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



12. Potter Manor

Harry appeared in a dense forest, standing in the middle of a path. He slowly glanced around, trying to match the trees and rocks with the landmarks of the Manor's Apparation point. Satisfied he was in the right place, he twisted around at his waist as best he could, taking special care not to move his feet. When he had tried to enter the property for the first time after learning of its existence, he had Apparated in, only to find himself walking down the path he was on towards Nottingham proper. Several hours and too many attempts to count later, he had at last discovered the key to bypassing the avoidance ward.

With a swish and flick, he levitated a seemingly random stone in his immediate surroundings, one that was part of a small cairn. Placing it next to the pile, he cast a Finite into the depression he had revealed and felt the barely noticeable pressure on his shoulders fall off. He smirked as he replaced the rock; this was the perfect example of the strategy the Potters had relied on when they were thieves. Easy to remember, quick to set into motion, and designed to take advantage of the average wizard's lack of common sense.

It also showed their expertise with wards, the reason the Hooded Foxes were so terrifying to the Purebloods in their fancy homes. Accepted fact among wardmasters was that there were open wards and closed wards, but while they could be used on the same area, they could never be joined. Raphael Potter, the man who started the family business, did not take this at face value, however; he had never cared what people told him could or couldn't be done; only what truly could or couldn't be done. With his wife, a Muggleborn spellcrafter, he had created a runic script that used the input from an open ward to trigger a closed ward. It wasn't perfect — it couldn't handle more than two wards, and the script only worked if it was written in a combination of Norse and Sumerian runes — but because it was 'impossible', it provided an excellent defense.

Whistling as he walked, Harry traveled along the overgrown trail; the occasional cutting or vanishing charm flew from his wand as he cleared out the worst of the underbrush. The peaceful path from the Apparation point to the Manor's front gates always calmed him when he was angry or distressed, and it now served as a balm to his war-wounded mind. He arrived at the wrought-iron gates, opened them, and looked in sorrow at the sight in front of him.

Potter Manor was a relatively new building for the mansion of a Pureblood Noble House, completed in the early eighteenth century. It was a three-story home sitting on sixty acres of property and totally inaccessible to Muggles and uninvited guests. The house itself was reminiscent in style of a Gothic cathedral with its high spires and tall windows, delicate reliefs of ivy climbing up the walls. It had its own gargoyles, as well, in the forms of manticores, three-headed hellhounds, and even a winged occamy poised to strike over the front entrance. The only force to ever lay siege to the property — led by a member of the family who was angry over his younger brother being chosen as the family's head — had being given the 'honor' of discovering for themselves that the statues could be animated like Hogwarts' suits of armor.

At least, that was how the Manor had looked. Contrary to popular belief, Voldemort had feared Harry's great-grandfather Timothy almost as much as Dumbledore. The two men were both extremely powerful for their ages and lacked any fashion sense whatsoever, but where Dumbledore fought in the political arena, Timothy preferred to battle with his magic; a professional duelist, his record number of consecutive wins stood unchallenged until the arrival of a young upstart named Filius Flitwick. Even in his late eighties, Timothy Potter had been a force to be reckoned with, so rather than make the mistake of attacking him directly, the Dark Lord had placed one of his friends under the Imperius and ordered the man to carry a large cauldron full of a highly unstable potion into the house and make it explode. The blast had killed Timothy, his friend, and both of Harry's grandparents, as well as destroyed the Manor's second floor. Only James being at school prevented the Potter line from dying out that night.

And then neglect and the elements set in, Harry thought. In 1998, the building was decrepit, taking the reluctant hero five months and twenty thousand galleons to completely restore. He strode up the cobblestone path from gate to entrance and pushed against the tall door; it didn't give an inch.

He sighed. "I forgot, the debris was blocking the door." Withdrawing a couple of yards, he muttered a short apology and pointed his wand at the wooden obstacle. "Confringo." A jet of butter-yellow was shot at the thick wooden slab, blowing away a jagged hole. He repeated the incantation several times, stopping once there was a gap large enough for him crawl through without cutting his clothes or skin to shreds. After doing just that, he stood on a support from the ceiling that had jammed the door and took in the sunlight streaming from the hole in the roof.

A glance about the foyer showed him that he had a great deal of work to do before the building would be comfortable again. The wallpaper was faded where it hadn't separated from the walls, most of the furniture was likely water damaged, and the assorted cloth products, be they table linens, towels, or old clothes, were almost guaranteed to be ruined. Worst of all, however, were the various portraits on the wall; the inhabitants were safe in a group painting in the Vault, but they were also trapped there and would remain so until their normal canvases had been repaired or replaced. He gently prodded one of the portraits and grunted when the fabric tore; replaced, then.

"Dobby, Winky. Would you two come here, please?"

Twin pops heralded the arrival of the elves, and their eyes as they looked about the room was a curious mixture of horror, indignation, and ecstasy. Winky looked much better now than he last remembered; no longer did she wear the burned and stained clothes Crouch Sr. had given her, but instead a dark green sheet, possibly from the Slytherin dorms, that she had twisted into a toga. Dobby had changed his outfit since the morning, as he was now in a child-sized pair of overalls that had been dyed neon green and a hot-pink beret.

"I'm curious, which part of 'your clothes have to complement each other' did you two get confused on?"

Dobby ducked his head, and Winky muttered, "Winky tolds Dobby to makes them darker, but Dobby didn't listen. Now Winky bes in trouble with Master, too."

"Neither of you are in trouble," he said, glancing at the crest sown into the female elf's toga and on the top of her coworker's hat. At least they had followed that part of his instructions. "You two just don't fit together well. Could you not agree on what you should wear?"

This time it was Dobby who spoke. "Winky kepts her sheet too dark, Dobby thought Master Harry wouldn't bes liking Snakey colors. And bright colors looks better with Master Harry's family's crest, they does."

Harry took a moment to consider that statement. The crest itself was a golden shield with a red sword and a black bear's head on the top-left and bottom-right quarters, respectively. A scroll with the family motto, 'Percutiam ubi hostes maxime timore', underneath the shield completed the picture. No, it doesn't work well with those colors, Dobby. Even if it did, it wouldn't matter, since your clothes are blinding me every time I so much as look in your general direction.

"It does look look good on you, Dobby," he lied, "and your sheet is smashing, Winky, but maybe you wouldn't clash so much if you changed the colors and styles to be a bit more alike. Other than that, you look fantastic.

"At the moment, though, I have some work for you to do." If he distracted them, he might just avoid having to comfort a crying elf. "As you can see, this house hasn't had any elves to take care of it. Everything's falling apart, it needs new furniture, and I'm sure there's no food to speak of. Can you take care of all —"

Dobby had been wriggling in place like a tiny Chihuahua that needed to visit a bush, and now he vanished, his normally quiet pop sounding like human Apparation in his excitement. Winky gave him a small curtsey. "It will be done, Master," she said, then she too departed.

"— that?" he asked the still air. Note to self, keep an eye on Dobby for the next few days. Elves absolutely adored cleaning, and the bigger the mess, the better. A manor house that hadn't seen a soul for seventeen years would be practically heaven, hence his worry. Left to his own devices, Dobby was liable to make a life-size statue of him from forks or grow all the shrubs into giant replicas of his head, or something equally embarrassing.

Shaking his head at the trouble his servant and friend could cause in his adoration, Harry crawled around remnants of the two upper floors as made his way to the Head's study in the back of the ground floor. It was as damaged as the rest of house, but thankfully what he was looking for wouldn't have been exposed during the attack. He closed the door and turned the deadbolt, then he tapped his wand to the handle to disengage the first protection on his goal.

The room had a number of broken display cases and bookshelves, as well as a large desk at the other end from the door. He walked over to the right wall with its pair of dirty windows and stood in between them, facing a copy of the crest built into the wall. Again he tapped; thrice on the bear's head, once on the bottom tip of the shield, and twice on the sword, one each on point and pommel. Resting the wandtip on the bear again, he made a circle clockwise inside the shield's boundaries. There was a series of mechanical clinks, then the emblem split vertically and the two halves swung out on hinges.

Staring back at him was a complicated structure of rings floating in a cavity carved into the wall, each piece of silvery metal linked with two or more of its neighbors. He sighed as he reached in and lightly tugged one ring; that little bit of force was enough to set it rotating, and as it did, another cluster on the opposite side shifted outward from its original position. He stopped the spinning ring before it made any further changes to the configuration.

He loved the wards on the Manor, he really did, but he completely and unreservedly despised the Key, as the portraits referred to it. Yes, it gave him control of the ward scheme and allowed him to change which wards were active without the tedious and strenuous process of hauling wardstones around the Ward Room located off the Vault, but the Key was unnecessarily elaborate. None of the rings were directly linked to an individual ward; rather; there were a number of ward schemes that could be called up based on how the device was arranged. His painted ancestors could not tell him what those arrangements were — most of them had never needed to alter it from its default setting, and some unknown magic prevented the ones who had from revealing what they had done — so the trio had been forced to use linked mirrors, the magesight charm, and several afternoons of trial and error to find as many of the different schemes as they could.

The metal surfaces glinted innocently at him as he glared at the contraption once again. Each ring was covered in runes, and while he had taken the easy route and simply memorized the various patterns, his lovers had spent almost two months pouring over it, convinced that they could translate the inscriptions. By the time they gave up, they had isolated eight different languages, three of which they couldn't name or find in any of their books, though Hermione was sure that she had seen one of them in a Muggle manuscript. Harry was already wary of the device by that point; the Manor had been built long after the invention of enchanted portraits, and all of the previous family heads were represented, but none of them knew where the Key had come from or how it had been integrated so thoroughly into the wards. It was a family mystery, one that he still agonized over late at night when he couldn't sleep.

With a growl, he spun several of the rings at once, recalling the configuration he wanted. Luna called it the 'Hide and Seek', and it consisted of every transport ward they had ever heard of, bundled in a Fidelius, wrapped in a mild confounding ward to keep anyone from getting suspicious about why they couldn't remember the magnificent house in the middle of the woods. It even kept out owls who hadn't been told the location!

He felt the Secret settle in his mind and slammed the crest closed. Unlocking the study's door revealed two highly befuddled elves.

"Master Harry, where bes we?"

"Potter Manor is located in Sherwood Forest." Both elves' eyes cleared as the wards no longer rejected their presence. "Continue with whatever you were doing before just now." The elves popped away, and he rolled up his sleeves and began casting spells to lift the wooden beams strewn around back to their proper places. There was no reason he couldn't assist his employees in the repairs, after all.

Hermione raised her head and set down her book as yet another person knocked on the door. No one ever visited the house during the day, so of course everyone and their grandmother would come by the one time she was expecting a guest. She had already chased off several door-to-door evangelists, a squad of Girl Guides, two men who needed directions, and a friend of the people who had lived in the house across the street ten years previously. Stomping over to the door, she jerked it open and screamed, "What now!"

Harry stood there with a bemused look on his face. He slowly twisted to glance behind him, then turned back. "Should I come back later?"

"Get in here," she growled. He closed the door behind him, and then she pounced, wrapping her legs around his waist as she practically shoved her tongue down his throat. His hands immediately came up to support her, and she felt her stress melt away as she relaxed in his arms. When her lungs finally reminded her that they needed air to work, she pulled away slightly and dropped her head on her shoulder. "I missed you."

"I missed you, too, but I thought you wanted time to reconnect with your parents. Did something happen?" He walked down the hall and into the kitchen as he spoke, setting her down on the edge of the table.

She looked down to hide the tears pooling in the corners of her eyes, only for them to spill down her cheeks as he lifted her head. "I told Mum about us, and she didn't take it well."

"That's not surprising, I suppose. If we have a daughter, I wouldn't be happy to find out she's dating someone I had only spoken to twice. I'm guessing she wants me to stay away, then?"

A shake of her head was all she could manage as she recalled the gulf that suddenly existed between the two Granger women. "She doesn't have a problem with you, Harry. Now that she knows I'm bi, she treats me like a virtual stranger, and I don't think Luna will be welcome here anytime soon." She wiped her tears away in a futile gesture. "How long until Dobby and Winky have the Manor ready to live in?"

"Another week at least. Do you remember how we closed off several sections when we were happy with what space we had? It turns out that a few of them are actually so damaged that they could possibly cause more of the house to collapse. Winky said she'd talk to an elf she knows from working for Crouch and see if he'll come by and take a look."

"Are you telling me that elves have building contractors?" Hermione asked with a giggle.

He shrugged. "I guess so; maybe they make sure the house is fit for habitation before elf families move in. Soon we'll find out that we just think they serve wizards when it's really the other way around."

Her laughter spilled out as she thought of Lucius Malfoy bringing drinks to several stuffy female house elves while wearing an enormous pillowcase. She then reached out and pulled off her lover's glasses, putting them next to her as she stared into his eyes. "I love you so much."

"I love you, too," he replied, then bent down and kissed her again. This was looking to be a wonderful day.

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