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



26. Elementary, My Dear Watson

It was the tapping that drew Harry's attention from his book. He glanced up to where Hermione sat at the opposite side of the table in the abandoned classroom they had commandeered. Just as he hoped, she was fidgeting, the index finger on her left hand tapping arrhythmically as she twirled a quill in her right. Her irritated stare was fixed on the roll of parchment she had been writing on; Flitwick had not been kind to them for their first week back and had asked them to detail the theoretical differences among the summoning, banishing, and levitation charms and the effect those had on the spells' applications.

He distinctly remembered failing that essay, as had the entire class; Hermione in particular had taken it poorly, being nigh-inconsolable for the rest of the week. Privately, he suspected the minute professor had done it entirely to 'encourage' them to put more time into studying due to the upcoming OWLs. Tricky quarter-goblin.

Turning his gaze to his right, he smirked at his blonde lover, only for her to glare back. "Is something the matter, Mione?" he asked helpfully.


Luna grinned this time. He narrowed his eyes and continued, "Are you sure? You don't normally make that much noise unless you're annoyed about something."

"It's this blasted paper." She shoved the parchment away from her and leaned back in her chair, one hand rubbing her forehead. "We've only been back in school a week, but I'm already tired of this nonsense."

Harry bit his tongue before his next sentence could leap out; it would not do to violate the rules when victory was so close. "What nonsense are you talking about, love?"

"This complete and utter load of tripe!" Staring at him with an almost wild gleam in her eyes, she indicated the unfinished essay as well as the star chart for Astronomy and Sprout's assignment on determining the properties of magical trees from their leaf shapes. "We've done all this before! It was mildly interesting then, but I already know it! It's dull, pointless, boring! If the entire year is to be like this, I'm going to go completely round the bend before Christmas!"

The younger girl's groan was loud as she banged her head against the table. "Damn it, Hermione, couldn't you have made it two more days?! All you had to do was last a full week! Is that really too much to ask?"

"Now, Luna, you know how upset she gets when faced with tedium. Unlike that day we played chess to determine if I had to go with you to look for new shoes, there was never any question I would win this time. I will admit, however, that I didn't think it would be this close," he returned gently, smiling all the while.

Hermione looked between them for a moment before she gaped in understanding. "You two… you two made a bet about me being frustrated by our homework?"

"Maybe a little one," he crowed. "We both knew you were going to crack sooner rather than later; the only question was how soon. She figured that you could make it into the second week, possibly even the third. I, on the other hand, knew that it wouldn't take nearly that long with all the work the professors kept… keep?… piling on us. Thank you very much, my dear."

"You… you…"


Her left eye twitching in annoyance at yet again, even if indirectly, being the butt of one of their jokes, she demanded, "And just what were the stakes of this wager?"

"A favor to be determined at a later date," Luna grumbled.

"Look on the bright side, Mione. You'll probably enjoy whatever I think of for her as much as I will."

The brunette's expression declared that she was in a decidedly 'glass half-empty' mood at the moment. "At least one of you is getting your comeuppance for when you make me dress like a bloody harem girl in November." Her frown took on a more curious cast, and she asked, "Wait, when did you two even have the time to cook up this little bit of humiliation? We've been together almost the entire time since we arrived."

Harry was sure his grin had split his cheeks in twain. "Oh, it was while you were with your parents in Australia but before she left for Siberia. The topic came up randomly, and we couldn't seem to agree." His loves' twin grumbles were music to his ears.

"Laugh while you can," Hermione warned. "You have to write these essays, too. I'm sure to enjoy it when you have your own meltdown."

He chuckled gently at that, much to their consternation. "Three things. First, I spent ten years as the Dursleys' drudge; boring, pointless work isn't something I'm unfamiliar with. Second, I can slack off and not do them at all if I want because, as I told Snape, only our exam scores matter this year." Hermione joined their girlfriend in assaulting the table via cranium. "And third, I have a secret weapon."

"And just what would that be?"

He ignored her snarl and flicked a finger against the silver tiara resting upon his brow. "Ravenclaw was a certifiable genius. Her Diadem doesn't actually increase intelligence, but it does give me perfect recall for everything I see and hear while wearing it. Add a time turner, an invisibility cloak, and a Pensieve, and I can knock out each of our assignments in about fifteen minutes." Leaning back in amusement from his girls' incredulous expressions, he continued idly, "Did you know that you can view a memory from several years ago with complete clarity in a Pensieve even if you can't actually recall it consciously? As long as you know what it was about and it hasn't been memory charmed away, it's not inaccessible."

His smugness disappeared as he heard two growls that would have been more at home to starving wolves. "I'm sure you simply forgot to mention this solution to us, didn't you, my love?" Luna asked, her sweet voice at odds with the glare she fixed him with.

"Yes, of course," he answered swiftly. Perhaps he had preened a tad too much if the girls' menacing expressions were anything to go by. Both of them despised tedium.

The blonde was all smiles at his response. "Good. Do you mind if we borrow this so we can finish our assignments as quickly as you did? Thank you very much!" With that, she snatched the Diadem off his head and scooped up her stack of parchment. "Coming, Mione?"

"But of course," Hermione answered as she picked up her much larger pile. "We'll see you in a couple of hours, Harry. You might not even have to worry too much about us defenestrating you by then." The two departed arm in arm.

He sighed, though not in response to the mostly-joking threat. It was just that there was no point in continuing with his book without the Diadem. G. S. Dramm was an excellent author — he certainly had to be to write a book detailing the theory behind potion ingredient reactions that was even slightly engaging — and the forty pages he had read up to this point had gone far in demystifying what was arguably the most important aspect of potion-brewing and one Snape had never deigned to teach them. The problem was that the text was so detailed that he knew he would never be able keep all the information straight without Ravenclaw's magnum opus creating an exact copy of the pages in his memory; no matter how interesting and potentially rewarding the topic was, this was not something he ever wanted to have to reread. He did not enjoy Potions.

To the empty room, he commented, "You know, holding that over their heads like I did was probably not the brightest idea I've ever had."

It turned out that having the girls sequestered in the Room of Requirement was a benefit in disguise. Closing the trapdoor quietly, Harry whipped his invisibility cloak around himself. Students were only allowed to go to Hogsmeade on the third weekend of the month, so there were no customers in Honeydukes when he stole through the shop and out the door, the streets likewise abandoned. How in the world does this village support itself if it's practically a ghost town for thirty days out of the month?, he wondered.

Still, that emptiness worked to his advantage here. He moved to one side of the building and cast a notice-me-not charm over the short alleyway it made with Scrivinshaft's Quill Shop just in case. Hidden from any potential prying eyes, he stuffed the Hallow into a space-extended pocket. Now came the interesting part.

Transfiguring a mirror from a piece of trash, he examined his reflection critically. When using glamours to disguise himself, it was best that the changes were as small as possible if he wanted them to last more than a few minutes. A twirl of his wand changed his raven hair to a sandy blonde, and he followed the charm with a hair-lengthening jinx. My hair has to be legitimately cursed, he thought as he stopped the spell when the strands hit shoulder length, because nothing can straighten the damn thing out. Gathering the mess, he conjured a tie to hold it in a loose tail.

Next came the eyes, possibly his most distinguishing feature. They were stubbornly green, so much so that they shook off illusions placed over them quite easily. Still, he could and did shift them to a darker hue, more emerald than the Avada Kedavra shade they normally were. Changing the shape of his eyes to give him a hint of a squint was a cantrip in comparison. While the ovoid silver glasses he had purchased over the summer would likely throw any casual observer off his trail, it never hurt to be cautious, especially when he was trying to outsmart Dumbledore should the old man become curious of someone asking questions about his pet fortune teller. A conjuration and minor transfiguration later, he slipped the originals into his pocket with the cloak and put on the golden half-moons normally found only on manipulative headmasters.

One last spell turned his school robes to a navy set that would not garner a second glance anywhere in Wizarding Britain. As safely disguised as he could be short of human transfiguration or Polyjuice, he left the alcove and made his way to the Three Broomsticks. Perhaps there he could shed some light on the mystery of Trelawney's interview.

The problem was simple enough: he had no idea what actually happened that night so long ago. The drunken Seeress's memories had already proven to be false, and the only others he was sure knew what happened were Dumbledore and Snape, neither of whom would be willing to share their experiences. The entire end of the first Voldemort war hinged on that single meeting between the three: his parents' murder, his own fame as the Boy-Who-Lived, and not least of all, the 'destiny' that had shaped his entire life. Try as he might to push it aside, the questions had burned inside him since the revelation Monday night. It was a good thing he had the Diadem to assist him with his homework; he had found himself going over the sparse facts he knew for certain whenever he had a free moment. No matter how much he twisted them, they refused to make a coherent picture. He just knew too little, though one thing was certain.

Dumbledore going out of his way to meet in a public place with a prospective teacher who just so happened to give a prophecy relevant to the war while a Marked Death Eater just so happened to be there and just so happened to take an interest in what should have been a normal job interview was far too convenient to be sheer coincidence.

That was why he was here. While the old man might have altered Trelawney's memory to hide the truth, it was entirely possible that there were others around that night who he had not had a chance to manipulate. Harry suspected that the meeting did take place in a pub, though obviously not the Hog's Head. The Three Broomsticks, however, was known to have rooms available for arranging meetings, and if this was where Trelawney's interview did take place — and assuming his bipolar luck chose to side with him rather than against today — then Madam Rosmerta just might have been a witness to what occurred. Hopefully she would still remember after sixteen years.

Unlike the rest of the town, the bar was quite full, and he had to spend a moment looking around for an empty table. Eventually finding one, he sat and flicked his wand in Rosmerta's direction from under the table. His compulsion cast, the buxom redhead meandered over. "Well, I've never seen you around here before. I'm Rosie, the owner of this bar."

"Charles Flinders," he replied with a smile. "And you wouldn't have seen me; I wasn't one of those rich enough to afford to attend Hogwarts."

She smiled. "Most aren't; I know I wasn't." A second surreptitious spell had her pulling out the chair opposite him. "So, what brings you all the way up here?"

"A book, actually. I'm trying to write one on the history of the Ministry. Boring, I know," he laughed when she tried and failed to hide a grimace, "but it's what the publisher said he'd be willing to print. Maybe once people have heard of me, I'll be able to write what I want, but until then, I'm no Gilderoy Lockhart. Anyway, I'd heard you had rooms I could rent to meet people in."

"Yep, I do. My rates are pretty good, too. Two Galleons an hour."

He let his jaw fall in feigned surprise. "Well, that will certainly cut down on my savings. I guess you make a fortune off of Headmaster Dumbledore, though, if the rumors are right."

She pursed her lips for a moment before shaking her head. "If the rumors you're talking about are about how he's constantly hiring new teachers, yes, they're true, but he always does his interviews up in the castle."

Damn it. This and the Leaky Cauldron were the only places he could think of where Dumbledore might have arranged a 'private' interview where Snape would have a pseudo-legitimate reason to be there in the first place, and Tom, the barman at the Cauldron, was much older than Rosmerta. The chances of him remembering that far back were essentially zero. "He never meets with a prospective professor here? That's a shame. I bet his office doesn't have nearly as good of drinks as you do."

"Oh, you flatterer!" she said with a smile. "Most of them come over for a drink afterwards, anyway, so I still make some money off them, though sometimes I think my best customers are the teachers who do get the job rather than the poor sods who don't."

"Really? Teaching a bunch of kids can't be that much trouble." I may as well leave. Maybe, if I'm supremely lucky, Tom will remember Dumbledore and Trelawney.

"You'd be surprised. Hagrid, the professor for Care, drinks mead by the barrel, and Trelawney…"

She paused, her eyes unfocused as if she was reaching into her memories. Spotting an opportunity, he sent a third compulsion at her; it wasn't much, just a push to be a little more open than she already had been. "Trelawney? Who is that?"

"Trelawney is the Divination professor," Rosmerta answered slowly, "and I just remembered that she did, in fact, have an interview here." There was a party beginning in Harry's mind at those words. "That was… maybe fifteen years ago or so? In fact, Professor Dumbledore was looking at two people who wanted to teach that day. It's the only time he's ever met anyone in my rooms, not that I blame him with what happened."

Harry froze in place, all internal celebrations forgotten. Two interviews? Who else was he talking to besides Trelawney? Doing his best to steady his voice, for he knew it would shake with emotion were he not careful, he asked, "Oh? What happened?"

"Well, I went up to check if they wanted anything to drink when I spotted the other person who was going to be interviewed lurking outside the room the room the Professor was in at the time. I yelled at him, and Professor Dumbledore opened the door and started telling him off, too. Right disappointed he was at such rudeness, let me tell you… Are you all right?"

He blinked rapidly; his eyes had grown wide as he listened to the story. "I'm fine, just shocked that someone would do something like that. Was there something interesting going on inside that had grabbed his attention?"

"Not that I can think of," she said with a shrug.

So that means Trelawney was finished when Rosmerta arrived; I know from personal experience that she is loud and incredibly hard to ignore when she starts making real prophecies. I'm sure I know who this 'he' is too, but just to be sure… "Who was the man that was eavesdropping, by the way?" he asked, trying his best to make it sound like an mere afterthought.

"Oh, it was Severus Snape, the Potions professor. He got the job he had wanted in the end, though it was only after the war was over."

This… this was exactly what he had been hoping for. Removing the compulsions he had laid upon her with a covert jab of his wand, he said, "Well, I'm glad everything worked out for him eventually."

"Oh, I'm so sorry," Rosmerta said with a blush. She stood quickly. "I've been talking all this time and haven't offered you a drink. Can I get you something?"

Several minutes later, he was still sitting there, his butterbeer almost untouched. Dumbledore manipulated Trelawney's memories so she would think she was in the Hog's Head instead of the Three Broomsticks, but why? Because she had rented a room in Aberforth's bar? To keep people from doing exactly what I did and come here looking for answers? Even if that is the explanation, there was still no reason not to meet in his office, and it doesn't answer the question of how she noticed Snape coming in halfway through.

Okay, Harry, step back and look at what you do know. Dumbledore arranged interviews for both Trelawney and Snape on the same day and in the same place. Snape got curious, or perhaps was acting on Voldemort's orders. Trelawney couldn't have been interrupted while giving the prophecy, nor would Snape have kept part of it secret from Voldemort, so the only logical answer is that she only recited half of it to begin with. That still makes no sense; how could she only give half a prophecy?

Ignoring that for a moment, why would Dumbledore arrange an interview with Snape there and then? It's almost like he wanted Snape to listen in, but I can't figure out for the life of me why. It isn't like he could force her to make… a… prophecy… Oh, Merlin. What did she say, that she felt faint because she hadn't eaten much that day? Confusion, disorientation, maybe a sense of dissociation? That wasn't a prophecy!

He nearly ran out of the bar, ducking around a building to throw the invisibility cloak about him. Luckily, there was still no one in Honeydukes, for he would not have cared whose attention he gained tearing through the shop to the tunnel that would take him back to Hogwarts. He needed to have the girls check his deductions.

If he was right, Voldemort was not the one ultimately to blame for his parents' deaths.

Dumbledore was.

Never was Harry more thankful for the peculiarities of Death's own cloak. As soon as he left the tunnel under the one-eyed witch's statue, he shifted into his falcon form and flew like the hounds of hell were on his tail feathers. Dodging stairs when they moved into his path, he rapidly reached the seventh floor and soared to the deserted hallway that held the entrance to the Room of Requirements. He returned to a human shell, his disguise stripped away by his self-transfiguration, tugged the cloak off, and flung the door open.

Yes, because this is certainly getting their assignments done, he thought sourly as he entered and closed the door behind him. Stepping over discarded shirts and knickers, he soon stood next to the gigantic bed that filled the Room. "Wakey, wakey. I need to pick your big, beautiful brains for a bit."

Luna cracked open an eye from where she was using Hermione's abdomen as a pillow. She whined, "Can't it wait for another few hours?"

He took a deep breath to calm himself, doing his best to ignore the smell from the girls' activities that action brought to his attention. "Love, I'm about a step away from barging into Dumbledore's office and strangling him with his own bloody beard before displaying his corpse in the middle of the bloody Great Hall. No, it can't wait." Despite his best attempts, his voice still came out in a snarl.

"Huh?" Hermione looked up at him with a bleary gaze. "What's the old man done this time?"

"He willfully and deliberately set my parents and me up to be murdered that Halloween."

He now had the full focus of both his lovers, and they untangled themselves from their postcoital embrace to stand and face him fully. With a blink of Hermione's eyes, the Room changed to a perfect replica of the Grangers' living room. "Explain," she said as she wrapped herself in her school robe.

Dropping onto the leather sofa, he clutched Luna desperately when she plopped, still naked, into his lap. What he had heard clearly distressed him more than he had previously believed. "Since you two were going to be busy for a while — though I believe I remember something about doing homework," he added with a gimlet eye, "I snuck into Hogsmeade…" Filling his audience in about his conversation with Rosmerta took only a couple of minutes, then he leaned into the cushions and let them mull over it.

"Every question we answer raises two more," commented Hermione at last. "Unless you're holding critical information back, I don't have enough clues to put together a coherent picture."

"Same here. Are you sure wearing the Diadem for so long didn't increase your intelligence?" the blonde quipped weakly.

"Maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree, or maybe I'm just barking, but I think this meeting with Dumbledore was Trelawney's second interview for the Divination position."

The older girl frowned. "Second? I'm lost; why would she need a second interview?"

"If I'm right, she went to Dumbledore's office for her first one, which is where she originally gave the prophecy. He wiped her memory and arranged to talk with her in the rooms over the Three Broomsticks some days later, but he also called Snape, possibly regarding taking over Slughorn's place as the Potions professor. I'm not sure on that one, but it really doesn't matter. Once both his pieces were in their proper places, he stalled Trelawney until Snape started skulking around, then she repeated the prophecy."

"But prophecy doesn't work that way!" Luna cried. "You can't have Seers just parrot the same things over and over. They don't have any control over what predictions they give."

Harry chuckled mirthlessly. "No, they don't, but she wasn't responsible for this, either. I've never enjoyed the full experience myself due to my natural talents, but can either of you tell me what spell presents with light-headedness and a sense of depersonalization that leaves the people under it with no influence over what their bodies are doing?"

Hermione chewed on her lip for a moment, then her eyes grew wide and her face paled. "The Imperius Curse."

"Exactly. Why in the world was a Death Eater in the right place at the right time to overhear a warning of the impending birth of the one person who could take down his master? Dumbledore arranged for him to be there in the first place. It also explains how she could notice Snape being caught, yet he only heard the first half; that's all Dumbledore had her recite. Snape carried the prophecy to Voldemort, Voldemort came after us, and destiny came into play."

"No, surely you're wrong," Luna said, her eyes flicking back and forth between her companions. "Dumbledore's a self-righteous old goat who has his head shoved so far up his arse he can't smell his own shit anymore, yeah, but to aim a megalomaniacal psychopath at a family, one with a newborn? One where the parents were fighting on his side of the war? That's not manipulative or controlling; that's outright evil."

He growled menacingly. "When hasn't the bastard ever swept away all his despicable actions with his damned 'Greater Good' justification? If it gives him the opportunity to get rid of a Dark Lord he had a hand in creating, what does the betrayal of people who trust him to keep them safe matter?"

Hermione sat next to him and wrapped her arms around him; Luna spun about on his lap and did the same. "Voldemort may have been the one wielding the wand, but Dumbledore set the whole thing up. He's just as culpable as Voldemort, and when we're through taking down the Death Eaters, he'll be just as dead. I'm going to kill the bastard with my own two hands for the crimes he's committed against me and my family." Neither girl had anything to say to that.

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