A/N: Bad news for my followers, I am losing my internet, so I have no idea when I will be able to post after today. So, I decided to post this chapter before that happened, and maybe I will manage to get some work on the story done before I get internet access again. On to the story!
Harry grinned widely as he looked around at his friends seated in the Great Hall. The whole debacle with the Philosopher's Stone was over and Quirell was dead, having encountered the protection gifted to Harry by his mother's sacrifice, or at least, that's what Professor Dumbledore had theorized. Harry and his friends had gone after Quirell when they had learned Dumbledore had left the castle. Tracy and Neville had raced off to find some way to alert Dumbledore of the danger while Harry, Ron, and Hermione had braved the challenges to get to the stone. In the end, Harry had faced off against the teacher who was possessed by the spirit of Voldermort alone. Harry was jolted from his thoughts by the loud booming sound of the doors to the Great Hall slamming open, revealing a very surprising sight.
Captain Narya Sparrow was standing in the entrance to the Great Hall fully decked out in her pirate gear. At her right was Sirius Black dressed in similar attire. At her left was Thomas. Both Thomas and Narya had their symbols as Pirate Lords on display. Tracy leapt from her seat and raced to join her fellow Pirate Lords. Narya looked up the length of the house tables to the large staff table.
"Albus Dumbledore, you have some explaining to do," she said in an arctic tone. Dumbledore rose to his feet and descended to stand level with the well-known captain.
"Of course Captain. But first, I am sure you would like to take the time to greet your son. You should be very proud of him and his friends. The have acted with great bravery and defended this castle and the students from a terrible evil," he said, gesturing to where Harry and his three friends stood. Narya turned and a wide smile graced her face.
"I'm always proud of my lad," she answered, opening her arms. Harry sprinted forward and flung his arms around the woman who had become his mother in so many ways. At her loving touch the reality of all that had happened fell in him and Harry broke down in her arms. Sirius moved forward a rested a hand on the boy's back.
"Albus, can we go somewhere a bit more private?" he asked the elder man. Dumbledore nodded and gestured for them to follow him out the door. Sirius turned to see Harry's friends watching nervously a jerked his head, silently telling them to come along. Narya had scooped Harry into her arms and carried him through the entrance hall and into a private room. Dumbledore swiftly conjured a large sofa and Narya settled onto it, holding the nearly twelve year old boy in her lap as he shook and sobbed against her chest. Narya stroked his hair gently and began to sing a soft lullaby from when he had first arrived on the ship and tended to wake with nightmares. As she sang, Harry's friends filed into the room and settled around her and her young lad. Hermione had taken up a position next to Narya and taken one of Harry's hands. Ron sat next to her while Tracy settled on the ground against Ron's legs. Neville kneeled at Narya's feet while Sirius took the space on Narya's other side. As Harry slowly calmed and lifted his head, he found himself surrounded by his friends and family. Narya spotted the question in his face.
"We are your family Harry. We may not be connected by blood, but it is a family we forged. Do you remember when you first joined my crew, one night you asked me why I would want someone like you around? Do you remember what I told you?" she asked. Harry nodded slowly.
"You told me that what happened in my life made me stronger, that I was better than everyone who treated me badly because I endured it and refused to change who I was for someone else," he recalled. Narya smiled.
"I also told you that the fires of your early life forged you into the strong person you would become. I saw the moment you set foot on the Pearl that the sea was in your blood. What do think, Sirius, does he get it from James, or Lily?" she asked, turning her attention to the dark haired wizard next to her. He beamed at the small boy curled against the woman who had raised him.
"James always had a wild streak, but my money's on Lily. She was fearless, brilliant, loyal to her friends and ruthless to anyone who attacked them. We learned that the hard way when we were fifth years together. I still have the scar from the little ring she wore when she punched me," he replied, pointing to the small scar near his left eye. "They would be so proud of you, Prongslet," he added, reaching over to wipe away the last of the boy's tears. Harry offered a watery smile to his godfather while Narya looked around at the friends Harry had made.
"Alright, I think I need to meet with your parents. Tracy, your mum is waiting to meet us on the Pearl when we leave. Neville, Ron, Hermione, would you write to your folks and ask them to meet us in Hogsmeade for lunch tomorrow?" she asked.
"I'm sure Gran would like to meet you in person," Neville replied.
"My parents are Muggles," Hermione said hesitantly.
"You write to them, and will personally deliver the letter and escort them to Hogsmeade tomorrow," Sirius offered.
"Mum will probably have to bring Ginny with her, there's no one to watch her," Ron warned. Narya gave him an understanding nod, and the three made their way out of the room to write their letters. Narya turned to Dumbledore.
"Alright, now tell me everything," she ordered.
Augusta Longbottom stepped through the Floo into the Three Broomsticks and immediately set her eyes on her grandson. Neville was sitting at a long table with several other children. Augusta was quick to identify the three Weasley boys by their distinctive red hair, and the wild Potter hair of young Harry, but the two girls were a bit of a mystery to her. One had dirty blond hair half covered by a piece of emerald cloth, while the other had bushy chestnut curls and was speaking animatedly to Authur Weasley, who was listening with rapt attention. Molly was sitting near her sons with her youngest daughter huddling close, staring across the table to where Harry was talking to one of the twins, a small monkey perched on his shoulder. As she watched, the monkey hopped down from Harry's shoulder and walked across to offer his little paw to the red haired girl. She was blushing madly as she tentatively curled her fingers around the tiny paw. The monkey made a few noises, and Harry glanced over to grin at the scene.
"Look at the little charmer. I swear Jack, at the rate you're going, all the girls in Hogwarts will be in love with you by Christmas!" he said with a laugh. Neville looked up at that moment and grinned widely.
"Gran!" he exclaimed, rushing to greet her with a tight hug. Augusta allowed the indulgence, knowing the people in the room with her would not wish to stand on formality. After greeting his grandmother, Neville drew her to the table. "Gran, may I introduce my friends. Fred and George are third years, they have been keeping an eye on us ickle firsties and helping us with our Potions assignments. Ron, Hermione, and Harry are in Gryffindor with me, and Tracy is a First Year from Slytherin House. Crew, this is my grandmother, the Dowager Longbottom," Neville introduced. All six students rose from the table at the introductions. Tracy and Hermione curtseyed to the woman while the boys gave bows. Molly and Arthur were smiling fondly at the display and greeted Augusta warmly. The Dowager Longbottom decided to embrace the light hearted atmosphere and gave her grandson a warm smile.
"It is a delight to meet you all. Neville's letters have been filled with nothing but praise for his new friends. Molly, Arthur, how are things at the Burrow?" she asked. Arthur smiled at the greeting while Molly wove a tale about her eldest's latest letter from Egypt and bemoaning the man ever bringing a nice girl home. The fireplace flared up at that moment and several people came through, ending in a couple that stumbled and hit their knees in front of the grate. Hermione rushed forward with a shriek and practically hugged the two breathless. Augusta straightened her spine at the sight of Sirius Black and offered her hand. "My Lord Black, I would like to offer my most sincere apologies that I allowed the House of Longbottom to be complacent in the atrocity that was your wrongful imprisonment," she said formally. The man before her was quite removed from the skeletal, haunted figure she had last seen chained to a chair in the Wizengamont chambers on the first of November. He took her hand and bowed over her knuckles with an open smile.
"My dear Lady, I in no way blame you for what happened to me. We were all struck with great tragedies those terrible days. You have done a magnificent job raising Neville. Frank and Alice would be so proud," he answered, turning a fond smile on the group of children at the table. Augusta pushed down the small stab of pain at the reminder of her son and daughter-in-law and turned her attention to the dark haired woman standing to Sirius' side. Rumors and speculation had been flying throughout the Wizengamont about Captain Narya Sparrow since her appearance at the trial in November, but Augusta endeavored to base her opinions of people on their own actions and words, rather than rumor. Narya grinned widely as Harry launched himself at Narya, his monkey jumping on the table in excitement. The woman herself easily accepted the embrace from the small boy and led him to the table.
"Alright mates, business should always follow pleasure, so lunch and conversation first," she commanded. Sirius was by her side in a second, holding her chair as she made to sit. Neville did the same for his grandmother. Introductions were shared around the table for the adults, and Hermione's parents thanked Sirius for bringing them to the village.
"If there is one thing I have never agreed on, it is the way Muggleborn students are prevented from showing their parents what they have learned at Hogwarts. It's a terrible crime, one the purebloods actually encourage in hopes the muggleborn will abandon one world or another. I am reliably informed that your daughter is at the top of her year. If she keeps this up, she will break Lily's old record for highest overall scores," Sirius praised. Hermione turned bright red at the compliment, a color that deepened further at the agreements from her year mates.
"I am not at the top in all my classes. Neville is first in Herbology, and Harry beats me in DADA every time. And I am certain that if he pushed himself just a little harder, Ron would beat me out in Transfiguration," Hermione protested. Ron flushed as well but shook his head.
"'Mione, the only reason I'm doing so well in my classes is because you help me study. She is brilliant, she actually tricked the twins into teaching her third year Potions work," he revealed. The twins nodded sagely in conformation of their brother's words.
"We didn't even realize we'd been had for three days! If she ever decides to turn to pranking, we'll be done for!" Fred and George agreed. Dan and Emma looked on at their daughter in pride while she continued to blush.
"Lord Black, as I recall, you and your friends were quite the pranksters in your days. You even had names for each other," Angelica Davis said with a sly smile on her face. Narya turned to look at Sirius with an amused expression as well.
"Ah yes, Master Lupin spun such tales for me as well. I believe the name he gave you was Padfoot," she added. Sirius grinned fondly in rememberance. The Weasley twins, meanwhile, had frozen at the name, staring at Sirius in a mix of shock and reverence.
"That was me. Remus was called Moony, and James was Prongs. I am positive we are the reason for most of Minerva's grey hair," he laughed. A loud yelp drew everyone's attention to where Ron was sitting. He was holding his bleeding finger and glaring down at his pocket. Jack the monkey began to screech and bared his fangs in Ron's general direction.
"Jack! You promised to leave Scabbers alone," Harry scolded. Jack let out a hiss while Scabbers began to frantically try to escape Ron's pocket. Sirius had been frowning during the exchange when Jack burst into movement and raced toward the floor where the fat brown rat had escaped from Ron's pocket and trying to get to the door. The monkey grabbed the rat and began to struggle to avoid its frantically biting teeth. The children had jumped up when Jack had bolted, but Sirius had gone white the moment he saw the rat. Arthur managed to get over to where the two animals were fighting and scooped them both up in his arms. At the same moment, Jack managed to get his little paws on the rat's neck and roared in its face. The rat went stock still. Arthur made to separate the monkey from the rat, but each time he tried, Jack hissed and bared his fangs.
"Harry! Make Jack let Scabbers go!" Ron shouted. Narya was looking from the two animals to Sirius' white face. She laid a gentle hand on Sirius' arm.
"What's wrong?" she whispered. He looked her in the eye and Narya was taken aback by the haunted sheen in them. He looked the same as when he had first stepped onto the Pearl in November.
"Is the rat missing a toe?" he rasped. The sudden sound of his voice made everyone fall silent. Arhtur frowned at the question, but answered.
"He always has. Percy found him in the garden as a lad, begged to keep him as a pet. When he became a prefect this year, we got him an owl and he gave Scabbers to Ron," the Weasley patriarch replied. Narya frowned and looked to where Jack was still baring his fangs at the rat.
"No mere rat will live more than three years mate. Trust me, that can't be an ordinary rat," she stated. Molly looked nervous.
"Percy was about five or six when he found it, but Scabbers has never shown any sign of being a magical rat," she admitted. At that moment, Narya shot to her feet and grabbed the rat by the scruff of the neck. Jack allowed the captain to take the rat from his grip.
"We can do this one of two ways, Mister Wormtail. You can reveal yourself of your own will, or I can get…creative," she threatened, drawing her cutlass while never taking her eyes off the rat in her hand. By this point, Augusta had connected the dots as well and drawn her wand. Harry had yanked all the students away from Narya when she had grabbed the rat, and Ron looked terrified at the sight.
"But we thought Wormtail was…"
"…one of the Marauders," Fred and George had fallen into their alternating speech again in confusion. Narya shook her head, eyes still fixed on the rat.
"Once upon a time perhaps lads, but then he betrayed them and led Voldermort right to the Potters doorstep," she snarled. If there was one thing that could enrage any member of her crew, it was betrayal. Angelica had ushered the Grangers out of the line of fire and now the rat had not only Augusta's wand and Narya's cutlass, but Molly's wand as well. Arthur was standing in front of the children, his own hands full trying to keep Jack from flying across the room.
"Captain, if you will allow me, I can send a message to Professor McGonagall. She should know a spell to force an Animagus into its human form," Angelica called. Narya gave a terse nod and Angelica flicked her wand, spilling out a silver light. She whispered as the silver light took the shape of a slender bird, and the bird turned to sail through the nearest wall. This was apparently all that the rat needed to convince him to change on his own, for suddenly Narya was holding the back of a ratty grey robe. Peter Pettegrew looked around the room fearfully, his entire body trembling. Upon the sight of the supposedly dead man, Sirius let out a roar of rage and launched himself from his chair. Narya released Peter and threw herself at Sirius, gripping his shoulders and trusting the other two women to take out the rat if he tried to escape. Sirius was almost beyond reason, eyes wild with rage, and it took all Narya's strength to keep him from tearing the rat to pieces. The children were shouting and Narya heard both Augusta and Molly shout out spells, but her entire focus was on Sirius. She heard a scream, and someone yelled Harry's name, followed by a thud. Narya spun around and saw Peter lying on the floor, an enraged Harry and Neville standing over him. Hermione and Tracy were gripping two ends of a length of rope near the rat's feet. Harry's robes were slightly torn, but everyone was otherwise fine. Molly was gathering her brood in her arms while Dan and Emma were heading for their daughter and Angelica was doing the same. Augusta moved next to the two dark haired boys and bound Pettegrew in ropes before drawing her grandson into her arms. Harry turned to look at Narya and Sirius and both of them surged forward to embrace the boy.
"He deserves the Locker," Harry whimpered into Narya's shoulder. Her grip tightened on her lad, and she looked up into Sirius' still haunted eyes.
"Don't you worry my lad. He'll get his now," she whispered. It was into this scene that Professor McGonagall arrived with Dumbledore trailing behind her.
By the time the Aurors had been called and Pettegrew removed from the village, statements taken and a near war between the children, Narya, and the Aurors over whether or not to Obliviate the Grangers, the sun was dipping below the horizon. Harry had been tucked into Narya's side the whole time, refusing to let her go except when she had drawn her blade on the pompus Auror who dismissed the Grangers as Muggles.
"Captain, can we all go back to the Pearl to talk? I want to see the crew," Harry asked softly. It pained Narya to see her confident young lad reduced to the timid little boy she had first brought aboard her ship. She smiled down at her lad.
"Professor Dumbledore, I will be taking these students and their parents to my ship for dinner. I promise they will be returned to you before class in the morning. We were unable to discuss our business due to the day's excitement," she said, her gaze almost daring the headmaster to challenge her. To his credit, Dumbledore bowed his head to the pirate captain.
"Then I shall entrust my students to your care, Captain. Classes have finished actually, so the students have a free day before the Leaving feast tomorrow," he replied. Narya bowed her head and began the logistics of getting the sixteen of them back to the Pearl where she was anchored just off the coast. Dumbledore offered to make a portkey for the group, and the captain readily agreed. Within moments, the group were standing on the deck of the Pearl, and the crew were shouting with joy and surrounding the group. Harry had rushed forward to greet the crew while Narya began to shout orders. In short order, the crew, with the help of the grown witches and wizards in the group, had set up a veritable festival on the deck, with tables of food and music being played. While the children were being regaled with tales from the crew and Harry, Narya and Sirius sat down with the parents and went over everything that had happened over the past ten months. Narya explained about the Brethren Court and how Hermione had been chosen to take up a place among the Pirate Lords by the late Lord Montague.
"In normal circumstances, this would have very little bearing on her life, but the Court has been called up by Calypso, and Hermione must spend at least part of her year on the water like the rest of us. Calypso is being unusually kind. Tracy and Hermione are welcome to spend the school year at Hogwarts, but at least part of their summer's have to be on the water. I will personally swear they will be safe with my crew. Harry has called this ship home for five years, and this is his family. Only, Harry has a new crew. His own crew, in all these children," Narya paused to look over to where Harry was smiling widely at Thomas as the first mate gestured wildly in his story. The twins, Ron, and Neville were listening raptly while Tracy, Hermione, and Ginny were sitting with Zola and Cook, talking softly among themselves. "After the students leave Hogwarts tomorrow, we will be making for India. Mooney has written to tell us he is ready to come home. It will take a good portion of the summer to get there and back, and we will return just in time to take care of the children's shopping for their next year," she finished explaining.
"You want to take all the children? Even the twins?" Molly asked worriedly. Narya grinned.
"Spending the summer on my ship with two of their idols would be a dream come true I think. Besides, they would learn a bit of discipline on board. Everyone on my ship lends a hand, and the children would be no different. Harry will show them how he lives his life and they will learn a lot," she explained.
"I have no problem agreeing to this. I have never seen my Neville show such confidence in himself. Besides, it would do him some good to get away from our estate and see a bit of the world," Augusta agreed, delicately sipping at the mug of grog one of the crew had offered her. Arthur was smiling warmly as well, an arm wrapped around his wife's waist.
"I think it's a grand idea. The boys will have a wonderful time," he said, giving his wife a bit of a look when she made to protest. Dan and Emma were speaking softly together, and at one point Emma pointed to where her daughter was sitting with Tracy and Ginny, the latter of whom was deftly braiding a section of Hermione's bushy hair while said witch was smiling brightly.
"We can't take her from this, look how happy she is! I miss her too, but we can see her when she gets back and we'll still see her at Christmas," Emma said. Dan still looked ready to protest, but finally nodded his acceptance.
"What about passports? Or money?" he asked, and Arthur and Molly began to look a might uncomfortable.
"Money will be no object. The Black family has more money than they ever knew what to do with and it has been gathering interest for the last decade. I will be funding this adventure, and I will not take no for an answer. Besdies, the children will be earning pay just like the rest of the crew," Sirius interjected. Narya shot a look over at the Marauder. While he was smiling and charming, Narya could see the mirth and happiness didn't quite reach his eyes.
"We will have plenty of room. Thomas and Zola will be getting their own ship when we reach India. The Priate King has to be captain of his own ship after all," Narya said, looking up to where Thomas had just swept Zola into a dance. She had no doubt that before they reached India, she would be presiding over a wedding.
"And as I recall, since this ship will be spending most of its time in International waters, the children will not have the normal restriction on underage magic. We will be able to teach them all sorts of things during the trip," Angelica added with a wide smile. A moment later, Malcolm approached the group of parents.
"May I have the honor of a dance, Madam Davis?" he asked with a slight bow. Angelica smiled.
"Only if you call me Angelica," she replied, rising to her feet and following the sailor to where some of the crew had begun to dance. Arthur and Dan pulled their wives up to dance, and Neville managed to convince his Gran to join him as well.
"Are you alright?" Narya asked in a low tone. Sirius glanced over at the pirate woman, the smile on his face not quite reaching his eyes.
"I will be," he replied, grasping her hand and pressing a kiss to her knuckles. Narya didn't look like she believed it, but she allowed the wizard to pull her to her feet to join the dance, letting the negative thoughts of the day slide back for the time being.