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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92. Chapter Ninety-Two

I I I

The cloak of night had fallen.

Among muggle armies of the time period magical civilization had gotten stuck in, that would mean a respite. No actions could be performed when the men doing them could not see, so it was mostly a time of rest and recovery.

Muggles did not wage war using vampires.

A thick fog had rolled in; natural, but one they planned to take advantage of. A furtive figure in a dark cloak standing at the edge of the camp of the Dark Lord's army watched as enchanted sheets of heavy black material flew in under that cover to drape themselves over the humongous crosses built into the now-even-nearer-to-completion outer wall, fixing themselves in place with sticking charms and silencing the glows from each and masking them so they no longer had power to drive off creatures of the Night Clans.

The few, exhausted wizards standing guard on the wall didn't seem to notice. From that, it was easy to deduce the Notice-Me-Not charms on those sheets of thick leather were doing their jobs.

The figure nodded to itself, turning to scramble a little clumsily down the steep ridge of dirt sheltering the city, and back down the opposite side among the enchanted tents and dim lights of Voldemort's camp.

The attack would likely be tonight.

After so many recent, stinging defeats, Voldemort's forces were starting to use some caution. A thousand werewolves, nearly all the Dark Lord could get a hold of, backed by another thousand zombies, would have been overkill against anything in the magical world. Yet that army had not only failed, it had been annihilated without doing any discernible damage to this target.

That thought was as bewildering to their lord as it was infuriating.

The cloaked figure reached a particular tent and scratched at the flap in a particular pattern. You couldn't have just anyone slip inside. After a moment the locking charms released and a gap opened just wide enough, just long enough, for the thin slip wearing that dark cloak to dart inside. Then it was sealed up tighter than a bank vault.

It had to be.

Of course, after the disgrace of Gringotts nobody had a good opinion of bank vaults anymore. They couldn't be any better protected than the bank itself, and some Slytherin girls had panty drawers that would resist an assault by cursebreakers better than that!

And that was before any witch was basically obligated by law to immediately comply with the first proposal any wizard, no matter how revolting, gave her. The only exceptions were trivial ones like if two wizards proposed a pureblood wizard's must be honored before one of lesser bloodline - Not something that would help a witch choose someone to her liking! Most of the pureblood men were pigs. You didn't have to be in Slytherin long to learn that one.

"Is it tonight?" a desperate voice asked as the figure entered.

"It looks that way," Tracy told her best friend Daphne, pulling the cloak away from her face and letting the fabric fall from off her shoulders to pool on the ground. A house elf was already hurrying to put it away.

"Oh," Daphne and the other pureblood girls gave off depressed sighs.

"I wish we'd never left Hogwarts," one of the older girls rubbed her arms, feeling the chill. They all found this second-hand tent to be too cold, too drafty and too damp for comfort. The charms on it were failing. Besides, only Tracy had a personal elf.

However none of them were going to dare risk showing her face to go buy a better one. Gathering a half-dozen unmarried witches in one place was risk enough as it was! That is if rumors about the bank folding hadn't wiped out their trust vaults, leaving them penniless as well as, well, only Pansy was an orphan... so far.

All of them tried to avoid looking at the pug-nosed girl curled up in a corner where she had fallen asleep after having exhausted herself weeping. Pansy was the only Parkinson left now, and that from having been at Hogwarts at the time of Voldemort's massacre of her family.

That wasn't right! Favors ought to be repaid with favors, and it was a pretty big one to indulge in dark rituals to bring someone back from the dead! Not to mention the risk to freedom and livelihood they'd incurred breaking the law to do it! The Dark Lord ought to owe Pansy's family big for that. Instead, he had wiped out her clan and demolished her childhood home in a fit of temper.

A childish fit, at that.

All the girls present felt any good Slytherin, and by that they meant one who could plot beyond a 'let's go taunt some Gryffindors' level, could see that for all the hype about grandeur, the Dark Lord's service was a pretty crummy place to be. And that was even if they accepted the most important choices in their lives, namely whom to marry and how many children to bear, being taken away from them in the name of the 'Greater Magical Good'.

Still, from the sad and forlorn faces gathered all around in the dim light, it was plain those girls felt the only thing worse than those sudden marriage laws was the fact that the Dark Lord had a mania for attacking fortifications where no one survived of the initial assault forces.

As third year students, well, Daphne and Tracy and Pansy were anyway, even if the other three girls were older years, they were all still students and did not feel so hot about marching to war for somebody who plainly didn't care if they lived or died! Even being a soon to be baby factory, and a pureblood at that, didn't give a girl value or spare her from combat duty. They were all just grist for Voldemort's mill, food for his plans of conquest.

Even the vampires were nervous about this assault. Unlike zombies, the bloodsuckers were keenly aware that they could be destroyed, and were not anxious to risk that destruction.

But, dark powers were all about slavery, and they MUST obey their masters. Not something the average vampire fan wanted to believe, but there it was.

"Yeah, I didn't want to leave either." Daphne sighed. "But when your family calls, and it is a matter of 'obey or die', what can you do?"

Daphne and Tracy shared a look, both thinking calling the Slytherins out of Hogwarts for this assault was not a very Slytherin thing to do. If you wanted to capture Hogwarts, don't call your friendly forces out from inside it! But then, she and Tracy were rapidly developing the opinion that for all the Dark Lord's fame as an unstoppable killer, he made for a terrible general.

He was a butcher, throwing resources at a target until he took it, not caring for the cost. However, being among those he was about to throw at a target, those girls cared a very great deal.

But the vampires had to obey, they all knew there wasn't any choice about that. Experience being around them showed that contrary to the examples displayed in corpse-humping modern literature aimed at titillating teenage girls who think dark, angsty, brooding stalkers are romantic, the actual reality of vampirism was one of grim horror and enslavement to appetites.

That truth was available to anyone who read the ancient tales about them.

"Everything about this is so wrong," Daphne shook her head, blonde hair flying. "The marriage laws, withdrawing us from Hogwarts to fight, everything."

"Especially the vampires." Tracy shuddered. Having to work with them, you quickly learned a vampire was a dead body animated by the most foul and ancient of blood magics, but it was still only a dead body, and one restored to only partial function at that. The digestive tract had rotted clear away. They could not eat any food without regurgitating it up shortly after. The only exception to this was the living blood they drank that served as a necessary sacrifice to keep the ancient corpse animating magics going.

That was what always made them so eager to whack a few humans, and thus so useful to dark generals going to war. Active vampires literally could not survive long without a continual supply of fresh blood, and the sacrificial magics required that it be from a sentient creature. And if the donor did not die, then it wasn't much of a sacrifice, was it?

Being powered by blood sacrifice, you might as well try paying off your mortgage in monopoly money as feeding a vampire off rats or blood bags.

"So long as we're on morbid topics," the sixth year girl in their group began, "Vampires make a very interesting study to those few who can survive the research. They are the very essence of Undead - dead things pretending life. Their hearts do not beat, and their lungs do not draw air, having rotted away along with the rest of their internal organs as the corpse lay festering in its coffin during the initial three day transformation into a vampire. It is part of the disguise inherent in what they are that the magic of their animation can cause the vocal chords to vibrate without their nonexistent lungs blowing air past them. The reproductive organs are likewise gone."

Daphne and Tracy, along with the other Slytherin girls present, gathered closer as they moved away from the tent door, away from drafts and possible listeners. It wasn't their favorite topic of conversation, but it did serve to distract them from the grim fate possible in a few minutes, if the attack really did go forward tonight.

Besides, it was a Slytherin precept: you could never have too much information on your enemies, but better still to have it on unsteady allies.

Slytherins didn't have such things as friends, generally.

The older girl smirked, finding humor in their grim situation. "You might as well think a table leg is attractive as a vampire. Actually, they are more like your reflection in a mirror - it may look right, but it ain't the real deal, and no matter how sexy your reflection looks it just doesn't have the equipment to do anything about it. Despite that, vampires have a rather strong sex appeal. It is one of their hunting tools, more along the lines of bait than anything else - a trick to draw in prey and make them easier to capture. But they are as incapable of following through on the deed as any other century old corpse."

Tracy's lips quirked, getting into the topic. "It's actually amusing you compare them to reflections, seeing as they have none."

Daphne was rubbing her arms against the chill, looking around and feeling nervous, but unable to show that and rigidly following the Slytherin ritual - when information was being shared you did your part, or else look ignorant. The ignorant are fools and fools are the natural prey of everybody. "They cast no reflection as they have no souls, and thus suffer all of the problems You-Know-Who faces with regards to music and beauty."

Anyone who recalled the original story of Dracula would know he had to hire someone and quiz that person for weeks as to how to fit into normal society. Whereas any normal person who'd simply gotten out of touch but had the ability to turn into a bat could have figured it all out by simple observation.

They simply didn't understand humans, nor could they.

"That's the real point," the older girl interjected, before the others could chime in. "We all know they are fast and strong, but it is their weaknesses and vulnerabilities we should care about now."

Mostly because a soulless serial killer with a hunger for human blood was not often picky about his sources, and it was as dangerous to claim them as allies as it was to face them as enemies. Perhaps more so.

One of the fourth-year girls began nodding, before adding her bit, "Another fact present in the ancient tales about vampires is they are unable to cross bodies of water without assistance. They can be carried across, but they have no ability to cross it themselves."

Her yearmate added, "Nor could they enter a house without invitation."

The sixth year girl was nodding. "Every so often you get idiots who want to be vampires, and those sort casually dismiss these weaknesses, preferring not to see them, tossing them aside in their interpretation because they don't want their idols to be weak. But vampires have perhaps the largest assortment of weaknesses and vulnerabilities of any magical creature."

She didn't need to add that sharing a battlefield with them, the Slytherins would be spending at least as much time watching those undead 'allies' as they would the enemy, as vampires were known to betray their comrades at any moment of weakness or inattention.

Vampires HAD TO obey their overlord, whoever that was, but there was nothing, not even his orders, that could keep any supposed comrades safe.

The sixth year girl snorted, taking a seat and popping the top off a bottle of butterbeer Tracy's elf had lifted from camp supplies. They were technically entitled, but the girls weren't about to show their faces to get it themselves even though that was technically required to do so in order to collect their rations. "Actually, if you were to take a close look at them, it'd be easy to suppose that vampires were an early and very failed attempt at immortality, just like soul jars and some other attempts. I can so easily imagine a wizard playing around with magic he didn't understand attempting to bring a corpse to life and getting the first vampire, then never having an opportunity to correct his mistakes as his experiment took him as its first meal."

The girls grew quiet, the distraction over and their minds wandering back over the topics they had been avoiding. None of them wanted to die, and that looked probable, especially as the guards on the wall defending the town went longer and longer without noticing the leather sheets covering up the crosses that kept the vampires at bay.

Once someone in Voldemort's camp decided that tactic worked, the attack would be tonight. Only, since none of the other attacks had gone well, none of the gathered Slytherin girls expected much to get out of this one alive.

Of course, should they survive then it was on to a life of being a baby factory for the first wizard to pop the question, and they didn't want to be forced to marry the first wizard who saw their faces and blurted out a marriage proposal, either.

It was in the midst of this melancholy that a white owl appeared with a little gift basket.

I I I

The vampires were already on approach.

They were tasked with taking the watching guards down so the main force could approach, as very few creatures could be as stealthy as a vampire.

Of course, as the earlier conversation had described, they had plenty of vulnerabilities as well, and there was very good reason why vampires avoided water, and not just holy water. They were dead, and had no immune systems. The dead flesh would not break down on its own due to the magics involved, but you get dead flesh waterlogged, especially with swampy, dirty water, and it becomes an ideal breeding environment for microorganisms, so they start to grow things introduced by that water - chiefly molds and fungi, and there was no native immunity left in the body to fight those infections off.

Dry, carefully maintained flesh can last for centuries. The protections built in worked perfectly fine against airborne contaminants or dust, but get a vampire wet and they generally start to sprout green fuzz soon after and get the occasional mushroom poking out of their faces, until they eventually sublime down into a healthy load of mulch.

Healing spells and potions didn't work because they're DEAD! You might as well give an antibiotic to your table lamp to help it stave off rust! It could even be one of those cast in the shape of a person. Looking like a person does not make something function as one.

There are REASONS why vampires are afraid of crossing water! To fall in means their utter and complete destruction in humiliating ways!

The human body really was a marvel in all of the things it was able to handle. People who idolize vampires have a tendency only to look on the powers they receive, and view the undead as superior, rather than see all they lose out of that marvelous human function that makes undead in many ways inferior.

It was one thing to think of them as powerful, romantic predators, and quite another to realize that rather a lot of things eat them too. From a plant's perspective, the undead are walking bags of fertilizer. Just introduce a little moisture and some seed and off you go. And the Dark Lord's forces had just had a great many vampires get drenched in his attempt to save the Ministry from Harry's small assault. Drenched in water that carried mold spores.

Voldemort was so angry over that defeat no one dared to approach him. Not only was he killed in the collapse, and not only had he lost nearly a hundred Death Eaters and vampires, half the Ministry building had collapsed, the rest was flooded, a king hydra had somehow gotten loose in there, killed a large portion of the workers, and still lurked somewhere down in the ruined structure. But he had been humiliated in front of the magical world!

Then that humiliation doubled when he was unable to reopen the bank.

Still, having over a hundred sopping-wet vampires, Tom Riddle was faced with the fact that they were going to turn into fertile topsoil soon, and so long as he was going to lose them anyway, might as well use them in an attack.

Whether he followed that attack up by less disposable forces depended entirely on how well the initial assault was going.

I I I

Ted Tonks was on wall patrol.

About a dozen wizards had the duty tonight, all spread out in their own little circles of light upon the wall. After having suffered two surprise attacks in a row, the town had belatedly decided on keeping sentries.

Still, it was boring work, and hard to stay awake after a full day's effort. It was something anyone would do to cast warming charms on themselves to ward off the chill. Being warm and tired made one drowsy, but the man loyally walked back and forth slapping his arms to stay awake.

Ted Tonks had never been a military man, else he would have known better than to have lit the area around him so he could see where he was walking. The path atop this section of wall was completed, and even enough he could have walked over it in the dark without tripping. Dwarven stonework was legendary for a reason, after all. It would probably be centuries before there was the slightest unevenness between flagstones, and more importantly if he'd not had a light on himself it wouldn't have ruined his night vision, so he could've done the job he was there struggling to perform.

A watchman is supposed to watch, after all, and that required seeing threats far off - something hard to do when you can't see much of anything beyond the ten foot circle of light centered around yourself.

Ted Tonks was not alone in this. Every wizard on the walls was doing it, and no one with any experience who knew better was there to tell them to do it any differently.

Harry was busy, for one.

Ted never even had time to scream as he was overcome and hauled off the wall. The strange thing was, Ted was again attacked and pulled from the wall a few minutes after that.

I I I

Sirius Black grinned over the prone form of his quasi-brother-in-law (it was hard sometimes not to think of the Black sisters as his sisters instead of the cousins they were) as he tied him up. "Let this be a lesson to you never to drop your guard on watch," Sirius told the man in tones of false piety.

"We may have to hit another Humane Society. I'm running out of unwanted pets," James Potter chuckled as he transfigured another dog into a replica of a wizard, this time Ted Tonks, who was a relative in a way considering that Sirius was as good as a brother to him.

Lily Potter, his wife, gave a small shrug as she laid the compulsion charms on the feral animal to sent it to take over Ted's role walking the wall, acting out the way he'd paced and slapped his arms to keep himself awake. "They have only so many animals on the 'to be destroyed' list as too dangerous to live."

"Funny, maybe we could offer them some vampires," James quipped.

Remus shifted back from wolf form with a quick, "Shh! They're coming!" His nose serving as an excellent warning system.

They all took cover, and Ted Tonks, the real one, watched from concealment in startled horror as the false 'Ted Tonks' on the wall, doing just what he'd been doing, was snatched by feral vampires moments later. Sounds of a bloody and violent feeding on the other side of the wall followed.

Imagining that as him, it was hard not to feel chills in the soul. It was indeed a most powerful lesson on watch duty being more than just occupying space on a point to be guarded. He was supposed to be seeing threats coming, 'cause if he didn't he would be among the first to suffer.

Ted Tonks, nor indeed any of the other wizards rescued by the Marauders that evening, would never be lax on guard duty again.

I I I

"Thanks for not letting my poor husband get killed," Andromeda Tonks told her cousin Sirius as he delivered the man, still wrapped up and pale from the shock of his close brush with death.

The party of Tonks family plus Marauders was watching the vampire invasion from the roof of the Tonks villa in town. Dark, distant shapes were flitting across the wall unrestricted.

The full on invasion would be soon now.

Other minds were not on that so much as they style and finesse these guys had displayed. After carefully checking for wedding rings, and finding two of these prime fellows off the market, Nymphadora sidled up to the remaining one of them, thinking 'yummy!' and asked, "So, doing anything tonight?"

Remus glanced at her and snorted. Sometimes having a sensitive nose was a curse. He took a wedding ring on a chain out from where he was wearing it on a necklace. "Like my friends, I got married right out of Hogwarts. Unlike them, our first baby was already on the way. You look just a year or so older than my oldest daughter. Why don't you check out someone your own age?"

Nymphadora walked off, pouting, while her mother smirked.

I I I

The attack was on.

Unlike previous efforts, there would be a probing force sent in before the main thrust. That was being done by the vampires.

Then, because they were getting justifiably paranoid after having fallen into so many traps, another probing force behind that, just in case whoever it was on the receiving end didn't think vampires were tempting enough bait to spring their trap on.

Naturally, to be a probing force it had to be such that you wouldn't mind losing it, should the worst happen and it found the trap you feared. Being Voldemort, his most valuable forces were his most powerful ones: the expert spellcasters, hit wizards, the wealthy or those with political connections. He had no special use for thirteen year old girls.

Sure, they would potentially be the mothers of his future nation, but that didn't matter to him right now. Long term planning was not one of his strong suites, else he wouldn't have been trapped as a specter for so long. So, not being especially deadly or experienced, those girls went on the firing line.

Tracy and Daphne glanced at each other, still under their heavy cloaks and supporting Pansy between them, the older girls right behind.

They hoped this worked, as the attack on Godric's Hollow was on, and they were doomed to be among the first sent up to assault the town.

I I I

Author's Notes:

According to the source material, Nymphadora Tonks was a seventh year back when Harry was a firsty. That places her at about six years older than him, give or take a little.

Also according to Rowling, although they married right out of Hogwarts, Harry was born to his parents three years or so after graduation.

Assuming Remus, in this story, had a baby right after graduation, his oldest child would be approximately three years or so different in age than Nymphadora Tonks. Dates could be tweaked to make that stretch a little in either direction, but not much.

So it's always struck me as a little sick, all these people insisting they are a Destined Couple, when Remus could realistically have a daughter almost the same age as Tonks.

Really, I don't know of a couple arranged by Rowling that doesn't give me a little pause. Even Mr and Mrs Weasley, when she is giggling about having given him love potions, just causes the hair to stand up on my neck.

Who would want a romantic partner who has to take away your free will before you would be interested in them? Huh? Where is the sense in that? (and another mark against Snape, actually, as if he wants Lily, but doesn't care that she no longer wants him... who in their right mind calls that love? When you TRULY love someone, you want them to be happy, even if that costs you personally. Snape's version is the exact opposite of that.)

A writer of great romance, Rowling is not. Frankly, I am convinced that she made up half of the 'official' couples by drawing names out of a hat, as most of them could not have less in common, or less basis for a real relationship.

 
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