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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15. Sand Falling through the Hourglass

"All told, how much did the stuff from Dolohov's house make for us?" Harry asked the next week.

Hermione consulted the ledger she had filled with the various receipts. "Let's see… 100,000 pounds?"

"How much in real money?"

The brunette glared at Luna, who responded with a guileless smile. No matter how often they explained it to her, the blonde was not raised in the Muggle world and simply refused to consider anything but coins proper currency. Paper, she had told them, was for printing on, not buying things. "About 4,000 Galleons."

"Oh, that's not bad at all. More than many people earn in a year, certainly." She paused for a moment, then added, "Does that include the gold bars we made from his cell?"

As he had been in charge of that exchange, Harry answered. "No, the goblins refused to buy it all at once, something about 'foolish wizards trying to destroy the economy'. Still, they appraised it at a little more than 25,000." He smirked at their astounded faces. "It was about a hundred thirty-five kilograms of pure gold. Did you think we weren't going to make a killing off that?"

He should have received more for that much gold, but the greedy little beasts were notorious for undervaluing any precious metals wizards wanted to sell them. They considered all that was mined from the ground theirs, whether they had any hand in its extraction or not, which explained why they only 'lent' their smiths' creations to humans and had replaced the gold, silver, and bronze currency with lead and stone spelled to resemble the older coins. Normally he wouldn't have even considered using Gringotts to fence the bars they took from Dolohov, but they had been enchanted unbreakable, which prevented him from melting them down and selling them in the Muggle world. The fact that the goblins didn't care where he had procured them helped.

"On a related note, I discovered an interesting bit of trivia. It turns out that Dolohov didn't have any special security for his family's vault, just the key. The goblins charged a few excessive fees to get everything set up and move the contents around, but we now have our own private account with a starting balance of twenty grand, plus the deposits from the gradual sale of the gold." Laughing, he passed a bronze key to each stupefied girl.

"Wow, Harry," Hermione said. "Just… wow."

Luna was far more animated and hopped into his lap. "And you say you aren't as smart as we are. Silly man, we wouldn't have thought of doing that in a thousand years." She ran her hands through his hair and ground against him, making him groan. "Besides, hasn't anyone told you that using your brain makes you extra sexy?"

"You know, I don't think anyone's ever told me that."

"Well then, I guess I'll be the first." She moved in and kissed him, slowly but passionately. "Will you be my first again, too?"

Hermione cleared her throat, her face clearly showing her regret at what she was doing. "Can we leave that for later, please? My parents are going to be back soon, and I doubt they want to walk into a teenage threesome." With disappointed sighs, they settled down, though Luna refused to leave her new seat. "We did well, but there is always room for improvement. What did you two see that we need to fix before the next heist?"

"Power," he said. "I know we planned to wait for Luna's birthday since there was a really good core-enlargement ritual in one of our books, but until then, we'll need to either space our hits out or get a lot more skill quickly. After October we won't have a problem, but as it's only June…" He trailed off, wishing that they could resolve this issue earlier. There were a number of other rituals meant to raise efficiency of casting or the speed at which cores refilled, but the easiest way to increase the amount of magic available to a wizard was to force the core to grow. Unfortunately, that set of rituals all required the beneficiary to have an unmodified core, so they had to be very selective about which they performed. The one in question used the sacrifice of a witch's virginity as the 'offering', an element common to almost all rituals that necessary to charge it and affect the change, hence the delay.

"Why did you insist we wait until you turned fifteen, Luna? I know you said it was the age of consent, but that can't be the only reason," Hermione asked.

"That is the only reason. Sorry, I sometimes forget that you don't know all the little details that the magical-raised grow up with; when doing things like this, you have to be very careful that the offering meets the requirements specific to that ritual. If it doesn't, like the virginity being from a girl who isn't old enough to have sex, bad things can happen."

Harry winced, not liking the sound of that. "What, exactly, do you mean by 'bad things'?"

"Impotence, hangnails, blisters on the bum, your insides replacing your outsides, things like that."

"Ah. Hermione, I'm siding with Luna on this one. We'll wait until October."

"No arguments from me."

Luna giggled. "Of course, it also means I'm going to have a wonderful birthday present. We'll have to be discreet, obviously; just imagine the trouble us walking into the Great Hall bowlegged and hanging on your arms would cause."

"I'd rather not, thank you," he said. "Getting back on track, did you notice something to work on, Mione?"

"When I brought you two down to the Dolohov's basement, I had to scour the entire house looking for you. We should look into better communication, and soon."

"Oh, that reminds me," the blonde said, then she drew her wand.

He slapped his hand over his left ear where she had struck him with a point-blank piercing hex. "Shite, Luna! Ow. What was that for?"

"Stop whining, you big baby. Here, put this in." 'This' turned out to be a triangular shard of silvered glass hanging from a simple brass hook. Reluctantly, he slid it into the new hole in his ear and waited while she did the same to herself with another. "Harry Potter."

Before he could ask, the earring started to wiggle. He instantly caught on, smiling as he said, "Accepto. Very nice, love; when did you come up with this?"

"The day after the heist." The words echoed from the earring, which he now knew was charmed exactly like two-way mirrors. "Daddy was talking to a friend in Egypt, and it struck me that something like that would be very helpful. I knew we would need our hands free to cast, so I made them like those head-foals Muggles were making before Voldemort came back. There's one for you, too, Mione."

"Headphones, Luna. Still, how did you get them all connected? I thought the talking mirrors only communicated with its partner."

"It does, but that's because both mirrors are charmed the same time. The earrings were small, so it was easy to make them partners for the others."

He spoke the deactivation word — Otium — and pulled it out. "Well, that takes care of the communication issue."

"Mm-hmm. I have something for us to think about. None of us are very skilled at this, and the only reason we succeeded at all was because there wasn't anyone living in Dolohov's mansion anymore. I think we should keep practicing with houses of other Death Eaters who are in Azkaban before we target places where there are people around, maybe even wait until after we've done some rituals in case we're spotted and have to fight our way out."

"That's probably a prudent course of action," he replied, considering all the things that could go wrong with breaking into a building filled with people. "The only problem is that there are more Death Eaters who stayed out of prison than went in. How many places will be left if we only concentrate on empty houses?"

Hermione pulled out a sheet of paper from the ledger and consulted it. "Half a dozen of them are in prison and have large, well-known manors. If we do our research quickly and stockpile our hauls for you to fence later instead of selling them right after we finish with each house, we should be able to visit most of them before Luna and I leave the country. Do either of you have any objections?" Both of them shook their heads, so she continued.

"Alright, let's look at our choices. First is Augustus Rookwood, former Unspeakable. Sentenced to life imprisonment in Azkaban on the fifteenth of November, 1981…"

The next three weeks were busy, and though they didn't manage to hit every manor on the list, they were pleased overall with the four they stripped. Hermione had departed with her parents to Australia for a month, leaving Harry and Luna alone for two weeks before the annual Snorkack expedition. Other than the occasional day dedicated to selling off their purloined goods and transferring money in Gringotts, they spent their time relaxing.

Of course, since Luna was notoriously cuddle-hungry, relaxing often became quite intimate…

"Daddy and I leave for Siberia tonight."

"Hmm." Harry just pulled her closer to his chest as they lay on her bed in the Rook. This was something he had missed due to their hectic schedules, and while he knew where she was going with this, he didn't want to leave such a comfortable position just yet.

She sighed contentedly and tightened her hold around his waist. "Why were you so adamant about hitting the Lestrange house before the summer ended?"

"We've destroyed the diary, my scar, the diadem, and the ring. The locket will be practically gift-wrapped for me as soon as I get to Sirius's house. All I needed to get into the Death Eaters' vaults were their Gringotts keys, so if the Lestranges are true to form, I can just grab Hufflepuff's chalice and take care of it. Voldemort may not let Nagini out of his sight, but I'd like for the other Horcruces to be nothing more than bad memories by the time we go back to Hogwarts."

"And if the Lestranges were anything like the others, their key should be in their manor," she murmured. "That requires getting up, though."

"That is the dilemma."

They were silent for several more minutes, then Luna said, "I don't want you tackling it alone. It's too dangerous."

"I know, love. We could put off getting the cup until school starts back…"

"But you don't want to leave the job when we're so close to being done." He sighed in response. She grudgingly sat up and got off the bed, leaving Harry to enjoy the view of the blonde wearing nothing more than her midnight-blue knickers. Only after she was completely dressed did he groan and reach for his jeans.

A dual Apparation later, they stood in sight of a blocky and imposing mansion, built from dark stone and emanating a feeling of dread. Luna cast the magesight charm while he pulled the wardtap and amplifier out of his bag, then he reached back in for their new set of wardpicks. The picks were thin pieces of metal, superficially resembling traditional lockpicks, and were carefully crafted foci. Each one had been made with a specific ward in mind, and a runic script engraved on the surface allowing it to produce an 'anti-ward', for lack of a better term; if the pair encountered a ward they had a pick for, they could simply pour magic through it and nullify the defense long enough to slip across the threshold without any ill effects. The tools had limitations — the biggest being that there could be multiple designs for the same ward, which therefore required multiple picks — but using them was far faster than completely dismantling the ward.

"I see an Apparation ward — keyed, obviously — anti-Portkey, anti-broom, anti-Animagus, a nasty skin-rotting ward that's thankfully down, and… that's it? That doesn't make any sense; it's like they're just begging to be robbed."

"Not every place can be ready to kill us," he said as he returned his tools to their pockets. He began walking toward the house. "We had to catch a break some time, even if it's the home of Bellatrix Lestrange."

"STOP!"

He stopped, his foot an inch above the ground. "Something bad is going to happen if I put my foot down, isn't it?"

"Step backwards slowly," she said. "Now stay right there and don't move. The reason they don't have any brutal wards up is that there are Gubraithian fire-pits buried throughout the yard, and you, with your usual bipolar luck, managed to blindly get in the middle of them."

"Oh. What's the plan, then?" 'Gubraithian fire-pits' was a dreadful misnomer; they had absolutely nothing to do with an everlasting flame. Instead, they were the magical equivalent of land mines, if mines could re-arm themselves after ten seconds.

"I'm going to bring down the Animagus ward, then you put magesight on your glasses and turn into a falcon. While you look for a safe place for us to enter the house, I'll knock out the Apparation ward and come to you after you're human again." She turned to the ward scheme as he heard her mutter, "And let's hope these wards aren't tied to the pits."

He gulped and applied the charm to his new lenses. With their influx of money, he hadn't felt bad about going to an optometrist and getting an updated prescription; a minor compulsion had even ensured he was given an appointment that same day. His sharper vision turned out to be a double-edged sword, however, as he could now see just how close he came to losing a leg. A quick glance behind him showed that, incredibly, he had somehow avoided three rows of fire-pits.

Luna worked with frantic energy and finally gave a cheer of triumph. "Animagus is a go. Fly over and search for a safe spot while I keep working."

"Luna, there's an easier way," Harry remarked, carefully not looking at her. He knew she was terrified that he would give into the falcon's instincts whenever they discussed this option. Still, desperate times and all that.

"Er, not that I don't trust you, sweetie, because I do, but things probably aren't that bad just yet. I can knock out the Apparation ward just fine —"

"Which is time and magic we can't waste. As for being 'that bad', need I remind you about the fact that we can't set a foot on the bloody grounds without worrying about being blown up!" His point made, he glared at her, and she grimaced and looked away.

"Okay, just be careful. I'm delicate, and your bird is known for eating my kind as a snack." She pocketed her wand and transformed, her bright coat making her easy to spot on the grass.

He took a deep breath. Time for the reckless Gryffindor to come out to play. He cast a feather-light charm on himself and jumped ten feet up. As he fell back down, he sent a banishing charm at the ground, the slight recoil enough to propel him higher. The spell flew at an angle and set off a chain reaction of the fire-pits, but by then he had already sprouted wings and simply caught the updraft. Flying in a wide arc allowed him to build enough speed and distance for the next maneuver.

His quarry was running perpendicular to the property, careful not to disturb the outermost row of traps. He followed in a shallow dive, wings still to keep him in a straight line, and extended his legs while stretching his toes out as far as he could. Luna leapt as he began his ascent, and he snagged the little red squirrel out of the air.

She chittered angrily at him as they approached their destination, distressed at just how close his sharp talons were to piercing her flesh. Thankfully he was still feather-light, or his weight could have made simply grabbing her at that speed instantly fatal. He circled the house, fruitlessly looking for any opening that wasn't secured by a pit. Not a single one, he thought. They must have Apparated directly into the house. That's the only way for them to avoid their own defenses.

Seeing no better choice, he did something that he would later admit was tremendously stupid. He oriented himself towards the topmost window, likely an attic, which he saw was not charmed unbreakable; Luna abandoned her scolding for squeaks of sheer terror. Once they were close enough, he let her go, moved between her and the house, returned to human form, pulled the airborne squirrel to his chest, Finite'd himself, and crashed through the glass into the house.

Foolish, yes, but he also felt it was one of the most wicked stunts he had ever pulled while flying. If asked, Luna would vehemently disagree.

He bounced and rolled on the floor, shards of glass digging through the skin of his back and arms, but he eventually stopped. Knowing his passenger had been safe from their entrance, he opened his arms and was instantly covered by furious blonde.

"You idiotic, reckless, short-sighted, simple-minded prat!" she screamed, punctuating each insult with a smack to his chest. "You utter bastard! What part of that was careful?!" Her anger expended, she started to sob as she collapsed onto him. "Why would you consider doing something like that? We didn't come back in time and make a fresh start just so you could get yourself killed!"

Her tears were infinitely more painful to him than her swats, and he wrapped his arms tightly around her. "Merlin, Luna, I'm so, so sorry. I didn't even think before I did it."

"That's obvious."

Harry sat up stiffly, glass falling out and allowing his wounds to weep alongside his lover. He knew no words could make up for what he had done, so he offered none; instead, he let her cry herself out while he gently rocked back and forth. After several minutes, she looked up with her eyes red, and he laid soft kisses on her temple.

"That's not going to put you back in my good books any time soon, you know."

"I know." He continued his ministrations anyway; it would cheer her up slightly if nothing else. There was only one thing he hated more than his girls crying, and that was being the cause of it. He would rather rip out his own heart than do that.

She sighed and moved away from him. "Let me see where you've hurt yourself, then we can find that bloody key. When we're done with Gringotts, you owe me a ton of chocolate ice cream."

Harry strolled down the streets of Little Whinging, enjoying the cooler evening air. The past few weeks had been boring with both girls on vacation. He had whiled away most of his free time at the Manor, repairing the damaged rooms or piddling around the Treasure Chest; since elves were without peer when it came to working with houses, it was far more of the latter. He even broke out his long-neglected brewing skills to get back in practice for the next school year!

Still, he would give a great deal for something interesting to happen. It had been a long time since he was away from his loves for more than a week, and he was sorely missing them. Normally, Luna would do something silly that either put a smile on his face or forced him to help her quench the fires she started in the public fountain — which had happened more than once, to his consternation — or Hermione would go off on a research kick that inevitably drew the other two in. This was, of course, in addition to the danger just going outside into a war zone threw at them. All in all, he had been without peaceful alone time for so long that he wasn't entirely sure what to do with it.

He entered the local park and sat on a broken swing. The last few days had been filled with him pondering questions without answers, not an activity he took a great deal of pleasure in. How should he react to Sirius? What could he do to neutralize Dumbledore and Voldemort? Where would be the best places to hide Weasley's and Malfoy's bodies? Actually, the last one isn't too bad to think on.

In addition, he was only now coming to grips with how difficult the upcoming year would be for them. We never considered just how different we would appear once everyone's attention was on us. We don't act like teenagers, we don't cast spells like teenagers, and we're ten years too old to connect with our peers. Before we left Hogwarts two months ago, Seamus's attempt to pressure me was so weak as to be laughable, but it would have worked were we younger. Honestly, we're closer to the professors' level of maturity, but they would never treat students as friends.

Harry sighed as he continued ruminating, not noticing the purpling of the sky or the falling temperature. By the time he pulled himself back to the outside world, night had completely overtaken Surrey. He stood and worked out the stiffness in his legs, then began taking a long route back to the Dursleys'. The crossroad closest to him was one of the most common places for Dudley's gang to hang around, and he would prefer not having to deal with them right now.

After cutting through an alley, he realized that something was wrong. The stars had dimmed, as had the streetlamps, leaving him barely enough light to see his breath fogging in the sudden, biting cold. He looked down Magnolia Crescent just as two shapes, inhumanly tall and wrapped in ragged cloaks, dropped a third, obese figure onto the ground. A hoarse rattle turned the blood rushing through his heart to ice, and he reached into his pocket before the image of a wand lying on his desk came to mind.

"Bugger."

He turned and ran, not wasting time on berating himself for forgetting the Ministry's attempt on his life. He knew Fudge wanted him silenced by any means necessary, though he couldn't prove it, even in the past timeline; he knew Umbridge was such a fanatical Pureblood bigot that the thought of a half-blood with fame filled her with an incomprehensible rage, no matter that his name was currently being dragged through the mud; he knew Lucius Malfoy was likely just waiting for news of his demise to bring back to Voldemort; he knew in these dark times it was beyond foolish to leave his wand at the Dursleys'. None of that mattered at the moment.

What mattered was putting as much distance between himself and the soul-eating demons that followed as he could.

He knocked the front door of Number 4 off its hinges in his haste to get inside. The Dementors had inched closer and closer the entire way back, and he didn't have the time to worry about niceties like opening doors. All he wanted to do was grab the last of his possessions and get away from any location the Ministry could find. He hadn't thought of it in the past, but if they were willing to go so far as to have him Kissed, he was safest out of their sights.

"What the devil are you doing, boy!" Vernon roared.

Harry ducked under the fat arm that reached out to stop him and pounded up the stairs; from the corner of his eye he saw ice spreading on the windows. After entering the room and grabbing his wand, he magically packed everything into his trunk, slammed it shut, and shrank it. He ignored that the monitoring ward over the house was active again and had likely reported his infringement of the underage magic law to the Ministry. Let them come. If it didn't require sticking around, I'd like to see them try to explain away three soulless Muggles.

With his belongings in his pocket, his wand in his hand, and his mind no longer stuck in fight-or-flight mode, he jumped out his still-open window and shifted into a falcon just as Vernon's and Petunia's screams reached his ears.

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