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 ...
I I I
The trio stared a moment in silence at the Fairy Queen shrine.
"That's still not her," Luna whispered. "Just a statue. However, things act... oddly around the fey. Sometimes more strange than even wizards know how to cope with."
"You are in no danger. You were brought here under my protection," the non-voice continued. "Invitation is the only way to survive coming to one of my shrines. No mischief was worked on you. Nor would your clothes have been destroyed, save for the fact that in the ritual you performed the mortal dyes used to color them became an acid eating away at the cloth."
"But why bring us here? I don't understand," Hermione declared.
The indefinable presence seemed to gather itself before the non-voice gave her answer. "As you know, my race is nearly destroyed, hunted virtually to extinction by wizards who sought to use us as components. I need heroes to save them, to go back and prevent our destruction. You three were chosen, and you needed my help as much as I needed yours."
The three were stunned to silence by that simple phrase. Undaunted, the undefinable mental voice of the queen continued on.
"When my subjects found you, you were all in quite a predicament, having unwisely combined a number of things that didn't belong to your little ritual."
"So the cloth and things got us into trouble?" Hermione asked, sitting down rather heavily as it took too much effort to stand.
"No," they heard a trill of musical laughter from the voice. "The cloth was well considered, aside from those dyes on what you were wearing. No, you rather unwisely carried in a number of powerful artifacts that had their own influences and powers. All those would have caused you quite a number of problems were they not overridden by an even greater one. Idon't believe you meant to, but you released the powdered wings of many thousands of my servants into your little brew."
Harry clutched at the chain on his neck, lifting out the Time Turner to find that, while the gold parts were fine, the glass had somehow disappeared and released the powder within. He groaned and sank his head into his hands."The Time Turners! Nothing not organically produced could survive the ritual!So the glass disintegrated, releasing all those fairy wings into the cauldron with us! THOUSANDS of fairy wings in a ritual designed for CHANGE! It's a wonder any of us survived!"
"Yes," the non-voice tinkled. "I don't blame you for their deaths. Ican sense they happened long before any of you were born, nor do their spirits cry out to me against you. But the introduction of so much fairy magic to your cauldron would surely have destroyed you."
"We were fools to have entered fully equipped and clothed. There is a reason why our ancestors performed so many of their most powerful rituals naked. It reduces the variables." Luna softly commented.
"How did the gold parts survive?" Hermione had retrieved and was looking at her own incomplete Time Turner necklace. All of its gold parts had survived, only the glass and powder was missing.
"Gold is an exception to most magical rules. That's part of what makes it so valuable," Luna instructed. "And why it gets used in so many artifacts of power. Although I see the gems did dissolve." She fingered an empty socket on the hilt of Harry's sword where one of the jewels used to be.
Harry'd fallen to his knees in shock, and was trembling. "Thousands of fairy wings. We were concerned about throwing sticks of dynamite on a campfire, when it turns out we'd just survived ground zero of a nuclear blast."
"Not entirely," the queen's non-voice impressed upon their minds. "You were all set to disintegrate like the clothes you were wearing. So I had you brought to one of our sanctuaries to stabilize. My daughters might have succeeded in their efforts to save you had you not woken up and begun to work further damage upon yourselves; taking a fairy lozenge and drinking polyjuice were both ill considered moves. As overloaded as you'd begun, even the lozenge was able to push you over that border again."
"We did not feel we had much choice at the time," Harry groaned, "being unaware of our protected status and considering ourselves in grave danger."
"So what happens now?" Hermione demanded. "Do we just disintegrate?"
"Yes, that would normally be the case," the fairy queen's mental voice impressed upon their minds. "Thrice now you have crossed the border, taking in more fairy power than mortal forms can stand without destruction. Once was perfectly bad enough, twice compounded the disaster, and three times made it irreversible and sealed your fate. However, I still need you. So I am willing to exert myself on your behalf, if you will in turn agree to be bound to my purpose."
"Can you be more specific?" Hermione questioned while her two companions were groaning over the scope of their disaster.
"What more do you want to know?" came the mental reply.
"Two things," the bookworm continued in a businesslike tone of voice."The first is, what do you expect us to do for you? And the second is how can you even save us? I thought you'd said the disaster was irreversible."
The teens rubbed their noses at the sudden sense of the aromatic scents giving off a distinct tinge of laughter, and smelling giggles was something far outside anything they'd previously experienced.
"The first is answered simply enough. Live a fruitful life. Resist evil. Give more than you take. Help others do likewise. The rest will take care of itself. I will have the odd mission for you to do every now and again to correct a few problems and preserve our race, but nothing too onerous. And I honestly expect you to gain more out of doing them than I shall by having them done."
"And the second?"
"It gets a bit complicated. To give you a very simplified account, apowerful ritual or other endowment of magic can be compared to putting on a suit of clothes, or a jewel. Although you've put on something you can't take off, and it is too strong for you, so it is killing you. Like if you'd chosen to put on a trinket made out of acid, or poisonous, your bodies simply cannot bear the strain of as much fairy magic as you've infused into yourselves, accidentally or not."
"I think I can picture that," the bookworm nodded.
"The solution," came the reply of the Fairy Queen, "Is to give you new bodies."
"I'm sorry. What?" Hermione blinked several times.
"The solution," the non-voice repeated to all of them, including the now stunned Luna and Harry, "Is to give you new bodies. And the only bodies that can bear as much fairy energy as you've given yourselves are fairy bodies."
The trio had a great deal of nothing to say about that.
They could scent more laughter. "Think of it this way: A person is composed first of a spirit. This is the part that does all of the thinking and feeling and remembering. All the things you think of when you think of yourself are in that part. You have seen ghosts. They are just as much people as when they were alive. If you'd known them, you could even say they were the same people, just without bodies. That brings us to the next part, the bodies. They do all of the touching, lifting, carrying, eating and bearing babies and so on. The mechanical functions of life are all in there. And the last is the clothes, so to speak, which in this case I am using as a mirror to reflect the changes wrought upon you, magical rituals and such. And, while far from a perfect example, it will do.
"When something gets transfigured, it is neither the body nor the spirit that changes. A man is still a man, even after a spell turns him to stone or into a horse, or what have you. He is just as easily changed back again, and is just the same person as before, because what he really was underneath all that never changed. You only added a mask on top of him for a short while, made him look or act differently. That is why I call this part clothes, because they can be so easily taken off and put back on again, most of the time, without the least bit of change to the essential parts underneath. So you cannot graduate students by transfiguring them all into Dumbledore, as none of what really makes that man who he is carries over. It's only a costume, like if you each decided to trade school robes it would not grant you each others skills or grades. So if you transfigure something into a fire crab shell and try to use that as if it were a fire crab shell, the magic will fail because it has none of the essential properties of a fire crab shell. That's only an outfit another object has on to look like one. That's also why no one can transfigure themselves a year younger every birthday and live forever."
"Alright, I think I understand that part," Hermione began nodding.
"To continue our example, you have donned an article of clothing you cannot take off, namely all of the fairy magic you've absorbed. There are bodies that can bear that amount of that type of magic, they just aren't human bodies, and I can change the body while retaining both clothes and spirit."
"So we're going to be a couple inches tall for the rest of our lives?"the girl timidly surmised.
Once more they could scent her laughter. "No! Not at all, my dear girl. There are plenty of fairy creatures of a size with humans, and considering the level of power you've absorbed it would have to be one of the larger forms anyway - the smaller fey would no more be able to handle it than you are now. So it would be unfair in the extreme to change you thus without saving you from the overload, as such a change is intended to do."
The trio all breathed heartfelt sighs of relief.
"Will we look like ourselves?" Harry asked.
"Somewhat," the mental voice of the indefinable presence impressed upon their minds. "It hardly matters in any case, as you've absorbed so much of our magic it would be a taxing effort to deprive you of the gift of being a metamorph, and I certainly wouldn't take away from you anything so useful. So should you drink those potions you've prepared, they would teach you how to assume your old forms, and from there it should be no effort at all to pass yourselves off as you once were. Or even each other, if you are of a mind to."
"That could be amusing," Luna offered, resuming some of her non scared-to-death personality.
The others could already see her thinking of naughty possibilities.
"What?" she responded. "I have every intention of being married to Harry. I know he doesn't love me as much as Hermione, I've known that all along. So naturally I must be willing to share."
Tiny, two-inch tall Hermione (they looked oddly like themselves, in spite of being only inches high and winged - not something polyjuice was supposed to do, but what was regular about all of this?) turned bright red and shouted, "LUNA! That's just not DONE! It's called adultery!"
Then she shrank in on herself a bit, glanced at Harry, turning away blushing an even brighter shade of red.
The indefinable non-voice began to laugh.
"What's so funny?" Hermione looked up to ask.
Harry coughed into his fist. "Um, Hermione? This is the Fairy Realm. It's led in part by OBERON! One of the most famous philanderers of all time."
The bookworm rolled her eyes, mumbling the inescapable conclusion he had hinted to her, "Of COURSE there are no rules against polygamy!"
"And, as fairy creatures, we would naturally fall under their rules for that sort of thing." Luna concluded serenely. "The wizarding world, however, is... different, and they may be difficult."
"Enough of that, for now," Harry waved it all away. "We have more immediate things to be talking over."
"How did you find us?" Hermione questioned aloud to the voice.
"We've been on the lookout for some time for something to save us from the menace of those giant spiders." The Queen answered frankly. "Then we happened upon you empowering yourselves with the strength of fire. Fairies can take advantage of rituals meant to help humans. They are normally so small they draw off only a tiny fraction of the power to get the full effect themselves, so you normally wouldn't have noticed, and it seemed such aperfect remedy for our immediate dangers. Affected fairies would, like you, be immune to fire and could cast small flame spells (like to burn out spider webs that might have trapped them). Still, in sufficient numbers they could drain even the most powerful rituals if they didn't also tend to contaminate potions like you were simmering in with tiny portions of their own power. Normally this is so small it can be ignored. But in sufficient numbers it could have put you in almost as much danger as you were in already."
"So your fairies encountered us simmering and helped themselves to our labors?" Hermione asked, unable to believe her ears. "How many did so?"
"Many thousands, but that wouldn't have changed a bit what you'd already done to yourselves adding all of those fairy wings." There came a pause in the mental voice of the Queen. "How much do you know of the properties that you were assuming, if I may ask?"
"Very little, I'm afraid," Harry admitted, shaking his head.
A spicy scent blew in on the breeze, before the Queen began to lecture.
"Fire is the only Living Element: It eats, breathes, grows and reproduces. It can also die. None of that is true for any other element. While not actually alive, fire comes the closest of all non-living things. Actual life is composed of all four elements; earth and water comprise the body, air sustains it, but it is fire that animates it, often described as 'the spark of life.' All elements make for wonderful servants, but terrible masters. Letting them get out of hand is always destructive. Adding extra of an element to an already living thing is one of the most terrifying, dreadful, and yet beautiful things possible in magic, and usually only seen in nymphs. Your Goblet, however, makes this possible to other creatures. Do you know anything of that artifact?"
"Again, very little," he once more admitted.
"One of the properties of the Goblet of Fire is to bind fire-based creatures to the will of the one performing a certain ritual. At maximum power this is even sufficient to bind a phoenix. Since anyone can use the Goblet in this way, the most evil creature alive could bind a phoenix to his service. That is how your current Headmaster bound the bird he calls Fawkes to his bidding."
Hermione's eyes grew wide. "Is there a way to break that binding?"
"Of course!" A breeze blew the bushes, somehow causing a tinkling of bells. "All magical bindings can be broken, even the bonds of a dryad to her tree, though some are more difficult than others. In this case it is easier than the rest, as what that cup binds it can also release. I will show you how to use the goblet to set that phoenix free."
"Thank you," the trio spoke earnestly.
"Fawkes is one of three irreplaceable treasures currently bound to your Dark Headmaster. Others he could substitute in other ways. But three are without any peer or adequate replacement. They are: Fawkes, Sybil Trelawney, and Hogwarts itself. His worldly power and offices are effectively interchangeable and could be compensated for or replaced if lost. But those three provide him powers it is not possible for him to get any other way."
"Trelawney?" the trio spoke again, this time in disbelief.
"She is a true oracle, although her gift has been damaged almost irreparably by the machinations of your Headmaster. That does not prevent him from using spells to tap her gift to his benefit. While he has her under his control he is effectively unstoppable. There is no secret he cannot pry, no plan he cannot thwart, and nothing he cannot destroy. Without her, he would be forced to rely on his own wisdom, which has limits, though few."
Harry slumped prone, breathing heavily. "Frankly, I'd be satisfied if I could just get away from him. I do not seek his destruction."
"Then you must start," the Queen snapped, startling them all. "Harry, the Headmaster seeks to use you as though you were a potion ingredient. He has your whole life planned out, where, after endless suffering and misery, you die in a moment of great self-sacrifice, granting your mother's precious protection to himself and those he intends to use as cronies, most of your worst enemies among them. He has never asked your permission, nor will he. He intends to steal your mothers gift and spread it around among himself and the staff and students of Hogwarts, after allowing Voldemort to clear out all of the annoying mudbloods, of course. He will do anything to bring this to pass, including destroying your mind, if necessary. In fact, he has Snape already preparing plans to do just that to you, under guise of special lessons. You must destroy Dumbledore, or be destroyed by him. He will not permit any other option. And, as my champion, I prefer it be you who be victorious."
Harry was too shocked to form a return statement.
The Queen continued instructing, this time gently, "Dumbledore, from his youth, has always believed in the innate superiority of wizards over muggles. Since your birth, he has dreamed of creating a new breed of wizard armed with Lily's protection - so finally there will be PROOF that pure-blood matters most of all! Because those descended from the ones he sacrifices you for will have a layer of protection the filthy mudbloods do not. Ironic, isn't it, that it is the gift of a 'filthy mudblood' that he intends to steal to use as his justification that only purebloods are fit to rule?"
Now all three children were too shocked to speak.
"Enough. Time grows short," the non-voice impressed upon their minds."You perish and waste away in front of me. It is not enough to make you merely fairy-struck, as most of Luna's family have been, or fairy-kind, as our rare champions often are. No, you must become fully fey. I shall include a special, secret means of absolute defense against legilimency, so that outsiders do not learn the secrets of the fairy realm from your minds."
A shower of dew appeared in mid-air over the small bowl set before the dias on which stood the simple statue that represented the Fairy Queen."Climb into the waters and rest. You shall be remade, your spirits housed in new bodies. They will be patterned after your old ones, worry not."
"Can you send us out the day we started?" Harry asked as the trio moved to obey the command. "And, could you let us continue our triple-day pattern in spite of not having Time Turners anymore?"
"Hush now," the Queen instructed, as the trio lay back against the inward sides of her bowl. "You know where more of those devices can be obtained, and have the skills to seek them. If I were to set you in a temporal pattern you would likely never break it. I shall set you back to the day you began your ritual, and grant you until Winter Solstice to complete your first mission: to deprive Dumbledore of Sybil Trelawney. Bring her to this pond, dose her with a potion you shall find on the shores when you return. Please hurry, as the longer your enemy possesses her the more of your secrets he knows."
That was the last the children heard before sinking off into sleep.
I I I
When they woke up, resting under those bushes around the shrine, they were full size once more, although it was clear they were fairies, not human. The colors of their bodies were too vibrant to be real. Luna's hair was yellow, no longer blonde, but the vivid, shocking yellow of a daffodil, brighter and more colorful than any animal creature had ever borne before.
Hermione's hair was blue, and her complexion matched it for surprises by being a complimentary cream, paler than it had ever been before. She was notably devoid of freckles or other small imperfections, as were they all.
Harry was no longer a scrawny, underfed, puny and broken thing. He had the solid mass of muscle that his work for the Dursleys would have earned him had they not been starving him all that time. The damage from his massive, long term maltreatment and abuse all seemed to have been corrected.
He was also a redhead, of an unnaturally strawberry hue.
Aside from all having been converted over to primary colors, there were other changes as well. For one, they were all as beautiful as any fairy, and the temptation to sit and view themselves in the reflective surface of the pond was almost unreal, and so something they all resolved to fight. Though all would eventually give in and spend time before their mirrors that night.
It was hard not to. For mortal creatures there was always a sense that this or that could have been a little better. Even attractive people knew their own flaws, and often had issues because of them.
Not for the fey, and it was more than a little shocking to see everything done just right. If it were not for the fact that they knew ahead of time that most fairies were hopelessly conceited, it would have been easy to go that way themselves, and just spend the rest of their lives wholly absorbed in viewing their own reflections. They were breathtakingly beautiful, and it would have been easy to lose themselves in contemplating their new images.
All of them, sensing the danger, consciously avoided that temptation.
The shrine of the Fairy Queen was silent, the indefinable presence departed and the tiny statue once more still and frozen in a vaguely regal pose. The only smells were those of water and grasses, yet there was also a vague sense of wandering around the halls of a church after hours.
In spite of half expecting it, none of them bore wings, but luckily the naiads had brought a boat to the island's shore. Almost afraid to get caught up in admiring themselves forever if they contemplated their new changes too much, the trio of children rushed for the small boat, after grabbing a large leaf that had been lying next to them when they awoke. Seeing that it had a ritual written out on it, they rolled it up like ascroll and carried it along.
They had no pockets in the rather filmy, silky garments they were wearing, not having thought to transfigure any when making them.
Glancing over the scroll as the naiads bore their boat to shore, smoothly and as steadily as a rock, Hermione found it detailed a ritual using the Goblet of Fire to bind or release a magical, fire-based creature from service.
Releasing was easier than binding in all cases, and they could use that to set Fawkes free.
Reaching the outer shore, they found their discarded vials of polyjuice and drank some immediately, restoring themselves to their previous appearances and mortal outlooks. It was oddly disappointing in a strange, yet reassuring way when the urge to just look at themselves forever departed.
Then they looked around themselves for the first time and saw the massive crowd of creatures pressing in from all sides.
I I I
I had a question, "Where do I want to go with this?" And, like so many times I've asked myself the question, "Which of all of these wonderful options do I choose?" the answer is, "All of them." By making them run errands for the Fairy Queen I can drop them anywhere in history or the future that I like, leave them until it is no longer interesting, then drag them back off on some other venture. It also means I don't have to rush into any one theme.