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
A loud growl interrupted the teens' conversation.
Harry looked embarrassed. "On reflection, I am reminded that this body has never eaten anything in the entire span of it's short existence. Anyone care to join me in breaking it in?"
Hermione became aware that her own stomach was trying to gnaw a hole through her backbone. "Sure! I'm game. What shall we have for breakfast?"
"Hogwarts is out," Luna cautioned. "We can't hold private conversations there, no matter what we do. And we have to plan."
Harry acquired a sly grin. "I was thinking Kentucky Fried Chicken."
I I I
Somehow, the girls were not certain how, Harry found a college town where the fast food stays open all night, and side-along apparated the two there. It was a combined KFC/A&W, so they had hamburgers and fries on the menu as well as the traditional biscuits and fried chicken. Seeing as how their entire digestive tracts were empty from one end to the other, intestines as vacant as their stomachs, they wound up ordering a lot, and quite a variety.
Harry also proved able to conjure muggle currency, which put Hermione into fits about honesty, until they had a lengthy talk over their cheeseburgers and chicken legs about the world financial system and how, with fractional reserve banking, that was essentially what the banks, mortgage institutions, and lenders of all types were already doing: conjuring money out of nowhere.
This led to Hermione being deeply distressed about the stability of the world economy, as the entirety of the world banking institutions ran on principles that a hundred years ago were prosecuted as fraud; things that could, would and HAD gotten bankers lynched, strung up the nearest tree for robbery.
The poor girl started muttering about getting her parents to move their assets over to wizarding currency, as at least that was gold, which had enduring value and was considerably more difficult to counterfeit.
Appetites sated at last, Harry pocketed the coleslaw containers no one had been interested in. Refilling their sodas before they left (ironically, Harry had never tasted one himself, but Tom Riddle HAD. But there was no reason for the Dursleys to part with money for a soda for him when there was perfectly good water in the tap), they left for a muggle park to do their planning.
Luna left to go attend to business of her own, and so she would not influence their choices negatively as part of her own bad luck. Harry gave her a dose of polyjuice and a hair summoned off the head of a coed so she could take the Knight Bus and not be recognized, then he and Hermione went off on their own.
And Harry felt it a good idea, to get back into the spirit of things, to pick up right about where they'd left off.
"All are supreme, yet equal. Only Dumbledore's wand can always find my cloak. How fair is that?" he grumbled jokingly.
Hermione positively glittered, and rushed in to explain what she'd already figured out on her own. "Oh! I found that part easy to understand. It's simple, really.
"You have three equals. Let's describe it mathematically, maybe that will help. A, B, and C are equal, they all have the same value. So the wand isn't greater than your cloak or the stone. However, a wand is also boosted by the magic of its wielder. So A plus X is greater than either B or C. A, the wand, cancels out the value of B, the cloak, and you are left with X, the magic of the person who wields the wand. So long as you have nothing to counter X, the spells of the wand wielder could find the cloak. But say you cast your own spells to hide yourself, on top of what the cloak was already doing. A and B would still cancel each other out, then it would be a contest between your magic, Y, and the magic of the wand wielder to see who emerged victorious."
Harry grimaced, getting it. "And Dumbledore is not only extremely powerful, he possesses a vast arsenal of spells and devices to choose from to aid him, so X, whatever he is adding to that wand, is an enormous value."
"Far greater than Y, I'm afraid. We're all still students," Hermione agreed, glancing aside at Harry in concern.
Harry, in spite of having Voldemort's memories and spell arsenal, had to agree. Most of what the Dark Slytherin knew was Dark Magic, which by its very nature was weighted heavily towards combat, torture, and so on.
He knew a great deal of other magic, but Dark was his specialty.
In a contest of information gathering or concealing, things would naturally go to the Dark Ravenclaw as the one who had every advantage of inclination, but also time and resources.
That was his special area.
But Hermione wasn't done explaining. "And the way they can all be different, yet equal, is simple as well! Just compare it to economics, think of it as fifty pounds worth of gold, fifty pounds worth of flour, and fifty pounds worth of ... I don't know, something else, stone maybe. I know those values fluctuate in the muggle world, but just ignore that for now. Each one is worth exactly what the others are, but each is used for different things. You wouldn't want to make a semi-conductor out of stone or flour, nor would you want to eat gold or rock, and you couldn't make very much of a house out of dry cakes or gold leaf. All equal in value, but suited to different purposes!"
"Thank you, now on to stealing Trelawney from Dumbledore," Harry put the real item on the agenda back on track. "What we are trying to do here is called 'stealing a march', or acting before our enemy has a chance to find out what we are up to and react to counter us. It's our only possible chance against someone like Dumbledore, to be honest. He's got too many resources to counter once he starts to realize that we are in play against him. So long as he thinks we are merely pawns he is moving about at his whim, we have some measure of freedom - only so long as he doesn't realize we are using it, of course. Once he accepts the fact that we are resisting him... well, things will get much harder. As he effectively holds ALL legal power in Britain, he makes up the rules. We are opposing a petty tyrant on his own turf, and the very least of all actions he could use to discipline or control us would be to make every single thing we want to do, that he doesn't want us to do, illegal."
Hermione paled. "I hadn't realized it was that bad."
"It isn't. It's worse." Harry grimaced. "But according to the Queen it's a war we've got to fight regardless of how we feel about it. We're in the war. Whether we fight back and try to win it is up to us, but we're already in it."
His girlfriend looked at him in fright, before nodding soberly.
Harry shot her back a grin. "Oh! It really is not so bad! Dumbledore has a bad habit of thinking far too much over every possible aspect of a situation before he does anything. Now we can use that against him, as it makes his reactions extremely slow to anything he hasn't planned out ahead of time. All we really have to do is go in, grab Trelawney, and jump out a window onto a set of brooms. We'll be gone before he knows it."
"Only we'll never be able to return to school, and he'll turn those laws against us, like you said." Hermione frowned in concentration. "No Harry, like you said, it's best if he never knows we're resisting him. We should at the very least go in under a disguise, or something."
Now it was Harry's turn to grow serious. "Hermione, I don't think you know just what we are up against. I'll tell you later how it happened, but over the summer I became an expert on wards and how to break them, and once you do that it becomes almost reflexive to study any you come across. The ones around Hogwarts have been turned into an information network, much like a spider's web. But the ones on the Divination tower are extremely overdone in that aspect. They make the ones over the rest of the castle look tame. It's clear that Dumbledore's hiding a treasure there, I just never thought that he could consider Trelawney that treasure; not until the Queen told us, anyway."
He sighed. "Hermione, we can't even go to class there without setting off soft alarms, and that's after we got keyed in with a certain degree of permission, because we do have class with her. Strangers would set off far more extreme alarms, and that's if we could figure out how to fool them."
Hermione was nodding, deeply considering this. "But I'm already known for getting excited about lessons and asking teachers for extra work to do, or trying to get ahead. So you and I could go in on that pretext, and any alarm we set off he would likely ignore. If what you said is true, about anything and everything setting off alerts of some sort, then I'm sorry but sooner rather than later it would all just become background noise. The wards you describe would be spamming the Headmaster with several hundred messages a day! If he couldn't learn to ignore them they'd drive him mad! So routine messages like scheduled students arriving to class early would get ignored. They'd HAVE to be! All we'd have to figure out how to do is leave without any traces of our having kidnapped her!"
"Rescued, more like," Harry corrected. "If Dumbledore has meddled with her mind to the point of almost irreparably destroying her gift, then Trelawney can't be happy with whatever he is doing to her."
"Point," the girl conceded.
Harry kicked back on a bench and thought. "Okay, to do this we're going to need to do several things. First is get some method of invisibility, so we can creep past most of the regular guards, otherwise our steps will be tracked too completely for Dumbles not to know the entire story. Too bad the fairies used up all of our demiguise hair, or I could've made cloaks out of that."
"Harry!" Hermione shot up in her seat excitedly. "Didn't Luna say that they'd incorporated demiguise hair into the outfits they made for us? The outfits we now have on?"
He looked at her in dawning recognition of her point before hurriedly checking his own outfit, and, after fiddling with it for several moments, vanished. His voice then appeared out of thin air. "Got it. The clothes come with both a broad-brimmed plumed hat and a hood," he stated unnecessarily, as she could observe that on her own. "Obviously, those are redundant. You don't need one if you've got the other. But when you wear both together, as well as the gloves, you activate that power and turn invisible."
She followed suit and soon vanished herself. The gloves on her outfit were more slim and feminine, the hat and hood a different style than his(just as her outfit was a dress and his included trousers) but the effect was the same: total coverage of the body invoked the invisibility power. All they really had to do was put on the gloves and pull the hoods over so they covered their faces. Due to the old-fashioned nature of the clothes, they already had neck to toe coverage, as that was just the way those styles worked.
Of course, they still had a hat, and the easiest place to leave it was still on top of the head. So Harry could be forgiven for thinking that wearing the hat and hood together was the key. Hermione quickly sorted him out on that.
They could see out through the hoods just fine even when they were pulled down to cover their faces. And, the pair found that when they both had their hoods down that way they could also see each other as dim outlines, clearly not visible to others, but just as clear as ghosts to each other.
So they began to have an invisible conversation.
Harry was grinning strongly now. "It's not the super-invisibility of a supreme and ancient magical artifact, but it will do nicely."
"And this doesn't have a bad luck curse on it," Hermione agreed.
"And Dumbledore's wand lets him detect the super-cloaks anyway," Harry tossed off a shrug. "So back to the subject of our raid," he discussed with his partner as they both sat invisibly on a bench in a park. "Next on the agenda is obtaining a means of taking Trelawney without resistance, as we can assume that any interlopers can't just carry her off from the life she's had for the past dozen years or so without explanations we have no time for, and wouldn't want to speak out loud in that castle in any case."
"Harry," Hermione admonished, shaking her head. "Any number of spells would serve just fine! Why, there's Stupefy, and Petrificas Totalis..."
"And none of those would serve us in the least, as we don't dare use wands." Harry shook his own head. "Those wards would detect it, and wand use is not a regular part of Divination, so would stand out as abnormal- especially any and all combat spells. They'd flag our Headmaster with alarms he could not ignore, because they'd be of a much more strident type than the standard 'student going to class' warnings. You can ignore car alarms and telephones ringing, but this would be an air raid siren going off in his ear. The wards are set to give a very high priority to any spell we might use to disable her. Any combat spell at all would have him rushing that tower in moments, sure that the worst had happened, and in our case he'd be right - not something we want if we are trying to disguise our presence."
"Oh. I hadn't realized," Hermione spoke softly, getting an odd look from a passing college student who heard words from a bench no one was sitting at.
Conversation resumed once the early morning jogger had departed.
"No worries at all. You can't read wards. Most can't." Harry shrugged."And before you ask, yes, I'll explain later how you can, and where I learned. But I just got struck by an idea. Dumbledore is too good by far at identifying people and tracing magic through signatures left by their wands. But devices don't leave the same kind of traces, none at all, really. That's why he carries things like a deluminator, because wand use can be detected, but devices can't. So he can darken areas under heavy wards without being detected."
"So, we need some kind of device to subdue Trelawney," Hermione muttered, putting her great brain to work on it. "Too bad Hogwarts suppresses muggle devices. This would be a perfect opportunity for a tazer."
"Actually, I was thinking of potions that could do it," Harry offered."I have a few that stun or shock, and they only have to be splashed on somebody. But it's still very early. We might easily find her asleep and be able to dose her with something without her knowing."
"That would do it then," Hermione nodded her agreement firmly. "So long as we can avoid leaving splashes. I'm sure Dumbledore could identify potions by their traces, if he found any droplets scattered about."
"Hmm, good point." Harry considered, before bouncing a shrug no one but her could see because of their magic clothes. "Well, then, we'll just have to acquire potions that can't be traced to us, maybe buy some at astore."
The invisible girl shook her head. "Not if we're going to catch her asleep. I've been to Diagon Alley often enough to know most stores don't open until well after breakfast. We'd have had our first Divination class before then, and all chance of catching her asleep will be gone, unless we want to wait a day."
Harry invisibly shook his head. "No. We have to take her as soon as possible. It's our best, and possibly only, chance for success. If the Headmaster learns of our plans, getting her out of there becomes impossible."
The bookworm suddenly shot up, her eyes shining with the brilliant inner light of a great idea. "Professor Snape! I know he keeps a stock of completed potions in his office! I saw them once when I was in there asking for extra work! He might have what you need!"
Harry threw on a wide grin, and hugged his currently invisible friend."You're right! And, considering the kind of person Snape is, he's guaranteed to have the sort of potions we want! Excellent idea, Hermione!"
She glowed at the praise, immediately launching on to the next phase of their operations. "So we can get to her invisibly, pass the wards as students who ought to be going to her class anyway, and dose her with apotion to get her tractable. Then how do we get her out?"
The currently invisible (except to his friend) boy shook his head. "Have to be brooms out a window. He'll know the moment she starts going anywhere. He has wards to track her, and she doesn't go anywhere often enough for him to disregard the spam warnings of her moving about. We can use school brooms so there is nothing to track to us."
"Brilliant!" Hermione declared, drawing attention from a few students on their way to very early classes to this oddly vocal yet empty bench.
Harry eyed a pair of athletic types, a boy and a girl, on their way to an early morning tennis match, and got an idea.
After hurried consultations, the pair made their way back to Hogwarts in the brisk post-dawn light, using their fairy clothing to be invisible, and under the influence of polyjuice charged with hair taken from the tennis couple.
Harry knew Voldemort's memories, and Voldemort knew Snape's proclivities. So they were able to find a narrow corridor through the wards of Hogwarts from a certain point on the grounds through a few twisting passages, right to Snape's office.
From Voldemort's knowledge of the man, Harry knew their Potions Professor would be dealing in black market potions while at Hogwarts, and he had to have a route for his customers to reach him, as he could not go out to meet them without gaps appearing in his schedule that would seem suspicious for a teacher who was supposed to be on hand for kids at their boarding school.
Knowing that such a thing had to exist, and that Dumbledore refused nothing that Snape really wanted, the duo were able to use Voldemort's ability to examine wards to find such a route and follow it in to where it ended: right in Snape's office in the dungeons, next to his classroom.
There stood a potion cabinet that was well stocked with a variety of illegal and questionable potions. Harry spent a moment examining the protections on it, before whispering close into Hermione's invisible ear.
"It's warded, but not very well, obviously the work of Snape rather than Dumbledore. Two parts of this concern us, I can bypass the rest. One alerts Snape if a potion is lifted from a shelf - a fairly standard anti-theft measure so his customers don't help themselves while his back is turned or he isn't here. Next alerts him if any of the bottles are empty when the cabinet doors are closed - obviously he's had a few canny customers use switching spells to nip a potion without taking the bottle."
"How are we going to get passed them?" she whispered hotly back.
He grinned in reply. "I have empty bottles from potions we've used before, all we have to do is take the fluid we want and not leave his bottles empty. His wards don't tell him what is in a bottle, only if it is full or not."
Nodding, Hermione looked around and, finding a flexible bit of tubing among the tools left lying around, demanded some empty bottles from Harry, then set herself up to siphon out the contents of some potions.
"What do I get?" she asked over her shoulder.
Harry checked over the contents of the cabinet. "This one, this one, and these four... oh dear."
Hermione looked where he was staring. There on a shelf was a collection of small bottles holding hairs, each carefully labeled. "Draco Malfoy, age eleven, Draco Malfoy, age twelve... Pansy Parkinson, same ages... there's practically every Slytherin, and..." she held her breath to stifle a gasp."Harry POTTER, age twelve?!! Hermione GRANGER, age thirteen?!? Why?"
Harry covered her mouth to prevent her from screaming in outrage. Fiercely the boy whispered in her ear, "Calm. The man sells polyjuice. It should not seem odd that he would sell hairs as well, although it is reprehensible. Why anyone would want them, though..."
"Themes and role plays," Hermione concluded, looking angry. "There are tons of people who want to be with the real Harry Potter, but if they can't have the real one, why not a fake? It's disgusting, but..."
Harry rolled his eyes. "A magical pimp, hard at work. Never mind, we can use this to our advantage. I'll collect the hairs. You siphon the potions."
Nodding, Hermione got hard at work, draining out several vials Harry pointed out into empties that he provided, making sure not to jostle the originals on their shelves and possibly set off a warning. When she was done she noted that Harry had deftly taken out all the hairs using a set of tweezers, and was now adding spoonfuls of coleslaw, unused since breakfast, into the now empty bottles. Surprised, she even stood aside and let him do that to the potion bottles she had emptied, closing the cabinet on them moments later.
No alarms sounded.
"No Slytherins take Divination, nor does Snape appear to collect hair from many people outside of his House," Harry told her in hushed tones."So we'll have to go up as Harry and Hermione Potter."
He gave her a wink, and she smiled for him, downing the potion to resume her human looks, not that she needed a potion to do that anymore, but she would follow his plan. They'd known going in here that talking, especially about their plans, had to be kept to a minimum.
Departing out from the Potion Master's office the pair scurried upstairs and thence to Gryffindor Tower, where Harry crept into the second year boy's dorm and stole Colin's camera, then took along a fresh roll of film and some development potions.
He'd make it up to Colin later.
Then it was up to the Divination tower. Dumbledore was still asleep, resting from the poisoned chicken bone wound that Draco had delivered to him, was it only last night? Real time, he supposed it was. Subjectively, that seemed so long ago.
Well, that increased their chances for success to have Dumbledore out of action, for the moment at least.
Slipping inside the wards around the Divination classroom, Harry noticed them sending off a standard alert message to Dumbledore about the arrival of two students, early to class. Hermione was right, Dumbledore had to get hundreds of those messages a day, considering they were sent whether the student was early, on time, or arriving late. Information overload would have killed many a lesser man, although he suspected the Headmaster had used rituals to increase his ability to process such information. He'd had to have done so to have survived under the information load so long.
But you could feel wind on your cheek, and when it was windy all the time still learn to ignore those sensations.
Alerts for anything out of the ordinary would be another matter, but so far they were just two students showing up early for class. Several hours early, but teachers had to be available at all hours for special lessons or advice. So there were no problems there.
They were inside the Divination classroom before Harry noticed any flaw at all in the wards Dumbledore used to alert him to Trelawney's captivity.
"There is no separate ward alerting him to whether someone steps from the classroom to the teacher's private quarters," Harry whispered especially quietly directly into Hermione's ear, noting the room had several paintings and not wanting to be overheard.
Giving him a quick yet frighted smile, Hermione led as the invisible duo darted into the oracle's bedchambers. The place was a madhouse, scattered about with all sorts of Trelawney's belongings haphazardly stacked in uneven piles or strewn randomly about the floor. It was all well scrubbed, it had to be with House Elves looking after everything, but it had no organization at all, looking like a kindergartner's toybox when no one came through to tell her to clean up after herself.
Sunk completely into an overstuffed bed, under mountains of covers to guard against the chill permeating her drafty tower, the teacher snored softly. Hermione had to poke over the side before she'd believe their teacher had actually sunk a good twelve inches into her super soft, thick mattress.
Harry found the one painting in the room, carefully stood up with his back to it, brought out Colin's camera and shot a picture of the room before waving for Hermione to follow him into the bathroom. Inside, he gave aheartfelt sigh of relief. The chamber was opulent by some standards, fairly average by the ones set by this castle, not even on par with the prefect's bath.
But there wasn't a painting.
"What now?" Hermione whispered.
"No paintings in here. My guess is, judging by the covers, Trelawney likes her baths hot enough they steam, and that would rot the canvas. We can develop a photo in here. I snapped one in front of the painting, once I noticed it was watching her like a hawk despite her being asleep."
Hermione did not have to be told. She's seen enough muggle movies. "And so we can put a photo in front of the security camera, or in this case portrait, to show what it expects to see and thus convince it that whatever we are doing isn't happening."
"And then we make the switch," Harry nodded.
It didn't take long to develop the photo. Wizards were big on convenience, and disliked waiting for their results. He had a photo sheet blown up large enough to drape over the portrait in moments.
"Harry, I just thought of something," Hermione whispered desperately once they were prepared to go out into the teacher's bedroom once again."We can't take Trelawney out of the castle now! She was there when we had our first class with her, and that is a couple of hours from now!"
Harry paused to consider his best friend, before reminding gently, "We have to take her as soon as possible. We've all agreed on that. We can get her now - which may be the only opportunity we'll ever get."
"But this is before we had our first class with her, so it would create a paradox!" she whispered fiercely. "Surely time itself would intervene to make us fail, or something! We can't risk that!"
"No, it won't." Harry grinned at her in reply. "Time moves oddly around the fey, remember? Loops and spirals avoid crossing, even though they seem to. It's the ability to move sideways a touch that makes all the difference. But even so, think on this: If one of us were to take her place and give the lesson as we remember it, no paradox would have resulted!"
The girl stood stunned, too shocked to reply, and Harry kissed her on the cheek. "Thanks Love!" He slipped out, and she followed in a daze. Already, by the time she'd gotten out, he'd maneuvered invisibly before the watch-portrait, and with a deft bit of sleight of hand placed the photo before it.
The painting never noticed. One moment it was watching a room, and the next a wizarding photograph of that room. Harry had done all the work invisibly so one moment it was watching a scene, and the next a picture of it, with nary a ripple in between.
Had Hermione been less stunned she could've appreciated that better.
Then Harry was at their teacher's bedside, and had produced a funnel, which he fed into their teacher's mouth, shortly thereafter pouring a potion down it. Trelawney choked, swallowed and sputtered awake, but Harry had chosen well, dosing her with Unctuous Unction, a potion that persuades the drinker that the giver is her very best friend.
Sybil Trelawney came sputtering awake and looked at Harry, who was now visible and holding a finger to his lips in a shushing gesture.
Smiling, the teacher obeyed her best friend's suggestion, staying silent.
Grinning wide now, Harry leaned close to her and whispered in Trelawney's ear, but whatever it was he said Hermione couldn't overhear, which was well, she supposed, as if she couldn't the painting couldn't either.
Harry then handed the teacher another potion, which she downed readily, turning into an identical copy of Hermione's mortal body. He then gave her a set of Hermione's school robes, making the girl wonder just how long Harry had been planning to switch them.
She soon had her answer, as he then left the teacher, who skipped off into her bathroom to dress, and whispered into Hermione's ear. "She thinks that she is going out on a lark with a very old friend, and has to slip out as you in order to get away from her employer - which is right. The wards registered you and I enter, they won't see anything unusual about you and I leaving. Her own clothes have tracking charms on them, especially her glasses. Get rid of them before you make your own exit and you should make it much further much faster. I'll meet you at the place we're supposed to take her, ok?"
And with that, he pressed another vial of polyjuice and a few of Trelawney's hairs into the maiden's hands, along with one of the shrunken brooms.
Hermione didn't like it, but could see no other way. Desperately biting her lip, she nodded her acceptance of this plan.
And with a last bit of advice, "Slip out as soon as you can," Harry took the teacher now dressed as her, sheltered her inside of his invisible robes, and left Hermione behind to prevent a paradox.
I I I
Went back to chapter twelve and replaced Eton with Cheltenham Ladies College on a reader recommendation, as I was tired of getting reviews about Eton being an all-boy's school.
Heck! I LOVE AUs! I could have made it an all-HAMSTER school if I'd wanted to! One that Hermione was only able to sneak into because of her big front teeth and bushy hair.
But it's not worth the bother, so you get this. It's easier. Well, and I couldn't picture Hermione waxing eloquent about the academic excellence of her opportunities to run around on those little exercise wheels.