Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Partially Kissed Hero

Partially Kissed Hero 13

by PerfectLionheart 0 Reviews

During the train ride before third year Harry has a close encounter with a dementor that causes him to absorb the soul fragment within him, granting both knowledge and power. Features Harry with a ...

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Fantasy - Characters: Harry,Hermione,Luna - Warnings: [?] - Published: 2009/09/05 - Updated: 2009/09/05 - 5556 words

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Partially Kissed Hero
Chapter Thirteen
by Lionheart

I I I

Harry kept his two companions busy all that morning helping him gather and prepare things for their ritual.

The Fire Crab was the first of many magical creatures he had hidden in that clearing. Next up was a salamander, a small fire dwelling lizard that fed on flame, and lived only as long as the fire from which it sprang burned. Their blood had powerful curative and restorative properties, so many wizards had arranged for permanent magical flames, hoping to spawn salamanders.

Naturally, anything that existed had to be regulated and taxed (or at least that is what governments believe), so the Ministry had fees and fines for keeping salamanders, and someone hadn't paid one.

The salamander thus confiscated, with the kiln that spawned and sustained it, had been routed to Harry's possession along with virtually every other magical beast in the Ministry's containment cells at the time.

Playing the 'Poor Little Orphan Boy' card wasn't worth much normally, unless you also happened to be the Boy Who Lived, and riding the crest of a wave of public sentiment in your favor after your near death experience followed by the shocking expose of your abusive home situation. At which point the 'oh woe is me' card had been more than sufficient to not only empty the Ministry holding cells for magical creatures directly into Harry's pockets, but grant him special hereditary exemptions and perpetual licenses so he (and any of his children after him) could keep basically any number of magical creatures forever, for free.

That was a privilege he was intending to milk for all it was worth, and it was one the magical government never would have allowed if they'd had time to think about it, as they'd just essentially surrendered all authority to govern Harry and his descendant's ability to keep magical creatures.

Wealth comes out of only a few sources in the magical world. One's personal skill could always be bartered away in service for cash, just like muggles got jobs, but actual wealth got created mostly by the raising of magical plants and creatures for use in the various potions and objects that made the world magical. There were no wands without cores, for example.

A greenhouse might as well have been a goldmine in the magical world. Neville, with his gift for plants, was going to grow up rich no matter what else he did.

So the unregulated ability to raise magical creatures was an untaxed diamond mine that could, if managed in any half-sane way, guarantee prosperity and good fortune for the Potter family forever. And it was just the sort of favor a 'wronged hero' got to ask for, if he was clever, when the Ministry's guard was down and desperately trying to make things up to him.

He'd also seen to it that the proper paperwork had been filed for this to be pushed through to all member countries of the International Confederation of Wizards and ratified on the strength of England's membership. Striking while the iron was hot and going for bonus points and all that, because England was not exactly safe for him, as it was Dumbledore's central seat of power.

Back at the clearing, the trio of young students had finished collecting the valuable blood, and dosed the salamander who'd granted it with some blood-replenishing potion, then moved on to other things.

Very soon they had all the ritual materials assembled.

Thanks to the Ministry, Harry now had three dragons: A Chinese Fireball, an Antipodean Opaleye, and a Swedish Short-Snout, all collected by an English hag who had tastes much like Hagrid. As a hag, she had a different concept of danger than most people and had kept a number of creatures illegally. Unlike Hagrid, she had a love of beauty, and had collected samples of the three most beautiful dragons, instead of the most deadly (ala baby Norbert).

She had been arrested, convicted, and executed on charges of eating human children, and her largely illegal beast collection had been seized while factions within the Ministry fought over who got what parts of it.

The dragons were all young, so it was not outside of Harry's ability to chain them down and feed them Continual Flame potions so they could hold up a steady stream of fiery breath. They had been laid out inside of the circle of stones arranged so that their draconic blowtorches came together on the central slab of stone where he'd placed the Goblet of Fire.

Normally that artifact's current charge could be measured by its appearance and when he'd found it the object had obviously been at very low power. The appearance of rough-hewn wood was the goblet's lowest setting, more of a form of hibernation than active ability.

After continual streams of fire from three dragons over twenty four hours, or thereabouts (Harry had set this up soon after his discovery of the goblet) under the light of the summer solstice, the magical chalice had undergone a gradual yet dramatic change. At first its plain, unblemished yet without grain wood-seeming look had darkened as if charred. On fully becoming black it had worked a change again, starting to glow as though a fiery coal. At no time did the goblet change its shape. It did not crack, shrink or crumble as it seemed to burn, and very soon it changed again, as from the now glowing coal bits of clear glass began appearing from the white hot cinder shaped vessel. Soon the cup had transformed to an appearance of clear crystal. From that, it had begun to heat up again, once more glowing from within as though a fiery coal. This was not its final form, that of a brilliantly radiant ruby, lit from within and sheathed from without in blazing fire. But it was enough for Harry's purpose.

Actually, he knew only fragments of the cup lore and didn't know what you could do with it once it was fully charged. Legends all agreed that it was near impossible to handle when it was that fully powered. Spells slid off without affecting it, and no flesh could touch it without burning. Metal would melt on contact, and so on, making it very difficult to do anything with.

Although he suspected that the keepers of the goblet had used the ritual he was now attempting, and thus could handle it just fine using bare flesh. There was a reason this ritual had existed in the first place and been so carefully recorded, after all.

Actually, it was probably for the best that he could not as yet unearth what uses the Goblet of Fire could be put to at its maximum setting, as he only had three dragons and they were all very young. The present 'glowing glass' appearance of the artifact was as high as they could charge it. But if he knew the higher powers he'd be out after them instead of using what abilities he could gain access to.

The trio soon had the dragons fed and watered and granted them antidotes to the Continual Flame potions they'd been under (which were somewhat stressful on their bodies over longer periods). Then, as soon as the dragons had succumbed to the sleeping and numbing draughts in their food, the three near teens went to work in much the same way as on the Fire Crab.

Harry's shaving charms had this time been adapted to peel away skin from the layers of fat and muscle underneath it. Flaying the backs and bellies of the dragons in this way would have been incredibly painful, if they'd been able to feel any of it. But skin was more easily regrown than bone using potions.

Although, in addition to collecting rolls of fine dragon hide, the students did also collect some relatively sizable portions of dragon fat and blood. The fat they immediately put into the goblet, which in seconds had boiled it down into tallow, and further spells refined into a fine lamp oil, which they then poured out into separate containers, lest the goblet boil it away entirely.

While their dragon oil cooled, they bandaged and dosed the donor dragons so they'd be healed by the time they woke up.

Unbeknownst to the two girls (except perhaps Luna, who had ways of knowing things without ready explanation) Harry had originally transfigured sticks and chunks of logs into animated wooden soldiers to patrol and guard the clearing edges, so as to keep their work area safe from interruption. So convalescing creatures ought to be perfectly safe there in spite of their injuries.

It also meant they could proceed to work without fear of getting ambushed by something like an acromantula. So they could focus their whole attention on doing things right instead of keeping a watchful eye out lest they be eaten by dark creatures of the forest.

Last of the major ingredients had also probably been the most risky of all to obtain. There were plenty of minor additives, like crushed fire opal, that had only a cost associated with them (and had been easily gained by going to a major gem cutter and collecting scraps and dust cut from finished jewels).

But while salamander blood and dragon oil were rare, they could be obtained if one was willing to pay the cost, get permits and wait in turn for the limited supplies. What could not be gathered themselves for this little ritual had been the priceless phoenix ash.

Fortunately, Albus had a barrel of the stuff collected, left over from Fawkes on his burning days. Unluckily, this was Albus Dumbledore's private stash, and was therefore considerably harder to raid than Snape's potion stores.

Harry had been forced to slap together a scheme to get some, one involving Dobby, Filch, and the unknowing cooperation of the Weasley Twins. The plan, as it had gone, had been a fairly simple matter of Dobby moving crates and barrels out of Dumbledore's private storehouse so that room could be properly cleaned. 'Filch' (really Bellatrix acting on Harry's orders) had then chased the twins, who had obligingly been committing a prank at the time, passed where those boxes and barrels had been moved to create room. The key barrel had been at the top of a set of steps, and predictably the twins had dumped that barrel down over the stairs to cover their escape from the caretaker, not only coating the steps in a thick layer of fine, slick ash, but creating an impenetrable cloud obscuring them from any further pursuit.

Dobby had then appeared, acted appropriately horrified, and vanished the ash apparently for good, but actually to Harry's own possession.

Dumbledore had been furious enough with the elf to grant him clothes, which was fine by Harry because he'd frankly hated looking at the elf dressed in nothing but a tea cozy and didn't dare order the elf to dress himself. But it did cost him his most valuable spy and smuggling route.

In his mind the cost was more than worth it, as Dobby could still perform his duties as Harry's private servant (and he was bound to Harry anyway, so the Headmaster granting the elf clothes did nothing but cover his nearly naked body), and Harry got some absolutely priceless phoenix ash out of it.

A whole barrel full, actually. Dobby hadn't missed a speck. Harry carried this priceless resource in a magically expanded golden snuff box he carried in a moke skin bag around his neck, waterproofed so he could shower while still wearing it. Barrels were cheaper, but this was safer, and Harry didn't have the protections of the Headmaster's Tower securing things for him.

A bubbling alchemical apparatus had processed a small portion of this ash into a form of magical lye. Pouring the dragon oil and fresh salamander blood into this same apparatus set up slightly differently yielded, after some small amount of arcane processing, an extremely valuable balm or ointment.

While this simmered, undergoing dramatic changes, the group carried water from a nearby stream in golden buckets that they purified with adrop of phoenix tears per gallon (probably the most expensive part of the whole arrangement, although the tears, at least, could be bought instead of stolen) and Luna assisted further by getting together a trio of unicorns to not only carry the water for them, but to breathe on the buckets as they were being filled and emptied.

Unicorn breath was considerably better than phoenix tears for purifying, as the latter's properties were primarily for healing.

Having filled their fire crab cauldron that way, they set it on a tripod above where the goblet still rested and had until recently been heating. Then using a ladder they added a plethora of lesser ingredients, fire blossoms and other primarily herbal things.

By the time they got around to rather laboriously shaving a demiguise that had been fed Dragon's Whisker Soup so it'd spawned positively acres of hair, they all were getting tired.

Hermione sat down rather heavily on a stone slab and wiped a bit of her own hair, damp with sweat, out of her eyes, before fanning her shirt front to get some air circulation inside and cool off. "What is this ritual for, anyway?"

"Fire protection," Harry answered simply, finishing off the shaving job and leaving the demiguise looking like a hairless ape. While the yeti-like creature was normally invisible that was primarily because of the properties of its marvelous fur, all of which they'd just removed.

"All of this, for that?" Hermione's eyes bugged out unbelievingly. "We can get that through a simple potion! Or there's the Freezing Flame charm!"

"Both of which are temporary, and have upper limits," Harry instructed."I want to go through this because the protection provided is not only good for your whole life, but it has been proven against dragon breath and other fires none of the lesser measures will guard against. And there are other benefits as well. For example, tales say we should be able to cast fire based charms and curses wandlessly, and with a considerable boost in power."

Luna blinked in recollection. "I also recall a tale that says this will protect us against non-flame forms of burning, like touching hot metal or sunbathing on the Sahara. None of that is possible with normal magic, which would have you use spells to cool the metal first, or shade yourself."

"Oh," Hermione blinked a few times. "Well I guess that's alright then. But I still find it hard to believe that it requires so many ingredients!"

"Oh, it doesn't," Luna spoke softly before Harry could.

"WHAAT!? Then what have we been doing all morning?" Hermione gestured to the stacks of dragon hide rolls, bales of demiguise hair, and other things.

Luna fixed her with an odd stare. "You'd find it awkward to survive a burst of dragon flame if your clothes didn't, wouldn't you?"

Thinking about it a half second, Hermione blushed furiously.

"Pearls and coral for buttons," Harry stood and began identifying bags."No non-organic produced thing can be subject to the ritual, so unfortunately no metal for clasps or zippers. Still, we've got dragon hide for protective gear, boots and gloves and so on. We're lucky to have it in three different colors. It's good to have a little variety, since we'll be wearing this most of our lives if this works right."

"Demiguise hair for invisibility cloaks," the Granger girl interrupted."So we could walk through walls of fire like guarded the Stone our first year without leaving a trace of passage or losing our invisibility. But what about..?"

She paused and blushed furiously again.

"Cotton and equivalents for underwear and things?" Luna inquired.

"And pants and blouses," Hermione tried to pretend that she hadn't nailed her exact thought and mentioned unmentionables in front of Harry.

The boy stretched, having labored hard all morning. "Well," he explained."I've had animated glass spiders with spindles instead of abdomens gathering up acromantula webbing throughout the forest. That ought to cover silk, and we already have leather. But you're right, we don't have a cotton-like material."

"Demiguise fur is very much like alpaca wool," Luna offered softly."Higher quality than either sheep or llama."

Hermione looked at her askance. "Yes, but you'd look quite odd if you made a blouse out of it and your chest became invisible."

"You would?" Luna pretended dreamy puzzlement.

Hermione rolled her eyes in frustration.

"It might actually not be bad for a set of pajamas," Harry considered."When you don't particularly want people to look at you anyway. It could be an edge if someone attacked you during the night."

Hermione frowned for her own reasons, that Luna then bluntly explained."Actually Harry, most girls tend to 'sleep light' and prefer a simple long T and panties when weather allows."

Harry looked over to where Hermione had buried her face in her hands in embarrassment, and grinned. "Yes. You'd look a trifle odd being a head with a pair of unconnected arms and legs running around, wouldn't you?"

"I'd like to try it," Luna grinned. "Just around the dorms, of course. But even so, cotton is lighter and more comfortable than wool."

"Well," Harry sighed. "I suppose I could just have Dobby bring all your current clothes and things out of your trunks. I doubt they'll last long. Less valuable materials tend to corrode under heavy, magic-intensive enchantments, which was why I was going for so many magical materials."

His best friend drew in a long breath and tried to banish her flaming blush. "Actually Harry, until the invention of the cotton gin, cotton had long been considered a luxury fabric equal to silk. It is labor intensive to grow, can only be planted and cultivated in areas too hot for man to easily live, plants are nasty with thorns so harvest is both miserable and labor intensive, and even then the little puffballs are filled with seeds that are especially hard to get out. Throughout history people used slaves to grow it because no one with any choice in the matter wanted anything to do with the plants. It wasn't until we had cultivators and machinery to handle the miserable tasks that the cloth became at all common. Until then people mostly wore linen."

She looked up and met his eyes. "And so, like cultivated pearls, what once had been a fantastically costly luxury item became cheap and affordable to anyone." Seeing he didn't know what she was talking about, she explained further. "The Spanish raiding the Americas liked having gold and jewels, but they considered the pearls they found by far the cream of the crop. Then we learned the secret of cultivating them, and now we have pearl farmers who churn them out by thousands so any girl can wear some. They're almost costume jewelry for price, one step up from plastic or bare metal."

"And so the cotton of our current clothes might survive the ritual."Harry nodded. "Dobby!"

Soon they had all of the clothes out of their trunks. The girls also wanted their clothing from home, but Harry successfully pointed out that they didn't know, they only suspected, that the materials of their ordinary clothes would survive the process. And it was best not to risk it all when they could repeat the process as needed should it happen to work.

So they loaded in to the fire crab cauldron their large spools of acromantula silk, rolls of dragon hide, demiguise hair and Harry's father's invisibility cloak.

Harry had been one busy camper arranging all of this. But the crowning glory of all of the work had been a separate and very special potion simmering in the Goblet of Fire all yesterday under the sun of the summer solstice.

The three teens, fully clothed, all climbed into the cauldron of fire crab shell, fitted on the lid that used to be its underside armor, all their heads poking out of former leg holes. Then Harry poured in the potion brewed in the Goblet of Fire, causing the entire mixture to change colors to pure blue white, then bubble and froth.

"So, what happens now?" Hermione asked, excitedly.

"I dunno." Harry mused. "No one's ever done the ritual this way before."

"WHAAAT??!" The bushy haired one panicked.

"Isn't this exciting?" Luna asked cheerfully.

At that moment, the sun hit noon and a brilliant shaft of its light came down and illuminated the cauldron. The magic overcame and they slid down beneath the surface of the fluid. All of this was planned and prepared for. What was not was a small fairy flying into the clearing while this mixture simmered under the golden light, then going out to return with a small cloud of the curious critters, who began to take dips and dives into the cauldron.

More and more fairies appeared as the sun moved through its progress from noon, where the soaking and simmering part of the ritual began, to high noon (one o'clock) when it ended.

Before the ritual was even halfway done the entire clearing was swarming, so thick with fairies that no one could see, even if they were awake to do so.

I I I

Harry opened his eyes on a chamber filled with multicolored fairies of every kind. Hovering just before his nose was a small group consisting of three with butterfly wings and one like a dragonfly. They looked like slender women not quite two inches tall. He gave an involuntary start at seeing them so close and all four zipped away.

Sitting up, the boy looked around himself, seeing fairies literally everywhere, in all conceivable varieties, flitting about, exploring blossoms, gliding on a breeze, and acrobatically avoiding Hermione when she rolled over. Harry could see the fairy women appeared to represent all nationalities. Some looked Asian, some Indian, some African, but mostly European. Several were less comparable to mortal women, with things like blue skin or emerald hair. A few had antennae. Their wings came in all varieties, mostly patterned after butterflies, but much more elegantly shaped and radiantly colored. All the fairies gleamed brilliantly, outshining the flowers like the sun outshines the moon, and they wore miniature clothing that matched.

"Ah. You're awake."

Harry turned to see Luna regarding him calmly. Her words also seemed to rouse Hermione, as that girl gave off a start, sending off a cloud of hovering fairies zipping off from around her, before she sat up, blinking in wonder.

"Where are we?" Harry rubbed at his eyes and straightened his glasses.

Luna smiled. "The Forbidden Forest, as you said, was created as a preserve a millennia ago, a refuge for Light side magical creatures. Naturally there are caves and grottos about. Being magical, many are as filled with plants and sunlight as the aboveground. Some creatures shelter here."

She brushed a hand against some leafy, hanging vines to demonstrate.

"So if they're harmless, why did they move us here?" Hermione shook her head, wondering if she had any fairies caught in her hair - She didn't.

Luna affixed her with a strange gaze. "Hermione, none of these creatures are 'harmless'. Nor are any particularly friendly to the mortal races. None of the creatures of this forest are 'safe'. Specific details for handling each race are complex, with many limitations and exceptions, but many creatures, great and small, inhabit this forest, and none of them are to be taken lightly; which is why the forest is off-limits. There are creatures out there that in their own ways are as dangerous as dragons or manticores, many of them made more so by the fact that they look innocent."

Hermione looked flustered. Harry could hardly blame her. She was so often the one offering explanations and answers it had to be a little odd to be the one caught asking questions like this.

Well, she'd only just started Care of Magical Creatures class this year, and even with a full NEWT in that she'd not have the sort of information on these things as the Lovegoods grew up with.

To grant her credit. Hermione did not pitch a fit, as Ron would have, over someone else being the one holding the knowledge on something. Instead she almost visibly seemed to switch into viewing Luna as a professor of her subject, and began treating her as such, sitting up attentively and almost raising a hand to ask. "Could you offer an example?"

Luna nodded regally. "Near the center of this forest is a pond, a beautiful clear lake surrounded by wooden walks and gazebos. It has a boathouse, and a broad grassy lawn, all sheltered behind a high and nearly impassible hedge. But for all its beauty, it is one of the most dangerous sites to humans in the entirety of magical Britain."

"But why?" the brunette's nose wrinkled in puzzlement.

"Because naiads inhabit the lake." Luna supplied calmly. "Lovely human-sized relatives of the fairy they are beautiful, even friendly-seeming. Their lives are tied to the body of water they inhabit, and they cannot leave, but their powers are nearly supreme inside it. Within their pond they could overpower giants or drown merpeople. They would beckon you near the water in order to pull you under and drown you - and no magic could save your life."

"That's so cruel!" Hermione recoiled.

"Not from their perspective." Luna gave a slight shrug. "Naiads, also called water nymphs, are nearly immortal unless they leave their pond. To them your life is so ridiculously short that to kill you is seen as both absurd and funny; no more tragic than squashing a moth. Besides, they have a right to punish trespassers. The island at the center of their pond is a shrine to the Fairy Queen. No mortal is permitted to tred there. Iknow a story of a Hogwarts headmaster who broke that rule. Considered the most powerful wizard of his age, he was able to bypass the naiad guardians. But the moment his foot touched down on that magic soil, he transformed into a cloud of dandelion fluff, clothes and all. He scattered on the breeze and has never been seen again."

"Why would he go there?" the puzzled bookworm asked, watching cross eyed as a four inch bright green fairy loitered near her face. "If it's so dangerous, I mean."

Luna plucked a flower off the stone wall and regarded her fondly. "The Fairy Queen is widely considered the most powerful figure in all of fairydom. That headmaster of long ago felt he had a desperate need and went to plead for her assistance. Apparently she was not impressed."

"So the queen of the fairies lives on that little island?" Harry asked, as from the moment Luna'd opened her mouth she'd been saying things Voldemort did not know, and frankly Harry was eager to learn more even as he scanned the little cave they'd all somehow ended up in.

"No. It is merely a shrine to honor her," Luna supplied. "Similar shrines, with their own individual protections and guardians, abound inside this forest."

Hermione was still mentally chewing on earlier statements. "But if this long ago headmaster you spoke of was so powerful himself, why would he go to a fairy for help? Even if she was the most powerful of her kind?"

"The magic of fairies is different than that of humans. Even the weakest of all fairies still has her own magic - something that cannot be said of humans! And they routinely do that which is considered impossible by rules of magic as we know them. For example, pixies fly without wings, while even the most accomplished wizard needs a device to do the same. Roman wizards had a terrible time conquering the Celts, because Celtic ones knew enough fairy lore to be offering Rome continual surprises in their abilities." Luna smiled, trailing her fingers in the current of atiny stream bubbling down the floor.

"So fairies aren't 'safe'?" Hermione could almost be pictured trying to take mental notes, as she couldn't be rooting around in a bookbag that wasn't there for parchment and quill she hadn't carried into the forest with her.

Luna looked up as several fairies settled onto her blonde hair. "They aren't out to harm anyone, and they are capable of good deeds. They just won't normally do them without their own reasons. Take brownies for instance. Brownies don't fix things to help people. They fix things because they enjoy fixing things."

At this Harry chimed in with a small tidbit he knew. "There has always been a muggleborn mania to see everything they meet as just another human that thinks and feels and acts just like we do, only it has a warty skin or four legs or whatever. They're not! Everything I've read tells me different species run by different rules, and different things are important to them. Cruelty is a nutrient for goblins, like protein is for us. They CAN'T LIVE without it! Nor do they want to!"

Knowing such things had been one of the secrets of Voldemort's success. He treated creatures, not like PEOPLE would want to be treated, but like THOSE CREATURES wanted to be treated. Often there was a substantial difference.

For instance Giants revered strength. So they wanted to be physically beaten to a pulp before they'd serve anyone. But then they'd do so willingly.

"And service is the same for house elves," Luna agreed. "To deprive them of the right or opportunity to cook or clean or follow orders would slowly but surely starve them to death no matter what they ate. All the magical races have their own rules like that. Creatures get classified as 'demons' when their driving purpose to exist boils down to merely causing destruction to others. Goblins only very narrowly escaped that clause, and many since have speculated they used bribery to do so."

She fixed the Granger girl with her calm gaze, saying, "Humans are ablend of all sorts of things. Most magical creatures, on the other hand, have a clearly dominant few. Fairies are remarkably conceited. Outside of a sanctuary like this one, they won't even let a nonmagical mortal glimpse them. Since they consider looking at themselves the ultimate delight, they deny that pleasure to others. Most of the nymphs have the same mentality."

Luna smiled more radiantly. "I have to laugh sometimes. Fairies pretend not to care what mortals think of them, but try giving one of them a compliment. She'll blush, and the others will crowd in for their turn. You'd think they'd be embarrassed."

Hermione blinked several times. "So... fairies talk?"

"Not much to humans," Luna allowed, permitting one to land on her palm to preen in its reflection on the side of her ring. "They have a language all their own, although they rarely speak to each other, except to trade insults. Most will never condescend to use human speech. They consider it beneath them. Fairies are vain, selfish creatures."

Harry smiled, nearly crossing his eyes to stare at a fairy perching on the end of his nose so she could stare in her reflection in his glasses."I think they're pretty."

"They're gorgeous!" the Lovegood girl agreed. "And they can be useful. At home they handle most of our gardening. But safe? Not so much."

Harry goggled, then turned to face Luna, dumbfounded, noting that she now had a small cloud of fairies attending her. A handful were even carefully braiding the girl's hair. "Uh. Fairies garden?"

The blonde presently having her hair done shrugged, setting a small cloud of fairies to flight, before they settled down on her again. "Fairies do have their own magic, and can be remarkably flexible. They most often use it to freshen up wilting flowers or otherwise beautify the areas around them, considering a lovely environment the perfect frame to accentuate their own beauty. But they can transform creatures that displease them, or even hide their own nature and appearance. When they don't wish to be seen they most often disguise themselves as butterflies or hummingbirds, because even in disguise they can't bear to not be beautiful."

"All of this is very well and good," Hermione interjected. "But what I think we ought to be doing is trying to find out why they brought us here, and where 'here' is anyway."

Luna looked up at her calmly. "I believe we are in imminent peril to our lives," she stated in utmost seriousness. Then she gestured to the only mouth of their small cave, which had water up to its lip. "Because that is a naiad lake."

Outside, the sun shone down brightly on the glimmering, clear waters. Faces of beautiful women looked out at them from underneath the surface.

I I I

Author's Notes:

While I'd love to claim credit for the fairy portions, sadly I cannot. They were adapted wholesale with only minor additions and alterations from the novel Fablehaven, which I guess would make this the first Harry Potter/Fablehaven crossover.

But they took this story in the direction I needed it to go.
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