Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Partially Kissed Hero

Partially Kissed Hero 30

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 - 5804 words

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Partially Kissed Hero
Chapter Thirty
by Lionheart

I I I

The scariest proposition I could make is that Luna's family are all perfectly sane. It's the rest of us that are loony!

I I I

It was evening after a successful, if somewhat boring, day of classes. Their first full day without the use of Time Turners, or any exotic adventures, and Hermione sat, nibbling on the ends of her hair, with an encyclopedia in her lap.

"Whatcha reading?" Harry plopped down beside her.

Rather than summarize, she just began to read the topic aloud. "...white oak is relatively rot resistant and has a cell structure that makes it watertight, so white oak barrels are used in wine and whiskey manufacture to prevent leaking. Throughout history it has been used for construction, shipbuilding, cooperage, agricultural implements, and interior finish of houses, although woodworkers should beware that ferrous metal hardware reacts with oak, causing corrosion and staining the wood. Brass or stainless steel fittings should be used instead.

"White oak is used extensively in Japanese martial arts for some weapons such as bokken and jo. It is valued for its density, strength, resiliency and relatively low chance of splintering if broken by an impact, relative to the substantially cheaper red oak."

Having finished the article and learned what she'd wanted to know, Hermione closed the encyclopedia and went back to the shelves to replace it before returning to her own desk.

"Hurray!" Harry caroled in triumph moments later, holding up his own book. "A sleepwalking spell. I've been looking for one of those, and this one just might be exactly the one I wanted!"

"Sleepwalking?" Hermione looked up out of the pile of books she was working in. Brushing hair out of her eyes, she asked, "What use is that?"

Harry bent down to study the spell he'd found in glee. "More than you'd think. And... YES! This is the spell I'd heard of! Amazing. I didn't think they had a copy in here."

"What's so different about that spell?" the bookworm inquired curiously.

Harry looked up at her from a book copied out of the Restricted Section, face beaming with joy. "It's a borderline dark curse that's been restricted by the Ministry for having far too much potential to do harm. The reason for that is that this particular spell lets you program certain actions for the sleepwalker to do, even before he falls asleep. It nearly got banned after a hag used it on a wizard to make him murder his wife in his sleep."

"That's horrible!" the girl decried.

"Yes, but horrible acts can be done with all sorts of spells. Someone healing a guy like Voldemort gets him back in action - and putting a guy like that into action causes more pain and suffering than any spell ever invented. That's not to say there aren't true Light and Dark spells - there are, but this spell is not inherently either one. It can be put to good or bad purposes. Like most things in life, it's simply a tool."

Hermione brushed errant hairs out of her face again. "What good purposes could you put a spell that makes someone walk in their sleep do?"

"Sleep-workouts!" Harry cried out excitedly. "Laps around the lake, aerobics, body building... they're all boring but necessary things. So, instead of getting up a couple hours early, just do them in your sleep!The mind needs sleep a great deal more than the body, anyway, especially since what the body uses its downtime for is repair, and that can be speeded up by potions."

Hermione thought quickly about all the flabby and saggy witches and wizards she'd seen, and how much distaste she'd had for the mandatory phys ed class in school. She was a bookworm, not an athlete. Scrunching her face in disagreement, she asked, "Are you sure that it's needed?"

He nodded vigorously. "Yup! Greek wizards proved physical fitness is linked to magical power. Being overweight, underweight, sick or anything else affects your magic as much as not knowing spells."

"Then why don't more magical people do it?" she puzzled.

Harry shrugged. "Most of the same reasons more muggles don't do it -it's hard, boring, ultimately demanding work and they've got things they'd rather be doing than be out making themselves miserable on the track. But there's also another component in that for the first little while, your magic actually gets LESS as more of it gets diverted to strengthening your body. So those who don't stick with it never see an increase, so believe exercise is actually detrimental for your magical core."

He favored her with a steady gaze. "Among the few who know better... well, there are easier routes to power, ones requiring less work. Knowing more spells than the other guy is typically lots easier. Learning to use a sword properly: loads of effort. Learning a Cutting Curse: very little effort. Running long distance: loads of effort. Riding a broom: very little effort. Like that."

He shrugged. "Anyway, most people with ambition in the magical world go for political power, not personal excellence. So developing abilities with anything but a wand is massively unpopular. That's why there aren't more animagi. Anyone can do it, but few believe it's worth the effort. People are inherently lazy, most of them. But wizards seem more inclined that way than muggles."

Dreams of being unpopular in PE class, knobby legs sticking out from under baggy shorts, and always getting picked last for every team were haunting Hermione's mind just then - It wasn't always laziness that got people an aversion to sports. Just start out being bad at them and humiliation from the jocks would set in quickly, scarring you for life.

As if reading her mind, Harry said, "That's why I want a sleepwalking spell to do it. So long as our bodies go through the motions, we'll get the benefits. I frankly don't enjoy sports either. But there's no help for it, we've got to improve ourselves physically."

"Why is there no help for it?" she challenged, thinking she could go on in her life quite happily never having to do another pull-up again.

This time Harry drew in breath deeply, calming and centering himself, before he gave her a steady gaze. "Because we are at war, and fit soldiers survive longer than unhealthy ones."

She gave him a wry smirk. "Harry, you can't fool me. I've seen what you really look like when you're not morphed back to the way you were. Outside your 'weak little human' disguise your actual fey body is a solid mass of muscle. You're the most fit thirteen year old I've ever heard of!"

"I know," he rubbed his eyes. "But you aren't. And I care about you."Harry raised his beautiful green eyes to pierce her with his concern for her well-being. "Hermione, the military spends a great deal of time getting soldiers to run around, do push ups and sit ups and so on, because in battle you never know when you're going to have to leap over a ditch, drag a wounded comrade out of danger, break down a door, lift heavy debris off of something you've got to use, dig a trench, or any number of other physical demands."

He sighed, putting his arm around her. "Many people postulated that with the introduction of guns we wouldn't have to condition our soldiers as much, that pasty looking skinny guys could fight just as well as big buff tanned ones that made up our armies back when it was all swords and shields - but it's just not so! Because war IS chaos and chaos is navigated by being able to manipulate your environment, which is what physical conditioning allows you to do. We condition our soldiers just as much now as back when it was all swords and shields, perhaps more so now because we do it in highly organized ways."

She lifted her wand and pointed to it wordlessly, her eyes alight in laughter. Smirking, she told him, as if speaking to a child, "We are magical, Harry. We don't exactly have to lug heavy packs around. Or if we do, we can always cast featherweight charms on them."

Harry nodded soberly. "And the same kind of thing can be said of the wand instead of the gun. It'd be easy to think that magic could replace physical fitness. After all, spells can be used to cross ditches, levitate comrades, open doors or lift debris, but if you have to cast a spell to cross a ditch that slows you down, and if I or someone else was firing on you, you don't WANT to pause at the edge and speak an incantation! You want to go over that as fast as possible if you have to cross it at all. A guy who can hurdle a fence crosses it in an instant, without breaking stride. But scrambling across will cost you time, and time is something you can't afford to lose in a battle as there is never enough of it for even the most vital things. Most of the same arguments that apply to armor apply to being physically fit as well. It saves you time and effort that you can spend to do things like kill the enemy."

He looked at her gravely. "But there's more to it than that. A strong person can take more damage than a weak one and keep on going. Part of it is being used to working out conditions you to keep on going in spite of discomfort, but also muscles are their own kind of armor. Strong, muscular tissue is several times more resilient than weak flabby stuff. So spells trying to hurt you either have to be more powerful, and thus take more time and energy to cast, or they'd end up doing less damage to you, which is why giants are so hard to hurt with most spells. A curse that might crush the ribs of an ordinary man might not do more than bruise a really fit one.

"Also, wands can be lost. Most clever duelists even focus on disarming foes as their favorite tactic. One, two, however many wands you carry, you can still lose them to accident or enemy action or whatever. So you don't want to get caught in a situation where being without one makes you helpless! If you can lose your wand and still cross that ditch, you can get out of there to come back and fight another day. Also you have to consider that disarming hexes all exert a physical force on your wand, and that physical force has limits, so being strong might easily permit you hold onto it when an ordinary mage might lose his wand to an enemy."

The boy grew distant, as if reviewing a memory. "People don't plan to get wounded, Hermione. It just happens. Bad things happen all the time in war - mostly because each side is trying, full time, to CAUSE them to their enemy! You don't want to get hit, or wounded, but realistically you'd better have medical support for your side anyway. This is just exactly the same. It is an emergency support to have something to fall back on in case the real easy stuff doesn't work. What happens when that door you want to open doesn't respond to an unlocking charm? The one guarding the Philosopher's Stone didn't. What happens when you haven't got a broom and anti-apparation wards go up? That's what happened to my mother when Voldemort came to kill her. What if you need to move that wounded comrade but the enemy can somehow track your magic? If we're still underage next time we get in a fight the Ministry could expel us for casting anything. There are circumstances that none of us want to be in that can restrict our options. It's best to have others we can fall back on. So in that, fitness is just like knowing medicine."

Once more he raised his eyes, though this time they were filled with sadness. "Once again, war is chaos, every kind of thing can and will happen. The more types of possibilities you can deal with the better off you are. Fitness is a form of power, no matter how useful you think it may be in relation to others it, like healing or warding or any other thing, still has a place and stuff it can do better than any other. Dumbledore may be a frightfully powerful mage but if he has to chase you around the parking lot a few times before you let him into range to cast a spell then he'll be winded and tired - and that's as good as hitting him with an inconveniencing spell or two! A man panting for air is not going to be able to speak as easily for casting spells quickly or often!"

Having thought about it for a second, the girl shrugged. "Well, so long as I get to sleep through it. I suppose I'd like to become fit." It ought to help her figure, anyway, even if she couldn't see herself wrestling Death Eaters.

"Good," he returned, smiling back to her. "Because archery is a physical discipline, and you were the one to sign us all up for archery lessons with a centaur. Just so you know, the Greeks were nuts about fitness, which was why I started to look this up, and their heroes were an incredibly athletic lot. So, by signing us up with Firenze, you put us all on the path of the best of their best fitness nuts. That's not exactly a path to living a life of leisure."

"Oh no!" Hermione groaned, dropping her face into her hands.

I I I

Luna was just finishing up her notes for Astronomy class.

The class began at midnight, one night each week, and she was always the last to finish up. Part of that was her housemates just being Ravenclaws, always competing to use the equipment. But most of it was they still had not shaken the roots of their former treatment of her, and when they weren't paying attention they slipped automatically back into old habits of shoving'Loony Lovegood' out of the way to get things first.

She really didn't mind. Sometimes. Times like this it was an opportunity to get some more work done, and it was so peaceful after everyone else had left. As a result, she could do her work at her leisure, and take better care getting it right than the frantic-for-equipment members of her House.

Finished up at last, Luna turned from the telescope she'd been using(that she'd checked for lampblack before trusting, as some members of her House were not above little pranks like that - especially on her). Turning to face the stairs, she instead saw Draco rushing up at her with a face twisted by rage, and the next instant came a flash of light and the larger boy had shoved her. Then she was falling off the top of the tower!

Draco had pushed her off the top of the Astronomy Tower!!

Instead of flailing about and perhaps shrieking (briefly) like she'd expected, however, Luna found herself quite calmly and purposefully flipping around to land on her feet ten stories down as naturally as anything.

It hurt. The impact hurt a lot, but nothing like the brief but searing instant of agony she'd been expecting. In all honesty, she hadn't expected to survive. But while her legs were strained and overstressed, she'd not been flattened like a pancake either, and she'd kept her feet under her the whole while.

More than her own strength and agility had been involved in that. Although she also could feel some muscle damage, tender testing confirmed it was nothing deeper, nothing Harry's potions couldn't deal with overnight.

The eyes of the lions embossed on the belt her grandmother had given her were softly glowing green, like emeralds.

Wincing, but able to walk, Luna marveled at herself for not having reacted more strongly to that. Draco had just tried to kill her! Poor fool probably felt, incorrectly, he could get his family name and fortune back if she'd died. But, at the time, she'd been too shocked, then reeling with disbelief, and now...

Now she wanted desperately to be cuddled.

Nearly being killed didn't agree with her, and the encounter reaction was just starting to catch up to her. She'd be feeling faint soon enough.

Spotting the outside of Gryffindor Tower, Luna walked up to it and began to climb, knowing somehow that she could do it almost effortlessly. It hurt less than walking, that was for sure, as she could support most of her weight on her arms (which was another thing she didn't think she could naturally do). And it gave her something to concentrate on so she didn't pass out.

No question about it. Her life had been saved by this magic belt grandmother Alice had given her. Next, she would tell Harry. And then they would kill Draco - or at least make him suffer!

She didn't want the little snake making a second attempt.

Ouch. And if he did, she was going to try and be more athletic so the next time she got assassinated by being pushed off a tower it would hurt less when she landed!

I I I

As Harry came awake he was astonished to hear crying in Luna's soft, musical voice. The dreamy girl was usually so calm and collected in that baffling way of hers that he had trouble picturing her so upset. Then he felt her hand on his shoulder and instantly roused, ready to do battle or he didn't know what.

Luna had pulled herself along the floor, somehow he was able to tell the girl had become unable to walk, and thoughts of battle instantly took a back seat to be replaced by the casting of diagnostic charms and reaching for his bandoleer of potions and the medical ones stored within.

But the thoughts of battle didn't truly go away, and he reflexively scanned the area for dangers even while he levitated Luna up onto his bed.

"What happened?"

"Draco came up on me after my Astronomy class and pushed me off the tower," Luna winced. "Grandmother Alice gave me a belt earlier that saved my life from the fall. But landing on my feet after ten stories, even if the impact was reduced, has... AaIiEeaaAH!" she gasped as he touched asore spot, trying to arrange her legs to get her more comfortable. "Caused a bit of damage."

"It's all muscle tissue," Harry declared, having checked his diagnostic charm results against one of the medical magic books he'd been studying."I've got the right potion for this. We can have you fine in a couple of hours."

Administering the potion came even as he explained this. She drank it eagerly - it was poppy flavored, not exactly her first choice, but better than that swill served out to students in the Medical Wing. She gasped as the potion went to work knitting together torn muscles and her pain began to drop measurably.

Luna sighed in contentment even as Harry finished scribing a note. "What are you doing?"

Instead of answering, Harry gave the note to Spaz. The little terrier had been bouncing around barking in excitement already, fortunately he'd been put under a silencing charm so their dormmates could go to sleep."C'mon Spaz! Take this note to Hermione, then bring her back here, ok?"

The little dog went off like a shot.

Tom Riddle had been able to make animals do what he wanted them to do without training them even before he'd gone to Hogwarts. Later this had been part of what led him to being a supreme magical creatures genius able to get more advanced beings like hags, vampires and werewolves to join him.

But Harry found it enormously useful just with animals. Spaz might not be able to bark due to the silencing charm (and he didn't dare remove it because he didn't want to wake the entire tower), but Spaz would be coming back with Hermione whether she wanted to go or not.

Useful when you were a boy that couldn't navigate the girls' staircase, but needed one of them late at night for an emergency. Owls just didn't have the same force of personality to drag a girl out of bed.

Sure enough, Hermione appeared in her nightgown, herded like a sheep by the little dog, bushy hair all awry and note clutched in one hand, to find Harry was belting on his armor and gearing up.

"What are you doing?" she asked, wiping wild hair out of her eyes as Spaz pulled on the hem of her nightgown and (presumably) growled. Seeing that its charge had reached her goal and it had achieved its assignment, Spaz let go of her gown to bounce high enough in the air to lick Harry's face.

The boy paused in his outfitting to give the dog the attention it deserved, glancing up to his friends even as he rewarded the terrier. "As I said in the note, Draco just tried to kill Luna. The bastard has to pay!"

"Yes, but he's gone back to his dorm room by now." Luna surmised. "Prying the little snake out of his Slytherin nest would alert the old Bumblebee that you aren't an easily controlled tool anymore, and getting a teacher involved would be pointless. I'm sure he's got an alibi, as he expects there to be a body found in the morning and wants to escape blame for that."

Hermione just sat down heavily on the edge of Harry's bed, not quite believing until then that someone she knew had just been subject to a murder attempt by a fellow student and finding that reality just a trifle difficult to adjust to.

"Are you suggesting I not string him up and hang the little beast with his own intestines?" Harry asked politely, pausing in strapping on his sword.

"Do what you like to him, but do it later, on a time of our choosing rather than his, so we can arrange things to our liking," Luna soothed, then sighed and went cross eyed as the relief from the potion hit her more fully.

"I find I'm too angry to not do something now," he replied in a reasonable tone of voice. "After all, I very nearly lost you - and if Dumbledore has anything to say about it, I'm sure Draco will NEVER get punished for this!"

"Then take your anger out on Dumbledore, in some fashion he won't trace back to you," Luna breathed, still cross-eyed as the potion worked on her. She blinked, eyes widening. "I saw a flash of light as Draco pushed me."

"Colin's camera," Harry nodded firmly. "I'll get it now."

The two looked at each other and grinned. Hermione sat up and began busying herself with all the same diagnostic charms Harry had cast before, taking over the role of nurse while Harry darted off to get the camera.

I I I

Two hours of planning had allowed Luna to be somewhat functional by the time the trio were ready to implement their ideas.

Taking Colin's still stolen camera, then getting hold of their Time Turners, Harry spun them back to use their invisible clothes to get a photo of Draco pushing Luna off the tower.

That went off smoothly, although it was a touch difficult for Harry not to kill the little snake for his attempted murder immediately after taking the shot. For her part, Hermione's face paled as she watched Draco rush forward and obviously attempt to harm her friend, then firmed in determination as she came to agree with Harry. But this close under Dumbledore's thumb, they dared not risk striking back at the brat directly right away.

No, what they had in mind was much better.

Draco was a pawn. Deprived of his powerful father, great wealth, and a name from one of the currently Great Families, the boy was little more than an arrogant and shrill cheerleader of the pureblood side.

Well, and now an attempted murderer, also. So he couldn't just be ignored.

Harry on the other hand was a player, centerpiece to his growing side, and you do not risk the destruction of someone with so key a role to play taking down stray gnats. Taking Draco down directly right under Dumbledore's nose was too tricky a proposition. They had no way of knowing what Dumbledore's true information resources were, and whacking Draco just edged too close to perfect blackmail material to risk dropping into the old man's lap.

Other things the teens had gotten away with in that castle amounted to a bit of rule breaking. Outright execution of one of his students for attempted murder, while legally defensible in some ways, wasn't something to risk under the nose of a man who ignored the law at his whims.

Besides, while Draco needed to be destroyed, he wasn't the priority target here. It was Dumbledore, and the fact that he protected and supported murderers like Snape and Draco so long as they supported him.

The PROBLEM was not so much the arrogant little brat as it was those who enabled him to get away with being as bad as he was. Without authority figures to stand behind him making exceptions for him and shielding him from the consequences of his own actions, he'd destroy himself in short order.

There were laws against his sort of behavior, and if those laws could be enforced he'd be destroyed by his own actions. But so long as he had people like Dumbledore and Snape behind him, Draco could ignore those laws as they didn't apply to him - something Voldemort had promised his pawns all along, but Dumbledore actually delivered.

So, rather than do nothing to Draco, they chose to strike at his enablers. It passed the time while they waiting for a better opportunity to whack the little cretin.

The three then snuck out and flooed over to the offices of the Daily Prophet, intending to alter the type so the front page of the morning's edition read: Murder Most Foul! With a picture of Draco pushing Luna off the Astronomy Tower. Hermione was all ready with the text written for acompanion article, titled, 'Hogwarts Unsafe?' listing out the various catastrophes to endanger the lives of students there in recent years.

It would have been a good idea, but once in passed offices and the pressroom to the actual workshop that contained the printing press, Luna brought them to a halt.

"Harry, this isn't like my father's press."

"But can you figure out how to work it?" he asked.

"Oh, it's not that," the girl leaning on him hobbled forward and pointed out a feature on the machine that meant nothing to him. "My father's press just prints papers. This, this does something else in addition to that. Come, help me find the ink. There's something strange going on here."

"Right!" Harry nodded, and they began their search. The building was oddly well secured for a simple business, but the wards they had did not stop him. They were good enough to slow him down, however, which raised all their eyebrows, as that required an intensely intricate bit of warding work.

Few places, outside the Ministry, Gringotts, and of course Hogwarts had any better warding protection. But those places had all invested immeasurable fortunes in warding stones and runic amplifiers that could sustain the higher loads. Also wards required regular maintenance to stay strong, and the one to perform that maintenance had to have sufficient skill to cast those wards in the first place. So it was rare indeed to find any this thick on a business.

Since Harry could, and HAD bypassed the wards of Gringotts, the Ministry, and to a small extent Hogwarts when needed, this place stood no chance. But the very fact that it could pose any challenge at all was worrisome. It spoke of a very powerful and wealthy person with a personal interest in that place.

When they found the ink, they understood.

"There's a Persuasion Potion mixed in with this ink," Harry declared."And a memory enhancer, and... I don't know what all they did to this!"

"Look at this!" Hermione declared, holding up a few of the type pieces used to print letters. "On one side, they are the letters you'd use. But the other..." she scowled. "It's a rune, one for trust and believability."

She turned to face them, scowling. "Every letter used would be connected to a rune, even though that rune never touched the paper. The text itself would be magically screaming 'Believe me!' 'Believe me!' Because of that."

"Look over here," Luna drew their attention to the bit of press machinery she'd pointed out earlier. "This stamp layers a compulsion charm onto every sheet this press prints - and this stamp is one of many! Then, over here, the press sprays a Trusted Source fixative over the pages as they come out."

The teens shared a significant glance. The printing technology of the magical world was fairly backwards. Muggles of the same day and age were using blotters and other methods to dry ink so it did not smear over apage. But wizards, as with most things, solved it magically and used magic to dry their ink quickly. Using a spray-on fixative potion was the only way to run a high-speed press like this.

"So what we've got," Harry summarized, "Is a newspaper infused with so much magic that whoever picks up a copy is going to believe whatever this rag tells them. Is that right?"

"Exactly," Luna confirmed, before hobbling over to check another bin, and showed him the device within. "And this places a mild Confundus charm over each paper as it gets folded, I'd guess so they'd choose to believe what they read in that paper over any source save personal experience. It doesn't seem powerful enough to override that... but anything less?Probably."

"But the folds are undone... Oh! I see!" Hermione declared, getting it. "When a person first gets their paper they unfold it, releasing the Confundus to affect them, so they believe this over any previous edition. But if they were to go back and reread earlier editions it would have worn off, so they would not mess up over which to believe, the older or the newer papers!"

Harry rubbed his eyes. "I'd always believed the magical world was filled by ignorant sheep for believing whatever they read in this paper. Now Ifind that may not be their fault. How long has this been going on?"

Luna checked a few scratches and stains on the machine before telling him, "These parts seem integral to the printing press, and the press itself has been in continual use for a long time, probably before our parents'were born. So I'd say..."

"Dumbledore." He beat her to it. "Just great. Well, that explains the wards, too. No doubt he didn't want anyone but the printing staff to know about this, and I'd guess those few guys are under heavy secrecy oaths. You can't let the magical world know you've been playing with their minds, after all."

The blonde looked him in the eye and said directly, "No. Once you'd learned to distrust this newspaper for one thing, you could learn to overcome the other compulsions. But other than that, a reader would believe whatever it said - even if it came out contradicting what it told you in earlier editions."

The girl then sat down and smiled dreamily. "No wonder the magical world is insane. The reality they believe in gets edited every day by Dumbledore."

Hermione was shaking her head. "It's too bad we couldn't use this setup with the special ink and equipment and things for creating textbooks. So long as you could make sure the information was accurate, reading your subjects in this format would let you learn them a great deal faster. Comprehension and retention are all magically enhanced by what we've found here. Every part of this seems to be designed to sink things deep into your mind."

Harry was looking over the great big rolls of muggle paper. "Well, this doesn't seem to be altered to any degree."

Luna shook her head. "Oh, no. You couldn't. Among muggles paper is cheap. But for wizards it still ranks as a luxury good. We don't have ability to mass produce it. For most writing tasks we still use parchment, and that's not for the sake of nostalgia. Paper manufacture is too heavily industrialized for us. So, when we need great quantities of it, we simply deal with muggles - and I don't need to tell you that commercial trade for paper from muggles is a controlled monopoly."

"Dumbledore?"

"No, the Notts, actually. But he has them by the scruff of the neck as their main trade is fishing, and he controls what permits are issued each year, and also has sole say on what boats are considered seaworthy or not. So if he grew displeased with them they'd find themselves as poor as the Weasleys in short order."

Hermione was blinking. "I didn't think that wizards did much fishing."

Luna smiled softly. "Oh, we don't. But that made an excellent cover for their real trade, which is smuggling. Although I hear rumors in recent generations they've had their prices undercut by the competition and are struggling. So actual fishing now represents more of their income."

I I I

Author's Notes:

Now I know I've read countless stories where the main character decries the entire magical world as idiots for believing everything they read in that paper. And, for the most part, I think they are right.

However, this alternate explanation just occurred to me. We get shown no end of charms, curses and potions that exert a powerful influence over a person's mind. Who is to say that can't be used by the Daily Prophet?

So, just once, I wanted to write one where the magical public are blameless, or as blameless as any other victim of magical compulsion can be.

P.S. Yes, I know about the silver vs ruby slippers bit. I used ruby as they had more universal 'Oh! I know what that is!' factor.

Next up: Hermione gets Harry to steal the entire setup so she can print textbooks. Or not?
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