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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17. Gaudy Jewelry

Harry hadn't even stepped onto the second floor landing when a red-haired weasel moved in front of him. "How could you do that?!" Ron shouted. "You're not supposed to keep secrets from your best mate!"

"Oh? You mean like how you kept secrets from me this summer?" He decided not to inform the boy that his real 'best mates' were the two women who shared his crazy life; he had enough issues to handle without prolonging the shouting match and memory charming the little prick. "Perhaps if you had been a better mate, I'd be willing to tell you."

Ron couldn't stand his dismissive tone and came closer, trying to use his greater height as an intimidation tactic; too bad it wouldn't work. "Back off, Ron. I'm not in the mood for your stupidity right now."

That was apparently the wrong thing to say. The ginger flushed up to his ears, and the sudden acrid smell told him the brat was again thinking ill of him. "I'm not the stupid one, you bloody glory-hound! If it weren't for me, you wouldn't even be here!" He quirked an eyebrow, and Ron continued, "Who was it who got passed the chess set our first year? Who was it who got us to school when we couldn't get onto Platform 9¾? Who was it who found out Sirius was innocent? Who was it who saved you when you were drowning in the Black Lake? That was all me! Without me, you're just a whiny berk with a scar!"

"I don't have time for this nonsense." Releasing his acacia wand from the sticking charm holding it to his right forearm, Harry petrified his former friend, one who was showing his true colors much earlier now than he had before. "You are just as delusional as your sister, but instead of thinking you destined to bag the 'Boy-Who-Lived', you believe you're a far greater wizard than you are. I could spend the next several hours explaining why you're nothing but a follower, but I won't. Instead, all I'll say is Obliviate."

He immediately sent another spell, this one a compulsion. "Go back to your room and dream. Dream of being no one, having nobody know you as anything more than your older brothers' less capable sibling. Dream of being stuck at the bottom of the social ladder, eternally jealous of those at the top. Dream of having a life dominated by your insecurities and jealousy. Dream, Ronald Weasley, and when you wake, know that you are living your nightmare." A flick of his wand removed the petrification. The boy's eyes lightly glazed from the magical manipulation, Ron stumbled back to the his room and shut the door. Not a minute later, the chainsaw grind of his snores echoed in the hall.

I have to say, if there's one bad thing about the Mind Arts, it's that they make it so blasted easy to take revenge without anyone knowing, Harry thought to himself. He had no need to worry about the boy's reaction to his manipulations in the morning; the memory charm took a minute or so to dissipate, preventing Ron from remembering who had cast it on him, or even that it he had been under one at all.

He finally locked himself in Regulus's room and flopped onto the bed. Honestly, should we be treating him quite this badly? After all, when the girls and I look at him, we don't see Ron Weasley, idiot teenager; we see Ron Weasley, Death Eater and traitor extraordinaire. Yes, we know he's a false companion, one that we cannot trust in the slightest, but has he done anything to deserve being considered an enemy combatant? They were punishing the red-head for a crime that had occurred eight years in the future and now had no chance of happening again. Was their retaliation too extreme?

Then again, Ginny revealed under Veritaserum that she had been part of the plan to trap me in my 'prophesied role' as a martyr since my sixth year and thought Ron had been involved even earlier than that. Was he, though, and if so, how early? If it was before now, he deserves everything he gets, but if it's after, we need to tone down our responses. He turned over to stare at the ceiling. No use worrying about it now. I can check later, once I'm sure everyone else is asleep.

As the grandfather clock in the sitting room chimed two, a shrouded form slipped down the staircase. Harry's steps were silent due to the charm he had placed on them. He paused at the landing below, mentally flipping a coin about which stop he should make first, then turned and entered the bedroom from which he could hear the awful din coming.

Ron was lying on his back, legs splayed out and wrapped in the sheets at his feet. Casting a silencing charm on the ginger to preserve his hearing and sanity, Harry crept closer and aimed his wand at the figure. "Legilimens."

Compulsion charms had an interesting effect on legilimency. Memories relating to the compulsion, in this case Ron being socially invisible, flashed before him while others slowly slid along; navigating Ron's mind was like switching back and forth between a riptide and a pool full of treacle. He mentally pushed through instances of Ron jealously wishing to be the center of attention or exaggerating his own actions to a crowd and fell into a different memory.

"Bloody Potter!" Ron raged in the silence of a disused classroom. "Can't stand letting anyone else having a chance at fame! No, he has to hog it all. You'd think he would have told his best mate how to get past Dumbledore's Age Line, but he kept it secret. Well, Dumbledore can forget his sodding plan. I'm not going to have anything more to do with the blighter!"

Harry pulled himself out of the memory; obviously he had no need to feel guilty for anything he would do to the selfish boy. Dumbledore was in many ways just as much of an enemy as Voldemort. Still, how early did he start steering Ron's actions? He had never asked in the original timeline, too angry with the Weasleys' betrayal to think calmly when he discovered the truth, so he continued poking around. Several minutes later, he finally fished out the pertinent memory.

Ron stumbled down the Burrow's stairs in search of brekkers, only to be surprised by Albus Dumbledore calmly sipping tea at the table. "Professor! What are you doing here?"

"Ah, Ronald, just the person I hoped to see. Come, sit down." Ron slid into a chair, awed that the great Champion of the Light would call him by name. "How has your summer been so far?"

"Great, sir."

"Excellent," Dumbledore said with a smile. "Out of curiosity, have you been in touch with Harry recently?"

Ron scowled at the reminder of the friend that dropped him as soon as summer started. "No, that prat thinks he's too important to write to me now."

"I was afraid of that. He doesn't understand how good a friend you are."

He perked up. "Yeah! That's exactly right!"

"No matter what he believes, you and I know that you are the best friend he could possibly have. I saw how you kept him from spending all his time revising with Ms. Granger this past year." Dumbledore chuckled at his look of panic. "Oh, don't worry, Ronald. There is much more to school than just studying, a lesson I'm proud to see you've learned. Besides, Harry doesn't need to live in the library; the Boy-Who-Lived should be a brave Gryffindor, not a Ravenclaw bookworm."

"That's what I've been telling him! We have six more years of school. It's not like we have to learn everything right now."

Dumbledore grinned at him. "If classes were in session, I'd award you points. Alas, I must take my leave, but I wonder if you could do me a favor?"

"Sure," Ron replied. "What do you need me to do?"

"Just continue doing what you have been. Keep Harry at your sensible pace rather than letting Ms. Granger pull him ahead, and prevent those from… untrustworthy families from influencing him. In fact, it might be for the best if Harry doesn't make any more friendships right now, just in case. If you succeed, I might have a favor or two I can call in from my old friend Ragmar Dorkins."

Ron gasped. "You're friends with the Cannons' manager?"

"In a matter of speaking," Dumbledore replied as he stood and walked to the floo. "Just remember what I told you, Ronald."

Harry seethed as he pulled out of the traitor's mind. He sold me out for a Quidditch team! That spineless, lazy, bottom-feeding, back-stabbing, two-faced bastard! He paced silently about the room, torn between storming out and shredding the ginger into tiny pieces. Well, at least I know that Ron hopped into Dumbledore's pocket after first year. He then spent the next five bloody years doing everything he could to make me just as much an idiot as him, an idiot who would have been child's play for Voldemort to kill.

He snorted as a thought sprang to the front of his mind. "Love isn't the 'power the Dark Lord knows not'," he muttered facetiously, "luck is."

An unholy gleam entered his eyes as he glanced back at the sleeping boy. "Luck… that's all that would have separated us should you have been more successful. Let's increase that difference, shall we?" He flicked his wand in harsh movements as he recited an old Polish incantation he had run across in the Black library once; he had been feeling particularly vindictive that day and wanted a spell to cause utter chaos in the ranks of the people flocking to Voldemort. He hadn't wanted to kill them — the volunteers were spineless, not evil — so instead he made them regret their actions another way.

Chuckling, he finished the spell and watched a mud-brown jet of light hit Ron. "I don't know why I didn't think of using this on the Dursleys; the Dire Misfortune Curse is so much fun to watch in action. Nighty-night, ickle Ronniekins." He slipped out and continued to his original destination.

The drawing room was an incredibly gloomy place, with velvet curtains that buzzed lightly from the doxies sleeping behind them and cabinets filled with a number of Dark artifacts. One in particular caught his eye: a heavy gold locket bearing glittering green gems arranged to resemble the letter 'S'. He carefully opened the glass doors and levitated the Horcrux to a table in front of the couch.

A raspy voice broke his concentration. "What is Master's nasty half-blood brat doing poking his nose around so late? Mistress would be beside herself if she saw, oh poor Kreacher, blood-traitors and thieves and werewolves and scum —"

"Enough, Kreacher," Harry snapped. The old elf had died in the Battle of Hogwarts, and it had been so long ago that he had forgotten what a little monster Kreacher was. "Come here; there's something I think you'll want to see."

"What does the half-blood think will interest Kreacher, some foolish Muggle toy no doubt, oh Mistress would be so disappointed, the noble house of Black holding Muggle trash…" Kreacher finally stepped closer, and his eyes widened. "Master Regulus's locket!"

"Yes, the Locket. Regulus went through a lot of trouble to claim this, didn't he? Stealing it from Voldemort, dying for it; it would be a shame to leave his final wish unfulfilled."

Kreacher glared at him with a rheumy eye. "Nasty boy shouldn't know of Master Regulus's orders, no he shouldn't, how does he know since Kreacher didn't tell him…"

"Regulus told me," Harry lied. I really need to not let my mouth get in front of my head. "He spoke to me from behind the Veil, said the Locket needed to be destroyed for Voldemort to die. Then he told me where to find it and how to get rid of it. He was quite disappointed that it still exists after all this time."

"Kreacher tried!" the elf wailed, and Harry quickly cast a silencing charm around them. It would not do for everyone in the house to hear them when the original plan called for discretion. "Powerful magic Kreacher tried, but nothing would work, Kreacher was sure the way to destroy it was to open it, but Kreacher could not —"

"Of course you couldn't," he interrupted, "you don't speak Parseltongue. Fortunately, I do. Now, do you want to watch Regulus's work be completed?"

Kreacher said nothing but nodded, and so Harry turned his attention back to the Locket. "Open."

The golden doors opened with a quiet click, and dark eyes stared from the glass windows. "I have seen your heart," a soft, dangerous voice hissed, "and it is mine."

"Sorry, Tom, but my heart belongs to others. Avada Kedavra." Sickly green hit the Locket, and the glass shattered with a loud screech. He wasn't going to give one of the world's best manipulators a change to play any mind-games.

Kreacher crept closer and nudged the defunct jewelry with one gnarled finger. "Master Regulus is happy now."

"I'm sure he is. Here, take this with you," Harry said as he draped the locket's chain around Kreacher's neck. "Regulus would have wanted you to have it. Just make sure you keep it hidden from everyone else, or they'll try to take it."

"Yes, Kreacher will keep it secret, keep it safe. Master's brat is not so bad for a nasty half-blood."

"Just… go away."

By the time Harry returned to his room, the full impact had hit him. The diary, scar, diadem, ring, chalice, and locket are gone, and Nagini and Voldemort himself are pretty much a two-for-one-special. He grinned darkly. Be afraid, Tommy-boy; your 'flight from death' is quickly coming to a very sticky end.

Reaching into his trunk, he pulled out a small box he had charmed unbreakable early that morning and opened it to reveal his mirror earring. Luna and Hermione were nine and ten hours ahead, respectively, so they were both likely taking a break from their days' activities to eat right about now. "Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood."

There was no immediate response, but this didn't worry him; both had informed him they would have their mirrors with them at all times. Finally, Hermione's voice sounded from the glass. "Yes?"

"Hermione?" Luna asked before he could greet her. "Why did you call me?"

"Luna? I didn't call you; did you call me?"

"No, I'm certain you called me. My earring was in my pocket, though I couldn't answer until I was away from the Snorkack den. Maybe you said my name accidentally?"

"I wasn't even talking about you earlier. Could you have been thinking out loud about me?"

"Hermione Jane Granger! I'm not going to just blurt out my sexual fantasies about you when my father's present; he has enough trouble finding a girlfriend of his own without being jealous of his daughter's."

"Too much information, Luna," Harry said, smiling at their stereo surprised salutations. "How are your trips going?"

"Excellent. Daddy and I think we've finally stumbled upon a den, and now it's just a waiting game. With the onions and cabbages we set out, I doubt it'll take much longer."

"My trip has so far been less… eccentric," Hermione replied, and Harry rolled his eyes. Some households refused to discuss politics, others avoided religious debates, but theirs stayed away from the topic of magizoology. It just wasn't worth the effort trying to keep the girls from becoming far too passionate about their opinions. "Melbourne is our last stop, so we'll be coming home in the next few days. What about you; you haven't been lonely, have you?"

"Not at all; I've had a veritable line of girls after me since you two left. In fact, I had a pair try to snog me just last night." At her growl, he laughed and continued, "Don't worry, I don't do Dementors on sheer principle."

"Dementors? Oh, bugger! Are you okay? Obviously you are, or you wouldn't be talking to us. Merlin, that means we have to get you ready for your trial again. If you look in the library in… in… Sirius's house, there's a book on magical law published in 1927 —"

"Hermione."

"— and yes, I know it's old, but the relevant portions of the Statute of Secrecy and the Reasonable Restriction on Underage Sorcery haven't changed since 1904 —"

"Hermione."

"— anyway, make sure to memorize the citation for the self-defense clause. It should make a good impression on the Wizengamot as a whole if you can rebuttal Fudge's claims with a detailed knowledge of the law rather than just a vague idea —"

"HERMIONE!"

"What?! I'm trying to help you, Harry!"

"I know, and I appreciate it," he continued more gently, "but it's completely unnecessary. There isn't going to be a trial."

"Why not?"

"Because I didn't fight them off; I just got myself out of there. There was still magic recorded because I had to collect the last of my things, but Amelia Bones questioned me this morning and cleared me of any wrongdoing. I think she was more concerned with a pair of rogue Dementors and covering up a trio of Kissed Muggles."

"You left the Dursleys to the Dementors?" Luna asked. "Are you sure there was any attack at all? I'd have expected the five of them to recognize each other as kindred spirits."

"They weren't soul-sucking demons, love, just cruel, small-minded, self-absorbed bigots. And yes, Bones confirmed it when I spoke with her. I'm now safely ensconced in London with our least favorite traitor, fangirl, werewolf, house elf, and housewife."

"Poor Harry," Hermione commented dryly, "locked up with your greatest admirer. Just make sure you don't leave your pants around for her to steal. I caught her sleep-talking about doing so and building a shrine around them once when we were staying at the Burrow."

He shuddered, more than a little tempted to memory charm that comment away. "Thank you for that wonderful image. I'm sure to have an easier rest knowing Ginny wants to root through my dirty underthings. Why didn't you mention this to me earlier?"

"I figured it was just a dream, not something she'd actually plan to do; you can't control what your mind throws about when you're asleep, after all," she murmured sheepishly. "I know, I know, I should have recognized just how obsessed she was from that instance alone, but I thought she was my friend and ignored it. By the time I realized the scope of the problem, you were already chasing other skirts —"

"Ours!" Luna chirped.

"Yes, ours — and so it just never came up. Are you taking the neutralizers I made?"

"No, I'm using them to brighten up the place," he retorted. "You wouldn't believe how well they complement faded floral wallpaper."

Hermione harrumphed. "I understand you're upset with me, but there's no reason to be rude. If you want to be dosed by one of Molly's love potions, go right ahead. I just wanted to make sure I wouldn't arrive to see you having your wicked way with Ginny in the front hall."

"Aaand moving on before I feel any more nauseous. In a display of cross-timestream karma, Ron may have been cursed tonight."

"Oh? And just what did you… I'm sorry, karma… curse him with?" the blonde asked. "You're only this maliciously gleeful when you've done something truly inspired."

"Well, I found out that Dumbledore recruited Ron to not only stop me from learning any information he didn't approve of, but also to keep me from having 'untrustworthy' friends. I figured, since he worked so hard to destroy any social standing my own timidity hadn't ruined and turn me into a bumbling buffoon, I'd return the favor, so I hit him with the Dire Misfortune Curse."

"My goodness, Harry; that spell's just plain evil. Wasn't the last man you used that on almost mauled by the geese he raised?"

He chuckled at Hermione's question. Dire Misfortune was the closest thing there was to a Dark pranking spell, but it was still Dark. "Yes, he was, but remember that he didn't die. That's what I love most about it; the curse can't kill you, not that you won't pray it will. As long as we remember to reapply it every two weeks, we'll have an unrelenting source of entertainment."

"While I love the thought of that ginger bastard getting his due, I'm more concerned about the Locket," Luna said. "Did you find it?"

"Found it, dealt with it, gave it to Kreacher. Six Horcruces down, one to go, and then it's just Voldemort himself. I'd call this a summer a success."

"That it was. Going back to a previous topic, why didn't we remember the Dementor attack? That's something we should have prepared for."

"We didn't remember because it happened a decade ago, Hermione. Still, you raise a valid point; what else happened this year that we need to pay attention to?"

"Well, we have the toad torturing us, the Ministry and Prophet smearing my name, teaching the D.A., though I refuse to deal with that headache again… that's all I can think of off the top of my head."

"While I understand that the D.A. is a sore spot for you, and for good reason, it was the only way our year-mates passed their OWLs —"

"Which isn't my responsibility!" He shook his head, surprised at just how angry he still was with the group as a whole. He taught them for the explicit purpose of defending themselves, but when Voldemort returned the second time, so many of them did nothing and just accepted his rule. Some, like Ron and Seamus, even joined him! A few were trustworthy — Neville and the Creevey brothers were wonderful examples of this — but they weren't enough to make a difference in his decision.

The problem, he knew, was that the Wizarding World was full of cowards. Each member of their society was handed a deadly weapon at eleven and required to learn how to defend themselves with it. Even with Voldemort's jinx on Hogwarts's Defense Against the Dark Arts position, there was an incredible library available to the students and books at Flourish and Blotts for those who couldn't attend the school or who wanted extra information. If that weren't enough, no one had to fight Voldemort's forces alone. Every time a ten-man squad of Death Eaters attacked Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley, they were easily outnumbered ten, twenty, or even fifty to one; few shield charms were capable of stopping a dozen Reductors hitting at the same time, and none could withstand thirty.

This meant that, prophecy or no, any half-trained mob had a chance to take Voldemort down. The Aurors should have done so with no problems whatsoever; the reason they didn't was that they were, quite frankly, incompetent. Fred and George had made a killing by selling their Shield Hats to the Ministry because the average DMLE investigator couldn't even cast a Protego shield. Not even all the Aurors could, which was inexcusable.

Harry pulled himself from his wool-gathering and refocused on the conversation. "I am under no obligation to waste my time teaching Defense skills to those who would rather roll over and show their bellies than stand up for themselves. There are simply too many other things to do. The only way I would teach DADA again was if I was paid for it and given the same authority as any other professor. Unless that happens, I will leave the students' education in the oh-so-capable hands of Hogwarts's staff."

"Harry…"

"Mione, he has a point. Restarting the D.A. is his decision, and if he decides not to do it, that's the end of it. Unless you were planning to lead them?"

Hermione sighed. "No, I've learned that teaching is not one of my strengths. So, no D.A… Nagini!"

"What?"

"Something else that happens this year is Nagini sneaking around the Ministry at Christmas. If we kill her, that will be the last Horcrux gone!"

"Yes, that's true," he said. "It will also infuriate Voldemort and possibly let him know that someone's working to render him mortal. Unlike the other Horcruces, he keeps a close eye on her."

"Not necessarily," Luna countered. "If we arrange things just so, he might think it was a random Ministry worker getting in a lucky strike. I'll think on it and get back to you on the Express." There was hushed muttering, then she continued, "I need to go; it's almost time for the Snorkacks to come out! I love you, and I'll talk to you two later!"

"Her and her creatures. I have to go, too, but I should be arriving at… in London in a few days. Love you."

"I love you, too. Otium." Returning his mirror to his trunk, he changed clothes and crawled into bed, mind racing in an attempt to remember everything important from the upcoming year. So much for a restful night's sleep.

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