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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86. Chapter Eighty-Six

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The dwarven race was destitute. They'd have to be for proud and stubborn creatures to hire out to do a job as degrading as dressing up as cupids and delivering singing telegrams. Not the sort of thing you'd stoop to do if you've got any alternative.

So they hadn't had any forges (the goblins had gotten the dwarves locked out of any smithing trades as part of the settlements after one of their countless rebellions - a fact that alone would've given the dwarves a deep seated hatred of the goblin race), or tools or vast stores of weapons or armor. No, in fact the first several days working for Harry the dwarves had spent just fashioning the tools they needed to do the work he'd required.

Being scrupulously honest, the forges they'd built to do that work were technically Harry's, and they'd been intending to leave all of those newly built tools and hammers and things behind.

The appeal of having their own Mountain Halls again would be that dwarves would, at last, be governed by dwarven rule and laws instead of the various Ministries of Magic. Thus they could ignore the treaties made betwixt humans and goblins that locked dwarves out of all sorts of traditional trades and markets. That would set the race on their own two feet again, and for that, just about any sacrifice would be considered.

But they still hadn't made any weapons or armor. It was dwarves with picks and chisels and hammers in their hands who first saw vampires approaching Godric's Hollow, not a battle-ready, fully-equipped army.

While wizards there to help construction gaped in shock at the attack, the howls of rage and fury as those dwarves swarmed off to meet those undead served to remind everyone within earshot that dwarves were warriors whether in plate with battle axe, or their underwear with pointed sticks.

In fact, quite a few of them smashed apart wooden support beams to get ready shards of pointed wood - these were vampires, after all, and dwarves had never entirely forgotten their military lore. So as a race they knew more ways to kill more things than many humans had even imagined.

Had to talk about something around the campfires.

Against a sleepy and mostly forgotten retirement community of placid and forgetful wizards, thirty vampires was a ridiculously overpowered force. Up against a tribe of dwarves who stood on the brink of being restored to their race's forgotten glories, and had begun to regain their lost self-respect once again working with tools of metal on defensive works of stone, it was a farce - the vampires at first merely gaped in shock at the counterattack, so used to being predators many could not even comprehend what the charging mass of short hairy things meant until the self-important undead monsters had already been killed, staked, beheaded, brain pans smashed in by rocks or hammers or legs taken off at the knees by picks and shovels, all before the strike force even entered the town proper.

Then the invaders' ashes got burned.

The dwarves, without any need for comment, then left the tasks they had been doing, and as one began to work on fortifying the outer defensive walls.

One of the wizards on site got politely notified that military action to defend the town while it was under construction had not been covered under their original contract. The dwarves would do it, and do it gladly, but they expected in return a little something for their efforts.

McGonagall was the first dryad those wizards could reach, and, knowing a little something about dwarves (having studied a bit about the race since Harry had hired them), promised each clan a ton of silver in return for their defense of the construction sites.

This pleased the dwarves, who could use that material for the very weapons and armor they'd felt keenly the lack of for generations, so they considered themselves not only paid but well paid for their service as warriors.

And being paid, and thus professional soldiers again, brought back a measure of dwarven self-respect not even being hired as builders had accomplished.

They were relevant again.

McGonagall caused the silver to be measured out by the dwarves themselves (thus no charges of poor accounting could be leveled) and delivered at once. So a certain portion of the dwarves reverently laid aside their work as stone masons and began to fashion their legendary arms and armor once again.

Dwarven heads began to be held tall as the first swords and helmets of living silver began to be awarded to deserving members of each clan. They were a race to be respected again.

Thirty of the first swords to be produced were marked with runes identifying the bearer as one to have slain a vampire. Other dwarves began to eagerly look for opportunities to earn the same around those six towns. Generations of dwarves later, items crafted of those original tons of silver would be held in a special sort of reverence, and regarded as lucky as they marked the return of their race out of the sad state of poverty to which they had fallen.

More importantly for the present, Voldemort's control of magical Britain was less complete than he'd like to think.

They also began to work at a feverish pace that made their previous rates of progress seem lackadaisical by comparison, using that legendary dwarven constitution to drive themselves without sleep for days on end, pressing on towards completion of walls and weapons at a pace that drove the wizards assisting them ragged just trying to enchant all the things they created, the runes and giant fighting statues and heavily warded houses that sprang up as though the dwarves creating them were possessed with unflagging energy and determination to finish well before the second attack.

This was fortunate, as families of people who'd been invited to populate those towns began arriving within hours as refugees from the areas of Britain already fallen under the grasp of Voldemort and his vampires.

Those among the refugees they could not trust to populate Harry's cities, McGonagall had quietly Obliviated and sent on to Hogwarts.

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Incomplete as they were, people had already begun to move into Harry's towns, and the accommodations were so good most could hardly wait to get into them. And, with the House Elf force he'd liberated helping, it was so easy to make the switch houses were rarely empty a day or so after being finished. So Godric's Hollow, being half-built, was already half-occupied. The other five towns closed in on about a quarter complete and populated.

It was fortunate it was so, as that gave them some basis to work off of as those cities began to be flooded by magical refugees.

As the vampire armies under Death Eater control took over magical Britain, those scheduled to live in those communities got there as best they could, even though their houses and things were not yet built. Some got taken in as guests of friends already living there, others camped out in tents or got bunked on conjured beds in otherwise empty rooms of the incomplete central castle that was to serve as both town hall and school.

Luckily, with the force of house elves on hand it was easy for them to pop out and rescue family belongings, packing up and whisking away furniture, clothes, family heirlooms and in fact entire households that got left behind in the rush to escape before the conquering forces locked down on all travel.

Families escaped by floo and apparation where possible, but soon Death Eater agents had locked out all floo traffic. And it was a rare family where every member could apparate. So while those that could side-alonged their children, McGonagall organized rescue parties of wizards who would create portkeys and give those to elves to transport to the families who could not escape by other means. And often enough they got more than they'd intended, as neighbors and friends of those targeted families came along for the rescue, these operations often fetching back three times the number of people the portkey had been sent for.

Nobody wanted to be left behind in the face of that evil. So even those who'd never had any intention before of moving to Harry's villages came along, as the alternative was too dangerous to imagine.

Voldemort returned? His Death Eaters at full strength and at the head of an army of vampires? All of the horrors of the last war returned, redoubled with brand new terrors? Nightmares could not even begin to describe that!

Still, one big disadvantage to using vampires as minions to control the world that became apparent that first week was they could only be active during the night. That left the day free for people to try and escape their control if they could.

Half the shops on Diagon Alley were empty by the second night, their staff and stock gone to no one knows where. This included the bookshop (whose owners didn't want to see half their stock burned as Voldemort rewrote history to put himself in the best possible light and banned certain spells as too powerful for those not already his followers), the apothecary (which had already had bad experiences of Death Eaters coming in and simply helping themselves to what they liked, then leaving without paying), and other key magical industries that had fallen subject to looting that first night and so were gone by the second, not willing to have their stock in trade stolen by their greedy new overlords any more than they liked living under the terrors.

To the Death Eaters this was their day of triumph, their victory, and plunder and robbery were a necessary part of the celebrations. Taking what they wished from those less than they was what they'd been promised all along, and they weren't to be denied that pleasure.

Of course, pleasures (especially dark ones) come with associated costs. Putting the Alley's primary bookseller under crucio for having been too friendly to Harry only meant the Death Eaters lost a place to buy books. The same applied to furniture, the safari shop, and the ice cream parlor.

Godric's Hollow and its sister cities had no wand crafter among them, but the rest of the magical crafts and industries were fairly well covered. They even had newspapers and book publishing emerging from the printing presses located there, supplied by a feverishly overworking Mr Lovegood.

Magical Britain, however, would come to realize they lacked several such key functions. Because frankly, Knockturn Alley didn't have a wide selection of services. If it wasn't dark, they didn't do it, and dark magic accomplished only a very narrow band of things. So they began hurting for lack of the rest. Like when an unlucky Death Eater got ordered to open up an apothecary, only to find he had no idea of how to connect to sources for certain supplies.

Sometime during that first dreadful night Amelia Bones arrived at sanctuary in Godric's Hollow with a beleaguered force of some twenty aurors. Sixty or more had been freed of Dumbledore's compulsions by this point, but some had been lost during the attacks, and others had rushed off against orders to go do what they could to protect their families.

Most of those latter had perished, when Amelia would gladly have sent off portkeys to rescue those families, if only they'd waited long enough to get to safety first. Didn't want to portkey families into a warzone, after all. Better for them to stay in their houses until that point.

Strangely, although Voldemort had sent out enough vampires and terrorists to have killed the majority of magical people in Britain, very few deaths had taken place so far during this coup. Certain types of people were being rounded up, and the show of force dramatic enough to have thoroughly cowed the rest, but actual killings so far had been scarce.

That was mostly because Voldemort didn't need deaths to inspire terror with the forces he now had under his command, and he wanted to savor those he did intend to cause, putting them through prolonged misery during extended public executions to further the terror he was held in.

So much more effective at cowing obedience than random piles of bodies.

What this meant for the common witch or wizard was they cowered where they stood waiting to either be told to go about their business under their new overlord or to be collected for later slaughter for their disobedience or impure blood.

For those who had no place to go, the waiting only produced more terror.

However, for those who knew of Harry's fortified cities, this period of soft control provided them an ideal window to escape to the safety those offered. While far from perfect, it was the only escape option most had, as Riddle's forces had very carefully taken control of Ministry offices that managed the border spells kept around both for customs and to prevent invasion, erecting those at full strength to block any attempts to escape out of the country.

Then, of course, it was time to move against the last known bastion of resistance to Voldemort's rule: Hogwarts.

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Assimilating control of the rest of the magical world had taken time, so the Hogwarts assault came after two days of asserting authority over the rest of the magical world.

Reinforced by another two hundred vampires, which they left behind to guard the village, the attack force on Hogsmead marched forth to Hogwarts, Lord Voldemort at their head, along with another two hundred Death Eaters.

This first attack on Hogwarts even took on some of the feel of a parade. After all, what could hope to stop them? Nothing had succeeded so far. And they knew from insiders that the people at Hogwarts were freaking out, because Dumbledore, their great and powerful protector, was not present.

Actually, Harry's napalm bomb had taken out the only one currently active. The other two were going through much slower activation sequences.

Still, the innocents huddled there were not without protections.

Alerted by the attack on Godric's Hollow, dryads stood ready for them in the silver armor and invisibility cloaks Harry and their Fairy Queen had provided, lining the walls, watching and waiting in silence for the signal to shoot.

The wards around Hogwarts had once been considered an absolute defense. However, as the Dark Ravenclaw feared no crisis he did not control, those had largely been converted over from defensive functions to an information web. Still, there were defensive functions remaining there, and under normal operational parameters the Deputy Head ought to be able to invoke them, just in cases where the Headmaster was either not present or incapacitated.

But Dumbledore hated to be under any set of wards he did not have under absolute personal control. He'd left no provision for his Deputy to control the wards under any circumstances whatsoever.

Still, the fact that its walls were defended was enough to repulse the first attack. The sheet of disillusioned arrows sleeting down on the attacking ranks FAR before any of the approaching wizards felt they were in danger of any spell fire from the defenders claimed at first one hundred, then two hundred lives as the second volley struck.

The targets hadn't even thought to have scattered in between shots.

Arrowheads of living silver launched by longbows punched effortlessly through even best dragonhide, when it was present, and being dipped in basilisk venom and set to burning via spells made the slightest injury instantly deadly to man or vampire. Creatures of the night burst into flame, then fell as ashes around men screaming in death throes.

Death Eaters began wildly casting shielding charms, none of which availed against the enchanted arrows which pierced right through those protections. A third and then a fourth volley had struck, claiming just as many lives as the first two thanks in large part to centaur-trained archery, before the attacking force retreated in disorder and confusion, Death Eaters popping out by portkey or apparation, while vampires changed into bats or wolves.

A force of more than six hundred vampires and two hundred and fifty Death Eaters escaped after suffering more than half that number in losses in less than a minute of confrontation, during which they'd launched not a single attack spell in return, nor even seen their ambushers.

It was the most devastating stroke against Voldemort's forces in either war.

The Dark Lord himself got abandoned on the field with the dead, lung pierced by an arrow. However, being the only attacker on that field having undergone the rituals to be immune to both fire and the potent basilisk venom, he was able to portkey away, where shame-faced (and frequently crucioed) followers who'd left him behind now set to work putting his injuries to rights.

Two days later Voldemort's forces had assembled for a second assault upon Hogwarts. This time it was a small number, only sixty vampires and six Death Eaters, perfectly sufficient to take the school should they get inside, but small enough to be expendable should they be lost to defensive fire.

Examination of bodies summoned clear of the danger zone had confirmed the only wounds were arrow wounds, although no actual arrows remained (ammo charmed to return to the quiver ensured that you never ran low on arrows, and could afford the really expensive options like specialty enchantments and arrowheads of living silver), and so the new assault force was split into two groups, disillusioned, layered under many anti-arrow shields, and would be attacking from two directions.

They perished in a single agonizing volley, anti-arrow shields being nothing against arrows specially enchanted to penetrate them, and to a person able to see magic, as those blended with unicorns are, a disillusionment charm highlights the target rather than conceals it.

By this time Voldy's minions had discovered they needed the greenhouses there for potion supplies. Other sources had dried up, refusing to deal with the disgraced and occupied Britain, and the Forbidden Forest was missing, as were many manor houses of those associated with the Light, so it was the Hogwarts greenhouses or nothing for certain plants and potion ingredients. Including, to the DEs' embarrassment, most healing potions.

One change Amelia had insisted on in McGonagall's evacuation scheme of the conquered people of magical Britain was to allow the staff of St. Mungo's to get out that first day, which the majority did, along with all non-dark patients and most of their equipment, leaving the Death Eaters in a lurch for healing as even those not rushing to Harry's cities ran to sanctuary elsewhere. So Voldy's forces NEEDED those potion supplies!

Dark wizards do not bear discomfort well, and combat involves injuries. The recruitment promise of "Join me and you'll never want for riches again" rang a trifle hollow when the groans of the wounded were not addressed.

The whole game just begins to feel less fun when it hurts for real.

And every so often something as routine as raping a muggle girl would end in injury, because it so often happened that one would conceal a knife that in the midst of a revel no one would think to check for, and when the Death Eater was in the throes of passion stab him where it hurts. And without blood replenishing potions those wounds were often fatal.

Really takes the fun out of it.

So the lack of medicine was making it harder to recruit replacements for those Death Eaters the Dark Lord lost. It didn't stop him, but it did dim their enthusiasm to have things go not entirely their way, especially in what was always supposed to have been their day of triumph.

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Voldemort's forces did have secure communications with each other through their Dark Marks, so it did not take terribly long for them to realize that a large number of people they were sent to drag out of their homes just were not there. Neither were their households, furniture, nor anything else, often enough including vanished neighbors as well.

Something did not add up, but the initial assumption was just these people had run off into the wilderness somewhere. This was somewhat expected, although not in the numbers or to the extent they were seeing. The complete absence of even a tea service left behind implied something was wrong with that assumption, as people rushing out in panic are never that thorough.

Still, people enslaving themselves to genocidal megalomaniacs are never the type gifted in critical thinking. The Death Eaters noticed the problem and were puzzled by it, but drew no conclusions other than it looked odd. Not even when sporadic communication check-ins eventually revealed that the assault groups sent out to Godric's Hollow, and five other similar blank holes in the countryside, had vanished.

So two days later a second wave got sent, and those died even more quickly than the first. Going as they did by floo to those towns, the spells Harry had caused to be placed over those systems burned all of the new invaders to death. Seared bodies of Death Eaters tumbled out of the flames amid clouds of ash from the burned up vampires.

Then the debacle at Hogwarts happened and the occupying forces had enough to deal with in that aftermath that those few lost squads sent to dismal bits of uninteresting countryside got forgotten for a few more days, during which Godric's Hollow and the other villages were being redone by new construction, every dwarf, witch and wizard pitching in to do what they could to prepare.

It was four days after the humiliating initial defeat at Hogwarts that some Death Eaters noticed those squads sent out to those six minor villages had never reported in. By now, stung from the Hogwarts defeat, they showed a little caution, and stealthy probing forces got sent to investigate.

The information they sent back could scarcely be believed.

In the first place, marked Death Eaters could not even approach those towns, the wards specifically against them by now being fully charged. Nor were vampires nor the newly recruited dementors any good either. It was a werewolf that got close enough to catch a glimpse and came back with news of the fortified cities rising there.

Voldemort himself could scarcely believe the report. He had to see it in person to believe, or so he said. Actually, that turned out to be a lie, as when he approached, then encountered wards specifically tuned to keep HIM out, he knew that something foul (from his perspective) was going on in there.

He had no idea what, but knew now he wanted to attack it, for the simple reason that nothing could be permitted to remain outside of his control.

Zombies, werewolves and giants not needed for the upcoming third attack on Hogwarts began to be assembled for an attack here on this mysterious place, and would be put under the command of un-Marked followers.

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Around a certain oak rooted in the clearing around the Fairy Shrine, Sybil had taken to hanging a small assortment of mirrors like Christmas decorations or tree-jewelry, as it felt the safest way to express those powers Alice had thrust upon her.

One of these swelled to full size and amidst a show of light a small group of young teenagers stepped forth, four girls surrounding a young boy.

"Tempus." Luna waved her wand, checking the time.

"What was that for, Luna?" Hermione felt puzzled, clinging to Harry's arm. "We've only been gone a couple of hours."

Luna calmly replaced her wand behind her ear, saying, "Time moves strangely around the fae, and not always in our favor. Plus, we were in Wonderland, where time moves very strangely indeed. I always make a point of checking the time when I exit Wonderland, for you never know when it is you are after you have been there."

"Oh?" Both Susan and Hannah paused.

"Yes," Luna nodded, "I missed a birthday once, and it had been six months away. And it turns out nearly a week has passed since we entered."

All of the girls looked startled.

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