Partially Kissed Hero

Summer before third year Harry has a life changing experience, and a close encounter with a dementor ends with him absorbing the horcrux within him. Features Harry with a backbone.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/4240771/1/Partially-Kissed-Hero

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80. Chapter Eighty

I I I

The newest sensation of London was not a new show or fashion line, but the recent revelation that fairies did exist in their world. Of course, substantial portions of the populace were still ill-inclined to believe it, most counting on some sort of promotional or scam.

There were a lot of hoaxes in the muggle world, and that sort of thing promotes disbelief. Lies generate cynicism, it's just that way. And standard muggles were surrounded by lies, from cheats and shysters, politicians and advertising. On any standard day, muggle governments had more to do to cover up their actions and convince their constituents not to see what was going on than the magical world did to hide from the mundane one.

It was the muggle William S Burroughs who said, "A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what's going on."

But while the muggle governments were playing out that scene from the Wizard of Oz where the man controlling the puppet on the throne who gets found out by Dorothy's dog yells through the speakers to "ignore that man behind the curtain," some fools were trusting enough to believe them, and some were not.

Ironically, that general climate of disbelief these lies generated was of more use protecting the magical world's Statue of Secrecy than their Obliviator squads. Most muggles didn't believe anything, not even each other, certainly not anything so outrageous as this!

However, for most of them that changed when they saw pixies begin flying down the streets of muggle London and clouds of fairies appear in Hyde Park.

Seeing that sort of thing with your own eyes has a fair amount of convincing power, knowing that it wasn't the result of photoshop or some backroom special effects lab costing thousands of dollars a second.

Since the crescendo of public and media attention over the appearance of a genuine fairy princess in downtown muggle London was still building (the visit of Hermione having concluded only hours ago) news crews and TV stations simply changed emphasis and sent out a few more field teams.

Doctors and scientists would be crawling all over the original contact site for ages much like archeologists over a tremendous new find, but the crowds and news crews got out of there as soon as a new source of excitement got mentioned.

And what an event this turned out to be!

This time there were cameras trained all over before the first hint (beyond the appearance of large flights of pixies and fairies, which was quite a hint in itself, come to think of it) of anything out of the ordinary happening.

A hole opening up in the ground would normally have drawn no more attention than a call to the groundskeepers to bring a few shovels and some dirt to fill it back in again. This time, however, it became the focus of some intense and furious scrutiny. Those news anchors and camera crews who remained focused on other things quickly repented of those actions and changed their minds about what was important when a white rabbit came out of that hole.

A white rabbit standing on two feet, wearing glasses and a crimson waistcoat and with a watch on a chain stuffed in one pocket.

All of a sudden this was sensational worldwide news. All of the networks suddenly patched in the feed so they could broadcast it.

After calmly checking his watch, and discovering he was on time, the White Rabbit hopped in a most dignified manner across acres of gardens, people mindful of the witnessed results of proximity to the last fairy parting to give him a wide berth as he passed, up to the gates of Kensington Palace, whereupon the normal-sized yet smartly-dressed bunny produced a scroll.

Drawing himself up to his full twenty inches in height (not including four more from his ears) the White Rabbit delivered the ribbon-wrapped scroll sealed with a wax stamp into the hands of a nervous guard (who had to nearly kneel to receive it) and proclaimed in a loud voice. "You will inform Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II of England, that her Majesty Queen Alice of Wonderland will be visiting tomorrow for breakfast, and to see to all necessary preparations. You may prepare to receive her at any site you wish, however it is advised to meet at the heart of a park or garden rather than risk harm to your residences via the natural consequences of the presence of a fairy of considerable power."

A gust of wind blew the hat off a man's head, and the rabbit promptly jumped into it and vanished, his job completed.

I I I

It was a humbled crowd who gathered in the clearing of the fairy shrine. But despite that Harry set aside his own feelings to go about quickly preparing a recently created body of Dumbledore to receive the fraction of his spirit captured in that horn horcrux (preparations such as dosing it with Draught of the Living Death, paralyzing it from the neck down by cutting the spinal cord in just the right place [you got some pretty gruesome skills from inheriting the memories of someone who'd closely studied zombie creation], blinding and deafening it, then wiring the jaw shut and encasing the limbs in lead just in case Dumbles could overcome those first two impediments). However, the girls felt a need to talk.

If nothing else it served as a welcome and needed distraction from the gruesome things Harry was doing (yet that all agreed were needful).

"Harry, didn't Snape not learn potions this time around? If so, why would the Headmaster send him for veritaserum?" Hannah inquired. It had been bugging her. On the one hand, she had the memories of him being the most rotten Potions teacher ever, and on the other the most rotten substitute for all of their classes. Frankly, his teaching skills stunk in either lifetime, but in one she could distinctly recall his brewing skills being praised - and this lifetime wasn't it.

Hermione answered for him. "In either timeline he's still Dumble's pet dark wizard and purveyor of illegal wares. In this one the Headmaster might have Narcissa to brew stuff, but she's not ever been as trusted as Snape."

Susan sighed tiredly. "Veritaserum is illegal to use in just about any capacity. Too many years of dark wizards who didn't want to get caught by it getting jobs in the government, then making laws against this or that application of it to protect themselves so they didn't have to give up their secrets. It's also mildly illegal to brew or to own, but the fines are not nearly as bad as for using it."

"It goes back to information control." Minerva approached to add, pulling off her mask. "Narcissa, like most of the staff of Hogwarts, has never been among those rarefied heights of Dumbledore's servants trusted enough to be allowed to know what the Headmaster actually uses her services for, and in fact is encouraged to think the illegal potions she brews go to the Ministry. Snape has been the middle man, acting as go between to handle the illegal wares on their way to use in illegal crimes."

"Oh." They all sighed, even Minerva.

Completing his task, Harry looked up and saw the defeat in everyone's eyes. In truth, he'd almost forgotten that they'd only just lost a battle. Right after burning away the latest incarnation of the Headmaster, he'd immediately led his girls downstairs to the Headmaster's secret lab. That was still there, and the place had still been horrendously damaged by Fawkes, although in addition to the giant cauldron used by the Headmaster to raise people there had been a much more simplified crystal coffin to be used by Snape, who now was no longer a potions master and so couldn't do it his former way.

The place had been smashed, but the way in mostly restored by Moody. It had been no great difficulty for someone of Voldemort's skill to complete repairs on the rest and gain access to that now-no-longer-warded ritual chamber.

Wards were funky like that. You destroy the thing they protect and they go away too. Then they had to be added all over again if the thing got repaired. So virtually all ward schemes involved preventing the destruction of the thing they guarded, just to stop the wards themselves from going away. However, "irate phoenix" was not a clause covered by those policies, so to speak.

So most of the contents of that chamber had been destroyed, the materials consumed and the crystal coffin smashed. But they did recover three boxes that they trusted held objects of value. It was an easy guess, judging by how impenetrably they were warded, but they also knew because Snape knew, and Harry had been routinely reading his memories this year. Of course, those boxes were stuck to shelves - but those shelves were no longer stuck to walls, so it was a fairly simple matter to carry the boxes away still clinging to fragments of shelf, so they could be examined later and the protections cracked open at their leisure.

One of those held a second horcrux of the Headmaster's. That would be the hardest one to break open, Harry felt sure. The one holding Snape's horcrux would be easy. Harry had long ago plucked the password for opening it out of the creep's unprotected mind (well, unprotected to anyone who knew the secrets of the Dark Mark anyway).

And, according to Snape's memories which he'd read regarding that chamber, the last held a genuine philosopher's stone. If so, and if they could break the protected boxes open to get at what was inside, that could be a powerful force for funding their towns and getting the most value out of their efforts in this war, as a well funded army had options a cash-strapped one didn't.

What Harry was most interested in, however, was Dumble's horcrux, because if they could get to that and destroy it that would be three fragments of the rotten bastard's soul out of action, out of thirteen. One was the original bit of spirit he'd left animating his body, a fragment caught when their basilisk had petrified said body, and that Harry had later fed to a dementor, leaving the body to be used by one of their allied spirits. Second was the horcrux they were destroying now, one that Moody had used as the animating force in a simulacrum that had attacked and captured them, only to be destroyed by an old trap of Harry's as he sought to interrogate them.

That fragment, while not strictly destroyed, ought to be out of commission for a while and, better yet, according to Luna's plan could be adding bad luck to all of the other Dumbledores out there. Also, that one could be destroyed at their pleasure, and would be as soon as the tactic was sound.

The horcrux from Dumbledore's secret ritual chamber under Hogwarts put a third soul fragment under their power, and as soon as they could crack the protections on its box open, they'd destroy that one too.

Maybe just letting a dementor play with the box would help.

Anyway, back in the castle they'd quickly made use of those hidden facilities, what was left of them anyway, to do exactly what they'd been intended to do and created another sixty year old flesh and bone body for Dumbledore out of his own stockpiles of materials there. Then they got out, stealing some things (like a box with a certain wand in it) and destroying what hadn't been gotten by the original catastrophe behind them.

As they'd been leaving Susan had remarked how oddly clean that area of the dungeon was, as if scrubbed deep down into every crack and crevice, but they hadn't stopped to ponder why.

Little did they know that in another part of that dungeon at the same time, a small party of Slytherins on their way to their common room were being attacked by a giant bundimun. Vincent Crabb and Gregory Goyle got devoured before the surprise wore off and the rest fled, screaming.

Back on the grass of the fairy shrine Harry completed his work and cast the needed spell to pull Dumbledore's soul fragment out of the Horn of Roland horcrux and transfer it to the now living (but extremely debilitated) body lying on the green sward, before injecting the comatose near-corpse with an extreme and near lethal dose of malaclaw venom.

That dealt with, he sensed it was now time for him to handle the other emergencies, like the crushed morale of his troops.

They had every reason to feel defeated. They'd been out-thought, outflanked and out-fought in that battle. Just as Harry had been able to exercise some control of the Dark Marks when Tom had been their master, Voldemort still had some power over them in reverse; even after Harry had stolen the oaths (under guise of the Death Eaters 'renewing' them to him upon his 'return') and reformed those marks into tattoos of Olivia Newton John's smiling face out of the movie Grease (hey, a skull was designed for one thing - as a place for hanging flesh) bright eyed and bushy haired, a disco ball spinning at the base of her throat, the whole surrounded by an oriental dragon curled in a ring around like a portrait frame.

Tom no longer owned the house, so to speak, but he still had keys to the door. So, just as Harry had being doing to Snape and Bellatrix, Tom was able to break in and make use of some of the facilities on those Marked.

That wasn't a terribly good thing, as incorporated into the magic of those Dark Marks was an assortment of hidden traps and features, including many for punishing disobedience, and Voldemort still had access to those. He had activated one of them during the battle and nearly five hundred Disco Eaters had gone down, clutching their arms and screaming in agony. The only ones that hadn't had been Bella and the one or two others chosen out as dryads, because those no longer had any marks. The dryad conversion stripped them out.

The timing of Tom setting off the disobedience feature of those marks had been particularly bad for Harry's side, as just seconds after five-sixths of his force had gone down screaming three thousand werewolves had attacked; a well-regimented force obviously used to field maneuvers, and outnumbering Harry's force by five to one.

What followed hadn't even been a contest.

Now Harry was stuck wondering what to do with his dryads. They had built up such expectations of being able to fight during this war, only to have those crushed in the first engagement. Their training and their hopes rendered all but useless by the superior forces and deployment of the enemy.

Harry watched them pulling their masks off. They'd gone in disguise, not so much out of fear of Albus, but not wanting to be identified by the very bad people who were the former Death Eaters. For simplicity's sake, while the Disco Eaters wore their own costumes essentially unchanged, the dryads had gone with simply reversing the color scheme of the sequined costumes the Disco Eaters had been wearing - white robes with black masks, studded with black sequins. Only where the DEs wore masks patterned after the famous and ancient theater symbol for Tragedy, dryads wore the one for Comedy.

Only no one was laughing now as they reversed those hasty transfigurations that had gotten them those disguises in the first place.

The black garbed Disco Eaters down, it had been one hundred dryads in white against three thousand werewolves, thirty to one instead of the original five to one odds. At those odds it almost didn't matter their relative levels of training, so it came as no surprise some had flashed out early.

Some had held out a little longer, but Dumbledore's simulacrum had led the attack, and with his spirit inside the horcrux that served as the heart of stone that made a simulacrum work, it had fought just as well as he would.

And the Headmaster turned out to be a NASTY duelist, even worse than expected. That had probably been the most depressing part of the fight, those who stayed behind to fight getting tossed around by the Headmaster much like a two year old flings about rag dolls during a tantrum.

Then Harry and the other 'leaders', easily picked out by having worn gold costumes and blank masks, had been captured and taken in for interrogation, being unmasked once securely bound in Dumbledore's office. Nobody knew what was happening to the Disco Eaters. Presumably Tom Riddle was doing something to them. But if they were under guard by those werewolves, there was very little Harry and Co. could do about it.

Susan groaned, rubbing her eyes. "You know, this would have gone so much better if all of the dryads had remembered and done what Harry has been teaching us by example all along - that armor is daily wear. Each and every one of them has a set of silver armor and weapons integrated with her just like her unicorn nature, that she could call on at need! If they'd remembered to do that at the outset that alone might've turned the tide! Then, instead of running, it would've been the enemy caught by an unpleasant surprise! In wolf form they can only attack you with their teeth and claws, and both of those require touching you! So if you are plated in silver then werewolves would get hurt worse than you are by their attacks! We might've been outnumbered, but thirty straw men attacking one blazing torch is not a situation that favors the straw!"

"Most people who prepare for something aren't truly prepared when they think they are." Susan sighed. "Mom has that problem with auror trainees all of the time. It takes a few brushes with the real thing before they get the point their instructors had been trying to pass on all along, and actually use all of the measures and methods they'd been supplied with from the start."

"Danger is always something happening to someone else," Hannah agreed. Her parents had been dragged in by ties of friendship, and worked with the Bones family on magical law enforcement in Cuba. "No matter how many times you tell them, they never take it seriously until it happens to them."

"People are weird like that," both girls agreed.

"Unfortunately," Sybil's face was hollow with dread, cutting off any excited statements about how now they knew they needed to use the armor they'd had all along, the dryads could now return to stomp those nasty weres. "The follow-up by his giant acromantulas would have been sufficient. Dumbledore alone could have defeated the majority of us."

The Star Queen had fallen in battle against the old wizard, killed by a spell he got another thirty people with - not even presenting a real challenge to him. After so many years of preparing to fight him, it had been a most unwelcome experience, not to mention an unpleasant one, to come face to face with the Headbastard's astonishing amount of sheer power and ruthlessness.

Oddly, it made her think rather strongly of comparisons to the intro fight scenes to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, where Sauron cast about human soldiers a dozen to a swing. Dumbledore had been flinging dozens of people hundreds of yards with each stroke of his wand, curses smashing apart lines with ease: a completely unstoppable engine of destruction, only this one came without any convenient weak points like a 'remove to destroy me' ring.

Albus alone would've been enough to turn the tide despite their armor, even if they'd thought to use it (which, this defeat would certainly remind them to do from now on. Sometimes a slap like this was exactly the thing to teach you never to neglect your basic precautions again, and armor was one).

McGonagall wiped her eyes of tears, accepting defeat as graciously as she knew how. "Well, by now it should be obvious - none of us are defeating Dumbledore in a face to face battle. None of us alone, nor all of us together, were enough for that. And, sadly, it must become inevitable at some point that circumstances will force us to try again. It will be a case like this one, where we either face him at our best on circumstances of our choosing, or wait until he is even more unstoppable. Sadly, we've just proven that even under the best of conditions we'll still lose."

Luna raised her gaze in not-quite defiance. "There is one person who could defeat him - The Boy Who Lived."

"We've already got Harry..." Susan objected, knowing he hadn't been enough.

"I don't MEAN Harry Potter!" Luna insisted, shaking her head. "I mean the completely fictional Boy-Who-Lived, the made-up children's story character who defeated dragons at the age of three, and has destroyed more evil witches and wizards, creatures and, yes, Dark Lords than even Lockhart ever claimed to!"

"But..." Hermione sputtered. "That person doesn't exist!"

"Too bad," Hannah muttered. True, she wouldn't trade Harry for anything, but the character out of those books would be awfully useful just now.

By way of agreeing with her friend, Susan voiced her thoughts explaining why. "More than a dozen Boy Who Lived books got published each year from the time he vanquished Used-Goat-Pooh (the way baby Harry always referred to You-Know-Who in those tales) until the time the real Harry came to Hogwarts - and the disappointment on seeing the real boy was incredible for those of us who'd grown up on those tales. The reason why is that the Boy-Who-Lived from those books had a phenomenal ability to get along with people and pick up anything he got taught. He'd survived more dire circumstances than any dozen muggle action movies (a quiet source for material for some of the children's book authors, some of whom knew muggleborns), and was the idealized prince of everything the magical world values. The real Harry was, sorry to say, for most a bitter disappointment by comparison."

Hermione blushed from her collar up to her hair, glancing aside at Harry, she confided to the other girls, "I HAVE read them, you know."

"Then you know why we need such a person," Luna continued. "The boy from those books excels at everything he puts his mind to and has an intuitive understanding of magic, and often produces oddball skills he needs to defeat his enemies. The main character of the Boy Who Lived stories possesses natural talents comparable to the training of wizards many times his age, including rare abilities like powerful wandless magic (it's been hinted several times he is an animagus, although they've hinted at many different forms to keep people guessing) and lost gifts, as well as amazing luck and nearly infallible instincts for facing and defeating magical threats," Luna argued. "Such a person might be the ONLY person a man like Dumbledore could fear."

"But he doesn't exist!" Hermione repeated.

"Ah! THAT could be fixed!" Queen Alice appeared behind her granddaughter, appearing delighted as she laid her hands comfortingly on her descendant's shoulders. "Don't you forget: We Are Fairy. Belief is a powerful force to us, and tens of thousands of magical children worldwide believe in those stories. They've never met the real boy. They simply believe what those books have told them. The power of belief is strong magic, especially for fairies and children - and right now Harry is both. We can use that, if we act quickly."

Several eyes bulged. Luna because her grandmother NEVER spoke like that! It must be a sobering case indeed for her to forgo her usual jokes and riddles.

"You can do that?" Susan asked breathlessly.

"Only once," the seven year old Queen of Wonderland replied soberly.

"What specifically would it involve?" Hermione asked cautiously.

The blonde queen drilled her with a sober eye. "Think of it like a photograph. Under the right circumstances, certain materials that are sensitive to light can be exposed to it long enough to get an impression. That impression is then fixed in place by chemicals. Now compare. Under the right conditions fairies can also be tremendously mutable. Change is in our nature, you've always known that even before you became one of us. And belief is one of those forces that can shape and influence us. I was once a freckle faced brunette, but so many stories have put me as a blue eyed blonde that is now what I am. That's one of the greatest dangers of being a fairy, actually. The energy of belief can be like sunlight on the Sahara - it is too intense to be merely endured, you must be protected somehow to survive."

The blonde queen sat demurely, as a little girl at lessons, her head bowed and hands calmly folded in her lap before her. "A long, long time ago when fairy were plentiful and ran wild it was expected of you new ones that you would learn how to defend yourselves. Back so long ago stories passed only by world of mouth, so the energy of mortal belief never got concentrated or so bad, yet still understanding how to limit and control how others' beliefs shape you was one of the longest standing and hardest trials you'd ever have to go through. Fail and you'd become one of those minor fey who have no control over themselves, their bodies, their limits or their powers, and gradually you'd fade away. Wonderland is filled with creatures that has partially happened to. It's one reason why the land is so mutable. You could consider it the Land of Half Melted Fairies, and the force that melts us is mortal belief. Should you somehow succeed perfectly in overcoming the influence of belief upon you you would become one of those rare pillars of strength that can shape entire kingdoms, instead of being shaped by them."

The queen closed her eyes and sighed. "The Greeks understood this weakness, and it was what enabled them to virtually destroy us. But the modern glut of printing presses and telecommunications has highly focused mortal belief. They all get told the same stories, more or less, and a hundred thousand people can be hearing the same tale at the same time. The energy of that is enormous, and only the Fairy Queen can handle it without some sort of assistance. She, in turn, shelters the rest of us, and we also provide ourselves little places away from the brunt of it where we can hide. Those of us who have been mortal have a strong advantage, but we still have to hide."

She raised her eyes to look at the rest of them. "Most relationships in nature are reciprocal: what affects one affects another; fortunes of the herds of prey affects their predators, and the fortunes of the predator affect their prey, and so on. Fairy are, in most ways, personifications of nature. Nymphs are an ideal of female beauty given form, and unchanging in ways that the original they are based on is not. Most minor fey are an ideal of a certain personality: mischief or vanity, and so on. You have seen how powerfully one of us can change the world around her. But that goes both ways, lacking certain protections that are now innate, and without which we could not survive, the outside world affects us just as strongly."

Her audience was still, uttering not a single word.

Queen Alice nodded. "Back to the main point, if you take a photograph of something that is not clear, or out of focus, the photo is going to be unclear as well. One of the reasons for the Lovegoods publishing so many of our tales is that they set standards, clarifying what people believe us to be and making it easier to stay that way - using the energy of belief to keep us the way we are instead of change us, a case of 'go with the flow' being easier and more acceptable than fighting the current. However, the Boy Who Lived books have already established a strong trend for Harry to follow, should he be exposed to the brunt of it."

"And what, exactly, would that do to him?" the bushy haired girl pressed.

"Very simply, done properly it would amplify those traits he already has," Alice answered, scaring her granddaughter with how direct she was being. "Harry already has good talents and insights, a touch of wandless magic and a handful of rare abilities. Frankly, his miraculous escapes from danger and last minute rescues already lean toward his legend established in those books. This would merely magnify that to match his fictional double. Having already lived one double life, the strain ought not to be too hard on him."

All eyes turned to Harry.

He shrugged, a little unhappily. "McGonagall is right. At this moment we will be unable to defeat Dumbledore if ever we get backed into a corner and have to face him in combat again - which WILL happen sooner or later. Frankly I'd rather have a chance to beat him than no chance at all, and we can only increase our abilities so fast in normal ways. What frightens me is that he is probably improving faster than we are, considering all of his information sources. Vulturewart's memories can't do it alone. We saw what happened to the original. So we need something else, and this might just be it."

I I I

Author's Notes:

Second to last of all of the major changes plotted to Harry, and the last is not to be for some while yet. But I wanted to see, "Okay, those books wizards have about Harry painted him a certain way. Now that Voldemort's skills and powers would be of little use to him in defeating this foe, just what would Dumbledore be like up against the very legend he'd helped to create?"

 
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