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
Senior Unspeakable Mulciber was cataloging damage. This was not the first time the Department of Mysteries had been broken into, and would not be the last. This burglar had made off with a few things, disorganized several more, and been clever enough to steal the self-updating catalogs out of every department so no one truly knew what had been taken. The only thing they knew for certain was that all of the Time Turners, and ingredients to make more of them, had gone missing. And the only reason they knew that was the Supreme Mugwump had come in not long ago hoping to requisition one.
The criminal to do this had a disturbingly accurate idea of what the wards they had in place could and could not do, as well. That spoke of a former (or current) Unspeakable as the perpetrator.
Well, they had a list of those, and it would not be the first time they'd had to cleanse this department of members gone nuts. Being able to do the sort of things they did to the people who wound up in the cells there had a tendency to rot morals faster than anything. The feeling was, if they could get away with doing this, why not anything?
Rules became kind of hazy for anyone who worked in here long. People had a tendency to pick up... habits, of an unsavory kind, doing the work they did.
Mulciber ought to know, as his after hours hobby he'd been a Death Eater, as was his father before him. Hobbies like that tend to get passed down in the family, and he was no exception. His own father had gone to school with the Dark Lord, whereas Mulciber Junior was a classmate of Snape and Avery and the Potters. If he'd ever bothered to get married, there ought to have been a Mulciber the Third attending Hogwarts right now.
But he had other interests. Women held no fascination for his sort, who got to do things of an unspeakable nature. Sex kind of paled after that.
Hearing a clatter down a hallway, off towards the recently emptied cells(how that had been done was something they were still working out, as the perp had bypassed all their defensive measures without triggering any alarms at all), he ignored it as part of the investigation ongoing down that way.
A grin flashed into being in mid-air behind Unspeakable Mulciber, and just as quickly vanished away, leaving only a faint afterimage of a gigantic cat.
Shortly after, there came a soft 'snicker-snack' and the keys Mulciber had been using to check the contents of a multitude of drawers in a chest fell to the ground with a clatter, only to get dismissed by other Unspeakables who were busy with their own inventory work.
I I I
Luna was brushing her teeth in a girls' bathroom after lunch, although using orange tea to do it, when her grandmother stepped into the reflective frame and out into the bathroom, seating herself on the sink.
"How are you, Luna Darling?"
The petite Ravenclaw spat out into the next sink over, then gave her visitor a happy cry of "Gramma!" and caught her up in a hug. After a moment she giggled into her ancestor's shirt sleeve. "So, you heard about that, did you?"
"Of course!" Alice nodded. "I've had some wrackspurts looking after you for quite some time. They give me the most detailed reports."
"I thought it was the nargles?" Luna blinked, mystified.
"Oh, goodness no! Nargles make terrible reporters! Better guardians, I'd say," her grandmother replied with a laugh. "Have you never wondered why your housemates are constantly plagued by acne and flatulence?"
Luna truly respected her grandmother. Such was Alice's marvelous power that, in spite of most changes wrought by the magic of Wonderland having no effect outside that mystical area's influence, her father's mother sat there looking for all the world like a seven year old with long blonde hair, wearing an old fashioned dress.
"How have you been able to deal with the trauma?" Luna asked delicately.
By way of answer, Alice calmly took a length of pipe cleaner and matter-of-factly inserted it into one ear, pulling it through to the other side, grabbing hold of both ends, then working it vigorously back and forth.
When she'd pulled it out again, the pipe cleaner had a number of small, ugly trolls clinging to it. "Like that," Alice told her calmly.
Luna had what most might call a somewhat skewed version of reality, due in no small part to such cartoonish displays being somewhat normal around the Lovegood household. She brightened immeasurably and renewed her hug, congratulating her grandmother, "Oh! Gramma!"
After a long, comforting hug, Luna asked, "You won't forget?"
"No dear." Alice shook her head, still petting her grandchild's golden locks. "One month from yesterday, then back again. Don't worry. It all worked out just fine and you are/were very sweet about everything."
Luna sighed gratefully. "I'm so relieved!"
Alice took out of her pocket a frilly handkerchief and blew her nose in it, sending out a scurrying horde of small multicolored mice and rats, and in one case a rather confused goose in a top hat.
Having vacationed more than once in Wonderland herself as a child did not give Luna a strong grasp of the same reality everyone else was familiar with. Part of this extended to being very comfortable with insane time twisting and bizarre scenes like that one.
"Well," Alice replaced the kerchief, still perfectly clean but now adifferent pattern and color than before. "Is your husband alright? And are you keeping your cards busy?"
Luna nodded. "My cards are out robbing the vaults here right now, and why do you call him my husband? We aren't even married yet?"
"You forget how to serve Looking Glass cake," Alice told her primly."You serve it before you cut it. But reversing order on something like marriage is a tad more difficult, as so many are having a honeymoon before the wedding. So I took to using married titles before instead of after, although it doesn't seem to work as much that way. Give me a while, I'll figure something out."
Luna nodded. "And your cards?"
"Are plundering the Ministry of Magic as we speak, emptying the place back into Wonderland, depriving them of countless artifacts." Alice primped her hair while staring directly away from the mirror, with her back to it.
Luna held her grandmother out at arms length and looked at her askance."Gramma, you know what Wonderland does to those sorts of things."
Alice nodded, tossing a pinch of salt into her eye to clear it the way other people might rinse it with water. That it worked was no surprise to these two, who'd expected it to do so; although Luna knew better than to try that herself. The last time she had done so it had stung, as most would expect, and her grandmother had had to work her ear with a toilet plunger to get the salt out again - only it had emerged as a duck. "That's why I won't be keeping anything. I'm sending it all to your great-aunt Dorothy. OZ is just the place to keep those sorts of things, and cousin Glinda can research them for us. It would be nice to see what our family got from that place, which reminds me."
Alice drew out of the pocket on her dress a pair of ruby slippers, which she popped down and put on Luna's feet, somehow replacing the shoes she had worn there without ever having removed them. "Aunt Dorothy was foolish enough she lost these on a trip to Kansas, but she doesn't need them now, so agreed they ought to be passed on to you. We have no idea how those fools at the Ministry got hold of them."
Luna posed in front of the mirror, examining the reflection of her new pair of shoes. Her reflection very helpfully sat back on a table that wasn't there and lifted her feet so Luna could inspect them. She did so, leaning closer to get a better look as her reflection presented them, putting person and reflection in completely separate poses that had nothing to do with one another. "They are lovely."
"Aren't they?" Alice cheerily agreed, before reaching around her granddaughter's waist and attaching a wide belt embossed with a cat motif. "I won't explain what that does, so you'll know all about it by morning."
"Thank you!" Luna agreed happily.
Alice stepped back into her mirror. "Don't forget the Lovegood family motto."
"We don't do normal," both blonde girls chorused.
"Perhaps you could tell that to my children?" Luna asked sweetly.
Alice was momentarily confused. "You haven't got any."
"Ah." Alice nodded calmly. "Yes, that makes perfect sense once you explain it. Thank you for the idea. See you yesterday!"
Luna departed the bathroom as her grandmother left the frame.
I I I
Before returning to the castle yesterday Harry had obtained for himself a dodo. Oh, he knew wizards called them diricawls, but he'd known of them by the muggle name since long before he'd come to Hogwarts, in both lives that he could recall, so he'd stick with the more comfortable muggle name.
The reason he had acquired it was the flightless bird's tremendously useful ability to vanish in a puff of feathers and reappear elsewhere, much like a phoenix. It was this ability, along with a standard set of Owl charms modified to work on a different avian, that he hoped to use to reestablish smuggling of contraband goods and letters in and out of Hogwarts.
Not as useful as Dobby, as the bird was quite stupid and unable to follow very much in the way of instructions, but still very much untraceable; and if he could somehow arrange for the bird to carry packages, could not one of those packages be Dobby?
Getting the elf in and out of the castle could accomplish all sorts of deeds.
Ever since getting 'sacked' by Dumbledore for having disposed of his supply of phoenix ash, Dobby was no longer considered to be a servant of the school and thus able to pass more or less unnoticed through the wards. Actually the little elf had bound himself to Harry long before Dumbledore fired him, but they had neglected to tell the Headmaster that as it kept open opportunities.
Now Harry was hoping to go right back to secret correspondence.
He'd also gotten himself a large number of crups, magical working terriers bred for control of an assortment of magical vermin both above and below ground, and immediately put them to work hunting vermin around neglected-for-decades Potter properties.
One crup in particular he'd kept for himself and immediately named 'Spaz'on seeing its hyper personality: always bouncing, eager and alert.
That was perhaps a bit unfair. Because the preservation of its working ability was of highest importance to most registered breeders, crups, like the Jack Russells they closely resembled, tended to be extremely intelligent, athletic, fearless, and vocal dogs. Harry understood it was not uncommon for them to become moody or destructive if they were not properly stimulated and exercised, as they had a tendency to bore easily and would often create their own fun if left alone to entertain themselves.
It would be a daunting task for their owner to provide all their stimulation, but provided sufficient work to do, they were loyal and diligent dogs.
To understand the crups' temperament, one had to understand that, like the Jack Russell terriers they so resembled, they were first and foremost a "working dog". In other words, they were designed to aggressively run, chase, and flush out foxes and badgers in the great hunts of England. These traits, so passionately guarded by breeders since the 19th century, had delivered a dog that was fearless, happy, alert, confident, intelligent and lively. A dog that was ready to meet the world on a moment's notice, with high energy and drive that made them ideally suited to those tasks, and very poorly suited to sitting around houses waiting for their owners to come home.
Harry had paid extra to get trained dogs, as he did not have the time to train them himself and the properties had begun running rampant with various destructive vermin. Luckily the animals could be put to work under House Elves that Harry had also begun acquiring to look after those properties.
House Elves that were flocking to Harry in droves, recruited out of the pool that worked at Hogwarts. House Elves there almost outnumbered students, and so there'd been fierce competitions among them for who got to perform what service. Dumbledore used the bulk of them for spying, but that was not what those elves wanted to do.
So, promised good farm work, they were eager to go. Although apparently having the Founders artifacts had something to do with it, else every home in England would've been able to recruit a house elf or two out of Hogwarts. The elves were certainly eager to go, as they had almost nothing to do in proportion to the numbers that worked there.
The elves liked work, and didn't want to be bored. Just like the terriers.
Caring for animals wasn't as satisfying as caring for humans, but it was better than spying, so the house elves leapt at it. Also, there was a distinct and very real chance that Harry might be hiring human workers once he had the farms closer to running. So the house elves went and worked with crups.
However, marvelous as they were, crups couldn't hunt every kind of vermin, so Harry got kneazels to get stuff that required climbing up trees.
The first step in restoring his family's possessions was simply to stop the decline, and a generous influx of crups and kneazels to work the vermin problem, and House elves to handle home care, was a definite good start. And, considering how many of those animals he had to own in order to cover all of the homes and farms and things lying neglected, Harry was considering becoming a breeder of both crups and kneazels.
Actually, not every kind of magical pest was useless, either. His lands were infested by hundreds of mokes, magical lizards able to shrink down to nothing at the approach of a predator, and made for very valuable moke-skin bags which retained that shrinking property and thus were treasured by their owners as being virtually theft-proof.
Crups couldn't hunt mokes. The excitable terriers would bark and charge and get them to vanish, but after the lizards disappeared the excitable dogs would go off to find other interests. Kneazels, on the other paw, were more patient predators who would go up to where the lizard had been and wait for it to reappear. Mokes couldn't stay shrunk forever, and they couldn't move from the place they'd shrunk down. When at last the lizards reappeared the kneazels, who'd been waiting patiently, would pounce on them and kill them.
If he asked politely for the kneazels to bring in those kills, Harry could get skins for hundreds of moke-skin bags out of the pest populations around his farms. A simple spell, useful in potions work but never taught them by Snape (although Harry noted the Slytherins used it) would separate the parts of the animal: meat, skin, bones, organs, blood, etc, cleanly and completely. It was made and used so ingredients would be pure for mixing, not contaminated by bits of hair or blood or whatever. So the cats could enjoy the yummy bits while Harry still got those valuable skins.
Unfortunately, mokes were impossible to domesticate and raise on farms, and posed too many problems to breed in captivity, or he'd be raising those as well. He might even try it anyway, leaving a field unmolested for mokes to continue to live and breed in.
Because, you see, the rich stay rich by owning things and making their profit by having others work them. That has been the formula since the beginning of time and was no different among pureblooded wizards. That was the way the Malfoys made their money, and it was the same with the Potters.
Light or Dark, Magic or Muggle, the rich stay rich by owning properties and businesses that they then hire others to work for them.
Only Luna had been correct in stating that the Potters were only about the middle of the road in terms of wealth and history. They didn't own any of the truly ancient franchises like dragon preserves or hot commercial property (land in Diagon Alley hadn't changed hands since the place was created, and quite a few of the older families made all their money charging rents to the businesses they lent shop space to). The Potters didn't even own a Quidditch team; although James would most certainly have liked to, he couldn't get one.
Ministry certified groves of registered wand wood trees was another one of those products that were zealously guarded by those who controlled them. In reality it hardly mattered where the trees used grew, but enough pretexts had been invented so an artificial measuring standard could be imposed, and that meant most groves that might have provided wood could be rejected, and thus limit supply of that market to a precious few, who raked in profits.
That was the way old, aristocratic, privileged elites ran things - ESPECIALLY the locking out of new interlopers who might challenge their regimes. Free markets were anathema to control freaks and hereditary upper classes. So all of Europe was sewn up in a bewildering array of tiny, exclusive "only I can do this" areas, that overall moved at the speed of molasses; and created an economy as stagnant as the rest of magical society.
Which, if Harry was going to be staying in Europe at all, he had to find a way to make a living, as goods from outside countries were strictly controlled by those same elites to protect their own monopolies, to the point where they even had confiscatory tax rates on foreign money converted to galleons as a way to keep financial balances the way they wanted them.
British magical society was rotten to the core, and those of Europe not much better. But while he stayed there, he had to do something to earn a living.
Trade monopolies were jealously guarded amongst the old families, and it was hard to chisel out a new one. But one wasn't truly a pureblood family until you did, which generally involved finding something unpopular to do or that no one else had thought to control, and taking that over.
The Lovegood's printing press was a good example, and very recent by pureblood standards.
The Potters had, sometime in the middling past, made their trade farms and the supply of food and other comestibles to the magical public. It was hardly glamourous, and not at all the sort of thing you'd brag about at parties, nor even truly exclusive, as there were several families who shared that trade between them. But the Potters also dipped their hands into a few other enterprises, like running a Quidditch training camp, to bring them a dollop of prestige.
Other, older and more notable families had striven hard in the Wizengamot to preserve their own monopolies and kept the Potter family out of lucrative businesses like supply of potion ingredients or wand cores, and things had settled down into a more or less steady balance of trade up until the arrival of Lord Voldemort.
Things like farms are easy targets, being large and hard to defend. With the Potters a noted Light side family, burning fields, cursed crops, and spoiled merchandise became the norm for a while, until Harry's grandparents died in trying to fight off one such raid, and that was it. James had been too busy fighting the war to see to the family businesses, so things had slipped into a steady decline that only got worse once the young father died.
Harry had not run any businesses as an abused inmate of Durzkaban, and so their share of the market of food supply to the wizarding world had fallen to other hands. To no one's surprise, those had been dark ones, as the only ones to profit from the last war had seemed to be dark families. No Light family would've robbed a Light hero when he was down anyway.
So, Harry was faced with the fact that what he owned as the Last Potter were a ton of properties that were not making him any money, and the one thing they had once supplied to wizarding markets, others now did, and there was no new demand in that area for him to supply.
Oddly enough, the Quidditch training camp still ran, not having been knocked out in the last war and running under various managers since. But in other areas he'd lost his hold, the Potter's place in the market had been taken over by a family that hadn't gone inactive due to near-extinction, and to get that place back would take a battle in the Wizengamot - one Harry didn't think he could win.
Why? Because Dumbledore had taken over that franchise himself, and now HE had monopoly on providing the magical world their food, indirectly, of course, through a network of proxies and guardianships. Having collected a piece here and a piece there, then consolidated it all, Dumbledore didn't have to share the monopoly of food production with anyone. He controlled it all, and prices had risen markedly since that had occurred.
What made that more despicable was Harry had learned that was not the only market Dumbledore had taken from his own followers.
That left Harry only one option to exploit - his newly invoked ability to keep and raise any number of magical creatures. It had been this situation with his inheritance that had provoked him more than anything into asking for those special hereditary exemptions and perpetual licenses in the first place. As otherwise he'd have been en route to being as poor as the Weasleys.
Previously, magical creatures had been too big a franchise for any one family to have a stranglehold on. It had been one of those things where many clans had controlled tiny pieces, with tons of hard defended pockets and exploited grey areas. Even Harry didn't have a true monopoly, having come by this a very non-standard way so the Ministry didn't see what they were offering.
The magical government didn't insist that everyone go to him for all of their creature needs, like they did with many other businesses, they'd only granted him immunity to their regulation on that one thing.
Even so, they NEVER would've granted Harry anything of the sort if they'd realized the implications, as it stepped on too many dark family's toes for him to be able to raise anything he wanted, even otherwise illegal things others had to take care not to get caught at (rumors had persisted for ages that the Malfoys had an illegal and hidden dragon preserve - and he knew from memories of Riddle reading Lucius' mind those rumors were true).
Fortunately, Harry had a lot of raw material to work with. Having run farms, his family had left him a lot of valuable land: orchards, vineyards, wide open spaces, the lot. That was plenty of space to keep a menagerie in, and once the farms got restarted, enough food to keep the animals fed so he didn't have to pay someone else to provide feed for them.
Farms can be turned into ranches fairly easily. He could raise plants to feed plant eating magical animals, and more plants to feed to meat animals like pigs, sheep, goats, cows and so on he could feed to meat-eating animals, and thus save himself a fortune on costs to run his little creature collection.
It's just, what the law can give the law can also take away, so he wanted to be far away from England and Dumbledore's seat of power when he started this, otherwise he'd lose it all before he even began.
And for that, he was going to have to invest in one of those devices that can move landed property.
I I I
I wonder. Has anyone ever written a fic before where Luna was the NORMAL one in that family? They've heard about reality, but they don't live there.
By the way, I think I bent something in my own mind when I was writing that scene between Luna and her grandmother. But I had to ask myself, 'what would a person be like having grown to old age with regular access to aplace like Wonderland?' and the answer was, 'completely loony, of course!'Not because she isn't smart or even rational, she's just interacting with a form of reality no one else can interface with.
Oh, and yes. I know about the silver vs ruby slippers. They were silver in the books, but more people are familiar with the movie so I went for the instant recognition factor, else I would've been explaining even more things.