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
As distasteful as they found it, they couldn't leave a hostile army at their backs, so Harry ordered the assault, sending forth his wooden troops to scare out the hidden weres so that Blinky could petrify them.
"You're not killing them?" Susan asked, then sighed. "That's a relief."
Hannah's face was ashen at the nightmare of all of those werewolves getting out and going on rampages. "We don't want to set them loose, either!"
"They could infect the entire countryside, and have no reason to love us," Luna agreed. "All in all the Ministry's handling of the werewolf issue never did make much sense. It's a super contagious, uncontrollable disease that takes nothing more then a scratch or bite to spread. There is no cure and once a person is infected they are a danger to everyone around them. About the only thing stopping this plague from spreading to insane levels is probably the natural tendency for werewolves kill and eat their prey. It takes intervention by outside forces or luck for someone to not die from an attack."
Hermione's face had gone stony. "But instead of providing them sanctuaries, places to be contained for their own safety and that of others during their transformations, the Ministry offends them, deprives them of jobs so they can't afford to take steps to isolate themselves securely, and treats them like dirt without actually offering any solution to the problem they spread. It's like everything they do is designed to make the situation worse!"
"That might be the point," Harry offered, sitting on the back of his wooden horse. "Recall that the Ministry has been Dumbledore's sock puppet for longer than any of us have been alive. He's had so much power for so long that if things are the way they are that is because that's the way he wants them to be. Yet nothing's been done to stop this contagion. Think about it."
He turned look at his ladies. "Werewolves actually get off a bit lucky, while the Ministry treats them like second or third class citizens they don't seem to actively try to kill them off, or more rationally to isolate or secure them. Add to that how easy it is to spread... Dumbledore could have an unlimited army of down trodden and desperate people in the werewolves in no time. All it would take is chaining down one or two wolves during a full moon and controlling who they bit or scratched enough to ensure they lived. Suddenly you've got any number of people who have no rights, and believe only their champion, Dumbledore, cares enough to campaign to get them any."
The boy inhaled a large breath, then huffed it out. "Unfortunately, take a look passed the surface and you'll see that he's got so much authority that he could give them any rights he wanted, more or less by fiat. The fact that he doesn't proves that he's just dangling a carrot before them to get more loyal followers who are fanatically devoted to his cause."
Susan felt shocked. "So nothing is being done to protect people?"
Harry speared her with a gaze. "Why would a Dark Lord want to limit the size of his army? The more people this spreads to, the more fanatically devoted followers Dumbledore has who are willing to do anything for his promises."
"And before you object," Hermione interjected. "I think calling Dumbledore a Dark Lord is more than appropriate considering his evil, morally reprehensible and disgusting program of abuse against Harry."
"To say nothing of all his other programs of abuse and horror," Luna gave a soft shudder.
"And worst of all," Hermione growled darkly. "We've seen these werewolves transforming to fight us, and it isn't nighttime and it's not a full moon! That means someone has been working on upgrading their powers, allowing them more control over their transformations, and since they attacked us on sight that doesn't say much for any supposed friendly intentions. So we are looking not just at an army of werewolves, but of super-werewolves who can change on demand! Who knows what other upgrades they've gotten."
And truly there was nothing more to say about that.
Unfortunately for everyone, their attempted roundup did not go very well. Werewolves were fast, not threatened by the wooden soldiers, and knew this forest well. The clear majority of them escaped.
The statues of petrified werewolves they ended up transfiguring into plain boulders and stacking in a gully not far from the Hogwarts lake, outside of the Forbidden Forest. The ones that escaped they let go for now, deciding to be merciful and hoping they wouldn't get into too much trouble.
It wasn't much of a hope, but they didn't truly have the ability to chase them down either. Harry summoned Hedwig to take a note to Amelia, alerting her to the problem so she could get people to take precautions on the next full moon night. Then the fae children added 'research a cure for Lycanthrope' to their rather impressive list of things to do. That didn't mean they'd succeed, or even get close to one within their lifetimes, but it did mean they'd try to look into it when they could.
After that they soldiered on.
The next major battle for their wooden army came shortly after they'd gone passed an unexplained glass tower in the forbidden forest. Just as they were coming down a heavily overgrown slope the acromantulas met them en mass.
Those man-eating spiders were smart, and they came at them organized as an army themselves. The smaller and mid-sized spiders took to the tops of the trees where the wooden pikes couldn't get them and the compressed air rifle fire was partially blocked by many intervening layers of branches. It also meant they could bypass the infantry on the ground and strike directly at the much softer targets behind, jumping down on their heads.
The giant elephantine spiders attacked the front lines directly, smashing apart wooden soldiers as though they were so many twigs.
The acromantula menace actually outnumbered Harry's forces by a wide margin, ten to one at the least, and the initial surprise rush smashed most of the wooden army before Harry could give new orders.
The centaurs fled, knowing their speed was their best advantage. The fairies sped out until they began to get caught by webs, then they burned themselves free and retreated close to Harry. Blinky was staring in every direction as fast as she could turn her head about, transforming hundreds of spiders from horse size up to elephants to stone.
But then charged in a group of hippo sized spiders, nearly the biggest they had but substantially quicker than the elephant sized ones, with blindfolds of webbing wrapped around their eyes, rushing in to attack the basilisk at point blank range, their fangs and poison against its - and they had dozens of mouths to Blinky's one.
Harry was shocked, having never even imagined such tactics before.
His little army had been reduced to scattered bits in the first assault. His wooden soldiers were mostly down, the centaurs fled. His fairy swarms were holding together nicely and collected together in such a tight mass even their feeble flames were able to crisp any spiders that got close(which was the only thing saving Blinky, as the fairies counterattacked the blindfolded anti-basilisk squads of spiders), but he and his girls were all pressed together tightly in a cluster with his basilisk, the fairies, and a few wooden soldiers.
Then the giant acromantulas who had held back pushed trees down on top of the little cluster of survivors.
Lumberjacking is a dangerous profession because trees weighed several tons and could build up substantial momentum when they began falling. It could well be compared to a gigantic multi-ton mallet with a titan's arm behind it, and striking over a very wide area.
Quicker than anyone could have believed possible, Harry summoned both Susan and Hannah back into his pockets. The fairies were scattering in every which direction as he did so. Then the trees obscured everything as they hit with enough force to shake the forest.
Minutes later, three Nemean Lions came groggily to awareness, having just barely made the switch before the trees fell, and coming around to the voices of acromantulas arguing over who got to drain the blood and eat the flesh of the giant basilisk.
Blinky lay dead, having been crushed below falling trees and speared by branches. And the larger spiders had a tough time bullying the smaller ones not to swarm over her to feast upon their kill, even while arguing with each other over who got the largest or better portions.
A Nemean Lion was far from invulnerable, but it was magic that was their weakness, and a falling tree had virtually no magical energy. So the trio had survived an impact that could easily have pulped them despite their armor. The wooden horses they'd all been riding were mere splinters beneath them.
The acromantulas had not bought their victory without cost, either. There were countless hundreds of them petrified by the basilisk's gaze. Dozens had fallen to lucky shots from the air rifles of toy soldiers or arrows of fleeing centaurs. But considering the tens of thousands of spiders brought to the fight, the bugs losses were very slight.
That was, of course, until Harry got angry.
Squeezing himself out of the narrow crack he'd been stuck in under abranch that ought to have pulverized him had he not been a Nemean Lion when it hit, the boy inhaled and ROARED!
The challenge inherent in it was no bother, it was the wandless fire spell he accompanied that with that was the real threat. Their own immersion in the Goblet of Fire had granted them an affinity for those, as well as an immunity to flame and heat, and the resulting belch of flame caught webbing and shattered soldiers on fire and created an instant crisis for the giant spiders.
Among the many skills almost unique to man, the handling of fire stood high on the list. Acromantulas, as most beasts, had no ready answer for the fire that suddenly blazed into existence all around them, consuming webbing and roasting bodies, nor for the returning fairies that swarmed back in, heeding the call roared out by their Queen's champion and adding to the blaze with their own small skills at wandless flame charms.
Shattered wood from trees and soldiers quickly caught the blaze and spread it. Soon Luna and Hermione had pulled themselves free and added their own roars of wandless flame to this inferno. The spider forces were suddenly devastated, unable to escape quickly enough before they crisped and burned.
Harry popped back to his normal form long enough to rescue the corpse of Blinky before the blaze could do much to touch it, storing that away in his many safari pouches to be harvested later that day.
Then he had to think of an answer for the crisis he'd created.
He'd never intended to subject the Forbidden Forest to a forest fire, as once started those things were nearly impossible to stop. The acromantulas that had survived the initial blast of fire and heat were now in full retreat, racing away as fast as their multiple legs could carry them, heedless of the areas they had fought over or the succulent flesh they'd hoped to feast upon.
In the end Harry decided they had no better option than to do the same. The dryads were safe thanks to that ritual they'd been working on this month, and sanctuaries throughout the forest would shelter the good creatures and ordinary wildlife, while the bad he'd been hoping to drive out regardless, and there wasn't anything he could do to stop the forest fire he'd created.
It wasn't what he'd wanted, but it would work. It would do the job, the boy concluded as he dispatched the fireproof fairies to go throughout the forest searching out good creatures to lead to the sanctuaries - or to come warn him or his witches of any that needed special rescue.
Forest fires appear periodically in nature. Barring special circumstances, the forest would live. Most of the underbrush would be burned away, but the big trees would survive, if singed a little. And it did guarantee the place would be cleared out of evil creatures when he moved it, as the sanctuaries wouldn't take them, so they'd either die or flee out of the forest entirely.
He'd planned on something less drastic, but this would do nicely.
Actually, there was no reason to wait, so the boy moved the forest while it still burned, going in with freezing flame charms cast upon the staff he was using to set the boundaries and disappear with the forest that night.
It would reappear on the borders of his 40,000 acres, but only after Harry had finished using his remaining ward supplies to protect the place. And the creatures within would help vastly speed up his efforts to spread the magical hedge all around both properties as quickly as possible, eager to hide.
No one was anxious to have the forest reinfected with dark creatures. Nor, with all the troubles they felt were coming, did they think simple wards to be enough protection.
But the fire did cauterize it clean of all of the evils he'd meant to remove.
I I I
Draco Malfoy was not a nice person.
Draco No-Name was actually a step worse, having picked up the old family habit of murdering your peers and rivals a trifle earlier than he would've had events proceeded normally.
But he'd always wanted to be a Death Eater, so despite some possible initial squeamishness, he'd have gotten to it soon enough. Armed with the Malfoy name he could afford to be arrogant, without it he was becoming vicious.
Draca No-Name, however, was an emotional wreck. Had been her entire short existence.
Draco had awakened early that morning to the sights and smells of the hospital and been both sore and grumpy, so immediately on waking had become his usual whiny, demanding self.
Draco had been raised by his father with the pureblood maxim: if you can't feel good, and won't let yourself feel bad, at least feel superior. And servants were meant to take abuse. However, no sooner had he alerted the nurses that he was awake than things had rapidly gone from bad to worse.
The grizzled old veterans from the Ministry who'd come into his room had been utterly unsympathetic to his plight. Those old people must have done this a hundred times to get as jaded as they'd become, but it was all routine to them to ignore his complaints and demands, restrain him, silence him, then perform a certain ritual Draco had only joked about before.
In his jokes, it was always his enemies receiving it.
This was always just the sort of thing he'd been most pleased to imagine his rivals undergoing, transforming into useless breeder sows, fit only to be the ones to bear the pregnancies of children conceived among pureblood parents, not even fit to provide genes for the brats they carried, just forced to get bloated bearing the brats to term so pureblood didn't get stretch marks.
That was a fitting punishment. Potter and his mudblood Granger were always going to have ended up this way. And lately that Loony Lovegood would've begged to get off with just that much.
Subject to it himself, Draco had had none of the laughter he'd spared for his opponents in his dreams. He cried. He raged. He threw tantrums that did not impress his captors any more than it did the walls of his padded chamber. He would have hurt someone had anyone tried to comfort him. But it did nothing to stop the implacable occurrence of the ritual.
Funny, but he'd struggled and whined and begged and pleaded just like he'd always imagined that Potter would. And he'd gotten shown more mercy than he would've granted his rival, in that no one stood gloating over Draco during the process of having his reproductive organs inverted, turning in instead of out and transforming to serve a different set of functions.
Mere minutes later, and he was now Draca, his gender permanently changed and a breeder contract left as reading material on her bedside table by those completely unsympathetic Ministry people.
It was a nightmare. It had to be. First his father dead, then Loony Lovegood getting his fortune, not having a family name, tortured by his godfather Snape in front of the whole Slytherin common room, and now this.
He was to breed a dozen brats each for Crabbe and Goyle!
Worse, he had to NURSE them! Only mudbloods and whores nursed children. It was unsanitary, undignified, and had to be against some law somewhere!
Draca recovered enough to beat her pillow. This was to have been Potter's fate! Her father had promised!
But now that infinitely powerful protective figure was gone.
It would have been possible to feel sorry for the former lad had it not been the case that he'd once laughed at people going through worse than this. In fact, he'd put people through suffering as often as possible, as frequently as his elevated station allowed; and if he'd recognized them, he might've known why the Ministry people had been so unsympathetic as he'd made enemies of their families, humiliating them at parties, and bullying their children at Hogwarts.
No, that had been an all-volunteer group to perform the procedure. One had even paid for the opportunity to get on the team.
It would have been possible to sympathize with the newly minted girl's tears had it not been the case that he'd already once before arranged to do this to an enemy younger than himself, and that was done only in a fit of childish pique, just to prove his superiority to the lesser family. Lucius had been all too happy to apply the leverage to actually make it happen.
It was hard to sympathize with an arsonist finally getting burned.
Draco had seen his place in the world as the one showing off his superiority by dishing out grief to others, not unlike Dudley Dursley.
Now a girl, Draca had her purpose in life laid out for her along different lines.
Physically exhausted from throwing her fits, emotionally worn out from the same tantrums, and dazed by all that happened to her, it was hours before the cold rage overtook her and awakened her Slytherin cunning.
A girl could bear four children in three years one after another. For muggles that would destroy her body, but with magic it would be alright. Then if she made it twins each time (that could also be arranged by the right potions) she could execute this entire contract in nine years at no risk to herself. It would be undignified and disgusting, but it was going to be that either way, best if she could get it all out of the way as soon as possible.
That would free her to get her revenge.
Oh, she would have her money. The heirs of two pureblood lines would be left in her care. She could teach them and mold them, turn them into her loyal servants, all devoted to 'Mommy-Dearest'. Then their fathers would die and she could employ herself as guardian of the underaged lords, her children.
She could be practicing with her wand towards her revenge all that time.
Draca was halfway through daydreams where one of her spawn had been engaged to one of Luna's, then married, only for both the blonde Ravenclaw and her daughter to die tragically, leaving Draca once again in control of the Malfoy fortune, this time through her son who'd loyally turn it over to her, when the door to her private padded hospital room swung open, revealing a set of grim-faced aurors.
Moments later Draca got dragged out and before the Wizengamot wearing a transfigured set of convict's robes where she was brought up on charges for the attempted murder of Luna Darling, a copy of the newspaper article titled 'Murder Most Foul' and the accompanying picture of him shoving Luna off the top of the Astronomy tower went in as evidence.
Minutes later the former boy was convicted then sent to Azkaban, although in light of her breeder contract, she would be allowed conjugal visits.
Magical Justice was not always just, but it was swift.
I I I
The girls watched that evening as Harry used some portion of the immense stockpile of phoenix tears Albus had stored up (Dumbledore had barrels of the stuff stored away, that the trio had then naturally stolen as they'd emptied out his stores of virtually everything else) to heal the graphorn.
"Tomorrow we can do some diagnostics of Bella. She was so close to death I don't know, even with that no-wilting charm, if we'll have much time to save her. So I don't know whether to have all of us stand around her and pour this on her wounds, or just to dunk her in a barrel - although I hate the waste. No matter how much we have on hand, Fawkes is gone. We won't get more."
Luna grunted in amusement. "Just wait a few more days."
Hermione lofted an eyebrow to her friend, but answered Harry with her own observations, "I hope Bella lives. I like this version of her. Her oath did give me an idea that you might use. Namely, just who did the Death Eaters swear to? Tom Riddle or Lord Voldemort? As the name Lord Voldemort is fictitious, Harry could proclaim himself the true Lord Voldemort. Thus taking control of the oaths sworn to that title."
Harry and Luna both froze in stunned thought.
"Do we have to bring her back?" Susan asked, not terribly comfortable with the idea of bringing so notorious a Death Eater back.
Hannah nodded fervently along with her closest friend, adding, "She is one of the most terrible supporters of the Dark Lord in history."
But Hermione was already happily rattling on her favorite topic. "I think what Bellatrix did was wonderful. I can see the students' mannerisms in the library shift to meek, guarded and humble any time they're in there. Not to mention the fact that it's likely to stay quiet as no one would dare use an 'outside voice' any longer. That will make it so much easier to study. Not to mention under Dumbledore, most of magical history was either suppressed, exaggerated, incomplete, inaccurate or just plain false. So it'll be nice to see the truth for once. You have to deplore what he's done to our educations!"
Harry shook his head in wonder. "I'm still trying to wrap my mind around your earlier suggestion. That would be devastating, if it could work."
"You don't know for certain?" Hermione asked, puzzled, he knew all about how Tom Riddle made the marks, after all.
"No one's ever done that before," Luna observed, wide-eyed.
Harry was deep in consideration. "The theory seems sound, but we'd have to check and do some testing. I don't want to inherit more than his followers. For example, if any oaths to wage war on muggleborns came along with the title - they might, you know. Magic has a way of doing things like that."
Luna shook her head regretfully. "Wouldn't want to change sides just when we're doing so well."
"But it might work," Harry informed her hopefully. "And I couldn't think of anything more useful than to steal most of our enemy's followers."
"Why are we still fighting? We've won!" Susan protested, blurting out her feelings suddenly, no longer able to stand the question. "The Headmaster is stone, and a plushy at that, Snape is a steaming pile of animal dung out there somewhere and out of the picture entirely, and their heavily warded ritual chamber is collapsed! So no one can get to those horcruxes, no matter what spells Dumbledore used to compulse them to try. And without his phoenix to fetch him back, we could leave him to gather dust in the Chamber of Secrets for all time! Or smash him to bits with a sledgehammer and hide his rubble. We've won! So why is Harry still preparing to fight a war?"
"Oh, hush," Luna scolded, "it's best to let his mania for defense pass of its own accord. And we may be grateful for it someday, as there are other foes than Dumbledore. Besides, the magical economy is going to benefit powerfully from all of the financial moves he's making, as well as industries he's setting up. We'll be ages just cleaning up the messes the Headmaster left behind."
Hannah sighed, then brightened. "Well, I'm glad at least Draco has no money and is in Azkaban. He was always an unholy terror around school. I can't believe they didn't expel him for all he's done!"
Harry suddenly grinned. "Actually, McGonagall did. That was one of those papers we had her sign to get rid of us when we were Ghostbusters. Firing Snape was another, but she didn't read them."
I I I
End Book 1
I I I
Wow! I get this giddy feeling, like I've done some humongously wonderful thing like, I dunno, blown up a Death Star or something. The Empire is defeated, their superweapon destroyed.
Nothing could possibly cause them to strike back now, right?