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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87. Chapter Eighty-Seven

I I I

Seeing no other alternative, the International Confederation of Wizards declared Magical Britain to be in a state of civil war, and suspended their participation in any form of international government until such time as it was resolved, and respectable parties once more in control.

The fact that Dumbledore had been booted from his chair and France held the seat of Head of the International Confederation had nothing to do with that - although it did lead to the constraints being particularly restrictive.

Since he was well known among certain circles for having almost all power in Magical Britain, Dumbledore was also being held responsible for the massive rupture and ultimate end of the Statute of Secrecy, for British Obliviators had still never made any appearance on either of those scenes.

Not like it would have helped at this point.

I I I

Hermione and her friends had done wonders for Harry.

Towards the end, they'd worried about getting all of those most glaring flaws out of there, because the more they'd removed the faster those bushes had recombined into a single tree, and the recombined tree had turned quickly into Harry, lying there all happy and peaceful on the lawn.

In the end, she was quietly certain they hadn't gotten all the minor flaws and imperfections out, but they were fairly confident they'd gotten all the worst ones out long ago.

They had, after all, started with removing the worst blooms first.

Actually, she supposed no one had so well trimmed a personality. It was not as though this opportunity came every day, and unlike most people there had been plenty of Harry in there to make up for any bits they cut away. Should the same treatment been done to Ron, trimming away bits like his rudeness, crass behavior, jealousy, argumentativeness, and disgusting table manners, she honestly couldn't be certain what would be left of him but bare twigs.

They were all lucky Harry had so many pasts they could fill in the gaps they'd been forced to cut out of others. Because it wouldn't do to leave the world with a nonfunctioning hero once they were done rendering him acceptable.

Still, though she'd not had long to observe him, this new Harry was shaping up to be quite nice in every department.

I I I

The biggest difference in Harry that his friends could immediately see was the ease with which he carried himself. The Voldemort influenced Harry had been furtive and guarded, and before that the one raised by the Dursleys inoffensive and meek, and scared nearly white-knuckled by the attention put on him, whereas the one raised by his parents had always had that 'fish-out-of-water' look to him when dealing with his major responsibilities.

He'd fill them, and do it bravely, but not every pre-pubescent boy can deal with world-spanning catastrophes; which was exactly what he'd been saddled with.

The new Harry, on the other hand, could. He'd do it easily. They all suspected the Boy-Who-Lived's influence, but now he took this conflict all in stride. To him, dealing with catastrophes that might affect the world was routine. It was the type of water he was most suited to swimming in.

He'd probably be bored without it.

Well, the Boy-Who-Lived would have been, fortunately out of his other parts and backgrounds he knew how to deal with normal life, too.

Still, he now had an excellent set of reflexes for dealing with all sorts of troubles, and diving into a new situation, one of his first urges was to learn more about it.

So he summoned a dryad.

The Boy-Who-Lived had always had an excellent support net surrounding him, and knew well how to take best advantage of that. And calling upon those who possessed more information than he about the current situation was standard - and a good way to start off books with a quick summary of the troubles and trials he would be triumphantly facing.

All of the girls watched, impressed, as he cast a spell they didn't even know.

One of the things that characterized the new Harry was his wand movements were exceedingly small and precise, you could barely see them when he used them at all. His vocalization of spells was the same way. He could whisper a spell more powerfully than most could shout it, and didn't have to say the words at all when he wasn't trying to coax more power out of it than usual.

All of which said nothing about his wandless abilities. Even in the brief moment they'd known the new him they could tell he often looked like a Jedi the way things would float to his hand automatically as he needed them, or just hover in the air about him waiting to be used. Susan and Hannah could recall from the books Harry could just lie back on a couch and let a scroll or whatever he was studying hold itself in the air above him.

Nor was it just levitation. Surfaces would clean themselves just before he used them, his bed tidied itself just after he rolled out of it. His hair and clothes always looked immaculate, even seconds after getting dunked in mud! And during the one or two seconds he was dirty, it always looked adorable on him, like some artists rendition of a messy child instead of an actual one. It wasn't just smeared on, it was artful, playful and roguish at the same time.

Salons couldn't get someone that dirty to look that good.

Perhaps the strangest thing was, as his companions they felt his expectation they learn how to do this almost as well as he could. And, strangely, he made that expectation possible in ways that had you expecting it of yourself. The little tips and tricks he shared whispered here or there like an adult helping a child through the bewildering formalities of a state dinner reduced what was incomprehensibly complex to a series of simple actions you could repeat as desired whenever the situation called for them.

So they too had begun experiencing their first wandless spells.

Many had reflected that the greatest thing about the Boy-Who-Lived was his ability to inspire greatness in those around him, and to their somewhat delighted bewilderment those four girls were already feeling that.

Meanwhile, Harry's summonings had taken hold and a few dryads stood out, exiting their trees.

'Valkyrie,' was what his mind wanted to say upon sighting the buxom young women wearing form-fitting silver armor, longbows in hand and silver swords sheathed by their sides.

"Harry!" one of the newly arrived nymphs shouted, and suddenly the boy found himself wearing a witch and air was a problem.

This was not an unfamiliar sensation to the young lad.

"Lav? Lavender Brown?" The boy sputtered once he was free to come up for air and regard the kindly silver garbed girl who held him tightly.

"With a name like that, how could Sybil NOT make me a dryad?" the girl from Gryffindor teased, poking him in the cheek. "Of the lavender bush, naturally."

And it was true. Apparently the Fairy Queen did not feel constrained by muggle taxonomy, as there were several dryads representing plants normally called bushes and vines.

Immediately Lav started dragging him by the arm to meet her fellow dryads, or at least a few in particular. "This is Holly Predmore, a year ahead of us in Gryffindor. She's a holly tree."

"How do you do?" Harry asked, receiving her hand and bowing over it, kissing her hand between the first and second knuckles.

The expected reply of 'Charmed, I'm sure,' did not arrive as Holly was too busy plastering herself to him in delighted abandon, attempting to suck all of the air out of his lungs in a kiss. Only once she'd released him did she blush and conclude the introduction with any sort of propriety.

"Don't worry about Holly, she's always feeling festive," Lavender excused, continuing on. "And you already know Myrtle."

As Harry reacquainted himself with the former ghost Hermione stared at her tree, whispering "I know I've seen those leaves before," before diving into her bookbag to retrieve a tome, flipping pages furiously. When she arrived at the appropriate section, she studied it close making the comparison before she ran up eagerly to Harry with the open book in her arms. "I've found what tree Myrtle is!"

"Oh?" Both boy and former ghost answered together. Truth be told, Myrtle had been quite curious what tree she was since becoming a dryad.

"Yes." Hermione nodded firmly, then showed them all the picture in her book. "I knew I'd seen her leaves before. They're a common seasoning, especially in stews. She is a California Bay Laurel, also known as a Myrtlewood."

Myrtle giggled along with dozens of other girls while Harry quirked an eye up towards Heaven. "Someone up there has a sense of humor."

Hermione was bouncing on her toes as she addressed the former ghost, "You may also profit greatly from a study of medicine, as the bay leaf was used historically in a great number of herbal cures and remedies. So you might well have considerable innate talent, thanks to your change."

Shocked, Myrtle blinked, considering it.

Lavender was smiling as she took them to the next girl, twins actually, "And Sybil was kind enough not to separate best friends, so naturally she took in Parvati Patil. She and her sister are nutmeg trees."

"Both of you?" Susan broke in, confused. "But I thought..." Suddenly she stopped, unable to explain why she'd thought that all the dryads they'd received would have unique trees.

"Yes, both," Lavender gave her friends a mock glare before they could break out into twin-speak. She tossed back her now-purple (one might even say lavender colored) long hair. "Actually, that came as a bit of a surprise to us. Padma was actually on Aurora's planned list of students to turn into a dryad, only Sybil got to Parvati first, and they both went on the same dose. It was breathtaking, seeing two girls become dryads at once."

Padma and Parvati gave her identical smiles.

"Twins really do..." Parvati began.

"... share a special sort of magic." Padma concluded.

"So they both became dryads on the same use of cordial? Two for one?" Hannah's eyebrows reached clear to her hairline.

"That's what I said," Lavender confirmed. "So, of course, they had to try it out on the Montgomery sisters to see, who are the only other set of half suitable twin girls now at Hogwarts, and it worked out for them too. Two dryads for the price of one. So out of a hundred cordials we got a hundred and two dryads. A lucky discovery, Minerva calls it."

"What tree did they become?" Hermione leaned forward to question.

Lavender blinked. "You know? I don't know. Why do you ask?"

The bookworm settled herself. "Because once again, the choice of tree for Padma and Parvati is oddly appropriate. Nutmeg is among the most famous spices of the East, highly prized in Europe and sold for exorbitant prices. It has been said that in England several hundred years ago, a few nutmeg nuts could be sold for enough to enable financial independence for life, in large part because no European could locate the source. It was kept highly secret. But the thing that really gets me to thinking is this: As far as I know, nutmeg is the only tree to produce two distinct spices, nutmeg and mace. So again it seems oddly appropriate that a pair of twins should become one tree, which so happens to produce twin spices."

All of the girls looked at one another.

"You know," Susan ventured. "She's right. That can't be chance."

"Whoever said it was?" Luna blinked at them mysteriously.

"Now I am interested in hearing what the Montgomery sisters became," Susan confided to her friend, Hannah, only to find her not there.

"Moringa!" Hannah came running up, breathless, to announce. Clutching her knees to bend over and get her breath back, she recovered enough to make a coherent sentence. "They're moringa trees. I saw them over there and asked." She waved behind her.

"A moringa? What's that? I've never heard of that tree." Was the general consensus. Even Lavender wrinkled her nose in confusion.

All eyes turned to Hermione, who was already flipping pages.

"Actually that's fairly surprising, because it's considered one of the world's most useful trees. It's a fast growing, drought resistant tree that tolerates poor soils, and almost every part of the moringa can be used as food or has some other beneficial property. Moringa leaves contain more Vitamin A than carrots, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, more Vitamin C than oranges, and more potassium than bananas, and the protein quality of moringa leaves rivals that of milk and eggs. The nutritious leaves grow quickly and in many types of environment and can feed people as well as livestock. Surprisingly, the leaves contain a well balanced profile of the essential amino acids, which is rare for a plant. But the seed pods are more valued still. The bark, sap, roots, leaves, seeds, oil and flowers are all edible and used in traditional medicine. Extracts from the tree can even purify water. So it's truly amazing that more people aren't aware of it."

Harry grinned. "So another multi-use tree gets multiple girls to be dryads."

Lavender stiffened, then told them somewhat urgently. "Look, I'd love to stay around and introduce you to everyone, but an attack has just been signaled. We've being run ragged, just trying to keep track of Voldemort's army of vampires so we'd know when he next tried taking over Hogwarts. But now they're moving against both that AND Godric's Hollow!"

Harry grabbed her hand before she could disappear. "How many attacks have there been on the school thus far?" he demanded.

"Two," she returned in a small voice, startled as his assertiveness.

"And have you added any new defenses in that time?"

"No." Now she felt ashamed. The question made the right answer obvious.

Harry pulled her into a hug, smiling. "That's ok! We're here now. You go and take your sister dryads to Godric's Hollow, which if I'm right has not had the same kind or scale of attack on it?" At her nod, he continued. "Good, me and my fellow Champions will go defend the school."

He dismissed her after giving her a quick squeeze and a reassuring grin, one she returned, finding heart in his confidence.

And with that she disappeared.

"To the school?" Hannah asked, once all the dryads had vanished.

"No." Harry shook his head, grinning widely. "To the Ministry."

I I I

Voldemort's attack on Hogwarts drew upon history.

When the Romans went on the attack against fortifications they would form what was then called the turtle formation. All of the troops in the front line held their shields ahead of them, as normal, however behind them the troops in the middle ranks held their shields above their heads, forming a roof over the whole formation.

Since arrows generally did fairly poorly at penetrating shields, this rendered those formations all but impervious to missile fire.

Voldemort's application was similar. His first thought was to have outfitted zombies with much the same thing, and would still be doing that. However he'd since had a much grander idea. Now Voldemort would be having giants holding forth actual roofs torn from homes in Hogsmead both above and before them, strengthened with all the charms his death eaters could throw at them. His vampires and Death Eaters would be walking behind them, under cover. But, because he didn't trust one method to shelter all of his assault force, having been burned on that before in the last assault, there were also other methods involved.

Once glance at his most recently recovered servant, rescued out of the bowels of Azkaban, awaiting a trial that in the confusion had never happened, was Pettigrew. Once glance at him scrabbling around in rat form on his two new silver legs had led to this idea, and now a substantial force of vampires were outfitted (much to their disgusted chagrin) with what they termed 'Pettigrew Balls'. Giant hollow spheres of wood charmed to be transparent so the vampire inside could see through them on approach.

It was in some respects a clever adaptation of a principle. Several inches of hardwood, charmed to be lightweight and move easily, served as a good, all-around shield. No flying troops or flanking forces, should such exist, could shoot around the sides of these shields; so in that way it was quite elegant.

Nobody was anxious to face more flights of enchanted silver arrows without some kind of countermeasure, and fire quenching charms on the wooden spheres would prevent any flame on the arrows from getting through, even if the wooden shell itself got penetrated. But it did not soothe proud vampiric tempers to be making an attack wearing giant hamster balls.

Still, at least they could console themselves that it was only until they'd gotten within melee range. Several of Voldemort's lieutenants even assured them the rolling motion of the balls going over uneven terrain would even add to their protection, as the width of the balls kept them scattered in skirmish formation, and minor imperfections in the dirt they rolled over would keep their paths somewhat unpredictable, all of which helped against archers.

But they were still hamster balls.

Over and above this, Voldemort's finest diviners chose a day on which there would be substantial wind blowing over the battlefield. Firing arrows through wind was like walking through hip deep mud. You could do it, but only with the greatest difficulty.

Even so, there was a probing force of only twenty men split evenly between the various methods of protection being tested here, while the rest of Voldemort's army stood a great distance behind them, ready to reproduce those methods with some quick spell work and form a second wave should the first group punch through - or even show moderate success.

I I I

Apparating to the Ministry was ridiculously easy.

"Shouldn't they guard this place better?" Hermione whispered as they all huddled under their invisibility cloaks, sneaking through the back offices. Being fae they had some second sight so could naturally see each other despite the invisibility, as they'd learned long ago with their demiguise hair infused clothes. So there was almost no stumbling into one another or tripping over hems that made invisible action so difficult for ordinary folks.

"Convenience. Wizards will never willingly compromise their convenience. So if it would be easy for them to apparate straight to work, guess what they'll do?" Harry answered, and that alone was answer enough, but he went one step further, "Plus, we have to forgive them one little thing: We stole their ward stones not long ago, and the new ones aren't installed yet."

He paused and shot an arrow down a corridor, turning the vampire that had been stationed there into dust. And as that arrow was both invisible and silent, there was nothing to say what had happened but a rapidly settling dust cloud, which was quickly vanished.

"So they haven't been delivered yet?" Hannah innocently asked, picking up the previous topic once the guard had been disposed of.

Susan snorted, answering for him. "No, the first day they found those were gone they put the set of new ward stones and things on emergency priority. Storehouses across the globe turned out stock and craftsmen worked like mad to make extras. The Ministry paid triple the going rate for all that haste and the delivery came at the end of that first week."

"So why didn't..." Hannah asked as they slipped down a long, unoccupied hall.

Pausing to peek around a corner, Harry finished for her lovely friend, "Let me guess: Because they ordered an exact match to what they had before the tools and things arrived swiftly. But after the parts arrived yet before it could get installed one person suggested a tiny change, and everyone got the idea that HIS office could be thirty percent bigger, or whatever, and they have been arguing over the particulars ever since?"

"Yup." Susan giggled quietly as they snuck around the corner and down a set of stairs. "Auntie says they must have redesigned the whole ward structure four times since. And that a qualified ward designer could have done a better job in a quarter the time, giving everyone several times as much space."

Harry chuckled. "But somehow I suspect they are currently at loggerheads over which important department gets to squeeze the less important ones out of the most space and privilege in their new design. Important being defined as 'who has the most influence' not 'what service does the most good for our people'? And every office that isn't headed by a full time social climber gets to squeeze into less space than they had before?"

"You know your politicians." Susan remarked ruefully as they came to a door.

"You'd be surprised how often many of them turn out to be villains." He answered, selecting lockpicks. "I won't say it's EVERY government, but it sure seems close, sometimes."

He had the door open in a trice, ushering everyone inside quickly before he closed it again behind them.

"What is this place?" Hannah asked, while Hermione was looking over controls by one of the walls.

"Pump station." Hermione answered, having deciphered the controls rather quickly. She stood up with a triumphant smile on her face. "The Ministry is a hole in the ground. Holes in the ground fill with water unless they are pumped clear. So I am going to guess we're here to flood the Ministry?"

"Good guess." Harry returned, smiling at her cleverness.

She did too, pleased to have her gifts recognized.

"But why?" Hannah asked, still confused.

"Two very good reasons," he explained to her, as he moved to figure out the pump controls, trying to find how to reverse them. "One is that governments all depend on records, and universally those records don't like to get wet. So things like lists of all magical properties in England and so on that they like to keep track of suddenly become soggy messes that no one can figure out, and that includes things like birth registries - so good luck proving anyone is a muggleborn, as opposed to a pureblood or anything else."

Susan smacked her lips, impressed. "That's a very good reason."

"And the other is almost as good," he told her. "I've learned from experience that Dark Lords about to launch attacks on helpless settlements often call those off should they happen to hear their own strongholds have come under attack at the same time. They rush home to fix the problems, either leaving their troops in the field undirected, or bringing them home to help contain the disaster. Either way, it makes those innocent settlements easy to save."

Hermione quirked a smirk. "And Moldyshorts has been in love with the idea of ruling magical Britain for the longest time - and since this Ministry building is where all of that governing takes place..."

"He'll react to threats to it like mothers do their children," he completed for her, shooting her a proud grin over her intelligence.

Hermione beamed.

I I I

Author's Notes:

Yes, meet the Boy-Who-Lived, Professional Hero. He just has a different take on the whole conflict than previous versions of Harry. This is what he does. He knows all of the ropes. He isn't making it up as he goes along, because this isn't anything new to him.

The previous version of Harry was drawing on Voldemort's skills and knowledge almost exclusively, which meant he used a great deal of oaths and compulsions, lies, deceit and assassination.

The one blended with the Boy-Who-Lived doesn't need to.

"Okay, they're going to persecute muggleborns. So, uh, how are they going to know who is muggleborn? All of those records have been destroyed. For that matter, where does everyone you want to persecute live? Most Death Eaters don't socialize with that kind of person, so wouldn't know off-hand. With the number of magical homes tucked in odd corners of muggle society, without any records on where those are at, how is anyone going to find them all?"

 
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