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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75. Chapter Seventy-Five

I I I

Sybil's first thought about reproducing the results of the ancient witch Luna was related to who'd raised Rapunzel was that playing around with magical herbs was Pomona Sprout's job. That was her area of expertise, and she'd be only too happy to leave it to her. But Professor Sprout smartly responded that in areas such as this, neophytes succeeded more often than experts. So by the Herbology teacher's orders, ALL the dryads began to grow patches of experimental rampion and other herbs, hoping among them to duplicate the ancient witch's results.

Sybil, while not exactly excited by this, went along with it anyway. After all, the knowledge of how to properly care for highly magical plants was hardly useless, seeing as how she was one herself now.

Their training and advancement was also continuing on in other ways. It had been fairly easy to get centaurs around Beauxbatons to teach them archery. All they'd had to do was repeat the original offer Firenze proposed: a bow of dryad wood in return for lessons for herself and her friends.

The French centaurs had leapt on her offer, and their training continued.

Sybil's government duties continued, although she had little enough idea just exactly what she was doing some of the time. Oh, she was fine on her duties, those were going just fine. it's just odd things happened now and again that she could not explain.

Just one example - she'd been riding in a motorcade with the American President John F. Kennedy shortly after having made her offer to fund the space program (having displaced the Governor of Texas, a Mr. John Connally, in the President's car - who would have been her replacement if she couldn't make it) when some shots rang out.

Nothing had happened. They'd all been stopped quite effectively by her anti-bullet shield. Only the crowd and the secret service and all sorts of people went nuts about it. That seemed fairly normal, actually, it was the twinge as her fairy powers exerted themselves covering a minor (for her) timeline switch that confused the witch.

She never learned that she'd accidentally foiled the Kennedy assassination by her presence in his vehicle at the time. The American Secret Service had fun arresting people and running investigations, though.

This luck of hers would later reverse itself in 1981, when Trelawney was fretting on the 29th of July in St. Paul's Cathedral in London, having been trapped by a wedding invitation she'd not been able to get out of when she'd much rather have been helping the other dryads set up arrangements around Harry - whose family was due to be assassinated in two days.

For Sybil this was something of a crisis. Harry was about to be put in the worst danger of his young life, and she was shanghaied by politics! Outrageous!

But she was a worldwide political figure, and a celebrity because of the space race and other things, so she'd been asked, and in such a way that she couldn't get out of, to see Prince Charles marry some Diana Spenser lady. So she managed to slip it in, rearranging her other plans to make room, so that on the day of she cut off her shopping trip in Diagon Alley in time to come see the royal wedding.

Still, the wedding was nice enough, as far as such things go.

She was just starting to get into it, no longer plotting to slip out a side door and return to her shopping for needed articles at Diagon Alley, when shortly after the exchange of vows a Death Eater who'd followed her from the Alley, and who had NO comprehension of what was going on (but, as the presence of Crabbe and Goyle, both junior and senior, showed, Death Eaters were not always rigorously screened for their mental abilities) decided that he didn't like the look of a witch attending such an obviously muggle party and started throwing curses about - dropping Prince Charles with an Avada Kedavra before switching over to multiple Reductos tossed about for flavor.

He was taken down in less than ten seconds by muggle security. It would have been a tenth of a second, but the security cordon was toughest outside of the building, aimed at preventing such characters from even getting inside in the first place, and their bullets wouldn't stop him.

Exactly why they wouldn't, and where the bullets fired went, would remain a mystery for years, as would how the man even got inside at all. They couldn't know he'd used spells to do it, so all sorts of conspiracy theories abounded. But it didn't stop the Death Eater from going down to countless angry fists.

However, the fact that he had a thick, Russian accent (having been a native, recruited after having gone to Durmstrang) didn't help the political situation a bit - made even worse by the fact that he escaped mere hours after capture, and before a full and proper interrogation could be carried out.

But they had a name, and a town of origin (both Russian) and a date at which he'd been spirited off to a secret training facility at age eleven.

A native Russian speaker killing the Prince of Wales at his wedding, and so many clues about his having a spy ring to get him there, then out again, did nothing good for Anglo-Soviet relations. Not even when the Dark Lord fell a few days later and Death Eaters began to be rounded up, and Sybil was able to both collect and produce the body of Prince Charles' murderer (having explained she was the original target of the assassination, and the agent had made a second attempt, getting killed by her security in the process) did it get any better. The two nations actually went to war over the subject - all because of some careless Death Eater thinking muggles were beneath him.

Luckily the war was brief and didn't destroy much on either side. Princess Diana, the Widow of Wales, also went on to become a popular royal figure.

Sybil's luck, past and future, with royal assassinations aside, a lot was going on during those years.

I I I

"So I can be as pretty as you?" Lily blurted, excited at the dream come true.

Sybil laughed at the child's question as she ruffled the girl's hair, her three younger brothers dashing about with the excess energy of the tremendously young. The eleven year old girl had for nearly five years been the oldest child of Joan and Edmund Evans, as ever since the boys started to be born and showed signs of accidental magic, Petunia's jealousy had grown so strong she'd been sent off to live with her grandparents, before getting shipped off to a cousin she'd never heard of - but Petunia liked the 'normal' life so much she'd never come back.

So, for years now the Evans family had been Joan and Edmund, their oldest girl Lily, three rambunctious little boys after that, and finally now one final baby girl they all doted on.

Each and every last one of the kids displayed signs of accidental magic.

On the eve of Lily getting sent off to Hogwarts (despite the family living in one of her own little magical villages in Cuba) Sybil had arrived to see the girl's secrecy oath sworn to so she didn't reveal anything by mistake. And, to make it seem more of a celebration, had been sharing stories and secrets so the girl understood more of what she was protecting.

Sybil had just explained about them all becoming dryads when the green-eyed girl repeated her oft-delivered question about wanting to be as pretty as her parents' best friend. Although this time she did it in a different form.

"So, you're going to give us a dose of this dryad cordial? The girls, I mean?" Lily bounced up and asked excitedly, eyes all aglow as she saw her hope real.

"Uh, no." Sybil considered. "I don't think that would be a good idea."

"Why not?" The redhaired witch was now confused. Being as pretty as Sybil was everything she'd ever hoped for. She'd memorized all of her course books by heart to know as much magic as she could, hoping to be like her role model, and now...

She COULDN'T be refused now! It wasn't FAIR!

Lily's lip began to quiver as she threatened to cry out her disappointment.

The oracle blushed red. "Well, I sort of slipped into the mixture a dose of Bride's Delight, charged for Harry."

Lily's face turned red, a mixture of shock and embarrassment.

"And it just seems all kinds of wrong to feed that to you..." the divination professor continued awkwardly. "You being his mother, and all."

Lily's face was now purple. Her face got angry, and she ground out between clenched teeth, "So? You're just going to mix up the antidote, aren't you?"

Trelawney blinked in shock. "There's an antidote?"

Little girl Lily exploded like a hurricane. "Of COURSE there is an antidote to Bride's Delight! Everything except for the Unforgivables has a counter! YOU were the one who taught ME that!!"

The oracle sweatdropped. "Well, there's really another part," she confessed, wincing. "You see, dryads can only have daughters. So if you took the cordial you couldn't be Harry's mother anyway. And we sort of need him."

I I I

There were some things that not even time travel could change.

A person was shaped by the choices they made. Other people could exert influence over what choices were available to them in any number of ways, but the choices were always still up to them to decide. Most often people tried to maximize the available good choices and minimize the bad for those they loved around them. However, no matter what the proportions, there were always good and bad choices available to select from.

Most people select a broad mix of choices, good as well as bad. Sooner or later most of them regret the bad ones, but by then the damage is done. A few have strong enough moral character to select mostly good choices. We ought to celebrate those people and call them heroes. A few prefer to take bad choices. Those people, whether they believe it or not, are life's villains - as these are the ones primarily causing hurt, pain and suffering to others.

One thing not even magic could do was to take away someone's ability to choose. You could prevent them from acting on those choices. You could cloud their mind and inhibit their reasoning, or even cause them to forget the reasons why they might want to choose a certain way, even cause them to mistakenly believe they'd already chosen another way; but while those limited a person's ability to make choices, it did not, could not, eliminate it entirely.

And a person is defined by the choices they made.

You couldn't do anything to help a person who always made bad choices. You couldn't MAKE them into a good guy if they were unwilling. Even with time travel the best you could do was to change the selection of choices before them and hope they chose differently this time.

The case of Severus Snape both changed and it didn't. His father did die and he did get sent to an orphanage, where the bullying he received from his attitude and his eternally runny nose approximately equaled the abuse he would have gotten from his father.

A bit less, actually.

But the fact of the matter was, he would have turned out much the same whether he was treated well or poorly. He was one of those people whose personality dominates despite their environment, and he loved bullying. So he would have sought an excuse to do it regardless. Even had he been Obliviated of every memory of his father and lived a pristine life in a perfect home with saints for parents, he would still have chosen some awful figure as a role model to emulate and pattern his life after, and the worse they were the better he would've liked following their example.

I have seen those people, near perfect backgrounds they utterly disregard in their search to be evil morons.

You can't MAKE someone be a good guy. It doesn't work like that. They have to choose it. And Severus, in his previous life, had had plenty of chances to choose the Light and didn't take advantage of any of them. He never chose to do the Right thing. At best all he ever did was to do the Selfish thing (even in the mainline, his 'last sacrifice' could be seen as simply striking back for revenge at the enemy who killed him - and no, if I dated someone then broke up I wouldn't want them killing the person I eventually married, and my child by them. So his 'love' for Lily makes him more creepy, not less). So giving such a person more or better chances wouldn't mean anything, since they wouldn't take any of the good ones they already had.

So losing his father actually changed Snape very little. Losing his MOM, on the other hand, cut him off at the knees and made him far less powerful than he was before the dryad's little jaunt through time, as his anger at his father did not have the convenient outlet of studying books on curses until he was one of the most dangerous little sociopaths ever to enter Slytherin.

No, this runny nosed little hard-eyed boy did not know about magic until he got his Hogwarts letter. Nor did he have extra money to buy more books than were on the curriculum, which limited his study of the Dark Arts.

He was still the same person inside, having consistently made bad choices out of the different selection he'd been offered. He was just less powerful than before.

Asking a mother to stay around and shelter him, when he'd become an exact carbon copy of the person she was sheltering him from, would be an insult to the sacrifice she'd made for him, and a waste of both her tears and effort.

It would be asking her to sacrifice and suffer for nothing. She stuck with him in the mainline, and he turned out awful in the mainline. Having her around had not helped, it just gave him extra fuel on his course to be bad.

Trelawney did end up visiting the moody brute one more time, having set tracer spells to alert her to when he stopped qualifying as innocent (not able to help herself after recalling more of his outrages). So she swooped in on him as he'd joined a bunch of older kids at the orphanage smoking cigarettes and passing around porn when he was eight years old.

When she left, he was not just a runny nosed boy. She'd gotten him to use that waffle iron like she'd originally intended (unable to bear the thought of future mini-Snapes - she'd even saved the waffle iron his mother left behind so he could use it for this purpose) and given him curses both to stutter, and be palsied in his right hand so it was eternally shaking.

Once more this failed to change him. It only reduced his power.

Really, all this did was delay him. Once he got to Hogwarts Madam Pomphrey was able to cure his stutter (to her eternal shame, considering what he'd become) after his teachers brought it to her attention a short way into his first year (and Minerva McGonagall, who'd brought it to the nurse's attention, would never quite be able to forgive herself for that). But by then he'd taken to using his left hand for everything, and for Potions work or flying or other tasks requiring two hands, was simply taken as clumsy; so it was well into his fourth year before his palsy was noticed and taken care of.

The only result of this was that he was left handed, and he'd never mixed a potion successfully in his life. Four years of utterly failed attempts had so discouraged him they'd ruined his natural talent on the subject. And the only effect that had on the timeline was that he carved up fewer muggleborns for potion ingredients, and without him teaching the subject Hogwarts graduated over a hundred TIMES the students with a Potion NEWT.

The change to Snape's life, however, was minimal. It simply cost him a little prestige and kept him out of the Slug Club. Death Eaters relied upon others of their number to mix their potions for them, instead of him. Snape was still the same bitter, angry man he'd always been, just his reasons had changed. And he would have found a new set of reasons to be bitter and angry had he not had these ones. That was just his preferred way.

For all the talk of Destiny out there, most overlook that fact that certain people are just destined to be creeps. Change his circumstances however you liked, and Snape would still turn out largely the same as before. The essential nature of a thing does not change easily. A diamond dropped in a hog trough was still a diamond, while a turd set in silver was still a turd.

Some are born to be heroes, he was born to be a creepy stalker and a bully. He'd had countless opportunities to change that, and never did; and when it came right down to it, only his choices could really change him.

But while his essential nature remained unaltered, one could affect his toys and abilities rather easily. The delay imposed both by the lack of home study and the slow start at school due to his stutter rendering him unable to cast spells for the first few months also took him from dominating his school fellows to the bottom of the pack. Snape was no less evil, angry or bitter, he was simply a follower and toady like Pettigrew instead of an authority figure in his House. He'd suck up to those above him as eagerly as he'd browbeat and bully those unfortunate few who slipped below him.

Being a eunuch also meant he had no hormones to speak of so he did not develop like the other boys. His voice stayed high, and he got overweight, ensuring that even after he no longer stuttered he was never liked.

This further developed his bitterness, but only to approximately the level it would have been in the first place. It failed to change his personality.

Coincidentally, he never ran into the Marauders, who felt he was below their level, so they never teased him. That group was out to hamstring the leaders of the junior Death Eater pack. They had no time to waste on side targets.

Snape still became a Death Eater, even a powerful one and a member of the inner circle. For all of his initial delays on studying the Dark Arts, he'd caught up fast, and soon equaled the terror he would have been in the previous timeline. He merely had less prestige, being ranked with Crabbe and Goyle senior, among the followers, rather than side to side with Lucius Malfoy.

And he still decided to hate Harry, this time for bringing down his Dark Lord.

Truly, about the only change in Snape's life was a bit less prestige and never having learned Potions, having hated the course and dropping it as soon as possible after having failed to mix a successful one in his life (he did still pick up a business in selling hairs of his classmates to use in pre-made polyjuice, only this time he did it as a way to strike back at those more popular than him by selling their images in a form of prostitution - as opposed to his reason in the mainline, which was... mostly the same).

For that lack of prestige or potion talent, Dumbledore was unable to make Snape Potions Professor or Head of Slytherin House. But he did just as well by making Snape his own personal secretary, whereupon he was able to bully the faculty and students just as much as before.

Of course, in the absence of Snape to fill those posts, someone had to teach Potions and Head Slytherin. Surprisingly, it was Narcissa Malfoy who got selected by the Headmaster in this case. She did a mediocre job at each, and thus was far from the worst teacher at Hogwarts. Snape did so much bullying she didn't bother, disliking the association with him. However her skill at brewing potions quickly skyrocketed as Dumbledore relied upon her to provide more and more of his private, illegal potion needs.

He also quietly pressured her to start sales on the side, until Narcissa was providing half of the illegal potions in Britain, with a tunnel through the wards so that customers could reach her.

Strangely, as the Headmaster's Secretary, Snape did substitute teach for all classes on occasion - even Potions. The strange thing was, never having mixed a successful potion in his life didn't change how he taught that class even one bit. He'd still copy out the instructions from a textbook onto the blackboard, take points from anyone who dared to ask questions, and raved over the stupidity and worthlessness of anyone who did anything wrong.

That was his teaching style, and it didn't require him to know his subject.

All this meant, however, that the rest of the staff were unusually careful about not taking sick days whenever they could avoid them, or circumspectly arranging their own substitutes when they did, because none of them wanted Snape teaching their classes and setting them back for months.

Students who love their subjects learn them. Those that do not will not, and Snape never taught a class that didn't get some residual hate and anger against him, and by association the subject. He was almost guaranteed to drop a class a grade on their OWL or NEWT tests on any subject he taught because of their destroyed enthusiasm.

And Dumbledore not just ignored the complaints, but actively defended his man. So history, as is often the case, just took a different road to what was mostly the same place.

I I I

The young Narcissa Black had a series of difficult choices before her. When she got awakened to her future memories her situation was mostly like that of the younger Trelawney - a future lay before her that she didn't like a bit.

Being the same age as Harry's parents (and several years younger than Lucius) she had not yet entered Hogwarts, and was strongly tempted not to, only she could tell ahead of time that change lay outside of her powers.

She had to go, whether she liked it or not.

Besides, she could already tell that future memories were not solid. They were not set, like remembering your past was. Right now she could recall learning things, in a hazy sort of way, but if she didn't actually learn them that knowledge would depart and she wouldn't have those skills.

More than that, if she didn't go she'd lose her close friendship with her sister Bella, and it was only through her that she'd met Harry. So not going was not a possible option for her, because her powers couldn't manage the stretch. Her future links to Harry Potter were tenuous enough as it was, and they had to be preserved or she wouldn't become a dryad and get those memories.

Besides, the teacher-dryad-clones at Hogwarts would be relying on her to get certain students into trouble so they could give them detentions right before their demises so they could safely switch them for copies. She couldn't do that if she didn't go, so a great many lives depended on her being there.

Marrying that self-absorbed little prick Lucius, however, was going to have to change, no matter how much it cost her! That was the single most horrible period of her life, and she wasn't going to repeat it willingly!

Not like she had much choice, however. That was another one of those things that felt like it would be too great a jump for her meager fairy abilities to carry her over.

Still, she would find a way. Somehow.

This wasn't just her future she was deciding how to improve, either. As the oldest Black sister she had certain options for influencing those around her. Among her sisters she was a leader, and could hopefully steer them around the worst obstacles that lay before them.

All of that meant she had to save herself first, though.

Well, that meant changes, and she might as well start. For one thing, she'd not be caught dead in Slytherin house this time! Hufflepuff sounded more appealing. Gryffindor was not an option, as that could only sever her links to her family, which she needed just now. So Ravenclaw it was going to be.

But even that felt like it might be too great a departure for her, costing her her close relationship with her favorite sibling and cutting off her future link to Harry.

Well, TOUGH! She'd find a way to MAKE it work! The inter-house politics of Slytherin were too time consuming a game for her to play... except that Harry needed her to know how to play them, because he was going to rely on her to be his voice in the political arenas, and those were just an extension of the political rivalries formed when the future leaders entered Slytherin.

Sigh.

Truly, this future knowledge seemed like more of a curse than anything. It was like she was facing a mine field, carefully navigating through a series of pitfalls, any one of which might mean her doom, and having to put up with wading through a sea of unpleasantness not to blow herself to smithereens!

She really hoped Harry appreciated the sacrifices she was making.

In the end the only thing she could think of was to have a simulacrum relive her old life almost verbatim, reinforcing those skills and memories she got through her future knowledge so she didn't lose them, while she changed her appearance and went on to become Ravenclaw's top scoring student of her year. One of the great flaws of a simulacrum was they could not learn skills on their own, so she had to be present, absorbing the Hogwarts material so she didn't lose them - something that if it happened would render her double unable to continue its act. But at the same time social interaction was just a memory, and while it did that she could go over those interactions on her own while downloading her double's memories while they both slept, and her own mind would develop the social skills on its own from the information.

Not possible with technical or involved stuff, but girls rehash and chew over their social interactions with others all of the time, and it is from this review, retelling and replaying things over in their minds (and with friends, peer review was just as important, though in this case the other dryads had to serve as that, which they did admirably), that they get most of the details anyway. She saw enough of those people in the halls and at classes for the downloaded memories to seem real enough. So it worked.

A rough statue of snow animated by magic has no ability to bear children, though. Not even to provide potion ingredients to do so. So one fine night not long before the wedding, she went out polyjuiced as him to the muggle world, stunned a blonde prostitute, collected the necessary ingredients from her and left a generous payment.

Someday maybe she'd even inform little Draca that made her a halfblood.

On another note, this life was not without its surprises. One of those was when her sister Andromeda joined her real but altered appearance form in Ravenclaw this time around. She couldn't even think of what she'd said to influence the switch! But the two became best friends, despite Andromeda not recognizing her older sister as the friendly upperclassman.

The big change, though, was the Headbastard accepting her simulacrum in Snape's place as Potions Professor and Head of Slytherin House. The real Narcissa was kept busy day and night learning all of the things her double was required to know to fill both posts, not to mention the illegal potions she had to learn how to mix.

Still, that did end up with her becoming one of the best Potions Mistresses in Europe. Although even that had something odd to it, as she'd been expecting her real self to simply disappear after Hogwarts graduation, going off to pursue other opportunities, only her friends in Ravenclaw all expected to keep in touch. Most even wanted to work alongside her at the Ministry, and a few even had parents who owned businesses and offered her jobs.

It was oddly unsettling, yet strangely wonderful, to a girl who'd lived her life always following her parents directives to suddenly be so valued by her peers. But when Dumbledore became interested in following the career of this brilliant young Ravenclaw she knew it was time to bail, leaving behind a second simulacrum to do her job as clerk at the Ministry (Ravenclaws almost always had jobs below the Slytherins who worked there), so she could go off and do as the other dryads had done, picking up an education at Beauxbatons to confound what Dumbledore knew of her abilities.

Her Ravenclaw double had an 'unfortunate accident' shortly after failing to respond properly to Dumbledore's invitations to become his puppet. Truly, she didn't think she could keep up the act without him becoming aware that the personalities and abilities of his new female Potions Professor and Head of Slytherin House were awfully similar to his new recruit inside the Ministry.

And she just couldn't chance that discovery. So she let her Ravenclaw double die, killed by an accident arranged by him after she refused his service.

I I I

Author's Notes:

Okay, nearly back to the present here, as I've almost dealt with what needed doing before I got back there. Just a few more situations to resolve, then we can pick back up with Harry and company.

And I hope to prove to you that the Beauxbatons material was indeed very relevant to this story and our main characters. That will just take a while (but considering that on most stories you have to wait months for an update, and on this one you get them almost twice a week, it's not like you are suffering for lack of attention on the main characters).

 
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