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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102. Chapter One Hundred and Two

I I I

Dumbledore had mastered every style of magic known to the British Isles, and more, he'd investigated styles of magic often thought lost or forgotten. Thus, when he warded a vault complex, he began with Egyptian Tomb Curses as a base to start with, added measures such as got used by Gringotts to protect their own vaults (back when they had any), interwove Celtic runes and grew complex from there.

Egyptian Cursebreakers would have fainted at the very idea of facing one of Dumbledore's private stashes, had they known what was protecting them.

Dumbledore could do this because he was famous for forgetting more magic than most knew in their lifetimes. Thus he had more tools available in his bag of tricks. But the Boy-Who-Lived never forgot anything, not even the list of twenty one thousand, three hundred, twenty six birthdays he sent gifts to every year. All of them appropriately chosen for the person receiving them, of course.

And the Boy-Who-Lived regularly took on adventures that were quite frankly based on the very worst tales that cursebreakers could think up.

The better to leave everything in those tales exciting, of course.

I I I

Lily Potter wrote as fast as she could.

The way her son explained it, cracking Dumbledore's secret, underground smuggling warehouses would be a great deal like cracking an Egyptian tomb - only not.

"Dumbledore's great weakness," her boy had said, shortly before sending them all off on these assignments, "is that he is a Traditionalist at heart, one of the great defenders of 'the way things have always been is the way they *ought* to be'. And this makes him predictable in some ways. So to find out how he has done anything, look at the way those things got done before. Of course, to take the man's great cunning into account, once you've done that, look up what the standard response to that standard approach is, then expect him to have countered that."

Hiding vast wealth for an eternity? The only patterns for that, other than just burying it in a field or on an island where any wizard could find it, was either a Gringotts vault or an Egyptian tomb.

So naturally he incorporated elements of both in his secret storehouses.

The Egyptian method? Lots and lots of spells and curses, some mazes and traps, and a few enchanted guardians (and only a few because the cost of golems and other guardians that could stand in place for thousands of years, then go into action the moment they were needed, was rather high).

The gringotts method? A handful of spells and traps, some mazes, and lots and LOTS of guards.

They had begun this tomb-breaking adventure with the screaming of a thousand vampires shrieking out their bloodlust turned to terror as The Boy Who Lived used a wordless, wandless charm to enchant the ceiling above their heads with the same spells as on the Hogwarts Great Hall, flooding the cave system with daylight.

"I never get tired of that!" Harry had declared, clenching a fist in delight as the chamber full of ancient vampires turned to shrieking statues of dust that crumbled away into nothingness.

Crossing his arms as the former foes dispersed in the slight breeze, the Boy Who Lived had then begun his plan that would strip Dumbledore of the vaults those vampires had been put in place to guard.

"Dad? You are up first."

Harry then spoke, instructing not only to his father but the large crowd of witches and wizards following with them. "Alright, we're in a terrible rush trying to not just reach these places, but to get them emptied before the Headmaster realizes what is going on. We don't have a lot of time to waste on explanations, so one will have to do for all. Listen up, because the setup will be the same for everyone."

The Boy Who Lived had then wordlessly cast a wide-scale illusion of the map taken from the scar on Dumbledore's knee, highlighting both where they were at that moment and the nearest of the hidden treasure vaults. "Dumbledore has created a network of hidden vaults. Each one has enough wealth to beggar the imagination, and defenses to match. It would take teams of standard cursebreakers years to open any one of these, and then they'd still suffer massive losses. But we're going to open all of them today."

Then her son had grinned, "And this is how we're going to do it."

Dumbledore's defenses down here had come in roughly two layers. The outer layer, the guards, had been handled effectively enough by Harry as vampires that had not been dusted by that initial rush of sunlight had been forced by necromantic spells Harry had purified for just this kind of use to reveal what traps and tricks protected those sections they had guarded.

That had taken care of the Gringott's style layer rather handily. Then it was time for cursebreaking teams to break the inner, Egyptian layers.

Lily had no personal experience as a Cursebreaker beyond the five-minute lecture her son had given them before they'd started out on this run. Of course, that could be a good thing, because Dumbledore knew the standard cursebreaking methods inside and out, and had laid down his traps specifically to catch people using them.

The best way to kill a wizard has always been to catch him by surprise. Traps in tombs were set up with that in mind. Therefore, standard cursebreaker procedure, according to her son, was to conjure or transfigure animals and send them first. These would trip any traps and alert the wizards following behind. Once aware of the problem, they could deal with it.

Lily had already discovered at least four times where a conjured animal going first would have tripped an alarm that had set off a trap, not on top of the conjured animal, but over an entire corridor thirty feet back and around the corner that standard cursebreakers would have been sheltering behind as they watched their conjured animal's progress.

And that was just in her *own* tunnel! Countless others were working on their own. Harry had split them all up into teams of three, with one dryad to go on point to handle the dangerous stuff (because just in case she should get killed, it didn't matter as she'd instantly reform at her closest tree anyway. So all it would be was a slight delay as said dryad raced to rejoin her team), one mortal witch or wizard, then someone else, often a specialist.

Lily was specialist on her team, which consisted of a darling dryad girl by the name of Lavender, who Lily understood to be one of her son's prospective wives, and a mortal wizard she didn't know by the name of Cummings.

Muggleborn, much like herself. The man was competent by British wizarding standards, which unfortunately didn't say very much. Still, he filled out the vital 'mortal' slot on their team, as Lily herself no longer qualified.

No, her original, youthful wish to be a dryad had never been fulfilled. Instead, the Fairy Queen had offered to elevate Lily and her husband, and a few others, to the ranks of high fey, much like their son Harry.

They had leaped at the chance.

Dryads, as charming as they are, had limits that higher fairy did not. Lily was not exactly sure where those limits were, but the Queen had assured her that was the case, and that was enough for Harry's mother. So, while she wasn't unkillable, Lily and her husband both shared a degree of Second Sight - which was why they were not on a team together, as Godric's Hollow had proved that Dumbledore did know how to use wards that kept out fairies, so a mortal wizard was vital on each team, for in case they ran into any.

Not to say mortals didn't have their own weaknesses. Nine times already her team had already run into traps whose vital parts, those spells and sensors that would alert experienced cursebreakers to a trap being present, were hidden away behind a Fidelius. As fairy creatures she and Lavender could see them, but to mortal cursebreakers those would have been completely undetectable, and they would have been slaughtered to a man each time.

Lily winced as the sound of a distant explosion shook the earth. That had happened enough times now that she knew what it was - some other team had tripped one of the *many* traps that brought down the ceiling on a corridor, squashing everything beneath a few thousand tons of stone.

Somebody somewhere had probably lost their dryad - again.

Down here in these tunnels with no one to see, Dumbledore did not pull any punches. His traps put the most infamous ones in Egypt to shame. And there was a very good reason for that.

As her son had put it, Dumbledore was a very powerful, very bored old man who'd had the better part of two centuries to perfect the defenses over his major schemes. And here, the warehouses that contained the bulk of his wealth brought in by a secret smuggling empire, were one of those.

Dumbledore had every opportunity over those years to read over reports and interview the men who had experienced the very worst that Egyptian magical tombs had to offer - and he'd used those traps and methods as his starting point to defend his warehouses here. Not only did he include the original Egyptian traps themselves, but he knew how those had been broken open the first time, and lay more traps to slaughter anyone trying to counter those.

So, if a cursebreaker should come up to Ancient Egyptian Trap number 143, he probably would go through his logs and reference books to discover just how that had been broken back when it was first discovered back in Egypt, if he didn't know already. And the moment he used the standard counter for Trap 143, or any strategy based on that counter, he'd be caught by a second trap meant specifically to catch someone attempting to disarm Trap 143.

This place would have eaten standard teams of cursebreakers alive.

There was a magical field across the corridor up ahead the fried anything passing through it. Now the standard approach to something like that was to conjure or levitate enough junk through it to exhaust the magical reservoirs powering the field, but Lily had seen enough to be certain somebody doing something like that would find out that the same power wells supporting that field also kept up a second, hidden effect that prevented something else from happening. So if the field was exhausted the ceiling would fall, crushing all beneath, or the containment ward holding a previously summoned demon would collapse, leaving it free to ravage everything in the corridor.

Something like that.

There wasn't a single, simple trap down here. Everything was two-pronged, when it wasn't three or four-pronged, or just the bait to lead you into something even more devious.

Lily finished drafting the latest corridor using a conjured muggle drafting table and tools to help mark things out accurately with real ink on real parchment. One of those things Harry had stressed was they ought to map out the defenses they encountered, mostly so they could learn Dumbledore's style of how he defended things. Whatever they ran into here, where he was protecting wealth most precious to him, would be his some examples of best work. So, if they should want to attack Dumbledore anywhere else that he'd defended, what they learned here would help.

She'd first tried a standard mapping quill, only to discover very subtle differences between the angles and distances it recorded, and the real thing. The same problems cropped up using charms to gauge distances and measure angles in this place. Everything came out subtly wrong. So the first thing Lily had done was send an alert out to all the other teams not to trust them, and why, and the second thing she had done was to get some muggle tools to do the mapping the old fashioned way - with rulers and plumb lines and a bewildering array of devices, and string.

Ceilings in this place would dip, and walls would bend, and often it was most instructive to note why. Frequently those bulges eventually betrayed the traps around them, either concealing those mechanisms themselves or walls being subtly angled to control the blasts. But then Lily had compared her map she was making by hand to the one her mapping quill was still-laboring on, and what the comparison revealed was that there was a large hollow space on hers that had been completely edited out on the other.

Magic would never have found it, but there it was.

And if Dumbledore was so anxious to hide whatever was in that blank space on her map that he'd laid charms over these corridors to foul up any mapping charms or spells in use, charms so subtle that even knowing they were there Lily, a charms mistress herself, could still not find them...

Well, anything he was that anxious to hide, she wanted to find.

"Explosives are set," Lavender came back up the corridor to announce.

"What did you want all that dynamite to blow a tunnel to, anyway?" Cummings asked.

Lily smiled. "I don't know. Let's find out, shall we?"

I I I

The ground shook, in what was becoming a depressingly regular occurrence.

"Did you feel that, Pad?"

"Mmm hmm. You know, 'Vati, probably the best thing about hanging around Harry is his greatness is contagious."

Both girls giggled ferociously.

It was easy for them to feel cheery about that subject. They were fae. They both recalled the original, unaltered pasts where both girls were destined to be married off to men three times their age, who never loved them. It was not exactly a history to be inspired about, especially since the loans their marriages had secured had eventually bankrupted their birth family.

The present trials, troubles and world upheavals (economic among them) were not a great place or time to run an authentic Indian restaurant in downtown London, whoever you catered to. The magicals were being put through the wringer by the current Voldemort war, and under his leadership their bigotry and prejudice were at an all-time high, while the muggles were having their own problems dealing with a world war.

No, it was easy to see why their father had wanted those loans. Times were tough. But the troubles were so long and so bad that money not been enough to see their family through to prosperity regardless.

Compared to that, the lure of being a dryad was irresistible! But then Harry had to go adding on to the basic package of eternal youth and beauty (which was quite enough already, thank you) even more benefits, like making them immune to fire, the built-in weapons and armor of goblin silver, training in archery by a centaur, and all of that in addition to spreading so many clones of their trees everywhere that they were virtually unkillable!

They'd proved that time and time again down in these tunnels, where golems and ancient beasts had become animated and tried to kill them, only to fall before superior archery, or a combination of silver swords and super strength. And in those cases when a guardian was so strong those dryads had actually been bested, she'd reformed back at her tree to try again, going up fresh against the guardian she'd damaged in her first try.

No, being a dryad was so many steps above their former lives it was simply no contest. THEN he had to go and add more goodies on top of it by becoming the Boy-Who-Lived!

There simply could be no more delectable a boy to fall in love with. They knew - the books had been deliberately written that way!

The magic that had transformed those Boy-Who-Lived myths into reality was truly overwhelming, especially for creatures of fairy. And, as creatures of fairy who belonged to Harry, naturally they'd suffered some of that too.

Now, instead of merchants daughters who'd lived above a restaurant all of their lives, they'd been caught up in the backlash of his change, and since the Boy-Who-Lived frequently got rewarded with girls at the conclusion of some of his successful adventures, he *needed* to have some to properly fulfill the magic changing him, so now their history said they were two of them.

Neither girl was going to complain about that in this or any other century.

The Patil girls already belonged to him anyway. That had been their choice, and they were quite happy with it, just granted the basic package. It was just the REASON they belonged to him that had changed.

Padma and her sister Parvati were now Indian Princesses, with fresh pasts wherein they'd never known anything of dirty, grubby kitchen work (although they still did, never having forgotten those experiences at their father's restaurant out of their previous lives). Part of a culture of magical nobles who lived draped about by gold and jewels, the girls had been given to the boy hero just like a couple of priceless rubies by a grateful monarch.

They even came with their own palace.

There had been plenty of material for Wonderland to work with in granting them these new backgrounds, too. The magical cultures of India had always been there, if a little more poor and grubbier than tales were wont to say. Hogwarts had done the British magical peoples a real favor in unifying them and providing a common general base of education, rather than this clan or that one keeping their cleaning charms and other spells as family secrets, only to be passed on to close relations, as had occurred in most of the rest of the world. The magical people of India had been through some of the worst of that clannishness, and were as fractionalized as their mundane kin had been until the British came and unified the country; and while the changes toward unification had swept their magical world too, it was incompletely as yet.

Magical India was still, quite frankly, something of a broken up mess. Dozens of tiny kingdoms smaller than the county of Kent dotted the outskirts and rough parts of the country that had never been worth the British East India Company's time to occupy and integrate. But that only made it easier for the tide of magic sweeping by to give one of those minor kings and his associates memories of a Boy-Who-Lived adventure in his tiny kingdom, as well as a pair of royal daughters that just happened to be Padma and Parvati, who would now never have to marry anyone to grant their father a business loan.

Memories took very little magic to alter, and as suddenly as that, the two were, as far as anyone was aware, of the royal blood of a tiny kingdom.

It was quite a change from being up to their elbows in dishsoap every night and weekend growing up, and every school break since then.

Parvati drew her own dryad longbow back to her ear and let fly, piercing a golem through the eye and shattering the stone that supported its magic, ending the animating force and leaving it just a simple statue.

Padma then, quite playfully, drew on the escaping magic to put it right back into the golem, temporarily, but this time under her control. It lasted only a few seconds, but that was enough to get the creature to open the door that it alone served as key for.

Another of Dumbledore's favorite methods down here had been to have the guardians tomb raiders would destroy also be the necessary components to open up certain locks they guarded. For him, or any authorized person, it was easy as the guards under his control would open locks for him. For anyone else, well, they'd destroy the creatures protecting doors only to find those creatures had been the only thing that could open them.

But no companions of the Boy-Who-Lived would be stopped by something like that!

I I I

The London Underground was vast, the second largest metro system in the world in terms of route miles, and it had not all been envisioned as part of one design system. There were closed sections, entire stations bricked off from the outside world, tunnels ended either by administrative changes or engineering faults, or simply running out of money, and no end of snafus.

On the surface, when you try to build something and something goes wrong you can always knock it down and try again. But a tunnel, once dug, stays around. You could either fill it back in, which is expensive, or collapse it, which might damage the area for future efforts and even destabilize buildings on the surface above. So mostly abandoned projects just got left alone.

Of course, the system was also old, and anything old accumulates odd bits, relics of things that are once required, but then obsolete and now forgotten. Passengers on the lines rarely had any idea how much of that system existed but was not in use.

And, of course, that was *before* wizards moved in and expanded parts of it for their own use.

And wizards could make anything nuts.

"Harry, I think your help is required with Sirius and his team," Luna spoke into the communications mirror. She, with her ability to know Needful Things, was serving as dispatcher to Harry, sending him out to cursebreaker teams who were about to get into trouble.

At the moment she had stop orders out on half a dozen teams, each waiting for needed assistance to arrive before they could move on. But her sixth sense was informing her that Sirius was not liable to wait around for his proper turn order.

By her side, Hermione, the Homework Seer, was checking over maps that had been brought back from over twenty teams who simply had not been able to proceed, getting stuck, or turned around, or just not able to find the vaults they were sent after.

Over their heads hung the expanded scar taken from off Dumbledore's knee, that showed not only the Underground and his various vaults within, but also revealed the progress of their various teams.

They had practically every dryad down there at once, as well as a large supporting cast of other witches and wizards. Nearly a hundred teams in all, working on just as many secret warehouses. But it was a tricky bit of business, and so far no success.

That was when Lily's face appeared on a mirror. "Harry? Hermione? Luna? Guess what I just found!" The pair looked up at the woman's face to see, reflected over her shoulder, a tremendous pile of gold and jewels and other precious things, filling a warehouse that stretched off far into the darkness.

Lily smiled, "And better still, if other teams have been mapping by hand, we can compare those to the results of auto-mapping quills, and I'll bet you that we'll find some more!"

I I I

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