"Hangover potion Master." Kreacher croaked softly.
Harry downed it in one and sighed, "You're a life saver."
"Yes Master." Kreacher bowed and popped away.
Harry showered and got dressed then headed out with his supply of hangover potions in hand. He helped each of his friends down the potion before moving on to the next one. Neville was last.
"Why did we decide this was fun?" Neville grumbled after drinking his potion, "That has to be the worst feeling ever. I don't even remember what happened after dinner."
"We've experienced it now. We don't have to ever repeat it as far as I'm concerned." Harry acknowledged his friends wise words, "I can't imagine why anyone would want to feel that bad. I can remember what happened and it wasn't that exciting. It wasn't much different than what we saw after the game, less making out though."
"That's good to know." Neville chuckled.
"Will you have some free time after Christmas?" Harry asked, "I have an idea for getting more contracts."
"I'm almost afraid to ask." Neville smirked, "I should have some time though."
"I wrote to Mr. Smith and asked if he knew of any other producers of rare ingredients and he gave me a list of names and addresses." Harry waved off Neville's look of doubt, "He doesn't say any of them have any issues like he had. It should be simply go and get."
"With you along for the ride I doubt that will be the case at all." Neville laughed at Harry's grumble.
"Breakfast is in ten minutes." Harry said over his shoulder as he left the room, "Better hurry or they'll have eaten it all before you even get there."
"Ron's not here, there will be plenty left." Neville yell at the closed door.
Christmas Harry spent with Andromeda and Teddy. Harry had bought them both presents and ended up helping Teddy open his as all he wanted to do was chew on the paper. After several hours Harry put the boy down for a nap.
"You're really good with him." Andromeda whispered from the door.
"I wish I could see him more often." Harry stroked the head of fine baby hair, "You two could come and live with me."
"You have made that offer several times." She commented.
"I will continue to do so until you take me up on it." Harry grinned as he followed her out of the room.
"Harry we're fine here." She stated, "You aren't even living there right now."
"True, but Kreacher is." Harry replied, "I can understand if you don't want to go right now. But I also know about the hate mail and the threats you get on the street. In France none of that will happen."
"I'll reconsider it then." She allowed, "But that doesn't mean we'll leave this house for good."
"I understand." He nodded, "I'm glad you are considering it. Feel free to go at any time even if it's just to visit. I'll tell Kreacher to watch for your arrival just in case."
"Pushy." She mumbled.
"I know, George reminds me every chance he gets." Harry chuckled.
"You are the reason then." She explained when Harry looked confused, "No one expected him to reopen the shop, at least not for a year or more."
"He probably wouldn't have had things not gone the way they did." Harry sighed as they took seats in the living room, "I pushed until he was coherent, after that he did it all on his own."
"The oldest of the four traitors is in trouble with the ministry." She changed the subject slightly, "He was caught nosing into things that didn't fit into his job description."
"Did they say what things?" he asked.
"It is supposed to be public soon." She responded, "But my source didn't tell me what it was."
"Is your source by any chance a tall bald minister?" Harry quirked an eyebrow.
"A lady never reveals her sources." Andromeda replied.
Sure enough Andromeda was proven correct in her information. Percy was suspended without pay for nosing into the department that dealt with magical creatures when he was still in the department for international cooperation. It wasn't a big offence but it was one that would destroy his credibility for a while. He'd have to be on his best behavior for a very long time before anyone would forget. The only twinge this caused Harry was his wondering if they had a link to his creature status. He wasn't stupid enough to think no one would ever figure it out but he hoped it would be a very long time before they did. And then he hoped they only figured out part of it.
After returning to school Harry kept in contact with several of the producers he had met over the break. He had deals with a few of them and others were still working out things. Harry was offering a unique service. Most producers had to find places to sell their products to and then deliver them. This took a significant amount of time away from actually producing the items. With Harry willing to pick up and deliver to not only their current buyers but find more buyers for them most were happy to sign on. He had managed to get Minerva to allow him to be away from school on the weekends he wasn't playing quidditch, provided he agreed to get a few ingredients for the school.
It was three weeks after school started back that Harry got his first challenge. Neville went with him to meet with a producer that had an exceedingly rare plant. The problem was it couldn't be apparated, or taken by portkey, not even levitated or a lightening charm could be used. Muggle transport was the only way it could go without damaging the product.
"Could we fly it out on brooms?" Harry asked the man.
"The height won't bother it." The man replied, "But the magical field this produces interferes with the brooms magic. We've tried everything."
"What about by hippogryph?" Harry wondered.
"Do you have a trained one hidden in your pocket?" the man laughed, "Animals would be fine. We've used pack animals for years. Horses and donkeys have been our mode of transport at least until you get down the mountain. After that we have progressed to vehicles."
"Can you give us a week to figure this out?" Harry asked.
"Take as long as you need. When you can find another way to transport it that doesn't hurt it you'll have a contract with me." The man agreed and went back into his building.
Once they returned to Hogwarts Harry explained to Neville what he had planned, "I carry it in my thestral form. I can fly it out and I won't be seen. I just need something to carry it in."
"How about a net, can your invisibility extend that far?" he asked.
"Let's test that this week. We'll also need to find a way to strap it on." Harry explained.
"What about distance. Can you fly that far?" Neville worried.
"Down the mountain yes, but from Switzerland to London, no." Harry sighed, "I would suggest we get a delivery van. He said each buyer only wants a few pieces so we can hand deliver that from the van parked nearby."
"Isn't it amazing that one little root can weigh that much?" Neville had a look of wonder on his face, "A plant that can weigh as much as a large dog all in that little root."
"That's why it's called iron root." Harry chuckled, "They could have called it ton root just as well. I hope George appreciates this. I didn't think the Ton Tongue Toffees were all that neat."
"Four crates will get you a ton of galleons." Neville laughed, "We'll need to figure out their mass weight to make sure you can carry that much that far."
The next weekend arrived and Neville showed up on the mountain on the back of a thestral, "We couldn't find a hippogryph willing to help but this thestral seems ok with the work."
"I'm not sure he can carry all this and you." The man looked skeptical.
"I'll apparate down after he takes off." Neville smiled, "He knows where to go."
"Alright, here's my delivery points." The man handed off the list and stood back to watch.
Neville moved the crates onto his net and hooked it to the underside of the harness. The thestral flapped its wings and took off. It slowly lifted the net and crates off the ground and then soared off into the sky. Neville shook the man's hand and the left to get to the delivery van they had barrowed. He waited several minutes but soon saw the thestral winging its way towards him. With no muggles for miles they didn't have to worry about being seen by them. Neville unhooked the thestral and patted its neck and let it fly off. Dean was standing by his side.
"How in the world did you get a thestral to do that?" he asked.
"You know Harry. He has friends everywhere." Neville waved off his shock, "Help me with these crates will you? No magic, these are delicate roots."
"If they're so delicate why do they weigh a ton?" Dean groaned as he picked up a box, "And where is Harry? Shouldn't he be here helping?"
"Quit whining I'm here." Harry walked up, "You would think we hired Ron instead of you with all this whining."
"I am not that bad." Dean chuckled as they finished loading the boxes, "Besides at least I can drive."
"Harry can too but he doesn't have a license so they wouldn't let us rent the truck." Neville shrugged and headed to the front to climb in.
"Where are we going with this?" Dean asked.
"Well remember that vow you made to keep everything a secret?" Dean nodded encouraging Harry to continue, "We're taking some of it to the home I inherited from my Godfather. The one I'm living in right now."
"You don't want anyone to know where you live." Dean nodded in agreement, "Makes more sense than keeping these roots secret."
"They are too." Harry explained, "I'm trying to create my own company and if anyone finds out before I'm finished with school they can come in and take the business by being there now. We can only pick up and deliver on weekends."
"Everyone's been wondering about that." Dean smiled as he watched the road, "It's the reason I signed up to help. I wanted to know how you were getting out of school so much without your points going down."
"I pay a fee to the Headmistress." Harry laughed, "I have agreed to give her some of each of the items I'm picking up."
"And now you know but can't tell anyone." Neville added with a grin, "They're going to bug you to death. Seamus will be the worst."
"They won't be too bad. They were all in the room when I made the oath." Dean shrugged, "They'll probably all bug you for jobs now."
"I don't have anything else yet." Harry looked out his window as they drove along.
Several hours later, having made several deliveries along the way, they pulled up to Harry's house. Opening the back doors of the van they unloaded some into the entryway and then down to the storage room in the basement. Soon they were on their way again. They left part of the shipment at the store in the shopping area near Harry's house and then the rest they shipped to their various locations including London where Harry was there to receive it and take it to Diagon Alley. Part he left at the potion supply store and the rest went to George. A large owl was waiting and Harry tied a bag with several pieces of the roots inside and sent it off.
Slughorn was a very happy man the next day when he received Harry's package. He caught him after class and expressed his gratitude, "Harry lad I don't know how you do it but you always get the best stuff. I can't believe you can even find this it's that rare. It generally takes a week or more to get any."
"I have a few friends." Harry waved him off, "I would appreciate if you'd give me a letter stating its condition and usefulness. If my method works well I'll get a contract for a constant supply. It won't be free next time but it will be at cost for the school."
"Yes of course all for academic purposes." Slughorn turned to go into his room, "Of course this batch will have to be tested solely by me just to make sure it's in good shape."
"Of course Professor." Harry rolled his eyes.
As soon as Harry made it back to the common room he was assaulted by requests, "Harry do you have a job I can help with?"
"I don't have anything right now. But if I come up with something that you can do I'll be sure and let you know." Harry waved them off as he pulled out his homework.
"What is it you're doing?" Hermione asked with accusation in her voice.
"He is not doing anything dark." Neville interrupted before it could be blown into a fight, "I promise there is not one thing wrong, dark or illegal in anything we are doing. I'd make a vow on it if you don't believe me."
"No you won't." Harry said banging his hand on the table, "We have nothing to prove to her. Your word is plenty good enough. I've never heard you lie, exaggerate or in any other way not tell the truth, which is a lot more than I can say about her."
Hermione huffed and went to the other side of the room. Neville smiled into his hand as the rest of the room went back to what they had been doing before the confrontation. It was quiet for several hours and Harry managed to get his homework done before he was interrupted again.
"Mr. Potter." Minerva entered, "Thank you for picking up those things for Professor Slughorn. He was in quite a good mood at this evening's staff meeting."
"My pleasure Professor, I was in the neighborhood anyway." Harry was packing up his books, as was Neville.
"He showed me the thing you included and he called it a peanut." She said hesitantly, "Can you explain that a little more?"
"That is a muggle thing. It's called a packing peanut because of the shape not what it's made of." He explained, "When shipping delicate items muggles put that in the package to absorb the shock from getting banged around."
"But it was so small." She looked confused.
"They put hundreds of those in box with the item. They're light enough they won't squish it but durable enough not to get crushed easily." Harry added with a grin, "It's as good as a cushioning charm and can be used with the iron root because there are no magical properties in it."
"Amazing." She blinked.
"Neville said the same thing." Dean chuckled, "Muggles really do have some ingenious ways to get around without magic. They've also got this stuff called bubble wrap that does the same kind of thing. My sisters love to get some of that and pop all the bubbles they think it's fun."
"What's fun about that?" Blaise Zabini spoke up.
"Tell you what." Harry grinned, "Next time I'm in the muggle side I'll get some and let you find out."
"Do you have any more of those peanuts?" Hannah spoke up, "I'd like to take it to muggle studies."
"I have some." Neville spoke up, "I was going to show it to Gran but I can share."
He pulled out a bag with several pieces in it and handed a few to Hannah. Most of the room gathered around to look it over. It was handed around before she placed it in her book bag to take to class. During this Neville and Harry slipped out followed by Minerva.
"What are your plans for next weekend?" she asked.
"Quidditch on Saturday." Harry shrugged, "Sunday is free for now."
"I need something done if you've got the time." She smiled, "Shouldn't be very difficult for you."
"Oh now that's scary." Neville chuckled.
At Sunday lunch a week later Harry found himself at a restaurant in Diagon Alley facing a man who was asking him to take a job as an unspeakable. He couldn't describe the man though he was able to see the face clearly. And the second he glanced away he forgot it and saw it new again when he glanced back.
"How do you do the face thing?" Harry asked.
"That is an unspeakable secret. If you join we'll teach you." He stated.
"No I'm not working for the ministry." Harry shook his head, "Not in any way, shape or form. That place is a rat's nest of conniving politicians and other criminals. I've been subjected to it far more than I ever wanted to before and I have no wish to spend any time there now."
"But we don't deal with the politicians and things. The Department Head deals with them." He explained.
"If I was there they would be all over your department so they could tell the press what a wonderful job I was doing at the ministry." Harry shook his head, "If I can turn down Minister Shacklebolt for an Auror position you have no hope of convincing me of anything."
"I thought that was just a rumor." The man leaned back in his chair and looked at the youth again reevaluating his thoughts.
"Not a rumor." Harry smiled slightly, "I'm not interested in any kind of ministry job at the present time. Please have everyone stop pestering Professor McGonagall she's getting tired of opening and reading useless mail."
"Ok, I'll pass it on." He hesitated, "Are you sure?"
"Positive." Harry said, "I'm going to be working with George Weasley for the foreseeable future."
"Can I make a request then." The man's excitement level jumped, "We are in need of a specialized product but have no idea how to make it."
"I have to get back to school but George would be happy to meet with you." Harry deftly avoided the man, "He's in charge of everything. He'll know if they're already working on something similar. They had a book of ideas and George has been trying to create them."
"Do you think he'd mind if I just dropped by?" the man asked, "Should I tell him you sent me?"
"Drop by any time and no don't mention that I sent you." Harry grinned and waved as he left the man standing by the door.