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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37. Hagrid's Return

Harry and Hermione trudged through the knee-high snow, the cold staining their exposed cheeks and noses red. The grounds were empty besides the two of them; the rest of the student body was gathered inside the castle following the Ravenclaw–Hufflepuff Quidditch match that morning, probably filling their bellies with warm cocoa, and Luna had begged off so she could read through the various notes Augustus Rookwood had taken for Voldemort concerning their next target. So, alone, they made their way to the small cabin located at the edge of the school, where for the first time in months a stream of smoke rose from the chimney.

Hagrid was back.

"He's late," the young man muttered as he tried to tug his coat out of his girlfriend's grasp to keep himself warm. Hermione was, despite her fervent denials, a certified blanket hog in the winter months; he and Luna often had to let her have the covers on the bed while they pulled more out of the linen cabinet for the two of them. Stealing his jacket, however, was an all-new low. "In the old timeline, he returned in November."

"I know. Maybe he ran into more trouble this time?" Shivering from more than just the cold, Hermione tried to push deeper into his warmth. "I'm not looking forward to this."

"Neither am I, to be perfectly honest." The last time the pair of them had spoken to Hagrid was about a year before the Third Voldemort War began, and it had ended with the half-giant almost literally throwing them out of the house. Harry had always considered the big man a friend, but when forced to choose between believing him and Dumbledore, Hagrid had made his position clear. As far as the Groundskeeper and Care professor was concerned, the Leader of the Light was and always would be infallible.

They therefore approached the tall wooden door with some trepidation; this Hagrid would not remember the heated arguments they had exchanged, but their opinion of the elderly headmaster had fallen even farther since that day. Harry raised his fist and let it slam against the door once, twice, thrice. A loud barking echoed from the small building, and a gruff voice shouted, "Who's there?!"

"Father Christmas and his tropical island girlfriend; who do you think it is, Hagrid?! Let us in, will you? It's cold out here!"

"I shoulda known it'd be yeh!" The door swung open, revealing the homeowner in all his ten-foot-tall glory. One beetle-black eye gazed down at the pair fondly, the other squeezed shut behind a number of bruises, while his nose now resembled Dumbledore's own bent snout. The dark beard that normally adorned his chin had been completely shaved off to showcase the lumpy left side of his jaw, and the wide neck of his shirt allowed the time-travelers to see a multitude of bandages peeking out from where they were wrapped around his chest. Seemingly unaware of Harry's shocked inspection, Hagrid slapped him on the back nearly hard enough to send him to the floor before he reached around him to pull Hermione into a crushing hug for a few moments, finally dropping her to the ground so she could take a full breath. "An' Hermione, too! Where's Ron, though?" he asked, sticking his head through the open doorway and peering about as if expecting the redhead to suddenly appear from thin air.

Which, considering the number of times we used the Cloak to visit, isn't exactly an impossibility. "He's not coming," Harry answered as he dropped into one of the human-sized chairs clustered around the rough table. "We… had a bit of a falling out this summer."

Hagrid frowned in concern before he moved over to the fire and hung a copper kettle over it. "Tha's too bad. What happened?"

"He got it into his head that I belonged to him," Hermione snapped, her displeasure with the entire Weasley family making itself known. She scowled and softened her tone before continuing, "When he found out that Harry and I had started dating, he didn't exactly take it well."

"Yeh two, huh? Congratulations. Knew it'd happen sooner or later." Hagrid settled himself in his personal chair, one built more like a wooden couch than anything. "Sorry it cost yeh a frien'ship, though. Though' he'd treat yeh better than tha'."

Harry nodded. "We did, too. Enough about us; what in Merlin's name happened to you?" He knew Hagrid had been sent as an envoy to the giants, but he did not recall the larger man being quite this abused last time. What complication could have arisen that injured the half-giant to this extent in addition to delaying him an additional month?

"Nuthin', it's nuthin'."

"Hagrid, we already know you went to talk to the giants," Hermione retorted, drawing a surprised gape from the man. "The Order wasn't exactly secretive about their plans. However, that doesn't explain why you look like you were on the losing end of a bar fight with a centaur."

Hagrid sighed before standing and pulling three mugs from the cupboard. "An' I suppose tellin' yeh not to go snoopin' aroun' like yeh normally do'll jus' make yeh look harder, won' it?" At their nods, he sighed again, though a faint smile could be seen. "Fine, migh' as well tell yeh now, else yeh'll jus' keep botherin' me abou' it later.

"Yeah, Dumbledore sen' me to talk to the giants, me and Olympe. We set off righ' after term ended. Took us a month ter get there; had ter travel like Muggles, see, 'cause the Ministry's been keepin' an eye on Dumbledore an' anyone they reckon's in league with him. We finally got ter our las' stop in Russia – St. Petersburg, Olympe said it was, but I couldn' read their odd writin' ter tell – an' then we had ter hike the rest of the way ter a mountain range ter the east from there. Needed another week after tha' ter find 'em, wha' with not usin' magic. Giants aren' exactly big fans o' wizards, yeh see." The whistle of the kettle diverted his attention from his tale as he prepared the tea.

Hermione accepted the bucket-shaped cup with quiet thanks. "So what happened when you finally found the colony?"

"Well, we waited till mornin' ter go down an' see 'em; didn' want ter go sneakin' up on half-asleep giants in case they though' we were tryin' ter hunt 'em down or sommat. There's a trick to talkin' ter giants, Dumbledore told us. Yeh gotta bring a gift, somethin' the Gurg'll like. Shows respect, yeh know."

"Gurg?" Harry asked, turning the word over in his mind. He vaguely recognized it, but the last time he had listened to this story was ten years ago.

"Oh, the Gurg's the chief o' the colony. Wasn' hard ter tell who it was, ter be honest. Yeh jus' had ter look fer the bigges', the uglies', and the lazies' one o' 'em. Sittin' there waitin' ter be brought food by the others. Name o' Karkus. So we walked down there an' offered the first gift we brought, a branch o' Gubraithian fire Dumbledore'd enchanted, an' I said, 'A gift ter the Gurg o' the giants from Albus Dumbledore, who sends his respectful greetin's'.

"An' tha's when things got tricky."

"What?" demanded the brunette. "What do you mean, 'tricky'?"

"Well, it turns out we weren' the first ones ter talk ter Karkus. A couple o' Death Eaters had shown up before us an' were already tryin' ter talk him inter joinin' with You-Know-Who. They'd been there a few days already, I bet, 'cause clubs aren' supposed ter cut through solid rock, but the one Karkus pulled out from behind his back did jus' tha'. Yeh don' give a giant a weapon on the first meetin', Dumbledore told us; if'n yeh do, they're more likely ter try it out on yeh than listen ter wha' yeh got ter say.

"Anyway, if it weren' fer Olympe pullin' out the fastes' spellwork I've ever seen, I don' think we'da gotten out o' there with our heads still on our shoulders. But we were in trouble then 'cause we'd used magic against 'em, an' tha's what they hate most abou' wizards. We had ter leg it out o' there righ' quick, an' we knew there was no way we'd be able ter jus' walk back in."

I don't remember exactly how the story went last time, but I know this wasn't it, Harry thought furiously. Damned alternate timelines.

Hermione's face showed she was equally stressed by this new twist. "So the giants are definitely allied with Voldemort now?"

"Don' say his name," Hagrid reprimanded her with a shudder. "An' no, strangely enough. Yeh see, Olympe put a listenin' charm on a stump while we were fightin' our way outta there, so we got ter hear what was goin' on fer the next few days. Karkus didn' speak a word o' English, so he had ter have translators tell him what they were sayin' in giant's tongue. He wasn' sure abou' linin' his giants up behind You-Know-Who, yeh know, and he kep' the Death Eaters comin' back day after day fer more talkin', always with more gifts as well. This went on fer about a week or so, then he gave them his answer."

"Which was?" Harry asked eagerly.

"Well, I'm guessin' it was a no, 'cause he used tha' same club he pulled on us and killed 'em both." Hagrid nodded at their dropped jaws. "We were watchin' through Olympe's farseein' spell, so we saw the whole thin'. The giants sided with the Death Eaters last time, and it cost 'em even more o' their territory, so we figure Karkus didn' want nothin' more ter do with 'em. Tha' same night, he took the colony off ter another mountain, probably ter attack another colony with all the gifts he'd been gettin'. Tha's the last we saw o' him."

"Okay, so that was a bust. But that was months ago; why do you look like you were beaten up… recently…" His green eyes grew wide as he remembered what – or more precisely who – Hagrid had brought back with him.

"I wasn' beaten up! Well, not exactly," the large man added sheepishly. "Yeh see, I found someone while we were hidin' out and watchin' the other giants. It turns out tha' my mother had another kid after she left me and my da. My brother."

Hermione gulped loudly, clearly remembering Grawp. She had told him once that she would take Wronski Feint lessons with him on his Firebolt before she let the 'small' giant pick her up again. "And that explains your injuries… how?"

"Well… I mighta brough' him back with me?"

"That's… Hagrid, you could not have picked a worse time to do something like this," Harry said with a sigh. "With our new High Inquisitor running around, hiding a giant in the Forbidden Forest is just begging for trouble."

The half-giant rolled his one good eye. "Yeah, I met her las' night. She was goin' on about inspectin' people and gettin' rid o' bad teachers an' on an' on."

"And she already has; Trelawney was put on probation last month, and she's threatened to arrange an exorcism for Binns." Hermione paused for a moment as she thought over what she had just said. "Okay, that last one wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, I suppose, but the point remains that you can't do anything foolhardy with her around."

"Foolhardy? Now, Hermione, don' you worry abou' a thing. I've got a load o' great lessons already planned fer yer class." He grinned widely as he stared at nothing for a moment. "I been keepin' a couple o' creatures saved fer the OWL year. They're somethin' really special."

"Hagrid, 'something really special' is exactly what you don't want to pull out," she cautioned. "Umbridge isn't going to be happy if you whip out anything she thinks would be too dangerous—"

The large wizard laughed at her worries. "Dangerous? Don' be silly. I wouldn' give yeh anythin' dangerous!"

Bullshit, Harry thought. "Three words: Blast. Ended. Skrewts. Those were plenty dangerous, thank you very much."

"Oh my, those completely slipped my mind. If you whip out a surprise like those again, getting sacked is going to be the least of your concerns."

"What are you talkin' abou', Hermione?" Hagrid asked in considerable confusion. "The skrewts weren' too bad, jus' a little excitable."

"Let me lay it out for you, then, since you don't seem to understand. First, you blatantly violated the Ban on Experimental Breeding, a crime that could see you serve ten years in Azkaban." The half-giant paled at the brunette's declaration; Harry had been in this very room when Fudge had dragged Hagrid away to said prison almost three years previously, and he knew that the large man never wanted to go there again. "Second, you bred a fire crab with a manticore. A class five monster. A known wizard-killer, and in this case, a wizard-eater. There's another twenty, maybe thirty years. Third, and most importantly, you then unleashed this monster hybrid on a bunch of schoolchildren! Forget prison; if anyone had died last year, you would have gotten the bloody Kiss!"

Hermione was now on her feet, breathing harshly as she stared at the abashed professor. She had obviously been holding this in for a while, not that Harry could blame her. In hindsight, being anywhere within a hundred feet of those nearly unkillable beasts had been as bad as sticking their heads in a lion's mouth and then poking it in the eye. That had not been the only time he had been in perilous situations thanks to Hagrid, either; baby Norbert, detention in the Forbidden Forest, Fluffy, Aragog, Buckbeak, Grawp…

It was disconcerting to realize that his first friend in the wizarding world had possibly been a bigger threat to his life than even Voldemort.

Unaware of Harry's less than complimentary thoughts, Hagrid crossed his arms over his chest and frowned at the girl. "Now, wait a secon'. The skrewts mighta scared yeh, but they weren' tha' bad, jus' a little playful, tha's all. They didn' act up one bit fer me."

"That's because you're half giant!" The large man gaped at Hermione's shriek. Taking a few deep breaths and lowering herself back into the chair, she continued more softly, "We aren't; we're just normal, fragile humans. Beasts you consider 'playful' and 'exciting' are deadly to us."

"Hermione, I never meant ter—"

"I know you didn't mean to put us in danger, Hagrid, but that doesn't change the fact that you did. That's what I'm trying to tell you; you can't do that now, not if you want to keep your job. Dumbledore is too concerned with regaining his spot in the Wizengamot to stand in Umbridge's way, especially when the interim Minister, and therefore her boss, is one of Malfoy's allies and won't rein her in." She reached across the table to lightly pat the hand of the visibly ashamed man. "If you're still willing to listen to my advice, go talk to Grubbly-Plank; she's been focusing on the creatures we need to know for the OWLs, and she might even have an idea or two about safety precautions you should take so you can at least show your favorite creatures to the NEWT students."

"Yeah, I… I jus' migh' do tha', Hermione. Thanks fer tellin' me tha'." Hagrid pulled his hand out of her grasp and gripped his large mug tightly. "I hate ter have ter run yeh two out, but I think I need some time ter think abou' what yeh said."

"All right," Harry replied softly. "If you want to talk later, you know how to reach us." He followed his lover out the open doorway and into the cold once more.

Hermione stood quietly in the snow, not saying a word until the door had closed. "Someone needed to tell him. It wasn't something he wanted to hear or that I wanted to say, but he has to understand that. If he doesn't, people could die. The ferret might have played up the injuries he got from Buckbeak in third year, but if he hadn't stuck his arm in front of him in time, it would have been his neck that was ripped to shreds."

"I know." He reached out and pulled the young woman to him, letting her burrow slightly into his chest. "I guess we'll just have to wait and see what changes arise from this."

Minerva nearly ran to the common room, sharply calling "Flibbertigibbet" to the Fat Lady. The portrait swung open, and she swiftly found some of her targets. "Misters Weasley!"

One of the twins jerked his head up to meet her eyes. "Whatever it is, we didn't do it!"

"I don't particularly care at this moment; where is your other brother?" she snapped, looking through the room again.

The boy relaxed now that he was sure he was not in any trouble. "Ron's in his dorms, I think. Do you want me to get him?"

"Yes, and then I need both of you to come with me as well." This scared the boys into motion, and the one not serving as her messenger began gathering their collective belongings. A tense minute or so passed, the other Lions whispering to themselves about what she could have come for, and then the third redhead appeared at the head of the stairs. "Follow me."

She had already left the room and was striding down the corridor when the brothers caught up to her. "What's going on?" demanded the second of the twins.

Her steps slowed; this was one aspect of being a head of house that she despised. She had been forced to do it too many times during the last War. "I'm sorry to tell you boys this, but there was an attack on your house earlier today."

"Death Eaters?" the first lookalike asked fearfully.

"We think so. Unfortunately, that is not the end of the bad news." The head of Gryffindor house took a breath to give her time to gather her courage. "Your mother was inside the kitchen when it blew up."

"WHAT?!"

"She's alive," she immediately continued, which calmed the frantic children considerably, "but she's in St. Mungo's in critical condition. I just came back from there, and the Healers are doing all they can to help her. Your father has asked that you return to headquarters now rather than wait another week, so we are going to the Headmaster's office to let you Floo there."

Ron Weasley simply stared at her blankly, but the twins shared a meaningful glance. "Professor, what about Ginny?"

"She was in the library; Madam Pince has already escorted her to Professor Dumbledore."

"That's good, then." The prankster brothers eyed her seriously. "What was Mum even doing at home at all? I thought the whole reason we had to move to London this summer was that the Burrow wasn't safe."

"Bill has been working on the wards when he can, but obviously you are correct that it is not as well-defended as headquarters. However, your mother went back a few times a week; when we asked, she told us that she had to care for your animals and your garden." She smiled mirthlessly. "I also believe she did some cooking there, too, either because she has ingredients that headquarters does not or she just enjoys puttering around her own kitchen. Needless to say, the enemy noticed her routine and ambushed her."

"How badly was she hurt?"

Minerva forced herself not to stop and stare at the small voice the second twin had spoken in. The three boys were putting up a brave face, but she could see the cracks starting to form in their facades. For the first time, the risks inherent to the war their parents were fighting in were clear. Clearing her throat slightly to stave off her sorrow at the loss of innocence her charges were now experiencing, she finally answered, "It could have been much worse. We think she was cooking at the time because she has a large burn on her face consistent with boiling oil splashing on her. There were also shards of metal shoved into her body, probably from the pot she was using. Several of her ribs are broken, as well, along with her right arm. Thankfully, she had brought her clock to headquarters, so it alerted us the moment she was attacked and we were able to take her to the hospital. The Healers say it will take some time, possibly several weeks, but she should make a full or almost-full recovery."

The children breathed a sigh of relief.

"Come along, boys; your father is waiting for you. He understandably wants all his family together right now so he can make sure you're all safe."

"I wonder what all that was about."

Harry just smiled slightly at his girlfriend's confusion, or at least he did until Luna poked him from where she was cuddled into his side. "You know something. Spill."

"I know many things, my dear." They both glared at him, and he sighed before picking up his wand and casting a Muffliato around them. This was one topic he did not want leaking to the Hogwarts rumor mill. "Okay, yes, I know why McGonagall came in here and stole away the Weasley boys."

"It can't be because of Nagini attacking Arthur; she isn't due in the Ministry until next week, and that's the only time I can think of when she did anything like this. What did you do?"

"I? I did nothing, but if I had to guess, I'd say that Molly's either dead or in St. Mungo's."

Luna pouted cutely at him. "Come on, Harry, you can't leave us in the dark like that. What happened?"

"Again, I know nothing for sure; this is all just a hypothetical—"

"Harry, drop the deniability nonsense and just tell us."

"Fine, take away my fun," he retorted with a playful glare at the brunette. "What potions include jasmine?"

The light of understanding filled Hermione's eyes. "Very, very few. Five-Second Cement has it as a thinning agent, and it's a minor ingredient in the Delirium Draught, but far and away its most common use is as the base in love potions. In fact, didn't Dramm say that all love potions use jasmine at some point in their brewing?"

"Yes, he did. So, since it's found in such a specific group of potions, I didn't feel at all bad for having Winky sabotage Molly's stash just a little."

"Winky? Not Dobby?"

He laughed at her question. "No, absolutely not. I like Dobby, don't get me wrong, but subtlety is just not in his nature. Winky, on the other hand, was involved in hiding Barty from the rest of the world for, what, thirteen years? Her booby traps are less likely to be detected until it's too late."

"And just what did our magnificent lady elf add to said boob's ingredients?" asked Luna.

Harry shrugged nonchalantly. "Not much, just a couple of ounces of erumpent hair." The girls' twin looks of confusion were priceless.

"…Hair."

"That is what I said." A dark grin split his mouth. "After all, just like belladonna, jasmine needs large amounts of heat when it's added to the potion, and all hairs and quills become unstable in high heat. Of course, whenever you talk about anything to do with erumpents—"

"Unstable is just another way of saying explosive," Hermione finished for him. "You turned her cauldron into a bomb."

He nodded and leaned back in his chair. "Pretty much. It's her own fault, though. I don't even care who she intended the victim of her potion to be; by brewing it, she's conspiring to rape and potentially enslave someone, even if it isn't us. As entertaining as watching Luna go vicious tiger on her was in hindsight—"

"She should just be glad I didn't shoot an Avada Kedavra up her arse."

"—I'd rather her plot not get to that point this time."

"And since jasmine is used in nothing else she has any reason to brew, she would have been perfectly safe if she hadn't tried to make a love potion. Her injuries are the result of her own intentions," Hermione summed up.

"Exactly." He shrugged again. "Assuming she survives this, maybe she'll take a second to think about whether or not she should make another attempt before she puts the cauldron on the fire again. We can only hope."

Harry gently kissed the soft skin between Luna's shoulder blades before zipping the back of her bodysuit up. She gave him a smoldering look and slipped on her mask, a flat, blank one rather than the blue fox head she normally wore. Applying his own mask, he turned to his other lover. "You're sure you want to go like that?"

"I have a mask if a situation come up where I need it, but this glamour should work just fine," the Percy Weasley impostor said with a nod. "Knowing Percy, him hanging around the office late at night won't be a huge surprise in case I run into anyone. Dobby reported that he's enjoying his brown-nosing – I mean, dinner – with the new head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation, so he has an alibi, too. If he still gets in hot water with the DMLE, though… well, that's what he gets for calling you deranged and dangerous."

"Works for me." He draped the Cloak over his shoulders and waited for Luna to pull the ensorcelled collar off of Clyde. It was only his knowledge that she was already there that kept the snorkack's natural Notice-Me-Not field from affecting him. "Ready?"

"Ready."

With three separate cracks, they Apparated to an enormous room, golden runes flickering rapidly into and out of existence on the blue ceiling. The dark wood of the walls and floor gleamed even in the low light given off by the few floating lanterns that had not been trimmed for the night. In the middle of the hallway stood five gold statues: a wizard, a witch, a centaur, a goblin, and finally a house-elf. As the trio of thieves admired their newest target, a crisp female voice intoned, "Welcome to the Ministry of Magic."

 
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