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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45. Chapter Forty-Five

I I I

"Simple logic, the wizards never use it." Hermione thought aloud as Harry'd finished explaining his town proposal.

"I just thought of the perfect way to completely destroy the Burrow," Luna bubbled cheerily. "Point a wand at it and say, 'Finite'."

"It would work, too," Harry good-naturedly grumbled.

"Although you could have gone much further on the traps," Hermione lectured.

"No," Harry shook his head. "I am NOT layering lethal traps around where careless, stupid people are going to hang out. I'd end up killing more of them than the enemy."

"I hadn't thought about that," the girl conceded, descending deep in thought.

"It is a truly good defense plan," Luna bubbled happily skipping along. "I think only weak link is the wizards themselves. They'd ignore the foe glass, invite death eaters in for tea, accept their request use the bathroom upstairs, etc."

"I've already thought of that!" Harry pointed a finger excitedly. "In fact, I have a speech prepared to give them as they move in."

"Oh?" Both girls' eyebrows raised.

"Do share?" Hermione prompted.

Harry paused, cleared his throat, and posed as if addressing an audience. "Welcome to Godric's Hollow. We have built this town to survive the upcoming wars. There are certain things we know the enemy will be doing - because they did them the last time and that worked out well for them. We have included defenses against all of those tactics. However, we admit that none of you are accustomed to using these security features. Until you are, you cannot be certain of your safety. So we have hired Fred and George Weasley as a security service. They will conduct mock attacks on their own pace and schedule to train you in how to recognize threats and use your defenses against them."

Both girls immediately broke out in ferocious giggles.

Harry grinned widely. "I figure we give them a bounty of twenty galleons for every house they break into to mercilessly prank the occupants."

"Better start them at five," Hermione cautioned. "They'll be breaking into enough at the start, already. They'd cost you a fortune."

"That's true," Harry admitted good-naturedly.

"But if setting Fred and George Weasley onto them can't teach people caution they're a lost cause." Luna admired with her own grin.

Harry nodded enthusiastically. "Exactly! And they can easily make their 'mock attacks' unpleasant enough to make people WANT to avoid them in the future! Make them want to Very Much!"

"So they'd learn to use the security features," Hermione concluded, with her own grin, "Probably in record time, too."

"And better to be afflicted with ten foot long, wriggling purple toes than a Cruciatus any day," Harry nodded primly.

I I I

Freeing Fawkes was a perfect activity for a 'Bedevil Dumbledore' Day.

The binding of a phoenix requires two things that were nearly impossible to obtain: the creature's first pile of ash, and the eggshell, both artifacts left over from the amazing bird's first and original creation.

Since the creation of a new phoenix was a practically unknown thing, the lengths to which one had to go to obtain these components were in some ways more legendary than the artifact that could use them to bind it. But without them, no true and permanent binding could be placed on one. They were far too powerful for any ordinary magic to succeed.

Both were also destroyed in the ritual that bound the phoenix, so it could only ever be bound that way once, even theoretically. So releasing Fawkes was a one-way street. They couldn't just rebind him to themselves. Actually, the bird was liable to be so traumatized by the experience of having been bound to the vile creature that was Dumbledore that humanity was never likely to see that particular phoenix again after the trio set it free.

The Fey might, since they were the ones setting it free. But still, it was liable to be a century or two before it acquired even that amount of bravery.

They had no way of knowing how Dumbledore had obtained the priceless and legendary ingredients necessary for binding Fawkes to him. In truth, they'd probably never know, for that type of secret was one that he would not only hold close, as it gave him tremendous prestige to let people assume the bird had chosen to be his companion, but also the secret was old and buried.

Dumbledore had owned Fawkes since he was a fairly young man, and he had no reason to review documents regarding how he had done so. The binding was, to all intents and purposes, permanent and inescapable.

Frankly, the ritual for releasing a creature bound by the Goblet was one of those things that had been lost for a very long time, which probably explained why the Fairy Queen had simply given it to them, rather than telling them to go look it up somewhere, searching in some obscure book, relic or ruin.

They were her agents, not the other way around. The act of doing something was by and large left up to them, when such a thing was possible. So, it stood to reason that looking that ritual up themselves was impossible - that it did not exist in any form they could find by themselves. Otherwise she wouldn't have provided it for them.

But back to the ritual.

The act of binding a creature with the Goblet created a mystical chain. This was no device that had to be concealed or worn. It was a physical device, but one that existed out of phase with the rest of reality. It could only be called into being by the goblet itself, using a very specific ritual - but not a very exciting one. A bunch of runes and some arithmancy, plus the goblet.

They had done so, drawing the runes and circles after performing the proper equations. Then they'd left it to cook, essentially, energy building along those lines until it had drawn Fawkes' chain into phase with the rest of reality. That had taken one day.

That had accomplished the first stage of the process necessary to free Fawkes. Now they had a chain whose heavy links were composed of congealed darkness, blotting out all light touching them, and which glowed green or red in spots where each link was engraved with runes.

Hermione made a copy of those runes at once, hoping to study them. That they were obscure and practically unknown she took as a given, considering how ancient, rare and powerful this ritual was, but she'd still wanted a copy.

Luna was more concerned with petting Fawkes.

The bird's presence was unnecessary, but they could understand it wanting to see this stage, or indeed any part of this ritual. It was its freedom at stake, after all.

They'd have been interested too, if it was theirs on the line.

The next step was to destroy that chain - no easy task, and one that again could only be accomplished by the very fires of the goblet that had forged it.

Frankly, Harry and Hermione shared a glance, each thinking it odd how many parallels existed between this and Frodo's destroying the ring in the fires of Mount Doom. It was uncomfortably close to what was written in those novels by a supposed muggle.

Luna, for her part, was instead delighted by the similarities and wrote up an extra credit report for History of Magic on the subject.

Hermione gave her an O+, then quickly folded up and hid the report, so that it never got turned in - as they didn't want Dumbledore to see it.

However, as most of what that ritual wanted was time and exposure to the fires of the Goblet, there wasn't much to do after the initial runes had been set, and a certain amount of daily maintenance attended to.

I I I

For Harry, having retrieved the ring with the Peverell coat of arms from the Gaunt family shack was a complete non-issue.

He had the memories of the man who'd set all the traps. Plus, Riddle had set those protections when he was a teenager, and Harry possessed the skills of that man from when he was very old, after half a century of extra study. It was no more dangerous than a routine shopping trip to go and pick up that priceless artifact, remove various curses around and on it, dispose of the soul fragment, then have himself an ancient ring with mysterious powers.

Heck, magically popping there and back, it hadn't taken him even fifteen minutes total for the whole trip.

And, whatever else that ring was, it WAS an artifact of the Founders. Even if Slytherin hadn't made it, he'd still worn it. And it was entirely possible that old codger had been the one to construct its present form, because legends lost track of it as merely a stone, but now it was a ring - and someone had to have done the conversion from loose stone to piece of jewelry.

The most likely person was Salazar Slytherin, and that made it priceless.

Its powers made it more so.

Naturally, there wasn't a great deal known about the stone, nor the ring form of it, and they might have separate powers in the different versions. They wouldn't be the first magical artifact that did, look at how the Cauldron of Plenty had been converted to a necromantic zombie animating device.

Frankly, most of what Harry knew about the ring naturally came from Tom Riddle, and that ambitious and power-mad boy wouldn't have hidden it away in a shack he'd never intended to visit again if he'd coveted its powers. No, if that was the case he could have and would have used something else, and kept the thing that granted useful abilities.

In short, Tom had only known that it once belonged to Salazar Slytherin, and that he'd claimed it in combat from the last of his family.

Pitiful, really.

Riddle had spent so much time researching ancient magic, both spells and objects, that it was terribly ironic how this one slipped through his fingers, almost literally. Then again, the holders of the device had been more or less completely ignorant of its powers, as well. So it wasn't like a great deal of lore existed about the ring. To those who knew of its existence, it conveyed status through association with the Founder, nothing more.

But, even though most of its powers were unknown, retrieving the device had the effect of exciting more curiosity concerning ancient artifacts among his two girlfriends.

And, having only just come from maintaining the ritual for setting Fawkes free, one naturally got reminded of the Goblet.

"It's a pity we don't know about the others. The Water one, for example. I can't help but imagine it must be terribly useful for potions and things," Hermione confessed, toying with a lock of her hair.

Harry answered her as he finished putting tools away, "Well, some of the rumors are that the Fountain of Youth is the Water part of this matching set of elemental vessels. Water is the Healing Element, and according to rumors that part of this set can produce endless amounts of any liquid and all who drink from it are healed of any disease or wound save death. Some confused that with the Earth Cauldron, but as far as we can tell, our Cauldron doesn't possess any of those powers."

She gasped, and he couldn't help an amused chuckle as he continued, "There is some speculation that the Elysian Fields, or other paradise myths of the Greek and Norse pantheons (which bear some remarkable similarities, by the way) were simply a product of prolific use of this device's properties to heal on a massive scale. Everything there would be healthy, and by being healthy beautiful. It would certainly look like a paradisaical land of plenty where any sensible creature might hope to spend eternity, compared to most places. And also the wizards masquerading as gods would want to restrict entry to themselves and those closest to them, to avoid crowding."

Hermione's eyes had gone wide.

Harry no longer even tried to conceal his grin as he continued explaining, "And that would explain the migration of that site. In the earliest myths, like the Homeric writings, Elysium existed in the far west, the dimly explored and therefore wonder-filled western regions of the Mediterranean Sea. Naturally a lot of explorers went looking for it and later writers had to transport it to beyond the ocean rim. So the storytellers like Hesiod, writing a century after Homer, speak of 'the Islands of the Blest' lying out in the Atlantic. And then as even that started to get explored, it got relocated to the underworld. That might actually follow the route of locations the Olympian wizards moved it to trying to avoid massive muggle migrations to their garden spot."

"And, if you hide something well enough, it can get lost." Luna chimed in.

"Or, contrariwise, if you don't hide it well enough, it can get stolen." Harry gave a caution. "Not all of those supposed 'gods' liked to share, even with their fellow 'gods'. Pantheons got along about as well as Hogwarts students."

Luna was unruffled. "Or, Ponce de Leon could have been a wizard who knew what he was looking for, following clues that have since been lost, when he devoted himself to trying to find the Fountain of Youth in the New World. It would follow the generally westerly direction the Olympians moved it in trying to avoid a mass muggle migration into their pocket paradise."

"That firms up Water a bit. That leaves only the device for Air." Hermione mused aloud, somewhat used to wonders now, having been in this group and subject to the near-constant surprises for a while.

Harry nodded. "According to Riddle's research, using all that he could glean from the library of the Unspeakables, the most reliable rumors for the remaining object of this set describe it as a Horn of Air. Its last known location wasn't even known, only suggested, at Aeolia, the home of Aeolus, the favored mortal of the gods who received the power of controlling the winds, mentioned in Homer's epic poem, the Odyssey. The device itself is not referenced directly, but we know the Greek Gods to have been witches and wizards, and we also know that Aeolus was a real person, a magician just like us. Also most of the other creatures, kings and places mentioned in that poem were real and possessed the powers they were described as having, or near enough. So where did Aeolus get his power to control wind from?"

Hermione's eyes brightened in understanding. "And the Greeks were a very maritime people!" she blurted, excitedly. "So if they were to have any of these devices you'd naturally expect them to be water or wind related, as those are the forces that matter most at sea!"

"Actually, some very credible rumors once stated the item for Fire was once in the volcano Vulcan used as his forge, but it wasn't. It never was. You have to be careful about rumors, because they are often wrong." Luna cautioned.

"The primary contender for the 'Fountain of Youth is the Water part of this matching set' theory is that it was a giant sea shell and the wizard Poseidon once owned it," Harry added his own caution. "This kind of search can be maddening, because you never really know who was right until the whole thing is over and you have the authentic device in your hand. Some of the very credible hints about the location of the Cauldron of Blood were wrong. But they sounded reasonable at the time, and led many searchers astray."

Luna bobbed her head fervently. "Agreed. When something remains lost even when people are trying very hard to find it, there is often a reason why."

"And countless maritime powers would have loved to possess a device that could enable them to control winds," Harry suggested, then shrugged. "Who knows? Some of them may even have had it, just kept that fact quiet. I certainly don't intend to advertise that I have both devices thought lost out of the Deathly Hallows trio. I'd have to deal with as many people trying to kill me for them as usually haunts those after the Elder Wand."

Luna clung to his side as she offered, "Vikings crossing the Atlantic, Magellan circumnavigating the world, Sir Francis Drake having unaccountable luck in his pillaging of Spanish ships - the Spanish themselves being so amazingly lucky in discovering the New World in the first place. Perhaps Christopher Columbus had it as a loan from a minister under Queen Isabella, then it got passed on to later conquerors, and Drake captured it in one of his daring raids? Perhaps that is what led to the Spanish Armada getting defeated so handily when it was widely feared they would conquer our island home? These are all theories that may or may not have any truth behind them."

The blonde girl blinked slowly, almost too slowly. "Although, some of the most amazing things do turn out to be real. I happen to own the Girdle of Lions, a magic belt owned by the Amazon Queen Hippolyte and object of a quest by Hercules. I'm wearing it now. It was one of those treasures stuck and forgotten in the Department of Mysteries. Gramma Alice recovered it at the same time as she removed Great Aunt Dorothy's Ruby Slippers from their care."

Hermione's eyes were bulging as she recognized the famous shoes Luna had been wearing all this time.

She nearly fainted.

Harry nodded soberly. "A large part of the reason Voldemort wanted control there was to make use of the many artifacts stuffed down in the basement, like Dumbledore already had used the stuff under the halls of Hogwarts."

Luna shrugged, happy to have that effect on people. "They also had, and we recovered, the Girdle of Odysseus that enables its wearer to swim for three full days. But I prefer this one."

"A girdle?" Hermione asked, thinking of one of her mother's undergarments.

Harry quickly interposed. "The modern definition of that word means a form of underwear, but anciently it was outerwear, just a broad belt, often used to hold weapons. They were frequently magical, which was why heroes were sometimes sent to fetch them on quests."

"Oh." Hermione colored. "I grew up thinking those were the classic equivalent of a panty raid."

The other two snorted in laughter, although it was quickly suppressed. Then they changed the subject delicately.

"What does it do?" Harry gave Luna a cuddle, rubbing his hands along the belt with the cat motif she'd been wearing for... oh, it seemed like a very long time now.

"About what you'd expect," the blonde answered cheerily. "It enables me to speak with felines, and most will regard me as friendly and obey reasonable commands; though you have to recall these are cats and have a different idea of what is reasonable or not. Fortunately most will be at least a little helpful due to the novelty of a talking human. It also enhances my ability to do catlike things, like climb, hide, jump, and take minimum damage from falls - all very valuable to a warrior people like the Amazons, or Hercules."

Hermione's mind had leapt ahead, connecting things, and she blurted, "It was that girdle that enabled you to survive that fall off the Astronomy Tower!"

"Yes," Luna nodded. "And climb up the outside of Gryffindor Tower to fetch Harry, as I'd needed his help. Without this, Draco's attempt to murder me would have succeeded. Grandmother Alice thwarted that nicely with this gift." Here she paused, a look of confusion crossing her face. "And I don't truly know if that was deliberate or not. Grandmother Alice can be... odd."

Hermione's hair practically stood on end at that statement.

Harry was rubbing the grip on his wand thoughtfully. "Actually, I think it's about time we put some serious effort toward cataloging at least some of what we got out of those raids. As this gift highlights, they just might offer us capabilities we need to fend off unwelcome surprises."

"And," Luna offered wisely, "As your ring highlights, we won't necessarily understand what we've found, or what it could do for us. The majority of those things stored in there were unlabeled and their powers forgotten."

"But it won't hurt to try for the few that are usable," Harry grinned.

"Well," ever-practical Hermione stated, "Be that ever so excellent an idea, we still ought to devote THIS day to causing headaches for Dumbledore, and the one thing we've done already he won't notice until hopefully it's too late for him to do anything about. So, while I agree in principle that doing that is a fine idea, let's save it for our next Resource Day."

She caught them both in her gaze, "So, what fires can we light under him today?"

The next time Dumbledore went up the stairs to his office a great big round stone came rolling down on top of him, crushing him flat and cut into pieces against the serrated edges of the steps.

Then, when he was leaving the secret chamber in the basement after being revived, he was struck by a pair of sleep darts and keeled over flat on his face in the corridor.

Then a pair of pixies flew in and cut away that bit scar tissue above his left knee that was a perfect map of the London Underground.

The trio figured a scar like that didn't happen by accident, and if it was still even remotely accurate after all they'd done to him, then he was updating and maintaining it, so he found it useful, and anything that he found useful they wanted to remove.

They also figured that by NOT killing him at the same time as it was removed, but by force-feeding him a potion that could regrow skin, the loss wouldn't count as a recent wound when next he was being revived, and so wouldn't be regenerated when his next body got created - they hoped.

If not, then the pixies leaving him tied up in his own hair, stuck to a giant acromantula web in the Forbidden Forest was still amusing enough.

I I I

Author's Notes:

I truly love tying ancient myths and legends into the ancient artifacts part of this fic. It just seems to truly suit the world.

And, it's a great deal of fun, as well, taking things that were NEVER intended to mesh and tying them all together like they'd been meant to be that way all the time.

And I can include action if I want to. Nyah!

Oh, and btw, that scar is important, too. Anyone guess why? Why is tied in with Fawkes, believe it or not.

 
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