Disclaimer - I don't own these characters and my writing certainly couldn't be considered canon. If my efforts don't fit your idea of what a Harry Potter story should be, I can only offer my apologies and a suggestion. Writing your own really is the only way to ensure the story progresses exactly the way you want it to, it also gives the rest of us something to read.
Jenny Abercrombie was always being chatted-up in the local supermarket where she worked, those who knew her though just smiled. Those men chatting-up the pretty girl who'd yet to see her thirtieth birthday were wasting their time. Jenny already had a young man in her life, Euan was now eleven and the centre of her universe.
As a younger woman, Jenny had dreams of her own. She was seventeen, hoping to go to university the following year but one night at a party put paid to all that. No matter how hard she tried, Jenny couldn't remember anything about that night. Her parents' reactions though were forever etched in her brain. Their entire focus was on the fact Jenny couldn't tell them who the father was, rather than the fact their daughter was pregnant and needed their help and support. Jenny'd only ever had one serious boyfriend and certainly never slept around, her parents though had said things that there was just no recovering from.
Her local council had really come through for Jenny with a little flat, there was also money from the state to get her going. Her social worker had recognised a drive in Jenny to be independent, doing everything she could to help the young family along. Getting Euan into a daycare centre allowed Jenny to work, her hours working increasing as Euan got older. This branch of the Abercrombie family were proud they stood on their own two feet, then someone called McGonagall turned up out of thin air and took their legs out from under them.
That her blond, blue-eyed boy was magical, and technically a wizard, was definitely enough to sweep Jenny off her feet. That he would have to go away to some special boarding school for over nine months every year was certainly a blow. Discovering there was someone they'd never met willing to pay for everything was almost a step too far for Jenny, that was until she'd seen the list of books and equipment Euan would need for attending this school - and a special uniform too.
The McGonagall witch had convinced them to at least meet the people involved, so here they stood. An excited Euan had his bag on his back while he clutched onto the invitation that supposedly would magically take them where they needed to go. Jenny too was wearing a backpack and holding onto the invitation just as she'd been instructed, but Jenny was a lot more sceptical than her son. She was beginning to think this was all some elaborate hoax when their portkey activated.
Harry stepped forward to greet the surprised arrivals. "You must be Euan and his mum, welcome to Kingussie. I'm Harry and I'm really pleased to meet you. Em, would you mind standing over here for a minute, we're really busy today and the next portkey is expected shortly."
The young man was taking Jenny by the arm before her brain kicked into gear again. "You're the Baron, and we're really in Kingussie?"
This had Harry laughing. "Yes to both those questions. Now, as I said we're really busy this weekend so we might not get time to sit down and answer all the questions I'm sure you have. Don't worry though, I promise to meet again well before Euan here is due to leave for Hogwarts. This is my mate, Hermione, and Luna here was one of the first recipients of a Potter Scholarship..."
The introductions were interrupted by a portkey delivering the McDonalds to Kingussie. All traces of Natalie's shyness were long since banished as she sprang at them the instant her feet touched the ground.
Roy was chuckling as their daughter hugged her friends. "Good to see you all again. As you can probably tell, Natalie is rather excited by this weekend. We're really looking forward to seeing her perform magic too. Your fayre is a pretty exciting event all round, Harry. Anything we can help you with?"
"Actually there is, Roy. Euan has been offered a Potter Scholarship, both he and his mother though probably feel as if they've just landed on Mars."
This set Roy off laughing while his wife was already heading to offer Jenny her support, landing on a different planet was a good analogy of how they had felt this time last year. Natalie though headed straight for Euan.
"Oh, you'll absolutely love Hogwarts. I was one of the two Potter Scholarships last year, Luna and Colin were brilliant in making sure I knew what was happening and always being there if I needed someone. This year it's Pauline and my turn to look after you. The Potter Scholarships are like a family, a family that just keeps getting bigger and bigger."
Mary was alongside Jenny, her smile beaming with pride at her daughter. She spoke quietly to the young mother. "You might find this hard to believe but our Natalie was really shy, so shy she had a lot of trouble making friends. Letting her attend Hogwarts was easily the hardest decision we ever had to make, seeing how happy that's made Natalie means it was also one of the best decisions we made too."
"Are you, you know...?"
"...magical? No, Roy and I are just like you. It surprised the hell out of us to discover there was a witch in the family. Harry's mother was the same, born to non magical parents. It's why Harry wanted at least one of the scholarships to go to a witch or wizard like that every year."
Jenny was watching her son chatting away to Natalie and the blonde girl, Luna, while still trying to wrap her head around that this was all real. "I'm at a total loss here. This Baron turns out to be seventeen / eighteen and is walking about with a sword at his hip and epaulets on his shoulders, this is the person who I'm supposed to trust my son to."
The older woman tried to help, understanding how difficult this was. "Harry isn't actually fourteen until the end of the month. He's also an officer in the goblin army, that's why he's dressed like that. Harry is one of the kindest, polite and considerate young men I have ever met, I know nothing will happen to my Natalie while he's there beside her. The Creeveys should be arriving soon, their eldest son, Colin, is in the same year as Luna while Denis will be starting with Euan. They answered literally hundreds of questions for Roy and I last year as we battled with the same decision you face, we're all here to do the same for you."
At that, the Creevey family arrived and warm greetings were exchanged before Harry once more took command. "We need to head over to the stadium, everyone is gathering there. Just leave your bags here and the elves will take care of everything. Denis and Euan, do you want to sit beside the other students or..."
"Can I sit with Colin, please?"
Colin had a hand on his younger brother's shoulder, knowing Denis was desperate to get to Hogwarts. "Harry, we can keep an eye on both of them. They're going to be in the same yeargroup so might as well start getting to know one another now."
Euan looked pleadingly to his mum. Starting a new school was a daunting prospect, already having friends at that school could make a world of difference. Her nod meant Euan's day was just getting better and better.
The only person unhappy about this was the smallest Creevey, little Maggie was eight and really feeling left out. That was until Luna came forward and offered her hand. "Would you like to come and sit with me?" That got an immediate yes before Luna led them out of the house, she knew where they were headed.
This gave Harry and Hermione a moment to talk with the five parents. "Miss Abercrombie, Hermione's parents are both dentists while my adoptive father is a goblin, we have some idea of what you are going through at the moment. The Creeveys and the McDonalds will answer any questions that you have and I promise to sit and go over anything you're still not sure of. I feel a bit like I've invited you here and am now passing the buck but we literally have the whole of Hogwarts waiting for us down at the stadium."
Hermione was handing them leaflets that contained a map of the attractions in the glen, along with a schedule of what was on when in the stadium. "The elves will bring you any refreshments you want, that will give Miss Abercrombie a chance to ask some questions before you take a stroll through the glen. We should have everything running by this afternoon, feel free to try anything you want before all the people arrive tomorrow and Sunday."
As Harry and Hermione hurried away, Jenny sat at a table with these two couples and found another question added to her list as tea, cakes and scones just appeared on the table.
Hermione just loved watching Harry take command, it did something fluttery to her insides. Unfortunately, Crow's nest was bursting at the seams and the chance of them getting some alone time this weekend was nil. She would just have to save those feelings until Hermione could get him alone on the island. It was getting very close to his birthday, which was scheduled for the next 'upgrade' in their relationship - she could hardly wait.
Harry stood beside his girl, with no clue of the thoughts currently rushing through Hermione's head. If he had, there would have been no chance of him getting through what he had to do now.
"Okay, everyone here has volunteered to help at the fayre this weekend. The invitations you took home to your family already indicated what day you would be working, today you'll be finding out just what you'll be doing - and where."
Harry was using the microphone to talk to everyone in the stands, it was tied to the public address system that was built into the stadium. He was facing almost all of Hogwarts, rather a daunting task but one he couldn't pass to anyone else. This was his home and he was the one who had invited these people, that put certain responsibilities onto him.
"Now, does everyone have a leaflet?" Cries of yes saw Harry continuing. "Well, first off I want to make something clear here. Our jobs are crowd control, directing visitors to the proper queue and answering their questions. Apart from this stadium, all the attractions have been built and will be operated by goblins. They have spent months designing, building and putting their operating procedures in place. The people in charge of your group will have studied a copy of those procedures and worked out the best way for us to work within those limits."
Seeing nothing but nodding and smiles being directed back at him gave Harry a measure of how far they'd come as a society when they could accept that fact, the next two days would tell if they had come far enough.
"Now, for your assignments, I'll be introducing the people in charge of your group and they will read out a list of names. The exceptions to that will be the first and second years. All will start one of the days off in the stadium before spending the rest of that day with their family. Their volunteer day will be spent working with the young children in the green zone. If all first years would like to come forward, you can get your hats now."
Emma, Moa, Henrica and Sapphire all put on green caps that had a golden crow clutching a sword on it, the first years were soon queueing to collect their identical badges of office. The second years' eagerly made their way down as soon as Harry called for them. Hermione had a quick word with her mum and Euan, Denis and a delighted Maggie soon had hats too.
They had split the glen into coloured sections with members of the public being able to ask anyone wearing the proper hat for assistance. As Harry introduced the people in charge of each section, they called students' names and they came forward to get their appropriate hats. Once the process was complete, Harry handed the microphone over to Tonks who wanted to say something.
"I am in charge of security for this weekend, and we all know this
would be a juicy target for a certain group of criminals. We are behind wards here that are every bit as strong as those protecting Hogwarts, there will also be patrols of aurors and warriors to ensure we can deal with any situation. These aurors and warriors will be even more motivated since all of their families will be attending Kingussie this weekend, so please don't let worrying about these criminals affect your fun." Tonks was known and trusted by everyone in Hogwarts, if she said Kingussie was safe then that was good enough for them.
"What I need from you lot is your assistance. You can give this by not pulling any pranks, no midnight wandering from your tents and, basically being on your best behaviour. The entire point of this weekend is for everyone attending to have fun, if we all work together then we should be able to achieve that..." Tonks was pleasantly surprised when she received applause after her little speech.
Taking the microphone back, Harry laid out the plans for today. "Crow's Marauders, please stay here as we plan on having a quick rehearsal of what we plan to do tomorrow. First years, please head off to the green zone. You will get a run-through after us and then the quidditch players can have some practice time. The rides will officially open at three and close again at eight, with a special performance of the circus taking place here at five. After eight, a supper for everyone will take place at the eating area before we call it a night. I would like to thank everyone for volunteering for this weekend, we really couldn't pull it off without your help." This received applause and some cheering before people started heading off to their assignments.
Padma, Neville, Daphne, Blaise, Susan and Terry joined Harry and Hermione in the centre of the stadium to quickly go over the plans for tomorrow's display. Harry smiled when he noticed Denis, Euan and Maggie were still sitting in the auidiance, wearing their hats and clapping like mad as he called Crow's Marauders down.
Lee Jordan had practically begged Harry for the chance to be the commentator in the stadium, Harry had gratefully fallen on his offer and Lee would cover everything but the circus over the weekend. Both thought they got the best of the deal with Lee now overjoyed he was commentating on two pro teams as well as getting to introduce the Weird Sisters. Lee was sitting taking notes on what Crow's Marauders would be doing tomorrow, since that would be his opening event as the stadium commentator too.
The five parents only realised they'd been talking for hours when the house began to fill up again. The Creeveys and the McDonalds introduced Jenny to the extended family as they began appearing for lunch. Harry and Hermione turned up with a few stowaways, both had young goblins by the hand who had been invited to have lunch with them. The grandfather clock chiming two saw Harry sprint away, returning a few moments later with a young family he introduced as the Dugans. Little Danielle headed straight for Barchoke and hugged him before saying hello to the goblin children who were already there. When Henrica entered with Astrid in her arms, all the children gravitated over to see the baby.
Jenny Abercrombie felt as if she'd spent all morning taking one step forward and two back, the history of this young man was simply unbelievable. She had of course heard of the Potter Killers, discovering Harry was their main target almost had her leaving Kingussie there and then. Hearing that Harry had placed shields around both the McDonald and Creevey homes to stop these criminals getting anywhere near them halted those thoughts in their tracks. Discovering that Harry had spent millions ensuring everyone named Potter was safe simply blew her mind.
Seeing him with the various children reinforced that here was a good person, watching Harry dote on the baby he was godfather to had Jenny wanting to trust him. When she spotted the expression of sheer joy on Euan's face as he entered with Luna, the Creeveys and Natalie, that pushed the scales even further in that direction for Jenny. There was now a fair chance Euan would be going to Hogwarts come September, on a Potter Scholarship too.
The glen had reverberated with shrieks of laughter all afternoon, the large gong signalling it was eight o'clock was greeted by good-natured groans and moans as everyone began heading to the food area. There wasn't enough seating for everyone but it was a lovely summer's evening so groups of friends were perfectly happy to sit on the grass and eat their food out of these strange containers.
One thing not being feasted upon was the people themselves. The wards around the glen also blocked the scourge of the Scottish Highlands, no midgies. The Highland Midge is a curse Scots have to endure for living in such a beautiful country, those pests have descended in clouds to ruin many an outdoor occasion. It's hard to enjoy yourself with those little buggers feasting on your blood.
There was no sitting on the grass for Emma, Dobby had appeared with her favourite chair and also placed a small table at the side of it. This raised an amused chuckle from her husband. If Dan had hovered even half as much as Dobby did, his wife would soon be telling him she was pregnant - not ill. Emma would never dream of saying anything like that to the devoted little elf, she knew it would break Dobby's heart. Dan returned with cartons of food and placed them on the table, noticing Dobby had already provided Emma with a cup of her favourite tea. Dobby would make sure his mistress didn't overdo things, that was just another reason for Dan to love the little guy.
Harry and Hermione were sitting on the grass, surrounded by a large group of friends, when their father joined them.
"Well, are we ready?"
Harry looked around, seeing goblin children, and a few of their parents, mixed in with his group. Little Danielle Dugan was chatting away to a couple of goblin children and Maggie Creevey was doing the same. "Father, even if we stopped now I would count this whole idea as a success. We have all three cultures mixing happily right here, that's exactly what we wanted from this weekend."
Hermione slipped her hand into Harry's before answering. "I think we're about as ready as we'll ever be. Just one thing though, I don't want to hear any announcements from either of you two about making this an annual event. While I think we could certainly do this again, this is our home and I miss the peace and quiet."
"She misses her alone time with Harry." Padma's comment caused some laughter, probably because of the truth behind it. "Seriously though, I don't think you will have anything to worry about. Everyone had a great time today, and I'm sure it will be the same over the weekend. Even Ronald Weasley is getting right into the spirit of things, I'm certain he's tried food from every outlet. What that mixture will do to him I really don't want to know..."
This got a shudder from Neville. "I'm just glad I'm staying in Crow's Nest tonight, he's eaten chilli beef, a couple of curries and oodles of noodles - I just hope there are air freshening charms in their dorm tent."
Seeing the children laughing and joking like this was exactly what Barchoke needed, he knew how much The Nation had riding on this but today really couldn't have gone much better. There were a few hundred goblins in the glen today, mixing with the population of Hogwarts, and there hadn't been one single incident to report. That Harry and / or Hermione seemed to have a goblin child with them wherever they went today certainly wasn't in any way planned, there was no denying the affect this had on everyone else though.
To his children, this was becoming their normal when they were in Kingussie. It was everyone else accepting this as normal that was the real prize at stake this weekend. They had done everything they possibly could to make this weekend a success, they would just have to wait and see what happened when they opened tomorrow. Barchoke wholeheartedly agreed with his daughter though, there was no way he could take the pressure of organising a fayre on an annual basis.
Jenny was trying to get Euan to go to bed but she'd never seen her son this excited, not even on Christmas Eve.
"...and we got to see them use magic for defence, it was awesome, mum. Denis says Colin thinks Harry and Hermione are simply the greatest. Neville is in the same house as Colin and really looked after him, even though Colin really fancied his girlfriend, Padma... Denis said I wasn't supposed to tell anyone that, you won't tell, mum?"
She couldn't help but smile as she ruffled his blond, wavy hair. "My lips are sealed. What else did Denis say?" Jenny was worried for a moment as her son's head lowered at that, her worry though changed to heartache as she listened to her son's answer.
"Colin also said there was no way his family could afford to send all three of them to Hogwarts, Maggie's magical too. Mum, I know we can't afford it either, and you know I would never ask for something we cant afford, but Harry's offering to pay for everything. Please mum, I really want to go. Colin, Natalie and Pauline all said it was like a family, Luna even said Harry and Hermione were her family. Please, mum?"
She now had her son wrapped in her arms, hoping he wouldn't see the tears running down her cheeks. "Will you be all right, leaving me for months at a time?"
There was silence for a moment before Euan answered. "Natalie said that was the hardest part, she really missed her mum and dad. She wrote to them every week though and made tons of friends, I would be home for the Christmas Holidays..."
She kissed her son on the forehead. "Let's wait and see what the rest of the weekend brings before we make up our minds. I promise to answer you before we leave, now off to bed or you'll be too tired to enjoy tomorrow."
Euan gave his mum an extra tight hug. When she said 'wait and see', that nearly always led to a yes. He hurried off to bed, determined to be as well behaved as possible to get that 'yes' out of his mum.
Jenny was left sitting there on her comfortable armchair, staring at her surroundings. They were staying in a tent, a tent that was pitched inside a house that had a training room. This was no ordinary tent though, the inside was at least twice the size of their flat - and contained three bedrooms. She was now convinced that it would take something disastrous happening to stop Euan heading off to Hogwarts, Jenny didn't know there were conversations taking place that would help her with that decision.
Molly arrived with Arthur in Kingussie, they were met by a clearly excited Ginny. "Mum, dad, isn't this place just brilliant? Ron's working at the stadium while the twins are between the go-carts and the cinema - you've got to see that, dad. Percy and Penny are both working with Bill in the Gringotts Zone, that they can already speak goblin certainly helps.
Molly was listening to her daughter but her eyes were taking in her surroundings. Their portkey had dropped them in an area that appeared like a very well-kept garden, she soon noticed that the entire area had been manicured to a beautiful level. All the flowers and shrubs were in bloom and the entire glen appeared to be festooned in brightly coloured bunting and flags.
She wasn't sure if it was Arthur's job or the fact they had five children volunteering at the fayre but they had invitations for both days. Her initial glance was telling her it might take both days to see everything there was to see here - and that was before a flying carpet passed overhead with the people on it waving to everyone.
"Aren't those illegal?"
Arthur quickly answered his wife, not wanting anything to spoil this day. "To buy or sell, yes. Not if you already owned one, and only use it on your own land."
"This land is privately owned, we are here by invitation as the Baron of Kingussie's guests. In these circumstances, it's perfectly acceptable to use a flying carpet to entertain your guests."
Ginny butted in before her mother could even think of starting on one of her rants. "It's also one of the best ways to see everything in the glen, I tried it yesterday and it was great. The roller coaster goes too fast to really see anything but Sapphire said that's the point, it's a thrill ride."
"I haven't heard you mention Sapphire before?"
"Oh, she's Harry's goblin friend, dead nice too. We all got to try the rides yesterday afternoon, we had a great time. We need to head for the stadium, Crow's Marauders are the first to put on a display. Sapphire said she was really looking forward to Harry fighting Master Shapshard, she says all The Nation are - can we go back and see that too? Tomorrow I'm helping in the zone for the smaller children, it's beautiful - they even have a Honeydukes shop in there."
Ginny was leading them along the tree-lined path as she spoke, turning a corner had her mother suddenly letting out a shriek. Molly was reaching for her wand when Arthur and Ginny's loud laughter halted her actions.
"It's only a model, mum, a very realistic one though. You should see the basilisk in the Gringotts Zone, it's simply amazing." Arthur had his camera out to take the first picture of the day when Ginny stopped him. "Hold on, dad. The roller coaster runs every ninety seconds, you'll get a much better picture then.
Sure enough, Arthur soon took the strangest picture of his life. A thirty foot dragon was holding onto the track in the air and getting ready to bite as carriages of people shot in-between its open jaws. From the ground it was a spectacular sight, Arthur could only imagine what it looked like while sitting in those carriages. Ginny told him he didn't have to imagine, she'd already tried it - and intended to do so again today.
Ginny had to leave them at the stadium but they soon found Ron showing people to their seats, the black and white checked hat doing its job and making him stand out.
"It's great here, apart from the colour of the hat. They didn't want to pick a colour associated with a quidditch team, it also makes us easy to see since this will be the busiest part of the glen. I had a ride on the go-carts yesterday and they were just amazing. They're not as fast as brooms but seem faster because you're only about six inches off the ground. We were racing around the track and I thought I was going to win, up until Dean bumped me on the last corner. I'll certainly be going back there tomorrow."
"Aren't they dangerous?"
"Naw, mum, there are so many charms on them you probably couldn't hurt yourself if you tried. Need to go, we're really filling up here."
Hearing that Ron was enjoying himself settled the last of Molly's doubts. The rest of her children had all holidayed with Harry and his family and she knew they would be fine. She once more concentrated on her surroundings.
"Arthur, why would the ministry build this here for Harry?"
"We actually got a lot out of constructing this stadium. The ministry were always going to have to build some kind of mock-up, rather than wait until just before the Quidditch World Cup Final and discover any problems with their design. This gives us a chance to observe this copy working and see if there are any improvements to be made. I think Harry might have made a mistake in only having five thousand seats, there are events today that I'm sure will be busier than that. Thankfully, any extra will be able to stand."
The seating area curved around two sides of the arena / pitch, leaving the other two open. A small retaining wall curved around the arena / pitch and the eating area was on a small hill overlooking this. Anyone sitting there would have a great view of what was happening inside the stadium too.
Molly hadn't bothered with her map before, since Ginny led them straight here, but she was studying it now. From where they sat, they could see a lot of the attractions laid out before them. Their senses were being bombarded with unusual sights, sounds and the smells coming from the eating section were heavenly. They settled down to have some fun watching their daughter perform, not bothering that there were goblins in the audience too. After all, the Minister of Magic was sitting next to a goblin.
Harry stood with Hermione and their father, waiting to greet The Director on his arrival in Crow's Nest. Both males were soon on their knees with their head bowed, glad this gave them a moment to recover from the shock of Ragnok being accompanied by his mate. That usually only happened on state occasions, the status of this fayre just jumped another few notches.
There was no procedure for dealing with this situation in Henrica's book on goblin customs, simply because it was such a rare occurrence. Hermione curtsied as if she was meeting the queen, then kept her head bowed as Harry finally recovered the power of speech.
""Director, Ma'am, you pay our humble house too much honour...""
""Nonsense Centurion, I have heard from my mate of the honour you continually bring to the nation and decided I must meet you for myself. I also couldn't resist witnessing your fight with Master Sharpshard, I'm really looking forward to that.""
""Ma'am, at the moment my mentor could knock me over with a feather, please don't place any gold on me...""
This was met with uproarious laughter from both The Director and his Mate, Barchoke even managed to raise a chuckle.
""You did well, Miss Granger, capturing this silver-tongued rogue before his sweet line in words got him into trouble.""
""Forgive me, Director, but my mate speaks the truth. Your presence here brings great honour to our home.""
This also drew a laugh from Ragnok. ""What did I tell you, dear, she's not afraid to speak her mind - or let her blade do the talking for her. These two are very well matched. I understand you're busy today, Centurion, but I hope we can meet at some point?""
Knowing this wasn't a request, Harry quickly agreed. ""After my match with Master Sharpshard, we're free for the rest of the day. I need to contact Emma Granger though, to let her know I survived...""
Again this produced laughter as Barchoke rose to lead their very special guests away.
Hermione had her arms around a still stunned Harry. "Well, that was unexpected..."
"Hermione, you certainly pick the time to develop a goblin sense of humour..." He never got to say any more as Minister Fudge and his wife arrived by portkey.
"Minister, Ma'am, welcome to our home."
"Thanks for inviting us, Baron. I expect half the ministry will be here at some point over the weekend, and all of the Wizengamot. That was a stroke of genius, inviting them, Harry."
"It was simply meant as a gesture of thanks, Minister. Both Hermione and I were in the chamber that day when the Wizengamot awarded me a Barony, and this house. I just wanted them to see how much that meant to us. I may have houses scattered about the world but Kingussie is the only one that feels like home for Hermione and I. Where else could you see magicals, muggles and goblins all mixing at the same event?"
All could see the sincerity shining out the young man, Harry's guard was down at the moment and he was speaking from the heart.
"A worthy goal, Harry, and one I'm more than happy to support. Lead on and let's see this fayre of yours."
There was a fair sized audience sitting in the stadium to watch Crow's Marauders' display, they certainly put on a show for them. They didn't have the Hogwarts room of requirements to help so the tutors were kept busy setting up for the next part of the display. While some of the club were running shield drills, to the astonishment of those in the crowd who didn't think second years capable of that feat, shooting booths were being set up to demonstrate spell accuracy.
The club's tutors had debated long and hard, finally reaching the decision that having their children firing curses at each other might not be the best thing to show the watching parents. They still had them working in teams of four but against pairs of duelling dummies. These dummies were also firing back though their tutors were transfiguring different terrains after every match, giving them some cover to use. Two teams of four would go head to head against each other to see which team could bring their dummies down the quickest. As there were time penalties for a team member getting hit by a dummy's spell, the competition was exciting and Lee's commentary soon had everyone involved in the drama unfolding before them.
Molly was almost hoarse from cheering Ginny's team who unfortunately lost out in the semi-final. She still roared her approval though when the team Luna was a member of won the competition. Crow's Marauders received a standing ovation at the end of their display, and the weekend was off to a flying start.
In the box reserved for special guests, Amelia Bones was applauding as loud as anyone in the rest of the stadium - and not just because her Susan was one of the tutors out in the arena.
The box held the heads of government of both The Nation and The Ministry, Barchoke couldn't resist teasing the woman he certainly considered a good friend. "You seem very pleased at that, Amelia, did you have gold on the outcome?"
"I got something better than gold from that display, Barchoke, I got a glimpse of the future. Your son initiated a program where he's teaching Hogwarts students accuracy, shields, teamwork and tactical awareness. We're more used to receiving auror recruits who barely know one end of their wand from the other, watching that today was pure gold for me."
Amos and Tabitha Diggory were also present, and Amos couldn't resist an opportunity to boast about his boy. "Cedric worked with Harry last year and those boys now run their own club, they'll be performing tomorrow."
Amelia was well acquainted with Amos' penchant to promote his son at every opportunity, she couldn't resist teasing back. "Susan will be one of the tutors for the new Hogwarts intake, the intention is to make the club self-sustaining. She says Harry hopes to have Marauders Clubs running Monday to Friday, Minerva is even prepared to adjust the timetable if necessary to accommodate this. We all think this is something worth supporting."
Ragnok and his mate were also pulled into the conversation as refreshments were being served. Since the next item scheduled to appear in the stadium was the goblin fighting display, diplomacy dictated that none of them could really leave until after that was over.
The goblin warriors displayed their skill and prowess with blade and axe to a full stadium, no wizard had seen so many goblins before. A smirking Ragnok remarked to a slightly nervous minister that he could relax.
"Some of my people have travelled across continents to witness the match between Master Sharpshard and Centurion Crow. He's become as revered in our society as he is in yours. That to me is why this fayre is such an important event, we both need to forge a way where Harry and his mate can feel at home in either of our societies."
"I have already given Harry my assurance that is something my ministry supports, only by working together can we achieve this...is that the Longbottom boy?"
All eyes were now on Neville as he walked into the arena. The announcer explained the next competition would be amongst youths under the age of fourteen.
All looked to Barchoke for an explanation, he didn't have much to give them. "As a Friend of The Nation, Neville Longbottom is of course entitled to enter the competition. Watching him walk out there though is the first I knew about this."
The matches were soon underway and a very excited crowd watched Neville win his first match. He also won a second before a better opponent was able to combat his height and reach advantage. The healer quickly treated the nick Neville received on his arm before he bowed and then shook his opponent's hand. To much applause, the wizard had a wide smile on his face as he returned to his friends.
Barchoke thought he understood what had just happened and offered an explanation. "I believe young Neville simply wanted to ascertain what level he was at amongst his peers. In reality, the only way to do that is cross blades with them. I think he did remarkably well, considering the short time he's taken up the blade. I don't want to be the one to tell Augusta or Alice about what just happened here though."
That had everyone in the box laughing, and Neville's showing was further enhanced by the goblin who beat him eventually winning the competition. It was now time for the main event though, and you could sense the expectation all around the stadium. Centurion Crow and Master Sharpshard walked to the centre of the arena with tremendous applause ringing in their ears. That ended abruptly as they bowed to one another, the fight the now mainly goblin crowd had come to see was about to get under way.
Harry had activated his armour before the fight began, it was only that advanced speed and agility that saw him survive the initial onslaught from his mentor. It was frantic, it was furious as these two masters of their art performed the dance of death in front of an enraptured audience.
Each were giving their all, trusting the other to block. This was such a rare occasion for both where they could fight flat out that they were actually enjoying the fight immensely. The fight was very evenly matched with both having spells in the ascendancy and also then needing to defend for dear life. No one else could hear what was said over the relentless clash of steel upon steel.
""Crow, I taught you that move. How did you think you were going to get past me with that?""
""Oh, I thought old age would have slowed you down enough to let me sneak through...""
Harry had already decided not to use his magic, this was a demonstration of Goblin fighting skills. Now all he had to do was convince himself he could win against the unbeatable Sharpshard without it.
Harry was fighting with his knife and sword, forgoing a shield as his mentor was using the blade they'd bought him in Japan. Both were now sweating profusely and Sharpshard sensed an opening when his opponent appeared to stumble. He pressed home his attack and Harry's knife wasn't enough to halt Sharpshard's blade grazing his cheek and drawing blood.
The large goblin was about to bellow out his victory when he felt the blood running down his leg, his pupil had nicked him with his sword.
""You sneaky bastard!""
""Not sneaky enough, I took the risk but couldn't fully divert your blade with my knife.""
Both looked toward the referee who could only shrug his shoulders. ""Telling which blade drew blood first would be impossible...""
It was only then the two combatants realised the entire stadium was on their feet and making enough noise to blow the roof off. The master offered his hand and the student gladly shook it. Both walked out of the arena with their heads held high, knowing they had to do it again tomorrow - and already looking forward to it. The Director was on his feet, applauding both of them. He also signalled for them to come up to the box, Harry led the way.
Amelia was first to grab Harry as he entered, all decorum forgotten. "Merlin, Harry, now I know why Emma was so worried - you just about gave me a heart attack."
"I'm fine, Amelia, and Dan has already sent Dobby to Emma with that information." Harry was now free to kneel beside his mentor, in front of the director and his mate.
Conscious of the mixed company, Ragnok addressed them in English. "That was a fight worthy of being stored in the memory archive. My only concern is how you are going to top that tomorrow?"
The answering growl came from Master Sharpshard. "By beating the ungrateful pup."
This had the goblin contingent in the box roaring with laughter, all knew Sharpshard was immensely proud of his student. Harry had to then offer an apology.
"Director, Ma'am, I'm sorry but when we spoke this morning I forgot I was shooting next. Since my father and mate are also in this competition, you can see that family honour is at stake here. Can we delay our tour of the fayre until after that?"
"Shooting, is that what Miss Granger's father used on their attackers?"
Although that story wasn't public knowledge, it was known to everyone in the box so Ragnok answered his mate. "Yes, I've actually had a demonstration and was most impressed. Is your mate's father shooting today?"
"No, Director, he decided to give the rest of us a chance. Sapphire will also be representing The Nation, it should be an interesting contest."
It was Amos who then cheekily asked a question that saw glares heading in his direction. "...and who are you representing in the competition, Harry?"
Harry then managed to display his developing diplomatic skills. "I'm just trying not to lose to my mate or father, I won't mind too much if Amelia beats me..."
This shifted the focus to Amelia who quickly confirmed she was competing too, but that Susan was a better shot that she was. All three competitors left along with Sharpshard, while Tabitha appeared desperate to get her husband alone for a few harsh words.
The idea behind the stadium's schedule was that visitors to the fayre could plan their day around the events they really wanted to see. Exploring the other attractions in-between events and just missing those they weren't interested in. They had thought that the shooting would be an event most would miss, it turned out they were wrong. There was a lot of curiosity about this event, especially from the goblins who understood what these weapons could do.
This time the competitors went out individually and shot at a total of ten clay pigeons, the highest scorers making it through to the next round. Lee was commentating on the event, reassuring people that the wards around the arena protected everyone from any stray shot. He had the crowd cheering every time a clay was hit, drawing the spectators into the spirit of the day.
Again the competition was exciting with Susan and Barchoke making it to the final, the goblin winning due to holding his nerve better in front of the large vocal crowd. Amelia though still had Susan wrapped in her arms, she was immensely proud of her niece. This was the second time today Susan had been in the arena, and that in itself was an achievement to be proud of.
Ragnok didn't think he could be any more pleased with today. He'd just witnessed a competition that was run by a muggle, assisted by elves and won by a goblin. That there were a few thousand in the stadium who not only accepted this, they applauded Barchoke's victory, was simply unbelievable.
Harry and Hermione were now leading the entire party on a tour of the fayre. Since Sapphire was with them, after competing in the shooting, they were using the excuse of accompanying her back to head for the zone the couple really wanted to see. Walking into the green zone was like entering a different world, the entire company could only stand and watch.
It was like an explosion in a paint factory, with even the paths made from yellow brick. Everywhere you looked, your eyes fed back information on bright primary colours. There were swings, slides, merry-go-rounds, puppet shows and jugglers, all supported by what seemed like an army of green-hatted Hogwarts students.
While the eyes feasted on this colourful scene, it was the ears that were the most pleasing sense. They were being assaulted by that high-pitched noise that can only be produced by a large group of children having fun - and they were clearly having fun.
The merry-go-round was composed of magical creatures, all of them slightly animated and occupied. Children sat on unicorns, hippogriffs and baby dragons as they went round and round. The puppet show too had drawn quite the audience as the children sat and screamed appropriate responses at what was happening on the stage.
Harry was standing, trying to drink all this in when Emma came rushing over. She ignored his 'I'm fine' to check for herself, only when satisfied did she crush him in a hug.
After assuring herself her son was indeed fine, Emma then indicated her domain and asked his opinion. "What do you think? Our numbers really dropped at the moment as a lot of them headed off to see the circus, most will be back though."
"I think I'm dreaming, either that or those dreams have come true." There were still well over a hundred children in the green zone and it was anyone's guess whether there were more goblins than humans in that mix. That's exactly what it was too, a mix. Goblins and magicals sitting side by side and laughing at the puppet show, or standing in line to climb to the top of the slide and shoot down it. This was what Harry had hoped for, children just being children.
It was Ragnok who had heard Harry and just had to say something. "The world needs dreamers, those who can imagine ways to make our world a better place. More than that though, we need people to take those ideas and dreams and make them happen. You, Centurion, are one of those people. What we see in front of us here is a future few believed possible. You not only believed it was possible, you've shown the rest of us that it can be achieved. For that, you have not only my thanks but the gratitude of our nation."
The group then split-up, all wanting to spend some time with the children. None failed to notice that Harry and Hermione were like magnets and soon had a couple of children each following them around. Amelia nudged Cornelius to draw his attention to Harry.
"He has a goblin child holding one hand and an auror's daughter holding the other yet Harry sees no difference, he only sees two children. Look at the Hogwarts students in the green hats following the example he sets. This is the future, Cornelius, and see how the parents are accepting it too."
The Minister watched as a few of the helpers went on the rides with the smaller children, not caring if that child was goblin or magical. The parents too sat at benches arranged around the zone, drinking refreshments and chatting to their fellow parents about their children. He found himself agreeing with Ragnok. This here was an achievement that might one day eclipse Harry's ranks, titles, awards and even the fame of the boy-who-lived. Cornelius felt as if he was watching history in the making, a history he would be proud to play a part in.
Voldemort also had history on his mind as he moved his shock troops, he was thinking how history would enshrine his achievements. He certainly intended for there to be a good few more pages of that history yet to write.
The dark lord was aware all eyes would be looking north to Kingussie this weekend, the security for that event would involve all the manpower the ministry could muster and be iron clad. He planned to use this fortuitous window of opportunity to move his army of inferi across the country and closer to his intended target.
He was well aware of the limitations of his dead warriors, they weren't feared for their speed and couldn't use magic. Inferi were never going to charge across a field and attack his enemies, that was why he had originally used them as guards. His plan of attack though played to their strengths.
Facing an inferius was utterly terrifying to the average witch or wizard, and for a very good reason. Most of the spells they would normally use to defend themselves were useless against an animated corpse. There was also the fact that, when an inferius got its hands on a victim, it was a most horrible way to die.
Voldemort would see what the ministry made of this attack, he intended a lot more people to die this time. He needed a large body count before the ministry would even consider his demands, his plans for the inferi should easily see that task accomplished. The dark lord actually hoped their fayre was a great success, they may as well enjoy themselves while they could. It would also make his attack all the more horrific by comparison. He was, after all, a dark lord.
A/N thanks for reading