Marcos and Sade Patil hovered just outside the barrier watching for the muggle parents that were arriving to spend the weekend at Hogwarts. They had been sent bracelets that would allow them past the notice-me-not charm around the entrance of 9 ¾. A small sign stating 'Hogwarts Express' added to their confidence that they were headed in the right direction.
Seeing the first small group of nervous muggles approaching the Patils smiled welcomingly. Sade waved them forward. "Hello. Welcome. We are so glad you came. I am Sade Patil and this is my husband Marcos. We are here to get you across the border."
She stepped forward and linked arms with the first two parents and walked them forward through the wall and onto the platform. There three more magicals waited to get the nervous muggles onto the train.
The parents all settled into the Hogwarts Express carriages with various degrees of excitement. They were finally going to get to see this mystical school their children went to and see the magic that they were learning.
Some were fearful as well. They got the Daily Prophet and had read about all the turmoil going on in this secret society. Albus Dumbledore who had been held up to them as an icon for good turned out to not be so good. There was still upheaval concerning You Know Who. The girl, Hari Potter, who they couldn't decide was good or a lying good-for-nothing had married You Know Who's grandson and now they were in charge of the school.
Scandal had been rocking the magical world for months now – innocent people incarcerated in that horrible prison; abuse that had been ignored; prejudicial rates for education; the murder attempt on Lady Slytherin and the violent retaliation by her husband and godfathers.
They had all been warned to exchange pounds into galleons, sickles and knuts so when the trolley lady came through with magical candy many of the parents bought a few things to try them out.
Several witches and wizards were making the rounds on the train talking to the parents explaining Quidditch, floo travel as well as apparition, portkeys and the Knight Bus, the Houses, moving stairs and ghosts of Hogwarts and answering as many questions as possible and passing out the charmed bracelets that would allow the muggles to see Hogwarts. Unknown to everyone except Hari and Tom the bracelets also charmed the muggles wearing them to be unable to tell anyone of the magical world that wasn't already aware of it.
Once they arrived at the Hogsmeade train station they herded the parents into the carriages.
"But they aren't hitched to anything," a bewildered woman murmured.
"Thestrals," Maven Peakes informed them petting something between the empty braces of the carriage. "Invisible winged horses."
"No. Thestrals are carnivores and you can only see them if you've witnessed someone dying, but they are very gentle creatures."
"Oh," the woman murmured faintly as her husband prodded her into the carriage.
The ride was short and soon they were standing outside of the castle staring up at in it awe. Their children lived in this magnificent castle most of each year.
Tom and Hari stood in the entrance in dress robes. "Welcome to Hogwarts. I am the headmaster, Tom Riddle. This is my wife, Hari Potter Riddle. Together we own Hogwarts and the land about it. If you'll follow us into the Great Hall, your children are waiting to share the wonders of this wonderful castle with you."
They entered the castle their necks twisting about as they took in the gleaming walls covered in portraits that moved and the soaring stairwell. Several gasped as the stairs moved ponderously.
The Riddles gave them a moment to take in the entrance then urged them inside.
The children called out and waved to their parents until the crowd was sorted and the parents were sitting with their children. They stared up at the magical ceiling and at the dripless candles floating above their heads.
Tom and Hari moved to take their places at the high table. A chime sounded gaining everyone's attention. Hari grinned at them all. "Welcome to Hogwarts. This is the first instance of non-magical parents visiting our school. After supper, your children will show you their dormitories and you'll have an opportunity to speak with their head of house and the other students. Tomorrow after breakfast we've arranged for them to show you what they have learned in their time here. Afterwards, you'll be able to visit the village of Hogsmeade. We will end the day with a Quidditch match. I hope you enjoy your visit."
She sat down and Tom clapped his hands. The tables filled with food and drink making the parents start in surprise. Excited chatter broke out filling the large room with the white noise of too many voices competing to be heard.
There were thirty couples and several single parents here tonight. It was a good turnout for the first muggle parents event. They would see how this weekend went to work out the kinks for future events.
Several of them screamed at the sight of the Bloody Baron and Nearly Headless Nick and the other ghosts that slipped through the walls and floated over to the tables. Children were heard amusedly explaining the ghosts to their parents.
The clatter of utensils on gold plates, the susurration of a thousand voices filled the great hall. Happy chatter as families caught up; children introducing their parents to friends and housemates; telling them of life at Hogwarts.
No one noticed Samira until she was winding up around Riddle's shoulders. Several men jumped up pointing and shouting.
"He's going to be crushed!"
"Someone kill it!"
"Calm down!" Thomas raised his hands and made a sit down motion. "Sit. I apologize for not warning you. I did not know she was joining us today." He gave the snake a small glare.
:I was bored: Samira hissed flicking her tongue against his cheek.
:You nearly gave the muggles a heart attack.:
"Is…is he talking to the snake?"
Thomas looked out at the stunned crowd. "Yes, I am talking to her. I am a Parselmouth and this is my familiar, Samira. She is, of course, very protective of myself and Hari, but otherwise will not harm anyone."
Hari reached over and stroked the snake earning a pleased sound from the serpent.
Slowly students and parents settled and began to eat again although with furtive glances at the head table where Thomas and Hari were taking turns feeding Samira bits of meat.
Then the Creevey brothers jumped up. "Headmaster, can we get a picture of her?"
"Can we pet her?" "Pet her? Can we hold her?" They nearly sounded like the Weasley twins in their excitement. The rumor mill had spread knowledge of the headmaster's snake familiar, but no one had actually seen her except the two boys that had skipped class that one day.
Thomas looked a bit startled, but Hari being used to the boys laughed. She stood and called Samira to her. :Is it okay for the two boys to hold you? They want to take a picture of you with them.:
:Proper adulation. Finally! Take me to those who understand my worth:
Thomas snorted in amusement as Samira slid onto Hari wrapping the lower half of her body gently around the slender witch. :Be careful of the baby:
:I shall not harm the growing snakeling:
Hari walked down to the boys. Colin had shoved his camera into his dad's hands. The elder Creevey was looking nearly excited as his sons. Now Hari knew where they got it from.
Hari studied the thin boys a moment. Samira was heavy. "Link arms so you can share her weight."
The boys were quickly plastered side by side. Samira uncurled sinuously and carefully transferred herself from her master's mate to the two boys. She draped her long body elegantly over their shoulders holding her head up by their heads.
Their dad stepped back and took several pictures.
The boys pet her with their free hand. "She's amazing." "Gorgeous." "This is so cool!" "The only thing that could have beat her was the basilisk." "Yeah, too bad my film turned to dust."
The other Gryffindors mostly had surged away from the large snake and was staring at them in horror.
:Does anyone else wish to worship me?:
:No. Come, I have a rabbit behind my chair.: Thomas hissed and the boys squeaked at how fast the snake slid down their bodies and across the floor to the headmaster.
"Cor, she's fast!"
"There'd be no dodging her that's for sure."
Hari made her way sedately back to her seat. She could see Samira behind Thomas, the rabbit already more than halfway swallowed. Yeah, they didn't need a picture of that.
"I think that's enough excitement for tonight." Thomas said. "Dessert then you can show your parents your dormitories. We have set up additional rooms for them for the weekend just off the common rooms."
The next morning after a leisurely breakfast Thomas called up several students. He made sure to call up little Luci Bailey and Perrin Henson. "Now as first years with only a bit over a month of lessons these two are just learning the basics, but let's see how hard they've practiced. Can the two of you levitate your feathers?"
The two first years had intense looks of concentration on their faces as they pointed their wands at the white feathers in front of them. "Wingardium Leviosa," they incanted with a swish and flick of their wands. The two feathers rose and hovered above their heads.
"Very good!" Thomas exclaimed. "Have you learned to control them yet? Circles perhaps."
Their eyebrows scrunched as they made the feathers circle about.
"Excellent. Two points each to Gryffindor."
They grinned and the feathers fell to the floor. They ran back to their parents who hugged them and exclaimed about their abilities.
Next were second and third year Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws. They turned a mouse into a snuffbox and produced a few bluebirds with the Avis spell.
Fourth and fifth years summoned books and filled glasses with water. Then produced shields that held against hexes and curses from Flitwick and Snape.
Sixth and Seventh years staged short duels. They brewed potions for headaches and a calming potion and a stomach soother.
Finally, they were led out of the castle to go visit Hogsmeade. The villagers were bustling about when they arrived and seemed pleased to have practically the entire school in their shops although the majority did give the muggles reserved looks. Some looked downright disgusted at having them there.
One shopkeeper was heard to say, "First muggleborn then those muggles opening a shop full of muggle things now the parents. Next you know we'll have to let muggles buy homes and live next to us."
The school staff looked flustered and the children with muggle parents looked mortified. Thomas scowled at the man, but Hari was tired of the prejudice. She looked down her nose at the man. "Goodness, Thomas must we allow such common folks to live on our land? First we have to treat the upstart Houses then the Clans as equals next thing you know we'll have to address the commoners as our equals."
The man glared at her. She glared back. "It doesn't sit well, does it? Having your degrading prejudices tossed back in your face. My mother was a muggleborn. My maternal grandparents muggles. I have no tolerance for bigotry, sir. Do not forget the land you live on and make your living on belongs to Thomas and I. Halfbloods. We outrank you socially, politically and magically so if we can rub shoulders with muggles then so can you. They are people just like you and I and deserve the same respect you and I do."
The man flushed and stomped inside his store.
"Sorry about that everyone. Prejudice is rampant in the wizarding world just like it is in the muggle. Not everyone shares that man's opinion though so do not let his foul mood ruin your day."
They moved on to Honeydukes where the clerks were friendly and helpful then on to Gladrags and Scrivenshaft separating into small groups and spreading out into the village. The parents loved the quaint village with the thatched roofs and old-fashioned pubs. The butterbeer was a hit with them just as it was the students. Several of the fathers tried the firewhiskey and ended up coughing with tears running down their faces to the amusement of those around them.
"It takes a bit of acquiring, loves," Rosmerta said sympathetically.
Thomas and Hari herded the students to the new muggle shop, Items of Interest. Hari watched smugly as the pureblooded students were agape at the glossy magazines. Britain was filled with articles on muggle British history and traditions, kings and queens, heroes and villains, castles, cathedrals, stately homes and upscale shops. Elle and Vogue had the witches enthralled. Every one of them bought copies of both magazines.
Several British newspapers let everyone know what was going on in the muggle world not just in Britain but all over.
Time, Discover, Life, Travel and other magazines opened the world up to the insulated pureblood children and to many of the halfbloods as well.
Helen and Gail set out samples of muggle snack food – Frazzles which were a bacon flavored corn based snack, Jumble cookies, crisps, Apple drops, Anise Twists and other candies were soon flying off the shelves as well.
Muggle games, toys, pens and notebooks were all picked up and asked about. A few of the hardcore purebloods sneered and tried to not show any interest, but very few didn't at least check out a couple of things.
By the time they all left the shop Gail and Helen were exhausted and exultant. It was a very good opening for their shop.
Finally after a morning full of shopping, they all traipsed back up to the castle for lunch. Excitement ratcheted up during lunch as a Quidditch match was set for after.
The students poured out of the castle and down to the pitch. In a year that had held so much upheaval the familiarity of a good Quidditch match was something to look forward to.
Gryffindor vs. Slytherin.
Two amazing teams each with the determination to defeat the other and put on a grand show for the visitors.
The game lasted for three hours. Three hours filled with (to the muggles) amazing feats of air acrobatics on the brooms. Twists, somersaults, dives were thrilling not to mention the bludgers that lent an air of danger to an already dangerous game. Three times time-outs were called for injuries due to being hit by bludgers. The count was lost on how many times players were slammed into the stands.
In the end, Gryffindor won with a score of 420 to 410.
Gryffindor went wild screaming and cheering as they rushed the pitch to congratulate their team. Team members were hoisted up on shoulders and carted about while whooping and hollering.
An hour later, it was time for the parents to depart. Hugs and kisses and promises to write were made. Parents thanked Thomas and Hari for allowing them to come and see their children's school before getting in the carriages to head back to the Express.
In their bedroom at the end of a long day, Thomas and Hari slid wearily into bed. Hari curled against him, exhausted. Thomas stroked her belly and kissed her forehead. "Can you believe it all went fairly smoothly?"
"Hnn," she shook her head. "I kept waiting for it to all go south."
"We need to do this every year. Perhaps not the Express ride. We could show them so much more that way. It is also a very subtle way to charm them to secrecy. Too many muggles know about us already."
"I agree. Very sneaky bringing them here just to charm them to secrecy and find out who else they've told. Maybe we could let them sit in on a class or swim in the lake with gillyweed." Hari mumbled sleepily.
"Maybe. We have a year to plan. We will endear them to us while narrowing down who knows at the same time. If we bring them to see the castle during orientation, next year's firsties and their parents will not be able to tell another soul. Eventually we will pull them from their parents early and separate our two worlds. For now sleep, love."
She yawned and shut her eyes relaxing into sleep as the man she loved more than life held her safely in his arms.