Harry Crow

A/N thanks for the offers of support regarding my job prospects, I'm in no danger of having to find another one right away. We're just at the proposal stage of this merger but it's here we need to stop it. If passed, it becomes almost impossible to get that decision reversed at a later date.

They want to merge two very good schools into one large new one. Disregarding all the other issues that action throws up, they want to build this school for almost 1,600 students right alongside a toxic waste containment facility. This facility consists of nothing more than a giant hole they poured tens of thousands of tons of toxic waste into, and then stuck a hill on top. All this is being done in the name of saving money, since no one else would be stupid enough to live on this piece of land.

I know it sounds like a plot for mutant children or the X-Men, but even fan fiction authors aren't crazy enough to come up with something like that! Needless to say, we're busy getting organised to try and stop this madness.

Chapter 96

As Emma's voice slowly became a whine of protest, she was soon drowned out with the family's laughter at her self-induced predicament. The laughter had barely died before Padma kicked it off again. She was sitting with her godson on her lap, a godson who had apparently just filled his nappy.

Wrinkling her nose, Padma's comic timing was superb. "Emma, even Jamie has managed to show what he thought of that idea. It stinks!"

The laughter resumed but Dobby soon had Jamie popped away and changed. It only took a moment before the now fresh baby was back in Padma's arms, it was a moment though that changed more than Jamie.

Hermione was first to notice Harry staring into space as if he'd just had an epiphany, this had her worried. "Harry, you don't really think The Queen could help us, do you?"

Without breaking his focus, Harry issued an instruction. "Call for Betsy."

The little elf appeared the instant Harry mentioned her name, and well before Hermione had time to call her. Harry knelt beside Betsy, looking right into the elf's large eyes. "Betsy, can you find Hermione, no matter where she is?"

"Betsy always knows where mistress is, and if she needs her Betsy."

Now was the million galleon question. The entire extended family had gone silent, realisation of where Harry was going with this began to permeate the room. "Betsy, could you take someone to help Hermione if a bad wizard stole her away?"

The little elf was soon clinging to Hermione. "Someone is trying to steal Betsy's mistress? Who would do such a terrible thing?"

"The dark one is going to try and steal me, and Hermione will be by my side. Could you bring Father or Dan to wherever he takes us?"

Dobby popped into the room at hearing that. "You is family, Dobby can find you too. Dobby can take Master Dan and his guns to wherever the evil one takes Dobby's family."

Two more elves popped in, one proudly wearing the Potter crest while the other was clearly from the castle. "The Potter elves will be able to find their Lord and Lady, and able to take help to them - if that is what master wants."

The Hogwarts elf was not about to be outdone."You are Hogwarts' Champion, the castle elves stand ready to help its champion anyway elves can. We can find our champion, Hogwarts Champion is our family."

It was Amelia who broke the silence that followed these revelations. "The answer was right in front of us all this time. We ignored it because we ignore the elves, until we want something."

Hermione was trying to comfort an upset Betsy. "He only thinks he's stealing us, Betsy. We know what he's up to and, with all your help, we can beat him."

"Betsy will bring Father as soon as she can. Evil one took Mistress Lily, he's not getting you." She was clinging to Hermione as if that would stop the entire incident happening.

"Dobby and Master Dan will be there also, evil one will not harm Dobby's family."

It was Alice who saw the possibilities. "Getting an advanced squad there as quickly as possible would also allow us to put trackers on them. We could have a hundred warriors and aurors there within a minute."

A smiling Harry thanked the elves before turning his attention to Barchoke. "Father, I think we should tell the muggle government we respect their customs, and ask that they respect ours. We four are considered adults in our own societies, and are clearly doing this of our own free will."

Harry's gaze shifted to Hermione, still trying to comfort an upset Betsy. "No offence to your Queen, Emma. With Hermione's life at stake, I'd far rather put my trust in someone who loves her as much as we do. We've come this far relying on our family, that same family can now take us all the way."

Harry now had the bit between his teeth as he addressed the room. "This bastard almost wiped out the Potters, Bones, Longbottoms and had a dammed good try at eradicating all the muggle borns too. My brother and my goddaughter would be killed without mercy or remorse. It's time to stop this - and that time is now."

Even Dan and Emma could feel the power radiating off Harry as he declared his intentions. Hermione of course was now at his side but Neville had moved to stand behind the couple, being joined by Padma cradling Jamie in her arms. It was a powerful scene, Neville's words then added to the visual effect.

"I remember Hermione once asking Harry why it was always him who had to do what he did, Harry replied that it was because only he could. Only the four of us can do this, and that's the way it has to be..."

Tonks wasn't buying that, she had an idea. "Harry, Hermione and I have blood bonded linked portkeys, could that be used to get me in there too? My job is to guard his back, and I'm not happy about them leaving without me."

This led to a question from Ramrao. "If that can be done for Tonks, couldn't we add more linked portkeys to theirs?"

These questions snapped Barchoke out of the stupor he'd drifted into. Like everyone else, he'd been focused on the muggle tracking systems as their best option for finding their children.

From the feedback they were getting from Arthur and Bill, a weekend in Kingussie wasn't going to change any muggle minds over this matter. They were horrified at the ages of the four who would face Voldemort, and there really was nothing to be done about that. Now his son had just come up with a tracking method that was practically foolproof, and something the dark one wouldn't even think to guard against.

He was sometimes in awe of the way the youngsters saw things their elders missed, simply because they had a different view of what was all around them. It was time to get back to business though.

"Ramrao, this type of portkey normally only work in pairs, it took a lot of effort to get that number up to three. Adding even one more would severely weaken what was already there, weaken to the point it no longer worked. Tonks, that's a brilliant idea but I don't know the answer. You can bet we'll be looking into it though. At the moment, our best guess is this blood bound portkey will take its victim to an area that's heavily warded. These wards will be keyed to the sample of blood they already have, and even the elves won't be able to get us past them."

This had Harry worried, though not for himself. "It took Voldemort and two dozen of his death eaters at least a couple of minutes to pull the wards on Amelia's property down, that might be how long we'll need to fight before you can get through to us."

A strong hand clamped on his shoulder at that. "We can do this, Harry, don't even think about leaving us behind - I'll set Padma on you!"

Her betrothed's argument found total agreement from the witch in question. "It's time to see if all this exercise has been worth it, hit and keep moving. They won't be expecting four of us, we can hopefully use that surprise to take one of them out. Then it will be four against two. We might even have the job finished before Amelia gets those wards down..."

"I will be there with every wand I can muster, no wards will last two minutes against that amount of firepower. Then you drop to the ground and we'll do the rest. Your job is not to be hit by any of the death eaters while we're ripping those wards down, you don't have to win the war on your own." Amelia was trying to smile as she said that, inside though her heart was breaking at sending these four teenagers up against Voldemort. Those wards would be down in under a minute, she wouldn't accept even one second over that from her people.

It was Alice who brought up a distasteful subject. "Whatever we may think, no one here can deny that Albus Dumbledore is a powerful wizard. That power could help bring those wards down faster. As Amelia just mentioned, we will be in a situation where every single second will count for our children…"

That idea hung in the room like a bad smell, one that was a lot worse than Jamie's nappy. Though they could see her point, no one was quite sure what to make of Alice's suggestion. Amelia was the one who finally tackled the problem.

"Yes, Dumbledore is powerful - but can we really trust him in what would certainly be a critical situation? If I have to assign three aurors to watch him, that's three less wands that could be attacking those wards."

Frank then surprised everyone by speaking out. "Wwwee could do it. Shoot the bbbastard if he tried anything."

Oh how Barchoke liked that idea. "I could also have some warriors there to support Frank and Alice, with their blades poking into Dumbledore's ribs. Let Dumbledore think he can redeem himself by helping us bring down those wards, and then we can arrest him as soon as Voldemort is dealt with. A final manipulation of the wizard who considers himself the great puppet master."

The family liked that idea, Augusta, Tonks, Harry and Hermione knowing they had until the end of January to refine any plans further. While all expected the third task would be Voldemort's targeted event, they would be taking every precaution for the second task too. It would be foolish not to do so.

Recognising they'd done all they could for the moment, they broke into smaller groups as the family caught up on just what had been happening since they last all got together.

Tonks was discussing her idea with Barchoke while Remus' arm slipped around his fiancee. Tonks leaned into him as she spoke. "You know I've got to try this, love. Even if there's a small chance of me getting in this fight with them, I've got to take it."

Remus leaned in and tenderly kissed her worries away. "That's what I get for asking an auror to marry me. I'll be outside those wards, pouring everything I have into bringing them down."

They were joined by Sirius who confirmed the Blacks would be doing the same. "You better keep a place there for the Hobsons too, both are very fond of those four. Lukas will rip Voldemort in half with his bare hands if he harms any of them."

"Since we have some idea of the ward structure they're working on, and access to the blood they'll use to bind them, The Nation's warders are working on a different way to make their wards fail. I'm with Amelia on this, there is no way our children will be in there with Voldemort for two minutes. The Director has decreed this task is The Nation's top priority, from now until we end this. He will be delighted to know we now have a reliable way to track them."

The Granger females were watching their men. Both Harry and Dan looking extremely comfortable, chatting to each other with a baby in their arms.

"I can't believe how big Jamie is getting, he seems to be growing by leaps and bounds."

Emma though was concentrating on Dan, standing with Astrid cradled in his arms. "I remember when your father held another little girl in his arms like that, and it doesn't seem so long ago either. You're one to talk about leaps and bounds, love. You've been growing and blooming ever since we took you to Kings Cross that first time when you were eleven. Now you're ready to go off and fight a war…"

"Mum, Harry is my future, my life. I couldn't stand there and let him go off to fight without me, no matter how much you, dad, or even Harry himself wants me too. It would destroy me, I need to be there. I'll be fighting at his side, doing my very best to ensure both of us return."

"I know you will, Hermione, I just hope your idea of sharing blood works…" Her daughter's deep blush at that comment told its own story to her mother, but Hermione held her head high as Emma probed for more. "I take it you have decided on other methods to ensure you're accepted by this portkey, and any wards?"

"Harry is going to be my husband, mum, the date is already set. Completing our bond before the third task ensures I'll be at his side for this fight, how could I not choose to do that?"

Emma's arm was now supportively around her daughter. "I said you were growing up fast. I'm sorry that the circumstances make you feel you have no other choice in this matter, but you must know that your young man treasures you for the wonderful young witch that you are."

This saw Hermione return her mother's hug. "Thanks mum, for being so understanding. You were much easier to convince than Harry was!"

She had always been open with Hermione, they had a bond of trust where her daughter knew she could come to her about anything. Emma thought Hermione had luckily missed out on all the potential pitfalls that was teenage dating but that wasn't strictly true. Her daughter simply had an entirely different set of pitfalls to navigate. Emma though managed to surprise herself. Here they were, talking about Hermione's first foray into actual sex and her mother had an uncontrollable urge to laugh. Hermione's pout at having to convince Harry to take that final step just finished Emma off, she was holding onto her daughter and giggling with laughter.

"Muuum, it's not funny!"

Her laughter had their two menfolk looking over to see what was going on. Emma whispering to Hermione 'Just as well they don't know what I'm laughing at' set Hermione off too. The more perplexed Dan and Harry were at this, the more Hermione and Emma laughed.

-oOoOo-

Sapphire found herself working alongside Penny and Percy, with Bill supervising all of their training. The wizarding couple had both been raised in pureblood environments, while Sapphire of course had a goblin upbringing. Percy and Penny had been working using Henrica's book on goblins as their guide, having Sapphire added to their group certainly increased their learning curve.

For Sapphire, having a witch and wizard she could ask questions of was a great help. All three though were lacking on any muggle background, Bill was now able to help with that. He'd been seeing a lot of Jenny and had no intention of letting any cultural differences scupper their growing relationship.

Barchoke had immediately given his approval for Jenny to be in Gringotts one day a week as a 'muggle consultant' to their department. She refused all payment for this, citing she was already indebted to them for Euan's and her scholarships. Barchoke though ensured his assistant ambassador took Jenny for a nice lunch, and then dinner after work. Since he stipulated that at least one of these meals should be in the muggle world, and the rest of the department were required to attend, he easily justified the expense involved as training.

By wearing a hat to cover her ears, Sapphire was able to blend in enough so as not to draw any unwanted attention. The streets of muggle London were full of the weird and wonderful, one of the reasons purebloods could get away with their outlandish attempts at muggle dress. In London, where there was a new version of odd around every corner, it was rather hard to stand out.

Sapphire was loving her apprenticeship, even more so since Barchoke decreed that time spent at Kingussie would be considered work. Just by hanging out with her friends and having fun, Sapphire would still be learning about their different cultures. That would mean Sapphire could still join her friends' during their holidays in Kingussie, and of course she was looking forward to this ball.

There were goblin teenagers who had once taunted Sapphire because she was friends with Harry when they were youngsters. Those same teenagers were now intensely jealous as Sapphire appeared fast-tracked for success, that was revenge worthy of a goblin. Even some of her own family were now looking at her in awe, Sapphire could hardly wait to see their faces when she was pictured on the arm of Viktor Krum.

-oOoOo-

Fleur Delacour was another young lady whose outlook had changed since meeting a certain goblin. The Beauxbatons' Champion couldn't remember a time when she had been happier. Not only was she making friends at Hogwarts, she would be spending the Christmas holidays with those friends and her family. After their training one morning, while Harry and Neville were showing Viktor the basic positions for wielding a sword, she heard from Hermione and Padma why Kingussie was so important to them.

"It's not the biggest house Harry owns but it's the one that feels most like home to us. Last summer, it felt as if half the country visited our home over the weekend of the fayre. We have goblin families living and working in Kingussie now too. Our brother was christened there and the four of us are getting married in Kingussie the summer after next. Our family and friends know they're welcome anytime, and tend to drop by more often than not. Harry appears happiest when the house is bursting at the seams, which again it is more often than not."

"...and poor Hermione never seems to get any alone time with Harry because of it." Padma was chuckling as she teased her best friend. "Don't let her fool you, Fleur. Hermione is very much the lady of the manor and loves the company as much as Harry. The first birthday party she threw had the Minister of Magic and The Director of the Nation in attendance, as well as a few hundred other guests she invited."

"Hey, Harry invited both of them. He didn't even tell me about it 'til the night before..."

This drew a loud 'what!' from Fleur, causing the three guys to look over. She lowered her voice before asking the question she really wanted answered. "'Ow did you cope wiz zat?"

"Oh I was angry, but it's hard to stay angry at Harry for long. He was actually right not to be worried about it, and I learned a valuable lesson. Kingussie is our home. Crow's Nest is the way it is, and we are the way we are. Other people might find it strange, even unusual, it's our home though and we wouldn't change anything."

"Well, perhaps a few more rooms for all the guests your mate keeps inviting?"

"Padma, it could be the size of Buckingham Palace and Harry would still somehow manage to fill it." Receiving a pair of blank looks forced Hermione to explain. "Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of The Queen. I seem to remember it has over two hundred and fifty bedrooms, though a lot of them are set aside for servants. Next time we're in London I'll take you to see it, it's just along the Mall from Trafalgar Square."

This at least gave Padma some sort of reference, having visited the square before. It also led to another question. "Will we be visiting London to do any shopping before Christmas?"

"Oh I dare say we could convince these two to take us."

Padma then had another idea. "What about a day in Harrods? We could invite everyone, I'd love to see Pansy's face when she walks in those doors."

"Hey, Patil, I still remember your first trip into muggle London. You were pretty starry-eyed yourself."

"I can't believe you remember that. You were far too busy holding Harry's hand and staring into those green eyes you love so much..."

Fleur was now getting used to these two and wanted to get her question in before this escalated. "Go back to where you mentioned a shopping trip..."

This had both girls laughing. "Don't worry, Fleur, you'll love it. Do you think you can swing it past the parents, Hermione?"

"I've just had a wonderful idea exactly how we can do that, involve the Potter Scholars. The Creeveys, McDonalds and Jenny Abercrombie would love to show their children's magical friends some of their world."

"Little Maggie would certainly love that idea. Maggie Creevey is Colin's young sister, she's nine and besotted with Harry."

"Now, now, Padma, we don't want to start mentioning Creevey crushes, do we?"

That Padma actually looked embarrassed meant it was Hermione's turn to laugh, and explain why to Fleur. "Colin actually had quite the crush on Padma here, she broke his heart by becoming betrothed to Neville."

"Isn't Colin Luna's boyfriend?"

Fluer's question silenced both girls. "He's just asked her to the ball, don't even joke about that!"

Hermione was nodding her agreement. "There isn't a word in the goblin language for protective, they don't need one. Goblin females are prohibited from working on the main bank floor, that's because any customer giving a female teller abuse would quickly find themselves acquainted with goblin steel. Harry likened his centurion position to that of a knight of old, honour, chivalry and courage are all things he lives his life by. Now add in that he certainly considers Luna part of our family and you can see there is a recipe there for a disaster. Goblins don't date as we would consider it, they just hang out with friends until they find their mate."

"That's almost exactly what happened between Neville and me, so Harry was fine with it - there is also the fact he trusts my Neville with Hermione's life. Harry's trying to learn, but inside he'll always be a goblin. First boy who hurts one of the girls is going to find Harry waiting on them. If either of those girls is Luna or Sapphire, we're going to have to try and stop him committing a murder."

"He likes Colin though, Harry might actually approve of that, eventually." Hermione saw Fleur staring at her and tried to justify what she'd just said. "Harry is a wonderful person. Like the rest of us though, he has his faults - and then there's the cultural differences. In his culture that way of acting is not only right, it's positively expected..."

She found herself being interrupted by the veela. "'Ermione, I zzink it is wonderful. I am trying to convince my parents 'Ogwarts might be a better school for Gabrielle, Beauxbatons 'as been a lonely place for me. 'Arry's influence certainly makes the castle safer for a young veela."

Hermione was also thinking a Potter Scholarship could go a very long way to easing Gabrielle's journey through Hogwarts, that was something though she would bring up with Harry in private.

Their earlier talk of the Christmas holidays had Padma far too excited to let that conversation drop. "This is far too serious, let's go and tell our other halves about Hermione's wonderful shopping idea."

"My idea? It was you who suggested it, I just improved on that suggestion..."

Fleur was now looking forward to the holidays even more, and knew Gabrielle would love it too. What Fleur didn't know was that both these girls understood the final conflict would soon be upon them. Hermione and Padma had more steam to let off than usual, they also certainly intended to live life to the full until then.

-oOoOo-

Luna well remembered this lesson. She'd experienced it first hand, last year Harry had asked her and Colin to put on a display of what they'd learned to the newest marauders.

The four assistants were helping Susan and Blaise offer comfort to the latest marauders while Hannah and Terry set out a duelling area, the introduction of Natalie and Pauline certainly cheered Euan, Denis and Orla up. Watching the two second years go at each other meant the pain of those stinging curses would soon be forgotten. Here's what was achievable if they just worked hard.

There were loud cheers for the two girls after Susan called time on their fight, meaning it was a happy bunch of marauders who then left the room at the end of the meeting. It took a few moments before Luna noticed Colin appeared to deliberately delay their departure, until it was just the two of them left. This made her slightly nervous and more than a little excited.

"Luna, you know I like you, and I'm really looking forward to us going to the ball together. Thing is, there is something I've been meaning to ask you. Would you like to go to that ball with me, as my girlfriend?"

She didn't really trust her voice at that moment so Luna just nodded.

A much relieved Colin then asked a follow-on question. "Would it be okay if I kissed my girlfriend?"

Again, she could only nod - though considerably quicker this time. Colin lent in and, a gentle kiss later, both had a wide smile on their faces. Taking her hand, Colin led his new girlfriend out of the room to escort Luna back to Ravenclaw.

"Now all I've got to do is tell Harry..."

"Colin, will you deliberately hurt me?"

"What, never! You know that, Luna."

"I know, so leave Harry to me. I'll have a chat with him."

They walked hand in hand to the Ravenclaw dorm where another gentle kiss was exchanged as the new couple said goodnight. Luna practically bounced into the Ravenclaw common room, drawing attention from all who were there. She made straight for Harry, he was of course sitting beside Hermione.

Deciding to take the bull by the horns, Luna skipped right over and plonked herself down on Harry's lap. Noticing Hermione biting her lip to stop laughing helped Luna say what she needed to.

"Harry, after tonight's meeting, Colin asked me to be his girlfriend. It's something I'm very happy about, and we both know he'll never deliberately hurt me. We've been friends so long that, if this doesn't work out, we could still be friends afterwards. Are you going to be okay with that, are we still okay?"

At that, Harry's arms snaked around Luna. He pulled her closer and kissed her forehead. "As long as you're happy, that's the main thing for me, Luna."

Luna's arms were around him at that and squeezed tightly. "You're the best brother in the whole world" was whispered in his ear. Luna kissed his cheek and then shot off to tell the rest of her friends the good news, there was also a letter she needed to write to Sapphire.

As he watched her go, Harry found himself the recipient of another kiss. "You handled that well, love."

"Luna's happiness is the important thing here, and it's easy to see she's happy. I want her to know I'll always be there if she ever needs me, but not intrude to the point where it stops her leading the life she wants to lead. Does that make sense, or do I sound like some nutter?"

He found himself being answered by another kiss. "That's perfect, Harry..."

"I'm anything but perfect, Hermione. If that was anyone else but Colin, my reaction might have been different. If I thought some wizard was trying to take advantage of her..."

Hermione's kiss this time was more to take Harry's mind away from the direction it had been wandering. "Just by you being you, the wrong type of wizard wouldn't go anywhere near Luna - or any of our close friends. It seems the hat was right to put Colin into Gryffindor..."

This drew a smile from Harry, as did watching a happy Luna with her friends. "This is why we train, Hermione, why we're ready to fight. Look how happy Luna is, and not one person has mentioned the fact she's a pureblood yet Colin is a muggle born. It doesn't matter to us, and it shouldn't matter to anyone else. This is worth fighting for."

Harry found himself being kissed again as Hermione showed she agreed with that.

-oOoOo-

Draco and Pansy were sitting in the Slytherin common room, like Harry and Hermione, just enjoying some alone time together.

"Are you looking forward to going home for the holidays?"

This saw Draco's brows furrowing. "I don't know how Harry puts up with it, I certainly miss the peace and quiet since our home is full all the time. There are so many people staying at the manor now, our mothers are forced to share a room."

The bright blush this induced in Pansy told Draco he was missing something here, he waited on his betrothed telling him just what that something was.

"I don't think the people taking refuge in Malfoy Manor have anything to do with our mothers sharing a bedroom."

"What else would it be...Oh!"

With his eyes almost popping out of his head, Draco looked to his betrothed for confirmation. The slight nod of Pansy's head then had Draco's spinning.

A very anxious Pansy tried to wait on Draco giving some indication of his thoughts on this. Pureblood society, especially pureblood wizards, really frowned on this type of relationship. That it was both their mothers just added further levels of complexity to the problem. The tension as she waited on Draco saying anything at all was getting to her, so Pansy began to babble.

"I don't know what things were like in your home, with the Parkinsons my father's word was law. My mother's opinion on anything was neither asked for nor would be listened to. She was the lady of the house but there was no power behind the position. They may have loved each other when they were younger but that love was long gone by the time I came along. I can't even remember seeing my parents kiss..."

Draco ended her panic with a kiss of his own, before reassuring his betrothed. "We are not our parents. You will be the Lady Malfoy, someone who will be at my side for the rest of our lives. My father curtailed everything my mother could do, including her access to the Malfoy vaults. She was limited to what she could withdraw, and then the ministry took that when she tried to use it to get my father out of the ministry cells."

The more he thought about the situation, the more Draco's mind was made up. "My father would have left us in Hogwarts, knowing we were in great danger from the horcrux he sent here. It was my mother who drew her wand before rushing to the castle to get me home. If being together makes our mothers happy, then I don't see it being anyone's business but their own. My mother certainly deserves some happiness in her life, it sounds like your mother is the same..."

Pansy was so proud of Draco, she almost jumped on him at that point. There was no further talking for a while.

-oOoOo-

Padma and Neville were also talking about the relationships of others. "You must have noticed the change in Hermione, she seems much more self-assured now. The only thing I can think of to do that was if she and Harry had decided to complete their bond. I'm certain they haven't yet, I'm sure I would know."

It was with a fair degree of dryness in his mouth that Neville asked Padma what she thought about that.

Trying to hide her blush, Padma answered as honestly as she could. "If I was in Hermione's position, it's something I would definitely do. You are mine and no dark lord is going to take you from me. Completing their bond means any portkey or wards will accept Hermione too."

Struggling to get the words out, Neville finally managed to say what he wanted to. "Where does that leave us?"

Padma snuggled into him, hiding her face so Neville couldn't see how much she was blushing. "I think it's something we should consider too." When Neville tensed up in her arms, a now emotional Padma gave her reason behind that last remark.

"Down in the chamber of secrets, all of us carried an amazing amount of luck. That luck has to run out sometime love, and I have a bad feeling about this. We can't let them face this alone, but the chances of all of us getting through this in one piece are not great. I want you to know what's waiting for you after this battle. If it makes you fight just that little bit harder, then it will be worth it. I love you, Neville Longbottom, there is no plan B. I am yours and you are mine, that's the way it's got to be. I need you right where you are now, and you need to be there for me..."

Neville lifted her face to his, gently wiped away the tears that were forming in the corners of her beautiful eyes, before kissing Padma with all the tenderness he possessed.

"You're right, there's no way we could let Harry and Hermione face this without us. I can also assure my beautiful mate I will be hitting them with everything I have. You don't need to do this, Padma, I'm more than willing to wait until you're ready."

Basking in the love her mate was showing her, Padma only had one answer to that. "Neville, I think I'm ready now."

"I know you're a Ravenclaw, and this is a quiet table, but really - here in the library?"

This put a smile on Padma's face. "Mr Longbottom, you know fine well I didn't mean right this very minute - you could get me barred from the library if we got caught!"

This started both of them chuckling, quietly of course.

"If you want to take that step, love, then I will certainly go along with you. I think it has to be a decision taken for the right reasons though."

"Neville, facing up to a dark lord and his minions seems like a bloody good reason to me...what's so funny?"

"Oh, just the thought of Lestrange being described as a minion. Only you, Padma, only you." Another kiss followed before they decided to leave the library. There would be no more studying done today, and they needed somewhere a little more private to continue this discussion.

-oOoOo-

After poring over the books Dung had managed to acquire, Dumbledore was coming to the same conclusions as The Nation. He was also faced with the same problem, how to track the boy once he had left? Albus had an advantage though because Dolores was surely going to be tasked with planting this portkey. She would then certainly bring it to him for his assistance with this matter. That would give Albus some time to try and decipher the coordinates the portkey was set to deliver the boy to.

There were spells for deciphering where a portkey had gone. They were extremely complex to cast, required a load of magical power and needed to be cast directly after the portkey had activated.

In the confusion that would follow Harry being abducted, he could easily make a show of casting this spell. Albus would then lead the rescue party to the location he'd already predetermined. The mistake Tom was making with these wards was an obvious one. Tying them to a person's blood certainly increased the power of those wards, right up until that person died!

When Tom completed the prophecy, those wards would come crashing down - and Albus would be on him. The remaining rescuers could bear witness that they had been helpless to save the boy, yet Albus Dumbledore avenged Harry by banishing his second dark lord.

That should see his waning star shoot straight back to its former stellar orbit.

A/N Thanks for reading

A/N I would also like to mention the reader who took the time to nominate me for the latest round of fan fiction awards. While flattering, ever since I started writing my answer has always been the same. After receiving news of my nomination from the organisers, I asked for that nomination to be removed. I write purely for my own enjoyment and am constantly amazed that others actually like what I do. That is better than any award to me.