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 had taken two weeks for Harry's plan concerning Godric's Hollow to reach the point where residents were moving in and Amelia appeared. During that time several things had gone on back at school. Snape's potions classes were shriveling down to nothing but Ron and Slytherins, but other happy events occurred, including Hermione's birthday celebration.
"Happy Birthday Hermione!!" cried the entire student study club. They'd staged it during that so more students could attend than they could've if it had been held in the Gryffindor common room - and most of those being tutored had chosen to attend.
Hermione had never had a celebration half so large. Heck! The biggest birthday party she'd had til that point had ten people attend. This was nearer to three-quarters of the school!
It was a might overwhelming for the girl, to be honest.
Party streamers and ribbons hung about, with brightly colored balloons and other decorations. Harry had brought back his House Elves to help out, and the food and decorations were both magnificent. Tables were laden with all kinds of succulent dishes, and the guests could hardly wait for the birthday girl to be ushered forward so they could begin the birthday feast.
Fare at mealtimes had become rather simple since the Prophet disaster, as the elves Dumbledore had sent out to steal papers had mostly not come back since, leaving the castle terribly understaffed.
Garbage was accumulating in the Hogwarts corridors as they no longer had sufficient House Elves to deal with everything - and Albus had insisted that certain amounts of spying could not be neglected (and that they never serve fried chicken again).
So the magnificent feast prepared was, sad to say, of far more interest to most attending this party than the birthday girl. For that matter, the birthday girl herself had been eating that much plainer food same as they on Normal Days, so it was of considerable interest to her as well.
After that, they immediately went on to her opening presents before they went out to the lawn to play games. Hermione was practically intimidated by the high stack, an entire long table had been covered by gifts, so the wise people running the party started some games going on in the background while, in the foreground, people would take up their presents, present them to Hermione who would open them and thank the giver, then repeat.
Harry naturally went first, having had to cast a featherweight charm on his package as it looked like he was giving her a complete encyclopedia set.
Opening the wrapping paper revealed what looked to be an encyclopedia set.
"Thanks. What is it?" Hermione gave a puzzled gaze to her fiance, trying hard NOT to tell him how impersonal a gift of books could be. Sometimes his growing up with the Dursleys had left the most unfortunate gaps in his social graces.
The boy smiled as he answered, "It's the Vandergeist Collection, all fourteen books he wrote, not including Basics of Brewing which you already have a copy of. So fifteen in total."
"HARRY!!!" she squealed joyously, launching herself at him in a hug.
"Is it true that Potions Mastery is often achieved by book five?" Luna turned her head from second in line to inquire of him, proving that she didn't know everything about their world.
"Uh huh," Harry agreed, still holding and hugging a giddy Hermione."And the standard thought is 'what could you want more than your mastery grade?' So most shops don't carry the remainder of the collection. You won't believe what I had to go through to get copies of books six through fifteen. In the end I had to have them reprinted."
What he did not say was since there was little enough point in setting type on an old-style printing press without printing multiple copies (hand-copied would be better, and cheaper, if you'd wanted only one. But the printer refused to do that) so Harry had purchased a thousand copies each of the entire set.
They'd offered a price break on batches of a thousand. Plus, that would be enough for a complete set of the collection to be placed in each of the four hundred homes of Godric's Hollow, plus filling out the library there, leaving enough to outfit another town of the same size should he ever get the urge (and France or someplace grant him permission), while still leaving a supply to give out as gifts without preventing them from having replacements on hand for lost or damaged books.
Harry'd already given Neville Longbottom the books one through five he'd originally brought for Hermione at a normal bookstore, just to see if the poor lad had the talent without a greasy overbearing bat hanging over his brewing.
For that matter, before giving up on finding the entire set in bookstores he'd gotten books one through five for all three of himself, Hermione and Luna, so he had two more incomplete sets to be giving out. The twins would be likely looking prospects, save that he'd already intended to give them the whole set of fifteen apiece, instead of merely the first five.
Hermione squealed in glee over the magnificent present of knowledge, then Fred and George came forward, cutting in line with some hand-copied sheets, string-bound, uneven and ragged. Their present was not even wrapped.
"Well, we know..." said twin one.
"... it doesn't look like much..." said twin two.
"... but please accept..."
"... this copy of..."
"... some of our research notes," they finished together.
"Thanks," Hermione accepted the sheaf of bound notes carefully, reading the first page to determine what it was, her eyes widening as she did so.
It was priceless.
The twins had written a 'Poor Man's Guide to Replacement Ingredients'for how to approximate more common (and less powerful) potion supplies with other, cheaper, alternates.
It had been necessary for their situation, and there were countless things that applied, in their own ways, portions of what Harry liked to call the 'Rice Principle'. Cooks were always looking for the new taste sensation. Rice wasn't it. But gourmet cooks continued to add rice to things just because it soaked up the flavor of what was next to it. Similarly, steel by itself wasn't magnetic, but exposed to magnetism it could become so. Certain subjects, without being naturally magic, could, when exposed to magic, pick up a bit of that - or at least enough to be useful as potion ingredients.
Through laborious research (and because they were very poor) the twins had worked out dozens of things that functioned like that. They worked as magic in potions, without actually being magic themselves. Most of those were just ways to 'stretch out' an ingredient they didn't have a great supply of, but a couple could stand on their own.
And, of course, they'd also written a short book on the dozens of uses of owl feathers, because the Weasleys had an owl, and so that was one of the few magical creatures the twins could go to for parts on their summer holidays, just like with the family ghoul and garden gnomes.
This was research not printed in any book. It was new knowledge, not even Vandergeist had known these things, and Hermione had the only copy in the world other than the original loose leaf notes of the twins. She gave off a tremendous squeal as she launched herself to go hug both of them at once.
It actually took quite an effort on the part of her friends for the party not to end at that point as Hermione burrowed into her new books containing all of that delicious knowledge.
As a second gift, Harry gave her a complete set of language lozenges(and the girl immediately gave away the ones she'd already taken copies of, having purchased them separately). He also gave the same to Luna, because her birthday was a fair ways off and they don't want to hold the group back as they all want to acquire the knowledge together.
So Fred and George each got an Old Norse lozenge, and would begin looking into runes in the near future. Other Gryffindors got to learn French or Latin or other languages, as they came up in line to present their gifts and got offered her spare lozenges in return.
Luna's gift came in a box, and appeared at first glance to be a massive stuffed teddy dragon that wagged its tail and could fly, even breathing out pretend flames.
However, the blonde leaned close to explain, "Hidden inside is the Cauldron of Ceridwen. It can make a potion granting wisdom and knowledge. The mixture has to be cooked a year and a day. The first three drops grants wisdom, the rest is a lethal poison. Harry and I found it when we were sifting through the treasures from the vaults. We also discovered this cauldron has been used recently, sometime within our lifetimes, and we believe Dumbledore made use of it personally as one of his many rituals to enhance his mind."
Kissing the side of Hermione's cheek to disguise the whisper, Luna explained,"We already made the mixture, and gave it a spill-proof cap and a self-stirring spoon. So for now keep it as a toy dragon so no one suspects, but in ayear and a day you'll have a potion to make you permanently smarter."
Hermione unexpectedly launched out of her chair again to squeeze Luna in one arm and her toy dragon in another, once more squealing in delight.
Several members of the present line shared looks, hoping this wasn't going to be a trend. Many felt they didn't know her well enough to accept hugs.
But, to their secret delight, she kept that response only for priceless gifts; and most of what she got was candy.
I I I
During these weeks they couldn't afford to let up on bedeviling Dumbledore, otherwise that man's HUGE capabilities would come to bear on them and they'd be the ones saying 'ouch'.
They'd gotten a few lucky sucker punches in by surprise those first couple of times and that put him on the ropes. They had to keep him there or his vastly superior skill at this game would come back to haunt them.
And keeping him there was getting slightly more difficult, as dying just didn't seem to distress him the way it once had.
It was remarkable what people could get used to.
However, to give the girl her due, Hermione had asked the brilliant question. "Do you think Snape could bring him back if he wasn't dead?"
And, the answer to that was, 'of course not. You can't bring a man back to life if he isn't dead.'
So, that gave them a whole new range of ways to bedevil Dumbledore.
Harry was continually amazed at the range of spells that the wizarding world had and never used. There was, for example, in a companion volume to the personal grooming spells he'd gotten (a book, actually, on household charms) a spell used to keep flowers fresh and stop them from wilting that, had they ever thought to apply it, would have been one of the most irreplaceably useful medical charms ever.
The spell, used on flowers, did as it advertised and kept them from wilting, which was a pretty amazing thing, once you'd thought about it. Cut flowers are dead, they just don't know it yet. Their little plant bodies take some time figuring out they've received mortal wounds, and the process of wilting is them shuffling off the mortal coil as they gradually figure that out.
That same spell applied to people (and there was no reason they couldn't)would do basically the same thing, keeping them alive in spite of having received mortal wounds. It wouldn't last forever, but long enough to get them to a hospital and do some rather substantial healing and recovery work.
On plants the spell lasted for weeks. On people, the amount of time you had to save them from mortal wounds was most often measured in minutes. So it would take one of the most hectic emergencies of all time and render it almost casual if it had anything like the same duration on animals.
So, to try it out they dropped Dumbledore into a pit trap where the bottom was spiked with broken off chicken bones pointed upwards, and as he was dying in agony they applied the charm to him to keep him alive and stable.
It worked, placing the man in a near-death state that was neither fully alive nor dead, somehow hovering in stasis with his body processes frozen. His wounds did not bleed, his heart did not beat, nor did he breathe, but he was still dimly aware of his surroundings in a dreamlike state.
Seeing as how the man showed no detectable lifesigns, Harry immediately sent him off to one of those muggle places that offers to freeze the body on death so you can be revived upon the discovery of the cure for whatever ails you - only he only signed up Dumbledore for having his head and balls frozen, so those people whipped out the circular saw and knives and chopped him up.
Harry was tempted to leave him there until Hermione pointed out the man would die whenever the spell ran out regardless of whether he was chopped up or frozen or just left to lie out in the middle of a field somewhere. He'd taken mortal wounds, and the moment that charm expired they'd kill him.
So, to entertain the old man while he died Harry went in and stole the man's head back again and enchanted it as a Quidditch ball - a bludger to be precise, shrinking it to size and covering it in an outer layer of iron so it would look right. Then, because it was a terrible thing to do to anyone, he did the same for the man's balls and replaced the bludgers in the school set with them.
Oliver Wood used to have the Gryffindor Quidditch team out three times a week to practice, and they mostly continued on that schedule, forcing other teams to practice at the same pace. Also Fred and George were among the best beaters to ever play. They smacked those bludgers around so hard and often with those clubs of theirs that it was amazing and dismaying to others.
But the other teams still sought hard to match them.
Dumbledore might not be fully alive or able to move in that state, but by the look on his face he could certainly feel more wounds as they were acquired. So having his head and groin repeatedly smacked around with bats gave him a whole new definition of pain and suffering during those practice meets.
So Harry started an unofficial Quidditch tournament at school. Anyone could play, forming new teams as they liked, and the prize was new brooms for everyone on their team, going to whoever won the most games against the other pick-up teams over the next month.
Suddenly those Quidditch balls were getting smacked around like never before as those students figured out whoever PLAYED the most games was liable to Win the most games. So they had them running day and night!
Soon every Quidditch fanatic was out there trying to play, because nearly every witch or wizard could use a brand new broom.
Harry excused himself, saying as the sponsor he really ought not to play. Plus, he put a time limit of thirty minutes on each game so more players could get out there and take their chances on the field; but also so no team would get exhausted by having too long a turn, and so everyone could stay fresh in rotation. Also, because the games were shorter, students who had free periods could get out there and play during the school day.
Between all the eager new players those balls were, literally, getting bashed about at all hours of the day and night. The schedule was full aweek in advance, with plenty of people eager to fill up in case of a cancellation.
As an interesting side effect, because the Snitch was rarely found in those short games, the Chasers, Keepers and Beaters suddenly became far more important to the games, and those players had a chance to be highlighted.
That was, quite frankly, to the good for everyone.
I I I
"The dragon itself is far from worthless," Luna explained as the Fey Trio all went down to the lake side, holding hands with each other, a stuffed dragon in her own arms, while Harry cuddled one as well. "They are a special toy called Cuddle Companions, magic plush animals that when cuddled, those holding the matching animals in the set also feel the love, and vice versa. A nice way to stay in contact even though we sleep in different dormitories."
Indeed, all three could already feel this was so. But it was nice to have an explanation to go with those feelings.
"Splendid!" Hermione, who had never felt such affection before, could hardly bear to put the animal down.
Nor were the others unaffected. Harry himself was practically giddy. He'd had less love in his life than either of the girls, and was soaking it up like a dry sponge.
Hermione cleared her throat. "Well, seeing as it's my birthday I thought a few other people should receive gifts. So right about now Remus Lupin ought to be receiving an anonymous letter, one containing an article cut out of a French newspaper detailing Sirius' trial and subsequent release, finding him innocent of all charges, wrongfully imprisoned, and granting political asylum. It ought to be interesting to see what his reaction is."
While agreeing that would be interesting, the other two set down their chests and got out their brooms and began flying lessons for Hermione, using her brand new training broom Harry had bought for her much earlier.
It was now time for her to learn how to use it properly, and they chose the lake side because the Quidditch pitch was jammed full, and would be for the rest of the month, at least.
Unfortunately Ron, who naturally had created his own pick-up team for the unofficial Quidditch tournament, while waiting for his turn on the field saw what they were up to, flying low over the water to get Hermione used to being on a stable broom. So the brat flew over and had to say mean things about how slow she was, and how much better on a broom he was, until the trio were near to calling the whole thing off because of the problems Ron was creating from his complete and utter lack of tact.
Hermione, however, to all of their surprises eventually lost her temper and then summoned the brat's broom right out from under him, landing the jerk (who'd been showing off doing loops) head first in the water, then following that up with freezing charms.
After the temperamental redhead went off to the hospital wing to get his frostbite seen to, the bookworm began flying around with whole new confidence and made astounding progress on her broom.
I I I
Remus Lupin stared at a letter, face aghast and unable to believe his poor unfortunate eyes as the article dangled limply from off his fingers.
It was early afternoon and already the man popped open the top of abottle of firewhiskey. He had three in his room, and the werewolf honestly expected he'd go through them all drowning his misery over this.
After all those oaths the Headmaster made him swear, to find out this...
The tender man wept; then proceeded to get very, very drunk.
I I I
While Dumbledore was indisposed was a perfect time to work deviltry on him.
Most of the Muggleborns in the castle had not been in on the joke, and so had tried to assure those who'd asked them that movies were not real, and you could not trust what you'd seen in them.
However, all that came to a screeching halt when a certain very familiar old style ambulance pulled up in front of Hogwarts, sirens blaring, parking right on the front steps to disgorge three adult muggles (one man and two women) wearing very familiar jumpsuits and carrying nuclear accelerators on their backs.
"Hey, anybody see a ghost?" Harry walked in the front doors to demand, a brainy Hermione and eccentric Luna both behind him, all disguised as muggle parapsychologists turned ghostbusters.
Hogwarts specters saw them, froze in sputtering terror for a heartbeat, then flew screaming from the scene, scattering in every direction.
I I I
Professor McGonagall looked up from where she was presiding over lunch in the Great Hall to see screaming ghosts phase through the walls in hundreds and all start gibbering at her at once, drowning each other out in their mutual terror and making the point impossible to understand...
... until a very distinct sound effect was heard, then an unmistakable stream of light sprang forth from the doors, catching Peeves around his ghostly waist and holding him fast.
The rest of the Hogwarts specters scattered, panicked, in all directions.
It had actually taken a bit of work to adapt the exorcism spells in that book that had fallen out of the headmaster's window to match the appropriate sounds and visual effects, but Harry managed it with aplomb as he held the stream on Peeves while Hermione calmly slid a trap under him.
Seeing the ENTIRE Great Hall staring at them in varying degrees of shock and horror, Harry caught McGonagall's eyes and stated calmly, "Don't mind us, Ma'am. We're exterminators. Someone reported that you've got a nasty infestation of spooks, specters, and creeps that go 'bump' in the night. It's all been paid for. So sit back and enjoy your meal while we take care of this."
The fork fell from McGonagall's nerveless fingers as she gaped open-mouthed at the trio of apparent muggles in their all-too-familiar uniforms.
Peeves winked out, sucked into the 'trap' (actually a disguised portal to the other side - no need to worry about storage that way), and the ghostbusting trio went off deeper into the castle, hunting more panicky specters.
Nobody would ever again believe the muggleborns stating that those movies weren't real. Even the muggleborns themselves began to doubt it.
The spirits of Hogwarts would suffer a terrible afternoon and evening, losing many of their number, before McGonagall recovered herself enough to track down the ghostbusters and tell them their services were not needed, that the ghosts were welcome, even needed at the castle.
Of course, by that time they'd lost several dozen of them and the remainder had either fled the castle or would be terrified, trembling in corners for years, even centuries after that, basically crippling that spy ring forever.
And, before they went, the ghostbusters insisted that McGonagall, in her capacity as Deputy Headmistress, sign off on some paperwork, telling her they had to have the forms filled out that the job was completed so they could collect payment from their benefactor. And McGonagall, just like everybody in that type of situation, didn't read a thing as she'd signed the forms, just eager to get the disruptive muggles to leave the castle.
So she had no IDEA the kind of permissions she'd granted to the trio!
I I I
Back in the Forbidden Forest the chain keeping Fawkes bound dissolved, link by link, one link a day over a period of thirteen days while the kids was busy having a party for Hermione, busting ghosts, building the town and getting residents to move there.
On the day before Harry's conversation with the head of the DMLE Fawkes sprang free.
That was a joyous day.
And the first thing Fawkes did upon being freed, before going off to the phoenix version of a holiday home for the next three or four centuries, was to introduce the one who'd bound him for so long to the inside of an inferno, firebird style, flame-transporting Dumbledore into an active volcano right after Snape had successfully tracked down his pieces, reassembled the still-living body, and successfully revived him.
The bird then flamed back and caused massive destruction in the laboratory, burning up tools and supplies and virtually everything that wasn't utterly and completely fireproof (which, rather unfortunately, included the chests that contained their horcruxes - as Dumbledore had sought hard to make those and the soul anchoring amulets they contained completely invulnerable).
Snape burned down to ash, priceless stockpiles of valuable ingredients got incinerated, glassware and ironware melted down to slag, and finally the roof of that chamber collapsed, crushing most of what remained down to powder; save for those nearly invulnerable chests and the horcruxes they contained.
As a final insult, Fawkes flamed out and reappeared with a bundimun, a patch of greenish fungus with eyes skilled at creeping under floorboards to infest wizarding houses, dropping the slimy, acidic creature right into the box where Albus kept his spare hairs - which immediately dissolved to feed the ooze.
After all, phoenixes were good and noble and light creatures... but they're also very, very, very nasty when they're angry at you. One look at the basilisk should show that much.
I I I
Crawling out of the volcano (after all, he'd been through the fireproofing ritual himself, and knew a bubblehead charm to avoid choking to death on poisonous fumes), Dumbledore could, without fear of contradiction, state that his phoenix had somehow gotten free.
I I I
In my reality, Peeves was a ghost who'd learned how to manipulate objects on the material plane. I prefer that to Rowling's stupid assertion that he had never been alive.
So he was perfectly vulnerable to being sent to the Other Side. And, though I know I did not mention it in-text, they had great reason to do so, as Peeves was allowed so much leniency... why? Well, in this story it was for the same reasons as Snape - he was too useful to Dumbledore, who allowed him to get away with anything in exchange for services rendered.
So exorcising Peeves just cost Albus one of his most useful agents.