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
It felt almost odd to be back at school, attending a normal schedule.
In the interests of retaining a semblance of normalcy, before heading down for breakfast Harry sent off a letter to Molly Weasley, matron of kitchens, inquiring about book recommendations she could make concerning cooking and housekeeping charms and spells. He'd written it like he'd wanted gift ideas for a witch he took care not to name, so she could think it might be anybody: her, Hermione, or any other person. Hopefully that would draw out the widest range of good books on the subject.
He would then buy them all, giving a few out as gifts to witches, but keeping a complete set for himself, as housekeeping the muggle way was difficult labor and he wanted to know how it got done magically.
Voldemort, naturally, had always relied upon borrowed House Elves he'd been able to charm out of people. "Just send it over to my apartment for a few hours during the day, when you won't miss it," and all.
This was part of Harry's ongoing campaign to appear as harmless as possible before Dumbledore's scrutiny. Learning stuff like this did not appear on any Dark Lord's agenda.
What potential Dark Lord would be interested in charming his own cheese?Or in spells to enchant dish scrubbers to work on their own? Voldemort hadn't been. So, by investigating such simple spells, Harry appeared more innocent.
And he knew Dumbledore intercepted and read his mail.
For that matter, before going to bed last night he'd tasked both his fiancees with mingling out among the girls of their Houses asking about personal care and beauty charms - not because they had any special need for them. No, they actually had less use for beauty charms than most, being already gorgeous in his opinion.
But it was a normal looking thing to do.
Looking normal left many of their other activities outside of closer scrutiny, and that was important for any number of ongoing operations. For example, they had put a large number of dryads on to boil, and that was something not too far into the forest, so Dumbledore could easily find it if he went looking.
Although, when Trelawney had shown up for the ritual, she'd gone spacy for a moment, then warned the trio about the Headmaster wanting to collect their Time Turners when they got back to school.
So they'd hidden their real ones, caching them outside of the castle, fitted the originals Dumbledore had given them with new glass, filling them up with an approximation of fairy dust using sand and fine muggle glitter. The fairy energies on the gold parts were enough to conceal the change, as those gold parts had been through quite a lot with them.
First thing to happen as they stepped back into the castle had indeed been
Dumbledore calling the two students he'd loaned those to to his office almost the first moment they'd entered the doors. And the first item on his agenda was to ask, with twinkling eyes, for those devices to be returned- explaining their class schedules had been altered so they no longer had need of them.
Prepared ahead of time, neither student objected. But Harry made certain to stumble when handing them over, smashing both his and Hermione's glass bits all over again, freshly wrecking both newly 'repaired' magical objects.
The Headmaster had winced most powerfully when, in an effort to 'help', Hermione had vanished all of the dust and broken glass bits.
As the duo had rushed off to their beds, Dumbledore had waited until both students were out of his office before he cast a spell over both shattered hourglasses, confirming they had once been Time Turners. Then he cast alittle known spell, causing both devices to show what and when they had been used for. He was particularly interested in the case of what happened to his pet oracle, and though he didn't suspect the two third years of being minions of Colonel Sanders, it was always best to be sure.
The intrusion agents had used their faces, after all.
However, the Time Turners' records checked out exactly, having performed only the repeating schedule that had been approved by Minerva.
Bad luck on his part, but the students had been using stolen devices for all of the non-approved temporal activities they'd performed. They'd been forced to use stolen Time Turners for the extra stuff, as the ones given to them by the Headmaster had been ruined by the ritual before they'd gone to do those illegal things. Still, the Headmaster didn't know that, nor did he need to.
It had been his plan to reclaim the Time Turners he'd loaned out as a way of getting replacements for his own use. He'd lost his along with the rest of his silvery devices. The Ministry, alas, had run out, so he'd thought to get caught up on his information backlog by correcting the class schedule so students no longer needed time travel (something that had originally been arranged to separate Harry from Miss Granger, to a degree, by forcing them to different class schedules - a plot that no longer had any purpose as it had failed to achieve its point) and reclaiming the devices lent to them.
An act foiled, to all appearances, by the careless accident of Harry tripping over his own feet and smashing what were, as far as Dumbledore could discern, the last two Time Turners in England.
A few more probably existed out there somewhere, but tracking down ones hidden from the Ministry for so long would be a nightmare, and possibly not worth the effort. Getting some from another country would be nigh unto impossible, as each magical nation held them as strategic national resources.
Still, it was something he could put Mundungous Fletcher on. The shifty little criminal could find most things he wanted if the price went high enough. Even so, a search of the illegal markets could well take months, and whoever had one of the precious devices would be unlikely to part with it for anything less precious in return - especially since the price of a functioning Time Turner had just skyrocketed, as supply had never come anywhere close to demand, but now most of those had vanished or been destroyed.
Thinking upon it in those terms, Dumbledore resolved that it might be easier to get a few of his shadier acquaintances together and generously allow them to go fairy hunting in the Forbidden Forest. They'd leave afew hundred dead, which Hagrid could then collect. The trusting giant would then take them before Dumbledore, who could promise to dispose of them respectfully, and once the funeral was over and Hagrid had departed the scene, dig them up again to harvest all their wings.
Yes, that might be the best strategy, as that would leave Albus Dumbledore in possession of a totally untracked and unknown Time Turner or two, when no one else ought to have any.
Yes, the Headmaster felt that might be a very good plan indeed.
I I I
"Are you two doing alright?" Hermione asked, coming up to the breakfast table. Luna was eating while Harry was buried in paperwork.
Luna smiled serenely as the older girl joined them. "Just fine. Harry was nice enough to help me open my mail."
Hermione looked across the table at the stacks around Harry. Finally she noticed one open letter by Luna. "How many have you opened?"
"And how many has Harry opened?"
"All the rest." Luna gave a smirk to indicate that was the whole point.
Harry exhaled loudly, frustrated by the stupidity of the various post writers, and passed a hefty stack of sorted letters to Luna. "The Ministry sends its congratulations to the new Head of the Malfoy family, along with a stack of correspondence from various Ministry officials trying to ask in very subtle ways if their bribes are going to continue. They try to disguise them as condolences about the loss of your uncle, but the veneer is pretty thin."
Hermione considered the self-congratulatory blonde seated beside her."It's going to feel odd calling you Malfoy, when I've always associated that name with a completely different blond."
"Oh, don't worry," Luna snickered. "I've already sent the paperwork to the Ministry alerting them that, as the new Head of House, I feel recent actions performed by the last Head had lent an air of disgrace to the name, and that to redeem our family from that image we'll be reverting to the name of a line the Malfoys had long since absorbed and consumed - The Darlings."
"As in Wendy Moira Angela Darling?" Hermione lifted both eyebrows.
"One of her brothers married into the Malfoy line, so I am related down both family trees. Purebloods have been marrying close for ages now." The blonde primly clipped, as though she had no other motive at all than what she'd said.
Harry smirked. "I think you just want to force the teachers to call you Miss Lovegood Darling. Or would that be Darling Lovegood?"
Hermione's eyes bugged, then she exploded into giggles.
Luna remained calmly serene. "Yes. That thought had crossed my mind."
"So..." Harry asked, smirk still very much in place, "When someone shouts across the common room, 'Hey Darling' they'll always mean you?"
A smile forced it's way across Luna's features, and she began nodding."That may be fun enough to cause me to allow the Lovegood name to fall into a brief decline, and not use it while I'm at school. I am Clan Head of the Darlings, but my father still heads the Lovegood family."
"But of course you'll want your boyfriend to call you that name most of all," Hermione snickered. "Will you go out with me, Darling?" she asked in her best Harry voice, which wasn't very good.
Luna snickered also. "And can't you see the teachers' faces when I raise my hand in class? They always call, 'Yes, Potter?' or 'Yes, Black?'. Won't it be fun watching them fall over themselves trying not to call me, 'Yes, Darling?'"
"Yes, Darling," Harry nodded, his face serious but his eyes laughing.
"Get used to saying that," both girls joked. Then Hermione sighed. "Aw!Now I wish I had a fun last name like yours!"
Any further attempts to build on this joke were called to a halt by a flotilla of post owls arriving with the day's papers. Harry showed enough eagerness to read his the girls shared a look and followed suit, opening up their own editions to see the day's headline: Dumbledore the Villain?
That promised to be a juicy article, so they all eagerly lapped it up, and the front page story did not disappoint. Trelawney's prophecy was asub banner below the actual headline, followed closely by Skeeter's piece detailing step by step and move by move exactly how Dumbledore had arranged to put Harry BACK under the care of the Dursleys - along with a small report on that blatantly illegal vote he'd won supporting his outright abuse of power.
It was very nicely written for a character assassination piece, with tons of gritty details and dark plots exposed. It told a lurid tale of backroom politics, misuse of power and illegal shenanigans all aimed as attacks in some kind of secret war against the Boy Who Lived, orchestrated by none other than the wizarding world's most beloved and trusted figure: Headmaster Dumbledore.
Rita hadn't even had to invent anything to get a beautiful piece of shocking expose, ripping the Supreme Mugwump's image to shreds.
Harry folded his paper away, inwardly resolving to have it framed. He'd have to send Miss Skeeter a nice thank you present, as he couldn't have written a better piece of Dumbledore thrashing himself.
What raised almost more eyebrows was the full page advertisement on the facing page for Snape's Magical Pimping Service, with a wizarding photograph of Snape attempting to smile (badly) above polyjuice prices and a complete list of available hairs - including a startling number of prominent purebloods, past and current members of Slytherin House.
Between the shock value of those two, hardly anyone read the article about Lockhart being cured and hiring tutors to assist in his retraining so he could reach a full recovery.
I I I
Dumbledore was enraged!
His anger went beyond all rational description.
How DARE they print such an article!? He OWNED the Daily Prophet, lock, stock and barrel!! They were NEVER to print anything without his approval!Why else had he started that paper in the first place, then taken care to drive all other wizarding presses out of business?
He had long ago taken heed of a phrase even older than he was, "Never start an argument with a man who buys ink by the barrel," and, once what it meant had been explained to him, had become keen to hold such a power, so gave himself a monopoly over the wizarding media.
Thanks to Dumbledore, in the United Kingdom it was illegal to buy, sell, give or trade a magical printing press. The Lovegoods, damn their eyes, had made their own. But they made small use of it. Printing a ridiculous paper made of lies actually made his own Daily Prophet far more respectable by comparison, so he allowed them to continue with it.
Otherwise he could've driven them out of business, like he had countless others, by simply shutting off their supply of ink. It was illegal to buy ink from anybody but him, so it was a near ultimate deterrent to free press.
No textbooks were printed that he disapproved of, no novels whose themes he disagreed with, and CERTAINLY no papers who printed articles against him!
Not when he hadn't orchestrated those attacks on himself, anyway. It was always a good idea, from time to time, to make himself an innocent victim of persecution so he could rise above it and be revealed as right all along. But this was going too far! And the timing was all WRONG!
Nor should they have touched on what was said in that article in any case. It gave a disturbing insight into the truth, and the truth was something he could not let the magical world have - Ever.
Part of the reason he enjoyed nearly unanimous support was that he'd duped all the magical world so they imagined that serving Dumbledore's cause ALSO supported Harry Potter, that the interests of each were one and the same. He'd been deliberately building that impression for over a decade, and would NOT have it sacrificed so some ninny could sell a few papers!!
Adding the Boy-Who-Lived's popularity and influence to his own so he could wield BOTH, as was his rightful due, had taken considerable effort on his part, convincing countless people that he enjoyed the boy's full confidence and favor, that Harry's quiet, unassuming voice could always be heard there in the background supporting his, Dumbledore's, every choice, and that every decision the Headmaster made was made with the considerations of the Boy-Who-Lived in mind.
Doing so across those years he and Harry had no contact had taken genius, and he was proud of himself for accomplishing it. He'd effectively DOUBLED his own influence and power by presenting himself as Harry's AGENT! That the voice of one truly represented the opinions and choices of the other.
No one could be permitted to learn the truth, that in reality those interests ran directly contrary to each other, that everything Dumbledore did where Harry was concerned was aimed towards the boy's destruction, and that Albus would oppose anything Harry wanted just because he wanted it. That boy had to be CRUSHED!!
But he couldn't afford to get caught doing it, both for the prophecy about falling to the same wound he dealt him, but also for political reasons. Albus now held more power than he'd ever achieved before, and no small part of that was due to his being seen as Harry's voice in the world of politics. For anyone to see the truth could cripple his influence and restrict his power.
In Dumbledore's ideal world, Harry would suffer miserably and die quietly without ever knowing what influence he'd wielded, or how much of that Albus had been using, telling people it was 'on Harry's behalf' but actually used against anything and everything that could have helped the child. And, when the boy was inevitably destroyed, it was Dumbledore's intention to have been seen as his trusted confidant for so long that he would inherit what was left of Harry's political influence and power - which promised to be considerable, especially if he could get him to martyr himself against another Dark Lord.
But for that to happen, everyone had to believe Harry and Dumbledore were close confidants and trusted friends who fully believed in each other's principles and goals. The Headmaster had tirelessly been laying groundwork for this in certain rarefied realms and political circles where Harry would never go, because he didn't even know they exist - nor would he.
Certain poisonous articles would NOT be allowed to get in the way!
Dumbledore rushed off to his office in a towering fury, intending to floo over to those offices and take out his rage on certain members of the newspaper staff, perhaps reminding them just who owned that paper by firing some of the ones responsible for this outrage!
He left in so much of a rush the Headmaster didn't even notice the Quibbler arrive behind him, featuring Luna's article about the questioning of Peter Pettigrew, containing the transcript taken by aurors at the Ministry, and drawing the obvious conclusion that Sirius Black had been framed by a Death Eater clever enough to evade capture for over a dozen years.
And that Dumbledore was at least partially complicit in sending an innocent man to Azkaban without the benefit of a trial.
Unluckily for the Headmaster, he didn't notice the article, or that the international editions of both papers had already been sent earlier that day.
I I I
Harry had just skipped off for a minute, giving the rosewood furniture to the Weasley twins (who jokingly offered up their younger sister as payment- but he'd accepted getting Luna and Hermione on as junior brewers instead), and the girls had a chance to talk.
In Greek. They'd all taken that language lozenge early that morning, and this was an opportunity to get some practice in amongst themselves. Besides, it felt surprisingly private and personal to be talking in a language nobody at their table that they knew of could understand.
And, as girls often do, they got to discussing boys.
"I still say her behavior was sexual." Luna spoke quite frankly. "She was very clearly stating that the only wood he was allowed was the wood she gave him."
"Shh! Here comes Harry!" Hermione tried to pretend that she wasn't blushing, and too scandalized to disagree.
Unfortunately, along with him, arrived an unwelcome guest.
"Hey, guys! Whatcha doing?" Ron dropped himself in the seat next to Hermione that Harry had once occupied, right before Harry could get there. The Boy Who Lived took the seat on Hermione's other side.
"We were just discussing the Pythagorean theorem and it's relation to..."Harry ran dry and glanced aside to his best friend for help.
"The Frogs of Aristophanes," Hermione finished with a weak little shrug to Harry that she hadn't been able to think of anything better. But she'd been studying ancient Greeks at the table and that was what was in her head at the moment. Unfortunately they hadn't been mathematical Greeks. They'd been playwrights. And while with Greeks those two were far from exclusive, in this case the one hadn't been the other.
Ron didn't notice. The freckle-faced redhead was already glaring across the table where Luna was seated. "What's SHE doing here?!"
"What's she doing here?" Harry repeated, disbelieving. "She's my fiancee. Now what are YOU doing here?!? I thought we weren't speaking to you!"
"Give it up, Harry. You know you'd be lost without me." Ron shrugged it off and began digging into his plate, not even caring that it had been Harry's. "I know you'd bodge it up without someone native to our world to show you what to do." He gave a significant glance aside to Hermione, who steamed under the implied insult to her muggleborn status.
"Well, maybe that's what I have Luna for?" Harry bit off nastily.
Ron looked like he'd been gut-punched, eyes growing wide as he glanced up to see Luna smiling serenely at Harry. Reminded of the fact that he wasn't indispensable, the young boy chewed a second before swallowing his mouthful in a rare showing of something approaching manners. Then simply let the insult slide off his back and pretended they weren't at odds.
"We've got Defense class today. You think the teacher'll be any good?"
"Haven't met him, haven't the foggiest," Harry shrugged.
"Well, it would be hard not to improve over last year," Ron shrugged."Bunch of Cornish pixies for our first class? Rotten idea."
Then, as if he couldn't sustain this mediocre success in conversation any longer, Ron bent low to ask Hermione, "Are you sure I can't see your boobs?"
The resulting slap could be heard clear over to the Slytherin table.
Harry was ready to call Ron out for a formal duel then and there (where he could smack him around more brutally and longer than if he'd just started hitting him), but got interrupted by Hermione shrieking. "RONALD WEASLEY!JUST BECAUSE I LET MY FIANCE ENJOY BOYFRIEND PRIVILEGES DOES NOT MEAN IAM A SCARLET WOMAN!! HE PUT A RING ON MY FINGER!" she shouted, raising the digit in question and showing off a glittering piece of jewelry some among the purebloods were able to recognize as a Potter family relic.
An insanely valuable one.
She continued in quieter tones, but it wasn't peaceful, more like Mt. Vesuvius waiting on the verge of erupting again. "Now Ronald, why aren't you off bugging someone else?"
Ron went scurrying off like a frightened rat, winding up near his brother Percy, who favored him with a brief glance. "Why did you go stirring up that hornet's nest, Ronald?" the Head Boy inquired casually, still eating his food.
Ron settled down and began filling another plate, heaping it high with food. "Well, I figured since Harry got Hermione to put out, I should try to get some too. I've been asking all the girls of our year. No luck. So I guessed I'd just try her again. I mean, she HAS to be easy! After all, Harry got her!"
I I I
"You look like a cat that caught the canary," Harry quipped, seeing how smug and self satisfied Hermione had become.
"Harry Potter," she told him in warning tones that got spoiled by the playful smirk tugging at the corner of her lips. "I've been waiting to reclaim my reputation ever since you ruined it. And that was a perfect chance."
"Ron doesn't look convinced," he surmised, glancing down the table.
"No, but the rest of the school is," she reported smugly.
I I I
I firmly believe that you reap what you sow (others call it karma) but JKR seemed to never have anyone get what they deserved, whether good or bad.
Nothing could have been more disappointing.
On another topic, I've been getting pressure to add Ginny Weasley to Harry's little circle and wanted to know what the rest of you thought on that matter. You ought to know, if you've read any of my other fics at all, how I feel about harems. But I resist Ginny for two reasons. One, she is the one Rowling chose for him. That's enough of a reason all on its own to reject it in my mind, as I find myself disgusted by all the canon matchups. Even the one that may have worked given a better buildup didn't because of the terrible way she handled it. I find myself rejecting all canon matchups as they were all so poorly done, and in many cases completely irrational. Many I find acutely offensive (like Ron getting Hermione -NOTHING could've bugged me more).
So I find myself opposed to ALL her matchups on general principle!
The second reason is far more substantive. I believe marriage works best between equal partners, but catching someone new up to their level would be a tricky bit of work. I could do it, even make it believable, but I might not be able to find the time for quite some while, so any new additions would be spending substantial chunks of this story trailing behind the others.
On a third and completely unrelated topic, has anyone else tried to describe why Dumbledore has Mundungous Fletcher in his Order? I mean, the guy flubs every mission he is sent on, dropping out on guard duty (among other things) to go deal with his underworld contacts, and generally being a bum - not to mention supplementing his income by stealing from other members of the Order. And his stealing that locket turned into a big problem!
So why ON EARTH would you want that guy in your secret organization?The reason I put here was that Dumbles wants him BECAUSE of, not in spite of, those underworld contacts. But has anyone else come up with a reason?