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
There seemed an unwritten rule in the magical world: the larger a creature was, the more resistant it was to spells. This certainly held true for dragons and giants, but also to a lesser extent for trolls. Most people's spells would splash off their magically toughened hides.
Most people hadn't been terrorized by a troll in their first year, and so had considerable motivation to turn her research talents onto how to solve such situations, should one arise in the future.
Hermione's spell caught one troll in the eyes, blowing them apart and blinding the nasty creature.
Most people were also not so unconventional as to have nearly no relation to standard trains of thought. Luna's spell covered the ground under the trolls with ice. Then her second spell covered that with a layer of thick, slippery custard (not real enough for eating, unfortunately, but great for playing in).
Two trolls fell down. One impaled itself on one of the nearby spikes, gashing itself badly across the ribs, unfortunately it was not a fatal or a debilitating wound.
Both girls were also now resolving to follow Harry's example on this issue: armor was daily wear, not something put on for occasions. Because here was the first opportunity since acquiring any it would have been of good use, and they had it in their bags, but there was no time for them to safely pause and put it on.
As the trolls stopped to think (and trolls took a LONG time to think over anything more complicated than 'approach and bash') Harry unstoppered three vials, and, mumbling something about 'would have preferred to wait to use one of my own batches for this' dropped scraps of ragged, hairless leather into each of them, passing one to each of Hermione and Luna, who had been casting spells to further daze and injure the trolls.
They all downed them, and as quickly as that three Nemean Lions stood between the Hufflepuff girls and the injured trolls. Now, at the size of a troll, those lions were no larger than a cougar was to a man, but a cougar was still perfectly able to kill a man. A lot of strength can be packed onto a feline frame, and its bits were far more pointy.
The lions lunged, going for the jugulars of three of the trolls, their claws digging in deeply despite the magical resilience of their flesh, grabbing hold so their hind paws could rake open those flabby bellies, spilling ropes of steamy intestines out onto the ground, even as their jaws tore out trollish throats.
Now a Nemean Lion was not as invulnerable as tales say, but they served quite adequately against these trolls. The one impaled on the spike, left for last as the least dangerous, lasted scarcely any longer than his fellows.
It was when they'd all transformed back to reassure Susan and Hannah, and cast cleaning charms to rid themselves of the troll blood all down the fronts of their mouths, clothes and hands, that Harry noticed the ice Luna had summoned was already missing, and the custard crisp around the edges.
He'd been a cook long enough to know what frying looked like when he saw it.
Whirling on the two Hufflepuffs, Harry shouted, "Quick! Climb into my pants!"
Susan and Hannah stared at each other disbelievingly, unable to believe he'd requested that so soon in the relationship, and under such circumstances too!
"No, into my pockets!" the boy hastily amended, seeing them misunderstand."They're charmed to hold any amount of volume, and they're every bit as fire and heatproof as I am. They close with a perfect seal, you'll be safe in there. Now hurry!"
Noticing now, around their as yet unprocessed fright over the encounter, that he was correct in his observation that the chamber was heating up with alarming rapidity, the redhaired Susan and and her pink faced blonde friend both scrambled eagerly into the pockets he was holding open for them.
Susan's boot soles were smoking by the time she made it in.
Before sealing them up, he told the girls in his pants pockets, "These are set up with spells to hold creatures I might find, and smuggle them past wards. You should have air in there for as long as you like. Your worst danger now is boredom. We'll let you out as soon as we can."
By the time he sealed those pockets air in the room was already sweltering.
"Charmed pockets?" was all Hermione said.
Harry blushed, rubbing the back of his head. "It was actually a trick known to a few aurors back during the last war against Riddle: carry about a few dangerous beasts in your pockets that you can set loose on your enemy if things get really bad. Both sides had figured it out and were using it before the end. It's like having a back-up wand, or dagger. Always have a few more surprises than your enemy is able to cope with. It's also one of the rare few ways to get a postmortem kill on your enemy: if you die and he starts to go through your pockets he might find his face ripped off before he knows what surprise thing he's set loose."
Luna was already levitating the dead trolls into her own pockets, and when inquiring looks were directed her way, simply answered, "Potion ingredients."
Casting several aquamenti spells, the group began washing the taste of troll out of their mouths while the water droplets boiled before reaching the floor.
I I I
Mad Eye Moody had loosed a graphorn and a chimera from his pockets, and Bellatrix was chiding herself for not having picked up something suitable for these sorts of situations herself, since her stint at Azkaban had robbed her of her previous set.
Other than that, the fight was going pretty well. She knew Moody from back during the war, and they'd fought before, so she knew his style. While he, on the other hand, had been caught completely off-guard by her, thinking she was the school librarian.
For all his talk of paranoia, the human brain cannot function without certain assumptions. You have to believe that certain things are what they are, like your body, your wand, the Earth, etc. No one can bear the burden of being suspicious of all things all of the time. It can't be done. The mind would break if it tried to treat everything as a variable. It simply wouldn't function.
No, the biggest part of the reason Moody required such detailed information on a target before he would accept a hit was to reduce or eliminate all of the variables on the assignment. He could not be aware of everything at once. He could only do as her Lord had done and prepare for as many contingencies as possible. Sadly for him, those contingencies had not included being ambushed by a school librarian, who turned out to be one of the most elite Death Eaters in disguise.
Her first spell, a hex calling forth purple flame, would've cut him in half had it not been for the double layer dragonhide vest he wore under his enchanted and magically stiffened armored auror robes. But, knowing that he was a tough cookie to crumble, her first spell had been only the opening hex in a steady barrage of curses.
The corridor exploded around the ancient, gnarled hit wizard as he dodged, deflected and conjured barriers to her assault, all the while trying to put out the fire on his clothes and keep the rent through the back of his robes and armor continually facing away from her.
Bellatrix was having fun again!
This was why she served her master! The continual cornucopia of pleasures!One minute torturing a family of muggle beasts, the next undoing a century of manipulation by the arrogant old Headmaster by revealing some portion of what he'd hidden from the curriculum, then unleashing devastation at school in front of terrified students while she fought an elite auror to a standstill!
Life simply didn't get any better than this!
Bellatrix switched to her animagus form, a deadly yet beautiful pure white tiger (not exactly suitable for a pet unless she took shrinking droughts that she was already preparing, in which case she could look like an adorable white cat with tiger stripes that could be colored white if need arose)to dodge out of the way of a barrage of destructive spellfire, blasting apart the corridor above her head.
Cats can leap twenty to thirty feet with ease when greatly motivated. The paranoid auror blew apart the staircase where she'd been standing, leaving absolutely no room to duck or hide as the entire hall, high or low, side to side and top to bottom, was filled with explosions, poison gas, reaching tentacles transfigured from scattered detritus, and a wide area stunning charm.
But the tigress was already behind him.
Even as Moody was realizing he didn't see her shielding under this onslaught as he'd expected, her reaching claws skittered off his armored robes. But the force of the impact still bruised and stunned him, he just didn't leave his entrails spread all over the floor.
She would have finished him then, biting his unprotected throat out with her jaws, had not she been knocked off the top of the stunned auror by the force of the chimera he'd unleashed ramming into her side in a pounce not unlike the one she'd used on her own prey a moment before.
Against the creature's expectations she transformed back within its claws rather than try the lesser strength of a tiger against the much more fearsome magical beast. In this, it thought to shred her apart at once, as the strength of a witch in a wrestling claw vs claw match was negligible, whereas a tiger at least stood a chance. However, in this desire the chimera was disappointed, as its teeth and claws simply skidded off her silver armor.
She had taken to following her lord's example in wearing that at all hours.
The chimera realized, to its shame, that it couldn't penetrate her protection with its teeth or claws just as she'd blasted it across the hallway, sending the monster skidding across the floor to smash into the doors of the Great Hall and burst them open. The enraged beast surged to its feet in the midst of that chamber, roaring defiance out of all three heads before it lunged back out to rejoin the fighting, greatly startling those already at lunch.
Several among the students who'd moments before been peacefully taking in a relaxing repast found their underwear needed to be changed. Hair stood on end in every department, and more than a few staff were stuttering in horror, their minds unable to make the switch from a perfectly ordinary everyday feast to such a shocking display of raw and open violence.
Madam Pince, for that was the form Bellatrix was still wearing, got blasted in those doors moments later, her upper torso held in the jaws of a graphorn while she repeatedly stabbed the beast with a silver dagger in one hand and blocked, dueled and counterfired spells with the wand in her other.
Idly, in those corners of their minds not gibbering with horror, several of the children resolved to be more respectful of those books they'd checked out.
Without even bothering to attend to the monster trying to chew upon her, Bellatrix transfigured the benches some of the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs were seated on into giant anacondas which immediately dumped them on their behinds and slithered out those massive doors to engage in the horrible fighting beyond. One immediately got blasted into bloody bits, only for her to transfigure it afresh into a swarm of harpies that shrieked aloud and began to swoop in on attacks versus her unseen assailant.
Finally ramming her dagger in deep in the neck of the graphorn that had her in its mouth, she got far enough in past those massively overstrong layers of nearly impenetrable hide and severed the spinal cord, paralyzing the beast with a mortal stroke and regaining her freedom, just as Moody decided on a tactical retreat (not having been paid or assigned to kill the librarian) and began to leave the vicinity of the Great Hall. So she followed him out, leaving those in the Hall no clue as to who she had been fighting, and no explanation or evidence beyond the missing benches, the destruction, and a slowly dying graphorn lying wheezing for every breath on the stones of the Great Hall, a dagger of goblin silver still lodged in its spine, stuck there by the force of the blow that impaled it there, and abandoned by the embattled witch.
That, and the steadily fading sounds of ever-more distant explosions.
Neville turned to the girl sitting opposite him, a buttered roll forgotten in his hands, and said, shaking his head, "Harry's got to be involved in this."
I I I
"Okay, now you've got admit, the fireproofing ritual was handy. Anyone hurt?"
"I think Hermione's underwear caught fire, but she's okay." Luna giggled.
"What can I say? I prefer cotton to silk. They're more absorbent." Hermione was rather annoyed at her underwear having burst into spontaneous flame on her, but was otherwise unharmed.
"Personally, I never wear the stuff," Luna offered.
Able to ignore the heat, it hadn't taken the trio long to figure out a way to circumvent the charms holding the trapdoor closed and rise out of their trap levitating each other, although Luna had preferred to climb.
Glancing aside at the devastation that sealed the hallway they'd been going down on their way to the Great Hall, and hearing the receding sounds of battle beyond, Harry quickly opened a third pocket even while rescuing two terrified Hufflepuffs from his first two.
"Harry, what's that?" Susan Bones froze at the sight of the large snake he'd taken out of his pants.
"A basilisk. It hatched only two days ago. A pity, actually. Those claw marks in the stone are of a chimera. I heard one in the halls above us earlier, only no wizard has ever defeated one and lived. I'd a small hope this guy's gaze could do it, but it's still only a tiny thing, and just like those mandrakes last year, immature its killing gaze can't even make you dizzy."
Luna calmly put a hand on his arm, and kindly said, "Believe."
Seconds later the tiny snake was growing, enlarging to enormous size before the girls' eyes as it seemed to age dozens of years every second until it was every bit as large as the snake he'd played with in the Chamber of Secrets.
"Mount up!" Harry cried, conjuring saddles. Not even Hermione questioned the ability of fairy magic to make the creature grow a thousand years in less than a minute, simply accepting help into a seat behind Harry behind the thing's massive head.
Albus Dumbledore came around the corner, having hurried to the scene to investigate this unplanned commotion. Apparently the old geezer had some serious charms on his glasses, as looking at it through them he turned to stone rather than keeling over dead.
Not one to overlook a happy circumstance, or the Headmaster's bad luck, Harry transfigured the man into a small plushy and pocketed him to dispose of later.
"Right, eyes shut," he ordered the impossibly massive serpent as he took up the reins. "We're going to have to shortcut through the Great Hall if we're to catch up to that battle."
I I I
McGonagall, like virtually all of the rest of the staff and students, stared in unmitigated shock and horror at the dying form of the terrible magical beast that had only recently been trying, unsuccessfully to everyone's surprise, to eat the Hogwarts librarian.
Only Hagrid had risen past this sensation, and was dragging madam Pomphrey over to help heal the 'wee little thing.'
The Deputy Headmistress was only shaken out of her shock by a loud bang as the side doors in from the antechamber slammed open under great force. Her shocked eyes joined others in snapping that way just in time to see Harry Potter surge inward, his girls all trailing along behind him. It was only after that fact registered that it became clear to her stunned senses that the group of children were all seated as they moved, and it was only once that fact got processed that her attention turned to what they were riding, just in time as a sixty five foot serpent slithered into the room, rearing up approximately twenty feet once it had cleared the door.
"Hi ho Blinky, Away!!" Harry shouted, waving the Sorting Hat above his head in one hand as he held the reins in the other, spurring the beast on.
"They went thataway!" Hermione shouted, getting into the spirit of things as she pointed to the ruined main doors. "Let's head 'em off at the pass!"
"Don't worry girls," Luna reassured the audience. "Blinky here is perfectly harmless so long as she keeps her eyes shut."
"Blinky?" The word somehow burst from McGonagall's lips.
"The basilisk from the Chamber of Secrets!" Luna chirruped back happily."Harry fetched her when he learned there was a chimera in the castle, as no wizard has ever defeated one of those and lived. So we thought we'd give a thousand year old basilisk a try!"
Luna's words came floating back in as the massive king of serpents vanished through the ruined main doors, not having paused once in its pursuit of the increasingly distant fight.
Hagrid could not control the look of adoration in his eyes as he watched the tail end of the snake depart through the doors.
I I I
Amelia Bones smiled up as the auror stepped into her office for a private interview concerning his latest report. She continued smiling as the man sat down in the chair facing her, and that smile became genuine when the charm placed on the seat knocked him out the moment he'd settled in.
Her normally sharp-witted aurors had pooh for brains, having been under compulsions from Dumbledore for so long. He hadn't suspected a thing.
With the auror helpless before her, Amelia slipped out a hand-copied sheet Harry had been nice enough to provide from that book on how to reverse Obliviation, checking it briefly before waving her wand over the helpless auror to restore the person's memory of the true account of the Prophet Incident, the events of that morning that Dumbledore had erased from their minds.
That done, it was a much simpler matter to erase the compulsions he'd also laid on them.
With that out of the way, Amelia then woke her auror to begin explaining everything that had gone on since that frightful day, what she intended to do about it, and the auror's part in her plans.
It might take some time, reclaiming her auror force one by one like this, but eventually she'd get them all. The ones under compulsion were sloppy, and the Headmaster had kept control so long, while so rarely issuing new orders (or refreshing old ones) that they were starting to become listless, like toys whose springs had run down.
No, she would get her aurors back, and then there would be a reckoning with Albus Bloody Dumbledore.
I I I
The group of Hogwarts students riding a basilisk emerged from the castle to find that the battle had left them behind, and there was no sign of the combatants.
"I see nobody on the road," said Hermione, holding her hand up to shield her eyes and scanning the distance.
"I only wish I had such eyes," Luna remarked in a fretful tone. "To be able to see Nobody! And at that distance, too! Why, it's as much as I can do to see real people, by this light!"
Hermione wrinkled her nose in distaste at being made fun of. However, in looking back behind her to see the blonde she also saw and considered the castle. "Luna, I've been meaning to ask, if wizards are so well protected from muggles, why do we even need to hide?"
The blonde girl shrugged. "You can protect yourself with every spell on Earth, and it does not help if a mob with pitchforks decides to stab you to death. If you have no safe place to go, and muggles are everywhere, then eventually they will find and destroy even the most fantastically powerful wizard - and the bulk of our magical population could scarcely be termed 'powerful' at all. So we built fortresses. Then it was easier to hide them than to deal with the muggles catapulting in burning pitch and tar, dead bodies, and every other noxious thing they could find. Magic may be strong, but muggles are inventive and it was just easier to hide from them than fight a war we could not win. A wizard who can stand against one muggle could be overcome by ten; one who could kill ten still die to hundreds, and so on. We are fantastically outnumbered and always have been."
"But there are so many forms of magical transportation!"
"Yes," Luna remarked calmly. "But most of those were developed after we went into hiding. Before the Statute of Secrecy, the only commonly used form of magical transport was a flying broom, and those can be dealt with easily by archers. Brooms were neither fast, maneuverable, nor high flying back then. All of those developments are comparatively recent."
Now Hermione scowled, pursuing a different thought. "That reminds me, we are going to need some kind of defense against aerial attacks on Godric's Hollow. Our enemies are sure to use some." She sighed. "Oh well, I suppose we could still handcraft a rifle."
"Sure. Why would you want to?" Harry quipped, still scanning the horizon for traces of the two combatants. "Even handcrafted, it could not sustain the really fine tolerances. So it would be more work and less accurate than the archery we are already learning."
Hermione smirked. "You said it yourself, Harry. Guns replaced bows because they are easy to use. I was thinking of something we could put in the hands of the common townsfolk to make flying overhead unwise."
"Sadly, they'd never use it," Luna corrected, shaking her head. "They have a phobia of acting too muggle, or using certain tools, and guns have a very bad rep among wizards. Only the lowest would use them, as it's seen as admitting you are no good with a wand, so they're often called 'squib-sticks'. Besides, you know how easy it is to repel them. I much prefer our magic bows."
"You guys are learning archery?" Hannah inquired, blinking curiously.
"Yes, and of course you're invited, to our workouts as well, naturally,"Luna reassured. "We'll show you the spells this evening."
"Got it!" Harry cried, and the basilisk surged off after their quarry."Moody had pulled out a magic broom and raced across the ward line to apparate out. But his chimera is still fighting Bellatrix. It's chasing her into the Forbidden Forest. C'mon!"
I I I
Wow! Most of my work on this chapter didn't actually end up in this chapter, but had to be put off for another one. Oh well, hope you enjoyed it anyway.