Faery Heroes

Response to Paladeus's challenge "Champions of Lilith". Harry, Hermione, and Luna get a chance to travel back in time and prevent the hell that England became under Voldemort's rule, and maybe line their pockets while they're at it. Lunar Harmony; plenty of innuendo, dark humor, some bashing included; manipulative!Dumbles; jerk!Snape; bad!Molly, Ron, Ginny

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8233288/1/Faery-Heroes

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24. A Bad Case of the Mondays

His foot tapping impatiently, Harry waited below the trapdoor leading to Trelawney's lair. He and Hermione had met up with Luna in the kitchens for a quick lunch, where he had regaled her with his confrontation with Snape. The blonde had very nearly torn something from laughter; thankfully, a silencing charm kept her giggles from disturbing the castle's house elves.

And kept them from listening in on their own, as well, he considered quietly. No one thinks about them, but I bet the Hogwarts elves constitute a larger portion of Dumbledore's spy network than the portraits do. After all, everyone 'knows' that the paintings report to him and so need to be avoided, but how many times have people held private conversations in a deserted corridor, never realizing that there could have been an elf there with standing orders to report interesting information to the old man?

There was another benefit to eating away from the Great Hall: he wanted to let Snape stew in his own juices for a while. Many times the greasy git had struck Harry as being… not entirely stable, and the longer Snape had to rein in his temper, the more dramatic and violent his reaction would eventually be. Too bad I can't put the confrontation off until tomorrow; that would be even better for my plan. I need him so mad that he can't even see straight. He smiled evilly. Who could have guessed that reading the Hogwarts bylaws out of sheer boredom in the previous timeline would be useful?

A few other students in his year had gathered as he whiled away the time, and when the bell rang, he led the lethargic charge up the silver ladder. Divination had been his second-least favorite class when he first attended school, due mostly to Trelawney's irritating habit of predicting his death at least once a week. A second reason was the large amount of incense she constantly burned inside the stuffy little classroom. Of course, if I drank cooking sherry to sate my raging alcoholism, I'd want to cover the stench with something else, too. He paused for a moment; that thought had almost reminded him of something, but he could not put his finger on exactly what. Shrugging it off, he wended his way through the spindly little tables populating the room to a seat far from the noxious fireplace.

Over the next few minutes, the rest of the class gradually trickled in. He was surprised when Ron chose to sit next to Hannah Abbott; apparently, his new attitude had had more of an effect on the timeline than he expected. The chair across from him was still empty when the trapdoor closed on its own.

"Good day," Trelawney greeted in her normal half-aware manner. "And welcome back to Divination. I have, of course, been —"

A knocking on the floor cut her off, and with a frown she walked over and lifted the trapdoor. For the first time in his memory, her voice sounded just like any other professor's. "Ah, Mr. Longbottom, I am glad you finally made it here. Find an empty seat."

"Sorry, Professor," Neville said timidly as he entered. The boy glanced around and veritably scurried over to Harry. "Do you mind?"

He shook his head. Watching Neville set his bag down, he could not help but compare the mousy fifteen year old to the war-hardened man he had grown to be. Okay, now I see Mione's point. Neville needs something to raise his confidence, but without the DA, I have no idea what that could possibly be. Hmm, I'll think on it; after the way he fought by my side through two wars, there's no way I'm going to leave him to flounder about on his own. He tuned back in to hear the last of the professor's speech.

"Turn, please, to the introduction and read what Imago has to say on the matter of dream interpretation. Then, divide into pairs and interpret each other's most recent dreams. Carry on."

The book on the table, The Dream Oracle, was just as boring as it had been in the old timeline, so Harry let his thoughts wander. Not surprisingly, perhaps, they turned to the shawled woman drifting aimlessly about. I truly do not understand. Prophecies exist, and she is a real Seer, yet she doesn't even know it and acts more like a fairground fortune teller than anything else. It makes me wonder if there is any value in teaching a course like this; if Seers can't remember when they make a real prediction, can the Inner Eye even be trained? Is this class a total waste of time? He chuckled lightly, distracting Neville for a moment. Well, is this class a total waste of time for students besides those of us who signed up solely to fill up our second elective, I suppose would be a more accurate phrasing.

When there were only ten minutes left in the period, Neville glanced up from the book. "Have you had any dreams lately?"

"Well, I did have one last night starring a naked Hermione, but I'm pretty sure I know what that means already," he answered with a grin. The other boy's cheeks immediately turned cherry-red. "What about you?"

"There was one I had a few times over the summer, the most recent was… maybe last week? It's really weird."

"Sounds perfect for this assignment. Let's hear it, then."

Neville nodded. "Okay, when it starts, I'm working in our manor's greenhouse like I do a lot over the summers. I get up to wash the mooncalf manure off my hands, and this enormous pair of scissors crashes through one wall. For some reason, it's wearing one of my gran's hats, her favorite one with a stuffed vulture on top. I'm frozen in shock at this point, and it starts cutting up all the plants! First it's the flutterbloom, then the puffapod, then the bird-eating ivy, then —"

"I think I get the point," he cut in, causing the other Gryffindor's mouth to snap closed. More softly, he continued, "Do those plants have any special meaning to you?"

"Yeah, they do. When I was eight or so, I started following our house elf Mossy while he took care of my mum's plants. He taught me a lot about them, and after first year, I kind of took over a corner of the greenhouse for some of the simpler ones, then it just grew out from there. We split the plants between us now when I'm home."

Harry leaned back in his chair and pondered for a minute. "I have an idea what your dream could mean, but I'm not sure you want to hear it."

"May as well tell me," Neville sighed.

"Okay. I think the reason those scissors are wearing your grandmother's hat is that they represent her; you're worried — subconsciously, mind you — that one day she's going to barge in and tear down all you've accomplished. Maybe you're also afraid she will destroy one of the last links you have to your mother, one that's alive and vibrant and about as far removed from St. Mungo's as you can get."

Neville's head shot up as he stared at Harry, his eyes wide. "What… How?"

Oops. I wasn't supposed to know about them yet. Okay, time for damage control. He said gently, "I got curious one day about why you always talked about your gran but never mentioned your parents, so I dug through some old Daily Prophets. An attack on two well-known Aurors by the Lestranges was pretty big news, especially coming so soon after that Halloween."

"And you never said anything to anyone?"

"No. For one, it wasn't my place; I figured you'd talk about it when you felt ready." Neville blushed again at that. "For two, I know how much not having parents sucks, and also how painful it is when someone brings it up. We may not be best mates, but I wasn't going to do that to you. And for three," he sighed, "I was a little jealous."

"Jealous? Why?"

"Because even though they're… how they are, you know where your mum and dad are, you get to visit them. Me, I've never been to my parents' graves; I didn't even know where they were until this summer." Depending on how someone looked at time, Harry realized that could even be considered true. "So yeah, I was jealous. Anyway, that's what I think your dream might mean."

Neville sat quietly for a moment. "You could be right. Gran's always comparing me to my dad, how I should be as good as he was, but she almost never talks about my mum, and when she does, she's criticizing me for acting just like her. Mum supposedly liked Herbology and Charms, too, and Gran was really unhappy that Herbology was my best class; she said it was a soft option. I don't know what could make Gran dislike Mum so much, though."

"I wouldn't read too much into it right off," he cautioned. "It may just be that they butted heads like mothers- and daughters-in-law all over the world do. Your gran may not even realize she's talking about your mum like she is. One thing you could do to find out is ask her to stop the next time she says something bad about your mum; she might be surprised that she was doing it at all."

"That's a really good idea. Thanks, Harry." Neville smiled. "Maybe you're not as bad at Divination as you say you are."

"Oh, this wasn't Divination, just a little psychology. Dream interpretation was one of its first uses." At the other boy's confused look, he explained, "It's the study of the mind. Muggles have put a lot of time and effort into figuring out why people act or think the way they do. I've flipped through a book or two on the subject."

That was a bald-faced lie. When Harry learned he had a natural talent for mind magics, he had looked for everything he could find on psychology. Wizards and witches had utterly no clue about how the mind worked, and the one compiled text in Flourish and Blott's on spells that affected people's thoughts was short enough to read in a single lazy afternoon. If he was going to use mind-altering spells on his enemies, he didn't just want to know how to cast them; he wanted to understand exactly what those spells were doing so they would be as effective as possible. That no one he cast mind magic on had ever broken free should demonstrate how beneficial his studying was.

The bell rang shortly after that, and Harry hung back to stay out of the tidal wave flowing out. Starting his way down the long staircase, he frowned. If every Divination class is going to be like they were in the old timeline, I may need to wind back an hour or two so I can steal away to the Hog's Head for a drink just to keep my sanity. It's not like Aberforth will care how old I look so long as I have the coin to pay him. The thought from earlier struck him, and he stopped mid-step, backing up to avoid tumbling down the stairs.

In sixth year when Trelawney told me that Snape overheard her during her interview with Dumbledore, she mentioned that their meeting took place in the Hog's Head! That makes no sense whatsoever; if there is one person who can give Voldemort a run for his money in terms of hating Albus Dumbledore, it's Aberforth. The likelihood that he would let Dumbledore prance into his bar for any reason — let alone a job interview, considering the codger has a perfectly good office not fifteen minutes away — is so low that not even the goblins would offer odds on it. Why did Trelawney say that her interview was there? He pondered for a moment, then a glare crept into his eyes. Or perhaps a better question is, why did Trelawney think her interview was there? It all comes back to you, doesn't it, you manipulative old bastard?

I need to talk this over with Hermione and Luna. Maybe between the three of us, we can figure out what the hell he was up to.

Harry slipped into Umbridge's class a matter of seconds before the bell rang. Though Hermione frowned at his timing and wroth expression, she did nothing but move her satchel from the seat next to her so he could sit. "We three need to talk tonight," he whispered.

"Okay." Hermione turned to the front as the toad stood from behind her desk, not that it made much difference in her height.

"Well, good afternoon!" Umbridge said in that faux-little-girl voice he despised so much.

A few people responded in kind, though most stared at the woman like she had gone round the bend. A fair concern, to be sure; she had, after all, croaked like a bullfrog in her opening address, and now she was set on treating them like children a decade younger than they really were. Harry could sympathize with that, really.

A hard glint appeared in Umbridge's eyes, not that the oblivious youth noticed. "Tut, tut. That won't do, now, will it? I should like you, please, to reply 'Good afternoon, Professor Umbridge.' One more time. Good afternoon, class!"

He crossed his arms over his chest and barely withheld a glare; this monster was many things, but a professor she was not. From the corner of his eye, he noticed Hermione do the exact same thing.

"There, now, that wasn't too difficult, was it? Wands away and quills out, please." She pulled her laughably short wand from her handbag — pink, of course — and rapped it on the blackboard. While 'A Return to Basic Principles' was still forming on the dark surface, she turned back to face the students. "Your teaching in this subject has been rather disrupted and fragmented, hasn't it? The constant changing of teachers, many of whom do not seem to have followed any Min— approved curriculum, has unfortunately resulted in your being far below the standard we would expect to see in your OWL year."

Well, damn, Harry thought unhappily. I guess she's smarter than I gave her credit for if she's figured out that trap already. I'll just have to try harder.

"You will be pleased to know, however, that these problems are now to be rectified. We will be following a carefully structured, theory-centered course of magic this year. Copy down the following, please." Another tap on the board displayed the course aims.

The worst part about this is that those objectives aren't too bad a start. In fact, this course would be perfect for first years; add a fourth point concerning an introduction to the practical side of DADA, and it would be fine for the second years, as well. The problem, of course, is that it's totally inadequate for upper years. Unfortunately, this probably closes off most avenues of getting rid of her through proper channels; her class will look good enough on paper, especially with the Ministry backing her, for that to work. And I was actually kind of hoping that we could use the system to shield ourselves from this torture-happy bitch.

Oh well, we'll just have to go the messy route.

"Has everybody got a copy of Wilbert Slinkhard's book?" After again chiding the class to be more enthusiastic, she continued, "I should like you to turn to page five and read chapter one, 'Basics for Beginners.' There will be no need to talk."

He grinned slightly and pulled out a bland grey book with Defensive Magical Theory written on the front. The entire thing looked to be designed to put the reader to sleep; even the font was boring. Opening it, though, revealed that to be a deception. A Compendium of Curse-Breaking Techniques, vol. III was a drier title, certainly, but the contents were infinitely more interesting than Slinkhard's petulant whining.

Perhaps half an hour later, Umbridge cleared her throat. "Did you want to ask something about the chapter, dear?"

Harry's eyes shot to the toad, then he immediately turned to Hermione. She was not holding her hand up like last time, however, but was instead looking behind them. Continuing his rotation, he spotted one of the Patil sisters, Padma by the blue and bronze tie, lowering her hand. "No, ma'am, not the chapter itself. I'm somewhat confused about the course goals."

"Well, Miss Patil, perhaps you should read them again. They are written in perfectly clear English, after all."

Padma's eyes narrowed at the denigrating jab, and her voice was decidedly frosty as she said, "Perhaps you forgot one, then. They do not mention using magic."

Umbridge laughed. "Using magic? Why, I can't imagine any situation arising that would require you to do that. Do you expect to be attacked during class?"

"Isn't there a practical bit in our Defense Against the Dark Arts OWL, though?" Parvati piped up from beside her twin. "Where we're supposed to show that we can actually do the countercurses and things?"

"As long as you have studied the theory hard enough, there is no reason why any proper witch should not be able to perform the spells under carefully controlled examination conditions." Harry lazily raised one hand, gaining the toad's attention before either Hindu girl could explode from the casual dismissals and unstated racism. She eyed him gleefully. "Yes, Mr. Potter? Do you have something to add?"

"I do, professor. I'm not sure where you picked up this estimation of our skills — perhaps your Hogwarts class was simply exceptional? — but speaking from four years of experience, I have not known any student in this room to be able to cast a spell on the first attempt. Surely you would not put us at such a disadvantage during this most crucial year of our education?"

Umbridge sputtered a few times, apparently prepared for him to spout off about Voldemort. It hadn't worked the first time, not that she knew this, so why would he repeat it and expect different results? That was the shorthand definition of insanity, after all. "Well, Mr. Potter, that can only be because none of you have ever been taught the theory sufficiently. Unsurprising considering how very irresponsible wizards you had in this class, not to mention," she shuddered, "extremely dangerous half-breeds."

"We have not been properly taught magical theory?" he asked, intentionally misunderstanding her. "My my, Professor McGonagall and Professor Flitwick will be beside themselves at such an oversight. I'm sure both of them will be approaching you shortly to correct this grievous failing. Professor McGonagall, especially; it would look downright terrible for the Deputy Headmistress to be found lacking, don't you think?"

Umbridge paled at that. She clearly had not thought about who all she could be construed as insulting when she voiced that blanket denigration. As his veiled disrespect filtered through her brain, however, her face purpled. She opened her mouth, and his deep-set compulsion reacted.

Ribbit!

The class broke out in laughter as their illustrious professor once again acted like the amphibian she resembled, waving her wand at herself and vocalizing — there was no way such din could be called singing — in harmony with a tune only she could hear. After a few seconds, Harry stood and gathered his belongings. "Did anyone else hear her dismiss us early? I heard her say we could go." Quickly catching on, the other students packed up and followed him and his lover out the door.

Umbridge glowered at the empty desks and croaked furiously.

It was at dinner that McGonagall struck. Sitting in between Hermione and Luna, Harry looked up at the insistent tapping on his shoulder at his displeased head of house. "Can I help you, Professor?"

"Indeed you can, Mr. Potter. The Headmaster has requested you come to his office to discuss your behavior towards Professor Snape earlier today."

"I figured that was the case. Luna, would you be a dear and —"

"Get everything ready? Of course." The blonde smiled before kissing him passionately; when she pulled back, she giggled at his own dreamy face and McGonagall's scandalized look. Leaning back in to do the same to Hermione, she said, "Don't take too long, though. You know the elderly shouldn't stay up past their bedtimes."

He smiled as she skipped out the door. Shaking his head to jar his thoughts back into a rough semblance of order, he stood and held out his hand to assist Hermione up. "Let's go see what the great and powerful Oz wants. Actually, Professor, you had better come with us as well."

Nonplussed at his reference on the heels of Luna's actions, she frowned before saying, "Professor Dumbledore wants to see you alone, Mr. Potter."

"Let me rephrase, then. Deputy Headmistress, your presence is required in an official capacity."

He walked into the hall with his beloved brunette. A moment later, clacking on stone announced that the older Scotswoman was following. "Mr. Potter, while I don't understand why you want me there, I do know that Miss Granger is not needed."

"Actually, she is. She's my second." He did not expect a formal duel to occur, but with how Dumbledore always backed Snape up, there was no telling what would happen when he sprang his trap.

The rest of their walked continued in silence from the two time-travelers; after a minute, McGonagall realized they would say no more until they reached their destination. Arriving at an ugly gargoyle statue, she firmly intoned, "Ice mice," before they continued into the lion's den.

Dumbledore smiled genially, though his expression dimmed when he spotted Harry's companions. "Minerva, did I not say that I wished to speak to Mr. Potter alone?"

"Kind of hard to speak to me alone when Snape's skulking around," Harry said, jerking his thumb to where the self-centered spy was striving to sink into the shadows. "Besides, both of them need to be here."

"Now, Harry, my boy —"

"They stay, Headmaster."

The old man snapped his mouth shut at his forceful tone; Snape simple snarled. "Very well, Harry, if you insist. Would you mind telling me why you were so antagonistic and disrespectful to Professor Snape this morning?"

"You mean besides him deducting points without cause, singling me out for ridicule, and vanishing a potion to give me a zero for the day even though the potion in question easily deserved an Exceeds Expectations, perhaps even an Outstanding? I suppose I must have picked up a Wrackspurt infestation in Headquarters that has caused me to start standing up to bullies."

"The imaginary creatures thing is Luna's gig," Hermione chided playfully. "Don't steal it from her. Besides, if anyone gave you Wrackspurts, she would be my first suspect."

"No, what I got from her itches a lot more."

She rolled her eyes. "They have creams for that now, love." Harry barely managed to shove down his chortles at the adult's gaping mouths.

Finally, Dumbledore managed to pick his jaw up off the floor. "I… I see. Please visit Madam Pomfrey to have that looked at. Still, you cannot go about insulting your professors with impunity. I'm afraid you will have to serve detention with Professor Snape—"

"No."

"— only for a week or so, just so that you won't…" The old man blinked a few times. "I'm sorry, my boy, what did you say?"

"I said no. I'm not going to serve any detentions with Snape," Harry repeated.

Snape sneered. "Just like a Potter, thinking you can dictate when you can and cannot be punished. Your father —"

"Be silent, Death Eater." Again, those without knowledge of the future were shocked into stillness. He sighed. We're not going to get anywhere if they keep interrupting me. "As for why, I hereby call into effect section nineteen, subsection three of the Hogwarts Faculty Code of Conduct."

"You mean subsection two," Hermione interjected. "Subsection three concerns the groundskeeper being caught engaging in sodomy during a school day with an animal from the previous week's Care lessons."

Everyone turning towards her caused her to blush. Harry opened his mouth a few times fruitlessly before managing, "That's… oddly specific, and I really don't want to know why. Subsection two, then."

With a frown, McGonagall summoned a thin book off Dumbledore's shelves and turned to the back. When her eyes shot open, he knew she had found the relevant text. "I dinnae ken… Mr. Potter, are ye honestly implying that ye and Professor Snape are involved in a blood feud?"

"I am not implying anything," he responded hotly, slowly moving from between Hermione and the target of his plot. "I am flat-out saying that Snape is punishing me for my father's actions even after his death, thereby turning what was a personal issue between them into a family conflict, and that I have felt like my life was in danger when in his presence. This is before complicating the situation with the fact that he bears the brand given to followers of my parents' murderer, not to mention that he tried to have my godfather suffer the Dementor's Kiss just over a year ago with full knowledge that Sirius was framed and wrongfully imprisoned. Yes, I believe there is a blood feud between the Houses of Snape and Potter. In light of this, I demand the standard safety protocols for such a situation be instated as delineated in the Code, including but not limited to moderation of punishments, at least one unbiased mediator when the two of us are required to be in the same area, withdrawal of myself and my allies from all classes and clubs he is assigned to teach or sponsor—"

Snape, furious at either the slight to his professionalism — which Harry doubted — or his favorite chew toy being taken away — this one he thought was more likely — snapped out his wand and screamed, "Diffind—aagh!"

Idly curious about why the dungeon bat was clutching his chest in pain, Harry leapt backwards. The streamer of magic passed through where his shoulders and neck had been before nicking the frame of Phineas Nigellus's portrait. The garbled incantation and loss of focus had weakened the spell to a level that he would have survived, probably with only minor injuries, but that did not change the intent behind it. His wand, which had rested out of view in his left hand since he saw Snape was there, moved to point at the 'professor'. "Depulso," he whispered, his natural rage at someone trying to kill him supplementing his will. Snape flew backwards to be stopped by the wall; a sharp crack was heard before the man slid back to the floor, a trail of bloody grease marking where his head had impacted stone. "I'd like to add assault and attempted murder to my list of grievances against him; this should also validate my claim that Snape actively poses a threat to my life. Professor McGonagall, if you would please call in the DMLE?"

"Harry, my boy, there is no need for such an extreme act." When the other three conscious individuals looked at him in unified disbelief, Dumbledore amended, "While Professor Snape was certainly in the wrong, I am sure this is simply a case of him letting his passions overwhelm him. Considering no one was hurt, there is no reason this cannot be handled internally. I will have a talk with him, and then we can all move on from this bit of unpleasantness."

He glared at the end of Dumbledore's oft-broken nose, both avoiding Legilimency and calculating the chances for getting away with giving the Headmaster another one. They were probably not in his favor. This was just like the old man; protecting his pet at the expense of the law and everyone else's safety. Dumbledore still had too good of a reputation and too much political capitol, even without his various positions, for any accusations to stick, at least at this time. Aware of Dumbledore's predilections, it was only Harry's knowledge of Snape's obsession with his mother that prevented him from wondering if the bat pulled double-duty as spy and bed-warmer. "And the recognition of our blood feud?"

"Certainly you do not wish to sully Severus's reputation? I would trust him with my life, Harry."

"Bully for you. I do not, and more importantly will not, continue to put my life and wellbeing in his hands. You can either enact the required precautions, or I will inform Dowager Longbottom and the rest of the school governors about what transpired here. Tonight."

Dumbledore sighed in that infuriating grandfatherly manner of his. "If you insist on going down this route, I suppose I have no choice but to excuse you from Professor Snape's class. I am very disappointed in you, though, and I'm sure your parents would be as well. The inability to forgive is the first step in turning Dark."

"If you remember, we discussed this very subject earlier in the summer, Professor." Harry leaned closer. "Tell me, who must I torture and kill to earn your trust? Who must I betray? What child's life must I destroy before you deem me worthy of respect?"

Though he could not see her, he could feel McGonagall heavy glare from behind him. Dumbldore, however, seemed to be the recipient if his blanching was any indication. "Yes, well… Minerva, could you inform the rest of the staff that I need to speak with them? Harry, Hermione, you may go."

The two teens departed, leaving the fuming head of Gryffindor to her prey.

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