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



20. Summer's End

Much to Molly's, Ron's, and Ginny's disgust, the rest of Grimmauld Place's occupants were enthusiastic and congratulatory about Harry and Hermione being together. Of course, they all showed their approval in different ways: Sirius shouted to them whenever he found a cozy, empty room that he thought would be excellent for a snogging session; Lupin smiled faintly and mumbled about James and Lily a few times when he caught them holding hands; and even Moody gave them a gruff congratulations before reminding them that anyone targeting them would now try to use their significant other's appearance to get close enough to deliver the fatal blow. The old Auror truly did not trust anyone, it seemed.

Tonks, though, was the most fun. She elected to prove that she was indeed Sirius's cousin by constantly teasing them and trying for a blush. Had they truly been fifteen and sixteen and dating for the first time, she likely would have gotten a kick out of it. Instead, she had to deal with two adults who had been lovers for almost seven years; they found it quite amusing to turn the tables whenever she gave particularly raunchy advice. The metamorph's poleaxed expression when Hermione first rejoined that she wasn't interested in a suggestion because Harry was too large for it to be comfortable was priceless.

Of course, not everything was wonderful. Molly showed her displeasure by assigning the couple more and more tasks with her two younger children, perhaps hoping that either Ron or Ginny could tempt the person of their affections to end the relationship, only for Harry and Hermione to refuse. This was a shock to the harridan, who had apparently never been told 'no' before that summer. Interspersed between the rejected chores were lectures that were ignored and possibly potions to make them more pliable, though the adults in teenagers' skins were unconcerned thanks to Hermione's neutralizing potions.

All good things must come to an end, however, and when the overbearing woman came in on the last day of vacation only to see them packing their trunks with clothes pulled from the same chest of drawers, Mount Molly erupted once more.

"…and you violated the trust we showed you! I expected more from you especially, Hermione, though I don't know why, considering you've started dressing like a shameless tart. Obviously you've spent too much time with Muggles if you think it's fine to be a scarlet woman. Why… Are you two even listening to a word I've said?!"

Hermione looked up from where she was rearranging her books for the third time in order to fit the last of her socks into the trunk. "Harry, have you any idea what is making that racket?"

It was a supreme act of will not to start laughing at the matriarch's face and his friend's faux-innocent smile. "Whatever do you mean, Mione?"

"I could swear I keep hearing this annoying screech, like seabirds fighting over some chips left on the shore."

"I wouldn't know. I've never been to the beach." Which was no longer true, considering that the trio had spent quite a bit of time visiting Bill and Fleur at Shell Cottage. Veela lived primarily on France's southern coast, so Fleur had been understandably horrified when he revealed that he had never seen the sea before seeking refuge with them. She insisted that he and the girls come visit whenever they wished, and then introduced them to numerous French customs, including… Oh, Merlin, please don't go there.

Hermione had apparently followed a similar train of thought, for she smirked wickedly and said, "Well, we'll just have to correct that. My parents were planning to visit France next summer, and being a teenage boy, you'll absolutely love Nice."

"Why is that?" he asked, mentally bracing for the explosion.

"It has a topless beach."

"Enough!" Molly shrieked. "I do not want to hear any more of these lies! There is no way adults would let children act so… so… disgusting, even if they are French."

Hermione rolled her eyes and faced the woman. "Mrs. Weasley, I've been to the French Riviera. You obviously haven't. Don't argue about things you don't know; it only makes you look like a bigger fool." She turned her back on Molly, whose face was reddening to a shade reminiscent of the late, unlamented Vernon Dursley. Knowing the harpy's temper, Harry kept a careful eye out; should he see even a splinter of a wand, he would curse her and damn the consequences.

Thankfully, Molly was capable of suppressing her desire to lash out this time, and his lover took a moment to slam the lid of her trunk down. "Well, that's every bit of space in here. Harry, do you mind if I throw my last few things in your trunk tomorrow?"

"You know I don't. We're just in time for lunch, too; Lady Hermione, may I have the honor?" He offered an elbow, and Hermione giggled before linking her arm in his.

They were halfway down the stairs when he whispered in her ear, "Mione, must you antagonize her so when we only have to bear her presence for another day?"

"Yes," she said simply, causing him to nearly miss the next step. "If I can't throw her down the stairs just yet, you can be sure that I will needle her every chance she gives me. Besides, I'm conducting an experiment."

"An experiment?" He stopped and turned to face her. "What kind of experiment?"

"Whether or not magic protects witches from anger-induced strokes."

He shook his head in irritation. "Hermione, if my mere presence didn't cause Vernon, a magic-hating Muggle, from having a stroke in the sixteen years I lived in that house, annoying Molly won't do it in a few weeks."

"Huh?" Harry and Hermione turned to see Ron staring at them in confusion. "What do you mean, you lived with the Muggles for sixteen years? You're only fifteen."

"Obliviate." With the ginger's eyes now glazed as he forgot the past minute, the pair continued down the stairs. "Don't waste any more of your time with her, please."

Hermione huffed in disappointment. "All right, I won't cause further problems this summer." She opened the door to the kitchen and stopped. "Professor McGonagall? What are you doing here?"

"I was just about to start looking for the two of you. Your Hogwarts letters," the Scottish witch said, pulling out said envelopes.

Hermione swiftly opened hers, forcing a gasp as she saw the contents. She pulled out a small scarlet and gold badge. "Prefect?"

"Of course," McGonagall laughed. "Who else could you see me choosing?"

"Oh, thank you so much, Professor. Harry and I will do you and Gryffindor House proud!"

McGonagall blinked in surprise. "Mr. Potter isn't a prefect, Ms. Granger."

"He's not?"

"I'm not?"

"Well, no," the woman answered lamely.

Puffing up in indignation, Hermione stared down their head of House. "And why not? Saving the Philosopher's Stone, killing a basilisk, competing against seventeen year olds and still becoming Triwizard Champion? To use your own words, Professor, who else could we see you choosing?"

"Hermione, it's not a big deal," he said, pulling her into a hug. "If I'm not prefect, I'm not prefect. That leaves me with more time to do other things this year."

"But it's the principle of the thing! There is no one else in the school who can claim to have done anything close to what you've accomplished, and yet she's going to ignore your status as a leader amongst the students? It's a travesty!"

"Ms. Granger," McGonagall offered tentatively, "I did want Mr. Potter as the boys' prefect. I was overruled by the Headmaster."

That did not cool the brunette's temper. "Except the Headmaster chooses the Head Boy and Girl, not the prefects. That is the job of the heads of Houses. Dumbledore can't overrule you unless you let him."

"That is quite enough. Headmaster Dumbledore is a very wise man; if he though it best Mr. Potter was not prefect, he must have his reasons."

Oh, he has his reasons, all right. Not that they're good ones, Harry thought furiously. Dumbledore knew his words carried a great deal of weight with the other students, which the man had to stop; can't let the sacrifice get ideas above his station, after all. "Very well. Since there is no other recourse…"

"At least Neville will make a good partner. This will certainly be a boost to his confidence."

McGonagall frowned as she handed the rest of the Weasleys their letters. "Mr. Longbottom isn't my other prefect, either."

"Of course not," the brunette muttered. "Dean is a decent choice, I suppose, though his reputation as a womanizer does cause me some understandable concern."

"Nor is it Mr. Thomas."

Hermione scowled. "You may or may not know this, but Seamus and I had some rather harsh words at the end of last term. I'm worried that us having to work together might cause some… unpleasantness."

"Mr. Finnigan is not my prefect, either. You are not normally this obtuse, Ms. Granger."

"Well, I can't see who else you could have possibly chosen!"

"Prefect?" Ron said, staring at his letter.

The intelligent girl whirled back to face the professor, eyes glinting with true righteous fury. Apparently, Harry being passed up for prefect had disturbed her more in the original timeline that she had let on. "You gave Ronald the position?"

"Yes," McGonagall stated hesitantly. "I'm surprised you didn't think I would."

Looking down at the badge with fake sorrow, Hermione laid it on the table. "I'm sorry, Professor, but I can't accept this. Even if I ignore that Harry was cheated out of the position, I have enough on my plate keeping him out of trouble. I just don't have the time to do my own assignments, complete the work of two prefects, and stop Ron from abusing his authority. You need to find someone else."

"I won't abuse anything!" Ron exploded.

"You will, and you know it. I refuse to be held liable for your immaturity."

McGonagall interrupted their growing argument. "Ms. Granger, please be reasonable. Who else could I choose for the girls' prefect?"

"You already chose Ronald for the boys'; I'm sure you can find someone equally undeserving as my replacement."

The professor just stared in shock, then shook her head. "I must say that I am disappointed in your attitude."

"I could say the same for yours."

Harry tugged his lover gently out of the room. "Are you sure that was the right choice, Mione? I remember how much you enjoyed being prefect."

"I stand by what I told McGonagall a minute ago. There is no way anyone without an ulterior motive could say you shouldn't be prefect. We'll just have to see which eventually wins out: her desire for me to have the position, her upcoming disgust with Ronald, or her subordination to Dumbledore."

Molly joined them a few moments later, an air of superiority surrounding her. "It's a shame you gave up being a prefect, Hermione. It's something to be proud of in our world."

"Better my pride suffers than my integrity," Hermione shot back.

Mentally sighing at the similarities between Ron and his mother, Harry intervened before the conflict could turn violent. "Is there something you needed, Mrs. Weasley?"

"Yes, dear," Molly replied. "Since you have to return to Hogwarts tomorrow, I thought it best that I go ahead and get everyone's school supplies at once. Would you run up to your room and get your key for me?"

I bet you're only asking because you can't find it on your own, he thought. Predicting that the harpy would try something like this, he had left his Gringotts key in the study of Potter Manor; with the Fidelius ward up, only he and those he told the Secret to, namely the elves and his girls, could go in and remove it, and only he could reveal its location. Rather than immediately answer, he opened the letter that was still in his hand and glanced over the enclosed list. Same as the last time we lived through this. Excellent. "Actually, you don't need you to buy anything for us."

"Of course I do. You didn't know what supplies you needed until today."

"Oh, we didn't know; it's just a lucky coincidence. We refilled our potion ingredients and replaced our old uniforms this summer. As for the books," he pointed out the two texts listed, "we knew we would need the fifth Goshawk book, and I picked up a number of Defense works while we were in Flourish and Blotts. Slinkhard was included in that."

"Wasn't that the book you looked through and said wasn't useful outside of a schoolyard brawl?" Hermione asked.

"That's the one. All three hundred pages can be boiled down to a single sentence: run to the nearest authority figure and tell them what happened. It's useless tripe." Which was why he hadn't actually bought it. They knew what the cover looked like, so a simple glamour would allow them to read real books in Umbridge's class. After raiding five manors, it wasn't like they had a dearth of material.

"Then I guess I won't worry about getting my own copy."

Molly's face was so red that Harry half-expected steam to whistle out her ears. "You two are only children. I'm sure you have forgotten something, and if you give me your key, I'll make sure you have it before school starts."

"Thanks, but no thanks, Mrs. Weasley." He and Hermione stepped through the open doorway into the kitchen, and he turned around to look back. "If we need something, we have the weekend to owl order it. Now, can you stop demanding my Gringotts key? If I didn't know better, I'd think you were planning to take money from my vault for your own purposes."

He carefully kept his face blank as Molly's own drastically paled. With all the non-Weasley witnesses who had just heard his declaration, there was no way she could continue her requests, not without inviting some serious suspicion. Sure, she would probably try to tear through his trunk once again, but with it being warded and containing nothing of value, not even his invisibility cloak, he didn't really care.

Let her waste her time. Without income stolen from my vault to augment Arthur's pittance of a salary, she'll become desperate. Desperate people make more mistakes, and if she makes one large enough, I might just set Mione on her, after all.

"For the last time, Sirius, no!"

Sirius looked at Harry pleadingly. "Come on, it'll be fine. I'll even be Padfoot; no one will recognize me."

"Really?" He looked askance at his godfather. "Tell me, Sirius, which Death Eater was it who helped Voldemort return to life?"

"You said it was Wormtail."

"Yes, I did. Who were the Marauders?"

"Me, Moony, your father, and Wormtail. I don't see where you're going with this," Sirius said.

"So, if Pettigrew knows about you being an Animagus, and is a Death Eater, why would you think that the rat hasn't spilled everything he knows to his master and new best mates?" Harry nodded as Sirius's face finally indicated comprehension. "There's still a Kiss-on-sight order out on you. All it would take is one 'Imperiused' Death Eater — Lucius Malfoy, for instance — hitting you with an Animagus-reversal spell, and you would be in shackles waiting for the worst snog of your life."

"Actually, I think Stephanie Edgecomb —"

"Padfoot, I don't need or want to hear about your sexual misadventures." There were things about his godfather's life that he simply was not meant to know. "The point is, it will be much safer for everyone if you stay here." Seeing that Sirius was gearing up to resume the argument, he continued, "I already lost you for twelve years because of your impulsivity; can we not make that a permanent arrangement, please?"

Sirius grimaced at that; Harry knew it was a low blow, but it was a point that had to be made. An upset Padfoot was infinitely preferable to a dead Padfoot. "Fine. James would have —" Sirius snapped his mouth closed, but not soon enough.

"What was that? My father would have let you do something as stupid as come along to one of the year's largest concentrations of magicals, and therefore Aurors, with you being a wanted prison escapee?" Harry asked softly, his temper rising. Across the hallway, Hermione winced; she and Luna both had told him at times that they almost missed how he used to shout in anger. Like a serpent, his tongue had become more venomous as he aged. "If I might remind you, Hogwarts in the seventies did not boast Dementors, basilisks, or deranged Dark Lords as part of its normal dangers. I, unlike my father, encounter quite enough trouble without being reckless for the sheer fun of it."

"I've said it before, but you are so much like Lily it's scary. She had a way of cutting you down until you felt like you were all of three inches tall, too."

"If you still feel three inches tall, I obviously wasn't trying hard enough. I was aiming for less than one." Harry grinned at the man-child, letting Sirius know that he wasn't too angry. In the two weeks they had spent together, this was the first time Sirius had commented negatively on his actions based on what his father would have done. Regardless of what Molly implied, the Animagus clearly knew he was not James. "Besides, you know that I would love it if you could come see me off the platform, but it's just not safe."

"Yeah, I know. Doesn't mean I have to like it."

"And I'm not asking you to. Merlin's beard, I certainly don't."

Sirius nodded, then pulled him into a tight hug. "I'm going to miss you. You had better be back here for Christmas, understand?" At his nod, Sirius released him, then gestured to Hermione. When in range, she too was pulled into an embrace. Listening closely, Harry could just barely make out the words whispered between them.

"It's silly to ask this, but take care of him for me. I couldn't love him any more if he was my own."

"I always do, and I always will. He won't say it, but you should know he feels the same for you."

Clearing his throat roughly, he turned to Tonks, who was standing nearby. "Any chance we could leave now? There's no need for Mione and I to wait for the Weasleys. I think they'll be a while longer," he added as a loud bang sounded overhead.

The metamorph quickly wiped a tear from one eye; obviously, she had also heard the pair. "I don't see any reason why not. Sirius, let the girl go before her boyfriend gets jealous."

Another round of goodbyes delayed them, but soon Harry and Hermione were on their way, accompanied by Tonks, now disguised as an old woman, and Moody. The twenty minute walk was silent, each person either occupied by their own thoughts or watching the gamboling squirrels with undue suspicion. Finally arriving at King's Cross, the quartet took advantage of the bustling crowd to slip through the barrier separating Platform Nine and Three-Quarters from the rest of the station unnoticed.

"It was great to meet you," Tonks said as she hugged Harry and Hermione. "We'll see each other again soon, I expect."

"Soon? Is the Order providing security during Hogsmeade visits, perchance?"

Tonks snickered at Hermione's question and waggled her finger. "Ah, ah, ah. Can't be telling you something like that. You'll just have to wait and see. C'mon, Mad-Eye; we better make sure the rest of the troop haven't gotten lost or kidnapped." She ignored the scarred Auror's paranoid ramblings as they departed.

Starting at the back car, the pair quickly found a compartment that was occupied solely by a svelte blonde girl reading a magazine. They slipped inside and stowed their luggage before sealing and silencing the door. Sitting, Harry immediately noticed a small wooden crate filled with straw on the seat next to Luna. Something about it, though, made him unwilling to ask what it contained. "So, how was your trip to Siberia?"

"Cold." Luna looked up from her Quibbler, the corners of her mouth twitching slightly. "But very… interesting. And expensive; you wouldn't believe how much onions cost over there. How was London?"

"It would have been better if someone wasn't so reasonable," Hermione huffed.

"Because torturing Molly in the middle of dinner would be easy to explain." Harry shook his head with a sigh; perhaps, now that she and the Weasley matriarch would be in different countries, the brunette could finally calm down. Her persistent rage, so out of character for her, worried him. "Other than holding Mione back and revealing our relationship, it was uneventful."

The trio were silent, then he sighed once again. "Okay, I need to ask. What's in the box?"

Luna smiled, then removed the lid. At first glance, Harry thought she had brought a rabbit, but he had never seen one that pastel shade of blue before. Closer examination revealed that it had short, curled horns much like a ram; it also lacked legs, making it little more than an enormous ball of fluff. "What in Merlin's name is that?"

"I thought that was obvious," the blonde replied, cuddling the animal into her chest. "You told me before we left the school that if Daddy and I found a Crumple-Horned Snorkack, you'd let me keep one as a pet."

"That's a Snorkack? You and Xeno were right?" Hermione asked breathlessly.

Luna smirked while lowering the creature to the floor. Once there, it rocked back and forth for a bit before squirming forward much like a slug would. He now understood its strange appearance; the wide belly it moved along on would act like a sled, keeping it on top of deep snow. "We almost didn't find them. It turns out that the reason they're so elusive is that they produce a weak Notice-Me-Not-like effect. When we saw that the onions we set out were disappearing, Daddy put a supersensory charm on us both. Clyde's wearing a collar that negates his personal field, which is how you can see him."


"Oh, yes, that's his nickname," she answered to his deepening confusion. "His real name is Vociferous Limax Oglethorpe the Third, but that's too long for daily use, so everyone just calls him Clyde."

"Third?" It had been a long time since Luna shocked him into one-word questions, but she had certainly achieved it now.

"Well, I've already had pets named Vociferous Limax Oglethorpe the First and Second, so Third would be next in the sequence."

This brought Hermione out of her shock. "I'm sorry, but did you say everyone calls him Clyde?"

"Well, it's really just everyone who's met him, so me, and Daddy, and our translator, and the people standing around the Portkey Terminal in Tobolsk, including one very surly group of vampires who didn't like that I wouldn't let them try his blood, and the hit wizards providing security for the platform, and now you two."

"That's… quite a number of people."

"It is, isn't it?"

Harry shook his head; something about this absurd situation was niggling his memories. A sudden snap of his fingers caught the girls' attention. "Five years."

They both blinked in his direction. "What?"

"Five years," he repeated, looking at Hermione. "That was the bet, that Luna couldn't find a Snorkack within five years. It's only been three."

Luna's eyes brightened in glee. "I had forgotten about that. Standard forfeit, Mione."

The brunette covered her face and groaned. The girls' normal prize for their wagers was that the other had to dress in a kinky outfit for seven nights, not necessarily consecutively. He often served as the unofficial bookie, but he didn't mind in the least; no matter who lost the bet, he won. "Fine. What do I have to wear?"

"Hmm… I was always partial to the sexy schoolgirl. Unless you have any ideas, Harry?"

"Why, I just might." Drawing his wand, he projected on the floor a half-scale illusion of Hermione that he had been saving for a rainy day. "Does this meet with your approval?"

Luna stared at the moving figure. Wearing a veil above loose, sheer leggings with a top and belt covered in golden discs, the fake Hermione undulated her hips and abdomen rhythmically. The real Hermione took one look and slapped her hands over her face again in embarrassment; the belly dancer outfit really did not leave much to the imagination.

Only after the show was over did the blonde look back up. "Luna like. Hermione…"

"Fine, fine. Just as long as it's after your birthday." The young woman huffed and glared at him. "I will get you back for this humiliation."

Harry shrugged blithely. As far as he was concerned, whatever revenge she cooked up would be totally worth it.

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