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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93. Chapter Ninety-Three

I I I

Deep in her security bunker, Elizabeth the Second, Queen of England and other such titles, listened to the countdown on her missiles. There was nothing so prosaic as a giant viewscreen, that would be for the command post, and mostly only because the human spirit demanded some connection to what was going on; all there was for her were the various monitors of the technicians who were keeping her informed.

The muggle world was not taking the introduction to magic lightly.

Sadly, she could see no way of stopping what was going to happen, and part of her did not want to. The magical world was a great unknown, and from his earliest history man had feared the unknown, conquering it with superstition and then with science. Categorizing everything so it could be understood and then, later, controlled.

"Iran has already launched, Your Majesty," one of the uniformed officers, a man she had known for years, informed her.

The royal lips quirked into a frown. That was really what was driving this. Nobody could afford to take any less extreme a reaction to this than their nuclear armed neighbors. After all, when someone flings nukes at you, no matter what they are aiming to hit, your magical or mundane people, the only response was to fling nukes back.

And the Islamists were experts at taking extreme reactions to things. They had an annoying talent for declaring jihad at the drop of a hat, and nothing had stirred them up like the revelation of magic.

Mutual Assured Destruction as a very cold comfort just now. But it was the only one she had.

"Where?" The word almost seemed foreign on her lips.

"All of Europe," came the reply. "Every major city or holy site. Looks like we underestimated how many missiles they'd bought from Russia by a factor of ten, or more. They're still launching. Egypt too, and some from Syria. A boat just offshore of Cuba is eating itself, launching nukes out of improperly protected tubes. But it's going to last long enough to carpet the island."

"Russia launching," came the cold report. "Looks like a full spread."

That was it, then. Their world was going to end in a ball of flame. The crown weighed very heavy on her head as Elizabeth the Second contemplated briefly being the LAST Queen of England.

"China launching, appears to be everything they have."

The mood in the secure bunker could not be more somber.

"USA launching retaliatory strikes."

A man holding a phone to one ear looked to the queen. "Parliament demands that you declare war to enable the launching of our missiles."

For once in her life unable to speak, the queen nodded gravely. British missiles soon sped into the sky.

Everything seemed so strange, she reflected, as though time were somehow suspended or stretched in these precious few minutes between the missile launches and the impacts, between the world they knew and the one that would be created after the devastating explosions. Everyone in her secure bunker felt it, the oppressive...

Queen Elizabeth's attention was brought to the sound of slurping. Normally she could ignore such a thing, but since everyone who SHOULD be there in that deeply buried bunker was feeling tension thick enough to strangle them as they watched their world and way of life end...

Her eyes caught hold of a child standing by her elbow chasing about the last of a vanilla milkshake with her straw. It took the Queen of England NO time at all to identify this person as Queen Alice of Wonderland.

"I thought we'd removed all the mirrors from out of this place?" Elizabeth the Second observed dryly.

"You have a chess program on your computers," Queen Alice informed her casually, still chasing about the last of her milkshake. "It served well enough."

"May I inquire as to the nature of your visit?" Elizabeth inquired formally, with more than a touch of hostility, since to her mind it was the creature standing before her that was the cause of the current crisis.

Alice shrugged, then directed a cheery look upward, proclaiming, "I wanted to see the looks on your faces when you all learned your society is still going to be alive tomorrow."

Dumbfounded shock was the only response to that statement.

Alice giggled, discarding her drink cup, which transformed into a cat and then vanished in mid-air. "Most magical countries listen to their muggleborns, and so the International Confederation of Wizards had plans in place to avert a potential nuclear holocaust for the longest time, ever since the magical communities at Hiroshima and Nagasaki got burned up with their muggle neighbors, really. Nobody with any sense wants to die because someone else pushed a button, so virtually every magical country put in place measures so we didn't have to worry about that."

One could have heard a pin drop - in Africa, the silence was so deep as they all looked toward the apparent seven year old queen, who fetched a burger out of mid-air. "Anyone want one? No? Alright." The diminutive queen took a bite, chewing it daintily, swallowing and wiping her lips with a napkin before explaining, "There are a lot of complicated parts, but it all boils down to a simple game of 'Point Me Weapons Grade Fissionable Materials' combined with elementary transfiguration and a few invisibility cloaks, and moments after wizards feared we were in danger of nuclear war the world hadn't got any nukes. Sorry. They're all armed with tapioca pudding."

Queen Elizabeth the second felt the strongest urge to break down in hysterical laughter. She refrained.

Queen Alice had taken a moment to finish off another bite of her burger. "The whole thing got automated with runes covered with Notice Me Not charms simply ages ago. There have been a few false alarms, it's true. But transfigurations cast by ordinary mortal wizards don't last forever, even when they use runes, so by the time any maintenance crews were checking over those bombs the radioactive materials were back in place, so you mundanes never noticed anything out of the ordinary. But it made everyone magical feel so much better to know that any potential nuclear holocaust was more of a joke than an actual danger. You guys are throwing giant pies at one another."

Whoops and cheers and laughter over the relief filled the chamber. Those cut off the moment reports came in of the first nuclear detonations.

Accusatory stares met the childlike queen.

She'd taken the opportunity to finish off her burger. Wiping away crumbs with her napkin, she elaborated, "There are two little exceptions. One is the one everyone agreed upon - whichever group launched the first nukes in an exchange would not have any missiles targeted at them rendered harmless, to discourage this sort of thing in the future. So the Muslims are about to have a VERY bad day."

"And the other exception?" Queen Elizabeth asked, voice strained, everyone else hanging on their every word.

Alice finished wiping the crumbs and dabs of ketchup off her fingers. "Oh, the Dark Lord you've got in control of the British magical world refused to have anything to do with such agreements. So, because Dumbledore refused to let Britain participate, all of your weapons are live."

"You could have told us before we LAUNCHED!" Elizabeth shrieked.

"No, I couldn't," Alice reprimanded her lightly. "It's against the agreements. What kind of a world would it be if one country could eliminate any rival and no one else could do anything about it? I'll tell you, it was the kind of world Dumbledore was trying to create, and he wanted to be the one holding the missile launch key. And you can't tell me there aren't elements in your government that wouldn't like the idea themselves. So either we'd all live in a world where Britain ruled everything, which certain other countries would not stand and therefore would have backed out of the agreement themselves and thus brought us all back to a state where the nuclear threat was a very real danger for everybody because none of the missiles would be giant cream pies, or it was one where you didn't know you were the only nuclear power, and thus unable to use that to go around bullying other countries to do whatever it was you wanted. It's only ok to tell you now because the missiles are launched, and it's too late to do any arm twisting over it."

Silence filled the bunker, until it penetrated that they were all going to live.

"We're saved!" One crewman threw his arms in the air, jumping out of his seat and cheering.

"Hmm, not really, no." Alice was now stirring a bowl of ice cream.

Dead silence now filled the chamber. They were going to hurt something the way they kept switching from one extreme to another like this.

Alice luxuriously tasted her ice cream Sunday, removing the spoon from her mouth only once it was thoroughly cleansed of the last ice cream molecule. As she went for the next scoop, she explained, "There are certain factors that lead to stability in any culture, and virtually all of those are at all-time lows. Uncertainty leads to anxiety and stress, and very little of a muggle's life is certain anymore. Gone are the days when it was the norm for a man to graduate, get a job, then retire after twenty uninterrupted years of steady, stable, satisfying employment at the same company."

The blonde girl raised her blue eyes to sweep the chamber. "Rome did not fall in a day. But it did suffer through a series of declines that ultimately led to its glory being that of a museum piece rather than a power in world affairs."

"I don't understand," one of the technicians bravely volunteered.

Queen Alice huffed, looking directly at him. "How many oil wells got destroyed today? How much does your world depend upon that oil? Turkey is a Muslim country, and most pipelines for natural gas or oil for Europe pass through there. That country is getting reduced to craters today."

Frank understanding began to fill most faces.

Queen Alice took the opportunity to take another spoonful of ice cream, then took up where she'd left off as though she'd never been interrupted. "You can ration what you still get, and rely on stores for a while, but without fuel there is very little in your modern world that still works - even if that fuel is just burned to produce the electricity you need. So you are going to go through a period of absolutely unbelievable societal stress, and you haven't got the indicators of the type of unity and common purpose to survive that. No, what you've got are a million special interest groups all fighting to have the biggest share. It will take a while, but your world is going to fall."

Alice shook her head sorrowfully. "And being one 'Global Community' and one 'World Market' tied everything together so it will all collapse as one. There is not any nation that can support itself as it is without imports."

She speared the English queen with a glance. "The trouble here is, back in Rome most people still knew how to farm, and most moderns don't. So since nothing larger than a family farm can survive the collapse of empire, modern folks are going to suffer a lot of deaths."

The child's voice grew soft and she addressed the room. "Up to a hundred years ago the world had a primarily agricultural society, which means that most people spent most of their time farming. Fifty years ago the world had a manufacturing based society, which meant most people spent most of their time making goods in factories. Now you live in a bureaucratic society where most people spend most of their time on paperwork."

She sighed, looking up at the adults in the room. "Now think of the skills that gives the common person. Both of the previous systems had most people making things most of the time. You can eat agricultural products and trade manufactured goods. But now all most people know how to do is shuffle papers around, which creates nothing but headaches. In a world where all of the vast public engines that require it have ceased to exist, who is going to trade anything of value for a pile of properly filled out forms?"

Alice turned imploring eyes around the room, pleading, "The vast bulk of your populations have no skills at all suited to survival without the companies and infrastructure that always took care of them before, and that same vast infrastructure is going to be one of the first things that perishes, because it has vast needs for fuel that simply isn't going to be available on the same scale as before. In this sort of situation even if you had enough for yourself that only means that your neighboring countries would see that and be willing to take it by force to see to their own needs. And those resources tend to get lost as people fight over them. So if Britain is going to survive, you have to teach your people how to take care of themselves, not tend to the vast needs of a bureaucracy that is going to go away regardless."

She turned her eyes to the muggle queen. "Right now all of your best people devote their lives to the shuffling of paperwork. Those jobs have the most prestige and benefits associated with them, so your best and brightest try to fill them. That paperwork is of various sorts, just like the farmers once grew food of various sorts. But shuffling papers does not produce wealth, only consumes it. There are rules in place so that paperwork controls all wealth, and the most prestigious paper-pushers get the most wealth, but there were once rules in place that people with a certain skin color were slaves. Just because something is the rules doesn't make it right, or decreed by the universe or anything. When food gets scarce, people are going to abandon the office buildings and go looking for something to eat."

She directed a very calm gaze to the muggle queen, smiling for the first time this visit. "Now, you can let that happen on its own, which means everything possible can happen - and most of those possibilities are bad, or you can go to work on getting as many people relocated to farms as you can while you still have the fuel to move them, then getting them taught how to farm without machinery - because make no mistake, it is food that your people will want, and you haven't got the resources to ship everything you want across the world anymore. So since you can't ship the food, relocate some people so you don't have to move it to feed them, and while they are there they might as well help produce it to offset the drop you'll have from machinery no longer functioning as parts wear out with no one to produce more of them."

Queen Alice paused a moment, as if in contemplation, "You'll also have to use every square foot you can possibly liberate from other purposes to devote to new farms. And either get used to having no strawberries or fresh fruit in winter, or throw up lots of greenhouses. Actually, I can think of a great many parking lots that aren't going to be needed for cars you can't fuel anymore. And just about every lawn or driveway should become a victory garden. For that matter, everything you can power using water wheels or windmills would be a good idea to have, quick while you still have power tools to throw them up quickly. Also I'd put steam locomotives back on the tracks - because you can run those on wood or coal, so you save other fuel supplies. And speaking of fuel supplies people making alcohol in stills in their backyards is something you should change policy on and encourage, because the stuff can be made out of inedible yard waste, and can be burned as a form of fuel."

The gaze she turned on the queen now was almost filled with amusement. "Do recall that the way you collect taxes now is going to stop working soon, and that your income is going to plummet whatever you do as people move to subsistence labor. So big projects like social welfare and free medical care are going to cease to exist no matter what you try, and that's going to upset enough people to give you mobs and riots and fires very shortly. I'd suggest you slash bureaucracy wherever you can, mostly because you won't be able to afford the bureaucrats to run it. Also do whatever you can to find out how things were run a hundred or so years ago, then do whatever it takes to get things back to that state. But to do any of that requires swift, decisive action, and moving against the lazy inertia of people who don't want to change and are comfortable with the way things are. So either you'll have to make unpopular choices to get things done now, while you still can, and get those crops planted before people start getting hungry, or let the floor drop out from under them as the way they want to live stops existing anyway."

Dimples crinkled the child's cheeks as she said, "Of course, that sort of action requires an actual queen, not a figurehead, to create. Because a bureaucracy is never going to decide to do such a thing - not in time. Not without extensive study and bickering over trivial details that will drag on until the opportunity is passed. This will take a leader, not a committee. Are you one?"

And with that challenge Alice was gone.

I I I

Daphne, with Tracy and Pansy held between them and her sister Astoria with the older girls following behind, snuck along the wide, flat plain around the walled town, trying not to be seen as they headed towards Godric's Hollow. It was hard not to be seen when there was about as much cover as sneaking across a pool table, but they did their best, and were not the only ones.

None of the girls knew where, but Voldemort had either learned some tactics (which they doubted) or one of his lieutenants had shown some ability in that area (other than Lucius Malfoy, or the LeStranges, who as far as anyone knew were all dead, because none of them had answered his call), because this latest attack bore some evidence of planning.

First over the wall had been the sodden vampires, who were going to be rotting down to compost soon anyway, so were no loss if destroyed, and thus the easiest of all to risk. Next up was the Death Eater children; themselves, plus all the others called out of Hogwarts, or in Draca's case, moving in her own small crowd far to their left, culled from Azkaban. They were sneaking across that terribly flat and featureless lawn outside the town walls at that very moment with the intent that they would relieve the vampires who were now securing the wall, freeing them up to go further into town, securing advance positions to slaughter defending troops soon to be tumbling out of their barracks once the alarms got sounded.

With the vampires inside of town laying traps, and the Death Eater children on the walls holding that vantage point so more friendly troops could cross over that barrier unresisted, the next wave would be a large force of Dark Wizards and werewolves, the elite troops who would then go in to finish off the town, destroying any last resistance.

Daphne would have had a great deal more confidence in the plan if she hadn't overheard that the supposed genius behind it was Marcus Flint, who would have graduated last year if he hadn't been held back for poor grades, and whose tactical expertise came entirely out of being captain of the Slytherin Quidditch team. And they would never have won a game if Madam Hooch had not been constrained by Dumbledore to never notice even half of their fouls.

No, such a thing did not inspire confidence at all. Daphne and her friends were all placing their trust in the contents of a certain gift basket instead.

I I I

Pacing around his house in Godric's Hollow, Albus Dumbledore was concerned.

The horcrux at his family estate had always been intended to act as a counter against the theory that he could, despite all other precautions, actually die of old age.

It was a wildly improbable theory. But, having countered all real threats to his power long ago, it had amused him to enact plans against less and less likely ones. In fact, he was rather well prepared against invasions from Mars, outbreaks of zombies, or attacks by giant, mutant, space hamsters, all set up as intellectual exercises mostly intended to keep his great intellect busy in the absence of any real challenges.

He was nearly two centuries old, and it was fifty years ago that he had overcome the last true obstacles to his reign. Everything else was whimsy.

The plan for this current soul fragment was to have been fairly simple: observe the world around him until he had enough data to insert himself as a fresh young wizard eager to take his place in it, then assume power from there. Dumbledore had been willing, even intending, to pass himself off as his own son or grandson, or even more distant relation, as that would clear his way to take over most if not all of the power his elder fragments had already accumulated. But there was little to be planned ahead of time, just because of the vast gulf of years he assumed must pass between the time this soul fragment was placed and when it would be activated, if it ever would be.

However, from the get-go, nothing was going according to plan. His first need was accurate information on the time period he was to awaken in. He did not like functioning blind, and frankly did not even know what year he would wake up. Happily, toward that end his house in Godric's Hollow was fully outfitted to be a nerve center as equal to his tower at Hogwarts as it was possible to be. Since many of those items could not be duplicated, he had put devices here that monitored his devices there, so he could read off the same information before leaving his abode - only, unhappily, very little of that information net actually seemed to be working.

Those silver instruments he'd kept in his office all had duplicates here, minor reflections slaved to the originals, merely repeating the information as most of those devices had been too difficult to replicate on a casual whim. But as these now told him nothing, he had to question that assumption, as either the originals had vanished or been destroyed, or the spells on them somehow broken; and truly he'd relied on them for more information about this world.

Very little of his information network was actually functioning properly, and that concerned Dumbledore more than he'd ever admit to. So far he had even been unable to determine what year it was, something he'd honestly expected to know the moment he'd rolled out of that crystal egg.

A wizard could naturally expect to live twice as long as an ordinary muggle, and by virtue of continually dosing himself with phoenix tears Dumbledore had long since calculated he could enjoy twice that. So, having been born in the year 1800, his best guess was, since his earlier self must have perished to bring this fragment to activation, this was at or around the year 2100, but it could be 2400, or even later.

He needed news!

The house had a subscription to the Daily Prophet, however the last edition was dated in September, 1993, more than a hundred years out of date for when this fragment of Dumbledore expected to awaken at the earliest. Still, out of desperation, he'd read it, then paled horrifically.

It was an expose on his own crimes and misdeeds. A remarkably accurate one, at that. The question he had to ask himself next was: what could have come to pass that he could have lost control of his own country and newspaper so thoroughly?

How could things have gone so bad so quickly? Dumbledore had scanned the previous few months editions of that paper and found nothing, nothing that would indicate to him how this grievous breech of secrecy had come to pass!

He had storerooms in his basement filled floor-to-ceiling with monitors on every aspect of the magical world, yet none of them were telling him a thing, not even if he still owned the paper to have printed that damning expose!

The one thing Dumbledore prided himself on most of all was his information. He knew more about any important subject than anybody. In fact most only knew what carefully crafted lies he'd chosen to disseminate, so on most issues of note, he was the only one to have any accurate information at all!

This had made it child's play to control the ignorant fools around him. When he was the only one armed with accurate information, he was the only one able to act upon issues of importance with any effect. Everyone else was flailing around in the dark, boxing at shadows, wasting their efforts on points of no importance whatsoever, and (he had to smirk, thinking on this) often enough clashing head to head against equally deluded fools, each of them wasting their full powers against each other over trivial points of no consequence to the grand design whatsoever!

Other people had theater, or music. He had his own amusements.

Some spent money on fine entertainments. He, however, had better uses for his funds. The more advanced or esoteric the magic, the more it cost, either in books, tutors and materials to become proficient (which he preferred), or to hire experts on it when needed (which he avoided, if possible, just to have fewer people know his innermost secrets).

Dumbledore glanced back at the crystal egg from which he had so recently hatched. Devised as his defense against old age, the materials of that egg cost a princely sum. The Ministry, already well accustomed to spending vast sums of gold for very little benefit, would have been staggered by the price. Yet this was only one of his many projects.

No wonder then, that he had routinely engaged in theft on a vast scale, as he positively hated to part with his own gold for such projects.

Yet here he was in a house empty of functioning resources. He had filled rooms in it with monitoring equipment, none of which were giving him any readings at all!

How was he to resume control of the magical world if he didn't know what was going on? It was maddening!

The only thing for it was to find out more information. Striding outside of his house it became obvious why most if not all of his information sources were not working properly - this town was warded against his magic! The very spells he relied on did not function because he'd cast them. Intolerable!

Unbelievable, really. Who would dare? Who would Think to? Who COULD?

That anyone would WANT to screamed to the currently young old man that his plots had suffered not one but several grievous setbacks. Fortunately, the entire point of this horcrux was starting over as a new person. Perhaps he could make use of, even take advantage of, his predecessor's fall?

Just as he turned to go back into his house he felt rather than saw a person come between him and his ancestral home. Oddly, this person was singing...

"I love you, you love me..."

I I I

Author's Notes:

Sorry about the wait. It seems every time I boast about my writing speed I get slower. Still, next chapter: Dumbledore vs Barney the Purple Dinosaur! (Bet you never thought you'd see that in a semi-serious fic).

And before we forget, rather a lot of belief energy got focused through Wonderland, and not all of that was aimed toward Harry.

It's actually rather hard to believe only one thing at once. It requires focus that most people just don't seem to have.

Dumbledore has spent multiple chapters sending out feelers for information on his current enemies: Colonel Sanders, the Pillsbury Doughboy, and Barney the Purple Dinosaur (introduced clear back in chapter six, then referenced once again in the Wonderland scenes of chapter eighty four). The Colonel has held center stage for the longest while, but he was looking for hints on them all, so quite a few magical people had been thinking about them lately. Some of those were Dumbledore toadies who were convinced these were great enemies of their lord and master, and many just muggleborns who had no idea what was rumored about them, who were merely familiar with the characters out of their backgrounds.

All of this, naturally, created a less than tidy blend.

 
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