Disclaimer - JKR owns Harry Potter, I'm just delighted she allows all of us to have some fun playing within the world she created. Since none of us are being paid for the hours we spent writing these stories, while reading, could you please remember that this really is written just for a bit of fun.
Harry was utterly exhausted. The strain and effort of just getting through the day had left him with barely enough energy to make it to his bed, after kissing Hermione goodnight of course, but what a day! Touring the fayre with their special guests had been one of those experiences that would be etched on his brain forever.
After witnessing the success of the children all playing together, his sense of invincibility wasn't helped by the Gringotts Zone being their next port of call. Bill Weasley reported that their fight against the basilisk exhibit was proving nearly as popular as the dragon display. Watching as The Director and his Mate thanked those workers in the zone for allowing their skills and crafts to be witnessed left Harry thinking a few of those workers might just be making the move to Kingussie a permanent one.
It was at their next stop that Harry put his foot in his mouth, right up to his thigh.
"Oh, skating! Ragnok, I haven't done that since I was a little girl."
"It is a skill I never learned, dear..."
"I would be honoured to accompany you onto the ice, Ma'am." The words were out before Harry had even thought what he was saying, his father's ashen complexion telling him just how much trouble they could be in. He'd just offered to take The Director's Mate skating.
Ragnok's laughter eased the tension somewhat. "You do that, Centurion. I'm sure your father and your lovely mate will keep me company while you and Rainha have fun."
Hermione led both goblins and the minister's party over to the Swiss style chalet that was serving refreshments to spectators. They were sitting on terraces overlooking the skating, giant snow slide and some children just happy playing in the snow. Harry was left to arrange skates and then escort Rainha onto the ice, he almost passed out as she took his arm.
""Relax Harry, I wanted an opportunity to talk to you privately, while still in public view, this seemed like the perfect time."
""The Director knows about this?""
""Let me ask you something, do you tell your mate everything?""
""Well, that answers your own question, Ragnok knew I planned to do this. I've known about you since your arrival in Gringotts. It's something my mate has agonised over for many years. Seeing you struggle in school was particularly hard for him, so naturally he spoke with his most trusted advisor. Who is your most trusted advisor?""
There was no hesitation with this answer, there was only one person Harry could ever give that position to. ""Hermione, I was telling her things about myself I'd never told anyone else within hours of us meeting.""
This drew a smile from Rainha as they glided gracefully around the ice. ""That is as it should be, Centurion. If you recall, Ragnok awarded your mate Friends status within hours of meeting her too. In case you didn't know already, we heartily approve of your choice of mate.""
Harry felt about ten feet tall hearing that but Rainha wasn't finished yet, she was just getting started. ""Ragnok is our leader but he is also a goblin, and as a goblin he found himself getting caught up in your struggle. That was why the likes of Pitslay and Sharpshard became involved in your training, Ragnok 'asked' them to. I also have to say though that they stayed because of you, both now consider Harry Crow their protege. You could probably count Ragnok somewhere in there too. He could never tell you this himself, which is why we're having this chat, but on those occasions your father entered the pit my mate had told me we may be having a son join our family.""
The implications of this nearly had Harry's bum hitting the ice, only Rainha's grip on his arm kept him upright. ""Ragnok has nothing but admiration for your father and yes, we would have publicly claimed you had Barchoke fallen. Who would have dared challenge that decision?""
He barely managed to mumble a 'thank you' when Rainha dismissed it. ""It is I who should be thanking you, Harry. I am skating on the arm of a handsome Baron in the Scottish sunshine, surrounded by a mix of people here that I still don't believe is possible. You did this, and for that you have my thanks - and a request. Please don't leave us, Harry.""
This had Harry's brain kicking in and shooting straight into it's highest gear as things began to fall into place. He was currently skating with Rainha on his arm, while Ragnok sat chatting to Hermione and their father - in front of hundreds of goblins and wizards. This news would be all over The Nation by the end of the weekend. The Director and his Mate were not only very publicly placing themselves behind what they were doing here, they were also giving him and Hermione the highest endorsement they could. For once, Harry knew exactly how to answer.
""Ma'am, my Hermione fell in love with a goblin, why would I take the risk of changing when she loves me as I am? We may leave Britain for a few years as we pursue the university courses we want but our hearts will always call Kingussie home. I am certainly enough of a goblin to want to follow in my father's footsteps, being an Ambassador for The Nation while he watches his grandchildren grow in Kingussie is more than enough for us.""
It was almost imperceptible but Harry was used to watching for the slightest tell from his opponent, he was sure Rainha relaxed slightly at his answer. ""Harry, I think it's safe to say that job will be yours if you want it - and again, thank you.""
Harry would never know what came over him next, Hermione called it letting his cheeky side out to play. ""Ma'am, if I could, I would like to make a request of you? In two years from now, I plan to marry my Hermione here in Kingussie. We would be honoured if you and the director would attend, and perhaps remember this occasion by dancing with the bride and groom?""
His skating partner's laughter told Harry he wasn't moving onto thin ice.
""Well played, Centurion. You read the signs and made an offer that benefits all, you will make a fine diplomat. On behalf of my mate and I, we accept - both offers.""
Their party had a table up against the rail of the ice rink, allowing Harry and Rainha to skate right over to them. Another two ice cold glasses of goblin ale appeared on the table as they approached, the elves were really on their game.
Not knowing how widespread knowledge of Harry's plans were, Rainha spoke to her mate in their own language for a moment. ""We are invited back to Kingussie in two years, to dance with the bride and groom at our host's wedding."" She then quickly turned her attention to Hermione. "Miss Granger, your mate is as smooth on the ice as he appears to be at everything he turns his hand to. There must be something he can't do? You can tell us."
Hermione had felt her stomach drop at her first thought, that Harry had just been gently coaxed and cajoled into hosting another fayre. Hearing their proposed wedding mentioned was music to her ears. So much so that she missed their father's shock at Harry's audacity. Not missing a beat, Hermione answered Rainha's question with a straight face. "I can honestly say that Harry is without doubt the worst singer I have ever heard. Our familiars have more musical ability in them than Harry does."
Thinking of the pussycat and the owl saw Harry reach over and take Hermione's hand. "Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl! How charmingly sweet you sing! O let us be married! too long we have tarried... You are mine, Hermione and we will make it official."
Harry's lips brushed the back of her hand, noticing the passion reflected in her warm brown eyes. Poetry and a proposal was something he knew she would appreciate. It was with a fair bit of a struggle he managed to turn his gaze away and address their other guests. "Minister, the summer after next there will be an even more auspicious celebration held in Kingussie. Miss Granger and I will become husband and wife, you and your wife will of course be invited. Please keep that to yourselves for now, at this particular moment I can't actually remember if I've officially asked Dan for his permission yet. I would hate to do a Mister Diggory and put my foot in it..."
This had the entire party laughing as Amos was currently on the ice skating with his wife. Tabitha though appeared to be giving him the cold shoulder for his earlier faux pas.
Harry had a thought and decided just to go for it. The people here could certainly make this wish happen, and he knew it's what the girl whose hand he was still holding really wanted. "I was wondering if there was any precedent for granting a muggle clergyman dispensation to know about our world, specifically so they could marry a couple who were both magical? The Reverend Richards is a really nice guy, and ideally who we would want to perform the ceremony. He couldn't help but notice there was something different here though, especially with my father at my side."
Both leaders thought this was a great idea. A muggle ceremony favoured neither the Ministry nor Gringotts yet they would still be amongst the wedding guests. It was Amelia though who came up with the answer. "If you give me his name and address, I can do some investigating before making an approach. If he's not agreeable, or won't keep our secrets, we would have to obliviate our approach from his memory and leave it at that."
It was only the barrier between them that stopped Hermione pouncing on Harry, the Reverend Richards marrying them in Kingussie with their family and friends present would really be a dream come true. The way she was squeezing his hand though spoke of promises to come. It was during these pleasant thoughts of just what those promises could be that the alarm saw Harry shoot up in bed, barely contemplating he'd just dosed off.
"What's that, Harry? It can't be time to get up..."
"It's not, Nev, that's the house alarm set in the master suite. It means guards have had to enter the house..." Harry had his sword in his hand and was making for the door. Neville and Draco were right behind him, camp-beds were being liberally used this weekend as Crow's Nest was full to bursting.
The three raced down the stairs to find half a dozen warriors waiting on them, along with a couple of prisoners. Harry gave the centurion salute, even though he was standing there in nothing but his boxers, before barking out an order.
""We spotted three male youths from the circus exhibition making their way to the boating lake. They were drinking and talking about the young females they were supposedly meeting in less than complementary terms. When we discovered one of those females had slipped out of Crow's Nest, I gave the order to intercept and apprehend them.""
""Very well done, Squad Commander. You also have my personal thanks.""
Harry then turned his attention and growing ire to the two girls. "Well, what have you got to say for yourselves?"
Neither girl lifted their heads as Lavender spoke. "We were only having a bit of fun, Harry..."
"Fun? So your idea of fun is to slip out late at night to meet boys? I stood beside Auror Tonks when she specifically said no one was to sneak about at night, what is so special about you two that these rules don't apply?"
Harry wasn't expecting an answer and didn't receive one. "Miss Brown, are your parents coming to Kingussie tomorrow, or should that be today."
"Yes Harry, they're really..."
Harry cut right across her. "Miss Brown, I shall meet them as they arrive and ask that they take you home. You are here as my guest and have abused that hospitality. It's only the knowledge that our security forces have had a very busy few days, and will have to face the same again tomorrow, that's stopping me having them returning you home right now."
"Harry, please don't do this. My mum and dad have been so looking forward to this."
"Miss Brown, your own actions leave me no other options. Miss Patil..."
"Baron Crow, could I have a word? Please!"
Harry turned to see they now had an audience. As he'd raced out his room, Harry hadn't closed the door or switched off the alarm. Most of his guests were arranged on the stairs or landing, watching what was happening. Harry apparently only thought he was angry, compared to Romrao he wasn't really trying. The father appeared ready to explode, though it was his other daughter who had spoken.
"Harry, could I stand guarantor for Parvati's behaviour for the rest of the fayre?"
"Are you sure about this, Padma? If she misbehaves again, I would need to ask you to leave too. I've said you would always be welcome in any home of mine, I really don't want to do this..."
"Please Harry, she's my sister. I promise you she won't be going for a pee without me being beside her, Pav won't sneak past me again."
A glance at Ramrao received a slight nod so Harry followed his lead and nodded his agreement to Padma. Padma whispered her thanks as she stormed past him to grab her twin, Parvati was then dragged up to their room.
While Harry was asking the Squad Commander for more details, and to return Lavender personally to Professor McGonagall, Hermione grabbed Pansy and asked her to bunk with Luna and Sapphire in her room. Everyone could see there was going to be words between the Patil sisters. Hermione knew her best friend could be fierce when she lost her temper, and Padma was one angry witch at the moment.
Parvati was discovering just how angry her twin was as she practically threw her into their room. The door was closed and then Padma had her pinned to the bed, Parvati's hands were being held above her head while her twin sat on her.
"You will tell me what the fuck is going on in that thing you call a brain, and why I had to embarrass everyone to save your arse."
"You didn't save Lavender, McGonagall will eat her alive..."
"Parvati, please listen to me. You are in so much shit at the moment that Lavender needs to be the last thing on your mind. Tell me everything now, so we can see if this situation is as bad as it looks."
Seeing how angry Padma was, she began telling her sister what happened. "We got talking to the three boys while on our lunch break and they were keen to meet up, we didn't have any free time though so had to meet them at night..."
"Three boys? How was that supposed to work?"
Parvati tried to look away but Padma was denying her that option. "I told them I was an identical twin, they were very keen that you should come too... We were just going to say you couldn't make it."
"Pav, you have no idea how close I am to punching you in the face at the moment. You and your stupid friend were sneaking off to meet three guys who work in the circus, I actually don't think this could be any worse. This isn't some midnight under the stars situation like that trashy romance rubbish you and Lavender read, this is real life. Do you have any idea what happens in real life with situations like that?"
"We were just going to have some fun, that's all."
"Oh I'm sure they would have had fun. You would have ended up like Jenny Abercrombie..."
"I like Jenny, what's wrong with that?"
"Pav, I never meant to say anything about that, and if you repeat this to anyone I'll cut your tongue out myself." Padma looked angry enough to do it too so Parvati quickly swore to speak to no one about what she was about to hear.
"Jenny was seventeen when she attended a party, a party she has no memory of. Nine month later, Euan was born. Her parents kicked her out on the street, all the plans she had for the rest of her life went down the toilet too. She works in a shop to pay rent for their tiny flat and to feed the both of them, her family won't acknowledge either her or Euan."
She could see Parvati wasn't sure if she was making this up just to scare her, Padma then revealed her source. "Harry checks up on everyone whose getting a Potter Scholarship, Barchoke and Harry will be responsible for Euan for the next seven years. He's already looking at ways to help Jenny and he hadn't met her before yesterday, what do you think he would have done to any boy who did that to you? There would have been a murder, Pav, and that circus would have been out of business before they knew it."
"I never asked for this..."
"...and you won't have to worry about it much longer, dad will probably have you shipped off to live with Ninamma after that tonight."
"No, he wouldn't..."
"If I hadn't stepped in, Harry was going to be forced to ask our father to take you home. How do you think father is going to react? I know you hated it there when we used to visit, and dad knows that too. Ninamma won't even let you look at a boy, far less flirt with one. You'll be in a sari down to your ankles and made to cover your head, make-up and fashion will be things of the past. Our grandmother has totally different ideas of what fun is."
Padma got off her sister and drew her wand. Parvati was pleased to see her twin was casting spells on the door and window, instead of at her, but she was puzzled too.
"What are you doing?"
"Making sure you don't go anywhere without me. You need the loo, you either wake me up or go on the floor. I'm serious Pav, you are my responsibility until the fayre is over. You even try and dodge me and I swear you'll need that hat, because I'll scalp you. Now get into bed..."
There was a few moments of silence before Parvati spoke. "Padma, how can I fix this?"
"I really don't think you can, Pav. To have any chance though you need to be the dutiful Indian daughter our parents expect. You have always pushed the boundaries but this time you knocked it clean out the park of what's acceptable... Get some sleep, we're going to need it."
Parvati didn't think she would be sleeping tonight, there was a lot of thinking to be done. She couldn't spare any of those thoughts for Lavender's plight, dragging McGonagall out of bed to tell her they'd sneaked off would not be pretty. She had her father and the entire family to face in the morning, that thought was more than enough to keep her awake.
As the twins walked down to breakfast the following morning, Parvati had decided that her sister's advice was really the only option available to her. She approached Harry as soon as they entered.
"Baron Crow, I abused your hospitality and humbly beg your forgiveness. You have my word I won't be anywhere near those boys or the circus again."
Harry's voice was hard and cold as he answered her. "That problem has already been taken care off. The circus was 'asked' to leave last night by our security forces."
The looks Harry was getting from the rest of the family told the twins this was news to them too, Parvati though was trapped in Harry's powerful gaze. "Our security forces followed those three from the moment they left their enclosure, they easily got close enough to hear what was being said. Their plan was to get three silly girls drunk and have their fun with them - knowing they would be out of the country the following day."
Padma had to grab her twin as she started to sway at that but Harry had more to say. "Know this, Parvati. Goblins have been forbidden from interfering in the affairs of wizards for centuries, they nearly took no action last night. Only discovering these boys intended the sister of two Friends of our Nation to be one of their victims saw them intervene. You may have thought I was being harsh on you and Lavender, what do you think now you know the alternative?"
Parvati couldn't answer because she was racing out the room with her hands covering her mouth, Padma and Smita were hot on her heels.
"Ramrao, I'm sorry I had to do that..."
"Harry, don't even think about apologising. If those security forces hadn't stopped them..."
Hermione was sitting beside Harry and slipped her hand into his. "I'll go with you when you meet the Browns if you want, for moral support?"
"I'd like that. Dan and Lukas, we go with the reserve for the five o'clock slot. We should have done that anyway, rather than inviting people who would try something like that into our glen. Jenny, could you walk with us? There's something we'd like to talk with you about and, if yesterday is any guide, we may not get the time later."
Jenny had been sitting there with her jaw hanging open at the drama being played out at breakfast. She'd thought those two girls were incredibly naive and far too young to be carrying on like that. Harry's attitude was so far removed from her own parents though as to be scary. These girls may not think so at the moment but he had just done them a massive service, and ejected the people responsible right off his land. It was also a shock when he asked to speak to her but she was coming to trust this young man more and more. She followed Harry and Hermione out the door, not realising her life would never be the same again.
Alice tried to fill the silence around the table by asking Dan what the reserve plan was.
"We're in the Highlands so Harry thought of showing some of what we muggles call Highland Games. Barchoke found us the dancers and pipers we had performing at various locations around the glen yesterday, we pull them in and add things like caber tossing, hammer throwing and we even have a children's version - wellie throwing. We plan on getting volunteers from the audience to try the events - with prizes for the winners."
Parvati returned, still rather green and clearly shaky on her feet. "Father, I'm so sorry..."
Ramrao was not in the mood to offer her any comfort, his mind still fighting against what might have happened if Harry's security hadn't intervened. "You will be with Padma all day, and tonight too, we'll talk of this Monday morning."
She nodded and sat at the table, nothing more than tea though passed her lips.
The fayre had been blessed with another sunny day, it did little to lighten Harry's dark mood. He got right to the point. "Jenny, there's a spell a witch or wizard can perform that can wipe a person's memories. It's illegal for a magical user to perform this spell on anyone, with the exception of it being done to protect knowledge of our world escaping. You will have gathered by now that our society also has those who think rules and laws don't apply to them."
Jenny stopped as if she had just walked into a brick wall. "Is that why I can't remember, is that why my son is a wizard?"
"There's no way to know for certain after all this time but the facts paint that as the most likely scenario."
Hermione had her arm around the now crying woman. "That's just...just..." The sudden look of horror on Jenny's face stopped her tears. "They couldn't take Euan away from me, could they?"
"Over my dead body!" The conviction Harry stated that with was the only thing that allowed Jenny to get herself back under control. "If you allow Euan to become a Potter Scholar, I will be his guardian in the magical world - until he turns seventeen and is then considered of age. That just means I look after his interests in that world, I could never see any circumstances where it would be in Euan's best interests to part him from you. I hope you believe me when I say that."
Jenny was nodding while wiping her eyes with the hankie Hermione had conjured. "Euan badly needs a male figure in his life, someone he can look up to. Just watching you for the last few days has my son already choosing that figure to be Harry Crow. The redheaded gentleman at the Gringotts Zone told us that giant snake thing really happened, Euan already wants a sword for Christmas!"
"That gentleman is a friend and tutors us every weekend at Hogwarts. And yes, it's a true representation. The person who set that beast loose was in prison days later, he died there. We're trying to clean up our act, this weekend is certainly helping with that. We also want to see if we can help you too."
"I thought you were? Offering Euan that scholarship is a godsend, he wouldn't be able to attend Hogwarts otherwise."
It was Hermione who then took over the explanation. "That helps Euan but not you. You had dreams that we think some wizard took from you. With Euan away in Hogwarts, we're offering you the chance to rekindle those dreams. We're offering you the same deal as Euan, except at the university of your choice."
Jenny was again in tears, though this time for a different reason. "Why are you doing this, Harry?"
"...because it's the right thing to do."
Hermione found herself faced by two bemused expressions and wore a wide smile. "Yes Jenny, he's for real - and all mine!" She kissed Harry, instantly wiping that bemused look of his face. "My wonderful goblin here thinks he should personally right every wrong in the world. He may not get them all but that doesn't mean he's going to stop trying. There are also properties the length and breadth of the country that were bought to protect the people called Potter living there, we should find something suitable for you and Euan."
"You're giving me a house? What's wrong with my flat?"
"We can't ward a block of flats because Euan only lives in one of them. He'll be at Hogwarts so you can go to whatever university you want. You'll have no rent to pay and we'll take care of everything else, you'll be able to concentrate on your studies." Jenny's bemused look was back so Harry tried to explain how he felt, and why he was doing this. "When the idea of the Potter Scholarships were first put forward, I said I wanted it to be like a family. This scholarship is in honour of my mum and dad, how could I not want it to be like family. I consider everyone in that house family, a family we hope you and Euan will join..."
That was too much for the woman whose only family since she was seventeen had been Euan, she was in floods of tears with an arm around each of the teens. "I didn't really realise how much I missed my family until now, you have no idea how much this means to me..."
Harry lifted her chin until he was looking into her tearful eyes. "Jenny, three years ago my family was my father and me. I now love every person in that house, even Parvati, and would do anything for them. I know exactly how you feel. So, now that you have some idea of what you're getting yourselves into, would you like to be part of our ever-growing family?"
"I'd love to, Harry, and it will make Euan so happy too."
"Great! Orla is coming today so I'll introduce the Quirks to you later. Now I have to go and see if there is anything of Lavender left to hand over to her parents, Professor McGonagall is not someone you want to cross."
Jenny wisely decided to give that experience a miss, she headed back to the house to give Euan the yes her son was waiting for.
If the tasks hadn't been handed out beforehand, Parvati would have thought this had been done purely to torture her. Frank and Alice were in charge of the water zone, and that's where Neville and Padma were stationed too. Where Padma went, Parvati was now duty bound to follow, she found herself working at the site of their supposed moonlit romantic rendezvous.
That was apparently only her and Lavender's version of their supposed liaison, it would seem the boys they were supposed to meet had certain other ideas. Parvati had no reason to doubt the honesty of Harry's explanation, someone who had already saved her life at least twice really had to be trusted.
There was a large paved area in the water zone that had sixty recessed fountains in-between the paving. These fountains would randomly shoot water fifteen feet into the air, making a great game for the youngsters as they walked about this area - not knowing where their next soaking was coming from.
Parvati was stationed at the side of this area to offer drying charms to anyone who was finished, or had just exited the water ride. Standing here though also gave her an uninterrupted view of the lake.
She watched Percy and Penny get into one of the boats and snuggle up as the craft took them on an automated gentle tour of the beautiful manufactured lake. Both clearly portrayed the romance Parvati was so desperate to find, that desperation was also clear for her twin to see.
"Penny told Hermione and me that she started noticing Percy watching her when they were in fourth year. They shared classes and had talked many times but it wasn't until they hit fifth year that he asked her to be his girlfriend. They have known each other for seven years, and been a couple for nearly three, that's why they look so comfortable together. You're never going to get that with someone you've just met."
"I know, sis, just as I know Harry saved my life again. Lavender and I really screwed up, and the whole of Hogwarts will know by now. People will think we both knew what we were letting ourselves in for last night, our reputations will already be ruined - even although we didn't even get there and nothing happened. No decent boy will come anywhere near me now. First the diary and now this, just how stupid can I be?"
As the tears started to fall, Padma signalled to Neville she was taking Parvati for a break. Deciding to take her back to Crow's nest for a cup of tea and a bite to eat, they headed off before Parvati's tears got any worse.
"I think I'll ask father to send me to grandma, at least I won't have to go back to Hogwarts and have everyone staring at me - again."
"You know our friends will support you. Yes Harry was very angry this morning but Parvati, he had good reason to be. This is exactly what we talked about, your behaviour putting all of us in a bad position. Harry wouldn't have backed down last night for anyone else but me asking. I know that, and hated putting him in that position, but your my sister - a sister I've loved my entire life. We can't keep pulling your arse out the fire though, we might not get there quickly enough next time."
"I know I need to change. I just don't know how, or even what I want anymore."
"You had a nice, handsome, steady boyfriend but threw that away looking for sparks, romance and adventure. What, you don't agree? Susan told me Blaise was handsome and it was you yourself who said there was no spark. You ask Hermione if she's looking for adventure and I'll bet her answer will be the same as mine. The day after Voldemort is defeated, I will be having a lie-in. No more running, no more training, just as boringly normal a life as it's possible to have."
"Padma, you're fourteen yet have the Longbottom ring on your finger, a goblin blade at your hip and an Order of Merlin, First Class, hanging on your wall at home, right beside your goblin award for bravery. I hate to burst your bubble, sis, but that's not normal."
"It is for us, Pav, and I think that's part of your problem. You see how close Neville and I are but you don't see all the hours of blood, sweat and tears it's taken to get there. We've both had extra classes together every weekend since first year, as well as now training every morning. We've faced death together and fought for our lives at each other's side, that definitely changes you, Pav. You're comparing yourself to me but our lives took different paths the night that troll tried to attack us. You saw the both of us and Hermione marrying Harry as an obvious solution, I just wanted to be his friend."
It was like lightning striking for Parvati as she saw the truth in her sister's words. "I cried most of that day because Harry rejected me, you had lunch with Harry and his father. We took different paths and ended up different people."
"As Harry says, Pav, we're all different. The differences between us were always there, they just got wider from then on. You're still my sister though, a sister I love, nothing is going to change that." Padma was glad they were nearly at Crow's Nest, Parvati's tears were really flowing now. Something told her she was really getting through to her twin today, Padma could only hope it wouldn't be too late to do any good.
Harry didn't think the Brown situation could have gone much worse. McGonagall was spitting-tacks mad and had made Lavender sleep in the same room as her, ensuring the girl wouldn't go wandering again. They left with McGonagall's promises of retribution against both girls ringing in their ears, then things went really downhill.
Lavender's father refused point blank to believe his daughter could do something like that, his position shifting from the security forces got it wrong all the way over to them outright lying to get his good little girl in trouble. Harry was saved the trouble of throwing them out his glen by Tonks, he was really relieved to see her.
There was of course a security presence at the portkey points, being confronted by aurors though did little for Lavender's father's temper. His daughter stood quietly throughout the entire encounter as Tonks explained the Brown family's available choices, return home or visit the inside of a ministry cell for trespassing. They wisely decided to go home, swearing that this matter wasn't over.
The meeting with the Quirks also threw up its own set of problems. They were a rural family who would be considered poor, they of course didn't see themselves as such. They led lives that were self-sufficient, more used to bartering with their neighbours for items they couldn't produce themselves than actually buying anything. Harry trying to hand Orla a small sack of gold appeared to be the tipping point.
"We Quirks hae na need o` yer charity, ah dinnae waant mah daughter tae be looked doon upon fur this..."
"Sir, that is the last thing on my mind. The other Potter Scholar is a muggle born, this is their first venture into this world. They had never even heard of our currency so I gave them some to allow them to buy a few souvenirs of their visit. My only intention here was to treat both scholars as equals."
They had introduced Luna as one of the first Potter Scholarship students and she tried to put their fears to rest. "Mr Quirk, rather than being looked down upon, Orla is far more likely to be looked up to. The Potter Scholarships are very much sought after, they are certainly not regarded as charity. There will be a lot of students at Hogwarts wishing they were in Orla's shoes."
Neither of Orla's parents had attended Hogwarts, they got by learning whatever magic their family, friends and neighbours could teach them as the had grown up. Orla was going to be following the same well-trodden path before this McGonagall witch turned up on their doorstep. Here was an opportunity to have someone with a formal education, and all the books that went with that education, in their small community. Orla could teach all of them what she was learning, and someone else was paying for it.
It was only when Finn laid eyes on this magnificent fayre that the panic began to set in, would their little Orla come back to them after experiencing things like this?
Hermione could see the panic setting in, she just didn't know the reason behind it. "Mr and Mrs Quirk, today is about having fun, not making decisions. Please accept our hospitality and enjoy yourselves. We have arranged lunch with the rest of the Potter Scholars and you are welcome to ask any and all questions then. It will be later on in the summer before we visit Diagon Alley to get Orla kitted out, you have weeks yet before you need to make a final decision."
The relief was there for all to see. "That sound's braw, lassie. We're nae used tae hings lik' this, or as mony fowk. A've ne'er actually seen as mony fowk..."
That Finn just counted everyone he could see as 'folk' certainly pleased Harry and Hermione. Luna then volunteered to be their guide for the day, something all three Quirks rapidly accepted before Hermione had to make their apologies.
"I'm really sorry but we really have to go, there will be at least five thousand of those folk waiting to see Harry cross swords with his tutor. Luna will look after you and we'll meet again for lunch."
By the time Harry walked into the arena he'd had one hell of a morning. He was certainly experienced enough to know that he needed to clear his mind of everything unrelated to his fight, otherwise this could get really embarrassing and be over very quickly.
As they traded their first few blows, Harry found himself rejoicing in the battle. Here all he had to worry about was blocking his tutor's attacks, something Harry had years of practice at. He was so in the zone that Harry didn't think he had ever fought better, wave after wave of attacks were repelled while he even got a few in of his own. This was unbelievable, he was actually beating Master Sharpshard. Harry's last three attacks had progressively gotten closer to finishing the fight, his tutor was tiring and his student was sure he had him now.
The cry of 'time' from the referee saw Harry stop at once, any thoughts of victory banished. He deactivated his armour, sheathed his blades before bowing to his opponent, and then almost fell to the pitch. Harry's vision was going grey around the edges but there was no mistaking the large hand that clamped on his shoulder.
""Steady Centurion, I will not accept a cheap victory now. You will walk out of this arena at my side, then fall into the arms of your mate. She's standing there waiting for you.""
The thought of Hermione waiting on him kept Harry putting one foot in front of the other, only Master Sharpshard's arm around his shoulders though kept him upright. The entire stadium might be on their feet applauding like crazy but Harry was having real trouble staying on his. He'd gotten lost in the battle and used his magic to enhance his armour for too long a period, he only made it to Hermione because his opponent practically carried him the last ten yards.
Hermione had him in her arms but a moment before the healers took over, Harry was soon on a bed being examined.
The healer didn't take long to reach his conclusion. ""Your mate is exhausted. We will give him a potion that will see him sleep for a few hours, then another when he awakes. We realise the Baron has duties, otherwise we would be confining him to bed until tomorrow. He must eat when he wakes and nothing strenuous for the rest of the day, a good night's sleep should see him fine tomorrow.""
The first potion was already working and Harry was out like a light, Hermione called for some help.
"Betsy, can you take Harry and put him in my bed? Please sit with him and come for me when he wakes."
Barchoke, Ragnok and Rainha had all entered as Hermione knelt to ask her elf to look after Harry. Barchoke confirming that this was her normal behaviour saw Hermione's star rise just that little bit higher. She then attempted to thank The Director for signalling time on the match.
""Nonsense, your mate would have defeated Master Sharpshard, only to then collapse exhausted on the grass. This way both of them left the arena with great honour. That was without doubt the greatest match I have ever seen, a very fitting tribute to a wonderful weekend.""
Dobby was sent to inform Emma that Harry was fine, didn't have a mark on him but was knackered. Emma should come to the house for lunch if she wanted to see for herself.
Harry was wakening from a nice dream and felt someone running their fingers through his hair. His mumbled 'Hermione' drew a giggle that was not his mate's. Harry wasn't worried though, he recognised it at once.
"You must be really tired if you though I was Hermione."
"Hi mum, where is she? What's happening?"
"Hermione is currently playing hostess, since the host is temporarily indisposed at the moment. Your fight with Master Sharpshard is the talk of the glen, easily eclipsing that Susan beat Draco to win the shooting. You need to eat something, drink this potion and then come downstairs before lunch is over." Emma leaned over and kissed him on the forehead before heading out the room, Betsy then appeared with a tray for him - and stood there until he ate what was on it.
Harry came down to what was a very busy dining room, pleased to see Orla sitting between Euan and Denis. That both boys were trying to explain Tom and Jerry to the bewildered witch brought a smile to Harry's lips. She must have visited the cinema tent.
Hermione was soon kissing those lips before bringing him up to speed. The Quirks looked far more comfortable now, Hermione confirming that Luna had done a wonderful job. She'd led the overawed family around the glen, taking time to introduce them to people as they went along. Hearing the positive responses they received every time Orla was introduced as a Potter Scholar had convinced her parents this was an offer they simply couldn't refuse.
The stadium had been full to capacity for Harry's fight and it was reckoned there were another couple of thousand who had watched it standing around the open area. Most sitting at lunch had been there and no one begrudged Harry a lie down after that effort.
Getting all the parents together certainly had an effect on the Quirks and even Jenny. With nothing but praise for the Potter Scholarship raining down on both lots of parents, Euan and Orla would now be joining the program. All were making plans to join up for their shopping in Diagon Alley, Harry though was looking at Emma when he said those plans might change at the last minute. Again no one could fault Harry for that.
Harry was trying his best to ensure Hermione couldn't fault him for this either. He was standing amid the Holyhead Harpies and the photographer was making more and more outrageous suggestions as he searched for the picture that would make him the most money.
"Okay Gwenog, perhaps you could kiss him now...eh, perhaps not!"
The Harpies fell about laughing at the sight of Hermione's blade resting jokingly on the photographer's cheek. He took it all in good fun and got his picture of a kiss anyway. The Harpies shouted Hermione over, got her into one of their famous green jerseys and Harry was more than happy to kiss his mate, surrounded by the entire team.
They had drawn quite a crowd and the Harpies then went on to sign autographs and pose for pictures with as many of that crowd as they could, all right beside a rather large stand selling Harpies merchandise. Harry consulted Hermione about size before buying one for Sapphire, the number of goblins now wearing quidditch merchandise was pleasing to more than him.
Harry was being forced to take things easy for the rest of the day so he actually sat and watched the quidditch match. Even although the game was being played with a large element of fun, Lee's hilarious commentary certainly adding to that, there was still enough skill on display for the purists to enjoy.
Harry's last official duties of the day was a meet and greet of the Weird Sisters, posing for the obligatory photograph and thanking them for performing.
It was during their set that Hermione saw he was running on empty, she took him by the arm and they headed for home. Only the people bunking in Crow's Nest would be staying in the glen tonight, everyone else would be heading for the portkey points and making their way home after the concert. Harry half-heartedly mentioned that they should perhaps go down there and say goodbye to their guests. Hermione kissing him blew that notion right out of his head, her kisses had fireworks going off - literally. They were shooting over the stadium as Lee's voice rang out, thanking everyone for coming and wishing them a safe journey home.
"I think that's job done, Harry?"
"Oh no, I want a lot more of those kisses..."
"They say you should always leave an audience wanting more..."
"An audiance, yes. Your mate, no..."
They carried on like this as they made their way to Crow's Nest, stopping every so often to kiss. Both knew the security forces would be escorting everyone to the portkey points before doing a final sweep of the glen. Tomorrow the clean-up operations would begin and soon it would be time to go to their island, both teens could hardly wait.
Bella could hardly wait to pick up their baby boy but knew she needed a shower first. His father's voice soothed Marvolo until she returned with all traces of the undead washed off her. As she picked up their son, it was Augustus' turn to try and wash away the grime of a long and terrible night. The water wouldn't wash away the memories though, he just didn't like working with the undead - who would.
This was the first time they had left Marvolo alone but the sleeping charms had held, their son had only woken when they entered the room.
It had taken the three of them working hard all through the night to accomplish his master's plan, Augustus had to admit that plan would see this horror talked about all over the world. To know that this was then only phase one of that plan had Augustus once more in awe of their master's genius.
The Kingussie fayre had meant their efforts had gone completely unnoticed by the ministry, with only a few muggles needing their memories altered when they'd stumbled across them. The occupants of their island were now hoping this Baron's Fayre was a great success, that would give people the confidence and encouragement to attend the Quidditch World Cup Final. The mere thought of the mayhem they'd planned being released on a hundred thousand witches and wizards was a sweet one. It was so sweet that Bella was singing about it while their son fed at her breast.
Inferi didn't really rhyme with anything but Augustus had no intention of pointing this out to Bella, she was happy and Marvolo was content in his mother's arms - that was all that mattered to him.
A/N thanks for reading.
A/N 2 the last couple of chapters were some of the longest of the entire story, I wanted to get the fayre over with and then set the scene for Voldemort's attack. For those readers who thought this story was winding down to a finish, the next few chapters should hopefully change your minds. Still a lot to happen and a long way to go before Harry comes face to face with Tom for the final battle. Hope to see you back here next week.