixir's defences. Marietta, could you tell Cho the offer is open to her too?"
Harry quickly indicated to his friends that he intended to have them protected as well, getting broad smiles from Hermione and Padma. Hermione's bracelet provided some protection but the elixir was better. A nod to Lisa, Morag and Mandy was greeted with wide smiles too. Offering the elixir to Parvati, Hannah and Susan was also something Harry would do before the morning was out.
The Prophet being delivered then drew everyone's attention to the newspaper. As expected, the follow-up to the potions incident was front page news. The ministry were reluctantly forced to admit there was nothing they could do, except pursue the suppliers of these vile potions. A statement from Gringotts was more forthcoming. They pointed out that, while they understood that the ministry needed evidence to prosecute, Gringotts were under no such obligation when it came to deciding who they were willing to conduct business with. There was no question that a member of the Bole family had attempted to attack a centurion, by use of an illegal potion to ensnare him. This was more than enough for the bank to withdraw all services to the Bole family, and demand a settlement of all outstanding loans and debts.
There was absolutely no sympathy for the Bole family at the Ravenclaw table, and not much in the rest of the castle either. Miss Bole would convince her parents she needed transferring out of Hogwarts before the end of her week's suspension, an action that again lifted the spirits of those inside the castle.
The Weasley twins also had a plan, or rather a prank, to lift Hogwarts spirits. As a side issue, it also gave their headmaster a chance to experience first-hand what it was like to be controlled by a potion. Fred and George had also been present when Dumbledore had fought against the involvement of the aurors, both were certain he wouldn't call them for this. Working with Master Pitslay had seen their potions ability advance by leaps and bounds, and finally the once untouchable Albus Dumbledore was now within their grasp.
A hush settled over the hall as Dumbledore climbed onto the staff table and started cavorting about on his knuckles and toes, his chimpanzee noises were clearly audible. McGonagall lifted her plate off the table and onto her lap, still eating her breakfast while sitting back and watching the show. This set the tone of response from the rest of the professors and her approach to the situation was copied up and down the staff table.
Henrica had just returned that morning with the four first years and this impromptu entertainment was topping off a wonderful weekend. She could easily imagine Sirius, Barchoke and Master Pitslay sitting around the memory she was going to be sending and pissing themselves laughing, as some unknown individuals made a monkey out of Dumbledore.
A/N thanks for reading