Harry Crow

Disclaimer- all the good stuff belongs to JKR, the rest is mine.

Chapter 74

The dark lord once more called his followers to the scene of his rebirth, hiding his anger that there were now two death eaters less in attendance than had appeared on the night of the solstice. He really needed to reverse that trend tonight. Including himself was the only reason their numbers topped two dozen witches and wizards in the graveyard.

"My loyal death eaters-s, tonight we take the first steps-s in reclaiming what is-s rightfully ours-s by birth. These usurpers-s will taste our wrath for daring to try and deny us-s what we're due, they and the creatures-s they've aligned themselves-s with. These people delude themselves-s into thinking their new wards-s will keep them safe, safe enough to thumb their nose at us-s. That all changes-s tonight, tonight we will prove once and for all no one can hide from Lord Voldemort."

This resulted in cheering, though how much of it was pretence couldn't be determined behind their masks.

"Tonight we attack a target protected by these wards-s and we will rip them down together, no wards-s are a match for our combined power. Bellatrix will then lead half of you into the house while the rest of us-s wait behind to slaughter the beasts-s as-s they arrive. Swords-s and axes-s are no threat against a witch or wizard armed with their wand."

Hearing these details saw those present entering more into the spirit of the occasion. Initially, all had reservations, none were sure if their master had intended to storm the ministry itself tonight. Looking around had their confidence growing, there should easily be enough of them present to storm someone's home - and their master would be amongst them.

This was more like it, more like what they were used to from the good old days of the last conflict. Attacking a home with numbers overwhelming in their favour and killing everyone - after having a little fun.

This action tonight should destroy peoples' faith in these wards and, combined with slaughtering any goblins who had the nerve to turn up and try to interfere, should also go a long way to destroying this so-called alliance. Their goblin ambassador would soon find himself out of a job and barred from even entering the ministry.

Bella quickly picked her assault team before the entire group portkeyed away to begin the second wizarding war.


After being greeted by Susan, they headed into the ballroom and spotted more of their friends waiting there. The party from Kingussie and Grimmauld had actually grown by one tonight, father had asked if Rita Skeeter could be included too. Rita had been in a bad way after what she witnessed in Parkinson Manor, and also her narrow escape from suffering the same fate as Edmund. The Ambassador reminding their host just how big a part Rita had played in the war against the death eaters, and helping chase Dumbledore out of Britain too, quickly saw her name being added to the guest list. Rita though didn't follow the group over to offer Pansy their condolences, she really couldn't face the girl after witnessing what had befallen her father. The former reporter headed straight for the bar.

Harry was delighted to see Pauline Nott along with Draco and Pansy, learning that her family was only one of those who had now moved into Malfoy Manor. He was also touched by both Padma and Luna hugging him and offering condolences for what happened in Crawley.

"Thanks girls but Padma, you knew the Dursleys as well as I did. You were with me the only time I met them, and we both know how those occasions turned out. It's actually affected Hermione more, since she was in the same primary class as Dudley for years." This saw the girls switch their hugs to his mate as everyone began catching up on what had happened since they'd seen each other at Christmas.

There were also friends they hadn't seen since the express dropped them off in Kings Cross. Daphne and Blaise were there too, with Terry and Morag completing their marauder trainers team - Hannah was of course present, having helped Susan organise her first party. Rather than have everyone sitting down to a formal meal, the girls had adopted the method Sirius had used last year for this event with a buffet set for people to help themselves. Little Astoria Greengrass was excitedly doing just that while not believing her luck at being invited to another great New Year party.

Looking around the ballroom, Harry also spotted both their extra defence tutors standing having a conversation with a couple of aurors. Moody was still drinking from his hip flask though. Harry waved to Cedric as he arrived with his parents, this had all the makings of a great party - something they all needed after the news of Voldemort's return. A loud gong reverberating through the large house soon changed that.

Amelia had been perfectly happy to sit back and allow her niece to play hostess. Susan was becoming an outstanding young witch, growing in confidence thanks mainly to the company she now kept. The alarm changed everything, it was time for the Head of the D.M.L.E. to take charge. An elf appeared at her side, passing information before popping away.

"That sound you just heard signals our wards are under attack. I've just been informed we have a group of over twenty death eaters trying to gate-crash our party, I think we should get ready to give them a warm welcome."

His jacket was already coming off as Harry asked the first question. "Amelia, where are they?"

"They're to the west, using the woods as cover while they try to bring down the wards...Harry, what are you doing?"

"There will be a squad of twenty goblin warriors arriving here in the next few minutes. If they can get those wards down before our warriors arrive then it will be a slaughter. I need to warn those warriors and make some death eaters keep their heads down long enough for them to charge..."

The sound of material ripping had Harry, and everyone else turning around. Hermione had a knife from the buffet and was performing alterations to her dress never considered by the goblin tailors who'd designed and made it. He knew exactly what his mate was up to but still needed to ask Amelia's previous question for confirmation. "Hermione, what are you doing?"

"I can't fight in a dress made for dancing. I can go just as quickly and as sneakily as you..."

"You haven't perfected that yet, far less tried it at night..."

"I will be where I'm supposed to be, on my mate's arm."

Knowing the explosion was coming, and not having the time to deal with it, Harry went for a preemptive strike. "Dan, when those wards come down the death eaters will be able to apparate into the house, call Dobby for your guns and keep Emma safe. I'll do the same for Hermione..."

Dan understood at once what Harry meant, Hermione would be in as much danger inside the house as out. He also trusted Harry to keep her safe, Dan called for Dobby.

"Not without me, Crow..."

"Tonks, we'll be under an invisibility cloak and running as fast as my armour will take us. If you can be invisible too then you're welcome to tag along, we have to be unseen though. If our warriors appear at the other side of the manor we'll simply be keeping our heads down and seeing what we can do to help." Harry now had pockets to hold his dad's invisibility cloak sewn into every jacket or robe he owned. Hermione kicked her heels off and transformed into her kestrel form, a kestrel that was soon comfortably perched on a golden arm. Harry was already running as he swirled the cloak around both of them and they disappeared.

Tonks found an invisibility cloak being thrust into her hands as Moody spoke to her. "You're faster than me, I'll get a few folk together and we'll be at your back though disillusioned." The young auror was still pulling the cloak on as she raced after the couple.

"Amelia, you have more than enough aurors, wands, and even guns here to defend your guests. Mind if I borrow a few volunteers and take off after the youngsters?"

Neville and Padma were right at the front of the queue, silently promising to work harder on their own animagus forms. Only a nod from Frank saw Moody accept the young couple though, the former auror having reached the same conclusion as Dan a moment ago. With Sirius, Remus, Bill and Barchoke on board too, Alastor really didn't want to take any more. He cast the charm on the youngsters while Bill did the same for his boss. Remus then cast the spell on a big black dog that shimmered into invisibility as it shot out the ballroom.

Amelia meanwhile was organising their defences, she intended that anyone breaking into her home would have to be carried out of it.


The dark lord was trying not to show the strain, these wards must rival Hogwarts for power. It was taking far too much of his own power to overload these blasted wards, all of them were experiencing the same severe drain on their magic. When the wards eventually failed, it was a sudden and catastrophic failure. The boom was not only heard but felt, leaving small pieces of magical energy slowly fizzing and floating to the ground, rather like the falling leaves in autumn. The ending of the drain on their magic left all of the attackers needing a moment to catch their breath. It was in this moment a group of battle ready goblins chose to appear.


Harry found he could make great time running through the grounds. All the magic being cast at the wards was causing them to sparkle as if they were a physical entity, it easily provided enough light for him to be sure-footed - even in an all out run. His right arm was across his chest, his hand on the hilt of his sword to stop it swinging as he ran. This was also the arm that had a kestrel perched on it, Hermione was tight against his chest and staying as still as possible to help Harry preserve his balance.

Both were glad the Bones residence was in Norfolk and not the Scottish Highlands, this move would have been impossible to attempt with snow on the ground. They reached a small banking with some bushes for cover about thirty yards from the attacking death eaters position, here they would wait and see what developed.

With only four not wearing masks, Lestrange was easily spotted. Pictures of Rookwood had also been splashed everywhere meaning they quickly recognised him too. They surmised that the other two would be Riddle and Pettigrew. Since one was a wee, fat balding man who appeared to have all the charisma of tapioca, they focused their attention on the tall figure who was pouring magic into the wards.

The kestrel slowly became Hermione, she had her back tight to Harry's chest and the cloak still covered both of them. The couple had shrunken goblin shields attached to their scabbards, these were removed and twisted to their fighting size while their weapons were made ready for battle. Harry was whispering instructions in her ear. "Whatever happens, I want you to stay here. This should give you some shelter and still allow you to provide covering fire..."

"...and where will you be?"

"That will depend on where the warriors appear, I might be right here beside you..."

Both heard someone approaching, the direction and the fact they were invisible meant that it would almost certainly be support for them. Hearing someone grumbling under their breath as they stumbled provided the needed clue.


The whispering of her name caused the auror to stop, she couldn't see them but had headed for the place that provided the most cover. "Harry, where are you?"

Hermione's hand slipping out of their cloak for a second gave Tonks a location to focus on. She never got to say anything more before the wards spectacularly crashed. The magic falling from the sky would soon make their cloaks a liability, the squad of goblin warriors appearing in just about the worst place possible made that fact irrelevant.

Harry had already picked his target, the cloak was whipped off as the sword of Gryffindor was brought into the battle. He put everything he had into the spell and let go.

""Warriors to me, warriors to me.""

The golden centurion was out of the depression and racing to intercept the warriors path as they all charged the death eaters. Hermione and Tonks though had shot up to follow Harry, all three were now pouring their most powerful spells into the group of shocked death eaters.

Bella watched in disbelief as the golden wizard appeared from nowhere, a spell left his sword and whizzed past her. Her weakened master barely had time to raise a shield before the powerful spell hit, the shield never really had a chance and the dark lord was blasted tumbling through the air to land somewhere deeper into the woods. They were coming under heavy fire and then the volume of spells suddenly increased. Bella instantly made her decision. "Wormtail, lead the attack on the house, I'm going to see how our master is."

Peter was not a brave wizard, the arrival of more wizards though had him thinking that attacking the inside of the house might be the safer option. Spotting Sirius and then Remus as part of the new group of attackers certainly made his mind up.

"Group one, let's move, now." The rest of the group had obviously reached the same conclusion as Peter and quickly disapparated away too.

Rookwood realised they'd just made a huge tactical error. With their master down and Bella determined to check on him, they had just lost their two most powerful fighters from this battle. To then split their remaining force in half while they were being attacked wasn't just crazy - it was suicidal.

These death eaters were neither trained warriors nor powerful witches and wizards, they probably spent most of their lives having everything done for them by servants. The power and accuracy of the spells they were facing were also different to anything death eaters had faced before. These were no mere stunners that were coming at them, these people were playing for keeps.

They were also still charging as they fired and those goblin blades were getting closer and closer. If they reached amongst them then there would be no quarter given. The immediate problem was Rookwood couldn't see any way of stopping them, he shot off after his mate and their master. Both needed to get back into the fight immediately or they all needed to leave even sooner than that.

The warriors charged forward on the heels of Centurion Crow, their formation opening and then closing around his charging mate and the auror with the funny hair. Both, like the Centurion, were still firing off spells but now had warriors shielding them until they reached their targets. A big dog shimmered into being running alongside the squad before it transformed into Lord Black and he too was forcing their enemy to keep their heads down.

A volley of curses coming from behind them caused a spike of panic, until those curses sailed over their heads and began smashing into the tree line. It was now grinning goblins who were almost on top of their foe. All had recognised at once the danger they were in, an entrenched enemy with a massive reach advantage could have seen them slaughtered before being able to bring their blades to bear. Instead, the Centurion and his friends had turned the once desperate situation into a rout in their favour. Centurion Crow's actions had undoubtably saved all their lives and their honour demanded that no harm would touch his mate while one of them still lived. Hermione was currently firing curses over a plethora of goblin shields, all done while still on the run toward their enemy.

With a terrifying goblin yell Harry reached their foe, the warriors were only a few yards behind the charging centurion and yelling too. His first swing with that fabled sword took an arm clean off and broke any remaining resolve. A lucky few managed to disapparate before they were overrun, those that didn't would never be running again.

Augustus knew at once what their decision would have to be, their master was unconscious and bleeding from his nose, mouth and ears. His left leg was also bent in ways that were impossible for a structure supposedly supported by bone.

"Bella, I need you to apparate our master out of here..."

"I'm going to cut out the entrails of whoever did this and make him eat them while they're still attached."

"...and I'll help you. Tonight is not the time for that though, in minutes we'll be overrun and then our master will be captured. We know he has no more horcruxes, if they kill him then he's dead this time. I know you want to fight but I don't have the power to apparate our master and me to the Forest of Dean, I barely have enough energy to make the trip myself."

Bella knew her mate spoke the truth, her instinct to fight though was strong. "That golden thing with the sword, that was Potter?"

"I think so..."

If there was one thing Bella could recognise it was a killer, they had thought they were dealing with a boy and were oh so wrong. He had led the attack on their position and fought like a demon.

She also knew Augustus would fight to the death to protect her and their master but they were outnumbered and outmatched, she would not have Potter kill her master. Bella firmly took their master's arm and then they were gone. Augustus heard the screams behind him and knew it was past time to get out of here. His last thought was that if Peter got caught then their safe place would be gone too, they would need to move in a hurry.

The battle was swiftly over and Harry called on the warriors to secure a perimeter when he was attacked. He certainly didn't need any help though, something the warriors recognised by cheering and banging on their shields. Hermione had her arms, legs and lips locked on her centurion as another page was added to the legend they were becoming, The Nation had taken the Warrior Princess to their hearts.

Harry was currently trying to have a heart to heart with his mate, he was still supporting her weight and their foreheads were now resting against each other. "I distinctly remember telling you to stay where you were and to provide covering fire from there. Instead, you charged this position like a maniac..."

"...I was following my maniac of a mate! I saw that first green curse head toward you and was moving before I knew it."

"I can now say for certain our shields will protect us from a killing curse. We knew it would destroy the shield but the force still nearly broke my arm."

"I saw three of them heading straight for you at the same time."

"Yeah, managed to dodge two but had to take the third on my shield, not something I want to do again. Then the reinforcements arrived..."

Their hug was reinforced as Neville and a tearful Padma slammed into the couple. "You two scared the bloody life out of us, we came as quick as we could. We're a team, remember?"

"Sorry Padma, I didn't even want to take Hermione but she left me with no choice."

"When did you complete your transformation? You kept that quiet..."

"Yesterday, Neville, I just never got a chance tonight to tell you both. I guess the secret is out now anyway. That's only the third time I've managed it, which is why I was on Harry's arm rather than flying. The weather in Kingussie has been too bad for flying the last few days anyway."

Harry spotted his godfather checking the bodies and broke the bad news. "Sirius, I heard Lestrange yelling for Wormtail to lead the attack on the house. They'll get him Sirius..."

Sirius was no longer there. At least he had the sense not to apparate to a house expecting to be attacked in that manner, Padfoot was once again racing across the grass as fast as his paws would carry him.

With the wards now down and the battle over, darkness had once more laid claim to this part of the countryside. The warriors were lighting torches while the rest of the group were making sure those death eaters still alive wouldn't be going anywhere or harming anyone else. It was into this scene Amelia's signal for help was answered, Tonks took charge at once before there could be any accidents involving the arriving aurors.

"Auror Tonks on site and the scene is secure, stand down. I need about six of you to help with the wounded and the bodies, none of them are from our side. The rest go up to the house and see if the boss needs any help. DO NOT APPARATE TO THE HOUSE, they were expecting to be attacked in that manner so make sure you announce yourselves. Tell her we have a problem, what to do with the wounded and dead death eaters. We can't send them to St Mungo's or the ministry because of their dark marks."

The auror in charge quickly shouted six names to stay behind before racing straight for the house.

Barchoke had a flaming torch in his hand while Bill's wand was lit as they approached the huddle containing four teenagers. "Okay you lot, what did we do wrong?"

"I ruined a perfectly good dress that was a Christmas present, I never even got a chance to dance in it."

From Hermione's flippant opening answer to their tutor's normal question, it soon got a lot more serious. "I took a killing curse on my shield instead of diving to the ground. If the attack had stalled we would have lost, I took a calculated gamble and got lucky."

Neville was next with an honest answer. "I found it a lot harder to run, dodge and accurately return fire in a real fight rather than our simulations. We were firing the heaviest curses we knew but some of the stuff coming back at us I thought Moody was making up. What would possess someone to fire off an Entrail-Expelling Curse?"

His mate though had thought of a worse problem. "None of us asked our parents for permission, there wasn't time. We just ran out of there and now we'll be in so much shit..."

Barchoke easily recognised the signs. In battle, adrenalin will keep you going and ignoring annoying things like cuts, bruises or even wounds. After the battle you are so euphoric at surviving that you can forget your actions and even forget your surroundings. As all that bleeds from your system though, and reality striking can be a right bastard.

The reality was these four were standing at the edge of a wood, surrounded by death and destruction. The cries in the night were not those of owls or foxes, rather the cries for help from the injured. That these four accounted for some of that death and destruction was unquestionable, something that was beginning to hit home to the teenagers.

"I think we better get them back to the house, Sirius will have told everyone they're okay by now but I know some ladies who will want to see that for themselves." Barchoke then found himself being enveloped in his daughter's arms. She refused to let go and Harry was then at his other side, his arm around his father's shoulders.

The goblin walked from the battlefield, a child at each side. Both of those children may have towered over him but Barchoke was so proud of them he felt ten feet tall. Padma and Neville followed with Bill beside them.

"Do you think everyone at the house will be alright?"

"Padma, here we were attacking a position the death eaters held, that made it so much harder for us. In the house, Amelia will have everyone in a defendable position and they won't be holding back. There are multiple wands, three pistols, Dan's shotgun and don't forget the two veela. With children and pregnant woman in that house they'll hit them with everything they have, those death eaters have no idea what they've let themselves in for." Bill just hoped he was right.


With no more than a basic idea of the house layout, they apparated into the entrance hall with wands drawn. The noise that made had obviously alerted those in the house of their arrival, they could hear talking and some crying behind a set of double doors.

Peter liked the idea of being in command, he also liked the idea of not having spells flying all around him. "On three, one, two..."

They blasted the doors apart and charged through the smoke and dust with deadly curses spitting from their wands.

Amelia had the defenders drag the heavy tables onto their sides, disregarding all the food Susan had spent hours deciding on. The three tables were then placed end to end, with the wall at their back, to form a protective fort. Astoria and Pauline were the youngest present so got placed right at the back where Luna was keeping an eye on them. Everyone else was ready, willing and able to fight.

As soon as they were set, all the lights were killed and then they had waited in the darkness. When the doors blew in, not only were their attackers backlit, they were bunched and firing blindly - the spell flashes further giving their position away.

The amount of magic, bullets and even fireballs that headed in the death eaters' direction meant the fight was over in seconds. It wasn't really a fight, it actually needed reclassifying as a slaughter.

Peter was lying on the ground covered in blood, none of which was actually his. They had charged into a torrent of magic and the wizard in front of him had been hurled back, throwing Peter to the ground. This was certainly the only reason Peter was still alive but that wouldn't last for long if he didn't get out of here. There was now more than one body pinning him to the ground, this may have ruled out apparition but Peter had another trick up his sleeve to help him escape.

The rat was able to squeeze his way free and now just needed to find a quiet spot to transform back then get the hell out of here. His transformation didn't go unnoticed though, he had attracted some attention from keen eyes. The rat's much smaller mass had caused some of the bodies lying on Peter to shift - something the dead shouldn't really do.

Wormtail was scampering along when a fireball exploded close enough to singe his whiskers, the next one was right in front of him. The fireballs were deadly and became relentless, with Peter soon losing all sense of direction. The rat's only thought was survival, and that certainly meant avoiding being incinerated, he had no idea Wormtail was being shepherded to a specific location.

As he just barely managed to dodge another deadly fireball, the trap was sprung. A scaly claw clamped around Wormtail, crushing ribs and snapping his spine. The rat became Peter, a Peter who couldn't move a muscle and had a veela in her avian form screeching her victory above him.

This was the sight that greeted the panting dog thad bounded into the house, stopping Padfoot in his tracks. A gentle hand was soon scratching behind his right ear. "See, Sirius, this is why you should never piss your mother-in-law off. How is everyone else?"

He transformed back into Sirius to regain the ability of hugging his pregnant wife. "Everyone's fine, love, I saw one warrior needing treatment and that was about it for our side."

Having heard his name mentioned, there were anxious parents calling for his attention from the ballroom. The mystery of why Henrica and Moa were the only ones out here was soon explained, there were at least eight dead death eaters lying blocking the destroyed doorway.

"Sirius, Sirius, how are they?"

"They're fine, Emma. When I left the four were all standing holding on to each other. Augusta, remember that curse Harry used on one of your garden walls? He did the same to Voldemort, blasted him right out of the fight before their dark lord could even get a curse off."

He was currently holding his crying wife, Emma's tears being mostly of the relief variety, but Dan needed to hear the words. "...and you're sure Hermione's fine?"

"She was wrapped around my godson and kissing him for all she was worth, Dan. If Hermione had any injuries then I didn't see them. The goblin warriors charged with a solid wall of shields, that wall opened and swallowed Hermione as she ran. We've already seen evidence that more than one goblin loves your girl, tonight was another. They weren't letting anything or anyone get near her, she was firing off spells from behind their shields."

He then turned his attention to the Longbottoms and Patils. "Moody knows their abilities better than I do. He kept a close eye on Neville and Padma but they fought as well as anyone out there. They were determined to fight their way through to their friends and they did. Frank, Alice, those two are going to be as good as you were - if not better!"

They never got to say any more before an enhanced voice let them know they had company. "Hello the house, Ministry Aurors and we're coming in."

Amelia cast the same charm on herself before answering. "Director Bones on site, situation under control, stand down and enter."

They entered and two immediately gravitated toward guarding Pettigrew, their leader heading straight for their boss. He'd never had to give a report standing over dead bodies before, he'd never actually seen someone killed in battle before tonight but pressed on.

"The other site is under control, Director, but Auror Tonks asked me to report a problem. All the dead and injured are marked, she doesn't know what to do with them."

"Oh, our new facility won't be ready for a few days yet. Do you know if Ambassador Barchoke was returning here or to Gringotts?"

"I'm sorry, Director, there were lots of goblins present, I really can't tell one from the other."

Amelia didn't like that answer, or the disparaging tone used to give it, and she was in no mood to be gentle. "The ambassador was wearing a suit while I'm sure the warriors would have been dressed in goblin armour. If you can't tell the difference between them then it's time you considered another occupation. It shouldn't have escaped your notice either that those goblins got here before you did, something we will be working on when I get back to the ministry. Let's see how many of these bodies you can recognise, get this filth out of my house and dump them on the front lawn."

"But Director, the evidence..."

"...is right in front of your nose. They are in full death eater regalia and physically broke into my house, we killed them. You can list cause of death as attacking my guests, the Chief Warlock and I will sign them. Now get them out of here so I don't have to wade through them to leave my own ballroom."

The bodies were soon being levitated out the front door and Dobby assisted the Bones elf with the clean-up that quickly followed.

News that everyone in the other group was okay lifted the tension in the ballroom, Augusta though was still faced with the sad fact that there would be a lot more students able to see the thestrals when they returned to Hogwarts on Sunday. She was currently going around her students and seeing how they were coping with tonight, while dreading hearing how many of those death eaters had children at Hogwarts.

The Hogwarts High Inquisitor then spotted a crying Parvati being comforted by her mother, the Patils staying with the Longbottoms over the holidays had certainly brought the two families closer together. While she certainly liked Parvati, Augusta was delighted her grandson had chosen her twin to be his mate.

While Parvati had stood her ground and fired curses at the attackers, Padma had destroyed her beautiful dress and raced out of here at Neville's side. Padma had a core of iron running through her that acted like a magnet and attracted the same iron in Neville. Hearing Sirius compare the young couple to Frank and Alice was praise indeed, Augusta was also delighted to hear Parvati's tears were not for herself.

"Why does it always have to be them, mum? There were even aurors here tonight but they still went..."

Augusta had watched her only child and his wife put their lives on the line every time they put their auror robes on, it was no coincidence Voldemort wanted them dead. Frank and Alice were a real thorn in their side, just like the four who left here tonight. "It's always hard to watch the ones you love put themselves in danger, that feeling won't go away just because those four will get older. All we can do is help them be the best they can and hope that's enough. They train for this and had plenty of support tonight, that's why none of the fathers objected. Those aurors are Amelia's and Amos' protection detail, they couldn't leave - only Tonks could."

Smita had known all that and appreciated Augusta was trying to comfort Parvati, there was something she wanted to ask though. "Do you really think Harry can defeat Voldemort?"

"I think tonight is a massive step in that direction. Voldemort was hurt tonight, and not just by Harry's spell. This is a hammer blow to his followers and his prestige. He set out to kill the head of the D.M.L.E. and instead got well and truly beaten. That's never happened to him before."

With the entrance now clear and clean, Amelia started moving her guests into a different part of the house.


When the four returned with Bill and Barchoke, there was no jingoistic cheering from anyone. Neither was there any mention of claiming a victory tonight, every single person invited to the party had graphically witnessed this was not a game. The four of them just wanted to find their families and ensure everyone was all right. Emma had both her children in her arms and was holding on like she never meant to let go. Her hug was being returned with equal ferocity by Harry and Hermione. Dan was removing his jacket to wrap around Hermione when Betsy appeared, her mistress' fur slippers and warm housecoat at the ready.

Watching as the little elf berated his daughter for not taking better care of herself gave Dan a moment to reflect on how much their lives had changed, how much he had changed. The Dan Granger who dragged Hermione out of Gringotts that night would never have allowed his daughter to fight by Harry's side. That Dan Granger though no longer existed, this version knew that in any fight, the safest place for Hermione was with Harry. Her mate would put his own life on the line to protect her, that there were troops of goblin warriors all willing to do the same was a really humbling experience for her father.

He'd fired both barrels into their attackers tonight, something else that the old Dan would have never considered himself capable of. The reason Dan fired only twice was, by the time he'd swapped guns, there were no more targets left standing. Dan was certain he'd hit what he'd aimed at but had no idea of the final result, he was also certain that's why Amelia had the bodies moved quickly. She wouldn't want any of the teens thinking theirs was the curse that finished someone off. A lot of people had died tonight, the only thing being quietly celebrated here was the fact that it wasn't any of them.

Once the little elf had finished berating Hermione, Betsy then threw her arms around her mistress' legs. "Mistress needs be more careful, Betsy needs her mistress..." With a sob, the little elf was gone, leaving Hermione free for Dan to hug.

With his daughter safely wrapped in his arms, he then noticed Emma still hadn't let Harry go. "I asked you to keep her safe, Harry, and you did. Thank you."

This earned him a genuine smile from the serious young man. "No thanks needed, Dan, you held up your side of the bargain." This had Emma chuckling though drew a groan from Hermione. "I swear that Padma's a bad influence on him."

Barchoke was meanwhile having a conversation with Amos and Amelia on what to do with the dead and injured death eaters, they'd hit a sticking point though. "Goblins do not administer healing to those condemned to die, keeping someone alive long enough so you can then kill them is pointless. I am of course assuming that will be the fate of those captured tonight?"

"Yes it bloody will be!" This coming from the moderate Amos somewhat shocked the other two, the Chief Warlock though was unrepentant regarding his change of attitude. "Every one of them would have been marked by Voldemort in the last war. Had the problem been dealt with then, my wife and son would not have been faced with what happened here tonight."

Amelia's opinion was never in any doubt. "The fate that awaits death eaters caught supporting Voldemort has been well publicised. Only the fact that we're waiting on completion of our new facilities has held us back a few days. We also thought it would help if the children were back at Hogwarts before we started bursting into homes, just in case some don't want to come quietly. There's no danger of children being hit by any stray spells if they're safely back in the castle. We want these prisoners kept alive only until we can extract all the information they posses from them, especially Pettigrew."

"I will of course need to consult with The Director on this matter, meanwhile our warriors will remain here until new wards can be erected. That will happen tomorrow..." The large grandfather clock beginning to strike midnight saw Barchoke smile and change his mind. "Make that today. I shall leave at once and see if we can't get these bodies off your grass."

Amelia held out her hand. "Thanks Barchoke, ...and Happy New Year!" She then did something unthinkable and kissed Barchoke on the cheek, discovering that goblins could actually blush.

Amelia knew exactly what she owed this goblin. Without having those wards, warriors and their extended family here tonight, it could have easily been hers and Susan's bodies lying out on the grass. Amelia didn't even want to think about what state those bodies would have been in.

In the last war, Voldemort appeared to know every move they were going to make while the ministry was flying blind for most of the time. The positions were now reversed with the death eaters reduced to reading the Prophet to gather any intelligence. Since tonight's party had been for their extended family and a few close and trusted friends, Voldemort and his death eaters had found themselves facing forces far greater than they would ever have expected. That Harry had been able to hit the dark lord with a spell was also something no one had accomplished in the last war, not even Dumbledore.

In any war Amelia knew that luck could play a large part in the outcome. They had just been handed a massive slice of luck tonight and she intended to capitalise on it, she needed to find Rita and wish her a Happy New Year too.

Midnight reminded everyone why they had come here in the first place and the traditional greeting was soon being offered to family and friends. It was then Harry spotted Pauline trying to hide away in a corner, he was soon beside the young girl.

"Sorry your first party was ruined, are you all right?"

"I shouldn't be here, Harry."

"Do you want me to see Draco about taking you home?"

This seemed to start the tears she'd obviously been fighting back. "I shouldn't be here and you shouldn't even be talking to me. Only because my father's locked up in Azkaban stopped him being one of those who attacked us tonight, how can you bear to be anywhere near me?"

Harry's arm was soon around the crying eleven year old, drawing her in to a comforting hug and letting her cry onto Dan's borrowed jacket. His own was somewhere in the ballroom but no one wanted to go back in there just yet. "That's exactly why you're here, you can see it's wrong to attack people like that..."

"Of course it's wrong..."

"Those people tonight didn't think so, your father didn't think so. Why should we treat you the same as them when you're clearly different?"

The little girl was now clinging to Harry and breaking her heart, her sobs clearly racking her body.

"Look at Draco and Pansy, they made their own decision on what they want to do. Pauline Nott will be given the same chance."

Through her sobs, Pauline began to tell Harry of her fears. "I thought I would have lost all my friends after tonight, it just hit me what my father is. How was I supposed to face Natalie again..."

Harry held her and let Pauline cry it out. "There will be people lying dead out there who will have sons and daughters at Hogwarts. Those sons and daughters will be hurting but we have to be the brave ones, we have to be the ones holding out the hand of friendship. We have to keep holding out that hand, no matter how many times it gets slapped away. Accepting that friendship means, like you, they are safe in here with us. The alternative is for them to be the ones left lying on the grass somewhere."

Pauline's tears had all but stopped, she was so entranced by Harry's words. "If you, Draco and Pansy can see that, then I'm going to ask for your help to let others see what you do. Can you do that for me? I don't want there to be any more bodies lying on the grass."

The young girl looked into those pleading green eyes and was lost, the self-revulsion from earlier that had been eating away at her soul was banished for good. Harry had not only given Pauline back her self-respect, he'd also provided a focus for her to actually help him. Pauline not only accepted, she silently swore never to let him down.

Pansy stepping in and leading Pauline away to freshen up let the now embarrassed pair see that most of the room had been listening to their conversation.

Hermione stepped forward, the sword still at her side so at odds with her furry slippers and housecoat as to be comical. She was also wearing a large smile as she jokingly shook her head at her mate. "Harry Crow, what am I going to do with you?"

She may not have been expecting an answer but received one from Padma. "See Barchoke about building an extension onto Crow's Nest in Kingussie, your mate seems determined to fill it with family..."

This was certainly greeted with chuckles but, as Hermione now sat beside her mate, most were still touched by his words. Amelia and Amos thought he'd summed up what the ministry needed to do beautifully while Harry's words had a profound affect on Rita.

The now freelance reporter had earlier hitched a ride with Barchoke and witnessed the entire battle, Amelia had also offered to give her an account of what happened inside the house. Now that Rita actually thought about it, she embodied everything Harry had just said.

When she'd worked against them, Rita had soon been out of a job and shunned by everyone. She may not have been bodily lying on the grass but her career was certainly as dead as those who currently were. Working for Barchoke had brought her not only riches but respect too, respect enough for Director Bones to seek her out and offer an interview.

Tonight had the potential to change their world, and Rita Skeeter would be the one to tell that story. Rita might not have joined up for all the right reasons but she was a convert now, and certainly glad to be along for the ride. Anyone who could do things like that to Edmund and Bertha deserved everything that was coming their way, Rita witnessed the first proof tonight that justice might actually be served on the dark lord.

A/N thanks for reading and hope to see you back here next week