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



39. Gifts and Curses

Harry surrendered in the battle against his yawns as he flopped clumsily into a seat. He had thought that doing a heist just before they climbed aboard the Hogwarts Express was a clever idea; he had been very wrong. "Fun as last night was, let's not make midnight raids like that a common occurrence, okay?"

"No argument from me," Hermione said as she collapsed next to him. "Between the uncertainty while waiting for you to deal with Nagini and then organizing the information I took, I don't think I got more than an hour of sleep." With a giant yawn of her own, she leaned her head into his shoulder. "I'm just going to take a quick nap…"

"Not yet, you're not." A bounding hop had Luna diving across their laps. "Okay, good night."

"You know, since we were so busy last night, we never did get a chance to tell each other how our tasks went," Harry observed, idly carding one hand through the blonde's hair.

"Mmm… Well, I found Fudge's records. Turns out he was a meticulous note-taker; every deal he ever made, even ones from when he was in Magical Accidents and Catastrophes, was written down."

"Why would he even want information like that lying around? He had to have known that if it was ever found, the scandal would ruin him."

"Insurance," Hermione replied vaguely to his question. He bumped her shoulder, so she continued, "The only people who would know that he was crooked are the same ones who gave him that money to get whatever they wanted in the first place. With those kinds of records, he could bring them all down with him, and I bet he made sure they knew it. Mutually assured destruction; no one wants to throw the first punch."

He frowned at that. "Then shouldn't he have grabbed it when he was thrown out?"

"He couldn't. Since he didn't resign but had his position stripped from him, he was barred from returning to his office, and everything inside came into the Ministry's possession." Luna rolled over and gazed up at him like an overgrown house cat. "He won't miss it, and besides, I think it would make a good present for someone once I've had the chance to go through it more closely."

"Okay." Eyes narrowing at the people sneaking glances through the window of their compartment, he drew his wand and fired off a series of charms onto the door to keep everyone away. He was not in the mood to deal with anyone other than the two girls with him right then.

Luna blinked a few times and asked, "Did either of you find anything… unexpected when you were looking around?"

"Why do you ask? Did you?"

"I did, actually, Mione. I hadn't thought about it before now, but did you notice how Umbridge has been rather subdued even since Fudge got tossed out?" Hermione nodded, as did Harry. That had been bothering him somewhat; it was out of character from his memories of the toad-like woman. "Well, I found out why. Though Callahan is only the acting Minister until the Wizengamot makes its decision, he is fully capable of replacing staff. There was a box full of doilies and plates decorated with kittens sitting in the corner of the Undersecretary's office while new picture frames were on the desk; I can only guess that he replaced her with someone who could actually do work since she has to spend all her time at Hogwarts.

"That, and her replacement is much more of a looker. Tasty little redhead," she added as an afterthought.

Hermione rolled her eyes. "I somehow doubt that she'd be interested in joining our fun. Chances are she's a bigot just like ninety percent of the Ministry, and even if she weren't, we're teenagers in body."

"So? Doesn't mean I can't compliment her."

"Anyway, I didn't have a whole lot of time since I had to go through the Hall of Records, but I did find something interesting in the DMLE." Rooting around in her pocket, the brunette pulled out a clumsily made pendant, seemingly made out of bronze. "What does this feel like to you?"

Harry took it from her outstretched hand and rolled it in his hand. "It… Huh, that is odd. It feels almost like the feeling I get from my Patronus."

"That's what I thought, too," Hermione agreed while he passed the clunky bit of bling to Luna. "It was hanging on the wall next to a rotation schedule for the Azkaban guards. I'd put money on it being how they can stand around without worrying about having their souls sucked out by the Dementors; if the average DMLE investigator has trouble casting a shield charm, a Patronus is undoubtedly beyond them. I grabbed three of them on my way out; I thought we could use them over the break."

"Not bad. Mine isn't as immediately helpful, I'm afraid, but you should have some fun with it nonetheless. Merry Christmas, Mione." Harry removed a small vial from his pocket and slipped it into the girl's hand. "Don't use it all at once."

She stared in surprise at the bright gold potion inside. "Is this…?"

"I might have gotten a little lost when I tried to leave the Department of Mysteries, but in doing so, I found a potions lab. They had a cauldron full of Felix Felicis, so I figured they wouldn't notice if a bit went missing. It's not much, but I thought you could use it to brew a batch of it for us yourself."

"Maybe. The potion's so complicated that I don't know if luck alone would be enough to brew it correctly, but at the very least, it shouldn't be toxic if I screw it up. I'll have to find the recipe and study it before I even think about trying." She slipped the luck potion into her own pocket before leaning back into him and closing her eyes. "Unless either of you have anything else you want to talk about at this exact minute, I think I'll take that nap now."

"Me, too."

"Me, three."

"Luna, shut up and go to sleep."

Miranda shuddered as she tried to rid herself of the sensation being pulled through a seemingly solid wall had created. Two tonnes of ghostly brick scraping across her skin was something she was never going to get used to. How Hermione could bear it without a single grimace she just did not understand, though it did help explain why her eternally curious bookworm daughter had been sorted into the 'house of the brave'. "Thank you again, Mr.—"

"As I already told you, it's nothing," the oddly dressed – because not even the other magical parents in her field of vision were wearing neon green robes and a purple and yellow top hat – blond wizard interjected with a dismissive wave of his hand. "And please, just call me Xeno. We're going to be seeing a lot of each other from here on out, so let's not bother with pointless formalities, Miranda."

She stared at him in shock; how in the world had he known her name? For that matter, how had he realized that she wanted to get onto Platform 9¾ in the first place? Shaking away her confusion, she focused on the last part of what he had said. "'Seeing a lot of each other', you said?"

"Well, of course." He laughed a little at her expression, though she had a hard time feeling offended at the honest mirth. "After all, your daughter is the godmother of my grandchildren, and my daughter is the godmother of yours. Do you really think Hermione and Luna wouldn't invite us both to family get-togethers?"

Grandchildren?! Oh God, I knew I should have had a talk with her about birth control before she left to spend all her time alone with Harry! Forcing her storm of emotions down for the moment, she weakly answered, "Apparently your daughter is much more open with you than mine is with me; this is the first I've heard of them being… pregnant. Luna must have told you a while back for you to be so calm about it now. Do… do you happen to know when they're due?"

"Oh, not for another three or four more years, I expect. Children won't be in the cards for them until they return from their first European tour." Xeno winked at her conspiratorially. "Don't worry. There's plenty of time for you to redecorate before the little ones get here. Just don't let Jake fill the room with all that golfing paraphernalia like he wants; your granddaughter is too much like her mother to appreciate it." Whistling a happy tune, he turned around to watch the scarlet train slide into the station.

Miranda, on the other hand, was now in desperate need of a stiff drink.

A sea of teenagers and preteens poured forth from the carriages, and it took her several minutes to find the brown, black, and yellow hair steadily making their way towards the two adults. After another few moments, the three adolescents broke through the crowd, the girls' arms around Harry's shoulders and his arms, in turn, around their waists. He gave both his girlfriends' parents a charming grin. "Good afternoon, Xeno, Mrs. Granger. I didn't realize you two knew each other."

"Oh, we just met today," Xeno replied, pulling his daughter into a hug that was joyfully returned. "Miranda couldn't get onto the platform, so I just gave her a hand. I have to say, Harry, that I'm surprised your uncle isn't here. Aren't you spending the break with Stubby Boardman again?"

The teen blinked rapidly, and Hermione rolled her eyes before scooting closer to her mother. "Harry and I don't understand most of the things that come out of his mouth, either. Just smile and nod every so often, and you'll be fine." At Miranda's shocked face, the younger brunette explained, "You look like how I feel when he gets started. Luna's not so bad, but there are still times I have to tune her out for the sake of my sanity."

"I'm not really sure where he is," Harry said while the Grangers were having their moment. "I hope someone gets here, though. I don't want to have to spend the next two weeks in a room at the Leaky Cauldron."

Luna beamed saucily at him. "Well, you could always stay with me for the break. My room's big enough for two."

"No. I absolutely forbid it!" The four of them stared at Xeno's vehement denial as he stared down at his daughter. "You will not have any boys or girls spending the night until you're old enough to get your ears pierced!"

"But Daddy, my ears are already pierced. See?" She pulled her hair out of the way to show what the only non-magical present would swear were live radishes.

"Oh… Okay, then. Just don't forget the silencing charm."

"Will do!"

A chuckle interrupted their discussion as an old woman in a deep blue cloak approached. "As much as I think my grandson would enjoy that, he really does need to spend the break with his family. We apparently need to have a little talk about how a gentlemen treats a lady, too," she added, giving the boy a mild glare.

Rather than act surprised at the woman's appearance – Miranda was sure that Hermione had said Harry was an orphan and lived with his aunt and uncle, a view he himself had confirmed over the summer – he simply laughed. "Whatever you say, Granny Nym—"

"Don't call me that!" The interloper drew a wand and waved it around them, then, like a time-lapsed video, the odd woman rapidly de-aged, wrinkles vanishing and steel-grey hair retreating to become pink spikes. The cloak went into a pocket to reveal quite normal-looking jeans and a black leather jacket. "You take all the fun out of disguising myself, you know that?"

"You should be glad I figured out it was you. If I hadn't, I would have called security to make sure you were taken back to your family. Senile little old ladies should not be allowed to wander around on their own, you know," Harry shot back with a broad grin.

Miranda cleared her throat. "So, are you going to make introductions?"

"Ah, I didn't even think of that. Mrs. Granger, Xeno, this is—"

"What did I just say?!"

"—Junior Auror Nymphadora Tonks," he shrugged off the slap she gave to his shoulder, "who, as you can see, prefers to go by simply Tonks. Not sure why, honestly."

"That's because your mother wasn't fool enough to name you 'Nymphadora'. I don't know what that woman was on when she made that decision," Tonks griped.

Luna, however, cocked her head to one side. "Fool? Not at all; that is a beautiful name. 'Gift of the Nymphs', a treasure given to your parents by the kindest and most gorgeous of the fae races, said to surpass even Veela in beauty. Why you would ever wish to be rid of it, I do not understand."

While Tonks gaped like a fish, the little blonde gave Harry a tight hug and a kiss that was more suited to the bedroom than an hectic platform. Finally drawing back with a reluctant sigh, she simply said, "Don't forget," and dragged her father off towards the bustling lines around several fireplaces located deeper in the crowd.

"Don't forget? Don't forget about what?"

Hermione turned to her mother with a grimace. "Mum, I don't know that you really want the answer to that question."

"Maybe not, but now I want to know," Tonks said eagerly. "Spill."

Harry rolled his eyes. "We were talking about getting together on Christmas Eve for… a little holiday fun, you could say. I'm sure you can figure out the rest just fine on your own."

"Any chance I could join in?"

"No," the two teens said as one, setting the punk woman off in stitches of laughter while Miranda tried hard to wish her blush away. Hermione was right; there were now things about her little girl's life that she was much happier not knowing, at least not anything but the barest overview.

Giving one last wave to Hermione and Miranda as they walked away, Harry shoved his hands in his pockets. "So… Is there an actual reason we're walking back to the house rather than Flooing or even Apparating?"

"I was going to use the Floo," the metamorph answered, showing him a small drawstring bag she had carried with her, "but calling me by my first name carries consequences."

"Even if it earned you a compliment?"

"Even then."

He shot her a quick glare before he hunched over in an attempt to ward off the cold. "I knew I should have put on another jumper when Luna warned me to, but no, I got stuck with the petty escort."

Tonks snorted at his muttering and bumped his shoulder with her own. "But I'm also the pretty escort, so that's something. Gotta say, though, landing two girlfriends should have taught you to listen to them about clothes. If you don't, they might start switching the things in your trunk out when you go to change."

"Considering that I was standing right there, they would have to be very sneaky indeed to get past me to do that."

"Oh?" Tonks asked with a salacious waggle of her eyebrows. "Already getting half-naked in front of your girls? You move fast, kiddo. Sirius would approve."

"Tonks, I'm shagging both of them," he shot back, causing her to falter briefly. "After that, just changing clothes isn't a big deal."

"Huh. You know that thing I said about moving fast? That was a joke."

"I don't know why. What do you think Mione and I were doing when she moved into my room this summer?" They had not done any such thing at the time, of course; she needed her hymen to be intact for the core enhancement ritual on Luna's birthday. The Auror, however, didn't need to know that. Deciding to give the gaping woman a break, he asked, "Are you sticking around with me and Sirius for Christmas, or do you have other plans?"

She shrugged. "I'll be in and out, I expect. My mum said if I didn't at least spend Christmas Eve and Day with her and Dad, she'd boil me in her plum pudding." Harry laughed, the sound tinged with a hint of melancholy; that sounded like the Andromeda Tonks he knew. She had actually been a good friend and an almost mother figure until she and Teddy were caught in the strike on Diagon Alley that truly started the Muggle-Wizard War in Britain. "It's not funny, and I'm not sure she's joking about it, either. She was not happy when I missed Christmas dinner last year to go patrolling with Shack."

"I guess Sirius isn't the only one in the family to have an odd sense of humor," he finally got out. "Who else is going to be there?"

"The Weasleys for sure; I don't know if you heard, but someone attacked Molly at their house a couple of weeks ago." He nodded and barely staved off the dark grin that threatened to break out. Served the harridan right for plotting to dose them with love potions. "Arthur is spending most of his time now with her at St. Mungo's, but the others will be there. Mad-Eye's hanging around more often, too, so you'll have to deal with that. If he starts looking for someone to blame for charming his eye to make everyone look like bikini models, I didn't do it."

That earned another snicker from the time-traveler. Was Tonks funnier in this timeline, or was it just that she was willing to include him?

Either way, she shot him a grin, though it soon softened as her eyes took on a faraway cast. "And Remus will be there, too, can't forget him."

"Great," he muttered, his good mood vanishing. "Just what I wanted to hear."

"You don't like him, do you?" she asked quietly, her eyes narrowed as she gave him sidelong glance.

"No, I don't." He turned to her with a knowing expression. "But you fancy him, don't you?"

The woman spluttered for a moment. "How…?"

"You got a lovestruck-teenage-girl expression when you mentioned him. Wasn't hard to figure out from that," he answered with a shrug of his shoulders.

"Bloody over-observant brat," she muttered. "Why do you dislike him, anyway?"

Because you – along with Shacklebolt – were the only person I met in the Order I liked, you're family through Sirius, and he left you. You were alone, pregnant with Teddy, and he wanted to join us so he could 'die valiantly for the cause' when really he was just too self-centered to care about anyone or anything else, even his new wife and his unborn child. He's a coward and a git, and you can do much, much better than him.

Harry did not say any of that, though. Instead, he simply said, "It's a bit of a story, and I'm not sure you want to hear it."

"Nuh-uh, you're not giving me any of that, buster." Grabbing his elbow, she dragged him to a nearby coffee shop, shoved him into an empty booth, and pulled out a thin object that she slammed on the table. Immediately, all the other people in the building turned away from the odd pair and went back to their drinks.

He leaned over to get a better look at whatever she had used to hide them. It was just a normal Muggle playing card, the joker, specifically. "Neat trick. Muggle-repelling or Notice-Me-Not?"

"Muggle-repelling. Sometimes when we're working, we'll be in full view of the Muggles and need some privacy right then but can't memory charm everyone who sees us draw our wands. The cards don't last long once we activate them, only a half-hour or so, but that's generally enough to do what we need to do, not to mention the charm's weak enough that it only makes them ignore us rather than empty the building or street corner or wherever we are." She shrugged off her jacket, revealing a faded Weird Sisters t-shirt. "So, you and Remus. Talk."

He sighed, looking down at a pile of spilled sugar and a few old coffee stains on the table, anything to avoid staring her in the eyes. To understand why he disliked Lupin before the werewolf abandoned her required information he did not like talking about. His lovers were the only ones who knew the whole ugly story, but for this he would have to reveal a few secrets he much preferred to keep locked up and buried away.

"When my parents were murdered, Dumbledore left me in the care of my maternal aunt and her husband, as I'm sure you've heard. What you don't know is that the Dursleys don't like magic; they hate it, in fact, and everything and everyone to do with it. That includes me. Not surprisingly, hatred and raising a child don't exactly go hand-in-hand. When I came into their 'care', they saw it as an opportunity to… I don't know if they honestly thought they were 'fixing' me or just being cruel, but they decided that they would do their best to 'stamp the freakishness out of me'." He finally turned his eyes up from the random designs he was drawing in the sugar and saw Tonks's horrified expression, her hair white as snow and hanging limply around her face.

"Merlin… Harry, I…"

"Do you know how much I wanted someone, anyone, to come save me?" he asked softly, his rhetorical question hanging in the still air. "When I was told my parents were drunken layabouts who died in a car crash, do you know how longingly I hoped that a relative on my father's side would find out about me and take me away? Or when I was older and gave up hope of things ever changing for the better, do you know how hard I wished that I could turn back time and die in the wreck with them because living wasn't any better than dying?

"Sometimes, I think the Sorting Hat sent me to Gryffindor partly because of how reckless I was. I could be brave when others faltered, take risks no one else would, not because I was more of a Lion than my housemates, but because I didn't really care if I survived the experience or not. Hermione says it's called 'passive suicidal ideation', but all I know is that I had been told my whole life that I was worth less than nothing, so who would it really matter to if I died? Might as well throw my life away doing something worthwhile.

"My third year, I thought I had finally found someone I could look up to. It was our Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, one Remus J. Lupin. Unlike Quirrel or Lockheart, he actually knew what he was doing; unlike the other professors, he made it clear to us why we were learning the spells and strategies against dark creatures that he taught us. When the Dementors constantly harassed me, lured in by the darkness of my childhood, I went to him and asked him how I could protect myself from them, and to my surprise, he actually agreed to teach me how to cast a Patronus. He even told me a few stories about my father, just little things that he still remembered about a fellow Gryffindor he had last seen over a decade earlier."

Harry slammed his hand hard against the table, making Tonks jump in surprise. "Then came the confrontation with Sirius, and I found out that no, he wasn't just someone who knew my dad in passing. He wasn't someone willing to help a random kid who came to him with a serious problem out of the goodness of his heart. He was one of my dad's best friends! With my parents dead, Pettigrew believed to be dead, and Sirius in Azkaban, he was the only one left! Even if he wasn't my godfather, he had a responsibility to at least make sure I was happy and healthy, not stuck in an abusive home! If something happened to one of the Weasleys"—at least one of the ones I don't wish dead—"you can be damn sure I'd check that their kid wasn't being beaten or treated like a slave! But no, he couldn't be bothered to get off his bloody arse even once!"

His hands were shaking as he forced himself back to his seat, anger and not a little distress coursing through his veins like poison. He had known he would have to spill some of his secrets to her; he had not, however, planned to spill quite so many.

"I-I'm sure he had reasons—"

"Yes, his little 'because I'm a werewolf' spiel," Harry spat with a sneer. "'I can't check on the only legacy of my closest friends because I'm a werewolf, even though the curse can't be transmitted through letters or even visits when the moon's not full''I can't keep my only living friend company while he's hiding outside the country for a crime he didn't commit because I'm a werewolf, even though he's an Animagus and the wolf couldn't care less about animals'." Harry eyed the woman knowingly. "'I can't be loved by anyone because I'm a werewolf, even though the woman who wants me knows about my curse and doesn't care, not to mention that she's an Auror and is therefore fully capable of stopping me should I ever lose control'. That about how it went, Tonks?"

She flinched.

Seeing her reaction, he sighed loudly and harshly. She had asked him why he had issues with her future self's husband, true, but that did not make her a suitable target for his vitriol. He took several moments to soothe his flaring temper and return his voice to normal before he dared continued.

"Lupin… He lets his lycanthropy define him. In his mind, he's not a man with a disease; he's a wolf in the guise of a man. The three nights of the month where he's transformed are infinitely more important to him than the the twenty-five that he's not, not to mention the fact that he doesn't change at all during the day. His mind's made up, and no matter what facts or valid arguments you bring to him, he won't change it.

"I fully admit that I'm biased when it comes to him, but I think he's too wrapped up in himself to accept your feelings for him. I'm sorry."

The woman wrapped her arms around herself, her hair shifting to a mousey brown. "I thought… I thought he'd understand. Being treated like you're just the one thing you're known for. Being looked down on because of something you can't help being."

"Because metamorphmagi are widely considered to be living sex toys?" he prompted gently, smiling sadly at her nod. "I know what you mean, Tonks, I really do. The Boy-Who-Lived, the Dark Lord in training, the hero of thousands, the deluded attention-seeker. Being seen as something other than who you are sucks. Here's the thing, though: do you see your ability as a curse or a gift?"

"…A gift, I guess," she eventually admitted. "I mean, it was damn useful getting through Concealment and Disguise during Auror training. I didn't even have to study."

"And you don't suffer from body-image issues, either, I bet. Anything you don't like about yourself, you just change till you do." He grinned as she perked up at that. "Most women would kill for that. Hell, I'm kind of jealous, myself; there's not a lot I wouldn't give up to get rid of this scar." A flick to his own forehead caused her to snicker faintly.

"And I can also change my eyes so I have perfect vision."

"You don't need to rub it in, you know."

Finally, she laughed. "But that's the fun part!"

"See? While morphing gives you some issues – your balance, or lack thereof, not the least of them—" She shot him a glare at that. "—it's something you're proud of. If you had the opportunity, would you throw it away?"


"And that, Tonks, is the difference between you and him. At the risk of possibly sounding like your father, you're young, beautiful, lively, funny, and just a wonderful person. You've got plenty of time to look for love, and you deserve someone worthy of you. Lupin… isn't him."

"I…" She sighed loudly. "Yeah, that's pretty similar to what Mum and Dad have been saying, but they're my parents, you know? They're not supposed to approve of the guys I like. It's different when it's coming from someone else." Looking at him in a way he did not remember her ever doing before, she continued, "Thanks, Harry. If I didn't know better, I'd think you were someone my age instead of a mopey fifteen-year-old."

Harry gulped. At 23 years old, she was more right than she thought, and the last thing he wanted was a trained investigator trying to puzzle out why he acted a decade older than he should. If she started asking questions and catching him when he tried to lie his way out of them… "I'll take that as a compliment, backhanded though it was. I still have some pounds I never exchanged; let me get us some coffee before we head back out into the cold."

"So a cute guy just gave me relationship advice, told me to look for someone I deserve, and now he's offering to buy me a drink." She peered closely at him, a glint of wicked humor back in her eyes. "Are you trying to add a third sexy girl to your little harem?"

"Tonks, no offense, but I already have two girlfriends. I'm outnumbered enough as it is."

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