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
Harry Potter grounded the staff surmounted with an empty crystal in the last of his farms, spoke the incantation, and watched the surrounding lands, houses, forests, trees, and even livestock being soaked up like they were all a painting on a puddle that was being drawn back up a hose.
Luna watching this happily, before adding dreamily, "We should take an old, abandoned military base and add it to the rest."
"Can't do it." The boy relaxed his stance, wiping his brow. "These staffs only work to collect property the user is the legal or rightful owner of. They are made that way as the only means of preventing theft on a grand scale."
Luna blinked at him. "There has to be a loophole somewhere, as the Twinkling Tyrant used this for exactly that, robbing families of their inheritances."
Harry made a grimace. "Yes, but that 'legal owner' bit IS the loophole!Albus has more authority than anyone else would know what to do with, and one power governments are always careful to give themselves is the ability to seize property. So, with his many offices, he can go to the site of something he thinks can disappear without anyone noticing, declare this land or house or whatever seized in the name of the Ministry (he has the appropriate office to do that, I checked) and then turn around and grant it to himself, also in the name of the Ministry. Those sorts of legalized acts of plunder are hallmarks of the worst sorts of governments, but they all have the power. And the only way to get what was stolen back is to appeal to the government - but with everyone there dead, the survivors, if any, too young to do anything, and most everyone else assuming those places were destroyed, there was no one to make such appeals. And, provided he seals the records on his authority as another office he holds, no one can look up the tracks afterwards. Not even the Ministry knows it was being used as a tool to rob victims of the war."
"So Dumbledore legally owns all of those properties he stole?" Hermione looked scandalized.
Harry shook his head. "No. He had no legitimate reason to do what he was doing. It was all abuse of power of the worst sort, and highly secretive at that. None of the Old Families would've left those seizures unchallenged, as they don't want their own properties stolen. Just like with the monopolies, if it is too easy to take them away, anyone could lose everything. He holds them on the flimsiest of pretexts, basically only because no one has looked. They don't have any idea what he is doing. And since the review process and so on has never happened, he is basically holding them illegally. Just like with Sirius, a government can keep a man without a trial for only a short while, and to keep him any longer is, itself, an illegal act."
"But, by that time he already had those properties stored," Hermione saw.
"Yes, exactly," Harry agreed.
Luna cocked her head oddly. "But since the Forbidden Forest was created to be a magical creature preserve, we, who act in the name of a leader of those creatures, could go about grabbing large portions of it - including the Clearing with the Fairy Shrine."
"We might have to get agreement from the centaur tribes for some," Harry acquiesced, "As major portions could be considered owned by those who lived there. But that would only extend to those who had a RIGHT to live there by the original charter, so none of the dark creatures could have any claims."
"And we could include it in that area now being covered by our new hedge!"his favorite bookworm exclaimed brightly, referring to the incomplete project of duplicating the fairy shrine's protective hedge around Harry's farms.
Luna blinked slowly. "I'm still not sure I understand how you are doing that, as the bushes did not bear any seeds..."
Hermione shrugged brightly. "Muggles have a technique where they take cuttings of a plant and grow new plants from them. It is most commonly used for the propagation of trees and shrubs grown commercially. But what they are essentially doing is cloning the plant they take stock from, as all of the 'offspring' of this method are identical genetically to the original. It was fairly simple, actually, to accomplish the same, accelerated with magic."
Luna stared off into the distance. "Maybe Trelawney needs to have trees in each Potter residence, so she can visit? It would be a nice addition to each foyer. An added benefit is that they would make nice perches for Hedwig."
Hermione's eyes grew wide and she turned on Harry in excitement. "Harry!All cuttings are still living tissue of the original plant. It could WORK!"
"Or we might get a million Trelawneys," Luna mused thoughtfully.
Harry pursed his lips in thought. "Either way, that could be fun. And we could be turning the otherwise vacant Potter lands into minor creature preserves and fairy sanctuaries, like the Forbidden Forest only on a smaller scale."
Hermione had paused in thought. "You know, most villages line their streets with trees. We could do that to Godric's Hollow, only EVERY tree could be one of Trelawney's! Having dozens of 'true' trees, she'd be unkillable!"
"And dryads can 'zap' to their tree instantly and untraceably, from any amount of distance," Luna added softly, before meeting their eyes."If we scattered her trees about at important locations we are likely to be at, she'd be a perfect messenger for secure communications."
I I I
Dumbledore stared morosely at the empty crop fields before him.
On his way back from talking to Moody (who'd accepted the assignment with a certain amount of glee - that man liked killing, and didn't get to do nearly enough of it to his way of thinking), the Headmaster had felt it wise to stop by those farms he controlled and order the harvest to begin. It had come to the appropriate time, after all.
Only to find that all of the fields, orchards and vineyards he controlled had already been harvested. Indeed, more than simply harvested, stripped bare.
Releasing one hand from the sleek, black cane he leaned on, the distinguished gentleman in black frock coat reached up under his top hat to where he no longer wore glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose.
This was so tiresome!
Well, it would not be the first time some arrogant young thing had burned his fields just before harvest, trying to drive him out of business and retake an inheritance the Headmaster had stolen fair and square. Dumbledore would just declare another instance of Dragon Blight had soured the crops, and buy all the food he needed to fill his contracts from the muggle world- again. The magical world would notice the drop in taste quality, but they'd forgive him under the excuse of the mysterious Dragon Blight - A made-up disease he'd invented in times past to cover exactly this sort of circumstance.
Thankfully it was illegal for anyone BUT him to buy food from muggles on a commercial scale. Couldn't have the sheep escaping their pen, after all.
And, once more, he'd be forced to buy surplus crops from another magical nation in order to have the high quality of food required to fill his royal contracts and retain his influence over the muggle government and queen.
It wasn't the first time this had happened. Nor, he suspected, would it be the last. Every so often some child decided to reclaim his family legacy, having learned about it from who-knows-where (Dumbledore had been careful to eliminate all traces of such hints from the Hogwarts curriculum), and tried something like this. It was just an inconvenient time for it to happen.
Just another instance of his current Bad Luck, he suspected; although now he'd have to track down the child who did this and terminate him or her, just to put an end to this occurrence of the problem and stop it before it spread.
Idly, he twirled the end of his long mustache, already plotting out who to send out letters to to correct this minor inconvenience; unaware that, due to the Fidelius Harry had put over his combined properties, he had forgotten all about checking those portions of his total stolen holdings. The Potter family farm properties simply never entered his mind anymore.
Just like a Fidelius should operate.
Realizing that he would need to fill an ink order soon, Dumbledore went off to the Hogwarts lake to milk his giant squid there, only to discover the animal missing - it was no longer there!
He spent a moment gaping, feeling like a man who'd been kicked in the nuts. No one had EVER thought to attack his own family business before!It was a completely new sensation to have his own inheritance and livelihood stolen.
He could not defend those laws rendering it illegal to buy ink from anyone but him if he could not provide any ink to sell. And buying replacement stock...
The Headmaster paled, as no other source in the world used a giant squid as he did, and he'd supplied all of the ink to magical Europe! There was no way to simply import replacements and pass it off as his own, like he was doing with food, as every other producer supplied their own distinct recipes. None of their products could be mistaken for his, not even under heavy charms! And, many of his biggest customers relied upon the special properties of his ink, just like a dragon's tongue had different magical properties than a bezoar!
Not to mention he'd handled so much volume that no other ink seller would be able to simply pick up his slack. He'd provided a sizable chunk of the global magical market for inks. It wasn't like he could simply Confound a few people to not notice. The ink had to be there or he'd lose this market!
And it would be months before he could create an industry capable of making enough ink to supply his customer's demands the normal way - even longer if he tried to replace the squid, as for nearly two centuries he'd been hiring boats to go out and slaughter giant squid so no one else could do as he'd done and catch one to supply their ink that way.
The race was nearly extinct due to his market protection scheme.
Suddenly the Headmaster realized that, no longer able to supply all his needs off the revenue he got from smuggling - since he no longer had a phoenix to use for that, and no alternative to fall back on to replace it, he was forced to rely on his businesses for the majority of his income. And quite a few of those businesses were in crisis or failing - even his farms would be providing little to no profit to him this year, due to having to buy replacement crops.
Accustomed as he was to limitless wealth, the man saw the end of life as he knew it approaching and realized just how deeply this Dark Colonel had been striking into his interests.
Grumbling, the man went to go activate more of his servants. He'd resisted this for the longest time. When everything was smooth sailing he had needed so very little in the way of support for running all that he had put under his heel. But he simply did not have the TIME to deal with everything just now! It was now a crisis of growing proportions, and he would have to hire business managers to see to his vast estates to ensure they ran a profit.
It irked him. He disliked ceding control of anything to anybody, and positively hated the idea of letting people know just how much he controlled. But like his Deputy Headmistress ran the school for him, it was time to acquire additional under-managers and begin delegating more of what he could no longer see to himself, lest the whole thing go down in flames.
It was also high time, he decided, to contact Dung to get a few of his shadier acquaintances together so the Headmaster could generously allow them to go fairy hunting in the Forbidden Forest. They'd leave a few hundred dead. Hagrid would collect them, and turn them over to him. Dumbledore could then use their wings to construct for himself a Time Turner or two. He would have done this long ago, except that he'd been distracted by the various Prophet articles, then the follow-up disasters, then finally waiting for a break in the emergencies so he could catch his breath.
Well, no more waiting. It was past time to begin to deal with these events more aggressively. After all, hadn't the false-Trelawney given him the clue herself? As the spider he was doomed to fall to the chicken. His answer now was the same it had been then: It was time for him to become the wolf.
Rubbing his hands together, Dumbledore cackled, swirling his black cape as he departed.
I I I
Hermione was laughing, cuddling her dragon close while telling Luna brightly, "Cuddle Companions are a cute concept. It also makes a lot of sense. Distance between lovers, siblings, children and parents, etc, is a real problem. And they would get a lot of use from firsties, you would think."
Harry had to agree. Personally, he was ecstatic that he could cuddle his own dragon and feel the love those two girls had for him. It was awesome!And, he thought, something he could quickly get accustomed to.
In fact, the idea of this continuing all his life long was very appealing.
Hermione laughed at something Luna said, but Harry just basked in the glow coming off the two of them, for the first time in his life feeling secure.
'Yep,' Harry reflected. 'Dumbledore had lost what had to have been one of his most loyal and devoted followers - because Hermione's whole character was built around loyalty and devotion.'
'Well, knowledge and learning, too. She was nice like that.'
That caused him to wonder about her bravery, because... Wow! To have eclipsed those other two qualities... he couldn't find words for it.
The Fairy Trio were just returning from repairing and shoring up the roof on that one collapsed secret passage tunnel out of Hogwarts. Nobody monitored it since it had been collapsed since forever, so it became the perfect secret entrance in and out. All it had needed was a bit of repairs.
Of course, those repairs were beyond the capabilities of most Hogwarts students, and the staff had little to no interest in restoring it. Frankly, they saw the castle as it was and never really thought of changing it.
Odd. The trio just called it one of those wizarding blind spots and moved on.
It being a Normal Day, (the only day they could do work in the castle without fear of tipping off Dumbledore) they recovered the tunnel in the very early morning on their way back from their workout by the lake.
Firenze had become strictly nocturnal in the last little while, staying up all night long to train the trio of teenagers, acting as their fitness instructor as they sleepwalked through their routines under his direction.
The routines themselves were only a couple of hours long apiece, but he had to oversee three sets of them each night, one for each repeated day. It had left the centaur sleeping during his days and working all nights, as he did not have the use of a Time Turner - they couldn't trust too many of those out, and the centaur lived just too close to Hogwarts not to fear an accident that might lead to exposure.
Overseen by a centaur, the workouts they were getting were quite effectual. They started with some of the more beneficial exercises worked out in the Greek Gymnasiums, followed by an hour swimming in the lake using gillyweed providing excellent full body workouts, quite often working in some sports.
That had potential to be very unfortunate, as the Greeks worked out in the nude, and wrestling was one of their primary sports.
This did not bother Firenze. Centaurs typically wore no clothing even on their human half. However, thankfully, England was a great deal colder than Greece was, so naked wrestling between Harry and his girls had to be canceled on account of they'd freeze their bits off. It was fall in Scotland, and not a good time for running around without your clothes on in the middle of the night.
So, no naked wrestling for the Fey Trio. Although Luna pouted, Hermione cut her off before she could suggest warming charms.
A good thing, too, as it would've caused more problems than could easily be described. Also, the centaur just didn't have the budget for importing the massive amounts of olive oil that were a Greek athlete's only covering- and Harry had NO intention of fronting the money!
There was a time and place for all things, and he wanted any contact of that nature to be in an atmosphere of privacy and intimacy to foster the tender gentleness he felt such a situation deserved - not the combative air of a no holds barred, hair pulling wrestling match out in the middle of a lawn!
And that wasn't an idle fear. Anciently, the Spartans had withdrawn their Olympic team in protest when eye-gouging and biting got disallowed from wrestling tournaments. And that seemed exactly the wrong way to get introduced to a girl's intimate parts.
Heck, that seemed the wrong way to treat each other, period, so they did all their wrestling with large transfigured dolls animated for that purpose, as Harry had no intention of treating them that roughly.
Of course, there were some who'd probably get off on it.
Case in point, Bellatrix met them as they returned from their workout, with a stack of towels in her hands, one of which she immediately put to use on Harry's wild and unruly hair. "Oh-h-h Master! I made you snacks and a protein shake to help get your body nice and strong and supple."
They others tried to ignore her perverted giggling.
Bellatrix had replaced Madam Pince, the Hogwarts Librarian, to be close to her Lord, although she spent most of her mornings lately drooling over Harry after his workouts. Someday soon she'd even be liable to join them in those, the way things were going, just to get more perverted leering material in on her beloved master.
Luna leaned close to Hermione to whisper, "It will be sad when we finally have to put her down, because she's adorable in a sick, disturbing sort of way."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Speaking of adults and children, after what you did to Paddy it's a wonder he doesn't wanna keep you for himself! Although, he IS getting along rather well with Amelia, and it would be cute if the first pair of knickers he ever stole ended up belonging to his future wife."
Luna giggled and skipped off to the VIP quarters they were still sharing, having preferred them to staying in the regular dorms (and no authority figure had tried to kick them out yet).
The other two followed moments later, eager to change and get ready for the day; although when Harry walked in to his VIP bedroom he saw aplate sitting on his side table with a pair of lacy white knickers lying on it, and a sign on a stick, reading, "Steal Me."
Harry picked them up, after checking for wards or curses, and the moment he did so fireworks went off, streamers appeared and a camera bulb flashed. Luna appeared wearing a party hat, strategically placed wrapping paper with ribbons tied in bows, and nothing else.
"You know," he remarked, fighting a smile and trying to sound sardonic, and only failing just a little, sounding a wee bit amused. "That outfit would be a lot more effective if you were older than twelve, or if I weren't only thirteen."
The blonde girl shrugged, saying, "Hermione only just reminded me of Sirius, who as much as demanded that I do this in order to earn my engagement to you - a Potter family tradition, and all."
Hermione, who had been about to barge in the door, noted this to herself, then barged in openly. "Alright, you two, no horsing around! We've got visitors today, so be sure to be ready on time!"
The other two scattered to their baths and dressing. Hermione looked down at the note and smirked. "A Potter family tradition, eh?" and then she went on her own way.
"Who is our first guest?" Luna asked as they all got together and she was drying her hair with a few deft wand flicks.
Resolving to learn that charm herself, Hermione was about to answer when a polite knock sounded at the door and they all scrambled to get the last bits of everything taken care of.
I I I
"Well, I'm glad yesterday's over with. Birthdays are always stressful for me."
Both her immediate friends looked on her in concern. "Why is that?"Luna asked, puzzled. "Don't you like your birthday?"
"It's not that." Hermione shook her head, hair waving. "One of my uncles is always there to tease me about a muggle holiday held on the same day."
"Really? I can't think of one," Harry, too, was puzzled.
The bushy haired girl sighed, blowing her locks up out of her face."Really, it's no big deal."
"So, why don't you like your birthdays?" Luna queried.
Seeing she'd either have to tell the truth or make something up, Hermione gave in to the inevitable. "Alright, he always shows up in costume and using this horrible accent, doing his best to embarrass me! I hate when people use a language I can't understand!"
"You weren't born on Halloween," Luna shook her head, objecting.
"It's not that." Hermione drooped her head, resigned.
"So what holiday is September 19th?" Harry wondered aloud to her.
Once more the girl sighed. "Alright, he dresses up and talks like apirate. September 19th is International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Seamen in the days of sail (as well as today) spoke a language so full of technical jargon as to be nearly incomprehensible to a landsman, and my uncle enjoys it. So, now you know the shameful truth. I was born on International Talk Like A Pirate Day."
Luna gaped, while Harry snorted with surprised laughter.
"Muggles actually have holidays like that?" the blonde asked, confused.
"Well, it's not a major celebration," the bookworm temporized. "But it's there."
"You know," Harry wondered in playful thought, "that could be a good idea. It sounds more fun than most holidays. A pity we didn't celebrate it."
He suddenly spied Susan sitting at the breakfast table surrounded by other Puffs, and was off, plopping down beside the blonde Hufflepuff he was now engaged to, throwing an arm across her shoulders to pull her tight, and proclaiming aloud to her before the table at large, "Arrr! Me Beauty!Avast, there! Iff'n you aren't a plunder worth the taking, eh? No Spanish galleon ever had as sweet a booty as ye, my dear!" Slashing a squinty glare across the startled table, he declared, "An I'll keelhaul the lily livered louse as what sez otherwise!"
Then, to the astonishment of all, he bent her over backwards so she was dangling off the bench, helpless without him to hold her up, he planted a great big kiss on her, thoroughly enjoying making the scene.
Then, when he was done, the boy righted her, only to discover the girl was too shocked to stay upright on her own. So, swinging her up over his shoulder like a bag of loot, he made a squinty-eyed, peg-leg style walk away from the table, carrying her off without so much as a backwards glance.
After they were about halfway to the Gryffindor table, he declared to the suddenly stirring Susan, "Oh, by the way, did you know your legal guardian just engaged you to me?"
The girl fainted on the spot.
Taking compassion on the poor girl, Hermione flicked her wand under the table where she was waiting for Harry, reversing the Obliviate performed on Susan the day they'd all tried to escape from Hogwarts.
At least this way she'd know what heroic deed she'd been engaged for. To her immense surprise, this woke the loyal girl up; and, to the startlement of the entire house, she wriggled about in Harry's arms to plant a deep kiss on him.
"Well, she's enthusiastic," Luna calmly began to fill her plate with food, the stuff imported from outside by Dobby riding a smuggling dodo.
All across the table, folks were drooling over the food surrounding the Fey Trio. But there was a ward line around them preventing anyone from getting at it. Only now Susan was brought to share the feast.
Smoldering slightly from his latest attempt to grab the good stuff, Ron glared hatefully at his former friends as they sat down to enjoy it.
"Hey, Harry! Why don't you let your real friends in on the good stuff?"he shouted, elbowing Sean and Dean, who quickly nodded along with him.
"I am with my real friends, Weasley," Harry answered, right before Luna elbowed him. Then he looked up and, placing Susan aside (to her great disappointment)stood up and apologized. "I'm so sorry. Neville, would you care to join us?"
Neville did, moving quickly. Harry then took pity on the rest of the Gryffindor Quidditch team and invited them as well. Noting a few absences, he said to his girlfriends, "After this, we ought to go to the Hospital Wing to check in on Alicia Spinnet and Katie Bell. I hear they're still in there."
Soberly, the two girls nodded, followed by Susan a moment later.
I I I
I always liked International Talk Like A Pirate Day, and am a bit curious as to why so few have connected the facts that it falls on Hermione's birthday.
Oh well. More fun for me, I guess.
And, I'll wager a guess that no one predicted my Harry approaching Susan like that.
Anyway, for those who are curious, check out the wikipedia article on International Talk Like A Pirate Day. It matches up with what I'd learned from other sources. Or you can google their homepage. This site doesn't allow URLs or I'd post a direct link.