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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23. Attitude Adjustment

"Well, that's it for the easy jobs," Harry said as the door to the Room of Requirement faded away behind him. Hermione and Luna had already seated themselves on a circular couch, the same one the Room had created before they had left for their summer vacation. "Five empty manors and one occupied solely by an old man. From now on, we're going to have to be extremely careful on our heists in terms of both hiding our identities and protecting ourselves from unseen spells should we get caught redhanded again. If Rookwood had ambushed us rather than attacking head-on, we might not have walked out of there alive."

"I thought being careful went without saying considering we're dealing with a band of terrorists," commented Hermione.

"Better to say it unnecessarily than assume it's understood and be wrong." Luna scooted over to give him room to sit between the girls, then cuddled into him. She continued, "I thought a little about possible disguises, and I was wondering if either of you would mind them being made of silk? It's lightweight, and Acromantula silk has a decent magical resistance. Dragonhide would be better from a defensive standpoint, but lining our robes with that would be expensive even with our resources, not to mention illegal since we're not Ministry personnel."

Hermione's eyes lit up. "What about making liners from basilisk scales? It's not like we don't have enough of it lying around." Her smile dropped at Luna's guffaw.

"Basilisk? Seriously? Mione, basilisks aren't hard to kill with magic because their hide is especially resistant, but because it's so thick. Think of it as quality versus quantity. Dragons have to be light enough to fly, so having very resistant scales means they don't need particularly thick skin. Giant snakes, however, don't have that problem; from the way Harry described it, Salazar's familiar probably had hide a good foot thick. If we made armor from that had even the resistance of silk, it would be so bulky we could never walk in it."

"Moving on," Harry interjected when Hermione's face reddened in embarrassment. "The defensive properties of whatever disguises we choose will be less important than hiding who we are. We can dodge curses, but we can't risk exposing ourselves."

"Very true. So yes to the silk idea?"

He nodded. "We also need to perform surveillance on our targets from now on. I know this timeline has been very similar to our own so far, but between Greengrass being a guy and another Rookwood living in the house, it's clear that there are some differences. Next time we get caught with our pants around our ankles because of an assumption, there might be more serious consequences than just one old man throwing curses at us. We have a time turner, so if we coordinate properly, we should all be able to ride it backwards and observe the families to make sure we have our information straight."

"Hold that thought, Harry," Hermione said. She turned to Luna. "Could you pull Rookwood's desk out of your sack? I want to check something."

Luna summoned the desk from her extended-space bag, and the two girls began rifling through drawers. After a few seconds, Hermione moved back with a smile; the reason was apparent as she displayed the tiny hourglass filled with red sand. "Just as I suspected. With all the extracurricular research he did for Voldemort in addition to his real work, he had to have one of these, so we have two time turners to use."

"Perfect," Harry replied with a grin. "I think we should leave them both in the Manor and just call an elf when we need one; that way we won't run the risk of them being found and 'confiscated'."

"Good point, love. Dobby?" She knelt on the floor when the devoted elf popped in, the two now at eye-level. "Could you take this back home with you and put it with the other one?"

"Dobby can do that, Missy Hermy Grangy ma'am," Dobby said, causing Harry to choke down his laughter. He had completely forgotten about that order, but he was ever so glad his loyal manservant hadn't. The gobsmacked look on Hermione's face was priceless!

Now I just need to buy or steal a camera and a pensieve to take a photo of this, and I'll be set. Too bad we couldn't bring our photo album back with us.

The brunette flushed. "Please don't call me that, Dobby. Hermione is fine."

"Dobby be sorry, Missy Hermy Grangy ma'am, but Master Harry says you can't bes changing it." Oblivious to the girl's pink cheeks turning red with outrage, Dobby disappeared. Luna glanced between her two lovers and darted off the couch to the other half of the room before Harry could reach out to pull her between them again.

Hermione grinned nastily. "So, Master Harry, would you mind explaining that very interesting comment Dobby made?"

"Er, well… Merlin's shorts, is that a first edition copy of Hogwarts, A History?" He pointed behind her; when she whipped around, he leapt over the back of the couch.

Hermione's eyes blazed when they returned to him. Striving to bore a hole in his conjured wall with her glare alone, she snapped, "Dammit Luna, stop laughing!"

"I can't help it," the blonde wheezed through her giggles. "I mean, you actually fell for that! I saw it with my own two eyes, and I still can't believe it!"

The incurable bookworm of the trio turned her burning gaze on Luna for a moment before sighing. "I truly, seriously hate you both. There are days I wonder why I didn't just run to Australia with my parents when I had the chance." She dropped back to the couch with a huff of indignation.

"Because as much as we can irritate you — intentionally or not — you love us too much to ever really hate us," he rejoined, dismissing his barrier and joining her. A long moment passed before she relented and leaned into him. "You know we're only taking the mickey out of you, just like with my little prank with Dobby."

"It's not as funny when it's me he's giving the long title to."

"I disagree, but I know what you mean. I'll tell Dobby to go back to calling you 'Missy Hermy'."

A pop sounded in front of them, and from empty air they heard the elf's voice saying, "Yes, Master Harry."

Harry blinked in surprise, a move mimicked by his lovers. "Well, that's different." He and Hermione looked to Luna for an explanation, but the former-now-current Ravenclaw simply shook her head.

"I'm not an expert on house elves; this is just as surprising to me as it is to you. Maybe they always keep one ear on their masters so they can hear when they're called?" she volunteered weakly.

"Only one way to find out. How right is she, Dobby?"

Another pop. "Missy Lunie be very wise." Harry smiled, his mind whirling with possibilities.

"You know, why don't we ask him and Winky to do some of the reconnaissance?" Hermione wondered out loud. "It could give them a break from repairing the Manor."

"Good idea. Dobby, you and Winky watch the Greengrass family for the next couple of weeks and record their schedules as best you can. If either of you think you're in danger, leave there immediately and report to one of us as soon as we're alone." There was no response, so Harry turned to the girls. "Neither of you have a problem robbing them next, do you?"

Twin feral grins were his only answer.

Luna entered the Ravenclaw common room to find it a beehive of activity. Actually, that was insulting and completely untrue, now that I think about it; bees may be busy, but their frenzy is at least organized and purposeful. Snagging the sleeve of an older student, she asked, "What's got everyone in such a tizzy?"

The boy looked slightly down at her and blanched. "Um, Cho and her bunch broke into your room about fifteen minutes ago. A couple of seconds later they started screaming, and some people went up to help them while others ran to Professor Flitwick." He dropped his eyes at her glare.

"So, you're saying that Chang's bitches decided to go through my things — again — and no one tried to stop them? That's the gist of it, right?" She stomped to the stairs. "Gryffindors may charge in without a plan, but at least they take action rather than standing around like spineless cowards!"

All the gormless spectators standing in the hallway scurried to the walls as she strode past, her face frozen in a stony expression none of them had ever seen before. The Ravenclaw dormitories were organized so all students had their own small, private room, probably to prevent each students' ever-growing book collection from spilling into another's space. Following the plaques on the doors, Luna threw open the one that had her name on it and stalked inside.

Three girls were hanging upside down in midair, short arcs of lightning flitting about their robes and skin. She had to work hard at suppressing the malicious smile that threatened to spill out as her tormentors spasmed from the constant shocks. "Couldn't even go a full twenty-four hours, could you? Practically as soon as I've left the dorms, you're trying to steal my belongings. The problem, girls, is that you are predictable. Well, childish and stupid, too, but predictable is more relevant at the moment."

"Ms. Lovegood?" She turned her attention to the diminutive professor standing only a few feet from her. "Would you mind letting them down? I have already tried to remove the spells on them, but something is interfering."

"I do mind, actually. She and her cronies have been hiding my things throughout the castle for three years now; I think I'm entitled to a little payback."

"Ms. Lovegood…"

"Fine, fine." She walked to the foot of the bed where her trunk lay and tapped a brass plate above the lock with her wand. Immediately the Ankle Noose and Static Cling hexes ended, dropping the three bullies onto their heads; since their bodies were still stiff, all they could do was moan. Luna smirked as she tucked the ebony focus behind her ear.

Flitwick sighed. "Was that really necessary?"

"You said to let them down, I let them down. That you failed to specify exactly how I should do so is your fault."

"You cannot take justice into your own hands, Ms. Lovegood. If Ms. Chang or her friends have been stealing from you, you should have come to me so we could sort it out."

"Like that would have really helped," she rejoined. "I had no proof that she had done anything, so it would be my word against hers. Every single person in this House has, at one point or another, made it clear that they would take her side over mine, so even if I had caught her redhanded, she would have a cast-iron alibi. No, it's better that I deal with this in my own way; at least now I can be sure that anyone else trying to cause me problems will have a reason not to."

Before Flitwick could say anything more, she levitated the three other girls and guided them down the hallway. A flick of her wand dropped them in the middle of the common room. "For all who think to continue the delightful little tradition of making my life here a living hell, I'm going to give you a quick word of warning. These idiots tried to break into my trunk; they'll probably stop shaking in a couple of hours and regain the ability to walk a few after that. The next person who tries it will need to be carried to Madam Pomfrey for help. The person after that will spend quite a bit of time in St. Mungo's Spell Damage Ward.

"I don't think I need to elaborate on what will happen to the fourth person who messes with my things. Suffice it to say that there won't be much left for the Healers to work with," she hissed. She waded into the mass of first and second years to reclaim her snorkack from the arms of a wide-eyed little girl. Walking back up the stairs, she turned around and surveyed the silent room. "And just so you know, tampering with the wards on my trunk in an attempt to bypass them will automatically activate them at a lethal level. I was your punching bag for years, but no longer; now I'm looking forward to doing some punching of my own."

She addressed the professor again as she passed him. "I don't have an answer for you just yet about whether the House can observe Clyde. Part of it will be based on how many geniuses I have to scrape off the walls in the next week or two." With that, she stomped to her room and slammed the door.

Did they really think I'd let five years of their taunting slide, even if they only remember three of those years?, she thought darkly as she stroked her pet's side. Not a chance, boys and girls. You owe me quite a few pounds of flesh.

Harry dropped onto the bench running along one side of the Gryffindor table in the Great hall. He, Hermione, and Luna had spent the weekend trying to re-acclimate themselves to being around a swarm of irrational adolescents, but they soon discovered that it was pointless. Whether it was the ten-year age difference with the accompanying life experience, the two wars they had fought in stripping away their innocence, or some other factor they couldn't think of, there was no way the trio would be able to reconnect with their 'contemporaries' in any meaningful way.

It was probably a good thing they never planned to blend in with the crowd. Hide their true knowledge and abilities, yes; pretend to care about teenage drama, no.

"Cheer up," Luna remarked as she sat on his right side and Hermione slumped into his left, still half asleep. "Today's just going to massively suck."

"You and I clearly have different definitions for 'cheer up'," he half-joked. Lowering his voice to a whisper, he continued, "I remember this year, and Mondays were truly awful." Binns, Snape, Trelawney, and then Umbridge; just how he wanted to start off his week.

She snorted and replied at the same volume. "I might have you beat in that department." The schedule she laid on the table was already color-coded, and she tapped a finger against the two blocks at the end of the day highlighted in red. "I finished three of four years for my Spell-Crafting Mastery, remember? Do you think I want to return to basic Arithmancy? Even worse, Vector pays too much attention to her students for me to just bring in a book. I am going to be bored out of my skull."

He nodded; looking at it from that perspective, her day would be horrid, too, only in a different way. The classes he would attend were below his level, certainly, but he had never pursued a Mastery, in fact hadn't technically finished Hogwarts. His last act of formal education had been to take a single NEWT, mostly for Hermione's peace of mind. To minimize stress, he had chosen Defense Against the Dark Arts.

It should go without saying that he aced the exam.

"Harry!"

He turned at the call and spotted a tall girl with chocolate skin hurrying his way. "Angelina. What's got your knickers in a twist?"

"Do you need the same lecture I gave Fred and George a couple of years ago about disrespecting a girl's underwear?" she shot back with a smile. "In all seriousness, though, I do need to talk to you."

"Pull up a seat, then, and lay your problems on dear old Uncle Harry."

She did so, thanking Luna when the blonde passed her a goblet of juice. "You probably don't know it, but McGonagall made me Quidditch captain."

"I suspected that would be the case. You're the oldest and most senior of us, after all."

"Yes I am, and don't you forget it. Anyway, we need a new Keeper now that Oliver's left. Tryouts are on Friday at five o'clock, and I want the whole team there, all right? That way we can see how the new person will fit in."

"Friday at five, got it." He paused as he remembered who had won the position last time. "Any idea who will show up? I expect someone's said something about it already."

The older girl grimaced. "Cormac McLaggen is the only one I know of for now; he heard me talking to Alicia about it this morning. I hope he doesn't make it, though. He's an absolute prat and a complete braggart."

"Then don't put him on the team. If he's going to clash with everyone else, it doesn't matter how well he performs. Besides," he grinned, "normally those who brag about themselves all the time don't have the skills to back it up."

Angelina laughed and departed. After a few moments, Hermione, her eyes still closed, offered quietly, "I could take care of McLaggen if you'd like? I doubt he'll be any harder to confound than he was sixth year."

"Don't worry about it," he replied. "I'm not planning to miss the tryouts this time. There's no way I'm going to spend any more time with Ron than necessary, even if that means rigging the system."

Said boy chose that moment to enter the hall. Spotting them, he hustled over, ignorant of the puddle of pumpkin juice in his path. He set his foot square in it and slipped, spinning him around so that he slammed face-first into a golden plate on the table with a cringe-worthy crack before continuing to the cobblestone floor. The Slytherins laughed uproariously, and there was a smattering of chuckles from the other three Houses as well.

Luna blinked twice in surprise. "You know, as long as the Dire Misfortune Curse is still on him by then, I don't think you'll need to do anything else."

"Settle down," Snape said with a sneer, shutting the door behind him.

Harry fought his snort down. Looking at the situation from an adult's perspective, it was easy to see that Severus Snape was not just a bully; he was a pompous drama queen, a full-blown diva. He liked to swish around the dungeons like they were his private fiefdom, terrifying little children to prove to himself that he had some kind of power. When he wasn't doing that, he boosted his ego by portraying his spying as the feat of some tragic hero to the Order. This was, of course, if he could spare some time from satisfying his grudge against a man dead for a decade and a half by hurling degradation against that man's son, the child of the woman Snape was obsessed with.

One couldn't view another's memories without learning something about him, and sorting through Snape's during the Battle of Hogwarts had left Harry nauseous. That Dumbledore knew all this and still trusted Snape meant he could not be trusted himself. The old man was either senile, evil, or just plain crazy.

Harry personally preferred option d, all of the above.

Still, he listened to the bat's speech, waiting for a moment perfect for some derogatory comment of his own.

"Before we begin today's lesson, I think it appropriate to remind you that next June, you will be sitting an important examination, during which you will prove how much you have learned about the composition and use of magical potions." All of which we taught ourselves, because you certainly can't, Harry thought acerbically. "Moronic though some of this class undoubtedly are, I expect you to scrape an 'acceptable' in your OWL, or suffer my… displeasure." The pallid man looked pointedly at Neville, who gulped in fear.

Leaning closer to Hermione, Harry whispered loudly, "You'd think a student's boggart being a teacher would be considered a sign that something was very wrong here." She nodded in agreement.

Snape's nostrils flared as he overheard them, not that they had taken any pains to avoid that. "After this year, of course, many of you will cease studying with me. I take only the very best into my NEWT Potions class, which means that some of us will certainly be saying good-bye." His glare turned to Harry, and his lip curled into another sneer.

Refusing to miss this opportunity, Harry just smiled back brightly and waved his fingers up and down in a childish 'bye-bye' gesture.

"Potter! Twenty points from Gryffindor for your insolence!"

"Wow," he stage-whispered to his lover, "when's the last time he took points from me without me having to open my mouth?"

"Hmm… the final Potions class of last year, I think," she replied with a faux-thoughtful frown, complete with a finger tapping her chin.

He sighed. "Oh, not as impressive as I hoped."

"Another fifty points from both of you!"

"Thank you, sir!" Hermione cheered. "I don't think I've ever gotten fifty points in one go before."

"Er, Hermione, he was taking points, not giving them," Lavender breathed from the table behind them.

"We know," he said, "but since it's physically impossible for him to award points when they're due, we just have to content ourselves with irking him every chance we get."

Snape had turned a puce color that reminded Harry strongly of his dead uncle. Surprisingly, the Death Eater managed to push his fury down and ground out, "Today we will be mixing a potion that often comes up at Ordinary Wizarding Level: the Draught of Peace, a potion to calm anxiety and soothe agitation. Be warned; if you are too heavy-handed with the ingredients, you will put the drinker into a heavy and sometimes irreversible sleep, so you will need to pay close attention to what you are doing." He flicked his wand at the blackboard, revealing the directions, all of which were written in a cramped hand. "You have an hour and a half. Well? Get to it!"

Harry rolled his eyes as he gathered ingredients. This potion was not that difficult when allowed time to actually read and understand the recipe, though being capable of ignoring the overgrown bat pacing the room like a rabid dog in a cage helped immensely as well. For all the mystique Snape couched it in, Potions was really little different from cooking, something he had become familiar with when he was six. Had he learned the subject from a different instructor, he likely could have done well and even enjoyed it, but things hadn't turned out like that. Instead of a pleasurable creative outlet, he considered it a chore, one he passed off to Hermione whenever possible since she needed the practice for her Healing Mastery.

"A light silver vapor should now be rising from your potion," Snape called with ten minutes to go.

Harry double-checked his cauldron; the steam was rising in shiny ringlets, and the liquid itself was the palest gold. The potion wasn't perfect — it technically should be so lightly tinted as to appear clear at first glance — but Hermione had once relayed an important lesson she learned from her teacher in the first year of her apprenticeship: perfect potions were naturally most effective, but a dozen good potions were always preferred to a single flawless one. The loss in potency was so small as to be inconsequential from a practical perspective.

Unfortunately, Snape was both a 'perfectionist' and an academic. "Potter, what is this supposed to be?" he asked, ladling a portion out and letting it flow back into the cauldron. The Slytherins in the front of the room looked up; they normally got almost as much of a kick out of Snape denigrating him as the bat himself did.

Too bad only one person present knew the script had changed.

"The Draught of Peace, sir," Harry replied as he resisted rolling his eyes. How are you going to play this, Snape? More importantly, are you ready for the fallout?

Snape sneered. "Tell me, can you read?"

"Considering that I would have been hard-pressed to pass the first four years of Hogwarts without that skill, I certainly hope so."

His dry comment caught Snape by surprise, but the greasy man continued undaunted. "Read the fifth line of the instructions, Potter."

With a sigh, he drew his wand and conjured a light breeze to clear away the multicolored smoke filling the air. "'Finely chop four daisy roots and add them one at a time to the cauldron. Vigorously stir sixteen times widdershins, then bring to a boil.' Out of curiosity, why don't you just say anticlockwise? That would make much more sense to me."

"I am the professor in this classroom, Potter, not you!" Snape spat, sallow face purpling. "Did you do what the directions clearly say to do?!"

He hummed in thought, reviewing his preparations. "The roots could have been a hair smaller, I suppose, but otherwise yes, I did everything according to the instructions."

"If you had done as you were supposed to, your potion would be clear! Evanesco!" The cauldron stood suddenly empty. Snape smirked as the Slytherins laughed. "I guess that means zero marks for today, doesn't it, Potter?"

Contrary to Snape's expectations, Harry grinned back. He turned to his lovely brunette and asked, "Mione, did that potion look acceptable to you?"

She frowned in confusion. "Yes, it was fine. Certainly good enough for passing…" she gasped as she realized where his thoughts were headed, "…for passing your OWLs."

"That's enough for me." He gathered the rest of his materials and beamed at the Death Eater. "You seem to have forgotten, Snape, that the marks you give us don't matter this year. What NEWT classes we qualify for are based entirely on how we do on the exams, which I can almost guarantee won't be monitored by an immature git with a complex about my father. Now, I'm going to be the bigger man today and not curse you like you deserve or call in the life debt you owe my family, but I won't be able to restrain myself forever. A piece of advice: change your attitude, or I'll be more than delighted to change it for you. Shall we, Mione?"

They left to the sounds of snickering, but for the first time in his memory, the Lions were the ones making that noise.

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