Harry Crow

Disclaimer - I write purely for my own enjoyment and make no money from my efforts, neither do I own Harry Potter

Chapter 75

Their new calendars might have informed the wizards and witches of Britain they had woken that morning to the first day of nineteen ninety-four, a more important publication cast doubt on that fact. The entire front page of the Daily Prophet might not have said so as such, but a new millennium had just been entered - irrespective of trivial things like the actual date.

Their morning paper may have been delivered slightly later yet, since this edition actually made history, there would be no complaints about its tardiness. There, on the front page of their daily newspaper, was irrefutable proof that Voldemort had returned. The only reason that people weren't running screaming from their homes, after being presented with a picture of the clearly not dead dark lord, was they were rendered mesmerised by what happened next. A curse left the boy-who-lived and blasted the supposedly invincible Lord Voldemort clear out of the picture.

With that one act, the boy-who-lived was literally golden. The Prophet's readers just had confirmation of their worst fears, only for their saviour to prove he was once more up to the job of taking care of their dark lord problem. From this moment on, the boy-who-lived could call himself Marvin the Martian and people would be queueing to add an emblem of the red planet to their robes in a show of their support for their hero.

The second picture on the front page may not have moved but it was every bit as iconic, dead death eaters lying on the grass at Bones Manor. The headline proclaiming 'Battle of Bones Manor' told everyone where these events had happened, the pictures alone were enough to inform them what the outcome of that battle was.

Rita's detailed accounts of both battles drew the readers right into the conflict, having them live every spell cast on this most momentous of nights. Her interview with the head of the D.M.L.E. though proved almost as iconic as those two pictures. Amelia didn't mince her words.

This was an assassination attempt against me by this self-styled dark lord and his masked terrorists. It took over two dozen of them, including Voldemort, to bring my wards down. Even then, a squad of goblin warriors arrived on my property before these attackers could take advantage of the situation.

Centurion Crow was a guest in my house and reacted immediately as the alarm was sounded. He, his mate, Miss Hermione Granger, and the ministry auror assigned as his protection detail, Auror Tonks, led a few more of my guests against the group of death eaters deliberately left behind to stop reinforcements reaching the house. Harry taking out Voldemort at the start of the battle certainly swung it heavily in our favour.

I led the defence of our home myself and offer no apologies for the bodies on the grass. There were approximately twenty current Hogwarts students attending this party, including my niece, we did what we needed to do to protect them.

Amelia's words saw every parent reaching the exact same conclusion as the defenders. Had they been lucky enough to gain an invitation to Madam Bones' party, they wouldn't have held back with their spells either.

It was the next part though that sent shivers down spines, whether those were shivers of fear or even pride depended on if the witch or wizard reading had been branded by Voldemort.

The ministry has held forward the hand of friendship and forgiveness to people who made a serious mistake over a decade ago. That same hand though can easily be clenched into a fist, ready to protect our friends and smite our enemies. Those who attacked my home clearly declared themselves enemies and paid the ultimate price, it was more than their blood that ran out onto the grass.

Their families will face a heavy fine from the ministry for these treasonous acts, sixteen families are waking up to the news one of their members was killed. We have four wounded, all of whom will be tried for treason using truth serum, and a maximum of five who escaped.

There can be no forgiveness for any of those five and the full weight of the ministry will be brought to bear in the hunt for Voldemort, Lestrange, Rookwood and the as yet unknown other two masked death eaters.

There it was in black and white, what the future held for death eaters in Britain. This had a profound affect in homes the length and breadth of the country.

Thomas Avery had barely escaped last night with his life, it would appear his father wasn't as lucky. He would be heading to Gringotts, not to ask for forgiveness but to empty his vault. He hoped to be in France by the time the ministry came knocking on the door.

John Gibbon was the other death eater the ministry were looking for, he though had been badly injured in the fight and it was nothing short of a miracle that he managed to apparate home. That was the last miracle for John, despite his family's frantic efforts he slipped away just before the dawn. They would now have to rush and cremate the body, denying the ministry any evidence and hopefully saving what little wealth the family had.

Every other marked death eater who hadn't already done so headed for Gringotts to throw themselves on the mercy of the ministry. A competent Ministry of Magic and the dark lord being defeated again by the boy-who-lived made it look increasingly likely that they had picked the wrong side, it was time to change sides before it became too late.

-oOoOo-

It was later than he'd hoped when an exhausted Bill reached the Burrow. His family all knew he was attending the Bones party last night and he'd planned on arriving there before the story broke, his work in Gringotts though had kept him busy all night.

He was almost attacked by Ginny as she threw herself at her eldest brother, Molly wasn't far behind her daughter. Only when she'd confirmed for herself that her son was indeed fine did the lecture begin.

"Since when did your new job include battling you-know-who? I almost had a heart attack when Skeeter mentioned you'd taken part in that charge against the death eaters."

"Mum, my job is to train Harry so that one day he'll be able to face Voldemort..."

"Doing a hell of a job there, brother..."

"Sure is, Fred. Our Bill should be in line for a bonus after last night's efforts..."

It was a tired Bill who sat down at the table and helped himself to a cup of tea from the pot. Ginny was as close as she could get to her favourite brother, reassuring herself that he was okay while still desperate for news.

"We got lucky. The death eaters thought they would heavily outnumber those in the house, they didn't know Amelia was holding a party. When Harry took Voldemort out of the fight, they didn't know what to do next."

Percy was still studying today's paper in disbelief. "Did Harry really do that?"

"I was there, Percy, I understand where you're coming from but I saw it for myself. Harry is an extremely powerful young man, I think he might even rival Dumbledore by the time he's ready to leave Hogwarts..."

Molly felt her question was being ignored, not something she was used to so Bill found himself being interrupted. "I still don't see why that meant you had to be there too?"

"The four students I tutor raced into battle. What was I supposed to do, hide?"

Trying to change the subject, Ginny asked the question she really needed to know the answer to. "Are they really all okay?"

"Hermione and Padma had some cuts and scratches on their feet. The shoes that would have been fine for dancing the night away weren't suitable for running across the grass, both girls charged the death eaters in their bare feet. Harry might have a few bruises but nothing more serious than that. Once the warriors got close enough to use their weapons, the battle was over seconds later."

"I don't know how I feel about goblins attacking wizards..."

"Listen mum, if the death eaters ever attack the Burrow, I promise you'll be glad of their help. They arrived well before the aurors, and it was their own director who was being attacked."

This finally saw Ron speak out. "Why would the goblins protect us?"

"Ron, you of all people should know how goblins react when one of their friends or family is being attacked. Why do you think dad was woken and had to leave for Gringotts in the middle of the night? He's the Ministry's contact with The Nation, you better believe the warriors would come running if he was attacked."

"I still don't understand why Arthur had to be dragged out of bed..."

His exhaustion was shortening Bill's temper. "Mum, the ministry can't take any marked death eaters past their wards, even dead ones. All the bodies and the injured are currently inside Gringotts, of course the ministry is going to need its own contact with The Nation's Ambassador for that. Dad is having to liaise between all the witches and wizards summoned to Gringotts, as well as those relatives who will be heading there after reading this morning's paper. You always wanted dad to get a better job at the ministry, now he's got one of the most important posts there is. You probably won't be seeing much of him over the next few days, there is a lot of work to do."

This peaked Percy's interest. "What is it dad is actually doing?"

"Each of those who attacked the Bones residence last night are seeing fines of eighty percent of their family's wealth levied against them, the goblins will be doing the collecting. Whose job is it to work between the two governments? I'm going home to grab a few hours sleep before I need to return to Gringotts and help. There must be about half the ministry currently working inside Gringotts dealing with both of these problems, and dad is overseeing the entire ministry side of the operation. Why do you think he got such a rise in salary? He's earning every knut of that salary today."

The effects of this measure wasn't lost on the current Hogwarts Head Boy. "This could see some of the wealthiest pureblood families stripped of their wealth, and power."

As Percy's words sunk in to all the Weasleys, Bill not only confirmed that would be the case but gave his backing to the policy.

"The ministry is taking the action it said it would. Voldemort and his cronies are trying to overthrow the legal government of our country so he can rule as a dictator, there is only one real punishment for that. Their response against the attackers last night was swift and hard, just as they said it would be. After posting the warnings about what following this madman would cost them, the ministry can't then take it easy on the death eaters' families."

-oOoOo-

In Kingussie, the family was certainly taking it easy. Hermione was lying back on a sofa with a book in her hands, her feet were currently resting across Harry's lap. With his left arm liberally coated in a cream to help reduce bruising, the still painful to touch limb was currently resting in a sling.

Dan was fussing over his pregnant wife while Tonks quietly chatted to Remus.

"What does it feel like to know Peter is finally captured?"

The werewolf took a moment to think before answering his girlfriend. "I'm relieved he can no longer do any harm but I'm having trouble equating that thing we saw lying on the floor last night with the boy I attended Hogwarts with for seven years. I know the ministry were desperate to get information out of him, I just want to know why - why he betrayed his friends?"

Noticing their conversation wasn't as quiet as they thought, Remus directed his next remark to the two teens who were obviously listening. "I know you'll find this hard to believe but the marauders were as close as you four are, Peter to us would be like Neville or Padma betraying you two..."

Harry was quicker than Hermione to defend their friends, she clearly agreed with his opinion though. "Never going to happen, Remus. Neville doesn't have a dishonest bone in his body and Padma is a true friend. We trust those two with our lives..."

"...just like we trusted Peter with ours, and your mum and dad paid the ultimate price for that trust. That's why I can understand Sirius chasing after Peter, it really was a betrayal that cut to the bone. Sirius was really fond of Moa before this happened, you can bet he loves his mother-in-law now."

The other couple present then joined what had now become a discussion. "Lukas and Moa are leaving for Sweden in the morning, aren't they?"

Tonks was nodding her agreement to Emma as she answered. "Yeah, they'll be returning to Britain though as Henrica gets closer to her due date."

This was something Harry hadn't thought of. "Will Henrica be able to teach until the end of term?"

It was her fellow professor who answered that one. "No, the baby's due right at the start of the holidays. I know she's hoping to make it up until the exams but the baby might have something to say about that."

Hermione then turned to her parents, asking the question the couple really wanted to know the answer to. "Mum, dad, have you decided what you're going to do yet?"

"Your mum and I spoke about it last night before we went to sleep, today it still seems like the right thing to do. After we see the pair of you onto the express tomorrow, we'll both be heading for the island."

It was only their injuries that stopped both teens springing right over there, the wide smiles of relief now worn was almost as good as a hug to Dan and Emma. She then picked up where her husband had left off.

"We plan to take Harry's book of properties with us and sit studying it in the sunshine. Barchoke has promised to get us portkeys to wherever we want to go, and Dobby will of course be looking after us. We'll keep in touch through Barchoke so send any letters to us there, Dobby will be collecting and passing on any mail from us."

Harry was delighted with that news. No one should be able to trace the Grangers because even they wouldn't know exactly where they were, he just wished his parents had adopted the same approach. "That's a brilliant idea, you saying you'll be travelling to my house in Spain won't mean a thing unless someone had access to the property book. Since you will have the only copy, you should be perfectly safe. Father will know how to reach you in case of any emergencies."

That was picked up at once by a concerned Dan. "Are you expecting there to be any emergencies? If so, I vote you both come with us."

"I'm not expecting any. To be honest, Dan, I don't think Gringotts or the ministry know what to expect next."

Remus was quick to agree with that. "In the last war, getting a few families out before the death eaters attacked was about the best we could have hoped for. Winning a major battle, never mind hitting Voldemort with a spell, is unprecedented. What happens next is anyone's guess. I do know that Tonks and I, the Blacks and Augusta will all be keeping an eye on them at Hogwarts. With Bill and Mad-Eye regularly popping in and out too, there should be enough of us there to deal with any so-called emergencies that come along."

While not completely happy with that answer, Dan and Emma thought it was the best they were going to get. No one likes to think their children could be in danger but they also had to take into account that the four teens had proven once more that they could look after themselves when they needed to.

Talk drifted onto this year's summer holidays but there really was little enthusiasm for making any plans. Harry was going to become a godfather and a brother this summer, any plans made would have to work around those two massive events. Henrica and Emma would be the important ones this year, all other arrangements would revolve around them.

Harry floated the idea of having a good sized swimming pool attached to the property, rather than a tiny one at the end of their new training room. Enclosing it in some kind of weatherproof structure was also cited as a must as a few other amendments were added to enhance the original idea. The six spent a pleasant afternoon just chatting as friends and family do, trying to put the horrors of last night behind them by looking forward to more pleasant things.

-oOoOo-

Rookwood and Bella didn't have that luxury, they didn't have any luxuries at all. They only had time last night to grab the biggest tent and a few supplies before fleeing to another part of the country. They were also exhausted by having to transport and care for their master, his familiar and everything else they could take with them to Dartmoor. Peter's pet didn't count as an essential, she didn't count at all. They left her sitting on the grass, Bertha might even live if the ministry got to her before she froze to death.

They were currently sitting in their one remaining tent, the heat from the flat stones Bella had placed a warming charm on keeping more than the snake warm. Their master was still unconscious and they had tended to his leg as best they could. Bella though had been on a constant rant ever since they had settled down with nothing to do but wait.

They had protective wards up, a summoned and then prepared rabbit was now gently simmering away in a pot while the tent and a few warming charms protected them from the elements. Bella though was still stuck in a revenge groove, where everyone was soon going to suffer when their master returned to power.

Augustus had been listening to this for hours before finally reaching his breaking point, it was time his mate started living in the real world. "Bella, we're going to have to spend the next few months struggling just to survive. I keep saying things have changed and last night showed that. I would guess that we are the only two death eaters left in Britain, the only two that support our master anyway. We all made mistakes last night, and now we're paying the price."

"Are you saying our master made a mistake?"

"We would normally have known exactly who was inside that house, we would probably have been able to get a few of our supporters in there too. I understood what our master was attempting last night but committing all his followers to attacking while blind to what we were facing was a desperate play, a desperate play we didn't need to make at that moment. Then the error was compounded..."

"What did I do wrong?" The edge now on Bella's voice was unmistakable, Augustus knew though that he had to get his point across. Otherwise, they would all soon be dead anyway - they couldn't afford any more mistakes.

"When Potter attacked our master, we were left facing less than ten witches and wizards with about twenty goblins. Those were certainly not insurmountable odds. Even when you left to check on our master, we still had a chance. Pressing ahead with the attack on the house doomed us all. That cowardly bastard Peter couldn't wait to get away from the fight. If they could spare that many people to attack us, did the fool think he was going to face better odds inside the house? You had rightly chosen all our best fighters to attack the Bones residence. When they left though, so did our chances of winning the battle."

"...and what mistakes' did you make, Augustus'?"

His master's voice may be weak but Rookwood still felt the menace it contained. He hadn't noticed their master regaining consciousness, Augustus had hoped to work on convincing Bella first, both at the same time meant his life was in real danger here.

"Master, I should have offered my council but held my tongue. I could have countermanded Bella's order to attack the house but that would have sown confusion amongst us and perhaps been just as bad. I didn't even signal a retreat though I knew we were lost, I let them fight to the end to buy the three of us enough time to get away. I failed you master, and will accept my punishment."

Voldemort so wanted to kill him, to kill anyone, Bella gently lifting his head to administer some hot sweet tea gave him a moment to think. That he was lying in a tent sipping tea instead of tucked up in a bed with a pain relief potion to ease his injury told its own story.

He knew bringing down those wards last night had taken a lot out of him. Even at full strength though, his shield would have had trouble dealing with a spell of that power. This saw Tom's thoughts shifting in another direction, the one with the power to vanquish the dark lord approaches… He'd certainly felt Potter's power last night.

If this was all that he was left with then punishing Rookwood really wasn't an option, he needed the man to help him figure out how they could recover from this. After they had killed Bones last night, Tom's intentions were to grace one of his followers with his presence in their home. Then it would have been time to start killing the traitors who'd refused to answer his summons. Instead, he found everything Tom Riddle had worked for since his days as a Hogwarts student being turned to ashes, ironically by a current Hogwarts student.

Tom Riddle had nothing, no breeding, money or political power, yet he'd charmed, coaxed and cajoled his way to the very top. Lord Voldemort was only a whisker away from having it all, only for the prize to be snatched away that terrible Halloween. Now, over twelve years later, the same boy had effectively destroyed him once more. Lying injured in a tent, with only two followers left in the country, and all his anchors destroyed, was not how his life was supposed to proceed.

"Rookwood, there will be no punishment coming from me. The mistake I made last night was' in choosing the wrong target. While Bones' is' undoubtably a thorn in our side, the dagger in our heart is' Harry Potter. I see now that we will never be treated as' anything other than criminals' while that boy still lives'. While Potter lives', the witches' and wizards' of Britain think they are safe from Lord Voldemort. Our task will be to show them they are wrong, before we then kill the boy."

Bella was almost drooling with excitement at that, she never even got to kill anyone last night. "Do you have a plan, my master?"

"Patience, Bellatrix, patience. That will have to be our new watchword as' it will take time to regain all that we have lost. The first thing we need to do is' find better dwellings', these are fine for an emergency but certainly not suitable for a pregnant witch. Can I assume you dealt with our guest from the ministry?"

"No Master, Augustus advised me not to."

The dark lord's gaze once more pinned Rookwood, leaving him hastily offering an explanation. "If we had killed her, it would have been simply a case of the ministry burying the body. Should they find her alive, not only will they have to care for her, it will be a constant reminder of what can happen to those who oppose you, master."

"Very well. Along with a new residence, we also need intelligence on what is' happening around us'. This' rise of the beasts' can't have pleased everyone, and that is' something we can surely exploit. We will pay them reminders' that we are still a threat while working toward getting our hands' on Potter, killing him is' the key to all of this'."

No one in the tent was saying so but all three were thinking that might be easier said than done. Anyone who could blast through the dark lord's shield had to be treated as a serious threat.

-oOoOo-

Dolores seriously considered giving up drinking when she read the New Year's Day edition of the Prophet. She must have drunk a lot more last night than she'd thought, Dolores had to be hallucinating because this couldn't be true. This wasn't a new year, it was a decent into chaos - a chaos their world might never recover from.

Goblin warriors were featured on the front page, graphically depicted by Skeeter hacking pureblood witches and wizards with their swords and axes. Instead of announcing a call to arms, getting ready to wipe out these bloodthirsty creatures and all their kin, those very same murdering creatures were publicly being thanked for their courageous and heroic efforts by the ministry.

Dolores had never been a death eater, but that was mainly because she had never been asked to join. She certainly could be classed as sympathetic to their cause, this latest atrocity making her even more committed to restoring the magical community back to its former glory. Their entire society appeared caught in a race to declare their proud and ancient heritage of blood purity as worthless.

She was now going to have to use the successes this new year would bring to see herself elevated to at least the position of a departmental head. Only then would she have the power to start applying pressure in order to start reversing some of these changes. There were a lot more witches and wizards out there though who thought the same as she did, Dolores Umbridge was going to be quietly courting their support and building a platform for herself so she could attain her ultimate goal. Dolores Umbridge, Minister of Magic, had such a nice ring to it.

-oOoOo-

Dumbledore had rung in the new year the day before he got that historic issue of the Prophet. Unlike Dolores, Albus found himself in need of a drink. Unlike the majority of the British magical community, the sight of Harry blasting Tom right out the picture was not a cause for celebration - far from it. How the hell was he supposed to make a triumphant return to a Britain controlled by Harry and his goblin masters? Albus was now certain Godric's sword had taken on the properties of the Elder Wand, giving considerably more power to that teenage boy and making his blade an even more formidable weapon in those skilled hands.

He had also seen the evidence that the goblins could destroy horcruxes with his own eyes, Harry had marched proudly up to Filius and handed over Rowena's diadem right in front of him. If they had destroyed all Tom's horcruxes and Harry was able to vanquish the dark lord, what was there left for Albus to do? Since his timetable for returning home was already set, Albus would just have to keep a careful eye on the Prophet for further developments.

It was rather ironic that both Dumbledore and Voldemort were reduced to reading the Prophet to discover news on the country that each had thought they controlled.

-oOoOo-

The Prophet's front page the following day would certainly be of interest to both wizards. Not only were those who died or had been captured in the attack named, the dark lord's hideout also made the front page. That it was a muggle tent ended any hope the dark Lord Voldemort had of regaining his former pureblood followers.

Bertha Jorkins was also in the picture, with blankets draped around her shoulder as she was led away from the scene. Initial reports had her being tortured into insanity but the family got the full story from Barchoke.

They had used Harry's portkey from Kingussie to Gringotts, this was their only chance to speak to him before they left for King's Cross and Hogwarts. Barchoke had been incredibly busy and hadn't made it back up to Kingussie since Amelia's party.

"We can't help that poor witch. She wasn't tortured using the cruciatus, Voldemort shredded her mind. There's simply nothing left of Bertha Jorkins to repair. Pettigrew told us everything he could, including how his master got a new body. The good news though is that we've disposed of all of his horcruxes, Voldemort can now be killed."

Barchoke hated deliberately withholding information from his children but felt it was a necessity in this case. If Harry were to come face to face with Bellatrix Lestrange, knowing the witch was pregnant might cause him to hesitate in doing what he needed to. The Lestrange bitch wouldn't hesitate though, nor would she hold back.

Gringotts and the ministry were quietly celebrating the news Voldemort was mortal once more, neither had much spare time to do anything else. The ministry's new facility would be ready for business later on today, swinging into action with at least four trials. The goblins also had never been busier, chasing down ministry fines and erecting their wards on premises all over the country.

The six said their goodbyes to Barchoke before heading through the Alley on their journey to King's Cross. Remus was going to be travelling on the train with them, this though was not just an excuse so he could spend more time with his girlfriend. There would be some grieving and hurting students on that train, Remus was going to be there to ensure nothing came of those emotions when faced with the reasons for their missing relatives. If some of the looks coming in their direction as they walked through the alley were any indication of what they might face on the train, Remus just might be needed.

-oOoOo-

They had barely set foot on the platform before being surrounded by friends, surrounded as much as the tight platform and crowd would allow that is. The tightness of the platform played no part though in the large male student who very deliberately barged into Harry.

"Crow, you killed my father. You and your friends better watch your backs in Hogwarts..."

The sound of ripping cloth signified the end of that little speech, that and the golden gauntlet grabbing the large Slytherin by the throat.

"Flint, here's some free advice. You tell a goblin you're going to harm him later, presumably when the conditions and numbers suit you better, that goblin won't watch his back. That goblin will think 'why the hell should I wait' and just kill you where you stand."

Marcus Flint was helpless as this golden clad figure lifted him off the ground by the throat with one hand. Hermione, Padma and Neville were quick to draw their wands in case this was a prelude to a larger attack, their eyes now scanning the crowd for any signs of aggression as they guarded Harry's back. Tonks had done the same, while shaking her head at Remus not to become involved. This matter needed settled and she trusted Harry not to take the situation too far.

"Your father turned up at Bones Manor wearing a mask, and was there with the intention to murder innocent women and children. Are you okay with that, Flint? If you think that's acceptable behaviour then surely, by your same warped logic, it must be acceptable for me just to kill you now? I don't need a mask, I am Hogwarts' Champion and will do my best to protect everyone inside her walls. You or any of your friends start anything, I'll be there - waiting."

Since the large Slytherin's face was beginning to take on a distinctly Ravenclaw colour, Harry let him drop to the ground. "I don't care what your parents did, Flint, I only look at the person in front of me. You now have to go away and make a decision, do I want to be like my father or do I want to live. You threaten me or mine again, I'll assume you've already made that decision and act accordingly. I have no fight with you, but I won't back down if you come looking for one either."

Amelia had been on the platform and headed straight for the disturbance, arriving as Harry dropped the seventh year Slytherin to the ground. She waited until Harry had explained what was happening to the Flint boy, knowing that the story would soon spread throughout the platform and train, before she interceded.

"Everything okay here, Centurion Crow?"

"Yes, Director. Mr Flint was just under the misconception he could threaten me and mine without facing any repercussions. He, and everyone else, now know that's not the case."

"I was afraid this might happen, that is why there will be six aurors on the express, seven counting Auror Tonks. I think I will contact Madam Longbottom and offer to base a squad inside Hogwarts for the next few weeks. That should give tempers time to cool, allowing rational heads a chance to take over."

Amelia was able to do this because of the large number of death eaters who had approached the ministry seeking protection. She was only having to send teams out to arrest three outstanding names, and had heard whispers that one of those names was already dead. The two remaining would be arrested and tried today, along with the four prisoners from the attack on her home. News of the crimes these death eaters had committed should appear in tomorrow's Prophet, hopefully aiding them in their case for branding these scum as nothing more than terrorists. The ministry was determined that, by the end of today, there would only be Voldemort, Lestrange and Rookwood still to be brought to justice.

The McDonalds had been standing beside the Grangers and the Creeveys when the incident kicked off, Roy had trouble believing what he just witnessed. "Harry lifted that bigger boy as if he was nothing..."

Little Natalie was quick to spring to her hero's defence, "Harry is a Centurion, that makes him an officer in their army. If he can blast Voldemort right of the page, he can easily deal with a Hogwarts student."

The Creevey parents only smiled at the young witch, knowing their eldest son had rather a large dose of the same hero worship. "When we read what happened in the Prophet we were actually glad that we missed this year's New Year party, not half as glad though that our house has the same wards as Amelia's."

Roy certainly agreed with being thankful their houses were protected by the same wards, he also offered his sympathies to the Grangers. "You've had quite the time of it over the holidays. First the Dursleys being murdered and then getting attacked at the New Year party."

Dan was watching as Emma ensured Harry was okay while Hermione carried out some running repairs to his ripped shirt. "Harry maintains the Dursleys were not his family, he only met them once and that was by accident. As for the party, the whole thing was over in seconds. Harry's team had the harder task, trained troops against unorganised terrorists was only going to see one winner from that battle. The Ministry, the Hogwarts staff and of course Harry will make sure your children remain safe inside the castle."

This drew a sigh of resignation from Roy. "I know, Natalie spent most of yesterday saying the same things. She was terrified we would stop her returning to Hogwarts. Children just don't realise how hard it is for a parent to let them go, especially to a world they know nothing about. This is the hardest decision we've ever had to make in our lives."

As Hermione raced over to give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek, before taking Natalie by the hand toward the train, Dan knew exactly how the McDonalds felt. The Creeveys would also see their second son, Dennis, making the same journey come September.

It suddenly hit Dan that one day he and Emma would have to go through all this again with their own son. As that revelation hit, an even bigger one followed right behind it. While Emma fussed over Harry and Hermione as they climbed aboard the train, Dan suddenly realised that he wouldn't change a thing. Even after the horrors they'd faced recently, Hermione still smiled more than she'd ever done. Then there was the fact that he was about to head off to a tropical island with his pregnant wife, and Dobby would be there to take care of them.

Magic had certainly brought some bad things into their lives but, as a pregnant Emma returned to his arms, Dan couldn't help but think the good far outweighed the bad. They, like the rest of the parents on the platform, waved to their children as the steam engine pulled them on their long journey to the Scottish Highlands.

He held his wife close and Dan was sure of only one thing. Whatever challenges nineteen ninety-four brought, they would face them as a family - an ever expanding family.

A/N Thanks for reading.