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
Last chapter was from Dumbles POV, this chap, same day, our heroes POV.
I I I
Harry was having a bit of quiet time in an outside courtyard, waiting for the insanity to start. But his thoughts were not on the impending madness. No. He had been reviewing his move at the Wizengamot previously that day, and projecting the possibilities that presented forward.
Chess games often went to the one who thought farthest ahead, after all.
Actually, cards might be a better analogy, he felt, as you never knew what each new deal was going to turn up. He certainly hadn't expected this latest opportunity to milk the Wizengamot, not after what he'd done with his first.
But before being blotted out by the Prophet scandal, the public tide of 'Save Our Poor Boy Hero' had risen yet further, cresting higher than he could've supposed on the revelations about how put upon he was at court. The feeling was that the entire Wizengamot had cheated him on that vote, which they had, and eager to save their jobs those people on that body had been willing to do just about anything to regain some popularity in the public's eyes - and top of their list had been to be seen doing something nice for Harry.
The question had been, how to exploit that? (And quickly, before the Daily Prophet captured public attention and he lost this chance).
Left to their own devices, they'd grant him a measly cash reward, pin a few ribbons on his chest, throw another title at him, then let him starve as the wolves came down to devour him after being left out in the cold again; if they did anything before the Prophet's scandal wiped it all from their minds.
So it was a definite case of 'Use it or lose it.' Even without the distraction today's morning articles were going to provide, left to themselves they'd say a great many gracious things but never actually do anything to improve his situation. So, if he wanted anything substantial to happen he had to make a request for it, and fast, before they got something else in mind. Ideally, he would make his suggestion in such a way as to prove them all absolute heels and tyrants if they refused him, pushing them into whatever he wanted.
But such things had limits, rather sharp ones really.
No, they needed to be seen doing something to make up for voting against his freedom and for the roundabout way they'd been used to send him back to the Dursleys after the first criminal exposure of their actions, but they were still canny old politicians, backbiters by profession. Harry had to be canny himself if he wanted anything useful out of them.
In short, what the members of the Wizengamot wanted was some way to give him something that turned out to be nothing, and what he wanted was a way to trick them into granting him what looked to be nothing but actually turned out to be something, and the more valuable the better.
What Harry would like most was something like he already had - the perpetual licenses and hereditary exemptions for keeping and raising just about any type and number of magical beasts.
The first thought to cross his mind was to do the same for magical plants, except that lay too close to what he'd already achieved. The ink was not yet dry on those laws waiving the government's ability to restrict him there, and if those rights were vulnerable to removal at any time that time was now. So he didn't want to draw any attention to what he had until he'd already been doing it for a while and the rights and precedent were well established.
Similarly, he didn't want to ask for anything expanding those creature rights beyond what they already were, lest by drawing their attention those cunning crones in government begin to restrict and retract what they'd already given to him, passing exemptions to his exemptions and so on.
"Oh, you can do that, but not for THIS... or this, or this, or this, or this, or this..." ad infinitum until those new rights were useless. Which they would do. They'd eagerly snatch the bread from his mouth if they could get away with it, just on the general principle of 'The more for you, the less for me.'
The biggest danger of what reward to ask for was trying hard NOT to get the hypocrites in government to punish him by taking away previous rewards, as they would not hesitate to do if they woke up to the reality of what they'd actually done for him in the first place.
Before they found out about the ramifications of what they'd already done for him, he wanted things well established on his side. He wanted momentum working in his favor. The act of "I've been doing it this way for a (hopefully) long time now and it was legal all this time and NOW you want to restrict it?"
The longer he could be using those rights before they discovered what they'd truly granted him, the greater his chance of keeping it. A rock rolled downhill may gather tremendous momentum, but it's still easiest to divert or counter right after the first push. He wanted to be going for a while before they tried to stop him. All of which meant he didn't want to wake them up early.
No, for safety's sake he had to ask for something as different as possible from the rights he'd already achieved, so as not to draw any attention to the earlier gift until he'd gained that momentum, but managing somehow to get very similar results; ie, something that looked innocent, but could be played into a massive advantage and which would hopefully last forever, covering not only himself but his posterity.
And to that, there were many obstacles.
In the first place, they would not agree to grant him anything they felt took away from any privilege one of their number already had - and this was the Wizengamot, the essential collection of the heads of the old clans. Anything that was controlled at all in magical Britain was controlled by a member of that group. They'd only agreed to the beast thing because they'd felt they'd been granting the Boy Who Lived the right to keep afew pets. The details in the wording of those documents had made all the difference between what they really thought they'd granted him and what he'd actually gotten.
Harry had, of course, had a hand in crafting the written documents, and then presenting them to a body too rushed to listen to ought but asummary.
Harry's plans had been similar here. The geezers had been in a terrible rush to reclaim their image as champions of the boy hero. But despite that, what he asked for had to be innocent sounding, yet at the same time break some old monopolies - as there simply was no other way to make a living!
Now he was congratulating himself on his victory, going over the steps again in his mind.
"So, what did you get?" Hermione sat down beside him. "I assumed you didn't want to tell us inside the castle, but out here in a courtyard?"
Harry left off his musing and greeted her warmly. "That's right. I haven't told you yet, have I?"
"Was it the right to shove nifflers down your pants?" Luna inquired eagerly.
"Have them draw obscene caricatures?"
"Luna, please!" the bushy one snapped. "We haven't got much time before morning classes start."
"Actually, they might NOT start." Harry pointed up. "Look, the owls have begun arriving, two to a newspaper. I think today there might be atouch of a ruckus. They might have difficulty getting classes started."
"Harry?" Hermione whined. "Tell us now? It'll bug me all day if you don't. And any second now we won't have time!"
"Alright," he capitulated, leaving off the teasing for now. "I pulled a dirty trick, and went before that august body carving a wooden flute(badly), and then asked, in a childlike voice, if they could let me sell the things I made."
Luna burst out in giggles.
"That's it?" Hermione was disappointed, and her face showed it.
"That's IT?" He repeated, as Luna fell of the back of the bench laughing."It was one of the most profound and sneaky things I ever did!"
"It doesn't sound like much," the Granger girl shook her head slowly, even as Luna rolled around on the grass behind them, clutching her gut with laughter.
"That's the whole POINT!" he insisted. "If it sounded like anything good, they wouldn't let me HAVE it! These are career politicians! Before cameras they kiss the babies. Off camera they steal their candy. If they could've torn off my right leg and beaten me with it and called it some kind of reward I'd be on a peg-leg right now with bruises around my neck and shoulders! Getting them to give you something NICE takes enough cunning to steal Snape's nose from his face and sell it on ebay!"
He took a deep breath to calm himself, and started over again while Luna paralyzed herself with laughter on the grass behind them. "Hermione, the privileged elite run things for their own benefit, and that body is made up of the heads of the old families - the very definition of a privileged elite in our magical world. A bunch of greedy conniving old bastards aren't going to give you anything they'd rather have themselves. They have to be tricked into doing it, and frankly what I got is worth more than the beast concession. I really feel quite proud of myself for pulling it off."
"Perhaps if you explain?" she hedged.
Seeing she only sought understanding, he agreed, even as a pitiful few wails began to emanate from the castle. He could only hear them because Luna was getting quieter. "I admit it sounded perfectly useless. That's the point. But it's actually an immense blow to the old wizarding monopolies. They felt they were granting me permission to sell badly made toy flutes, just like when they were granting me the beast licenses they felt they were giving me the ability to hold and keep a few pets. It's the scope and scale that matter."
He paused for a moment to see if she'd gotten it. Seeing she hadn't he continued to explain. "Hermione, virtually all the monopolies in the magical world are some form of 'only I can sell this', or 'only he can sell that'. But I just landed a perpetual, hereditary license to sell ANYTHING AT ALL!"
Her eyes widened and she drew back. "But... don't you have to make..?"
"According to Old Family rules," Luna giggled from where she'd rolled under their bench. "Anything created by Harry himself, any subordinate member of his family, or ANY BUSINESS HE OWNS, was still created by Harry."
Harry nodded gleefully. "The way I phrased and presented it, they thought they were granting me the ability to sell cheap handmade junk whose only value was as Boy-Who-Lived souvenirs. They made a mistake in not thinking of me as an eventual Head of Family, an impression I helped out as much as I possibly could by playing the 'Poor Little Orphan Boy' role to the hilt. What I GOT, if I can pull this off and achieve its maximum potential, is the ability to sell literally anything despite any of the existing monopolies."
Hermione's jaw dropped open and she gaped at him.
Luna was now rising to join them on their seat, forcing Harry to scoot over so he could be mashed between them, a pleasant enough fate. "This destroys the entire medieval monopoly lockdown of the magical markets. Harry could sell food off his farms despite Dumbledore having exclusive right to do that, and even undercut the old man's prices. For that matter he could sell ink as well. If it could be made by something Harry owns, he can sell it."
The blonde gave Harry a very measuring gaze. "For that matter, if he got very lucky indeed perhaps he could trick them into leaving that very open ended and let him sell things NOBODY could sell legally - things like printing presses, perhaps?"
He shook his head. "No such luck."
"Then why do you look so pleased?" Luna pressed while Hermione was still recovering herself. "There has to be something more. That is an 'I've got a secret I haven't shared yet' look, if I'm not mistaken."
A grin broke out from under his control, proving her correct. "I might have something like that in mind, yes," he admitted, while a cacophony of upset screams and shouting steadily got louder from the castle.
"Tell," Luna commanded, poking him again in the side.
Harry's grin threatened to overcome his face as he tried to capture her fingers. "Weeell," he drawled out happily. "I maaay have mentioned that I'd like to be able to buy up some land around my parents' old house, and invite some friends over to stay."
"And what does that translate into? Share!" she commanded, and since her fingers were both caught by his hands she brought up a toe to poke him with.
Desperate parents were rushing their children into floos in the background while Harry tried to transfer both her hands to one of his so he could have room open to catch that errant toe. "I can buy out the muggles who live in Godric's Hollow to convert it over to an all-wizarding town?"
She stopped poking, stunned beyond words, unable to move.
"Isn't Hogsmead the only all-magical village in Britain?" Hermione asked, now recovered herself.
"Well now there are two, or will be once I buy those muggles out," Harry told her smugly. "Shouldn't be too hard, I can pay far above market price, and I'm not in any hurry. I could just catch properties as they go on market. Being in a rush would only hurt things. Slower is actually better as far as taking advantage of my new rights. I want these to have been in force a long time before anyone thinks to challenge me on them."
Luna's mouth was hung open and her eyelids fluttering rapidly. She groaned and fell over backwards. Thankfully Harry, who still had her hands, caught her and lowered her gently down onto the grass.
Turning to Hermione, Harry finished his gloating, "At the same time I got them to grant me a 'one roof' concession stand to sell my goods at."
The bushy haired girl blinked. "The way you say 'one roof' sounds very important, but I don't know the significance."
He shrugged. "It's a standard measurement for commercial space. One roof means, or they THINK it means, one shop. A place like Ollivanders or Flourish and Blott's, both of those would be one roof shops."
She continued blinking in confusion. "I could see how that could be helpful, but you act like it's way more significant than I believe I am getting. What do you mean when you say, 'they think it means'?"
He grinned triumphantly. "Why Hermione, have you never heard of shopping malls? Wizards can't get it through their heads how much sheer SPACE can be covered by one roof these days! I can make a shopping arcade bigger than Diagon Alley all put under one roof BEFORE any magical expansion charms!"
Harry chuckled. Oh yes, this had potential for abuse all over it. He couldn't wait to get started.
Inside, the magical lockdown began.
They watched in interested silence while waiting for Luna to recover. She did shortly into it, and they all watched together as people suddenly stuck to things and the sound turned off, then they witnessed those suits of armor everyone ignored begin to move about subduing people.
Sitting outside of the castle proper, looking in, they were mere spectators to this scene. Wanting to help, they knew if they did their own secrecy would be ruined. So they made what use of this they could by learning the castle's security setup for dealing with intruders.
Surprise was a terrible factor, but anything known could be countered. And the next time (for there would be a next time, they trusted) they would be prepared to counter everything they'd seen here.
Moments into their whispered discussion over what they might to do help free those people while not getting caught themselves, Harry got hit on the head by a trio of falling books.
Luna looked up and levitated the streeler before it landed and broke itself.
"Ow!" Harry muttered eloquently, thankful his helmet was on and had protected his head. Still, those falling books had packed quite a whallop!
Hermione already had one open, and was sucking in her bottom lip and grinning while she read the title page.
"What is it?" Harry asked, while Luna played with her streeler, bouncing it around in the air with her wand.
Grinning like mad now, Hermione turned the book around and wordlessly showed them the title page. "Reversing Obliviation. A Forgotten Art."
Harry scrambled to check out the other two books. Somehow tomes of the Headmaster's private library, the one he did NOT share, had gotten dumped out of his window on top of them.
Luna lifted up a book, and her eyebrows, then read aloud. "Exorcism, The Lightest Art. 101 Spells To Send The Dead To Their Reward And Free The Living From Their Hauntings."
Turning to her friends with an odd expression she surmised, "Just ten years ago the Ministry came out with a statement this art never existed, that only charlatans and fakes claimed it did." Then she smiled brilliantly."But I can see why Dumbledore wouldn't want this out. After all, from what you tell us about a third of his spies are ghosts."
Puzzled by Harry's lack of reaction, both girls leaned closer to see what Harry was looking at, grinning as madly as he was. The title read,"My Finding of The Stone of Power, by Cadmus Peverell."
"Dumbledore CAN'T have wanted these books to get out!" Hermione declared, rearing back from the tome as if it would bite her. "Maybe this is some sort of trap?"
"Maybe," Harry grinned wildly at the cursing coming from five stories up out an open window and thumbing through a thick sheaf of pages of handwritten notes tucked in the back cover, the most recent of these in Dumbledore's own hand, "Or maybe he's just unlucky?"
Harry withdrew a heavy gold ring from his pocket, comparing the stone set in it with the one drawn in detail on the title page. They were identical. Luna's eyes went wide at the sight. "Salazar Slytherin once wore this ring and called it his own. But it appears the stone at least pre-dates him,"Harry said.
"Where did you get that?" his bushy friend demanded.
The boy only smiled mysteriously. "I found time before our last expedition out of the wards, on the jaunt before, to stop by a furniture store, acave, and a hut. This was in the hut. I'll leave you to wonder about the others."
"Harry!" she admonished him sternly.
"Oh, alright," he relented, also reaching into his pocket to pull out a heavy gold locket set with enormous emeralds and carved with an elaborate S on the front.
"The Locket of Salazar Slytherin?" Luna breathed, feeling faint.
"Yes," Harry nodded, frowning. "Except, it's a fake. I don't know where the real one got off to. But I know who took it and left this in its place as he was arrogant enough to leave a note claiming responsibility; and I intend to find out what he did with the original."
"This was in the cave?" Luna breathed, still impressed. She might never see the original, most people didn't, so she was drinking in the sight of the fake as it might be as close as she'd ever get. Swiftly she transfigured a glass cage to put the streeler in so she could focus attention on the locket.
"Yes," Harry nodded. "Guarded by about two thousand zombies."
"What did you do with the zombies?" Hermione was almost afraid to ask.
The boy gave off an unconcerned shrug. "Put them to work clearing out the overgrown drainage ditches and irrigation canals on my property, why?"
The two girls stared at him, open-mouthed.
He chuckled. "Aw! Shucks, t'wern't nuthin." Seeing they were still gaping at him he grew less silly. "What? Those most famous for using zombies are the voodoo cultists of the Caribbean. And what do they use them for? Cheap farm labor, mostly. They only get used as weapons when someone ticks their master off. You act like you'd rather they be out there trying to eat brains."
"It's just..." the Granger girl moistened her lips. "I thought you would've destroyed them. That's all."
"Maybe I will." He shrugged, unconcerned. "But I want those ditches cleared first. And then a whole heck of a lot of weeding done. Then the same thing is going to have to be done again next year. Farm upkeep is a whole lot of work, you know, and no way can I use trolls. They don't obey orders well enough."
"There is your reputation to consider," Luna softly reminded.
"True enough," Harry sighed. "Oh rats! It's going to take me FOREVER to replace them with enough golems!"
Sighing for a moment, he stood, shoving things into his pockets. "C'mon. Enough dawdling. Let's go set as many people as we can free before Dumbles gets around to turning them all into slaves, or whatever he's going to do. Can either of you wordlessly cast?"
Getting two shaking heads by way of reply, he nodded. "Okay, we'll work on that. For now, just free everyone you can casting in through windows. First vanish the glass, then cast unsticking charms on the people, then levitate them out. The spell for levitating people is 'Levicorpus', same movements as the Wingardium Leviosar. Alright?"
"Shouldn't it be impossible to vanish the glass?" Hermione didn't mean to disagree, but she had to ask. After all, it seemed so obvious.
"You'd like you think so, wouldn't you?" He teased back. "Normally, yes. It would be. However I believe I've told you how most of the wards had been converted over to an information network? Ward stones can only sustain so many spells, no matter what runic amplifiers you've got on them. Protection stuff has largely gotten pushed into inactivity to make room for more of the information gathering spells he likes. So most of Hogwarts is not quite as safe as he'd like us to believe. There are exceptions, of course. Anyplace he wants defended IS defended, quite rigorously. But most of the school is fairly open to attacks at present."
"What do we do about the armor? What if it interferes?" Luna hazarded to ask, raising both brows imperiously.
"Remind me at some future point to give you both a lecture on direct versus indirect casting and comparative values of each," Harry started vanishing glass. Two suits of armor responded immediately and with a flick of his wrist he wrapped them both in summoned tapestries, rendering the suits bound and immobile. "They appear to be strongly resistant to most direct spells, so cast spells on their environment to disable them," he quipped good naturedly.
Smiling, both girls set to work, Hermione causing some vines growing nearby to fly over and bind some additional suits of armor, while Luna reached into her pockets for a large bag of gumdrops, and spent her time flinging those into the paths of onrushing suits, then enlarging them just as the animated armors passed over, trapping the guardians as silvery centers in multicolor gumdrops, and causing Harry to resolve to carry that as his sweet of choice.
Harry grabbed the arm of Oliver Wood, who'd been among the people just summoned out of the castle. "Wood! Go down to the Quidditch Pitch, to the broom shed. Bring back all the brooms, not just our team ones, the school brooms, even the Slytherin ones - anything that can fly. Then bring them back here right away, alright?"
"But why?" the Keeper paused in confusion.
Still holding his arm, Harry pointed back to the castle. "The floors in there are too sticky to walk on. So we'll have to fly over them if we want to rescue everyone! Also," he pointed upwards. "The Gryffindor and Ravenclaw dorms are in towers. If we fly up there and vanish the glass, we can begin saving the people trapped up there. Now go!"
He gave his team captain a little shove and Oliver took off running, Katie Bell, also newly rescued, not far behind him, with her parents following after. Good - that many more arms to carry brooms in.
"Percy!" Harry also grabbed the newly rescued Head Boy by the arm. "Go tell Hagrid to hitch up the thestrals. Then get the older years organized casting featherweight and floating charms on the carriages. Thestrals can already fly, all the carriages have got to do is Not Fall so they can be pulled through the air behind them. They've got enough of them to carry all the students. They do it twice every year. Do that, and we've got our route out of here. The floos are all being blockaded by those suits of guardian armor and not many of the students can apparate."
"Harry," Hermione grew concerned. "While the carriages may be able to carry all the students, we've got so many parents here as well... I don't think they can hold everyone!"
"They can't." He agreed. "But no one ever made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little. We'll get out as many people as we can that way, pack them tight then use older kids on brooms to ride escort in case there are any problems. Others can make it out their own ways if they have to. Or maybe we can do it if we enlarge the carriages. For now, we concentrate on getting our people out of the castle. Susan? Filch?"
The recently rescued blonde Hufflepuff gave pleading eyes to Harry."Harry, I heard your plans to rescue the Gryffindors and Ravenclaws. But what about my House? Hanna is still in there! I heard her go back to her room for some things she'd forgotten there in the rush."
He smiled roguishly for her. "Don't worry. We won't leave any Puffs behind if we can save them. Now Filch," turning, he faced the caretaker, who'd walked out of the castle as casually as you please and stood waiting attentively for orders. As if that didn't make it obvious, he could see in her eyes that this was Bellatrix, and still unswervingly loyal to him.
"As Caretaker, the lockdown does not affect me," the disguised Death Eater informed him. "And I can order the armor around, but only one suit at a time and only while it is with me."
Harry did not pause to ask why the magic recognized her as Caretaker when she wasn't truly Filch. Questions like that could wait for later.
"Go back inside and start clearing a route to the Hufflepuff dormitories, the shortest route to the outside you can find," he commanded briskly."Order the armor to follow you, one at a time, around corners out of sight and leave them there so the path is clear, then open all of the doors and grab all of the buckets you can find. Dump the buckets in their common room, enlarge them and get the Puffs and their parents to climb inside of them. After that, go around opening doors inside of the Ravenclaw and Gryffindor dormitories."
He knew she could wordlessly spellcast, so could be trusted with the enlarging.
Bellatrix/Filch nodded firmly and was already on her way back inside, wand out and summoning buckets from every closet in the castle even as Harry was turning back to face Susan, telling her, "We'll get our teams to double up on broomsticks and form a chain, levitating the buckets out from broom to broom down the line. Can I trust you to organize that?"
The pretty Puff reached up and kissed him before hopping off to organize her fellow students, starting with other Hufflepuffs.
"Dobby?" Harry called.
"Yous is calling, Master Harry Potter sir?" the little elf appeared.
The Boy Who Lived bent down to speak with the elf on an equal level."Dobby, the castle is in lockdown. Can you still move about inside without sticking to anything?"
The elf nodded so vigorously he ended up slapping himself with his ears."Yes, Harry Potter, sir! Onlys, we canst be moving no body. Living creatures is not to be touched during lockdown, sir."
"Thank you," Harry gladly put a hand on the little elf's shoulder. "That's just what I wanted. Can you gather together my elves and get them to move all of the luggage and student belongings out from there? Also," he breathed deep, grinning. "We're going to have a very big, very long outing and we need picnic lunches and dinners for everyone. So if you could gather enough food for, say, a week long field trip out of the Hogwarts pantries?"
"Yes, Harry Potter sir!" the elf raised a hand to snap his fingers and vanish, only to be stopped by Harry.
"One last thing. I'm going to need everything from the Come And Go Room. Can you get that for me?"
"Oh! Yes Harry Potter sir!" the elf bounced, snapped his fingers and vanished.
"Alright everyone, listen up!" Harry shouted, after casting a Sonorous charm on his throat. Stepping clear of the growing crowd he enlarged arock into a platform to stand on so he could be seen clearly. "Many of you have not thought any further than getting out of here. Those of you who have can ignore me, but if your only thought so far was getting away from Dumbledore can I ask you where you intend to go? Most of us here are students, who need to continue our educations."
Transfiguring a stick of wood into a small billboard, Harry slapped a piece of parchment on it, then enlarged it so it was about nine feet across. "This is a transfer request to Beauxbatons! I got it earlier this year, and Madam Maxine agreed to take not only me, but any of my friends who wanted to go. Those of you who want to transfer, all you have to do is sign this scroll. Carriages to France will be flying out as soon as we can get them organized, and I have already made arrangements to move your luggage for you."
Harry then turned and signed the scroll himself. Hermione and Luna pressed in almost as soon as he did, and shortly thereafter the board was mobbed.
I I I
I love thinking heroes. They deal with crises so well!