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
Gilderoy Lockhart proved his worth once again. The man had a fan club who genuinely believed he was some sort of great hero. They loved him. More important, they TRUSTED him! They believed him and believed IN him!They were, in a word, loyal to the man.
It was time for the trio to start making use of that.
Through him, they invited a large number of witches and wizards to parties, a meet and greet situation for his fan club. This was normal. Only in this case they would be having Frank and Alice Longbottom there to conduct private, secret interviews. At these parties Lockhart would invite a few persons aside at a time privately to share a cup of tea (laced on their end with a drop or so of veritaserum) and blending in as part of the conversation the aurors would be asking certain questions, determining if this was the sort of person they wanted in the new town, obliviating those they didn't.
Those people selected would be offered a chance to move to Godric's Hollow, even provided a short explanation for why Lockhart personally endorsed the town, why he felt it was needed, and with very reasonable terms for moving and then living there. Even jobs would be offered where appropriate.
Those who declined for whatever reason could, again, be obliviated so they did not go sharing details before they were ready to spread.
They could, using this method, select the best out of what was available in his fan club in Britain. Which, considering how popular the man was, should easily be enough to fill up the four hundred homes Harry expected to build.
It would just take months to do all this sifting; although they did offer the very attractive (to his fans) incentive that Lockhart himself would have a residence in this town. What made this especially appealing was that he could offer, by living there, a certain shadow of protection- just like Dumbledore cast over Hogwarts. He's there, so it must be safe!Right?
They'd have to work that man HARD so he didn't spoil his image when the time came, just because they couldn't afford that illusion to be shattered.
Getting all the moving and shuffling done secretly would be the hard part, but there they had another advantage in that Lockhart's fans were generally not the type who fell into either Dark Lord's groups of followers. Both Albus and Tom primarily targeted those who had influence and power. The purebloods personified both, and were not particularly interested in a halfblood hero. So Lockhart's followers were generally solid members of the working class, and nobody could ask for a better type to create a town out of.
For added incentive, and to excuse all the secrecy with which this was being conducted, Harry authorized his people to reveal that Harry himself would be taking up residence in this town, partly for the same reasons they were.
All the magical world knew that Harry had been kept under utmost secrecy virtually his entire life. They also generally knew of the recent scandals over how horribly he'd been treated; so a move for him seemed only natural, and what better place than to a magic community where magical people could look over and care for him, rather than those beastly Dursleys?
No, once things were explained in those terms people could accept the need for secrecy at once. They were privileged, being let in on one of the great secrets of their time. Lockhart was personally taking over care of the boy hero in the town where his parents had dwelt, and they were being trusted to assist him, becoming the neighbors and community the boy needed.
This would, in most English witches or wizards, ignite the fires of fanaticism.
That was good. Channeled correctly it could carry them a long way, and make most of the restrictions they insisted on seem that much more reasonable."You want to check my arm every month for a Dark Mark? Well, of COURSE!You should do that to EVERY person who enters the town where Harry lives!"
No, the combination of Harry and Lockhart was worth so much more than just the front page of a newspaper. Thick wards and paranoid security were seen in a very favorable light given those circumstances. No one knew what sort of remnants of dark followers were still out there, but everyone just accepted that Harry needed protecting (because he'd always been protected, on the word of some very trustworthy people), so a thickly defended town for him to grow up in seemed downright reasonable! Even NECESSARY!
And it was not just security they would be dealing with. Harry intended to compensate the residents for all the secrecy and danger by making Godric's Hollow an ideal magical community, adding parks, libraries, their own hospital, the works. This would be a covenant community where people swore oaths to inhabit it, and breaking those meant expulsion. Town residents would even be involved in a 'neighborhood watch' program, along with a mutual defense pact and effectual training. So it seemed fair to compensate with extra perks.
They would even build their own school. Hermione suggested they call it an adult education center, or something more devious like a gym, where adults could pick up training they'd missed the first time - like how to cast a decent shield, and so on, or kids could get an early start. Luna suggested they make it like a club that only community members could join. That sounded not only reasonable, but made it a privilege, so they went with that.
Gilderoy's tutors would be among the first teachers.
Harry altered and expanded the town plans to put several manors around the perimeter so they would have wide, protected grounds sheltering the rest of the community. From the outside they would start with an outer ring of manors, like the Bones or Potter manors that each required a lot of space, then a ring of farms to feed the community, then a hard nugget of houses in which most of the people would live, and at the very center a small castle to house most of the public resources, like the school, library and hospital. And the castle could also house a chapel, and thus have their church bells.
The fun thing was each layer could then be protected by its own distinct set of wards, different from the others in subtle yet important ways.
Harry had put up wards equal to what Tom Riddle could do. It was difficult to bypass those, as they were generally quite good. However, the trouble with that was that Tom, along with a selection of his more skilled followers, were among those who could get through them. They knew that style, and how to predict the traps and cracks through those defenses. So even if he stopped Tom himself or marked Death Eaters from accessing the flows to disrupt them, they still had the key and knowing the style could easily teach someone else to open the wards up for them.
A person like Bill Weasley under Imperious would be ideal.
Ideally, the trio would be able to add another layer of wards around Godric's Hollow so there would be a layer those enemies couldn't easily anticipate. How to find a person to do top quality warding was a good question, however.
Goblin wards were out. The problem with goblin made wards was that goblins could always bypass them, and would do so the first instant they felt like it. They'd even hire out for the right price and bring down those wards for less than the price paid to create them. And worse, goblin made wards were always built to take down not only themselves, but any other wards you had connected to them when they fell. So if the goblins sold you out, you were defenseless - and they WOULD sell you out to the highest bidder, first chance they got. They'd done it before, during previous conflicts.
And bids didn't have to be money. Bids could be along the lines of,'I won't destroy you if you do this' which was Tom's favorite offer.
Goblin wards were set primarily for goblin purposes, and those purposes did not always include protection of the people on the property being warded. In fact, they rarely did, and not for long even in those cases.
So goblin wards were out, as were any set by goblin employees, for those same reasons. Those employees often didn't even know why their employers would insist on having certain ward sets worked into the network, they just did as they were told.
The dwarves had fallen far enough they no longer had anyone who could cast their old, legendary sets of racial wards. So they were no assistance.
The other great ward caster of their time, Albus Dumbledore, was also completely unacceptable. Even if they could get his cooperation, he'd subvert the ward schemes toward his own purposes for the same reasons as the goblins. And he'd never let one of his own wards keep him out.
The Ministry had their own ward experts on call, but those people were just running their own businesses and were no more trustworthy than any other salesman or contractor, which was to say not much. Even in rare cases when they could not be bribed, threatened, deceived or forced to give up the ward secrets, their minds could always be read for them, and both Albus and Tom had people who could do that, quite easily and thoroughly too.
No, the BEST way to do it would be to train up a few ward experts who could then be induced to live in the town they protected. And that was, perhaps surprisingly, fairly simple to do. All they really had to do was catch a few recent graduates of Hogwarts who'd failed to get the jobs they'd expected before the poor halfbloods or muggleborns emigrated to greener pastures in other countries. Pay for their training, and you had the right people. They could, and would, find Healers for the hospital and other specialists for their secured village the same way.
Only trouble was, it would take a few years for them to be really good at it.
I I I
Fred and George Weasley's response revealed they would've been motivated even without the money, "Really? You mean we get to break into people's houses to prank them, and they're OKAY with this?!?"
"Actually, they'll PAY you for this," Hermione responded with a wry smirk. "Through us, anyway. Part of their rents will be going to fund this, to teach these people to use their homes' security features. Five galleons per house invaded when you prank the occupants."
Jaws dropped, then eyes sparkled. Malicious grins formed.
They'd have done it without the money. But, of course, the money made them downright fanatics. The twins had a prank business to build, and that wasn't cheap, even with access to school supplies.
Very quickly, the Fey Trio became VERY busy on 'Normal Days' mixing up prank items for the twins to use in anticipation of the town being ready.
Dwarven stonemasons worked fast, building about as quickly as humans did with wood; and that meant large teams, highly motivated (which these were) could throw up Harry's villas, even with all of the features he'd demanded, in about three days apiece. Since there was a surprisingly large unemployed population of dwarves they could afford to have several teams working at once, making perhaps twenty of those villas simultaneously.
Godric's Hollow began to take shape very quickly, added structures and all. The dwarves informed Harry they expected the bulk of his village to be ready for habitation in two months, and they'd like payment promptly at that time, thank you very much.
Since the castle would probably take that much time by itself, Harry had no problems paying those workers early, at the halfway point for the entire job. It wasn't like they wouldn't have earned it, and he could understand why they would want to get to work building their own lives up again quickly. Besides, it wasn't like the played-out mine he was offering had cost him anything. He'd gladly give them another to finish the job, if that was what they wanted.
But the reason the dwarves were working so fast was in their eagerness to get a home, and that was certainly something he could understand.
The first of Lockhart's fan-greet parties would be held after the first week of construction, and the move-in's started the week after. The twins could not be restrained, in their eagerness, and would be pranking soon after that.
And, of course as might be expected, the people who lived in Godric's Hollow soon became equally motivated to keep them OUT.
Not long after they started, certain conversations could be heard in the pub Harry owned in town. of which the following would be a sadly typical example:
"Ok, that was really tiresome," one wizard groused. "I smelled like limburger cheese for two weeks. Next time, I'm actually going to check the Foe Glass."
"Limburger?" his companion scoffed. "Why that's nothing! My bottom was a glowing green that could be seen right through my robes. I couldn't step foot outside for fear of flashing the neighbors."
"Oh, so you think YOU'VE had it hard?" one wizard with elephant tusks asked as he used his long snout to pick up his glass. "They hit me with a new one yesterday, and this silly elephant curse hadn't worn off yet!"
"What was the new one?" his drinking companions inquired.
The man suddenly blushed. "Never you mind. I've got business at home I ought to be attending to."
As the man stood up to leave, they could see his pants were soaking wet and immediately recognized the distinct smell of an incontinence curse.
"Almost worse than the Death Eaters, those two," the wizards turned back to their drinks, muttering unhappily after Scourgifying the chair.
I I I
Amelia Bones was nobody's fool.
Recent events had also caused her to reexamine things in her life and world more closely. Back in the Ministry there was a new administration, and a new Minister, but it was hard not to think of him as the Second Coming of Fudge. Same errors, same incompetence, different face.
Dumbledore was still very much the man in charge, and being aware that the head of their government was a traitor to their people was almost more of a burden than Amelia Bones could bear.
However, given that stimulus, it was hardly surprising that she noticed a secret trend going on with middle class wizarding families quitting jobs and selling their houses, moving out of sight. Nor had it taken her long to track this migration down, so she'd arrived in time for Harry's great entry speech, welcoming people to their town, and to the young lad's astonishment she was waiting for him as he left the stage.
"You and I should talk," the head of the DMLE told him bluntly.
"Everything here is perfectly legal... mostly," Harry, to his own surprise, wilted under the experienced auror's gaze, squeaking out the last word guiltily despite not meaning to.
"Glad to hear it," she told him, taking his arm and leading him off to a private nook where they could chat. "Perhaps I can help you with the rest. But first, there are some things we should discuss."
Setting the boy down out of sight of the crowds while Lockhart stepped forward and gave his speech (considerably longer than Harry's) Amelia loomed over the boy and stared him in the face. "Okay, start talking. You just said you built this town to survive the upcoming wars. What do you mean?What wars?"
"Isn't it obvious?" Harry shot back pleasantly, unruffled by her mannerisms. Leaning back, he told her, "Right now we've got the Dark Lord Dumbledore ruling over us and squashing all resistance, and he only just announced over the Wireless that he'll be bringing back Voldemort as a distraction. That sounds an awful lot like war to me."
Amelia's face revealed nothing of her feelings, so Harry began to reach into his bookbag he carried with him. "If you don't believe me about Dumbledore, I have a paper here you can read..."
"I've read it," she declared, her face softening as she saw him start to withdraw a copy of the last issue of the Prophet. Now she at least knew where this movement had come from. And, come to think of it, she agreed with the principle.
If the Ministry of Mismanagement won't defend you (and it wouldn't)the only thing left to do was to protect yourself, and perhaps your neighbors. With a sigh, she stopped invading the boy's personal space and began explaining,"Albus invaded the Ministry and obliviated me, then took command of my troops - command which he's kept ever since. He had my aurors collect the copies of that they came across, but put me in charge of their destruction. I reread one and remembered, so instead of destroying them I saved every copy for use later."
Harry frowned in concentration, nodding along with her. The House Elves had done much the same at Hogwarts. They had collected newspapers inside of the castle, but had not destroyed them. Those had gotten captured and removed by the escaping forces, and now were in Harry's possession. "That reminds me, Dumbledore cannot as easily control people who are on their guard against him. So we should reverse the Obliviates performed on people who move into Godric's Hollow, so they can recall that day of terror where Dumbledore set our own government's aurors against them. We can also have any who have not yet read the last issue of the Daily Prophet read it, and make sure each house has their own copy as a permanent reference."
He looked up at her gladly and shrugged. "Depriving an enemy of willing converts from among your ranks is generally a very good thing to do. Also, a healthy distrust of your enemy helps build solidarity against a common foe. We already have that against Voldemort, but it saves so much trouble to put people on guard against BOTH their foes so there won't be nasty surprises later, down the road."
The woman's eyebrows had risen during this discourse. "You can reverse Obliviates?"
Harry met her eyes and nodded. "How to do it was in a book that fell out of the Headmaster's window on the day we tried escaping from Hogwarts."
The woman rubbed her brow. "You and I need to have a longer chat than I thought. WHAT escape from Hogwarts?!"
Harry smiled and began to explain. Then, getting a better idea, he dragged her to where he had a pensieve and showed her instead.
At the conclusion Amelia's monocle fell out of her face.
Rubbing her eyes, she declared, "You sure perform well under fire, kid."And she'd never before believed that she'd be granting what was probably her highest compliment to a thirteen-year-old. "So, most of you are legally Beauxbatons students?"
"Legally," he agreed. "But you saw what happened."
"On French territory, too. An outright act of war." She whistled. "You're right to be so concerned. I knew he'd taken over the Ministry by force, but this... he doesn't recognize many rules, does he?"
Harry shook his head. "None but his own, which exist for his own purposes."
The Head of the DMLE clapped a hand to his shoulder. "Alright, Potter. You've got the best thing going, and it's worth backing. I'll help you."
"You might want to live here, too," Harry told her. "It's safer that way."
But the woman shook her head. "Couldn't afford the house. Susan's fees are so high, and I don't belong to any of the bribe-circles at work, so I can barely manage the place I've got. These are shaping up to be enormous."
The boy laughed. "THAT'S not a concern!"
Before she could announce that she wasn't taking bribes from him or anyone the boy had already rummaged into that bookbag of his and pulled out a snow globe, putting it into her hands. "The Bones family manor. Dumbledore stole probably a hundred family estates during the last war, my own among them. But I've got a staff that can restore it to full size, and we've already plotted for manor lots to surround the town proper."
Amelia took the globe reverently, staring at it with a sort of sad smile and tears forming at the corners of her eyes and she recalled her childhood home, and what it could mean to Susan to live there. "Yes, Harry. I thank you very much. That would be perfect. Although," here she rolled her eyes,"I may have to sell off some of the relics inside to pay the estate tax."
Harry's grin grew even wider. "Now that shouldn't be a problem, either!"He then set in her hands, alongside the cherished orb she wasn't quite willing to put down yet, the original Bones Plant Pot magical patent application.
"I was thinking one of the industries of this town would be to create these, and since the patent rightly belongs to your family..." He trailed off, obviously enjoying the woman's emotional extremes.
Amelia's face became a maternal smile. "You know, at this rate I may find my family so indebted to you the only way I could repay your kindness would be to grant you Susan as a wife. I'm near that point now."
"Ah, uhm. I'm already taken." Harry blushed.
"Oh?" the woman raised an eyebrow. "So, you're strictly a two-woman guy?"
Harry gaped at her.
It was all Amelia could do not to appear TOO smug. "Oh, at your school no one seems to have reacted to Miss Granger and Miss Lovegood's announcements of being engaged to you. It's possible that everyone is so distracted that the news simply hasn't sunk in. But sooner or later the fervor that's been going on in the rest of the wizarding world will reach there. And I assure you, there is no hotter topic in our world just now."
Harry tried to delicately pass it off. "Oh, we're expecting Ginny, Ron, and especially Albus Dumbledore are going to start trying to break our contracts."
Amelia shrugged. "Well, in that case I can do you a favor. The Wizengamot runs on a system privilege and influence, and your current fiancees have neither, leaving you open to that attack you fear. Having myself as a family member would cause half the Wizengamot to be more cautious about costing you your current fiancees. So, rather than see you lose both, I'll grant you one more. Consider yourself engaged to Susan, nephew-in-law."
Harry gaped again.
"After all, you did exert yourself in a situation of great danger to try and save Hufflepuff House all because my niece asked you to." The woman enjoyed teasing him in his distress. "That's so noble and chivalrous that I just HAVE to provide her hand in marriage to the dashing young hero to carry out her wish! The task certainly more than warrants her hand in response."
The little boy squirmed miserably. That tradition of 'carry out a great deed to prove yourself worthy to marry the girl' theme so prevalent in fairy tales was far from a dead tradition in magical society. No longer popular to do, as it cost so many young lovers their lives, but not unknown either - and almost expected of a hero such as him.
The woman laughed.
She forbore, but both thought the phrase, 'And didn't she reward you with a kiss? By the Old Rules, a kiss was as good as an declaration of engagement.'
That threw a great deal of weight behind her earlier joke of her being almost required to engage him to her niece. The formula of 'girl gave task, guy did heroic deed, got kiss, married and lived happily ever after' was the epitome of romantic among witches. And, while far from mandatory, if she phrased it right before the courts it'd be legally binding.
In fact, if he were to put his engagement to Hermione in terms of 'saved her life from a troll, plan to get married as reward' the crusty old geezers in the Wizengamot would be far less likely to contest it, as if flew so close to the actual tradition reflected in the fairy tales: Saved a maiden?Marry her. But applying that formula would bind him inescapably to Susan as well.
The only thing preventing the same formula from applying to Ginny was that she'd never laid her lips on him, and Hermione had (if only recently).
Harry almost mentioned that he wasn't even the same race as Susan anymore, but then plenty of fairy dalliances, and even marriages, to humans flitted across his mind. And he wasn't anywhere close to ready to divulge that secret yet!
Besides, the woman was probably kidding.
But Amelia wasn't finished crowing yet, "Besides, I almost HAVE to marry you off to Susan! With our society in tumult a girl needs all the stability she can get, and I can't even name a wizard twice her age who is half as well set to weather our current crises as you. Plus, after what you said about creating a magical shopping mall using your 'one roof' concession, and owning your own magical town, supporting one extra wife won't be aproblem for you. So we'd be fools to let you get away. You're just too good a catch. Besides, and this is what to me is the important part: Iknow my niece likes you that way."
Harry cringed. He'd forgotten he'd mentioned to Hermione and Luna what those Wizengamot concessions actually meant to him in that memory she'd just viewed of the Hogwarts escape. And he'd also made reference to the beast concession.
It wouldn't take a woman like Amelia long before she connected what he'd admitted getting out of the 'sell things' concession and him having exulted over the beast thing. And when she did she'd learn he had the potential to be the start of one of the wealthiest families in England.
Then, looking in her eyes, it was clear she already knew.
I I I
I find I was doing Hermione a grave disservice: as an author's device I need to have someone to explain things to in a reasonable tone of voice, and though I could excuse it originally, I fear I can no longer keep Hermione in that role. That girl is too smart to stay ignorant. Before this I've used the 'blind-sided' ploy to say that, brilliant as she is, the bookworm is ignorant of these areas. But, as we all know, Hermione does not permit herself to stay uninformed for long, and she has already been playing catch up.
I can either be untrue to her character and deny her that growth we all know she deserves, keeping her down so I have my writing tool, or Ican let her spring free of my restrictions and be that character we all know she is.
Put that way my choice must be obvious.
So, I find myself in dire need of someone to fill the Watson role, the person who hangs out with the genius in order to have all of the brilliant deductions explained to him/her, so they can, by this device, be told to the reader. And, and here is the kicker, they have to be someone close enough to be let in on all of the main character's secrets.
Oh, and much as I dealt with the Escape From Hogwarts story arc by dealing with Dumbledore's perspective first, then going back to cover the same period from the trio's point of view, this chapter is the few weeks it took to get the town going. The next ought to be their other projects and events covering the same period of time, just grouping things together for ease of understanding.