Disclaimer: I don't own these characters and my writing certainly couldn't be considered canon. If my efforts don't fit your idea of what a Harry Potter story should be, I can only offer my apologies and a suggestion. Writing your own really is the only way to ensure the story progresses exactly the way you want it to, it also gives the rest of us something to read.
Sirius finished their lesson early to allow the girls plenty of time to get ready for the party, and so he could have a private talk with his godson. Padma and Hermione left chatting to Henrica about what they were going to wear tonight, Neville quickly headed in the opposite direction from that of the three witches.
The moment they were alone, Sirius gave Harry the news he'd been asked to deliver. "Your father had a visit from Amelia Bones yesterday, and wants to come to Hogwarts tomorrow to talk with you about it. He wouldn't come today because it was the girls' birthday..."
Harry could see Sirius didn't understand his father's delay so tried to explain. "We goblins don't celebrate Christmas, or any of the other days of the year that wizards and muggles use as an excuse for a day off to party. Someone's birthday though is their most important day of the year, and really should be celebrated. He wouldn't want anything to disturb what we've set up for tonight. Have you any idea what this visit from Amelia was about?"
"I got the impression that the ministry were trying to forge closer ties to the nation, and of course you were stuck right in the middle of it. I think our guess at Christmas appears to be spot on, and a certain someone might be making an appearance at the Ministry's Summer Ball."
"Just as well I've had all those extra lessons on wizarding etiquette then, thanks to Lord Black. You got a date for this ball?"
This drew a smile from his godfather, delighted that their relationship had reached the stage where they joked easily in each other's company. "Well, since I assume the most beautiful witch we both know will soon have a date, I was going to ask Henrica. What do you think the chances are she'll say yes?"
Sirius was surprised that Harry didn't have a smart answer for him, his godson actually appeared troubled about something. "You think Henrica will say no, or are you worried that Hermione might?"
The joking was gone as Harry asked him a serious question, probably one of the most serious questions it was possible to ask another person. "Sirius, how do you know when a girl is the one?"
This had Sirius back-pedalling. He was delighted beyond words that Harry trusted him enough to ask that question, and terrified beyond measure of the consequences should he muck it up. "Wow Harry, that's a biggie! Have you asked your father?"
"Goblins are different, Sirius, apparently the couple just know when they've met their life partner. My father explained it as the couple being instantly attracted to each other, growing very close in a short space of time and never wanting to be parted. Here's the problem though, I think I may be more goblin than anyone thought possible. My father's own words kinda perfectly describes how I feel about Hermione. My problem is I don't know what to do next."
"Harry, at your age that's not necessarily a bad thing..." Sirius realised he'd gotten it wrong by the anger in his godson's reply.
"I am head of a noble and ancient house, hold the rank of centurion and am champion of Hogwarts. That troll never complained about how young I was when I had to cut it down. If you can't take this seriously, I'll talk to Curse-breaker Weasley about it."
This forced Sirius to really look at the young wizard / goblin in front of him and concede his godson was correct, Harry certainly never acted eleven so perhaps it was time to stop treating him as such. "I'm sorry Harry, your question just threw me for a moment. I'm still struggling to see what your problem is here. We both know how Hermione feels about you, a knock-back is certainly not on the cards."
"Sorry, Sirius, I shouldn't be getting angry with you. Last year I told Hermione I wouldn't even think of starting anything before Voldemort was gone, neither of us have any idea how long that could be. Hermione is beautiful, smart and just wonderful to spend time with - what if she gets fed-up waiting on me and looks elsewhere? I don't think I could handle that."
"Harry, Hermione is as likely to look elsewhere as you are. Since the entire country now knows who she is, and you will in all probability be taking her to the ministry ball, I don't see how asking her to be your girlfriend could be putting her in any more danger. Just from watching you two, I know she is anything but a distraction to your training. You work harder just to please her, and she does the exact same for you. My advice would be to just ask the girl, though you get to tell Dan and Emma."
"That's pretty much what I was thinking but there is still a massive problem. You taught us about the proper courting behaviour and that would be great, except that I'm a goblin. If I followed that procedure, the press would be all over us and claiming I had chosen to live as a wizard..."
This was like a light coming on for Sirius as he finally grasped his godson's unique problem. "... and I'm assuming that there is a goblin procedure, which would lead to the opposite charge?"
Relieved that his godfather finally got it, Harry nodded. "It's like I'm boxed in and don't know what to do next. I want to tell Hermione how I feel about her but where would that leave us?"
"I think you should tell her, and explain the problem. There is a third option that you're forgetting about, though I'm sure Hermione will soon bring it to your attention." The look of longing in Harry's eyes meant Sirius couldn't leave his godson hanging a moment longer. "You're over-thinking what is basically a very simple problem, with an even simpler solution. If the magical and goblin options aren't available, surely there must be a muggle method for girls and boys to get together? Just ask Hermione to be your girlfriend, no magical or goblin courtship, nothing formalised. The only difference I can see happening between you two is that everyone would then know you were a couple."
"Do you think Hermione would be happy with that?"
"Harry, I think your young lady would be ecstatic with that. I've watched the two of you together and can clearly see this is something you've thought about. A word of advice from your godfather though, best friend to girlfriend is such a huge step. At this stage, you really need to take your time before making any further commitment."
"I'll be happy as long as Hermione agrees to become my girlfriend, anything else we'll deal with as time goes by. Since September, I've had witches coming on to me from all directions - and none of them can hold a candle to Hermione. She can make me feel happy and wanted just by holding my hand."
The smile now on Harry's face had Sirius giving himself the proverbial pat on the back, he should have known pride comes before a fall. His godson's next question brought him crashing back down to earth.
"Sirius, how do you feel about Henrica?"
Needing a moment to think about that, Sirius answered with a question of his own. "Why do I get the feeling there's more than idle curiosity behind that question?"
"As well as liking her very much, she also works for me - well the Lily Potter Foundation. When not teaching in Hogwarts, the professor will be dividing her summer holidays between working in Gringotts and coming on holiday with our group. If you are serious about each other, that's great. If not, then things could get really awkward if it all goes wrong."
Sirius was left wondering how Harry could be so insecure to be fretting over Hermione, yet mature enough to ask a question like that. Sirius hadn't even thought about the consequences Harry was mentioning, being happy at the moment just taking things a day at a time. It was though, time for total honesty with his godson. "Harry, after ten years in Azkaban, I'm not the same young wizard who went into that shit hole. Am I serious about Henrica, I honestly don't know. Could I become serious over one of the best things that's ever happened to me, that would have to be a big yes. I'm gonna take my own advice to you though and take time to work my feelings out. I honestly think if we decide this couldn't go any further, we'll both split as friends. That's really the best I can say at the moment."
His godson was smiling again so Sirius was left hoping he was two for two.
"We all like her, Sirius. I know that ever since Valentine's day, Hermione and Padma treat her more like a big sister or favourite aunt when we're not in class. I would hate for it to become awkward if you guys fell out."
"I'm pleased you approve, and there is someone else I would like you to meet. I finally tracked down my friend Moony. Remus was the Gryffindor prefect with your mum as well as being a marauder with your dad and me. I was hoping we might invite him along for part of the summer, though the lunar cycle would decide which part. He's an expert in defence too, and could help keep up your training while you're away."
This didn't get the positive response Sirius was hoping for, leading him to wonder why. "You're not bothered about his little furry problem are you?"
"Goblins can't be infected by lycanthropy, to us they are just large wolves. I know I'm physically not a goblin, I was just trying to show we don't have the same prejudice against werewolves that wizards do. It was more the defence thing that bothered me. I don't mind learning from him during the holidays, but I want to keep Curse-breaker Weasley as our main defence tutor. Our lessons are hard but he always manages to get a bit of fun in there too, he really is a brilliant teacher."
Sirius decided to quit while he was ahead. "I have no problem with that, and also have a high opinion of Bill. Now we better get out of here, and get ready for the party tonight. You and I all sorted now?"
"I think so, just talking about it out loud has helped. Thanks, Sirius."
"No problem, Harry, that's what a godfather's for."
Both felt better for their chat as they headed out the room.
Minerva was as excited as anyone, currently waiting in the corridor, when she saw a door appear out of the stone wall, just because Harry had asked it to. Filius had told her of this phenomenon as he used the room to practice fencing with Harry and Hermione. Nothing could have prepared her though for the sight that greeted everyone as they entered this very special room. For a start, the room was circular - even though they weren't currently in one of the towers. The ceiling was constructed from multiple bolts of brightly coloured silk, the rainbow of different colours all dropping from a high, centre point - and creating the impression they were now inside a marquise. The silk from the ceiling continued down the walls and only stopped at the floor, reinforcing the tent-like impression. The massive chandelier hanging from the centre of the ceiling was throwing flickering light onto all these colours and creating a wonderfully warm and welcoming atmosphere, aided by the intricately woven Indian rugs that were arrayed around the circumference of the room.
It was here that all the tables were laid out, in settings of fours and sixes. The centre of the room was left clear and only the soft music playing gave Minerva a hint of what it would be used for later. Minerva had camped in a wizarding tent with her family when she was a young girl but those, while clearly tents on the outside, were more like buildings on the inside. She couldn't remember ever seeing a stone room dressed to appear as if you were in an actual tent. This exciting illusion meant their evening was off to a flier, and they hadn't even sat down yet.
Excitement was certainly in the air, though two Gryffindor first year witches appeared to be heading for the hyper end of the scale. Padma grabbed her sister and Lavender by the arm and dragged them toward a table that seated six, being quickly joined by Hermione, Harry and Neville.
Minerva found herself sitting at a table set for four, with the other professors and Sirius, while the students gravitated toward tables with their housemates. Minerva was somewhat surprised to see Draco Malfoy in attendance tonight, there was no surprise that he, Pansy and the other two boys ended up sitting at a table for four - away from the other Slytherins.
There was a surprise though when Hermione stood up to say a few words.
"We're all here to celebrate the birthday of our friends, Padma and Parvati Patil. The plan is to have dinner, followed by dancing - until we have to leave for curfew. Let's get started by singing the traditional song. Happy Birthday to you..."
As everyone sang the song, a large birthday cake, complete with two sets of twelve candles already lit, appeared on the table the twins were sitting at. With one side dressed in Ravenclaw colours, and the other Gryffindor, the girls moved to their respective ends of the cake. When the song finished, Parvati and Padma blew their candles out to much cheering. That was also the sign for dinner to appear on all the tables, along with jugs of goblin ale.
When Hermione handed Padma her gift, the birthday witch was overcome. "Guys, I thought organising this party was my present - this is too much."
"Hey, remember our friend who thinks birthdays are the most important day of the year. I'm beginning to agree with him. Happy Birthday Padma." Hermione then handed over a present to Parvati. The Gryffindor witch tore the wrapper off to reveal a glossy magazine, the like of which she'd never seen.
"I know you liked the fashions in Harrods, and I've seen you reading Teen Witch Weekly from cover to cover. I got you a year's subscription to Vogue, it's a muggle fashion magazine."
Parvati's eyes were almost popping out her head at the full colour pictures of the latest muggle fashion. Neither she nor Lavender knew any of the people mentioned in the magazine, that didn't mean they wouldn't both be drooling over what these unknown women were wearing. Padma was also delighted with her gift, a boxed set of Jane Austen novels. She'd heard her friend say this was her favourite author, now Padma would get a chance to find out for herself.
Lavender gave both sisters make-up sets, something Parvati appreciated more than Padma. Neville had sought professional help with his gifts, he was sure Henrica wouldn't steer him wrong. Not even Parvati could equate the colourful jumper she received as a romantic gift, Padma's gold bangle though was simply beautiful - and very much appreciated by the birthday witch.
Harry had relied on Sirius for advice on this matter, giving Parvati a card with a voucher inside. The voucher stated I.O.U. One Shopping Trip, causing the Gryffindor to bounce up and down in her seat with excitement. The three friends were pleased that she'd at least manage to curb the annoying habit of emitting that ear-piercing squeal when she got really excited. With Susan and Hannah having birthdays between now and the first of September, both girls would be receiving the same voucher and they could do that shopping trip one day during the summer holidays.
Hermione and Padma would both be included, though neither needed a voucher. He was actually quite nervous watching his friend open her gift. Her eyes lighting up with delight told Harry he'd got it right, and allowed him to release the breath he'd been holding.
"Oh Harry, I absolutely love it!" Padma then began to show the table just what the 'it' in question was. She was holding a bronze dragon skin shoulder bag that was styled decidedly more feminine than Harry's version of the item. Apart from the colour and size, there was also one other prominent feature that made certain neither would ever get their bags confused with each other. This particular model had 'PADMA' spelt in blue topaz into the flap that covered over the opening. That it was also charmed bottomless and featherlight meant Padma could use it anywhere, even places that didn't know blue and bronze marked Padma as a Ravenclaw.
As the meal progressed, both witches received small gifts from all their friends. McGonagall even provided one that had all of them cheering, she extended their curfew by an hour - providing they were all led back to their dorm by an adult. As the meal finished, plates of birthday cake appeared on each table. This was the moment Harry had been dreading, though neither he nor Hermione could see any way out of it. As the music increased in volume, Neville asked Padma to dance. Being the only other male at the table, Harry understood that asking the other birthday witch to dance was the only option available. He was gracious about it though, even while everyone there knew he actually wanted to dance with Hermione.
Having danced with Padma tons of times, Harry knew at once Parvati was a different witch. They may be physically identical but neither he, Hermione nor Neville had any trouble telling them apart. Dancing with Padma would be light, jokey and a lot of fun, Parvati on the other hand was all about invading your personal space as she tried to get as close as possible. Harry managed to keep smiling and chatting, while offering not one grain of encouragement. The closing bars of the song had him returning Parvati back to her seat, where Lavender's longing looks were politely ignored as Harry headed straight for Hermione. Thankfully, Dean and Seamus came over to ask both witches to dance. Ron seemed engrossed in conducting an experiment to discover how many pieces of cake he could eat without being physically sick, they were left to hope his experiment would be a success. Watching Ron Weasley throw-up wasn't anyone's idea of entertainment.
Harry was back dancing with Hermione in his arms, and everything in the world was all right again.
Pansy was dancing with Draco while running off at the mouth. Their situation inside Hogwarts had changed so much though that the Slytherin was forced to do her complaining at a whisper - a whisper so low that only Draco could hear her. "Look at that mudblood, hanging all over him. Who does she think she is? Standing up and speaking in front of McGonagall too, I don't know how much longer I can take this. I keep writing to my father about how bad Hogwarts is becoming, he just owls back telling me to keep my head down. I hope your father is doing something about this situation?"
"If he is, then father won't tell me - and I certainly don't want to know."
Pansy almost caused them to stumble after hearing that, forcing Draco to explain a few home truths as they continued dancing. "If I get caught doing anything against Crow, I'll be barred from Gringotts. At that point, my life is practically over."
"Don't say that Draco..."
"It's true, and you would be the first thing to go. It's only the knowledge that I'll inherit when I come of age that's stopping your father cancelling our betrothal. We both know he wouldn't hesitate if my inheritance was gone. My own father would probably take action too. I would then need to marry, have a child and wait for them to come of age. With no fortune, and probably not even enough gold to put that child through Hogwarts, there won't be witches lining up to marry me. My father is far more likely to sire another heir himself, and totally disinherit me."
Pansy was almost in tears at the future Draco painted for them, knowing he had described both their parent's probable actions perfectly. Both fathers would be willing to wait the five years needed for Draco to inherit, but would instantly cut him off at the knees should that inheritance be lost for another generation. That Lucius was the one at fault here wouldn't save Draco, the Malfoy patriarch would take whatever action he deemed necessary to get the family fortune back under his control as quickly as possible. When Draco was no longer that option, he would be ruthlessly cast aside - and Pansy would find herself betrothed elsewhere.
"Now you see why I have to walk on eggshells while at Hogwarts. It will soon be summer and then we can get out of this place, let's just enjoy ourselves tonight. At least it's a good party."
Hermione was dancing with Harry so therefore it was a great party. She could tell something was bothering him though, and assumed it was what he'd been told earlier by Sirius. "Should I be getting worried here? Will blade-wielding Centurion Crow be making an appearance?"
"Oh I hope not. Malfoy is behaving himself and McGonagall's got her beady eye on Weasley, I'm not expecting any trouble tonight."
"If not tonight, then what's troubling you - or can't you say?"
"If I can't say what's on my mind to you, then I don't have any hope of getting what I want." Harry mentally took a deep breath before plunging right in. "I really like you, Hermione, but offering the official courtship that you deserve is not an option for me..."
Hermione actually finished his sentence for him, having already worked out this connotation back when Sirius taught them about courtships. "...because it would be reported as if you had chosen a wizarding future. Can I assume the goblin option is out, also for the same reason?"
"Yes, all I'm left with is asking if you would be my girlfriend..."
"YES!" Hermione followed this up by wrapping Harry in her arms and performing a quick kiss - their first kiss as boyfriend / girlfriend. This led to some cheering and whistling from those around them, forcing the now embarrassed but happy couple to retreat to their table.
Hermione was sitting close by Harry's side, their arms wrapped around each other with her head resting on his shoulder. "I don't need any more than that Harry, I'm really happy just being your girlfriend. My parents might freak out at anything more, at least until I'm a good few years older."
"It's just not the goblin way to do things so casually, Hermione, we're all about commitment and contracts..."
"Do you think I'm a casual girlfriend, Harry?"
"Absolutely not, and I would like to shout that to the world..."
"Stick to telling my mum and dad for now..."
They were interrupted by a delighted Padma, bending down and wrapping both of them in a hug. "This is such a wonderful birthday party, and now we even have another reason to celebrate. Two of my best friends finally getting together - I'm so happy for you both."
The happy couple were soon back on the floor dancing, leaving a relieved godfather with a wide smile on his face. Something his date noticed. "You knew Harry was going to ask her?"
"We spoke about it earlier. Harry wanted to offer Hermione more, but couldn't because of his circumstances. Sometimes I see Harry as a mini James, then he'll act in a way that is just so Lily. Sometimes though, Harry Crow is pure goblin and throws me totally. That lad is an enigma I need to solve to be a proper godfather figure, and your research for your book about goblins will surely help."
"Are you applying for the role of my unpaid research assistant?" Henrica had asked the question jokingly, but could see Sirius was not taking it as such. "What's the matter, Sirius?"
Deciding once more that honesty would be his best policy, Sirius spoke about what had been on his mind since this afternoon. "Your name came up in my discussion with Harry today, it felt like your brother was asking me what my intentions were toward you. You do know those four really like you?"
She was now nervous, wondering what had been said. Henrica just asked right out. "...and what did you tell your godson about your intentions toward me?"
"I told him the truth. Ten years in Azkaban has a way of changing you, in ways I'm still not comfortable with. After an incident at the Grangers over Christmas, I watched Harry and Hermione fall asleep together. They looked so content and comfortable, Emma just tucked them in and left them sleeping. I went to my room and cried myself to sleep, overcome with the sheer beauty of the scene. There hasn't been much beauty in my life, and then I met Henrica Hobson - the single most beautiful person it has ever been my pleasure to meet."
She now relaxed in Sirius' arms as they continued slowly waltzing around the room. Whatever was coming next, it was not the end of their fledgling relationship - and anything else they could work at.
"So, what I'm trying to say is that, until I can get a grip on this different person that's inhabiting my body, I don't know what else I have to offer you. I realise you may have far better offers available..." A pair of incredibly soft lips pressing against his stopped Sirius saying any more.
"So, you just talked yourself into the position of an unpaid research assistant for the summer. Your duties will include following me around and taking notes, helping collate those notes - and making sure I don't get sunburn when we lie on these promised beaches to begin writing my book. There may have been a number of applicants for the post, but yours was the only one I seriously considered. This may just be a temporary position at the moment, but who knows what awaits us in the future. We both may find ourselves with permanent contracts a few years down the line?"
This witch really took Sirius' breath away. "When I said you were a beautiful person, I wasn't just talking about looks that could stop a bludger in flight. You have a beauty that comes from inside, and shines through everything you say and do. I've watched as you helped Hermione and Padma grow more confident in themselves, and getting Neville over his shyness and crush is nothing short of miraculous. That you're then prepared to spend time building a broken-down wizard back up to what passes as normal for me, I may have to stay close to you for many, many years."
Henrica's smile now rivalled the chandelier for brightness. "One step at a time, Sirius, one step at a time."
Minerva was delighted to spot two of her prefects when they all left the room.
"Hello professor, we were wondering why the first years were out past their curfew. That's why Penny and I were looking for them."
"Ten points to Gryffindor, Mr Weasley, and ten for you too, Miss Clearwater. I like my prefects to show initiative, and I'm very pleased with you two. Now, if you will escort your charges back to their houses, Professor Flitwick and I will see to the Hufflepuffs and Slytherins."
The groups of excited first years were soon being led away, but not before both Patil sisters had thanked everyone for coming.
That Harry and Hermione had added a light kiss to their saying goodnight and morning greeting hugs was the only noticeable difference to their behaviour, now they were a dating couple. Their friends didn't react any differently either, Hermione was usually on Harry's arm as they made their way around the castle. Both Harry and Hermione felt different though, moving their relationship from best friends to a dating couple had both of them grinning like Cheshire cats.
Even spotting a sour-faced Master Sharpshard, waiting with his father and Curse-breaker Weasley, couldn't spoil their mood. Master Sharpshard tried his best though. "One lucky scratch and your father, and the director, seem to think you can take me. After your father has completed his business, you and I are going to cross blades, Crow. That fancy little knife of yours won't save your arse today."
Harry opened the room, a room that now had a private area set up in one corner. That this area had an armchair and a sofa confirmed to Harry that the room understood what he wanted, even before he knew himself.
"Father, last night Hermione agreed to become my girlfriend. Can we include her in these discussions? I don't want to have any secrets from Hermione and hate to see her worrying that I might be heading into trouble. You told me my mum and dad shared everything, that's what I've always wanted too."
Both Barchoke and Hermione were taken aback by this. His father nodded though, mentally deciding just how much to tell them both as they made their way over to the seated area.
Bill started Padma and Neville working while the large goblin master of the blade stomped up and down, doing a passable impression of a bear with a sore head.
Barchoke stared into the young witch's eyes, desperately trying to impart the seriousness of what she was about to hear. "Hermione, what we speak of here this morning is effectively government secrets. Harry knows this, and must trust you implicitly to even suggest you sit in on this. I just want to make sure you understand, knowing these secrets can be a burden - a burden that can't be shared."
"I'll be able to talk about it with Harry though, that will be more than enough. Every time I see another task in his eyes, I worry over how I'll be able to help him. Now I'll not only know, but hopefully be able to help plan too."
"She can see right through my best stoic face, father, and then worries over what I might have to do. Unless it's something the director specifically doesn't want Hermione to know, I really don't want there to be any secrets between us."
Having made his mind up, and seeing his son had already done the same, Barchoke began to tell them why he was here. "Since this situation will obviously involve Hermione, I'm going to tell you both everything. Anything else though, I'll need to get permission from the director."
All three were happy with that so Barchoke began his explanation. Harry grasped at once what effect his father becoming an ambassador could have on wizard / goblin relations and was all set to say yes to everything when his father urged caution.
"They want to make this ball an evening dedicated to honouring the family who rid our country of Voldemort, with both your parents receiving posthumous awards that will keep their memories alive. The ministry hope to have a first year wizard and witch attending Hogwarts in September, entirely funded by the James and Lily Potter scholarship fund. They intend to support two new students every year for the next decade."
Hermione's hand was currently in Harry's, she felt his grip tightening as he heard this news. Her boyfriend's response then made her even prouder of him.
"Can we get the Lily Potter foundation involved too? Give the ministry the deserved credit for coming up with the idea, just provide the gold to extend the period to twenty years. I also think we need a panel to decide what new first years get chosen, this has to go to deserving cases. The last thing we want is rich purebloods saving money by having their children's Hogwarts tuition paid."
His father agreed with all of that. "I think a representative from the ministry, Hogwarts and possibly Sirius representing us until you're old enough should do, any more members and you would get nothing done. You never asked what they intended for you?"
"I assumed some award for me to stick on a shelf. As long as there are no statues, or anything stupid like that involved, I'll be fine."
Barchoke was so proud of his son, he decided to paint the full picture for him. "Fudge reckons that you attending this ball will give him the votes he needs to pull this off. For all his faults, we believe the minister has a very good chance of achieving this. Should I become ambassador, the director would like my son to follow in my footsteps. He thinks Lord Harry James Potter, Goblin Ambassador, has a nice ring to it."
Harry so wanted to jump across the space between himself and his father, hugging him for all he was worth. Here was everything he ever wanted being made available to him. Instead of being faced with an impossible choice, he literally could have it all.
"I think Lord Harry James Potter, Assistant Goblin Ambassador, has a much nicer ring to it. I would love the chance to work with my father for many years, before he graciously retired to spend time with his grandchildren."
Hermione didn't know that this was the 'goblin dream'. To raise your family to the point where your children were ready and able to take over the reins, while you then spent your retirement telling your stories to all the grandchildren they had provided you with. What she did know though was that even the thought of this outcome made Harry and his father very happy. She supposed Barchoke standing and offering the centurion salute to his son was about as near to hugging each other as goblins got.
With the meeting now over, Barchoke had a word of warning for Harry. "Master Sharpshard has been taking a bit of a ribbing from myself and the director, he appears determined to prove your victory was a fluke. He doesn't know about your sword's abilities, and I had to promise the director a copy of this memory. I think Master Sharpshard got one over on Ragnok many years ago, and this is the director's form of payback. Just be careful, and make it quick."
Harry was reminded of the goblin saying that, even on the sunniest of days, a little rain might fall. There was no way any of them expected the torrent that was about to be unleashed.
A/N thanks for reading
A/N 2 Harry Crow is now my longest story, and this chapter fought me harder than the other 27 combined. There are parts of this I must have rewritten four times before I was satisfied with it, a very unusual occurrence for me. A big thank-you to all the readers who have given this story such tremendous support. Ask any author and they'll tell you the same thing - it really does help with the writing when you know readers are enjoying your efforts.