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's distress and rage was even more terrible than when he'd lost Trelawney and those paintings.
His phoenix had been freed.
That this was supposedly impossible did not contradict the fact that it must, somehow, have been done. And it was a catastrophe of immeasurable proportions to his plans!
Dumbledore had seen early on that mastery of a phoenix granted most of the same benefits as possession of a philosopher's stone, namely unlimited health and wealth.
The health they granted came in different forms. A philosopher's stone could delay old age indefinitely, putting off any further decrepitude, keeping one at the same physical point of life forever so long as it was used regularly. A phoenix, on the other hand, granted a far more useful form of health in the immediate term. It could not keep one alive forever, but the tears they gave could cure any manner of injury, disease or poisoning.
Dumbledore had always enjoyed a shocking degree of good health for his age, even before he'd started dying and resetting that, acting far more spry and energetic than his years would indicate, simply by treating himself with regular doses of those tears. Every ache, twinge or sneeze got treated by phoenix tears. He was not subject to most of the pains of old age as he had, since his youth, kept dosing himself with the world's most potent remedy every time he got a sniffle.
Even as he'd grown old he had never permitted himself to come down with any of the degenerative conditions that most beings considered standard with advancing years. His joints worked as well at a hundred years old as they had when he was a youth. His organs and vitals had always been as strong as they ever were. His eyes remained clear and sharp, and he wore glasses for only two reasons: they could carry useful enchantments(and his did), and they matched the grandfatherly image he found so useful. In fact, he'd had to prepare a special potion to allow his skin to wrinkle and his hair to turn white in order to cultivate that kindly grandfather persona.
Phoenix tears could not keep him alive forever, but they could sustain the bright energy of youth for far longer simply by beating off all of the illnesses and gradual accumulation of weaknesses and organ scars that stole vitality bit by bit. And, by virtue of having retained the extra health of youth, the Headmaster could be assured of living out an extra long span. He'd calculated that he could count on at least twice the average lifespan of a wizard, which was itself twice what a muggle could expect, barring early deaths by violence or disease, of course (both of which he had substantial protections against, although deaths by violence had actually been useful to reset himself to a much younger body, granting yet further protection from old age).
So he'd been anticipating being around for three hundred years, at least, if not more, and that was even without considering the periodic revivals to a much younger body. Then possession of a phoenix had, after much scheming, convinced enough people of his trustworthiness that it'd finally brought into his grasp a philosopher's stone at last!
That had granted him access to the one form of health a phoenix did not: immortality. However, the wealth aspect of a philosopher's stone came almost as a disappointment. It only provided gold.
When Dumbledore had first heard a description of a phoenix' powers he'd immediately seen what was, to him, the most obvious use - one which to his amazement everyone else seemed to have missed.
The mystical birds' powers to lift large weights and transport themselves tracelessly through wards and instantly cross great distances were perfect for moving an arbitrarily large amount of goods, legal or not, anywhere he wanted. Customs and border guard spells be damned!
Dumbledore had made a significant fortune (which he downplayed and hid)by selling phoenix tears. So he'd had gold in plenty early on, from the very first moment he'd mastered Fawkes. But more than that, he'd made asurreal fortune by using Fawkes to transport large quantities of materials across borders, evading taxes on normal products, fees on restricted ones, and laws on illegal ones.
Their flame transport ability was instant, crossed all known wards and was undetectable by magical means, what more could a smuggler ask?
Albus had, through a variety of fronts, cornered the market on all types of smuggling he'd cared to be involved in. A substantial blow would come to the underworld markets as a result of that lost pipeline, which he noted with pride had been utterly dependable for well over a hundred years.
Having been in control of one of the single most profitable markets in the magical world had granted him as much cash as he'd wanted. Every law passed to restrict anything had meant more money for his coffers! He could, and HAD, afforded to do virtually anything he pleased.
Government belongs to the man who can pay the most bribes. That has been true from the early reigns of kings on down to modern times, as true in the muggle world as the magical one. And illegal business has always been more profitable than legal ones. If it wasn't, it wouldn't be worth the risk. From this we see that the practice of crime buying shares in government influence was an ancient one, as they were the ones able to afford the most bribes.
And thus we can plainly see how any government that has been in place for any length of time grows gradually more and more corrupt, as criminals buy more and more influence in it, until they occupy the whole government.
An infinite bribe allowance could accomplish virtually anything, but Albus no longer needed vast amounts to pay for spies or bribes in normal operations. People trusted him to where they voted on his behalf without substantial bribes now, and most of his spies did it because they felt they were passing along information to 'The Leader of the Light' and doing it 'For The Greater Good'. But having infinite money had really helped him in the past, and it irked the Headmaster to lose that, as it vastly curtailed his emergency options and stung his pride.
Still, Dumbledore remained in possession of a budget more on par with a small country than a person, having very wisely (in his opinion) been stealing markets and businesses to cover the real source of his wealth. He could also cash in on the political credit of 'shutting down' the massive illegal smuggling operations that had been going on, and seize the vast warehouses of goods that he was supposed to transport - taking them for himself, of course.
The vacant Potter family properties had been used, to his vast amusement, this past decade by Dumbledore as warehouses for those illegal goods. They were not alone in this, but those properties were plentiful and prominent, and it would feel magnificent to hurt Harry by seizing those estates for having 'been discovered' in possession of vast stashes of illegal merchandise.
It would not hurt Dumbledore to expose them, even if the Ministry claimed a share, as his real caches of illicit treasures were all concealed elsewhere.
The scar above the Headmaster's left knee that was a perfect map of the London underground included all the sealed off or abandoned places, and Albus had used those spaces as rent-free warehouses to store smuggled goods. His scar was enchanted, much like the Marauder's Map, to constantly update - a catalog of all of his current stores of money and ill-gotten gains.
The was no risk of anyone else finding them. All transport to and from those locations had been done by Fawkes, so no one knew of them, and no traces of traffic in or out existed for someone to follow.
And the only record was that scar above his knee, which, being attached to the man, he'd always had with him at all times.
He had even been carefully, and indirectly, seeding vampire clans around the Underground in places where they made any kind of physical access to his storehouses there too dangerous for most to even consider!
However much he'd used him for money, however, that was still only part of his phoenix' contribution to the Headmaster's power. The health had been equally important, not just for himself, but he owed his whole 'Leader of the Light' persona to being the man who had access to an infinite font of tears able to heal virtually any disease or injury.
Most of the goodwill he enjoyed came from distribution of those tears. They had meant life for more than himself. You can buy a lot of loyalty if you can descend as a rescuing angel and give someone back their health.
Dumbledore paled dramatically, fearing death, disease and dismemberment
for the first time since stealing that pile of phoenix ash and eggshell from Nicholas Flamel. It had been well worth the end of his tutelage in alchemy to seize those absolutely priceless reagents and make off into the night with them, back to Hogwarts where he knew the Goblet of Fire lay.
Without Fawkes, Dumbledore lost access to unlimited healing, and most of the casual use of his horcrux, as it could no longer be used trivially or for minor regeneration of bodies. It was now far more complex and difficult to raise himself or Snape from the dead without that continual source of tears.
Every death would now be far more difficult to reverse, or would be once he ran out of the barrels of tears stored in the Hogwarts vaults. He ought to go check on those soon, to determine how long they would last under present needs, but there had just been so many emergencies!
Well, it was long past time to start whittling those down! Dumbledore quickly grabbed a sheet of parchment and dipped his quill, scribing a note to Moody that he finished, then held up in the air before paling again as it failed to be snatched from his hands by talons before disappearing in a burst of flame.
Without Fawkes he no longer had a perfect mail system that was impossible to intercept or fake. Moody would never accept a letter as coming from him unless it was delivered by phoenix.
He would have to go see him in person, as he needed someone assassinated.
McGonagall was just another dupe, as was Hagrid, having only the framed pictures that the Twinkling Tyrant allowed them to see. Fudge had been his scapegoat, someone to blame for all things wrong, and his replacement was as well. But Moody was among his most useful servants, and was like Snape and Filch in knowing that Dumbledore was Dark, and not caring about that in the least.
This was in part because Moody was Dumbledore's personal hit-wizard.
The ancient Headmaster had many useful servants, serving many roles, and of all different levels both of usefulness and awareness. None could be seen as equal, or even truly people. In Dumbledore's worldview only he was human. Everyone else was some kind of animal or object to be used at his whim. But one could trust a hammer to do those things a hammer was good for.
And he had a toolbox filled to overflowing with useful tools! Hagrid was chief among his many 'fetch and carry' types, and served him well as a go-for. McGonagall, bless her dear ignorant heart, was his cover at the school and more or less the real Head of Hogwarts, serving virtually all of those duties belonging to him as Headmaster, save a few only he reserved for himself.
Both were blessedly ignorant of his real nature, and thus far more convincing tools to use to persuade others to pursue his interests on the Light side.
On the other hand, to play both sides of the game one was required to have both black and white pieces. White pieces served him because they felt he was their Leader, and served The Greater Good. Black pieces, on the other hand, Albus admitted to a far closer kinship to. They served him because he granted them concessions for certain kinds of aid and support, something he found it far easier to relate to personally. And of course he had a deliberate and premeditated use for them in all his endless schemes!
Filch was a Cleaner, in more ways than one, although far more useful in the disposal of bodies than in tidying the castle that House Elves would've seen to anyway. Snape was a kindred soul (if either creature could ever be said to have one), his personal Potions Master and one of the few souls trustworthy enough to revive him on a regular basis.
But Moody was his personal killer.
Mad-Eye had worked closely enough to Dumbledore that he ranked as being an "old friend", and had his magical eye, among other things, enchanted by the Elder Wand to see through Death's Invisibility Cloak. What other reason was there to have a paranoid ex-Auror on call?
What other kind of people act or behave similarly to Moody?
And now it was time to bring his hit-wizard out of mothballs, because Albus was long overdue for having a few people assassinated. If his killer did not insist on large amounts of accurate information before making ahit, Albus would have immediately and unhesitatingly sent him against this Dark Colonel. But that would have to wait until he had more of the situation defined. Still, the man could be almost equally useful killing the Granger girl, as she clearly had too great an influence over the Boy-Who-Just-Wouldn't-Die-When-Albus-Told-Him-To-And-Was-Becoming-More-Difficult-Every-Day!
No, Albus' days may have been filled with distractions of late, but even so he could see that Harry had grown too strong, too popular with the other students, and it was time to cut away his support a little. And the boy's chief supporter since coming to school had been that filthy mudblood girl.
So, since Albus no longer had the luxury of arranging the terrible accident himself, he would have to farm that labor out. He had fallen too far behind, so it was time he started delegating a little more of this mess.
What else were servants for?
So the Headmaster went about his plan, completely unaware that Harry was even then using that staff to place all of his family properties into storage mode, ignorant of the vast amounts of illicit treasure going with them.
I I I
The purpose behind 'Bedevil Dumbledore Day' could be summed up in one truism: 'Never let your enemies deal with just one problem at a time'. This could be reflected in a simple rule of physics: force concentrated in a single point is powerful, but that same force spread out over an area is less so.
Giving a person a fire to deal with was one problem. Cutting off his water supply was another, and shooting at his firemen as they tried to put out the blaze... well, that house was gunna burn down, and possibly the block with it.
That sort of thing had happened during riots, and it was never pretty. But in Dumbledore's case it was just an example to illustrate a point. The more problems a person had at once, the less effective he was at dealing with any of them; and they were doing their best to maximize that, as it was the one advantage they had over the powerful old man.
Dumbledore was magically powerful, politically untouchable, head of every public office that mattered, utterly evil and a complete bastard. He was also rather fond of the old phrase, "Youth and skill will always fail to old age and treachery."
The Fey Trio were striving their hardest to prove him wrong.
So they went to Snape's house and stripped it bare of all books, valuables, even the furnishings (they could use them as firewood later, and you never knew where stuff was hidden - except in this case where Harry could easily rape the Potions Master's undefended mind for that information). Included were a truly astonishing number of rare or even forgotten potions tomes, some detailing mixtures that had passed away into myth. Severus had made it his business to steal those out of every house they'd looted as Death Eaters, and he had a truly astonishing collection.
Lucius Malfoy had also been in the business of stealing or looting books, but he focused more of his attention on charms, and had to split those with other interested Death Eaters. Still others collected their own favorite subjects, but Tom Riddle personally had all of the rare Magical Creatures tomes delivered to himself.
Aware that the Headmaster intended to revive him, Harry had also gone out of his way to collect Voldemort's stolen belongings out of the various caches and secret stashes he'd made.
Everything that landed in the Dark Idiot's hands was going to be used to hurt them, and if not them then someone else. So it was far better to strip those bare now than to face the advantage the enemy got from using them later.
The Dark Lord would use them if he could get his hands on them again. That was why he'd stored things, to have them in case he'd ever needed them; and right after a revival when he was at his weakest would be a fine time to use anything for rendering either himself or his side more powerful.
So, the less Tom had, the more he was liable to struggle during a comeback.
Weakening your enemy and strengthening yourself was the whole name of the game. On the field, when armies met, this was called 'combat'. Doing economic violence to each other was called 'business' nowadays, and having your infrastructure beefed up while weakening your enemy's was politics. But it all amounted to the same thing: when in conflict do what you can to increase your own capabilities, and reduce those of your opponent.
So they grabbed the stuff Harry knew about just so Voldemort wouldn't have it. Also, some of it made really nifty additions to his library that he'd really like to get around to reading one day. But right now he was fairly busy.
Also, grabbing stuff was useful in that later on down the line you might turn out to need exactly what you'd grabbed earlier.
Ward stones and runic enhancers stolen by Alice from the Ministry were a perfect example. They'd used all they could employ effectively around the town he was building, but they still had more. Rather than sell the excess off or abandon it somewhere, they'd stored it for use later; and now again Harry was finding that useful, this time to mark the perimeters of his property and begin securing them.
The Potters had a great deal of property. But, like most aristocratic families (as the vast majority of magicians viewed themselves) most of that was cut up into fairly small chunks scattered all over the place.
Harry had made a quick and dirty decision to gather all of the houses and other 'improved property' (basically stuff with permanent buildings he'd rather not lose) into snow globes for moving out of country for safety. The only exception to this would be Potter Manor itself, and the original and expanded Crystal palace attached to it; as for appearances he required that manor for his official dwelling place around Godric's Hollow, and the Crystal Palace had been converted into greenhouses that were far more valuable here than anywhere, as what they produced in Britain could stay and be sold in Britain, evading a whole host of import taxes and regulations.
The unimproved properties... well, there wasn't much that could be done to destroy a field full of dirt, nothing that anyone who later wanted to capture that land for himself was liable to do. And, anyway, Harry had to maintain some possessions in England to retain those lovely rights and privileges that the easily fooled Wizengamot had so recently granted him.
Still, if he was going to be leaving anything behind, he'd like for it to be very well protected, and was willing to work to see that protection enacted. So he gathered them all into one place for ease of defending, then put up his best wards around them using those stones and things collected by Alice.
Luna had then pointed out that, as her champions, they acted with the Fairy Queen's authority. And, in her absence, they were the supreme voice of fairy authority - not that many fey paid all that much attention to authority, but here and there it counted.
For example, using the authority of the Fairy Queen as the ruler of the preserve they could take cuttings from that magic hedge around her shrine and plant those (dosed with Everlasting forms of that plant protection potion for added good measure) around Harry's collected farms, growing him his own copy of that rather special hedge to protect his territory.
To his surprise, this totaled over 40,000 acres of landed property. To circle it around with a copy of the Fairy Queen's protective hedge was an immense undertaking, even when dozens of species of brownies and sprites appeared out of nowhere to volunteer their help.
Sadly, they couldn't do the same for Godric's Hollow because that hedge was so good at keeping out questionable characters that most town residents, being normal people, would be hedged out of their homes most of the time.
Selective security can be too selective sometimes.
Given that the newly hedged area was probably a great deal more protected than being a snow globe in his pockets, especially now that the Headmaster no longer had a phoenix that could flame-transport him past wards or this marvelous hedge, Harry deposited several houses his family had owned onto various parts of the collected farms.
He did this to avoid the 'all your eggs in one basket' problem as much as anything. If he was lucky, the whole thing should even be overlooked during the upcoming wars. It wasn't like he was planning much traffic there.
Then, Luna suggested they steal most if not all of the Forbidden Forest to add it to Harry's lands and properties - since they WERE the voice of the Fairy Queen, and thus just about the only authority that COULD claim rightful ownership of large tracts of that place meant as a fairy preserve.
Harry's jaw spent some time waving around loosely after that suggestion.
Luna simply smiled serenely.
"For that matter," Hermione blinked, coming to grips with the suggestion,"we could form another hunt to take care of all of the dark creature menace there, just like you said people used to. Lead off with a march of the wooden soldiers to kill off as much of the acromantula menace as possible, then follow with wizards and centaurs, and at least drive those evil things out - or into parts of the forest we're not taking, anyway."
Luna nodded firmly. "A March of the Wooden Soldiers has been a Lovegood family tradition ever since we lived in Toyland."
Harry suppressed the urge to groan. "You know, one of these days I am going to go mad listening to your family history. The problem is, I don't know that I'm going to notice."
The blonde girl shrugged, unconcerned. "No. But it will help you fit in at family reunions better."
I I I
Wow! I didn't even get around to including Susan in this episode. Oh well, her entrance will come when it comes.
And now you know the connection between Fawkes and the scar detailing the Underground, because between them Dumbledore had a perfect system for the transportation and storage of a vast amount of goods - the basis for his immense fortune, and that wealth also served as the source for his influence and political power, gradually leading to his control of everything.
Thus, the Rise of Dumbledore explained in a nutshell. And I have to wonder, has anyone else bothered to explain just how it is that man came to hold effectively all power in their world? I mean, beyond the simple'oh, and he defeated Grindelwald.'
Because if it was that easy, Malfoy could have claimed to have been behind the defeat of Voldemort, and if he got his story out there soon enough, he could've replaced Dumbles as the man with all power in their world.