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



22. Knight Takes Rook

Harry awoke on the couch in the cold common room early the next morning. It had been eight years since he had slept in the Gryffindor dorms, and not only was he forced to sleep alone again, he had to deal with four other males filling the air with their snoring. Neville's a nice guy, but Merlin can he give Ron a run for his money when it comes to noise level, he thought as he shifted into a more comfortable position. He had finally given up sleeping in his four-poster as an impossible task at three o'clock or so, hence why he was in the common room.

Not the best rest I've ever gotten, that's for sure, but there's no point going back to sleep. I'll just wait for Mione and Luna to wake up so we can get to work.

"Harry?" a familiar voice asked. He lifted his head to look at his lover. "What are you doing up so early?"

"Couldn't stand the snores."

Hermione nodded sympathetically. "Lavender and Parvati were up gossiping half the night. Sophie tried to get them to quiet down, but she was obviously less than effective."

"Who?" he asked, trying to recall a face to go with that name. "I don't remember anyone named Sophie."

She huffed and shook her head. "Honestly, Harry? It's not like we didn't share classes with her for six years. Sophie Roper, short brunette, baby-blue eyes, sat at the table next to ours in Potions every year?"

"Not ringing any bells."

"Anyway, McGonagall chose her to be the prefect after I turned the position down. I honestly don't understand what that woman's doing. Yes, I told her to find someone as undeserving as Ron, but I never thought she'd actually go through with it! Sophie's a wallflower; I don't think I heard her start a dozen conversations the entire time we were in school."

Harry shrugged, unsure of what he could add. "What's done is done. Do you want to stay around here for a while longer or get a head start on Rookwood's place?"

"Let's get it over with. Do you have any idea where Luna is at the moment? It wouldn't be right to leave her here while we pull this job."

"I'll check." Pulling the Marauders' Map out of his pocket, he activated it without removing his wand's tip from the parchment. "Encuentras Luna Lovegood." The Map rustled before expanding on its own, excess material folding neatly at the edges. After a look at the swarm of jostling black dots, he cleared it with a muttered 'Mischief managed'. "She's in the kitchens. Shall we?"

The trip down was uneventful, not overly surprising since the sun had risen only a few minutes earlier. When they approached a painting depicting a bowl of fruit, he reached up and quickly tickled the pear, and it squirmed before becoming a doorknob. Luna was easy to find once they entered; she was sitting at a table in the middle of the room, her head resting on the wooden surface while her hand gripped a steaming mug.

"I was wondering when I'd see you two today," she greeted as they sat next to her. She lifted her head and yawned. "How were your nights?"

"Fine, but what happened to you?" Hermione asked in concern. "You look exhausted."

Luna sighed, a faint smile on her lips. "I think I was a little too clever for my own good. During dinner, several of the other Ravenclaws got an early start on their normal game of 'Let's Laugh at Loony Lovegood', so I waited until Flitwick's normal first-of-the-year speech to pull Clyde out of his box. I may have underestimated just how many people would want to examine him."

"Let me guess… all of them?" Harry asked, his worry having dispersed at her explanation.

"It sure seemed like it. After they determined that he wasn't conjured, transfigured, a golem of some kind, or a necromantic construct — and yes, one of the seventh years did know a charm to check for that, though I have no idea what a 'zombie apocalypse' is supposed to be — the first and second years wanted to pet him while the rest of the House pestered me with every question they could think of about his behavior, dietary needs, reproductive habits, and sleep patterns. Flitwick even asked if I would permit them to observe him for a year as a House research project!"

"Will you?"

"I'm not sure, Mione," the blonde said after a moment of thought. "On the one hand, I could use the data they collect to write the articles for my new column, leaving me more time to spend with you two. On the other…" She frowned. "I don't like the way Chang or her boot-lickers were glaring at me last night. After all, I just proved three years of their taunts to be nothing more than ignorant drivel; I really don't want to give them the chance to hurt him."

Harry and Hermione frowned as they thought. Finally, the brunette suggested, "If you do decide to let the other Claws watch him, why not ward a section of the common room so that no human but you can go there? That way he has a safe place to run to if he feels threatened."

"Except then he would never leave that corner. He's very shy."

"It's a start, though," he said. His eyebrows shot up as an idea came to him. "Luna, what about giving him a portkey?"

Luna quirked an eyebrow. "Would that work?"

"Well, the wards on the school only block people coming in; anyone who knows the spell can leave with one. Remove the 'notice me' charm on his collar, turn it into a portkey set to your home in case someone hurts him, then reapply the original charm and, I don't know, maybe a Repello Inimicum to keep away anyone who wishes him harm."

Hermione narrowed her eyes at him. "Just how did you learn so much about Hogwarts's wards, Mr. Potter?"

"Ah, well, er…" He looked anywhere but her as he gave up and muttered, "Hogwarts, A History. I got bored one day after working on the house."

She leapt from her seat. "Hah, I knew it! All this time, you had read it but kept making fun of me!"

"I wasn't making fun of you for reading the book," he rejoined. "I was mocking your obsession with it."

"I am not obsessed."

He looked at her from over his glasses. "Hermione, you spent nearly eighty galleons in an auction buying a thirtieth edition from the sixteenth century. When the latest one was published, you were at Flourish and Blott's two hours before they opened and almost ripped off the shopkeeper's fingers when he didn't hand it over fast enough for you. Yes, my dear, you are very much obsessed, but we love you anyway."

"Indeed we do." Luna drained her mug and handed it to a passing elf. "Well, what are we still doing around here? Time's a' wasting."

For all Hogwarts's claims as the 'safest place in Britain', the time-traveling trio had little difficulty sneaking out from within its walls.

Harry held his hand up, stopping the girls as they followed him through the narrow tunnel to Hogsmeade guarded by the one-eyed crone's statue. He whispered, "The ward boundaries are just ahead, but there's too much interference for me to check for more monitoring charms."

"Switch," Luna said just as quietly, sidling closer even as he moved backwards against the rough wall. She touched her wandtip to her temple. "A host of siege wards, anti-transport, Unplottable, Muggle-deceiving… Okay, I see them; eavesdropping on the left and proximity on the right, both a meter farther down. Fire on my mark."

Harry and Hermione raised their wands and aimed at the walls of the tunnel. At the blonde's soft 'Now', they silently cast finishing charms at their unseen targets. They paused a beat as Luna watched. "Harry, a couple of degrees down. Mione, just a smidgeon more left. Again." She smiled and pulled her wand from her head. "And there we go."

"Wonderful," he said as they walked the ten feet necessary to pass the wardline; now they could leave and arrive without any hint of their activities reaching Dumbledore. Picking up a stone, he waved his wand over it and incanted, "Portus. While you two were on vacation, I spent a couple of hours in the Ministry's Hall of Records looking up coordinates for as many of the homes we want to hit as I could find. Luckily, Rookwood's place was one of them."

His lovers nodded and laid their hands on the rock. Grimacing, Harry tapped it with his wand, causing the familiar yet still unpleasant sensation of his guts being ripped out through his navel. He had never liked portkeys; not only were they nauseating, he associated them with the bad memories of Voldemort's resurrection and Sirius's death. He much preferred flying or Apparating, but the first method would take far too long while the second required having been at the destination before, so whirling like a top it was.

At least it wasn't the Floo. He still hadn't found a way to avoid being shot out like a cannon.

They slammed into the ground heavily, taking a moment to calm their stomachs. Looking at their surroundings, Hermione turned to him. "Despite his name, I don't think Rookwood lived in the trees, and if he did, I doubt he has anything we want to steal."

"I brought us a klick east of his manor," he replied as he climbed to his feet before offering the others a hand. "Figured it was better to have a bit of a walk than randomly bounce off his wards or, even worse, land in the middle of a deathtrap like the Lestranges'."

The brunette winced and nodded; she had heard about his and Luna's trip to that property. Blowing themselves up would be a terrible way to start the day.

The trees thinned out as they walked, and five minutes later, the magesight charm on his glasses showed him the snowy dome denoting their target peeking over a hill. He pointed and said, "Almost there. Just a short jaunt that way." Another ten minutes elapsed before they could see the mansion itself.

"Of all the houses we've hit, I have to say I like this one the most," Hermione remarked. Harry nodded in agreement; the ivy covering the warm red brick and the wide-open lawn lent it a welcoming facade and gave no hint that it belonged to a genocidal sociopath. "Hopefully his good taste extends to the interior, too."

They continued their trek, growing more careful as they came closer. He took his mirror earring, space-expanded sack, and the roll of wardpicks he had earlier requested Dobby bring him out of his pockets and put the earring on. "So… who's doing what?"

Hermione shrugged. "Luna will examine the wards, I'll knock out the ones I know the counters for, and you use the picks and wardtap. I suppose the last is in your bag?" She smiled when he reached in and pulled out the device. "Excellent. Luna, if you would be so kind? We have a murdering sack of shite to plunder."

"I love it when you talk dirty," Luna said in a faux-sultry growl. She returned her wand to her head. "First up is a Cornish Apparation ward, followed by Muggle-repelling and a 'trust-me' ward. That's what, four for six in having at least one kind of mental inhibition ward?"

"At least we know that dark wizards don't trust each other any more than they do the rest of us," he laughed.

Hermione shook her head fondly at their tomfoolery and wove her wand in a graceful dance. Ward-breaking as a whole didn't rely on incantations; his girls' research in the previous timeline had found that the wand motions countered the runes on the wardstone and gradually introduced increasing interference into the entire system. After enough runes were negated, the ward would naturally collapse under its own weight. If they were part of a full curse-breaker team, there would be several other people around the boundary to stabilize the structure while she worked so she could nullify the entire script and prevent rebound, but they weren't. This setup would have to do.

A flash of white blinded him as the ward failed. He pulled his glasses off and rubbed his eyes rapidly; when he replaced them, he spotted an old man hobbling out of the house. "Er, Mione? Don't look now, but I think I may have accidentally brought us to the wrong place."

"Oh, this is going to be awk — move!" She and Luna leapt out of the path of the pale green curse streaking through where they had been standing a moment before. "No, we're in the right place. Who else besides Death Eaters or their sympathizers uses the Killing Curse as soon as they see visitors?!"

Harry ducked behind the thick marble wall Hermione conjured. "Well, this makes things more difficult. Do you think there's anyone else inside the house?"

"Doubtful, they'd have come out and started helping him already."

He took a deep breath and let it out, forcing himself to just not think about the curses hitting the wall, the stone crumbling, the danger they were in. A crisp flick of his wand conjured a metal spike a foot long and bearing a sharp point. Grabbing it with his free hand, he concentrated and quietly Apparated to the side of the property, just outside the wardline. The old man was too busy flinging Unforgivable after Unforgivable at the damaged wall to notice, giving Harry a clean view of his back. He aimed the spike at their attacker through the now-pale-yellow haze of the defenses, pointed his wand at the rear of the weapon, and shouted, "Depulso!"

The elder Pureblood turned around just in time to catch the projectile with his chest.

"He's down!" Harry called even as he kept his wand directed at the body. It wouldn't be the first time he had been in a fight where one of his enemies had waited at Death's door just long enough to launch a final attack.

His watchfulness proved to be for the best; only a few seconds later, a soft pop heralded the arrival of a house elf. The elf looked at its master for a few moments, looked at him, looked back the old man, and nonchalantly shrugged its shoulders before jerking one ear painfully. Obviously the Rookwoods didn't treat the help any better than the Malfoys had.

"Excuse me," he called, catching the elf's attention. "Is he still alive?"

The elf nodded.

"Could you put him in stasis, please? I promise to make it worth your while." The elf nodded its head again and snapped its fingers, causing a blue sheen to coat the man. Harry smiled. "Thank you! We'll be there in a few minutes."

"Just what are you planning, Harry Potter?" Hermione panted as she and Luna came running up to him. She held out his bag and tools.

He just smirked before taking them and selecting the wardpick for the Muggle-repelling ward. This was one ward that they wouldn't mind leaving up, but so long as it was active, they couldn't get to anything behind it. That was one advantage of using a pick; because it only disabled wards for a short time, they could break the defenses they didn't want and keep those they did.

Channeling some magic through the enchanted sliver of copper, he moved it towards the ward until he felt resistance. He brushed the surface of the ward with the pick, and his magesight showed the ward flicker briefly before returning to its normal state. Scraping this time caused the flicker to last longer; a third stroke, and the ward faded entirely. "Muggle-repelling's down. Can you counter the next one, or do I need to set the tap?"

"I can handle this one. Luna, anything I should watch out for behind it?"

"Nope, just a metamorph-reverting ward," the blonde replied with a grin after recasting the magesight charm. "Hit it, baby."

Contrary to their expectations, breaking down Rookwood's wards took longer than expected. Through either typical wizarding stupidity or an incredible display of common sense, there were a large number of redundancies built into the scheme. Three portkey, two mind-weakening, four lethal, and a grand total of six different Apparation wards; it was far and away the best defended manor they had come across. Finally, though, Hermione broke the last barrier. "Alright, we can step over the property line without having our brains vanished to the Ministry. On the bright side, we now know where the Department of Mysteries got the ones in their tank."

"Wonderful," Harry said. He walked to the pair on the lawn, then knelt in front of the small being. "Hello, my good elf. Might I have your name?"

The elf blushed fiercely and in a squeaky voice answered, "Floppy, sir." She — Harry knew this only thanks to his recent exposure to Winky — lowered her eyes and shyly toyed with the tassels of the curtain she used as a toga. "How can Floppy be of service to sir and madams?"

"Well, you can answer a question for me first," he replied in a gentle tone. She looked up warily. "Do you honestly like working for the Rookwoods?"

Floppy violently shook her head before reaching up with both hands and wrenching her namesake ears. Scowling at the Rookwood by his feet so he wouldn't distress the little elf, he asked, "What if I could offer you a way out? Would you take it, even if it meant being given clothes?" He glanced at her again, and the pitiful, pleading gaze he got was answer enough.

"Hermione, Luna, get a couple of feet behind Floppy and be ready to remove the stasis charm. Floppy, I'm going to free you, but first I need to memory charm you to protect our identities, okay?"

The elf turned big eyes on him. "Yous can memory charm house elves?"

"Yep. Now, go ahead and take a last look at your soon-to-be ex-master." He rounded behind her and aimed his wand. "Mione, lift the charm. ObliviateImperio."

Floppy shook her head, then stared at the old man. "Master Julius? Whats you doing on the ground?"

Give Floppy your slipper. Free her.

"Floppy," the now-named Julius croaked. "Hand me my slipper." Once she had done that, he thrust it roughly back into her hands. "You are no longer my elf. Get out of my sight."

She raised the fuzzy red slipper to eye-level. "Floppy… Floppy is free." Turning to her former master, she leaned over and slapped him across the face with his own shoe. "Floppy been wanting to do that for years," she cheered joyfully. With a loud snap, the house elf was gone.

Harry smiled and turned around, only for Hermione's haughty expression to wipe the look off his face. He sighed. "I know you want to. Just go ahead and say it."

"I told you. I told you! ElevenMerlin-be-damned YEARS I've been saying that there were other house elves who wanted to be free, that Dobby wasn't a once in a lifetime freak occurrence, and guess what? There are!" Her arms shot into the sky, and she screamed to the heavens, "Vindication is mine!"

He groaned. "Yes, yes, we were wrong, you were right. Woo-hoo." Under his breath, he muttered, "SPEW was still a terrible name."

"Care to repeat that, Harry?"

"Nope!" He pulled Luna in between himself and the growling brunette. Hermione was generally less likely to maul him if she had to go through the other girl first. "Shouldn't we get started on robbing the place?"

"Yes, we probably should. I'll still get you back for that comment about S.P.E.W., though."

Luna cleared her throat, interrupting their banter. "Not to be a, er, nudge, but what do we do about him?" She pointed over his shoulder at the wheezing Rookwood.

"Put him back in stasis," Harry said immediately.

Hermione looked askance at him. "Why? Let's just let him die. No muss, no fuss."

He walked over to the downed figure and ripped away the left sleeve of his robe. The hated skull and snake stared back at them. "It shows up pitch black with magesight, even through the other charms on these clothes, which means it's bloody strong. Even after two wars, we still have no idea what all the Dark Mark is capable of; is Voldemort alerted when a Death Eater dies? With nothing else keeping him busy at the moment, will he come to investigate why one of his unknown henchmen was killed? If we lay a stasis charm on Rookwood, on the other hand, we can take it off and kill him on our way out of here, protecting us from any consequences that we don't know about."

"Good point." Once Hermione placed the man in suspension, they made their way to the open door of the manor. "Split up and take everything that isn't nailed down just like the other times?"

"Sounds good. Paired Potter pretties," Luna added, using the phrase that automatically linked all three mirror earrings. With a bright smile, she skipped past the stairwell to the rear of the ground floor.

Harry gave Hermione his own grin. "I take first floor, you take second?"

"Fine by me."

"Kafsi velakia." Ten heads turned at the words, only to catch facefuls of flame. They screamed as best they could before being reduced to ash.

Harry calmly followed his Firebird Volley hex into the sitting room, surveying the destroyed portraits. The last thing he and the girls needed was some long-dead ancestor having another frame to run to and alerting their enemies about their actions. He summoned and bagged the gold frames, then did the same with the furniture. "You know, we need to come up with some disguises now that we're going to be raiding occupied houses."

"Copy that, love," Luna replied. "Do you have any ideas?"

He thought quietly for a moment. "If we only used glamours or transfiguration, a lucky hit or even the ambient magic should we need to fight our way out could dispel it and reveal our identities. What about an outfit of some kind, something to cover us almost entirely, possibly charmed to be unsummonable and to hide what the little skin we'll show really looks like?"

"That could work. I say we stitch a few runes into the fabric to keep them from being torn, as well. Actually, there's a couple of spell formulae that were discussed in my apprenticeship that I've been meaning to try out; this sounds like the perfect opportunity."

"Maybe you should take charge of the project, then."

"I guess I so, might even be rather fun. Which color would you prefer for your robe, heliotrope or mauve?" He spluttered, eliciting a giggle from the blonde. "Joking, joking. There you are! Harry, I just found the Rookwoods' Gringotts key, so don't worry about combing through the house looking for it. Anything interesting on your end?"

"Not yet. So far it looks like the first floor was the real 'family area'. Let me check this one." He opened the door in front of him and sighed. "No, another old nursery."

A loud shout interrupted their conversation. "Luna, Harry, get your butts up here!"

Harry was off like a shot, sprinting down the long hall to the stairs. Throwing a hand out, he latched onto the banister and swung around it to preserve his momentum as he headed higher. Pounding steps below indicated Luna was not far behind him.

The two took only a minute to find Hermione. She was in the middle of a large — and empty, he noted — library, sheets of parchment gripped tightly in her hands as she read furiously. Seeing that she was unharmed, Harry scowled. "You better not have scared us like that just because you found some rare book."

"It's rare, all right, but it's not a book." The brunette turned to them and waved the parchment. "Say whatever you want about little Gusty, but he was a meticulous note-taker. These," she laid the sheets on a desk almost completely covered in dust and said notes, "are all from the Ministry. Research, blueprints, ward schemes, blackmail, high-profile individuals' routines; I think Voldemort was preparing for a full take-over before he came after you in '81."

His eyes widened. "Okay, I'm sorry for blowing up at you. This is a real gold mine. What was he researching while on the clock?"

She snickered at that. "That's an ironic choice of words. It looks like his main focus was time, though he also did a stint in the Prophecy Room in late '80; my guess is that he was trying to get to the rest of the prophecy. The reason I called you over, though, is because I now know what convinced Voldemort to go from hiding from faeries to hunting them."

"The Unspeakables are studying the Fae?" Luna gasped, racing over and digging through the pile.

"They had been, but not since 1957. Apparently, someone got the bright idea to try stealing faery powers, only to be tracked down and, for lack of a better word, mutilated in his office by the Winter Lady a week later."

Winter Lady, Winter Lady, why is that name so familiar? Harry racked his brain for a moment before finding the relevant memory. "Wait, the same faery whose death prompted Lilith to bring us to this timeline?"

"Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner," Hermione commented dryly. "The Department at the time hypothesized that the Winter Lady was the Queen's chief enforcer, tasked with protecting the other faeries by any means necessary. Of course, it was just a theory; no one wanted to put their neck on the line and test it."

He rolled his eyes. "Gee, I wonder why not."

"Does it really matter at the moment?" Luna asked, summoning all the parchment as well as the desk into her bottomless bag. "Was there anywhere else you haven't gone on this floor, Mione? I'm done downstairs."

"Me, too," he added.

Hermione shook her head. "No, I decided I had better save the library for last. I, um, figured you'd have to come rescue me when it was time to go." Both of her lovers grinned at her blush. Harry wrapped one arm around her shoulders, then his other around Luna, and together the three of them descended the stairs.

The blonde stopped as they reached the foyer. "Hold up, I need to leave our calling card. Relinquo nostri signum," she incanted, swirling her wand at the left wall. "Well? What do you think?"

Harry looked up and down at it. The image was rather simple, just a black hood seen at an oblique angle. Sticking out was a red, furry muzzle bearing a foxy grin; as he examined it, he could swear the hairs were moving slightly. After a moment, the fox's lips twitched, widening the smirk a touch before it returned to normal. "This is the same style as your painting in the Rook, isn't it?"

She clapped her hands and nodded. "Yes it is. Like it?" She gazed up at him with her silver eyes.

"Love it."

Hermione nodded with a smile. Her efforts appreciated, Luna pulled them out the front door.

"Oh, yeah," he said as they spotted the body still lying on the lawn. "I totally forgot about him."

Luna pursed her lips in thought. "We could always transfigure him into dog treats and feed him to some strays. That'd be an appropriate end, don't you think?"

"That pun was truly awful," Hermione groaned.

"Yes, it really did stink."

"Harry! Don't encourage her!"

He laughed as he walked to Julius Rookwood. "You two go ahead; I'll catch up in a second." Twin cracks sounded behind him, then he squatted to look the old man in the eyes, his smile replaced by a deathly serious mien. "I know you can't hear or see a thing like this, but I thought I'd give you a heads up anyway. When you arrive in Hell, stick around for a bit; we'll be sending Augustus and all your little friends to join you soon enough."

Standing, he pointed his wand at Rookwood's neck. "Diffindo." A moment later, the only moving thing there was a severed head rolling towards the house.

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