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
Dumbledore was not a happy headmaster. For one thing, this year had been a continual string of crises practically from the very first day. No, even before that. On the first day of September, where normally he had the full day until dinner to put the final touch of polish on things and set a last few schemes in motion, Harry had been in a disaster with a dementor, and things had been snowballing ever since.
Blasted boy hadn't even had the decency to die of it. But no, he'd had to be rescued just as the kiss was about to claim him. Then Dumbledore had been unable to avoid helping out when the brat somehow managed to live long enough, surviving the voyage to make it to Hogwarts. The event had been worth 'Legendary Headmaster' points in the eyes of students and staff, but it had still been terribly inconvenient of the boy not to perish. And Albus' 'too little, too late' strategy for saving Harry's life had been thwarted by Miss Lovegood bringing in that unicorn to help Fawkes cure him.
Then the Muggle Dark Lord had gotten involved, and the multiple deaths and destructions of his office had begun.
Of the two, he'd much prefer the destruction of his office cease. Dying was inconvenient, but no great chore, and an excellent way of delaying old age. If he used hairs from his sixty-year-old body to grow a new one for himself, what he got was his sixty-year-old self back. He'd then shave to have more sixty year old hairs. And, following the advice of his previous Headmasters, he'd then regrow the beard and color it so as to fit the 'kindly old gentleman' mold they'd had him shape for his public image.
However, as he stared at his much reduced wardrobe (his clothes having been destroyed several times, along with his office and personal quarters), trying to select an outfit for the day, a certain boundary was crossed and Dumbledore was not even aware of it.
For weeks now, ever since the disappearance of Trelawney and the first destruction of his office, Albus had been without certain control measures he'd once used on himself. Other priorities had always leapt higher to his mind and his comforting routine kept getting shoved further and further in the background as emergency after emergency demanded more of his attention.
Dumbledore was a monster, incapable of feeling pity, compassion or remorse, and he only kept his true self at bay by taking regular doses of a cocktail of potions including a special draught of cheering charms. It was because of this he was perfectly able to fake the image of a kindly grandfather.
However, those special lemon drops had been destroyed in the first fire, and Albus had not had time to replace them since. He'd been too busy to ask, and Snape too busy to fill that order in any case.
Dumbledore himself was too busy dealing with the explosion of emergencies to give the matter any thought. Indeed, his normal routine had been so disrupted that without the portraits of previous headmasters there to remind him that matter had entirely slipped his mind.
Exasperating this issue was the lack of drama coaching from those same portraits to reinforce his act. His reliance on these had been most extreme, and they had been gone for a while now.
Between the lack of dosed lemon drops, lack of current advice from those invaluable portraits, the destruction of multiple wardrobes combined with his natural dislike of the hideously colorful and expensive robes they made him wear (although, stealing money from Harry and other orphans to pay for them had done a lot to make him fonder of those colorful robes, in spite of hating the brightness of the offensive garments), Albus, in the stress of the moment, chose an old yet simple outfit for practical reasons, not thinking about the long term consequences, just concerned about something to wear.
It was a simple outfit, basic black with a top hat, cape and an old fashioned frock coat, the kind of thing people had been wearing, with perhaps a bit more color, during his youth. In his early years as a man he'd often seen men dressed thus, and envied them their fine apparel and obvious prosperity. So it was with considerable spiritual relief that he slipped into a black waistcoat to finish off the ensemble.
This was what successful men wore.
Staring at his new self in the mirror, Albus then decided to shave off what ragged remnants were left after Hagrid chopped short his beard. Luckily his mustache had not been touched, so he left that alone, styling it as a long, pencil-thin handlebar mustache he dyed black and twirled - just as the dashing men out of his memories had done.
Dumbledore, due to bad luck, had forgotten to take his potions wrinkling his skin and whitening his hair after his latest revival. Sixty was quite young for a wizard, actually, equivalent to a muggle half his age. But, as he looked at himself so young and vital, Albus couldn't help but admire his reflection.
His hair was cropped short soon after to even out the damage Hagrid had done to his coiffeur, leaving him, though he did not know it, a picture-perfect stereotype archvillain of the early melodramas. A simple, straight up, black hat, tie-you-to-the-train-tracks, 'Soon-my-electro death ray-will-destroy-Metropolis!'kind of bad guy.
The odd thing was, it wasn't so much bad luck causing him to dress and act like Snidely Whiplash as the lack of advice from those portraits and the destruction of several sets of his regular garments. Dumbledore had always had this style of outfit lurking deep in the back of his closet, because this was the sort of clothing he'd always wanted to wear.
It spoke to his personality, and now he didn't have previous Headmasters and Headmistresses telling him not to.
The mandrake restorative had done much to correct the damage left over from a few failed revivals. However, though he was less of a melted wax figure of a man, Dumbledore still had a slight hunch to his back that had him leaning over. Still, he didn't give it any thought, constantly rubbing his hands together, enjoying the feel of his tight, youthful skin.
His face was still a bit pinched from leftover damage, giving him abit of an odd, lopsided leer, but it wasn't worth dealing with at this time (this decision was MOST CERTAINLY a result of terribly Bad luck!)so Albus Dumbledore left his quarters to greet the day wearing standard villain attire from an era when tying maidens to railroad tracks was the norm, and muttering under his breath, "I hate the Colonel with his wee beady eyes!"
Sadly for Dumbledore, he was too preoccupied with his thoughts to notice that he was scaring muggleborn children in the halls as he passed them on his way to breakfast. He didn't even catch McGonagall's startled reaction when he took the Headmaster's chair, or the staff's muttering over his new look; one or two of them even discretely casting charms to confirm his identity.
No, he was wondering (not for the first time) if he could dispose of some of his enemies by preparing for them some sort of elaborate death trap - something slow so he could savor their fear as they met their demise.
I I I
Harry received a book of personal grooming spells in the mail, partly because he wanted Dumbledore to still think he was watching what The Boy Who Lived learned, but also because he wanted to know them.
Some dark wizards, notably the Malfoy family, were big into personal hygiene. Most weren't, and Tom Riddle had learned only the basics.
Suddenly Hermione broke down crying, interrupting his reverie. When questioned why, she replied, "It just struck me, I'm never going to see my family again. Well, I suppose I could arrange to meet them somewhere magical. But, since they aren't magic and I am we'll be living in two different worlds now. Things will never be the same!" the bushy haired girl wailed.
Luna instantly hugged her, while making a dismissive shrug. "Pish tosh!You won't even notice anything is missing. We'll just have to arrange somethings."
"What things?" Hermione looked up from her despondency, somehow sure that when Luna said she had a good answer, she had it.
Luna lit up her face with a smile. "The right sort of illegal things. Our Ministry legislates more magic out of existence every year, but one of my cousins, a Commander Caratacus Pott, has exactly what you're looking for. Back in 1964 he invented the first magic car, perhaps you've heard of it? It is rather famous, you probably know its name: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It flies and transforms into a boat and does all sorts of wonderful things. He gave me a number of rides in it on our family vacations when I was a girl. Anyway, our Ministry responded by creating the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Department and gradually passed a series of laws making it and anything like it illegal - it was Arthur Weasley who wrote the last of them, driving the final nail in the coffin of that branch of magic, in spite of him personally loving it. But Cousin Pott, when they started persecuting him, simply emigrated to America where they are much more free about those things. He started a business that's made him fabulously wealthy producing magical equivalents to most muggle devices. He invented the Wizarding Wireless Network, among other things. Even our Ministry, hypocritical fools the lot of them, import their specially enchanted Ministry cars from him- a man they drove out of business here in England. I can just floo good Cousin Pott and he'll set your family up in fine style so you'll never need to fear popping by for a visit, and they won't notice much if any difference from the regular quality of their normal lives!"
Privately thinking about the odd sort of things most magicians considered'normal', and about the Lovegood family in particular, Hermione and Harry both felt it quite likely they'd notice.
But, it was Hermione's family, after all. They loved her, and seeing as how they were willing to send her off to magical school for most of each year, it seemed likely they'd be willing to put up with a few oddities to have her back.
Also, say what you will about their lack of common sense, the magical world had the most amazing conveniences. Her family wouldn't suffer. In fact, though strangeness would increase, their quality of life could only improve.
"You'll want to set them up outside of England," Harry cautioned. "Maybe get them a place not far from Sirius. The Ministry here is going to get very anti-us the moment they figure out what we're doing, and we don't need them to have a convenient target with an already ready-made excuse to hurt them. I would much rather get your family out of the blast zone for this war, to be honest; and if it's anything like the last one, it's going to encompass all of Europe. But I can understand you'll want to keep them close."
"Funny," Hermione hiccuped, wiping away the evidence of her tears. "I recall signing up for a mission to save the fairy race from extinction. Nothing about saving the European magical world got mentioned."
Eyes still slightly red from her tears, Hermione gave Luna a grateful smile. "And you always seem to have the most interesting relatives. Tell me, how is it that the muggle world knows of so many of your relations?"
Luna shrugged. "We Lovegoods have always been closer to muggles than most wizards. It dates back to before the Battle of Hastings when so many different kingdoms dotted these isles, and we were royalty of one of them. In fact, our relationship to the fairy realm dates back to the same period, when a number of fairies came to the Christening of one of my ancestresses- Queen Aurora, although you probably know her as Sleeping Beauty. Anyway, being their rulers we naturally had to know about the muggle side of things, and that has led to many close links since. In fact, most of our squibs have gone on to become blacksmiths or engineers. We've had many technical family members because of it. Where do you think our printing press came from? The expertise to create such a thing doesn't appear out of nowhere."
Hermione couldn't help it and broke down in giggles, wondering, "Is there ANY fairy tale you don't have a relation to?" she laughed.
Luna's reply was completely serious. "None of the accurate ones."
The emergency dealt with, the trio all sat down for breakfast where they were presently staying at the Lovegood Home, having established it as one of their non-Normal Day locations. Apparently Luna's father thought nothing odd about her being home and at school at the same time, and had left to go printing while Luna served them all omelettes.
Harry started eating right away, but Hermione eyed hers carefully, judging calories. "How many eggs are in this omelette?"
"None," Luna remarked calmly.
Hermione raised her head in confusion. "So, you used an egg substitute then? I didn't know the magical world had any."
"Oh, no." Luna hurried to reassure. "It's all genuine egg."
"But you just said there weren't any," the bookworm protested.
"I'm so terribly sorry." The blonde's innocent face was a picture of remorse. "I didn't mean to confuse. You asked how many eggs, and the only number I know of less than one is none. None of us have a full egg. It was too big."
The brunette grumbled something about teaching her fractions, but then asked, "Did you expand one, then? You ought to know it isn't good to use those sorts of charms on food. It does bad things for your nutrition."
Luna felt she'd just been scolded about putting her panties on backwards."Of course I know that, Hermione. I was magic-raised," she informed her good friend, a bit frostily.
Harry simply listened as he ate, content to let them argue if they wanted, as neither Harry nor Tom Riddle had much background in resolving fights- and he didn't want to use Tom's method of simply crushing all resistance.
Hermione felt a touch of chagrin. "So, it was a very large egg, then?You didn't use a dragon egg, did you?"
"No." Luna shook her head, taking another bite of omelette.
"What is it called, then?" the bookworm inquired, concerned about the health benefits of continuing to eat unknown food.
"Humpty Dumpty," Luna answered primly.
Hermione goggled at the news. Harry choked.
Luna went on to brightly explain, "He's a sucker for sitting on walls, and as you all know there is a sucker born every minute. Of course, a minute is a bit of an imprecise time measurement in Wonderland, where one might go on for weeks, or happen three times a second. But still that leaves us plenty of egg as he is constantly falling off those walls he's a sucker for sitting on. By now grandmother Alice has taught everyone to set a pan under him, so when all the king's horses and all the king's men are trying to put him back together again, they can start on his shell (which they never can finish) while we can be frying up the rest. We eat a lot of egg in Wonderland, but he is far too much for one person, so we tend to split him among whole dinner parties."
"And ALL of them are named Humpty Dumpty?" Hermione stressed, no longer sure if she should even be disbelieving of all of this anymore.
"Well, what else would you call an egg that sits on walls?" Luna asked, honestly confused. "We have to call him that. He insists! It wouldn't be proper not to, and the agreements are all with him, so if it weren't he, the king's horses wouldn't get their puzzle practice in."
"The king's horses?" Harry asked, his tone having gone a bit confused.
"The king's men have gone on to doing crosswords on his shell, since they never could get him assembled right. But the horses are still trying,"Luna explained calmly in a way that made her sound quite rational indeed."Having hooves makes it a great deal more difficult, naturally. So we had to give them all suction-cups. They quite like them."
Harry hung his face into his palms. "If my sanity asks, I was never here."
"I'll put you on the list," Luna nodded brightly. "That's actually quite a common occurrence in Wonderland. So much so that people have taken to hiring sanities as door-to-door salesmen, so they can sell foot-powder and brushes while they look for people. But of course the people always hide."
The other two boggled. Luna had a way of behaving so rationally and reasonably about her occasional bouts of craziness that they made one wonder who was the one insane.
And, considering the fact that she could back up her observances with the occasional actual Cheshire Cat or Wonderland critter, perhaps she wasn't the loony one after all.
One had to consider: she'd grown up spending part of her youth in Wonderland. To her this was an actual place, filled with things so fantastic that anormal child was considered a mythical beast, and more than just a place, it was her grandmother's home. To her, this was not a work of fiction or historical nonsense, but a real world she'd been in, populated with people and creatures she knew, had met with and played with.
The rules were different there, but so what? The rules at school were different from the rules at home, or at work. Different rules were nothing extraordinary. It's just, Wonderland did different better than most, and it had colored her perceptions of the rest of reality a bit.
Seeing their looks, Luna giggled, "I've heard of sanity, but I've never had much use for it. Too many crazy people practice it for my tastes!"
Harry couldn't help but think of the Dursleys.
I I I
Having granted the Weasley Twins Percy's prefect badge, his hair and a bit of polyjuice gave not just a moment's satisfaction, but an ongoing threat to the stability of Hogwarts castle that Dumbledore would have to deal with as not just one, but a continual string of emergencies.
Granting the Twins ideas like that was just terrible. For one thing, they obtained the list of things Snape had taken points away from other Houses for, and then went about the school taking those same number of points away from Slytherin students stating Those Same Reasons!
Taking twenty points away from Slytherin's top scoring student for "being an insufferable know-it-all" was only the beginning of this, and caused the girl no end of shock, outrage and indignation, flooing her parents at once.
On the surface of it this was petty revenge. Deeper down this was probably the most successful protest ever made against that teacher's actions, as any attempt to examine this 'unfair treatment' ran into the uncrossable wall that was Snape's precedent of having done the exact same thing for those same reasons and gone on doing it without reprimand for years.
So, either this was perfectly acceptable (which it wasn't) or... well, you couldn't punish the student for doing as the professor did until or unless you'd punished the professor himself for setting that bad an example.
It created a legal hemorrhage in Hogwarts, as there was no way the pureblood elites in Slytherin were going to put up with the same abuse and punishments they'd heaped on everyone else - but they couldn't stop it so long as Snape was protected and still doing those same things.
Either it was acceptable, or it wasn't. And now it was coming back to face the purebloods that if this was fair to do to some people, it was fair to do it to anyone - including their own children.
They couldn't be openly unfair - too much. Everything they did with prejudice at its base had to have some other kind of polite covering over it, and this one did have that right up until it got used against them. Now they faced the choice of ripping that cover off and exposing the unfairness so they could eliminate it (which would cost them their rights to do it to others in this particular fashion) or leave it and ignore it and let it hurt their children.
Either choice was completely unacceptable to purebloods, and they'd blame Dumbledore for putting them in this position or not having resolved it earlier.
That could cost him clout and political capitol in a way that him getting away with murder behind closed doors didn't. Not even the great blow up with France over his outright act of war upset his power base to this extreme- all from a bit of prank by two Weasleys.
And the Twins weren't even remotely done causing trouble yet.
It all having been done using Percy's face and badge, though, was going to cause the insufferable prat no end of trouble himself, and the brown-nosing sycophant was going to be receiving hell from Dumbledore soon.
I I I
Hogwarts collected ancient magic items like the Louvre collected art. This included countless old books, libraries of previous headmasters and staff who'd died without heirs (rather a lot of them, really), or outsiders who left their belongings 'To Hogwarts'. Anything too precious to integrate into the general collection wound up down in the vaults. Sometimes collections got neglected just because the custodian didn't have the time to look them over and include them, so forgotten collections accumulated over the years.
Filch, the caretaker, hadn't looked even once at that mess since he'd gotten the job. Looking at old relics reminding him of the magic he couldn't use hadn't interested him in the slightest.
That stuff had been building up for a millennia and had recently been added to in prodigious amounts by the Headmaster concealing thefts of goods from magical families getting extinguished in the last two wars. Only it had all been stolen away by Luna's cards (one of whom was the Knave of Hearts, who was really rather gifted at stealing, actually - tarts especially).
The amazing Lionskin of Hercules was among them - and it was a ragged mess, having been worn by countless wizards, villains and would-be heroes through thousands of magical battles. The skin was never as invulnerable as muggle tales made it seem, so it was chewed to ribbons and subject to countless stains across the millennia. Although, that the scrap of nearly hairless leather had survived at all through that period of intense wear and tear spoke a magnificent testimony for just how durable it really was.
Hermione stumbled across it opening a box, lifting out the ragged wad of leather confetti and wrinkling her nose at it before dropping what looked to be bits of shredded cleaning rag horribly stained beyond recognition back into the container, and picking up a card that was in the box with it.
When she'd read what it said she fainted.
Harry and Luna both looked over her to make sure she was alright, found the card and read it, then smiled wickedly to each other.
"Do you think?" Luna asked, letting the substance hang.
"Hermione did it in our second year, using hairs from Millicent's cat."Harry replied with his own smirk firmly in place. "It stuck her halfway, though."
"We are fey, power is innate within us and transformation is one of our most distinct gifts. I'm sure we could complete the change. We've got the energy to do that and turn back," she replied.
"I'll order some more polyjuice. This is just too good to miss," Harry grinned.
Luna lofted an eyebrow. "None of your own?"
"Still mixing. Those stewed lacewing flies take twenty eight days, and I'm not even close. We'd be forced to wait almost a month for my own batch."
"It might be better," the blonde nodded. "We shall see."
I I I
Yes, they have just launched an ambitious project that, they hope, will land with them being lion animagi - Nemean Lions, specifically, which Iknow has not been done before. Not invulnerable, but certainly tougher than your average bear.