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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35. Day of the Dead

Hermione forced herself not to stumble into Charms class on Halloween morning; the stamina potions she and her lovers had consumed the previous night had temporarily soothed the aches they accumulated in addition to giving them the energy to continue their love- and lust-driven ritual, but she was certainly feeling them now. She dropped heavily into her habitual seat, Harry joining her not two seconds later and laying his head tiredly on the table. "I'm really envious of Luna right now," he muttered.

"Because sleeping halfway through first period means she skipped Herbology and doesn't have another class till after lunch?"

"And that one's History," he confirmed. "I could really go for a nap, myself."

"Then perhaps you should get to bed at a reasonable hour, Mr. Potter." Flitwick rapped his wand against the tiny desk at the front of the room. "Today, class, we are going to take a look at the very first illusion you will learn, the basic glamour. A useful little charm, it functions to change your appearance without risking the dangers of misapplied human transfiguration…"

She tuned the quarter-goblin out; these review lessons had lost their novelty weeks ago, and they were now nothing more than a source of continuous irritation. There were so many other things she could be doing with her time, analyzing ward schemes or performing research or even getting ahead on the homework she knew the teachers would assign. Instead, she spent an hour doodling on the parchment in front of her and prodding Harry whenever he looked like he was about to doze off. His bleary glare was far too amusing considering she was the only one of the trio who was not a morning person.

Flitwick eventually clapped his hands. "Now, unless there are any questions, we'll begin practicing this spell. It is easier to adjust the power with which you're casting if you can see the results, but as we do not have any mirrors, you will have to use your neighbor as your model. For today, I just want you to focus on changing your partner's hair color."

"Finally," her boyfriend groused as he drew his wand. "Any particular shade you want, or should I just give you the Tonks special?"

"I doubt I'd look good with a rainbow. Let's go with basic blonde," she commanded.

"Lovegood, Abbott, or Malfoy?"

Her left eye twitched. "Harry…"

"All right, all right. One Luna clone, coming right up. Dissimulo."

She felt the spell wash over her and frowned; normally, the full-body tingling she was currently experiencing was limited to the area the spell altered. Harry's mouth slowly dropped open as the students around them grew silent, and he looked at his wand in apparent shock. Suddenly nervous but afraid to look for herself, she asked, "Harry? What's wrong?"

"Er… well… I…"

"Oh, my." The short professor approached her and cocked his head while examining the results of the spell. He wetted his lips as if trying to decide what to say. "Mr. Potter? Just my personal opinion, but perhaps you should give it a little less oomph next time."

The brunette glanced down at her hands and gasped. They were absolutely covered in short yellow hairs, making her look like some strange monkey-human crossbreed. She raised her head and stared her lover in the eye. "Harry James Potter, you better not have done what I think you did."

Dean Thomas tried and failed to hide his snickering, setting off the rest of the class in the process. "Great choice for a Halloween costume, Hermione, though it's definitely a surprise. I never pegged you as a Chewbacca fangirl."

Harry hastily cast a finishing charm to rid her of her fur coat before she could do something drastic. "There, all gone." He sighed and glared at the holly focus. "This thing's a lot harder to get right than it sounds."

'Harder to get right'? He's been casting glamours for years; how could they have suddenly become difficult? Unless… Flitwick's pronouncement repeated itself in her head. He overpowered it. Of course, the ritual we performed last night tripled the size of our magical cores; obviously it would take time to get used to the amount of magic we can throw around now. "Mind if I give it a try?"

"Be my guest," he said with a resigned shrug.

She twirled her wand and uttered the incantation. Brown hair sprouted all over his body, though not nearly to the extent that he could be confused with a wild animal. He looked over himself and sighed. "At least I can see some skin."

"You're right, this is going to require a more delicate touch than we're used to." Flicking her eyes around the room to make sure no one was watching, she undid the charm and cast it again, this time silently. The glamour gave him the appearance of a scraggly beard in addition to shifting his hair color, but that was much closer to the image in her mind's eye. She whispered, "Our cores are too big. Bleed off the excess."

Harry smiled as he figured out what she had done. "That makes sense. Prepared for another Wookie-fication?"

"Please don't."

"…I finally got the power down to the right level just before class ended," Harry said before finishing off his pumpkin juice, "but I had to use nonverbal point-casting to do it. Do you think we messed up the ritual somewhere?"

Luna thought for a moment before shaking her head. "I don't think so. If you or Hermione copied a rune down wrong, it's more likely that it would have turned us into charcoal. Bad rituals don't give better results."

"I double- and triple-checked the rune strings. They were exactly as the book described," the brunette announced. "Not to mention that while I'm having a little trouble, it's about what I anticipated. Have you noticed a difference?"

"No, but I also haven't cast anything, just lazed around in here." The blonde drew her ebony wand and made a simple swish-and-flick. The picnic basket Dobby had provided them flew into the air before landing in the opposite side of the Room. "So my silent magic is now approximately as strong as it was verbally." A gesture with her left hand called into existence a translucent shield. "Wandless has also gotten stronger, but again, no more than expected. Hate to say it, Harry, but I think this is just Fate having a bit of fun at your expense again."

He grumbled and leaned back into his chair. "Just once I'd like to catch a break."

"Before we start throwing blame, even onto a personification, we should at least make sure we aren't having any negative reactions to the ritual," Hermione advised. "Either of you mind me checking your cores?"

The other time-travelers shook their heads, and the brunette cast a spell on herself before doing the same to Luna. When it was his turn, however, her eyes widened. "Oh. So that's why you're having problems."

That doesn't sound good. "What now?"

"Let me think a moment." Hermione nibbled on her bottom lip for a few seconds before she slapped her forehead. "Okay, I know what happened. We did screw up."

"I thought Luna said that would have killed us!" he demanded.

"If the issue was the runes, sure, but that wasn't where we made the mistake. Luna, when you went through the arithmancy for the ritual, did you notice if it was designed specifically for two people?"

The apprentice spell-crafter shook her head. "It wasn't; if it were, I would never have suggested all of us do it at the same time. I told you this months ago."

"I know, but we didn't think of what else that could mean." Hermione turned to Harry. "The reason you're having more trouble moderating your power than we are is that your core isn't three times as large as it was yesterday. It's nine times."

"How did that happen? I know I'm the only one of us who doesn't understand arithmancy, but this thing sounded pretty simple. A girl voluntarily gives up her virginity inside the runic circle to someone she loves, and both she and the guy she's with have their cores tripled in size."

Luna groaned and cradled her head in her hands. "Now I get it."

"Yeah, that's how I felt, too." The eldest of the trio looked back to him. "It was simple, so simple we overlooked something. When Luna gave you her virginity, her power tripled and your power tripled, right?" He nodded. "Then, when I gave you my virginity, my power tripled… and yours tripled again. We thought having three people wouldn't make a difference so long as we were all in the circle at the same time, but what actually happened was that you did the ritual twice."

"Honestly, that doesn't make me as happy as you might think." An idea sprang to mind, and he warily flicked his wrist at her. He grinned gratefully when nothing happened. "Thank Merlin."

"What?"

"I was just making sure that this little accident didn't turn me into some kind of magical superhero. I don't think I could handle that on top of everything else." A wave of his left hand called the overturned basket to his side, though try as he might, he could not magic it away. "My wandless magic's stronger, but I don't think I can cast every spell in my repertoire that way, just the six I spent time mastering."

Luna laughed. "Most people would be disappointed at that. What spell did you try to cast?"

"This one." He pointed his wand at her, and she jumped out of her chair as his spanking hex hit home. "What classes do we have this afternoon, Mione?"

"Transfiguration, Care, and Herbology. Are you planning on skipping?"

"Much as it pains me to miss yet more lessons we've already learned, yes." He drew his acacia wand from his left sleeve and gave it a twirl. "I apparently need to practice if we're still going to see Sluggy tonight."

"Just a little more… little more… There." Horace smiled as the last drops of wine dripped into his glass. Vanishing the empty bottle of 1926 Malfoy Cabernet he was about to finish off, he raised the goblet to the portrait of the '78 Slug Club that was centered on his mantle, his toast going specifically to the redheaded young woman laughing on the left side. "Another year gone by, my dear. I recently met your son; he definitely inherited your talent, at least in my class. Flitwick says he isn't the most dedicated Charms student, but from what I've heard from Minerva, he is an absolute prodigy in Defense.

"He has your curiosity and stubbornness, too. Would you believe that he was actually trying to slog his way through Dramm?" The rotund man laughed lightly at that. "Not even you reached that far beyond your abilities, though that could be because we were actively holding you back and keeping your feet on the floor. From what I can tell, the rest of the staff mostly lets him do whatever he wants. They're so worried about not favoring him that they've gone overboard and basically ignore him." He shook his head and sighed. "It's rather disappointing, to be honest. I can't help but wonder how much further along he would be in his studies if he had had someone showing an interest in his progress from his very first year. On the bright side, that lack of oversight hasn't turned him into… what did you call James? An 'arrogant, bullying toe-rag'? Oh, if only you could see him now. You'd love him."

"A mother does not have to see her child to love him."

The wineglass slipped out of his suddenly slack fingers and shattered against the floor. His heart pounding in his chest, Horace slowly turned around and stared at the source of that all-too-familiar voice. What little blood was left in his cheeks fled until they were as pale as the spectral form hanging in the air in front of him. "L-L-Lily?"

"Good evening, Professor." The spirit drifted closer to him, and a hint of a smile appeared on her lips. "Whatever is the matter? You look like you've just seen a ghost."

"But… How? Have… Have you been a ghost this whole time?"

She shook her head, transparent white hair swirling through the air. "Of course I haven't. Tonight is Halloween, All Hallow's Eve, the Day of the Dead. Surely you know that on this night the Veil is at its thinnest, that the dead can temporarily cross back over to the world of the living."

"So you're here to visit Harry." He had always thought that to be an old wive's tale, but staring a returned spirit in the face, he was having trouble believing it. "Do you come back every year to see him?"

"No. He is my son, my flesh and blood, so I do not need to return here to know what his life is like." Her eyes narrowed. "No, I am actually here to speak with you. I recently heard a very interesting rumor, something about you telling Voldemort how to create a Horcrux."

He stumbled backwards and tripped over a footstool. Ignoring the spilled wine staining his trousers, he whispered, "How do you know about that?"

"So it is true. I had hoped that was not the case." She stalked closer before bending at the waist in a way no human was capable of. Her ethereal face inches from his own, she demanded, "Who else knows that the Dark Lord is immortal? Who have you revealed that vital bit of information to?"

"I-I think Albus knows. He's certainly hinted at it."

Her eyes hardened even more than they already were. "Are you telling me that you have been keeping this a secret? Did you not think that it might be important to reveal that?"

"What was I supposed to do, Lily?!" he shouted. "Should I have just gone up to the old goat one day and said, 'By the way, I think He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named might have split his soul, possibly multiple times'?"

"Yes! You should have done something rather than sit on your arse doing nothing while he went around killing people!"

Fear and anger boiling over, he sneered at his favorite student. "I had forgotten how much of an idealist you were. Life isn't that simple. If I told Albus what I know, his first question would have been how I found out about the subject to begin with. Horcruces are necromancy; I would have been thrown in Azkaban faster than you could say 'dark wizard'! My entire life destroyed because I made a mistake and fell for Tom's pretty lies? It wouldn't have changed anything, anyway. I don't know if he even made one, and assuming he did, there's no way to discover what he used as the container. If he was smart, he would have put his soul into a random stone and tossed it in the Channel."

"Better to protect your reputation before doing anything else?"

"Better not to throw my reputation and my career away for no reason," he retorted. "Not to mention, I already said Albus probably, almost certainly knows. It would do no good to tell him now."

"Yes, that brings me so much comfort," she drawled. "After all, it's not like you protecting your reputation led to my death. Your silence about how to stop him didn't turn my little boy into an orphan."

He averted his gaze, her words tearing through his temper like knives. When put like that, he could come up with no defense that would sound anything but pitifully weak to his own ears, let alone the enraged ghost's.

"You said you fell for Voldemort's 'pretty lies'. What did you mean by that? For that matter, how would you even know about Horcruces to tell him anything?"

He sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. "When I was a young man, I succumbed to the lure of the Dark Arts. Originally, it was simple curiosity; what was it about these spells that made them so wrong? Were they truly evil? Were they too dangerous for any but the most skilled wizards to control them? Or was there just a political reason for why the Ministry labeled some magics forbidden?

"My mother passed away the winter after I graduated, and that was what catalyzed the change from meandering reading to a hunt for specific knowledge. There was a bad case of dragonpox going around at the time, and nothing the Healers gave her could help. She was only 34! She had gotten pregnant in her fifth year and had to drop out of Hogwarts to take care of me." Horace shook his head and wiped away the tears forming in his eyes. This had all happened decades ago, but even so, it still hurt to remember. "She was too young to die, so I started looking for texts on necromancy; I thought that maybe I could bring her back. Unfortunately, the more I read, the clearer it became that necromancy isn't about reversing death, but causing it. Each and every act requires cold-blooded murder, and as I looked over the rituals, I could practically feel her glaring at my back.

"That was when I gave it up. I buried my books, burned my notes. Call me selfish, and I'll agree with you; tell me I'm arrogant, and you'll hear no argument; point out my greed, and I'll give you more examples. But one thing I'm not is a monster."

"And this relates to Voldemort…" Lily prodded relentlessly.

"Tom… he was a bright, driven child. Charismatic, clever, cunning; he was the epitome of Slytherin house. He came into Hogwarts as a supposed Muggleborn, and yet by his fifth year, he had even the most bigoted students respecting his power and his talent. Discovering that he was actually a direct descendent of Salazar before he started sixth year just elevated him even farther in the eyes of his peers.

"When he came to me that night and asked about Horcruces, I could not help but see myself in him. I assumed he was just asking the same questions I had years earlier, and all I wanted to do was keep him from making the same mistakes. So I told him the basics, stressing the cost of tearing your soul in half. I thought it would scare him off."

"But it didn't."

"It didn't," he agreed with a sigh. "He asked me, 'If you can make one Horcrux, wouldn't making seven of them work even better?' That was the first time I realized the student I had been admiring all this time was just a mask, and what I saw underneath it chilled me. I kept a closer eye on him, and it was only then that I noticed his cruelty and his callousness. When Slytherin's Beast began stalking the halls later that year, ultimately killing Myrtle Snow, I suspected that he had a hand in it, but I could find no proof, and I had already seen how Armando Dippet, the headmaster of the time, ignored Albus's own distrust of Tom. Armando making him Head Boy the next year proved my caution accurate."

The specter folded her arms. "Yet despite your suspicions – which were well-founded, I might add – you just let it go."

"I did no such thing!" She stared at him in surprise, and he continued, "There are more ways to fight someone than challenging him to a duel. With his NEWT scores, his Special Award, and being Head Boy, Tom could have found a job just about anywhere he wanted. Instead, he was a lowly shopkeeper's assistant at Borgin and Burke's. Do you know why that was the case?"

"He thought working there would give him access to rare dark artifacts?" Lily answered tentatively, though it was clear that she had little confidence in her response.

He shook his head. "Perhaps he used his placement to his advantage in the end, but that was not his dream job, nor his second, third, or even twentieth choice. I have a reputation as a skilled networker and talent scout; when I make recommendations, people listen. I called all the Department and Subdepartment Heads I could reach, the Chief Healer at St. Mungo's, innumerable barristers, anyone I could think of who would be in a position to give him a respectable occupation, and I sullied his name. I told them that he was a thief, a liar, and a bully, a useless layabout with nothing more than a talent for charming the unwary. I must have spent a dozen galleons on Floo powder, but by the time I was done, I had cut him off at the knees. There was no way he could insinuate himself into any role that would allow him to influence society."

"And if he hadn't turned himself into a Dark Lord, it probably would have worked," she murmured in reluctant approval. "Does he know that you interfered with his goals?"

He slowly nodded. "I am certain that he does; he made various threats through letters during the War that implied that, anyway. Hogwarts was safe, so I never really feared him acting on them, especially as I lived here year-round, but when Harry told the world that he was back, I immediately started moving from house to house, trying my best to stay hidden. Perhaps it's for the best that Albus tracked me down; if he could find me, Tom most surely could. I know it's a terrible thing to say, but Severus's murder could not have come at a more convenient time." Lily smirked slightly at that, and his eyes widened. "No. You couldn't have… did you? How? Why?"

"Did you know that it was Severus who sold us out to Voldemort?" At his shocked expression, she continued, "Yes, he wanted James and Harry dead and me a slave to his every sick and perverted desire; needless to say, I was quite disgusted when I learned that. Of course, that's not to say that I had anything to do with his rather ironic demise."

"But you're not denying it, either. There are few people who would think to boil him in his own cauldron. And you still haven't said how you were able to do that."

"True on all counts." The clock on the wall tolled midnight, and on the last chime, her form began to fade. "All Saint's Day. It seems my time is up."

"Lily, wait!" He shifted to his knees and crept closer. "I'm sorry. You're right, I share some blame for your death, and I don't deserve it, but please. Can you forgive me, even a little?"

Her transparent eyes softened marginally, and she laid her cold hand lightly on his bald pate. "You tried. You made mistakes, and you could have done more to stop Voldemort before he became the horror that he did," he winced at that rebuke, "but you did try, which is more than I can say for the majority of Britain.

"Yes, Professor. I forgive you."

"Thank you." She smiled before completely vanishing, and Horace covered his face with his hands as tears streamed down his cheeks. "Thank you, Lily. Thank you."

Harry ended the illusion and averted his eyes as the man began to cry. He whispered, "I think that's all we can get out of him tonight. Get us out of here, Dobby." The house-elf nodded and, with a snap of his fingers, popped the two of them, Hermione, Luna, and the Cloak of Invisibility to an empty room just a few doors down from the Gryffindor common room.

"That was nice of you to agree to forgive him, Harry," Luna commented as the elf took the Hallow back to the Manor.

"It really was." Frowning, Hermione swept her wandtip over her throat to end the voice-changing and ventriloquism charms. No longer sounding like his dead mother, she added, "The story we got from him was different from that of our timeline."

"Yes, it was, but whether that's due to a change in Slughorn or hearing it from someone other than Dumbledore is debatable. Still, I meant what I said and you repeated. He, at least, made an attempt to stop Tom before he became a Dark Lord. Could he have done more, sure, but so many people were perfectly content just sitting and watching that I have to lower my standards unless I plan to torch this whole country."

"Don't worry, Harry; there are still plenty of Death Eaters you can take your anger out on," Luna reminded him with a wicked smile. "And as soon as we get used to our larger cores, we can get back to taking away everything they hold dear."

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