Can anyone tell me what's the point behind posting someone else's work as your own? I don't post my work anywhere else but here, and certainly not under any other name than RobSt. When a reader PM'd me with a link to my work posted elsewhere, under a different name, I immediately checked it out. This 'author' had 24 stories posted, most of which I recognised - at least half a dozen are on my favourites list. I only managed to report 3 before the ops had him shut down. Kudos to wattpad, the right action taken with a response time measured in minutes is very impressive. I make no claim to own Harry Potter, but Harry Crow - and my 11 other stories - were all written by me.
September gave way to October as the school year marched on relentlessly. Adding the four older boys to their Sunday training was paying dividends all round. The fourth years were getting sick of ending up on the floor every time they fought and continually pushed themselves harder to put a stop to this occurrence. Their efforts kept the four friends on their toes, and also working harder to maintain their current one hundred percent record.
As they were leaving the room of requirements, Harry had a question for the older wizards. "How would you four like to give us a hand with the marauders on Tuesday night? We're planing on trying to teach them how to cast a shield charm and the smaller the group we can work with, the better it will be for them."
Cedric was astonished at this. "You're teaching first years the protego charm?"
Padma seemed to think their teaching methods were being questioned here. "What's wrong with that? We learned it last year when we were their age..."
"Easy Padma, Cedric didn't mean anything." Hermione then went on to explain their reasoning to the fourth years. "The shield charm is one of the most important we learn at Hogwarts, we just don't see any reason to wait until third or fourth year before tackling it. Professor Weasley taught it to us earlier than this last year."
Harry confirmed what his girlfriend had just said. "Hermione's right, it makes no sense. Yes they will need to be older to cast a powerful shield but learning it now should make that part easier. We're only aiming for a shield that will stop a stinging hex, a stinging hex cast by a fellow first year."
It was a thoughtful Roger who replied. "That actually is so logical I can't fault it. Starting them off now will mean they've already mastered the spell for when they're older - why isn't it taught earlier?"
It was the twins who jumped in with an answer to that. "Hey, we've got Lockhart, remember."
"Yeah, does anyone here think that prat can actually cast a shield?"
"You'll get no takers for that, see you guys at lunch." Neville gave Padma's arm a reassuring squeeze before he and the twins headed into their dorm.
Padma then took the opportunity to apologise. "Sorry for snapping at you, Cedric. The marauders is about the only thing in my life that's going well at the moment, I thought you were criticising the club."
"No problem, Padma, and I'll be delighted to help out any time you'll let me."
As the two witches headed up the stairs, a shower and change of clothes being required before lunch, Hermione broached what she knew would be a touchy subject. "Have you made your mind up yet?"
The slump in Padma's shoulders indicated how hard this was for the girl. "Mum wrote back and advised me to go. I haven't been able to discuss it with Parvati since she barely speaks to me now. Lavender says she also rarely sees Parvati now, she thinks my sister is hanging about with Blaise. Why wouldn't she tell me that she had a boyfriend? Blaise seems a nice enough guy, a bit stuck-up but still nice."
Hermione now had her arm around her best friend, Padma enjoyed the comfort before voicing her decision. "I've decided just to go. Staying here without you three and Pav not talking to me would just be too much. We're going to be some bunch, between the three of you worried about your parents and me my sister, it'll be some Halloween celebration."
This drew faint smiles from both girls before Hermione's thoughts turned to someone else. "I think Luna will miss us too, she's offered to watch Moonlight for me. Since I won't be going home, I said yes."
"She's as attached to that cat as you are, perhaps we should think about getting her one for her birthday?"
Hermione was now shaking her head at Padma's suggestion. "Don't mention that around Harry, he's practically adopted the girl - and Moonlight would be so jealous of another cat sharing Luna's affections."
Both knew what Harry was like with birthdays, he just loved seeing someone's face light up when they opened the gift they'd just been given.
Neville felt he'd been given a gift when Padma confirmed she'd be spending the Halloween weekend with them. None of her three friends had wanted to put any pressure on her since all would have loved to have a sibling. "That's brilliant! My gran says mum is making steady process, with my dad a bit slower. I have no idea what that means and can't wait to see for myself. Professor Weasley will take us straight to Gringotts after our defence lesson on Friday. We'll see my mum and dad, and then visit Harry's parents on the Saturday."
Padma felt it was wrong to feel excited when her relationship with her twin sister had deteriorated so badly, but Neville's enthusiasm was infectious.
"My gran also wanted to see our training so Professor Weasley will be giving us a lesson on the Sunday morning. I get the feeling she is up to something but I don't know what."
"My father hasn't mentioned anything but that means nothing, goblins are unreadable - except to Hermione here."
Padma made an effort to tease. "Oh I think it's just a specific goblin our Hermione can read."
The witch in question now snaked her arm around Harry's waist. "Trying to understand one goblin is more than enough for me."
Minerva had decided she needed to check out the first year defence club, otherwise known as Crow's Marauders. It was soon easy to see why they had that name. Henrica quickly welcomed them, taking time to introduce the quartet of fourth years who would be helping them tonight, before handing the club over to Harry and then standing next to Minerva as a spectator.
The first year students hung on Harry's every word as he clearly and concisely laid out exactly what would be happening during tonight's lesson. Minerva thought he was being hugely ambitious with his aims but decided to keep that to herself, she would observe and make any comments after the lesson finished.
The first years were then split into four groups, Minerva couldn't miss that they had deliberately avoided splitting them along house lines. Watching Fred Weasley work alongside Harry with his group was certainly an eye-opener for his head of house. Here was a seriousness and willingness to help that totally surprised Minerva, that it was matched by his twin working with Hermione was nothing short of astonishing. If these two weren't careful, they could find themselves in the running for a prefect badge at the summer. Now there was something Minerva couldn't have imagined, even this time last year.
She also noticed Miss Patil working seamlessly with Mr Diggory. While most of the younger witches in Hogwarts might wish for the wizarding company she kept, Padma paid that part no notice and just got on with the job in hand. She was so focused that Mr Diggory followed her orders without question, which would probably only widen the rift between her and Parvati when this got out.
The pairing that pleased Minerva the most though was Neville and Mr Davies. It was obvious that her lion was in charge, and again the older boy obeyed his instructions. The first years' too were quick to obey any instructions given. Two would be called forward, practice the spell a few times and then return to their group, with words of encouragement ringing in their ears.
Minerva was one of the few aware of what was happening with his parents, she had signed the forms allowing these four to leave the school for the Halloween weekend. Minerva swore if they returned to Hogwarts with good news, she would gladly raise a wee dram herself in celebration.
A student working with George Weasley was the first to complete a shield. It was so weak, a sneeze would have brought it down. The girl though received a round of applause from the entire class, and you could see the determination growing amongst the rest.
Harry stopped the lesson early and the first years appeared to know what was coming next, they all sat on the floor in a big circle as mugs of hot chocolate appeared for each of them.
"So very well done tonight, and those who didn't quite manage it - don't worry because we'll be keeping at it. In Hogwarts, the shield charm is taught at the end of third year - so we're already two and a half years ahead of schedule. For those who managed it, fantastic! We will continue to practice that spell every week, it's easily one of the most important that you will learn at Hogwarts. Shields are like muscles, the more you use them - the stronger they will get. Before Christmas break, we plan to have everyone not only casting shields but using them in a fight. Any questions?"
A few were asked and handled by different members of the team. Harry then called time and they got ready to leave. The older boys escorted the first years back to their dorms, leaving the four friends time to talk with both professors.
"I have to say that is one of the most effective defence lessons I've seen taught at Hogwarts for many a year."
Neville was left blushing at the unaccustomed, and he felt undeserved, praise from his head of house. "Professor, we're just passing on what we were taught. This is how Professor Weasley teaches us every weekend, he and Professor Hobson even help us prepare each lesson."
Minerva was even more pleased to hear that. Any other second year students in their position would be lording it over their classmates, but not these four. "I have been teaching here for many years, Mr Longbottom, and I could easily see the adult hands that had guided your lesson. It was you four though that stood in front of students, students you're barely a year older than yourselves, and pulled that lesson off in a fashion that would have Lockhart writing another book about how he'd tamed the marauding hoard of vicious pigmies."
Henrica was the first to crack, her musical laughter reverberating around the now nearly empty room and making it okay for the others to laugh. Padma though had an apt title for this new publication. "Liar Lockhart and the Phoney Pigmies - it has a nice ring to it!"
Even McGonagall laughed at that, though she would probably deny it if the feat was mentioned outside this room.
Padma had tried all week to talk to Parvati but her twin either ignored her or couldn't be found. She was tempted to ask Harry for a loan of his map but that would have felt too much like spying on her sister, something there was no recovering from. She had to settle for sending a letter by a Hogwarts owl.
Henrica was waiting on the four friends when the second year defence class finished, she was going to accompany them and Bill to Gringotts. Padma had clothes for her and Hermione inside the bag Harry gave her while Harry's own bag held a few changes for himself. Neville was staying in his own home so didn't really need anything. He practically ran out of the Hogwarts gates and was impatient for everyone else to catch-up, Neville had never wanted to be somewhere else so much in his entire life.
Standing in front of the door, Neville felt his courage falter. His gran had greeted them with tears in her eyes before directing the quartet here. Neville had never seen her like that before - those tears could mean anything. Padma's hand slipping into his steadied the nervousness that threatened to run away with him. That's how Neville entered the room, holding Padma's hand with his two friends right behind him. With that support, Neville felt as if he could face anything.
The emotional spike he felt after walking through that door was unprecedented, Neville felt as if his heart was going to explode right out of his chest.
His mother recognised him, there was no doubt of that in his mind.
She then smiled at him, here was physical proof he'd been right - she did recognise him.
When his mother slowly opened her arms and held them out toward him, Neville stopped breathing. Padma's hand slipped out of his and provided a gentle push in the back, that was all Neville needed. He couldn't for the life of him remember how he got there but Neville would remember to his dying day the sensation of his mother's arms closing around him in a hug.
It took him a moment to realise that the sobs he heard were his own but Neville didn't care, his mother's hand moving up and stoking his head started to calm him down. It was only then that Neville remember the other person he'd come to see. Again, his father was looking straight at him and again, Neville would swear there was recognition in his eyes too. The hug with his dad may not have been returned but Neville now felt like the luckiest wizard on the planet, then his manners kicked in.
He returned to his mother and wondered how to handle the introductions, it came to him with a smile. "Mum, this is Harry, your godson."
Harry was almost as emotional as Neville had been when Alice hugged him, only Hermione then being introduced as his girlfriend held him together.
As Hermione joined Harry, Neville noticed Padma hanging back. That wasn't happening today. He reached for her hand and brought her forward with him. "Mum, dad, this is Padma."
Alice reached out and placed her hand on their joined ones. Her smile was wide as she attempted to speak. "Boo...ti...ful."
Neville's heart soared as he answered his mother. "Yes, she is." He would swear his father was nodding in agreement.
In the next room, there was hardly a dry eye there either. The large one-way wall allowed them to see and hear everything that went on in the room. Augusta's smile was beaming as the tears slowly ran down her cheeks. "I need to get them out of there soon, Frank and Alice can only take excitement in small doses, otherwise it might affect their treatment."
The room's occupants watched as Augusta left and entered the other room to explain this to the youngsters. "Neville, your mum and dad have been looking forward to your visit all week. We need to keep it short though, too much excitement can set their treatment back. We will return tomorrow, and again on Sunday before you leave for the castle."
Neville wanted to stay with his mum and dad all night, but not if it hindered their recovery. He also got to hug them goodnight.
They made it out the door and Neville grabbed Harry by the shoulders. "Harry, I... I..."
Harry was soon returning the gesture. "Neville, I got to hug my godmother. There are no words, and certainly no thanks needed. We're family, remember."
All four of them were very close so couldn't fail to be affected by the emotional scene they'd just been a part of. Both witches gently took a wizard by the arm and led them through the door where Augusta had just gone, only to discover a surprise waiting on them too. When Hermione saw her parents waiting for her in the room, she was actually frozen in place. Padma shooting past her into Smita's arms soon saw Hermione repeating those actions as she almost bowled her parents over with the force of her desperate hug.
A tearful Henrica soon had both boys wrapped in a hug too. "Neville, I am so happy for you. That was without a doubt the most heartwarming thing I have ever seen."
Augusta then moved both boys over to the wall that allowed them to see into the room. "We can't go in there too often, or for too long, but Barchoke arranged this so I can visit whenever I want."
Neville couldn't take his eyes of his parents, just watching his mum sitting holding his dad's hand was like witnessing a miracle. Sirius and Henrica came up behind them. "I've booked a room at the Leaky Cauldron again so we can all eat dinner together. There's no hurry though, I could watch this all night."
Padma was crying in her mother's arms. "Parvati won't even speak to me now, I don't know what else to do, mum. I would have stayed in the castle if I thought it would help.."
Smita had Padma wrapped in a hug, her daughters had little spats before but nothing on a scale like this. "I wrote to her and asked if she wanted to come home for the weekend, and even hinted that there were other things going on she wouldn't want to miss. She said she was happy to stay in the castle and enjoy the celebrations there. I got the distinct impression I wasn't being told the whole truth."
"Her date for the ball was Blaise Zabini, a Slytherin but a gentleman too. I don't know if she's still seeing him, we have hardly spoken since that night."
Her dad then had some advice. "It's only seven weeks until the holidays, and Parvati will certainly be coming home in December. We will sit down and discuss what's going on then, I promise we will get to the bottom of this." The Patils headed over to join their friends watching Frank and Alice.
Hermione was also in tears, attempting to apologise to her father. Emma left the two for a moment, heading over to Harry and Neville.
Harry felt the arms wrap around him from behind and knew instantly who it was, Emma then kissed him on the cheek. "Are you okay, Harry?"
"I've rarely felt better, Emma. I have a godfather, and a godmother!"
She then hugged Neville, there was no need to ask the same question though - the boy was practically floating with happiness.
Augusta was suffering from the same condition, she had some startling news for them though. "That's the first word your mother has spoken, I didn't expect that today."
This got Neville's attention, especially what that word was - and who it was aimed at. His hand almost automatically reaching out for Padma's.
They were then joined by Hermione and her dad, though it was Dan who spoke. "Harry, can I have a quiet word?"
Harry didn't answer, just nodding his head and moving over to a quiet bit of the room - all without taking his eyes off his godmother.
This clearly wasn't the best of times but Dan needed to get this off his chest. "Harry, what I saw here tonight redefines what family means, and why that should be so important to all of us. I want to apologise for my actions that night, I certainly never intended to hurt you - or Hermione. I would like to do now what I should have done that night and welcome you to the family - that is if you want to join?"
Harry now gave Dan his full attention. His expression didn't change though as he was already sporting a wide grin. "I would like that, Dan, I would like that a lot." His hand was out and Dan shook it, before leading Harry back over to where everyone was still standing.
It was Augusta who finally called time. "We need to go and eat. Neville, we will be back tomorrow."
They left the room to find Barchoke waiting on them, Neville approached the goblin immediately. "Ambassador Barchoke, anything you wish from the Longbottom family is yours for the asking."
"Neville, your friendship with my son is more than enough for me. Watching your parents slowly emerge from their cocoons is a wondrous thing for us too. Our healers are learning so much, and Dan has arranged more scans over the December holidays."
A beaming Harry stepped forward and saluted. "Well met, father. I am really pleased to see you again."
Hermione also stepped beside Harry and greeted Barchoke in his own language. ""Well met, father. Your daughter is also delighted to see you once more.""
Barchoke had deliberately not been present when Harry met his godmother, it wasn't seemly for a goblin of his standing to have tears in his eyes. His daughter almost undid all those preparations with her greeting. ""Well met, my children."" He then switched to English. "Shall we go eat?"
It was only after leaving that room they all realised just how hungry they were, no one had eaten since lunch so Barchoke's suggestion got a resounding yes.
Hermione was of course on Harry's arm but pushed him forward so they were walking next to Barchoke. She needed a word with him. ""Sir, my wonderful mate gifted me one of Rowena Ravenclaw's workbooks for my birthday. I have been studying the charm that allows your language to be understood and think I can cast it. Do I need permission from the nation before attempting it?""
The goblin almost stumbled as the implications of that hit home. Master Flitwick had sworn on his honour to the Lady Ravenclaw he would cast the spell only once, and never pass it on to anyone else, now his daughter not only had knowledge of the spell but could cast it. The implications of this would have to be taken to the director, though it would be prudent to ensure she was correct first.
""Who did you plan on testing this on?""
""Padma, Neville, Henrica, Sirius and Professor Weasley. I would like to add my mum and dad to that list but don't know if it would work on people without magic.""
Those names were what Barchoke would have predicted, and could easily justify them to the director as test cases. ""Henrica and my Assistant Ambassador would certainly benefit from understanding our language, I also see no problem with Sirius being included too. It would certainly give you four a tactical advantage if you could all speak a language your opponents couldn't. I would leave your parents until we could try it under test conditions, much like we'll need to do with Harry's exhaustion from magically enhancing his armour.""
Hermione didn't disagree with any of that, and Barchoke's final suggestion made sense too.
""I will need to approach the director to discuss the implications of this, but I would advise you not to let anyone else know of that spell - and certainly not how to cast it.""
Remus had been well warned that anything he heard here today was not for repeating outside 'the family'. As Remus listened to Harry telling James and Lily what he'd been up to, the marauder felt that Sirius' warning was unnecessary - no one would ever believe him.
Harry introducing Hermione as his mate was the first body-blow, and saw the werewolf looking around for confirmation. Barchoke and the Grangers were standing with smiles on their faces, his first hint this was all true. Sirius had his arm wrapped around Henrica, taking comfort from his girlfriend at this bittersweet scene. The last two members of 'the family' present today were Neville and Padma, leaving Remus to assume their parents and guardians didn't know the half of this.
That Remus himself was included left him feeling really honoured. As Harry chatted to his parents, Remus swore to James and Lily he would do anything and everything in his power to help their son - and his family. The marauder suspected Sirius was silently doing the same too.
Neville was holding onto Padma's hand like a drowning man grasps a lifeline. Harry was so animated and upbeat yet Neville felt a great sense of loss just watching his friend. As bad as things had been for him personally, he always had his gran and could at least see his parents. All Harry had were some names carved into a slab of marble. Realising this was also his godmother too saw Neville step forward. With Padma holding his hand, he was able to say hello to his godmother and talk a bit about himself and his three friends.
Barchoke observed the scene with a hint of melancholy, thinking back to when it would be just him and Harry spending a few hours here. He much preferred this arrangement though, knowing his son always wanted a family. The goblin couldn't help but think his son was building himself a good one here, with siblings, favourite uncles and parents being drafted in. Emma may be smiling on the outside but Barchoke thought he knew her well enough to see past that mask. Inside, Emma was hurting for her children.
Augusta's party tonight would be a welcome break, and something everyone was looking forward to. As an avid observer of people, Barchoke had watched as the barriers between their extended group had slowly eroded over time - even the Patils had changed and become more relaxed around the company. Augusta herself had lost a lot of her straight-laced mannerisms when amongst this group, she'd been more animated and louder than Sirius at their dinner last night - a feat that was worthy of a celebration all to itself.
Neville's second short visit with his parents acted as confirmation that his first hadn't been just a wonderful dream. Again his gran had let the four friends visit by themselves, keeping the number of visitors down to a minimum. He was getting ready for tonight's party when there was a knock on his bedroom door, answering found his three friends standing there.
"Can we talk for a few minutes, Neville, Hermione has something that she wants to keep just between the four of us at the moment."
Neville stood back to let them in, a quick glance at Padma telling him that she didn't know what Harry was talking about either. Hermione didn't keep them waiting for long.
"I've been studying Rowena's workbook, especially the charm that translates the goblin language. It's complicated wand work but doesn't require a massive amount of power. I'm pretty sure I can cast it and wondered if you two wanted the ability to understand and speak goblin too?"
Padma caught on quickest. "Is that why you were chatting to Barchoke in goblin? I don't know if it's just my nosey side showing but the idea of being able to understand what's being said by the goblins appeals to me."
Neville approached the thing from a whole different angle. "Professor Weasley says when we're older, we'll learn silent casting so the opposition doesn't know what spells we cast. What if we cast them in goblin? Will that even work?"
This led Hermione and Harry to look at one another, leading to a simultaneous shrugging of shoulders. Harry drew his knife and cast lumos, first in English/Latin then his own language, the charm worked equally for both.
Hermione was biting her bottom lip in deep though before offering an explanation. "Professor Weasley is always telling us our magic is intent based, Harry's magic obviously understands what he's trying to cast - so just does it."
"We could cast our spells and no one would have a clue what was coming at them! This will seriously piss off our sparring partners next weekend. Hermione, I certainly want to have a go at this." Padma was putting her name at the top of the very short queue, Neville quickly agreed to join it too.
It was a nervous Hermione who then got her book and wand out, it was now time to see if she could live up to her claim.
Padma wasn't nervous in the least, knowing her friend would never have offered if she wasn't certain of success. A tense few moments was then followed by Harry asking Padma how she felt, in goblin. That she answered in the same language saw each witch's feet suddenly being lifted off the ground, Harry letting out a loud whoop as he twirled Hermione in the air.
Hermione glanced down at the love and pride reflected back from Harry, before she noticed their two friends. Neville had Padma in a similar position and the two were gazing happily at each other. The spell seemed to break and Neville lowered her gently to the ground before turning to Hermione in an effort to hide his blush from Padma.
"I'm ready when you are, Hermione."
She took a moment to centre herself again, this was not a spell you could do in a hurry. It was only minutes later though that all four were chatting excitedly in goblin.
""Oh, I can't wait to use this on Fred and George. This is better than a prank!"" The thought of getting one over on the biggest pranksters in the school had Neville almost drooling at the thought.
Padma though had bigger fish to fry. ""Why settle for the copies when we'll have the two originals here tomorrow. Everyone is staying after the party and tomorrow would be a fabulous opportunity for Robin, Dove, Owl and Swift of Crow's Marauders to match up to Padfoot and Mooney.""
This idea made Hermione nervous. ""Eh, Padma, you do know that Remus is a master in defence - and Sirius is no slouch either.""
""It's like Harry and Slughorn, Hermione, there's no way they will be using anything too powerful against us - embarrassing most definitely. We need a better measure of where we are, it actually wouldn't be a bad thing if we got our arses kicked. That's the result everyone will expect anyway, so we've nothing to lose.""
Harry agreed with Padma. ""You have to fight people better than you to improve. Roger, Cedric and the twins are just beginning to get the idea of fighting against us as a team, Sirius and Remus will have that down pat. Casting our spells in goblin might give us a bit of a shock advantage, but we would have to take it quickly.""
It was Neville who brought up another problem. ""How do we con them into fighting us in the first place?""
That saw the four of them put their heads together.
Running around the Longbottom estate was a pleasant change for Harry and Hermione. Last night's party had been great but just the two of them running alongside the estate's boundaries on a sharp November morning was wonderful in a whole different way.
"I take it you noticed how much closer Neville and Padma are getting." Hermione knew Harry missed very little.
Her mate confirmed that view. "I also noticed the big grins Augusta and Smita were wearing too! I can't believe Parvati is jealous over this, I thought she'd sorted that over the holidays. You don't see Susan or Hannah throwing a strop because those two are getting closer. Both those witches have known Neville a lot longer and might have fancied stepping in there themselves."
"Yeah, I now wonder how much she did change, or did we just see what we wanted?"
Harry was shaking his head at that. "Padma wouldn't be so upset if she didn't think Parvati had changed. Whatever it is, the problem will only get worse if Neville asks Padma to be his girlfriend."
Hermione shuddered at the idea of it getting worse, she knew how much their friend was hurting now.
They decided on one more lap before breakfast. Their training would be followed by lunch and then heading off to Gringotts, one last visit with Alice and Frank before returning to Hogwarts for dinner. It had been an emotional roller coaster of a weekend. For Hermione, getting to dance with her father last night had finally drawn a line under the nightmare her bonding with Harry had caused. She felt her family would eventually be stronger after this. For Harry, getting a hug from his godmother put him on cloud nine, and he hadn't come down all weekend.
The four soon forgot their audience as training required their undivided attention. Bill worked them hard, giving them two new spells to master, a shot with the duelling dummies and then shield drills.
As they were taking a breather, Padma asked a question. "Professor Weasley, can we get some of our audience to help us, since the boys aren't here?"
Bill's eyebrow rose at this, he was after all the twins' older brother. "What did you have in mind?"
"Well, my dad is there, Remus, Sirius and Henrica. We've gotten used to the workout of a four on four fight to finish our Sunday session."
Ramrao jumped in right away, as Padma had predicted he would. "Sorry, I could never raise my wand against my daughter. I'm going to have to decline."
Henrica was next with her answer. "It took those four wizards a month to be fit enough to come back down to lunch after a Sunday session with you lot - and they're all Quidditch players on their house teams. I'm going to pass this kind invitation."
The four then turned their attention onto the marauders, Sirius was certainly up for the challenge. "Well Moony, do you think we can teach these pups a lesson?"
"I get the feeling that was their intention all along. Don't take this too lightly, Sirius, getting your arse kicked by your godson and his friends is not something you can live down."
The six then squared off as Barchoke was offering odds on the four winning, Henrica felt honour bound to take that bet. The audience were all looking forward to a show, they wouldn't be disappointed.
When Bill counted them in, the quartet executed their plan flawlessly. Harry had his armour activated, his job was to keep Remus occupied. The other three all targeted Sirius in a blitzkrieg of spells cast in goblin, they were also constantly on the move and trying to outflank their opponent.
Right from the off, Sirius knew he was in trouble. These three weren't allowing him to get any spells off, all his efforts were having to be channeled into surviving this onslaught. He also had no idea what they were so accurately casting at him, which was pretty disconcerting. When Padma got around his shield, Sirius was forced to roll away from her spell - straight into Neville. Sirius was out of the fight.
Remus was using his werewolf reflexes to stay just ahead of Harry, but even then it was very close. When the other three turned their attention to him, Remus thought it was only a matter of time.
Barchoke was laughing until he saw Sirius get back up, and noticed their tutor putting his wand away. Dan had also seen this and was not amused. "That's cheating!"
The goblin understood what was happening here and put his hand on the angry father's arm. "In a fight, there's no such thing. Better they learn that lesson here, than in a real fight. Death eaters and their master don't know the meaning of fair, and will use every dirty trick they can."
Neville going down to a stunner from behind was the first clue they had that Sirius was back in the fight, Hermione's armour saved her from being the second to be taken out by the sneak attack.
Harry shouted orders in his own language and the girls instantly obeyed. Hermione drew her sword and charged Sirius, her wand still spitting curses as she raced toward him. Sirius was shielding and dodging, especially from that blade. Her charge took Hermione past Sirius and he cast one of the marauders' speciality curses at her hopefully unprotected legs, she was now dangling in the air by her ankle.
He quickly turned to face Padma and made the same mistake the kids had earlier, Sirius forgot all about the wizard on the ground. Padma had revived Neville but he'd played possum and bided his time. As the witch allowed Sirius to push her back, in the direction Padma wanted to go, Neville had a free shot at the marauder's unprotected back.
Neville grabbed a stunned Sirius' wand while Padma got Hermione down, all three raced to help Harry before he overtaxed himself.
Barchoke was concerned about the same thing and considered shouting time until the four rounded on Remus once more.
Harry had been struggling to contain Remus, here was an opponent that was miles better than Slughorn - and throwing things at him that the Centurion certainly wanted to learn. When it was once more four against one, Harry wanted to end it. Trusting the people here, he cast an overpowered disarming spell with his sword.
With the battering Remus' shield was taking, the unexpected spell blasted right through and flung him back about ten feet - with his wand heading in the other direction. Padma had him trussed up seconds after he hit the ground - to loud cheering from the people watching.
Henrica revived her boyfriend and Sirius released a groan, he wasn't in pain though. "They beat us, didn't they?
"Yes, and I should know better than to bet against a goblin. I lost ten galleons on you Black, and I'm back to Hogwarts later so I can't even make you pay for it."
There were congratulations being handed out and the ribbing had already started against the marauders but Bill's lesson wasn't over yet. "Okay you four, where did we go wrong?"
Neville was first to hold his hand up. "I should have taken Sirius' wand off him the first time, then it wouldn't have mattered if he'd been revived."
Bill then turned his attention to Harry, he had no idea what their tutor was after though. It was soon spelled out to the centurion by the angry redhead. "What the hell was that all about? Using Hermione as some kind of sacrificial goat so Sirius wouldn't see what Padma was up to. I thought better of you than that, risking one of your own to win a fight. In a real fight, you could have gotten her killed..." It was his job to push Harry into being ready to face Voldemort. For an instant, Bill thought he'd pushed too far - Harry appeared ready to attack him.
"That was our godfather she was up against, someone we knew would never hurt her. If you think I would try that in a real fight then we need a new tutor. This was an elaborate ruse to take down the marauders, we worked out our tactics last night. Yes, we counted heavily on them holding back, but so were we!"
At that, Harry drew his sword in one smooth motion and a powerful curse left the blade. They had been practicing in a walled area of garden behind Longbottom Manor, Harry had fired at the most distant wall - over thirty yards away - and his spell obliterated a section about fifteen feet across.
In the shocked silence that followed the loud blast, Dan's words were easily heard - though barely understood. "Shit! That's not a rifle, it's a bloody cannon."
The sword of Gryffindor returned to its sheath as Harry spoke again. "I know what I have to do, which is why Halloween is the only day of the year I don't train. Balls and parties are nice but, if they affected my training I wouldn't be there. These three have known the danger being my friend brought since the first week we met. They not only accepted it but wanted to train alongside me. I swear to everyone here that I will do everything I can to keep them safe, anyone trying to get to them is going to have to kill me first."
Having just got their family back together, Harry didn't want their to be the slightest doubt in anyone's mind that he'd deliberately endangered Hermione. Emma and Dan smiling at him showed they understood that, only one more thing to do. "I'm really sorry about your wall, Augusta, I shouldn't have lost my temper."
The old witch was much more interested in what she'd seen here today. "Walls can be repaired, Harry. I know you four will look out for each other, that's the important thing here. Can I just say I'm so proud of you, all four of you." This was a sentiment shared by the extended family.
Bill had taught them to own up to their shortcomings and mistakes, it was time for the tutor to do the same. "Harry, guys, I'm sorry too. I saw tactics there that were reckless and downright callous, what I should have seen were calculated risks in an encounter that had set boundaries."
"This was my idea from the start, Professor Weasley, I thought it would be fun to get one over on the marauders. We knew exactly what we were doing from the moment you counted us off."
He should have figured Padma would be the one to instigate a stunt like this. Bill had one more question though. "...and just when did you lot learn to cast spells in goblin?" He'd known what language they were using, but not what they were casting.
The praise practically gushed from Padma as she answered that one. "Oh, that was Neville's brilliant idea. We don't know how to cast silently but using goblin has the same effect, neither Sirius or Remus knew what we were casting at them."
It was a disgruntled Sirius who had the last words on the matter. "Moony, we were stitched up!"
After their final visit to Neville's parents, their spirits were soaring again as Henrica led them back to Hogwarts. That all changed when they saw the spirit waiting on them at the main doors, the Lady Ravenclaw appeared worried. "Harry, you need to go to the infirmary at once..."
This time Harry was accompanied in his mad dash to the infirmary by Hermione running at his side, these two leaving the other three trailing. They burst into the infirmary to see the furthest away bed with screens around it, Helena appearing through the floor beside them confirmed this was where they were meant to go. Pulling back the screen saw both of them gasp in shock
Luna was sitting up on the bed, her legs curled under her and Moonlight resting comfortably on her lap. Both were looking away from them but the pair also appeared to have been transfigured into stone.
A/N Thanks for reading.