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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81. Chapter Eighty-One

I I I

The Boy-Who-Lived phenomena had nothing like it in the magical world.

When Dumbledore defeated his friend and rival Grindelwald he had been fully capable of shaping his legend into what he thought it should be. But when boy Harry had defeated his dark lord, the only living witness was himself and he was in no position to guide his newfound reputation. Nor was anyone else properly informed and able to do so. Oh, the Dark Ravenclaw had analyzed the magical traces exhaustively, but he'd kept what he'd learned to himself.

Thus the gratitude of a magical nation had nothing to shape it other than a few brief hints or suggestions. So it grew more or less uncontrolled.

The very first Boy-Who-Lived books written about that famous night when the Dark Slytherin fell (there were four of them, printed at roughly the same time) were incomplete guesswork and disagreed with each other, yet had been such colossal hits the publishing industry couldn't print enough of them. They had been rereleased and revised many times since then, but the real breakthrough for the fictional character that grew out of these brief hints was when one author published a speculation piece about what she thought life must be like for the boy hero since that famous evening.

No magical book had ever been a greater sensation.

Naturally publishers like money. Authors too. So when they made so much on a single printing, well, there had to be follow-on sequels! And there was no one to tell them not to. Thus was born, on the practical side anyway, the Boy-Who-Lived industry, using his name to make fiction books sell well.

The weird thing was: those magical authors were actually trying to get it right. They couldn't imagine anyone mistreating their boy savior, so they put nothing like that in their books. No, they loved him and were trying to do right by him, picturing to the best of their ability what they felt ought to happen.

When someone does a great thing that helps you it is natural to like them for it. Also, it is natural to see the best about people you like. Lacking any real information on the boy, everybody imagined the child had every good quality. But, of course, this was Britain, largely educated at Hogwarts, so they had some very distinct ideas about what 'good qualities' meant, divided up along House lines. But the most interesting thing there was that every author who could get in wanted in on the publishing gold mine that was Boy-Who-Lived books, so authors from all four Hogwarts Houses were represented, thus the boy himself was written as having every quality all four houses felt desirable.

But that is getting ahead of ourselves.

Things started out simply enough. A boy that age had to have a home and guardians, and you couldn't write a story about a child without including them. Not having any actual information on his circumstances, other than Dumbledore's word that he was safe and happy, a loving couple was created out of whole cloth to serve him. This made-up family were given every reason to love and cherish the Boy-Who-Lived; the author to set the scene decided to make them school chums to his parents (and perfectly loyal, unlike that despicable traitor Black), having lost their own families in the war, and unlike certain other parties, completely devoted to his well-being and care.

Without even thinking about it Harry was pictured as having every virtue, so there was no need for those guardians to discipline him. And it was little flaws like that that steadily started to build up a distorted picture.

The author of that first book of speculation on the Boy-Who-Lived's life painted a pleasant enough domestic picture, and it could have been left there without being too terribly wrong; however the follow-on authors never knew when to quit. The public was anxious to hear more news about Harry, and publishers wanted to make money catering to that nonstop demand. The real kicker, however, came from the fact that nobody had any news of the reality of his situation, so no mechanism for pulling things back when they got too far out of line. Lack of cooperation was another factor. About a dozen magical authors and no less than three publishers worked on this full time, and never really saw the need to collaborate to make sure their stories matched each other. Actually, that would have cut into profits if it had, as that would have meant less variety and so fewer books overall to be sold.

Of course, none of this came without occasional tweaks by the Headmaster, who saw advantage could be had by manipulating this legend. Only the most immediate of these was inflating the value of the Potter proxy he held. But a surprising amount of this was genuine love expressed on the people's part.

The authors, like everyone else in the magical world, loved the Boy-Who-Lived. He had personally saved them from the reign of a man who would've given them a Hell on Earth. Many had lost family, most had lost friends, and their gratitude toward the boy who brought it all to an end was immense.

Those people couldn't meet him to thank him personally, and gifts were being returned, so the only option they had to show their thanks was to give him gifts by proxy - and that's what those stories were, expressions of thanks and gratitude they couldn't give to the real boy, that they instead gave him in stories. They wanted everything good for their savior, and so they wrote him having it. This became a balm for the entire wizarding world, families reading of Harry already having all of the things they'd love to give him, and being a perfect angel about accepting and being properly grateful for all of it.

Still, as innocently as it all started, that didn't prevent the legend from getting extreme. Of course it was inevitable that at some point there would be a Boy-Who-Lived adventure story, where this precocious and intelligent child was out with friends only to be attacked by something. After all, one of the very few traits known of him was his defeat of a powerful dark wizard. It was simply a matter of time before the fact-strapped authors capitalized on that known aspect of their hero to incorporate it into their made up tales.

The first such example occurred not three months after Harry vanished, and had the Boy-Who-Lived attacked by a feral werewolf. And, well, you know what had to happen there! The Boy-Who-Lived defeated a dark lord! What use was a puny old werewolf? The story as written had Harry in a group that had been out having a picnic, and of course the Boy-Who-Lived couldn't be served on anything less than silver. So the eighteen-month-old Harry had wandlessly banished his butter knife through the chest of their attacker, saving them all (but especially little Sally, who was so grateful, as the wolf had been about to attack her first and she'd been scawwed).

Not to be outdone, other authors had quickly jumped on the bandwagon of this instant best-seller sensation and soon little baby Harry had been written as facing and defeating every sort of magical threat imaginable, starting out with hags and vampires, after the initial werewolf story (which got repeated several times, eventually leading to a whole dark werewolf clan repeatedly trying to vanquish the boy hero, and invariably losing every time. Not to be outdone, or outsold, those authors writing vampires and hags did the same).

Of course, things escalated, and by three years of age the Boy-Who-Lived had personally defeated a grown dragon. By five the precocious child and his little band of adventuring buddies had accumulated a resume of adventures that would have raised eyebrows on Indiana Jones.

Strangely enough, one of those authors decided to give Sirius Black a secret wife and daughter and made them the chief villains of several Boy-Who-Lived pieces, with them eventually taking on roles as a recurring nemesis (always defeated in the end by the plucky, upbeat nature and wonderful qualities of the boy hero and his band of friends, naturally).

No matter how innocent the start, the fact remains that the Boy-Who-Lived phenomena quickly grew out of control. With dozens of authors all producing stories, it should have been no surprise that no one ever truly had control of the legend, and it swiftly took on a life of its own. What started with a fairly ordinary house and two caretakers quickly turned into a magical mansion the Malfoys would have been proud of, with the two supposed guardians quickly taking on roles more suited to old family servants as authors tried to pile on every trait they admired onto the fictional Boy-Who-Lived. Naturally, one of the qualities just about everyone admires is wealth, and the more wealth the better (as even rich children wanted to admire the Boy-Who-Lived) so the Potter family mysteriously began to acquire ancestral estates in those tales that real life had never given them, all so Harry could have impressive places to dwell at - and many of them, so just in case some author forgot that a certain portrait or chamber was in a certain wing in the last book and put it somewhere different in the next one that could all be excused under the aegis of 'oh, that layout was one of the OTHER grand manor houses!'.

He also went on adventures to other countries, where grateful monarchs of course had to gift him with great and impressive palaces to commemorate his deeds there, and sometimes a cute local girl to giggle over him, too.

Boy-Who-Lived dolls sold quite well to young magical girls.

In a similar fashion to his family properties and estates getting expanded (it turned out he had them on every continent, and quite a few private islands), so did his caretakers. What had started out as a couple of old family friends turned loyal retainers got steadily added to, first with Harry finding and talking to portraits of his parents in a serial that had witches in tears over the enormous tenderness involved, then meeting their ghosts, until not long after the homes he lived in had ghost populations more extreme and varied than Hogwarts, with just about every relative he'd ever had making ghostly appearances, including a few who dated back to the founding of Hogwarts.

The fact that Lily was born of long lines of squibs got 'discovered' no less than thirteen different times (twice by one author, using different methods each time), and it wasn't long until she had living magical relatives popping up all over the place, and their ghosts, until it seemed like she didn't have a squib anywhere in her entire family tree - they were all magical. And wouldn't you happen to know? She had some of the most pureblooded ancestry in the entire magical world, including some apparently lost bloodlines and direct ties to every witch or wizard who was worth anything in history and didn't have a modern clan of descendants, including all four Founders, Morgana and Merlin.

It didn't start out that way, but the stories reached it over time. It was quite a popular theme to have the Boy-Who-Lived go through rituals to inherit their powers, too (with never an explanation as to why his ancestors never had in all of the generations before him - but he was just special, I guess. All of the Founders ghosts told him so, as did Merlin and the others).

In one of the most popular Boy-Who-Lived tales ever told, Lily's parents appeared in ghost form to explain their histories as a witch and wizard who'd been fleeing a particularly nasty made-up servant of Grindelwald, who'd been hunting them even long after his master got defeated in order to work his vengeance on them for their help in defeating his Lord. They'd finally gotten discovered by him and killed, only for Harry to learn about it and avenge their deaths by the end of the book, of course.

And all of these ghosts, portraits and relatives held clues to new adventures, of course. In fact, any time he wanted to learn something about anything, no matter how obscure, the first place he always turned was his huge extended family, both living and dead, and somehow not only did someone turn up who knew of it, they had someone else who'd been directly involved and had what had hitherto been hidden keys to those mysteries never before told.

Good thing the magical world never questioned how those ghosts could never keep their own histories straight from one story to another, or why they never bothered to recall something until just exactly when it was needed.

There was a reason why Lockhart's books contradicting each other never turned a hair in the magical world, as the Harry Potter books were worse.

Everything connected to the Boy-Who-Lived legend just had a tendency to get blown all out of proportion. What had started as simple accidental magic for him had steadily been inflated to where, in all honesty, the Boy-Who-Lived had more wandless powers than your average fully trained wizard did with one.

Certainly his magical power was off the charts, because that was another thing the magical world admired, and if there was anything they admired, the Boy Who Lived had to have it!

His plucky and upbeat band of childhood friends, mostly people he'd saved on his various adventures, all displayed hints of similar abilities - although none of them could ever be as good as he was, of course.

But they had fun frolicking with his relatives, both living and dead.

Those childhood followers were actually an integral part of the Boy-Who-Lived legend, as each and every young boy or girl reading those stories wanted to be taking part in them too, and by attaching a band of fellow children to the child hero tiny tots reading those tales could transport themselves within them by imagining they were taking the place of a particular favorite.

Actually, some of the Boy-Who-Lived's followers were based on real people. Little Sally, out of that first werewolf tale, bore such a strong resemblance to Susan Bones that later printings of those books changed her name from Sally to Susan. And they later admitted she was of the Bones family.

It was no accident that those books were written in such a way so that everyone felt they could be friends with the young boy. Most people felt they were already.

The Greengrass family even bought out one of the major publishers because a proud father wanted to indulge his little girls. Little Daphne and Astoria began to appear in his little crowd of followers ever since. Their childhood friend Tracy of the allied Davis family joined soon after, and that was only part of the dimming of the line between people's perceptions about what was real and what got printed about the Boy-Who-Lived.

Some people even lost the ability to tell the difference. Things got to the point where, in one of those tales, a seven year old Harry on a trip to India had braved a dungeon full of evil cultists (whose resemblance to the movie Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom was purely coincidental, really) and recovered a precious artifact that turned out to be the made-up Talisman of Helga Hufflepuff, turning it over to the grateful heirs - only for the family named as those same grateful heirs to turn up at the publisher asking where their amulet was, and to convey their thanks to young Harry.

The lawsuit around that case was still in court. One family wanting their artifact returned, and the publishers not having it because it was never real in the first place!

Actually, by strange coincidence, there was a Talisman of Helga Hufflepuff (rumors and myths making great fodder for adventure books) but nobody had seen it in over a thousand years, and it certainly wasn't in India as the Founders had never gone anywhere near the place. And even if it was found, it wouldn't belong to the family named as heirs in the Boy-Who-Lived books, because they weren't, strictly speaking, Hufflepuff's legal heirs. They could not even prove to be related - a fact that author wished she'd researched beforehand, as in their eagerness to claim legitimacy they were desperate to gain her relics, hoping to use them as proof to solidify their claims of being her descendants (and gain the influence such an association would provide).

Although why the Malfoys would want to prove a connection to Helga Hufflepuff was a mystery to most people. Other purebloods, however, knew that any connection to a Founder at all was better than none, and if they couldn't have Slytherin, really any Founder would do.

After that case those publishers grew a bit more careful about claiming things they might have to support, so the tales grew even more outlandish as ties to reality got a touch more remote - just in case of more lawsuits.

That didn't stop Gringotts from issuing a 'Cease and Desist' order to stop the Boy-Who-Lived's Egyptian explorations after he'd discovered more and better temples and tombs full of wealth than they ever had.

Some people just couldn't grasp those Boy-Who-Lived books weren't real, and sadly that number included most of the population of the wizarding world.

Sadly, or in this case actually, fortunately, as Queen Alice had a plan to make that belief become real.

The ceremony itself was almost anti-climactic. In the clearing around the Fairy Shrine, Queen Alice of Wonderland led Harry up to the full-length mirror still leaning up against Trelawney's oak, whereupon he saw his reflection.

His reflection was... not the same boy. The Harry in the mirror had a delight in his eyes that was unfettered, secure in himself and free from cares that the Harry of the real world frankly didn't have. The real life Harry had an insane level of musculature for his age, having been working out since his earliest memories with those sleep-workout spells, then studying martial arts under Bruce Lee of all people. But while the Harry of the mirror was softer there was confidence in his eyes, and he'd carried himself with even greater accomplishments that his real life double.

But it was when Harry saw how proudly his double bore their shared scar that he realized what he was truly looking upon was the Boy-Who-Lived.

He might have spent hours contemplating his reflection thus had Queen Alice not given him a rude shove and sent him falling face-first into his reflection - whereupon they merged, in a flash of light becoming one boy before vanishing completely.

"Hmm?" Queen Alice looked surprised, pausing to check to see if all of her limbs were still present as she patted herself down. Sensing someone about to ask if something was the matter, she answered before they'd spoken, "Oh, I'm just surprised to be alive, is all. I had to use all of Wonderland to draw and filter that belief energy and shape it properly, and I honestly had not anticipated surviving the experience."

She then paused and looked at them expectantly, waiting for someone to do her the courtesy of asking the question she'd just answered. But only her granddaughter was well versed enough in Wonderland customs to ask, "Is something the matter?"

Alice beamed at her grandchild.

Luna turned to the other girls and explained, "Imagine you are flammable, very, like dry straw. Then picture handling a flame and trying to shape it."

Wide "Ohs" of realization came from them all.

Hermione was nodding as she puzzled it all out."Fairies are vulnerable to belief energy. Directing and shaping that would be like, oh, using yourself as a section of wire during a high energy capacitor test!"

"How did you survive?" Hannah pressed the queen gently.

Queen Alice smiled. "Oh, it was very simple. I sent my White Rabbit out to invite myself to dine with the muggle queen tomorrow, so I had the entire country expecting me to be there. I couldn't very well be there if I was dead, not even Wonderland gets that silly. So I had some energy of belief to shelter me, but I honestly had not expected it to be enough. It is quite a pleasure to be proved wrong, of course. However, now I have to think up a reason why I invited myself to dine with her in the first place. Excuse me."

Queen Alice shrank to nothing and vanished in a puff of pink fog.

"Come along," Luna commanded the other girls, leading them to the mirror and stepping halfway through it, motioning them to walk past her inside. "If we are to find Harry, he'll be in Wonderland, and we can accomplish some of our errands at the same time."

I I I

Once more Harry floated in nothingness inside his own mind while his subconscious struggled to come to grips with his latest changes. There was no conscious thought to direct things, as that same mind was undergoing repairs, so was off-line for the moment. The only thing active was a somewhat bestial sense of self, and even that was suffering internal struggles.

The first time something like this had happened was in that struggle against the fragment of Tom Riddle's soul that had been shaken loose by a close shave with a dementor. But even that had been a very different experience. In that case there had been a hostile force directed towards his destruction, and all of Harry's resources had not been enough to best it alone. It took the intervention of both a phoenix and a unicorn to save him.

During that first experience Harry had filled in weaknesses in his own mind and soul by copying traits and abilities from his enemy, suitably purged of evil by the dual influences for good that a phoenix and unicorn provided, he had learned how to combat his foe and eventually emerged victorious, even gaining Voldemort's memories and skills in the bargain.

From that had emerged a very different Harry, but he was still Harry Potter.

The second such time he had been though this is was not much different from what was going on now, the merging of his Dursley lifetime memories and experiences (as acted out by Dudley's twin serving as a double) to the happy and innocent little boy Harry being raised by his true parents. But then the acclimation had been gradual, no more than a year at a time after the first such experience (where there had been far less data).

The Harry raised by the Dursleys was a very different boy than the one being raised by his own parents, and the combination of them different still. But he had not only survived, he had thrived through the experience, emerging from it a very much changed Harry Potter, but still Harry Potter.

But all forms of Harry Potter so far were very different creatures from the legendary, larger than life Boy-Who-Lived. Frankly, it was as much as he could no not to simply be destroyed and overwritten, which would have been a bad thing, because the authors of those Boy-Who-Lived books were like all the rest of the magical world in that they loved, respected and trusted Albus Dumbledore, and so naturally the boy whose image they'd created did too.

I I I

Author's Notes:

And that, my friends, was a statement too ominous not to turn into a cliffhanger. So what does it matter if Harry gets all of these abilities if suddenly he become an agent of his own worst enemy? Nasty, eh?

I almost want to promise a long adventure arc where his little friends all work through tears and disappointments to recover their hero from his service to their mutual enemy. But frankly, that's angst, and I don't go there. Not if I can help it, anyway.

Although I think it does prove that having powers does not guarantee victory.

I had a little fun on the Boy-Who-Lived stories. At first I was "Oh, No! I don't have any idea how to do this!" I mean, I needed something ridiculous to show how utterly extreme the Boy-Who-Lived industry was being about inflating his image beyond all rational proportions, and at first was coming up blank. But when I thought a little more about what people would do to utterly inflate the child's image it came to me that I ought to parody fanfic that actually does that to him. I figured their reasons for doing that to him were the same (love and admiration and desire to see him do well), so why not?

Besides, the change Alice did was just to Harry, so don't expect a bunch of estates and artifacts and ghosts and things to appear in the real world just because she shoved him face-first into a mirror.

It won't change his genetics, either.

 
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