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



13. Going to Work

A grin of amusement danced on Harry's face as he ignored the grumbling and glare coming from the kitchen. Luna didn't mind this task, in fact she considered it a fair division of labor, but Hermione would fight tooth and nail to get out of it. He pulled a sky-blue potion out of his pocket as she stomped back into the dining room and threw a dish towel at him.

"There, done," she growled.

"Good." He saluted her with the vial and choked down the chalky concoction before drinking some water to wash the taste out of his mouth. A flick of his newly unmonitored acacia wand vanished the empty vial to the Manor. Feeling her eyes on him still, he sighed. "Hermione Jane Granger, all I asked was that you do the Merlin-be-damned dishes. We had sandwiches, for crying out loud; it's not like I prepared a ten course meal!"

Strangely, this didn't improve his lover's mood any. "Language! And you know I hate working in the kitchen. If there's one place where Murphy's Law takes over, it's there."

Tell me about it. He had tried numerous times to teach her how to cook, or at least not burn the house down around them when she made another attempt, but she was well and truly hopeless. After six years, she was no more talented than she had been during the Hunt, where she had surprised them with fresh fish that had been burned on the outside and somehow frozen solid on the inside. Even washing dishes resulted in shattered plates and chipped cups; if she ever attempted to learn the Reparo charm wandlessly, he expected she would successfully cast it on her first attempt.

"Now, what was that potion you just drank?" she asked in an attempt to change the subject.

He leaned back in his chair and motioned for her to join him at the table. "That was the Nutrient Potion you suggested I get from Poppy. She only had a few in stock, and we wanted to make sure Dumbledore doesn't catch on to what we were doing, so I picked up a case full yesterday from a brewer she knows. She said I'll never reach my maximum height — too many years of starvation at the Dursleys' hands, even for magic to fix — but we're far enough back in the timeline that I should be able to mostly catch up with the others in our year. At least I won't be mistaken for a second or third year again."

Hermione chortled at that. The last time through this upcoming year, a seventh-year Hufflepuff came across him returning from one of Umbridge's detentions and, not recognizing him immediately, thought some bullies had kicked him out of his dorm. He had been mortified.

"Yeah, yeah, laugh it up. Did you ask Luna when was the best time to show up at the Rook?"

She caught hold of her laughter and shook her head, then she drew her wand and conjured her Patronus. Setting the tip on her throat, she said, "Luna, is it all right if Harry and I come over now?" The message recorded, her ethereal otter swam a few feet before vanishing in a streak of light.

A matter of seconds later, a hare Patronus arrived from the same direction. "Of course," it said in its master's dreamy voice, "the Rook is always open for you two."

"Well, that takes care of that," Harry said. "Shall we Disapparate from here or go out to the yard?"

"May as well stay inside; not like there are any —"

Hermione's words were cut off as a second rabbit appeared. "Hold on, I need to put my paints up." After about a minute, a third flew in and said, "Okay, now you can come."

He stood. "Shall we?"

The brunette was about to respond when yet another messenger arrived. "WAIT! I need to get Daddy in some pants first."

She glared at the dissipating hare while Harry just laughed. "Only Luna."

"All clear," said the fifth. Knowing that this wasn't the end, both of them waited a moment. Their suspicions were proven correct when the hare appeared yet again; he had never seen a disgruntled Patronus, and he would be happy to never see one again.

"A couple more minutes, please. The bear traps are still out from the party last night."

Mount St. Hermione chose this moment to explode. "Oh, come on! Now she's just making stuff up!"

He summoned Prongs and set his own wand to record a message. "Luna, why don't you send Vivian back when you've finished all the chores you're finding?" he asked, referring to her Patronus by name. Both girls had decided to name their animals after he first called his own by his father's nickname. Where Luna got hers he hadn't a clue, but at least it was more normal than Menelaus, who the brunette eventually explained was the father of the mythological Hermione.

"Well, I suppose you two could come over now," her voice came slowly from the newest hare. "Just make sure you stay out of the basement. That's where all the traps are, and I don't want you to disturb the cuddlepus."

Hermione sighed in resignation, and he smiled weakly at her. He wasn't a believer in many of the creatures Luna and her father wrote about, but he also freely admitted that he knew little about magizoology. Besides, he had spent eleven years of his life thinking there were no such things as unicorns and dragons, only to see them his first year back in the magical world.

"Let's just go," Hermione muttered, and they disappeared from her house with twin cracks.

Harry had never seen Luna's house while it was still standing. During the Hunt, they had traveled there after Yaxley caught ahold of Hermione and was brought to Grimmauld Place, but the Death Eaters had already seen fit to raze it in revenge for all those Xeno had killed. Nevertheless, considering it was called the Rook, he should have expected it to look like it did.

The black, squat tower did resemble a chess piece, though the large window jutting out from the front drew the eye and downplayed a bit of the similarity. None of the other, smaller windows were level with any others, so he could only guess that it had three or four stories in addition to the basement she had mentioned.

Winding their way along the twisted path leading to the edifice, they passed the stumps of Snargaluffs and several trees bearing fruits that looked remarkably like floating orange radishes. "Dirigible plums," he murmured, recalling Luna's distress when she had seen the burned remains of the orchard. According to the blonde, dirigible plums were native only to a small region in eastern Europe, and her mother had gone through great pains to cultivate them in Britain.

They approached the front door and saw Xeno, thankfully wearing pants even if they were crimson waders, tending to one of the two large crabapple trees flanking the entrance. "Ah, Harry, Hermione, you decided to visit after all. Luna's right inside; she has been looking forward to this trip of yours all weekend." His greeting delivered, he turned back to his pruning.

Once they walked inside the Rook, they had to double-take to ensure they had, in fact, walked inside a building. The walls of the ground floor were painted with a rainforest scene so lifelike that Harry was tempted to pluck a piece of fruit hanging from a nearby tree. There were animals included in the scene as well, though they were mostly hidden in the shadows and looked all the more real for it.

"Like it?"

He turned to look at the young woman, a smile growing as he noticed her tie-dyed sundress and rainbow sandals. "I do. Was this what you were painting when Mione called you?"

"No, my newest work is in my bedroom. It's not finished, though, so I'm afraid you'll just have to wait to see it." She cocked her head as she looked behind him. "Since you mentioned her, where is Hermione?"

He turned around in surprise. She was right behind me. A scream rent the air, and both he and Luna ran toward the source: an open trapdoor at the base of a spiraling wrought-iron staircase. Casting the lighting charm with his left hand and holding his wand in his right, he charged down the stairs and nearly collided with Hermione as she fled up them. She rushed behind him and pointed down. "That… that… there's… oh, Merlin!"

"Oh, dear," Luna said softly as she pulled the frightened brunette into her arms, "I was afraid of this."

"Afraid of what?"

"She looked at the cuddlepus."

Now he was worried; merely looking at a creature shouldn't have reduced Hermione almost to tears, especially one that had as silly a name as 'cuddlepus'. He cautiously walked down the staircase into the basement, stepped around the half-dozen iron traps between the stairs and the door, and peered through the sliver of space she had left when her terror overtook her. After only a moment he slammed the door.

If asked to describe what lay inside, he could only describe it as monstrous. It was as if someone had spliced together the foulest attributes of the Whomping Willow and a giant squid into a single unholy abomination, built a fifteen-foot tall living model of bones, teeth, and eyes ripped from a creature found only in a Dementor's nightmare, then slathered it in undulating fluorescent pus. But, he would warn, this no more approximated the thing than a blister did the Black Death.

He staggered back upstairs and collapsed on the floor. A cold touch upon his brow caused him to flinch away before he saw that it was just Luna holding a glass of water. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have left the trapdoor open. Neither of you were ready to see that."

He cautiously took the glass from her, his eyes roving over the walls of the house. After what he had just witnessed, the eyes of the painted animals had taken on an eldritch shine, and he swore he could see the leaves of the trees move eerily. "Luna, where in hell did you get that?"

"One of Daddy's friends from Dunwich sent it to him a week ago. Last time, it broke out of the basement and tried to eat our guests, so we had to banish it back to wherever it originated from. That's why I set out bear traps, you see, to keep it there; we never did get to study it, and his friend refused to send us another one. Between you and me, though, I find it more than a little disturbing."

"And does this friend have a name?"

"Well of course, it would be very awkward to speak to her if she didn't," she jokingly chided. "Now what was it; Whossy? Whitby? Whateley? I wasn't paying much attention, to be honest.

"Drink, it will calm you down. It's probably for the best if we leave and take care of the Horcrux; I don't think you or Mione will be comfortable here for a while."

The trio Apparated to the town of Little Hangleton immediately after the two non-Lovegoods had a chance to regain their equilibria and sanities. Hermione and Luna had never been to the town, so Harry carried them side-along to the only area he knew well. And did he ever know it well, for he had seen it in innumerable dreams.

The graveyard.

"Well, this isn't creepy at all," Luna muttered as she gazed up at the statue of the Angel of Death. Harry had mentioned the role it played in Voldemort's resurrection, and in a fit of pique she transfigured it into a sculpture of butterflies. Harry's light chuckle told her he appreciated the gesture.

Hermione touched her wand to her temple and cast the magesight charm. "I think I see the Gaunt house. It's maybe a half-mile that way," she said, pointing in almost the direct opposite direction from the Riddle mansion. "That's not too bad."

"Any idea what defenses it has?" Harry asked. "I really don't want to wander in blind. We did that enough the times we broke into the Ministry." She took a second look and shook her head. "Wonderful."

"We'll never get anything done if we stand around like this," Luna said. The other two nodded and joined the blonde on her trek to the ramshackle hut.

Ten minutes later saw them casting judicious cutting charms at the brambles that had grown over the path from the main road to the shack. Hermione stopped them once the drab building came into view and reapplied her magesight. "I don't see any wards, but there are plenty of charms all over the walls, and another on the door. The formulae are complex and, if I'm not mistaken, use a base thirteen number system."

Luna groaned. "Parselmagic."

"That's what I think, too. Any chance you had a sudden epiphany and didn't tell us about it, Harry?"

"No such luck," he sighed. There were records of Parselmouths ensorcelling objects with incredibly deadly curses from both the Founders' era and the first Voldemort war, which Harry had poured over during his experiments to piece together the magic involved. He had tried to cast incantations in Parseltongue many times, and each attempt had been an utter failure. "We'll just have to make due with what we have. Any chance you can interpret what the formula on the door means, Luna? You're the one with spell-crafter training."

She shook her head. "We worked with base twelve when we discussed Babylonian magic, but we only looked at some simple examples and even that took us several weeks. I can analyze it if you feel it's simply too dangerous to proceed otherwise, but I'm not sure I'll be finished before August."

"'Now far ahead the Road has gone, and I must follow, if I can,'" Hermione quoted softly. "We've made it this far, and we have an expert at flying by the seat of his pants with us, so we may as well continue. Lead on, love."

Grumbling over her choice of description, he cast the magesight charm on his glasses and stepped forward a few feet, bracing himself for whatever tricks Voldemort left hidden from view. When nothing immediately tried to poison, crush, or dismember him, he moved faster but no less cautiously to the house. The rusted nail on the door was still there, but the snake corpse had long since rotted away. He performed several diagnostic charms on the entrance, but they displayed nonsense, which he expected after listening to Hermione's findings.

Harry hadn't been suicidal since his teens, so rather than grab the handle to open the door, he vanished the hinges and banished the door across the room within and into the wall. He paused for a moment, ready to sprint away at the first sign of danger, then waved the girls towards him; only after all three of them had taken a good look inside the single room dwelling did they enter and split up.

"If I was an egotistical and homicidal school-age psychopath, where would I hide the family heirloom that I used to achieve immortality?" he wondered aloud. The magic from the outside was running through the walls, not over them, so he doubted he would be able see the Withering Curse on the ring if the young Tom Riddle had stuck it there. Deciding to leave them for last, he examined the kitchen area. Hermione was looking over what he presumed was the single 'bedroom' section, and Luna was practicing the immersion technique by sliding on her belly like a snake.

"Mione, Harry, I think I found it," she said a minute or two later, standing and magicking herself clean from the decades worth of dust she had picked up. The other two walked over to her, and she pointed at an unremarkable section of the warped wooden floor. "This spot is slightly more level than the rest of the flooring. Tommy Boy must have used a Reparo when he hid the Horcrux and didn't realize that it would stick out, if you'll excuse the pun." An overpowered levitation charm tore the boards away, revealing a shallow pit containing the Gaunt family ring.

This is it. One quick Killing Curse, and then I'll have the Stone. All I have to do is keep Luna away from it, and I can use it whenever I want. Just a spell and three turns to summon my parents and Sirius —

Harry shook his head. They had traveled back in time; what would be the point of calling Sirius's shade from the afterlife when he was still alive? And he would never be so selfish as to prevent Luna from speaking with her mother. She had memories of her mother, had seen her death, while the only reminder of his own was a Dementor-induced hallucination. Wait a minute! Wasn't there supposed to be a compulsion on the ring to ensure someone put it on and triggered the curse?

A cry cut through the last vestiges of the spell's hold on him, and he saw Hermione struggling to pull Luna away from the hole. "Get off me, Hermione! I want to see my mum again, and no one is going to stop me, not even you! Accio Resurrection Stone!"

A vision of yellow light striking her sprang to the front of his mind, and he reacted in his typical courageous yet self-sacrificing manner. Throwing his wand from his hand, his Seeker reflexes came into play as he reached out and caught the tiny gold object flying through the air. An involuntary shout of triumph morphed into a bellow of pain as he felt the curse seeping into his skin, stabbing him with tongues of flame even as it leached the warmth from his body. He spun on his heel and flung the trinket out the open door.

While doing so broke the compulsion on Luna, it also caused the shack's walls to shake and split the roof with a loud crack. He summoned his wand back to him; grabbed Hermione, who was still holding Luna, with his good hand; and ran outside. They were not a moment too soon, as the house gave one last rumble and collapsed; if that weren't enough, a tower of fire gushed up from the foundation in an attempt to incinerate anyone trapped inside.

"Drama queen," he muttered as Hermione shot to his side and cast a spell on his shriveled, blackened palm.

"Luna, get over here! I need you to keep the wound from advancing while I neutralize the curse."

The blonde stared at them from the ground with unfocused eyes, watching whatever scene was playing in her mind. "I'm sorry, Mum. I didn't mean for this to happen. I should have done something, anything."

Hermione fired a stinging hex at Luna's exposed thighs. The unexpected pain snapped her out of her flashback, and she rushed over when she realized the problem. "What do you need me to do?"

"Stasis charm." With the other girl holding his injury in check, Hermione needed little time to restore his hand to its normal state. "Thank Merlin you only held the ring for a second or two. If you had put it on, I don't know that I could have done anything to help, even with Luna's assistance."

"This is my fault. If I hadn't been fooled by the compulsion, you never would have been hurt," Luna moaned, tears running down her cheeks. He pulled her to him and rubbed her back while Hermione conjured a small wooden box and summoned the ring into it.

"I'll deal with this; you have more important things to worry about," she said when Harry motioned for her to hand it over to him. She drew a small bag from her back pocket, unfolded it, and summoned a pair of dragonhide gloves. Once her hands were protected, she pulled out a large fang. She then scratched the band, and an upwelling of black smoke accompanied a disembodied shriek. A quick counter to the ring's curse followed, and she dropped the fang, ring, and gloves back into the bag and returned it to her pocket.

"We need to hurry. With that bonfire behind us, it won't be long until people come to investigate."

He nodded and lightly shook Luna. As natives to the village trampled through the underbrush, they Disapparated away.

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