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.


59. Chapter Fifty-Nine


The French government was not without favors it could call in. Actually, all they had to do was relax their opposition on certain matters to other states and they had some rather large political capitol to turn in.

And while the government and people of magical Britain had been conditioned carefully over the years to throw off any allegations of wrongdoing on the Headbastard's part, France would not agree with Britain on the weather.

They had been recipient of an outright act of war, and students of their magical school were being held in durance vile in the British magical school, and they were not apt to simply forget the matter.

The French ambassador to the ICW had also noticed the last two times they had called emergency meetings of that august body, Dumbledore had chosen not to attend. Very bad form, and considering the office he held a few more times and he'd be forced to abdicate his position without a fight.

The Head of the International Confederation was not allowed to simply not show up without presenting reasonable excuse, and they had received none.

So, of course, the French ambassador was using any legitimate excuse to call every emergency meeting he could. One more after this one would be to remove the Headbastard from his position, since by then he would have been absent without notice from three consecutive emergency sessions.

Not even Dumbledore's tightest allies could ask to keep him in office then, and they were beginning to realize it. Many of Dumbledore's allies had begun to subtly distance themselves from the old man.

Internationally, he was steadily becoming political poison.

One of the many reasons the previously untouchable man was losing his place as the essential figure in all political landscapes were the many artifacts that were being smuggled out of England, and the French ambassador had to suppress a grin as he entered the ICW council chambers to see one of the most recent of those gems, a smuggled out poster, reading over a smiling Dumbledore face, "Trust the Headmaster! The Headmaster is your friend. Failure to trust the Headmaster is treason. Treason is punishable by death!"

Yes, it would do the Headmaster's cause no good for his allies to be holding a meeting under the gaze of his image bearing those words.

Nor was that the only blow to his esteem. The members of that body had listened again to the recording of Dumbledore ordering the most recent Dark Lord to be brought back as a distraction, and Crucio his servant when questioned on it.

Almost overlooked in the rest of this scandal, an article printed in the latest issue of the Quibbler "Practical Defenses Against Mind Readers", pointed out that both Severus Snape and Albus Dumbledore were practiced mind readers who routinely scanned the thoughts of all those who met them. There was a substantial subculture forming that wouldn't meet Dumbledore in the eyes even if he did show up for one of these meetings.

Also, another article in the Quibbler contained a transcript of that prophecy session between Dumbledore and his pet oracle, word for word, including his questions to her about controlling Harry Potter, had created quite a stir.

Not everyone had been idly waiting for the Twinkling Tyrant's response to these allegations. Nor were even his allies pleased about the man being prophetically termed a spider.

This meeting of the ICW had been called for one reason alone - it was now conclusively proven that Dumbledore was the sole proprietor and owner of the former British newspaper the Daily Prophet, and they'd obtained a few of his former employees who, upon being stripped of their secrecy oaths, were now willing to testify as to how the man ran that newspaper as a way to coerce all of Magical Britain to believe him and obey his whims.

Another blow or two like that one and the Magical Nations of the World would be willing to openly label the old Headbastard as a Dark Lord.

He already bore that title in France.

Just as he had fought off a smile, the French ambassador then fought off a grimace. They would need every aid they could get. Tyrants could only wish they had as much control as this man did. It was like trying to pull out vanilla bean flavor from ice cream to remove his tentacles from government. Half the offices necessary to removing him were held solely by the man himself!

Also even now, those who owed their entire political careers to the old man, sadly more than half the representatives to this very government, still had many who were willing to wage major political campaigns to protect him

But the French would prevail.

It was only Britain's web of alliances that prevented French troops from landing on her soil. But all those were being slowly but steadily stripped away. There simply was no defending a man who was being constantly exposed on countless fronts as having concealed crimes worse than Grindelwald's.

And there was no way he was being let off for having virtually declared war on France.


When they next returned to the transplanted Forbidden Forest, but before they could begin, the trio had to deal with one or two little problems just a little too dangerous to bring their new pair of friends along for.

One of these was the previously overlooked fact that Hagrid's Blast Ended Skrewts were admitted to be a cross between Fire Crabs and a Manticore, and well, it turned out the Groundskeeper had a tidy little stash of his own hidden magical animals secreted inside the bounds of the Forbidden Forest.

Fluffy was the guard over this collection. And there were enough anti-flame spells up, left over from the time he'd gotten a dragon and wanted to move it here once it was large enough to be on its own (Hagrid had chiefly given up Norbert so he could spent time with other dragons) that this part of the forest remained unburnt.

"Well, now we know why he always wanted a dragon," Hermione looked around the secret menagerie wide-eyed. "It's one of the few things he DOESN'T have represented here!"

Harry nodded, looking at the odd combinations of sod huts and knotted ropes that served as containment of some of the most dangerous beasts. Danger was also debatable, there were things running free that HE was frightened of! Staring about in shock, he mumbled, "We might just have to recruit him. I don't see anyone but a half-giant able to manage this place."

Hermione frowned. "The trouble with that is he's far too loyal to Dumbledore. Even on the day the Prophet came out, magically convincing people of all the Headmaster had done, Hagrid didn't join in the escape. He stayed behind."

Luna tugged on both of their arms, pleading, "Could we discuss this somewhere less fantastically dangerous?"

Looking at her, both others came to the conclusion that if their favorite magical beast expert was as frightened as she looked, they ought to get out of there, they departed, getting a bit turned around as they avoided a pair of redcaps that were just wandering free.

"What are THEY doing here!?!" Hermione quietly shrieked, once they were safely passed. "Redcaps can only dwell where human blood has been spilled!"

"Hush, Hermione," Harry soothed. "You know Hagrid. He's too gentle to do any of the violent things you might be thinking. He probably bought some that a dealer had stolen from a muggle blood drive for vampires to consume, then just poured it around so his 'wee friends' could have a place to stay."

"That's true." The girl relaxed, mollified.

Harry inhaled, then exhaled deeply, centering himself. "Actually, I'm a bit glad they are here. It means we don't need a half-giant to care for this collection of fur rending slaughter machines Hagrid calls pets."

"Oh?" Both girls looked to him curiously.

"Uh huh," he nodded. "Think about it. We are fairy champions, with authority to speak for the Queen. Redcaps are fairy creatures, although not very nice ones, definitely Unseelie. Anyway, in absence of any direct commands from the Shadow Court we can dominate them. Then they'd have to obey our instructions, and we can tell THEM to control this seething mass of teeth and claws for us."

"There is no Shadow Court," Luna told him firmly.

"Huh?" both others turned to look at the expert.

Luna simply shook her head wisely. "Faeries are personifications of nature, and nature can be both kind and cruel. The races of the fae reflect that, but the cruel side is both random and capricious, not organized. If nature were to coordinate itself and act deliberately destructive nothing could survive her wrath. The idea they do is muggle superstition. The Fairy Queen is queen over all fae, not just a part. She is their sole creator and only ruler."

"Well THAT'S a relief!" Hermione sighed in relief, putting a hand to her chest.

Harry grinned sardonically. "Yeah, I have to admit that's one for me too."

Luna turned a frightened gaze on Harry. "Just be careful giving them orders. Redcaps don't respect any kind of authority. They'll try to kill you, Queen's Champion or no, and are fantastically strong for their size."

"Couldn't you just order them not to hurt you?" Hermione was puzzled.

Luna shook her head. "Could you order a cat to fly? No. You can't order a creature to do something outside of its ability, and redcaps basically MUST kill when or where they are able - humans only, obviously. They can leave plants, animals and most creatures alone. But anything too human-like in appearance, they'll kill just to be sure. They are more mindlessly violent than the most deranged human sociopath. It is their nature."

Harry smiled. "Luckily, I happen to know the charms and hexes that drive them off. With everything else going on, I just forgot to use them earlier."

"We'll get ready to run anyway," Luna offered.

In the end, that venture was both a success and failure. Harry was able to give the orders needed for the dwarflike creatures to take care of the rest of the beasts in Hagrid's collection (and they were tough enough to pull it off). But they also ended up resisting his charms somewhat and chasing the trio halfway through the forest.

It took them some time to find their way back to know paths.

They did find the Weasley's car, however. The Ford Angelina that had run off into the forest during their second year was now quite beat up. They found it smashed up against a tree with several club marks on it from trolls, the poor car was burned down to bare metal, interior reduced to ashes, covered in the remnants of burned webbing, and stuck in mud too deep for it to get out of.

They found it that way because Hermione heard the horn honking from where they had been chased. When they followed the sounds of the horn they found the car spinning its bare wheel rims in the mud, hopelessly stuck, yet still trying to escape from the pair of wild nifflers that had begun to chew on its metal parts as it honked its horn in distress.

The trio drove off the nifflers with a few spells, then had compassion on the car and began fixing it up with repair spells. Hermione found particular use for the one spell she'd used on Harry's glasses several times since their first year together, as all of the Angelina's windows and headlights had been smashed out at some point in the car's recent past. Harry primarily did body work, straightening out the frame where impacts from clubs and trees and things had smashed it, while Luna used homemaking and sewing charms to replace the missing interior and paint job (taking the opportunity to turn it a deeper shade of blue. Harry stopped her before she could sprinkle little white stars like the night sky over it, saying it would draw too much attention if it ever went out on muggle streets again).

Harry transfigured it fresh tires, and even did a businesslike check of the car's fluids (having been tasked to do so on the Dursleys automobiles for years), and Hermione responded to low radiator fluid (it had been smashed up in several crashes) by fetching water out of a nearby stream and topping it off.

Finally Luna transfigured the mud underneath its tires into hard cobblestones and they all expected the car to drive away. It did for a bit, hiding behind a tree as if afraid they would chase it, but when they casually began walking back the way they'd come they discovered they had acquired a follower.

"I think we're being watched," Luna smugly asserted as the car raced up to hide behind another tree not far behind them.

"I think it's odd to have something so big behaving like a puppy," Hermione agreed, as the enspelled automobile waggled its rear end and dashed off to one side of them to hide behind another tree.

"It'll probably stay behind in the forest," Harry asserted.

But it didn't.

At first the car hung out just inside the tree edge when they left it to go cross the lawn back towards the lake, where they'd agreed to meet Firenze, but after they'd gone a couple hundred yards they found the Angelina rolling up alongside them. It even opened its doors for them.

"No, thank you." Hermione fought hard to keep off a grin. "We are going to meet our exercise instructor, and it would be counter-productive to ride there."

With that, the car obediently closed its doors. It shadowed them all the way there, however.

The Forbidden Forest, nee Creature Sanctuary, didn't seem to be the same without a lake nearby, so Harry had taken a small trip to grab a bit of glacier with that magical staff for transporting property, then put that in the right place to melt into an appropriate lake nearby the forest.

That would grant them a very large lake, but would take time.

The lake they were going to was one on Harry's property, not even the one he'd transplanted the giant squid into. It wasn't a particularly large lake, but they would be able to use it to do the swimming portion of their workouts.

They'd discovered when they first ate Gillyweed after their transformation by the Queen that their metamorphmagus abilities allowed them to grow gills and webbed digits at will. As such, they had no time limits. So swimming was dear to all of them as a favorite form of exercise.

Hermione was also speculating about if they could get hairs from a centaur so they could try the same thing and see if they could get a centaur form like they had a fairy form. And when they saw Firenze she intended to ask.

Luna was more interested in giving doses of gillyweed to random fairies to see what it did for them.

They arrived at the side of the overgrown stock pond, Weasley car trailing along at a safe distance behind them, to see instead of the expected Firenze, Bane standing there beside several large bundles wrapped up in white fur, each the size of a couple bales of hay.

Hermione's question about borrowing hairs died in her throat when she saw the sober and serious expression on the centaur's face.

"What's wrong?" she felt genuinely puzzled.

Bane swished his tail uncomfortably, stamping a rear hoof. But he faced Harry with all the pomp and ceremony of one of guards of Buckingham Palace about to address the queen. "Harry Potter, it is not often the centaur tribes willingly part with any of the few treasures that fall into our hands. But our elders can no longer deny that what we hold in this case is no longer ours. Two years ago a vile creature went through this forest killing unicorns. This vile and blasphemous act was without peer in a generation of horrible deeds, but not without boon to the side of Light. When a unicorn falls we centaurs have loyally sought out those corpses to harvest as much as got left behind by their slayers to preserve the residual magics therein. These treasures are held in trust until the avenger of the unicorn comes forward, or until a dozen seasons pass. Word was only now brought to us that it was you, Harry, who slew the man Quirrel, who on Voldemort's orders killed these unicorns. Therefore all that is left of them now belongs to you."

And with that, Bane presented Harry with the horns, hides, hair, hooves and hearts of the ten unicorns the boy had avenged by slaying that incarnation of Voldemort his first year - one killed each month Riddle was at Hogwarts.

Hermione immediately squeeled with glee. Seeing her friends looks, she saw fit to quickly explain, "You see, unicorn hair has powerful magical properties, but even vast wealth won't acquire much of it. There just isn't all that much for sale. This is an enormous treasure!"

"More than you know, Hermione," Luna correctly softly, gazing with a fond mixture of sadness and gladness at the collected treasures. "These are all willingly given - gifted to the man who avenged these creatures by destroying the possessed man who slew them for his corrupt master. That is an ancient compact, one that's prevented mass unicorn deaths for all recorded history. Yes, slaying a unicorn can grant enormous treasures, but the one to kill the slayer gets even more valuable rewards. Thus, one plotting to kill a unicorn must not only accomplish a difficult task, but he must deal ever after with the consequences - that he is now more valuable dead than alive. It takes a heartless, desperate man to slay a unicorn because of that."

"But naturally, vulturewart didn't care and Quirrel wasn't aware that he was being sacrificed. He probably thought 'his lord' would somehow protect him." Harry rolled his eyes at the foolishness of minions.

Casting his glance towards Hermione, the boy continued, "And before you ask, there is no way to arrange for someone else to do the actual killings, then claim the rewards yourself."

Luna was nodding, stroking the soft, silky pelt closest her. "Unicorns are famous for sensing the hearts of those who would claim to ride or tame them - and accepting very few as pure enough to meet their standards. The same sense applies to those who would claim the rewards for avenging them, and if they had any guilt in the unicorn's death, no matter how well disguised, they get nothing save the mark as the next one to slay for another wanting to claim the rewards." She turned a piercing gaze up north toward Hogwarts. "So arranging their deaths is as bad as doing the actual killing. This way the wicked, greedy or selfish need not apply, as they will be refused."

"There is more to this than you know," Bane stepped forward, tossing his tail behind him. "Unicorns are an excellent judge of character. Only the pure of heart are permitted to touch them. If the hero to avenge them was pure enough to be accepted as a rider were the unicorns still alive, the rewards he is granted gain a whole new level of power."

All eyes turned toward Harry.

He smiled sheepishly. "Anyone got a unicorn we could test me on?"

"That would be unnecessary," Bane tossed his mane, stamping a hoof. "As the horns undergo a visible change when this occurs, and yours have done so. It was that which convinced our elders to part with them, despite receiving no official word of the deed that avenged them."

They looked and saw an emerald lightning bolt visible on the base of each horn.

Bane once more swished his tail, and they realized that he was actually pained to part with these. Seeing their understanding, he explained, "More powerful Light magic there is not than the treasures of an avenged unicorn whose avenger is truly pure. Nor can we deny them to him. But the talismans that could have been made of these are..." the centaur pawed a back hoof in agitation, swallowing his jealousy, "Are of such power it is difficult for my tribe to accept they shall not be ours. Farewell, Hero."

And with that, the centaur turned and bolted away.


Thanks to a bit of malaclaw venom Albus had been experiencing a rash of magically bad luck for quite some while now. And even in his absence it went on. Only one of the instances of that ill-fortune manifesting had been for anti-elf wards to become fashionable and be installed all over the place right before The Prophet Disaster, when he'd sent around what was left of the Hogwarts staff of elves (all of them Harry hadn't already hired away) to go out illegally and steal the newspapers he didn't want people to see.

The vast majority of those elves sent out never came back, caught on the newly erected wards like flies on flypaper. But, unlike flies, the wards did not kill them, merely held them. House elves were considered far too valuable to exterminate in that way.

Still, the Department for the Disposal of Dangerous Magical Creatures did go around collecting them. That was one enforcement department that Albus had NOT thought to seize control of, and so they actually went about their business, determining that all of those elves had been sent on illegal errands, directed to commit crimes, entering homes without permission to rob them (no matter the value of a newspaper was small, it was still robbery), and so declared all of them 'rogue elves' and terminated their previous employment contracts and put them up for sale.

Now House Elves are so mind-bogglingly valuable servants that they come up for sale only rarely. The purebloods who mostly owned them never gave them up lightly, and so the normal amount up for auction was quite small. So it was like being in the market for Rembrants. If one becomes available it is snatched up quickly, but no one is prepared for two hundred of them to suddenly become available at once.

So the pureblood households acquired a handful, being poised to acquire one or two just on general principles, and given a bit of a lead in they could have acquired more. However, there was another large group of magical people who'd recently come into quite a lot of money. The witches and wizards who had recently moved to Godric's Hollow had sold houses and businesses to get there. But Harry had charged them practically nothing for their new shops and homes (as, after all, they'd cost him practically nothing and he wanted to encourage people to move in). That left most of those families with a tidy sum of cash many of them had been wondering what to do with. Vacations or costly luxury items had been considered, but when the newly available stock of House Elves got whispered about most of those wizarding families ditched those alternate plans and bought themselves an elf or two instead.

The former Hogwarts elves had never been happier.

Harry'd already used his House Elf labor force to transfer the belongings of people from their former homes to Godric's Hollow, so the migration could be accomplished more discretely. So even those who'd never been aware of the little creatures before had seen how useful they were, and had a hankering to acquire one. However, the market had been sewn up for centuries. They were so mind-bogglingly useful no one in control wanted the unwashed masses to have any, as it might give them ideas above their station.

After all, it wasn't a luxury to have something everyone enjoyed. The elites have always been careful to protect their privileges from the working class.

As part of that protection scam, to keep the supply of elves available small, and thus controllable, for years more and more of the surplus elf supply had been directed to Hogwarts. But even at that massive institution there was only so much work to do. Giving service to Big People was food to House Elves, they couldn't live without it; and as the supply of work got thinner and thinner stretched between them they gradually went on starvation rations.

Albus had been happy to invent more tasks for them. However, spying was work that did not satisfy, so it was for elves much like eating gravel. You can live through it, but it does nothing to nourish you.

It had been that situation that had allowed Harry to hire away half of the elf population of Hogwarts (the Founders artifacts had just enabled him to ask), in the process getting over two hundred elves for his personal service. Most of the remaining half had been caught by those anti-elf wards on that illegal errand, and all but a handful of those had now been bought by the new residents of Godric's Hollow.

Since Harry did not need all that much work done for him personally, he was glad to loan out most of his elves to the remaining households, granting the four hundred homes of that village a little over four hundred elves in total.

For the elves, this was a feeding frenzy.

Shoving them all together in Hogwarts had effectively been starving them, between all the elves doing the work there, and thus reducing the population as malnourished creatures do not propagate.

However, four hundred large houses, each with their own families and often enough blissfully messy children, and suddenly there was enough work for every elf to gorge themselves on. And, much like an abundant food supply encourages wild animals to breed, having abundant work to perform meant they started breeding a bumper crop of new house elf babies.


Down in the basement of Hogwarts, in the collapsed ruins of what was once a very secret and heavily warded lab, the bundimun was still creeping through dissolving the things that had managed to survive the phoenix' ire.

However it came upon three things that it could not devour, not including the melted glass and slagged ironwork. Two were chests containing horcruxes, pinned under a dozen tons of rock from the collapsed ceiling. The other was also a chest, this time containing the priceless philosopher's stone stolen from Nicholas Flamel by Dumbledore. The very stone he'd told the alchemist he'd destroyed.

Pinned under tons of rock like that, they were presently unretrievable by anyone. Only the bundimun even seemed to know they were there. However it did enjoy lapping up the Elixir of Life that had spilled out of countless broken bottles and pooled up in cavities under the rocks.

And as it drank, it grew.


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