Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Partially Kissed Hero

Partially Kissed Hero 24

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 - 5788 words

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Partially Kissed Hero
Chapter Twenty-Four
by Lionheart

I I I

Harry had gone straight from the failed vote at the Geezergamot to the wizarding hospital, where he used Voldemort's skill at mind arts to cure Lockhart so he could employ him as a servant.

Rebuilding much of the celebrity's mind allowed Harry to input all sorts of subliminal suggestions and commands, and one of those was to create a work ethic and drive to study strong enough to MAKE the guy the sort of wizard he'd always claimed to be!

But by inputting loyalty directives into Lockhart's psyche (something which Voldemort excelled at, even without magic) Harry was able to get him back in motion in such a way as to indirectly gain some followers for himself. After all, the fraud had a huge fan base, and if Lockhart followed Harry and his fans followed Lockhart, then suddenly Harry had a power base to work off of. And, by causing Gilderoy to hire tutors to 'get back in fighting form' in the wake of his magical accident, the man himself would become a resource.

It was a perfect setup. The guy never was in fighting form, but now he could blame that on his accident. And the guy had TONS of fame!

If Harry wasn't enough by himself, then perhaps his fame plus Lockhart's together could cause Dumbledore some damage.

Regardless, it was one more iron in the fire, and perhaps among them all, one of Harry's new plots could do him some good. He'd never achieve anything if he didn't keep trying.

Then it was off to collect Luna and Hermione. He met up with his oldest friend first, at the shrine where their new dryad had already grown, and there was nothing special about that meeting save for some rather rushed explanations on both sides and a promise of more later.

Meeting Luna however, while not difficult, also involved meeting with Sirius Black on his rather contrived date with Amelia Bones (who, incidentally, had been awake and listening when the Marauder confessed as to the methods used for stealing her panties).

Shunting the Head of Magical Law Enforcement off into her own little corner so she could review all of the evidence of Sirius' innocence Harry had been collecting (and brought with him), along with Hermione to help her with that burgeoning mound of papers and bottled memories, Harry found himself alone and getting introduced to his godfather for the first time.

Harry was all prepared for this to be stilted and awkward. Being no longer a wide-eyed innocent deprived him of a natural child's reaction, and Voldemort provided no memories on adult emotional bonding.

Luckily, Sirius wasn't having any of that awkwardness nonsense and went and immediately engulfed his godson in a hug. Before Harry's lack of return affection could introduce any awkwardness, Sirius was already giving him a noogie and that erupted into entirely expected squirming and struggling which broke the ice nicely and served to get everyone out of that awkward phase.

Playfulness has its place, after all.

"So, how have the Longbottoms been treating you?" Sirius asked while he was holding his godson upside down and trying to dunk his head in aconjured bucket of water.

"Never met them," Harry replied, using his hands and tipping the bucket over so it sloshed over his godfather's shoes.

"Then who have you been staying with?" Sirius threw Harry down on the table and began wrestling his godson's shirt off - vague plans of chasing a nude Harry through Hogsmead while whipping the Boy Who Lived with a wet towel as a prank in his mind.

"Frankly, I don't know that I've had it much better than you," Harry replied, squirming to get under the table and safe so he could correct his clothes. "After the Dark Lord Dumbledore kidnapped me from you he sent me to the Dursleys, who tried to beat and starve the magic out of me -with his full knowledge and cooperation."

"That would explain why you are skin and bones," Sirius casually tossed one of Harry's shoes away, just as the boy escaped under the table and to safety. "Also why the old guy never came and talked to me in Azkaban. I had a whole discussion mapped out where I convinced him of my innocence."

Harry summoned the wayward shoe back to him and put it on. "Yeah, he knew you were innocent. But so long as you were my guardian, he couldn't let you free and still control me."

Having conjured a large tub full of soapy water on top of the table, Sirius vanished both tub and table, letting the ice cold soapy water sploosh down over Harry. Grinning at the now soaked boy, Sirius spoke, "That would explain a great many things. But why didn't you try to get emancipated?"

Giving up on defending himself for now, Harry transfigured Sirius's trouser legs into a pair of giant tuna, leaving his godfather to fall over, his legs stuck down the throats of a pair of giant fish. "Oh, I tried. But he used his various positions of authority to block me. I just came from a full session of the Wizengamot, where they voted to support his ban on my emancipation - in spite of their having no excuse to do so. It was an illegal ban."

At this statement, Amelia and Hermione looked up from where they'd been working together, proving they'd been listening in.

Having restored his pants to being pants again, Sirius stood up and flicked his wand toward Harry, causing his wet clothes to transfigure into a nice muggle dress, pink and with frilly lace.

Harry didn't even bother to correct it, giving Sirius a matching outfit in red, plus makeup and lipstick. Sirius had a distinctly disturbed expression on his face as he realized this wasn't a costume change, but a human to human transfiguration - complete with bits change.

"Dang! I'm HOT!!" Sirius looked in a mirror he'd just conjured for the purpose.

"I think I'm going to be ill," Hermione didn't point out that his voice had not been changed, and that manly voice coupled with the very female appearance ... yuck!

"No, I think this could be a good look for me... as a disguise," Sirius added, seeing the looks of revulsion he'd been getting. "You know, avoid the Aurors? It's a game all the rage with escaped convicts like me."

"Actually," Hermione lectured. "Strictly speaking, you're not a convict. That term is short for 'convicted criminal' and you were never 'convicted'of anything because you never had a trial!"

Sirius un-vanished the table. And, with more feminine grace than Hermione possessed, came over and sat down, smoothing his skirts with a practiced motion. "Well, if emancipation for Harry didn't work, then freedom might not for me - so long as Dumbles can gain anything by my being on the run. Since the fight is really over who gets to be Harry's guardian, and Dumbledore is winning, we need to change the rules of the game. How'd you like to be Head of the Black family?"

Luna, standing peacefully in the background this whole time, beamed her joy.

"Wouldn't work, I'm afraid," Harry shook his head, having already restored, cleaned the soap out of, and dried his own clothes. "I'm sure he'd find some way to declare you unfit to be making those decisions, and void it."

"Then I'll declare you ACTING Head!" Sirius proclaimed triumphantly, causing Hermione to vomit in the background as his still very manly voice and female appearance disturbed her greatly. "Since that's exactly what the position is for - the real Head being unable or unfit for whatever reason to make his own decisions, they'll have no excuse to interfere. The purebloods would throw a fit over attempted intrusion into an internal family matter like that. They'd be up in arms over the mere suggestion of his making the attempt."

"That could work," Harry allowed, nodding.

Sirius folded his arms and was nodding also as he pointed out, "And, Acting as a Clan Head carries all of the rights of actually having that position, so you do an end run around that ban and automatically gain emancipation. He could make theft no longer a crime before he overturned that one. It's too deep into the guts of wizarding government to change."

Sirius smirked and raised his wand. "So. The ideal case is that I make you Acting Head of the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black, which grants you full rights as an adult, therefore you have no guardian, so Dumbledore has no more reason to prevent me from getting a trial showing that I'm innocent - since I am no longer his rival for your guardianship!"

"Wow!" someone breathed, impressed in spite of the freaky voice/appearance combination.

"Don't leave out vindictiveness," Harry mused. "Dumbles isn't the sort to let an enemy walk free after getting a hit in on him. He'd try to get his revenge - so long as it wasn't too expensive to him to do so. We should send you ahead to France to prepare a place for us to live. We're going there anyway, and so long as you aren't an easy target, he has better uses for his tyranny."

"But wouldn't they just arrest him there and send him back?" Hermione asked.

Amelia Bones had found herself drawn in, and answered without thinking."No. There is no right for extradition because he never had a trial, and he can get ahold of the Black fortunes there just fine. In fact, should he ask for asylum there they'll almost certainly grant it. The French love showing us English up as incompetent. They always have. It's an ancient rivalry."

"That's true," the Granger girl allowed.

Luna had begun nodding, musing aloud, "Set up a house and properties with sufficient space for us to... actually just buy a muggle farm or vineyard."

Harry smiled. "Well, I was just arranging to transfer everything..."

"You didn't trust the goblins, did you?" Sirius interrupted, fearing the worst.

Harry shook his head. "No. I did everything at the Ministry."

The veteran Marauder sighed with heartfelt relief. "Good. You can't imagine how relieved that makes me. Too often have I seen those raised by muggles imagine they should be goblin friends for having used good manners. Every generation it seems someone thinks that just by being polite and recalling a goblin's name they'll receive preferential treatment. That's bollox. This is England, magical or not. Everyone here who is not a Dark Lord, part of a Dark Lord's posse, or Too Stupid to Live (i.e. works in the Ministry) uses good manners on principle. Goblins just suck."

Sirius sighed and shook his head. "Nearly every muggleborn somehow forms the opinion that if only you take the trouble of recalling a goblin's name they will be all over you about how you are the only one who's ever tried, then be friends with you for life. Nothing could be further from the truth!They're like muggers, in that they hate for those they 'service' to know their names. It offends them something deep; and if they can, they would destroy those who learn them."

He raised an eye to look at Harry. "Your mother thought that when she was a first year, and they nearly trapped her in contracts that would've destroyed her. That's how James met her, he happened by and saved her from that. It got him feeling protective of her, and he kept an eye out for her ever since."

Sirius started shaking his head. "Every so often some moron decides to let the goblins manage their money for them - and they invariably steal it all the first instant they have access, 'investing' it all in themselves. Or some naive young twit will agree to a service, like vault transfer, on which they've been told there is a 'small fee'. For goblins, a 'small fee' invariably means 'less than half'. So if you ask them to do something trivial and routine, and they say that costs a small fee without telling you a specific amount, expect to lose forty nine percent of whatever money is involved!"

"Yeah," Harry smacked his lips. "I know."

"You mean he wasn't trying to prank you?" Hermione asked, disbelieving.

"No." The Head of Magical Law Enforcement shook her head. "He wasn't, not on that. It's dead accurate."

"'Goblin' is not a nice word. There are reasons for that," Luna agreed, face now deep in an upside-down magazine. "We could call them 'Daisies'and everyone would soon learn to hate the term 'Daisy'. Bad manners brings a very bad reputation, in this case deservedly so. Goblins adore cruelty."

Amelia Bones started to rub her temples. "It's why we made them bankers. Hurting people financially stopped them from trying to kill everyone every twenty to thirty years. Goblin wars were regular as clockwork before that."

I I I

True to their schedule, the trio of Hogwarts students had a good night's sleep then spun back 24 hours. Although they went to bed rather early after sending Amelia and Sirius on their ways (she'd become interested enough in the case to see him safely to France, before coming back to her office in England to begin investigating on the Ministry side, to see if that evidence matched up with theirs), so consequently they got up early.

Very early.

About dawn, actually, which gave them all time to get a couple tasks done before meeting at the pond in the Forbidden Forest to watch Trelawney become a dryad - something Harry promised himself to watch with more interest this time around.

Part of that time was used by Hermione to drop by the Ministry invisibly and file all the paperwork, signed by Sirius and witnessed by Amelia Bones, alerting them that he made Harry the Acting Head of the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black, for as long as Sirius remained indisposed.

Another slip of paper, signed by Harry and Sirius and witnessed again by Amelia, dissolved the marriage of Lucius Malfoy and Narcissa Black, leaving her without a husband, and Draco without a clan.

Sirius himself was happy to go across the channel. He reverted to his own form from the female disguise on the other end, filed the same paperwork and asked asylum from a contact of Amelia's in France. So whatever games Albus got up to on HIS side of the channel, he shouldn't be able to get to it all without presenting a dang good reason - a reason he didn't have.

That done, as well as Luna not having to do the filing herself, freed her up to perform another errand in those early post-dawn hours.

"Hello Uncle Lucius."

Startled awake, Lucius groped for his wand in the darkness of his bedroom and found it missing. Even the secret pull-ring on the headboard had been sealed over with a charm. "Who's there?!"

A smug voice spoke out of the darkness. "It's me... your niece. You only had one sister so it shouldn't be too hard to figure out who I am."

"L... Lanna?" He ventured, trying to catch a glimpse of the girl in the dim light cast in through the draped over windows. "Lum?"

"Luna," she said happily. "Don't worry, you won't forget my name again after today."

"What are you planning to do... Luna?" Lucius asked in an oily tone, it wouldn't be too hard to charm the little bitch. And after he'd gotten his wand back...

"I'm going to kill you uncle Lucius," Luna replied. "I'm afraid that you've been misusing the Malfoy fortune. Grandfather always said that Malfoys bow to no one, but you've been on your knees before Vime... Volemart?"She finished uncertainly. "Drat, I knew I should have looked up that silly name he calls himself before coming here. No matter, you've brought nothing but shame and ruin to the Malfoy line and it's long past time that you were pruned."

"My son will..."

"Be disowned," Luna said cheerfully. "Harry's the acting head of family Black and without you to contest it, your marriage to Narcissa will be annulled and she will be cast out of the family. Your... offspring will be without a name and without a fortune. Sure is lucky that he has his skills to fall back on isn't it?"

"You won't get away with this," Lucius hissed. "The Dark Lord will..."

"But I already have uncle Lucius," Luna said with a serene smile. "You should be feeling a sharp pain in your chest right about... now. I may be the sole heir to the Malfoy fortune, but even if they suspect something, they'll never suspect me. I'm Loony Lovegood, the girl that has trouble tying her own shoes. I could certainly never murder someone."

The wealthy Death Eater expired, shock and horror on his features.

Luna smiled. She'd gotten the idea from reading a muggle mystery novel. On noting how very different the investigative process was from the one she was familiar with, it struck her that muggles looked for muggle means of foul play, and wizards looked for wizarding ones.

Use muggle means on a wizard, and the wizards investigating would find no magical traces of murder, and conclude the man had simply died in his sleep. Nothing suspicious to investigate.

Smiling, she resumed her invisibility and left the house, nothing for a painting along the halls to see, so no intruders to be chased down. And the poor man hadn't even managed to replace Dobby yet, so there were no house elves around to be avoided.

Within hours Luna Malfoy Lovegood would be a very wealthy witch indeed.

I I I

For the past several days, Hermione had been alternating between annoyed and confused. On top of having more adventures in one day than they usually had in a year, Harry had been acting odd and spending a lot of time around Luna. At first Hermione'd been delighted that summer when he'd cast off the lazy attitude and started working. The letters they'd traded had been the best correspondence of her life!

Now, however, he had suddenly become an expert on so many things... she knew he'd turned around, but she liked to think that she was a genius herself and she had several years of studying head start on him. It wasn't logical that he could catch up and pass her that fast!

She knew she spent most of her time reading and studying. So it wasn't like he could say he'd been doing more of that than her. Maybe more than she'd done over this summer, she did vacation with her parents after all, but NOT more than she'd done in her two years of schooling before that!

Hermione could allow him to become an expert on one or two things during that short a space of time. She knew he'd been hiding a brilliant brain under that slacker attitude for a long time now, and this summer she knew she'd seen him start to use it. In their letters she'd watched him bloom from a no-nothing wonder drone to a dedicated student who was driven to excel, and it had honestly ranked among the most beautiful experiences of her life to see him make that transition.

However, it made no sense for him to suddenly be an expert on everything!

In their school subjects it was obvious to her that he wasn't being challenged. He finished all of his work before her, and even helped check hers over for errors! She was Hermione Granger! She was FAMOUS for having error-free homework!! And while he couldn't point out spelling or grammar mistakes, because she didn't make any, he'd OFTEN point out a tip or two about their subject that the teacher hadn't explained, frequently casting new light over the entire topic and causing her to rewrite several feet of parchment!

However much she'd wanted to congratulate him for being a good student, that wasn't normal, to say nothing of him knowing about wards or magical creature lore or ancient objects, material that wasn't even taught in school!

There was also this new relationship with Luna. Before this year, Harry had been almost painfully shy. He'd shrink from human contact so it made one feel cruel for even approaching him, as he'd shy away in unconscious ways, acting like a beaten animal.

It had been enough to make Hermione feel socially expert by comparison, and she was used to spending her time alone, without friends.

But how he carried himself now was completely different. It was nothing like the Harry she knew from last year, and Luna seemed to be a key difference. The Harry from their letters over the summer had been the same person, shy and ignorant and just coming out of his shell in both those departments.

Then, something happened on the train.

One obvious suspect was the dementors, but she'd recently read up on that subject and they were never known to improve or unblock a person. Their kiss was death, worse than normal death in fundamental and horrible ways.

Part of her wanted to put all of Harry's changes down to his recent brush with that and his return to mortality. He'd very nearly died, and that often changed a person.

However, it didn't explain where his newfound knowledge came from.

Then Luna came abruptly into the picture. Another part of Hermione figured that the two of them had discovered their hormones together and she was honestly happy that they had picked up a new hobby. Doing 'that' with agirl was supposed to make boys more confident, which could explain some social differences. But then she started noticing little things that threw off that theory and that made her confused again.

Hermione had always hated being confused so that made her annoyed, after calming she again considered her friend's odd behavior which made her confused and restarted the entire cycle. So it was no surprise that she had jumped at the chance when Harry had requested that she make time for a serious discussion. The fact that the discussion was with Luna Lovegood with all people was threatening to push her into confusion again.

The trio had come to the hedged area around the shrine to the Fairy Queen and were just waiting the half an hour or so before the past Harry showed up to give Trelawney the potion that transformed her.

Harry had set up an invisible tent in a corner by the hedge while they were waiting, then left the girls to have their privacy for this discussion. Luna watched patiently as Hermione poked her head inside the tent's living room.

The Ravenclaw took a deep breath and then let it out slowly. Harry had given her the opportunity to do something she'd never thought she'd be able to achieve on her own, something she'd wanted since she was a small girl. He'd given her a means to avenge her mother. Luna Lovegood was an odd girl by all accounts, but she always paid her debts and as far as she was concerned, she owed Harry everything. With a silent nod, she resolved to do everything in her power to make their match a happy one, even if that meant sharing him. She wouldn't see her friend was trapped in a loveless marriage.

"Have a seat please," Luna gestured to a chair as Hermione walked into the room. "Did Harry tell you why I wished to meet with you?"

"No Luna," Hermione replied, suddenly struck by the idea that she had no idea what Luna Lovegood knew. Being a pureblood and thus raised around magic, she could know anything, and one potential excuse for Harry to know what he did was she might be magically controlling him. Suspicious, her hand reached for her wand. "He didn't."

"Hermione," Luna sighed. "Harry's secrets are his to tell, not mine. If you want to know, just ask him. And you should learn to hide your emotions better... I had to."

"Oh." Hermione relaxed a tad, feeling somewhat guilty for having been caught suspecting a friend like that. Making sure to keep her wand accessible, she regarded the other girl with a guarded look. "What's this about Luna?"

"Harry is going to marry me," Luna declared calmly. "It's necessary because of an arrangement between our families," she explained. "The benefits are rather large and consequences of ignoring it are rather dire. But before we went any further with our plans I wanted to know if you would like aposition in our household."

"What?" Hermione squawked. "I knew you'd been planning on it, but when did Harry agree?"

"When he took his position as Acting Head of House Black," the blonde replied serenely. "As I said, it was a family arrangement."

"That's barbaric!" Hermione was appalled.

"Barbaric or not, it's what is going to happen." Luna sighed. "Hermione, I would like you to promise to hear me out."

"About what, Luna?"

"Promise."

"Ok, I promise to listen to you."

"Good," Luna said with a satisfied smile. "Because I need your help to resolve a very difficult issue. Back when Narcissa Black married Lucius Malfoy the two families entered into a binding magical agreement. This morning Lucius died, but not before both Heads of the Black family annulled his marriage and cast out his son. This was necessary to deny the Malfoy fortunes to Lord Voldemort, who you ought to know from your experiences in your first year still exists as a shade and is trying to regain a mortal body. But it leaves us caught in something of a corner. Lucius was my uncle, and as the last Malfoy by blood I must marry a Black in order to avert some dreadful consequences for both our families."

"It all seems to be rather clear cut," Hermione decided, hiding her emotions. "Harry has to marry you. I don't know what's the problem you need my help on."

Instead of answering, Luna put her wand to her temple and drew out athread of memory, placing it in a large, wide bowl that had been placed by her elbow in anticipation.

Above the silvery liquid, an image formed of Harry speaking. He sighed."Luna I agree that I promised you protection, and I agree to the necessity of taking Malfoy's fortunes out of Voldemort's camp. When we came up with this plan I'd only just gotten interested in Hermione, and I thought Icould let her down easily. But the thought of breaking up with her is causing me pain, and rather than do that I find myself steadily growing closer to her.

"Luna," the image of Harry declared. "I love Hermione. I always have. I know now I always will. I'm afraid that if I have to choose between you we must consider our wedding off. I'm sorry, but I could never cause her grief, and it kills my heart to think of parting with her."

The image shrank down into the bowl as Hermione blinked furiously at it.

The blonde favored the brunette with her clear blue eyes. "Now as Isaid, I'd like you to consider taking a position in our household. Harry has grown to depend on your assistance and I do not believe that he could live without it at this time. Before you agree you should know that no matter what your title might be, people will assume that you are Harry's mistress."

"Luna I'd never..."

"Don't say never," Luna interrupted. "Because one of the positions I'd like you to consider taking is the position of Harry's mistress... one of them anyway."

"Mistress?" Hermione squeaked, glancing at her quickly before her eyes went back to the now quiescent bowl.

"It's expected that a wizard of his social standing will have at least one mistress," Luna instructed calmly. "Or a stable of boys I suppose... it's not important which. Before you say anything, I think you should know that you don't actually have to do anything and you would have several opportunities that would otherwise not exist."

"What do you mean by opportunities?" Hermione was still blinking at the bowl.

The blonde felt her heart swell with triumph that the girl could even ask. "A muggleborn witch has only a few options for success in our world: she can marry into a higher social strata, may be able to find a low level position in the Ministry if she knows who to be 'friendly' to, she can leave the magical world as most do, or become the kept woman of a rich wizard. If she chooses the latter then several career choices open up to her. Wouldn't want to annoy her patron after all."

The muggleborn's horrified eyes lifted from the now nearly-forgotten bowl. "I had no idea that magical society was so... so..."

"Bigoted? Insular? Backward?" Luna suggested. "Didn't you ever wonder why Arthur Weasley holds the position he does? Didn't you ever wonder why our Muggle Studies Professor is a proper pureblood rather then a muggleborn?Doesn't it seem odd to you that both people who have those jobs are clueless wizards who know less about muggle society than the average four year old muggle child? Why do you suppose they keep choosing ignorant purebloods for those positions instead of someone who might actually be qualified?"

"It never... I didn't..."

"You were too distracted by how wonderful magic is and you never thought to look under the surface," Luna chided gently. "All I am saying is that Harry needs you, you wouldn't have to... to do things with him if you didn't want to, and it would be to your benefit to agree to my proposal."

"You're supposed to be his wife Luna," Hermione said in distress. "Why are you asking me to do these things?"

"Our match is not based on love," Luna began. Suddenly the girl looked very vulnerable. "I hope it will be... I certainly like Harry, he... he was nice to me when not many people are. I want Harry to be happy to be with me and I want to defeat Voldemort, your presence will help with both of those goals."

Hermione swallowed and looked once more at the bowl. "Why do I have to be a mistress? Didn't Harry just say that he wanted to marry me?"

Luna sighed. "He must marry me to fulfill our family obligations. Our other option would be for him to marry both of us, but that would be considerably more awkward."

Hermione drilled Luna with her gaze. "I thought you said while polygamy was acceptable in the Fairy Realm, it wasn't among wizards?"

"I said different," the blonde qualified. "I never said they were opposed to polygamy, only that they had a different view on it than the fey. There is nothing strictly illegal about having multiple wives, it is merely frowned upon. They prefer mistresses, as it makes lines of descent clearer."

She focused her clear eyes on her friend. "Most cultures, once they've been around a couple hundred years or so, have passed rules both for and against practically anything you could name. The secret to doing what you want is to emphasize those rules that are for it, and downplay those that are against. I think there's still a fifty galleon fine per wife after the first, which was a fortune back in the day it was placed, but nowadays is trivial."

"So Harry could have a whole Harem?" Hermione felt shocked.

"That's legally acceptable but socially quite awkward." Luna evaluated."It used to be considered a sign of wealth to have multiple wives or concubines. It's not done so much anymore, because very few people want to go through all the legal rubbish. Usually, it's just mistresses. The sex is the same, just fewer legal hassles and no fighting among the wives over whose child is heir. However, for us that wouldn't be so much of an issue. You could bear the Potter and perhaps the Black heirs, while mine could be for the Malfoy and Lovegood lines."

The Granger girl considered this carefully. "I supposed that could work."

Instantly her arms were full of sobbing blonde. "Oh Hermione!" Luna sobbed gratefully. "Thank you! Thank you SO much! I was so afraid that you'd make Harry choose between us, and if you did I knew that I would lose. He is very fond of me, and it could grow into more, but he honestly loves you. It's something I'm quite envious of, actually," the girl moaned in her shoulder.

Hermione grinned, her place in the world now certain, she was no longer confused. "Well, in that case why don't we go tell Harry the good news?"

"Both of us," Luna nodded firmly, collecting herself. Wiping a tear, she declared, "We can handle the social fallout."

Hermione quirked a smile. "And I always wanted a sister."

I I I

Author's Notes:

In the first place, yes Harry just acquired Lockhart as a source of minions, and they are moving operations to France to be more outside Dumbledore's primary sphere of influence.

If he's unbeatable in Britain that's because he heads virtually all branches of government there. Move to another country and that's no longer true.

I've always wondered about those stories where they stay right where Albus gets them most under his thumb - after they learn he's up to no good!

Also, I am boggled by how many stories want to treat goblins as though they were as kind and sweet as Santa's elves, only waiting for you to be called a 'good' child before they shower you with gifts and blessings.

So many fics treat goblins as misunderstood angels who will make everything better if only given their chance.

I say forget that! They are mean little evil critters and they're never shown being anything else! In fact, the one time one of them is trusted to do a thing for our heroes, he betrays them!

And the entire race collaborates with Voldemort!

No, I see 'goblin worship' as a pathetic expression of the fact that everything else is so FUBAR in the Harry Potter series that people are willing to do just about anything to INVENT a good side, and attribute good qualities to virtually anyone, desperately trying to see SOMETHING good in that mess Rowling calls her series! Rather than the bunch of amateur crime syndicates duking it out over who gets control of what the books actually come off as.
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