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.


78. Chapter Seventy-Eight


While the young teens were going through 'recall shock', Trelawney acted to remove the disfiguring potion on Harry. It was the mirror image of the one they'd used on Dudley's twin - just like they'd caused that boy to look like Harry, they'd given Harry a potion to look like his poor abused cousin looking like him so he would not draw attention of the Headmaster by coming to Hogwarts not looking sufficiently abused.

Harry's trip to St. Mungo's at the start of this year to get diagnosed for his maltreatment had been a complicated bit of tomfoolery, taking his cousin there sans potion and switching their results, along with a minor Confundus charm or two on certain Healers, but it had worked out fine.

The real Harry was anything but the poor abused orphan boy Dumbledore had planned on. Those in the know about the dryads' plans had been using that sleep walking spell to get workouts for years, and since he was a child Harry had been trained in martial arts by Sybil's personal trainer - Bruce Lee (who was the only muggle she'd put money on in a bare knuckle fight against a troll) along with all of his girls, of course.

They could hardly get more fit.

No, if Harry thought he was a solid brick of wiry muscle before, due to all of his garden work for the Dursleys... well, that had nothing on this!

That done, she had a moment to consider her recent accomplishments. Not surprisingly, since much of her work had been tied to space, she had been involved in many of their greatest achievements, so the latest news there was of interest to her.

As part of the 'last gasp' of the space exploration program, they were sending missions to go around retrieving important historical artifacts so they could be properly displayed on Earth after they withdrew most of their activities to Luna orbit or so due to the cost - and of course the single most important artifacts were those original golden acorns!

Priceless historical relics.

Many efforts had been made in political arenas before this to retrieve them, but there were always more scientifically significant goals to accomplish. Now astronauts were as sentimental as the next guy, but in the rush to do and achieve more and greater heights than ever before, going back to get those acorns was often a low-priority goal.

They'd considered it, they'd weighed the costs countless times before now, but the momentum had been going in other directions, space telescopes and labs, new landings and deeper understanding of exciting new data. Benefit to mankind over nifty souvenirs, as one administrator called it.

So it was only now that it was acknowledged that the space program funding was drying up and their activities more and more curtailed, that they went out to get some of the most priceless memorabilia of those early missions.

Thus, a Mars rover en route from the Polar Base (where there was plenty of water in the ice cap to convert over to station use) had gone on the long drive to the original impact site of the 1960's probe. It was, as far as such missions went, fairly dull and boring. The Mars surface had been accurately mapped from space, and they'd had countless drives around to collect samples to study. This one, while longer range than most, was not even passing over anything terribly interesting, although they did keep up their routines of stopping to sample and record data at regular intervals on their trip, just because space agencies tend to be thorough about things.

It was when the rover crested the last ridge and they were able to overlook the original probe landing site that the international news went nuts.

There was, on TV, the space channel, where live transmissions from various missions could be seen by all and sundry, and this trip to recover the original Mars Acorn had received more notice than most (although still not a tenth as much as your average prime time comedy, and most of those viewers had changed channels to watch this new fairy hoax or scam going on in England).

All of that changed in a heartbeat when the six-wheeled, two passenger rover crested a hill for the first direct shot of the original probe site since the lander itself stopped functioning, and bedlam broke loose, because when they got in range to see it there was NOT the expected crater and landing vehicle.

No, instead the rover and its startled crew transmitted back shots of a lush garden. Trees, flowers, grass, along with a crystal palace nestled inside of the greenery, all existing unprotected out in the open. Fountains of open water and terrestrial animals could also be observed in among the trees.

The physical impossibility of the scene did nothing to deny its reality.

Brief but thorough checks to ensure this was not a fake were progressing while men in positions of authority were gotten out of bed. Politicians and scientists got rolled out of their blankets while the astronauts sat in their rover directing every measuring device they had to the impossible garden, under orders not to proceed until the right people were brought up to speed.

The US President was also woken up and briefed. Nor was he alone. Across the world, leaders of all stripes were being informed by breathless aids.

While this was going on, and before anyone had made any decisions regarding the matter, the duplicate Queen Sybil had tasked with taking care of her political affairs was one of those who got woken up by frantic underlings. The underling in this case was a wizard, and her bed in a magical home in a secure village, but the muggles of her country were calling and being quite insistent they reach her. So she got up, and the Mother of Space Exploration, the Star Queen, got informed of their little discovery.

Naturally she knew what was going on from the very first moment they began to describe the situation, and when the simulacrum informed the original the dryad was not surprised. She knew what they would find if they went after those original acorns. The fact that they had found it did nothing to surprise her. They'd proposed doing something like this countless enough times that her plans were laid in place long ago.

Now in this situation she had two options. One, she could be honest, explain to the muggles the situation about the fairy being nearly extinct on Earth, be helpful, friendly, and open.

Or she could be a fairy about it - and fairy are tricksters.

Oh the PLAN was still to tell them, be honest and helpful and friendly and all of that, but only after pulling a monumental joke on all of them, and this was truly a priceless opportunity.

After all, the great strides made in space and the initial excitement about the exploration of planets had influenced their television shows and art as much as the scientific community's knowledge base.

Seeing Harry and his friends would still be dealing with the shock of their new memories over the next few minutes, she saw that she had time, so she got dressed in her costume, calling most of her dryad friends to go with her - all in their natural, super-attractive dryad forms. So, dressed in their very best dresses with magical embroidery that moved on its own, they zapped off to their trees on Mars and went to meet some astronauts.

The brass of the space program were still getting their act together, dusting off old first contact plans or alternatively preparing for war, when the site of all of this excitement got even more exciting, and the astronauts in the rover called home with great urgency repeating their pleas for instructions.

One of Sybil's favorite TV programs had lasted longer than M.A.S.H. had in the original timeline, and was of course about space. So it was with a great deal of amusement that she and her fellows among the original dryads went walking forth on the barren surface of the red planet, unprotected by mortal means from thin atmosphere, magical slippers not even getting dust on their feet as their magical gowns twinkled in the low light, forming a procession with her at the head as they walked forth out of the garden and approached the Mars rover with its stunned crew.

Stopping a safe distance away before anybody freaked, Trelawney raised her hand in a very familiar gesture and spoke the first words ever heard by Earthman from an alien (or so they supposed).

"Live Long, and Prosper," Queen Sybil said, raising the Vulcan hand symbol.

Her pointed ears suddenly took on whole new worlds of significance.

One of the astronauts, acting in defiance of the non-orders of the brass, also rose to meet her, getting out of the high-sprung vehicle to approach to stand a safe yet comfortable distance away and repeated the sign back to her - to the breathless amazement of the television viewers back home as the glove of his spacesuit formed the familiar symbol back to her while his buddy made sure the cameras caught every historic moment.

Sadly, his helmet was only equipped with a radio, not speakers. But she had a Wizarding Wireless receiver adapted to pick up those signals enchanted into her earrings (they had been planning this for a long time, and aware of the problem), so she heard as the brave man returned the greeting to her.

Back home on Earth NASA now had experts busy calling up trekkies who spoke the Vulcan language made up for the TV show. They didn't know if that would do any good, but they didn't know that it wouldn't either, and most of their first contact plans had just gotten thrown out of the window anyway.

Amusement twinkled out of every aspect of Sybil's face and mannerisms as she told the astronauts, "We'd invite you inside, but our fields that maintain normal atmosphere and gravity are deadly to your electronics. So if you were to approach much closer it would destroy your equipment and you'd be unable to leave or to transmit data home - save perhaps by postcard. But as your instruments would perish as well, there'd not be much you'd be recording."

The brave astronaut (whose name was Jack Ryan, and thus would lead to a whole generation of young boys whose names were either Jack or Ryan) then asked, "What can you tell us of your culture?"

Trelawney tsked, highly amused, as she cocked her head playfully. "Now that would be telling! And that would defeat the entire purpose of getting you out here in space in the first place. You are supposed to discover the answers on your own, grow as a species, and so on."

Now this astronaut was not slow on the uptake, but they were taught to be thorough, so he clarified for the audience back home, "Do you mean to say that you or your people were somehow behind our reach into space?"

"Yes." She nodded naturally, and at ease. "You see," she then morphed back into the form she'd been using for years. "My name on Earth is Queen Sybil of Cuba, the Star Queen and other such titles. I shall leave my affairs there in the hands of capable agents, as your next task is to reach me here, not there. And you shall do so once you have completed one of three tests, each with its own reward. This," she produced a clear crystal vial apparently from thin air (and the air up there was very thin to start with), "Is called Phoenix Tears, and can cure any injury, poison or disease with just a few drops. Many of your leaders would do anything for a sample. They may have this, enough for two hundred doses that will effectively cure anything, when the three incomplete Super-Orions have been launched on their stated missions."

Next she drew out a puzzle box made of nearly indestructible wood. "Inside this is the answer to your difficulties with the travel time. The medicine," she did not call it Draught of the Living Death, although that's what it was, "will cause any human to take a dose to enter a state of perfect suspended animation. They could sleep for thousands of years, if required. Each vial is one dose, enough for two doses for each of the astronauts of a fully crewed mission for each ship, and the antidotes the same. That way you may send the ships without fear of the crews dying of old age before they reach their targets, and rotate through who spends a year or two awake monitoring the mission and gathering data, then returning to sleep for the rest of the trip."

She smiled at the astronaut. "The test here is twofold: first the puzzle box, which shall not be easy, the second is one of honesty. Will you use this for the purpose for which it was intended? If you do not, I shall know, and the cancer cures on Cuba will stop. Once you open the box I shall meet you again out here to answer any reasonable questions. Just as I'll meet you after launch to deliver the vial of phoenix tears."

"And the third test?" Astronaut Ryan asked after a short pause.

Queen Sybil smiled up at the taller man. "Is to accurately describe what happens when I do this."

Then, along with sparkles not unlike a Star Trek transporter effect, she and the other dryads vanished, leaving only their footprints, one puzzle box, two stunned astronauts and their rover behind.

The garden glistened in the distance, the mystery of its survival still unexplained.

That was Ok, Mars Base was already scrambling every team they had, calling off other missions around the planet to reallocate resources to the new site. They'd be building a new base within spitting distance of the miraculous garden within days. Missions were already getting prepped back on Earth to go reinforce them as ships scheduled for decommission got reactivated.

If nothing else, they would be doing exhaustive research into those 'fields' she'd referred to that could hold in perfect Earth-normal conditions on a planet very unlike Earth in important and fundamental ways like atmosphere and gravity.

Light and heat science could manage, but air without walls to hold it in and gravity (whatever the source), and they had science fiction staring them in the face - and they were GOING to research it!

Including dozens of sacrificial probes to see at precisely what distance their fields destroyed human electronics (they found it was variable).

All of a sudden, new interest got injected into the space program. People stop investing in things when they no longer feel the return is worth their effort and expense. They'd felt they'd learned all they could reasonable get from space, and all of a sudden so many more possibilities were staring them in the face, proving there was so much more to learn. And it would only get more exciting as similar discoveries were made on Venus, then Mercury and all of the other probe sites that weren't asteroids or gas giants.

Public, government and scientific interest in space spiked like never before, especially when their flybys caught sight of anomalies on Neptune that on closer inspection by some of those very high power telescopes were revealed to be islands floating on the gaseous surface.

Pretty much like Cloud City out of Star Wars.

Gas giants were a little unsettling to live on, as Sybil knew from experience. An acorn dropped into that atmosphere came to rest at a point where it was no longer heavy or dense enough to sink, which wasn't very far because of the featherweight charms meant to stop them from being crushed on impact with more solid bodies. Then the trees deployed from there. Lack of dirt was not a problem for the spells nourishing their plants (thanks to those Potter spells), but it was a bit odd to float unsupported there in the atmospheric soup, so they'd moved enough dirt using the set of vanishing cabinets they were lucky enough to find (one in Hogwarts, one in Borgin and Burke's) to form artificial islands for them to root in, then linked those together until they had floating gardens, complete with the requisite crystal palaces.

To make it feel more homey.

The 60-acre giant fiber mats enchanted as flying carpets they'd added to help support all of that weight had cost a pretty penny. Though theoretically they were hardly needed, as sinking a bit lower in the clouds was not deadly, and the combined featherweight and deep pressure survival charms worked into the trees themselves would prevent them from being dragged down too far or crushed even if they did. Thanks to the spells of Harry's family they were immune to the weather and a bubblehead charm was able to form and keep a bubble of air despite the pressure of being underwater - so it was easy enough to keep out other gasses at any pressure to which the trees were able to sink. So, while a little weird, it was perfectly livable.

That house-sized bubblehead charm was actually priceless on Venus, as it didn't matter if it rained acid, they had their own little bubbles of Earth-normal conditions to dwell inside.

Asteroids were almost the reverse problem to the gas giants, no gravity or pressure instead of too much, but they'd already begun working on linking them together to create a sane and respectable planet to live on.


Harry got shaken out of his realizations and recollections by the newly returned Queen Sybil once more drawing everyone's attention to herself in the manner of those great celebrities who inherently knew the spotlight belonged on them anyway - with ease of great practice.

"Now we have a lot to cover to get everyone up to speed at last, but I have one or two little surprises for everyone first. Operating in the midst of Dumbledore's back yard was insane and suicide, but despite that I was able to pull off one or two little operations," she crowed proudly, producing a small blue ball. "This, for example, is my best one."

"What is it?" Susan asked. In both histories the little blonde girl was very much the same personality-wise, it's just in the new set she was far greater friends with this crowd, and thus more comfortable among them.

The senior dryad preened. "Why, nothing more than the other half of Moody's magical eye."

She was surrounded by vast confusion, so explained. "Auror and Hit Wizard 'Mad-Eye' Moody is one of Dumbledore's most trusted servants. He is so named because of a missing eye whose socket he has filled with a magical replacement that can see through anything and look in any direction. This makes him very hard to ambush or surprise. And also enables him to act as a superlative scout, and he is frequently used to observe enemy actions."

Hermione perked up. "So, if Dumbledore uses him to perform reconnaissance on his enemies, it will be a useful thing to know if he starts observing us!"

"He is also paranoid to a fault," Minerva observed dryly. "How did you slip something by him?"

"Oh, as simple as anything," Sybil shrugged in false modesty. "I knew that he didn't have the skills necessary to craft the magical replacement eye he wears. His talents lie in entirely different directions. So naturally he had to have someone else create it for him. Dumbledore would have been his first choice, but back during the war when Moody lost his original that man was too busy snatching up properties right and left to spare the time to craft a replacement eye for his servant. So he would have bought one. Since these are all special-made, and VERY few have the necessary talents, it wasn't too hard to place a few simulacrums very early on and ensure that they were the only good options available at the time I knew he needed the work done. He killed the one who did the work, naturally, to cover up his secrets."

"How did you even get the idea?" Aurora asked curiously.

"Actually a phrase out of a muggle game: no matter how tough the cyborg, he is at the mercy of his cybertechnician. You can't bully a man who makes your arms work, because sooner or later you'll be helpless on a table while he works on whatever's broken - and you'd better hope he likes you enough to let you get back up again." Sybil wasn't smug at all. Oh, no sir!

"Nevertheless, Albus would've checked over the work thoroughly, as would Moody independently." Minerva remained skeptical.

"Yes, and they did. However the eye does nothing but collect data and pass it on - exactly as it should. It has no other spells or properties than that. I didn't turn it into a cortex bomb, or secret remote override or anything."

"Mores the pity," they overheard Poppy whisper.

"Quite," Sybil agreed, triumphant. "However, as the one to enchant this thing I know exactly how it functions, and how to stop it from seeing what I don't want it to see. But that's neither here nor there."

Hefting the blue orb in her hand, she explained, "The main point of doing this was not to hide our secrets, although that is a nice benefit. It is that Albus often uses this man to spy out information for him. The eye DOESN'T do anything but what it should - gather information. And that information only gets collected in eye itself before being transmitted through contact, exactly as they specified."

Hermione grinned. "Oh, I see! You just said that orb in your hand is the other half of that eye! That means they don't have all of it, and you have a backdoor into the system, so access to the information it collects!"

"Exactly!" Queen Sybil crowed. "Magically this small piece of enchanted rock is still a part of the eye Moody has been wearing for years now. So what he sees is observable through this, although that doesn't work the other way around. He can't see through this end. I got the idea from a muggle wire tap. Phones on both ends still work properly, but the conversation is overheard by a third party. That's essentially all this does."

"But, as one of Dumbledore's most trusted agents, Moody would often be in a position to see sensitive things," Minerva couldn't resist a smirk.

"Exactly!" Queen Sybil crowed. "I've got it hooked up to a recording pensieve, one able to play it back at high speed, so can review it at my leisure and save out what's important."

"That's ingenious!" Hermione exclaimed, clapping her hands excitedly.

The Divination professor accepted the praise with a shrug. "Well, it simply struck me that Albus is an information junky for a reason. Knowledge IS power! And with a little insight into what one of his most trusted agents was doing, we'd have a little access to what the man himself knows. Nothing perfect, I know, but a taste of what to look into in more detail."

"So what is he doing now? Can we see?"

Nodding to Hermione's request, seeing the others were still a bit dazed by their recovered memories (although that girl's past was far from unchanged, she'd always dealt with the memory assimilation better than the others), Sybil activated the projection feature of the orb's holder.

Thus, played out before an increasingly horrified audience, was Dumbledore's fight against Voldemort as Moody discretely watched from a distance.

Dumbledore knew that his servant was spying on him, naturally, but neither of them knew that others were spying on them through him. So the crowd of fairy champions and dryads learned a great deal from that encounter, and all of it chilled them to their bones as they watched it play out from start to finish, with Dumbledore boasting the whole while (yes, the eye had sound, listening at a distance was one of the features Moody'd ordered).


Author's Notes:

It's what you don't know that's far more liable to kill you than what you do know about. Having Dumbledore able to thrash Voldemort is one thing, but having Harry aware of that possibility at least lets him to know to avoid that fate himself, if possible.

It's little tricks like that that keep this whole scenario manageable.

Controlling who has surprise has been a big factor. After all, a snake in the grass that suddenly strikes your ankle is one thing, and pretty much certain death the moment it happens. But a snake that has to advance across thirty yards of bare concrete to assault the alert guards of a flamethrower nest is quite another. Same snake, different odds of success.

Or a snake vs you in a footrace is another scenario entirely. Circumstances can do a great deal to balance out power levels.

And I couldn't let them do all of that past manipulating without getting some advantage from it! Of course, as I stated before Moody has been careful NOT to know the locations of Dumbledore's horcruxes, but oh well.

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