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



27. Requiescat in Dolore

Eyes sharper than any human's watched a most tempting piece of prey. Stringy black hair covered the man's head as he patrolled the castle corridors, grumbling with every step. The predator paid no heed to his complaints; after six years of being forced to listen to his unending vitriol, it had little desire to do so of its own volition. Instead, spreading narrow wings, the falcon dropped from its perch high on a neighboring staircase and glided after its quarry.

The bird soared past Snape, unseen and unheard, before settling softly on the ground ten feet from him. In an instant, the avian form had returned to a human guise, the magic rendering it invisible solidifying into a cloak with the same effect. Harry stood and waited for the Death Eater to walk past him, then aimed his acacia wand. "Stupefy," he whispered, the jet of scarlet leaping from the tip of the wood to slam into the dark-robed back before his target knew he was there.

That should do it, he thought, using a trainer-clad foot to roll the man onto his back. Now, Snivellus, let's see what light you can shed on my little mystery. Casting an area charm to repel house-elves from one of the few hallways devoid of portraits or suits of armor before pulling the hood of the Cloak off his head, he forced pallid eyelids open and stared into cold, black eyes as he rested his wand against Snape's temple. A smirk appearing as he realized the irony of their current situation, he solemnly intoned, "Legilimens."

He immediately encountered Snape's Occlumency barriers, not that those could stop him. No matter how much experience the professor — and Harry used the term loosely — had in protecting his secrets, maintaining mental defenses while unconscious was an order of magnitude more difficult than doing so when awake and aware. Harry, for instance, still had trouble keeping his own shields up when he was asleep, and he had been practicing the discipline for going on six years now.

Of course, he had a reason for weak shields, and though it made keeping his secrets more difficult, particularly when said secrets involved a certain blonde's Christmas presents, he was more than happy with what he received in return. His natural talent for mind magics, including Legilimency, left him well-armed for tonight's plan.

The probes of many Legilimens, of which Snape's was a typical example, were magical battering rams, breaking down doors to access people's thoughts and memories. His own, however, was more like a lockpick; subtle, focused, and leaving far less evidence of his intrusion. Not that it will matter, he admitted to himself as he ignored the faint twisting sensation he normally felt when bypassing strong shields. He won't remember when I'm through with him, after all.

His goal was simple; he wanted, needed, to know if the theory he had developed earlier that day in Hogsmeade was correct. After all, it is possible that I'm being exceedingly paranoid and assigning blame to Dumbledore that he doesn't actually deserve this time. It partly depends on if my luck was the same while I was in Mum's womb as it is now. There existed the chance, however small it was, that the fates had simply and truly conspired against him and brought Snape, Dumbledore, and Trelawney into close proximity before unleashing the prophecy. It wouldn't explain why the old goat was meeting the two of them in a public place for job interviews, but I'll focus on figuring that out should I be proven wrong.

He dived into the dungeon bat's memories.

Severus crept up to the door, sneer in place as he heard a woman's airy-fairy tones seeping from the room inside. "And next, the hanged man. Sacrifice for a greater purpose…" His expression became more severe if such a thing was possible. Everyone with even a modicum of intelligence knew that Divination was a crock.

He was therefore surprised and, not that he would ever admit it, somewhat unnerved when the quavering voice trailed off only to be replaced by a harsh and guttural rasp. "The One with the Power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… Born to those who have thrice Defied him, born as the Seventh Month dies…"

Perhaps he had been hasty in completely dismissing the subject out of hand.

"Extraordinary," he heard Dumbledore whisper.

Light footsteps echoed in the quiet stairwell, and the buxom barmaid stopped as she spotted him. She shrieked, "What in Merlin's name are you doing!" That was when the door opened to reveal a pair of sparkling blue eyes.

Harry pulled himself out of the memory; the grimy bastard had just corroborated at least part of Rosmerta's tale. As well as my own suspicion. Trelawney had already finished 'reciting' the prophecy when he was caught. That also explains why Voldemort went ahead and attacked us even though Rookwood never brought him the Ministry's recording; he probably just wanted confirmation that Snape hadn't made up the whole thing. He sighed. Which means that Dumbledore really did serve us up on a silver platter. Damn.

His wand was aimed at the downed man, ready to erase the memory of being stunned and mind-burgled, when he paused. It had not been of the utmost important during the Third Voldemort War, but Hermione had once wondered aloud what Death Eaters had to do to earn their Dark Marks. Considering that he had an unconscious member of that organization right here, it would be a shame to squander the opportunity. He slipped back through the door he had opened.

When he located the relevant memory, he was more grateful than he had ever been that it was impossible to vomit inside another person's head.

"Severus," Voldemort hissed silkily in greeting, "what entertaining diversion have you arranged for us tonight?" A pale hand rose to include the four masked Death Eaters standing to one side, men who had already proven themselves sadistic and merciless.

The nineteen year old wizard bowed low, but his smirk could be clearly heard. "The torture and death of a Muggle couple, my Lord."

"Indeed? Very well. Lead us to this place. Should I be pleased, I may even deem you worthy of bearing my Mark."

The scene shifted from to the inside of a small flat. Slumped against one wall was a young man, only twenty or so, next to a slightly younger woman, both dressed for what was clearly supposed to be a night out on the town. Harry mentally gasped as he laid eyes on her. Mum?, he wondered before shaking the thought away. She was clearly not his mother, but the two redheads certainly shared a great deal of resemblance.

Snape drew his wand and indicated the male Muggle. "May I make a few adjustments before I begin?"

"Very well."

With a nod from the serpentine head, Snape proceeded to cast a glamour over the unconscious man, turning his blond hair black, then conjured a pair of bulky glasses in front of his eyes. "Conspicor. Ennervate." The two Muggles woke, but other than their eyes, which began swinging wildly at the oddly-dressed people in their home, they did not move. He pointed his wand at the woman and commanded, "Come here and kneel, facing your husband." She slowly crept towards him, her movements jerky like those of a marionette. Once she was before him, Snape sharply kicked her in her shoulders, forcing her face into the floor, then he grabbed a handful of hair and wrenched her head back. Smiling evilly, he slashed his wand; the nonmagical man's shirt split open, and the pale rope of his intestines spilled out in a wash of crimson.

The woman's silent crying redoubled, and then again when the callous wizard ripped open her short dress.

Harry could have ended the memory there; at that moment, there was nothing he wanted to do more. But he refused, tears of impotent fury streaming down his cheeks as he watched this innocent woman be repeatedly raped — first by Snape, then the other Death Eaters — in front of her dead husband. He could not help but feel that someone should witness the torture this couple had suffered, someone who understood how twisted and wrong the whole scene was. Someone who would seek justice for them. All this for the amusement of some vile, depraved… monsters. Only when a flash of green ripped her life away and sent her to reunite with her lost love did he pull out of Snape's mind.

"Petrificus totalis sine capite. Silencio. Ennervate." He paced for a moment, then turned his attention to the man whose head was thrashing wildly on the stone floor. "You disgust me, Snape. You raped and murdered that woman, all for what? A fancy little tattoo? The fact that you chose her because she resembled my mum and magicked her husband to look like my dad is just the icing on the cake as far as I'm concerned."

He glared at the sallow face as a thought sprang to mind. "Why did you beg Voldemort to spare my mum? What was your motivation? Finite silencio."

"Potter, you little shit! I'll have you —"

"Imperio," he snarled, his hatred more than enough to fetter the Death Eater's will. "Answer the bloody question."

Snape's voice was calm and measured, a far cry from what he normally sounded like in Harry's presence. "I wanted to show her that it was a mistake to choose that arrogant fool Potter over me. I wanted her to hurt like I hurt."

The pieces fell into place. "You planned to turn her into your own personal sex toy, didn't you?"

"Of course. What other use would a Mudblood slag have besides serving her betters on her back?"

Only once had Harry ever aimed the Killing Curse at a living person, when Ron had lead a small army of Death Eaters into Grimmauld Place to destroy the Order. The redhead's primary aim had been to kill him and take Hermione for the exact same purpose that Snape had for his mother, and in the process almost killing the two women who meant more to Harry than anything else in the world. Due to what that spell had taken from him, he had made a promise to himself that he would never use it in anger again, nor would he cast it against another human. Regardless, right now, he was really, really tempted to forget his oath and strike Snape down like the mad dog he was.

No, I won't do that, not to him. The Killing Curse is just too gentle to be considered an appropriate punishment. With a sharp nod, he demanded, "What were the names of the couple you murdered to gain your Dark Mark?"

"I don't know."

"You don't know?" He grit his teeth as his rage surged again. "You don't even know who those people were? Why not?"

Snape was placid as he responded, "Why should I care about a pair of worthless Muggles? It's not like they mattered. She deserved it, anyway, for reminding me of Lily."

Much, much too gentle.

Any lingering shred of remorse now burned away, Harry shoved his mind back into Snape's own, shattering shields as he barreled through them with none of his usual finesse. Memories of various Death Eaters flashed before him, the information absorbed subconsciously even as they were replaced with the next in line: names, addresses, favorite spells, personal habits, crimes. Oh, so many crimes. He ripped his probes out when he had what he wanted, his rampaging emotions still not satisfied. Spinning away from the slime at his feet, he stared at a single stone in the castle walls, forcing himself to be calm, at least as calm as the situation required. It took close to ten minutes before he could look at Snape without wanting to destroy him then and there, though that time also gave him an excellent idea for what to do with the man.

Silencing the fiend in human skin again before the Imperius wore off, he dispelled the charm shielding their location from house-elves' notice. "Dobby! Take both of us to Snape's private quarters!" With a sudden violent lurching, the empty corridor was replaced with a stuffy study.

"Master Harry?" Dobby asked timidly from his side. Harry supposed he must look quite deranged if even the obsessively obsequious elf was behaving fearfully like this. "Is you all right?"

He sighed and answered honestly, "No, Dobby, I'm not all right. I just found out that this… thing," he kicked Snape sharply in the ribs, "gets off on torturing and murdering innocents, people who don't even know we exist, let alone have anything to do with us. For all the people whose lives he cut short, he will die tonight." Expecting shock or horror, he turned to the elf and was surprised to find an expression of comprehension.

"He is like Bad Old Master, then?"

"Yes, he's like Lucius Malfoy."

"Dobby understands." Pausing a moment, he continued, "Master Harry be killing Bad Old Master, too?"

"I plan to," the out-of-time wizard answered with a nod.

The elf smiled sadly, and yet not a little cruelly. "Good. Bad Old Family deserves it. Does Master Harry need anything else?"

"Could you keep the other elves from noticing where we are or saving Snape?" he requested. "I'll need your help again in a moment." The elf snapped his fingers while Harry flicked his wand at the bare floor near Snape's head. A large cauldron flew into the room to that exact spot, and another wave of acacia enlarged it to a size that a man could comfortably sit in. Or not so comfortably when all is said and done. He levitated the stiff professor into the overlarge pot and, after two jets of grey light shattered Snape's femurs so that he would fit with only his head above the rim, conjured a stream of water until it was full. "There, that should do. Dobby, would you please spell the cauldron to a temperature just before the water starts boiling and have it stay that warm for the next several hours?"

"Dobby can do, but…" Harry smiled as much as he could under the circumstances and indicated the elf to continue, "…what be Master Harry doing if nasty man becomes a ghost?"

"A ghost?" he asked nonplussed.

Dobby nodded. "Bad Old Master liked killing young witches and wizards, but he had a spell to get rid of ghosts if they be coming back. Dobby does not know it. Does Master?"

"Er, no." Bloody hell, I never even thought about that. The last thing I need at the moment is Snape's spector sticking around and telling Voldemort or Dumbledore who offed him. Considering his options for a moment, he asked, "Would memory charming him prevent that?"

"Dobby does not know."

"He he he he heee."

At the creepy giggle, Harry spun around, his wand aimed at the source of the sound. A plump face, complete with wide grin and cruel, beady black eyes, slipped through the wall as if it were liquid. "Oh ho, Potty be doing something naughty."

Peeves. Oh, tonight can't get any better, can it? Who's next, Dumbledore and the Phoenix Quartet? "What are you doing here?"

"Peevesey heard nasty, nasty voices coming from a hallway, sounding like a student getting up to trouble. Then I saw it was you having a spot of fun with old Snapey, and it wouldn't be right to not watch." The mischievous expression did not drop off the poltergeist's face so much as it shifted into one that somehow mixed ill humor and seriousness. "Now, did my ears hear right that ickle Potty needs help keeping a ghosty-whosty from haunting him? Peeves can get rid of him if you be wanting…"

Harry's eyes narrowed; the only times Peeves had ever been anything close to 'helpful' was when the Weasley twins ordered him to drive Umbridge round the bend and during the battle of Hogwarts. "What's the catch?"

"So Potty isn't as stupid now as he was when he was a student? Good, good." Harry gaped, prompting Peeves to let out another high-pitched cackle. The entity emerged the rest of the way out of the wall and hovered in front of him. "No catch, no games… this time. The Queen can't tell her champion how to play, but cleaning up after you? That she can help you with." Peeves frowned before continuing, "And even if she hadn't asked us to do that, the Winter Lady's taken an interest in you, too. If you got stopped, she'd be unhappy, and little miss Ice Princess is even more whiny than normal when she's angry."

Queen? Winter Lady? Bits and pieces of information whirled together and finally made a coherent picture. "You have color, you're not transparent, you love pranks, you can touch anything you want, and you feel pain." He smiled at that, recalling Lupin shooting a wad of gum into Peeves's nose. "My first year, the ghosts even said you weren't one of them. In the centuries you've been living in the castle, how did no one realize that you're fae?"

The revealed faery shrugged. "Humans are idiots." That Harry couldn't dispute at the moment.

"So…" he began, "if Snape comes back, you can send him on to his eternal punishment or whatever?"

"Something like that," Peeves agreed. "My brother did the same for that old man you snuffed when you robbed his house. Don't get used to it, though. Now that you know, we won't help you if you're careless and expect us to make everything better." The prankster spirit glowered at him. "We don't like being taken for granted."

Harry swallowed, not liking the malicious edge to that warning. "No taking you for granted, got it. I bet that if we did, you'd go out of your way to make our lives difficult, champions or not, right?" Peeves nodded. "Well, then, tha—" He snapped his mouth closed, remembering Lilith's words from the one time they had spoken. "I mean, I'm glad we were able to have this little chat. With this in your hands, I'm sure it will be properly taken care of."

"Oh, poo. You're learning," the fae pouted.

He shrugged and erased Snape's memory of the night, just in case. Stunning him would probably also keep him from becoming a ghost, but Harry wanted Snape to enjoy the full agonizing experience. "Okay, Dobby, let's cook the bastard and get out of here."

"Yes, Master Harry!" A clap of Dobby's hands had the bottom of the gigantic cauldron glowing cherry red. After another sudden jerk, the pair were back in the Gryffindor fifth-year dorm. "Do Master Harry or his missies need anything else?"

"I don't think so, but go ahead and check that they're sleeping okay before you return to the Manor. We'll probably stop by sometime tomorrow."


"Really," he said with a wicked grin. "We have an empty Death Eater abode to rob, after all."

Spinner's End, Harry observed, was a decidedly gloomy place. The houses were deserted, the animals were silent, and even the grass and trees were withered and grey. With false cheer, he asked, "Well, girls, shall we get started?"

"No reason not to," Hermione replied, edging closer to him as they walked down the empty street. "I wonder why there's no one here."

Luna turned to face them, her silver eyes bright and twinkling from the magesight charm applied by the wandtip at her temple. "Oh, that's simple; there is a Muggle-repelling charm over this entire block. I guess Snape didn't want to risk anyone seeing magical belongings and was too cheap to buy a summer home in a more isolated location. Of course, he's also massively diminished his real estate value. Few enough people would pay top-galleon for a house in the middle of a Muggle town like this anyway, let alone when it's so derelict."

"Point to you, love," the brunette replied.

"It certainly works out in our favor," he noted, glancing once more over the boarded windows. "No witnesses, especially good since someone hasn't finished the disguises yet."

Luna rolled her eyes at his mock chastisement. "I told you, they're almost ready. I should be done by Wednesday or Thursday, definitely in time to raid the Greengrasses next Saturday. Besides, I clearly remember all of us agreeing that we shouldn't pull a heist every weekend."

"I know, I know, but we have only a small window of opportunity here. Dumbledore shouldn't realize that there's a pot of Snape stew on the boil until tomorrow, but as soon as he does, he'll probably get the bat's property ceded to him. After that, there's little chance we'll find anything valuable."

"Little enough chance now," Hermione muttered.

Sniffing disparagingly, the blonde skipped a mite faster to pull ahead of them. "And as I said this morning, I have a good feeling about today. Wards are in sight," she suddenly announced; the other two drew their wands in preparation. "Keyed Apparation, no surprise; anti-Portkey; phoenix-repelling, how interesting… In fact, the only one I see that would pose even a minor problem is the proximity ward, but since that one's an open ward and the recipient is dead, it might as well not even be there. We can walk right in through the front door."

"Check for mines," he said seriously. They did not want a repeat of the Lestrange debacle. Having just one of his girls that furious with him was bad enough; both would be intolerable.

"Nope, no mines, no animated statues, no traps of any kind. About the only possible obstacles are plants or creatures, and let's be honest, can you see Snape using either of those?" Acknowledging her point, they moved forwards quickly but still slightly cautiously. Once at the door, they double-checked the outer walls for charms before they unlocked it with a simple Alohomora and waltzed right in.

"So… this is it?" Hermione asked as they glanced over the dilapidated sitting room. "I don't think the quid we'd receive from that sofa would be worth taking it, and that's the best piece of furniture I can see. About the only valuable objects are those books."

"Of which there are many."

"Yes, Luna, there are many, but considering that we probably won't sell them, it wouldn't increase our bank account."

Harry snorted lightly as he moved away to investigate the bookshelves. "Mione, our vault holds just shy of 150 thousand galleons; I don't think we need to worry about it just yet. Besides, this house may hold more secrets than we're giving it credit for."

"Oh? Like what?"

Stepping back a couple of paces, he raised his space-extended burlap sack and summoned all the books from several shelves in the middle of the set. With that done, he gestured sharply with his wand; a loud groan proceeded the bookcase ripping itself off the wall and falling to the ground. Behind it was a narrow staircase. "Like that, for instance."

Both girls gaped for a minute, though Luna was the first to regain her voice. "Harry, how in the world did you even know that was there?"

"When you're beaten for leaving the tiniest speck of dirt in the kitchen, you get very, very good at spotting small details. I noticed that though all of the bookcases were identical, the shelves on this one were a full centimeter higher than the rest of them. From the pole on the top and the hole in the wall," he pointed to each of them in turn, "I suspect this was to keep the case off the floor so it could be used as a door."

Hermione blinked a few times before admitting, "Okay, maybe there are a few secrets, after all."

He nodded with a smile before stepping over the case and into the dark stairwell. With two wands behind him acting as torches, he easily noticed the jars and barrels stored in the room at the bottom with a number of cauldrons of different metals. "I think this is his private lab."

"He has access to the potions lab in the dungeons all year long," the bushy-headed bookworm said. "Why would he need one in the middle of nowhere, even if he does live here over the summer?"

Luna's gasp grabbed their attention. "Because he doesn't have to worry about people finding rare and illegal ingredients if he hides them here." She turned to them and pulled her left arm out of a barrel she had opened at random. Clenched in her hand was a glistening lump of silvery muscle.

"Love, is that what I think it is?"

"Yes, Harry, it is. Unicorn heart. Possessing one of these is a full year in Azkaban." She lowered it gently back into the barrel. "There must be several dozen here. Considering how few unicorn poachers there are, this would have cost a small fortune in Knockturn."

They looked about the room again with new comprehension. If all of these contain ingredients like that one did, the amount of gold this room represents is staggering, he thought in awe. "I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that potions that require things like this are even more expensive than the components."

"Expensive, difficult to brew, and extremely potent," Hermione confirmed. "Regardless of the legality or lack thereof, St. Mungo's orders questionable potions from 'anonymous' brewers from time to time. The potion name is never given, just the purpose and time constraints; that way, if the DMLE were ever to investigate, the Healers would have plausible deniability on their side. It's complete fiction, of course, and everybody involved knows about it, but since they're the only hospital in the entire country, no one is going to ask too many questions. It wouldn't do for the Aurors to be without somewhere to send their wounded."

"Play in politics long enough, and the shit eventually stops stinking," he muttered cynically.

"Pretty much."

A clearing of the blonde's throat recalled them from their conversation. While they were talking, Luna had emptied the room of its contents. "If you two are done nattering, we should pack up the rest of the books and look for any other secret passages."

It was in the fourth and last hidden room that they hit real pay dirt. "For once, Snape being a curmudgeonly old bastard works to our advantage," Harry laughed, shrinking the reinforced, space-extended chest full of gold and shoving it inside his pocket rather than his bag; putting one expanded space inside another rarely ended well. "I guess not even the goblins wanted him inside their bank."

"That or he was too paranoid to trust them. I could see it going either way." Hermione tied her own sack to her belt and led them up through the trapdoor in the pantry floor. "Do you think that's everything?"

"It should be; the house isn't that large. We don't have a lot of time to waste poking around fruitlessly, either," Luna said as they walked out of the kitchen and back into the sitting room. "So, should we leave our mark and get out of here?"

Harry shook his head. "Not this time. Leaving it at the homes of regular Death Eaters or other Pureblood supremacists is all well and good, but if it's in the home of Dumbledore's pet dungeon bat? That might be enough for him to shift his attention from the battle to keep control of the school onto our heists once we really get going. No, I say we just torch the place and destroy any evidence we left behind."

The girls cast fire-containing charms around the property while he went back inside and unleashed gouts of flame in several carefully chosen spots, all burning even faster thanks to a few bottles of cheap spirits they had found in yet another secret chamber. When the trio departed, the blaze was bequeathing Spinner's End with some much-awaited color.

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