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 was a day of chaos, and more chaos had been caused deliberately as the kids thought up every angle they could exploit to annoy Dumbledore.
As aurors were leaving the Ministry building to go put down the magical populace, they ran into a quick Confundus ward Harry had put up over the various exits, and each auror grabbed stacks of posters on their way out.
Posters rather quickly produced at muggle copy shops that read (over a smiling Dumbledore face), "Trust the Headmaster! The Headmaster is your friend. Failure to trust the Headmaster is treason. Treason is punishable by death!"
The auror squads would be pasting those up wherever they went. The Fey Trio didn't WANT to use their newly acquired magical press on this one. They didn't want people to BELIEVE those posters. They put them up to disturb people and get them thinking. They wanted it to look like a manipulation attempt gone too far, something that would wake some of the sheep up.
And, since the aurors would be pasting those up over every tree, rock and animal they came across in their duties, everybody ought to run across at least one of them. They were hung in both Hogwarts and the Ministry, all the places the aurors went (which did not include those places Dumbledore was going to frequent that day, like his office or the Wizengamot chambers).
Smiling nastily, the trio also went to the chocolate frog factory and altered the cards, changing Dumbledore's tile to read 'Dark Lord Dumbledore', and one notable difference over the original was instead of saying he enjoyed chamber music and tenpin bowling, that instead he enjoyed abusing children and anal sex with his good friend, the Death Eater Severus Snape.
The factory had charms in place so they could correct cards already issued, in case of typos or updated information, so they were able to make it so ALL the Dumbledore cards, even the ones already issued, read that way.
Then they snuck in his office through that open window in his tower he'd not yet fixed and stole more artifacts, including the automatically updating attendance roster and the Hogwarts Magic Quill - the one writing down the names of each new magical birth in Britain. They also made off with a second magic quill that addressed all of the envelopes.
They then filed an anonymous report with the Ministry concerning the theft, asking them to look into it, and incidentally also exposing the fact that the Sorting Hat had gone missing.
"Why are we doing this again?" Hermione asked as they all crept out, their magical bags crammed full of books and other loot from the Headmaster's office. "I mean, wasn't it enough to burn the place down the first time?"
Luna smiled. "Because, Hermione, we missed things; and there are precious artifacts that Dumbledore cannot afford to do without - so we had to steal them, because without muggleborn tuition, Hogwarts will fall. There just aren't enough purebloods to sustain it, and the environment is bad enough the halfbloods that make up most of the magical population would go elsewhere if they had to face the sea of pureblood prejudice without any muggleborns there to take the brunt of it."
"And before you ask, we can get this information to another school so that they can recruit them. The muggleborns will still get an education,"Harry reassured her. "But don't forget: We are at war."
"Not with the whole world," she huffed.
Luna quickly corrected her. "Hermione, even with perfect grades, all the OWLS and NEWTS you can score, along with both Prefect and Head Girl roles filled perfectly, the best you could hope for in our world is a mid level job at the Ministry working under someone with half your power and a quarter your brains. Without the Head Girl slot the best position you could have would not even be as good as the lowest, entry level position a pureblood would get. Our world is THAT bigoted! And frankly, you'd have to spread you legs regularly to ugly, talentless, inbred people you despise to get even that much. It's just not worth it. Muggleborns and halfbloods emigrate out of Europe in DROVES!! And they take all our best brains and talent with them. Here, Ron could make Minister of Magic someday. He's stupid, pureblooded, lazy, ambitious, and can easily be controlled - everything they look for in candidates for that position. But you couldn't even be his secretary. You don't have the right parents."
"Dumbledore and Voldemort are symptoms, not the real problems," Harry informed her. "The real problem is the deep bigotry that exists in our world. So long as everything goes on as normal, they can afford to ignore it. But if a major institution like Hogwarts begins to fall, they'll take notice and begin asking questions, like: why can't we get any muggleborns to attend?"
"And, of course, Dumbledore will expend enormous effort to keep that from happening. My! He is going to be busy, isn't he?" Luna giggled.
"One more fire to put out," Hermione agreed, finding a grin.
"Oh, by the way," Luna pretended a dreamy otherworldliness. "You know that microphone we put on Dumbledore? The one that allowed us to overhear his giving Snape a summary of the whole day, the one where he admits to having flouted international law over a thousand times, and when he instructs him to bring back Voldemort as a useful distraction? I'm thinking we can tie that microphone in to the Wizarding Wireless network to override the previous programming so it broadcasts across all of Britain. There are even stations overseas that can pick it up."
Harry smirked. "Tell me how."
Hermione blinked wildly. "Didn't he use an Unforgivable on Snape during that conversation? Oh, yes! Please! Broadcast that."
I I I
Having caused enough mischief to keep the Headmaster busy for the next lifetime or two, the trio settled down to begin an examination of their loot.
One of the things they'd discovered in that office was that Dumbledore had a stud book, a registry of magical lines out of which he intended to breed the wizarding public like cattle, restoring as many of the old pureblood lines as possible from the damages of inbreeding. This was to have been his new special project, only now he had no time for it.
Hermione was utterly disgusted to learn that she'd been planned for Ronald Weasley. Luna was even less enthused over being passed by entirely as 'unsuitable for breeding', but both of them were shocked at how Harry had been labeled as 'Property of Ginny Weasley'.
All of them were upset by it. The amusing thing was each saved their most powerful reactions for getting upset on behalf of the others.
"Honestly!" Harry grumbled quite angrily. "How in the name of all that's holy could Hermione, the smartest witch of her generation, end up with Ron, a good for nothing layabout with the emotional range of a teaspoon?That prick has less intelligence than those slugs he was barfing up last year! Hermione's not that stupid!"
Hermione herself was ranting in a quiet yet heated voice. "Ginny? The entire basis of that 'relationship' is farcical and horribly shallow! It's no different than young ladies who marry rich, old famous men. They only want the wealth and prestige of being attached to that fame and could care less about love. After being denied love all of his life because of Dumbledore's machinations and manipulations, Harry deserves FAR better than someone who has only lusted after him for his fame!"
"He/she is totally unsuited to you!" Harry and Hermione turned to shout to each other in unison.
That broke the moment and they laughed. Then both broke up and engulfed Luna in a double hug. "And how anyone could think you're unmarriageable is a mystery to me." Hermione reassured.
"Yeah," Harry chuckled, still holding the hug. "Personally I can't wait to prove that I DO think you are 'suitable for breeding'."
Hermione blushed and Luna laughed, the tension gone.
"That will have to wait a few years," Luna said delicately. "But I must agree with both of you that the matches planned for you by Dumbles are singularly awful. Ron is rather... unmotivated." Harry rolled his eyes and mouthed 'lazy', but Luna pretended not to notice. "Hermione is a driven girl. She's intelligent, and has a wide range of interests. She excels in high-pressure situations which require careful thought.
"Ron... well," she sighed, "he's only really interested in food, Quidditch and chess - in short, in his own pursuit of pleasure. He hates school and learning in general. Those two would never survive as a couple."
Now Luna giggled. "And now I have a dirty secret to tell, but Ginny has been playing 'Marry Harry Potter' since she was old enough to walk and listen to bedtime stories. I know. I was there. She'd decided you were the perfect husband before she knew anything about you."
"And at school she's avoided me," Harry continued. "So she knows nothing of the real me. Heck, my own personal stalker, Colin Creevey, knows me better than she does. He's actually talked to me at school. She never does."
"So we're agreed the Headmaster's ideas for matchmaking are unsuitable,"Hermione stated decisively, then smiled. "Well, that's a relief!"
Now Harry got playful, grabbing them both in renewed hugs. "Although now I'm waiting for the rumormill to get started on the fact that both of you are my fiancees. That should make for some interesting talks."
Hermione was openly smug. "Frankly, I'm hoping it will get started soon, as well. I have a few things to say to this culture they aren't going to want to hear. Still, it explains so much that Dumbledore is devoted to the principle that government by the purebloods and for the purebloods should not perish from this earth."
Luna nodded. "He wields too much power for this atmosphere of bigotry to have achieved so much influence, unless he was in favor of it."
The trio turned back to the crates and bags full of things they'd grabbed. They had a whole afternoon to spend going through the treasure trove of loot they'd taken in this and other raids. But this was barely enough time for a brief overview of the previously unexamined stack, and sadly very little of it was labeled.
With smiles, they started in.
I I I
Out of the vaults of Hogwarts they'd gotten an ancient version of those devices to move landed property. The device was a staff with a crystal globe socketed in one end of it. The difference being that the new ones filled up and that was it, whereas this ancient one could fill up a crystal ball, then switch out a full ball for a fresh one. There even came a case of landed properties in snow-globe form, in stasis, with it.
Harry was able to recognize it only because he'd been shopping for something similar. But it was the case of snow-globe properties that tipped them off this one was different.
Harry whistled, holding up the staff. "Do you know these things go for a cool fifty million? That's why wizarding properties aren't more migratory. These can actually pick up a house, orchard, farm, lake or what have you to move the whole thing elsewhere. But no one can afford one. It's cheaper to sell your house and buy a bigger one where you want to be."
"Couldn't someone buy one, then rent out their services using it for much less?" Hermione inquired.
"You're thinking like a muggle - practical. See it from their point of view for a moment - that of status obsessed glory seekers." Harry smirked, then went on instructing. "Sure, they could do that, but the only families rich enough to buy one are too proud of their breeding to stoop to creating businesses, much less perform any labor. And most of the downtrodden masses who are spineless enough suck-ups to be close enough to those families to be chosen as servants are so dishonest you put something this valuable in their hands and they'll run off with it. So the only reason to buy one of these is bragging rights, 'Aha! Look what I can do that you can't!'and all that. But, like all fads, the passion fades and they toss this stick up in an attic somewhere and forget about it. After all, you don't have a legitimate reason to move property all that often. Easier by far just to buy houses at both locations."
"Harry, I think you ought to see this." Luna, who'd been looking through the snow-globes pointed him to a shoebox full, the only ones in this collection to be labeled, and by the lack of dust, more recent than the others.
The boy went over to inspect her find and paled momentarily after looking in on them. Lifting one up to examine in the light, he scowled angrily.
"What is it?" Hermione asked innocently, concerned over what got him so upset.
"The personal possessions of the Potters, as well as countless other families either orphaned or destroyed by recent battles." Luna answered.
"We'd thought these had been destroyed along with my grandparents,"Harry retained his scowl, gently placing down one globe to pick up another. Then his expression softened. "Apparently Dumbledore's habit of being first on the scene after a murder did not start with Hagrid picking me out of the ruins of my family's cottage. He must have been showing up with this staff to collect valuable properties for years, over half a century at least."
Now wondering over what had caused his anger to abate, Hermione stepped closer to get a look at the globe he was holding that had caused his face to soften. "What is it?"
Harry glanced over to her, then smiled, handing her the globe so she could see. "Only the original Crystal Palace, built for the Great Exhibition at Hyde Park in 1851, bought by one of the previous Lord Potters when the muggles thought it was being moved to Sydenham Hill. They got a replacement while we got the original, which the Lord Potter of the time had greatly expanded for use as a greenhouse, increasing its original 990,000 square feet to over four square miles and incorporating two other of the designer's creations in its new design - including the previous Great Conservatory, which was the largest glass building in the world of its time and was heated by eight boilers using seven miles of iron pipe, and was lit at one time by twelve thousand lamps. For the muggles it was too expensive to maintain, but their attempts to demolish it with explosives concealed our acquisition of it quite nicely."
Hermione's eyes bugged out as she stared at the elaborate glass structure depicted in the round crystal in her hands.
Luna chuckled. "For a family whose fortune was based on farming, having a greenhouse of that size was a prize beyond measure. Even if they could not legally market potion ingredients, the possibilities for exotic foods and other rare delicacies would have been a very powerful advantage."
Hermione looked over to Harry again, only to see the boy shrug casually."Yes it was. We put unbreakable charms on all the glass, and used other magical methods of reducing operating costs, then got moving on to business. That was the time the fortunes of my family really started to change, when we started to truly get ahead and come out of obscurity into greatness."
Harry realized he was quoting books he'd read about his family over the summer, and that caused him to huff slightly in amusement, but he went on anyway sharing these details with his friends and hopefully future wives.
"Sir Joseph Paxton, the original designer of the Crystal Palace, was actually retained by my family for the project. He did good work for us, so we had him construct a large Neo-Renaissance English country house as our new family seat, one of the greatest built during the Victorian Era."He lifted a new globe out of the box, and both girls were startled to recognize a manor house detailed there in the style he'd been talking about.
Now it began to make sense, what he'd said about 'We'd thought these had been destroyed along with my grandparents.'
Harry was still talking, relaying information he'd learned himself just that summer. "Those were prosperous times for us, as the Crystal Palace cum greenhouse was raking in all sorts of profits from exotic fruits grown locally that none of our competitors could match.
"The showpiece central hall of our manor was 120 feet long and 60 feet high, its roof a full glass skylight. The massive library held more than 8,000 tomes. Because lavish entertaining was important back then, in addition to the private family apartments the place was built with eighty guest suites. The architect was first and foremost a gardener, and his layout of gardens, fountains, terraces and cascades left no doubt as to his ability. Such was his enthusiasm that thousands of gallons of water were needed in order to feed the myriad fountains and cascades which abounded in the Crystal Palace park. The two main jets were 250 feet high."
Harry sighed, turning away from the globe both girls were examining, where all of the details he'd been discussing were contained in miniature."But it, and the Potter family country house, was evidently stolen by Dumbledore on my grandparent's death and brought here. I'd assume he wanted to wait until enough other people had forgotten about them to bring them out as his own properties, excusing their appearance on some pretext or other."
"Here is Weasley Hall, too!" Luna cried out excitedly, pulling out another globe from the box, rather purposefully and successfully distracting Harry from his thoughts, wondering just how long Dumbledore had been an enemy to his family, and reminding him there had been other victims as well.
Successfully distracted, Harry turned to look at the ball, containing a well built manor composed mostly of wood, as suited shipbuilders, and with some amount of shock he exclaimed, "Why is it ORANGE?!?"
"Oh?" Luna lofted an eyebrow playfully. "You mean you don't know?" Seeing him shake his head 'no' she continued, "the Weasley family once owned the Chudley Cannons, didn't you know that? Actually, it's odd, they were primarily shipbuilders for the longest time. But the market for magical sailing vessels has gone down and down until they are as you see them now. I believe they even had to sell their monopoly to get by."
Hermione turned to look at Harry. "I thought you said the Weasleys were on that list of families who had farming interests stolen by Dumbledore?"
Luna chuckled brightly, answering for him. "Farming was a sideline interest for them. Only the weakest families specialize in a single area, since markets change and new laws get applied that can crush any single interest. But the general weakening of our economy caused by Dumbledore grabbing all wealth producing interests for himself has hurt any number of families."
Also seeing the value in distracting Harry from thoughts of wondering how long Dumbledore had been an enemy, Hermione grabbed something from the nearest box. Fortunately this item was labeled.
"A Pot of Plant Protection?" She blinked several times at the flower pot in her hands before reading the tag for further instructions. "It says any insect entering the pot, or alighting on a plant within it, dies if it is of a species harmful to the plant." Genuinely distracted herself now, she began reading more. "It also has instructions for how to make more of these."
Luna peered over her shoulder. "Hmm. A magical patent application includes one sample of the item, a summary of what it does, and instructions for the process by which they are made. This looks like one, although since I've never heard of this before, I'd say whoever prepared it died before they got it to the Ministry for registration. Who is it signed?"
"Edgar Bones," Hermione read. "Do you think he could be a relation to Susan?"
"Her uncle, died along with his wife and children during the last war. Many felt them to be among the greatest witches and wizards of the age,"Luna replied.
"That would explain them coming up with new inventions." Hermione looked at the pot more closely.
Neither mentioned that this pot had probably been looted from the ruins after the family's murder. And for it to have been stored here, in the school, said that looter had probably been Dumbledore. But the idea went through everyone's minds.
"We should give this to Susan," Hermione proclaimed.
"It would be worth a fortune to her family," Luna agreed softly. "Nearly every witch or wizard growing rare or valuable plants would want them, and it would make some species that are delectable to insect pests much easier to grow."
"Hold on a minute," Harry stopped them from taking the pot away to go carry out those plans immediately. He was taking notes off the label.
"Harry," Hermione scolded. "We can't hurt her by making our own. That would be wrong!"
"Susan Bones is not my enemy, nor is her Aunt Amelia," Harry answered."I would not hurt either of them. But I think I can convert this charm formula into a potion recipe."
"That's the same thing!" she insisted.
Harry stopped what he was doing to look up at her. "Oh, really? Look, if this does yield the recipe for a Potion of Plant Protection I'm not going to release that to the general public, just use it for our own interests. And before you get your panties in a twist, think a moment. Because I don't think they'll be making pots big enough to plant a dryad's tree in - and it'd make it bloody obvious what tree it was if they did."
Hermione's eyes went wide and her mouth formed a silent 'Oh'.
Even from the short amount of association they'd had with her so far, they'd learned through Trelawney that dryads regarded dangers to their trees as seriously as ordinary women viewed harm to their complexions, and insect attacks were seen much the same as ordinary women did, "Ew!BUG! Get it off!" In short, their trees were invariably well cared for, and treatments to keep them safe were as assiduously sought after as normal women sought beauty care.
Harry tapped his notes and rolled up the parchment. "Okay, that'll do it. I'm pretty sure this can convert over to a potion. And if it does, maybe I can experiment to make an everlasting version to be drunk by our favorite dryad, maybe even something ordinary seeds can be soaked in so theirs aren't the only trees in the forest untouched by harmful bugs."
Luna smiled sweetly. "Harry darling? If you do that, can you also ensure that the protection extends to wood furniture made by the dryad? I'd like to be protected from people spraying attraction serums to get bugs to migrate into my panty drawer, and moths into my clothes closet."
Hermione's eyes had gone wide as she thought over the possibilities herself. "And bookcases! Countless books get destroyed by bookworms, beetles and wasps carving up the paper to use as food or nesting material!"
"And beds," Harry agreed. "Personally, I could go the rest of my life quite happily without ever having another spider scamper over my face as I sleep."
Both girls shuddered.
Heartened by this discovery, and what it could mean for their lives, they went on cataloging what they could, until midway through the process Harry leaned back to stretch and declared, "Well, out of the loot we stole from Hogwarts during our little escape attempt, we have everything we need for our little ritual to finally free Fawkes. Everything, save for one, that is. And that last one... I don't know what we're going to do for it."
"What is it we need, Harry?"
"A live Ashwinder," he answered, shaking his head. "But they live for only a few minutes and spawn randomly out of magical fires. They are ahazard, not a pet. There are spells that can be used to keep them alive, but trade in the snakes is considered illegal, and the uses that fire serpents were once put to forgotten, so nobody bothers anymore. Getting one now... Well, I could either plant myself in a chair by a magical fire for the next couple of years and wait for one to spawn, or I could send out an offer to buy one so someone else can do the watching and waiting. But there are so few uses those beasts could be put to that it would probably tip Dumbledore off as to what we are attempting."
Fawkes the phoenix then flashed in, holding a living ashwinder in his talons that he dropped right on top of them. Harry stunned the fire serpent as part of an instantaneous reaction, then cast the spells to keep it alive as his brain rebooted soon after.
Fawkes then flashed away again, leaving the ashwinder behind.
"Call the dryads, we've got a ritual to start," Hermione quipped with a smile.
I I I
Ah, that chapter was a long time in coming, and I'm glad it's finally over and done with. The stuff they've been collecting for some time has finally started to make an appearance, and with it they can change some parts of their lives.
More will be done on this later. But for now, there are other neglected aspects that I intend to be getting back to.