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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94. Chapter Ninety-Four

I I I

Standing in the tallest tower of the incomplete castle at Godric's Hollow looking out over the night with glass binoculars charmed to serve the same as muggle nighvision equipment, James and his friends watched the progress of the Dark Lord's invasion force.

Five children, Harry and his four girlfriends, came charging up the steps and snatched up spare sets of glasses left out for them. "Are we late?"

"Nope. Things are just about to get serious." A certain dog grinned.

Looking out over the units in motion Harry had a tender moment of nostalgia, and spoke, "Ron will be sorry he missed this. He's good at chess."

His father gave him a strange look. "Why does everyone assume that being good at chess makes you good at strategy? All of the generals Napoleon crushed were masters of chess, moving a unit here or a unit there and expecting their enemy to do the same. They were totally unprepared for this short guy who'd never played the game charging them with his entire army."

James turned back to look over the field with his charmed binoculars, saying, "One of the reasons he had so many early victories were his enemies were all chess players. That game teaches you all the WRONG instincts when it comes to actual war!" He insisted.

"Chess has no variables." Remus explained, while also keeping his attention focused on the battlefield that was due to blow up any moment now. "Every piece has exact and specific moves, on a tiny playing board that's exactly the same every time, with no terrain, weather, ill luck, bad supplies, good positions or communications problems. And everything is known at all times, there are no secrets of any sort."

"You couldn't ask for anything LESS like war than a game of chess!" James snorted, his prankster pride offended that his son had such a moment of idiocy and determined to correct the error. "War is nothing BUT variables! Outflanking enemies, hiding in forests, getting lucky breaks, supply problems and looting, morale problems and units that refuse to act or do whatever it is they're supposed to do because the local command structure got its wires crossed or some arrogant ass decided that he knew better than to do what the entire rest of the army was depending on him to do! No deserters give away plans, no betrayals by subordinates, or disease outbreaks taking down entire units for weeks - all of which have decided more wars than the pike."

"Also both sides in chess have exactly the same force structures!" James ranted, upset by his son's ignorance on this point. "You couldn't point to ANY SIGNIFICANT BATTLE IN HISTORY where that was even close to the case! But chess is almost farcical about the extremes to which it pushes it. Everything for both sides is precisely identical. You each have the same amount of precisely identical troops with exactly the same moves, the same space to maneuver in and completely arbitrary boundaries. All of which are as far from real world conditions as it is possible to create!

"And there are no options like digging in or fortifying, taking out an enemy with ranged weapons, sneaking into his camp in the dead of night, letting him get heavily dug into a defensive position then marching around his field army and taking the city behind to cut him off from supply or, really, anything that resembles real world tactics at all!

"Or even just FAILING TO TAKE AN OBJECTIVE! That happens all the time in actual war. But failure to take that hill, or even deliberate defensive action is completely impossible in chess. In real life three hundred Spartans occupying a strategic pass were able to stop the entire Persian army from invading. In chess if it is legal for your pawn to move into an enemy's square, he can take that square guaranteed, every time, no matter what it is guarded by.

"Really, you couldn't ask for a worse simulator for wars than chess. Toss a bunch of rats a hunk of cheese and you'll learn more about war." James settled down, having said what he needed to.

Sirius grinned in support of his friend. "Saying someone's chess skills show that he's a skilled battlefield tactician is like saying being a Monopoly whiz qualifies him to take on Wall Street."

Remus added the final clincher. "Besides, if he is so good at strategy why does his life suck so much? You'd think that if Ron was good at thinking ahead, as strategy demands, that he would've plotted out how to improve the conditions he's always complaining about. Instead he wastes his chances, gets poor grades, doesn't study, and so has no useful skills. That doesn't sound like a good life strategy to me."

Luna was nodding along. "Ron expects others to carry him through life. That's not just lazy, it's stupid; and no one with the least grasp of real strategy could expect any plan so limp to succeed."

Susan bent over close to Hannah to whisper, "Why was he so offended?"

Sirius' dog ears caught the question, and he decided to answer it, "Because what is about to happen would have been impossible to imagine in the mind of any chess player. Being a prankster is far superior training for running a war. Pranking is all about finding out where the enemy has blind spots in his defenses, then using those to kick him in the nuts."

"And that will get you far in war," Remus echoed.

Down below them, the world exploded in noise.

I I I

Once they'd replaced the sodden vampires on top of the wall Daphne and her friends stood in a circle around the wicker basket she'd been carrying ever since Harry's owl had delivered it, using the cover of their circle of robes to slip out of view and crawl within it one at a time.

Inside, the space was expanded to a comfortable size, with walls enchanted to be better protection than a few feet of armor. It was not the sort of enchantment that lasted long, but they only needed it to be that way for a few minutes, if the note was right.

Crawling out of the basket at the same time and at the same rate as her friends crawled within were what the note called 'crash test dummies' with a bit of 'Hollywood style special effects' mixed in. To her that was all so much incomprehensible gibberish, all she knew was the basket had contained one lifesize dummy for each of them that looked exactly like them, although they'd had to transfigure the clothes to match. As each dummy crawled out it replaced a girl in the circle, and that girl could then climb down in.

In this way the whole party of scared little girls climbed down into the basket to safety without looking like they were doing anything other than stand back to back watching in all directions on top of the wall, like they were told to and like all the other groups of Death Eater children were doing around them.

Daphne was the last in, and once the lid of the basket closed over her head she could hear, rather than feel or see, one of the duplicates outside lifting it to lower the basket on a string down the inside of the wall. They were told in the note that was done to help keep them out of danger, and if spells were going to be flying on top of the wall, she could see how that was the case.

Daphne stepped off the bottom rung of the ladder and Tracy clutched her friend into the group hug, all staring up at the closed entrance.

Now came the hard part - the waiting.

I I I

All at once, over the top of the town wall, in a remarkably menacing, growling tone of voice, a warning came out, "You are trespassing on private property. Leave at once. You have twenty seconds to comply."

"Isn't that?" Hermione frowned. She was a little young when the movie first came out, but it was one of her father's favorites, and had watched it many times on their tape player at home.

Sirius grinned. "I admit, they really can't appreciate our genius. After all, pureblood magicals just don't have the right background to recognize a thing like the fictional robot ED-209 from the series Robocop."

"I *thought* I'd recognized the voice of that robot." Hermione demurred, satisfied over having been right.

"5, 4, 3, 2, 1. I am now authorized to use physical force," the droids growled out in hostile, distorted voices, and suddenly there were dozens of them that sprang into place all over the wall, surrounding the groups of Death Eater children who were stationed there in frightened little clusters.

Her friends were goggling at them. There was nothing cute about the droid. It looked hard and mean and downright military, gunmetal grey with twin cannon pods on either side of its brutish head. Every move and gesture oozed hostility as the things flexed their gun pods, orienting on the targets.

Not, of course, that an average pureblood even knew what a gun was.

"The studio had lifesize models. We paid the prop shop for a few extra, and duplicated them, animated them, then hid them using shrinking charms," James explained. "They've been there all night long, waiting for our signal."

At that moment the 20mm cannon on either side of the droids' heads opened fire and suddenly the very intimidating growl was the LEAST intimidating thing about those droids! 20mm was a very respectable round, even if you were an armored vehicle (other than a tank). Bodies pulped and splattered under their fire, faces blowing apart and limbs flying free of bodies shaking under continual blasts, chests, legs and entire torsos turning red in craters under force of repeated bullet impacts flying all of the way through bodies.

Both Hannah and Susan shrieked, dropping their glasses to fall down to their knees and huddle against each other.

"How did you get guns to work with magic?" Harry asked dispassionately.

"We didn't." James grinned as he answered. "It's just light and noise. But it LOOKS like they are firing guns."

"You'll note the only ones actually being hit are those children you sent care packages to. The ones who aren't really standing there, because they are at this very moment hiding out in those baskets you sent, replaced by dummies you also provided." His father gloated.

"We loaded the dummies with blood bags rigged to explode at the same time as the gun blasts 'fired'. It's an old Hollywood trick, but very convincing, if a little graphic," Remus observed. "Magical firecrackers are going off around the feet of everyone else, complete down to leaving little divots in the rock."

"Such a situation is a great way to absolutely destroy their morale." James observed cheerily. "You can get arbitrarily large numbers of arbitrarily tough people to run away if you scare them badly enough - that's how Voldemort won his first war. And individually we're convincing everyone out there to be terrified of these things, because people are blowing up all around them."

A few shield spells sparkled among the distant fire and explosions. None of them, oddly enough, cast by dummies who were blowing apart like popcorn. Junior Death Eaters loyal to the cause were also seen leaping off the wall.

Remus calmly offered, "Every individual inherently believes that he is special, and is perfectly willing to believe that he has been miraculously spared from an otherwise certain destruction, and so it doesn't detract from the realism at all to have a number of them unhurt, even a large number, because every one of them is willing to believe '*I* was lucky enough to survive'."

"More importantly," Sirius stressed, "all sorts of good Death Eater heads of family, who are even now coming up in the third wave, are watching their progeny torn apart before their very eyes." He licked his lips proudly. "Or so they think. Many of them have spells or ancient compacts forcing obedience out of their children. So, since no one gives orders to those they think are dead, none of those will be invoked. This was perhaps the only way to handle a large scale defection of those who didn't want to be marked, without their Death Eater families forcing them to take it anyway."

"How did you avoid those control spells?" Hermione lowered her glasses to look at him.

"My family sponsored him," James answered calmly. "My dad interceded for him, taking over legal responsibility for him, with his permission. It put him out of the running for inheriting the Clan Head position, unless all the other Blacks disqualified themselves..."

"But it was worth it," Sirius growled out.

"But since that family doesn't allow daughters to inherit, and Regulus got himself killed, he inherited it anyway." Remus finished.

"Impossible to do it that way now that the courts aren't working, or are openly in the pocket of those loyal to Voldemort," James commented. "So very publicly, very graphically faking their deaths was the next best thing." He shot everyone a very pleased smile, saying, "We have just stolen half of the next generation of Voldemort's reinforcements right under his nose."

"I notice some clusters are being wiped out entirely, some only in part," Luna noted professionally, being VERY interested in the topic of innocent young things escaping the control of older Death Eaters.

"Some traded out on the wall itself, others in their tents beforehand. It all depends on when they could slip away for a moment of privacy to let their double take over," Remus replied. "It was all in the note they got. Some had groups of friends that could all slip away together, others had to do it under the eyes of watchful pureblood loyalists, that's all. But the illusion is more complete for the fact that not all groups are being wiped out entirely."

"Actually, I note it's more the girls who are getting 'killed' by this," Hermione observed through her glasses.

"With the recent marriage laws, they have more cause to dislike the rule of their pureblood overlord. Would you want to marry some ancient, ugly toad just so he could beget a few heirs to his line?" Harry responded.

"Best way to escape an engagement you don't want is to die." Luna quipped.

"Under their present law, it's the *only* way," Harry stressed.

Hermione smirked, looking through her own glasses. "Then I observe quite a few of those girls were apparently unhappy with their future spouses, as I can hardly pick out a girl who isn't flying apart in pieces out there. Even Pansy, who I'd thought was as loyal to their cause as they come."

"We'll ask her later what changed her mind," Harry informed her.

"Shh!" His father interrupted. "The next part's about to begin!"

I I I

Gathering about the prefab wooden buildings that looked suspiciously like mobile homes, but which their maps marked as troop barracks, the slightly moist vampires of the advance squad positioned their moldering selves.

They would have been significantly less confident of the whole deal if they knew that Flint's brilliant attack plan had been given to him, in every detail, by the Marauders.

Harry burst out laughing when his father told him the news.

"Hey," James defended, lowering his field glasses. "Most generals spend most of their careers trying to figure out what the guy on the other end of the battlefield is thinking. It was just simpler and quicker to tell him what to think, is all. It's not like they had any great ideas for it to compete with. We found Flint in a bar, led him to believe we were fellow Death Eaters, spoonfed him this entire invasion plan, then let him think he stole credit and wiped our memories of it. Easy. We had to work harder to prank their dorms."

"Helps to have a counterspell for the Obliviate that you can cast ahead of time," Sirius gloated. "Then all you've got to do is learn how to look confused and bang! Your mark is convinced he wiped your memory."

He then demonstrated, aping a completely befuddled look. Dropping it with a grin, he said, "That was how Snivellus looks on an ethics test."

"We slipped him one in place of his written Charms OWL," Remus confessed.

"It made for some great penseive memories," James added, then scowled. "Of course, those got less fun after he learned how to fake memories and started distributing copies where he was rewriting history, showing himself as some kind of misunderstood saint. HE is the one who joined a club whose sole aim and purpose is to kill people for not having the right parents. That he nearly got away with claiming WE were the bad guys really offends me."

Sirius brushed it off. "Don't worry about it. You'd have to be some kind of drooling moron to take the word of a murdering, bigoted piece of slime like Snape. That man gleefully tormented little children. Enough said."

Though they had rather drifted off topic, the action began below them.

Out of the flimsy wooden structures that had been placed deliberately to offer dummy barracks for the invaders to storm burst explosions of flame, streamers of multicolored fire, sparks of every description, and rockets.

"Magical fireworks," James gloated. "They're not just for looking good anymore."

"Sprays of sparks over highly flammable vampires," Sirius joked. "Hmm, I wonder what could happen?"

In the midst of this curtain of fire, dark mysterious figures appeared, standing unhurt in the midst of the blaze, and charged the vampires standing before them, cutting them down with giant, oversize swords.

I I I

Dumbledore's nerves shrieked out their agony as his back got sleeted with so many spines that from behind he looked furry. The best dragonhide he was wearing prevented the sleet of magic needles from slicing all of the way through him and turning his organs to paste, but due to the numbers it could not stop them from finding seams or gaps in the hide and the needles that struck through that were agony.

In some dull corner of his mind far removed from the pain, Dumbledore had cause to wonder why anyone had planted a Silverthorn Spruce in the middle of a town, completely missing the fact that the notoriously dangerous magical plant was only firing at him. His anti-arrow shields did nothing to stop them, of course, seeing as how they were magical.

Dumbledore struck the ground like a sack of flour, rolled from the force of a follow-up blow and was caught up by the ankle by the branch of a Whomping Willow and flung through the air before he could catch a breath.

Of course, this brief but violent contact with the ground also shoved those needles that had hit him much further into the holes they'd found in his armor, jabbing them further in and snapping many off so it would be far more difficult, even with magic, to remove them without tearing him up further.

His body was also roughly five years old, at the moment.

That insidious purple creature he'd always dismissed before now, the purple dinosaur he'd heard of when Draco had first been attacked on the Hogwarts Express, had never seemed a real issue before. The magical world had many beasts both large and scary and dealt with them comfortably. What could one more matter?

Well, now he knew better. Barney the Purple Dinosaur was not particularly large nor strong, in fact he was barely above human on both counts. No, the true terror of that beast was not what one would expect from a big lizard, and that was part of what made it so dangerous!

He sang. There were many magical songs in the world. Sirens compelled those who heard them sing, phoenix song had powers to empower good and resist evil, and Barney the Purple Dinosaur caused those who heard him to become stupid: A truly devastating ability in a world where intellect WAS power!

From that earliest moment of contact Dumbledore had been rooted to the spot, feeling his massive intellect shrink, as though dribbling out his ears, growing stupider by the moment as he'd heard the creature's song. For a Ravenclaw, nothing could have shocked him more, and he'd stood there like a drooling idiot as the dread monster had approached, using some form of magic to shrink the adult wizard down to the stature of a child.

Too frozen by horror to resist, Dumbledore had allowed the thing to approach and lift him up in a 'hug', actually crushing him to death. As blackness crept over his vision Dumbledore saw the giant maw of that reptilian monster as it had opened its jaws to bite his head off.

And he'd been helpless to stop it. Really, there could not have been a more perfect assassin made for destroying powerful wizards than this lizard; first robbing them of intellect, then strength to resist it. And none of the lore he'd accumulated over his vast lifetime had prepared him for it in the least!

That would've been the end of this incarnation of the great Albus Dumbledore had not another attack on this city interrupted, and a cocky vampire brutally assaulted the singing dinosaur from behind over the rights to consume this delectable childlike prey.

It turns out the dead were not susceptible to the powers of music. He'd have to remember that.

Ribs cracked as Dumbledore was smacked into the air by a second Whomping Willow. Having a trip much like the ball in baseball, he had one long, painful moment to reflect that he really shouldn't have survived that. But, seeing as how this horcrux had always been intended to outlast the rest, and thus be his LAST horcrux, it had been automatic for him to layer the man it would create with every defensive charm or device imaginable. The vast bulk of those now lay in a pile not far outside of his house. When one gets shrunk down to the size of a child, clothes and belts suitable for adults no longer fit. The vest made of best dragonhide now reached his ankles and served him as well as a robe. The matching trousers had fallen off first thing. Most of his charms had stopped working the moment he'd left his house. But enough of those rituals and protections still existed that he was able to experience one of the worst beatings of his long life, and still be alive to reflect on that.

Ricocheting off the back of a giant who'd stepped in the way, that itself had just bounced off the outside of a house it had intended to simply wade through like a bundle of marsh reeds, Dumbledore felt his bones shattering and had a wistful thought of how much some of those charms and protective devices would be useful just now.

For one, blissful moment when the vampire had appeared to save him and he'd fallen from the arms of the dinosaur and it stopped singing as the two monsters had fought over who got to consume him, Dumbledore had thought about claiming the title 'The Hero of Godric's Hollow' by fighting off the vampire incursion. Then a hard dose of reality struck.

The Blasting Hex he had sent into Barney's back had blown the dinosaur's torso wide open - only for it to immediately begin to reform again, flowing back together like disturbed water.

While Dumbledore was still gaping in stupid astonishment over that, the vampire had broken the wizard's wand and punted him across the street, where the town's vegetation immediately began attacking him!

I I I

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