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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32. Educational Decree Twenty-Four

Three shadows worked silently in the night to force their way into the extravagant manor before them. "Being the Minister of Magic sure doesn't pay well, does it?" Harry asked sarcastically.

Luna shrugged, peering at the runes of the ward pick in her left hand while a faint white light shone from the wand in her right. Sighing, she slipped it back in its sleeve and drew out another. "Well, where else were the bribes he took from Malfoy supposed to go? At least we now know that he didn't blow all the money on high-priced prostitutes."

"…Thank you for that mental image. I don't know how I could have gone the rest of my life without picturing Fudge doing the horizontal tango with a call-girl."

"Happy to help," she replied, finally finding the secondary focus she had been looking for. "Would you return the favor and explain to me again why we're robbing his house in the early early morning rather than in the afternoons like we've been doing?"

"Two reasons. First, Dobby said his wife leaves the house at irregular intervals, so waiting for a decent opportunity means we won't necessarily be as prepared as we need to be. Second, you were the one who wanted to restart the D.A. Even if it's only five of them, we still have to worry about arranging times to meet, and I have a feeling Saturdays and Sundays are going to be the most convenient days for everyone. That means either slowing down our heists — thereby giving the Purebloods more chances to improve their wards — or doing them in the dark."

His blonde lover huffed and ran her chosen pick along the ward boundary, disabling the last of the manor's defenses. "Mione, are you still casting that stay-asleep charm?"

"…Dormire, dormire, per totam noctem dormire. Done." A yellow mask turned to regard the Ravenclaw. "And correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm not the one who suggested keeping them unconscious while we robbed them blind."

"You're wrong," answered Luna, her tone light with laughter. "Come on, let's get this over with and return to the castle."

Agatha Fudge woke with a pained groan. Why is the bed so uncomfortable this morning? Cracking her eyes open, she blinked a few times before what she was seeing registered, and then she shrieked. "Cornelius, Cornelius, get up!"

"Huh? Wha' goin' on, honey?"

She grabbed him by the lapels of his sleeping shirt and shook him fully awake. His jaw dropped as he took in their beautiful bedroom… or at least what used to be their beautiful bedroom. All the portraits in their golden frames, the rich velvet curtains, the mahogany dresser, her overflowing jewelry box, even the bed they had been sleeping in; everything was gone! All that was left was the blanket the two of them were laying upon and an ugly painting of a smiling fox head on the ceiling above them.

"Call the Aurors! We've been robbed!"

BY ORDER OF
The High Inquisitor of Hogwarts

All Student Organizations, Societies, Teams, Groups, and Clubs are henceforth disbanded.

Any Organization, Society, Team, Group, or Club is hereby defined as a regular meeting of three or more students.

Permission to reform may be sought from the High Inquisitor (Professor Umbridge).

No Student Organization, Society, Team, Group, or Club may exist without the knowledge and approval of the High Inquisitor.

Any student found to have formed, or to belong to, an Organization, Society, Team, Group, or Club that has not been approved by the High Inquisitor will be expelled.

The above is in accordance with
Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four

Dolores Jean Umbridge
High Inquisitor

"I didn't realize it until just now, but she's going to have a really hard time trying to enforce this one."

"Oh?" Harry asked, turning to face Hermione. The offensive woman certainly hadn't had any issues last time. "Why do you say that?"

"Think about it. 'A regular meeting of three or more students'. How often do you see students in groups of more than two? In the halls, in the common rooms, in the library; every student would have to go up to her multiple times for her to approve them. I know that's not how she meant it to be taken, but as written…"

"Except we both know she will interpret it however she wants, not as it's written. I'm just glad that Dumbledore's 'no expulsion' policy will prevent her from tossing any of the students out in the short term. Even if most of them are sheep, I can only think of a few people I'd like to see suffer in the hands of that madwoman."

"The bigots, perchance?" Hermione asked. A small smile appeared, and she asked sweetly, "Since Crabbe and Goyle are always together, do they count as two people or just one?"

"Cute, but you're giving them too much credit. They're just growths Malfoy had cut off." The slipped out of the loud common room and down an empty hallway. Casting a silencing charm about them, he asked the question that had truly been burning in his mind since spotting the decree. "How the hell did she know? I mean, last time it was because that veiled wizard overheard us in the Hog's Head, but not only did we not meet there, there's no way any of our current students could have told her. Do you think it's another timeline difference?"

The brunette grimaced. "Probably not. You know how Ron and I gave you a couple of weeks last time for you to think about whether or not you were going to start the D.A.?"

"Yes…"

"Well, we decided to use that time to spread the word a little. That's why everyone was pretty much ready to join when they walked into the bar." Her eyebrows rose as a thought came to her. "That's probably also why there were so many of them; I know I didn't invite all those people. Anyway, while we were doing that, I found out that some Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs in the library were already planning their own little study group. It isn't quite as damning as an organization founded by the Boy-Who-Lived, but it's still a direct affront to her authority."

"Merlin forbid anyone challenge her insanity," he griped before dispelling the charm. The walk down to the Great Hall was spent in comfortable silence, silence that was broken when they saw the large crowd gathered outside the Hall's large doors. "What's holding everybody up?"

"I don't know," she replied slowly. Shouldering people out of their path, she made her way to the front of the blockage; oddly enough, several students, mostly the ones in fourth, fifth, and sixth year, covered their mouths as if to suppress their laughter when she passed. Once she had a clear view of the Great Hall, her eyes widened and she muttered, "I'll kill her. I'm seriously going to murder her."

"What? Who?" He looked over her shoulder and gaped. "Oh, her."

Luna certainly had been busy the previous night, though how she changed out the house banners he hadn't a clue.

The replacement that hung behind the staff table where the Hogwarts crest normally was caught his eye first, mostly because of its constantly changing colors, and he could not help but grin as he took in the words. 'New and Unapproved Clubs. Sign Up Today!' Well, that's one way to brass the Toad off.

Over the Hufflepuff table was a large yellow curtain upon which ran a number of black silhouettes. Though the figures could clearly be seen passing a ball between them and avoiding two more, they did not seem to have any other idea of what do to if their frantic sprints over the fabric were any indication. The caption below the design explained it, and he noticed several nearby Badgers growling as they read.

Scoreless Broomless Quidditch
Where Everyone's on Equal Footing!

If the Hufflepuffs thought their new banner was offensive, they had nothing on the Slytherins. Three pairs of silver boys and girls cavorted wildly on an emerald background, and from their outlines, it was obvious to all that the individuals depicted had not a stitch of clothing on between them. It was equally patent that the males liked what they saw.

Naked Tango Club
Get Your Pure Blood Flowing!

The blonde had not pulled any punches with her own house, either. There was no image, but instead bronze words in a messy scrawl took up the entire strip of blue fabric. The handwriting was not exactly like Harry's, but it was close enough that he expected to be questioned about his whole role in this debacle.

Remedial Reading/Writing Clinic
(One month free tutoring for all new members!)
Promoting Literacy Since 1995

Reluctantly, he moved his eyes to the banner over the Gryffindor table, and suddenly the reason for the spectators' reactions to Hermione was perfectly clear. He had to choke down the guffaw that threatened to spill out, wary of further inciting her ire. For once, Luna was going to be hiding behind him today!

This flag, too, was in appropriate colors for the Lions' den. Over and over again, a golden individual dressed in robes and pointy hat climbed onto a set of parapets only to fall over the edge and windmill his arms in sudden panic. Glancing over the words again, Harry wondered where his most childish of lovers had misplaced her sense of self-preservation.

Society for the Promotion of Leaping off the Astronomy Tower
Take the Jump… If You're Brave Enough!

"Huh. I wonder if she still has some aggression over being bullied throughout her years here that she's trying to work out of her system?"

"If she wants aggression, I can certainly give her some," Hermione snarled in response.

I'm probably about to join Luna in the doghouse, but… "I take that means we aren't going to be joining SPLAT?" In his personal opinion, that jibe was totally worth the elbow to the gut it earned him.

The rabid brunette stomped over to their house's table and dropped heavily beside the merry and oblivious blonde. "Do you have something to say for yourself, Luna dear?"

"Mmrph," the younger girl answered, her cheeks bulging identically to her Animagus form's. She chewed awkwardly for several seconds before swallowing the mouthful down. Offering her plate to her girlfriend, she asked in a far too innocent tone, "Pancakes?"

"No, I don't want any bloody pancakes!" she hissed.

"Oh, that's unfortunate. Not as good as Harry's, I'll admit, but they're not half bad."

Harry glanced around for anything to calm Hermione down and noticed something odd. "Love, is it possible for me to have anything else for breakfast?" He could see jugs of pumpkin juice, bottles of syrup, platters and platters of Luna's favorite food… and that was it.

"Not here. You'd have to check the other tables."

His eyebrows raising, he eyed the nearby Badger's table, upon which sat — appropriately — Bludger-sized balls of chocolate. The yellow-trimmed students looked just as confused as he felt over their new dining options, though some of the younger years had already gleefully started carving slices off the confections. He twisted around to check the Ravenclaws, only a few of whom seemed at all pleased with the waffles presented to them. A smile appeared as a member of the studious house lifted one shaped like the letter 'B' in dismay. "I'm almost afraid to ask, but what do the Slytherins have to eat?"

"Sausages." Luna's smile gained a malicious edge, and she held her thumb and index finger about an inch apart. "Tiny ones."

"Congratulations, Luna, you have just set yourself up to be torn apart by every single person in here if they ever find out you were responsible for insulting their houses," the still-seething brunette whispered before snatching a pair of cakes from a serving plate. Angrily taking a bite, she chewed for several seconds, the motion progressively slowing. "These taste familiar."

"They should. I had the house-elves mix vanilla and honey in the batter before they poured it on the griddle."

Harry rolled his eyes. "If you wanted me to cook for you, you could have just asked."

She flushed in embarrassment. "I know that, but I had to bribe them with something to get their cooperation. In return for the recipes for your pancakes and my gran's fudgeballs, they made the banners I specified, hung them, and promised to deny everything if anyone asks."

It was that moment that Umbridge chose to enter the Hall.

Harry could tell the instant the Minister's Undersecretary noticed the new decorations. She stopped in mid-step, her jowls quivering as her beady little eyes shot from one banner to the other. They eventually settled on the one behind the staff table, and he wondered if her head was going to burst from the blood rushing to her face. "Who did this?!" she demanded, anger stripping away all the false sweetness normally coating her voice. It's natural sound was instead harsh and husky, and he had to admit that it suited the woman well.

None answered her question. "Who. Was. It?! Tell me! Now!" She stamped her tiny foot on the stone floor and declared, "Whoever made these blasted things, if you don't answer for your actions, I'm going to start expelling people until you do!"

"I'm afraid I can't let you do that, my dear," Dumbledore replied calmly as he entered the Hall flanked by McGonagall and Sprout. "After all, this is just a harmless little prank."

"Prank?! Prank?! This is an insult to my duly assigned position!"

The headmaster glanced at the students unabashedly listening to their burgeoning argument. "Perhaps this discussion would be better suited to my office?"

Oh, no you don't, you old coot. You aren't going to pacify her just when she's started digging her own grave. Surreptitiously drawing his acacia wand out of his sleeve, Harry aimed the pale stick at Umbridge and mentally incanted, 'Compulso'. The spell that rocketed at her unseen was a little trick he had picked up a few years ago: rather than direct her to do something, it instead forced her to feel. Specifically, he was amplifying the anger and belligerence she was already experiencing, which, assuming she had been on the receiving end of Dumbledore's patronizing attitude before, could very well cause her to reject his proposal on sheer principle.

Sure enough, Umbridge crossed her arms and sneered. "Go up to your office with your Muggle candies and your pet bird and your disgusting sanctimonious dismissals? I think not. According to Educational Decree Number 24, I am permitted to throw any student who forms an unapproved club out of the castle; joke or not, the person who is responsible for this defiance has formed four of them and now has to suffer the consequences of his actions!"

His actions? Is she just speaking broadly, I wonder, or does she want to pin this on me? Harry already knew that Umbridge hated him both for being half-blood and his opposition to the policies of her precious 'Cornelius', but blaming him for something totally unrelated was something he had only expected from a certain deceased head of Slytherin. Then again, she did send Dementors after me, torture me, try to kill Hedwig, and generally make my life a living hell. Compared to that, nothing is out of the realm of possibility. Throw in how I've kept my mouth shut and denied her the pleasure of introducing me to her blood quill, and of course she'd jump on any opportunity to make an example of me that comes her way.

"Except you drastically overstepped your bounds, Dolores," the aged professor returned. The twinkle had gone out of his eyes, and his tone was stern. "The right to expel any student lies solely in the hands of the Headmaster of this school, which you are not. The former Minister may have created your position, but he is no longer in office to extend your powers. Not only that, the remit you claim to possess was never his to grant."

"I am the High Inquisitor, and I demand to see some— CROAK!" Umbridge slapped her hands over her mouth, but it was too late; the whole student body heard her, and already the laughter primed by seeing the other houses laid low was racing through the packed tables like wildfire. She stormed past Dumbledore out of the Great Hall, and had she been a teenager, Harry was sure she would have been in tears.

Dumbledore took his place in the middle of the staff table and raised his hands for silence. "That's enough, everyone. While I'm sure whoever set up our new decor meant it as a simple prank, I will say that they took it a little too far. Get rid of it before lunch, and there will be no discipline handed out."

"Not a problem," Luna muttered as she poured herself another glass of pumpkin juice. "That was part of my original deal with the elves."

"You certainly thought this whole thing through." Harry raised his own goblet and lightly tapped the rims of the vessels together. "Brava, my love."

It was later that day that the first repercussions of Luna's prank raised their ugly heads.

"Harry, McGonagall and I need to talk to you," Angelina said hollowly after entering the common room.

He looked up from his Charms essay, and he heard more than saw his lovers do the same. "Oh? What about?"

"It's… Look, she'll explain it better than I would. Can we just go see her now?"

"Depends," he replied seriously. "Where is this meeting taking place?"

She blinked in confusion. "Her office, why?"

"Just the three of us?"

"Of course. Harry, what's going on?"

He waved the question away and flashed her a comforting smile. "Nothing, nothing. I've just become a little wary of conversations that a certain individual might decide to stick his nose into." Rising from his chair, he turned to the other time travelers. "If I'm not back in fifteen minutes, arrange a rescue mission?"

"It's on the list," Luna replied, her attention back on her parchment. "I can't push back the search for Antarctic snow worms any further, but we can write you in right before our planned observation of Hagrid's toe fungus."

"Your concern for my continued health and safety is just overwhelming, really." He leaned down to drop a quick kiss in her hair. "And you, Mione?"

"Don't look at me for help. I get half your stuff if you kick the bucket."

He rolled his eyes at his girls' antics. "Keep that attitude up, and I might just find myself developing a taste for redheads."

Their raucous laughter followed the two Quidditch players through the portrait hole.

"You know, you shocked everybody when you showed up this year with those two hanging off your arms," Angelina commented as they began the short trek to their head of house's office. He glanced at her from the corner of his eye, and she clarified, "I mean, we all knew you were going to end up with Granger sooner or later; that much was obvious two years ago. Having a second girl, though, and Lovegood besides? That certainly threw the betting pool out of whack."

"You have a problem with me dating Luna?"

She waved her hands in emphatic negation at the soft, cold tone of his question. "No way! I mean, yeah, I've heard some gossip and stuff about her, but she's a real sweetheart and not, you know, a total nutcase." His glower made her wince. "Not to mention, while I generally don't go around telling boys that they should collect girls and make a harem or something, you three fit well together. You're certainly happier this year than you've ever been before."

"I see." He let her fret for a few moments for the 'nutcase' comment and affirmed, "Those two are the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I know how lucky I am. I have no plans 'collect' any more women, don't worry. Unless you were implying you wanted to join in?" he asked slyly.

"Pffft. No offense, Harry, but I like my guys a little older and a lot less scrawny."

And no offense to you, but I like my girls to not still be teenagers, so we're both good. "Too bad. You just don't know what you're missing." Recalling what she had said about a betting pool, his mind flashed to the two Lions most likely to gamble on his love life. "So who won the Twins' money, or did they get to keep it all?"

"Funnily enough, Trelawney took the pot." At his astonished expression, the dark-skinned girl nodded. "Surprised me, too, when I found out, but she had ten galleons on you starting to date two girls at the same time over summer vacation. Apparently, she changed her bet the day we took the Express home. Before then, she had predicted Granger would confess her feelings to your grave."

That's… kind of creepy, honestly. If I didn't know better, I would think she actually had some idea that we changed the future.

Before their conversation could travel down another tangent, they arrived at the door to McGonagall's office. Angelina knocked quietly on the door and opened it, ushering him inside. The professor sighed when she saw him and gestured at the two seats in front of her desk. "Have a seat, please, Mr. Potter. We have much to discuss."

"I already don't like the sound of this," he replied warily as he sat in one chair, his teammate taking the other and scooting closer to him. From the sad frowns on their faces, he could only presume it was to offer some kind of support after dropping whatever bombshell they had prepared. "May as well spit it out and be done with it."

"Very well. You may have already realized this, but the latest of Professor Umbridge's Educational Decrees prohibiting all student organizations also effectively disbands the Quidditch teams unless she grants them permission to reform. So far, she has done so for Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw."

"But she refuses to give us the same approval?" Harry guessed. She had tried to do the same in the old timeline, after all, but he did not recall having a discussion like this with the head of Gryffindor. Then again, she had not been publicly humiliated last time as she was now, either.

"Exactly. Under any other circumstances, Professor Dumbledore would overrule her just as he did concerning her reaction to that prank, but unlike this morning, her position does mean she has the authority to permit or deny us a Quidditch team. Unfortunately, he feels that trampling over any and all decisions she makes as a legitimate representative of the Ministry would only hurt his attempts to rebuild Hogwarts's working relationship with London. This puts us in quite the dilemma."

Bloody politics, he thought disparagingly. "Let me see if I understand. Umbridge—"

"Professor Umbridge, Mr. Potter. Even if you don't like her, you should still show her proper respect."

"I'll try not to call her a bloody fat toad when she's in earshot, then," he retorted. The professor gaped while Angelina did her best to stifle her giggles. "Umbridge got mad that Dumbledore called her out on her little abuse of power earlier today, so now she's throwing a tantrum and refusing to let us compete. Dumbledore, meanwhile, is too concerned with playing politics to slap down the Ministry stooge Fudge planted here, even though he was forced to resign and no longer has any form of power whatsoever. If that was the end of it, you would be announcing this to the whole team, so based on us having this private meeting along with how Angelina looks like she's about to ambush me with a hug," said girl shifted in her seat with a weak smile, "I can only presume some compromise was reached that involves me and that I'm not going to like. How am I doing so far?"

McGonagall blinked rapidly and murmured, "There's obviously more of your mother in you than I thought." Flushing brightly when she realized he had heard that, she cleared her throat. "Yes, well, you are correct; Professor Umbridge did offer to reform the team on one condition… that you were no longer on it."

"Wow. If I didn't know better, I would think she has some kind of vendetta against me," he remarked sarcastically.

"She had a very close relationship with Minister Fudge," she replied, "and so she took you and Professor Dumbledore aligning yourselves against him at the end of last year rather personally."

Not to mention she's a blood bigot of the highest order and is not a Death Eater solely because the amphibian look isn't what they want to hold up as the natural consequence of their whole 'world of Purebloods' plan. Actually, is she a Marked Death Eater? That's something we really should check at some point.

"You have acted much more mature this year than last, so as the one most affected by this choice, I will leave it up to you. If you wish to remain Gryffindor's Seeker, I will keep trying to change her mind, but I do not expect to be successful."

"But if I resign today, you can hold tryouts in short order and get my replacement up to snuff in time for the Gryffindor-Slytherin match next month."

The Transfiguration teacher nodded and reluctantly admitted, "Madam Hooch informed me that she has reserved the pitch for us this weekend. Please do not let that sway your decision."

Sure, just don't guilt trip me or anything. I don't think I could stand it. He huffed and leaned back in thought. So, Umbitch is being a pain and not backing down while Dumbledore is on his knees in front of the new Minister so he can get his old positions back. Why am I not surprised? I do enjoy Quidditch, but it's not like I'd get to play anyway under the circumstances. McGonagall might even try to fight the Toad about it — she's Quidditch-mad enough if nothing else — but that would just be a pointless waste of time.

However, if I quit, that would mean no more practices early in the morning, not to mention six weekends that Mione, Luna, and I could use to either work with the D.A. or, better yet, go on heists. Having to resign for 'the good of the team' would also give me a reason to skip going to the games at all, and of course it is only proper that my girlfriends would be with me wherever I'm hiding to sulk. No one would look for us, so no one could possibly know that we're nowhere near the castle in the first place.

Not to mention, even though this means Umbridge wins a minor victory, what she really wants is to keep the whole team grounded. Knowing the rumor mill, it would eventually get out that I'm the reason they couldn't play, and that would be enough to turn the school against me just as happened in my first, second, and fourth years. He mentally grinned. Well, we can't have that now, can we?

He opened his eyes, not having noticed that they had drifted closed while he pondered, and looked squarely at his head of house and now-former captain. "So that's the way it has to be, is it?"

"I'm afraid so, Mr. Potter." McGonagall looked down at her desk. "Had I any other option, I would gladly take it, but I do not. If you wish to look at the somewhat morbid silver lining, however, we have not had a single Defense Against the Dark Arts professor return for a second year since the late 1950s. I guarantee that you will have your position back next year."

"Don't make promises you can't keep," he said and intentionally ignored the instructor's immediate flinch. Rising and nodding at each woman with a soft, "Professor, Angelina," he silently exited the room.

Because with the way things are going, I don't know that we'll be coming back next year at all.

 
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